What I want to consider here is the term ‘power’ as used by Castaneda and consider how this fits with various other types of experience. To qualify my use of treating Castaneda with this level of seriousness I would point out that I do not naively take the contents of the books to depict actual events, though neither do I deny that they might. What I do find important in the books is the way in which (to me at least) concepts like power make a massive amount of sense. This feeling though, as we shall see, serves as a ambiguous kind of evidence for the general thesis.

Power in Castaneda is both an impersonal and personal force. Basically it is what is responsible for any incredible things occurring. Persons wanting to cultivate occult ability need to acquire ‘personal power’. The chief manner in which this is achieved is through ‘impeccable’ living. This simply means doing ones best at everything and not wasting time on endless thinking about what to do, thought is functional so that it leads to action and it should lead to action (not more thought). The notion is that by tidying up ones life one stops leaking ‘power’ and becomes able to retain it. The distinction between the personal and impersonal is something of a false one. Incredible things that occur are ‘for’ specific people insofar as they brought them about themselves. Jungian synchronicities could be seen as examples of such phenomena though events in the books are far more extreme. Power can present itself as something that might seem incredibly impersonal, yet the possibility of viewing the event at all turned on whether one had enough ‘personal’ power to do so.

Another key feature of power is the ability of more powerful individuals to lend power to others. Don Juan frequently tells Carlos that some of the things he is able to witness are only because of his (DJ’s) power and not Carlos’. Some entities that Carlos sees in the hills and Carlos’ initial dreaming success are both ascribed to Don Juan’s power and not Carlos’. It is this feature of power that has captured my attention.

This notion of acquiring power from others seems related to a common experience people have when reading texts, or even reading about texts. Certain texts to certain individuals can feel so persuasive that they feel overwhelmed by them. In the case of philosophy this may result in becoming ‘a Heideggerian’ ‘a Deleuzian’ ‘a Wittgensteinian’ etc. This kind of acolytehood no matter how temporary can be seen through the above lens in two ways: i) as the power of the author to bring you under their fold ii) as the power of the individual to comprehend the text. The second interpretation features in a similar manner in CC’s work. There are instances of certain explanations that are literally impossible to understand without a certain level of ‘personal power’.

I tentatively want to argue for a heuristic division of ways in which texts strike us. This split I would label as rational and intuitive (for want of a better word). Furthermore this division is not intended as always occurring in an absolute manner, all instances will no doubt be blurred. Neither should we think that the rational understanding of a text is denigrated. This is the attempt to understand the arguments presented and follow the authors steps through to their conclusion. I am not saying that this results in truth; lurking underneath this tendency are still affective factors -as suggested here.

What I am suggesting though is that it is when an intuitive tendency takes over, that one is more open to the double motion of being-controlled and suddenly-grasping. Being-controlled is as such,, only insofar the author has exerted power through the text. Being-controlled is the sense that the work is so powerful that one must push this agenda and adhere to it. This is what elsewhere referred to as being-an-agent, that is even if it is not for a particular thinker, one might be an agent for e.g. idealism. As someone ‘persuaded’ of this truth, one works for idealism, to further its status in the world etc. Suddenly-grasping can be separated from being-controlled insofar as it does not entail that one agrees with what one has suddenly grasped. Whilst I could also concede that suddenly-grasping does not entail that one has suddenly-grasped correctly, in the sense of power that we mean here, in a way it does. Suddenly-grasping as an act of power is an actual comprehension brought about fluidly from the text in a very natural unfolding as opposed to hard cognitive work.

Let’s be clear, this is an occult thesis offering a parallel interpretation to more normal ways in which we think we understand things (we read something, we take in the information and weigh up). Power is not understood to have an agenda, the actions of power are completely mysterious. Why was a given person suddenly able to understand the text? Simply because they had enough power to receive that information. End of story. We can render power in this sense, slightly more cogent by thinking that unconscious forces in operation are motivated towards certain ends and as such will reveal text that suits their ends.

