It is not often one finds actual correspondence in Twitter’s confines. An app that seems to have been designed specifically by US intelligence-adjacent tech corporations to enable Iranian youth to organize flash-mob protests against a stodgy and sclerotic Iranian government was for some time a great venue for comedians and snark-mongers to farm laughs. That’s where I came into it.
Then came the election of 2016.
I have the benefit of having a friend who had a very close connection to the C-suite at Twitter. He routinely described the leadership or that company as a ‘slow-motion trainwreck. NO real direction but an endless supply of investment money. I don’t know where it comes from. Nobody with any sense would invest in Twitter.”
But like many thousands of other alienated inhabitants of nations from US/UK/EU to Russia and Japan to Nigeria that I follow, I found Twitter to be an outlet for my angry outbursts and a source of solace that other people were loudly challenging the ‘general line’, even if only in this little side-parlor of actual political discourse. Such opinions as mine and those of the Skrauss, …….. Occasionally, the actually powerful will forcefully denounce your heresy, should it somehow rise to their attention. Which is rarely. A condescending reminder to ‘get your facts in order’ before popping off.’ may be delivered. But it won’t come from Donald Trump, Pierre Omidyar or James Brennan. It will come from some third string journalist who somehow got your rant into his/her feed and decided to defend the Empire’s machinations by taking you to task for having an educated opinion contrary to the official narrative. Some people buy into the fiction, not for pay so much as to bolster their sense of solidity in a universe that’s seemingly flying apart with unauthorized narratives.
In the same way that popular musical taste is no longer dictated by four or five entertainment conglomerates (the technical fix for that is being applied. Call it ‘cloud’ technology. Which will enforce a rentier model of capitalism in the arts by ruthless technological enforcement of IP law, which was passed nominally to ‘protect the artist’, but is structured to benefit exclusively the same claque of lawyers and middlemen who’ve always leeched artists dry. Often driving them to suicide.
A thought or three on Samuel Bendeck Sotillos interviewing Charles Upton, excerpted from Vectors of the Counter-Initiation: The Course and Destiny of Inverted Spirituality Sophia Perennis, 2012; All notes by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos
Having digested the interview and troubled to track down some of the more obscure references, (I”m familiar with who Rene Guenon was. But perennialism– not so much.) I was mostly struck by the recent trend among ‘intellectual dark web’ critiques of psychedelics. I suppose the term ‘intellectual dark web has no meaning at all unless it encompasses serious thinkers such as Jasun Horsely, Chris Knowles, Gordon White, Recluse/VISUP(http://visupview.blogspot.com/), Wordman (http://mcmmadnessnews.blogspot.com/), and others bringing an array of alternative interpretations of the current climate of intellectual ferment and controversy.
The controversy in alternative circles regarding the usefulness (or perfidious threat) of chemical compounds which engender mental explorations not sanctioned or actively condemned by ‘traditional’ religion has been inflamed by the combination of circumstances surrounding the legalization of cannabis in several jurisdictions as well as the revival of clinical study of compounds such as DMT, LSD, Ketamine, MDMA &c.
Charles Upton’s objections to this revival is linked specifically to religious precepts.
Upton contrasts ‘authentic spirituality’ with something what is derisively termed ‘new age spirituality’. He then proceeds to embark on explanations couched in specifically neo-platonic terms. “The Spiritual plane, on the other hand, is purely objective. It is not composed of our impressions, but of things we have impressions of—of noumena “
I’m not an expert on Plato’s philosophy, but I’m educated enough to know whence this sentiment derives. Upton holds that our experience of the physical plane is entirely subjective. Just read Plato’s cave and the Myth of Er. It’s all there. It’s also the intellectual matrix within which Christianity and Islam were invented to bind the subjects of two empires together. Mohammed grokked the formula. So did Edward Bernays. So did Carl Jung. Knowing how to manipulate masses of people (even very intelligent people) emotionaly is an old science, but in the age of industry and science, it became a science. The dream of Tiberius ‘if only all Rome had but one neck’, has become reality. The autonomy of the individual conciousness has come under rellentless attack, not by demagoguery, but by techical means. And this includes bio-chemistry.
The story of LSD is illustrative of how a molecule can be such a powerful touchstone for both soaring hopes and parylizing terror.
Born of efforts to create an aid for women in labor, LSD (no, not WW2 German mad science-in fact, despite some effort, I was unable to discover a single instance of German SD or Army intelligence operatives making us of LSD for anything at all.) was quickly discovered to have the property of promoting extreme introspection and self examination. It also left an individual open to suggestions and whimsical or absurd ideation. In some instances at sufficient dosage, it can produce actual audio or visual hallucination. (or what is thought to be hallucination).
