Monday, 9 September 2013

Deus Ex Machina

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. 

Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies -- all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. 

For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of doublethink that the Party has been able -- and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years -- to arrest the course of history.

                         -- The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism
                             Emmanuel Goldstein 

Welcome back to Amid Night Suns, dear readers.  As always, I'm grateful for your time.  We live in a hyper-mediated world with a maelstrom of data vying for our attention, so the fact that you would take the time to read this blog in particular means a lot to me.  I have an epic post in store for you.  I hope it doesn't disappoint.  We are living in dangerous times.  Really, this has always been the case; stretching far back into human history.  But there are times that feel more dangerous than others.  Our Ministries of Peace are courting war with Syria right now -- despite the country having some powerful allies.  The entire situation could quickly reach a flash-point and become even more monstrous than it is now.  Our Ministries of Peace, Truth, Love and Plenty do not care at all about a humanitarian crisis.  If people claim to truly believe such propaganda then they are wilfully engaging in an act of doublethink, surely?


As a child I remember reading George Orwell's seminal book 1984 and being absolutely blown away by what I recognized even at that young age as a work of genius.  The novel enchanted, fascinated and terrified me to my very core.  It still does, more than twenty years later.  I remember the feeling the work first inspired in me -- a startling sense of prophecy.  Why wasn't everyone talking about this book on every news station available?  Why weren't my parents talking about this book?  Of course, I quickly realized that Orwell's novel was being talked about.  More than that, it was considered a cult classic with an unprecedented impact on pop culture.  But for me it was more than that.  The book had a terrible power to it, a resonating pulse that my intuition couldn't ignore.  I was about thirteen at the time, when I truly realized just how devastating and dangerous a work of art could be.  I discovered that 1984 had a history of controversy with governments, who often banned or legally challenged it as subversive and ideologically corrupting.  Which is kind of a newspeak way of declaring that the novel contains far too much truth and insight.

Today we have more current forms of newspeak bandied about by the mouthpieces of the Ministries, that we call the media -- terms such as 'surgical strike' and 'collateral damage', for example.  These terms are far more insidious than they first appear, because they allow conversations about state-sanctioned murder to feel normalized, civil and almost pleasant.  We have phrases such as 'averting a humanitarian crisis' as a pretext for invasion and war.  There was a time when such things were easily satirized, but that time has passed.  When reality itself presents such a cavalcade of mind-numbing awfulness...satire can really only shrug and chuckle nervously.  Many people don't want to look because it's so awful.  Many of us spend a lot of time and money on distractions to convince ourselves it's really not as bad as we deep down know it to be.  We know this, in the sense of Gnosis -- a hard won spiritual knowledge.  But knowing and feeling able to change what you know are two different things.  I suspect that two basic situations are occurring here: some of us simply do not know how to feel empowered, and some of us simply don't want the painful, razored awareness that empowerment implies.  To be empowered, in this context, doesn't mean suddenly having the ability to right all the wrongs in the world.  All it means is the desire and the conviction to stand your ground in the face of terrifying adversity, and to choose meaning instead of meaninglessness.  And I suspect that idea horrifies some people just as much as their own powerlessness does, if not more so.  At least the powerless can turn away and pretend not to see.  The empowered have no such luxury.

Gnosis in its truest sense is about the recognition of what IS, however dark or unpalatable.  Gnosticism is often accused of being a dark and conspiratorial subject, and is therefore always welcome at Amid Night Suns.  But beyond Gnosticism's darkness is the belief in a kind of creativity and divinity that stuns our imagination, and is still considered dangerous and heretical to most religions.  The idea that human beings were once entities akin to gods?  The idea that forces beyond our comprehension have placed us in bondage, feeding on us while they keep us blind to our true heritage and destiny?  I cannot be the only one who sees these ideas as resonant and elegant metaphors for much of human history.  For as long as we can recall we've had wealthy cliques and elites preying on us for identical reasons.

So, to my mind a true Gnostic in the modern world would use the last alchemical vestiges available to him, to continue the pursuit of knowledge; not just for himself but for all true seekers he comes across.  But in a world such as ours, such a simple and hopefully noble purpose makes you an implicit enemy of the state.  It makes you dangerous.  And as in Orwell's 1984, the Ministry of Love does not allow or accept such subversives.


