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.

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.

These notes work towards the development of the previously mentioned idea of a description of a pre-ontological level that would fail to register any paranormality as such, owing to its simply being one more aspect of existence. Whether such a kind of prior state is adequately describable is questionable (the meaning of prior this instance being one of the problems), however it may be that the attempt will prove useful.

One stumbling block in such definition as ‘pre-ontological’ is that the issue we seek to discuss can be seemingly achieved by a given ontology. That is, it is perfectly possible to conceive of an ontology that does not need deny paranormal phenomena, rather it simply incorporates them into its theorising about being. Such a move though, is unsatisfying because any given ontology belongs to the other end of the structure.

What do we mean by this? What we are trying to work with is in fact a double ended structure. One end is the pre-ontological level and the other is the level of multiple ontologies. The end of multiple ontologies has in the CEO been labelled manifestationism. More can be read about this in this old CEO compilation. It basically takes it that a priori no philosophical theory (a manifestation) can be ambiguity proof. This is based on the incoherence/coherence thesis that can be read about in the Tractatus Pneumatologico Philosophicus which states that all concepts are essentially incoherent in some way or another. Philosophers as agents of different ontologies to which they are affectively attached, will work with the inherent incoherence to defend the ontology that they work for, whilst being blind to the incoherence in their ’employer’. Everyone argues with everyone, forever.

This is one end of the structure we wish to try to articulate. This end is the multiplicity of theory by which we try to understand what is going on. Theory has happened and is continuing to happen. Of special interest to us is that fact that modern scientific and philosophical theory, especially in the west has in general placed all paranormality outside of it. The presupposition is that despite various idealist discussions continuing, materialism actually supplies something that approximates the true. The world is solid and continuous. Theories that supply alternative pictures are relegated to quantum-fuelled new-age speculation. The radical picture of reality that such thought demands looks so distant from the cosy walls of hegemonic materialism that it appears whole-heartedly ridiculous. Hence whilst the manifestationist multiplicity certainly contains such theories, they are at the moment largely distinct from ‘conventional’ philosophy.

This kind of talk repeats the spectre of the ontology that is accepting of various ‘para’-normalities. As mentioned, such an ontology is certainly possible (pneuminous accretive theory is exactly such a thing), however it is not what is required here. The mention of paranormality here is not to emphasise it as an important realm of theory (manifestation) but only to show how this is relevant to the other end of the structure.

The other end of the structure has be characterised as pre-ontological. This language is used to draw attention to how it must be ‘before’ theory has happened. Possibly this can only be employed heuristically, nevertheless we will continue with this and see where it goes. The point of this prior end of the structure is to imagine a space in which there is no schism in the experienced world. One can feel a kind of Heideggerian sense in what is being aimed at here. Poetic disclosure in a primal sense, an announcing of being. This encounter though cannot abnegate events that we would deem as paranormality, it cannot have the hidden presupposition that such things are not real to it. It is this level that we must ask ourselves, if possible, what might it look like?

A hydra of theory heads emerging from the dark earth. This is the task.

by T.W. Selvey

Those who can’t, teach. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Or forget how to repeat it. Wiping memory doesn’t wipe history. I’m here to teach, because I can’t. The LAPD tech wizards have memory stick wands and the forehead on sale at Best Buy is equipped with five USBs. Is that enough? The mouse is wireless, so control is unimpeded, however. One click does the job like one savior does the saving. Before the dawn of electricity and mobile persecution pods. Before the plug was pulled. Before oxygen tubes had softly blown in the last oxygen, the last breath as a figure read Fukuyama in a convalescent bed. Before the beginning of the decade, in the first century, or in the last century or this century. The global empire named Figure trudged along, sweeping up countries into a dusty corner pile. But now, global civilization faces a dissatisfied cataclysm, which is unapologetically hungover, grouchy, and unmotivated.

Norms, democracies, wars, nation-states, and the 20th century ridicule cataclysm, the young destroyer corrupted by pubescence. It’s unprecedented. Rulers and demagogues laugh and laugh, believing their own brain stew propaganda, since private prisonsunder the aegis of global enterprise gathered all oppositional politics into a gulag. The freedom to make money is the only freedom that counts. The climate sours. The populace tastes bad, like imitation Chanel, but mobs keep getting devoured by the thousands anyway.

