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.

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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Calmly Considering what Clothing to wear Tonight.

A new serialised piece of fiction by Jim Meirose

1
Out far in the future, from your last full stop, there comes reading back to you this description of an unusual event some several dozen years back, from even farther out, of a strange body, needing immediately examination, in room number five of Helmut Greene’s worldwide discreet autopsy and private twenty-four-hour emergency lawn care contracting concern. Motto—no questions asked, and no answers given—at least not out loud or in writing. Pup. Here is the writeup of this pertinent to us big bang.

Mediation objective goal; Immediate the presence of a large hysterical object das interior. Subjecteriorianne pap; formerly bright shine objection being, the climb up some political ‘ss.

Esquire!

Pig Humphry lay back in his cushy Brads only big spittoon, waiting for the delivery of the job to his station thirty, the last opening for walk-in’s today, and which would be so for the next few hour-sez as writing up by contract, for today. Who, where, or what they would not say, but; it’s unusual, more actually highly irregular, and somehow disturbing that three of her majesty’s very big princes must offal bee present as Pig slit down the front of the subject in question, whom, he assumed, must have fallen from some overtoweringly top-fatal, perhaps largest, and widest of any of all the diseases that be, infection or whatever. Of these, there are many wheezes; so, he did not spend the time ‘til Jess wandering, but; waited ou’ ‘s haunches off some powering down, to clear them all out, and the resultant crying and wailing and why the hell’d di’ddd ing, of every large sweep, but actually made on a budget, seventies style disaster movie.

B’.

Then, abruptly, he rose from his divan, and went to the window. There was nothing to see. There was nothing to see; his classmates began to assemble; and, there remained nothing at all to see, as he waited alone for the lab session to start, but, the time continued passing, the door opened, and Venisienne entered—already clad from head to foot in her trademark too-small baby blue, nothing to see still, nothing—rubber gloves. Hey, Pigman, she greeted him quickly, and he turned from the window, trusting there’d remain nothing to see, as; hell, the day was early, so he nodded also, but, said nothing, too. There was still nothing to ‘ee ‘cause, jus’ a’ third member of his way back when human anatomy twelve, lab group five, had to arrive for preparations to be fully complete, so, also. Hey, also. They said that ‘til the doorknock knobbed rattling eck, he is here; yes, ‘way team nuh’ b’ bringing today’s special job for Pig to do—though it’d be soon they’ll all be here, which. Which was important for the human anatomy twelve, lab group five, which had grown close, as did every of all ten lab groups working human anatomy twelve each

and every day, but s’ ‘ere ‘e comes; here comes Lavender Boy—the nick’ Venisienne teased all over him since his outlandish baggy pants day, some far back when time, which they jokingly called it to this very day, and Pig found it came to his tongue automatically, when he saw this Chester named boy enter the room, Hi, Lavender Boy, eh, we got to wait, so calm down, hang a few. Uh. That janitor didn’t come unlock this lab yet.

Okay, b’

Agents work for ontologies, agents being humans in this case. The big question is why do agents work for particular ontologies? From the perspective of the agent it is because this is the correct ontology. However owing to the fact that there are many agents for the various ontologies and also agents for new ontologies (whether or not the agents produce the ontologies is a problem we will touch on later), we must presume that argument between agents fail to result in any resolution in which one agent has ‘defeated’ the other. In other words ‘truth’ is not the deciding factor other than from the perspective of the agent -who believes they are right. This is related to the thesis that all concepts are incoherent in some manner or other. Argumentation between any two given agents exploits the incoherence present to each others mutual advantage.

So if choosing the correct ontology is not what is actually going on with agents then what is? We feel the answer to this must be at the level of some kind of affect. Indeed other options seem limited when truth is removed. One can appeal to straightforward determinism but this doesn’t really help as since one can never tell if we are determined or not, we lapse back into one of the warring ontologies themselves -becoming an agent for determinism. The same problem ensues for any philosophical speculative solution.

If however we dwell at the level of a kind of bracketed affect then we do not comment on the metaphysical determination of the whole situation but rather look to the only other determination available (without drawing in other invisible possibilities like people are fated to be certain kinds of people). By bracketed affect we mean that the level of human preference exists but is not attached to any ontology. This is seems fair enough since the affective register of humans is a priori present in any given ontology to a greater or lesser extent. What we propose here though is that it is the affective register that is largely determines the ontology one might be an agent for.

This does not mean that argumentation/logic plays no role in determining agenthood. This however generally occurs more at an student-philosophical stage in which factors like: the persuasiveness of certain arguments, favoured lecturers, prose styles, favoured historical periods and capacity for formalisms work together to determine what philosophy will be preferred and hence that the student will become an agent for. It will be noted that the factors themselves are already in many cases (potentially all) preference tendencies. Asking where these tendencies came from results only in asking where we come. Answering this question results self-ontology which similarly schisms into the multiple agnostic disjunctive series and of course choice from this series itself will be similarly decided by preference.

This leaves us trying to speak of a kind of ontologically neutral term, like persons having a ‘disposition’, whilst at the same time refusing to speculate on how such a disposition came about -this is the bracketing. A disposition then would be the general affective tendencies of that person which in turn tries to express their conscious and unconscious likes and dislikes. This in turn does invoke an immediate sense of yet another order of controlling entities -affective ones.

The previous structure that was considered had at one end the pre-ontological and at the other end the multiplicity of ontologies (manifestations) all in competition with each other. This affective addition presents a third element which so far is to added only to the manifestationist end (though already possibilities of applying it to both ends seem reasonable). This has been done in order to supply some kind of ground as to why different agents work for different ontologies (given that the truth of the ontologies is so indeterminable as to render agreement impossible -which is in turn grounded in the incoherence of any given concept). The affective register and disposition concept supplies the control mechanism necessary to render differing agenthood cogent without lapsing into any specific ontology.

As an after thought we note that the only self-ontology question that escapes the bracketing off of self-ontologies is whether or not the subject is i) a discrete unit of autonomy or ii) whether it is more appropriate to think of it as a node with conceptual powers flowing in and basically controlling it by their flows. This is an important point because on this turns the actual sense of whether the language of agent is truly appropriate. If i) is true then it makes more sense to think of concepts as working for us than vice versa. Preference/affect is still an issue but in this instance pertains to the subject’s control of the ontologies, rather than the reverse. ii) is more the schema generally talked about above, in which a pre-existing conceptual-ontological realm controls the nodes, which in turn create new variations of ontology. A ‘disposition’ is an interesting possibility insofar as it does not suggest control (though does not outright rule it out) but it does suggest a susceptibility to only certain conceptual powers.