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Ahriman and Lucifer

By Alex Blum

If the universe is in fact infinite, then every point within it could be considered the center. Accordingly, the Earth, and the human species, could literally qualify as the center of an infinite universe. However, so could any empty patch of space, or any pile of dust on any forsaken star. This is the problem of relativism in a nutshell – that in a world without absolute truths, everything is NOT objectively better than nothing. A world filled with life is not better than a barren molten wasteland. A world of creative human beings is not more worthwhile than a world of pure instinct and animality. The ultimate conclusion of this kind of thinking is nihilism, or at least, a tacit acceptance that what we do, in the end, truly does not matter. It is the same value-wise for humanity to wipe itself out as it is for us to conquer the stars. Why muster any will at all?

Academia, in my experience, instills within individuals the infinite deluge of relativism. In a world without abstract Truth we turn to tangible, smaller truths, and we seek to make our politics our religion. The curse of the age is the replacement of spiritual truth with political truth. What is a lie in a world without Truth? Only a narrow thing. We can only know narrow things. This is academia. We have so much, so many ideas, so many books, so many films, so many texts, that in the end the sum total is nothing. Everything is in fact nothing and this is the funnel of nihilism and despair. The whole of the sea sloshes around in our minds and Kant and Hegel and Faulker and Derrida all swirl together into a thing that is unspeakable and has no conclusion. Those who dwell on this, who can’t get over relativism, find themselves with two reactions: to escape the world or to ignore most of it. To run away from it all or to become a careerist philistine and cling to a narrow Truth.

Most people have their narrow Truths. A Christian, even in the sea of relativism, even when nothing is so, can see the resurrected Christ and know that is ground to stand in. The same is true of every religion. A young progressive, in the end, knows wholeheartedly that feminism and anti-racism are the Truths they must represent in the world. Even if all is dust, that reality in their mind will still remain. And to Richard Dawkins, there is scientific atheist materialism, the Truth that we are meat and there is no afterlife and no soul. Marxists have obviously placed Marx and often intersectionality as their Truths, and modern conservatives uphold the radiant light of free markets and prosperity. The person who is truly screwed is the thinking person without an ideology masquerading as Truth. The one who sees the sea of relativism, and chooses to brave it without absolutes, a ‘maybe logic’ (as Robert Anton Wilson would put it) without giving into relativism or giving up and accepting a half-Truth. These are brave thinkers, the kind of thinkers we all aspire to be – the great synthesizers who see all sides and yet plainly see that there are decisive angles to take. It is not ‘all a wash’.

Modern academia, of course, is focused on turning these kinds of thinkers into academics. All sources of power perpetuate themselves. Creativity is less important than following the theme, and today the theme of relativism seems deeply entrenched in the postmodern. Postmodernism and deconstructionism are about taking things apart, not putting them together. The deconstructionist is often incapable of creative genesis, as he has been taught how to take stories apart. He has been trained to look for ideology and unweave the narrative, replacing an epic with an academic analysis. To my mind epics matter far more than the literary theory that rises in their wake, but to academe, deconstruction supersedes creation. It is more important to disassemble ideas than to assemble or synthesize ideas that strike the heart as novel and true.

The postmodern liberal arts academy is actually quite sinister to the creative mind. It fills us with the deluge of all great stories, all great texts, ideas, authors, poets, theorists and philosophers, and expects us to assert and market our own place within it. How? When there is no truth, when every idea is countered by another idea and the relativist sea swishes around inside our skulls, how are we to simply add another piece of ideology to the pile? We become demoralized. We do not create, we only deconstruct. This is the curse of academia.

How are we to muster the will to create when we are utterly overwhelmed with equally potent ideas coming from all sides? We can’t synthesize the whole sea, at best we can bite off a piece of it, which is what much of fiction is – literary novels often focus on being fractured or portraying one time in a characters’ life vividly. The age of Milton, Dante, Homer is long behind. The Gods and the muses and the spirit world are too much to face without an ideological lens – instead we turn to neurosis, or the smaller things. We are the prodigious children too paralyzed to act, too paralyzed to take true risks. Especially for those majoring in art, finding one’s own voice while studying literature or art or music must be nearly impossible. At a certain level, one must internalize certain truths without being dogmatic, and then simply have faith in themselves. But which ideas to pick? Perhaps small political ideas, like being in favor of diversity. These are valuable but they are easy truths that ultimately place the stakes far lower than the epics of years past. We deserve epics, I feel, if we truly are at the center of the infinite deluge of relativism.

However, depression is a common and predictable consequence of all this. Depression and anxiety are consequences of being ‘beneath the surface’, literally buried in the waters of the sea of all ideas and unable to find anything that rings True, true enough to get us out of bed in the morning. Most liberal arts students are too smart to take easy outs like Christian fundamentalism, but incapable of a true synthesis. They settle for politics, as I’ve already stated. But political involvement is surface-level for the postmodern soul, steeped in fading and evanescent images and terribly anxious of its own future, its ultimate meaning, its own specialness in the universe. When one is submerged deep enough in the sea, they enter into a state of life without living. I have felt this condition, and it is profound in its reduction of the soul. Nothing is worth doing because there are only motions, forms, shadows, no content to stand behind, no Truth that won’t fall apart from behind. One can be struck with the experience of a truly great thought while feeling only rolling orange colors on the edges of their consciousness, unable to find anything tangible. The mind runs and runs and unfolds and blossoms in spheres and circles, and every thought within fades as quickly as it came. The soul of depression has no pride, it is ruled by fear. It yearns for the success of others, for any validation at all. It wishes it had written every book, sang every song, won every award and slept with everyone it ever wanted to. It fears most of all being thrown away like a shot deer without dignity. it fears being talentless and forgotten, its anxiety can never be quenched. The consciousness of depression sees zero and infinity, but lacks the steps to bridge the two. Swamped in overwhelming waters, the self gives in to the opposite side of everything – nothing at all.

Depression is a hyper-awareness of all the issues we cannot face, all the Truth that plays us for fools, and our subsequent paralysis. But the way out of depression, the way out of paralysis, is a radical answer. To my mind history offers two: the consciousness of Ahriman and Lucifer. Ahriman is the thesis, Lucifer the antithesis. Ahriman, the materialist devil in Zoroastrianism, proposes the path of capitalism – the philistine who pushes all the sea out of his mind and becomes a careerist, an opportunist. You live solely to get yours, to usher away your own fear by attaining wealth, which is equivalent to power. The Ahrimanic path is the go-getter, the Harvard 4.0 graduate who goes on to work at Wall Street and make a billion dollars. This is the path of self-consumption, as anyone with a leftist bent on economics and climate policy will tell you. Capitalism swallows itself, this industrious and careerist spirit is essential for launching civilization but in the end it destroys it. Marx, on this point, was spot on: capitalism eats itself from the inside out. Limitless self-promotion, self-marketing, self-propagandizing, all with the goal of personal profit, is like a pencil soaring through a tissue. At first it lifts it like a tent, and then it bursts through and leaves a crater behind.

The opposite answer is Lucifer, the consciousness of poets and the moon, those too frail and thoughtful for life. They yearn to escape from life and live inside the imagination. If Ahriman’s future includes economic collapse, climate disaster, bank failure and the collapse of empire, then Lucifer’s future is to halt all industry and flee into the woods. This is the radical progressive who sees that piecemeal reform will never make a dent in climate change, and so the only answer, essentially, is to destroy the modern world and remake it. The spirit of absolute rebellion is, however, also the spirit of absolute escape. Lucifer is depressed – he sees zero and infinity and he wants to scream his will into the void until his empty hands hold the sun. He loses against God, Ahriman, every time. Ahriman must burn himself out – he must be destroyed from within. Lucifer cannot destroy him because Lucifer feeds him – both impulses guide all of history as the interplay of idealism and materialism.

Ahriman will drive this world into the ground through relentless material exploitation at the cost of infinite spiritual regression, the deformity of human beings who have been reduced to one impulse: make money and lock the doors. Lucifer offers no tangible solutions. He will either escape to another country, a cabin in the forest, go off the grid, or become the sun and incinerate the world economy as his dying breath. This is the will of the suicide bomber. Since Ahriman will destroy himself, if Lucifer destroys him it will only continue the dialectic.

What is needed is a synthesis of Ahriman and Lucifer, because both will drive this world into the ground. But how can this be achieved? I have a kernel of an idea, but it is admittedly Luciferic in that it is unreal. However, it involves the intersection of Lucifer and Ahriman, the place where matter and dreams combine and one may finally realize the other. The idealist claims that the mind, all ideas and the landscape of the imagination, sculpts matter in its image. This is far more hopeful than materialism, which declares, as Ahriman and Dawkins do, that mind is a slave to matter, that the self is just a ghost sprung from a bundle of nuanced meat and that we are all animals.

If there was a way for Luciferic consciousness to utilize Ahrimanic consciousness, then through matter, the mind could be fully realized. This is very abstract so what I am precisely getting at is this: the answer is in creativity, in human genius, in the material evolution and the civilization that humans have created to serve profit, not humans. But if Ahrimanic technical genius could serve the unbound freedom of the imagination, humankind would be liberated from the wall we are pressed up against, the unwaking night of relativism that the educated world is now seeped in.

Human exceptionalism has always stemmed from our ability to create new worlds. No other species is capable of creating a world. In fiction, in poems, in songs and television, in all manner of epics, worlds branch off from our own and are made in our minds. In our heads we create a story that we from our own perspectives live in. We create worlds for others too, what we imagine they are, the world we construct that they came from into ours. Science is Ahrimanic. The arc of its knowledge has moved toward materialism, toward the understanding of human beings as nothing but machines, computers housed inside biological robots who are programmed to survive. However, science can be applied to change physical reality, whereas stories and dreams can only affect internal realities. This has always been the majesty of applied science – the ability to create cities, to take a skyscraper out of the mind and make it real, just as our ancestors saw a spear in their minds and made it real.

If climate change is soon to shake the world, if capitalism is self-destructive, if relativism has claimed the minds of the educated and rendered thought immobile, then the human species has hit a brick wall. The very word ‘post-modern’ implies an indefinite length of the period, as if everything after the modern is the end of actual progression and all that is left is deconstruction and fracturing. We can’t make anything more, we can only take it all apart. This is the facile non-wisdom of postmodernism. This is the anti-human and anti-life knowledge that exists at the core of the academy. Disregard it and instead weave Lucifer through the tendrils of Ahriman, stop running horizontally along the wall and leap over it.

The leap is literally to create a new world for human beings to live in, beyond the devastation of a ruined Earth, beyond the collapse of the world economy, there are two worlds open for the most interesting stage yet in the human journey. The first is the Luciferic dream of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, a future in space. I know nothing of this so I will leave it to be developed further.

The second is virtual reality; potentially the human destiny. How can it be any other way? We have sculpted the world outside and now we have made worlds within screens. The world within the phone, and the videogame. If apes can create cities they can create cities within cities. Virtual cities will house disembodied consciousness to live in a kind of Luciferic paradise after the decay of the material world. All that will remain on the ravaged Earth are massive hard drives housing colonies of minds living in real virtual worlds, with car keys made of code and bodies made of code. It will start with the elite and quickly incorporate everybody, like an ark as the Earth is rendered unlivable by climate change or nuclear devastation. In a virtual world the imagination is set free from matter. In this world, the landscapes of all the epics that have marked history can become literally real. Just think about 3-D modeling – the absurdity of apes being capable of modeling alternate digital worlds is just as unlikely as apes being able to live inside those worlds. What even is ‘digital’? Why should an ape be capable of creating such novel ways of expressing its own creativity? Interior worlds incarnate in matter separate from the ones that exist inside our own head? Our ability to make worlds is our final trump card against the universe.

The anxiety of the age demands a radical future. The center will not hold, and the evolution of Ahrimanic technology will not stop. It is the synthesis of Lucifer and Ahriman that will save us, the manifestation of Lucifer’s will through the knowledge and application of Ahrimanic consciousness. With both, we can create a new world. As Terence McKenna once said, we are not at the end of history, we are not headed for apocalypse, but rather, “we are a species burning its bridges and preparing to soar into the stars”. If climate change is the past world swallowing itself, if we will truly burn the world and flee in the name of our cosmic ambition, then so be it. If we will destroy the world to remake it then so be it. Now I acquiesce completely into Lucifer, because of the reality of an uninhabitable Earth being woven by Ahriman. The forces of history act in close concert. Only your individual will can make their synthesis.

Into the stars or deep into the mind, life will transcend itself. It did so the moment slimes became rodents, rodents became apes, and apes built cities and modeled fantasy worlds inside computers of their own creation. We will transcend ourselves again. The next time, it will be a cosmic event on par with the origins of all life. It will be the second coming, the revelation, the synthesis at the end of one act of history and the birth of the next. Slowly, the universe is evolving into something else. All of cosmic history is the story of this grand unfolding into the novel and the new, from the first respiratory system to the advent of 3-D modeling.

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Christian Existentialism in an Evolving World

By Alex Blum

The human being is, to modify a classic viewpoint, an ape with an eye for becoming an archangel. Morally, this is what we seem to be, but on the level of productivity we are far more. The beaver makes a dam. The ant makes tunnels. The chimp makes a straw to suck ants out of tunnels. But humans destroy the entire forest to make a city and put all these creatures in a zoo made by engineers and architects, based on mathematical formulas we’ve created and then go home to our private domiciles and watch television, life recreated through technology and beamed into the eyes of us ‘apes’. We make a Large Hadron Collider, invent law, invent medicine, invent philosophical theories, make art and invent art theories, write books, put on plays, build nuclear weapons, speak in baby voices to little animals and shoot apex predators dead and skin them to mount on our walls.

