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.

These notes are a product of conversation with Emanuel Magno.

We are painting in simple broad brush strokes here, yet even these can reveal some interesting thoughts and possible structures. To recap briefly we are investigating how certain modes of interacting with the world can be conceived as responses to the the nothingness. We would say the nothingness can be a cognitive discovery (there may be always a trace of this). When this occurs reason philosophy is a void response. Furthermore philosophy here is characterised precisely by its untestable nature and desire to ground its subject matter (knowledge, how to live, the being of Being). This is not a derogatory comment only a descriptive one. Philosophical concepts a priori cannot be defeated by any opposing philosophical concept. Science may shore up the edges of philosophy but sceptical possibilities can persist in the face of overwhelming evidence (and philosophy is duty bound to take them seriously -even though sometimes it would not like to). Hence this shoring up is more a case of rendering unpalatable rather than removing from the philosophical realm. Philosophy tries to ground what it cannot ground using thought, this is its nature.

We also identified sorcery as described in the works of Castaneda as a void response. The accusations of fiction levelled at the works are irrelevant here, all that is relevant is the system and the system describes a way of living that absolutely accepts the void and urges action as if there was no void -yet all the while knows it is there. Sorcery then is a magickal response of action to the void and chaos magick is a very similar (though not identical) one. Chaos magick is more forgiving of regular human nature than sorcery.

Compassion/love was also noted as a void response i.e. in the face of the nothingness the only tenable action is to show compassion to the world and all the beings in it.

It can be argued of course that these are all philosophies insofar they attempt to ground existence by an ungroundable principle. However the difference is that sorcery and compassion responses supply action to be lived and hence they transcend the philosophical realm of thought.

As previously noted there is no claim that philosophy never leads to altered lives, only that the majority of the time the biggest change philosophy makes to someone’s life is that they become interested in philosophy.

We must also consider the source of what looks like a philosophy. This kind of notion turns on the ontological status of revelation. If revelation comes from within a discrete self and represents nothing more than the subconscious mulling over of a problem, the answer to which is fed back to the questioner by some means that appears to not be the questioner, then we might consider it little more unconscious cognition. However if revelation comes from an external power (God/Spirit) then the philosophy in question has not be grounded in cognition of any kind and hence is not philosophy in the above sense of thinking hard about problems.

Of course one cannot actually tell the difference between these two phenomena, the problem is as we say, agnostic disjunctive. In this sense then the phenomenology of external revelation is only what is important and such systems as they arise are not -in our brush strokes- to be considered philosophy in the sense of trying to conceptually/logically disentangle problems.

External revelation though often results in the void-cocoons (or a-voidances). These are systems that shield humans from the void by giving rules for living that are transcendent to humanity. They often supply a teleology. This is a very important part of an a-voidance. Shamanic systems, polytheisms and monotheisms are all largely a-voidances. Shamanic systems do so by direct contact with spirit. Spirit in turn will reveal a creation myth to the shaman. The non-reflectivity of shamanic based communities means that spirit may be naively trusted in its claims. Contact with spirit is perfectly real (though ontologically questionable as the above agnostic disjunction shows) it is just that, as is often said, the spirits cannot be trusted.

Alternative again to any kind of spirituality, cognition or compassion is a certain physical response of fullness to the world -like a hedonism. This may not be born necessarily out of direct cognition of life as a problem, but rather is the result of a certain effusive spirit. When such a person asks themselves whether or not their pleasure in life is reasonable, they simply find that there is no reason why it is not reasonable; life becomes justified on these terms. Equally such a consideration may be never made. The effusiveness of the physicality of life covers the yawning void.

Does this consideration mean we may paint the aesthetic temperament (the poetic, the musical, the artistic) also as void response? Such responses are not cognitive reactions and hence they probably should considered a further part of the picture.

Previously we considered sorcery as a kind of response to the void. We also consider that maybe the previously phraseology of void-parasite may be awry. This is the case because the void must always be mediated and hence it is not the void that is the parasite but the void-mediation-system. In the examples of Buddhism of sorcery we may broadly say that compassion and awe respectively mediate the impact of the void upon the human-vector.

We can consider other activities also as responses to the void. Not least of these is philosophy. Philosophers all brush with the void to a greater or lesser extent. This encounter is (for example) the dizzying vertigo one gets when encountering Descartes radical doubt for the first time. This sensation is often (but not always) easily repressed and the activity looks like one more mode of study. But of course what characterises philosophy is that really none of its questions receives an actual answer. It has this character because there are no regular knowledge criteria for the kinds of questions involved. This is because it responds to an encounter with nothing. Ultimate questions have no answers, only speculations: What should we do? Maybe this… What is the nature of all things? Maybe this…

Philosophy proceeds by creating and counter-posing logical speculation against logical speculation. Sometimes more regular-world criteria emerge from other disciplines (science, logic) that facilitate the partial withdrawal of some aspects of it. However otherwise what happens is largely a proliferation of systems reacting to a total unknowable.

In this way philosophy is indeed a void response, only unlike the awe and perceptual manipulation of sorcery and the compassion of Buddhism, it focusses on arguing about what is the case and what we can know. It is what it thinks it is: a love of reason (to interpret wisdom in the way in which philosophy has evolved it).

Such talk cannot help but put us in mind of the work of Laruelle and our own notions of manifestationism and agnostic disjunction. Laruelle puts forward a similar notion of war between differing ontologies, none of which can triumph, as all are reliant in the last instance on the One. The One in this sense can be likened to the void. It is the font of all concepts and yet contains none in itself. What we note also is that the conception we have of philosophy as an encounter with the void presents the void as a transcendental condition for philosophy and stronger than this philosophy is a transcendental consequence of the void. The human as human cannot help but develop these questions because the void is real and hence cannot help becoming locked in their labyrinthine argumentative structures.

Two additional observations come to mind. The first concerns prescriptive religion (largely monotheisms). These are interesting insofar as they do not so much represent a void interface as a-voidance. That is, they deny at least the moral void whilst preserving the ontological void -only God can understand being properly. The response that humans should have to the world though is not up for grabs, rather it is dictated by the deity in a book/system of rules.

The void is a more rational response to existence whereas the dictator God seems less so. However in a sense either of these notions is equally plausible such that they form a kind of meta-manifestationism (meta-non-philosophy). That is, it seems that the void/prescriptive God opposition operates at a different level to which e.g. idealism/realism does.

This fascinating consideration aside there is another way in which the prescriptive God works with the void. If we consider pneuminous accretive theory (which is a void entailing theory) to be correct, then any monotheistic deity can be seen as a vast pneuminous accretion that by its own conceptual power (definition) entails its supreme nature. As such, this supremacy is to its followers (and even to some extent to non-followers) actually supreme and its laws ‘real’.

In this case such a deity does not so much as make a void mediation system as a void-protection system. The monotheistic accretive entity cocoons the void and prevents the humans from coming into contact with it, offering up instead a deity complete with life and death explanation, teleology and morals to determine how existence should be lived. It is of course the removal of such a cocoon that Nietzsche called the death of God.

Secondly, and this in part builds on the possibility of a two tier philosophy dissection. It seems interesting (if maybe not at this stage plausible) to potentially align the void interfaces with the Jungian quaternity.

Such a lining up would tentatively be as follows:

Thinking Philosophy -mediated through reason

Feeling Compassion -mediated through good deeds

Intuition Sorcery -mediated through awe, astonishing events

Sensation Pseudo-Hedonism -mediated through physical work and sensory pleasure.

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.