Monday, December 20, 2010

The Purpose of Life!

It’s 3:48 am and I’ve just had a revelation that I must record here so I don’t forget it. It’s so absurdly simple, so obvious, so trivial that it feels silly to even write it down. Here it is anyway, in large blinking letters...

The purpose of life is to reduce suffering and increase joy, for ourselves and for all sentient beings who live now and who will live after us.

That’s it! Isn’t it beautiful? Can anyone find a flaw in it? Am I missing something obvious?

This revelation came to me while I was pondering the Schopenhauerian horror of life on planet Earth – the deadly viruses, parasites and pests, the endless cycle of creatures eating creatures and consuming whatever they need to survive, without remorse or pity. It all seems so pointless!  Why not just build a doomsday device and put an end to all the suffering once and for all?

Yet we alone, among all the creatures on this planet, seem to have this sense of morality, this notion that there are "good" and "bad" behaviors. Obviously the mosquito, the shark and the crocodile don’t suffer from existential doubt; even our closer mammalian relatives show little or no moral sense when they hunt or fight or mate.  Is this moral sense a defect in our genetic makeup? Is it the thing which compels us to create religions, to help us cope with the amoral nature of the world around us? Is it our inherent sense of morality which makes us dissatisfied with the world as it is, which drives us to constantly seek to improve upon it by invention, cultural innovation and self-improvement?  Perhaps this moral sense is our greatest gift and not our greatest curse?

And if we take this gift to its logical conclusion, don't we arrive at my revelation above?  Our purpose is to reduce suffering and increase joy – to work toward a biosphere without suffering. Obviously this is a very long-range project, but it gives us a reason to continue striving to improve, to act in our best long-term interests and not to just selfishly pursue pleasure now. This could be the foundation of a secular religion with a noble purpose: to gradually turn the Hell that is our current world into a future Heaven on Earth. Maybe I’ve just restated Buddhism, but I think the Buddha had four noble truths and I’ve managed to reduce it to just one. And I’m not asking anyone to stop seeking pleasure; I’m simply asking people to expand their sense of self so as to maximize pleasure and minimize pain across the entire biosphere, for all time. I think it’s possible. What do you think?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hymns to Other Gods

In the spirit of the solstice season, here are some carols worthy of the Other Gods, courtesy of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society:











Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blogging in the Dark

I don’t know why, but I seem to revel in spiritual darkness. Does this make me evil, mentally disturbed, or just honest? Read more of my recent blog posts, and decide for yourself...


Posted at http://www.realitysandwich.com/synchromystic_time_change

It all comes down to power. When the ayahuasca-drinking Amazonian tribesmen start defeating the materialist resource extractors I will start believing in the possibility of a meaningful spiritual revolution. Native Americans probably had similar delusions a few centuries ago, and look how that turned out. This world, as far as I can tell, is a wheel that crushes dreams and destroys ideals. It is a Satanic heaven, where the acolytes of the Left Hand Path rule and the slaves continue dreaming of spiritual deliverance in some far-off future, or in the next life. In this world there is no Enlightenment; there is only Empowerment.


Posted at http://climateprogress.org/2010/12/16/review-climatopolis-cities-thrive-matthew-kahn-not-a-good-book/

Have people here considered the possibility that climate change might be just the crisis we need to move us forward as a species? Didn't agriculture arise out of the climate chaos that followed the last glacial period? Aren’t evolutionary innovations much more likely during population bottlenecks? What might arise out of a new bottleneck which seriously threatens humanity’s survival? If you are a Darwinian materialist, you have to admit that there is nothing sacred about the current population of 7 billion, and it is not critical that this population be preserved. The important thing is that intelligence survives and advances, and it may turn out that this will be much easier if we are not burdening the planet with a vast population of rapacious primates.

In the current environment few dare suggest that culling our numbers might be a route to progress, but I suspect that many see climate change as an effective mechanism for this culling and are content to let nature do the dirty work for them. You can make appeals to sympathy for the poorest and most vulnerable, but I’m afraid it’s not in our neurological makeup to care about such abstractions -- you are appealing to something which is largely make-believe. I take a very harsh Darwinian view of life on this planet, but I happen to think this is the correct view when you strip away delusional religious thinking. We are under no obligation to try to mitigate climate change for all people; we are only obligated to try to save ourselves and preserve a nucleus of advanced civilization which can, if necessary, rebuild the world on more sustainable foundations.


