Sunday, February 28, 2010
Conspiracy Theory and Symbolic Self-Immunity
1. Prisoners of Illusion
"The Old Christian way taught that until man faced the fact of his evil nature, he would forever be a prisoner of illusion and of those magicians who would enslave his energies – ostensibly in pursuit of utopia – but actually to the furtherance of the inner executive power ideology of a secret elite." From the Preface to the 1995 edition to Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare by Michael A. Hoffmann II
Michael Hoffmann walks a strange and lonely path. At a glancing angle to what is called revisionist history on one hand and conspiracy theory on the other, he pursues a rugged zigzag of his own, unmasking more sinister illusions. His way is guaranteed not to win many friends in the circles that pass for intellectual culture today. Psycho-spiritual research provides a sharp alternative to official accounts of the age. Or should I say, official acts of forgetfulness? For one of the issues at contention is what kind of history will be written of this era – if, that is, there are people who will live in this world after we have gone, and if so, if they will seek a deeper understanding of life by studying history.
Neither of these is a sure thing. Michael Hoffmann raises the alarm about what is being done to the human mind in modern "advanced" societies – about what people are allowing themselves to become in societies where it is becoming increasingly difficult to gain accountability in business, politics, government, entertainment and the arts.
One has only to read the chapter in John Lukacs’ Historical Consciousness, about "the difficulties of history in democratic ages," to realize that the postwar conditions that Lukacs was writing about have multiplied exponentially since that book was first published in 1968. If the decomposition of democracy into bureaucracy makes the work of the historian more difficult, the decomposition of bureaucracies into "shadow governments" will make it impossible. The historian will become utterly reduced to being a mere chronicler of the Father of Lies. From committee to committee, individuality sinks into the indistinguishable mass, and no one can be held to anything. People in high office say one thing and do another, sell themselves to lobbyists, pit groups against each other, allow the country to be flooded with immigrants, pass laws undermining morality, tradition, families, and religion, and engage in unrelenting manipulation of financial instruments. The getting of money is shameless, votes no longer count for anything, and leaders or would-be leaders who attempt to bring fresh air and accountability to the system mysteriously disappear - often through assassinations. Somehow groups or religious organizations that show resistance are mocked, like the Catholic Church, or annihilated in a rain of hellfire courtesy the Federal Government, like the poor cultists in Waco. Public services continue to decline, and few people even mention the phrase "the public good" – as if for fear of committing treason against the "Free Market."
In the meantime be assured the CEO’s and masters of finance are always doing well, seeming not to notice while the country disappears into the black hole of debt. The leader of the "Free World" flashes the sign of Satan to the cheering crowds and the nation grovels to the tune of the Israeli National Anthem...
And these things keep happening, and they keep happening again and again while the so-called "free press" . . . but I need not linger on the despicable sycophantic and lying press.
As I say – with facts like these, some people may begin to interest themselves in "conspiracy theory." The reptile in man has awakened, and a few people even on this continent are starting to notice the glaringly obvious reptilian presence, along with the sudden disappearance of what used to be called "civilization." But how do a people, a nation, misplace civilization – lose it, throw it aside, forget it, fail to cultivate it?
Speaking of the sheer proliferation of "information" peddled by conspiracy buffs, Hoffmann remarks that "The cultivation of powers of discrimination and discernment are seldom the focus of the information-mongers. Yet if we acknowledge a war against the mind’s capacity for independent thinking, then the acquisition of wisdom and not data is what we ought to recognize as paramount… Indeed, when ‘expansion of the mind’ is substituted for the traditional vocation of cultivation of the mind, we find ourselves not on a ‘superhighway’… but in [a] cul-de-sac…"
It is this "loss of being" with which Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare is concerned. This "loss of being" manifests in many and often apparently contradictory ways. It may mean a fascination with sex, violence, Satanism, etc., or, contrariwise, an obsession to "expose" them. But both "fascination" and "exposure" alike belong to the "videodrome," the "sinister flattery of the occult imperium" that continually plays the tune that modern man is the most advanced, the most intelligent, the most progressive, the most free, on the planet. With all of these things accomplished, why bother with the humble precautionary work of preserving the fences, the limits, the standards and structures, of civilization? Why, we can just watch the latest videodrome horrors on MTV, keep the kids entertained with videogames, and go charging off to the mall in our SUV’s on the endless trails of asphalt so conveniently laid down as far as the eye can see, everywhere.
Nor need we be so concerned with the "quality" of our leaders and elected representatives – for after all, the American system, being "best in the world," can just as easily be run by drones. It's the ultimate "quality control"-- the utter disregard for human quality.
