Jason Reza Jorjani
Prometheus and Atlas
London: Arktos, 2016
“A man is, whatever room he is in.”
Christy Mattling: Tellin’ them innocent kids stories about the dead and their hauntings! That’s the work of the devil. You’ll pay for it. The Devil! That man is the Devil Himself!
Renee Coliveil: Oh shut up, you potentate of righteousness!
One seldom encounters a work that can truly be called not merely intellectually challenging, but staggering; one might even say “titanic” (the significance of which will soon be made clear).
In its scope and ambition, which is very largely achieved, this is the sort of book that elicits the cliché that no review would be adequate. What Prof. Jordani has presented us with is nothing less than a Summa Contra Aetatis, concocted from the tools of modernity itself.
Our esteemed editor here at Counter-Currents recently suggested that with the publication of the Complete Edition (Gesamtausgabe) of Heidegger’s works, “For the price of a couple of shelves of books, you can attend the lectures of one of the greatest philosophers and most talented teachers of the 20th century, namely Martin Heidegger.”
Perhaps as a preparation, if not a substitute, the general reader might use Prometheus and Atlas, as each chapter is a kind of mini-seminar on topics ranging from precognition to pragmatism, from Schelling to Shelley (Mary and Percy), from Kant’s aesthetics to alien abduction. There is indeed a whole year’s worth of seminar material here (hint, college instructors out there looking for next semester’s assigned reading!).
And now might be a good time to point out to the potential reader that despite its origins as a dissertation, Prof. Jordani has an easy prose style that presupposes little more than some general cultural literacy for understanding. If, like me, Heidegger’s prose causes you to break out in mental hives you will still be able to follow the argument (the nature of which we will soon be explicating) of Prometheus and Atlas.
Indeed, one of the most remarkable features of the book is the author’s ability to operate within both the — if not exactly “analytic” (say, Quine or Kripke) or “linguistic” or “ordinary language” (Ryle, or Austin) tradition, at least the Anglo-American—as well as the “continental” traditions of Heidegger, Derrida and Foucault.
However, as a result of that fusion of methods, that facility with many styles of philosophical rhetoric, Prof. Jorjani will immediately draw on both Feyerabend and Heidegger to point out that if we are to expand our horizons with new content, new ideas, new concepts, then however clear we may try to be,
We have to use and abuse language in ways that recognize how wildly “illogical” Nature could be (from the stand point of Reason) . . . My use and abuse of language . . . would amount to a permanent revolution [in which] the archetypal or mythic forces in our unconscious minds at a social level that anticipate phenomena with a view to projection [viz, Prometheus] and frame them in terms of fixed world models [viz, Atlas] [are made conscious] so that we can embrace the uniquely constructive power of these forces, but also creatively re-imagine and redefine our relationship with them.
As for “use and abuse,” a rather self-consciously Nietzschean phrase, one might put it in both a kinder and more Heideggerian mode by calling his procedure “poetic” or indeed, imaginal.
Indeed, Prof. Jorjani starts us off with a poetic evocation of his theme in the form of a mediation on Rockefeller Center that serves as a kind of overture, stating themes the significance of which will only later become evident, rather like the “Sirens” episode of Ulysses. It bears quotation at some length, and I will highlight some of these elements.
There is something curious about the fraternal statutes of Prometheus and Atlas at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Instead of simply bearing a celestial globe on his shoulders, Atlas is supporting several interlocking rings that outline the shape of a hollow sphere. These bear astrological markings which suggest the precession of the equinoxes through the rise and fall of world ages. The very same zodiacal symbols are also impressed upon a ring through which Prometheus is triumphantly emerging. An inscription of the Greek tragedian Aeschylus reminds us that the torch of craftily stolen fire that he holds stands for techne, the essence of Technology: “Prometheus, teaching every art, brought the fire that hath proved for mortals a means to mighty ends.” We find yet another hint to the meaning of this symbolism in a bolder inscription beneath a depiction of Zeus holding a compass over the central doorway of the main building that is immediately behind Prometheus, which reads: “Wisdom and Knowledge Shall be the stability of the Times.”
This is paradoxical . . .
Indeed. The Celtic note first occurs here:
It is no accident that King Atlas, ruling over the Atlantean world empire through Time, stands opposed to the Cathedral of St. Patrick, the Serpent-slayer, and that his head is turned aside in such a way that his gaze spurns the Lord’s altar.
The implication of which is immediately unpacked:
It is amusingly ironic that every year Gotham light up its “Christmas” tree behind Lucifer.
The reference to “Gotham” recalls Batman Returns (Tim Burton, 1992), where “Penguin and Catwoman “concoct a plan to frame [the role of Atlas] Batman as a villain and turn all of Gotham against him. The plan unfolds [Prometheus] on the night of the ceremonial Christmas tree lighting in the city square.”
Our author immediately adds that
One does not have to look too far to see that there is something of the mercurial Joker in this spectacular [spectral!] arrangement.
Lucifer and the Joker will return before we’re finished. For now, let us note that although apparently a book of philosophy, Prometheus and Atlas is actually going to be about spectral possession: the world views or archetypes that possess us or, to take another view, which we embody, on which our much-vaunted “science” is based and, indeed, without which would not be possible.
