I am forced to ask myself if the philosophy I partially advocate is compatible with panpsychism or not? I say partially because I still have not satisfactorily overcome the problem of manifestationism as raised by the agnostic disjunction. Agnostic disjunction simply points to the way in which metaphysical options are just choices that are bolstered (or not) by criteria in the ‘reality’ we currently occupy. Hence according to this rather paralyzing meta-epistemology, panpsychism is one metaphysical option, it has agents that fight its corner and it has enemies that seek to denounce it. Neither position can triumph over the other without the philosophy transforming into some kind of physics that in some way settles the matter (and even then the enemy agents will always be there).

Rather like occult phenomena though -to which panpsychism is easily related, even if panpsychists would like this not to be the case- panpsychism can only be shown to be true, strong evidence to its untruth will not eradicate the suspicion that it might be true.  Consciousness might be clearly demonstrated as an emergent property of a level of complexity and some people would still wonder if being in general was  in some sense conscious too. Materialism doesn’t get a similar similar treatment, in many ways, owing to the continual solidity of things, materialism looks a fair bet, yet it is this default like status that renders it so vulnerable. Materialism can never do enough, because the anomalies and metaphysical possibilities only need science to back them up a little bit to show that something is clearly seriously awry with it. The reverse doesn’t seem to be true. This is because panpsychism can only be the major ontology by being demonstrably true -in the modern world. And if it’s demonstrably true then materialism isn’t going to be considered seriously, because presumably in this panpsychic dominated world, we can clearly show how to interact with/demonstrate consciousness at large in existence. I think this is something to do with the fact that panpsychism is additive but materialism is subtractive. That is, if you can show things are together then this is just the state of affairs (panpsychism) and it can be accepted, but if you wish to subtract something (consciousness) then you be perpetually gnawed at by the possibility that the two things may well be connected -it is an effort to keep them apart. But this is an aside.

The actual philosophy that I wish to consider as and ally of panpsychism or not is the CEO’s own brand of chaos magick friendly ontology: pneuminous accretive theory. This states something like the following.

i) All experiences are formed of a conceptual substance ‘pneuma’. All images, sounds, smells, sensations are pneuminous.

ii) Because everyday experiences suggest structure -solidity, repetitive possibility-, there is the minimum of the idea of restraint upon the pneuma -we do not live in a perpetually mutating dream world (only an occasionally mutating one). That which restrains what the pneuma appears as is the umbra -at least in the case of physical objects.

iii) Memory forming capacity accretes pneuma. Concepts and all the psychological baggage that is attached to them are such accretions.

iv) Concepts are not inert structures contained in minds in bodies, rather they are pneuminous accretions that exist out there in the pneuma, that organisms create and plug into.

v) Concepts as pneuminous accretions are literally attached to the umbratic structure that restrains them.

vi) Pneuminous accretions can, under certain circumstances, affect the restraining umbra. This is experienced as magick/synchronicity/various paranormal anomaly.

vii) All scientific investigations are within the pneuma, there is literally no exit from this, for the umbratic, if real, is necessarily without concept.

viii) The umbratic is not necessarily real but it is a necessarily real idea.

I could go on with these, but this seems sufficient for an outline. What they deliberately don’t contain is an explicit theory for how consciousness comes about. The question as to whether pneuma has always been there or not is not answered either. This is because I have tried not to stray into speculative metaphysics. You might laugh there, noting that clearly that is exactly what I have done. This is true but, as far as I can see these metaphysics are just the logical consequence of accepting something like chaos magick to be ontologically true and not just psychologically true.  The basic condition being that conceptual information must be capable of altering the putatively solid. You could have a pure idealism and not need the umbratic, yet the phenomenology of our experience continually yields the umbratic as concept -the thing in itself being a good example- hence it is inserts itself as kind of necessary agnostic disjunction. As a phenomenology of magickal types of experience, accounting for the cosmological nature of things doesn’t come into it, though clearly there are implications. However as soon as one tries to follow them the agnostic disjunctions begin to proliferate.

