Fenollosa – Pound – Yeats: (Certain Noble Plays of Japan)

From The Manuscripts Of Ernest Fenollosa,

Chosen And Finished

By Ezra Pound

With An Introduction By William Butler Yeats

Fenollosa, Pound and Yeats are all members of Robert Anton Wilsons ‘all star cast’ for The Tale Of The Tribe.

Here we have one document which features 1/4 of the stars. Well worth the read i presume. In particular for anyone interested in Theatre.

Keep on truckin’

–Steve Fly

CERTAIN NOBLE PLAYS OF JAPAN:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/8094/8094-h/8094-h.htm 

Introduction by William Butler Yeats, April, 1916.

In the series of books I edit for my sister I confine myself to those that have I believe some special value to Ireland, now or in the future. I have asked Mr. Pound for these beautiful plays because I think they will help me to explain a certain possibility of the Irish dramatic movement.
I am writing these words with my imagination stirred by a visit to the studio of Mr. Dulac, the distinguished illustrator of the Arabian Nights. I saw there the mask and head-dress to be worn in a play of mine by the player who will speak the part of Cuchulain, and who wearing this noble half-Greek half-Asiatic face will appear perhaps like an image seen in revery by some Orphic worshipper. I hope to have attained the distance from life which can make credible strange events, elaborate words. I have written a little play that can be played in a room for so little money that forty or fifty readers of poetry can pay the price. There will be no scenery, for three musicians, whose seeming sun-burned faces will I hope suggest that they have wandered from village to village in some country of our dreams, can describe place and weather, and at moments action, and accompany it all by drum and gong or flute and dulcimer. Instead of the players working themselves into a violence of passion indecorous in our sitting-room, the music, the beauty of form and voice all come to climax in pantomimic dance.
In fact with the help of these plays ‘translated by Ernest Fenollosa and finished by Ezra Pound’ I have invented a form of drama, distinguished, indirect and symbolic, and having no need of mob or press to pay its way—an aristocratic form. When this play and its performance run as smoothly as my skill can make them, I shall hope to write another of the same sort and so complete a dramatic celebration of the life of Cuchulain planned long ago. Then having given enough performances for I hope the pleasure of personal friends and a few score people of good taste, I shall record all discoveries of method and turn to something else. It is an advantage of this noble form that it need absorb no one’s life, that its few properties can be packed up in a box, or hung upon the walls where they will be fine ornaments.
II
And yet this simplification is not mere economy. For nearly three centuries invention has been making the human voice and the movements of the body seem always less expressive. I have long been puzzled why passages, that are moving when read out or spoken during rehearsal, seem muffled or dulled during performance. I have simplified scenery, having ‘The Hour Glass’ for instance played now before green curtains, now among those admirable ivory-coloured screens invented by Gordon Craig. With every simplification the voice has recovered something of its importance and yet when verse has approached in temper to let us say ‘Kubla Khan,’ or ‘The Ode to the West Wind,’ the most typical modern verse, I have still felt as if the sound came to me from behind a veil. The stage-opening, the powerful light and shade, the number of feet between myself and the players have destroyed intimacy. I have found myself thinking of players who needed perhaps but to unroll a mat in some Eastern garden. Nor have I felt this only when I listened to speech, but even more when I have watched the movement of a player or heard singing in a play. I love all the arts that can still remind me of their origin among the common people, and my ears are only comfortable when the singer sings as if mere speech had taken fire, when he appears to have passed into song almost imperceptibly. I am bored and wretched, a limitation I greatly regret, when he seems no longer a human being but an invention of science. To explain him to myself I say that he has become a wind instrument and sings no longer like active men, sailor or camel driver, because he has had to compete with an orchestra, where the loudest instrument has always survived. The human voice can only become louder by becoming less articulate, by discovering some new musical sort of roar or scream. As poetry can do neither, the voice must be freed from this competition and find itself among little instruments, only heard at their best perhaps when we are close about them. It should be again possible for a few poets to write as all did once, not for the printed page but to be sung. But movement also has grown less expressive, more declamatory, less intimate. When I called the other day upon a friend I found myself among some dozen people who were watching a group of Spanish boys and girls, professional dancers, dancing some national dance in the midst of a drawing-room. Doubtless their training had been long, laborious and wearisome; but now one could not be deceived, their movement was full of joy. They were among friends, and it all seemed but the play of children; how powerful it seemed, how passionate, while an even more miraculous art, separated from us by the footlights, appeared in the comparison laborious and professional. It is well to be close enough to an artist to feel for him a personal liking, close enough perhaps to feel that our liking is returned.