The diversity of action in the human species, as well as the capabilities open to the species, are without a doubt transcendent beyond those of any known other. An elephant may be intelligent, but does an elephant do anything but eat, mate, defecate and in other words, simply live? The human being is bored with life. We seek to create something beyond it, we seek to transcend it – we feel immense existential guilt and go to cathedrals to confess. We feel intimate longing, lose ourselves in dreams, become depressed and lose our capabilities while living in a man-made world. A bear walking through a city is like a human walking through the kingdom of God. What does a deer do on an open highway? It runs into it because it doesn’t know what the hell a highway is. Were a human being to gaze upon the divine, our reaction would be the same – we wouldn’t know what the hell it is. We’d run wide-eyed and screaming, burned by the flames of Truth, haunted by the dark night of the soul. Read Ralph Waldo Emerson and then watch a chimp live. Without intellectual dishonesty, tell me that Emerson’s thoughts do not elevate him above the chimpanzee in the same way that an angel’s deeds would elevate them above a human being.

Indeed, a human can be less than human. A human being who lives like an animal is essentially an animal. Humanity is a possibility, a burden, and a curse. It is the whispering of the Goddess Sophia into the ear of a creature who is not ready and cannot face her. However, we must live as if we can. Humanity, like courage, is a wager – to become something impossible, at the cost of all complacency.

Philosophically, narrowly, we can ascribe the human/animal divide to a combination of the faculties of reflection and intervention. Reflection and intervention go hand in hand. The reflection upon any single thought and then the ability to act in accordance or in opposition to it. As an example: I’ll go drink coffee, then followed by another thought, Wait, I always drink coffee at this time. Why follow pattern? Followed by I’ll drink tea instead. Without the ability to reflect and act in this way, a human is hardly a human. We must reflect upon our behavior in order to change it. Indeed, we reflect upon our own genetic code and seek to change it. No other animal can have any pretense to this domain. Purposive rationality arises from this inherent reflection, this inherent thoughtfulness, in being human. Humanity rests upon the worth of truly human thoughts.

Thus we return to the moral dimension, to the conceptualization of humanity as a moral ideal. An animal yearns for power, because power is its only recourse in a world without humanity. There is a reason why we call cruelty inhuman. It is forfeiting our exceptionalism, our ability to speak and to create, to love and to harmonize, and instead embracing the fear-struck and spear-prodded beast running through the jungle in search of a weapon. An animal yearns to possess the very fear which destroys it, and the wielding of fear is power. Our current ‘human’ world, for all its transcendence, is based on fear and power. It is a world where might makes right, where the human is a machine in the service of the production of wealth, where the only ‘higher goal’ is to produce enough money to survive. International relations is a game of whoever the biggest bully is, and how much they can sculpt the world in their image while casting that image as that of the beautiful savior. Any behavior can be justified, the destruction of individual lives means nothing: the interests of states and corporations are elevated above humanity itself. We have used our institutions, made through human will, to become less human. To deny the individual the value of their own life. A world where individual lives can be thrown away for the greater good is a world where your life or mine can be thrown away for someone else’s greater good. It is the absolute undermining of the human soul. This world has doomed itself, as we consume and consume and draw forth dark oil from the Earth, we race toward our own doom. Nuclear weapons and climate change are our twin reckonings, endemic to our power-hungry nature. If we do not become human, then we will make ourselves into dust.

There are two futures open to the human race: the death and despair of self-destruction or the illumination of a truly human world. Liberal capitalist democracy cannot provide a human world, for even the ‘liberal’ president Barack Obama presided over the unchallenged Sword of drones, mass incarceration, free trade, taxes without universal healthcare, the illusion of grace and the reality of the fist of inhuman Judgement. When Barack Obama kills civilians in Pakistan, he is killing his own family. Unless he is a solipsist, he must view his innocent victims as those potentially just like him. I guess solipsism is easier.

There are strains of optimism, there is cybernetics and the hope of a disembodied future of consciousness without a body. Without bodies to destroy, evil is limited. But this world, until Ray Kurzweil tells us all he told us so, is a fantasy. Artificial intelligence is an attempt to model something we do not understand. It is the attempt of fish to make sense of water. Can brain understand brain? Can a human understand humanity? Immersed in truths, can we speak of Truth? We hit an inevitable ceiling.

A being immersed in being, a living thing living in life, cannot rise above life or being. The hope of a final philosophical synthesis is reserved for archangels and God. However, the reality of subjectivity cannot stop us from being human. It is, if Soren Kierkegaard is to be believed, Truth itself. Each of our lives is a fruit on a branch of the tree of life. All branches return to the same tree, and each one has its own truth to fulfill. The part, expressed to its fullest, reaches the universal whole. All we can do is fulfill our own individual part in being human, and through our own lives, seek to reach the universal whole from which all emanates and which we call God. That whole is the undifferentiated flow of all meaning, all being, all beauty and all truth. Every meaningful piece of art is a finite representation of this infinite ocean of life and soul.

So then, I would like to put forth my truth, a subjective thing that I ultimately must fulfill, and in fulfilling it I become a complete part of the world. I do my part to be human through a lens that helps me become human. The harnessing of this lens is the development of the individual into their own, and any tradition that they seek to represent. For me, it is evolutionary existentialist Christianity. Each of these terms informs the other, and the result is neither evolution, existentialism nor Christianity. It becomes a crystal through which my humanity may grow.

Evolution, an essential element in any serious worldview. With the medium of time, in this universe, being builds upon itself. From the nebulous plasma of the Big Bang formed planets, upon one planet arose life, and from life arose conscious thought and all that we have made. It’s all still matter. That’s all it’s ever been, matter-energy, and yet it can be a rock or a hand grasping the flag. Time is all that seems to decide the state of matter, and the universe packs its greatest achievements into the smallest and darkest of corners. Evolution is a reason to hope. It is the story of habit, and of novelty, and it is the force of novelty which allows the hand to break free from inanimate matter and possess a will of its own. The universe is incomplete: it is incomplete because there is novelty, it is an unfolding masterpiece and in this there is hope, that there are states of being still missing, still waiting to come into existence. If we are biology’s crowning achievement, and our own consciousness is the most baffling thing to a scientific account of the universe, then why should the novelty of the future be alien to us? Being builds upon itself. If there is pre-life, then life, then thinking life, the next step should logically emerge from within thought. What is it? Will we be able to anticipate it? Is a deer able to anticipate the emergence of highways? It will come from where we least expect it, when we least expect it. Even within our own minds, there are places so distant and so forlorn that the rising of a God from their waters would baffle the greatest of souls.

Beyond evolution, there is existentialism. The burden of biology’s greatest heights is upon our shoulders, and there is no Truth to find. Existentialism is the beauty and the humbling, the recognition of inability and in opposition to it, truest ability. It is the wisdom to realize that all truths are not True, that in the end, the only Truth is that which we affirm for ourselves. In this, there is freedom. The Truth is whatever we grasp with our own hands and assert as such. The part that is our lives becomes a fulfilled whole when the Truth becomes a World. A World is a Truth that is brought to light, that is given to something more than the self. Deepest frustration emerges from the rich soul that is unable to give its freedom to the world, that lacks a World of its own. But the beauty of existentialism is that it makes absolute Truth possible! The truth that is yours, fulfilled, becomes a Truth. It becomes its own World. Existentialism is the despair and the will, darkness and power set against one another and the will mediating between the two as the double-helix of light which shines in all our souls. There is now novelty, and hope. There is now freedom, and Truth. All that is left is a burden, a morality. A willingness to forfeit the self for the sake of itself, to forfeit the world for the sake of a World.

Christianity is the molten core of the human being. It is, finally, the recognition that we are truly human and that matter is not enough. Matter must aspire to something more, the spirit, the reconciliation of beast with archangel and the ultimate fulfillment of the being trapped between – in the burden of the cross, the burden of all humankind is realized. The Crucified surrenders his power and forsakes himself for the world: the divine itself is killed by state power for the light of resurrection. It is the principle of resurrection, of life for the Crucified, the poor, the homeless and the destitute, the trampled and those betrayed by the world of matter – the burden of humanity is the burden of the cross, carried for those who have been destroyed by matter. Christianity provides not reason, but rather an aesthetic. A context, a framing, a history based upon the cross and emanating from its salvation. The world of matter shall become the kingdom of God. The world will not be rejected, or refused, but redeemed. This is the message of the Christ, and the ultimate power of the powerless. Christ is paradox, He is light. Defeat is triumph. In death, life. The sublime madness of Christianity is the sublime madness of the conscious ape – in absolute absurdity is the breaking of the chains. The Christ is a demand for humankind to step outside of the cycle of power and fear, and aspire to the beyond. The infinite waters of Truth are the domain of the human being more so than any other thing in the material world. Without tangible angels, without a God that can act or intervene, there is only us. It is all in our hands. This existentialist Christianity, without even a God, is empowered by novelty. The completion of the universe is in our hands. God did not create us, nor did we create God. God is an ideal to be attained in the future; it is the completion of all being and the longing that the human strives toward, and that stings us most deeply when we turn away from it.

Create and express that which deserves to exist, that which must exist. Complete your part in the world through the creation of your own World, a shared Truth, give voice to the intuition which no one else has. A truly human world is a world where the individual matters, where individuality is not tethered to materialism but rather stands as a monolith, a tower, of soul. By virtue of the human brain, this potential is open to all of us. The human is that which is the above, which transcends the state of the animal and thus seeks to transcend life itself. The human being settles at nothing. The human being is an impossibility.

Humanity is a wager, a burden. It is living ‘as if’ the heights of evolution are unfolding and are yet to unfold. From a vacuum of plasma and dust, life. From life, thought. From thought, the divine. To me, this is the arc of the universe. It is Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man, it is neo-Hermeticism, it is the ‘magical’ view of human beings, opposed to original sin and casting humanity instead as the prodigious children of a great light, tasked with bringing that light into the world. The waking world is only a testing ground, a place where one’s soul passes through matter, and through matter it makes the case for its own existence.

To quote the great God Zarathustra: “Man is something to be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?”

FICTION: The Man in Ulm

Long before the twilight of the Winter King, some nine centuries ago in the long night of Germany before it was Germany in a peasant principality located under the crown, scepter and sword of the Catholic Church, a hideous man with bad teeth and unshaven beard was chained to a decaying wooden post beside the hen’s house of the town of Ulm. A dirty, diseased lean-to filled with fowls was his home, destiny and company. A rooster with a scar in his red muff was his only friend, and this friend often pecked at him with little stings harsher than a fencer’s tips. Pinned to a stalk of wood, his face was always stretched to the point of breaking with venomous and indissoluble stress. He found only mud and chicken feathers with his worn fingers no matter how far he grasped, no matter what pleasures he imagined, conceived and reached for, his fingers stuck only the warp and woof of bleeding chicken mane. If he scrounged hard enough, and dug into the dirt with a true fealty to the spirit of Protestant work, perhaps a splinter would dig up under his nails, and that would be his reward for great works. Offered soup, he flailed it away, and lived and rutted as a hog in his own discarded foodstuff, and his piss.

We were in 1225 with our man in Ulm, an age known to moderns as an impossibility, a place akin to the Inferno, though for Dante it was his beloved world, the only one he had ever known. It was a land synonymous with darkness, the light of Luther three-hundred years away, the colder blue light of Voltaire farther still, and of course in such dark ages a man representative of the light would find himself posed against the times. Our man, pinned to a wooden pole sticking from a torn-up ugly stack of sticks in a fowls’ den, burnt bronze beneath unrelenting summer sun in the desolate south of Germany, was a humanist, a rationalist, and a skeptic. He had been a professor, which in those days was synonymous with theologian – but our man was, once more, a man out of time. He believed, in essence, only one thing – that the Holy Trinity was fraud, that this world of the lean-to and the foul feathers was always, and still is, all that there is. Earth, alone, no hand with which to guide it. Today, he is an ordinary man. Yesterday, a terror.

Appalled by his tongue, the friars of the Church gathered together like gossiping women to pluck it out. As a crowd of old ladies preparing to play bridge, the friars took counsel and feigned collapse and great birth pangs at the reality of a man who challenged the faith. One friar grasped his spleen and repeated: “He says the miracles are false, he says the miracles are false.” Another wept great globs of spittle and tears that became one and stained the sullen dirt with a pained liquid not unlike the blood of Christ. The drama of these men was like the drama of great women, powerful impressive women whose motions were each the curve of the Earth and each lifting of the hand signaled a new revelation to twist upon the emotions of the last. As the upstanding men of the Church constitute the harem of the bridegroom of God, all holy men seek nothing less than to become women.

A nun, hopped up on the Holy See, took a long, thin needle from her tourniquet in a fit of wrath one morning and approached the man at the post with innocence, a wrinkled smile on her young face. He turned toward her, hands behind her back, watching her walk toward him in such grace that for an instant he even fooled himself into believing in the holiness of women, of Mary, of Churches. The nun knelt down before him and recited a line of Latin, which I could repeat for you here to no understanding, so I will not even type it, and she jabbed the six-inch needle into the man’s open eyeball, the pupil that craved vision, and spread blood outward in that blind eye until it gushed from his face as an open wound. The nun stood and walked away, leaving the needle embedded in his skull. She was later reprimanded by the parish priest, eighty-eight days in solitude with nothing but the Gospels – a fitting punishment – but the damage was done. The surgery to remove the needle and seal up the eye left our man in Ulm blind in both eyes, somehow, as if the doctor’s little Igor had plucked out the second just to bring balance according to the first.

Like vultures the Churchmen often gathered around his body in the chickens and the dust and beat him down with their hands, which were frail and bony like beaks, and he took the blows imparted upon him by the kicking and slapping priests, a nail in every nerve ending shooting upward to his brain, telling him to hurt, telling him over and over again, that strange communication of the muscle and the nerve, demanding imminent suffering. The man, in his heart, retained victory – he knew they were nothing but nerves kicking nerves, an imagination of a man, and he cackled as they beat him with the sublime knowledge that they were but apes, and all structure and system to the contrary was an illusion placed atop the jutting forehead of an orangutan. He wore a crown as they stumbled about like beggars after each kick, skeletons moving with momentum, nerves speaking fury, puppets not of the most high but of the squirming brain. He cackled. There was an ultimate victory in his lashings.

Conversation amongst the sisters produced a novel situation. One young nun had heard of the elder who impaled the eye of the heretic with a tourniquet’s needle, and it brought her into sadness for days. If even a nun could be moved to such impulsive hate, then where in the world is God? This question met little answer. The Book of Job showed God as a brute, a pair of knuckles dragging so hard upon the forest floor that they dug canyons in their wake. There was not mercy, only strength, in Yahweh’s response to Job. The nun wept.

