Notes on a Pre/Post-Ontological Structure (ii).

The structure that we attempted articulate seems to have some relation to the work of Laruelle, though in fairness this is more coincidence than inspiration. The early description of ‘manifestationism’ always struck us as similar to his work. However ‘manifestationism’ never pretended to be anything other than a meta-philosophy and was never developed beyond a certain point owing to a paradox type problem. This being that philosophers became agents of the ontologies, or at least this was the preferred tack. However in making this the case one had to align the meta-theory with a particular ontological bias -something definite has to be asserted about the nature of the subject/agent, in this case, that the ontology is essentially of a higher order than the agent that works for it (the philosopher). The problem then is that manifestationism cannot ground itself without lapsing into a particular manifestation. We find there is still something attractive about the notion of philosophers as agents of ontologies and may well pursue this line of thought again.

Current considerations of Laruelle and Castaneda have somewhat reinvigorated this idea, or at least complemented it. For Laruelle, what I have called the manifestations are the philosophies that arise out of the one but are determined by it in the last instance, meaning the impenetrable one calls the shots on them but the converse is not true. Manifestationism had no transcendental one. The endlessly proliferating philosophies were caused by the agnostic disjunctive incoherence between them all. They did not require a transcendental extra, rather they formed a closed system which was basically kept going by scepticism about each other.

Castaneda’s (or Don Juan’s) insistence on mystery, emphasis on the occurrence of seemingly impossible things and resistance to any kind of theorising suggests something similar to the region that we wish to disclose. In making such a move though we stray even closer to Laruelle, for now we have a region closed off to theory from which all theory springs, which is of course very similar to the Laruellian one. The structure here though whilst similar is also different, for here we seek to feed paranormality back into the system without discussing it in any ontological sense, whilst the Laruellian project is more interested in showing the contingent nature of philosophical practice as a practice though arguably still retains the same hidden presupposition of materiality that most of the standard philosophical canon does.

An attempt at the level of ‘what is before’ has two potential strands to it. One is more akin to a Laruellian one insofar as it exists in a pseudo phenomenological space and operates as a transcendental to all possible philosophies. The other would involve reflections akin to those found in Lewis-Williams ‘The Mind in the Cave’. In this book cave paintings are theorised as being the nailing down of hypnagogic like imagery that may have appeared spontaneously to early humans spending time in cave recesses where darkness was absolute. Notions such as this point out a whole realm of experiences which the western theoretical mind will dismiss as not ‘real’ owing to this word’s near synonymity with the solid and continuous. This is not to be dismissive of such reasoning, of course this kind of thought has very good reason for thinking (to the point of assuming) this. The physical world does indeed appear to be solid and continuous. From this perspective of the before then, it is what we call now call the illusions, possibly also the marvellous sights (rainbows, light reflected through water onto rocks, glowing mists etc), powerful displays (thunderstorms, winds e.g.), hallucinations of any sense (for the sake of argument these would include the paranormalities: ghosts etc) and serendipities. If we strip these of our understanding of them then we can allow ourselves a glimpse of the prior. These experiences would all form a continuum with the solid and continuous.

Another example of thinking similar to this is found in Jaynes book on the origin of consciousness. The argument there is that the internal dialogue was previously experienced as an auditory hallucinogenic command voice. This bicameral mind, as he calls it mind was slowly superseded by modern consciousness which integrated the internal voice into its own understanding by the process of learning metaphorical language. We do not say (unlike with optical illusions e.g.) we now have excellent theories about nature of the internal dialogue, our best notions still turn on the theories of Vygotsky, however Jaynes argument is a related claim to our own insofar as it draws attention to possible ways in which phenomena which just ‘are’ were previously taken to be very different in a very fundamental way.

Of all of these what we come back to again and again are the issues surrounding the serendipities or synchronicities and how to conceive these in this more fundamental way. These are taken to be of maximal importance because these are the phenomena the most represent the possibility of reality at large altering itself in relation to the perceiving being. Even the most sceptical of us can experience a certain jolt when we are struck by a synchronicity (or coincidence if you prefer). If we quickly annul it with our agnostic disjunctive choice then we proceed with passive interest at the curiosity but not with the sense that something exceptional has happened. There is good reason for this of course. The alternatives don’t look appealing to many, there is either a kind of predetermined harmony, psychic awareness or reality altering itself around us to choose from.

In the prior there is no such theorising, there is no choice of ontologies. This state shows all these possibilities in a unified way. What we believe we have here is a world inhabited by powers that would be later classified as spirits but here are so continuous with it as to be unremarkable. The synchronicities themselves would be also nothing but normality, an expression possibly of the powers’ state towards the experiencing beings. And it is here we run into difficulties in this heuristic. Statements like the above seem to drag us dangerously close to a primordial theorising of spirits being linked to fortune. The emphasis we feel has to be on the ineffable fluctuating sense of reality that seems possible here, that makes possible the more ridiculed possibilities of psychic awareness or reality altering. The primordial experience that makes these now largely discarded possibilities has them in its living unity. This means there is a kind of push pull action embedded in it between the appearance of the solid continuity and the fluctuating reality of interplay between extended awareness, powers and actual alteration.

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