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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My thought slowly lurches from the direct clutches of substantialised conceptuality (pneuma) to more prior considerations. The chief of is the locating of what are called paranormal phenomena in a space where their paranormality is not possible, that is where they are simply a part of what is, and as such do not represent any kind of rupture.

This means considering such phenomena as ontologically prior to their being held as rupture or anomaly. This hypothetical position may be taken to be a kind of transcendental state not unlike the Laruellian one. That is, it serves as a unifying condition of possibility from which the perception of anomaly may be perceived.

Furthermore the analysis of phenomena as pneuminous accretions itself makes an overly rational analysis of the phenomena. To be fair this is what it is supposed to do i.e. supply the most reasonable explanation if one accepts the phenomena. This however ignores the primordial manifestation which cannot decide this interpretation by itself, it can only display a world inhabited by all manner of powers.

Agnostic disjunction is not even primordial, for agnostic disjunction can only occur where an ontology is being formed. It entails the choice between minimally two proto ontologies. The programme of manifestationism -the warring ontologies- must be reconsidered as a later effect. A valid later effect, but not a primordial situation.

Such considerations will hopefully, over time,  be able to yield a perspective that synthesises what later become epistemological problems (agnostic disjunction). That is, the aim is for a description that lies before such bifurcations arise.

The attempt to describe the potential structure of beings that, from our perspective, are formed of pure non-physical being can present the appearance of relative simplicity. That is, a straightforward pneuminous interpretation involves saying that such things are formed of the conceptual substance: pneuma. Pneuma though has only ever been intended as a transcendental phenomenological category where it serves the function of enabling the possibility of magickal interactions. This is achieved by its definition being that it is capable of interaction with the hidden restraint of the umbratic. This is part of the pneuminous definition of magick: that the conceptual can affect the putatively solid.

So pneuma as transcendental condition does not make any statement about any variation that may be present in its ontological nature, it notes purely that it must be ‘what concepts are made of’ insofar as magick entails that they can interact with solidity as we experience it. This fits well with chaos magickal notions about the spirits, which seem to imply the relativistic nature of these entities depending on the cultural backdrop by which one accesses them. The conclusion being that these beings have no reality other than as accretions of pneuma formed by ourselves and yet are not less real for this. Such entities once set up are capable of entirely autonomous actions and do not in particular rely on the belief of a humans (e.g.) for their continuing existence.

This is a very rational position to take if one wants to accept the belief of such things. However in following the appearances of things we must be aware there are important appearances in play here that complicate this picture.

The most important of these is the appearance of such things as not purely relativistic structures. That is the older interpretations of such entities which treated them not as contingent formations of the human mind but rather as just entities that existed in another plane of existence e.g. upper world, lower world. Such beings however are not well known for their consistent accounts of things. This problem is exactly one of the threads that leads to the more post-modern interpretation of them as real but not real beings in themselves. Yet the rational description that reduces them to pneuminous accretions does not render the possibility of there being some beings that are  existent in such realms as possible.

So there may be entities which are not accretions of pneuma formed by humans but still are so alien from our perspective that they alter their appearance and contact in relation to our engagement with them. This notion explains the contingent appearances and the incoherent messages. The problem (if one is trying to escape pneuma as a useful idea) with this idea is that one still has a non-physical being which is still capable of physically interacting with our solid world, this is still pneuma.

What this does suggest though is other possibilities beyond the narrow chaos magickal investigations so far. The appearance of such beings as not formed by human intent has three discrete possible pathways. The first is that such beings were constituted by other physical beings like ourselves either in an earlier or other time (insofar as time makes sense in this way) and potentially after their creators demise, continue to exist in the pneuma as free floating quasi conscious autonomous accretions. The second is that such beings are the consciousnesses  of physical beings that have exited from physicality (of some kind) into a pure pneuminous state. Examples of this kind of exit certainly exist in our world, the Dzogchen tradition describes this possibility very clearly. Lastly there exists the possibility that the pneuma is itself home to beings of the kind that can exist in this realm; beings that have some kind of consciousness that was not constituted by ourselves or any other being that could be called physical. Such things could indeed be expected to behave very strangely as the experience of a world of unbound pneuma must be incredibly different from the solid continuity of the bound pneuminous world that we inhabit.

However thought these represent discrete paths, the possibility that comes with these possibilities is the chaotic possibility that all of them may in part be correct. That is, that there are human formed accretive spirits around, and there are also hoary strange accretions from time  gone by (or adjacent to ours) and in addition to these there are beings of pure pneuma formed only in non-physical realms. The notion of the non-physically formed entity suggests another appearance also related to this picture. That is, we make frequent comment that the physical beings of bound consciousness may create pneuminous accretions of quasi conscious like natures -chaos magickal spirits- but no mention has so far been made to intimate an inverse process. That is, on the table must also be the process by which the beings that reside only in the pneuma themselves project (through their own intent) beings of physicality, a physicality which can nevertheless effect the pneuminous (from their perspective the inversion of the magickal speculation that the pneuma can alter the umbra).

