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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.