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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2009
A Traditional Depiction of Mithras Slaying the Bull at the End of the Age of Taurus, A Tauroctony
scanned from Bullfinch Age of Fable, or, Beauties of Mythology, Revised by Rev. Loughran Scott, David McKay, Publisher, 1898
“The most famous sculpturings and reliefs of this prototokos show Mithras kneeling upon the recumbent form of a great bull, into whose throat he is driving a sword. The slaying of the bull signifies that the rays of the sun, symbolized by the sword, release at the vernal equinox the vital essences of the earth–the blood of the bull– which, pouring from the wound made by the Sun God, fertilize the seeds of living things. Dogs were held sacred to the cult of Mithras, being symbolic of sincerity and trustworthiness. The Mithraics used the serpent as an emblem of Ahriman, the Spirit of Evil, and water rats were held sacred to him. The bull is esoterically the Constellation of Taurus; the serpent, its opposite in the zodiac, Scorpio; the sun, Mithras, entering into the side of the bull, slays the celestial creature and nourishes the universe with its blood.”-Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings Of All Ages
You can hear the latest discussion between myself and Vyzygoth at Think Or Be Eaten Radio HERE. Direct link to mp3 file HERE.
We get into current events and I go on a long rant about bimetallism. I apologize for any mistakes I may have made (the ones I recall were minor; I said I was an officer in the Navy for five years at the beginning of the discussion; I was enlisted for about six months and commissioned for four years; I said we were briefed by the CO of the Marine Barracks in Beirut before the terrorist bombing; we were briefed by a Marine Intelligence Officer) and sounding a little lethargic and weak in the pipes. I had some kind of a nasty intestinal virus for about a week and a half that first emptied me out and then bound me up for five days. Yesterday was the first day I was feeling half human in almost a week. But it is a good discussion. We cover much.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2009
“O Dreamy, Gloomy, Friendly Trees” – Herbert Trench, 1907
THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 2009
A Door To Huxley
Tonight Keith Hansen (Vyzygoth) and I had a free ranging discussion (Part II) on Aldous Huxley. We covered the Orwell/Huxley dialectic, our early exposures to Orwell and Huxley, where we are in the predictive programming scenarios of the two, Crowley and Huxley, Huxley on drugs and lots more. When the show is posted it will be available here: Think Or Be Eaten Radio . Here is the Link.
Quotes of interest:
Who is the real enemy?
“The people who make wars, the people who reduce their fellows to slavery, the people who kill and torture and tell lies in the name of their sacred causes, the really evil people in a word—these are never the publicans and the sinners. No, they’re the virtuous, respectable men, who have the finest feelings, the best brains, the noblest ideals.” -Aldous Huxley, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan
Huxley was skeptical about the religion of progress and the belief in the inevitable benefits deriving from science.
“Science has ‘explained’ nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the surrounding darkness.” -Aldous Huxley,Views of Holland, 1925
Huxley on Beer:
Yes!… if you stop before it’s too late.
