…is it this video in which Will Self dutifully gives us the rundown on the 20th Century novel, literature and the internet? Yep. The talk heats up at around the 37: 30 mark, with the laudable question: “Well what’s going to happen?” Fair do’s. But what is it about this talk that sticks in my memory? It does not seem to cleave to my title in any explicit and clear way (and I mean to address Self’s question of solitude for creativity elsewhere). What seems to re-surface throughout is this notion of the end of the book. And this is seems to be a point of entry for a larger discussion on freedom of expression and internet ‘publishing’, the building of a metaphor, perhaps.
First, a little bit of context. I grew up with Will Self. I was a child of the nineties. And, as novelist and sometime-cultural-arbitrator, Self has carried us into a new millenium with something of a reputation still intact… and there is a certain skewed appreciation in this. But there is also much more. And I feel an impatience with that sense of more, whatever it might be. I don’t know what the average millenial – with a thousand youtube videos on all manner of strangeness and conspiracy at his fingertips — would make of this stripe of writer. His turn toward psychogeography (albeit with a slight doff of the the hat to the faux ‘climate change’ problem) is perhaps one of his more interesting new fascinations… while he himself also admits that there have been more committed psychogeographers than himself. That said, I also see a type like Self as at least partially one of our post-enlightenment Establishment figures — one of a gaggle of public school boys, in the wider historical context, as consistently polishing the turd of modern sophistication down through the centuries, and attempting to make it edgy again, but only exemplifying seemingly ad-hoc, distilled obeisements to convention. As with someone like Stephen Fry, these folks are often talented, witty, and learned… but always learned within very distinct boundaries, and cursed with diminished imaginations. In them, there is the illusion of ever-thrusting struggle and virality of opinion…! Yet when the faux-druidical and scientific supervisors enter the room one feels fairly sure that most of these types will bow their heads in unison.
All this, to speak of what I reject. But also of what I still obviously keep an eye on? And so… why? Well, because — now and again, and — as with the BBC — he must, being in the public eye — and being possessed of thought to a degree — stray into areas of not-altogether-sanctioned intrigue. And the video is a good example of this. The cynicism on the problem of the creative writing course, the insights into the history of print culture… the acuity of attention given to how the writerly is codified throughout British education, the positivity regarding what millenial and post-millennial students can achieve in our current technological environments, the changing nature of literary and linguistic consciousness. In these mental forays there are immensely salient points made, and the areas of debate fascinate. Yet there always seems to be an inhibition, a reining-one’s-self-in that is curiously old fashioned.
It comes back to subject. To areas of talk. The considered and the unconsidered. There are topics from arenas before the internet that still seem epistemologically absent in the here and now. We are always in a process of resurrecting lineages. And thus traditionalism? The new is always curiously what always was. “Why did I not think of it before?” we ask ourselves. Yet we did. We just did not know we did. And now we do. Gnosis. In the same way — and within the video’s debate — there are always a number of problems… in this case, when Self hints at when he speaks of the novos deos, the novos scriptores of the pre-war years… heroes of a post-Nietzschean hive mind in which the proto-atheist novelist dreams the dream of God and the cultural Marxist now has a firm stake in the academy. This is Self at his worst (although the viewer might still value his envisioning’s Plotinean aspects; of the author-as-closest-to-The One, The Good that he seems unconsciously to evoke?) His better side displays his being nursemaid to the fringey and the conspiratorial. Perhaps the best example of this (if one’s simply to pluck topics from the mind-aether) would be — as with Hitchen’s accommodations to questioning the numbers re; the holocaust etc — Self’s patient-but-condescending attentions to Ros Barber’s theory of a multiple-identity Shakespeare, or Christopher Marlowe as Shakespeare. You always have to feed a little originality into the vacuum of the whole in order to legitimize it outright. Such is the public mind?
But — to return to the topic at hand — the talk exemplifies an arch technicity that disturbs and bores in equal measure (and I again adapt Heidegger’s term technicity as against the more benign-for-me term: technology. Technology, being the enabler, the tool of human possibility, technicity being a purely psychological and bureaucratic hindrance to said potential, but sharing certain conceptions of the internet platform etc).
What he pictures is, in essence, The Death of the Book. But to this viewer nothing really dies. It simply gets more interesting, and more complicated. More perilous, perhaps? First, there is the infinitude of the book; it’s meaning… just as it steps over that supernal cusp of the immaterial psyche, and into human conception, which has its own materiality, an ideological materiality. Next; The Gutenberg Bible. The book, itself. And let’s be clear at this point; the example is simply the nearest to hand, and it is culturally close to us; modern, in some ways. (Which is also to acknowlegde that there was Chinese printing up to couple of millennia ago, or that the Koreans may have invented earlier printing mechanisms etc). The idea of the book and the book itself exist, each are co-existent with each other. Their definition is permeable to other technological variants, just as painting was slowly infiltrated and partially nullified by photography etc. It is then forced to re-imagine itself. Self’s talk seems to limit itself to a very literal, material aspect of this argument; the paper book itself, in opposition to the internet, ebooks, and strains thereof. (Which is to say that I don’t see the printed page disappearing per se, just perceived within a wider context of technological development. If anything, the market for printed books may well become more niche, more specialist… but not a negative or diminished development within the act of bookbuying as a whole).