My play is made possible by a Japanese dancer whom I have seen dance in a studio and in a drawing-room and on a very small stage lit by an excellent stage-light. In the studio and in the drawing-room alone where the lighting was the light we are most accustomed to, did I see him as the tragic image that has stirred my imagination. There where no studied lighting, no stage-picture made an artificial world, he was able, as he rose from the floor, where he had been sitting crossed-legged or as he threw out an arm, to recede from us into some more powerful life. Because that separation was achieved by human means alone, he receded, but to inhabit as it were the deeps of the mind. One realised anew, at every separating strangeness, that the measure of all arts’ greatness can be but in their intimacy.
III
All imaginative art keeps at a distance and this distance once chosen must be firmly held against a pushing world. Verse, ritual, music and dance in association with action require that gesture, costume, facial expression, stage arrangement must help in keeping the door. Our unimaginative arts are content to set a piece of the world as we know it in a place by itself, to put their photographs as it were in a plush or a plain frame, but the arts which interest me, while seeming to separate from the world and us a group of figures, images, symbols, enable us to pass for a few moments into a deep of the mind that had hitherto been too subtle for our habitation. As a deep of the mind can only be approached through what is most human, most delicate, we should distrust bodily distance, mechanism and loud noise.
It may be well if we go to school in Asia, for the distance from life in European art has come from little but difficulty with material. In half-Asiatic Greece, Kallimachos could still return to a stylistic management of the falling folds of drapery, after the naturalistic drapery of Phidias, and in Egypt the same age that saw the village Head-man carved in wood for burial in some tomb with so complete a naturalism saw, set up in public places, statues full of an august formality that implies traditional measurements, a philosophic defence. The spiritual painting of the 14th century passed on into Tintoretto and that of Velasquez into modern painting with no sense of loss to weigh against the gain, while the painting of Japan, not having our European Moon to churn the wits, has understood that no styles that ever delighted noble imaginations have lost their importance, and chooses the style according to the subject. In literature also we have had the illusion of change and progress, the art of Shakespeare passing into that of Dryden, and so into the prose drama, by what has seemed when studied in its details unbroken progress. Had we been Greeks, and so but half-European, an honourable mob would have martyred though in vain the first man who set up a painted scene, or who complained that soliloquies were unnatural, instead of repeating with a sigh, ‘we cannot return to the arts of childhood however beautiful.’ Only our lyric poetry has kept its Asiatic habit and renewed itself at its own youth, putting off perpetually what has been called its progress in a series of violent revolutions.
Therefore it is natural that I go to Asia for a stage-convention, for more formal faces, for a chorus that has no part in the action and perhaps for those movements of the body copied from the marionette shows of the 14th century. A mask will enable me to substitute for the face of some common-place player, or for that face repainted to suit his own vulgar fancy, the fine invention of a sculptor, and to bring the audience close enough to the play to hear every inflection of the voice. A mask never seems but a dirty face, and no matter how close you go is still a work of art; nor shall we lose by staying the movement of the features, for deep feeling is expressed by a movement of the whole body. In poetical painting & in sculpture the face seems the nobler for lacking curiosity, alert attention, all that we sum up under the famous word of the realists ‘vitality.’ It is even possible that being is only possessed completely by the dead, and that it is some knowledge of this that makes us gaze with so much emotion upon the face of the Sphinx or Buddha. Who can forget the face of Chaliapine as the Mogul King in Prince Igor, when a mask covering its upper portion made him seem like a Phoenix at the end of its thousand wise years, awaiting in condescension the burning nest and what did it not gain from that immobility in dignity and in power?