LSD quite rapidly became a rallying point for a bewildering spectrum of ontological positions. It was a tool of Satan, it was Promethean Fire. (And really those are the same thing, if you are paying attention to how neoplatonic Christian myth cohered). Those who advocated its use did so either irresponsibly and merrily (Leary) or with sober words of caution about its potential as a tool of control (Huxley).
Current IDW critiques of people like Huxley focus on their deep connections to ruling class circles, which they share with dingbats like Tim Leary. The figure of Terence McKenna is more difficult to demonize. McKenna, very much working class, explicitly warned his listeners and readers against the ‘wooly headed’ New Age. And against turning him into a guru. Like Robert Anton Wilson, another apostle of ‘think for yourself,’ this does not keep detractors from pronouncing McKenna a ‘spook’.
So what’s the underlying fear? Upton’s critique is important, because unlike a PoMo trainwreck like Miles Mathis, Upton relies for his warnings of deep understanding of the western mytho-religious-philosophical traditions as opposed to a reflexive desire to explain everything vaguely interesting as a prouct of British or US intelligence. For Upton, use of psychedelic compounds is a kind of attempt to sit on the throne of ‘God’.
“To experience God is to be called to immediately transcend that necessarily limited experience of Him, and come into naked existential contact with Him as He is in Himself, beyond all experience; as the Sufis put it, “the human being does not know God in His Absolute Essence; it is God who knows Himself within the human form.”
That is stated in explicitly religious language. It’s also supremely subjetive. First of all even according to Abrahamic myth, many mortal men have ‘experienced’ God, directly. It’s a fairly long list, right down to all Jesus’ apostles and Mohammed. And maybe Joseph Smith.
So, taking these traditions as face-value, mortal man may look into the eyes of the Supreme Being and not dissolve into a pile of goo. It’s not often claimed that psychedelics specifically put one on the plane of the divine. Far more often, claims are far less lofty and more germain to our mundane existence. An enhanced connection to nature or ‘agape’ is far more often the purpose. That or the perturbation of mental states in order to study their objective nature.
Upton says, “It is highly interesting that psychedelic drugs burst upon the scene at precisely the same moment that the Second Vatican Council was abolishing traditional Roman Catholicism and deconstructing the sacramental order….Psychedelics, in other words, were a kind of Luciferian “booby prize” offered as compensation for the fall of western Christendom.”
It’s more highly interesting that psychedelic drugs were made possible or even invevitable by the mechanistic ontological structure advanced by Cartesian science. Which has supplanted Christianity. It is now being supplanted in its turn by libertarian neoliberal capitalism that rigorous atheistic scientism engendered in the mid-nineteenth century now that we’ve arrived in the post-industrial/post-modern space.
Do ‘traditionalists’ propose putting the Jinn back into the lamp? ‘It’s one thing to call foul on New Age posturing and warn against an archaic revival assembled by self interested bullshit artists, swamis, gurus and science fiction writers. It’s quite another to advocate for the restoration of the kind of thought conformity the Roman Church enforced with a variety of tortures mental and bodily that the ‘enlightenment’ was advanced in reaction to.
Upton seems to be advancing the intellectual position that Frank Herbert predicted in the novel Dune (1965); a synthesis of Sufist Islamic, Catholic and Protestant though into a new religion to encompass all humanity. Why, it’s almost the sort of thing an intelligence agency or cryptic conspiracy might concoct. That’s precisely the thesis of Joe Atwill. That Christianity, regardless of the authenticity of the person of Jesus himself, is a creation of a specific noble house in Imperial Rome- to weld the Empire together through propagation of a one-world One True Religion composed of currents of spiritual ferment of late antiquity which has been brough together through the short lived Empire of Alexander and his less martially capable successors.Theories abound as to the influence of a number of religious systems on the development of Christianity as a system. Or the influence of psychedelics specifically. (look up John Allegro).
If you want to propose an adherence to orthodox islam or christianity, then you need to do better than agree with Mircea Eliade that psychoactive compoounds are the sign of a tradition in decline. McKenna, demon of the traditionalists proposes Eliade had it entirely backward: the use of plant compounds to reach some level of communication with other minds is the sign of a healthy and robust tradition and that the descent into ordeal and self-denial of various kinds is the sign of decadence and terminal decline.