Physical materials merge and mingle. New ideological precepts affirm their futural driving seat, and these are barely known. On the tip of the mind’s tongue. The future-in-the-present, so to speak. The idea of the book, now materially existent, extends to take in new forms. This is traditionalism, given ‘the new’ always implies the originary principle, thus not technical, but ideological process. There is no paper ‘death’ of the book. There is simply transference, an amorphous new vocab. And to relate this back to literary and art history… in Vorticism, and in Wyndham Lewis’s amendations to Marinetti’s Futurism (which one could argue may well have been an attempted cultural extension of Mazzini’s Italian risorgimento, and of early globalism*) we may see — more generally — a progression in art that would, for the first time, allow for a sense of the ethnically organic that embraced the overtly technological for our own era. While technicity attempts to paint this transference as without ethnic value, technology retains national and ethnic value while in communion with those of a variety of other national and cultural identities.
This blog I write now is the book of a psyche or soul; idealistically and imaginally tactile as Mallarmé’s Le Livre. It is also a blog. Or a journal. It begins to welcome political ramifications, mental challenge and strife. It is alive! As Frankenstein would have attested to? But more alive, and under a different dispensation. Which would be the happy accident, in this analogy… as — to ape Shelley — it is Frankenstein’s book that I think Self reductively refers to. The book of nature, or whatever it would be if you threw the internet into its pot. Internet. Natural. Scientism…? the occulted tip-off to Self’s shortsightedness — to repeat — is this conception of the end of the codex because of technological improvement. A natural extension, but of man’ changing nature. As Blake makes clear; Where man is not, nature is barren. Nature’s anthropocentrism implies at least a touch of Berkeley, yet it is a nature not entirely under man’s political dominion, but companion on a journey which cleaves to what is Heraclitean in the spirit of man. So far, so Wordsworthian. The book of nature and the book of man, then, intertwined (and impossible without the breath and being of man… it is this final point which I think Yeats felt so keenly, and kept him from a true appreciation of Wordsworth). The naturally occurring principles of technological advance are forever inclusive of human potentia. Indeed, they are one of the facts of human existence, creative if even in spite of human cognitive intentions. This dualistic sense that the paper book is finished since the internet makes it impotent. It seems an insincerity. The resolution to that problematic oppositorum though, is not in either book or internet, but in both and neither.
And here it is in the figure of Marshall McLuhan that these concepts seem to coalesce. The book as an extension of man, and its furtherance in the technological, in the era of the internet. Just as a search engine is prefigured by its own technical horizon so the mind orders and re-orders its own boundaries. Yet, this implies a certain amount of optimism difficult to achieve, given the dual implication of the democratism of any vox populi — for good and ill — which has without doubt followed us into the internet era, and our most popular search engines still re-order a Reality so as to sideline originary information, and be ensconced in pure dualistic comparison. the template has not changed in this regard since the rise of popular journalism in 18th century England. However, in this new era, while very real, very physical wars are waged, the question of morality becomes more a question of the information war just as when a technology enters into a seemingly penultimate maturation… so it looks back — in the Hegelian sense — to its own epistemic inception. Horizons always return in their own minds to a seed of some sort. That horizon contains its own subject-subjective truth. This is how epochs rise and fall, their seed being the singer, the bard. For much of western society that seed is a certain blind man reported to have lived in Ionia, Greece. Is there not something innately world-forming in the fact that The Iliad, while inventing an epoch for us, is also arch reportage; Evola’s sense of reaction? It is the inhabiting of an essential conundrum of the mind which encompasses both gods and men… a world which did not die out until the gods gained so much material power that they convinced man gods did not exist, as Baudelaire — in a more daimonic context — so distinctively points out:
…la plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas!…
The devil’s best trick is to pursuade that he doesn’t exist. Yet, the fallen gods could not escape the pull of mythic realities, given they are the essential seed from which the language of antiquity comes down to us. Perhaps – in the strictest sense – they are not gods at all, simply the fallen ghosts of gods. (One of the great subjects of Shakespeare’s tragedies, from the beginning to the end of ‘his’ career, is the agonism of empire-building, the flawed rule of modern kings. Kings are emphasized because they are the representations of fallen gods in perpetual displacement to a popular opposition to their erring will. Our fascination regarding Shakespeare is not simply an enthrallment before the machinations of despotism, but — by this very subject — we crave the lost purity of our genetic origin, and via the struggling and erring king we glean the chance to recognize an ideal manifestation of beyond that same ruler, thus making Shakespeare deeply antagonistic to the rulers he characterised from within his own time, and proving that what becomes tradition and literary canon begins — at least partially — as a kind of mask for modern kingship from which to reflect back on, and to critique, and thus energetically re-direct, through critique, the truer vision of an ideal kingship. Thus, that energetic re-direction — through masked critique — would then become a prime facet in the being of western man. Thematically-speaking, the same goes for a youtube video in conspiracy theory, for example. there is a cultural propensity that binds a figure like Shakespeare to the wildest speculative discussions of any received authority via the machinations of a youtube presentation etc).