IV
Realism is created for the common people and was always their peculiar delight, and it is the delight to-day of all those whose minds educated alone by school-masters and newspapers are without the memory of beauty and emotional subtlety. The occasional humorous realism that so much heightened the emotional effect of Elizabethan Tragedy, Cleopatra’s old man with an asp let us say, carrying the tragic crisis by its contrast above the tide-mark of Corneille’s courtly theatre, was made at the outset to please the common citizen standing on the rushes of the floor; but the great speeches were written by poets who remembered their patrons in the covered galleries. The fanatic Savonarola was but dead a century, and his lamentation in the frenzy of his rhetoric, that every prince of the Church or State throughout Europe was wholly occupied with the fine arts, had still its moiety of truth. A poetical passage cannot be understood without a rich memory, and like the older school of painting appeals to a tradition, and that not merely when it speaks of ‘Lethe’s Wharf’ or ‘Dido on the wild sea-banks’ but in rhythm, in vocabulary; for the ear must notice slight variations upon old cadences and customary words, all that high breeding of poetical style where there is nothing ostentatious, nothing crude, no breath of parvenu or journalist.
Let us press the popular arts on to a more complete realism, for that would be their honesty; and the commercial arts demoralise by their compromise, their incompleteness, their idealism without sincerity or elegance, their pretence that ignorance can understand beauty. In the studio and in the drawing-room we can found a true theatre of beauty. Poets from the time of Keats and Blake have derived their descent only through what is least declamatory, least popular in the art of Shakespeare, and in such a theatre they will find their habitual audience and keep their freedom. Europe is very old and has seen many arts run through the circle and has learned the fruit of every flower and known what this fruit sends up, and it is now time to copy the East and live deliberately.
V
  'Ye shall not, while ye tarry with me, taste
From unrinsed barrel the diluted wine
Of a low vineyard or a plant illpruned,
But such as anciently the Aegean Isles
Poured in libation at their solemn feasts:
And the same goblets shall ye grasp embost
With no vile figures of loose languid boors,
But such as Gods have lived with and have led.'
The Noh theatre of Japan became popular at the close of the 14th century, gathering into itself dances performed at Shinto shrines in honour of spirits and gods or by young nobles at the court, and much old lyric poetry, and receiving its philosophy and its final shape perhaps from priests of a contemplative school of Buddhism. A small daimio or feudal lord of the ancient capital Nara, a contemporary of Chaucer’s, was the author, or perhaps only the stage-manager, of many plays. He brought them to the court of the Shogun at Kioto. From that on the Shogun and his court were as busy with dramatic poetry as the Mikado and his with lyric. When for the first time Hamlet was being played in London Noh was made a necessary part of official ceremonies at Kioto, and young nobles and princes, forbidden to attend the popular theatre in Japan as elsewhere a place of mimicry and naturalism were encouraged to witness and to perform in spectacles where speech, music, song and dance created an image of nobility and strange beauty. When the modern revolution came, Noh after a brief unpopularity was played for the first time in certain ceremonious public theatres, and 1897 a battleship was named Takasago, after one of its most famous plays. Some of the old noble families are to-day very poor, their men it may be but servants and labourers, but they still frequent these theatres. ‘Accomplishment’ the word Noh means, and it is their accomplishment and that of a few cultured people who understand the literary and mythological allusions and the ancient lyrics quoted in speech or chorus, their discipline, a part of their breeding. The players themselves, unlike the despised players of the popular theatre, have passed on proudly from father to son an elaborate art, and even now a player will publish his family tree to prove his skill. One player wrote in 1906 in a business circular—I am quoting from Mr. Pound’s redaction of the Notes of Fenollosa—that after thirty generations of nobles a woman of his house dreamed that a mask was carried to her from heaven, and soon after she bore a son who became a player and the father of players. His family he declared still possessed a letter from a 15th century Mikado conferring upon them a theatre-curtain, white below and purple above.
