Monday, October 24, 2011

The Exegesis: The Path of Tension

A new member at the Secret Sun FB group recently asked what all of the excitement was about. He scanned the page but couldn't get a lock on it. I told him the following:
The Secret Sun is kind of like the Internet Island of Misfit Toys. It's for all the people who can't pretend they haven't peeked under the reality curtain once or twice. It's for people who don't fit into all of the thought-replacement modalities out there.
Indeed, a lot of people on the group have said they felt like they didn't fit in anywhere until they read this blog or joined the group. I have a feeling there are a lot of people lurking out there who feel the way I and the others do, but who stay in the shadows. Maybe there are a lot of people in other circles or other groups who feel out of place there. People who are part of the "Excluded Middle," the free thinkers who don't subscribe to the false dichotomies prescribed by lazy editors and television producers.

When I was a kid the hippie subculture had created an interesting space for people who loved sci-fi and comics but were also interested in extreme possibilities and the frontiers of consciousness. Mainstream fandom tends to a sour, skeptical pose these days, which is mostly a reaction to the religious reich's poisoning of American society over the past 30 years. Rebuilding that space is very much a top priority for me with The Secret Sun.

The best and most resonant sci-fi is also the most mystical-- and that includes Star Trek, Roddenberry's insincere protestations aside. As we've seen nearly all of the top sci-fi franchises are up to their Spock-ears in ancient astronaut theory, entheogenology and other, similar thought crimes. None of this has anything to do with religion as the term is understood, since it functions to displace religion and replace it with something more intimate and subversive. More useful, as well.

The other issue I want to address is how our stories are going to evolve away from an increasingly limiting and compromised mass media, and move towards targeted media. The economics of movie-making are leaving less and less room for stories that challenge the audience or question the assumptions of mainstream society.

What that will do by necessity is move away from the hyper-literalism and computer graphics and move towards modes in which the audience needs to do more of the work: books, comics, maybe even radio theater. I see this as a major net positive (and already we're seeing a major backlash against 3D filmmaking). There's no reason to believe that VR would be any different, even if the amount of labor involved in true virtual reality was remotely cost-effective.

Right now people are very much "in the world" as it were, as the economical struggles are taking up a lot of attention. That's not a bad thing. But these kind of struggles have always necessitated a fictional response, and that's something that is still to come. I hope people will realize the power of imaginative fiction to writ these issues large and help to better define them. What we're seeing now may well signal a shift in consciousness, another event that also tends to inspire great speculative fiction.

As it did with Philip K. Dick, who was very much tapped into the counterculture of the 60s and much more so the 70s. Dick's work speaks to the grim, defeated mindset of the post-Aquarian malaise, and offered new worlds for the counterculture to explore. Read this...

There is SF because the human brain craves sensory and intellectual stimulation before anything else, and the eccentric view provides unlimited stimulation, the eccentric view and the invented world. It is written because the human mind naturally creates, and in creating the world of an SF story the ultimate in human imagination is brought into use; thus SF is an ultimate product of and for the human mind. The function of SF psychologically is to cut the reader loose from the actual world that he inhabits; it deconstructs time, space, reality.
Those who read it probably have difficulty adjusting to their world, for whatever reason; they may be ahead of it in terms of their perceptions and concepts or they may simply be neurotic, or they may have an abundance of imagination. Basically, they enjoy abstract thought. Also, they have a sense of the magic of science: science viewed not as utilitarian but as explorative. -- Philip K. Dick
Walter Russell Mead has also thrown down the gauntlet and challenged sci-fi writers to plug into what is going on in the world in their storytelling. Great sci-fi isn't only about identity politics or tribalist fantasies.

