I just today got a gift certificate from the Amazon Associates program. I get these as a result of you (you know who you are, presumably) ordering books and other sundries from the various pages where I post about various things. The secret code embedded in the URLs gives me kickback credits to buy more books with which to entertain your ass. Despite my incorrigible Bad Attitude®, I want you to know that I seriously appreciate these gifts.
If you'd like to kick me a little juice, but I don't explicitly list the item(s) of your desire, you can always insert my magic code in a URL of this form...
Just stick in the 10-digit Amazon code where it says REPLACEME. The red part is my secret code. For instance, let's say you suddenly need an 8 caret Graduated Diamond Tennis Necklace in 14K White Gold -- a steal at $4,715.00 -- clicking on this (and don't forget to actually buy the thing; after all, you deserve it)...
...would keep me in weird books for quite a little while. And if you'd like to take the more direct route to Quality Gifting, there's always my Mystic B Books Wish List....
Not to mention, praeteritio aside, my now-famous FOOD Wish List...
The latter has been keeping me fat and happy this past month. A special shout out to all who've contributed to the EGR HQ larder. Many thanks.
But back to that gift certificate I got in email this morning. Just in the nick of time, it enabled me to pay off three books I couldn't afford in the first place.
American Transcendentalism: A History - I remember salivating over this one when it came out last year, but I was too broke at the time to even consider it. Next week it releases in paperback, and -- once again, through your largesse -- I'm pretty sure I'll be the first on my block to have a copy!
And now -- so you won't go entirely contentless -- to continue with our regularly scheduled program. Let's look at a four-fingered handful of...
western esoteric master baiters
The Western Esoteric Masters Series is published by North Atlantic Books. As you will see if you go to that page, the series includes many more titles than are represented in the mini rogues gallery below. That's because (somewhat to my surprise in stopping to think about it) there actually are boundaries to the material under consideration here at Mystic Bourgeoisie -- and Swedenborg marks the furthest historical limit of this treatment of bad ideas and worse delusions. The earlier jokers are, as they say, "beyond the scope of the present study."
The descriptions below are lifted verbatim from the corresponding North Atlantic Books pages. The book cover graphics are linked to Amazon.
Best known for his focus on the intuitive force within, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) also anticipated major modern discoveries in mineralogy, psychology, and anatomy. In this succinct and readable collection, Stanley expertly brings the most significant writings from Swedenborg's oeuvre together, showing readers a man who created a hieroglyphic language, reimagined the Genesis story, influenced Blake, Balzac, Strindberg, and Yeats, and authored a number of anonymous works that put the Swedish clergy of his day on high alert.
At the age of 17, rejecting nineteenth-century materialism, Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) left her native Russia and traveled through India, Tibet, Egypt, Europe, and the Americas seeking out the sources of ancient wisdom as a key to spiritual truth. In 1875 in New York, she co-founded the Theosophical Society for the study of occult traditions. Many popular ideas of rediscovered ancient wisdom, including reincarnation and karma, trace their origin to Helena Blavatsky and Theosophy.
George Robert Stowe Mead (1863-1933) was a major translator, editor, and commentator on Gnostic and hermetic literature and thus a pivotal figure linking the late 19th-century esoteric revival to 20th-century art, literature, and psychology. As a young convert to the new movement of theosophy, he served as private secretary to its co-founder, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and after founding the European section of the Theosophical Society edited its London journal, Lucifer, for many years. Mead's initial interest in theosophy and Hinduism soon blossomed into a lifelong and wide-ranging engagement with the texts of Gnosticism, neo-Platonism, and hermeticism. His editions and commentaries on previously inaccessible sources became standard works before the First World War and an important source of inspiration to such figures as Jung, Ezra Pound, Yeats, and Robert Duncan.
A pivotal figure of modern esotericism, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a clairvoyant and supersensitive with a scientific and philosophical education. He believed that man can gain objective knowledge of higher worlds and apply these insights to all fields of human activity. Anthroposophy, the path of wisdom and knowledge he initiated, plots man’s struggle to attain full spiritual development through the practical application of the forces brought by Christ. Steiner saw the spirit as the creative element in evolution, and his work is increasingly accepted as a practical vitalizing force for today’s world.