Since these archetypes — Prometheus, who makes objects already present and predictable through mathematical preconceptions, and Atlas, who creates worlds and marks out horizons –make possible the real life practices that Heidegger insists are the more-real bases of such theoretical endeavors as “science,” these then might be considered rooms that we inhabit, for as Bert Cooper told us, a man is whatever room he is in. And as the American “New Thought” guru Neville tells us, to imagine a room is to be in it.
Talk of houses recalls the zodiacal symbolism of Atlas, and what follow the Introduction are 12 chapters — like the houses of Zodiac — in which Prof. Jorjani explores various aspects of his vision of Prometheus and Atlas, like the 12 central chapters of Ulysses where Bloom wanders in search of his lost son and finds his specter in Stephen Dedalus (techne!).
Like the Neoplatonist Plotinus, Prof. Jorjani does not so much produce iron-clad chains of reasoning as explore various topics, moving around, through, and back to them again as he accustoms the reader to his viewpoints; indeed, how else would one convince someone to change his very intellectual foundations themselves?
Feyerabend’s insight — that while scientific practice may require a professionally enforced restriction of vision (Kuhn’s famous “paradigms”) in the same way that Heidegger’s forms of life require a horizon, scientific progress can only occur if we try, though imagination or intuition, to see beyond those limits (hence Jorjani’s crooked prose) — is amped up by Foucault’s notion of “epistemes” as systems of socially enforced power, and Derrida’s identification of the uncanny as what is left over by such enforced cognitive limitations; and then combined with Heidegger’s insistence that a more real world of social practice — most basically, mathematical projection and world measurement: “Our primary experience of things is not theoretical but practical”– underlies science itself.
That more real world from which science abstracts a set of professionally “acceptable” ideas includes the so-called “paranormal,” which Jornani insists is “supernatural” only in the sense of having been occluded in this way from real Nature. By marking this area “off limits” official science has occluded the world where its own sources arise — the archetypes of Atlas and Prometheus — thus robbing us — like Zeus — of our destined freedom and rendering Technology out of our control; this is the “crisis” of Technology that concerned Heidegger.
Only by accessing this realm can we consciously develop the world culture than alone can encompass the world-conquering Technology of Atlas and Prometheus.
So, Prof. Jorjani proceeds to review of the voluminous evidence for the whole spectrum of psi phenomena, from telepathy to reincarnation, and the arguments — such as they are — against the legitimacy of paranormal studies.
Here’s where I think the main flaw in the book lies, at least in terms of rhetoric. Prof. Jorjani seems to feel compelled to present every fact, every case, every experiment, to be found in his no doubt considerable files. I get it, I think; parapsychology is still a fringe endeavor, and he knows that he has to bulk things up to get his reader to at least suspend disbelief a bit. But after a while, this reader begins to feel he’s being hit over the head with a complete CD set of the Coast to Coast AM archives.
More positively, one might say that however valuable the material to his point, and necessary to have all this material to hand in the context of, say, a doctoral defense — the origin in praxis, as the author might say, of the text — it might be better handled these days by presenting the interested reader with links to the material online. The same can be said of later chapters dealing with Japanese pop culture and the UFO investigations of Jacques Vallée.
In the next two chapters, dealing with Descartes and Kant, Jorjani shows how “both of these defining thinkers of the modern age built their rational systems on a terrified suppression of the spectral,” constructing a “crippled kind of science that, for all its apparent technical power,” left the soul in the hands of dogmatic Abrahamic revelations, and “forestalled the revolutionary promise of witchcraft and Renaissance alchemy — which could have extricated us from Judeo-Christian Medievalism.”
It was fun to be back in school again — this time with Dr. Pinto’s rival, Dr. Deck, and his Early Modern and Late Modern surveys. Unlike Dr. Deck, who operated under the fruitful delusion that they were all trying to sound like Hegel but more or less failing, Dr. Jorjani lets them speak in their own voices, dishonest as they may be (Descartes a Jesuit agent, Kant a craven careerist seeking tenure) and lets Schelling speak in his propria persona as he teased out, from the inadvertent hints Kant left in his third Critique, the nature and necessity of a new science of the soul, which would be a return to the alchemical tradition aborted by Christian mediaevalism while still retaining, suitably tamed, the achievements of Western science.
This new science would be imaginal — there’s that word against — since ideas, for Schelling, are the concrete unity of, and thus transcend, both things and their concepts, and thus are more real than either. And as such it will be spectral, its ideas presenting a spectrum between thing and concept, and thus archetypal, these ideas being overarching types.
Or, shall we say, rooms; and as the Japanese supposedly say, you are whatever room you are in.
By thus once more freely allowing us to be concerned with archetypes, this new, alchemical science will enable us “to more consciously intuit the archetypes or aesthetic ideas” which since Descartes have been “unconsciously determinative of technological science itself,” and thus transform our relations with those archetypes: Prometheus and Atlas.
As a result of our inhabiting these two particular archetypes, “nature is taken account of through a projection that anticipates its future course in a calculative manner.”
Once we have allowed ourselves to re-experience these archetypes, we can, with Heidegger, recognize that “both Nature and its history have [been] objectified” by “a projection that anticipates its future course in a calculative manner” [Prometheus] and “History, including Natural History, is framed as a rigorous schematization of the past as ‘fact’ “ [Atlas], and that this “occludes the ‘worldhood’ of the world.”
There is much else that could be discussed, but I think we have reached a point where the reader might want to offer some response.
