finally after what feels like thirteen centuries i've been preparing mirror maze for the last stretch of nonsense so hopefully can publish before i'm dead (2018, maybe 2019....)...though if i continue the joke of referring to it as my thesis, I guess most people get a few years to put theirs together so i shouldn't beat myself up any more than i usually do.... so for sake of sharing this with somethings, here is (tentatively) completed introductory chapter:
//The beauty of the world is the mouth of a labyrinth. The unwary individual who on entering takes a few steps is soon unable to find the opening. Worn out, with nothing to eat or drink, in the dark, separated from his dear ones and from everything he loves and is accustomed to, he walks on without knowing anything or hoping anything, incapable even of discovering whether he is really going forward or merely turning round on the same spot. But the affliction is as nothing compared with the danger threatening him. For if he does not lose courage, if he goes on walking, it is absolutely certain that he will finally arrive in the center of the labyrinth. And there God is waiting to eat him. Later he will go out again, but he will be changed, he will have become different, after being eaten and digested by God. Afterward he will stay near the entrance so that he can gently push all those who come near into the opening.” - Simone Weil, Waiting for God//
//Subtlety grates upon the nerves, yet everything is driven by an immense crudity: death impassions us. Even before crossing over into death I had been excruciated upon my thirst for it. I accept that my case is in some respects aberrant, but what skewers me upon zero is an aberration inextricable from truth. To be parsimonious in one’s love for death is not to understand. - Nick Land, Thirst for Annihilation//
//Verily I tell you that if you have to mourn, you should mourn those who are born, rather than those who die. - Tozen, Series of Reflections//
The open-secret grave is (naturally) in-crypted.
This thing called human has long viewed death as the gross inversion of health and human-ness, a sickly and unbearable price to pay for the “gift” of life, a savage relic of animal nature to be feared, avoided, ignored, covered-up, battled, conquered, transcended... It has always viewed life and death as the purest kind of antithetical - intrinsically and explicitly opposing forces forever and permanently fatal to one another, associated with black and the negative in the white light’s battle for purity - and so has (un)naturally sought to mute the cold voice of our common grave....
As a result of millenia-long fear-driven cultural campaigns to toxify and expel the tomb and all its secrets, we are born into a paradigm that demands unified identity, self-assuredness, conformation, and concrete boundaries as entities that by our very nature flow and flood over these static riverbanks. To attempt stasis in such a river is to embody turbulence in an anxious, desperate, and ultimately vain search for calmer waters...this ship is perpetually sinking into the infinite deep, this arkhé (arché-ark) inevitably capsizes, dragging with it the separation between ship and water. Viewing life and self through the lens of this stasis puts one in danger of coming to equate breaking the rules of one’s given identity with dying.
|A life of perpetual-drowning-as-reality.
|Of motion-sickness as the world-for-itself.
Thus the western human arkhé-type views the self through the darkened, turbulent mirror of Individual Control, observing a noisy and recalcitrant illusion of mastery that confuses movements of an ephemeral reflection for the concrete action in real time. A virtual prison of mimicry and transfixed hypnotism, the labyrinthine rationalizing of complacency and the narcissistic ultraviolence of life- and gain-obsessed will-to-power aggression culture ensures and entrenches this turbulence while amplifying attempts to contain or expel death’s effects such that gained power may never be relinquished, even beyond dying. Death emerges from technocratic transhumanism as ultimate horizon of control: Unconditional accelerationism|radical paranoia|bleak-hole nihilism irrupt as advanced strategies but even (or especially) these have difficulty coping with the wave upon novel wave of pathology that breaks upon the mind as the organ of infinite imagination seems to have as many ways of malfunctioning, as many ways of hiding information, as many ways of covering its tracks, disguising itself...The words of Simon Springer’s ‘I, Dirty Anarchist’ clarify our situation:
//Only through a politics of division can one conceive of themself as a distinct and disconnected entity. It shouldn’t surprise us then that the rise of the ego has developed alongside the pursuit of both nationalism and capitalism. They are, each one, related distortions that attempt to make sense of the world through a partitioning of the self from all else. Whether expressed as an individual, as a state, or through the process of accumulation, all of these ideas seek to carve out and define what is ‘mine’ from an inalienable connection to the source of all life and what rightfully belongs to the entirety of existence. This ideology of division has recently culminated in the perverse hyper individualism of the present neoliberal moment, a condition of profound hallucinatory separation where the ‘I’ cleans itself of all ethical virtue. We are told to stand alone as obelisks of conceit.//
This problem is intensified by exponential growth in input streams - a “being-opened” that often decays into a foreclosure, an always-already-closing-off in defense against the constant|cyclic|cyclonic laceration of incoming signal: a closing-off that mirrors the dual concepts of repression and oppression : compulsively pre-emptive strikes on anticipated potentialities.