But it is what conspiracy theory indicates about the mind's awakening to symbolism that interests me. For instance, I have long been interested in the symbolism of oil – "black gold." Surely it is no accident that these energy deposits were laid down in the "Saurian Ages." Now, as we approach the end of the hydrocarbon era, and the oil resources are diminishing, human societies both East and West seem to be fostering a kind of "moral saurianism" - the disconnect of action from consequences, of thinking from empathy, of emotion from imagination and actual feeling.
Conspiracy theory takes account of both the literal and the symbolical dimensions of any given event. The inability of the modern mind to pay attention to both of these dimensions enables "mind control" – the hypnotic spell of the ‘spectacular, electronic videodrome’ that continues to crank out its spellbinding horrors. People can be manipulated and made subject to subliminal suggestion to the extent that they are not fully aware of these interpenetrating symbolic currents. Modern man’s uneducated imagination and lack of awareness of the symbolic dimensions leaves him open to this kind of mental manipulation.
Thus conspiracy theory can be seen as epistemological awakening -- an attempt to alert people to history's symbolic dimensions. But it is a dangerous teacher, for it is an unregulated market full of hidden agendas and deceptive practices. That modern man should need such a tool for his awakening is in itself a telling commentary on the inadequacies of modern education. An educated imagination does not need conspiracy theory. But then, an educated imagination is not putty in the hands of symbolic manipulators.
Indeed, as Hoffmann stresses, the ‘uncovering’ of a heinous crime marked with occult signifiers may be as much a part of the covert agenda as the commission of the crime itself. The manipulation and enslavement of the mind arises, Hoffmann believes, out of a prideful, Renaissance-era magic and science, which aims to substitute for natural creation a man-made, machine utopia. Such pride and hubris disdain the natural world and traditional forms of humane civilization and the acceptance of limits for the sake of power, conquest, and glory.
Hoffmann speaks as a true conservative when he defends the Old Church, whose hierarchy and dogma, he says, were out in the open – unlike the Thelemic Counter-Church, where rigidity, hierarchy, and authority are covert. True conservatives used to say such things, but in recent years they seem to have all disappeared. There are no "conservatives" in public any more. If they are in public they are not conservatives, because the "public" we now have is utterly contaminated. Such true conservatives as exist write on the Internet or small-circulation magazines, where they put forward views that are essentially antiwar and progressivist.
In the "public" of the United States today it is impossible to account for, or comprehend the meaning of, the rationale for going to war, the number of people killed in the Middle East, the real size of the public and private debt, the real agenda behind the projected theft of Social Security funds, the number of cars on the roads, the amount of oil consumed, the number of illegal immigrants flooding the country from the South, the number of corporate scandals and theft of funds in government operations, the number of incidents of war profiteering and the amounts involved, the number of people who have lost jobs due to "outsourcing," or the number of threats issued daily from the White House against some other country. The figures simply mushroom into meaningless millions. Sometimes you hear people commenting on the passivity of the American public with respect to its own national self-interest, not to mention self-respect, but the Philadelphia Inquirer’s headlines continue to blaze the news of the latest Eagles’ game as if there were nothing else of importance going on in the world.
Can knowledge of symbolism bring a new understanding of our benighted condition? Is humanity in this phase of history undergoing global occult initiation and if so, what can those who possess genuine knowledge of the occult do to exercise a beneficial influence?
This is why we need to study the symbol-wielding faculty in man.
2. Expressive Dynamic
For the most part we are so accustomed to the way things are in the world that we have stopped looking – or if we look, we do not see. For instance, rarely do we hear anyone express appreciation for the human or animal form. Nature lovers, horse people, and specialists of one species or another will share their delights of botany, horses, or ants, but usually such appreciative communications are reserved for glossy general-interest magazines, the Parade supplement to the Sunday papers, or nature programs suitable for children. The adults, the big important people, the scientists with their massive grants from government, are more prone to be heard declaiming about the faults and defects of some representative of the natural order, which they mean to fix with their genetic interferences, cloning techniques or hybridization technologies.
All of this is big business for advanced intellects, and the people who can be heard complaining about the dangers of such a head-on assault against the natural order, and of the human arrogance and folly it implies, are not considered worthy of the privilege of residing in the modern empire. A humble regard for the limits imposed by Nature has never perhaps characterized humankind, although the damage inflicted by this attitude was, in past times, limited compared with what is looming before us today. It seems to be too much to expect that great minds should acknowledge this potential for the exponential increase of human mischief occasioned by the advance of technical knowledge. Unfortunately, another behavior of which history affords few examples is that of powerful people voluntarily restraining themselves.