If the final sentence above doesn't alarm you, you haven't been paying sufficient attention. For your penance, say six Hail Marys and six Our Fathers, commune with your Inner Light for five hours, sign up for A Course in Miracles at your local Unity Church (or New Thought church of your choice), watch seven episodes of Oprah co-teaching with Eckhart Tolle, register your kid in a Walden School -- then go back to the first post here and read through the entire Mystic B archives! If that last bit doesn't work, swear an oath of lifelong celibacy and stay out of the gene pool.
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
And in case you mistook that for a YouTube joke, LOL, here's something you can actually buy from National Vanguard! The page notes that the author is "one of Adolf Hitler's most devoted admirers." Don't click on the graphic if you'd rather not have your kids find neo-Nazi websites in your browser history.
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Thursday, August 14, 2008
"...while my guitar gently weeps..." george harrison ~ beatles
The process is one of fits and starts, of rooting almost aimlessly about in out-of-print texts and just-released glosses, in dusty old libraries and shiny new search engines. Every once in a while, something stops you. Wait... was that an echo?
Apparently, Tupak Okra terms it (click for details)...
But screw Chop-Chop and his Avaricious Ayurvedic Avoidance Syndrome. I think of it more as an obsessive attunement to the ubiquitous duplicity of the Mystic Bourgeoisie. Call it the LyingMotherfuckalia Perennis. Call it whatever you will, I stumbled onto yet another instance today.
Exhibit A is from Mircea Eliade's Autobiography, Volume 2: 1937-1960, Exile's Odyssey, p. 152. The book is copyright 1988, and nota bene: dates are important here. The meeting with Julius Evola being described here took place in 1950 or 1951; it's a bit unclear from the text. However, Eliade wrote this much later, between 1984 and 1986, the year he died.
I had read books by Evola as early as my student days, but I had met him for the first and only other time in the spring of 1937 at a luncheon given by Nae Ionescu. I admired his intelligence and, even more, the density and clarity of his prose. Like René Guénon, Evola presumed a "primordial tradition," in the existence of which I could not believe; I was suspicious of its artificial, ahistorical character.
Exhibit B is from The International Eliade, p. 102. This one was published in 2007, but the passage below concerns an unfinished novel Eliade was working on in 1940-41. The character "Tuliu" is suggestive of Julius Evola, says Liviu Bordas, the author of this chapter of the book, which is titled "The Secret of Dr. Eliade."
The key to the autobiographical reading of the character is given by a notation Eliade made, for 27 July 1941, in the journal of the novel:
I absolutely must return to Tuliu in a special chapter in which I explain his philosophy, lest the reader believe that he is a case of a simple scatter-brained "occultist." Actually, his theories are not completely foreign to mine. Tuliu will say, for various reasons about which there is not room to dwell here, things I have never had the courage to confess publicly. Only occasionally have I admitted to a few friends my "traditionalist" beliefs (to use René Guénon's term).
When I read that this morning, the echo was to the clip in Exhibit A, which I'd saved off as a screen-shot JPG just last week. I think Eliade's cowardice and intellectual dishonesty require no further comment from me.
In a less blunt way, such [terrorist] tendencies were even evident in the early work of the Romanian scholar of religion, Mircea Eliade, who was influenced by both Evola and Guénon in the 1920's and 30's. He later developed what Mr. Sedgwick calls a ''soft traditionalism,'' devoting his career to studying archaic religions and their views, an interest that influenced the course of academic religious studies in the United States. But in his earlier traditionalist days, when he hailed ''a nationalist Romania, frenzied and chauvinistic,'' Eliade was lured by the attractions of Romanian Fascism and the Iron Guards [sic], a past that came to light only after his death in 1986, leaving an indelible blot on his reputation.
Here's a link for more on the Iron Guard and the Legion of the Archangel Michael.
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Thursday, August 14, 2008
On 28 April this year, I received the following email letter from Daniel Pinchbeck. I have added some links to assist readers in parsing the deep semantics. Apologies for the multiply nested block quotes, but it couldn't be helped; stay sharp as to who's saying what. As to the "short comment" referred to in his first sentence, I'm retrospectively guessing Pinchbeck meant my 12 June 2006 post titled A Little Levity.