“From the nonverbal world of culturally uncontaminated consciousness we pass to the subverbal world of physiology and biochemistry. A human being is a temperament and a product of cultural conditioning; he is also, and primarily, an extremely complex and delicate biochemical system, whose inwardness, as the system changes from one state of equilibrium to another, is changing consciousness. It is because each one of us is a biochemical system that (according to Housman)
Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Beer achieves its theological triumphs because, in William James’ words, “Drunkenness is the great exciter of the Yes function in man.” And he adds that “It is part of the deeper mystery and tragedy of life that whiffs and gleams of something that we immediately recognize as excellent should be vouchsafed to so many of us only in the fleeting earlier phases of what, in its totality, is so degrading a poisoning.” The tree is known by its fruits, and the fruits of too much reliance upon ethyl alcohol as an exciter of the Yes function are bitter indeed. No less bitter are the fruits of reliance upon such habit-forming sedatives, hallucinogens and mood elevators as opium and its derivatives, as cocaine (once so blithely recommended to his friends and patients by Dr. Freud), as the barbiturates and amphetamine. But in recent years the pharmacologists have extracted or synthesized several compounds that powerfully affect the mind without doing any harm to the body, either at the time of ingestion or, through addiction, later on. Through these new psychedelics, the subject’s normal waking consciousness may be modified in many different ways. It is as though, for each individual, his deeper self decides which kind of experience will be most advantageous.”- Aldous Huxley, Culture and the Individual, originally published in Playboy Magazine, 1963
Huxley felt it was important that some, if not all, people learn to look at the universe as if looking at it anew, for the first time. It is essential to the artist or any seeker to escape the cultural prison which has been our dwelling place since birth. This selective filter through which we process reality has been the primary weapon of human ascendance. Where would we be without language, written and oral? How valuable is the transmission of knowledge necessary to the making of a sword; or a plow? Disputes are controlled by myriad rules surrounding such human activities as courtship, food sharing, and religious practices. Yet the inherently conservative nature of culture can stifle necessary change and stunt the ability to adapt to new conditions. Yes, knowledge may be transmitted through culture but understanding and the wisdom which flows from it may not. Huxley’s proposed solution to free us from the blinding effect of culture involved training youth in what he called a “methodology of non-verbal education.” This would prepare them for the use of drugs and other methods, which “tear a hole” in the curtain of culture and allow them to experience truth directly. The most commonly accepted drugs in our society operate via front brain sedation and lead to addiction. LSD, a drug that requires training to use, in fact has no physically negative effects and does not lead to addiction. Any negative effects are the result of the lack of “non-verbal methodological” skills on the part of the untrained individual.
LSD’s argument is NON-VERBAL. LSD is profoundly Non-ironic. It means what it (non-verbally) says. Huxley’s LSD progression of consciousness goes through these stages: Normal [or perhaps more accurately, cultural consciousness] *!Ingestion of LSD!*~Aesthetic consciousness (Beauty)~Visionary consciousness (Infinity)~Mystical consciousness (Unity).
“It was quite an experience, but it did make one feel extraordinarily clean.” Aldous Huxley to Anita Loos after a fire destroyed his home, library, letters, and manuscripts in 1961.
“It is at this point [when food and natural resources become scarce with the industrialization of the third world-JB] that internationally organized scientists and technicians might contribute greatly to the cause of peace by planning a world-wide campaign, not merely for greater food production, but also (and this is the really important point) for regional self-sufficiency in food production.”-Aldous Huxley, The Scientist’s Role
Here we infer Huxley’s animus for the politically powerful.
[After discussing the desirablility of the advent of efficient solar power-JB] “For the peoples of such tropical countries as India and Africa the new device for directly harnessing solar power should be of enormous and enduring benefit-unless, of course, those at present possessing economic and political power should choose to build mass-producing factories around enormous mirrors, thus perverting the invention to their own centralistic purposes, instead of encouraging its small scale use for the benefit of individuals and village communities. The technicians of solar power will be confronted with a clear-cut choice. They can work either for the completer enslavement of the industrially backward peoples of the tropics, or for their progressive liberation from the twin curses of poverty and servitude to political and economic bosses.”-Aldous Huxley, The Scientist’s Role
“After the Age of Utopias came what we may call the American Age, lasting as long as the Boom. Men like Ford or Mond seemed to many to have solved the social riddle and made capitalism the common good. But it was not native to us; it went with a buoyant, not to say blatant optimism, which is not our negligent or negative optimism. Much more than Victorian righteousness, or even Victorian self-righteousness, that optimism has driven people into pessimism. For the Slump brought even more disillusionment than the War. A new bitterness, and a new bewilderment, ran through all social life, and was reflected in all literature and art. It was contemptuous, not only of the old Capitalism, but of the old Socialism. Brave New World is more of a revolt against Utopia than against Victoria.”-G.K. Chesterton
MONDAY, JUNE 22, 2009
Some Quotes of the Bloomsbury Group
“At its simplest, the Bloomsbury Group was the circle round Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. When the Victorian man of letters Sir Leslie Stephen died in 1904, his daughters, Virginia and Vanessa, being determined to put their constrained middle-class girlhoods behind them, set up house at 46 Gordon Square in the then-shabby district of Bloomsbury with their two brothers, Thoby and Adrian. Thoby brought home his Cambridge friends Leonard Woolf, Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey and Saxon Sydney-Turner, inviting them for social evenings with his sisters, the scene being set of earnest youths sitting around the room sipping cocoa and whisky and discussing intently such matters as the ‘meaning of truth’. Most of these young men had been elected to the Apostles, a secret society of intellectually notable undergraduates from Trinity and King’s Colleges. Through the link with the Apostles the Group widened to include E.M. Forster, Roger Fry, Desmond MacCarthy and John Maynard Keynes who had left Cambridge earlier. The Group also included Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey’s cousin.