Criticize if you want but the wait staff are blameless. The wait staff threaten. No more water. Doilies are nicotine stained but liminal. The back burner kept the sidelined issue warm, but it’s time to starve. Destabilization complains. The Secretary of State said it’s a good time to invade us. Air strikes were called in because all the insurgents were gathered in the streets, making it easy to end the domestic dispute. The theorists celebrated the decentering. Flattering, I know. The cataclysm might breakdown in plentitude, when the crisis intended austerity, falling wages, and escape tunneling. Not going to engage the tormenter on Facebook since problems exist and intersect in me, a socially aware paradigm that’s intersecting a shitty old syntagma called ‘me’ again.

Frank talk coming from a hotdog, a hot-god, a hog rod. I was trying to say ‘rot-god’ but the censors are genetic now, but in quotes means I don’t mean it. Sex privatization became the rage and the new investment instruments were binary chromosomes, which pleased Evangelicals, eukaryotic and dualistic down to their lexical cells. A hodgepodge of greedy men yanking and touching stagnating gonads. What is the opposite of a death spiral? Welfare check on the cataclysm.

Cataclysm reemerged from hiding, and begrudgingly agreed to render society into lard and tallow. Much more useable now, and, it pays. The robots’ severance package included blood depletion and free VHS copies of Robocop, each driving a Ford in a sprawling fleet, a line of individuals engaging in solo mass production to revive the cancelled Taurus. Industrious, he became a factory, a cyborg coughing up sulfur and coal mines, usurping dioxide, cross-legged, exploiting ant and beetle labor, a stretched forearm skin canopy draped over machinic cock output. Sit down, focus, and fix the annihilation, before it withers and retreats. Since 1979, Bretton Woods has been logged and razed. The reflecting pool is a hollowing cataclysm. Take 1 cup of this year and flush it away.

Hold up for a second. Who’s ‘he,’ because I assumed briefly it was Robocop. (Robocopy.) No, but any ‘he’ will do. Move on.

The organization came up with a competing ideology based on ruining self through rapid self-preservation. DNA tablets. Tubs of de-aging, anti-wrinkle cream erased millions of faces. The earlier part of the year had a resurgence. I got my face back. A face on my lower back, a tattoo of a clock. I owe everything to time, this time. Very basic economics lesson, bitch: Capitalism does not run fast in one direction or treadmill in one place! Sidetracks and loops beset the course, which is angular, uphill or hitting the front tire on a gutter and spinning around on the back tire, the hood dented by an asteroid or an operative defenestrated from heaven or from a ghostly Twin Tower. Speed is not fast. Boredom beget orgies. Stop here and fuck. Fuck stop signs. The entanglement of the roots with the mycorrhizae is a chance to inject drugs, but they were rented. Rent to own drugs. An underground drug dungeon, the American dream. Bank of America dealt me an FHA-backed bank loan. It’s my dream. Wake me up. Tacky, kitsch morals tacked on the intensified exploitation. Slowdowns more than inconvenience the system. Glue and tar streets, alleyways, and the sidewalks, since the system will rear up and jump on dry surfaces. Since 1979, the unfettered market and greed was celebrated and individualism was heralded as rewarding, more so than collective action and union solidarity. But in fact, the right-wing ascendancy in politics turned individuals into pigs on a spit. Trunks of individuals. Turned. Tender. Obesity dripping extra-large pizza, gut fat eagerly dripping on the fire. Lowered pay to them by buckets because they were in a pit. Bragging about being a major ad recipient, getting all the best ads at maximum speed and in every dimension while you pay to work in a mental factory, bored, slow, and out of this month’s data allowance. Fast phone runs 500 apps. That’s not fast. That’s revolutionary technology, a great opportunity, cataclysm, a chance to catch us unguarded, as there is no factory reset. Feed is out of order and I don’t know what the fuck is happening today, as if today happened in this timeline, a microprocessor clock speed that is slowing at a slowing rate. The chronology adapts, accelerating backwards, backing into a repair bay, where I say it’s time to change the transmission fluid for an extortionary amount but shoving the credit card in my back pocket, actually I cut the brakes. Actually, I committed theft, caught time, a time trap, and drove off a cliff, mashing the forgetful pedal, the pedal forgetting to contact the absentee brakes, the absentminded brakes listening instead to a memory loss track set on repeat, the fire ball on the embankment, exploding me, stopped on repeat.