So is pneuma conscious? Pneuma is conceptual potential, but that doesn’t make it conscious. Everything you are experiencing is an accretion of some size or another -whether purely mental or physical perception. The chaos magickal compatibility part of the theory says that we can create conscious entities by intent. Essentially by treating something as conscious, so it begins to acquire some form of this possibility. These interactions are magickal and as such temperamental. This is what is known as applying a concept to a vector that will not normally take it. Rocks are not normal vectors that have the concept consciouness ascribed to them. So if I want to talk to a rock I must talk to the rock as if it would respond -ascribe consciousness to it. This will create an pneuminous interface of consciousness sufficient to generate some of kind interaction with the rock. The interface will make an unstable interaction, not a regular kind of conversation.

This commits any physical thing thing we can conceptually describe as being capable of some form of consciousness -of course this is also true of certain kinds of non-physical thing too, but these are often intentionally constructed e.g. egregores. This does not entail that everything is conscious. Certainly in such an ontology, making the pneuma into God would be fairly logical, yet it still remains the case that this does not seem necessarily the case. Nothing about it entails consciousness is everywhere. What it does entail though is that consciousness can escape its home.

If we hypothesize that the appearance of organisms results in the simple binding of pneuma. Evolution of these organisms increases the complexity of the accretions that are formed. Time binding organisms create more and more complex accretive structures. In the history of animism a key question would be whether or not the ascription of consciousness to non-living (to our modern selves) things is the application of concept to unwilling vector or whether it is a primordial appearance that appears alongside the recognition of ourselves and other creatures as sentient. The latter seems quite reasonable, yet of course the actual answer is agnostic disjunctive. If it were the latter, this would mean there was a feedback of primordial ascription of agency (consciousness) towards non-living being, which would in turn -by the magickal thesis- cause the world to respond in a quasi sentient manner. The post hoc version does not have much of a different result, it is simply that the agency ascription is not equiprimordial to agency ascription of other living creatures. It would in this sense represent a kind of primordial ontology -everything is alive. Such an ontology of course would not be doubted, it would be just how things are, it would though be slightly secondary to the recognition of each other as conscious agents. This primordial ontology of animism would indeed render everything as conscious. Yet this consciousness would not be necessary, it would be contingent. Contingent upon there being such a being as possesses the accretion forming ability such that the projection of consciousness upon existence at large was possible.

There is a side issue that we might touch on here. The usual presupposition is that of course animals recognise other creatures as such -different kinds of indices. We do however always presuppose that animals perceive other creatures as different from the general environment. We might consider the possibility that animals consider environment and each other as a far more homogeneous continuum than we have previously considered.

The answer then as to whether pneuminous theory entails panpsychism, seems to be possibly. This contingency may have a kind of historical necessity to it insofar as human history may have entailed a world view of an alive world. If it were true that any being that emerges into self consciousness necessarily views the world as alive in its earlier stages, then the theory would be have to say that some form of panpsychism is necessarily true -though it would be one that entails animism- yet equally it would posit a time in which it was not true -prior to the feedback occurring.

If conceptual potential can be identified with consciousness then panpsychism could more strongly be inferred from the theory. This however would not eradicate the problem of the umbratic. This is as follows: we believe we can conceive of Being without any organism present, yet we must be agnostic about the nature of this unperceived reality. From a pneuminous perspective the impossible beyond pneuma (the umbratic) is an idea we cannot remove. A thoroughgoing panpsychism would not need an umbratic, existence would be self-perceiving in some fundamental way. Having said that the umbratic is a necessary idea, not a necessary truth. So maybe the notion of pneuma as conceptual accretive potential working intimately alongside more regular physical forces is sufficient to reconcile the two? This though would stretch the metaphysical speculation beyond the phenomenology. The phenomenology suggests that consciousness can be said to be true of everything in our reality -contingently. But it would also point out that the umbratic possibility of absolute ineffability lurks literally, just out of sight.

In these writings the zone has come to mean to something like spaces that suggest either previous human occupation or continual human occupation except only at a level of vagrants or similar. Dilapidation and detritus are zonal indices. The eerie feeling of zones (in rough line with Fisher’s sense of eerie) is postulated as making them attractive to inhabitation by various entities of unknown origins. These my be pneuminous accretive left overs from previous habitation, purely pneuminous entities that have not been accreted by earthbound Narps, or physical cryptids of some kind -presuming there is more than a heuristic sense in making these divisions.