Posted at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2010/12/singulatarians-secessionists-techno.html

“Balkanized, divided, bickering”? I think we’re already there! I see the American South as a human reality that the modern progressive mind is too terrified to face: the reality that we are tribal animals whose reptilian brains still largely rule us. Most of human history is a history of tribalism, and the idea that we have, in last few decades, turned the corner on it seems rather delusional. It’s very easy to talk a good game against racism when you live safely within tribal borders, but it’s another matter entirely when you are threatened in a very visceral way every day by someone’s artificially engineered “diversity”. Tribalism is not something to toy with, or to arrogantly dismiss, as even the briefest acquaintance with human history should make obvious. Tribalism is deeply rooted in us, and has a way of exploding into violence if you push one tribe too far.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blogospheric Reflections 12/14

I'm going to start recording some of my blogosphere posts here for future reference. Today I seem to be channeling Julius Evola and other reactionary mystics, which seems to be my default mode of late...

Posted at http://www.realitysandwich.com/agent_apathy

The true radical today is one who rejects global capitalism, techno-fetishism, shallow liberalism and the religion of progress in favor of tradition, timeless wisdom, spirituality and local culture. Modernity is played out; we are living in global Weimar, awaiting the collapse of the progressive project. The next prophet will not resemble William Ginsberg, Timothy Leary or Terence McKenna, but Adolph Hitler.

Oddly enough, this revelation came to me first through psychedelics, and it is a vision which, though I initially resisted it, has become ever more prophetic as our culture has spiralled further downward into materialistic nihilism.

Posted at http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/12/interdependency.html

This is why we need to challenge the story of the global capitalists, who have sold us on the notion that bringing the entire world under their banner is the only route to material utopia. I get the impression that Mr. Stross is rather sympathetic to the global socialist alternative, but I would like to suggest that the most radical and timely critique of the modern world comes from the so-called "far right". Only the far rightists seem to understand that true diversity and security comes from having distinct cultures and civilizations, not from imposing a homogeneous global civilization that, if its foundations continue to prove faulty, will culminate in total global collapse.

Posted at http://secretsun.blogspot.com/2010/12/timothy-learys-dead.html

Really excellent post. I agree 100% about Leary; his attempt to turn LSD into a drug for the masses was in a sense a continuation of the MKULTRA experiments on a much larger scale. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Leary was operating with the approval of diabolical people in the Company like Gottlieb.

In my own rather limited experience with psychedelics, I found them to be far too powerful to be casually messing around with, and I can’t really imagine a functioning society where they are widespread. People talk about psychedelics encouraging peace and love, but for me it was just the opposite – they unleashed my “inner Hitler”. So I agree with the Aldous Huxley approach, where you have a psychedelic elite who act as modern shamans.

Having said all that, I admit I’m curious to see what would happen if a powerful psychedelic was administered to humanity on a mass level as a means of breaking toxic conditioning. It really seems possible to me that we’re approaching a point where it will literally be a matter of global survival to decondition people from destructive ideologies like fundamentalist religion and consumer capitalism, and we might have to reconsider whether some form of “aggressive mental liberation” is such a bad idea. The problem now is the West no longer dominates the world as it did in Leary’s heyday, and I see no signs of a global psychedelic prophet emerging who can challenge Islam, the PRC, Hindu- and Buddho-fascism, etc., so we in the West who value mental freedom above all else may have to consider taking more extreme measures as a matter of cultural survival...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Wondrous Worlds of the Sorcerer Supreme


Hello again from the cybernetic plane, fellow comic cosmonauts! I have returned at last, and let’s just say that my mind is officially blown! For many moons I have journeyed through demon-haunted dimensions, into dreams and nightmares, across aeons of time and space to the very ends of the universe – yet I live to tell the tale! Yes friends, I have been travelling in some of the strangest territory in the entire comic book multiverse: the far-flung astral realms of the surreal Sorcerer Supreme himself, better known as Doctor Strange!

As one who was somehow never turned on to Dr. Strange during my misspent youth, all I can say about this character now is WOW!! The Master of the Mystic Arts must rank as the most mind-blowing of all the superheroes introduced during the mythical Marvel Silver Age, and probably of all time. After reading the entire Lee-Ditko run of Doctor Strange from his introduction in Strange Tales #110 to issue #146, along with select issues of his solo mags, I feel like I’ve been on some kind of strange shamanic journey. Comic book creators are, after all, our modern shamans, and what better way to fully express their wizardry than through the adventures of the global super-shaman called Doctor Strange?