A friend sent me a link to your short comment on my work. I had an opportunity to check out your blog, which is great. I have launched a web magazine, Reality Sandwich, and would love to have you as a contributor. We reassign rights back to authors and sometimes take material that has appeared in other places, such as blogs. I think you could contribute some great stuff to our site and find an enthusiastic readership. The work we run tends to be more fully developed as an essay or article than the typical hyperlinked blog post.
Please check it out and let me know what you think - would be interested to hear more of what you think of my books (especially "2012") if you get the chance to read them.
I was fairly mind-blown to get such a missive, for reasons that should be obvious if you've read much of Mystic Bourgeoisie. But never a fan of brevity (as you, the Valued Readers, can well attest), I replied at some length -- all of which is replicated here verbatim, right after this picture of my correspondent...
I am known in many quarters online as RageBoy, a title given me by Esther Dyson a dozen years ago, and that I once happily embraced. It's like an albatross these days. I can't get rid of it, so I accept my fate with a wry shake of the head. My readers have come to expect a certain slash-and-burn style of rhetoric from me. Of course, that's no excuse, as it was I who made them come to expect it. At any rate, I'm sure your ears are not tiny, as I so uncharitably hinted there.
Note: I can't resist interrupting to interpolate a big LOL!
More substantively, thank you for your invitation to contribute to Reality Sandwich. The site looks great, very high production values, etc. However, are you sure you want me mucking up the place? Mystic Bourgeoisie is pretty much diametrically opposed to many of the ideas and beliefs RS -- and much of your work -- seem to represent. While I am no fan of the Dawkins/Dennett axis, I am more vehemently opposed to the occult, the archetypal, the shamanic, in short, the spiritual bling that has come to be such an "outward and visible sign" of some sort of zeitgeisty-goodness salvation.
(btw, re 2012: I knew Jose Arguelles in his pre-Harmonic Convergence days. He was crazy as a shithouse rat even then. I am now amused to see he has become a Mayan Time Lord [note: see e.g. here]. Too much Dr. Who, if you ask me. But that's another thread.)
Can someone pursue Enlightenment ideals while simultaneously exploring occult conspiracies? If we avoid becoming obsessive or dismissive, it seems possible to hold contrasting myths or models of reality in our minds at the same time. We can study the Mayan Calendar, extraterrestrials and Gnostic cosmology while fighting for social and environmental justice, campaigning for political reform and so on. Whether or not our corrupt system can be changed, we could learn a great deal by joining any valiant effort made in that direction.
Surely, you and I both are too infected by postmodern memery [sic] to buy into any unalloyed membership in the Enlightenment Project. I once encapsulated all of 20th century philosophy thus:
You and what army?
Well, perhaps that's beside the point, but I think you'd have to agree there just aren't that many people who believe in the ideals of the Enlightenment. I mean, if you don't count the neocons, who believe that stuff bigtime! But let's do take them seriously, as the nightmares they have wrought and are still wreaking (in the Iraq and such as) outweigh the most fevered dreams of an, oh say, Aleister Crowley. As to the efficacy of what you suggest above, just imagine how much cred a political reform effort would be able to garner after the first mention of Annunaki invaders! Nuff said.
Reason, by itself, may not be enough to get us out of our planetary plight. If spiritual forces operate within our world, then meaningful social change requires, along with political reform, initiatory processes and shamanic practices that could, perhaps, open our minds to new myths of reality.
Granted, I am reacting to but a single word of the above: initiatory. It is impossible for me to hear that trope w/o thinking of Traditionalism. For what I think of that lot, allow me to quote from my post...
The disaster of modernity was that it reduced all introspective and interpretive knowledge to exterior and empirical flatland: it attempted to erase the richness of interpretation from the script of the world.
Since this occurs in the chapter titled "Postmodernism: To Deconstruct the World," we can assume Wilber is talking about modernism, not some vague "modernity." But by whatever name, with the "empirical flatland" remark he seems to confuse it with positivism -- which would have come as a great surprise to, oh say, Ezra Pound or T.S. Elliot. I'm going to guess he came by this definition of disaster by way of Rene Guenon's Traditionalist sonata for violin and three hankies,The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times -- or something in that general area of dyspeptic Perennialist nostalgia.