There were five families of these players and, forbidden before the Revolution to perform in public, they had received grants of land or salaries from the state. The white and purple curtain was no doubt to hang upon a wall behind the players or over their entrance door for the Noh stage is a platform surrounded upon three sides by the audience. No ‘naturalistic’ effect is sought. The players wear masks and found their movements upon those of puppets: the most famous of all Japanese dramatists composed entirely for puppets. A swift or a slow movement and a long or a short stillness, and then another movement. They sing as much as they speak, and there is a chorus which describes the scene and interprets their thought and never becomes as in the Greek theatre a part of the action. At the climax instead of the disordered passion of nature there is a dance, a series of positions & movements which may represent a battle, or a marriage, or the pain of a ghost in the Buddhist purgatory. I have lately studied certain of these dances, with Japanese players, and I notice that their ideal of beauty, unlike that of Greece and like that of pictures from Japan and China, makes them pause at moments of muscular tension. The interest is not in the human form but in the rhythm to which it moves, and the triumph of their art is to express the rhythm in its intensity. There are few swaying movements of arms or body such as make the beauty of our dancing. They move from the hip, keeping constantly the upper part of their body still, and seem to associate with every gesture or pose some definite thought. They cross the stage with a sliding movement, and one gets the impression not of undulation but of continuous straight lines.
The Print Room of the British Museum is now closed as a war-economy, so I can only write from memory of theatrical colour-prints, where a ship is represented by a mere skeleton of willows or osiers painted green, or a fruit tree by a bush in a pot, and where actors have tied on their masks with ribbons that are gathered into a bunch behind the head. It is a child’s game become the most noble poetry, and there is no observation of life, because the poet would set before us all those things which we feel and imagine in silence.
Mr. Ezra Pound has found among the Fenollosa manuscripts a story traditional among Japanese players. A young man was following a stately old woman through the streets of a Japanese town, and presently she turned to him and spoke: ‘Why do you follow me?’ ‘Because you are so interesting.’ ‘That is not so, I am too old to be interesting.’ But he wished he told her to become a player of old women on the Noh stage. ‘If he would become famous as a Noh player she said, he must not observe life, nor put on an old voice and stint the music of his voice. He must know how to suggest an old woman and yet find it all in the heart.’
VI
In the plays themselves I discover a beauty or a subtlety that I can trace perhaps to their threefold origin. The love-sorrows, the love of father and daughter, of mother and son, of boy and girl, may owe their nobility to a courtly life, but he to whom the adventures happen, a traveller commonly from some distant place, is most often a Buddhist priest; and the occasional intellectual subtlety is perhaps Buddhist. The adventure itself is often the meeting with ghost, god or goddess at some holy place or much-legended tomb; and god, goddess or ghost reminds me at times of our own Irish legends and beliefs, which once it may be differed little from those of the Shinto worshipper.
The feather-mantle, for whose lack the moon goddess, (or should we call her fairy?) cannot return to the sky, is the red cap whose theft can keep our fairies of the sea upon dry land; and the ghost-lovers in ‘Nishikigi’ remind me of the Aran boy and girl who in Lady Gregory’s story come to the priest after death to be married. These Japanese poets too feel for tomb and wood the emotion, the sense of awe that our Gaelic speaking country people will some times show when you speak to them of Castle Hackett or of some Holy Well; and that is why perhaps it pleases them to begin so many plays by a Traveller asking his way with many questions, a convention agreeable to me; for when I first began to write poetical plays for an Irish theatre I had to put away an ambition of helping to bring again to certain places, their old sanctity or their romance. I could lay the scene of a play on Baile’s Strand, but I found no pause in the hurried action for descriptions of strand or sea or the great yew tree that once stood there; and I could not in ‘The King’s Threshold’ find room, before I began the ancient story, to call up the shallow river and the few trees and rocky fields of modern Gort. But in the ‘Nishikigi’ the tale of the lovers would lose its pathos if we did not see that forgotten tomb where ‘the hiding fox’ lives among ‘the orchids and the chrysanthemum flowers.’ The men who created this convention were more like ourselves than were the Greeks and Romans, more like us even than are Shakespeare and Corneille. Their emotion was self-conscious and reminiscent, always associating itself with pictures and poems. They measured all that time had taken or would take away and found their delight in remembering celebrated lovers in the scenery pale passion loves. They travelled seeking for the strange and for the picturesque: ‘I go about with my heart set upon no particular place, no more than a cloud. I wonder now would the sea be that way, or the little place Kefu that they say is stuck down against it.’ When a traveller asks his way of girls upon the roadside he is directed to find it by certain pine trees, which he will recognise because many people have drawn them.