One problem in making the zone definition is always the issue of natural spaces that feel zonal. Wild desolate places that still emanate eeriness. These natural zones are sometimes identified as fairy homes, though many aspects of countryside can exhibit this characteristic and still have no history (that we know of) to link them to such associations. For this reason we feel the term natural zone is acceptable to  the endeavour here and may prove useful in forging further links as we go on.

Lewis-Williams’ famous book on the origin of Palaeolithic art hypothesises that there is likely a shamanic root to the various cave paintings found. Images produced in alternative states of consciousness as induced through sensory deprivation (dark caves) have been pinned onto walls to preserve the pneuminous form. The wall or membrane as it is often referred to in the text often serves as a guide to where the image will fall. There is a reciprocity between the appearance of the animal and the cave wall. A hole, an outgrowth, a stalactite may suggest some part of the creature and in the absence of the possibility that an image is anything other than magickal such a partial manifestation is to be paid special attention to. For the people of this time the suggestion is that the cave wall is literally the membrane to the other world. The cave is a natural zone of suggested partial inhabitance by pneuminous beings.

Lewis-Williams actual ontology is very much of the ‘this is all hallucination that we can understand by modern neuroscience’. All the experiences of his ancient artists are housed firmly inside the discrete consciousness of his cave dwelling homo-sapiens. In this way he chooses firmly and does not even acknowledge the lurking agnostic disjunction. Yet even in his discounting, his description of the membrane is powerful one.

The pneuminous theory as endlessly touted here, states that everything is understood conceptually in some sense (like in phenomenology). This conceptual understanding however is like a substance (pneuma) that acts upon the hiding umbratic solidity. This is the pneuminous accretion, an agglomeration of concept stuff that can stick to regions of the what-is-shown to us (the vector field). In most instances the accretions make a simple agreement with the solidity, but sometimes they do not. The accretion of a bison that escapes from the seen animal into the purely pneuminous world is what we call the spirit animal, or even the platonic form. We think such a thing is just an abstract universal and neglect the fact that they can be seen and engaged with. Before it was transformed into a universal this was the only version available. Down there in the cave, the cave wall has lost its sense of there being endless rock beyond the rock. There is only the pneuminous membrane, upon whose dark surface the accretion appears. The membrane is the membrane not through to the umbra but to the pneuminous world. In the pure dark, as close to the umbratic as we can be, the pneuma, freed from its solid shackles manifests its accretions freely. The spirit body of our own is of course the same thing, it is the concept of our embodiment released from the vector region we call body. The shamanic ‘other’ world is constructed of pure pneuma, of pure concept-stuff. Of course Lewis-Williams has no problem with this, for this is all perfectly possible within the discrete consciousness.

Yet the other side of the disjunction gives us the option that the pneuminous world is not just hallucination, but rather it does have the ability to actually do things. The zone, natural or not, is not necessarily a fantasy. These powers press against on all sides. The membrane is everywhere if you wish to see it. We live perpetually in face of its possibility. But now we have sided with the shaman and must withdraw to the disjunctive pivot.

The experience is one of multiple ontologies that face us everywhere, yet fundamentally split down this line. Has the escaped pneuma-concept actual potency outside of what we call our selves or does it just operate in projections inert, cast upon a world of solid passivity to it.

“Then this line drawn is a key…”

The Centre for Experimental Ontology looked at magickal effects through the schema of the pneuminous theory in a particular way. That is, the pneuminous accretions were concept-stuff (pneuma) stuck together by NARPs -self aware accretions. The nature of existence was theorised to show the appearance of a duality: a solidity inferred by pneuma, perpetually held in a beyond, the umbratic. The ‘explanation’ of magick, such as it was, was the transcendental move that the apparently ineffective pneuma could in fact, under certain circumstances alter this umbratic solidity, the result being some sort of rupture like effect (synchronicity, spell efficacy etc.).