"You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world."  -- O'Brien

Sometimes the spiritual darkness in our world seems so overpowering and all-pervasive that we dare not look.  For the Sensitives among us especially, to look too clearly at the horror can often make us ill.  So why do I spend so much time and energy on this blog exploring such dark themes?  I hope by now that my regular readers can answer on  my behalf.  I'm attempting to illuminate the darkness, to understand it and thereby make it useful somehow.  But more than this, I'm trying to transmute the darkness into excitement, creativity, insight and knowledge.  I'm trying to undercut its pathological, corrosive quality while still respecting its intensity. I feel as though this is my only sane way of proceeding in an insane world.

It seems to me that the people who control the resources in our world, and those who engineer policies that maintain a state of global poverty, are adept nightmare-makers.  They have a vested interest in nightmares. Because, let's be blunt here, we are a species in a state of perpetual war.  War is a nightmare made manifest, and it is also exceptionally profitable to those vested interests.  What government on Earth wants a free-thinking, empowered, mobilized and fearless population?  The answer is NONE.  Because of this, every government has their own version of the Ministry of Love  -- in actuality a place of defilement and torture.  We can call it Guantanamo Bay, or Abu Ghraib, or Room 101.  It doesn't matter what names we give them; such places exist.  Moreover, the abuses and horrors that go on there are not aberrations, as government brass would have you believe.  No, they are policy.  They are the way things are handled as a matter of course by the transnational members of The Inner Party.

But a nightmare can be an ambiguous thing, especially a state-sponsored nightmare.  Do we trust what we see?  Or should we attempt to look beneath the surface and intuit the source of its trickery or power?  Indeed we should.  It's our duty, I feel.  Blog post like this one are a way towards that, I hope.  As dark as nightmares are, I believe they can sometimes have a happy ending.  I would like to believe that places like Room 101 cannot cage us completely, that our spirit is too vast and too ferocious.  I hope this to be true. What I can say with conviction is that occasionally a nightmare becomes something more than just a vehicle of horror and estrangement -- bringing us insight and knowledge concerning the deeper realms of the human soul.


What happens when we escape the nightmare, even if only briefly?  What happens when we see past the lies and manipulation and sense something sacred at our core?  What if Gnosticism is correct in its belief that the human race was once a race of creator-beings akin to gods?  I wonder if its something that many people dare to consider beyond either vague New Age rhetoric or materialist power fantasies.  What sociopath wouldn't want to be a god, after all?  But I think this question of our potential divinity goes far, far deeper than that.  I think if seriously considered it transforms our comprehension of the universe, our place in it, and life itself.

When all is said and done, we can barely comprehend the material and spiritual cosmos from our tiny little vantage point.  How are we ever to comprehend or even imagine our true place in a Gnostic universe?  What if the boundary between symbolic and literal godhood is a permeable one?  Can we even grasp its implications?  And yet, if human beings really do contain some kind of non-local infinity within us -- and all the magick, potential and danger inherent in that -- then perhaps we're capable of understanding and applying far more than we currently realize.  Maybe we're not simply worthless biological machines that only wish to rape and kill and dominate.  Perhaps we still possess some buried connection, some living link, to the fabled divinity that the Gnostics talked about.

I believe that we're more than machines slaving for the greater machine.  I'm a romantic at heart.  As a romantic I truly believe in the healing, transformative power of art and love and friendship.  It might sound fluffy and nebulous when weighed against the kind of darkness we've been exploring in this post -- but I honestly believe that empowering art and insight-seeking experiences among friends and lovers is one of the most effective ways for us to recall and feel the potential of what we might truly be capable of at our core. Even in a symbolic sense, doesn't love, friendship, good humor and great art remind us that there's a part of us that truly dwells close to God?  That the true Creative Presence, beyond the Demiurge and Archons, may have genuinely made us in its image -- as creators ourselves?  Perhaps when we can finally unlock what this might actually mean we can take such meditations from the realms of art and out into the literal.  

But for now at least art is our window; lest we forget what we are and what we came here to do.  As Vessels of the Innermost Light we came here to create, inspire and emancipate.  We came here to offer something other than meaninglessness.  We came to make magick.

1 comment:

  1. What an epic post!! You've really hit on all the bases here, and the videos really bring the text home! As we watch 1984 continually unfold around us, the search for a 'meaningful' existence' becomes a greater priority for all...keep telling them brother...their existence is always was.