"Taken as a whole, the field of science fiction today is where most of the most interesting thought about human society can be found. At a time when many academics have become almost willfully obscure, political science is increasingly dominated by arcane and uninspiring theories and in which a fog of political correctness makes some forms of (badly needed) debate and exploration off limits, science fiction has stepped forward to fill the gap.
The biggest single task facing the United States today is the unleashing of our social imagination. We are locked into twentieth century institutions and twentieth century habits of mind. -- Walter Russell Mead
A lot of what I've done on this blog is show how when these kinds of stories are informed by a worldview that transcends reductionist materialism, they tend to bleed outside of the fantasy realm and plug into the world in remarkable ways, most often through the mechanics of Synchronicity. Here is a potent example that some of you might have read about:
Saul-Paul Sirag, Vice-President of Jack Sarfatti's Physics/Consciousness Research Group, has his own weird tales to tell. Once, while involved in the Uri Geller investigation, Sirag took LSD to see if in that altered consciousness he could perceive the alleged extraterrestrial behind Geller. What Sirag saw was the head of a hawk, which astonished him, since Geller had never described the entity as a hawk.
Six months later, this image appeared on the January 1974 cover of Sirag's favorite sci-fi magazine, Analog, illustrating a story called "The Horus Errand" (Synchronicity #1). A year later, Dr. Andrija Puharich, not knowing of Sirag's experience, claimed that Geller's extraterrestrial ally had often appeared to him as a hawk, which he nicknamed "Horus" (Synchronicity #2).
Later, Sirag discovered that the face on the Analog cover was that of Ray Stanford, a Texas psychic, who also claimed mysterious experiences with Geller and a hawk (Synchronicity #3). Oddest of all, Kelly Freas, the artist who had drawn the cover, had never met Stanford and was not using his face consciously.-- Excerpted from Tekgnostics, original story recounted in Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger
Finally, here's the Master Mage himself explaining the true power of work that plugs into the deep streams of consciousness and becomes its own kind of magic:
"I feel that artists and writers have allowed themselves to be sold down the river. They have accepted the prevailing belief that art & writing are merely forms of entertainment...they're not seen as transformative forces that can change a human being, that can change a society.
They are seen as simple 'entertainment', things with which we can fill 20 minutes, half an hour, while we are waiting to die. It is NOT the job of the artist to give the audience what the audience want; if the audience knew what they needed, they wouldn't be the audience, they would be artists. It is the job of the artists to give the audience what they need." -- ALAN MOORE
All of this is not just for the benefit of aspiring creators out there. It's also for the readers, for the audience. An informed and engaged audience is every bit as important as the artist is. This is a two-way street, and the goal is to raise our own consciousness and then work to do so with others.

It's not as easy as those who subscribe to the various theistic and atheistic religious modalities. It's a middle path- a path of tension, a path of negotiation. It's not for the weak of heart or the weak of soul. But it's a vital part of a truly evolved culture and has been lost. We fail to regain it at our own peril.


  1. Re:
    "The function of SF psychologically is to cut the reader loose from the actual world that he inhabits; it deconstructs time, space, reality."

    Maybe that's why John Whiteside Parsons was into both SF and Magick.
    I found him a very interesting person...not to say he didn't have his faults...but who doesn't ?

    I found "Sex and Rockets" quite an interesting read.

  2. I've been following this blog for ages and I think this is one of the most relevant posts,for the time we are in,that you have put through the keyboard.Agree with you 100%...well 99%,anyway .-)

  3. I was going to go back and reread the last post about the artist and the audience and there it is.

    Vervy synchnificant

  4. Hey Chris,

    This post is simply stunning, but I’ve come to expect this calibre of work from you. It’s like tasty yet nutritious candy for the Yearning Soul! Anytime you do an Exegesis post, I’m right there drinking in the words. And anything that delves into the profound power of fiction and storytelling resonates within me so deeply.

    I love your thoughts about negotiating the middle path of tension. I’ve always been attracted to the nature and profundity of stories. I guess I realized early on in life that I wanted to understand everything there was to know about the mysteries of the universe and experience – but I also realized this was nigh on impossible.

    But what I COULD do is become as adept at possible at comprehending the way such mysteries we’re perceived and communicated. If I could become intimate with language and communication I realized it would cultivate insight into the mysterious heart of experience. To speak figuratively, if I couldn’t stare directly into the heart of the sun I could at least cultivate as much awareness of its context and other peoples experiences of it. This would then give me a kind of blind but detailed gestalt impression of the Heart of Mystery.

    I think PKD understood a lot about this idea of sensing the invisible heart by becoming acutely aware of its surroundings and modalities of description – and I think that’s why he strikes so many people as being particularly aware or tuned in to the phenomena of mystery. I’d suggest this for someone like Alan Moore, also. The playful yet lucid nature of their speculations comes through in much of the work of both individuals.

    Also, you’re right-on about sci-fi and its potentials – and it’s a continual delight to be able to be a part of a community like the Secret Sun that is aware of all of the above. I feel honoured and excited when I read your posts or other peoples comments, and see the same love of stories and the same respect for ‘spirituality’ that I have myself.

