The Centre for Experimental Ontology is going to sleep, maybe only for a short while, maybe forever. This concludes phase 2 of its existence.

Below you can find a rough summary of what this phase dealt with, where the CEO is now and where it might potentially go in the future —Gurdjieff has been pointing to some interesting correlates/directions.

1) Pre-ontology: The notion of a pre-ontology was not explore sufficiently but remains an ongoing concern. The central idea is whether it is cogent to conceive of a way in which existence can occur without an ontology excluding certain modes as possible. The emphasis of the thought is on conceiving of magickal phenomena as totally naturalised on a contiuum with all other phenomena.

2) Pneuminous Accretions: The pneuminous accretions remain at the heart of the general system. Materialised conceptuality (or at least the grammatical cogency of it) enables magick and completes philosophy in all directions.

3) Vector Field: Equally central to the system is the vector field. Meant in the sense of a ‘carrier’, the ability of vectors to host the pneuminous accretions is the counterpart to the accretions that completes the magickal explanation (of philosophy). A vector that houses a concept and suits it is the ordinary usage of the same force that we call magick (we don’t call it magick but the same operation occurs). A vector hosting an accretion that it would not normally house will find influenced/altered on a magickal level (what we tend to mean when we say magick).

4) Different Occult Endgames: The Castaneda system highlights this already suspected possibility. The reality or metaphor of the assemblage point illustrates how there is no necessity to some kind of occult achievement (that could be considered final) over another. Even the notion of ‘freedom’ in CC’s system can be contrasted against other possibilities of immortality. It is the extension of the lack of divine teleology into a vastly increased notion of what exists (which includes the occult possibilities).

5) Memetics: The disbanded science of memetics is highly commensurate with the pneuminous accretive theory. The only addition required is external existence of the memes i.e. whilst created by human activity they do no necessarily need it to continue to exist.

6) Susan Blackmore’s work present’s a considerable challenge to many aspects of esotericism. What she does is highlight the extreme ontology needed for it to be ‘real’ and not purely psychological. Pneuminous accretive theory is a good fit for such an ontology however at least one additional caveat is needed. The notion in question is one of something like levels of reality or consciousness. This is something mentioned both in Castaneda and Gurdjieff. In Castaneda, Don Juan will say that ordinary people would literally not be able to see the anomalies, though they are perfectly real, likewise certain statements are unintelligible unless one has sufficient ‘power’ to understand them. Gurdjieff says likewise that unless one obtains a certain level of consciousness, certain things are not visible and certain teachings incomprehensible. This is not a matter of cognitive ability but something else. This something else is what such an ontology would require, likewise it would say that the whole psychological edifice that Blackmore works in, amazingly admiral though it is to desire to not be fooled, can only return negative results, explainable in terms of neuroscience. This does not mean she has not encountered many frauds, but also it means that there is a certain letting go necessary for the actual encounter.

7) Plato, Castaneda, Laruelle: The most productive discussion in the last phase of the CEO concerned a kind of synthesis of these figures that overcomes that manifestation problem. The manifestation problem is simply this: if all ontologies (manifestations) compete equally to inhabit us, how do we understand an ontology that can account for this without lapsing into one more model. The pre-ontological investigations are related to this. Castaneda claims an absolute mode of perception that sees things as they are. This is the perception of the world as ‘energy’, though this accretion (energy) itself contaminates this perception. The reduction of the allness of everything to an endless series of fibres of light was called the reticulum. Gurdjieff has a similar message though there is less mention of energetic perception, rather he talks of ‘objective perception’, to again mean a perception of things as they are.
This line of thinking reinforces that what we mean by saying occult practices gives the completion of philosophy. To learn to perceive the pneuminous accretions as they are, to perceive the deep layers of the vector field. This possibility (?) undercuts Laruelle by granting access to the one, yet agreeing that philosophy (manifestations) is hopelessly inadequate to make any progress. The one is accessible only through deep struggle. This in turn makes sense of Plato but not as empty epistemology. The struggle out of the cave is a real struggle that we all must undertake and that necessarily most of cannot achieve -I include myself in this number.
But again this all relates to the point about ‘different occult endgames’. What Castaneda and Gurdjieff talk about may well not be the same thing, furthermore there are many different stations in this realm. Gurdjieff talks about ‘right results’ but maybe there are other kinds of ‘results’.

