An American Mystagogue

Knowing Isn’t Enough

Apr
27

gnost
You walk into a room. It has bare white walls, scuffed linoleum floors and in the center of the floor stands a cheap metal table. Ghostly fluorescent lights give the room an odd atmosphere, and a nondescript metal door closes behind you with an audible slam. Putting one foot cautiously before the other, your body feels light and unstable; are you shaking, or is it in your head? When you get to the side of the table, you see a lined sheet of notebook paper with a single question hastily scrawled in graphite over its surface. It reads;

“Is a sledgehammer a tool, or a bird?

The moment your eyes scan the question, something happens to you, somewhere in your mind. You are experiencing the split-second ‘knowing’ that a sledgehammer is a tool, and not a bird. Even if you decide to go all post-modern and say “Oh, well I think its a bird.” it still requires that you first knew what it is the correct answer was to give a snarky one. This is ‘knowing’, the active process of it. If you ever want a demonstrable, popular way to explain what exactly ‘knowing’ is, simply ask yourself or a friend a question like the above.

The only way to really get a good grasp on  reflexive/automatic functions of the psyche are to also observe their counterparts, the volitional/willed functions. To give you a first hand, experiential understanding of the difference between ‘knowing’ and other actions of the mind, we will contrast it to a volitional action;

“Please imagine a way that you could make a better toaster.”

If you actually take the time to try to imagine a better toaster, you will be using active ‘image re-mixing’ (visualization) faculties that we can call the ‘active imagination’. Whereas whether or not the sledgehammer was a tool or a bird was ‘known’ instantaneously, for all conscious intents and purposes. So one is reflexive, and one is volitional. It is not hard to find parallels throughout most twenty-four hour days.

So, why talk about this at all? Who gives a shit, right? Well, think about it like this, how many times have you been on either side of a situation like this one;

Two people are standing around an office. One is the manager of the other, and the door is closed. The manager is speaking harshly to the employee, who is being disciplined for not doing things by the standard operating procedures, which has led to a monetary loss of damaged equipment. The manager repeatedly tells the employee what he did wrong, and the employee keeps nodding his bowed head and saying “I know, I know.” The manager gets irate and asks “If you knew, then how did you fuck up so badly!?” The employee DOES indeed know the things the manager says, as the manager says them. He ‘knows’ each and every thing, but as soon as the meeting is finished it takes the employee a relatively short amount of time and he starts to forget aspects of the standard operating procedure, and is completely ignorant that he is failing to uphold them.

Again, the reader should try to find parallels in their lives or encounters they’ve observed to see if they can recognize this phenomena. Another example.

A crowd of people are standing  around a podium where a presenter is giving a speech on the impact of landfill methane gas on the atmosphere due to anaerobic conditions of the landfills and piled garbage. You are in the audience and as the speaker explains each individual facet of the problem, references other professionals from related fields and goes over statistics  quite thoroughly. It all makes perfect sense and you are quite entertained. By the time you are walking back to your car, after the presentation is over, you feel the information slipping out of your mind. What were those stats again? Who were the people she said she consulted? You can’t remember at all, but you know that you agreed with her and still do. You KNOW she was right.

 


gnosis

And here we see the tricky, contextual nature of ‘knowing’. One can easily know something when someone points it out, or mentions it, or some other kind of external catalyst arises. Its just as fair to say that someone asking whether a sledgehammer is a tool or a bird leads to ‘automatic knowing’ as it is to say that two people who believe the world is controlled by evil Illuminati Reptilian Shapeshifters ‘know’ that such is the case, and engage in that faculty if you ask them if its true. Because knowing is not knowledge, knowing is a reactive faculty of the mind, and has nothing to do particularly with accuracy. This should be fairly obvious if you’ve spent any time here on Earth around humans.

However, ‘knowing’ something  is not only automatic (unwilled, non-volitional, and suspect) but also necessary. I don’t intend to paint ‘knowing’ as some sort of entirely evil thing. Using ‘knowing’ in its right place and attributing the fair value of the function is of utmost importance for the discerning mind. The sacrifice of a volitional action, for a reflexive one tends to bequeath speed to the action at hand. Reflexive actions are survival mechanisms for a noisy world. But like a vehicle, which is a useful tool, one has to respect the power of the thing, lest they be crushed by its misuse. Keep your ‘knowing’ on its leash, understand that it is not objective, its not even (generally) particularly fair or accurate in many situations.

What should concern a person more than the reaction of ‘knowing’ (which is an ‘active’ mental process) is ‘knowledge’ (which is a ‘static’ compilation in the mind) and the pursuit of more accurate or more pragmatic knowledge. If knowing is the process of cutting down lumber, knowledge is the lumber. Once can learn to accept that our ‘knowing’ is always suspect for bias, fallacy or inaccuracy, we can focus on searching for, isolating and synthesizing ‘knowledge’ that is actually useful or accurate utilizing ‘rationality’ (which is not the same process as knowing), instead of using our ‘knowing’ to validate our ‘knowledge’. Knowing isn’t enough.

~ Seth Moris

Non-Eldritch Horror-Cultist Privilege Checklist

Apr
23

dragon

 

Please check all that apply to determine your Non-Eldritch Horror-Cultist privilege

1. You aren’t pressured to embrace the eldritch horrors
that lay beyond the veil of sanity that lay thinly stretched
across what you call the ‘real’.

2. Holiday’s celebrating your beliefs are practiced in
most major civilized areas, as opposed to ancient
primeval forests and rows of sideways singing stones.

3. Its easy to find stores that sell religious iconography
that isn’t scalding to the touch and blistering to the skin.

4. You can worship freely, without fear of malevolent discipline
raining from the sky to punish you for your insolence at
breaking ‘the silent truce’.