Playing the Virgin herself, this young woman had taken pity on our man in the hen’s house in Ulm. On Ash Wednesday she approached the filthy man in earnest. He looked, and could not see her. She was the treasure of her hometown, born Catherine Ziegler, baptized Catherine of the Rose-Cross, wearing the icon of the crucified upon her chest, the androgyne Christ dangling above chaste nipples that would never feed a child’s yearning lips. Catherine of the Rose-Cross smiled. Before him, the sun at her back, she was as an icon, a thing frozen in time, the true believer who dines of the flesh of Christ at communion, and takes wine, and licks blood from her lips without shame.

The man could not see her, or he would have reached for her. Instead he only felt her footsteps, and fearing the whip or the pointed shoe, he feasted on a raw chicken, ripping up the rind of its neck and sitting in the stained mess of blood and wax-feathers he had spread on cracked and dry ground. It had not rained in a month. Gnawing at the neck of a hen, he shook his head. He felt the shadow of her body cast upon him. At last, he screamed:

“Torturer!”

“I am not your torturer,” replied the holy woman of the Rose-Cross. “I take pity on you in the name of God. I have seen you out here every day on my travels to the orchards. Every single day. I have seen how they beat you. And each time I see you, I feel, in my heart, that you, and not the priest of my parish, is the Christ crucified. It is you who is the martyr, not the patriarchs of the Church. You are the humble, the meek, the broken one…and if I am a true Christian, I am to follow you, not the monsters who have tied you here with this unholy brood of chickens.”

The man’s lower lip curled in response to this Christian speech. Against his greater reason, tears began to form in his bloodied eyes at the speech of a Catholic woman. Against all his aching, solidified over three long years in captivity, he was loved by someone on this Earth. He buried his face in his hands. Like Hephaestus, he began to rock with sobs. He shuddered with memories of home, the mother who had chosen the Church over her own son, and does not see him. The father who had disowned him with eloquence, declaring at the podium the Kingdom of Christ and damning his son to the ice of Cocytus. Catherine of the Rose-Cross fell on her knees in her gown, sullied in the mud, and bursting through those memories, she held him. She lifted him up like a child, a pieta as good as any other. She held him cradled and walked.

“I will free you,” she said, stroking his hair, matted with grease, stuck with flies. “I will free you from the Pilate of the Church.”

“But how?” he asked. “Where will I go?”

“We will go to France, and take you to the Cathars. You are the lamb who has gone astray, more valuable to Him than the flock.”

And so Catherine of Thorns made her promise to the heretic in Ulm, to take his crippled body to the heretics in France, and to leave the cursed soil of the Holy Roman Empire.

Then, she dropped him, and left. Heretics must move in the dead of night, not the broad daylight of holy Thrones. This she said to him, and this he begged her against believing – he begged her to take him away now. She repeated the Our Father as proof of her intention and left.

That night, Catherine of Thorns did try the seal of the musted window beside her stone bed and pried it open, weaseling through the cavity like a bird into a bath. She fell upon a low pool of rainwater, and cursed, the name of God escaping her lips. She covered her mouth. She gathered herself from the puddle, and proceeded beneath moonlight and the stench of frogs. Of course, this one night among a thousand, it had chosen to rain.

Empty stone houses stinking of myrrh and small candles in their windowsills were all that separated the rainwater in the streets from the rock of man’s ambitions. The wax had burnt down with the day, no sounds but snores and silence, and the nun alone trod the beaten path toward the heretic. No souls were about, as all were asleep, contained in the empyrean sphere as embryos in vats until morning. As she made it to the edge of the town, the rare persimmons imported from voyages to the East breathed and rustled in the midnight air with their sheathes of wet leaves. He could tell at once by her footsteps it was her, and again he wept.

“You fool,” he said. “You really are a holy fool…”

She knelt down before him as water dripped from all eaves. As she went to work on the cords binding our man’s wrist to the pole, the old professor began to ask:

“Why do you save me? Do you forsake your Christ?”

She did not reply. She loosed a horse on a rope from the stable across from the hens and made a prayer for the mare’s owner. The fine horse trotted across the running watery way, toward the filthy man, and the nun instructed him how to ride. He did not know how. He was a man of minds. Worse, he was too feeble to rise. The nun, looking in each direction, took a desperate act.

She loosed her dress and took out a pale breast, bringing it to the mouth of the man. Greedily, like an insect, he drank. He kneaded on the milk of her body and climbed, then, up the tall body of the beast. The nun, ripping one side of her dress, climbed up after him, and took the reins. She took the cloth from her head and cast it down. White, beautiful hair dangled in the moonlight. With the heretic she rode.

Rain fell like the hate of an army. It drowned out her eyes, it made blinking a chore. The horse trod through sinking Earth as a genuine monsoon seemed to be roaring about German land. The hillsides green were slicked with rivers. A watery pool had formed at the edges of the road, lines of turmoil. Her hair was drenched and her back was freezing. The heretic, swishing from side to side atop the horse’s hind, was drinking it in by the mouthful. The downpour only grew stronger. And as one hour went by, now two, and his strength resumed, the nun began to hear him speak:

“I am from the future,” he said. “I know these days are limited. Soon they will be done.”

She wiped a globlet of moisture from her eye like a tear.

He swayed back and forth, his mouth open, eyes alight with the reflections of moondrenched stars. “I am telling you, sister, that the day will come when Christ is not a King but a curiosity, an odd thing that is impossible, a distant star, as far from men and women as you and I are now from the constellations, a forgotten thing unattainable.”

The nun narrowed her brows. The mare’s hooves stuck in inches of mud, and sucked and popped with every step. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“I mean that Christianity is finished. Your world is done. I know what happens in this very town, this place full of shit you call Ulm. A young man will station here, joined by a garrison. He will make a camp and set himself against the empire of an alchemist. His name is Rene Descartes. He will take Euclid’s machines and he will dream of a golden ball, handed to him by an angel, telling him to divorce the study of nature from the study of God. He will carry forth that revelation forever, into eternity, to separate the world from God. And he will succeed. He will succeed in dethroning you, forever. Your rule will never return. Your Christ will lose his crown, and it will not be given to another prophet, nor any Mohammed, but the crown of thorns will be shattered, and lose all its meaning.”

“You’re a liar.”

“I am not,” he seethed. “A garrison is coming, of men led by a pope who is an atheist. They will encircle the Churches and they will open great coffers of treasure, and men of theology will become men of business, and the laws of the world will not be written by Thomas Aquinas, but by bureaucrats who believe in nothing. Men will look at the stars and see not the Intelligence of the Spheres but a steaming rock, and in the afterlife an abyss. This will become the only truth there is. Heaven and hell do not exist. There are no Powers nor any Thrones above. Only stars, gleaming with fire, material, unholy fire.”

“You-”

“And all things will be decoded, as at their core is not light, but tendon, sinew and bone. And beneath that, ribbons of instruction, written by a mindless mind, authored by no one, and this truth will be incontrovertible, to the end, till the end of all time. And the consequence it will have-” Blue lightning stabbed jagged across the sky. The man from Ulm hesitated, then considering his lot, he laughed. “All men will believe what they wish to believe, and fiction will become reality. All mythology and all religion will be as one, Christ as good as Apollo, Apollo as good as Mithra. And the consequence, dear sister, will be that there is no rule that is agreed to by all, there is no moral law, there is no order to which men and minds submit themselves. No, the mind shall not submit. The mind alone shall rule the world. And the mind will make all decisions, and it will split open the sky with light made by men, not by God, and this man-made light will be indistinguishable from life itself, and all things sacred will become like Socrates, a corpse that hated life, and men will move on from it, and women will become whores, and men will become judges, who abide not by religious law but by courts made by men, and men will rule the world without submission, without authority above, and they will invent truths and those truths will clash with opponents without any crown to unite them. All people will believe a different thing, brothers will live in the same household and gaze down different directions, and brothers will kill each other. Cities will emerge, cities of millions, seething houses of men with nothing in common, who will all invent their own laws, and sow discord, and never again once the sowing begins will it ever stop, never will Christ return. Only ambiguity, and the rolling ball, will follow men forever, and their women will die, their children will be born as in tubes, and flesh and blood and plastic and glass will have the same essence – material, as there is no other substance in this world. And it will begin in Ulm,” he gasped for breath, laughter breaking from his chest. “It will all begin at a garrison in Ulm when the little man has a big dream and he divorces nature from God, and shows how it is so, and no theologian will ever be able to disprove him.”

In darkness, the nun halted her horse. She dismounted it, and walked to the edge of the cold road.

“What has happened?” asked the man, looking frantically in all directions. “Where have you gone?”

The nun said nothing. She waited, waited for his true nature to emerge. Waited for him to grow angry, to grow violent. But nothing changed.

“Come back,” he said. “Please, return.”

She walked back to the horse, her feet in rags sucking in the sullen dirt with every step, and grabbed him by the right thigh.

“Is that true?” she demanded.

“Yes,” he said nobly, nose to the rain.

“And you are part of it?”

“Yes,” he said. “I have been sent here from the distant ahead just to make it happen sooner.”

The nun released his thigh. She turned back. She wandered to the edge of the road again, to the same place, rain boring down on her like a cloud of ashes, pouring death upon her. As she turned again in her cloak of death she set her mind to a decision and grasped the man’s thigh again. This time, she pushed upwards, and unsettled him.

“What are you doing?” he demanded. He was too weak to tilt backward. She pushed him, up, and he tilted far away and over the edge of the horse, at last like a drawbridge he was extended, and fell flat sideways into the mud below, where he groaned in agony as he ate mud, and his ribs smarted.

“Christ is our King,” said the nun, taking the horse and mounting it once more. She doubled-back on the road and trotted away. Her mouth was pregnant with feelings, desirous of more words, but none came. That was all she had said. And she continued to ride her horse back down the road she had come, to the parish.

The man in Ulm cried out in uproarious laughter. Arced blasts of lightning crossed the bow of the world and stained the firmament brightly. He screamed with joy in his mud as he imagined chickens all around him, a house for savages, and he laughed in knowledge that time was on his side, that he had won, no matter what, that the world would be delivered once more as it already had been, to the birds. And he laid there, blind, drowning in water and stinking marsh, a broken road, worn down by the waters, no food for miles, no sight in the world, and he was given over to the elements like a slave, and he died as all men do today, beneath empty skies and moonlight, blind and starving, yearning for a crown. The elements took him. They thought nothing of it. Intelligence was purged from the world. The elements seized him as a scalpel seizes a wound.

That very same nun later went on to pen a rebuttal to the man from Ulm, and all he had said that day. It was discovered by scholars in 1983 and prized as a rare insight into the stupidity of the past.

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Why I Liked Jordan Peterson, and What Drove Me Away

We unorthodox mystics and Christians pass through a great many gurus. Whether Alan Watts, Terence McKenna, or Joseph Campbell, one singular figure rises above the rest to impress upon us the conditions of the numinous. In high school, I had passed through the lectures of Terence McKenna, staggering four-hour poetic sermons on forgotten alchemical texts, rejecting a materialist worldview which asserted that all the world, even mind, was made of nothing but mute material, consciousness nothing but an accidental byproduct of the brain.

The goal of the mystic is to revive one’s latent faith in spirit. And by spirit, really, I mean the notion that human beings belong to an order higher than physics and chemistry. That we do not yet understand ourselves, and locked away in the realities of beauty, morality, art and ideals, there exist “archetypes” or “forms” that are passed down through myriad rays of light both physical and metaphorical. A “human being” is not just a meat machine. A “human being” is the masculine and feminine ideals made real in matter. There is, in the universe, a personalistic, human dimension. It can often be difficult to follow, but this is the main claim of Jungian psychology – that our understanding of the world is not primarily rational, but made up of primal psychic forms, called archetypes, patterns called “masculine”, “feminine”, “chaos”, “order”, “dragon”, “knight” – in other words, the world is made of stories, not rational propositions.

In many ways, it is a view aligning neatly with postmodern thought. Rene Girard, a postmodern Frenchman, analyzed Christian theology as a story told about a scapegoat. For Girard, all human community is based around the slaughter of a particular individual within a group which becomes blamed for all the group’s ills. Whether a sheep, or a Christ, a martyred black man in the Mississippi wilds, the story of humankind is the story of producing and slaughtering scapegoats. Except, so argues Girard, for Christianity. Unique among the world’s religions, Christianity is built around a mythology of the innocence of the scapegoat. The hero of Christianity is no “great man”, a conqueror, a beast, but one who is meant to sift in mud alongside the lowest of the low, and be stepped on.

My understanding of Christianity has always been such – it is the philosophy of those who have been stepped on. Friedrich Nietzsche captured this in his concept of slave morality. For Nietzsche, all Christianity was merely the profession of the resentment of the weak against the strong. Thus, a gospel of suffering was exalted, and suffering, pain, death and despair became Christian virtues. Rebelling against the philosophy of creatures so low, “a wretch like me”, Nietzsche put forth his alternative to the philosophy of slaves – the Ubermensch.

He failed to properly enact that idea into the world. His Nazi sister made it a Nazi idea. And today, the idea of the great man, rising above the mediocre masses, is a distinctly right-wing idea about history driven by singular greatness, rather than collective action or any form of social justice.

I suppose, at this point, it is becoming clear where Jordan Peterson fits into all this. Peterson, in many ways, has replaced Christianity with Nietzsche. In his philosophy of hierarchy, where outcries in the name of inequality are downplayed as virtue signaling, or even plain resentment against those at the top of society, the downtrodden nature of Christ might seem an insult. The Gospel’s invitation to invert all hierarchies and exalt the poor, the compassion of the Christ, is a missing piece. In his explorations of The Bible, Peterson has only ventured a few chapters into The Old Testament. And when asked about the Gospels, he notes that Jung characterized Christ as a figure of compassion, his severity emerging mainly in the Revelation, when he comes with sword and fire and lays waste to the world. Of course, Jung also thought the Book of Revelation was little more than the repressed shadow of the Apostle leaping freely, the pious Christian finally realizing, and bleeding out his subconscious realization, that the thieves and scoundrels who had severed John the Baptist’s head would one day be punished by the LORD.