    In a world such as ours, an online community of mutually-respectful story-lovers, seekers and explorers is far from a frivolous thing. It’s incredibly precious, especially when you consider the diatribes that are traded at other websites. Anyway, if I think of anything else useful to mention I’ll return to this post. Man, I love commenting on this blog; it brightens up my whole day!


  5. great post! 'the silver surfer' is pretty much how i see myself sliding through the worlds :)

  6. Chris, let me start by saying that though I haven't commented much, I follow regularly. Especially over the last few months with the Templar posts, the Re-enchantment Project, and more, I've really found The Secret Sun to be thought-provoking. You're really offering something that resonates, and that is sorely needed.

    Second, I want to add my condolences on your cat. I hope when the time comes the transition will be peaceful, and my thoughts go out to your family.

    Third, regarding today's post, it makes me think of something that's been bugging me for awhile. I think you're right in saying that the mainstream media, big budget Hollywood, video games, and the "approved" modes of discourse out there right now are not the way to go. However, I've noticed something in recent years that rather crystallized for me in some articles from, and here, and finally here.

    In short, it seems that the nerd/geek culture is now being co-opted and is going "mainstream". Of course, the looming maw of corporate culture is always looking to assimilate and co-opt whatever it can, but this is truly insidious. A whole cultural region that the outliers, the ones who "didn't fit in", etc. once had as their own preserve is now becoming just another swatch of corporate mass-media folderol.

    I don't want to sound like the purist that is upset that his passions have become "popular". If it wasn't for a certain amount of this, comics would probably be completely dead by now. Still, I think it's not coincidental that you refer to the Silver Age of comics so much; and every time I step in a comic store and look at the new comics rack, I almost always go back to the quarter bins or the back-issue boxes. Not to say there aren't gems out there now, but you have to work to find them.

    Anyway, I think this is one more example of how what you lay out is indeed a "path of tension and negotiation". Not only is there the tension with the mainstream, but within the subculture itself. That's part of the reason I think your blog fulfills such an important niche.

    I know this has been a bit rambling, but it's just what I've been thinking, and reading Secret Sun does help me to clarify some things. Keep up the great work!

  7. 20some years ago Robert Anton Wilson alerted me to PKD, thanks to those amazing Cosmic Triggers. When I was 12 Star Trek made me feel alive and hopeful in a way no church or classroom ever did. In fact I daydreamed my way through much of high school with the crew of Star Trek! Oh to daydream like that again...
    Yes Chris in so many ways this blog is that place of dreaming and honesty and friendship and free speech. It can be a helluva world. Believe me I know it is a luxury to have a place to come to for a real idea, a spark of recognition, a moment to live and prosper.
    Best Wishes, Delorus

  8. I am one of those shadow lurkers. I read your blog since 2 years, but i never commented. Since i ve started reading, my outlook on life changed dramaticly. Its kind of strange but the discovery of your blog came to an time where i started to doubt everything. 2 years ago i was an atheistic materalistic pessimist, who didn't believe in anything magic or spiritual.
    That changed dramaticly when i took a nearly heroic dose of mushrooms which completly shattered my ego, my belief system and everything else. I was shown a clear message, namely that consciousness doesn't end when you die, that everything is one, and that love is the operating system of the universe.
    Before that experience i always knew that there is something more to life than what i was sensing, i was always searching. After the experience everything fell into place.
    Immidiatly after that I found your blog, and with it a wonderful way to integrate and learn about the hidden part of reality.
    I stopped beeing an pessimist, i started to accept the confusing duality of my Being, and most important i started to "get" the synchromystic communication of the universe.
    I was born behind the iron curtain of Eastern Germany, and it was kind of difficult to get american comics in my youth, but still i managed to get hold of some interesting Batman and Superman comics.
    I also was very interested in Sci Fi, and started to read everything from Stanislaw Lem. After the fall of the wall i immidiatly started to read P.K.Dick, William Gibson and other Cyberpunk literature. I tell you all that because i find it kind of interesting, that even under a complete different political and social enviroment, i managed to tap into the same channel than you, Chris.
    There is a powerful synergy at work here, and in contrast to my former self, i am willing, eager and very positive to ride its wave to its conclusion.