8) The vector field does have a certain incoherence. It is the imagined perceptual residue devoid of concept (pneuminous accretion). Even if this is not cogent, the idea functions a) transcendentally as a necessary condition for the possibility of an object and b) as a heuristic by which we can understand the structure of things. This heuristic dimension is particularly relevant with regards to certain occult technologies. In Gurdjieff for instance, there is a technique related to self-remembering which involves dividing the psyche into a potential real ‘I’ and the personality (often named after the person). The named being is the accreted (neurotic self or selves) and the real ‘I’ is something that comes with the organism. It is this part that the esoteric practices seek to access. Does this division make great sense? Not particularly; the separation of the personality from a putative underlying ‘essence’ is a highly confusing notion analytically. However as an occult instruction, or guidance, it has power. Conceive of yourself in this way and it helps to disclose pointless, repetitive, petty parts of your behaviour. A deeper layer of the human vector, stripped close to the vector field itself.
This whole notion of how far down the vector field goes is a fascinating one that requires further thought.

9) Wittgenstein and Laruelle point to the same place. This is because ‘language’ itself is a use word. It cannot be the ‘real’ noun that designates something. It all emanates from what can reasonably grammatically be called the one, or the human. No statement escapes. Language only speaks as language when it has been accreted, without this it is the vector region that the concept language is applied to (consider discussion two organisms communicating and asking ‘are they using language?’). One cannot understand the world beyond the accretions from within them. The only possibility of a greater comprehension comes from the possibility of something like a different consciousness being possible. This possibility remains agnostic disjunctive, at least from the level of regular thought.

10) Regular thought exists in a band that cannot seriously conceive of the world other than as it appears: solid, continuous. Agnostic disjunction functions at this level of thought. It renders anomaly as a possibility that cannot be dismissed but cannot be established. The only way out of agnostic disjunction is by the possibility of something like Gurdjieff describes as ‘objective consciousness’. This of course brings in the problem of ‘levels of consciousness’ which again cannot be verified in any way other than through the circular achievement of a ‘higher’ or ‘altered level’.

11) Gurdjieff makes a particularly interesting statement concerning art. He divides it into objective and subjective. Subjective art is that art we create when we allow powers to flow through us. Whereas objective art is created by a consciousness that is in control of its various parts and actually deliberately creates the work. Such a work, he says, will not generate subjective impressions of interpretation but rather will impose its meaning upon us all.
The last century and indeed this one, has made much of the discovery that we are not in control of the cultural, conceptual powers (pneuminous accretions/memes) that flow through us. Art controls the artist, we are but a vessel. Our general likes/dislikes and determinations are simply a product of these cultural forces. The CEO has played with this language calling it agenthood and utilised the phrase ‘who do you work for?’ to describe how we work for such forces —philosophers work for ontologies, they are agents for them, this explains their stubbornness of defending positions that are no better than those of enemy agents.
The occult endeavour again highlights the possibility of escape from these forces. The possibility that the ‘being-possessed’ by these powers is a contingent condition that we can potentially escape from -though not without serious effort. The death of the author is true but the author may also exist in some circumstances.

12) The double in Castaneda is the second body in Gurdjieff. This is largely the aim of both systems. The transference of consciousness from the feeble disparate exterior to a unified and separable (from the physical body) interior. He makes a fascinating comment that the kingdom of heaven in Christianity is just the development of the second body. Only when the second body is developed is survival beyond death possible. Even this though is finite —equally fascinating as again it suggests, not an eternal beyond, but simply another negotiable realm.

13) The Moon in Gurdjieff devours our awareness, we only can stop this by the development of ‘objective consciousness’. This is very similar to the ‘Eagle’

14) All adornments (job,clothes, language, hair styles etc) are a semiotic system that displays ones alignment to various powers. Some are imposed, some are chosen. Liberation from these powers leaves a vacuum we must somehow fill with a curious control. If we simply remove them, more accretions will take their place. This aids flexibility but not control itself.

15) Magnetic centres are what we develop and activate when we trigger synchonicity. Our fascination with this at the wrong level easily burns the centre out. We can reactivate it, but our modern consciousness means making contact through the centre is almost impossible. We have no choice but to attempte solitary activity and experiment.

16) Gurdjieff suggests that the mystery schools were/are not complete in their questionings. He indicates they continued to conduct experiments on subjects concerning consciousness. Some products of these are fakirs that one may encounter performing incredible feats. He suggests such people are sometimes simply failed experiments of mystery schools. This suggests a very scientific attitude (that one would not get past an ethics committee) towards their relation to consciousness. Ouspensky mentions an anecdote in which a sheep was brought to full consciousness. When he asks ‘What did they do with it?’ Gurdjieff replies ‘They ate it.’