In his discussion of paranormal phenomena, Prof. Jorjani is much concerned with the dangers of these phenomena in themselves; indeed, this fear, perhaps more than an ideological interest in Science, is the motive for its occultation by Descartes, Kant, and even Schelling (who feared these “titanic” powers in the hands of men of artistic but perhaps not moral or democratic inclinations.
It’s a basket of deplorables that deserves to be quoted in full:
Telepathy calls into question the privacy of one’s thoughts and the integrity of one’s personal agency. Clairvoyance could empower perfect strangers to see into one’s bedroom or office at any time, and if employed by the enemies of a state, it would shatter the very foundations of national security in relation to state secrecy. Precognition confronts us with the great temptation to stop crimes before they have been committed by essentially arresting people for “thought crimes,” and it also endangers the stability of the stock market. Psychokinesis could be used to commit the most perfectly untraceable crimes, and perhaps psychokinetic ability, once recognized and amplified by belief, poses an even greater danger on account of unconscious and uncontrollable negative intentions. Recognizing that memories of past lives do, in some cases, actually signify the reincarnation of a previous personality, forces us to ask questions concerning private property, family ties, sexual taboos, gender identity, and the prosecution of past offenses that would require redefining our entire legal system.
Let’s confine ourselves for simplicity to experiments with remote viewing. These are very much like the imaginal processes Neville discusses and which give rise to our talk about being whatever room you are in. Discussing one experimenter’s experience, Prof. Jorjani says that one researcher
[D]iscovered that although you “can actually access that person mentally” . . . this process requires the operative to “be feeling the target person’s feelings and actually thinking the target person’s thoughts” until his “way of thinking actually becomes your way of thinking,” so that even after the session is over, “you are left with some remnants of that target person’s emotions, thoughts, aspirations, attitudes and morals.”
“Feeling” intensely enough to “be” or “become” something is indeed the key to what Neville describes modestly as “a simple method of changing the future.”
On some occasions, a total breakdown of communication occurred as a consequence of the remote viewer actually coming to be there at the site, instead of “remotely viewing” in in a detached enough manner [so] as to be able to report his findings.
Neville does speak sometimes as if one could influence or manipulate the future, or individuals, at will and indeed almost accidentally.
By the power of imagination all men, certainly imaginative men, are forever casting forth enchantments, and all men, especially unimaginative men, are continually passing under their power. Can we ever be certain that it was not our mother while darning our socks who began that subtle change in our minds? If I can unintentionally cast an enchantment over persons, there is no reason to doubt that I am able to cast intentionally a far stronger enchantment.
In his more considered works, however, such as Out of This World, he presents a fully developed, four-dimensional grid model of the phenomenal world, reminiscent of the Hindu doctrines synthesized by René Guénon and more recently by Michael Hoffman, who speaks of a “block universe” of total determinism as the essential element of mystical experience. Creation is finished,” as Neville says, and the omniscient viewer can view past, present and future as one continuous stream.
However, faith is the actual substance of that which is hoped for. It is the evidence of the thing you want which you do not see in the outer world. That which you want to do or be has already been created. Therefore, it actually does exist. It is possible to bring into your world anything in creation by your belief that you already have it. Faith that what you want is already a fact is the means by which you activate the invisible state. That state then is later reflected in your outer world. Creation is finished. God can create nothing that is not already existent. Faith or belief that you already are or have that which you desire is the only means by which to experience your desires. No limitation is imposed on that which you can have except your failure to assume possession of the quality or thing desired.
The real “secret” of “magick” or any kind of paranormal power, is that one can only wield it if one has already identified one’s own will with God’s (already accomplished and presumably morally sound) Will (Crowley’s “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” if you prefer), thus obviating any concern for a world of warring magicians. Schelling’s Titans are tamed, or, as Jordani interprets Kant’s doctrine of the Genius, “it is Nature acting through the nature in the subject that produced beautiful art.”
This kind of serene confidence, like the assurance of the Calvinist that he has already been saved, is unavailable to Jorjani, since he argues for the truth, or at least the pragmatic value, of William James’ indeterminate pluralistic universe.
Allow the way, Jorjani even goes James one better, dismissing “absolute” morality along with the omniscient and omnipotent God; later, in his fascinating chapter on how the Japanese ret-conned Buddhism into a pragmatic, titanic worldview that suited both Mediaeval Japan and the post-war confrontation with Promethean Global Technology, he applauds the loss of strict moral preparations as the foundation of Zen practice.
William James versus Neville; another battle of the magicians! Ironic, since James was one of the staunchest supporters of the New Thought movement, or the “Religion of Healthy-Mindedness” as he called it.
Is this a conflict of world views, or can it be adjudicated empirically? In terms of those “endless reports” of James, it would seem that the block universe bids fair to be as common, if not more common, a paranormally revealed truth than any kind of Jamesian indeterminism. What one accepts as data, and how one interprets it, would seem to depend on one’s motives, or one’s prior choice of a worldview, and that’s where we came in.
So while I would suggest that the concern over what we might call person to person psi is somewhat overblown, the fact remains that it is rightly perceived as a grave threat — by and to the Powers that Be. For it removes the role of middleman that both Church and State have arrogated to themselves. Jorjani rightly links the pagan Titans to the Biblical account of “original sin,” and infers correctly that the return of Prometheus, in the post-Christian context, can only be seen as the return of Lucifer.