    I have to thank you for your hard work, i couldn't get all these puzzle parts together without your sharp mind and your generosity to present what you find to us on a silver plate.

    I am still struggeling and stumbling in the dark, but now i have an compass and a torch.

    PS: The actuall state of the world with its financial and social crisis feels strangely similar and turbulent as the last days of Eastern Germany (only 10 times more intense). It feels like there is a provound and gigantic change approaching us (or we are approaching IT).

  9. Hooray for the blog comment writers here at the Sun- honest to gods I love you all.

    Tumarion, it seems to me the main approach of media is to make others look ineffective. Real men are not stupid and childlike, real women are not mean bitch pole dancers, etc. Heck, Chris is from New Jersey, which has to be getting the baddest rap of any State featured on TV. It all seems to be a sale of second rate goods, from marketers who don't seem to know first rate exists. I agree with you that the dumbing down of whatever they address is disheartening to say the least.

    Welcome Ryusaki, this is a friendly place and we all like another point of view.

    Petoskystone, finding those coral fossils is one of my most effective meditations.

    Best wishes to you all, Delorus

  10. Science Fiction acts a “strange attractor” for creative near future prediction. A good Sci Fi story can blaze a trail into the possible by extrapolating current events and projecting into the future, a what-if scenario. A really good Sci Fi story, via its popularity and resulting collective consciousness… can manifest or help bring about the story’s premise, by means of self fulfilled prophecy. The more people resonate with the possible future being told in the story… the more likely it is that the story actually comes to pass. A great Sci Fi story illuminates the possible, gives us reason to hope and gives us a roadmap to get there.

  11. Many say that the best sci-fi is really about the present. I think there is some truth in that, but I think the very best also exhibits artistic prescience.

    Two works come to mind in particular: Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey and William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy. Both of these works have -- neglecting mundane detail -- not really aged. They seem more relevant now than when they were made.

    They weren't just about their present. They really were about the future.

  12. I AM Interdimensional Being - Everything will change soon!

    Galactic Heritage - Interdimension Holographic DNA

    Ancient Atlantis Crystal Energy Wand

  13. Awesome post, Chris. It seemed to sum up what I have thought/felt all along (over four years or so of sporadic but voracious readership, during which I seem to have read almost every post at least once). Speaking of coincidence, I was just thinking I ought to read Dick, instead of just living with the spooky feeling that were I only somewhat more disciplined as a writer, and less easily distracted as a reader, I could do exactly what he would have us (middle-wayfarers, be we of the Buddhist, non-Buddhist, both or neither varieties) do as creative/fiction writers -- help wake the others like us up, inform an esprit de corps, usher in the escaton -- though personally I would prefer a less ruthless anti-figurehead than A.M.'s, as much as I agree with his assessment of the role the magus/artist should play.

    Now before I type that Ms., back to drawing that circle full of funny squiggly hobbity dingbats...wher'd I put my wand? .
    If you can't join 'em, might as well beat 'em, and beat good, right?

  14. I've been sick since Thursday and about all I've had energy for is clicking browser links. As such I've been going back through some of Secret Sun archives: Nine Eleven Ten Thirteen, X-Files - Ten Thirteen: Saucers and Secrets in the Sunset, Jack Kirby/sychronicity/Carl Jung's collective unconscious - the Silver Star series, and always the theme of ancient astronauts and astrognosticism.

    Got me to reflecting on synchronicity and consciouness expansion. I started down that path back in 1994 but accelerated when encountering Grahm Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods in 1996. In the late '90s I also went through Zacharia Sitchin's ancient astronaut thesis and branched out into myriad other areas of esoteric investigations.

    It wasn't until circa 2010 that I began to encounter synchronicity in the form of the number eleven phenomena. I started noticing myself glancing at clocks right when was eleven minutes past the hour - and especially 9:11 was frequent for me. At the gym, after a 37 minutes running on a tread mill I would gradually slow down the last several minutes to bring my heart rate back down to a target of 110 or less before hopping off. I started hitting a heart rate of 111 on a regular basis. Clocks and the heart rate read out on the tread mill were the easiest places for the eleven synchronicity to appear with high frequency.

    The end result was that I went off to write this blog posting as an introduction of sorts for the current twenty something generation to Moody Blues music:

    Moody Blues as soul-manifesting music

  15. Mention Olivia Tremor Control to a sixty-something as well....