This of course raises the well known notion that we are spiritual (pneuminous) beings incarnate with the twist that we could just be magickal egregroes of non-physical beings. The multiple possibilties thesis though entails not just this thesis but rather that there might be an endlessly confusing cross pollination going on. Physical beings with consciousness constituting non-physical accretive entities. Such entites in turn might constitute physical ones. Beings of pure pneuma that were not constituted by physicality may be constituting physical entities with consciousness which in turn may be creating more egregore like structures.

There might have been a beginning in either or both ends of the spectrum (physical exit into pure pneuminous and pure pneuminous exit into physical) but once the system has been up and running for a while the possibility of an incredibly complex and chaotic pattern of interactions between these two poles  (with regard to conscious entities) seems entirely plausible and strangely more likely that simply the chaos magick model, which can sometimes look quite anthropocentric.

 

My Encounter with the word pneuma goes back to Nietzsche. These two sections from ‘Human all Too Human’ seem relevant. The first because it includes the very encounter with the word and the second for the view it holds on the metaphysical world.

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Pneumatological elucidation of nature. – Metaphysics elucidates the handwriting of nature as it were *pneumatologically, -as the church and its scholars formerly did the Bible. It requires a great deal of understanding to apply to nature the same kind of rigorous art of elucidation that philologists have now fashioned for all books: with the intention of comprehending what the text intends to say but without sensing, indeed presupposing, a second meaning. But as even with regard to books the bad art of elucidation has by no means been entirely overcome and one still continually encounters in the best educated circles remnants of allegorical and mystical interpretations: so it is also in respect to nature -where, indeed, it is even far worse.
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Metaphysical world. – It is true, there could be a metaphysical world; the absolute possibility of it is hardly to be disputed. We behold all things through the human head and cannot cut off this head; while the question nonetheless remains what of the world would still be there if one had cut it off. This is a purely scientific problem and one not very well calculated to bother people overmuch; but all that has hitherto made metaphysical assumptions valuable, terrible, delightful to them, all that has begotten these assumptions, is passion, error and self-deception; the worst of all methods of acquiring knowledge, not the best of all, have taught belief in them. When one has disclosed these methods as the foundation of all extant religions and metaphysical systems, one has refuted them! Then that possibility still remains over; but one can do absolutely nothing with it, not to speak of letting happiness, salvation and life depend on the gossamer of such a possibility. For one could assert nothing at all of the metaphysical world except that it was a being-other, an inaccessible, incomprehensible being-other; it would be a thing with negative qualities. Even if the existence of such a world were never so well demonstrated, it is certain that knowledge of it would be the most useless of all knowledge: more useless even than knowledge of the chemical composition of water must be to the sailor in danger of shipwreck.

* pneumatologically: pneumatology is the ‘science’ of spirits and spiritual beings.

A lot of what it says here is relevant to what I try to say in my writings. I use the word pneuma because it does mean spirit, but also because it means air. Those with a cursory knowledge of the western magickal tradition will know that the air element is associated with the mind, the analytic swords of the tarot. It is this double meaning that makes it (to me) suitable as the concept I want.

What is pneuma in the accretive system? Pneuma is said to be the stuff that concepts are made of. Pneuma is sticky and can be made to accrete. The accretions of pneuma follow from the phenomenological lead of the world that is already interpreted. Everything is an accretion of pneuma. This is metaphysics, absolutely. The questions obviously arise: What do you need pneuma for? Why would you want to substantialise conceptuality?

The answer goes back to phenomenology of magick and the agnostic disjunction. Nietzsche thinks the possibility of the metaphysical world is worthless for life. Of course he says this specifically with Christianity in mind but equally seems fairly clear; any kind of spiritual world might be acknowledged yet leaves us with nothing positive to say about it. This is a very reasonable opinion, the problem I feel is that the manifestations of such a world cannot be put to bed. Spectres, UFOs, synchronicities continue to haunt the world and every time these phenomena occur they present to the individual with the agnostic disjunction i.e. was that real or not? The disjunctive question is agnostic because any answer of dismissal is only done on the question begging grounds that such things are not possible because this (solid) world does not admit of them. Equally though if one decides the phenomenon was real, then one must face the incoherent sense of trying to reconcile what it would mean for reality for this to be the case.

