This has been written in response to reading Amy Ireland’s piece ‘Noise: An Ontology of the Avant-garde’. It does not deal with the entirety of the paper, we merely wish to point out that there are issues involved in such a picture that are potentially problematic for magickal ontologies. Amy’s paper explains how a Kantian epistemological picture, far from producing clarity, only results in a ‘distorted signal’ at least when we consider matters from the perspective of the outside. This picture is theoretically reasonable unless we actually consider magick to be a possibility.
What is magick? For our purposes let’s take it to be the ability to impose a concept (pneuminous accretion) upon a vector that would not ordinarily take it. Some unpacking there. Let us conceive of everything internally and externally, indeed the possibility of that distinction itself to be concepts imposed upon a pure undifferentiated field of what is. Concepts name regions of this vector field. We call it a vector field because it plays host to concepts and, in the strong magickal version, does so literally -the concept goes outside into the vector. Normally concepts have grown with vector regions and they work together as they have evolved. We call this vector ‘hammer’ because it fulfils this grammar successfully. We call this vector ‘sad’ because it too makes sense to us in consistently applied rules. Pneuma is just the term I use for a hypothetical but magickally transcendental stuff that forms concepts.
Magick says that you can take a concept (pneuminous accretion) out of one place and apply it to another and it will actually do something. That is, it will alter the vector region to be closer to the concept you desire it to be rather than the one it actually is. The love spell is a classic example. A wishes B to love him/her but B does not do so. This is the vector region which has the concept applied to it, B’s not loving A. A uses various magickal means to apply the concept ‘B loves A’ upon the vector region. If successful the pneuminous restructuring takes place which alters the vector field so that now B does in fact love A. This you will notice all takes place with a human or Narp field, even the vector field is still sort of empirically accessible -even only in a phenomenological fleeting sense. There also necessarily something else in play, this is the umbratic. The umbratic is the idea of the beyond -the outside. The umbratic may or may not be identical to what is discovered in the pneuminous realm. It shows itself as the idea of the thing in itself. Being outside of pneuma. The umbratic supplies restraint upon the pneuma. However what magick suggests is that under certain circumstances, the restraint can be breached and the pneuma can alter the umbra.
If you negate magick as a possibility then the Ireland/Land picture goes through perfectly reasonably. If however you entertain the possibility of magickal interaction then you have to rethink it. This is because under this possibility the pneuminous accretion (concept) is not some passive function, rather it is an active process that is plugged directly into the outside such that it actually can alter it. There are a two consequences to this that are worth going through. i) You have a version of Crowley’s ‘Every act…’ in that passive conceptuality is essentially still magickal, it is simply that the concept applied to the vector is perfectly appropriate to it. Hence by this logic, the hammer is actually made curiously more hammer like by the feedback of accretion onto vector (and hence into the umbratic). ii) The signal is primarily distorted by the Narp’s production of the vector field but active magick (conscious and unconscious -synchronicity) is reaching directly into the outside and restructuring the umbra with subsequent consequences for vector field -it will alter it. That is, you cannot think of the picture as being either a pure distortion of an outside signal (because even the outside is infected with the pneuminous inside) or a clarity -because it is also true that the umbratic is sufficiently alien that the signal -the vector field- can always yield novelty of a potentially terrifying nature.
Negating magick makes it a one way process in which we, as cut adrift lonely organic processors struggle to conceptually assimilate an awesome vastness. The possibility of magick does not entirely obviate this, but it does mean that whatever is going on, we are more directly plugged into an umbratic/outside than the strong insignificance picture suggests. Magickal type activity is still possible in the pure distorted signal model, however by making the outside utterly indifferent to our will, one ends up committed an essentially scientific magick. Under this mode, chaos magick is a futile activity that may only hit the mark occasionally by pure chance. Effective magick would be the realm of actual magickal geometry/symbols/sounds that genuinely activated parts of the outside in ineffable ways -a kind of Neoplatonism.
This does not sit particularly well with certain related aspects of this theory set. The numogram for instance is purely accretive or hyperstitional if you will. This makes good sense if you accept chaos magick and strong hyperstition (by implication). On this front the pneuminous accretion of the (p)numogram can exert ontological effects -synchronicity etc. However if we adopt the cut of from the outside model, then all such hyperstitions (unless you want to say they are the real ones as found in a scientific magick) are only of the weak type -effective at a psychological but not ontological level. Chaos magick and strong insignificance are not good bedfellows even though on the surface they look compatible. Chaos magick actually entails the possibility of weak significance -significance propped up by ourselves yet also external to us -a diy God. Strong insignificance can have a Spinoza like God but this renders all chaos magickal adventures in numerological like play utterly ineffective (apart from psychologically) and utterly pointless.