In the same way that Gutenberg advanced utterance into textual form so the internet craves the mythic seed from which to form its conceptual horizon, as the pebble falling into its puddle — by an action of sonic utterance — creates the boundaries of the puddle, the definition of the puddle. Violation of all sensible principles of existence… a form unseen, gives way to new forms. What the fallen gods achieved in modern history – and via an opposing subversion – was to manifest this violation in a purely sexual and material manner so as to rule the collective manner of thought, and thus the sensible world (and Freud’s emphasis on this — perhaps despite himself — became cause for a certain brand of anti-spiritualism in matters of sex). All sexual abuse is based on this approach, this violation of psychic will… all mimicry of that first intention often cross-generationally participated in (albeit often unconsciously or corruptedly) by the human is genetically a product of that earlier violation. This provides a physical entrance for fear as behavioural mode, just as the distribution of textual artworks, as potential expression and cultural release valve — across millenia — performs an opposite function, by releasing distinctive psychic and imaginative powers into the public arena.
Bardic violation differs in that it is not confined to a simply material manipulation… it exists — as I’ve touched on before — on a multiplicity of planes only one of which is temporal. It proceeds from the soul (and thus the spiritual world) into the material realm, changing human assumptions about materiality and human potential itself (why humanism is inadequate in terms of encompassing that process is because it denies the perpetual act of redefinition great artworks achieve, not to be confused with Breton’s communistic notion of perpetual revolution; a thing which lots of the drop-outs from the surrelist school rejected). When sex is integral to the achievement of music — and of the satisfaction of all interaction with organic art forms in general — it does semi-literally puncture linearity and access planes of spirit simultaneously. This is to suggest the reason why pornography cannot replace sex; because it is purely physical and imagistic. Meaning; that even right image — le image juste? — is dependent on right spirit; l’esprit juste…. and if the spirit is eternal and reincarnated then the demeanour with which it creates art materially as an incarnate personality is dependent on born-ness — being bor-ness? — rather than made-ness… which is also the reason why the best art is often the least personal or is the ultra-personal spied from an emotional distance? (A spiritual distance). We get the concepts of “poets are born, not made” from dynamics like this. Greatness cannot be measured in material terms. Yet, scientifically, this is not meant to undermine the social necessity of things like IQ tests etc… in fact one of the great errors of contemporary liberalism is to embue all of humanity with artistic “unmeasurable skills” in order to excuse ethnic and tribal realities and differences. Which is to say that none of these factors are cause for ignoring the problem in physical terms. The inter-dependence of the two planes — spiritual and physical — allows for protestation, in social terms, yet the command know thyself admits of the fact that all dualisms and agons are those self-imposed, either individually, or communally. The physical plane – the body, with its Reichian armoring – remains the testing ground for all defining actualities, and of the spiritual world, also (an aetherous purely-spiritual unread representation of Dante’s Commedia would obviously be of no use to us, in the same way! We see texts, then, as perpetual proofs of what exists in the unseen world, the quarantined home of the gods, accessable via the seer, and/or the artist).
In the context of healthy sex the same dynamic exists, accept it is the other which acts as that person’s person etc, a situation of abject cross-dimensional, cross-spiritual exchange. Which is also not to say the creative intention of an artist and the carnal intentions of a lover are the same… but this reflects more on how forms of art and forms of physical reproduction, or this potentiality, manifest themselves. As the world of the gods informs and inspires the artist so, in sexual exchange, the other is interacted with as spirit via the physical plane. Both activities imply a communication between one world and another. It seems to me that psycho-analysis, and specifically Freud (in his better work?) sought to retrieve that dynamic from the distant past so as to effectuate right carnal and creative relationships in humans. (In the face of Jung and Reich’s later corrections it could be argued that he largely failed… yet I refuse to conclude on this topic as my knowledge of Freud is confined to only around four texts). Sexual abuse — via the most lunatic of the fallen gods/bloodlines of conspiracy lore etc — is the horrific counterweight to the right use of the human reproductive and artistic urges. Yet because it has such a painfully equalizing energy the perceived world is stalled — or sidelined — by what I have named the rape-sphere (or the sphere of anxiety) which acts as nemesis of the creative impulse toward all natural life… in face of it the human can only produce so much great art in order to counteract it (with much of post-modernism and deconstructionism this nemesis inverts the principle and masquerades as the creative impulse). And it is counteracted. Daily. Yet the rape-sphere also has its sway, and it demands only one thing; mental obeisance, investigational timidity, material frozenness. It perceives no meritocracy, no learning, no gnosis. This is assisted by man’s will to perpetual conclusion over process.