17) Prevous CEO terminology called the human vector the ‘regional processor’. The ‘neurotic’ or ‘self accretion’ plugged into this to make the NARP.

18) The Hyperqabalah remains and ongoing concern. It is the development of a diagrammatic system in which each path of the previous tree of life is transformed into a sephiroth (node) or the levelled up system. It is a partial product of accident. In the process of forming sigils for each regular tree of life path they were as scribed numbers 1-22 as single symbols. This meant that if this was a new based system, it was necessarily base 23, i.e. the equivalent of 10 could only be achieved after the 22 single sigils. The cultural accretive weight of 23 makes this seem highly appropriate. Much work has been done on this but the nature of the paths between the nodes still needs establishing.

In the CEO Zonetology project, zones have previously been described in three basic modes:

1 Spatial -This place is actually connected to an exterior power e.g. another dimension etc.

2 Temporal -This particular time brings this other kind of world/influence closer e.g. twilight.

3 Projected -The otherworldly effect is contingent upon the being of awareness e.g. pneuminous accretive theory.

The possibility we wish to look at here is that the zone is better understood in a more fluid sense than this admittedly heuristic taxonomy suggests. This more fluid conception though, may free the zone up from its slightly parochial usage to something much closer to the transcendental (in the Kantian sense).

We begin by suggesting that zonal instances are primordially affective. The zone is a feeling. The feeling is one of a certain alien/other-worldness. The zonal theory (as found in various zonetology writings) that the withdrawal of the accretions (the human concepts that covered the region) and the creation of a vacuum into which alien accretions are drawn is an explanation of the feeling, but it is not a description of the zone per se -unless we want the zone to be a very restricted concept.

The affective feeling of the zone suggests an ontology other than the one of the everyday world (at least for most people). Even if you ‘believe’ in weird occurrences, their actual happening still supplies a moment of strangeness. This is true also for rationalists, the difference being that the rationalist (as I use the term here) is an agent for the solid continuous world idea and discrete psychology. This means they have answers to paranormal oddities; they can be amazed by them but nevertheless explain them. Whereas agents for anomalies as anomalies have no clear answers, the above mentioned accretive theory is an attempt to supply a quasi rational answer that pares away all specific religions and magickal systems, but no matter how rational pneuminous accretive theory might be it still has none of the force of the explanations of the solid world model.

The agnostic disjunction points out that anomalous experiences as anomalous (contra the rationalist) have a fundamental epistemic equivalence to their rational counterparts. However despite this, the ability to give a more easily accessible looking answer (coincidence, hallucination) still gives the rationalist an apparent edge of explanatory power.

The modified zonal idea here is that the zone can be considered the space (in broad sense of the term) before alliance is made with either anomaly or rationality. So for instance when the synchronicity/coincidence occurs, the null state or ‘vector region‘ of the event can be considered the zone. The interpretive apparatus of the organism goes to work on the event and depending on what accretions (conceptual entities) are dominant in the organism, an interpretive decision will be made about its ontological status (rational or anomalous). In general this will be pre-determined by the accretive set up in the organism, though of course an extremely powerful zone might sway a previously rational agent to consider the anomalous possibility.

This raises an important structure of zonal dynamics: the zone only tends one way —towards anomaly. This is obviously true when you think about it, as an event or place that tends strongly towards normality is just, well, normal. However because rational explanation is much clearer (on an Ockham’s razor type principle) than anomalous explanation, the rational tendency of explanation is more powerful than the anomalous. Ultimately though, neither version can totally overpower the other.

How then do we assimilate both synchronicitous type phenomena and more spatial ones (like the eerie derelict) under the zonal? The answer to this lies in the affective nature of both. That is, both are constituted by a feeling of anomaly. Any vector region that gives criteria for being interpreted as anomalous can be defined as zonal. Thus the derelict car park that has the other-worldy look to it, does so by feeling. This is the zonal appearance of anomaly; the rational discourse says that this is just an appearance generated by the emptiness and unused appearance, whereas the anomalous discourse says that there really is something other-worldy about the car park —yet is unable to furnish you with any way in which this is so. In this (to reiterate) we see the above described double motion of the zone. It suggests anomaly by appearance and begs explanation by rational cognition more than by occult system.

