Thursday, 18 February 2021

saturnine and fugitive

 Look, Storm, sorry I don't mean to bore you but there's no such thing as an aura! Reading Auras is like reading minds or tea-leaves or star-signs or meridian lines. These people aren't applying a skill, they're either lying or mentally ill. Same goes for people who claim they hear God's demands or Spiritual healers who think they've magic hands. - Tim Minchin



If it is true to say that festivals of the spirit mark the place where technology fails, then equally it should be recorded that technical operations are activated wherever human affection must be overcome. The more technologically forward, the more emotionally backward; the more technologically backward, the more emotionally forward. The individual encounters the spiritual in the impasse of social production, he is thrown back into a fantasy of another, and unrealisable, community to which he may belong on other, and /oceanic/ terms. The fractured world cultivates fantasies of a sense of reassuring enclosedness, of the soft scoop embrace of the cosmos, and of the communion and healing associated with a resultant state of restful arrival. The transactional world persists even into the desire that all this might turn out to have been /worth it in the end/. Recourse of fractured being to the fantasy of a higher, and meaningful, plane emerges as a desire for a conclusive event of overcoming of troubles, for an otherwise non-viable solution to, a compensation for, the drags, thorns and inhibiting pressures of interpellated being. 


Spiritual knowledge is achieved at the self’s expense; technical knowledge is achieved at the expense of society. The ease of the individual is realised at the cost of an irrevocable violence to the shape of community; the ease of the community is realised at the cost of an distorting violence visited upon individuals. 



Continuity within /community/, wherein a spiritual content is referenced both as rupture and tradition, is achieved in the perpetual trade-off between fixed modalities of power which must shift in relation, and in combination, but not in type. Spirituality then filters through endless permutations in the proportions institutionalised as immediacy and mediation, one moment is characterised by its liberalisation, and another by its centralisation. The life of the spirit percolates through social relations, not as an eternal or invariable exterior, but as a dark reflection, a reaction to the churning mechanism of social reproduction. It becomes the means for expressing the subject’s ambivalent tendency towards both transgression and conformity in relation to temporal power, or it becomes, in line with the project of continuity itself, that fleeting-eternally oriented product which is to be conserved and carried across the thresholds of events and /recognised/ in the repertoire of scattered affirmations and negations which it elicits from that culturally bound community for which it has ongoing relevance.



The first order of movement within the relations of a community is constituted as a fluctuation between conservation of acquired traits and metabolisation of events; it is a movement that inevitably converts its products from an immediate and personal modality into a displaced and mediated form.  Direct repression transforms over time into consensus which inevitably develops in line with the subject population’s internalisation of roles, rules, rewards. The fatal cost of the transformatory process upon the community itself, as instituted power passes from a state of terror to that of habituation, is an incremental sclerotic and constraining effect upon the community’s institutions as abstraction feeds down into its members’ personal relations - it is from this fissuring between states of social stability and societal collapse, between the environmentalised fail-safe of post-scarcity and the cosmic ravages of plague, that the spiritual referent hatches out. 



After all, and within this second indirect phase, another movement, a whirling within the wheel: the natural development of the system follows the inevitable path from an earlier phase of formalised or self-legislating capture of spontaneously occurring but archaic and exterior forms to a later, developed phase realised as a fully environmentalised and integrated apparatus. Whereupon the circuit of a third movement is immediately activated, and operating as a compensatory corrective to the lack of social nutrition in abstraction: within the cumulative realisation of indirect domination, direct and personal authority must return, but in the attenuated and primitive shape of spiritual authenticity, as the return of the repressor as first authority, leader and father, and as a representation of the form of direct domination, which the system itself has already subsumed. The administered community will seek to conjure the object of spirituality, the moment it has expelled the last remnants of spirit’s material reality. 



The possibility for any spiritual awakening is not contradicted by either material forces, there is nothing but, nor the imputed materialist mindset of modern humans, /it was ever thus/. Contrariwise! The project of spirituality is structurally inhibited from achieving the qualitative form of an unprecedented particularity that it seeks out by the conceptual basis of its own categorisation. By definition, the spiritual must escape the constraints of the material and quotidian and yet, also by definition, its tendency to slip back from the violent exceptionality of individual gnosis into the recurrent interchangeability and conciliation of its avatars and instances, its responsiveness to collation and categorisation, suggested first in the syncretism of its concept, acts to foreclose on its own realisation. 



Spirituality in the particular /should/ extend the amplitude of the material human community by returning the rupture of its content at a higher level of exceptionality, and by reintroducing that which is excluded as problematic, irrational and irrelevant as an additional finding, an additional knowledge, an additional mode of relating - Saturn’s disquieting return as fugitive, upturning the orderly house of Capricorn. Every tarot card, even the /palace of swords/ may be reversed. Even so, in practice, spirituality /qua/ spirituality, serves a base actualising function for the dominant modality as pseudo-contradiction within the reproduction of vulgar totality where it is already condemned to departmentalisation as the esoteric, spiritual and well-being stock of bookshops, the false fetishes and nicknacks of /alternative emporiums/, the tawdry cold -readings and manipulations of confirmation bias as practiced by leaders, organisers, teachers, guides and masters, and the placatory, small-ad circulated yoga-derived classes and the new year resolution driven self-improvement schemes renting spaces in community centres. Everywhere spirit is sold as placebo when, in its orphic guise, it is wolfish antagonist to the constraints of Pentheus. 