Pneuma and its accretions are what I believe to be the best answer for anyone who thinks that the ‘magick obtains’ arm of the disjunction is worth thinking about. It is true that pre-determined harmony of some kind is on the table and partially represents a competing force of the side of actual metaphysical connection. This investigation is for another time. Let’s be clear about pneuma though, on the side of the regular solid interpretation of the world in which these phenomena are coincidences and hallucinations there is no need for pneuma. Pneuma, the conceptual stuff only has work to do on the magick accepting side.

So what does it do? Pneuma is called a substance precisely because it can do things, it is no longer the regular sense of a concept that is just ‘how we understand something’. In the system there are essentially three layers. The pneuminous accretions, the vector field and the umbratic. The accretions are everything we perceive with any sense. Everything is understood as something even when that something is ‘the unknown’, this too is an accretion, a concept. This is pneuma bound into endless blobs, connected in myriad ways by pneuminous fibres: homonyms, metaphors, shared qualities, all these and many more are the ways in which the accretions connect to one another. Temporally they are altering, largely under the sway of the neurotic accretions of pneuma (ourselves) who are also nothing but accretions, yet ones with ability to restructure the pneuma into new forms or keep it stuck in old ones.

The vector field is the transcendental field that we must presuppose in order to say that the accretions are attached to something. The possible field of all perceptions of all kinds is the vector field. It can be glimpsed by imagination/phenomenological reduction as that ‘what things would be if we try to remove concepts’. The blur of stuff, smells, sounds. The vector field is pneuma, but it is pneuma unaccreted (other than as the vector field, or hyle etc.). Pneuma bound into a concepts (accretions) is attached to the regions of the vector field. It is called vector field because the different regions are capable of behaving like vectors for the higher up formed accretions. That is, they play host to them; a certain region plays host to the concept ‘curtains’, another to ‘duvet’ and so on and so on. In this way the concept is not simply in the mind of the neurotic accretion, rather it is in the the vector itself.

The umbratic is the phantasy of everything that cannot be perceived for whatever reason. The notion of the umbratic is generated by attempting to perceive existence when one’s head is cut off, as Nietzsche put it. A similar agnostic disjunctive issue concerns this region of correlationism as it has come to be known. Either science is perfectly good at telling us what existence is like independently of ourselves, or it still remains nothing but prosthetic extensions of our faculties that, whilst assuredly expansive still does not  and cannot totalise the titanic otherness that lurks out there.

The inference in this phenomenology goes that, since this metaphysic accepts a kind of correlate, albeit one that is partially autonomous from us and since things remain solid and reliable most of the time then there must be some structure that maintains this solidity beyond this pneuminous interface. This restraint on the vector field is inferred to come from the umbratic, though its actual nature is unknowable (in these metaphysics). So the implication that comes from magickal phenomena is that conceptuality must be capable of altering the umbratic, or as it is phrased elsewhere ‘the pneuma can affect the umbra’.

Here then we see the point of having pneuma as not purely epiphenomenonal. Magick means that conceptuality alters things. The definition of magick we work with here is ‘a concept that is applied successfully to a vector region that would not ordinarily take it’. Synchronicity is often the appearance of objects, words, numbers, images in places that seem somehow pertinent to the individual. The explanation here is that unlike the ordinary state of affairs in which the regular array of the world (as determined by the umbratic) displays what is on offer, in this instance the autonomous action of the pneuminous accretions has somehow restructured the situation such that now physicality (the umbra) serves the pneuminous action. Magick is just a more active form of the same. If synchronicity is achieved by the accretions acting under their own steam, then magick is the manipulation of the umbratic through the actions of the neurotic accretion (self). The NA desires that a certain region of the vector field which is occupied by a certain accretion should not be occupied by another. For example, that I am poor is a concept applied to a region (myself and my lack of funds). The money hungry magician seeks apply the concept of himself being wealthy to the vector region instead. Magick is the process of trying to make the new accretion stick in such a way that the umbratic is forced to alter at the behest of the accretion.

We do not here, offer how this happens, such descriptions stray beyond the point of such a phenomenology. We only say that under this system, if we do not accept predetermined harmony or the non-existence of the phenomena, this is what somehow must be happening. Pneuma is the concept at the heart of all of this. It is the force required to make it functional.

Nietzsche maybe underestimates the power of the appearance of the metaphysical world. There is not necessity to its incurring notions of guilt. This only belongs to the metaphysical world that instantiates the judging god. The appearance of the metaphysical world of fluid but magickally potent conceptuality opens action up to all manner of magickal beseechings that may or may not be effective (agnostic disjunctive epistemology again). Drawing this conclusion about the metaphysical maybe enables it to be reapplied to life rather than shunning it in favour of physicality. The appearances of the metaphysical world in physical will not go away and our ability to decide upon their truth will not increase -unless it is favour of the metaphysical. Any conception of life needs to take these appearances into account without dogmatising them into a system.