Bouncing off that, I will end this with a quote -- I just yesterday re-read this -- from Umberto Eco's 1995 piece on UR-FASCISM in The New York Review of Books [PDF].
The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition. Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism.... One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements. The most influential theoretical source of the theories of the new Italian right, Julius Evola, merged the Holy Grail with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, alchemy with the Holy Roman and Germanic Empire.
I think Evola is a good example of what happens when otherwise smart people mix "the occult" and politics. But this could turn into a much longer discussion.
Perhaps instead of writing something for RS (not out of the question if I haven't sufficiently warned you off here), you and I could publicly debate these sundry matters. In no case, however, would I promise to be either Enlightened or Rational.
btw, for more background on the man, you might try Vanessa Grigoriadis's 7 September 2006 Rolling Stone article, Daniel Pinchbeck and the New Psychedelic Elite. The sub-slug reads: "How a cynical son of beatnik parents combined drugs, the devil and the apocalypse into a modern movement." I understand Pinchbeck was not amused by that piece. Either.
IMPORTANT AFTERWORD AND (FOR ME) TOTAL BUMMER:
It appears that Reality Sandwich has published an article by Gary Lachman titled An American Fascism? It's from his forthcoming book, Politics and the Occult: The Left, the Right, and the Radically Unseen. Not only does this article fill the bill for my above-proposed "much longer discussion" of "what happens when otherwise smart people mix 'the occult' and politics," but, more devastating for me, appears to scoop the book Mystic Bourgeoisie, once upon a time, was to become. Gary Lachman, btw, was the bassist for Blondie (Call Me!). But forget Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton; Lachman knows his stuff and has written a handful of very decent books on tightly related themes. So now I guess I have the perfect excuse to give the fuck up on this godforsaken project. (Though I probably won't.)
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
the unlikely story of how America slipped the surly bonds of earth & came to
believe in signs & portents that would make the middle ages blush
this site is a labor of love. i.e., if you love me enough,
I'll be able to complete it. send proof of love via button above. please. if you can. this is my sole means
of support at the moment, which is more than a little spooky. so thank you.
Marianne is perhaps most widely known for the following quote from her book A Return To Love, often misattributed to Nelson Mandela:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
My question is why anyone would imagine that Nelson Mandela had ever been concerned about being gorgeous? Because (as most of you will immediately grasp), while no one would ever mistake Nelson Mandela for a Total Babe, very few (including you gals, which is at least half the point) would fail to so identify Marianne Williamson. In fact, she bears a strong resemblance to a brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous woman I once thought I knew.
But let's dig a little deeper, shall we? That page is on a site called Shift in Action, which seems to be a project of The Institute of Noetic Sciences. Here's how the latter describes itself...
The Institute of Noetic Sciences is a nonprofit membership organization located in Northern California that conducts and sponsors leading-edge research into the potentials and powers of consciousness — including perceptions, beliefs, attention, intention, and intuition. The institute explores phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional scientific models, while maintaining a commitment to scientific rigor.
Read that last sentence again. Uh-huh, it's doublespeak. This is typical of the New Age narrative, a world seen through the looking glass, in which concepts such as "consciousness" and "scientific rigor" can mean whatever you say they mean, neither more nor less. Well, um, that is, actually, probably a lot less.
The INS (for short) got started when astronaut Edgar Mitchell saw God out the window of his Apollo 14 space capsule, a flight on which he engaged in ESP experimentation with pals back on terra not so firma. To quote near-equally out there pop-culture luminary icon Sting: "Giant steps are what you take / Walking on the moon..."
To wit, Wikipedia tells us...
Dateline NBC had an interview with Mitchell on April 19, 1996, during which he discussed meeting with officials from three countries who claimed to have had personal encounters with extraterrestrials. He offered his opinion that the evidence for such "alien" contact was "very strong" and "classified" by governments, who were covering up visitations and the existence of alien beings' bodies in places such as Roswell, New Mexico.
That was 1996, true. But he was still peddling the same line last month: "The 77-year-old said the deception began after the alleged alien landing in Roswell, N.M., in 1947."