Similar questions arise with reincarnation. Jorjani seems quite convinced by the research and evidence presented by Ian Stevenson — quoting it extensively in the chapter of psi, as well as later in reference to Zen — as many others have been. I confess that I, like many other others, remain unconvinced, as most of what I see here can be subsumed under what Evola, also a sceptic, called “psychic residues” that survive physical death — so yes, materialism is wrong — but do not amount to any sort of substantial egoic survival. Perhaps the wisest counsel on this subject was given by Marco Pallis: as with everything else in samsara, all here is chaos and confusion, so it would be best to not stick to any dogmatic views.
In any event, Prof. Jorjani admits that Stevenson’s evidence also knocks any notion of the reality of karma into a cocked hat, but is fine with that, and later praises Zen for dropping this idea along with, as we’ve seen, moral prerequisites for practice. No sila, no karma, no problem. And again, this seems a function of his Jamesian universe of, as Feyerabend would say in another context, “anything goes.”
All this talk of karma and sila leads us to later chapters where Prof. Jorjani attempts to deal with the imperialistic history — and apparently, essence — of Western science and technology.
Here is where one can discern what may be the central within the work. One the one hand, Prof. Jorjani expresses concern over the personal, social, and even cosmic dangers possibly unleashed by the widespread acceptance and development of psychic powers; although we’ve suggested these fears may be a tad misplaced. On the other hand, he is most emphatic that the archetypes of Prometheus and Atlas are inherently not merely world-picturing or even world-transforming, but in fact world conquering.
Of course, this is “a new kind of empire” —
One that could potentially conquer the whole world through its oceans, but without subjugating it under a vertically-oriented transcendental order.
Hellenization is occurring through ideas of archetypes that are not merely psychological types of one particular society — namely, those of Prometheus and Atlas.
Jorjani attempts to take some of the sting out of this “new kind of empire” by shifting his focus a bit and exploring the more primordial, pre-rationalist foundations of Greek thought in Heraclitus, finding there — as did Heidegger — common themes shared with Taoism.
The Greeks established the first imperial milieu of immanence, which conquers chiefly by seducing others to become party to its polity and to creatively transform it.
This leads to a very interesting chapter on the Far East (to be Eurocentric for a moment) where Buddhism, imported from Aryan India, interacted in an idiosyncratic way — fruitful for the post-atomic future; Buddhism being shorn, as we’ve seen, of its morality and overdeveloped metaphysics, while Taoism was forced to abandon its Pollyanna-ish notions of a common, benevolent human nature under the impact of Buddhist teachings of no-soul and Emptiness.
As a result, Japan — free of the distorting influence of Cartesian science and Abrahamic religion — was both willing and able to meet the West on its own terms, and even provides useful guidance — “from Godzilla through Akira, and on to Neon Genesis Evangelion” — on how we can develop a post-atomic world culture.
The period of intense intellectual and spiritual encounter between Western and Japanese thought in the first half of the twentieth century culminated in traumatic atomic bombings, which . . . represent an even deeper metaphysical confrontation, and one that, on account of . . . unique character of Zen, effected a Promethean/Atlantic metamorphosis of the Japanese psyche. . . . It was, for these prepared minds, a direct encounter with the essence of techne.
But the general point here is that metaphysically grounded cultures, like China and Japan, need have no fear of loss by amalgamating with the expansive Promethean culture of the West (“the necessarily world-colonizing force of a civilization seeking forbidden godlike knowledge”), and much to gain (and vice versa, of course).
Perhaps this is the paradox any “pragmatic” or “pluralistic” — and Titanic — philosophy reaches. In the Nietzschean clash of incompatible cultures (like the incommensurable paradigms of science) one will prevail, ending all the fun. But if ours wins, it’ll be different: it’s not based on an idiosyncratic revelation, and while it imposes a mandatory horizontal grid, it demands no vertical ideological allegiance; nor is it rootless nihilistic utilitarian rationalism. Instead, it’s only based on the pragmatic skepticism of the cheerful gods themselves, whose archetypes we share. Be glad! Methinks one has heard this before.
You there in the water,
why wail to us?
Hear what Wotan wills for you.
No more gleams
the gold on you maidens:
henceforth bask in bliss
in the gods’ new radiance!
Loki! Another Hermetic trickster!
In his last two chapters, Jorjani tries to settle his accounts with the Abrahamic religions and argues that “many of the ‘miraculous’ occurrences recounted in the scriptures of revealed religions make much more sense if they are read as historical narratives of paranormal phenomena,” especially in comparison with contemporary UFOlogy.
It’s an interesting idea, but the more general Ancient Astronaut theory, it depends on regarding the Old Testament as being in some strong sense historical, which it isn’t. Even if one insists that some kind of historical kernel for the myth to grow around, it, like the historical Jesus, is lost to us and thus as good as nothing; all we have are the myths.
The scientific revolution in Biblical studies has already occurred, and has relegated most of the Bible to sheer myth — questioning the existence of figures like Moses or Solomon or even, in extreme cases, Jesus and Paul — leaving “the Bible as History” behind, to be argued over by fundamentalists and cable TV theorists.
Here again, a comparison with Neville is illuminating, since Neville was rather avant le lettre in his understanding of the Bible as already really being more like the Hermetic, or Titanic/Promethean literature that Jorjani prefers anyway:
In his eyes, all of Scripture was nothing other than a blueprint for man’s development. “The Bible has no reference at all to any person who ever existed, or any event that ever occurred upon earth,” Neville told his audiences. “All the stories of the Bible unfold in the minds of the individual man.” Neville depicted Christ not as a living figure but, rather, as a mythical master psychologist whose miracles and parables demonstrated the power of creative thought.