Now why relate this while speaking about the text, per se? Well, because texts are born and interact under similar conditions. We have P.B Shelley’s era wholesale because his bardic impulse, in the form of spiritually shaped utterance, has successfully travelled down to us. In the same way we do not have anything of the impulse of a Castlereigh because his impulses were purely physical and rapine (I should not have to say that physical means necessarily rapine… but this is dependant on the emotional and intentional stability of the individual concerned, of course! The best angels being magnetically attracted to the best humans etc). In the same way, the bard inhabits both the potential for reproduction as incarnated man, and potential for furtherance — spiritually — via the vehicle of text; the physical amplication of cultural memory. But neither is the text gendered as the body is gendered… which is why the urge to creative fiction — mirroring the fiction of the seen world — consistently follows the urge to an artist’s quite happy disembodiments. Such experiences are ripe for the eruptions of both masculine and feminine energies without disturbance to the gendered body. Yet this creative currency is also inclusive of economy, and psycho-spiritual transformation: fictive metempsychosis (what the hospitalers deem schizophrenia?)… or as McLuhan has it, in a more alchemical and economic vein:
The classic curse of Midas, his power of translating all he touched into gold, is in some degree the character of any medium, including language. This myth draws attention to a magic aspect of all extensions of human sense and body; that is, to all technology whatsoever. All technology has the Midas touch. When a community develops some extension of itself, it tends to allow all other functions to be altered to accomodate that form.
Language, like currency, acts as a store of perception and as a transmitter of the perceptions and experience of one person or of one generation to another. As both a translator and store-house of experience, language is, in addition, a reducer and a distorter of experience. The very great advantage of accelerating the learning process, and of making possible the transmission of knowledge and insight across time and space, easily overrides the disadvantages of linguistic codifications of experience. […]
In recent times, the dramatic arrival of paper currency, or “representative money,” as a substitute for commodity money caused confusions. Much in the same way, the Gutenberg technology created a vast new republic of letters, and stirred great confusion about the boundaries between literature and life. Representative money, based on print technology, created new speedy dimensions of credit that were quite inconsistent with the inert mass of bullion and of commodity money. Yet all efforts were bent to make the speedy new money behave like the slow bullion coach. J.M Keynes stated this policy in A Treatise on Money’:
‘Thus the long age of Commodity Money has at last passed finally away before the age of Representative Money. Gold has ceased to be coin, a hoard, a tangible claim to wealth, of which the value cannot slip away so long as the hand of the individual clutches the material stuff. It has become a much more abstract thing — just a standard of value; and it only keeps this nominal status by being handed round from time to time in quite small quantities among a group of Central Banks, on the occasions when one of them has been inflating or deflating its managed representative money in a different degree from what is appropriate to the behaviour of its neighbours.’
Language, like life, like text? Yet only the text has the function of being negligent of time. The spell of monetary circulation is echoed in the endless re-capitulation of artworks in pen-temporal distribution, of which the codex obviously plays a major role. It is, then, a currency (to follow Keynes’s and McLuhan’s analogy) that is entirely anti-temporal in and of itself, and spiritual to the effect that it produces more text… as in a pan-generational conversation. It has exactitude where human memory fails or is interpreted, as with Chinese whispers. It is an exact utterance that follows human ideological form across time but of no time, or of only infinitude. As of spirit. The rape-sphere enacts the same problem in economic terms, also, since – in-and-of-itself – the notion of the Central Bank is benign enough. Yet the mind that controls it is not. In fact, the spell of modern art — in general — pretty much apes the function of money McLuhan describes… in that its function is to emasculate, deaden, and enslave the people in any given territory. To forge and perpetuate the inevitable nihilistic density the post-war world has created and maintained. Yet, via form alone, this currency signifies unbounded potentiality, given the right leader or political movement.
The sexual impulse follows the same pattern in that it — at least at orgasm — allows for utter mystical spontaniety and the conscious will to reproduction… both text and child are accident and plan, they result in maternal and paternal care, vital to human development. The appearance of child and text imply a combination of psychological potentiality and, in negation; mystic tragedy (spontaneous hiraeth being never materially achieved, only reconfigured in the more structured human care of human filiality). The agony and joy of this arrangement — I believe — is inherent in Greek culture, in its later stages, and is vital to how Greek drama developed. Sex and children, then. As with writing and reading? Exhalation, inhalation. The sexual instinct has primordially this quality of hiraeth… a craving for what it is materially not. It is the return toward pre-instigated matter — in the form of the beloved — in order to uncover the future-present. Not of sequence, then, but with the necessary implication of sequence. It is as if the time of the spirit, its infinitude craves more infinitude by way of time, and by way of reproduction; Eternity is in love with the productions of time. So too, the text. In degrees of acuity the breath, the song, the aria etc, are passed on. The text is a modern historical manifestation for that transference in spiritual acuity of consciousness, and as it proceeds incrementally through perceived sequentiality so the anima mundi develops via truth’s reproductions of an akashic imperative, and thus evil — also by increment — is flushed out. There is nothing about the text – for me – which negates the capacity of human memory, and we still see – in cultures like Russia and Ireland – text as primarily ideological and spoken fact (further; it is only text from the perspective of the post-Gutenberg forms of distributive expression) and yet an important modifier of the creative human urge.