Apart from Saxon Sydney-Turner, who remained an obscure Treasury official, all of the Bloomsbury Group made a very significant contribution to British intellectual and artistic life in the first part of the twentieth century. The two giants, famed internationally, are Virginia Woolf, who broke new ground with her ‘stream of consciousness’ writing; and the economist, Maynard Keynes, whose revolutionary economic theories and significant efforts to build new economic orders after the traumas of two world wars remain an abiding legacy.”- Tony Bradshaw, Introduction, “A Bloomsbury Canvas”
Do I have to say this? I do not necessarily endorse or condemn any of these quotes or the activities of these people. But, familiarity with the works and ideas of these undeniably brilliant men and women is essential to understanding the early twentieth century; their influence persists.
“A rose is the visible result of an infinitude of complicated goings on in the bosom of the earth and in the air above, and similarly a work of art is the product of strange activities in the human mind.”- Clive Bell (art critic, husband in a very open marriage of Vanessa Stephen Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf)
“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”-Virginia (Stephen) Woolf (writer, a suicide)
“I read the book of Job last night, I don’t think God comes out well in it.” -Virginia Woolf
“The older one grows, the more one likes indecency.” -Virginia Woolf
“Capitalism did not arise because capitalists stole the land or the workmen’s tools but because it was more efficient than feudalism. It will perish because it is not merely less efficient than socialism, but actually self-destructive.” J.B.S. Haldane (biochemist, geneticist)
“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”- John Maynard Keynes (economist)
“Education is the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent.”- John Maynard Keynes
“I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal.”- John Maynard Keynes
“But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.”- John Maynard Keynes
“The whole of art is an appeal to a reality which is not without us but in our minds”-Desmond MacCarthy (journalist, editor)
”Relations we may be: have them, we may not”- Duncan Grant, artist, to his older cousin Lytton Strachey in the midst of an ultimately unsuccessful effort to rebuff multiple attempts at seduction, later, Grant became a lover of John Maynard Keynes
“Discretion is not the better part of biography.” – Lytton Strachey, historian, (and friend of Thoby Stephen, “the Goth”, brother of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell; Thoby died at 26 of typhoid) Strachey loved Ralph Partridge who married Dora Carrington; Dora loved Lytton Strachey and performed a suicide after Strachey died
“Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well-deceived.”- Lytton Strachey
THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 2009
As one entranced by dint of cannabis,
Whose sense of time is changed past recognition,
Whether he suffer woe or taste of bliss,
He loses both his reason and volition.
He says one word — what countless ages pass !