Being-controlled can be thought of in a similar way, though it can also be comprehended as being literally taken over by an alien conceptual body. The thoughts that we have that agree with, (indeed argue for) this stance seem like our own but really we are simply being partially controlled through lines connected to the relevant theory accretion/psychic structure. Whilst, at first this suggests a sense in which there was a ‘me’ that is now partially controlled in its theoretical doings by an external accretion. A more sensible way of looking at it would be that there was either no or very little ‘me’ and in fact all the thoughts present in this region were just the external plugins of all manner of different kinds of accretions. The ‘me’ could be better understood as the system of filtering rather than the ideas themselves, as it is the system of filtering that actually is local whereas all the ideas are essentially out there and in this case very literally ‘out there’.

Another instance of this kind of usage of ‘power’ is a therapeutic one. We can conceive of a therapist as someone who lends some power to their patient. This is a specific kind of action in a sense. It is not the kind of action that normal healthcare uses as the modern western system externalises power into the action of the medicine and not the healer and psychologically increasingly the the technique and not the therapist.

A psychological type therapy though is the best kind of relevant example as the aim is very similar to the Don Juan/CC relation, that is, one seeks to alter the way of perceiving things of the other. In the therapeutic setting, if we allow for an occult concept like power to have force, then the action is literally one of lending some power to the patient. Now the being-controlled notion takes on a different edge. Here being-controlled would be a deliberate allowing oneself to be-controlled. The therapist plugs the forces for which they are an agent directly into the patient. ‘Power’ here is ability to do so, to lend your ‘stable’ mind to the patient and attempt to nuture autonomy of the stability-implant so that the connection can be eventually mostly severed. This would also suggest that power is the power to control ones own filtering system and other people’s filtering systems.

Lest this sound too reasonable statement, the extreme version of ‘filtering system’ here would be the alteration of seemingly solid reality. The line between what looks like simply perceptual alteration and actual ontological change would also be totally blurred.

The meaning of the ambiguous force of Castaneda’s own works as evidence for the thesis is probably fairly clear now. The ambiguity is of course our old friend the agnostic disjunction -is power ontologically real or purely psychological? On the strong (occult) interpretation CC’s works themselves are capable as a power source capable of altering the filtering system of readers. This is certainly a common enough effect of reading the books just as being infected by the 23 phenomenon is with RAW/Burroughs’ work. Power in this way operates in a certain circularity. Its comprehension requires sufficient power itself. This is almost the strangest heart of agnostic disjunctive territory for only by allowing power to be power could it show itself in this wise. A constant refusal to do so will reveal it only in its psychological dimension which will view its occult counterpart as total bunk. This does not even say the psychological reading is wrong, it is consistent within itself.

It is not called an agnostic disjunction for no reason.

Really … a felt marker? Is that all that is required? To write things down. Had I known earlier I’d had taken notes. As it stands, I remain. She is so hot. She kneels on the bed. She pulls down the front of my briefs and my cock springs into action. I watch her mouth open. A woman’s face so close to my sex. Her blonde tresses spill onto my lap. I grab her ass. She comes at me sideways. I want her sex on my nose. My ears are burning as I lick her pussy. She holds me there with her thighs. Rubbing the back of my head. She starts twisting and bucking. I worry about a broken neck. We stare blankly ahead as we make love. She wants to come. I want to come. Go ahead already, she says. Come into my pussy. Zig sleeps in beds of women who adore him. Makes no sense. He is as ugly as a Neanderthal. Fragile. Broken. The world could crush him at a moment’s notice. Zig spends his life bewildered. Fleeing from one place to the next. Flannel shirts. Dungarees. He does not require much. Night becomes impossible. Day. We breathe. We are the bellows of the fire. Exhale. Inhale. Snore if you must. Keep the planet spinning. Atmosphere and all. We make love under an enormous sky. Her buttocks press tightly against my loins. I look at her back. Spine. Shoulders. Under her armpits I can see the curve of her breasts.  I yelp a cosmic scream. I always forget what I forget. Then I remember. And it begins all over again. The Being. The walking.