People really don't like to consider their own
They certainly don’t wish to work toward these things, and even terrible traits become protected when the self is perceived as static, separate, inviolable.
This defense mechanism amplifies the difficulty of the transformation from being turned inward (the passive nihilism spawned from the insignificance of the self-model in relation to the world-model) to being turned inside-out (the active annihilism of these models and the merging of self with world), adding complexity to this lock, the picking of which is a prerequisite step for the accurate tuning of the singular Will toward interlocking integration with the unity of nature, of non-differentiation between “self” and “reality”.
The reconfiguration of the isolating and oppressive feedback loop called the individualised ego by skills that are explicitly developed in the twin disciplines of self-destruction and self-construction is the navigation of the titular mirror maze. The realization that every abyss is a mirror and the removal of any mirror reveals a new abyss paves the way for the labyrinth of self-reflection to fall before the demonstration of this interconnecting voidplane behind, beneath, below all things. We invert undeath and nail selves to the cross, double sacrifice to the world-tree. //In darkness and concealment// we refute the original difference between life and death and elaborate possibilities of existence throughout the liminal interzones.
As the labyrinth represents the self: the inversion, the mirroring, the heresy of this re-alignment manifests in the assertion that there is no exit and we are our own minotaur - fullness is achieved by devout exploration of the extent of the emptiness of the image.
//”...The organism cannot live the death that gives rise to the difference between life and death.” To which the yogi replies, “Au contraire, Mister. I’m living it right now. So are you if you did but examine yourself.” - Timothy Morton, Thinking the Charnel Ground//
To view the alienated individual as undead opens a necromantic channel of revolution: to view the self and reality as liminal implies a mirror-reversal in ontological priority, a rotation from being to becoming: from the 3 dimensional perspective of a discrete object moving inside time to the “higher” view of process in 4 dimensions.
This metamorphosis is amplified and accelerated in the black hole of //immanent negativity, any event, be it a singularity or a process, that leads to an increase in entropy, leading, ultimately, to an apotheosis that explicates the givenness of emptiness//, the clarion call of Adam Lovasz’ Non-Oriented Ontology. While he limits his deconstruction to physical and social dissolution and their effects, we propose a speculative method to engage a disconnection of the brain’s self-model from its world-model, “ego death”: a demonstration of the Mors Mystica as the effective mental simulation of death and isomorphic to the Buddhists’ satori: displaying the zero-point of nihilism, the self-shattering truth of the via negativa: the removal, however temporary, of all mirrors, all images; clearing the screen of symbolism reveals the field that underlies the screen and demonstrates how a pendular circuit of deconstruction to augmentation and back attenuates the attention and quiets the verbal mind, setting the stage for profound psychogenic experimentation, exploration, and play.
Delinking from outdated ideologies, undocking from obsolete frames of reference, negating problematic components of personality, engaging a symmetry by renouncing the disconnected self-model and the incomplete world-model: this neuronihilism lies at the junction of time, death, and identity. When we speak of the complete deactivation of the phenomenal self-model, the complete delinking of the default modality of the brain from a position of top-down organization and modulation of bottom-up sensory data, whether or not what we speak of are fictions of the brain in psychosis matters little in an assessment of the image the brain is displaying to the phenomenal self in these moments.
It is to this end that we view the intersection of the fields of neuroscience, mysticism, art, physics, topology, psychology, semantics, symbolism, mythmaking and metafiction as a single, continuous, natural domain of self-reflective metaknowledge which one may call alchemical. Understanding the alchemical process to be a system for the construction of Philosophic Stone, we follow Gabriel Catren in defining the Stone as
//...the adamant converging pole of the concrescent operations carried on by a particular process of transmodal philosophical synthesis. The orchestration of a philosophical stone requires an amalgrammation of the local grammars that literalize the diverse modes of thought into a unique grimoire, and the arrangement of the regulative ideas that provide different prismatic orientations in thinking into a single constellation. - Catren, Alchimery//
It may seem like an outrageous statement, to claim to understand even part of the recipe for Philosopher’s Stone, but the true depth of this alchimerical realization lies in the unveiling of its universality - that every artistic construct, every collaborative gesture, every act of translation, every syncretic knotting of thought is an alchemy that responds to alchemical procedures. We hope to demonstrate in this book that many types of constructions can be considered mandalic and alchemical: that every Stone is a temporally persistent artefact of the complete synthesis of one’s self-model with their world-model as a result of a calibration process between inner and outer worlds that produces an artistic “proof-of-work” of satori, and that there exist protogeometric rules that govern this process that align with Jung’s study of mandalas as steganograms of //the state of the self as it was on the day that it was created//.
To step inside the self-reflecting Librarynth is to engage the alchemical process, beginning (and realising oneself to be) the Magnum Opus. To //shatter the image is to break the enemy//, the enemy that is the self-model’s fear of dissolution in the //infinite ocean of god//.