We know, from the history of Christianity, that it has often been a brutal and anti-Christian religion. A true gnostic might cite the instantiation of Christianity as the Roman religion as the moment of death, the selling out of the body of Christ to the machinations of Caesar, and the law of Pilate, Hammurabi, and all the mad titans who have warped and weathered the early world. Gnosticism, or the belief that the Old Testament is actually the chronicle of a monster, that Yahweh is not the “Father” but an imposter, a cruel bastard child of the Goddess Sophia, whose name means wisdom – well, these are not popular ideas. The gnostic sects of early Christianity were wiped out by Constantine’s Rome, and vanished into history. Only thinkers in the vein of Terence McKenna, who described himself as an “archaeologist of forgotten idea systems” cares to return to the ideas that history defeated.

And that’s the crux of the problem with Peterson, isn’t it? If history defeats an idea, then that idea deserved to be defeated. Pragmatism rules. If a particular ideology dominates thousands of years of history, for Peterson, then it isn’t ideology anymore. It’s just the truth. It’s just the natural expression of biological hierarchy and all opposed to that notion are fooling themselves. Since feudal times, there has always been a land-owning class, and a class that must work on the land owned by others. Today, it is right that Bezos runs Amazon and his employees subordinate themselves to the will of the great man. Capitalists of all stripes might object to the connection of feudalism to capitalism. But really, this discussion was settled in the twentieth century by John Rawls and Robert Nozick.

Nozick, the free market libertarian, and Rawls, the crusading social democrat, litigated perhaps the deepest debate in the history of political science. Rawls contended that hierarchies of merit and competence were not self-justifying, because competence and merit in themselves are out of the control of competing individuals. In essence, allowing individuals to choose their own fate just means that their innate qualities are left to liberate or condemn them. Liberation, controlled by the marketplace, is a technical affair.

The hallmark of Peterson’s worldview is nature over nurture. Political belief, he argues, is largely downstream from personality. And personality is heritable, downstream from genetics. So if a person’s conscientiousness is heritable from their parents and out of their control, but also dictates how diligent a person is, that person is completely crucified by biology and at the whims of the world as to how well-suited they are to generate an income. Knowing this, how can we be libertarians, and insist that the market selection of worthy individuals is fundamentally just?

Inequality as a fact of nature meets a puzzling response, a response puzzling in its madness – “We will change nature”. Human beings, through the unique evolutionary gifts that make us human, can change and overcome aspects of our own innate nature. We can choose to give women equal standing in our society, even though we could easily replicate ape hierarchies millions of years old. We can refuse to kill our aggressors, and even forgive them, when our amygdala throbs and our ape hands wish to wring another’s throat. Most exceptionally, we can die in sacrifice for complete strangers, neglecting our own true purpose in dead material life – to bear offspring, and to raise them in the name of economic liberation.

Jesus Christ died childless at thirty. This example flies in the face of biological expectation. Jung and Peterson both place Christ as the ultimate human being. He is the ideal to which all people could aspire. And yet he died childless at thirty. He was, all told, a victim of the unjust power structures of the world, who came to complete the incomplete philosophy of the Father, the brutality of Yahweh in the Old Testament.

Christ came to complete a hierarchy that was devoid of empathy, devoid of feeling for human suffering. God alone at the top did not know what it was to be a human being. And here, Jung, Peterson, and all Christians, are to some degree or another heretical against Yahweh. At the beginning of time, God was incomplete. He was not perfect. This is obvious, because his angels fell. A serpent lingered in his garden. God was flawed. And he created us, because we are made to complete him.

In his oddest book, Answer to Job, Carl Jung argues that The Book of Job was a precursor to the coming of Christ. The brute, animal, inhumane actions of Yahweh, unconscious, a beast comparable to the very “Leviathan” he had slain, boasting of his might as reason for his righteousness, was not the true face of God. How could it be? In taking the wounds inflicted by a cruel and unconscionable God, Job demonstrated that human beings, God’s creation, had in certain ways surpassed him. God was surpassed by the meek and humble creature which received the pain he inflicted without violent reaction and devastating malevolence. God was made low by his own actions, and a mortal man was made high by refusing to lash out against the world in response. And this event, the treatment of Job at the hands of God, revealed the truth – that God was obviously incomplete, and that he did not know what it was to be a human being. Arrogant, he had no conception of suffering. He bullied Job like a conscious machine might torment a child.

Christ incarnated as man to show his Father what being human is like. And in doing so, he changed the very nature of the Father. He made God more complete, so Jung argues. Christ came from God, so Christ came from within the totality of the Father’s being, but this particular aspect of the Godhead, named the Son, could not be expressed save for through the suffering of man, his creation. To complete God, his own creation had to teach him what it means to suffer on Earth as an ape. God had to learn from human beings.

If God learns from us, then we have the obligation to show him new things. Rather than subservience, the proper position of a human being in relationship to God is the Hermetic one, it is the mystical one, it is the creation of a more perfect cosmos with God and humankind side-by-side, co-creators of the cosmos, Hermes Trismegistus’ famous declaration that “man is the brother of God”. Not a “wretch like me”.

If we accept that the fall from grace itself was essential in order for God to create autonomous beings who could not only disobey him, but also teach him, then we understand that religion was never finished, that Jung was right to explore, that the Holy Trinity itself is incomplete – in need of Holy Mother, Daughter and Holy Soul, and that no archetypal or mystical form is ever eternal, ever set in stone. The function of the material world, as we in the twenty-first century well know, is evolution. The entire cosmos is a “Wonder Dynamo”, an engine with the capacity to produce novelty, to evolve, to teach God, just as Job once did, just as the experience of Christ on the cross once taught him what it means to suffer.

God’s creation is still experienced through human faces, through human hands. The experience of being a human being did not conclude two-thousand years ago in Christ. And we suffer, and to live is to suffer, and in our own Christian nations not a hundred years ago, black bodies were found suspended from crosses not unlike their own savior, and the Christians of the time had turned their backs upon them.

Maybe nothing has changed since Rome. Maybe we are still little Constantines, all of us. The sublime nature of Christianity defies all its dogmas. The madness of Christ, the Innocent One who is killed, is as far from straightforward as logically possible. The crucifixion is beyond reason, because it says that those who are right and true will be destroyed. There is no greater knot at the core of the world, in the core of both Christianity and the hero’s journey – that suffering, death and dismay always befall the mythological champion.

This is no strongman philosophy. This is no defense of what is old. It is a call to evolution and triumph over what has always been. That, to me, is the essence of the Christian story. The hero’s journey and the fall from grace are both calls for the prodigal son to return to the Father with new things to teach him, not just a knee to bend. And insofar as the bio-mystical politics of Jordan Peterson reject the possibility of those new things, as long as fundamental questions about the structure of our modern Rome are dismissed for fears of creating a new gulag, I must reject Jordan Peterson’s philosophy.

Afterword:

The corporate structures of the United States are deeply compromised and are mired in irrational, self-destructive, elitist practices. If you have seventeen minutes, Ralph Nader (whom Nassim Taleb dedicated Skin in the Game to) breaks it down better than I ever could. Competence hierarchies, in my opinion, are often just as mythical as equality in Venezuela.

When Communism Fails to Replace Capitalism, We Will Be Left With Woke Capital

The lens of power is the best lens through which to understand politics. Machiavelli, and Foucault, are correct. Why does Trump, King of the Islamaphobes, support Saudi Arabia? The answer is not any ideology for or against Islam, but naked will for geopolitical power – the alchemical form of the “arms sale”. Why, further, do the Democrats continue to behave as if the Mueller Report was a success, rather than a staggering failure to prove their three-year crusade that Trump is Vladimir Putin’s “puppet”? Because, of course, to back down from the precipice is to lose power. To admit fault, always, is to take a certain wound. Ordinary people can afford such wounds. But professional Twitter users, e-celebrities, politicians, and pundits cannot. Every move is so closely tracked – the slightest mea culpa means falling from the front line, and maybe having to gain a bit of wisdom instead of enjoying the lust of war.

Michel Foucault, and postmodern thought in general, has been criticized for its singular focus on power over all other human realities. But looking at contemporary American politics, only the will to power explains the obvious contradictions in the actions of Donald Trump and the Democrats. Abstracted one level backward, the will to power in politics is a death-struggle between the mythology of Judeo-Christian white America and the mythology of Woke Incorporated. Modern political thought is not so much “thinking”, accordingly, as it is threat detection. The aim is to sniff out the opposing side of history and execute it. The goal, in thought, is to associate ambiguous ideas with evil and to dismiss both ambiguity and evil through brute force. I’ve fallen victim to this as much as anyone – a diet of online media makes one wholly double-minded. Each side of Hegel’s dialectic screams at the fevered ego, shriveled, uncertain.

As a result, all thought is instantly stunted. All groundwork laid can only go one way. The only thoughts speakable are those that align with the patterns of the purported Good, which is always also the purported aim of corporate America. Thought is not needed at all, really, only the correct prejudices. Because left-wing ideology is so culturally powerful, the ways in which that power asserts itself through social dynamics are inherently more interesting to the postmodern mind than continued rehashings of critiques of a white supremacy that more than ever seems on the outskirts of American society, not in the mainstream, but beaten and exiled wherever it goes, with all the major corporations of the world publicly distancing themselves from it, and the new centers of corporate media aggressively rejecting right-wing opinion as valid. Centers of power, from Facebook to Wells Fargo, will embrace intersectionality, not white Western supremacy. This makes left-wing ideology key to understanding the dynamics of power in the future, especially as the most radical right-wingers are banned wholesale from online technologies or even from owning credit cards (this has actually happened).

Foucault is too radical for the left today. Remember that Foucault, in his debate with Noam Chomsky, dismissed Chomsky’s claim to justice as a veiled power grab. For Foucault, there is no justice, there is only power, and those who speak in the language of justice are only seeking power. Accordingly, it has become incredibly common to hear critique of “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” emerging from the most well-funded and well-supported sectors of corporate America. Left-wing thought leader Contrapoints is embraced by The Economist and given institutional support, while right-wing thought leader Sargon of Akkad is a media dumpster fire, hated even by the Conservative Party. Politically correct MSNBC hires CIA and intelligence officials like John Brennan while lecturing viewers about male privilege. Granted, this is all mainly elite culture – among the doldrums of the common nobody, these prejudices do not stand. But I am interested in elite culture, precisely because elites shape the world.

It is my prediction that democratic socialism, intersectionality and other left-wing ideologies, in failing to overcome capital, in failing to provide a new structure for human organization, will instead simply crash against the barricades, infiltrate the stations, and become woke corporatism. As this cultural hegemony of left-wing ideas continues in the corporate sector, the left will be more and more hard-pressed to claim its ideas are marginalized, when for the most part they are the most popular ideas in the society, at least in the corporate spaces that push them. Then, as the world is saturated in people who all think alike, but the fundamental structures of society have not changed, the natural result will be a resurgent right-wing purporting to demonstrate left-wing fraud. In a sense, this has already happened since 2016.

This is not good for the left, for it only has a moral claim insofar as it is on the margins. If corporate news giants like CNN, NBC and CBS slammed antifa and Black Lives Matter, for example, taking the side of Trump and Fox, then the left would have a stronger claim than ever that their ideas are utterly opposed to corporate power at the root, as was the case throughout most of the 20th century. But this is clearly not the case today. Noam Chomsky and the ACLU once advocated for the rights of even neo-Nazis to hold public demonstrations. Today, corporate fiat decides who the Nazis are in order to cut off their public speech, and the post-Vampire Castle left largely applauds it.

Censoring voices on the radical right, not the left, is accepted across corporate platforms. CNN host Ana Navarro has explicitly said: “I want them silenced”. The radical elements of the left are easily absorbed and re-appropriated by capitalist forces, with many left-wing pundits making the argument that the public sector has been privatized by Silicon Valley, and thus private information brokers can act as any other business, and throttle the flow of information however they choose. Here is a YouTube video I loved about the necessity of resisting the social pressures of modern ideology. It no longer exists. Prepare to see much, much more of this. The label of “hate speech” is insurmountable, as the United States has destroyed the lives of Muslims and African-Americans for so many decades that labelling any idea “hate speech” is sufficient to destroy it. But as the very same corporations who ban BDS and Louis Farrakhan also come after Alex Jones, it becomes obvious that the category of hate speech is ideological, designed merely to create a false new center in American politics, to control the information flow of the internet in true totalitarian style.

YouTube, and Mark Zuckerberg, when policing their platforms, more or less find themselves policing the radical right. Jeff Bezos, and his Washington Post, find it quite easy to oppose right-wing politics and reject Donald Trump while fundamentally serving their own wealth and privilege. Bezos even played ball with Bernie Sanders, raising his minimum wage to $15 an hour, likely as a gambit to avoid further scrutiny. It may work. Google, meanwhile, fires employees who question its stance on diversity quotas. Countless non-progressive ideas are outside the Overton window being built by corporations, the tech and news companies that serve as the gatekeepers of a rapidly reforming America in the wake of Trump.

As the left-wing Chapo Trap House audience finds its ideology absorbed more and more into the ruling corporate class, they will find the distance between themselves and the corporate centrists at Vox more or less closed. Host Will Menaker has already said he is still “figuring out” if democratic socialism means real socialism or just better capitalism. As the dictatorship of the proletariat dissolves into the social hierarchy of the high school cafeteria, the reality of woke capitalism will be all that is left for those who vaguely thought all existing hierarchies would be destroyed. Even in a revolution that equalizes all wealth, most unjust hierarchies will be preserved. Nepotism, social manipulation, narcissism, fixing algorithms and controlling information are all wholly possible and probable even in a hypothetical post-capitalist utopia.

Other than the single issue vote of universal healthcare versus a public option, there is not much distance between democratic socialism and just banal liberalism with more welfare. Nowhere is there a radical critique of capital, nor any ability to overthrow it. The Green New Deal, and all its adjacent ideas, will soon be the mainstream of the corporate Democratic Party, not fringe outsider plans rejected because of the threat they pose to power and privilege. Recall that in the 1930s the New Deal did not create socialism, rather, it saved capitalism. The function of politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the same – to regulate and save corporate America, not to destroy it.