Sixty-eight pages of nonsense. The writer’s job is to be alone. I am never alone. I am haunted by ghosts. Hungry ghosts. The blue-blinking ghosts of Pac-Man. Chasing after you. Like the Kraken. Thirteen thousand words. None of them are mine. I borrowed words from the borrowers. Language is mind control. If you don’t think so, think again. Escape. Be real. Be fake. She is so angry at me. Glaring at me. Wanting me to… what? Am I not enough? Am I too much? I am a handful. I admit. Handfuls of ass. 3:33 pm. We make love in a rough arc. Zig feels her vagina inching down the shaft of his penis. She starts pumping her ass. Incredible. I know not at all what I say. How can I? What? Is it not strange how seagulls use the medium of air in our atmosphere? As fish use the medium of water. Man is so fixed to a horizontal axis by gravity. Books. People. Autobuses. Strange how we keep things going. Keep moving. Even the mind is restless. Especially the mind. Particles bouncing. Ping-ponging against each other. I had a girlfriend. We used to fuck in my bed. It was nice. We made love. Now, all I do is work. Pleasure of the text. Metropolis. Take care, Big Man! See you later, Boss. I was walking. Zooming. Coffee man wished me salutations. I gave him my best Peter Falk impersonation. The hand wave. Serpico under the Hell Gate Bridge. I am a filmmaker. I am an eyeball. New York is a city of empty beer bottles. How can it be otherwise. Somebody has to guzzle the stuff. Easy on the Pilsner. Leave some for me. You and your electronic masks. Ruby Waves. Two faces looking at each other as their groins and hips find each other. Yowling and grunting. Ass-grabbing. His cock has increased in thickness. She feels it through her panties. Through his briefs. They are kissing on a single bed with their jeans off. Fantastic. Unbelievable. At length … approach the glistening. Zig holds up three fingers, five fingers, four fingers. He is doing some weird calculus with his hand. Anybody who sees him thinks he is a madman! A supercomputer! Language collapses. You become a lunatic. Everybody else says something except for you. His hand slides up her skirt and cups her pubic mound. His ass swings to and fro, a pendulum between her buckled knees. She braces herself for an orgasm. Hands balling into fists, grasping the Queen-sized fitted sheets. ”Fuck!” she says. “Fuck!” The endgame is at hand. Possibly a few last moves. The penultimate. It is good one can stop and think between moves. Possibly forever. She is a dazzling lover. No question. I can hardly keep my eyeballs in my sockets. Let alone not tell all my friends at the tavern the next day. I have no friends. I keep our secret to myself. I am discrete. She tells everybody. We are gliding towards Nirvana. Nothing can stop us now, she says. She is on top. I am holding her ass. My palms bigger than she or I imagined. When she comes, we are everybody everywhere. The perplexity of our existence is beyond the beyond the beyond. The bafflings. What else can we call it? Moments of Uncertainty. Pretty much all the time. I hear the clattering of Marley’s chains. Yes. I am terrified. How can I not be? I push the sofa against the metal door. Useless. I wait. I listen. Silence. Buttocks in our hands. A breast in the mouth. The nipple is hard like a pebble. We are twenty-two, twenty, nineteen. We are forty-four. We are eighty-eight. We still want. Tenderness & intimacy eluding us for so long too long, so precious, so rare. Her gaze fixes on my rising cock. I watch her take off her panties. Her sex glistens. We get into position. The excitement. The approach. The angle. We prepare our bodies for too much pleasure. 6.24.73. Stella Blue. Something is wrong, really, what. I sit in a Toyota. I stare blankly ahead. Waiting for something to happen. Now, I am in an apartment. A box. A machine. If you spend too much time writing the electronic interviews, there is no time for the novel. Do not let this happen to you. Is it happening to me? Not yet. Almost. I must fight it! The Kraken! Toast with butter. Marmalade. The number 13666 is terrifying. What does it mean? Word count? She lays back and lifts her buttocks to removes her panties. I lay on my side and I caress her belly. Everybody says stay inside. We are already inside. Peeping through peepholes. Listening. I hear the hum of a television machine. There are thirteen pine slats supporting the single mattress of a bunkbed. I sleep in the wilderness of the imagination. In other words, I do not sleep. Everything is real. Every syllable. Every vowel. She feels with a hand for the cock in his briefs. It comes flying out like a dangerous adder. She starts to giggle. Gives it a fast suck. She wants to fuck. Her pussy charms the snake. Lures it into the dark. The man worships the woman’s small breasts and big ass for the rest of his life. The clangor of steel wheels and a loose underbelly. The machine moves along iron rails. Passengers ignore being in motion. Pretend otherwise. Reading novels. Eating potato chips. The dishwashing machines is washing dishes with boiling sprays of water. The brainwashing machine is washing human brains in electronic whirlpools of information. Click if you like it. Double-click if it gets you horny. We are half-limp plastic people in the exploding Universe. What happens next? Eh? Are you prophet? Are you an engineer? Are you a harpooner? Did you see something in the water? A shadow in the deep? Keep your belly on the boogie-board. Kick a little less. Splash a little less. The Kraken lurks. Submerged. Invisible. Waiting to emerge. Nothing phone. Pick it up. Hello? Nobody. Nobody is there. Or here. Pressed tightly. A backwards glance. Truckin’. 9.10.72. Stop burning fossil fuels. Cannot help it, pal. I am American. It’s just funny to even have language.

