What do we mean by the claim of insignificance? Basically that in an unfeeling potentially infinite universe we have no position of meaning to anything other than ourselves. A lot of discourse in certain philosophical/cultural spheres turns on the obvious truth of this premise. I don’t want to say that this isn’t true, but I do want to point out that the notion isn’t quite as simple as it seems.
This notion of significance is metaphysical. Historically we could hold onto cosmic significance because God was actively looking out for us, or at least observing us. God cares about what we do and is all powerful. This means that despite the size of the existence, if the very thing that created it all has actual attention/rules for us then we must be in some sense important in the grand scheme. It’s not hard to see where this heads. The Nietzschean death of God in one fell swoop shatters this significance leaving us to work out a self justifying scheme to prop up our psychic relation to existence. Of course the aforementioned DoG hasn’t happened to a lot of the population but where it has (largely the western world) it’s not hard to hear the cold harsh materialist message taken as gospel. A vast empty cosmos awaits out there. We have discovered we mean nothing, we are insignificant. A rare phenomena in the scheme of things, but without a creator the rarity is just statistical.
This all seems very reasonable. Science is very powerful at supplying good explanations that can be repeated and making good theories that sometimes have to wait a while to be tested (but that still offer decent accounts). It’s ability to do so creates an atmosphere of trust that it can uncover anything. As such the insignificance thesis proceeds as a backdrop to the general program and in some cases is worn as a kind of badge of honour. What we must not miss though in this story is that NAARPs that ascribe to the cosmic insignificance thesis are agents for that ontology. They literally work for ‘insignificance’ (an amazing display of Hegelianism alive in the system today). This is not unreasonable. It seems (from a current rational point of view) a likely scenario. It is however a choice and not the necessary truth. It looks like a good bet compared to the accretive monsters of the mass religions but in a sense this is all. One of the biggest problems for a dogmatic religion is of course (apart from any doctrines that look extremely unlikely) that there are other dogmatic religions. Any religion claiming sovereign truth is always going to look suspect in the face of others doing likewise for the simple reason that you can’t tell why one should be more true than the other. The often unpalatable anti-scientific content and the failure to agree amongst themselves makes religion an unlikely choice for the rationalist.
Magickal endeavours throw a spanner in these works -kind of. An acceptance that magick ‘works’ means that the NAARP somehow manages to affect the outside without physically touching it or speaking to another device/NAARP. Magick has two faces though, one (I) being a kind of scientific magick in which symbols, vibrations, numbers really do have a cosmic significance and as such can be reliably manipulated (under certain circumstances), whilst the other (II) being the chaos magickal one in which the symbols etc. are just vehicles for the intent of the practitioner. Both of these are compatible with metaphysical-insignificance but the latter especially does complicate what we must mean by it.
Only magick (I) can comfortably cooexist (ideologically) with religion. That is (I) often makes use of powers inherent in the religion that one is not supposed to deal with (spirits). In this way (I) is a kind of supplement to a certain religions. (II) is much more problematic for religion insofar as it entails the implication that the God of the religion itself is an egregore or accretion and the whole set up is a massive chaos magickal activity that has gained so much autonomy it now cannot afford its contingent truth to get out. One could ascribe chaos magick as the rational face of magick. Indeed acceptance of Chaos magick resolves the problem of religions insofar as it grants they are all simultaneously real and wrong at the same time. Their level of reality though does mean that within the religion magickal-type effects will occur (that act as reinforcers for believers). Neither are the believers deluded; the Jesus accretion or whatever really is responding to them, it’s just that the Jesus accretion isn’t really the one and only face of spiritual truth. Chaos magick is more rational than magick (I) but to many who would subscribe to insignificance it’s not really that rational (they will likely believe it to be psychologically explainable (AD -magick does not obtain).
All magickal phenomena are subject to agnostic disjunction and the manifestations that the NAARP is working for will decide which side of the disjunction they side with (magick obtains v does not obtain). The combination of insignificant cosmos and ‘magick does not obtain’ is not problematic. Indeed as intimated on a previous post on the Lovecraftian outside these sit reasonably along side. That is, since the sounds, symbols etc. intrinsically have a certain power it is merely the putting them in the right place and time that procures the result. We don’t have to dwell on the problems of the implementation and underlying science, we only have to note the theoretical possibility and how this separates the NAARP from bringing the effect about by force of will, that is whilst there is a will, the action is brought about in a similar way in which on desires to make a table and thus goes about the procedure for making one. It is just a case of putting the pieces in the correct order, magick is just a cold spiritual science.
The position that is problematic is the accommodation of chaos magick and insignificance. It is not necessarily problematic but it does raise some complications. Chaos magick means that the medium is purely contingent. Any medium capable of carrying the request will do. This means the symbols, vibrations have no intrinsic power, these are just vectors to be imprinted by the desired result. The request is necessarily in a informational (pneumious) form hence to repeat myself for the nth time it must be possible for the pneuma to affect the umbra (for the information to overcome the seeming restraint of the outside). This means though, unless we want to say that existence has two distinct modes (magickal and non-magickal), then the potential for this kind of affect is always with us (Crowley’s ‘Every intentional act is a magickal act’). Existence is perpetually reacting to NAARP desiring relations. The pneuminous accretive notion kicks in here to explain unintentional magick like synchronicity (informational interference) as the pneuminous accretions are quite autonomous and not necessarily at the behest of any NAARP. Of course this doesn’t entail metaphysical significance in the same way. Magick obtaining does not entail metaphysical meaning any more than it does a God. It does however offer a couple of potential escape routes.
One is that a reactive existence in a chaos magickal type way does ironically raise the possibility that the outside/whole is just listening to the request and acquiescing -Magick becomes a way to talk to a very fluid Spinozistic God. This doesn’t say this is the case, but it does suggest that one then has as good a criteria that the whole listens and responds as one does to say the chaos magickal effect is just our ability to control an area of it by force of will. I think this gives a weak form of metaphysical significance. It is not humans as the chosen race of the Deity, but it does mean the wholeness of everything is in some sense aware of NAARP activities and listens to them, hence it is not cold and uncaring per se, it tries to respond. The level of intent behind the response of course could only be speculated upon but this still guarantees a connection with the outside. Pneuminous relations are returned to their meaning as ‘spirit’.
The second entails the strange notion that if we accept we are in and part of a series of potentially magickal accretions then we can enable a version of the ontological argument. That is, the very notion of accreting forms that entail universal significance in a bizarre way would actually does so. This wouldn’t be the metaphysical significance of the one and only deity but rather a second order metaphysical significance derived from an accretive deity-proxy for existence itself. A line of Hegelian thought can be uncovered here to suggest that the accretion of this significance, though through a contingent proxy, is actually the way in which the pneuma (through NAARP structures) accretes the only kind of strong metaphysical significance possible. Having said that though, it could be argued that (for the NAARP population we’re talking about here) that dialectical moment has been and gone and the moment.