The Optimism of the Will

The intellect is a curious thing. We talk about ideas spreading like viruses throughout society, or even across societies. (And note how, every few months, we see a sudden burst of moral outrage — around some antiquated symbol — flaring up in different states and countries only to die out like so many health scares. The moral outrage, the idea, literally spreads.)

But, although marketers and social media campaigners want to spread their particular “idea virus,” typically, we try to avoid catching actual viruses. But the term is a good one. Ideas not only grab hold of societies, they can become malignant in individuals themselves. Good intentions can pave the road to hell, to paraphrase a well-known proverb. Ideas can metastasize. Continue reading “The Optimism of the Will”

Individuality, Archetypes, and Ancestors — Against The Atomization of Modernity

What is the source of our inner strength? Some seem to possess it in abundance, and others not in the slightest. Is it, as modernity contends, simply a matter of being an individual rather than being one of the “sheeple”? Or is there something else? “[W]hen the individual faces torture or annihilation,” says Eric Hoffer in The True Believer, “he cannot rely on the resources of his own individuality. His only source of strength is not being himself but part of something might, glorious and indestructible.”

Similarly, Yuri Bezmenov – a defector from the USSR – told audiences in America that only belief in the non-rational — in God — could give the individual strength to endure months or years of torture, and indeed, to be able to fend off other types of attacks on the individual and the society itself. Atheists – who had often been communists, and often remained so up until the moment of execution – separated from the state they had served, did not last long once they had been accused of thought crimes by the apparatus of the USSR. But those of faith managed to survive or, at least, died with composure. Continue reading “Individuality, Archetypes, and Ancestors — Against The Atomization of Modernity”

The Results of Rituals: Inside and Out

“The disciplines of physical exercise, meditation and study aren’t terribly esoteric. The means to attain a capability far beyond that of the so-called ordinary person are within the reach of everyone, if their desire and their will are strong enough,” Alan Moore once said. “I have studied science, art, religion and a hundred different philosophies. Anyone could do as much. By applying what you learn and ordering your thoughts in an intelligent manner it is possible to accomplish almost anything. Possible for an ‘ordinary person.’ There’s a notion I’d like to see buried: the ordinary person. Ridiculous. There is no ordinary person.”

Maybe one day I will measure my magical progress by how many fat sacks of cash I can manifest or by bending the universe towards whatever momentary fancy that takes up space in my head. Perhaps on another day I will evaluate myself by the frequency of flashes of blinding white light that envelop me while standing at my altar of worship. Wait, maybe when I hex all my enemies and they come to great pain for crossing me, that’s when I’ll know I’m serious about magic. Or maybe none of those things will ever happen and I’ll have merely lived a more interesting life than if I had never allowed myself to think magically. Continue reading “The Results of Rituals: Inside and Out”