I wonder am I fanciful in discovering in the plays themselves (few examples have as yet been translated and I may be misled by accident or the idiosyncrasy of some poet) a playing upon a single metaphor, as deliberate as the echoing rhythm of line in Chinese and Japanese painting. In the ‘Nishikigi’ the ghost of the girl-lover carries the cloth she went on weaving out of grass when she should have opened the chamber door to her lover, and woven grass returns again and again in metaphor and incident. The lovers, now that in an aery body they must sorrow for unconsummated love, are ‘tangled up as the grass patterns are tangled.’ Again they are like an unfinished cloth: ‘these bodies, having no weft, even now are not come together, truly a shameful story, a tale to bring shame on the gods.’ Before they can bring the priest to the tomb they spend the day ‘pushing aside the grass from the overgrown ways in Kefu,’ and the countryman who directs them is ‘cutting grass on the hill;’ & when at last the prayer of the priest unites them in marriage the bride says that he has made ‘a dream-bridge over wild grass, over the grass I dwell in;’ and in the end bride and bridegroom show themselves for a moment ‘from under the shadow of the love-grass.’
In ‘Hagoromo’ the feather-mantle of the fairy woman creates also its rhythm of metaphor. In the beautiful day of opening spring ‘the plumage of Heaven drops neither feather nor flame,’ ‘nor is the rock of earth over-much worn by the brushing of the feathery skirt of the stars.’ One half remembers a thousand Japanese paintings, or whichever comes first into the memory. That screen painted by Korin, let us say, shown lately at the British Museum, where the same form is echoing in wave and in cloud and in rock. In European poetry I remember Shelley’s continually repeated fountain and cave, his broad stream and solitary star. In neglecting character which seems to us essential in drama, as do their artists in neglecting relief and depth, when they arrange flowers in a vase in a thin row, they have made possible a hundred lovely intricacies.
VII
These plays arose in an age of continual war and became a part of the education of soldiers. These soldiers, whose natures had as much of Walter Pater as of Achilles combined with Buddhist priests and women to elaborate life in a ceremony, the playing of football, the drinking of tea, and all great events of state, becoming a ritual. In the painting that decorated their walls and in the poetry they recited one discovers the only sign of a great age that cannot deceive us, the most vivid and subtle discrimination of sense and the invention of images more powerful than sense; the continual presence of reality. It is still true that the Deity gives us, according to His promise, not His thoughts or His convictions but His flesh and blood, and I believe that the elaborate technique of the arts, seeming to create out of itself a superhuman life has taught more men to die than oratory or the Prayer Book. We only believe in those thoughts which have been conceived not in the brain but in the whole body. The Minoan soldier who bore upon his arm the shield ornamented with the dove in the Museum at Crete, or had upon his head the helmet with the winged horse, knew his rôle in life. When Nobuzane painted the child Saint Kobo, Daishi kneeling full of sweet austerity upon the flower of the lotus, he set up before our eyes exquisite life and the acceptance of death.
I cannot imagine those young soldiers and the women they loved pleased with the ill-breeding and theatricality of Carlyle, nor I think with the magniloquence of Hugo. These things belong to an industrial age, a mechanical sequence of ideas; but when I remember that curious game which the Japanese called, with a confusion of the senses that had seemed typical of our own age, ‘listening to incense,’ I know that some among them would have understood the prose of Walter Pater, the painting or Puvis de Chavannes, the poetry of Mallarmé and Verlaine. When heroism returned to our age it bore with it as its first gift technical sincerity.
VIII
For some weeks now I have been elaborating my play in London where alone I can find the help I need, Mr. Dulac’s mastery of design and Mr. Ito’s genius of movement; yet it pleases me to think that I am working for my own country. Perhaps some day a play in the form I am adapting for European purposes shall awake once more, whether in Gaelic or in English, under the slope of Slieve-na-mon or Croagh Patrick ancient memories; for this form has no need of scenery that runs away with money nor of a theatre-building. Yet I know that I only amuse myself with a fancy; for though my writings if they be sea-worthy must put to sea, I cannot tell where they may be carried by the wind. Are not the fairy-stories of Oscar Wilde, which were written for Mr. Ricketts and Mr. Shannon and for a few ladies, very popular in Arabia?
W. B. Yeats, April 1916.