Blood and bone into the alembic, //ready to sacrifice all vanity and all satisfaction as in the past one burned his furniture and the beams of his roof to feed the furnace of the Great Work//, apply fire and compression until Nigredo-blackened ash of the self and the world are one Diamond Body, sharpening the self against world like blade against whetstone until all that remains is razor sharp, precision Nothingness.
There are vast amounts of pages devoted to alchemical procedures, but an alliance (and modernisation) of Eastern and Western mysticisms suggest a more direct route than processural and systematic growth upwards. As above, so below - as Virgil guides us, transcendence is not only acceleration outward but can also be a tunnelling downward: the Black Sun that is the squared-circular union of the Solar and its polar Negative is, after all, at the center of the labyrinth, not its exit. One may learn to convert the Nigredo stage directly into the Beatific Vision with no intervening mediation by utilizing the concepts of harmonics and symmetry to develop an intuitional “neuronavigational” system that does not rely on the symbolism of any language, committing the arch-heresy of refuting the need for an intermediary to cover the gap between the human domain and the rhizomatic observer-less god’s-eye view of the world-model. We assert that higher-dimensional instances of phenomenological symmetry are the religious/mystical/psychedelic experiences - the experience all religions are aiming at, and which some regard themselves as gatekeepers of or defenders against. By becoming this process of navigation one tends to quickly recognize the value of creative and persistent attentiveness over any variation of formal completion: the endless impossible task taken up precisely because it is endless and impossible.
To explore this dissolution of self and begin a sketch on the utilization and analysis of multiple methods for reliably generating the neurological suspension of the default mode brain operations known as the mystical death, we shall first examine the brain networks at work in this deactivation. This will allow us to examine a tradition of ritual intoxication that transtemporally cuts across cultural and geographic boundaries, illuminating several forms of cognitive flattening that are isomorphic to the dissolution of social, neural, and psychological boundaries found in these altered states of consciousness. This reduction of boundary-condition-thresholds across multiple axes renders thought maximally general-> genitive -> generative - driving a pluralized unity : a multiplicative multidentity - the droneswarm flexibly mutating between becoming-One : becoming-Many : becoming-Zero. This radical flattening of the impersonal flood of sense-data and an entity’s material existence blurs reality into an infinitely-smeared, [sub]merged heterarchy of seemingly-conscious pheno(u)mena. Mors Mystica exposes and forces a visualization of the calculatory procedures undertaken by the brain to generate a single subjectivity out of the multiplicity of multifarious and multivalent signals at play on its antennae.
A phenoumenodelic experience - any experience that //involves a shift of the very transcendental structure that renders a transcendent experience possible// - unfurls the full depth of the Mirror Maze out of the hyper-enfolded limitations of the stratified human structure - //transcending transcendence// onto a free field of impersonal experience - the immanent //void-plane of zero-intensity.// In the phenoumenodelic experience, we puncture the “Bouncing Wall” of correlationism, //make a slit in the umbrella [...] tear[ing] open the firmament itself//, and counteract the gravity of unitary consciousness. It is from taking this void-plane transformation as the urgrund that we may learn to engage multiple phenomenological perspectives on the world-model from within the same self-model.
We shall continue this cartographic expedition by engaging in a tracking of representations of this death before death/death-in-life, organizing an illumination of harmonic convergences in art reflecting the death of the body, the death of the mind, and the death of the world by scrying art, literature, Buddhism, and atheology to expose the apophatic keyless lock that opens onto both an infinite Sisyphean scaling of a headless holy-mountain and its simultaneous inverse, Orphic katabasis: the acephalic anti:image of Self/Mind/God/Reality that is >neurologically and ideologically consistent and >consistently non-ideological and extra-neurological. Expansive, imaginative, compassionate and constructive - embodied, enactive, and extended - self-reflective, organic, and algorithmically-constructed, persistent waveform. Mysticism and the interior drive to conceptualise reality as God naturalised in the alchemical furnace that reduces all concepts to geometry in order to drive universal adaptation. //The quest for god is the quest for the ultimate symmetry.//
The Mirror Maze is the multifaceted hyperreflective Philosophical Stone and we become this maze by learning to identify not with the limited, frightened, homesick perspective of the individual seeking attainment in the world but with the entire fluxxing unstructure that gives rise to this separation.
