2 September 2017

Lovecraft Got It

Welcome to me bunching my fists with effort. Welcome to me fully cognizant of the fact that how I act is entirely up to me. Welcome to me knowing that there is no cloud-comfortable bearded sky daddy who will forgive me for behaving like an asshole. Welcome to me having to skirt the line between the required gentle ribbing and subversion required and not wanting to tip over into being, you know, mean.

Because nobody wants to be that guy, right? That guy is most certainly not who anyone wants to be.

Let's start with "Today I Learned".

What's giving me a massive problem here is that I am unused to seeing something that I would totally have made up presented as a real thing. In my exploration here, through the written word, I come to the conclusion that I love it, I really do love it. I love the wonky web design and the wonkier UI behaviour, I love the tone of the site, the blank-faced failure to comprehend that some people will find it, I don't know, is hilarious the right word?

I think this is a Discordian's big problem with most religion and esoteric practice*. It's all kind of funny, when you sit down to think about it. That's where it veers off the track to become horrible and frightening. You realise that people are actually trying to stop thinking in order to believe something inherently nonsensical. And they succeed with alarming regularity.

Having said that Discordianism doesn't say no to other religions, you want to extend your belief platform into something a bit more orthodox, go ahead. The point of the Discordian perspective is just that. Discordianism is an all-purpose mental filter for anything else that you might want to put into your brain.

So... magic...

Let's not ask the boring question. Let's ask the inverted boring question that is only marginally less boring, but we have places to go, so we won't dwell. Here goes: Do I disbelieve in magic. Well, that's a very simple question. I don't believe everything I read, so obviously as magical instruction is written down I don't believe it.

Okay, so not to wriggle out of the topic, if I'm at a party and someone says to me: "Hi, I'm Pete and I used to be a Grandmaster of the Magical Pact of the Illuminates of Thanateros," how do I reply?

I guess, after much deliberation, I have to go with: "Oh, sounds interesting? And what does that involve?"

As it happens what it involves is detailed in a couple of Wikipedia articles, at least a broad overview. What am I to make of the fact that a circle of occult magicians formed in the 1970s in the East End of London centred upon a metaphysical bookshop called The Phoenix? What is anyone to think learning of a schism that shook the IoT in the 1990s resulting in an event dubbed "The Ice Magick Wars"?

As a Discordian I have to remain highly skeptical. On the other hand people have paid the mortgage living their lives as practicing magicians. That is an achievement of some kind. I am a software developer who has had a lucky break and I feel a pressing need to pay my bills writing software for computers that definitely exist, the bloody things are everywhere.

I have never needed myself, nor known anyone who has admitted to needing, the services of a professional magician of any sort. I note, from the entry about one of the founders of IoT Peter J. Carroll, that this particular magician wrote a few magical tomes, but then, I know how much money can be generated off book sales and it's not a living income in the numbers he would have been selling them. (Although I don't doubt I would find the number of copies sold of any one impressive, just, not impressive versus, say, Clive Barker.)

Mr Carroll now maintains a website where he can publish some thoughts directly to the internet. This is where I started this enlightening trip down the rabbit hole with some notes from 2015 regarding Discordianism.

At first I wanted this post to be a reply to that post, particularly the assertion that "Discordianism seems dead or dying, having served its purpose."

When I find myself at this part of the path, however, what can I really say? Because to a certain extent Mr. Carroll has it exactly right, nail on the head, got it, grasped it, right on the button. And in exactly the same way he is so far from right that it would appear he has backed into his insight from the wrong side.

I think the key, for what it's worth, is in the notion of death. And in 2015 it is entirely possible that Discordianism was dying. As any esoterocist will tell you, however, death isn't the end. It is a place of transformation after which nothing will ever be the same ever again.

This is why I have returned to Discordianism after reading about it first, probably in the mid-Nineties, when I was in my early twenties. Mr Carroll was immersed in sixties counterculture, Robert Anton Wilson co-author of the Illuminatus Trilogy was a member of the IoT. That counterculture was his culture. But it wasn't, and could never be, mine.

So in my twenties I examined Discordianism as a thing that had happened, exactly the same way that Caroll appraised it two years ago. In that form, the original form, it was a blunt tool, something to be used against a mainstream culture that needed to be curtailed. The Illuminatus Trilogy pits counterculture heroes against figures of the old-world establishment. A lot of the nitty-gritty of phase one Discordianism is designed to specifically attack, undermine and immunize against that exact paradigm.

And it won. Without a large number of people actively embracing specific Discordianism. I'm not sure if even the KLF would claim to be practicing Discordians. I think those people who do claim it do so out of necessity, not out of a desire to do so. I know this is true for me.

As with the philosophy of automatically refusing to believe everything you read** until you have taken away absolutely everything from it that can be rejected so Discordianism itself will mutate until it reforms to be the antidote to the new establishment.

Look around the Western world, we have parody politicians playing parody power games for an audience of voters who are slowly coming to understand that they are watching a pantomime. Politics has always been metaphorically pantomimic, because all power games are, but right now, right here, at this time is the moment in the Emperor's New Clothes where the crowd are realising that the Emperor isn't wearing a stitch.

Over a half century the authority of authority has eroded. Any person with a gun can now be branded a maniac, soldiers and police are not exempt. People are slowly realising they are people.

Lovecraft got it. Any being with the power of a god will not care about you. There are things out there that we are not biologically or spiritually equipped to even contemplate. We are having difficulty even looking at ourselves in the mirror. To understand and accept who and what we are would, at this time, be the ultimate work of any magical practice. Once we nail that, magic like any other tool, will die, and rise like a phoenix from the ashes in a new form.

* How can you not laugh when you find out contemporary Chaos Magick practice can incorporate an element of video-conferencing?

** For really overcomplicated re-evaluations of the terms "believe" and "read". Homework: Describe in detail what it is to believe something. What does it mean to have read something? Does it have to involve written words? If your head starts to hurt while doing the homework go watch TV for an hour and then take a bath and have a nap. Overthinking never leads to good places.

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