Dear reader, I want you to try a little thought experiment with me.

Given the vast literature encompassing human knowledge, and all the teaching and learning that go on in the world, you probably take it for granted that the languages we employ keep up with the task of articulating, representing, translating, recording, and communicating all that we need to. In other words—now that I have articulated that thought—you probably think that language per se is adequate to the task of consolidating the reality of the world, and not merely personal partial realities, but a bigger, in principle total, understanding of the world. We take the time, make the effort, and the language does indeed ‘keep up’.

Or maybe you have already begun to smell a rat and are willing to imagine the opposite, to imagine that language is inadequate to the task. Well, that is the point of this thought experiment. Take that imaginative leap and consider:

What happens when the reality one is trying to negotiate pushes the language to the limits of intelligibility?

I thought I would ask Gilbert Adair,[1] a poet renowned for his ‘linguistically innovative’ work, to bounce a few ideas back and forth with me …

Gilbert. Hi. …

GA

When the reality one is trying to negotiate pushes the language to the limits of intelligibility …

When the felt pressure of a ‘real’ one is trying to discern does that—so that. 

Never forgetting that (to leech on Olson) what is not poetry is the will to make poetry (altho’ who could call that ‘primary,’ because, you know, society & language)—that last phrase being idiomatic & “to leech on” also, probably, & the lack of a question-mark a (voice-inflected) nother. We teem w/ references, key ones being experienced as (different kinds of) knowledge & many potentially movable up there in a moment of recontextualized “Aha!” that may afford both a concern for a poem or poetic project & a glimpse of the real that will now make its recalcitrance felt to verbal approach while also being contingent on random haecceities of the poet. Specifics I talk. Yes, once your madness has been absorbed by history.

A case in point: What might aesthetic investigation of the notion of pidgin lead to—once you realize that the scholarly acronym for one pidgin (HCE, Hawaiian Creole English) chimes w/ old Here Comes Everybody himself or themselves; & that you presently live on Kauai, northernmost of the Hawaiian islands, & have experience of both Singlish (Singaporean English) &, I suppose, Irnglish (various operations on English as it moved into Irish sensibilities & contexts); & now have a truculently arbitrary means of linking Hawai‘i & Ireland in a 3-part project called h c e.

A pidgin, of course, is much more than an idiom or even a dialect, closer but cigarless to a jargon. The word likely comes from the Chinese pronunciation of ‘business.’ A pidgin is an ad-hoc cobbled together to enable people of disparate languages, cultures, & ranks to function in a variety of work situations: mining, mercenary, trade, shipboard, plantation … a discourse to facilitate proto-imperial coercion from the start, it was almost as soon one of subaltern camaraderie. (When it outlasts a generation—when parents pass the ad-hoc on to their children—a pidgin becomes a creole, a language in its own right.)