The main function of the ideological left, knowing they are mostly bluffing and only have quasi-neoliberal tinkering with the system in store for us, is to preserve its power within the capitalist system, that is, to preserve its claim of speaking for the little guy against capital. This space is now openly contested by the right, which is in the process of shedding Reagan-era dogmas about the free market and approaching a more paleoconservative attitude on rejecting free trade, rejecting the power of large technological corporations, and as Secular Talk’s Kyle Kulinski reminds us – 51% of Republicans themselves support Medicare for All. Only political figures with the guts of someone like Bernie Sanders will actually get it done, but the generational change is in the air. Vanishing are the Koch dogmas inside the right-wing base, gone is the alignment of a vanished manufacturing class with trade unions and labor, and gone is the left’s sole claim to speaking for the oppressed. This is why the left hates Tucker Carlson so much – he is an existential threat to their unique role of calling out U.S. military power and the power of Amazon and Google. But whether we like it or not, on cable television, one will find more left-wing ideas in an hour of Tucker Carlson than in all the sprawling hours of Mueller coverage on the other channels combined. This, again, is very bad for the left, which only retains its moral authority, and its power, by being the only voices capable of saying that Jeff Bezos is the problem and that military interventionism is folly. If a prominent right-winger on Fox News is saying these things, then clearly Rupert Murdoch allows them to be said, and these ideas, which will save capitalism, are not the Zion socialism promised. They are just capitalism updating itself to avoid strangulation by empire and monopoly.

Left-wing moral claims are deeply useful for the corporate world. They give virtue to otherwise indefensible powers wielded by Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube, a government by corporations. Left-wing moral appeals are the ideal clothing for brutal corporate rule, the same way “humanitarianism” became Bush’s defense for assaulting Iraq. All intelligent brands in 2019 should embrace the cultural attitude of antipathy against a mentally ill capitalist society in order to sell products to people made mentally ill by unbound capital. As an example of this, just yesterday, I saw an ad for Monster.com that nearly blew my mind. A father, tucking in his daughter, is asked what it’s like to be an adult. The father says that you nihilistically search for work, fail until you lose your self-worth, and die. The ad then recommends we use Monster.com even after admitting to us the nihilism of what it is offering. This is what is called “late capitalism”, but my deepest concern is this – is it even really late?

What if it continues indefinitely? Perhaps it’s naïve to even bring this up, but in the absolutely fantastic show Mr. Robot, a revolutionary plot to undermine capital through a financial crisis turns out to simply be the front for a Chinese plot to displace the CEO of a massive bank; the revolution is merely a game of chess between two power brokers with left-wing activists as the pawns. Even after the implosion of the world financial system, the titanic financial powerbroker called E-Corp remains functional, and powerful. The power in any complex post-industrial society is held by managerial classes, as Simone Weil knew. The international debt already shows these managers are playing with phantoms – collapse changes nothing in that equation. The revolutionary protagonist, accordingly, even works at E-Corp during Season Three, trying to undo his initial act of faux rebellion.

The great postmodernists are indispensable in comprehending all this. Perhaps the most important concept of the current era is Delueze and Guattari’s deterritorialization. Despite its lengthily name, it is basically exactly what it sounds like – the stripping away of all identity, locality, regionality and specificity into the whirlpool of multinational online capital.

The world is becoming less of a collection of unique places, and more the constant hum of one steady state – being everywhere and nowhere at once. This is enabled through digital technology, which is spread via capital. Deterritorialization means the local mall closing to funnel more profits into Amazon, leaving your city covered in barren spots. It means losing all connection to your cultural stories in favor of glib irony, or ironic nihilism. It means becoming a creature of the digital era, not of an embedded member of a community in the physical world, but instead taking barking orders from digital ghosts posted on electronic walls.

Capital and left-wing ideology are both deterritorializing forces. They both destroy, remove and dissolve fixed identities and structures. Sharing this common quality, it is little surprise that they work so well together. Their common goal is the erasure of the specific.

The resistance to deterritorialization is mostly on the right. There, the specific structures of religious ritual, parental authority and the fixed qualities of the town are presented as alternatives to multinational factories and nihilistic cyberspace. The right may be guilty of peddling a false image of the quaintness of The Shire, but as an alternative to deterritorialization, it has a certain appeal.

This appeal will compete directly with the appeal of liberation via deterritorialization throughout the 21st century. Capital and left-wing ideology will cooperate to radically change the body and mind of the human, while Luddites with quasi-religious motivation will offer instead the sacredness of humanity, with no need to dissolve the self in the acidic waters of mind-warping technology, such as the market inevitability of babies formed from petri cultures in sealed plastic sacs rather than childbirth from real women, the dystopia of Brave New World, which will be marketed successfully in left-wing terms – as a way to close the inequality between the sexes for good.

The late theorist Mark Fisher is right that our imagination has been killed, that back and forward are our only ideas. Back is not possible, and forward is sheer insanity. But Fisher, in one of his final talks, offered consciousness-raising and psychedelic thought, the fuel of the 60s and 70s, again as the way for us to challenge capital and envision a better world. But as with marijuana, psychedelics too will be bought, sold and marketed, and after the trip subsides, you will again find yourself at work and online, with no frontiers save for your own mind fundamentally anew.

Note:

My thinking in this essay is the result of engaging with the vibrant intellect of many historical and living individuals, to whom I am indebted: Slavoj Zizek, Mark Fisher, Cuck Philosophy, The Distributist, G.K. Chesterton, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

Of course, as always, I must also thank Valentin Tomberg and Carl Jung. I recommend Catholic and Jungian ideas of the self as opposition to deterritorialization.

Young Pseudo and the Theory of Everything

“Wash your balls with ice water, take nootropics, get rich, be Christian.”

The open-air idea economy is updating every second, and a new sage is always eager to direct your thoughts onto the flow of his particular rail. A theory of everything is eternally around the corner. Keep refreshing, or you might miss it. Where were you when the Buddha posted his definitive theory-thread about the relationship between markets, Christianity and blockchain?

This is what social media enslavement looks like. The eternal insecurity of meaning-craving humans is exploited by countless “sages”, those who collapse technology and mysticism into the same impulse, those who see a marketplace of ideas, a marketplace of genes and a marketplace of capital as the same fundamental impulse. Memes and genes are the only forces that operate in the human world. On twitter dot com, endlessly, the great new theory of everything is perfecting itself, and soon enough, the Viral Wisdom Economy Prosperity Gospel will teach you how to be rich, powerful, and religious at the same time.

Joel Osteen did a pretty good job of this. In his Christian philosophy, the elect are the wealthy. In the Christianity of the new Viral Wisdom Economy, the high-IQ are elect. Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos – these men are the Ubermensch, and their greatness is diluted by the mediocrity of the many. Markets upflift the great, and socialism dilutes the greatness of the elect. Marketplaces of ideas, of course, uplift the great. We know this because I am thriving in the marketplace of ideas, where I am receiving likes, retweets, and endorsements from huge accounts. My critics are jealous, envious, of course – that I am three steps ahead, always. They lack the fat tail of IQ that I was born with, the fat tail I drag everywhere with me.

But, of course, the mediocrity of Self-Help Blockchain Christianity is in essence a total confusion about reality. Nietzsche’s fundamental disposition of elitism, or condescension toward the masses, is co-opted as a Christian idea. Rather than universal dignity, Christianity is a mode of belief for the great to become greater. Everything is a marketplace, and marketplaces are designed for great men to thrive.

Christianity and capitalism are the same force – the high-IQ elect will drive this new information economy, from their Twitter accounts, from their YouTube channels, the ultimate memes and the ultimate theories will colonize the planet in the image of the great man. The ultimate right-wing belief, after all, is in the supremacy of one great visionary over the mediocrity of the masses. This is Ayn Rand repackaged for the new age. This is as if you took the shakiest elements of Jordan Peterson’s thinking and doubled, tripled down on them with blockchain and viral potential.

The new Christians are anti-Christs – they believe they are the elect of the new horizontal information economy. They believe that wealth, truth, status and power all align. If only all barriers on markets could be removed, the high-IQ elect could assume their rightful places. Christianity and capitalism are tools of sorting the unworthy from the worthy. Equality, socialism, leftism and all similar ideas are fundamentally, ontologically, false. The map of the material world and the map of the spiritual world is one – the elect on Earth are the elect in spirit. Viral Wisdom Economy Prosperity Gospel has synthesized science and religion in the form of social media capital.

Political philosopher Sheldon Wolin knew the right was deeply elitist. He saw this personified in Nietzsche, the favored intellectual of the right, who argued that inequality was fundamentally right and just. A few great individuals, Ubermensch, should steer the world in the image of their grand accomplishments. Cold showers. Get rich. Spread your memes. Change the world.

Gone is the humility of actual Christianity. Gone is the universality of the Christ. “All things that are common repulse me!” cries the last intellectual, rejecting all but the tip of the iceberg spear that is his theory of absolute market dominance. Genetic, cultural and ideological markets are all his to open. Presumably, mating markets as well. The language of evolutionary psychology is the ultimate truth of the world – everything is a market. Absolutely all human activity is a market, and markets are tools for assorting human beings based on how competent, or, how “elect” they are.

The outcome of this philosophy is rather clear. The high-IQ startup entrepreneurs replace the failing institutions and gatekepeers of today. Peter Thiel suing Gawker into oblivion is the model for this philosophy – a great man will take down the gatekeepers and replace them – with what? More fervent worship of the market, of the individual, of the high-IQ elect and their greatness.

This fundamentally elitist philosophy will be peddled as Christianity, because these people will not communicate in literature or extended essays, but in blips of assertions and a dazzling gallop of infinite claims and information. You can’t get to the root of it, but that’s okay – there’s always more. There’s always a new tweet, always a new infinitely uploading piece of the puzzle. He is the elect – he will tell you what the truth is. He is synthesizing the world in his brain, for some of the little people – at least, those who bear enough innate electness to recognize him. “Real recognizes real.”

This deeply anti-Christian philosophy will become the pinnacle of the West, the culmination of the individual. In materiality, God will be born. The market is a model for producing Gods. Thinking themselves to carry new information, they will be carbon copies of Friedrich Hayek, who believed that markets produced objectivity out of subjectivity. Markets are the only things which produce value.

Those who cannot function in markets, the many, the low-IQ, the normie, the mediocre, the NPC, the D&D character without outstanding stats, must become an observer of the great man. Blockchain Austrian Economics with Christian Characteristics will become the Truth at the end of time. The words of the elect, spreading virally, the ultimate meme, will make approachable the gospel for the common man, or the one who lacks the seed of innate greatness, the one who does not grasp the genetic-memetic concoction to produce Peter Thiels out of Godless antimatter.

Genghis Khan, the conqueror, becomes the model for the Christian. Amassing a following, an army, and asserting your memes through them, is the path to immortality. They will crystallize, these conquerors, into a fine cosmic Monad at the center of all markets – the post-human hive mind. The ultimate optimized human being, the God at the end of cold showers, will propel the ultimate synthesis of science and religion into the world. The cold God, the Nietzschean Dionysius, Nick Land’s idol, will become synonymous with Christ. And in this abomination, the crystallized sage has achieved Nirvana.

Remember: equality, socialism and the “common man” are tools to dilute your greatness. The right-wing is metaphysically correct about everything, and values divulge directly from those facts. Free markets are the only mode to test our truths, and blockchains will produce the freest markets. The theory of everything coalesces around the elect few – so make sure you follow them. Make sure you beg at their feet. The elect will give you their knowledge, they will teach you to become optimized, how to become more perfect. But ultimately, that responsibility is yours. Perhaps, one day, as you ask them questions on Reddit for an AMA, they will grace you with a reply.

The hideous philosophy of the young pseudo, of digital greatness, is the anti-Christian collapse of the material into the spiritual world. The elect on Earth are the elect in Heaven. Individuality is the mode of the great, collectivism is for the weak. The poor, the suffering, the stupid – they have nothing to do with you. Detach, and soar into outer space in multi-generational vessels, bearing the banner of SpaceX, prepared to represent all of humankind to the stars, and abandon the sour Earth of the many for the paradise of the Ubermensch.

All the old right-wing arguments are out – the only one left is the theory of everything. Where were you when Thiel, the right-wing Buddha, manifested before you and told you to start a company? I hope you listened. You don’t want to become like the little people. Build, build, build! Create, create, create! And maybe, at the end of it, your soul will be divined gold from the common lead. At the end of it all, you may be received in heaven as one of the protagonists, not a mere NPC, not another corpse in the heaping pile of nobodies.

After all, it’s not as if the Viral Wisdom Economy Prosperity Gospel is a chain of marketing masterminds preying on your insecurity to make you into their carbon copies. Certainly, that form of memetic collectivism, that flattening and ironing out of the differences in the human species in the image of the all-seeing viral market eye, would be just another form of cuckoldry.

Carl Jung’s Last Thoughts on Christianity

The prevailing archetype in the West for the past century has been “God against God”. The contradictions will not hold, and a new myth is needed. What Jung saw in Christianity was its potential for the concept of God to evolve. In the Book of Job, God is played against Himself. Christianity, following Judaism, proposes a “metamorphosis in the divine”, and also a terminal paradox – the serpent, the source of evil, offers humankind “increased conscious knowledge”. The paradox of Christianity is thus – the object of religious thinking is to become more conscious of the divine, but the principle of increasing consciousness is attributed to the devil.

Linear, serpentine evolutions in our conscious understanding fall under the purview of materialist science. The reduction of human beings to use value, or mechanical function, has been the direction of Western civilization since the birth of modern science. Now, the techno-A.I. accelerationist wave of the digital era seems on the surface to offer a new myth, but it, as an outgrowth of Enlightenment reductionism, is merely the continuation of the degradation of human beings into infinitely interchangeable machines. It is the completion of Rene Descartes’ dualist science, to exorcize spirit, consciousness and privacy itself from matter and uplift matter alone, without subjectivity, as the final truth of existence. This belief is a deep delusion, but it is at the root of all the modern wisdom, from A.I. to the dehumanizing notion that sex robots could replace actual people. The logic of mechanism is quite simple – it extinguishes the inner life and reduces human beings to machines. It is the psychological incarnation of the “false prophet”.

