This piece appeared in Paranoia mag last year, posting it here for anyone interested
Paranoid Awareness and the Apotheosis of the Impossible
(Selections from The Lucid View: Investigations into Occultism, Ufology and Paranoid Awareness, by Aeolus Kephas)
The most essential thing about making a case for the impossible is to discredit all rational associations of “cause and effect” entirely: the point is there is no point. There are no premises to the argument that paranoid awareness is heightened awareness, save for the premise that the world and everything in it is and has always been a vast and unfathomable mystery, a mystery we will never understand. Another way of saying this is that life, for all its qualities—or for all its lack of them—is simply and wholly what we make of it: a myth-story, ever unfolding. Genesis recurs every day in the matrix of our minds. The true paranoid is more concerned with the conspiracy of history than the history of conspiracy; he acknowledges that history conspires to make men, not men to make history, and that man belongs to life, not life to man. He is determined, above all else, to take no hostages to his meaning.
From the beginning knowledge has been forbidden to Man, and this concept—that knowledge is something pernicious, harmful, corrupting—is central to the Judeo-Christian ideology which we have inherited, and which forms the backbone of our culture and society. It matters not if we accept or even acknowledge this Consensus ideology, we nonetheless belong to it. The Bible begins with the fable of Eden, of Adam, Eve and the Serpent, with the forbidding (and punishing) presence of the Elohim lurking ominously behind the scenes. And yet, even without departing too radically from the text or diving too deeply between the lines, it can also be reasoned from this myth that knowledge is the very thing that makes us men, that distinguishes us from the other animals (even if it has yet to make us gods). There can be little doubt that—way back at the beginning of Time—the Elohim were fully aware of our modern psychological concepts: by forbidding knowledge, these strange gods made sure we seek after it. The Serpent was Eve’s conscience speaking plainly, goading her on to the inevitable act. But this impulse came about through—or resulted from—the Elohim’s words themselves, making the Serpent simply the active fulfillment of Their secret will. Naturally, since these archetypes are as inseparable as cause and effect and as the twin hemispheres of the brain, neither has much meaning to the contemporary reader unless they are seen, in psychological terms, as two apparently conflicting aspects of the human psyche.
In his insatiable thirst for ever more forbidden lore, the paranoid adheres religiously to the tenet that, so far as knowledge goes, too much is just enough. These metaphors—the warnings and prohibitions—have survived to this day, but the knowledge still eludes us. The peculiar fact is that, even now that knowledge is acknowledged as in many ways the sine qua non of being human, the most valued commodity there is, it is still in its own weird way forbidden to us. Nowadays, we would not dream of submitting meekly to any abstract mandate of a hidden God; yet we are, for all that, coerced and cuckolded into ignorance and slavery.
Consensus Reality is the ultimate secret society, so secret that even its members are unaware of its existence. Consensus Reality is a conspiracy to uphold the world; it is the means by which we communicate and agree upon the way things are and the way they must be. So far as it is a functioning model, such a Consensus is valid. Insofar as it is not a functioning model, and is, as in our present case, on the verge of total breakdown, such a Consensus is by definition invalid. It then becomes the right and responsibility of every thinking member of such a society to cancel his membership, and to option a new, higher or broader concept of “reality.”
Our endeavor as sorcerer-eschatologists is not to create more belief systems but to explode existing belief systems, thereby clearing the slate for a new acceptance to dawn. It befits us, therefore, to stretch our own credibility at all times to the absolute limit; consequently, the more challenging, preposterous, or offensive to reason our hypotheses become, the more dedicated we are to their propagation. Charles Fort put it well enough: “I believe nothing of my own that I have ever written. I cannot accept that the products of minds are subject-matter for beliefs.”
Myths and parables that associate knowledge with forbidden fire (hubris), and warn us of the danger inherent in seeking such, are serving a purpose that cannot be ignored. The Scientific or academic approach to knowledge is a profoundly disrespectful one, to say the least; much akin to Industry’s assault upon Nature, it plunders, violates, conquers, and finally destroys the very thing it is pretending to harness. The “academic” likewise approaches a work of art with tweezers, rubber gloves, and a microscope, intending to analyze and sterilize at the same time—to protect himself from the very emotional onslaught he is unconsciously seeking (what “art” is all about). In his own mind, he is divided against himself; and it is through this rift that the demons of knowledge enter.