After this epic reading experience, I have no choice but to place Dr. Strange right at the top of the Marvel pantheon of cosmically cool and important characters, above other personal favorites like Silver Surfer and Thor. Think about it: most superheroes only have to worry about protecting our world from a few galaxies worth of uglies like the Skrulls and the Badoon – the Sorcerer Supreme has to defend us from infinite dimensions full of demons, demiurges and gods! Dormammu! Nightmare! Eternity! The Living Tribunal! Satannish! Shuma-Gorath! These are not your garden-variety evil-doers – these are primal forces of the cosmos!


One of my favorite things about Doc Strange’s world is his Sanctum Sanctorum, with its collection of omnipotent occult objects like the Book of Vishanti and the Orb of Agamotto. Is there anything cooler than a levitating globe that can detect black magic anywhere on the planet? And then to be able to project your ectoplasmic body to the scene within seconds to investigate, or break out that nifty Eye of Agamotto amulet on your neck whenever you need to…do just about anything! Batman in his Batcave is a kiddie hero compared this guy! Only Superman in his Fortress of Solitude can compare to the power of Dr. Strange in his Greenwich Village Sanctum, and I wouldn’t bet on the Kryptonian if those two ever went to war!

Steve Ditko’s surreal, psychedelic style really defined Doctor Strange, and when he left after Strange Tales #146 things went a bit sideways for a while. There were a few highlights during the brief Roy Thomas/Gene Colan run, but it wasn’t until 1973, seven years after Ditko’s departure, that the House of Ideas was able to return the Sorcerer Supreme to his former glory. That was the year Steve Englehart and John Brunner took over as creative team, with Marvel Premiere #9.

Englehart and Brunner wrapped up the rather convoluted "Shuma-Gorath Saga" in mind-blowing fashion in issue #10; I won’t spoil it for you, other than to say that the way they handled the "death of the Ancient One" is one of the high points of Marvel’s late '60’s/early '70’s "Cosmic Age". And Steve and John were just getting warmed up! Following that climactic confrontation, it seems that Stephen Strange was no longer merely Socerer Supreme of Earth, but of the entire freaking cosmos!. Not a bad upgrade to the ol’ resume, eh? I love the early '70’s, "one with the cosmos", navel-gazing vibe that Englehart brought to the character – like in this sequence from Marvel Premiere #12:



 "Dude, the cosmos is everything! This lizard is like, the whole cosmos, and I’m responsible for it." Talk about a God complex! Sheesh!

More great stories followed, including the "Sise-Neg Genesis" story in Marvel Premiere #14, in which Dr. Strange follows a 31st century sorcerer-turned-God to the very creation of the universe. Apparently Stan Lee thought the storyline was controversial enough that he wrote a fake fan letter from a fictional Texas preacher in an effort to persuade editor Roy Thomas to run the story! Two months later, Strange once again had his own solo book, which kicked off with the supremely bizarre “Silver Dagger” story arc. More epic battles with Baron Mordo, Dormammu, and Eternity would soon follow which took the Lee/Ditko creations into new cosmic territory.

I’d have to say that I prefer the Englehart/Brunner run even to the Lee/Ditko original series (gasp!). The stories weren’t as visually trippy as Ditko’s (how could they be?), but Brunner’s art is gorgeous and Englehart’s writing is far more sophisticated than Lee’s campy dialogue. The vast, quasi-theological themes and Lovecraftian, cosmic-occult feel of some of these stories has rarely been equaled in the comic book medium. This was cosmic comic storytelling at its finest, and every comic cosmonaut owes it to himself to read them, and to explore the wondrous worlds of the Sorcerer Supreme!

The Path of Power

The vital principal at work in the material plane is power; it is the force which drives all life upward, from primordial organic compounds to conscious human beings to whatever superhuman beings come after us. Your will its vessel, and by becoming conscious of this vital source and accumulating it without bound, you may become a god of your world, or of all worlds. This quest for godhood may be called the Path of Power.