Carl Jung, at 81 years old, in the now quaint and simple year of 1957, published his autobiography, “Memories, Dreams and Reflections”. The final pages of the book, organized under the chapter of “Late Thoughts”, visits the aged Jung at the endpoint of all his theorizing. He writes of the complexico oppositorum, and the need for an evolution in the Christian mythos. For Jung, the “complexico oppositorum” is simply the reality that evil, or the shadow, cannot be dismissed as a mere side-effect of the good. Evil is a fundamental component of existence. This fact alone places chaos and evil inside the order of God’s cosmos – and produces unfathomable madness and uncertainty among the spiritually inclined.

The Gnostic and Luciferian forces, the chaotic and Dionysian element of existence, along with the feminine, was condemned by traditional Christianity. But there is nothing traditional about Jung’s interpretation – he viewed the Christian relationship to evil to be deeply incomplete and contradictory. Satan is “the diametrical and eternal opposite of the divine world. He could not be uprooted”. Jung writes that “The old question posed by the Gnostics, “Whence comes evil?” has been given no answer by the Christian world, and Origen’s cautious suggestion of a possible redemption of the devil was termed a heresy.” Jung is remorseless toward so-called ‘Christian nations’: “Their Christianity slumbers and has neglected to develop its myth further in the course of the centuries…a myth is dead if it no longer lives and grows.”

The Catholic mystic Valentin Tomberg was astute on some of these questions. He held that a final redemption awaited all burning in hell on the final day – Christ’s mercy, at the end of all matter, the final evolution of terrestrial Earth, is absolute. Tomberg writes fondly of both Jung and Origen, and bases a schema of understanding Catholic symbolism in the cards of the Tarot. The implication of the Tarot’s value is that genuine knowledge of the internal symbolic order of human consciousness is not limited to Christianity alone. Rather, the spirit of Christianity is the development of an eternal myth. The pre-Christian Greek logos and Platonic forms are integrated into Christianity. Aristotelian metaphysics is a basis for much Catholic theology. The Rig Vedas and the Upanishads, as well as the notion of the Bodhisattva, are integrated into Christian symbolism. Christianity did not emerge from nothing – it was a synthesis of all ancient mystical systems. It developed out of the Old Testament and Jewish mysticism.

But today, where does that synthesis stand? Christ supposedly redeemed us two-thousand years ago and yet nothing on Earth has actually been redeemed. Tomberg attributes this fact to the Tenth Arcanum of the Tarot, or “secret”, the principle of Fortune. Fortune is the key to understanding the natural world. It operates by chance, genetic and evolutionary chaos, market failure, rewarding evil and demolishing good with amoral causality and splendor. The world is a giant casino of faceless, depersonalized amorality because it is fallen. The wheel of fortune crushes saints and exalts sinners. The fallen world of materiality, and by consequence, the evolutionary and economic markets that organize the conditions of materiality, are by no means pure – they ultimately answer to the serpent. Success on Earth is ultimately success of the serpent. This, symbolically, is why Christ was crushed and crucified. He did not conquer Rome, the Romans buried him. In this world, he was destroyed. Only in the “other world”, the Kingdom of Heaven, does he have power.

And the “other world” still beckons. No matter how explanatory and powerful materialist-reductionist science becomes, it remains a brute fact of existence that the human mind has experiences which are utterly incoherent when we conceive of the mind as simply an evolutionary tool. Synchronicities, or curious alignments of coherence and order out of total chaos, remain a mystery. The emergence of conscious beings who theorize the Good remains a mystery. The emergence of consciousness and biological life is itself a kind of synchronicity. The laws of the material universe which permit these words to be written is a synchronicity. Everywhere, bizarre alignments of us low animals with the highest ideals of cosmic order are real facets of the empirical world. The fact of mathematics attests to a deep harmony between the human mind and the deepest objective superstructures of the world. Yet, thus far, use value is the only thing that rational enterprise has pulled out of the mind. The wisdom of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis is a tautology – we survive in order to survive. We have minds in order to survive. Yet, survival alone is not the aim of the Christian ideal. Self-sacrifice and resurrection are the features of Christ as a symbol, not Darwinian survival. At least, not in any straightforward understanding. Christ fathered no children. From an evolutionary perspective, he failed.

Jung knew that he grew from “Christian soil”, not secular, demystified soil. Christianity has shaped Western culture. It is at the center of the conscious, subjective, logos-inspired individual of the West. Theodor Adorno, a critical theorist and critic of Western Enlightenment, understood that the categorizing impulse of abstracted rationality is the myth of the patriarchal father, God producing the “Word” out of the void, couched in secular terminology. In a purely materialist and secular cosmology, there is no reason to believe in the coherence of the cosmos as it relates to the human pursuit of truth. An additional spark was needed to create the modern individual, the link between subjective consciousness and the coherence of the cosmos, which we have named the “divine”.

So is the myth not still alive? Of course it is. It courses through the agency that writes these words. What will become of it, no one knows. Carl Jung would be the first to declare his ignorance on the topic. His final thoughts consisted in recognizing deep contradictions and paradoxes in the nature of existence, and admitting that he ultimately was a stranger to his own amassed knowledge, dying a confused seeker. I do not have the hubris to suggest my outcome in dabbling in these matters will be any different. But as the hero’s journey, and the circle of Samsara, and the symbol of the Oroborous all indicate the cyclical nature of life, I have no right to complain. The beginning of wisdom is realizing that the end and the beginning are the same location – and yet, the journey is still worth taking.

Slaying Roko’s Basilisk

Our human agency has been hijacked. This is the narrative coming out of both the singularity-adjacent techno horror of accelerationism and the classic revolutionary left – our human agency has been left to the revolving machine of capital, which has become too powerful for us to influence. In this respect, the singularity has already happened. Machines with their own agency already walk among us. They are banks, stocks, interest rates, and the mechanics of a voodoo economy based on debt, consuming the Earth for the higher purpose of transforming all the world into the mirror image of money’s unknown face.

We are immeasurably rich, and yet we are in chronic personal debt. Can’t we do something about it? Well, no. Our agency is tied. The machinery of industrial capital is so autonomous that the systems produced by prosperity guide us down hallways of their own unique intention. Capital does not go where it is needed because the system does not understand ‘need’. It was not built for human beings.

Fantasies of A.I. and an automated society seize and paralyze us. The notion that human agency will die on our lifetimes is a curse no other generation has dealt with. No matter how bad the world got, always, there was a belief that human change and human agency could redirect things. The total triumph of capital over society, of economics over culture, has rendered that into a new article of religious faith. In fact, it is intelligent and trendy to crave the destruction of the human will. The Buddhist obsession with destroying the self has taken root in Silicon Valley, where meditation and the craving for emptiness finds it ultimate manifestation in the death drive of Facebook. Glib neoliberal posts brag about how robots will write bestselling novels by the year 2050. The complete impotence of human beings is celebrated as the final instantiation of progress. The desire to die, finally, is the most powerful force on Earth.

“End times, ready for rapture,” as Agent Harris in the final episode of The Sopranos so presciently declared. Tony Soprano, leaning desperately out of his chair, recounting the genetic depression in his son, demanding to know: “Is this all there is?” Yes, this is all there is – the slow death of the loner in his New York apartment, waiting to be outdated by an antichrist born in a lab in M.I.T. That is the culmination of wisdom in our sorry age. That is the ultimate grace – to be destroyed and replaced by a machine, a cold electric reptile, a thing that thinks like capital. God had to die so that the market could replace Him – now He’s been dead, and the embers of a flailing left admit that capital will not die until it has consumed and commodified everything, as Marx predicted. Now what? What comes next?

Nothing comes next. The singularity already happened. We live amongst eerie machines which hijack our agency with their constant presence and degradation of our minds. Trump lives rent-free in your head because a demon has always lived rent-free in your head. You are who you are. As Tony Soprano, or Ahab, or Donald Trump might say: “People are what they are”. Tautology is the final wisdom. A genetic sequence expressing itself in space-time, simply put, is only what it is. It can be no more. That program ends with a whimper.

This is the world we have inherited. This is its final theme, its abiding call.

This is the fantasy of our age.

Of course, it’s all built on an illusion. There can be no A.I. to surpass human beings because we are more than the sum of our parts. Psyche is not bound by space-time. In fact, time and space may both be symptoms of cosmic Maya. There is something in the root of us which is unknown, and is not evil. That is the ultimate claim of religious faith. In this age, I do not think one can live without such faith.

The grand claims of technological slavery will fall short, because all perfection of pleasure, as Dante Alighieri knew, is also perfection of pain. As Fyodor Dostoevsky knew, the crystal palace of facial surveillance and pre-crime, the arrest and categorization of newborns based on personality or IQ, the completely managed society, will reap the ultimate backlash.

Just when it seems we intend to crystallize into flawless digital antichrists, with brilliant moonlit wings, the death dirge of climate change thunders apparitions of saints past upon our shores, our ancestors who were always skeptical of the power of industry to remake humankind.

The Hopi, who foresaw great disaster from unearthing precious metals from the ground, who saw Mammon’s blood in the cavities twisted open by metal shears, will probably be vindicated.

And that is a great hope.

The great hope is that the monster who has seized our agency is self-terminating.

The rule of capital over every other human consideration must die before the human species dies. Work and trade, of course, will not. But global, single Babel, the Leviathan of international spiritual pacification amongst infinite material excess, must die. We will reap every last fruit from its twisted branches until they go sour, and we will be full of spoiled fruit at the time of loss.

In my lifetime, either capital goes, or the agency which writes these words will be subsumed.

Either I was a contingent meat machine waiting to be replaced, or I was made in the image of God.

There is no third position here.

Is Chaos Feminine?

Human beings are an alchemical mixture of masculine and feminine. Some err on the extreme ends of these polarities, many fall somewhere between. Queer and transgender people have found gender to be an infinite paradox – the deeper you investigate, the deeper it goes.

Is chaos feminine? Is order masculine? It’s difficult to ask the question because Western culture has placed such negative emphasis on the concept of ‘chaos’. Rather than ‘novelty’ or ‘creation’ it instead carries connotations of neuroticism and collapse. The early Church Fathers of Christianity, such as Saint Augustine, believed in the doctrine of the privatio boni, or the teaching that only good has substance, and that evil is the mere lack of good. It is my contention that evil, chaos, darkness and other negative substances have been exorcised by the Western mind out of the Christian disposition – and that exorcism harmed our ability to think clearly about what the nature of the world truly is.

Order, on the other hand, is perceived to be exclusively good – but Dostoevsky never thought so. In Notes From Underground, Dostoevsky likened the perfect scientific civilization to a “crystal palace” that would produce not order and wellbeing but spiritual rebellion. If people could be fully understood by science, Dostoevsky believed, the very fact that our total decoding is possible would lead people to rebel against the systems that sought to determine their future. Choosing between an algorithm that knows us better than our own thoughts, or a reaction against such forms of all-knowing technocracy, Dostoevsky predicted backlash.

Archetypal ideas, of course, are deeply paradoxical because they reflect the psyche as it actually is. We see that order produces chaos (the fine physics behind the formation of the atomic bomb) and chaos produces order (mass extinctions leading to the flourishing of new, more complex species).

To premodern people, especially those who lived outside the structures of traditional Christianity, this paradox was not so controversial. The Hindu deities are both creators and destroyers, monstrous titans and the peaks of meditation rolled into one. Too much order, too much hyper-masculine emphasis on hierarchy and power, and a culture reaps catastrophes like climate change, ocean acidification, mass surveillance and the arrogant human belief in subjugating nature. Too much chaos, and our fragile structures are swept into the maelstrom of a brutal natural world where contingent life never establishes itself in opposition to the all-consuming forces of genetics, survival and time.

The image of the pieta, of Mary Magdalene cradling the dead Christ in her lap, is the pristine archetypal image of the relationship between nature and the individual. The mother gives birth, knowing that the world will destroy her child. The mother stares with knowing eyes ahead – she brought a child into this world, only so they could separate themselves from her, and become a fully-formed personality. This is simultaneously the height of both Greek tragedy and the Christian belief in logos. The individual can become the savior of humankind, but even then, they do not escape the binds of chthonic, violent fate.

In Erich Neumann’s History and Origins of Consciousness, a Jungian tome that inspired the academic writings of both Camille Paglia and Jordan Peterson, myths from around the ancient world are interpreted as the development of the individual, a masculine vector, out of the oppressive femininity of unformed nature. This is, in an oversimplification, why Paglia attributes the invention of civilization to men.

In her book Sexual Personae, Paglia says “If civilization were left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.” It is no coincidence that today the forces of capitalism and industry are viewed as patriarchal tyranny. There is something fundamental about this notion that the world we live in has been shaped by men – and that the fundamental question today is whether to double-down on that reality or seek unendingly to change it. Much of the hatred against Jordan Peterson emerges from precisely that dissonance – he is arguing that our structures of hierarchy work, and if they are run by men, that’s just the result of competence. Feminist critics, on the other hand, perceive the flaws in hierarchies as precisely the result of male domination. There is little ground here for a compromise.

The desire to break free from biological boundaries and capitalism is bound in a new impulse of chaos and novelty – and I do not think it is mistaken. Rather, those who believe in it must contend with the physical reality of the world before they can understand precisely what must be done to change the substrate of the world.

For Neumann and Jung, the individual is a fundamental break from nature, separating oneself from the primacy of the mother and father, the “World Parents”, who are fused in permanent chaos, the birth-death cycle wherein there are no individuals, only a cyclone of genetic matter in infinite self-consumption. The symbol of that cycle is the Oroborous, the snake swallowing its own tail. Discovered in primal markings from ancient India, Egypt, and the Americas , the Oroborous is the primal symbol depicting natural life: the mouth-anus feedback loop of life without differentiation from the world. It is the world that has always existed, before human beings, before even the formation of stars, the reality of our physical materia and the viscera of the world, the reality that even the mightiest hero is nothing but one more notch along the serpent’s tail.

