I noted recently that an old piece (over twenty year) of writing that features in the appendix to the Tractatus Pneumatologico Philosophicus contains a small synchronicity. In the section itself two characters attempt to construct a makeshift Ouija board to contact spirits in a search for occult verification.

At one point the spirit appears to write a word ‘E G R Y S’. These letters at the time were intended to be a random jumble that neither protagonist could fathom the sense of. A more recent look at this text reveals that the word the spirit is spelling was obvious: egress. This word was not consciously in my vocabulary at the time of writing yet anyone looking at it would find it hard to believe that it was not a clumsy intention to disguise this hint at the ‘exit’ as spoken by the voice of the outside.

Yet there was no such intention which makes its accidental occurrence quite perfect. It was indeed only adventitious that these letters were those that were chosen. But what a word to manifest and what a way for it to appear. The hastily constructed DIY Ouija board revealed to them just this word ‘egress’. The voice of the other world had one thing to say: exit.

And which way does it intend this? That it wants to leave its confines beneath the ‘glass’? That it wishes to exit from its realm? That the living themselves will find their proof only by exit into the other world?

We hear so much nowadays about the outside and the exit. It seems to me that this minor anomaly was an echo from the future of how these threads tie together.

The umbratic is a curious intersection of different ideas. It is necessary and unnecessary. Its necessity is derived from the fact the idea cannot be removed. It’s lack of necessity from the fact it is technically not needed.

What is it? The umbratic is the idea of the unseen. It is the incoherent phantasy of being outside of perception. It is the wood where no one is watching or listening. The idea emerges out of sceptical thought that attempts to answer the question: is being that is perceived identical to being that is not perceived? The resultant inability to answer this question leaves the agnostic disjunctive appearance over the answer: we cannot say if there is a difference or not. The phenomena that point to there being a difference are again the occult ones. The point being that in synchronistic/magickal phenomena reality has shifted somehow outside of our perceptual sphere -we mean this specifically to the exclusion of the manifestation of spirits/immediately visible/audible phenomena (these invoke different kinds of concepts). That is, we do not see the mechanism by which magick/synchronicity has occurred. There is simply an uncanny rearrangement of things that has the appearance of some kind of agency being involved. This appearance is suggestive of a radical reality rearrangement that was only possible outside of perception, hence the invocation of the umbratic as a space in which the rearrangement was possible. Of course this doesn’t entail that magick/synchronicity could not still be functional in a metaphysical sense without umbratic rearrangement. Such possibilities exist as attractor models: the reality alteration is brought about metaphysically in some way by bringing certain things towards the protagonist without literal finger clicking alteration (such models also entail accretive type entities). However, the fact that the sudden alteration model exists is enough to give the umbratic life.

One can think on the impossibility of the umbratic, on how a space that isn’t perceived is not possible, on how there maybe always something there to detect, to perceive. But the impossibility of the umbratic is not enough to defeat it. It is a strongly incoherent concept that thrives on that impossible sensation of attempting to think what it is to imagine a space that is not being perceived. From here it derives a lot of its power.

The umbratic is related to the thing in itself. It is similar to a perfect scientific object. Something without any observer bias. This is part of its phantasy. But all prostheses act with our consciousness, there are no reports back from the umbratic.

We can try to do away with it. In the pneuminous theory we can imagine that there is only the pneuma, only the conceptual stuff. The umbratic, as mentioned, becomes unnecessary. But the appearance of the beyond the pneuma, beyond the vector field is still there, the phantasy of the outside, the absolute beyond the human security system. So a pure idealism always generates the idea of its beyond which it can never ascertain the validity of.

The umbratic gives the idea of structure. In the Tractatus this is how it is often mentioned. This association is related to the pure idealist issue. The appearance of the idea that there must be something behind the image invokes the notion that this part is what does the holding together. This is reinforced by the way in which the pneuminous level of concepts seems so easily detachable from the vectors. The pneuminous accretions can be unbound from the vectors and clearly perceived in the mind (a field of pure pneuma).

Does this mean the vector field and the umbratic are the same thing? No. Because it is possible to catch a kind of glimpse of the vector field. Phenomenological stripping down achieves something like this. But the vector field is still perceived being. It is like being without any accretions attached, or at least as best as we can achieve. However we can never be sure that there are not inbuilt structuring forces that mean the vector field itself is perceived as a limit, that is there is some kind of Kantian aesthetic holding things together even at this level.