There are infinite Paths of Power. One might walk the Path while saving a million or a billion souls, or destroying a like number. One might accumulate power without action, like the yogis and bodhisattvas of legend. One might acquire it via charitable work, sexual union, military conquest, artistic creation, political machination, athletic competition, scientific investigation, esoteric practice, occult ritual, technological invention, psychedelic experience, mass murder or religious revelation. The Paths of Power are many, and they are beyond good and evil.

Power is the divine made material, a measure of a man’s divinity. The sinner is he who is consigned to defeat, weak of will or mentally enslaved. The saint is he who seeks victory at all costs, his will of iron and his mind unfettered.

Prophets of the Path: Friedrich Nietzsche, Aleister Crowley, Anton LaVey, Bruce Lee

The Path of Power is anti-Christian and anti-Buddhist, its acolytes anti-Christs and anti-Buddhas. For while the meek may inherit the earth, the Masters of Power seek to own it now.

I propose to investigate this power in itself, rather than its infinite material manifestations, and ask: what is its nature? What laws govern its behavior? How may it be obtained? What are its limits?

Modern examples of masters of power: Adolph Hitler, Bruce Lee, Garry Kasparov, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Tiger Woods

What separates such individuals from the ordinary breed of men? What is the source of their exceptional will and drive? Is it genetics? God-given talent? Upbringing? Demonic possession? Can an ordinary man, lacking these factors, increase his own will and become such a man of power at will? Can will beget more will in a positive feedback loop, or are we stuck with whatever measure God or genes or environment have bestowed upon us? By what technologies, esoteric or scientific, may the force of will be increased?

Man is not a fallen being. Man is in the process of rising, and by his will he may rise still further, without known bounds.

There is no Enlightenment; there is only Empowerment.

The true religion of this age is the Path of Power.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Being Sean Strange

Greetings!  This is going to be my Sanctum Sanctorum here in the blogospheric dimension, my cyber-shaman's lair from which I will dispense all my ideas and visions.  I post on a wide variety of topics across numerous blogs — everything from magic and the occult to the Apocalypse, original science fiction and fantasy stories, transhumanism and the Singularity, the comic book multiverse, quasi-religious sermonizing and mystical revelation — and I would prefer to have one central repository to track my thoughts without worrying about arbitrary categorization.  This will probably be a place for more raw mind dumps and experiments in word wizardry, and less a place for polished prose.  Carl Jung created a form of self-therapy called "active imagination", wherein you allow your mind to unconsciously express itself in art or writing like a waking dream, and I'm thinking of turning this blog into an experiment in AI.  So if you don't mind a lot of self-indulgent, semi-delusional ramblings, you might find this an interesting little stop on your travels through the cyber-plane.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wizard World: Dawn of the New Age

I've had an exciting vision which I'm going to try to develop into a novel, tentatively called Wizard World (until I come up with something better).  I'm realizing that writing can be a powerful form of astral projection, channeling and telepathy — or what I like to call "word wizardry".  So I'm going to try to get myself into a trance-like state at my computer and record my visions via keyboard.  Here is a first installment to set the stage...