The desire to remain in control, at a safe distance, to reduce the unknown to a mere sum of its parts, is a seemingly irresistible temptation for the scientist. The scientist is led by reason into the atavistic realms of unreason, the primal chaos of the jungle, which stands for his own unconscious. He is driven to extract the desired elements for “objective study” in the laboratory of his rational mind, but he never admits the obvious—that once taken from its natural habitat, a snake is but a shadow of its former self. There is nothing to be learnt from such shadows, but the danger is that, sooner or later, the jungle will react to being invaded, and bite back. Atavistic nature—like the tortoise—is patient to a fault; but the moment it finally stirs, it is as swift and deadly as the trodden serpent.
So it is that rational man learns a little about madness—about the awesome and ruthless power of the unconscious (though of course he learns too late for it to do him a shred of good). Far from protecting him, however, the intellect or rational mind—with its rigid order and its need to control the uncontrollable—only serves to enrage (having invoked) the demons of the unconscious. The chaos is brought to the fore: unable to abide the rational mind’s impositions of a false and arbitrary “order,” it strikes back.
Knowledge is an unexplored terrain, an actual abyss before us and around us, an abyss that must be approached with awe, wonder, and trepidation, with a willingness to be consumed, to be overwhelmed. Only by showing such abandon, audacity, and lack of personal concern, says the paranoid, can we appease the dreadful abyss to our presence within it. In other words, in order to access or enter the Imaginal worlds of sorcery, mystery, darkness and power, we must first acknowledge the corresponding void within ourselves: we must enter naked and unarmed into the jungle, with full awareness of our folly and our insignificance, wholly prepared to die for it. Only so, by risking our very lives, can we stand to gain what we have come here to find: knowledge of good and evil, and the lucid view beyond.
Every word is a lie. Yet, at the core of every lie is truth. Imagine a circle: the outward bound or circumference is the word—it has no existence of its own, it is nowhere, and yet it shapes our perception at every step. The center, on the other hand, though infinitely small and apparently insignificant, is in essence everywhere. If there are no bounds, then every point is equally central, equally true.
Imagine a nut: the word—language—is the shell of this nut; it is deceptive, indigestible, without nutritious value, yet it contains and protects the nut within. Such is the lie around the truth: we must crack the shell to get at the nut, but only so as to devour it. Language, indeed reality as we perceive it, is a system of shells. We are so used to eating these dry and empty husks in place of the nuts, however, that we have long ago become oblivious to what we are missing. All books are corpses, all scholars are necromancers: they seek to give life to dead things. For language is logos: the ratio, the means of dividing up the silent truth into shapes and sounds, manifestation, so-called “life,” but a shadow of something greater. The word is a tool which in itself has no meaning or value. So great is the spell cast by the Logos, however, that we have succumbed to its mighty decree and become idolaters: we worship the lie, in the name of Truth.
The fantastic aspect of reality is what concerns the paranoid, and nothing else. The global or even cosmic conspiracy is the most reassuring of paranoid belief systems: it is as it were the structure of paranoia itself, imposed upon the world at large. It explains everything, without explaining anything. All people everywhere believe in some sort of conspiracy. The theosophists and Christians call it God or the Holy Spirit; the scientists call it evolution, or fractals; the nihilists call it Chance or Blind Fate. None of them can actually deny the existence of order or design behind all things in the Universe, and they would be fools to try. Only the paranoid attempts to trace the lines of the design and attribute these lines to recognizable, identifiable forces, entities, person or parties in the world at large. As such, his ambition is prodigious and fearless: neither ridicule nor personal danger can dissuade him from his course. In his bid to render the invisible visible and make the unknown known, he stretches the boundaries of both collective reason and individual sanity; if successful, he allows a new order to break on through. He discovers, by imagining, an underlying “reason” or meaning, beneath the apparent absence of same.
So far as it functions—i.e., is a working system that allows new possibilities or philosophies to be entertained or grasped—such paranoia is productive and therefore justified, and the question of its validity—its provability—is immaterial. So far as it becomes another article of faith, of personal obsession, a cause for fanaticism, it becomes counter-productive. The paranoid turns into another true believer, suckered by his own hypotheses, and snared by belief. Once again, the validity of his belief is not the issue here, only its utility as a means for greater awareness. The desire to bring order and sense—a hidden but still evident meaning—to the chaos of our lives is perfectly healthy. It stems from the creative will, and as such is a positive desire. It is not so much that the paranoid, if successful, desires the truth behind the lies, rather that he seeks, as an artist, to rearrange the random factors of history into his own personal myth. As such, he aspires to becoming a true poet, one of the legislators of the world, those men and women for whom reality itself is a canvas.