Certainly, the individual will attain greater self-knowledge by /forcing the hand of chance/ through the scattering/funnelling heuristics of divination (tarot, bibliomancy, scrying, astrology, prayer) in realising the project of its de-institutionalisation than it will from the adaptation strategies of psychology. The ideological component of the material sciences deployed against the tutelage of /fairies at the bottom of the  garden/ is exposed cryptically as the transgressive pleasures  stolen back in games of fortune telling: /all human relations take on the objective forms of the abstract elements of the conceptual systems of natural science and of the abstract substrata of the laws of nature/ and are experimented with and operated upon as if they /were/ another such stratum. 



The violent alienation of the community from the individual  realised through the progressive acquisition of its historical traits inevitably encounters a reaction as the violent alienation of the individual from the community realised in the rupture of its spiritual awakening. The narrow framing inherent to technical knowledge, which finds its material expression in the availability of exchangeable products, reflects and conditions, and is mutually conditioned by, the mode of domination constituted by commodity production for which science is its alibi - /following the science/ has lately become the rationale for every institutionalised irrationality. Incompatible modes of knowledge, that may only manifest as outbursts of  inchoate immediacy, are both institutionally /defunded/ and exteriorised, but also later re-employed either as catalysing agents of capital destruction or as diverting placebos along the lines of /well you know, you better free your mind instead/.



The subjective content of spirituality is a residue of the unmetabolisable shock of a damascene event. The movement of spirit  is experienced as a dawning horror at the imminent and irreversible separation of the subject from all that went before. Particular knowledge must alter its subject irrevocably, as it becomes both threshold and whatever monstrous thing passes across it. The violent rupture instigated by gnosis, as described by PKD, supposes life-changing injuries; as a domain accessed by funnel trap, it is found only by means of the derangement of the senses, in delirium, madness and by what is nowadays called self-harm, with suicide as its perfected form. There is never any going back, but spiritual gain is precisely realised as an irrevocable forfeiture of the capacity to adapt - knowledge of the cosmos nails the gnostic to the cosmos, he is transformed into embodiment of the ambiguous force of knowledge itself: /Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done/. The scarifying logic of the ascetic life has no return to an earlier habitus, only a disavowal that cannot be separated from the body’s accumulated modifications. Spirituality, like digging a new grave and inadvertently exhuming one’s own corpse, is released from matter’s basest form, the wound.



The ambiguous role of the charlatan as honest guide to the spirits,  is exemplified in the trickster figure of Casteneda whose progressive transformation of hoaxes first into a career and then into spiritual authority both blocked any return to the academic domain of technical knowledge and irrevocably locked him into a fatal realisation of his own inescapable particularisation - his disciples inexorably drawn in his wake and dispersed into the desert. All knowledge is fatal, /time is emptied out into spirit/, but there is something in the fatality of spiritual knowledge that strikes the ideological mindset, itself habituated to the rituals of commodified /potentiality/, as gratuitous and intolerable; in practice, the spiritualised endgame is merely an abrupt path out from the state’s monopoly on violence, it is the subject’s expropriation of its own convulsive awakening. The truth of the spirit manifests in a violent secession from the banal conventions of survival - it is an erotic emptying of the dwindling contents of a last water bottle, as libation to the desert earth. It has its own exigency which cannot be presented as a technical object. Spirit as knowledge appears as absolute limit upon the possibility of knowledge, upon the possible acts drawn from knowledge, and upon the continuity of beings constituted in knowledge - it is perversity’s own point of disappearance. Gnosis constitutes a rupture with its object, a traumatic and unstable faultline at the core of consciousness, and yet also is only sustained as an unbroken tension, a commensurate incommensurability, a relation, between /meaningfulness/ and the banal state of the operable.



Some will drift out very far, and they will never return. Others will wander without disappearing. And still others will splash in the shallows - for these, the cosmic terror located beyond the confines of the black iron prison becomes the content of an exterior-oriented playfulness. Playing is also a step on the inexorably winding path towards the exit. Marcel observes upon the structural furnishings of Odette’s drawing room, redolent of haute bourgeois social relations, the appearance of a second order, suggesting her inextricable involvement with a counter-bourgeois tendency situated like a splinter in the heart of precarious respectability: /superimposed upon the decoration of the room another, a supplementary scheme of decoration, as rich, as delicate in its colouring, but one which was alive and would last for a few days only./ Stretched like a skin over the apparatus channelling heat loss, a second Odette-like effusion, alive as the spirit at play, scattered with the petals of chrysanthemums.