If I may be permitted a personal note here, 1947 is a very special year for me. Yes, it was the year I was born, but more than that (and I've never told anyone this), it was the year the aliens brought a very powerful pathogen from Alpha Centauri. This pathogen has infected everyone on Earth, resulting in a form of genetically transmitted psychedelic derangement that makes DMT look like Gatorade. The effects of this chemically induced and permanent psychopathy include the belief that everything is perfectly sane and normal. Now, what is significant here is that, right after I was born, my Mom hid me in a hermetically sealed lead-lined dumpster while she was out looking to score more crack cocaine, and thus I remain the only living human being who was not affected by this alien mind plague. Which is why you all look so fucking weird to me.
But enough about Edgar Mitchell and the scientifically rigorous Institute of Noetic Sciences. We know Major Thom's a junkie. Let's get back to Marianne, down by the seaside sifting... something.
You can click on that graphic if you want to sign up. In which case, don't forget to bring sunblock and plenty of "Gatorade." For yes, it truly is an Age of Miracles, and for as little as $1,105 (steerage) you too can Return to Love on the Good Ship Lollypop!
Perhaps I should explain. A Course in Miracles has been very, very good to our Marianne. She rose to international New Age stardom by promoting the living shit out of it in her 1992 blockbuster A Return to Love, such that "The Course," as it is called by its fans, has become an essential element in the ideological armamentarium of the approximately 99.6 billion current members of AA, NA, OA, GA, DA, SLAA, CoDA, ACOA and Al-Anon. This is why I stopped going to meetings. The Program was driving me to drink.
So far, this all sounds pretty sane and normal, right? Sure it does. To you.
But now let's poke into The Course itself. It was the brainchild of one Helen Schucman, who, at the time she was channeling Jesus Christ, was a failing Ph.D. candidate nutcase psychology professor at Columbia. The Wikipedia page includes this...
J. Gordon Melton notes that it [The Course in Miracles] has been most popular among those who have been disillusioned by organized Christianity.
Well, OK, fine. As long as you know that J. Gordon Meltdown is an academic whore who would say anything for another hit of the "social science research" funding pipe. He once rushed to Tokyo to defend Aum Shinrikyo as a harmless "New Religion" after they'd dosed the subway system there with deadly sarin gas. But that's another story for another time perhaps.
Far more important is the scribe who recorded Helen Schucman's channeling sessions, one William Thetford. His Wikipedia entry includes this little gem, which I don't think was there when I first discovered this particular factoid...
From 1971 to 1978 Thetford, along with David Saunders, headed the CIA mind control Project MKULTRA Subproject 130: Personality Theory.
Oh, really? Isn't that curious.
One of the references given to this delectable data crumpet by its Wikipedia author links to a version of Thetford's curriculum vitae cached on the Internet Archive WayBack Machine. The "same" page on the official Miracle Studies site no longer includes the MK-ULTRA reference. It merely says: "1971 - 1978 Professor of Medical Psychology 'Personality theory' research project." Gee, I wonder why "CIA MK-ULTRA" was deleted. Must be another miracle.
Even more interesting are those quotation marks (in both versions) around "Personality theory." Do they indicate that the phrase, as used, was maybe some kind of euphemism? Hmmm, could be.
Check out this excerpt from The Miracle Detective: An Investigation of Holy Visions by Rolling Stone contributing editor Randall Sullivan. Or even better, this post of December 20, 2007: Mind Control, MK-ULTRA and A Course in Miracles. Here's a clip...
[Father Benedict Groeschel, a Catholic priest and popular speaker] also knew Thetford during his time at Columbia University and described him as "probably the most sinister person I ever met" and "the most religious atheist I have ever known." Groeschel stated that Thetford was very excited about A Course in Miracles and personally arranged for its publication. It seems Thetford was quite a mystery at the University and none of his colleagues knew, until after he retired, that he had also been working for the CIA during his employment.
BLUEBIRD was the cryptonym for a CIA program involving special interrogation methods, including the use of drugs, hypnosis, and isolation. It lasted from 1949 to 1950 when it was renamed "ARTICHOKE," and would eventually become the infamous MKULTRA. Responsibility for the project mainly lay with the Office of Scientific Intelligence.