He walks across the room — a voyage as far
As the astronomer’s who turns his glass
On faintest star-webs past the farthest star
And travels thither in the spirit. So
It seems impossible to me that ever
The sands of our ill luck should run so low
That splendidly success should match endeavour ;
Yet it must be, and very soon must be :
For I believe in you, and you in me.-Rev. C. Verey (Aleister Crowley)
This sonnet is from Crowley’s collection, Clouds Without Water. Crowley wrote to Israel Regardie, his personal secretary in 1930 as follows:
“Please send a copy of “Clouds Without Water” to Aldous Huxley Esq., Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall (with prospectuses etc.) with my compliments-we had a gorgeous 3 days with him in Berlin. Also please set up a figure [astrological chart] for him. Goldalming 4 A.M., July 26 ’94”
In my Think Or Be Eaten Radio discussionwith Vyzygoth on Huxley I stated that I could find no evidence that Huxley and Crowley had met. The above quote is from Richard Kaczynski’s formidable biography of Crowley, Perdurabo, The Life of Aleister Crowley, New Falcon, 2002. AC may have been exaggerating his association with Huxley to polish the apple for Regardie, but this is indeed evidence that they had been in contact. If anyone can provide citations from Huxley’s works mentioning Crowley, I would appreciate the information.
THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2009
|Photograph: Aldous Huxley; Maria Huxley (née Nys); Matthew Huxley; Mimi Gielgud, by Lady Ottoline Morrell (died 1938).|
Aldous Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963)
Aldous Huxley: Good Guy or Bad Guy?
Or just another guy stuck in the middle of it all?
(A collection of notes.)
Discussion with Keith Hansen, the artist formerly, and perhaps currently, known as Vyzygoth at Think Or Be Eaten Radio:
Aldous Huxley was a tall, striking, eloquent Englishman who abandoned his land for Hollywood, like so many others. He similarly and eventually adopted a transcendent view (the perennial philosophy) that naturally and ultimately brings one to abandon his humanity and personality for something more. He was the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley the great autodidact biologist known as “Darwin’s Bulldog”. His granduncle was Matthew Arnold, conservative critic and poet of the Victorian Age whose most famous work was“Dover Beach”.
The Huxleys were upper middle class, scholarly people. Their erudition certainly and obviously gave them access to the British ruling class. T.H. Huxley believed in inductive reasoning. That is, in relying on strictly observable facts. Aldous, as a mystic, would later challenge strict inductive reasoning. T.H. Huxley later was famous as a reformer of education, opposing learning by rote, and favoring aesthetic education for all, domestic economy for girls, and, famously, teaching the Bible, not necessarily because he believed in it, but because (perhaps cynically) he “was seriously perplexed to know by what practical measure the religious feeling, which is the essential basis of conduct, was to be kept up, in the present utterly chaotic state of opinion in these matters, without its use.” He also called it “the most democratic book in the world.” T.H. Huxley popularized the term ‘agnostic’ (defined as subordination of belief to evidence and reason) to describe his theology.
Aldous Huxley said he would have preferred to become a medical researcher if his eyesight hadn’t be so compromised by disease. He admitted he would have been a poor personal physician because his people skills in youth were a bit lacking. So he took to writing, which came easily and became associated for a time with the Bloomsbury Group, comprised of intellectuals such as Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster, Clive Bell and Lytton Strachey. Huxley’s first novels were satirical critiques of British middle class society, which perhaps estranged him from certain members of the Bloomsbury Group. I admit that reading these works long ago inoculated me against Anglophilia, for which I am grateful. He moved permanently to the United States partly for his health and partly because of the stultifying effect of British class structure, and partly for the lure of California and Hollywood, where he found work writing screenplays, especially adaptations of “classic” novels. He loved his freedom and marveled at the strange mixture of freedom and puritanical inhibition he found in the USA. Huxley enjoyed the company of women and it is said that his first wife, bisexual Maria Nys, procured partners for the both of them to spare him the problem of the finding suitable lovers with his poor eyesight and awkward social skills.
Brave New World
“O brave new world, that hath such people in it.” Miranda, The Tempest, Shakespeare
Huxley called it (and Orwell’s 1984) a parable (a fiction to illustrate a moral attitude or a religious principle).