Prof. Jorjani does raise an important caveat here:
The authors of these books of the Bible were in many cases aware of what is allegorical or symbolic imagery, and so we are distorting the text if we read narratives that are intended to be historical, including those that set forth a precognitive history of a future yet to come, as purely allegorical or symbolic rather than factual.
Indeed, Israel Regardie made the converse point about Neville’s relentlessly allegorical interpretation of the whole Bible:
Occasionally one does feel that Neville is hard-pressed extracting psychological meaning from certain sections of the Bible. That is the difficulty in using, for the thin end of one’s psychological wedge, a book which is so crammed with heterogeneous and diverse stuff that is clearly not psychological.
Still, if the Biblical authors were aware of history as a genre, and intended some sections to be read as history, it hardly proves that they were and are history, any more than the stories of a pathological liar, a victim of brainwashing or false memories, or simply a poor historian; that is a judgement for us to make.
Of course, this seems like I’m taking the side of an established paradigm against a brash new upstart — exactly what Feyerabend would deplore. In fact, this kind of challenge from left field is exactly what any dogma needs.
No, I only mean to suggest that Prof. Jordani should deploy his armament of psi elsewhere; he needs to challenge the main citadel itself, the Principle of Analogy or of Continuity of Experience, that has, since Hume, guided Biblical criticism. Once the field of paranormal phenomena is admitted as evidence, the whole field of Biblical studies could be entirely revolutionized — again.
There is a common thread in all this; as we’ve seen, whether it’s personal psi powers that cut out the need for Church, State or, as Feyerabend would insist, the Church of Science, shaping our own post-mortem existences, or tossing aside Semitic revelations as alien-inspired control mechanisms, Prof. Jorjani’s “project of developing a non-mechanistic science of the future” is also a project of “cultivating a spiritual aristocracy of post-human supermen.”
We must “become god-like beings ourselves”; remember, “a man is whatever room he is in,” and Prof. Jorjani ultimately returns us to where we came in, suitably transformed:
It is neither Moses nor Muhammad, but Prometheus and Atlas who embody the spirit of James’s “alpine eagle” perched on the precipice. . . . Mankind is about to be gifted with a new world — but only if we can bear it, and only if we can steal it. [Italics his]
When Prof. Jorjani mentions that Gojira (what we call Godzilla) is a “fusion” of the Japanese words for gorilla and whale, and that his origin lies in the US underwater nuclear tests that accidentally irradiated a Japanese fishing boat, I expected to see him make the connection to Moby-Dick, but in vain.
Is not Melville’s novel America’s spectral epic? Do not the post-atomic Japanese stubbornly continue their whaling industry?
Is not Ahab our Prometheus with his never healed wound, our Atlas with his obsessive sea charts tracking the great White Whale around the globe, ultimately our Lucifer? And does he not unite a cosmopolitan crew (including Jorjani’s beloved Zoroastrians) behind his Faustian quest? And does the last sight of the Pequod conjure up the fraternal statues with which Prof. Jorjani started his — and our — voyage?
A sky-hawk that tauntingly had followed the main-truck downwards from its natural home among the stars, pecking at the flag, and incommoding Tashtego there; this bird now chanced to intercept its broad fluttering wing between the hammer and the wood; and simultaneously feeling that ethereal thrill, the submerged savage beneath, in his death-gasp, kept his hammer frozen there; and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it. Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.
And yet perhaps it is appropriate that Melville goes unmentioned: it would be immodest. For Prometheus and Atlas is our nonfiction Moby Dick, Titanic in its scope and intention, stuffed with encyclopedic lore, cosmopolitan and yet essentially American, and Prof. Jorjani is our “pagan harpooner” folded in the flag of Ahab. One hopes, of course, that it receives a better reception than its spectral predecessor.
Buy it, and be damned!
1. A supposed “Japanese saying” intoned by Bert Cooper at the revelation of Don Draper’s secret identity in Season One, Episode 12 of Mad Men, “Nixon versus Kennedy.” For more on this meme, see my End of an Era: Mad Men and the Ordeal of Civility (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015). The significance of Bert, his office filled with Japanese décor, intoning this bit of pseudo-oriental wisdom will be made clear in what follows.
2. The Dead Talk Back (Merle Gould, 1957)
3. That’s ‘modernity’ according to Google Translate.
4. Indeed, were I not loath to open up more cans of worms than necessary, I might even compare it, for breath of vision, encompassing science (including parascience), religion and politics, though perhaps with rather more philosophical rigor, to Da Free John’s Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House! Prophetic Wisdom about the Myths and Idols of mass culture and popular religious cultism, the new priesthood of scientific and political materialism, and the secrets of Enlightenment hidden in the body of Man (Middletown, Cal.: Dawn Horse Press, 1980). See the Preface by Ken Wilber, if that would constitute a recommendation for you rather than a red flag.
5. “Graduate School with Heidegger,” here.
6. In fact, his treatment of the French early modern dualists and materialists — Descartes through La Mettrie to Sade — whom I’ve always found all too clear but pointless, is literally enlightening, and almost made me want to join up with les philosophes.
