Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Four Worlds: A Brief Philosophical Exploration

"We are assailed by the Image. The Image is real."

By this, one usually means that an appearance is real as appearance, though a yawning gulf may yet lie at its back. Through the undoing of that pedestrian and vulgar form of binary thinking, it is possible to conceive this gulf as itself having real existence. As a real existent, it might follow, this gap has determinants of its own. Size, for example, may be ascribed to the being-appearing gap, or density if one prefers. Not only magnitudes or indications of intensity, but also qualitative distinctions, could be explored, depending on what is being negated in the gap's constitution. 

Let us call an object with this gap a “material” object, consequently subject to the regime of representation. An object with no such gap we shall term an “astral” object, or “imaginal” if one prefers. In this case, the object is directly its own appearing, subject not to representation but to presentation, purely and simply. An astral image, for example, is not a representation of some other thing, but directly is itself. If one likes, it represents or refers directly to itself. Such is the conception of a magician undergoing a vision; the vision is real, and any images of angels or demons seen in the mind's eye directly are those angels and demons.

This is not to say that an astral entity does not have other facets that it is not showing at some moment, only that there is no representation involved, hence the image is real not merely “as image”, but real full stop.

Aside from these two relatively simple registers, there is another that is rather more difficult to explain: the mental. It is perhaps easiest to conceive on the back of the astral, in the form of an example. When one listens to black metal, one does not exactly feel an emotion. Rather, one receives an affective image or series of images (image here is not exactly the right term, but it should suffice). This image, this sensuous but not obviously emotional response to musical extremity, can be meditated and dwelt upon, contemplated until it appears not as a mere image but as a kind of essence. This purified and abstracted “image” is no longer sensuous, but it has been drawn from the sensuous domain of music by the Will or the Intellect. This is an Idea, and it is a mental entity.

A mental entity is a combination of form and force, an abstract system of logic and the force to think through it. It is the highest sense of Mind as conceived by various ancient systems of idealism. It is, in other worlds, a singular world unto itself, effected only by the One that is God. It can be thought, that is inhabited, by the seeker, or rather the seeker can become part of that world. A mental word, for example, does not represent some other thing, but directly is itself (like an astral word), but beyond that, the very criteria for determining what it is are contained in seed form within the word itself. The speaking of the mental word changes reality in profound ways, a force contorting the fabric of the cosmos, even so far as to create an utter interiority separate from the One. Such is the conception of names divine or barbarous as they are chanted in certain contexts sacred or with inverted holiness.

There is, finally, the Causal world. The causal is just that – the cause of other stuff, while not being itself caused. In fact, it can never be effect. It is not only singular like mental entities, but sovereign. It like Laruelle's vision-in-One, or a unilateral duality. It is not unreasonable to term this world “God”.

The causal world acts by overflow, constantly reproducing itself as sovereign as it simultaneously produces the shards of non-being and sends them plunging in to the abyss. These shards of broken divinity can then be taken up into an Idea and used to forge a new God. In philosophical terminology, we might call the shards “exceptions”, the byproducts of formalization, the structural possibilities of diagonalization (in the Cantorian sense) and hence the reconfiguration of the causal (or better, the production of a new causal entity, for why should there be just one?).

Notes on Esoteric Ontology

God is considered irrational simply because Xe is operating according to every possible principle of rationality at the same time, and most of these are mutually contradictory. We consider reality to be inherently mysterious for this reason, that God's reason is many, while we require ours to be one. Many in principles and yet one in being, God is a single Logos causing directly the concrete totality of all Ideas, regardless of their material or imaginal manifestation. God is not the All, since God is lacking in lack itself, that is, in isolation. Individual Ideas are not God, but they do express God, among other things.

There is no such thing as nonsense, because everything, whatever else it might express, always expresses its ultimate essence or ground. This essence or ground is either God (in the normal case) or some other singularity of Will (in the case of contingent deification). Language, no matter how apparently absurd, always has an Idea that makes it intelligible, but that Idea might not be readily available in all cases.

Furthermore, however, that intelligibility dictates that the All does exist, though this existence necessarily excludes the exception (which is the principle or possibility of isolate intelligence and hence of contingent deification), much like the Lacanian masculine universal. This All could be rightly termed the Demiurge, from which it is advisable to escape by means of exceptionalization.

Reality breaks itself (self-abstracts) into distinct levels, of which there are 4: causal, mental, astral, and material (in that order). Less Will/Spirit results in higher “density” or concretion; hence the material world has the least Will, is the furthest emanated from God.

God emanates by a process called “speculative overflow”, by which Xe withdraws (tzimtzum) and then flows into the empty space from which Xe withdrew. This activity shatters the body of God (creates the exception). Speculative overflow can also be likened to the Ontological Argument, by which the conceptual distinctions of mind itself surpass their boundaries and are thus real. God overflows Xir own boundaries; God, indeed, is this very act of self-surpassing, which could also be represented by the logical deduction of Xirself.

Hence, all of created reality is the result of speculative overflow, in particular of the shards that fell into the abyss. But the ultimate telos of the Will is to achieve its own speculative overflow, to become a God itself. This is the Will's only pure end; insofar as Will is purified of all its objects, insofar as it becomes akin to an objectless subject, it achieves this end of self-deification.

This is not an idealism, since that is where all is Mind; here, all is Will. The mental world (Briah) is only one sphere of being. Instead of a dualism of mind and body, this is a four-fold dinstinction (or five if you count the abyssal non-being that opens onto a diagonalization procedure and hence to self-deification).

The material world is marked by a profound gap between being and appearing. The astral world, by way of contrast, has no such gap, and hence every astral appearing is directly that being which appears. An astral magic word or holy name is directly what it is said to “represent”, but instead of representing, it is a pure presentation.

The mental world is the infinite extrapolation of the tendency or essence of a thing (the relation of the mental world to the astral and material worlds is still opaque to me at the moment). More than an image or concept as those are usually called, an Idea (an entity of the mental world) is in some sense a world-process in itself or principle of Logos. It is a center of gravity, an interiority of Will. Examples of Ideas might be Aeons or True Selves.

It is through the mental world (through an Idea) that isolation can be accessed (and this must pass through the Sitra Ahra or void of darkness beyond the limits of God).

Will is the stuff of reality; it is not a thing but a process, always a willing.

Not everyone has a soul, but one can get a soul.

The paradox of duality and non-duality may be overcome. The simultaneous duality and non-duality of duality and non-duality can be resolved in favor of one or the other from the interiority of a process: in favor of non-duality when a singularity is dissolved (is this possible?) or in favor of duality (of isolation) when a singularity opens onto diagonal-being (anti-cosmic gnosis).