I claim no fluency in any of the Hawaiian pidgins (minor variations island to island). As a poet, I’m more interested in what can be glimpsed or grazed, startled into apprehension, via the potentially heretical notion of ‘a pidgin of one.’ The first two sections, h & c, have, among many other things, built a vocabulary of repeating words for use in e (standing, at least in my own mind, for english—or extinction—or emergence—or elder tree, etc) in a variety of fictional work situations, beginning w/ a trial, or mebbe only a trial. When I first came to Kauai, I could understand perhaps 30% of what one of our neighbors said; now I’m at around 70%. & section e as I embark on it is much to do w/ finding means of crafting relative meaning-opacities, given our experience of rushing-in aspects of the world is rather musical (audible, visual, ‘furniture’) than verbal & bearing in mind another of Olson’s remarks, this from his Mayan Letters of 1953: “Joyce … did not improve on … the Irish of the time the Irish were the culture-bosses, what was it, 7th–9th century, or something: he tried to get at the problem by running one language into another … more relevant to commerce, now, than … to the aesthetic problem.” We do run words together, & we like doing voice impressions. & Leopold Bloom, like the hero of North by Northwest (1959), is in advertising.

PP

We hit the poetics from the outset. That chimes with me, with my disenchantment with aesthetics, aesthetics in Modernity certainly. To reprise Olson:

… every element in an open poem (the syllable, the line, as well as the image, the sound, the sense) must be taken up as participants in the kinetic of the poem just as solidly as we are accustomed to take what we call the objects of reality; and that these elements are to be seen as creating the tensions of a poem just as totally as do those other objects create what we know as the world. (Olson, Projective Verse)

With the focus entirely on how the poem is made, the undertow is irresistible, pulling us toward the ontological sense of poetics. What mind and breath can draw together in poetry is a distillation of something occulted already in the mess of the mundane. Say to me: “what is not poetry is the will to make poetry” and I hear the philosopher breaking wind. It can be that bad. The will to make poetry is bound into precedent, principle, pre-existing lines of thought, … it beggars heritage and that is not poetry, but it is the ghost of an ontological poetics: “the objects of reality … create what we know as the world” (ibid). Olson invokes a contrapuntal logic; this is no mere metaphor.

Hence we come to where—take a breath—ontological reserves trigger the production of syllable and line, and do so reflexively to “afford both a concern for a poem or poetic project & a glimpse of the real”—concern for the former in the interests of the latter. But is the motive warranted and is it a genuine prospect? This brings us back to the original question.

If “a glimpse of the real” is “a genuine prospect” the implication must be that in the last instance language is adequate. Yet its recalcitrance impresses itself at every turn; the more the poet pushes and pulls the syllables into breathable lines and the more the vivid specificities that inhabit the poet’s reality, and that represent its most substantial reserve/resource, are brought into play, the more there is that can be said and must be said.

Thus words do not reveal the real, they (ad)dress it, they make a reality of the little that they grasp by fashioning fascinators (as/of/for things). The “random haecceities of the poet” are thus particularly pointed instances of necessary illusion. Self-delusion is not involved; the poet knows full well that they can keep scratching away at the surface of things, that they are expected to do so. Usually the more work the poet puts in the fewer words are needed to make a poem. The clarity of a ‘this’ does not reside in the words used to point to it, but it can seem to when great economy of means is achieved.

The problem is that economy of means may generate monsters. The real may intrude in the guise of an elusive essence, but that is passé for the poet today. Who really cares anymore for another way to say … “I love you” or “goodbye” or “I fear death” or “nature is mysterious” etc, etc? The ‘elusive essence’ is from one perspective a distraction, perfect for play and for time-wasting, while from another it is, through iteration, reductionist fallacy and to be resisted. What matters now are our entanglements, that worlds are at odds with each other, living hells, and the poet’s address in this case defies the distilling trajectory of traditional “clearing” strategies. Babel beckons, the retrieval of an originary linguistic mode that promises a gateway to the real.

So, playfulness and resistance (equally purposeful) define the poet’s dichotomy and confuse the answer to our question: in the last instance language is (in)adequate … which is it to be? There must be more to say.

