I have been thinking about C. G. Jung’s typological work again, in part because I have been thinking about the opening of a personal magical practice, about what constitutes the healthy openign for a person. Reflection on such beginnings provide insight into the present situation they made possible, and they also provide possible insight for those who are at the beginning, so it seems like good blogging material.
I needed to come at the issue with fresher eyes, so I picked up a collection of Wilhelm Dilthey’s essays, Poetry and Experience, that has been sitting on my shelves for years. It has made it through numerous purges and finally I have put it to some use!
I keep coming back to this. The questions that animate spiritualism seem like they find many answers in Kabbalism both narrowly (e.g., through texts like the Sefer Yetzirah and the Zohar) and broadly (e.g., in relationship to the broader horizon of Middle Eastern mysticism, be it Christian, Islamic, Jewish, or other) construed. At the heart of this is the interplay of the material and spiritual, especially around the question of idolatry and iconography.
This post began a bit far afield and so ranges widely to circle closer to home.I’m revisiting some old ground here, and this is very notebook-post, more observation and juxtaposition than well-articulated statement.
Today, Stacey and I were driving into Greensboro and talking about the clever use of doors in Jessica Jones, about the way the doors serve to mediate interactions between characters, and about how the doors where the characters live tells us more than a little about the sorts of people they are.
That set me to thinking and talking about the tail end of the first season of Person of Interest (haven’t seen beyond that; I’m a slow consumer that way), where the almost invisible eye of the Machine starts to acquire its own independence, where its camera-eye view shows signs of being guided by some peculiar machinic sense of interest and concern. That, in turn, set us off talking about how disappointing, how banally villainous, the Ultron AI of the last Avengers movie was.
I quite like this description of righting the world from Hermetic Lessons:
In Kabbalah we speak of Tikkun ha Olam – the rectification of the worlds – the idea being that in the Shevirat Ha Kelim, the Shattering of the Vessels, the world became broken and overwhelmed by evil. The Ari used the partzufim (personifications, countenanves) in order to complete this reparation – for while the kelim could not contain the light and so shattered, the partzufim, by being able to enter dialogue with each other, could both give and recieve the light**. We could speak of our task on Earth being Tikkun ha Partzuf, the repair of the face.
The language is virtually identical to that of the espiritistas: identify your spirits [i.e., partzufim] and give them light. It’s worth pointing out what those asterisks in the quote specify, too: that ‘light’ is here synonymous with attention. In other words, to give and receive light is to give and receive attention, and it is through attention that the rifts in creation are bridged.
The similarity between the two is, of course, not accidental. Spiritism emerges from a soil that has been throroughly saturated with Kabbalism, sometimes so much so that it has become all-but invisible.
I don’t find myself wanting to write too much about the conference. Or, rather, I want to write about it, but there is a disconnect between what happens when I start writing and what I want to talk about. I’m having a hard time even reading the proceedings. I have definitely talked a lot about it, but writing seems to run a little counter to what I took from it.
That probably tells you more about where I am at right now than anything else. It is definitely not because there aren’t things to say or because the conference proceedings aren’t interesting. When it comes to the proceedings, at least, I have a good idea of why I am not reading them too vigorously. The proceedings are a good reflection of the workshops and lectures, but I don’t want to quite revisit them like that. Not yet, at least.
I’m not one of those folks who likes to draw many comparisons from studies of computing processes and apply them to human behavior. I tend to think that computers mimic human consciousness more because of the human beings that structure and use them rather than them being intrinsically conscious. I may be wrong about that, but that’s my working hypothesis.
Following on the last post, let me talk a bit more about what I mean when I say that the Sa’adia diagram might provide the basis for a better ontological account of what exactly is going on with the talk of qlippoth. If we look at the tree as a manifestation of the archetypal forces of creation interacting with an alien matrix that receives it (which isn’t Sa’adia’s point, but one to which his model well extends), then the alien matrix’s own being has to be taken into account. Far from a passive mirror, it responds to the archetypal forces of creation according to difficult to discern internal properties of its being.
On some level, if for no other reason than they are capable of interacting, we can grasp that there is a deep affinity between archetype and matrix. There are many dimensions to the matrix just as there are many dimensions to the archetype. Whether as a result of the interaction with the matrix, or on the basis of its own self-differentiation, the archetype manifests such that it develops multiple points of reflection on itself, the seeds of individual souls. Those seeds possess the same constituting properties of the archetype on a smaller scale.
The Armadel is one of the few places I have seen my specific trinity of potencies identified (to the extent that they seem to recognize themselves in it on some level) as a trinity (the Grimorum Verum is another). That odd little duck gets lumped into what some call the “Arts of Disposition,” a category that seems to fit quite well with my own work with the trinity. It has been less a matter of achieving some specific thing, than of transforming myself.
“It is likely that no one ever masters anything in which he has not known impotence; and if you agree, you will also see that this impotence comes not at the beginning of or before the struggle with the subject, but in the heart of it.”—Walter Benjamin, “A Berlin Chronicle” in Reflections (4)
Finding this quote set me to flipping pleasantly through the pages of Reflections. Ah, Benjamin, such a pleasure. The double movement of Benjamin into the city and into his past, the opacity of its material forces and the opacity of his family wealth…well, if I wonder down this side street, I might never get to what I want to write about.