7. Saul Kripke of Harvard, not (?) Sheldon Cooper’s nemesis on The Big Bang Theory.
8. The exemplar here, as we will see, being Feyerabend, who, although an Austrian — and a Luftwaffe ace — operated, along with his mentors Lakatos (Hungarian Jew) and Jewish fellow Austrians Popper and Wittgenstein, out of the London School of Economics (or, in Wittgenstein’s case, Cambridge); for more on my LSE crush, see my “Dachau Blues: Applying History to Science & Science to History,” here. Appropriately enough, Prof. Jorjani plies his trade at a similar institution, the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
9. As a more personal aside, I was reminded of nothing so much as Prof. Pinto, the little goateed Marrano at the University of Windsor who attempted to teach us the secrets of Heidegger; see “‘A General Outline of the Whole’: Lovecraft as Heideggerian Event,” here and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014). Actually, having been converted from the study of mediaeval philosophy by discovering (in Brentano’s show window in 1962) that Sein und Zeit had been translated, his journey into modernity had, by 1975, taken him so far as to offer a course in epistemology whose main text was . . . Paul Feyerabend’s just-published Against Method (London: New Left Books, 1975), which now becomes Prof. Jordani’s companion text to Being and Time. For those unfamiliar with Feyerabend’s book, the Analytical Table of Contents and Concluding Chapter are reproduced here.
10. If “poetic” seems an odd term to describe a dissertation, the reader will soon see why it suggests itself.
11. The reader will perhaps notice that I am moving backwards through the text, for my own not entirely perverse reasons.
12. “No Greek or Roman commoner could have imagined that a descendant of the Celtic barbarians would someday most definitively appropriate the persona of Ulysses.” Touché, and pari passu!
13. Similarly, I pointed out how Halston figured as an “Aryan entrepreneur” who built a headquarters office of glass and light, overlooking St. Patrick’s, saying that thus placed he never needed to go to church. Later, Peter Gatien would simply buy an old Episcopal church in which to house his entheogenic drug and dance driven pagan revival. See “Halston and Gatien: Aryan Entrepreneurs in the Kali Yuga,” reprinted in Green Nazis in Space! (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2016).
14. The author is cognizant of the role of “bad guys” like the Joker in conveying Traditionalist themes under the radar of popular culture; see his “Gotham Guardian: Will the Real Batman Please Stand Up?” here and reprinted in the forthcoming anthology from Counter-Currents: Dark Right: Right-Wing Readings of Batman.
15. And Heidegger agrees. In a remarkable passage, Prof. Jorjani discusses an imaginal exercise conducted by no less than Heidegger himself in his Zollikon Seminars, in which participants are asked to “make present” the Zurich central train station. Heidegger insists that “such ‘making present’ directs them towards the train station itself, not towards a picture or representation of it,” his conclusion being that ‘We are, in a real sense, at the trains station.” (Quoting from Zollikon Seminars: Protocols, Conversations, Letters [Northwestern, 2001], p. 70.
16. Or maybe not: “NASA have now revealed that the constellations are no longer in the same place they were 3,000 years ago and there is in fact a 13th star sign, called Ophiuchus. This new star threatens to completely jumble up the whole order of the zodiac world.” Science announces!
17. Prof. Deck, in his own PhD thesis, says that “Plotinus’s philosophy does not, generally speaking, contain demonstrations in Aristotle’s meaning of the word. Nor do his writings, in most cases, seem to reproduce any genuine avenue of discovery. . . . His presentation, probably also his thought, is “spiral” rather than linear. He does not so much prove his propositions and notions as accustom his hearers and readers to their truth. The result is that it often seems that he is proving conclusions by premises and premises by conclusions — actually he is elaborating an Intuition, building up its specific conceptual apparatus, connecting it with the other parts of his thought, rendering it plausible and acceptable.” Nature as Contemplation in Plotinus by John N. Deck, thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the University of Toronto, 1960; online here. This “spiral” thought is, as I have pointed out many times, elsewhere, at odds with the “circular” thought embodied in such figures as Pythagoras, leading to such distorted views as the Western musical system and the idea of “reincarnation,” a possible inconsistency in Prof. Jorjani’s thought that we will explore later.
18. “Have you been hearing some weird stories recently? About telepathy, the fourth dimension, or ghosts? Oh, it’s true!” Dr. Aldo Farnese, The Dead Talk Back (Merle Gould, 1957). CineDome notes that “Farnese’s lecture . . . almost puts [Criswell’s] to shame. Instead of The Amazing Criswell’s zealous vigilance over a UFO cover up, Farnese delivers a full retread of Victorian era spiritualism, complete with a demonstration of a modern take on the 19th Century safety coffin and a “scientific” radio that can tune into the voices of spirits! Filmed just two years before both Plan 9’s release and The Twilight Zone hitting the air, it’s hard to tell if Krasker’s smug talk is due to an outdated script, too late for its 1930s spiritualist audience, or if it’s brilliantly prescient of the “scientific” paranormal film trend that would begin exactly two decades later with Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) and end with Prince of Darkness (1987).”
19. “These never-ending reports,” as William James says — favorably — in an essay quoted early on. Elsewhere Prof. Jorjani’s instincts are sounder; he cuts off a list of “the most bizarre features of [Heidegger’s] ontology [which] appear to have been lifted right out of the occult aether wherein Schelling developed them” with a laconic “I could go on, but I do not want to tire the reader.”
20. Feyerabend, in an anecdote note quoted here, was asked why, if he believed witchcraft was as solidly founded as physics, he took a plane to a conference rather than using a broom, replied “Because I know how to use a plane.”