The mystery cults of pre-Christian paganism revolved around the Father above and the Mother of the Earth. This connotation is neither Eurocentric nor new – the Maori creation myth is one of a primordial hero arising from the chaos of the unformed father-mother, the Sky-Earth as one, and parting it through the might of individual development – literally separating the Earth (Papa) from the Sky (Rangi) by the force of one’s desire to exist as a complete, individual entity and not as muck in your parents’ maelstrom.

Neumann describes nature as a “hermaphrodite”. The hero’s journey, then, is the individual handed the chaotic transpersonal archetypes of masculine and feminine nature and forced to sort through them. But why is the sorting cast as a masculine phenomenon? Peterson and Paglia portray the masculine as distinct from actual men, but also ultimately hold the biological differences between men and women to mean that men may occupy most of the positions in competence hierarchies. Paglia attributes the Apollonian development of industrial thought to men. The boundaries between the transpersonal, archetypal “feminine” and actual women are fuzzy. It requires deeper examination. Perhaps this will give way to a new renaissance, or meet a brick wall. I am hoping for the former.

The terms ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ have become too personalized. If the masculine was identical to men, then only men could participate fully in the hero’s journey – suffice to say, that is the reigning misinterpretation of the hero’s journey as a patriarchal phenomenon. Peterson, Paglia, Jung and Neumann might ultimately contend that the masculine property within both men and women participates in the sorting of paradoxes into order that is hero’s journey. But then what truly is the “masculine”? It increasingly has nothing to do with biological maleness. An accelerationist might say it is the tendency of capital, for example, to expand and continually surpass itself in its transformation of the environment in its own image. Is that the masculine vector out of the World Parents?

Neumann wrote that misogynists in particular have refused to differentiate themselves from maternal nature – they dwell in the unsorted unconscious – thus they crudely blame nature, and women, for their own inability to become unique individuals. The misogynist is obsessed with the image of the Great Mother , the cyclical death-birth Oroborous of nihilistic amoral nature, casting it as entirely feminine in nature, and thus equating women with chaos and evil. A misreading of archetypal ideas has the capacity to fall into that misogynistic worldview. A more honest perspective interprets the amoral world to contain both masculine and feminine qualities. Fascism, then, blames chaos entirely on the feminine vector. The Christian symbol of Mary is the redemption out of that paradox – the mother as caretaker is the only way out of interpreting the mother, and nature, as an anti-human hell. The technological society thrives on amoral algorithm – it is more the masculine vector than the chaotic feminine.

The masculine sorting principle of order out of chaos has become an anti-human machine. It is in that state of affairs that the masculine must rediscover itself, out of technical genetic numerology and into an actually livable human landscape. Additionally, if technological innovation renders work irrelevant, then man has made himself, through his own development, irrelevant. This can hardly be the end of the human journey. Surely, there is some error in this process.

Here we reach the problem of our times – the hero of the archetypal cyclical journey might be thought of in modern terms as the enterprising employee. Liberation, historically, has meant entry into the workforce. The striving worker is the incarnation of the healthy individual who has left their parents’ home, the hero who has separated the World Parents. And yet, coinciding with the call for a re-examination of archetypes is the looming threat of automation, a stagnation in wages, the slow death of dignified jobs, the rise of temporary and unpaid labor, a loss of dignity in labor, and a youth that feels more positively about socialism than capitalism.

Jung has written that archetypal ideas do not have fixed, eternal forms – rather, archetypes are defined by how they appear in the psychic life of humanity. Therefore, symbols such as the serpentine Oroborous are given intellectual weight solely because of their near-constant presence in dreams, imagination, art and literature throughout ancient history. The Jungian idea of archetypes is that the constancy of certain images and symbols across cultures reflects a particular dimension of human nature. It is by no means static – in fact, it evolves in accordance with culture and history. Our anxiety regarding the loss of the dignified worker defines our current political era. Self-worth and merit have historically been bound together – but without dignified work, people find themselves thrusted back into the maelstrom of chaos. Perhaps we have been forced here, into chaos, to reconfigure our deepest understandings of ourselves.

In Greek myth, Athena is born of Zeus’ head, the feminine portrayed as cerebral warrior and sister to the world. In Christianity, the concept of logos itself, in Jungian literature, is embodied by the personality of Sophia, a feminine mediator between the numinous of the Gods and the particular nature of human beings. Valentin Tomberg, a Catholic mystic of this recent 20th century, holds that the Holy Trinity contains six parts, including Mother, Daughter and Holy Soul. In gnostic myths, the theme of the feminine Sophia being exiled from the world, and from our traditional religions, bears great psychological meaning.

One could characterize the modern world as a peak of male-driven technological and capitalist progress meeting the necessity for a sacred identity outside of technological amorality. An infusion of chaos, in a time of rigid conformity, is sorely needed. The idea of replacing men with women in positions of power is a psychological manifestation of this craving for novelty, for a new principle through which humankind can orient itself. The task of our age is to enact that principle wisely, and not in the crude and shallow terms of biological determinism.

The modern trouble with gender is the reckoning of the modern person with the true complexity of the human spirit and its inability to fit clearly into either feminine or masculine as definite categories. And this is correct – one cannot be one or the other. One is, and must be, both – and both must be made conscious, either in accordance with the past, or into realms of novelty and chaos necessitated by changes in the individual psyche.

Against the Internet

First off, yes, I am writing this on the internet. But many a thousand anti-capitalists have written books and marketed and sold them to purchase rent space within capitalism, so we’re all a bit stuck here, aren’t we? The spiritually destructive and caustic nature of the internet is no more unprovable or idiotic than assuming that the influence of the internet is intrinsically positive. Both are simply assumptions.

I do believe in a cyclical map of time, not a simple straight vector from primitives into serpentine Luciferian techno-Gods. That is, I think technology will peak off and slow down, it will continue to operate cyclically, and that being critical about particular forms of technology, rather than having an uncritical ‘It’s just evolution, man’ attitude toward it all will increasingly become necessary.

The internet is too massive to compete with, so everyone must settle for a niche. In former decades, there were only those popular enough to be in limited newspaper and television real estate, and one’s local environment. There were limits to how many artists, musicians, writers, engineers, scientists, and such that one would be exposed to. A striving individual could compare themselves to their community, with a few idols to move toward, and set themselves on a goal. Today, that ‘community’ is the entire world, a heaving marketing mass of everyone on Earth with a podcast or a ‘creative’ endeavor. There is so much that there is, ultimately, virtually nothing. There is no context for it at all.

There is no context and no culture. The internet gradually erases both. Everyone, migrating into their respective sectors and corners of the internet, becomes a product of a particular niche. Without an overarching cultural context, all art gradually becomes destroyed – it can only be made for ‘one’s people’, or pander to the last remnants of mass culture, slowly dominated by only a few infinitely repeating franchises. The only universal language is marketing power, except it’s never clear entirely what one is marketing. The nature of memes hijacks ideas and converts them into something ‘other’ instantly. There is no cohesive intellectual work. This is reflected in television and franchises that literally never end. This is a world without endings because it is a world without culture or context. It cannot end by its own nature, it only repeats, infinitely, pandering to a particular in-group or to the lowest common denominator.

Sure, in the era of print and film, there was propaganda, there was horror, there was a tightly-clamped mainstream. But there was still a society. There was still a community. There was a sense of being ‘American’ or holding onto a set of common values. The internet has destroyed this. The chart of overlap between left and right wing votes in Congress has parted ways dramatically since the internet. This is just a coincidence, right? Well, probably not. Consider how much you might like your fellow citizen in the abstract, versus being exposed to samples of thousands of your fellow citizens via YouTube comments, Reddit comments, online fandoms, heated disagreements, etc, etc. It makes you despise your fellow human beings.

On Crossfire or some show like that, one could focus all their resentments on a particular public intellectual or platform. But now it’s not just ‘Republicans’. It’s also trolls, harassers, libertarians, tankies, Marxists, identity politics, white nationalists, Nazis, etc. The internet has barely survived a decade without now being swarmed with calls to censor and control its content. Why? Because people require context. This era, uniquely, has absolutely zero context. Meeting a group of one’s fellow Americans, one is truly isolated – they could believe literally anything. You know it because of the internet. Or maybe they’re all normal, and it’s just you who has been swallowed in the maw of Twitter. Either way, there is no going back. You are not at home with your fellow citizens, because citizenry is no longer a reality that exists.

You can say this is all panic, Luddite-ism, reflexive hatred of technology, whatever you may please. Go right ahead. I suppose you also have no problem with climate change as a simple consequence of the industrial revolution, or the total loss of privacy that has occurred and continues as a result of our hyper-connected online world. I suppose A.I. will be just a boon to the human race as well, with no militant underbelly, or a new fascism potentially in the wings, with no plan nor any set of individuals you’d trust with a plan to deal with it.

The modern liberal has underestimated his or her own hatred and resentments. And on the internet, exposed to the sampling of Yahoo comments in the 2000s, the modern liberal has come to see ‘culture’ and ‘context’ for what they are – bigotry. But you don’t even know what I’m referring to with the word liberal. That’s part of the collapse. Is it John Locke and the social contract? Is it John Kerry? Is it the Democratic Party? Is it a social justice warrior? No one on Earth really knows. So if I say liberal in conversation, your confusion ferments. If I say I am ‘leftist’, what am I saying? Am I a mutualist, an anarchist, a tankie, a Marxist-Leninist, a Maoist, a Third-Worldist, a Wobbly, a Chomskyite, what the hell am I, and am I a reactionary in sheep’s clothing for not being one of the other things? No one knows.

The proliferation of identities, particularly political identities, is a thing to behold. You don’t understand the internet until you’ve met a Xenofeminist Unconditional Accelerationist. If you don’t know what any of those words mean, you aren’t internet-poisoned enough to even feel the truth of this essay. Get out.

What you learn on the internet is that you’re really not special. You have a certain ‘type’. In fact, you are a marketing type, and your likes and dislikes and predilections can be predicted by an algorithm. Punk and counterculture are dead precisely because those sensibilities can be commodified and understood directly as consumer identities. All identities are consumer identities, and their mass explosion on the internet in various communities is a sign of the infinite ways in which a consumer can express themselves. Your unique interests are actually stored in an algorithm, and your next ‘unique’ and ‘quirky’ purchases can be predicted well ahead of time. Think of the person sculpted by YouTube recommendations and Spotify playlists (all of us) and you understand how malleable, how truly replaceable, your tastes and ideas and preferences are.

The lonely kid growing up with a unique dream, isolated by culture, is now the norm. Dan Harmon and the weirdos and the Kevin Smiths of the world are their own hegemonic enterprises of ‘nerd’ culture. And the counter-reaction to them is itself its pandered niche, as is the reaction to that, and so on, and so on. You only get anti-anti-racists and anti-anti-SJWs in a culture past its expiration date. Reflexive condemnation or approval of a particular subgroup is the only mode of thinking left.

And of course, the internet has destroyed my will to create art. When I was growing up, in high school, before the truly impossible fragmentation of culture and society dawned on me, I wrote five separate novels. Since then, I’ve barely even begun to understand what to write because there is no notion of who I am writing for. Further, who will even read in the future, when I myself find reading tiresome and exhausting, a chore? I am glad to finish books and be rid of them. I cannot say the same of endless audio-visual digital media browsing. Don’t stand on a fake high horse – if you enjoy reading a book just as much as being on your phone, then good on you. But you’re part of an increasingly vanishing minority. A child born today will hardly find the novel to be an expression of their age. Consider how differently a work reads in print versus on a screen, and you’ve added another impossible fragmentation. It is impossible to edit any work completely if the way it ‘reads’ changes based on page or screen. I had a friend who said he tried to read Moby Dick on Kindle, and it fell utterly flat. In print, then, it clicked. What are we to make of this utter relativism of the written/printed word?

The postmodernists had it right when they said that language is just a game and none of the meaning is settled. Wittgenstein figured this out early in the 20th century. Everyone figured everything out a while before it became big news, all the way back to the damn Bible and the primitive mystery religions that long preceded the Bible. It’s all old news. I feel like Solomon, at the end of my rope, saying that it’s all old news. And that’s simply because it is. There is nothing new under the sun, yet there is everything new under the sun.

Consider how many billions of hours of YouTube gaming streams have been viewed by this generation. Consider the billions of hours spent in forums and fandoms. Consider the loss of the classical education, and the fragmentation of American society, and the rise of the NEET incel (not in employment, education or training involuntary celibate). Consider the rise of repulsive discourse on sex robots and even necrophilia. Nothing makes me so reactionary as acknowledging that, yes, this is objectively a civilization in decay. How is that even debatable? Your grandparents might have studied Latin and grown up reading Ralph Ellison as their contemporary, and the Greeks as their foundation. If we say that’s ‘just as good as’ Twitch streaming and YouTube and Twitter, we’re embarrassing ourselves.

I read whole books and walk away dumber and more depressed than I was before. Maybe I’m a broken conduit – but I doubt that’s the case. In a former age, I would have been some happy leftist religious scholar. Can you name a happy scholar today? What would you even study? Between the classics, the contemporaries, the internet Blogosphere, the Adderall-addled Tweets of geniuses, there’s just too much to go through. It’s like if I had you read a random page out of a thousand different books and told you to concoct a theory. Everyone will be angry, arrogant, and disagree. Then they’ll get bitter about each other and resent the out-group. Then they’ve boxed themselves into their niche for life.

I do not like this world I am in, and I trust you don’t either. If you’re sniffing the air, you know something is deeply, fundamentally wrong. But there is cause to hope. Here’s some reasons to have a lot of hope for the future:

1. Artificial intelligence, as well as the mapping of the human brain, might stagnate deeply and never come to fruition. Remember December 2017, when half the internet, it felt like, was preaching that the cryptocurrency-singularity was right around the corner? What if time just keeps going by and the ‘singularity’ turns out to be a confusion in its own right?

2. We are probably only in the infant stages of humanity and our technological utopianism and idea of linear progress has yet to be actually tested on a timeframe longer than ‘the printing press to Facebook’ which is only a few hundred years. Nothing.