Under the aegis of the political the text is continually put under pressure of interpretation. Generations reproduced under the governance of the sexual impulse are similarly engendered by wider social relationship in the reading of text (the same appears in something like Bloom’s assertion that Shakespeare invented the human. The fact of a readership implies a psycho-physical transformation that no amount of sex will achieve, although I imagine some have tried!) The net of the text reaches a wider psychical terrain than physical life-span, and deeper than socialized and journalistic terminologies and vocabularies. Witness the psychic innovations of a James Joyce for evidence of this.
As the grandchild sits with the grandfather so the internet relates itself to — and observes — the movement of printed matter; paper texts. What a man is he discovers by way of breath; simple Being. Matter breathing implies a discovery; by λόγος is the logic of life made manifest. Though the subject of abortion seems reasonable (in creative productivity the corollary would simply be erasure) much of that rape-sphere interjects a life in organic ressentiment so that the collective agon makes way for certain permissions that in health a civilization would look on much more sternly. The corruption of modernity, engendered by sexual violation writ large, and socially suppressed, maintains an atmosphere in which truth is perpetually muffled. (Yet the rape-sphere cannot disavow sex or human creativity, only perturb it).
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires. In realms of art the human is emancipated of what Jung named its shadow aspect. It follows – if we are to speak about human reproduction that the parallels between art and life differ. Rape is achieved by one person’s will being forced on another, and would be akin to an artistic erasure made only by the other, not by the artist themselves. The memory of the horror of rape lives on – in both parties involved – is creative only insofar as it is more likely to ideologically destroy the dominant party in that act, ‘creative’ in this sense being a will toward physical absence… but it ultimately depends on spiritual morality; what I think Nietzsche intended with this notion of Beyond Good and Evil, i.e – for me – the ultimate punishment is in the hands of the gods, or God. Yet, in a godless world (modernity) abortion is acceptable because it is seen as a corrective. Erasure as fate, then. A corrective, but also in cases of rape etc? No matter, since whether human faith in spiritual wrath exists or not is beside the fact. God does not require human belief in order to perform his wrath – via human conscience (in the case of the one raping) or human vengeance (in the case of the one raped) – within time, or to be performed karmically across incarnations. In an essentially anti-creative society (such as the modern west) the perpetual norm of social victimhood allows for no stringency on either side, thus abortion (literally; denial of the human incarnadine and reproductive function) is permissable. In the same way – by way of production of debased art forms, perhaps – the shadow is rarely dealt with, and so is “thrown off”, expelled (without the required level of self-reflection) into the social and political whirlwind of the material world. In a godless society, however, fallen art is confused as a prime indicator of degenerate social behaviour (and, to an extent, it could be… and possibly is by the sickest archontic minds) but it still holds that fallen art is a way of syphoning off the urge to that social disfunction, quelling it… to a degree. As far as texts go — and utterance goes — the corollary to rape, macrocosmically, would be censorship and political suppression. In a genuinely healthy society explicit reform is not necessary since degenerate urges are limited to the production of art (highly expressive, confessional art? badly organised art etc) and would not occur in a society classically trained to appreciate the beautiful. Such expertise in aesthetic apprehension would be implicit throughout the entire institutional infrastructure of such a nation or region so that artworks of a butally conceptual nature would never gain a foothold. In the healthy society much is permitted but the gaze is strictly monitored (and in a healthy society this occurs in the child’s instruction by parents and elders, less so by wider national laws). In the case of high literature psychic self-interrogation – as with social and physical struggle – is also implicit, and could come from great pain, the extremities of psychological and emotional struggle; spiritual blackness, confusion. But as the artist becomes more spiritually attuned to himself and to others, the idea that this pain would spill over into social antagonisms lessens. Life, becomes less of the Grecian psycho-drama and more reflexive and meditative. Neither does this mean that it be consciously, didactically willed… aesthetic development implies the soul’s development… and thus artistic and literary criticism are absorbed into the intuitive creation of artworks themselves, and enthusiastic absorption in already-existent artistic forms. A society, thus organised, would be spiritually fit for a communal purpose that could exist entirely without need of explicit art criticism or overly didactic philosophy, and could concentrate on spiritual and intuitive disciplines and their concomitant technologies to assist in the presentation of these forms (and, in a dormant state, they already exist as part of Gutenberg’s inheritors, and now; with the internet, only needing to proliferate and circulate further afield). All is channelled into the mythic, the imaginative and the intuitive. Personal pain is not 100% necessary to the reality of what is great in literary texts. Yet neither need it be absent. These are birth pangs, individual and communal. They hurt. They can be joyful, also. Consider Shakespeare or Greek Tragedy. Yet this is the argument I have with the gnostic scholar John Lash; his seeming total abnegation of the necessity of pain or conquering of vice to spiritual progress. There is too much of the sixties in it. Prescriptions of ‘love and light’ or psycho-drama, are equally absurd in such circumstances. Milton himself, in his Areopagitica, relates this multi-faceted struggle (against error, and toward plenitude etc) to the use of the codex itself:
Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractates and hearing all manner of reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read […]
I see lostness and psychic oscillation as at least partially a pre-requisite to greatness, both in the artist himself and in the witness to artworks. Yet, in the artist the life-force is amplified and channelled, in the individual unpoeticized it is duly (and rightfully?) dissipated. There is a bardic, or shamanic, function that, in a healthy society, appears from strict communal training and encouragement. Thus it becomes the example of great art to those materially incarnated; a state of being, of presence, and a reminder of what they physically and psychologically are not, and an invitation to better oneself in relation to The Beautiful:
The cistern [the mortal individual] contains, the fountain [the artist] overflows. [William Blake]
By contrast, technicity, in the form of your dashboard GPS implies an utter certainty about one’s physical situation. This unnerves me. Art locates ideologically where technicity indicates an already-posited world, and thus is susceptible to spiritual misalignment. And the same is problematic in the conceit of the post-internet generations’ regard for life in general. They are certain, but only physically certain. Spiritually, emotionally they are just as fragile as any other person their age, even as the average person was in centuries previous? But the overload of informational knowledge encourages a much more scornful attitude to those around them socially… knowledge — in their usage of it — has the characteristics of commodity, and thus is shorn of its more spiritual aspects.
What differs in The Electric Distribution of art is that — again, paradoxically — it locates spiritually by dislocating physically, to one degree or another. (Which, again, is not to be confused with the hyper-located, and less imaginative, role of the politician; whose function it is to maintain and utilize a people’s potential by the use of specific territory). The myriad features of the internet realm are suggestive of the artist’s will to psychic and imaginal dislocation. And so such novelty cuts both ways, in that it can only amplify the anti-aesthetic psyche if that is generally the character of consciousness to be worked from. The separation of the masses from gnosis is always relative to what the anima mundi — from the akashic record known to Joyce and Rudolf Steiner — has ingested and meditated on within the material realm. Yet! forms of art do not suggest this relativity in totem. They always imply a more holistic pre-material symmetry. This is the implication maintained in Blake’s proclamation; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create. Such an assertion does not rely on relative criticism in a material sense, but in that power of interpretation that begins with spiritual being; the primacy — or angel, even — of mood, or nodal point of spiritual and psychological development… a ‘development’, Blake would argue, that goes nowhere, incidentally… since Blake — great pre-Confucian that he was — saw no marked progression in the artist’s development between youth and old age, given this path of creative artistry is entirely spiritual in its productivity. I’d concur on the basis that the soul — at least partially eternal — has pre-incarnate instincts that will assist it in incarnated life, thus negating time as a factor of spiritual or psychological development. Regardless, it is the psychological fact of interpretation (under the auspices of intellectual magnetism) that is the reason for our returning to artworks or works of particular authors etc. It is also why we reject only to reassertain an appreciation later in life. Or vice versa; to shed influences that we no longer have need of.
Political certainties, then, always stand in relationship with spiritual uncertainties, exploited by the artist. The familiar mode of British experience since the founding of The Bank of England in 1694 is a basically inartistic one. Two movements since that era have thankfully put that inability to create into doubt; 1/Romanticism, and 2/Modernism. Romanticism, in an essentially leftist political designation, and Modernism as its conservative corrective. These are vast generalisations, I realise… certain artists – within those movements – reinterpret and remake themselves depending on the essentially swithering nature of any artist… but that dualistic sense of these progressions exists beside the non-dualistic (and more individually defined) capacity for self-interpretation from within those culture-making epochs. As Keats pronounced in a letter to his brothers, George and Thomas, on 21 December 1817;
…at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.