Post #2 … forthcoming


[1]     Gilbert Adair—born in Northern Ireland, poet and critic, coined the term “linguistically innovative” poetry. In London in 1980 he co-founded, and for the next twelve years curated, Sub-Voicive, a series of experimental poetry readings. His most recent completed project, Syzem, a re-visioning of William Blake’s Milton, was published in two volumes 2014 & 2019 by Veer Books. He lives and works on Kauai, Hawaii, and his current project is HCE, which mixes a mix drawing on Spenser, Joyce, Badiou, Zizek, exile ambivalence, a more nuanced exploration of Christian morality than simply as rationale for empire, and the sonic architecture of Hawai’i Creole English.

Calmly Considering what Clothing to wear Tonight (Part 2)
By Jim Meirose

Someone sounded louder’n him, pulling up beside the building, crush’unching up the crunchy new trap rock ‘rive. Pig stepped out, opened the door, but, found that here also, there’s not a thing at all to see, buh, then turned to get his clipboard and dictation recorder, which gosh, crap—he had forgotten again that in every one of his last hundred or so procedures it had crapped out o’ ‘im, buh, since it ‘lways ‘d so when so ‘xtremely close to the en’o’ t’ ‘cedure th’t to get any closer woul’ b’ the very end, so. Never’d a moment’s been fully lost, but—as footsteps sounded, at the back entrance, he palm’d the device, asking himself why, after every procedure, I say I’m going to fix this, but, as soon as that’s said, it’s l’ways gone all gain’s only known whil’st being spoke not ‘fore, ‘fter, ‘r since. But; this time—no, ush, eck—oh. Hippo! Ess the open door birthed at Pig a blue suit of a thin tallman, which ‘nded him brittlely tight crisped ole’ paperwork, prob bubbly ‘bout the procedure he’d been summoned by some governmental body to do, but a glance, first of all, showed it up as a blank of a normal form, wha’ no one atoll ‘f the doz’ns of fields to be filled and boxes to be checked—just only at the bottom a scrawled illegible signature with large block letters after-ti saying, acting deputy in-charge prime minister with blanket authority for all and everything—and he chuckled within, as it ought to have said amen, but the tall blue suit spoke out, before he could say this form needs—or whatever. He said, This is a special case from the top, get it, fill this out with whatever you can make up, so it’ll fly if ever looked at, that good?

Those words had come at Pig over the sight of the blue suit of a thin tallman’s mandatory government nametag being covered with a tatter of a ripped-off grey duct tape—but as Pig opened his mouth to offer the one or two immediate objections, which popped him up quite frontally, they buried back in down and gone as the blue suit swing to the side as though finely hinged being actually not a man, but a door, and two others identical to him, ‘xcept for one’s taller, ‘n one’s shorter, slid in a white sheeted mass, on a gurney. Pig took this to be the subject of tonight’s emergency operation.

Three minutes later, in the procedure room the blue suited men pulled off the sheet from the subject, which Pig immediately knew had been on ice for a while—metafanfully spraching, of course—after suiting up in the standard safe white clothes, he stepped up to the plate, warmed up with a heavy inner bat, flung it aside, and to the roar of the crowd, he opened his eyes, powdering up the slugger he’d been handed by the bat boy, and saw immediately something needing to be said, about which was, This man has no fingers—and he palmed up the stiff arm by the wrist—this man has no fingers, and has been dead a long time. What is this all about?

Parasol 3: Magick and Philosophy

The long awaited Parasol 3 hard copy is now available. The first 22 of these have been inscribed with a sigil. The significance of this will be disclosed later. 

The journal features the following papers:

The Mechanical Wizard (Germán Sierra)

On the Xenopoetics of Alchemical Theater as an Affective Model for Ritual Hyperoccultation (Robert E. Cabrales) 

Aesthetic Study of Blackouts: An Essay on the Subject in Objectivity, Non-human in the Human, and Ghostly Demons (Emanuel Magno)
A Brief History of General Numogramatics (Tzitzimiyotl)

The Taint is a Liminal Space (Mike Corrao)

Beheading the transcendental God-Emperor, or A Prolegomena to Weaponized Magickal Thought (Enrico Monacelli)

Epistemological Issues in the Phenomenology of Synchronicity. (Graham Freestone)

To get yours please order using the paypal button appropriate to your region. Remember only the first 22 have sigils, so order soon if you want one of these.

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