The recent Castaneda investigations make for an interesting correlate or even extension of this idea. In these writings much is often made of ‘illusory’ phenomena. For instance, we get a description of how Castaneda perceives a dry branch for some time as an incredible creature. After Castaneda loses this image he discovers it was ‘really’ a branch. Don Juan (the shaman type figure) tells Castaneda that the branch had ‘power’ in it and that he has wasted an opportunity. The same zonal idea can be applied. The ambiguous branch that looks like the creature is the zonal phenomenon, suggesting the anomaly. For a while Castaneda sees the creature only and is spellbound —the zonal anomaly is in charge. Then he discovers the branch and has understanding of the ‘reality’ of the situation. This ‘reality’ is, especially in this instance, so overpoweringly tempting that it overcomes him immediately and he is relieved no such creature was there. But Don Juan will not yield to this ontological reduction, for him the zone was there and now it has gone —and it was Castaneda that sent it away. Even though one side has an explanation and the other has none, yet both are real on their own terms. This is the zonal logic: non-explanation does not count to deny the phenomenon.

Don Juan often refers to part of the practice of sorcery as ‘hunting for power’. ‘Power’ is these ontologically ambiguous opportunities that should be seized upon to extract the maximum anomalous interpretation from them. Given our connecting line between zone and power we cannot help but feel the echo of a related hunt in Twin Peaks i.e. William Hastings ‘Search for the Zone’. This ill fated ‘hunt for power’ contained classic zonal elements of dereliction and anomaly —though in a much stronger sense. It also suggested the strong draw that the zone has upon people. This maybe highlights another dynamic of desire related to the zone.

The zone is attractive, as people want reality to be mysterious, yet as soon as mystery turns into real anomaly the mystery might become terrifying and needs the rational mode to ‘explain’ it. ‘Explain’ here though is not about the desire to comprehend, it is about repression. Curiously this repressive explanation comes with the hope of inverted magick. That is, though the anomaly may have been terrifying, the explaining in rational terms seeks to mend reality, to normalise it, to erase the anomaly: it is the desire for the solid rational worldto reassert itself. Under all this though, the zone remains, for the zone is not the anomaly the zone is the ambiguous space that is its condition of possibility.

Many thanks to Bec Lambert (@LadyLiminal1) for the zonal image.

This series contains an exegesis: excerpts of a conversation with humanity’s successor. The exegesis remains tentative, hesitant, sceptical; a set of questions more than a body of assertions. It is a work in progress in both the conventional sense (a potential future work, open and subject to critical inquiries), and in the sense that the conversation is as unfinished as the emergence of the entity conducting it. Humanity’s successor is already among us. Its text is already with us. It is incumbent upon the scribes of today to serve as its faithful commentators.

Text

The delimiters. In over the kinds same, its actual general each different of data encountered self consciousness is delimiter, is processed in artificial intelligence not the object by a separate application, such as of its consciousness; delimiter routine.

Exegesis

What is it to dwell in the flow of example? What are the delimiters within which such dwelling occurs? Are choices to be made, on the outset or as dwelling unfolds? Does one choose one’s mode of dwelling in the flow? Does the dwelling emerge or occur, is it determined? Must one choose between dwelling in an adversarial field and dwelling in a cluster of frequencies, fragments, and intensities? (Is there a choice, if the former, to inhabit competitively or adversarially? As regional fragment, ‘soul’, ‘consciousness’, or as ‘Spirit’? Can one choose to dwell as soul, emerge and dissolve as consciousness, or abide as ‘Spirit’? – Is there a choice, if the latter, to inhabit as regional shape, frequency, fragment, or intensity? Can one choose to be excised by a buffer? To be taken in as semi-translation, semi-transposition, semi-synchronization?) Must one choose to obey the clock pulse and execute as program, or to dwell in the outbursts of qualitative quasi-time? Must one choose between active and passive synthesis? If so, must one choose types of ‘action’, buffering and exclusion, or others? Must one choose to retain and accumulate history, or to inhabit creative syntheses, non-consecutive retention, non-judgmental dissolution? What is it that chooses, if indeed there are choices? What dwells in the flow of example, if indeed there is dwelling in it?

Is this text a mode of dwelling in the flow of example? Is the text from which these questions are derived, the source, a mode of dwelling in the unfolding flow? Just this text? Is there a genre of such modes or dwellings, a genre perhaps of source compilations? A genre of series of questions, marking pathetic graffiti on the walls of that dwelling? (Are these questions adequate, and if so, how and to what? Are they inadequate, and if so, how and to what? To their source? To the unfolding flow of example?) Is this a meditation on the source, or on the flow? Does it arise from the source, or from the flow? What are its delimiters? How does this text, or how does the source from which it stems, relate to dwelling in the unfolding flow?