As a strict phenomenological epistemology we believe this still holds. It never says this is how things are, it just says if you accept the reality of such things then this is the most rational ontology -to avoid being bogged down in dubious, precise competing metaphysical models (Kabbalah, Theosophy etc.). The further complicating factor comes in the manifestation of detail. Of course one is in speculative land here, a speculation that is based on the premise of the actuality of something like magick obtaining, so really the territory is  really quite ridiculous. Yet equally it is not so. The appearance of magick is strong (it is inerradicable) and so the phenomenology of its explanation is only one step behind it, it appears almost with it, it is conjured by it, to save the phenomena from its Kafkaesque or Lynchian abruptness -which we only find tolerable in these settings, and even here we frequently attempt to work out the back story. The territory is preposterous and reasonable at the same time. It is a problem we -as children of the enlightenment- feel we should not bother with, and yet it nestles its epistemological problems happily alongside those of Descartes’. It gives succour to his rigorous level of questioning -it makes it relevant.

The previous explanation of the relation between pneuma and umbra has itself been cloaked in darkness. This is a necessary step for there is no available knowledge of such a putative relation between two categories, which are admittedly phenomenological. However there has always been a certain path trodden amongst the manifestations (competing ontologies). It was admitted a long time ago that there are not two possible options for the manifestation of magick but three -though the agnostic disjunction always suggests just two (the solid and the mutable). The third is the passed-over option of pre-determined harmony. This option has received little treatment and will not receive a good deal today, though it is worth noting that it does tread a reasonable middle ground, by acknowledging actual metaphysical connection between phenomena whilst retaining an unmutable integrity. There are curious lines of connection, but there is no alteration of umbra by pneuma through action of the will as such.

It is this notion of the solid integrity of the existence that raises its head today. As mentioned, the pneuminous theory entails that the putative solidity (as held together by the umbratic), whilst generally extremely reliable, can be on occasion, completely restructured by the force of pneuminous accretions. The system is layered such that the basic pneuminous field prevents direct umbratic access, we have a kind of access to a vector field. This is the ‘given’. It can be inferred to exist (transcendentally) and can be half perceived with phenomenological viewing -by stripping away all conceptual layers that you can. The accretions form around regions of the vector field, these regions are our things. Magick is simply the application of a concept to a region of the vector field that does not invite it. If the concept is applied to the region with sufficient force, it may give way and adopt the nature of the concept rather than the usual route -which is that it determines it.

This picture implies a highly volatile, almost incomprehensible reality in which umbratic resistance is to a greater or lesser extent, giving way to the weight of the pneuminous forces. The notion of any human friendly coherent integrity is totally missing. This lack of coherence, is not a worry to the system. If this is the description, then this is simply where the phenomenological trail leads, we are not here to adjust the result just because it seems utterly bizarre. There is however an option which seem a little less frustrating. The previous option seems to have a hidden sense of a single world to it. It is not stated overtly but it is most obvious by the omission of any statement that suggests multiple realities. The onus is on the accretions ability to alter the umbratic and hence what we call reality. The essential ability of the conceptual accretion to do something, to exert an affect can only be jettisoned by the acceptance of inert (to pneuminous influence) reality or predetermined harmony and these possibilities are not what we are discussing here.

So if reality, in a singular sense, is not twisting and turning around us in relation to the way in which various accretions are attached to various NARPs, what is the other option? As may have been guessed from the above comments, the alternative manifestation of how the magickal effect is achieved, is simply to say that we move from one reality to another. This somewhat banal sounding answer shows itself as the simple opposite to the incoherent unity which can be dispensed with by this simple move: the one is in fact the many. The notion then would be something like this: potentially we move between multiple near identical looking realities all the time. Pneuminous accretions that autonomously activate in relation to a NARP causing synchronistic like phenomena do not do so by altering a single reality. Rather it occurs by causing a kind of hopping between various realities, dragging the NARP to the reality tunnel where a certain phenomena is actually happening, one where the accretion (merely idly pondered in one) is actually attached to vector. One can think of the 23 in this way. The 23 accretion, when tapped, pulls people through a variety of realities in which it appears physically (on the clock, on the train ticket, on the door your visiting etc.). A more active magick i.e. in which a desired pneuminous structure attempts to be imposed on a vector to alter it, will, if successful move us as close as it can to whatever reality stream most closely resembles this outcome, we of course will never know we have travelled thus.

This model, whilst in one sense as outlandish as the single warping reality, in which NARPs and other powers vie for dominance of the territory, has a vague sense of greater sanity. In this model the regular integrity of reality is retained, at least in those phenomena that do not directly display rupture. The discussion of what adjustments we may or not need to make to the model to deal with direct rupture, is for another time.