Exemplary Cases: Yesod, Klippot, and Fan Fiction

The way in which fan fiction operates may serve as a case study for understanding the way in which the klippot can function, specifically as the klippot of a specific operation that can take place under the auspices of the sefirot Yesod. Let me see if I can walk you through my reasoning.

Each sefirot is a point of interaction, both a world unto itself and a threshold between one world and another. The enneagram provides one useful model of the way in which the sefirot becomes a world, the sefirot serving as a fold in the planetary line that welcomes and nourishes powers of other sefirot and lines. It also, in its tradition of movement between the points, emphasizes that the work entails a necessary effort to transmit and translate powers from one world to another.

Within each sefirot, then, a fragment of the Tree of Life models the whole. This isn’t quite fractal relationship because each sefirot models the Tree in a different substance, meaning that at best what we see is a common fractal pattern animating different substances with a common tendency toward structure. We don’t need to get too arcane; the take away is this: just as each sefirot is a fragment through which a virtual pattern can be transmitted, each sefirot also composes itself out of fragments through which its virtual pattern is transmitted. And so on.

In other words, we can talk about fiction as a microcosm of Yesod.

Klippot are simultaneously the detritus, vessels, and substance of the sefirot. This makes some sense when we talk about the difference between the concrete fragment and the virtual pattern that passes through it. So long as the pattern operates through the fragment, it is a vessel that sustains a spiritual substance and as soon as it moves beyond it, the substance is spent and discarded. The nut/drupe metaphors that animate many Kabbalistic discussions of the klippot (e.g., those in the Zohar) make a lot of sense here. The seed contained in the fleshy fruit-skin is protected and nourished, but once it begins to grow, it breaks through that skin.

Of course, the husks of a drupe aren’t ecologically useless. They rot and nourish other things and the Zohar suggests that the detritus of one sefirot may become substance of another.

So, treat a work of fiction as an exemplary Yesodic fragment. At its best, it transmits a vision to the reader. That might be in a literal sense (e.g., how Clive Barker describes Imajica as a record of an intensely visionary period of dreaming or Sinclair Lewis to convey real-life factory conditions in The Jungle) or in a more allegorical sense (e.g., Piers Plowman‘s use of staged visions to comment upon Christian life).

This vision must be transmitted through conventions, although ideally those conventions are forced to serve the vision. Or, to put it more plainly, the conventions are structured by the vision, are set into an order that bears witness to them. Once structured well, the pattern passes easily through and beyond them. The patterning force doesn’t rest in the product; the completed work does not precisely contain the structuring power so much as the trace of its passing.

As Barker writes in the foreword to the second volume of Imajica:

“…some of the feelings that brought me to this novel will be left with you when it’s finished. Christ and England have not left my heart—they never will—but writing about a subject works an extraordinary magic. It magnifies the passions that inspired the story, and then—with the work finished—buries them, out of sight and mind, so as to allow the writer to move on to another place.” (xii; emphasis mine)

Which is where fan fiction in all its varying forms comes in. The work that inspires is already klippot but like all klippot contains a vital trace and the effort can be made to recapture that trace through a repetition of the pattern that it manifests. It tends to become a play of echoes, with increasingly diminishing returns, once that play upon the mechanism of the human animal and its cultural reactions. Catharsis degrades into a play of emotion and sentiment.

This is not a bad thing in and of itself, because those fragments are also well-worn by the movements of vision. They are the sort of thing that a spirit or vision can slide into and through. They are also a reservoir of models to which they writer can turn for their work of sharing a vision. Finally, though degraded, even simple emotion and sentiment contain the vital turnings atop which a vision might once again be cultivated; where there are sparks and tinder, there may again come fire.

What is true for these sorts of klippot is true more generally. They are a kind of poison and taken too liberally intensify the dissolution of the spiritual vessel that we are. More carefully employed they also provide an opportunity to be worked, an education that can be put to use, a channel that be activated.

This also allows us to highlight something important about klippot: it is the husk, yes, but it is always the husk of that which once contained the structuring divine. It is not raw substance but the remains of a working. When that for which the work was done has abandoned that which was worked, what remains is klippot. Artists as well as magicians, priests as well as mystics, need to take some care with their work and appreciate the metabolism of it (and their metabolism and its tolerances). Stockpiling can turn to self-poisoning, the nature of which varies according to the poison.

And, so too, for all of us who live amidst all this.

Klippot also draws us toward that which is structured, toward the mysterious Mater, to the Eden who receives Elohim, to that which gives birth to the crossroads under the influence of heaven.

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