But I digress. I wish for a moment to point to the human form and body as a marvel in its own right – no, not in its own right. Most certainly not "in its own right" but as testified to have been created "in the image of God." I am not about to embark on theology but merely to point out that the statement regarding man’s creation "in the image of God" should immediately alert us to the fact that we are dealing with symbolism, that is, a transcendent concept relating to the unity of mankind. The concept of the unity of mankind as expressed in the creation of the human form "in the image of God" does not refer to any real or measurable entity in the world in the sense of empiricism, for in reality there are only particular men and women, in various tribes, races and groupings. The concept "mankind" is actually a gigantic conceptual leap into universality.
"Symbolic mankind" needs to be investigated like any other symbol: that is, to be approached in the spirit of seeing what it yields, what it represents. When what properly should be a symbolic concept (i.e., mankind) is made to fit into the sort of purely external and extrinsic phenomenon such as science typically investigates, the spiritual concept loses its symbolic form and interior dimension.
This "phenomenalization" of concepts is something going on all the time, almost like a process of cultural entropy. These phenomenalized concepts become "idols" -- they have no "within," like the "genes" that scientists furiously investigate as the last frontier of secrets holding the power to determine everything. Despite the many fashionable denials of human integrality or integrity that reign today as the result of fashionable genetic theories, there is no getting around the immediate sense that this integrality of the human form is what it "means," in fact, to be "human." Descartes seized upon the "objective" side of this integrality, despite the interiority of the cogito. And the "object" side of this equation has been the preoccupation of Western philosophy ever since.
The entrance of symbolic awareness through conspiracy theories and the events to which they refer obliges us to become reacquainted with interiority, the "within" of symbolism.To begin with, we might remind ourselves that to see a human being before us is to know that the physical appearance is in some integral fashion related to the vitalizing thought – or, where thinking is absent or poorly developed, at least to the "disposition" or animated leaning – and that both form and disposition comprise, roughly, what we mean by the term "character" or "personality." All of this, of course, is just sheer elementary common sense. But it is astonishing the degree to which such elementary notions have virtually passed out of our culture today. People – especially the ones you see on television – often have the bearing of livid masks. Newscasters, especially for some reason the female ones, seem like bones and nerves pulled along by wires, and the countenance appears almost ape-like, fixated in a permanent grimace. No doubt this flatness of modernized humanity has given rise to a welter of urban folklores of roboticized humans on the one hand, or monsters of perversity on the other. The former is bland, the latter is vile. The area occupied by normal human beings possessing blood, vital organs, viscera, muscles, smells, etc. seems to be shrinking day by day. But this is because our "viscera" no longer "speak" to us. Their symbolic dimensions have collapsed into the literal physicality which characterizes all of our "objects." Thus even our own viscera have become idols.
In the sense that we may contrast a "livid mask" to a face, we may note that the latter is both a physical appearance and a symbol: rather, it is a case of "matter" [flesh] being raised to individualized expressiveness. "Expressiveness" has to do with symbolism, with the uniting of inner tendency with outer form.
Everything we do or fail to do is expressive. If I were to write this piece with no capitals, punctuation, paragraph breaks and with misspellings and poor grammar, when it was apparent that I knew better, my action would be an expression of contempt for the reader by implying that I was beyond such petty considerations as grammar.
Likewise, a landscape is expressive – and one has only to drive through most of the landscapes of modernity in what euphemistically used to be called "the countryside" to behold how modern humanity expresses its contempt for the earth. The vomitoria of suburbanization stretches for miles, with shopping malls and detritus of the automobile age interspersed with housing developments constructed in fake English styles. Only the degraded and impotent subjects of an Empire of Idolatry could throw up such a hideous memorialization of itself. And these subjects are not only "dispossessed" in the political sense, that is, lacking the political power to shape their environments. The building patterns are the result of modernity’s idolization of matter – that is, the incapacity of modern phenomena to speak the language of symbolism, interiority or representation.
But it is not just the face that is symbolic of the human, but the entire form: the upright posture, the two legs and arms, bilaterality, symmetry, the intricacy of the organs, the incredible complexity of the nerves and senses. It is amazing that we spend so little time pondering what is natural and given. For good or for ill, the head rests upon all else. But whether this head is to be symbolic of mind or whether it is to be suffocated within its own "skullcap" – isn't this just the question? Whether we are members of a meaningful cosmos whose being and intelligence somehow transcends our own, and whose limits we disregard at our peril - or whether we just "make it up as we go along" - according to our own whims, appetites, and cruel passions?
Our views of life symbolize something. But a great abdication is occurring. The intellectuals and the scientists are seceding from the notion of the concept, mankind, and forming a new tribalism of intellectual power. The concept "mankind," having become an idol -- because the so-called "agent of change" is conceived to lie in some mystical realm of genetics or ‘evolutionary process’ apart from the ones doing the living, being, and developing – there must be found a class or type of person able to administer it, so to speak.