21. For more on Kant’s crypto-parapsychology, see Kant on Swedenborg. Dreams of a Spirit-Seer and Other Writings. Edited by Gregory R. Johnson; Translated by Gregory R. Johnson and Glenn A. Magee (Swedenborg Foundation, 2003). Jorjani’s use of Schelling (and Bruno) recalls Ken Wilber’s Sex, Ecology and Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (Boston: Shambhala, 1995), which has a similar range of topics and sweep of narrative; see my review in Alexandria 4 (Grand Rapids: Phanes Press, 1997), and Wilber’s A Brief History of Everything (1996), chap. 17 (pp. 297–308).
22. Feyerabend writes in Against Method: “Greece developed and progressed because it could rely on the services of unwilling slaves. We shall develop and progress with the help of the numerous willing slaves in universities and laboratories who provide us with pills, gas, electricity, atom bombs, frozen dinners and, occasionally, with a few interesting fairy-tales. We shall treat these slaves well, we shall even listen to them, for they have occasionally some interesting stories to tell, but we shall not permit them . . . to teach the fancies of science as if they were the only factual statements in existence. This separation of science and state may be our only chance to overcome the hectic barbarism of our scientific-technical age and to achieve a humanity we are capable of, but have never fully realised.”
23. Islamist Henri Corbin and archetypal psychologists like James Hillman or Thomas Moore (another Windsor philosophy grad!) have discussed what they call the “liminal” rather than “spectral” nature of the imaginal realm.
24. See Feeling is the Secret and my Afterword thereunto. The method described there involves as a first step adopting “the state akin to sleep” which Schelling calls wakeful sleep or a sleeping wakefulness,” which, as Jordani notes, is today called “lucid dreaming.” As I describe there and elsewhere, this is the method of alchemical transformation practiced, somewhat haphazardly, by the Tooth Fairy and Buffalo Bill, and taught by Dr. Hannibal Lecter. As Will Graham, the titular “manhunter” explains to his son, “I tried to build up feelings like the killer had, so l would know why he did it ‘cause that would help me find him. . . . But after my body got OK, l still had his thoughts in my head. . . . Kevin, the ugliest thoughts in the world.” For more on Manhunter, see my “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1“ and “Phil & Will: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2.”).
25. Recall Heidegger’s train station exercise.
26. Prayer, The Art Of Believing, Chapter Three, “Imagination and Faith.”
27. As Jesus says, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.”
28. “The experienced world can be modelled as an ultimately unchanging, 4-dimensional spacetime block. The time axis combines with the 3 dimensions of space to form a 4-dimensional block universe, or crystalline ground of being. Conceiving of the world as a fixed spacetime block leads to the astonishing potential of experiencing ego death, because the logic of ego’s control power is coherently disrupted. If one consistently adopts the mental model of the block universe, the usual sense of exerting the power of initiation/choice disappears, and the logic of personal self-determination effectively cancels itself out.” See his “Timeless Block Universe Determinism” here. Cf. Alan Watts, “Zen and the Problem of Control,” in This Is It and Other Essays (New York: Vintage, 1958).
29. “Imagination Creates Reality,” lecture transcript here.
30. See my “Battle of the Magicians: Baron Evola between the Dancer & the Druid,” here. Remarkably, I just now heard this point made very nicely on a cable TV show about Satanism: “Crowley said ‘Do what thou wilt,’ and people think that means do whatever you want. But what he meant was discover your purpose in life, what you’re here for, and through yourself into accomplishing that.”
31. “We may live victoriously, not because we have any power within ourselves, but because when we give ourselves to God, He gives Himself to us. This is the great key to humble self-confidence.” — Norman Vincent Peale. See “The Secret of Trump’s A Peale,” here.
32. See my “Battle of the Magicians: Baron Evola between the Dancer & the Druid,” here.
33. “The philosopher James is often credited with legitimizing mind-power metaphysics in his classic Varieties of Religious Experience (1902); but in this much shorter work [“Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results (1898)] powerfully argued for a practical spirituality, which could be measured in the conduct and happiness of daily life.” Mitch Horowitz, “Fifteen Positive Thinking Books that Could Change Your Life,” here.
34. See the research collected by Hoffman at his egodeath.com site.
35. Most obviously, the Catholic monopoly on the Eucharist, now largely a placebo anyway. Protestants are no more comfortable with such radically independent figures as Blake; Neville, who received initiation directly from a black Ethiopian rabbi, had no use for churches and rituals. “The central figure of Christianity is the Human Imagination. When you accept this as the first principle of religion, then all governments, rituals, and external worship will have heard the trumpets of Joshua. All of the buildings that are of any structure than that Rock — which is your own wonderful Human Imagination — will fall.” (“God Speaks to Man,” 1-18-1968, online here). Michael Hoffman documents the role of entheogenic substances and the war against them by Church, State and even academia, ranging from the hysterical “War on Drugs” to the evangelical insistence that Jesus and friends never drank anything but grape juice; see his egodeath.com website. For documentation of the role drugs in the rise of Western culture generally, normally ignored or denied by academics, see The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization by D. C. A. Hillman, PhD (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2014). According to a commenter at unz.com, “The cute little secret in television writing currently is micro-dosing LSD. From what I hear, many writers are loving it. Heightens awareness and creativity, and you write like a mo’ fo’. Show runners like it too. Apparently, you can pull multiple all-nighters and be quite productive. I think they’re dosing 30-50 micrograms. Just enough to get you going, not enough to be seeing trails.”