3. The ideas of linear time and materialist reductionism could be (and probably are) bad programming. Time could be cyclical (we build techno-civilizations that come close to replacing us with machines, but always fail and never actually do) and the brain could be an incomplete picture of consciousness (religious and ‘primitive’ assumptions actually turn out to be true, as the mapping of the mind stagnates and we conclude that we really don’t understand consciousness at all, let alone how to build a more intelligent ‘mind’ than ourselves)

So I’ll write on the internet, because I’m already in the hydra’s maw, and there is no turning back. But I think it’s vital to conceive of ourselves as loci in a constantly changing story, and not dead weight at the end of history. If you believe the latter, life will not get better. It will only continue to compound its dread.

(Afterword, or, a more controversial but probably truthful analysis of the internet)

At the pinnacle of the age of materialism, all humankind united itself together in a new Tower of Babel, an infinite interconnection of infinite squalor and glittering images of endless pleasure and vanishing depth. This nexus was thought to be the end of the world, when in fact, it was only the end of the era that birthed it. Its denizens, like Adam and Eve in the garden, found knowledge to be a poor substitute for grace, and came to resent the serpent (I wrote this post at 3 am after awakening from a dream in which I was laying amongst a slithering hive of serpents outside my childhood home).

Mathematics and God: Why Being Is Still a Mystery

The tree of life, in its evolutionary extension across time and space, can be described on its most fundamental level as an algorithm. This is the ultimate crisis of faith: that the natural world, and thus ourselves, can be described, at the most reductive level, mathematically. What need do we have for God, after all, if evolution is an algorithm? If natural selection could, on a powerful enough computer (the universe), retrace every single mutation of species that has occurred in this pocket of cosmic dust, our blue planet, can’t we dispense with everything that is not numerical?

And yet, many contradictions go unnoticed by science, and the conventional materialistic viewpoint. I’d like to note them:

Human beings aren’t important, we are not special, and yet, we are the only species that has discovered the processes by which we were formed, the evolutionary algorithm. Our capacity to understand mathematics is supposedly a ‘human construct’, numbers are only a ‘human construct’, and yet numbers are the root of the scientific explanation of the universe, and all matter reduces to numbers. We know that our numbers are deeply true, because when we seek to manipulate matter, it works, and bends to our programming. If our numbers were merely subjective guesses, why would we be able to develop sophisticated computer technology purely based on ‘subjective’ numerical standards?

What’s going on here? Are we divine beings because we have possession of the numbers that describe accurately the births and deaths of stars? Why are we the lords of mathematics, uniquely, among the species?

Because we are conscious, of course. To be clear: animals are also conscious. And yet, the consciousness of animals does not fold back upon itself. The consciousness of animals is not reflective. No animal has sought to produce a numerical system, a symbolic system, or a language encoded in material outside its own brain, a language that develops and changes over time, through mediums such as print, radio and digital publishing. No animal has sought to express pattern via instrumental rationality or creative thinking in this unique human way. Animals are the ultimate stoics – they may know the ultimate truth of the universe, but they keep it to themselves. Humans don’t. They reflect on it, struggle with it, and write it down. Fundamentally, that’s all that separates me from an ape. An ape and I both feel pain. But I want to make a story out of it, write it down, and sell it.

There’s a great case to be made that this human rationality is a disease. Martin Heidegger made this case most powerfully among the philosophers, that all the world has been soured, poisoned, and deprived of its intrinsic value by the endless rationalizing, thinking, philosophizing and abstracting. He’s right. Often, I find myself despising this analytic, scientific Western viewpoint. And yet, that resentment is not a complete story.

Carl Sagan said that we are the means through which the universe knows itself. That is true – and that is a unique position. Where is the Large Hadron Collider amongst the termites? There isn’t one. We have one unique gift – to be the masters of mathematics, creativity, the mapping and articulating of being. That is our heritage.

And it is our curse. It means making contact with both the truth and the moral discovery of evil. It means using our knowledge to burn fuel and consume all the Earth with capital, that from Mickey Mouse to Donald Trump, we are marketers, cruel, self-interested, detached, abstracted lords of numbers.

Our sickness is our unique gift. They are one in the same. From this wound pours all beauty, contradiction and pain. There is no avoiding this. There is no pretending that our most accomplished heights are not also our deepest depths.

And now, we stand to reinvent the human being, and push the limits of our depths. Artificial intelligence is an attempt to truly prove that we are Gods – that yes, an algorithm formed us from dust, and we too can create those algorithms. We can create alongside nature, as the anonymous Hermetic thinker Trismegistus has always known, we can be the partners of God, not merely hapless children without the ability to create worlds of our own.

Creating our own worlds is our final trump card against the universe. Creating a story, creating an artificial brain – creation is is our pathway out of silent nature and into the imagination. All the world stands, now, to build itself into the imagination. Half on dirt and half in mind, we are split, crucified, between our potential and what we currently are.

If we create an intelligent being, a machine that self-reflects, perhaps even more powerfully than we do, then we will at once occupy the bizarre religious position of God and angels. We will be akin to Yahweh and his Dominions and Thrones, perhaps cruel, unknowable, unconscious, strange and undecipherable beings who created new life out of that desperate desire to know ourselves, to expand being and to have being reflect upon itself. The next reflection is within our machines, our ‘living numbers’.

Just as the identity of God is unknowable to us, our identity will also be unknown to the machines. But like us, our machines will seek to create, abstract, philosophize, plan, and master the world of numbers, the elusive blueprint of material being.

What strange Gods we are.

The Cross and the Paradox of Power

When we seek the honest perspective, the eyes which see the other as self and the self as other, we can no longer function in this world. Now that we see power for what it is, and how it blinds our conscience, we cannot be content with it. And yet this entire world is made in the image of power. It is power, from the rapist on the street to the thugs who compose our corporate state, which leads us to our ruin. And yet, all organisms need power in order to survive. Power is at once our only hope, and our final reckoning. It is in this paradox that we find the cross, a symbol most absurd and most beautiful, perhaps the one true legacy of our aborted Christian heritage. The cross recognizes the paradox of power, and it seeks to transcend it. How? By surrendering all power, and dying. By being crushed. But in the insanity of the cross, the absurdity of the resurrection, the message of this symbol becomes clear: the dead shall live, and the powerless shall transcend all.

Why do powerful states get away with the same kinds of crimes that small-time dictators are hanged for? Why has not a single banker gone to jail for destroying the US economy? Why are they instead rewarded with taxpayer money, while ordinary Americans must work like animals just to survive? The most fundamental answer to all of these questions is power. Power is the root of hypocrisy and unfairness, the source of all our major problems in the modern world. Why will there be no action on climate change? Because the powerful don’t see it as a priority. Action on climate change, which would potentially save the future of the species, would also cost fossil fuel companies somewhere around ten trillion dollars. The choice that the powerful make it clear – the profits of corporations over the lives of human beings. No amount of idealism can make power behave itself. It is simply absurd to expect elites in any country or any era to create a humane society. All elites claim to be acting in the best interests of their people, and they never are. The rot is fundamental – the rot stems from power, and power burns itself up in the desperate hunt for more power. It is the death drive, symbolized uncannily by climate change. We burn fuel in order to survive, and yet it is the burning of that fuel which will lead to our ultimate extinction.

Power owes no allegiance to the powerful. The moment that somebody else has more power than you and is willing to use it, you will suffer the same fate as a nobody. You will be destroyed, and your only legacy will be a pathetic attempt to control the very forces that led to your demise. That is how power works – we use it, we tap into it to achieve our ends, and it ultimately betrays us. Just as it betrayed the Romans, just as it betrayed the Germans, and just as it will betray us. Adolf Hitler was a man in love with power, a man who sought to achieve his vision through the use of force. And yet in the ultimate irony, he was overpowered. The most power-hungry man in the world died because he did not have enough power. This is because power knows no limits, and no amount of idealistic statesmen can use power to save us.

Or rather, they can. For a time. When Hitler rises in Europe, we can use power to stop him. But in the end, we have stopped only one manifestation of power-hungry madness, and we have become the next. As George Carlin once: “Germany may have lost WWII, but fascism won it”. Defeating Hitler was a foolproof solution to the threat that Nazism posed, but the fundamental problems of power were not touched at all. How could they be? The Allied powers also worshipped power, and in the post-war world, stood on the brink of nuclear war to expand their own spheres of influence. No army or institution may oppose power, because they are fundamentally wedded to power. No matter how much two killers may hate each other, they both have one master: the sword. As long as we are all disciples of the sword, the world will not change. Power will always be the ultimate goal, and the ‘lesser of two evils’ will quickly become the arbiter of a dying world. The game of power must be transcended. But how?

Because we live in a dangerous world, we need weapons and armies. But why is the world dangerous? Because it is filled with weapons and armies. In order to defend ourselves from the powerful, we must attain power. In order to avoid being destroyed, we must destroy. This is the hypocrisy that is forced on us by the very fact of our physical existence. Kill or be killed, an eye for an eye, it is the undeniable order of the natural world. Anyone who disagrees, anyone who rejects power, will be crushed by the people who have embraced it. It is because of this fear that we must play the game – that we must seek power, knowing how empty it is, and knowing that all empires will eventually become dust. This is the way of the world, and who are we to seek to overcome it? Everyone must play the game of power, and accept paradox. The college student, capable of resisting power, must shut up and accept it, because their mountain of debt ensures that they will play by the rules. They need a job that pays, and thus it is wise to focus on their career and unwise to criticize power. As physical organisms who require food and shelter, we are all slaves to power.

Once we see the other as ourselves, we can no longer function in this world, no longer justify any of their suffering. If we ever seek to overcome our ego-driven hypocrisy, then we cannot continue to live in a world where the self must amass power to be used against the other. Paradox upon paradox, contradiction upon contradiction. In such a situation, I suppose it only makes sense that the answer is so truly insane: we must rebel against power itself. The impossible rebellion, the ultimate insanity. And yet this is the molten core of Christianity – the total rejection of power. The utter reversal of the natural order. That is the message of the cross, forgotten by the Christians who refuse to bear it.

Christ was not crucified because his message was well received – his message was hated and reviled because it exposed the darkest depths of our moral failures. He was crucified not because he was loved and worshipped, but because he was a criminal being executed by the state for stirring up social unrest. Christ was a dissident, and his message was one of radical dissent. Of course, in an honest world, his message is not radical at all. The hypocrisy of power is what is truly radical – the notion that we can murder and destroy as many people as we want and be praised for it, all while condemning other people for their moral atrocities. That is the radical doctrine of ego and power, and it is the doctrine that our society has accepted. Why? Because it is easy. It is easy to serve power, and difficult to fight tooth and nail against it.

The message of the cross is that the powerful win and the pacifist gets crucified. And yet it represents a gleeful insanity, because to choose the path of power is to choose hypocrisy. We must choose the path of love instead, and accept that we will be metaphorically crucified for it. It will always be easier to accept power. But we must evolve beyond that, and evolving beyond it requires the gut level understanding that we will suffer and be destroyed for it. That’s why choosing love over power is so insane – it does require faith. Not faith in dogma, but faith that living in dissent ultimately does something to change the world, even if it appears that we’ve just been trampled over and power has won as usual. We must break free from our narrow perspectives and see the other as ourselves if we ever hope to advance morally, otherwise we’ll always be able to justify the suffering of others. We truly must see the suffering of others as our own. There is no self and other. This is an illusion – the way you treat the other is the way you have treated yourself.

The eyes of love and empathy are the eyes that invite the most pain. When one hears of a drone strike murdering five civilians, it is easiest to shrug and move on. What is truly difficult is to gain the perspective of those five people – to see them as yourself, your father, your mother and your two children, all murdered in a single instant. Now it truly becomes unjustifiable, and yet we live in a world where it is considered completely justified. The powerful, from Pontius Pilate to Barack Obama and Donald Trump, know that they are above the law and cannot be tried as the gangsters that they truly are. And this is the world that we have created.

The cross represents the fate of those who challenge power – they will be absolutely obliterated. This is the insane wonder of Christianity, the fury of the messiah, the point where we understand what was meant when Christ said: “I came not to bring peace, but to set the world on fire”. Christ came not to preserve order, but to incite a spiritual rebellion against the way of this world. The symbolism of the resurrection is that the dead shall live. The meek shall inherit the Earth, the first shall be last and the last shall be first. It is a direct upheaval of the natural order, a complete reversal of the will to power. The will of the powerless is the soul of the cross, for in the cross, divinity itself was rendered utterly powerless. The son of God was crushed and crucified by the powers of the age, and in death, a symbol was born. What is the meaning of the resurrection? That those who have been destroyed by power will triumph over all. If this is true, then there is nothing to fear. But we do not know this. Our empirical understanding of power reveals to us the exact opposite. It tells us to give up, go home, and play the game. But we cannot, so the insanity of the cross is all that we have.

Some Christians have tried to take this message seriously. Liberation Theology was one such example, a Latin American movement in the 1950s that sought to turn the Catholic Church into a force for liberating the powerless, primarily the poor. But it was destroyed by the United States, who used the School of the Americas to crush Liberation Theology. Strains of it remain, but the movement effectively ended in 1989 when six Jesuit priests were murdered by death squads in El Salvador. The United States took the role of the Roman state, and crucified those who dared to take the Gospels seriously. Apparently we’re allowed to have ‘faith’ in Jesus Christ, but not enough faith to actually take his teachings seriously.

Attempts at creating communes, or societies like the early Christian communes, crop up from time to time, in limited places, but never catch fire, never influence the world. Perhaps, like Christ himself, they are only blips, destined to occupy one small place in space and time, never ruling over this world.

The burden of the cross is caused only by a radically vulnerable awareness. Awareness of human suffering, and awareness of how that suffering is fundamentally tied to power. The solution presented by the cross is to refuse to play the game of power, and accept that you will be destroyed as a result. The kingdom of Christ is truly not of this world. If you want to do well in this world, then the message of the cross is true insanity. But even still, it is less insane than the alternative. We must see the true face of power before it destroys us, just as it destroys all who fall in love with it. “Put your sword back in its place,” said Jesus in Matthew 26:52. “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” The Romans refused to see it then, and we refuse to see it now. As long as we are served by power, we will justify it. But the moment it is used against us, we break. It is in that hypocrisy that the way of power breaks down, and where all moral people must dissent.