Idolatry moves the scene of action from the agent, man in history, to an elite of manipulators, while implicitly giving license to those who would tamper with human genetics, not to mention the laws, customs and habits of civilization. For it assumes that the genetic evolution, by having somehow gotten to the point at which many of its mechanics have been figured out, only needs the conscious direction of experts to work out the kinks. This view fosters ignorance and contempt for our distant ancestors by denying the role that will, consciousness and understanding must have played in their own development, while it increases the arrogance of modern science.
Thus, where the past or pre-history is concerned, the elite manipulators recite a creed of crude ignoramuses. As for the future, they are rehearsing for the part of God.
But there are worse implications. The symbolic unity and universality of mankind is an idea that we lose at our peril. This idea has been only able to maintain itself precariously within a human race whose overwhelming tendency is and has always been to tribalize. The emergence of an elite skilled in the art of symbolic manipulation thus represents, perhaps paradoxically, the emergence of a new kind of tribe. Those who understand this belong to a pharisaic cult - conscious or otherwise - which knows how to wield symbolism.
Those who do not grasp the symbolism principle will not be participating in this new phase of human evolution. Symbolism will be "done unto them" - that is, they will be subjected to the incessant visioning of degraded humanity. The people resulting from such propagandistic immersion will be merely literal – rather than fully human – persons. They will literally be ‘lost’ to any real attribution of humanity. The new ‘tribalism’ is thus the production of subhuman beings to serve the machine order of the neo-tribalistic elites.
3. Symbolic Participation
With the rise of the nation-state, the older medieval idea of ‘participation’ gave way to a more narrowly conceived notion involving citizenship. When we hear the word ‘participation’ today, we commonly only think of ‘political participation.’ But it is imperative for us to recover the symbolizing dimensions of the concept of participation. It is not only that political participation in advanced, complex technological and bureaucratic societies has been rendered almost meaningless. It is more pointedly the fact that without a sense for the larger dimensions of participation, people will be unable to oppose the saturnine entropy that threatens the existence of civilized man as well as the natural order.
Modern advanced societies are poised dangerously on the cusp of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The degradation of all forms of energy is relentless – the finitude of the oil resources being only the most obvious example. But everything from climate, food, and fertility to forms of social organization, arts, and concepts of public good, are affected by modern man’s impoverished capacity of participation. And the hour is late. There is no guarantee that an education in participation will arrest, much less reverse, these tendencies. But ultimately participation will be necessary to prevent chaos and inanity – as Owen Barfield puts it, in his book, Saving the Appearances -- "In the long run we shall not be able to save souls without saving the appearances, and it is an error fraught with the most terrible consequences to imagine that we shall."
Conspiracy theories are an indication that the field of symbolic awareness is pressing upon us. The factual claims of conspiracy theories should be investigated with the tools used to investigate any factual claims of the physical world. But to dismiss the claims made by conspiracy theorists because, well, they have been put forward by people who subscribe to conspiracy theories – this plays right into the hands of elite neo-tribalists.
It serves the interests of the neo-tribalists to keep the masses of the people in a state of dull literalism punctuated by symbolic threadless thrills that lead to to labyrinthine deceptions but nowhere to moral clarity and truth. The thesis of Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare is that the subliminal manipulation of the public is being carried out through assassinations of important public figures, crimes and "exposes" of crimes, violent and pornographic movies, media events and video games by means of unidentified persons or groups who are either consciously working for the diabolic aims of Illuminism or unconsciously serving such persons or groups.
These groups shifted into high gear with the assassination of John F. Kennedy – an event "explained" to the American people by the "lone nut" theory of the Warren Commission – a theory successively trotted out for the assassinations of Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, and no doubt others.
The blogger who goes by name of "Xymphora" had the best summary of the "occult program." Commenting on the election of Nov. 2, 2004, he wrote: "The 2004 election is the culmination of forty years of American conspiracy starting with the murder of JFK, with the failure to investigate each conspiracy leading directly to the next one. When Earl Warren decided he had to lie to the American people about who was really responsible for the death of JFK, he set in motion a series of head-in-the-sand bad decisions that continue up to today.The consistent lack of courage in facing its demons has left the United States in a bit of a pickle, as it now faces an almost inconceivably bleak future of theocratic leadership, disastrous economic policies, and a never-ending series of wars." [Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005]
I believe this summation of the situation in contemporary America is powerful in its brevity. There can be nothing to add to it. For the decision of neo-tribalists to discredit investigation into these events speaks for itself. May the ruin of America be on their souls and conscience. For another word for the manipulation of symbolism and events by people in positions of public trust for selfish ends and covert goals is – treason.
[Originally posted on my "Sword in the Mouth" website in 2006. This website is no longer available.]