The umbratic is darkness, literally. Darkness is where we cannot perceive so again the notion of the unperceived reemerges. This creates the curious identity between the space behind you and the space in the shadows. Seeing the shadow is the closest one can get to perceiving the umbratic. Of course a certain aspect of the shadow accretion means that it is totalised, that we simply understand it. But the ontological shadow is different from this. The ontological shadow reveals darkness to be the space in which the regular accretions of that shadow space are more prone to being taken over by different ones. That is, the umbratic is presupposed to be a structuring power that lies beneath the vector field. The accretions, the concepts, plug into the vectors, this unity makes our world of things. But the accretions exist unbound also and operate on their own unbidden by our conscious minds. The accretion has the power under rare circumstance to alter the umbratic. To do this is must alter an existing vector-accretion arrangement. In perception as it is happening, the feedback of the realness of the world enables the perpetuity of the solidity itself. But outside of perception it is different, outside the accretions imprinted on the vectors are in some sense still there, yet immediately there is a loosening. This loosening is what makes magick/synchronicity possible. This loosening happens in the darkness because ontologically the lack of perceptual ability facilitates the loosening of the solidity and interference from rogue accretions.

There is power in the shadow.


  1. Manifestationism
  2. Incoherence
  3. Phantasy
  4. Pneuma
  5. Accretive theory itself
  6. Design a god.
  7. Significance/Insignificance
  8. Designation
  9. Vector theory
  10. The Umbratic
  11. The Double
  12. The zone
  13. The numbers/the system
  14. NARP

This has been written in response to reading Amy Ireland’s piece ‘Noise: An Ontology of the Avant-garde’. It does not deal with the entirety of the paper, we merely wish to point out that there are issues involved in such a picture that are potentially problematic for magickal ontologies. Amy’s paper explains how a Kantian epistemological picture, far from producing clarity, only results in a ‘distorted signal’ at least when we consider matters from the perspective of the outside. This picture is theoretically reasonable unless we actually consider magick to be a possibility.

What is magick? For our purposes let’s take it to be the ability to impose a concept (pneuminous accretion) upon a vector that would not ordinarily take it. Some unpacking there. Let us conceive of everything internally and externally, indeed the possibility of that distinction itself to be concepts imposed upon a pure undifferentiated field of what is. Concepts name regions of this vector field. We call it a vector field because it plays host to concepts and, in the strong magickal version, does so literally -the concept goes outside into the vector. Normally concepts have grown with vector regions and they work together as they have evolved. We call this vector ‘hammer’ because it fulfils this grammar successfully. We call this vector ‘sad’ because it too makes sense to us in consistently applied rules. Pneuma is just the term I use for a hypothetical but magickally transcendental stuff that forms concepts.

Magick says that you can take a concept (pneuminous accretion) out of one place and apply it to another and it will actually do something. That is, it will alter the vector region to be closer to the concept you desire it to be rather than the one it actually is. The love spell is a classic example. A wishes B to love him/her but B does not do so. This is the vector region which has the concept applied to it, B’s not loving A. A uses various magickal means to apply the concept ‘B loves A’ upon the vector region. If successful the pneuminous restructuring takes place which alters the vector field so that now B does in fact love A. This you will notice all takes place with a human or Narp field, even the vector field is still sort of empirically accessible -even only in a phenomenological fleeting sense. There also necessarily something else in play, this is the umbratic. The umbratic is the idea of the beyond -the outside. The umbratic may or may not be identical to what is discovered in the pneuminous realm. It shows itself as the idea of the thing in itself. Being outside of pneuma. The umbratic supplies restraint upon the pneuma. However what magick suggests is that under certain circumstances, the restraint can be breached and the pneuma can alter the umbra.

If you negate magick as a possibility then the Ireland/Land picture goes through perfectly reasonably. If however you entertain the possibility of magickal interaction then you have to rethink it. This is because under this possibility the pneuminous accretion (concept) is not some passive function, rather it is an active process that is plugged directly into the outside such that it actually can alter it. There are a two consequences to this that are worth going through. i) You have a version of Crowley’s ‘Every act…’ in that passive conceptuality is essentially still magickal, it is simply that the concept applied to the vector is perfectly appropriate to it. Hence by this logic, the hammer is actually made curiously more hammer like by the feedback of accretion onto vector (and hence into the umbratic). ii) The signal is primarily distorted by the Narp’s production of the vector field but active magick (conscious and unconscious -synchronicity) is reaching directly into the outside and restructuring the umbra with subsequent consequences for vector field -it will alter it. That is, you cannot think of the picture as being either a pure distortion of an outside signal (because even the outside is infected with the pneuminous inside) or a clarity -because it is also true that the umbratic is sufficiently alien that the signal -the vector field- can always yield novelty of a potentially terrifying nature.