//One way or another, no matter which theory of our journey is correct, it is myself I address; to whom I rehearse as to a stranger our history and condition; and will disclose my secret hope though I will sink for it. - Barth, Night-Sea Journey//
We are not the first to have foreseen an end to blind threading of the weave of world-space. We are not the first to "gaze long into the Abyss", nor are we the first to discover that our personal abysses can reflect the individuated Self. We are not the first to unwind and add our own iteration of Ariadne's thread through this intimate [e/u]nfolding of Trauma and Time. We are not the first to attempt an Escape from this Mirror Maze only to become lost in the desert, nor the first to theorize a mechanism for the navigation of these inner zones. Nor are we the first to have brought back a vision of the underworld from the perspective of this "positive death at zero-intensity": a vision of a self-reflecting crystalline multiaxial multiplex manifold extending in every direction, infinitely, containing everything including itself and the voidplane and all the recursion and paradox that entails, but //even recursion, then, is not complex enough for a mirror so deeply synaesthetic and so causally complicated//. Indra’s Net is the template, but as we shall see, we are dealing with a presentation of this that is explicitly phenomenological. A common vision, not a universal abstraction.
Like a mobile and hyperconnected wireframe|cobweb|constellation, flexible and fluxxing, each node a virtual mirror containing the entire structure within it - infinite pages in infinite grimoires on infinite shelves in the total librarynth : the timeless and annihilating unity of Kalachakra : //he who knows to the end of the secret of Teonanacatl can even see that infinite clockwork// spoke Maria Sabina// reminiscent of so many literary and artistic structures, from Dante’s map of Inferno to the metaphor lurking in Foucault’s panopticon, to those intricately carved Chinese nested concentric spheres, each able to spin on their own individual axis. So many representations spiraling|piling up or down (pick your hyperspherical poison).
To update Nietzsche: We have a multiplicity of precursors, and what a unity these precursors construct! No less than a sizable body of witness that the limit[ed/ing] simulation of external reality by mind through the so-called “doors of perception” (which we will learn are but a colloquialism for the various gates and hub systems that separate different brain regions) can be turned off completely or simulated as such, that this process exposes details of future and past states as all recorded memory events and predictive hypotheses are experienced simultaneously within this un[der]worlding ultraconnectivity.
This knowledge does not come without a price, however. While the scaling of the Mountain is an understandable metaphor, the Orphic descent is both figuratively and literally a tunnelling through the unknown, literally in the sense of projection of signal across non-neuronal space. Exposure to the hellish realms - exposure to the possibility of ultimate negativity in thoughtspace - is not merely a mathematic eventuality when dealing with this “negative navigation.” The shibboleth of our cause is intimacy with pain and suffering - thorns have always been the fee for penetrating the hedgemaze boundaries and this intimacy becomes hard-coded into the actions of the entity in a progression toward larger and larger capacity for boundless compassion. Every oscillation from life to death and vice versa seems to amplify Bodhisattvic tendencies: the bardo-revelation becomes empyrean indoctrination, a training ground for hyperspherical harmonics. The constitution for and the discipline to not shy away from these dark transformations and blackened zones is an uncommon trait - the rarity of which maintains the secrecy of our methods for tolerating even the extreme limits of negative convergence.
This secrecy, this encoding/encryption, is not so much a test to the faithful or a jealous guarding of secrets, but as a safety precaution: these secrets can be easily abused because enlightenment is not difficult at all.
In works like Aldous Huxley’s ‘The Perennial Philosophy’ and Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth sequence one finds a category-theoretical approach to theology that organizes a range of spiritual histories and genealogies in order to perform various computations on these structures: rooting out invariance and mutability in descriptions and practices, comparing the historical evolution of different mythologies and shearing off unstable comparisons or sharpening isomorphisms to see what is left behind after this process. This comparison-process has even been taken as a mode of spirituality in itself, leading to many variations including such esoteric philosophies as gnosticism or theosophy that are themselves merely elaborations of this process of syncretism. Huxley’s excellent work of comparative religion maps the similarities of several traditions’ formations, schisms, and evolutions, exposing remarkable commonalities; Campbell’s Monomyth explicitly systematizes his claim that all mythologies and religions are constructed by an identical set of aims - principally the transformation of an individual through an cyclical array of checkpoints and challenges symbolizing the journey through the death of the disconnected individual and their rebirth as the spiritual Initiate once again fused to reality. The symbolic journey into the underworld and back is the essence of mysticism, and in perennial philosophy this journey is shown to be radically trans-modal.
An underground of highly idiosyncratic practices that trace a diagonal between revolt against and veneration of the individual practitioner's culture and ideology, mysticism universalizes a rebellion of nature, growth, and knowledge against authority, privilege, or dogma – physis and logos over physics and nomos. This thread seems to spontaneously emerge anywhere cultural or ideological repression or stagnation is found and exhibits extreme similarities regardless of the conceptual, spatial, or temporal distance between origins and practitioners. In order to present a case for mysticism to be naturalized we must reframe it, not as a spiritual ideology or subset thereof, but rather an umbrella term for an unorganised set of experimental methods for systematically testing the stability of and calibrating the relationship between the self- and world-models in the brain.