36. For the general background, see Evola, The Hermetic Tradition (Inner Traditions, 1995) esp. the Introduction to Part One, “The Tree, the Serpent and the Titans,” and my discussion of Lucifer in the title essay of Green Nazis in Space!
37. See “The Problem of Immortality,” “Various Commentaries” and “The Doctrine of the ‘Immortal Body” reprinted in Introduction to Magic: Practical Techniques for the Magus (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2001).
38. See his letter on reincarnation published in the 1967 Winter edition (Vol. 1, No. 1) of the journal Studies in Comparative Religion, online here.
39. “Techno-scientific development is a world colonizing-force.”
40. Both in his initial discussion of these powers in Chapter Two, as well as in his consideration of the various myths of Atlantis.
41. The idea that cosmopolitanism and colonialism are opposed he finds to be “bizarre and ahistorical.”
42. Even here, he can’t help but find that “these core insights into the ungraspable are more clearly apprehended by Pre-Socratic Greek sages such as Heraclitus than by their Asian counterparts.” In this he recalls to my mind Michael Hoffman’s confession of finding Oriental sources on entheogens largely useless, since they seem incapable of conceptual thought, expressing everything in terms of dragons and blossoms and other frivolities. (Personal communication).
43. A common motif of films in the mid-Cold War era is the seduction of the Soviet or Chinese, masses or nomenklatura, by Western gee-gaws. In Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick, 1964), Ambassador de Sadesky (a rather Jorjanian touch, that) bemoans the fact that “We could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. At the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we had been spending on defense in a single year.” In The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer, 1962) Dr. Yen Lo teases his Soviet host in New York: “Profit? Fiscal year? Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Beware, my dear Zilkov, fires of capitalism are highly infectious. Soon you’ll be lending money out at interest. [Chuckles].” He then says he must race off to Macy’s, for Madame Lo has given him “a most appalling shopping list.”
44. As we’ll see, a particular bete noire of Prof. Jorjani.
45. And Heidegger, who found many of his most enthusiastic and culturally influential students in Japan.
46. “The spectral significance of the promethium sky over Japan” is “the thunderbolt of Zeus stolen by Prometheus.”
47. Or, in less anodyne language, “The atomic bombings drove this understanding deeper than the intellect and blew apart the façade of traditional Japanese culture.” To which I imagine the book’s future Japanese readers (I hope Arktos is working on that translation) will respond with a hearty “Dōmo arigatō, Prof. Jornani!”
48. This would appear to be the “second stage of empire,” as delineated by Edward Luttwak in The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century CE to the Third: “During the first century A.D., Roman ideas evolved toward a much broader and altogether more benevolent conception of empire… men born in lands far from Rome could call themselves Roman and have their claim fully allowed, and the frontiers were efficiently defended to defend the growing prosperity of all, and not merely the privileged.”
49. Richard Wagner, Das Rheingold, Scene Four, fin.
50. “Certain attributes of Pormetheus are even perversely reflected in the persona of Hermes, as if in a distorting funhouse mirror.”
51. See “Tales of the Christos Mythos,” my review of Kenneth Humphreys’ Jesus Never Existed: An Introduction to the Ultimate Heresy, here.
52. Mitch Horowitz, “The Substance of Things Hoped For: Searching for Neville Goddard,” online here; quoting from Your Faith is Your Fortune (1946)
53. From his The Romance of Metaphysics (1946), reprinted as the Introduction to Mitch Horowtiz, ed., The Power of Imagination: The Neville Goddard Treasury (Penguin/Tarcher, 2015). Horwitz agrees: “While Neville could quote from Scripture with photographic ease, one is left with the impression that he sometimes strained to fit all of it within a psychological formula.”
54. Again, The Manchurian Candidate. “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”
55. “Ezekiel’s vision at the Chebar River is cited by flying saucer buffs as proof that space people have been visiting earth since biblical times. If one reads Ezekiel’s entire account, however, it is clear that the only space person visiting the Chebar is Mr. E. himself. His ‘wheel within a wheel’ is less a scientific observation than it is a whoozy hallucination.” Ken A. Smith, B.A., Ken’s Guide to the Bible (New York: Blast Books, 1995), pp.66-67.
56. If this story — walking on water, virgin birth, etc. — were told today, would we consider it possible true, or undoubtedly fictional or delusional?
57. Identified by the Church of the Sub-Genius (a Jorjanian notion?) as “the orbital space god JHVH-1.”
58. If not necessarily a “race of atomic supermen, who will conquer the world!” a la Dr. Wornoff of Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster, aka Bride of the Atom, a suitable sobriquet for modern Japan.
59. “Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and make him the own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, wild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.”
60. “From Hell’s heart I stab at thee!”
61. This even brings us round to the paranormal, since Starbuck is the parental nickname of Agent Scully, the skeptical investigator of the X-Files.
62. As Prometheus brings down fire from Heaven, Satan in his titanic fall drops the emerald stone from his crown, or forehead, which lapis exillis becomes variously the Grail, the alchemical Philosopher’s Stone, or the Green Lantern’s ring.
Mishima: The Last Debate
When Mickey Met Johann:
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
The Moonflower Vine:
The Great Missouri Novel
A Review of Shanna Swan’s Count Down
Black Like Me
Let’s Have a Sequel Already! Marty Phillips’ Let Them Look West
The Passing Over of The Overcomer
Wendy Anderson’s Rebirthing a Nation