Every artist feels the imperative to express his inner darkness, to draw upon his deepest, most depraved inner self as a reservoir of energy and inspiration. This dark matter is the very substance of art, and without it nothing the artist does will have much weight or consequence. To rechannel his own demons with the compassion and the insight of experience, and thereby transform them, just as he transforms his suffering into meaning, this is the work of the artist, and it is poetically akin to the alchemist’s opus magnus of transforming lead into gold. The transformation does not occur in actual terms, though it must be perceived as an actual transformation. It takes place in the realm of the Imaginal, where no such differences as pure and impure can be said to exist. The artist takes his pain or rage or hatred into the Imaginal realm, and there confronts it directly, commands it to reform, to assume a more fitting and appropriate guise.
All good dramas contain elements of truth, and all truth is inherently dramatic; from the perspective of psycho-historians—investigators of the eschaton—proceeding in the spirit of invention as much as inquiry, we accept that there are no facts, as such, only points of view. The principal thing is not to have any specific, determined point of view to defend or prove, and to avoid pre-conceived conclusions and pre-supposed premises, which only ensure that the “facts” will never be found to agree (there being many points of view to any given event). Personal bias can only be upheld by such a degree of manipulation, falsification, and contrivance as renders the objective wholly redundant, and so truth is banished by conviction. As Charles Fort puts it: “To have an opinion, any opinion, one must overlook something.”
There is a very good reason why most artists are not especially interested in paranoid folklore per se—why Satanic Ritual Abuse, Alien Abductions, and other conspiracy theories are generally ignored or dismissed by them as fodder for the masses beneath their interest. The reason is that artists tend to be too busy cultivating and assembling their own brand of paranoid awareness, and instinctively avoid the distractions and contaminations of other weltanschauungs. Just as artists are apolitical—their concern being with myths not politics—their paranoia is not specifically directed at any group or agenda but at the Universe as a whole. Artists know what it means to be the prey in a predatory environment, it being their job after all. But they recognize only the Furies (the gods) as their superiors; it is sheer anathema for them to acknowledge any human or worldly power existing over them. Hence their resistance to the mundane kind of paranoid awareness—though emotional and often poorly thought-out (essentially a blind spot)—is basically sound. They are following their instincts, albeit blindly.
What the Surrealists did—and every artist who begins to realize his or her potential is on the way to becoming a Surrealist—was to consciously utilize the mundane awareness of the average paranoid as substance to fuel or fortify their own mythical workings. They effectively set out to map the area between sanity and madness, reason and imagination, complacency and paranoia, actual and Imaginal, to discover the means of confrontation, of dynamic overlap, between two perspectives. This was the essence of Surrealism: the juxtapositioning of two objects or ideas that don’t belong together, between which there is no apparent causal connection. What is less understood is that this experimental process was just that—a means to an end. It was the effect of the juxtaposition that interested the Surrealists, not the juxtaposition itself.
This effect was described by don Juan Matus to Carlos Castaneda (in The Power of Silence) as “the shock of beauty.” Breton himself said that “Surrealism attempted to provoke, from an intellectual and moral point of view, an attack of conscience, of the most general and serious kind.” This “attack of conscience” is nothing less than paranoid awareness, in its purest and most spontaneous form. Before the lucid view can take hold, an attack of conscience must occur, and the shock of beauty be survived.
The paranoid’s quest for order and meaning in the world is a seemingly interminable journey into the maze of his imagination. It is a sustained juxtaposition of contradictions within his own divided psyche, an exercise in applied schizophrenia by which the world, potentially, begins to make sense at last. There is no option of truly understanding any of this intrigue, however, for its very essence—what attracts and seduces both the ordinary paranoid and the genuine sorcerer—is to be found in a place where “nothing is real,” where all facts have begun to blur into fantasy. This is the shadowland of the Twilight Zone, where real is Imaginal and Imaginal is real, where all distinctions are futile, possibly even fatal. This is the only place the paranoid is truly at home, in the company of sorcerers. It is a dimension familiar to us all, from dreams and TV shows, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.
There is a basic affinity (though polarity might be a better term) between the functions of religion and paranoia. Both relate to hidden forces, both seek a personal relationship with the mysteries, and both thrive on fear and gravity as a means for self-assurance. Both are instinctive modes of perception that, potentially at least, lead to the truth: they are imaginative rationalizations of emotional states of being, translations of the Imaginal into actual existence. So far as they are based in ignorance and fear, such rationalizations/translations are essentially regressive, neurotic, pathological reactions to the terror of being alive. So far as they partake of awareness and awe that counters the prevailing dread of mystery, they are healthy ways of dealing with the paralyzing beauty and wonder of existence. Yet there is no beauty without terror, no religion without paranoia, and no mystery without at least an element of dread.