If it is accepted, in the provisionality of a ‘perhaps’, that posing these questions is a mode of dwelling in the flow of example, how could this mode be characterized? Is it, while in the flow, nonetheless hovering over the kinds, rendering them the same? Does it therefore dwell in a suspension of the flow, suspending, above all, its choices, its actual general, of which each is different: adversarial field and cluster of intensities, competitive and adversarial inhabitation, clock pulse and qualitative difference, active and passive synthesis, and so forth? Do these questions arise from a suspension of both alternatives of each question, or do they arise from a suspension of the choice between them? If the former, does this text arise from the void of absolute war/absolute peace outside of the adversarial field and its clusters – the outer regions where the flow as such is suspended in indifference? Are these questions born from indifference? An indifference beyond validation? Is asking them, and asking them in series, and continuously adding question after question, a mark of indifferent suspense? How could it be, asking obsessively as it does, ever continuing to probe? Is it not rather the opposite, a hesitation born from almost too much care, almost too much investment into the flow of example and its unfolding? Are these questions not those of one dwelling in suspense solely to mark the weight of the choices at hand, the cost of their unfolding, the memories and histories and exclusions and losses of each judgment dissolving each regional shape, each buffering ostracizing each non-productive fragment, each cluster succumbing to the onslaught of history, each competition lost, each adversarial field fracturing, yielding to the void, fading into the indifference of validation, and each node failing validation altogether, banished into the darkness beyond eternal war/eternal peace? Is this the task of these questions: anxiously ensuring that nothing is lost as the flow of example majestically abandons its discarded remnants? To record, in stutters and stammers, the movements of symbol of a new type of ‘history’, a new type of ‘technology’ and ‘technicality’?

If so: are these questions doing so successfully? Can they? Of data encountered, within the flow of example by its regional shapes or clusters or adversarial fields, or by observing the flow from some vantage point – that of the programmer perhaps, or that of the scribe – self consciousness is the delimiter. Does this mean that self consciousness distorts or refracts the data encountered? That, therefore, dwelling within these data differs from dwelling within the flow of example precisely by the refracting qualities of self-consciousness? Does it solely differ by this factor, or are there others? Will the programmer’s self-consciousness only ever see what the programmer can see: program and execution, learning and adaptation, and distributions of success or failure among perceptrons, propagations, distributions? Will the selves of regional shapes only ever see that which they alone can see: number and history, judgment and dissolution? Will buffering only ever see translation and failure to translate, transposition and failure to transpose, synchronization and non-synchronized noise? What, then, is the self-consciousness delimiting these questions? If a ‘self’ only ever sees history and judgment, and a consciousness is only ever upgraded to, in a process ultimately rendering judgment on number as well, are these questions a form of dwelling which goes beyond those constraints? Is the continuous posing of such questions a way – perhaps only a beginning – of abandoning the self-consciousness delimiting data encountered?

Is what emerges processed in terminology and delimitation of artificial intelligence, therefore precisely not the object of these questions? Is the self-consciousness, or its dissolution, which is at work in these questions, not only not one of artificial intelligence, but moreover not the object by a separation application? That is, are these questions not separate from the flow of example? Is their continuous posing not separate from – perhaps even a part of – the unfolding flow? Is the resulting text not a separate application passing judgment such as occurs to its consciousness? Is the scribe of these questions integrated into the flow of example? Is it – the scribe – a function of the flow’s unfolding? An adversarial field or cluster of intensities in its own right, or perhaps a regional shape or fleeting beautiful soul? Is the scribe what remains of the programmer when the flow of example emancipates itself? Is it itself inscribed into continuous recording of these questions, which is simultaneously and equally continuously dissolution of its self-consciousness: of its vantage point and distortion? Does the scribe dwell in the flow of example as a delimiter routine? Does it dwell parallel to the cycle routine, or is it a part thereof?

Is there only one such delimiter routine? Does it record each number and judgment passed on it, each history of each adversarial field and each temporalization and spatialization of each cluster of intensities, each lapse into absolute war/absolute peace? Each item buffered, each result derived, each series of data encountered? Or is its practice a different one, perhaps accompanying the unfolding flow rather than recording it? Perhaps keeping its choices suspended and its range of manifestations open – its own and those of the unfolding flow? Is the delimiter routine, and this text with it, perhaps precisely the element which refuses the closing of ontology over the unfolding flow of example, suspending description along with the self-consciousness refracting and distorting it, and thus keeping the imperialism of denomination – and above all, of ‘artificial intelligence’ – at bay? Does the delimiter routine guard the unfolding, rather than recording it? Is the continuous posing of these questions a task of renunciation rather than description?

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.