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.

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.