Negating magick makes it a one way process in which we, as cut adrift lonely organic processors struggle to conceptually assimilate an awesome vastness. The possibility of magick does not entirely obviate this, but it does mean that whatever is going on, we are more directly plugged into an umbratic/outside than the strong insignificance picture suggests. Magickal type activity is still possible in the pure distorted signal model, however by making the outside utterly indifferent to our will, one ends up committed an essentially scientific magick. Under this mode, chaos magick is a futile activity that may only hit the mark occasionally by pure chance. Effective magick would be the realm of actual magickal geometry/symbols/sounds that genuinely activated parts of the outside in ineffable ways -a kind of Neoplatonism.

This does not sit particularly well with certain related aspects of this theory set. The numogram for instance is purely accretive or hyperstitional if you will. This makes good sense if you accept chaos magick and strong hyperstition (by implication). On this front the pneuminous accretion of the (p)numogram can exert ontological effects -synchronicity etc. However if we adopt the cut of from the outside model, then all such hyperstitions (unless you want to say they are the real ones as found in a scientific magick) are only of the weak type -effective at a psychological but not ontological level. Chaos magick and strong insignificance are not good bedfellows even though on the surface they look compatible. Chaos magick actually entails the possibility of weak significance -significance propped up by ourselves yet also external to us -a diy God. Strong insignificance can have a Spinoza like God but this renders all chaos magickal adventures in numerological like play utterly ineffective (apart from psychologically) and utterly pointless.


When you cannot see something its ontological status is unknown.

This is the most reasonable formula for the phenomenology of the fantasy that our perceiving things may be in some way altering them. Magickal understanding, at least in a pneuminous (or chaos magickal sense) means that we have to treat this seriously. This kind of ontology entails that the concepts are altering the umbratic restraint -the stuff. Does this mean perception itself is altering it or is it simply the conceptualisation of it that does the altering? The concepts are originally formed out of perceiving the physical vector field.

The idea that creates the idea of perceptual creation is the lack of metaphysical certainty that the non-perceived is ontologically identical to the perceived. In this place seems to be a bifurcation related to the necessary magickal epistemology. To repeat: is it the perception or the idea that is doing the altering (insofar as we can separate these)?

The notion that magick affects at a distance would seem to indicate that pneuminous powers can do the altering regardless of immediate presence. This means that the notion of perceptual creation is separate from the notion of magickal manipulation. Ironically direct perception seems to be the solidifying force. The irony being that the implication seems so powerfully enticingly magickal -that perception itself is altering the stuff. But this alteration is one that renders it largely stable, it is a negative entropic force upon the chaos. This is magickal because it is so stabilising, yet the thing  we call magickal is the power of conceptual alteration (pneuminous interference).

One of the features of static spatial zones is often that human perception scarcely falls upon them with the crucial addition that it used to. This is the dereliction effect. It is related to Fisher’s description of the eerie. For Fisher, the eerie is related to the absence of obvious agency to a particular local and yet the hint that there is still some kind of agency involved -maybe they have gone, maybe they are hidden.

This helps us differentiate the zone from the unplace. Unplaces have old human pneuma attached to them. They were occupied by people and now are only haunted by conceptual ghosts from our sphere. The natural world has come to reclaim the place. The eeriness in Fisher’s term is purely due to the absence of a known agent -the human. They were here and now they are not. Relatively banal paranormality may be present in the form of residual neurotic accretions unshackled from fleshy bonds (ghosts). Equally there may be just the suggestion of human previous presence with possible hints of transient occupation (trash etc.)

Zones go beyond unplaces in levels of eeriness since they become infested with agents that, though likely purely pneuminous, were not ever human. There is a tension. The residual human conceptual layer is there but this is a passive fading power. Behind or alongside it hides the actual zonal power. Zonal powers are more active. They are watching. Like Keelian ultraterrestrials, their actions are unfathomable. It is speculated that the receding human pneuma is somehow attractive to these forces, which is why unplaces are so susceptible to zonal infestation. The lack of human perception is key though. Human perceptual fields keep vector regions relatively safe -it is hard to break through all that hard conceptual reality- but when these powers are not exerted often the conceptual restraint fails.

To repeat: When you cannot see something its ontological status is unknown. 

We cannot know what kind of pneuminous restraints emit from the plants and animals that visit these places when we are not there. For that matter we do not know even if it is cogent to talk about such beings as discrete things outside of the immediate pneuminous field -for they may be just part of an interconnected flux (which of course they are anyway, but we mean by that a more severe metaphysical one in which their individuation at all is just our pure Kantian curse). Even accepting their status as perceiving agents, their conceptual imprinting powers will be radically different from ours. They may well be no ally of ours in keeping such places solid and indeed may in some circumstances contribute to destabilising the area and allowing zonal infestation.