“Oh, she’s a splendid girl. Wonderfully pneumatic.”- AH Brave New World
Grishkin is nice: her Russian eye
Is underlined for emphasis;
Uncorseted, her friendly bust
Gives promise of pneumatic bliss.
– T.S. Eliot, Whispers of Immortality
“At sixty our powers and tastes are what they were at seventeen. Old men in the bad old days used to renounce, retire, take to religion, spend their time reading, thinking. Now – such is progress – the old men work, the old men copulate, the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure.” – Brave New World
“And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue-liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny.”-Brave New World, Chapter 1, pg. 16 -(This is the book in a nutshell.)
Huxley’s science in Brave New World may have been inaccurate in the details, but the effects he envisioned have in many ways come true or are very possible. The genetic manipulation of embryos can and no doubt will happen. The somewhat sketchy environmental methods of altering a fetus (a bit reminiscent of Lysenko) in the book are doubtless ineffective. The mass use of mind altering drugs to make us more ‘productive’ and satisfied with our position is an obvious prophecy fulfilled. Mind control techniques abound. Euthanasia may be on the way. Political correctness, the list of taboo subjects for public discussion is here now. Huxley’s BNW depicts a sexist world. But we must remember that Huxley characterized this world as a dystopia, not a utopia. There is no doubt he would enjoy some aspects of his creation, he was making it pleasurable and desirable to pacify the masses after all, but BNW’s goal of limiting human freedom nullified the pleasing aspects. He would love the frequent sex but he would have also found making a routine of it would eliminate the excitement and lessen the release of tension which is necessary to good sex. At the time of the writing of BNW Huxley was concerned about the negative effects of drugs as a limiter of human freedom. Later (ironically) he would discover and embrace their potential for expanding it.
Brave New World would have been a different book if that dystopia, or kakotopia, had developed physical immortality. The Alphas would then, much more vigorously, defend their prerogative.
When science cures aging and death will it be a good thing? Who will get the cure? And it is a depressing thought to know that the same bastards running the world today will always run the world unless they are killed. The grim reaper is sometimes a welcome guest.
“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.”- Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
More quotes and notes:
“Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as it is for the body. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.”-‘Do What You Will’ (1929) ‘Wordsworth in the Tropics’
“Several excuses are always less convincing than one.” Point Counterpoint
“In a world inhabited by what the theologians call unregenerate, or natural men, church and state can probably never become appreciably better than the best of the states and churches, of which the past has left us record. Society can never be greatly improved until such time as most of its members choose to become theocentric saints.”- Aldous Huxley essay ‘Salt of the Earth’
“To this odd shrine (so characteristic, in its excessive unpretentiousness, of that nook-shotten isle of Albion) I paid my visit of curiosity in company with one of the most extraordinary, one of the most admirable men of our time, Albert Schweitzer. Many years have passed since then; but I remember very clearly the expression of affectionate amusement that appeared on Schweitzer’s face, as he looked at the mummy. “Dear Bentham!” he said at last. “I like him so much better than Hegel. He was responsible for so much less harm.” And of course Schweitzer was perfectly right. The German philosopher was proud of beingtief, but lacked the humility which is the necessary condition of the ultimate profundity. That was why he ended up as the idolater of the Prussian state, as the spiritual father of those Marxian dogmas of history, in terms of which it is possible to justify every atrocity on the part of true believers, and to condemn every good or reasonable act performed by infidels. Bentham, on the contrary, had no pretensions to tiefness. Shallow with the kindly, sensible shallowness of the eighteenth century, he thought of individuals as real people, not as trivial bubbles on the surface of the river of History, not as mere cells in the brawn and bone of a social organism, whose soul is the State. From Hegel’s depths have sprung tyranny, war and persecution; from the shallows of Bentham, a host of unpretentious but real benefits—the repeal of antiquated laws, the introduction of sewage systems, the reform of municipal government, almost everything sensible and humane in the civilisation of the nineteenth century.”-Aldous Huxley, Piranesi’s Prisons