This  note forms part of an ongoing discussion at the CEO regarding a number of issues regarding accretive ontology. One such issue involves the possibility of an accretive typology of sorts. No doubt there will be more on this in the future, this whole discussion though seems to have unearthed a general movement towards recognising pluralities within the system.

What seems interesting as a possibility is to try to push the occult descriptions much further than the usual synchronicity area to see if anything can be gained from doing so. Let us consider animism with a serious eye. Animism fits well with accretive theory. The concepts of being alive are accreted to the various things such that they do indeed respond in certain ways. We cannot say what ways such things would be. What we do hit upon here is the modality of attaching significance to plant, stone, river etc behaviour as if it has volition. Such a belief requires connecting phenomena together in certain ways e.g. considering the swaying of plants in the wind to be part of their movement and stronger still than that, that such movement might be discernible as communication or some other kind of action. The wind itself could be viewed in such a way, the wind as a being with a volition.

Such perceptions are only possible under choosing the first arm of the agnostic disjunction ‘magick is real’ or ‘magick isn’t real’. However this choice is not as simple as the synchronicity option. In the case of the synchronicity the phenomena is overtly there as something strange. The event itself raises the issue. After the event we will decide whether reality can really do that in the strong sense (pneuminous accretive intervention) or if really it is just coincidence.

In the case of such animistic interpretations we do not have the same strong reason to make such a choice. There is nothing to prompt any upheaval of our regular interpretation of the inert unresponsive nature of things. To make the choice to do so seems insane and yet we have to be aware that the same issue with reality holds sway. Since we do not have an absolute understanding of reality we cannot say that inanimate things definitely cannot respond in some way. This of course isn’t really much good, it might be true but we have no grounds on which to believe it. The grounds however can come if one makes an experiment to treat the things around as if they were in some sense animate. Such a belief needs something like accretive theory to keep it from descending into indefensible nonsense. Accretive theory at least can give good grounds why anything can be imbued with some form agency if we attribute it to it. If then, we make an experiment of seriousness to treat things as if they had an, albeit incoherent, sense of life, then likely enough we will get some kind of synchronicitous or other like phenomena that seem quite remarkable.

At this point the agnostic disjunction can kick in with greater force to suggest that maybe there is something to animism (or accretive theory at least) because now we have an interference level phenomenon to substantiate it. Of it is a disjunction, we can still opt out. But now the appearance will be such that the strange phenomenon (whatever it was) may well be exactly what it would look like if animism were real, hence the appearance of the regular world and the newly discovered animistic one become equal. The discovery is something like a conditional proof in which we had to assume the truth of animism in order to make its possibility visible. Of course as soon as we do make any kind of acceptance then many ontological problems kick in. Given our habituation e.g. how it that wind and plants are not just contingently connected? How did the lake make the fish leap out at the correct moment to our talking to it in way that seemed beyond chance?

For these things to be actually strange and not just psychological projection we again need something like an accretive theory. This does not tell us the mechanics of how things work, for it is only a phenomenology, but it does say that a reversal occurs in such instances. That is, where normally the concept is determined by the vector, in these circumstances, the concept  (pneuminous accretion) manages to reach into the umbratic and alter it such that at the level of perception the (ambiguous) incredible is perceived.

Make no mistake this does unambiguously assume reality is much stranger than it seems. Such an acceptance seems to imply local reality fluctuations are perfectly reasonable that are often totally undetectable to others.  It also has the infuriating implication that many strange phenomena will not display themselves unless engaged with. This of course would seal the sceptics opinion as it would be literally impossible for them to enter such a world.

Note, none of this is an endorsement of animism or any other stance for that matter. All it says is that the appearance of the phenomena generate ambiguities which are not often impossible to close down (agnostic disjunctions). Animism is interesting because it does not suggest itself in the same way that synchronicity can appear as spontaneous rupture. Few would infer animism from synchronicity, but probably synchronistic phenomena would occur as a result of engaging with animism.