The sexual impulse, driven to its limit in orgasm, holds the same paradoxical burden (compression of all enquiry and all conclusion) as that force of artistic creation which produces texts, which themselves exemplify an acute manifesting of soul or psyche in the physical; these immortal forms of proto-actualization that are usually dormant in temporality. But it is the non-dualistic (possibly post-philosophical and Empedoclean) freedom that Keats — in mystic mode — is most probably attempting to define by negative capability. The aim of both processes stands in mystical relationship to what is objectless… the closer the artist comes to what is objectless the more magnetism there is toward what is sequential; in essence a defiance of time for what is momental. Colin Wilson names this the peak experience, and it is worth mentioning him so as not to be caught in the trap of imagining only the sex act, only the creation of texts (either in mind or on paper/screen) or only through acts of meditation or yoga etc that fulfill the charge of physical and emotional desire given life in works of art (and it is important to also note that the latter disciplines have been overwhelmed by new-age guru-isms os that expertise in these areas is rare). Peak experience allows for a multiplicity of related disciplines. Again, though, the text is matchless because it can be reconstituted, entire, from the symmetries of literary presentation. It is a blueprint for God, intense and ever physically unreachable. What Keats gleaned in 1821 is a problem that repeats itself on its way down to our era; and the crisis of Heidegger’s later work I’ve spoken about elsewhere (in Keats’s quote you could easily replace the character of Coleridge for Heidegger to see the epochs overlap, and the problem be echoed)… that liminal fulcrum or nexus where the purely aesthetic and spiritual experience meets the calmer fields of philosophy and the conventionally theoretical. Always in gradations of imagination, then, does the artist stand in relation to the politician.
In a culture given over to pure technicity the inter-relationship between the forms I’ve described is dimmed, and one mode takes over, a mode antagonised by the spiritual need for solitude. The human becomes impervious to aloneness, becomes socially equalized and anti-meritocratic. This is the lethargy (and liberalism) of persons brought up under that imperative to fallen tekne. Take away enough forms of technicity under the simple surge of modern entertainment and most become agonisingly crippled, and unable to function in any sociable manner. The true joy of the codex — and of any art form — is precisely its potentiality for proliferation into otherness. A woman’s child-bearing hips imply the same fascination. The codex in all of its echoes… blog, webzine, youtube video, audio file, streamed song… … there is an arc of interaction from one form to another, implying the re-making of reality to very specific political and spiritual specifications. In free interplay, and even when without specific aim or direction, it manifests the genial, the companionable in life as it was before these technological forms existed; in essence; a transference of breath’s need of imaginal space, with only the aperture of a printer or a PC necessary for it to succeed in flooding through once more.
These forms; monogamous, polygamous?… as against — or in tandem with? — the problem of abortion and rape in microcosm, ultimately take on the semblance of the wider problem of suppression of forms of expression. In abortion is an intentional erasure, just as the draft is wiped clean, the microphone gone strangely mute. Then static. White noise. Some fragile reception, whistling… faint. It is horrific and terribly fate-weighted. Ultra-personal, and therefore negating the individual’s political and spiritual power. But not so with these other wider social problems of information dissemination via the new technologies? Well, expression, under this rubric, has the character of dislocation and travel. Social norms are violated by electric subversion. The human debate is persistently altered, and sacred cows rejected by psychological distance in any one physical location, and artistic re-alignment with other netizens implies a fellowship in relation to thematic and artistic enthusiasms. Yet, if this were all, it would not have the quality of social revolution. The attitudinal landscape is only shifted by these men and women returning to physical space and imbuing the inertial social prejudices of the past with entirely other ways of combatting and perceiving them. And herein arrives the final aspect of this experiential reappraisal I’m indicating, and what I deem to be meant by the title of this essay:
And if the men be erroneous who appear to be the leading schismatics, what withholds us but our sloth, our self-will, and distrust in the right cause, that we do not give them gentle meetings and gentle dismissions, that we debate not and examine the matter thoroughly with liberal and frequent audience; if not for their sakes, yet for our own? — seeing no man who hath tasted learning but will confess the many ways of profiting by those who, not contented with stale receipts, are able to manage, and set forth new positions to the world. And were they but as the dust and cinders of our feet, so long as in that notion they may yet serve to polish and brighten the armoury of Truth, even for that respect they were not utterly to be cast away. But if they be of those whom God hath fitted for the special use of these times with eminent and ample gifts, and those perhaps neither among the priests nor among the pharisees, and we in the haste of a precipitant zeal shall make no distinction, but resolve to stop their mouths, because we fear they come with new and dangerous opinions, as we commonly forejudge them ere we understand them; no less than woe to us, while thinking thus to defend the Gospel, we are found the persecutors.