Prologue: Dawn of the New Age


The New Age of Magic did not dawn overnight upon the world, though it probably seemed that way to many who lived to see it.  In truth it was a long, slow sunrise, during which the Gift appeared sporadically throughout the world, among all the cultures and races of men (though disproportionately among the young).  At first the magically Gifted were dismissed as anomalies or shunned as witches, tricksters and frauds.  But as the Gift manifested in ever greater numbers, the number of believers grew likewise.  And as believers multiplied, the Gift itself grew stronger, until the manifestations were like a chain reaction, finally achieving a critical mass of miracles which exploded into the collective consciousness like the arrival of a bright new sun.
Looking back across four centuries, scholars of the Old Age can clearly discern the signs of the New Age dawning as far back as the 19th century of the old calendar.  The Spiritualist movement, the Theosophy of Madame Blavatsky, the occult revival of the Order of the Golden Dawn and the magician-prophet Aleister Crowley, all hinted at a deep metaphysical dissensus stirring within post-Enlightenment civilization.  Even in that dark age of dogmatic science and religion, magical thinking stubbornly refused to die.
In the 20th century, the first serious attempts to reconcile science and magic were made.  J.B. Rhine’s studies “of extra-sensory perception” at Duke University in the 1930’s, “psychic warfare” programs in the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1970’s and 80’s, the findings of the Monroe Institute, the Global Consciousness Project and many other organizations devoted to the study of consciousness, all hinted at untapped powers of the human mind for which science had no working models.  Quantum theory, with its discovery that consciousness and matter are inseparable, gave visionary scientists their first glimpses of the new paradigm, but most remained stubbornly attached to the materialist worldview.
By the early 21st century, science itself was in a state of crisis.  Its inability to account for psychic phenomena, to understand the nature of consciousness, to offer a satisfactory alternative to religious belief or to solve the escalating material problems of industrial civilization led a growing number of people to challenge its position as the highest arbiter of truth.  Yet even as faith in the high priests of science was fading, the old paradigm lumbered on.  The citadels of science were being shaken, but so long as power flowed from their technological products, the materialist orthodoxy would remain unbroken.  If magical thinking was to fully emerge into the collective consciousness, it seemed that some great shock to the very foundations of post-Enlightenment civilization would be required.
That shock came in the middle of the 21st century.  This was the era of the Great Industrial Wars, when the accumulated excesses of materialist civilization finally erupted into total war.  Apocalyptic global conflicts over planetary resources killed billions, and left billions more mentally destroyed.  Horrific new weapons of mental manipulation, biological eradication and robotic precision left no person on the planet unharmed.  Yet somehow, amidst this unimaginable death and destruction, the magical Gift began to manifest en masse.
The Wise offer several explanations for this strange coincidence.  First, it is thought that the terrible psychological stresses of that period must have accelerated the emergence of the latent psychic powers in certain populations.  Second, the unprecedented evolutionary pressure of a seven-tenths cull of the human population accelerated the genetic drift toward the emergence of Homo Magicus – Magical Man.  Those with the Gift, who could glimpse the future, read thoughts or see at a distance, simply tended to survive.  Third, but not least, the collapse of industrial civilization and the utter failure of science had the effect of quieting the naysayers who denied the existence of the Gift.  No longer told from birth that Magic was impossible, the young and the innocent throughout the world simply began performing miracles.
So by the early 22nd century, with the Old World in ruins and the surviving populations traumatized, the way was clear for the establishment of an entirely new spiritual and social order.  Those with the Gift, who had organized themselves into orders of wizards and survived the chaos, emerged as the new spiritual leaders of mankind.  With their special powers and a sense of collective destiny, the wizards moved quickly to seize the historical moment.  The call went out over the telepathic network they called "the Matrix", and a meeting of wizards was organized which would alter the course of history even more profoundly than had the Council of Nicaea two millennia before.
In 2127 C.E. – Year One of the New Age – the first Council of the Wise was convened at Stonehenge to establish the founding principles of a new magical civilization.  The First Council brought leaders of all the magical orders from across the world, and together they drafted the Wizard’s Creed.  The Creed declared that the Age of Enlightenment was over, its philosophy of materialism forever disproven.  The Creed effectively banned most Science and Technology, which would acquire a status similar to witchcraft and sorcery in medieval Christendom.  The Wizards decreed that the Old Age of Science had resulted in spiritual degradation, global slaughter and planetary destruction, while the New Age of Magic would seek to elevate mankind toward godhood, reconnect him with nature and rebuild the world in a more humane and enchanted image.
The Creed called upon wizards everywhere to ensure that Scientists would never again threaten the world with their dark arts.  In the wake of the First Council, most surviving temples of Science would be destroyed, their Scientists converted to wizardry, driven into hiding, imprisoned or killed.  Vast stores of machinery, weapons and technical books which had survived the Industrial Wars were gathered together and set ablaze in huge ritual conflagrations; unrepentant Scientists were publicly executed to the cheers of spiteful mobs.
The Creed declared that Industry, too, was to be abolished.  For Industry had not only laid waste to the natural world, but had robbed the spiritual world of its magic.  According to the Wizards’ worldview, it was not the mass-produced item or the scientific method which granted magical powers, but the unique, irreproducible experience.  To allow industry to rise again would literally be an act of suicide for magical civilization.  In the new order, the Great Work of mankind would no longer be perfecting the engines of industry, but empowering the machinery of the mind.
The Creed also rejected many aspects of the old monotheistic religions, which were based on an incorrect understanding of human potential.  By forbidding magic, by equating it with sin or demonic worship and persecuting the Gifted, the monotheists had forever discredited themselves in the Wizards’ eyes.  Rather than fear God or disbelieve in Him, the wizard would seek to become Him.

(to be continued....)
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