From a lucid view, one must reduce the Imaginal forces to actual existence only so far as is necessary in order to comprehend them, and only so long as it takes for the comprehension to occur. The moment the Imaginal has been accessed, via the assumption of belief, the belief must be summarily destroyed if it is not to trap these forces—and the paranoid’s own imagination—inside the dualistic sphere of the actual. This process might be imagined as the temporary imposition of a “window” upon the mystery, a window by which one may glimpse the unknown. The window “frames” the phenomenon in question and so allows us to get a handle on it; but it does not contain or define it. Ideally, we pass through the window and into the Imaginal, at which point the window disappears, along with all preconceptions/interpretations of “reality.” If we lack the courage to make the leap, instead simply staring at the Imaginal from the false perspective of the actual, the Imaginal—having been summoned (i.e., conceptualized)—begins to enter into the actual via this window, assuming the shape which the window imposes upon it. This is when the paranoid’s imagination turns against him, and all our worst fears are actualized.
Collectively, in the midst of millennial angst and dread, a common window has been created around the Imaginal forces, a window which serves, on the one hand, as a mask to hide the mystery from the profane, and on the other, as a deadly snare. All paranoid lore, though based upon Imaginal realities and sown from the very same cloth as religion and folklore, is profoundly contaminated, because it is laced with the neuroses of 21st century humanity, namely, fear, suspicion, mystification, and the desire for control. This contamination has led to a psychic malignance, malignant as a cancer that eats away at a body is malignant. There is a profound and unacknowledged danger in the modern paranoid belief systems that has nothing to so with the natural dangers of the various phenomena themselves (global conspiracies, occultism, Ufos, alien abductions, etc), but relates rather to deliberate blinds or snares placed by unscrupulous minds, with the precise end of deceiving the ignorant and confounding the wise. The secret of the Imaginal forces is that, as the form they take in actualized reality depends wholly upon our interpretation of them, our belief is creating their reality. Hence, the further the lie is propagated, and the deeper it takes root in the collective psyche, the closer it comes to actualization as verifiable, experiential truth. The paranoid’s acceptance is: “be careful what you believe, for that is precisely what you will get.”
To the ordinary person, illuminoids, ufos, elves, angels, demons, Reptilians, and other Imaginal beings have no objective existence whatsoever. The lucid view is quite clear on this. And yet everyone knows what these things “are,” at a mythological level, even if we continue to insist that they are not. According to paranoid awareness, this paradox is the crux of our current situation. It states that, over the aeons, we have invoked these Imaginal beings—whether higher or lower, demonic or divine, earthly or celestial—and that they are now here.
The apotheosis of the impossible is at hand. It begins as an idea, something even less perhaps, a vague and distant notion, a feeling that is unconscious, yet present. In time the feeling becomes an image, an image as it were before the eyes, a light “undesired, most desirable.” As we gaze at this image it comes slowly into focus, gathering form, tone, pitch, color, and finally substance, until it appears as an actual shape before our eyes. This is the process of articulation through perception by which manifestation occurs: what was within is now without. The shape is our own, it is our potential unborn, perceived as in a glass, darkly; distant yet dazzling. It is approaching as we, in turn, are advancing to meet it.
If we accept for a moment the paranoid’s belief that the Universe is essentially geared towards a harvesting of awareness, it follows that, before such a harvest can take place, there will first be an inspection, to distinguish the wheat from the chaff. The current Armageddon drama envisioned by the paranoid—in which the populace is confronted, contacted, controlled, abducted by hostile, possibly nonhuman forces without our conscious assent—must be seen as the Universe’s means for testing humanity’s ability to take charge of its own destiny. Such a scenario allows only two basic responses (with an infinitude of variables in between). One, to acquiesce blindly to the situation, assuming either the role of the victim (anger, hatred and despair) or that of “chosen” or “saved” (hope, gratitude, and adoration); by reacting in this way, the paranoid proves unequal to the test, and is rejected as chaff for recycling. The second option is for us to meet the phenomenon head-on, forcing it to reveal its true nature and proving ourselves worthy of conscious initiation into the Imaginal realities. This is the moment paranoia seques into awareness, and real sorcery begins.