Perhaps its something about Milton’s tone here that makes me picture that preturnatural religious soldier William Tyndale, sitting in some hostelry of old Antwerp, reorganising a pile of scattered papers hastily inked on the knotted wood of a bar-room table. Tyndale has always fascinated me. We see curious packages bound in straps of leather, copies of the Tyndale Bible safely stowed in the bottom of some windy skiff, its tenuous weight being rowed down the Thames by cover of night. And in the same way, post-Charlottesville, a youtube channel shut down here, a media outlet hacked there. A horrific death. Video and audio; quickly imperilled, people jailed. The suspicion of conspiracy wafting through the techno-aether. And yet this amorphous codex will transcend that will to censorship indicative of google and facebook, these arms of Rothschildean social engineering. Why? Because they that seek to enslave the western mind simply do not understand what they’re up against, and what they have unleashed by the invention of the internet. On the contrary, the centuries speak rather loudly about historical forms of expression. We are safe, in comprehending this satanic destroyer, and its continually one-sided attitude to dealing with its nemesis; the people (and that now – is it safe to say? – these malefic incompetents may even be managing the weather to wreak more destruction? We shall soon see, I believe).
As established discourse requires ideological disruption, violation, so too does the text emblematize that particular rough-housing the public mind periodically requires, even despite its own protestations. How often is any man who continually reminds us of his openmindedness truly shocked, shocked so badly so as to shatter his conceived world into smithereens? For most, over the period of a life time, this might happen once or twice in times of great emotional upheavel… but not so as to destroy him or her to their core. For the artistic genius it is perhaps an annual or decadely requirement? (Perhaps a daily requirement, who knows?) But put simply the future (McLuhan’s now, the world the misguided majority may not know they’re living in)… does it always tend to have the quality of the fugitive? Has always been this way, energetically? And it’s the reason why I delve deep into modernity’s distant past and conjure Mr. Tyndale. One need not be religious to appreciate the parallels. The world and aether, and animism, and polytheism of three or four thousand years of the western soul, reduced to a prelate reading the scriptures in Latin… and fearful down to his boots that the populous may one day have their own printed text of the (apparent) word of God, read the text for themselves, and — god help us! — come to a different interpretation. I provide a religious example but the analagy could stand for all suppression of freedom of speech down the ages. Sequestration of knowledge, weaponised, and pointed at your financial, political, ecological forehead. 24/7. If Charlottesville was emblem of anything then the confiscation and disappearance of websites is surely an intriguing proto-Soviet precedent. Milton’s prelates are now the shadowy algorhythm, terabytes of surveilled search engines, humming. Yet neither does it require any specific partisanship to spy the censorship entire. The gloves are off, and this is — as ever — a sign of weakness in those most prone to journalistic disinformation. No one has told the supposed controllers their media can be re-modelled, new platforms can — and will — emerge… the archontic structures mimicked, upturned and re-directed… where – within the technological forms of the modern world – the information war rages on, given – by the inertia of censorship – the fresh and nascient permission to strife and contest. New voices will arise from the killing stone of google and facebook. It is simply an energetic reality of spiritual power against the base stupidity of the lugenpresse and the Rothschild-Monarch-Heresiarchs and their American counterparts. Syntropy against entropy.
And from out of the mediac rubble… feeling weary about how I would end my strange ode to the psycho-electric codex, yesterday, I bibliomantically pulled out certain fragments from The Psalms – and from the Nag Hammadi‘s Gospel of Truth – that seemed to second-guess what seemed, at first, to be a perhaps-desultory occasion, but is, in actual fact, an indicator of ethnic and political rightmindedness in the face of the old story of mass-brainwashing:
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech where their voice is never heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun.
[…] They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright. Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call. […]
In their hearts the living book of the living was revealed, the book that was written in the Father’s thought and mind and was, since the foundation of the All, in his incomprehensible nature. No one had been able to take up this book, since it was ordained that the one who would take it up would be slain. And nothing could appear among those who believed in salvation unless that book had come out.
For this reason the merciful, faithful Jesus was patient and accepted his sufferings to the point of taking up that book, since he knew that his death would be life for many.
As in the case of a will that has been opened, the fortune of the deceased owner of the house is hidden, so also in the case of all that had been hidden while the Father of the All was invisible but that issues from him from whom every realm comes.
put on the book,
was nailed to a tree,
and published the Father’s edict on the cross.
Oh what a great teaching!
He humbled himself even unto death,
though clothed in eternal life.
He stripped off the perishable rags
and clothed himself in incorruptability,
which no one can take from him.
Aindriú Ó Domhnaill, Sept 2017 [re-edited mid-Sept]
*A fairly speculative statement re; the Italian risorgimento. I went with it having learnt something of Mazzini’s era through a biography of Verdi, and of Verdi’s enthusiasm for the cause of the risorgimento, and of his use of Rothschild’s banks. I will look further into this for more detail, though, given time. Provisionally, all that can be said is that there is a question for me regarding the nationalism of a later figure like Gabriele D’Annunzio. I wonder, for example, whether D’Annunzio’s feeling for nationalism was a very different artistic strain of nationalism working against — or in very different ways — than any globalism that existed between the wars (and most virulently after WWII. Meaning; if the risorgimento of Mazzini was globalism in an early incarnation then D’Annunzio re-directed it against the forces of international finance that neither Mussolini or — in Germany — Hitler could emancipate their countries from…?