5. You can practice your religious customs without being
questioned, mocked, inhibited or torn asunder into seventy
seven minute pieces of flesh and gristle.

6. A bumper sticker supporting your religion won’t lead to
a chaotic flux in the probability waves that your car will
suddenly disappear entirely into an unknown dimensional vortex.

zomface2

7. Politicians responsible for your shadow goverment are
probably not members of your cult.

8. You can reasonably assume that anyone you encounter will
be able to hear the basic tenants of your faith without their
ears and noses bleeding profusely.

9. You will not be penalized (socially or otherwise) for
not knowing the eight blasphemous utterances used to
ward off the dreamtime mindfrayers.

10. Your faith is accepted at your workplace, behind your
workplace, and in the alleyway behind behind your workplace
where that one thing happened we don’t talk about.

11. You are never asked to speak on behalf of all the members
of your faith in front of a secret inquisitor and their
cat-o-nine-tails and corkscrews.

12. Your child will have access to a multitude of mentors and
teachers that share a faith without having to sacrifice a
firstborn child to summon disembodied, living knowledge that is
forever undying and always just behind the surface of your thoughts
and dreams.

13. Disclosing your faith to an adoption agency will not likely
cause them to run screaming from the interview room only to
force you to hunt them down and *ahem* take care of the
problem.

zomface

Crackpot Illumination

Apr
18

crackpot

 

You see the squiggles on the side?
Dancing with leaden ballerinas feet over the tarmac
the concrete, the chipped brick
split here and there
you see the signs, kid?
On faded bits of moldy paper flecking forest floors
In plastic shreds the size of your pinky nail
In rusty pylons stretching over treetops
A mouse made home out of strips of newspaper
Wood pulp pressed, pushing, pulling through markets
And covered in glyphs etched by machine hands
Programmed through human souls
Imprints, man. That’s what we’re talking about
Impressions, dents, you’ve seen ’em
On the bumper of that beemer mobile
Rolling around one day, pristine and new built
Like you, like you and me. Factory specs, man.
The breeze is nice on your scruffy cheeks
The sun is hanging like a golden coin, radiation
BOOM. Fender bender. We’re all fender benders.
Your mom, your dog, and me.
Four-wheeled catalysts, peg-legged or aerial
Cosmic knives stabbed deep into our skull
Carving, sculpting and shaping
You seen the signs, man?
Like those music boxes, rolls of metal pins stuck up
Clockwork gears putting things in motion
Think the strings know whats coming?
Do the pins conspire?
But the box still sings.
Its like that.
Boom.
Impact.

Opportunity; A good omen by any other name

Apr
06

knight

The Knight at the Crossroads
 by Viktor Vasnetsov

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines opportunity as “a favorable juncture of circumstances “. Essentially it is the idea that in a moment of time, there comes a sort of metaphorical “crossroads”. A choice has to be made. To the right lies a road paved in gold and lined with forest flowers that will surely lead to success, wealth, and victory. To the left swerves a crooked and perilous path along brambles and thorny bushes into certain doom and the whole scene is complete with a big sign that directs you to success or failure. Right?

Not really. In the real world, these crossroad moments aren’t so easily discerned. Not only are there far more than two choices in most circumstances, but their appearance holds almost no sway over the outcome of meandering down and seeing what lay ahead. The dark and brambled path may very well end in a pot of gold or great prestige, and likewise the gilded road may lead straight into a personal hell, an ambush for the over-spirited; and instead of two paths, there are dozens around you, as if you were in the epicenter of some megalopolis. Any step taken in a direction can end in a million ways. Not so romantic.

So, if all of these options end in some vague, mostly unpredictable consequences, what exactly is an opportunity? If a gilded road can end in burning hellfire, is anything truly an opportunity? Well, the answer is that the idea of an opportunity is misunderstood to begin with. Some options are certainly more stable than others but there is a chaotic factor to the world that looms over every chance, no matter how seemingly concrete. You may be asking, “Is opportunity an illusion, a delusion? Where does the bread go when I put it in the toaster?”, and I’d have to say that opportunity only ever functioned under the same basic mechanics as another “O” word, less used. Omens.

The bread is with your goldfish in toaster/goldfish heaven. Or not.

augur

What are omens? Also known as auspices, omens were essentially a form of divination in which a person would experience an event that would be taken as a sign of good fortune. Notable examples include ex caelo (from weather, clouds, storms) ex avibus (from the birds, augury) and ex dīrīs (from portents, or signs like violence, death, disease or accidents). Essentially, something would be experienced and a diviner would consider this event a precursor to something that was likely to occur in the near future. See: my post on self-fulfilling prophecies. The events are experiences as something that precludes future events, but it would be more accurate to say that the divination system, the methods under which they discerned the meanings of the omens is a construct, much like language.

Is there much of a difference between these ancient forms of auspice interpretation, and an individual seeing an opportunity in ambiguous information? I mean, we don’t know what will happen no matter how hopeful a situation seems. Both omens and opportunities are an example of the human mind deciding that current situations (sensory-information and interpretation of the data) mean that something else will happen. For good or ill.

Why do only some people see opportunity or disaster in the same location as their peers, while some see nothing at all? Because an opportunity isn’t something you find, or happen across. Its something that your brain constructs. Whether you receive the information via the unconscious intuition, or through rational plotting, the opportunity remains a construct. It is actively created by the human psyche. If you feel that your life is a desert of opportunity, consider that it is not opportunity that comes knocking, but we who knock.

Breaking bad reference.

~ Seth Moris