Language and Magic

I am a little excited to see discussions undercutting notions of a language instinct a la Chomsky seeping out into semi-popular culture. In part, because if we ought to jettison the language instinct, we ought also to jettison ideas like the collective unconscious formulated by C. G. Jung. What makes one untenable makes the other untenable, too.

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Spinoza and the Spiritual Labyrinth

Spinoza’s philosophical monism structures a lot of how I think about our interactions with the world of spirits. The specifics of his work, his way of thinking and arguing as well as his assertions, are worth some attention in and of themselves, but this really isn’t the vest venue for that. Heck, I may not even be the best person for that anyway. Behind those specifics there is a monist sensibility (I’m big on that notion, aren’t I?) that is even more useful to me. That can be usefully described here, so let me see if I can get at that.

I’m going to do that by breaking the sensibility down into some grounding intuitions, that sense of how the world is ordered and how that order ought to shape how we think about it. I’m going to play a little loosely with Spinoza’s logic in order to get at this sensibility, in part because I draw different conclusions from it. Continue reading “Spinoza and the Spiritual Labyrinth”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I’m still chewing over the idea of ‘tradition’ and ‘traditional’ from yesterday and I am getting closer to the kernel of it. Talking about the difference between traditions as historical entities and traditionalism as an attitude definitely puts me on the right track. The notion that there is an attitude at the heart of my attraction to the term gets me even closer.

I can start to put on a better name on that attitude, too. Respect.

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Through Home’s Window

Die Vergangenheit führt einen heimlichen Index mit, durch den sie auf die Erlösung verwiesen wird. (The past carries with it a homing index by which it is referred to redemption.)(Walter Benjamin, Über den Begriff der Geschichte/Theses on the Philosophy of History)

It’s hard to live in the market, it’s hard to live in this world. Sometimes, thoughts of home are all that get us through it. I haven’t talked a lot about home, though. There are reasons for this, first among them that we don’t all share the same home. The elsewhere, the heaven, to which one of us returns may not be identical to the heaven to which another returns. I share the market with you, I might not share home.
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Idolatry and Mystery

We are heavy, dense, stupid. We are coils of neurons, patterns of habit, symbols distilled from our animal life. We come to spiritual work with base understanding and strain to see the highest and most subtle through it. When we pray and invoke the subtle powers, we bring them to ourselves and our weighty lives. When we do this for a long time, deeply and passionately, the mystery of that only intensifies. While we sense more clearly the vastness, the subtlety more subtle than the subtlests part of our awareness, we also discover the heaviest parts of ourselves growing bright. If we hold to the mystery, it grows more profound.

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Zero, and Geomancy

I’ve mentioned geomancy, right? For everyday divination, I am far more likely to grab a Tarot deck, but it is geomancy that structures my thinking. I never got deep into the Tarot as map business that a lot of Western esotericists dig in part because it seemed so static. By contrast, geomancy’s figures are mobile and the mathematics that defines them seems better suited to the sort of dynamism I encountered on the spiritual plane.

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Born into Mystery

So, I’ve started to talk about some right proper kookiness these last few posts: giants, PKD, heavenly invasions to save the dead. Do I really believe this stuff? The short answer is yes, the long answer is no. Or the short answer is no, the long answer yes. Or is it short answer, no, long answer no? Those responses should give you a clear idea of what I am getting at–‘believing’ isn’t quite what matters here, though it does come into play. The gnostic work must take for granted that (1) the human understanding is limited but not incompetent and (2) the world is complex, exceeds our understanding, but is not senseless.

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