Cathay: Ezra Pound’s re-imagination of Chinese Poetry by Kerry Brown

Cathay: Ezra Pound’s re-imagination of Chinese Poetry
This slim volume, born from an accidental discovery, set the tone for modern translations of Chinese poetry into English
By Kerry Brown

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the first publication of Ezra Pound’s slender volume of oriental poems, Cathay. While the collection does not have the fame of his epic lifelong work, Cantos, it ranks highly among modern fusion poetry that blends in two different literary traditions.
Pound never claimed to be fluent in Chinese, writes Ira Nadel in his introduction, although in the last decades of his life he did study Confucius’s Analects with a dictionary by his side. He used Chinese characters in his work, but Pound’s view from early on was that Chinese ideograms or characters, and the culture they represented, had primarily an aesthetic appeal.
The translations, which he based his own works on, came from the work of Ernest Fenollosa, an early Orientalist who mostly used Japanese renditions of classical Chinese works. Cathay is, therefore, a double mediation—a work based on another body of work which itself was derivative — rather than directly linked to the source material.
Pound was criticized for this remoteness once Cathay was published. But in the intervening hundred years, the consensus remains that he did manage to capture something of the spirit and deeper meaning of the Chinese texts.
Pound made a major contribution to the modern western concept of “the Orient”, a place of otherness, with a different tempo and emotional register to European or American cultures. He described the dominant feelings of being lost and the sense of solitude within his imagined Orient. “The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” is the most celebrated of this genre, with its tale of “two small people, without dislike or suspicion” who marry at 14, get separated at 16, with the wife waiting for her husband to one day return.
Exile and absence marks many of the other poems, reinforcing this sense that Chinese poetry is about delicate understatement and restraint, expressed through metaphors concerning the landscape, vegetation, or water.
Pound’s imagination and work dealt with a larger “orient” rather than a specific place called China. The ways in which he treated this idea of what is oriental typifies other writers or thinkers from Europe or North America, whose cultures are distinct from that in Japan, China, or across East Asia.
Pound makes certain assumptions. In the Cantos, he described the whole dynastic history of China. Historians would now despair at his idea of such neat divisions between order and chaos. But when we remember that he is writing not so much about what China or the Orient as an actual place might be, but how western imagination configured it and responded to ideas about it this question of how accurate Pound’s translations are becomes unimportant. What makes his poetry important not only in and for itself, but because its role in this history of western conceptualization of the Orient, and of China.
The book is also a reminder that Pound was a skilled lyricist. His later political adventures, which almost led to a conviction for treason during World War II for producing propaganda for the Fascist government of Italy, have tended to overshadow awareness of his immense technical skills. The Cathay poems show the intensity, the concreteness and the music that Pound at his best was able to create. Cathay contains hybrid material—most of it related to Fenollosa’s renditions of Japanese-Chinese texts, but he also put in his celebrated translation from the Old English, The Seafarer. There is nothing discordant about this. In fact, it stimulates thoughts on how similar the worlds from these two eras—ancient imperial China and the dark ages of Europe—might be. Both describe loss, vulnerabilities, and the creation of beliefs.

Pound is perhaps one of the very few creative figures that succeeded in bridging two very different cultural worlds. Cathay stands as a testament to that.
Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, London. His latest book China’s CEO: Xi Jinping will be out in April, 2016Reprinted with permission from The Asian Review of Books

http://english.caixin.com/2015-11-28/100879225.html 

(Robert Anton Wilson’s introduction to: Undoing Yourself With Energized Meditation and Other Devices by Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph.D.)

(Robert Anton Wilson’s introduction to: Undoing Yourself With Energized Meditation and Other Devices by Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph.D.)
The one sure way to make yourself unpopular in the United States these days is to mention the fact that Christianity and Democracy have been among the worst disasters to ever befall the human race. Nonetheless, as all students of history know, Christianity has been the bloodiest and most destructive religion in the long career of fanaticism on this planet; although Liberals and Rationalists keep reminding us of that tragic record of the Religion of Love, few of them have cared to observe or remember the data on warfare collected by Harvard sociologist, Prof. Pitrim Sorokin. In Social and Cultural Dynamics, and other works, Sorokin documents beyond all doubt that democratic nations have been involved in more imperialistic wars, and have fought them with greater ferocity, than any other kinds of governments, from the dawn of civilization to the present. Oriental despotisms, absolute monarchies, even modern fascist and communist nations have all had heinous records of tyranny and general human oppression, but collectively they have been much less aggressive and war-like than the democracies, from ancient Athens to modern America.
The blood-thirsty nature of Christianity and Democracy — which is obvious, psychologically, if one listens even for a few minutes to a typical speech by Rev. Jerry Falwell or his good friend Ronald Reagan — is, of course, based on arrogance, megalomania and a deeprooted sense of total moral superiority to all non-Christian and non-Democratic peoples. But beyond that, the violent nature of Christian/Democratic countries is rooted in the singular delusion shared by both the Religion of Love and the Politics of Liberty. This delusion is the belief that human beings are born with some sort of metaphysical “free will” which makes them unique in the animal kingdom and only slightly less exalted than the gods themselves.
The “free will” fantasy is not a minor error, like thinking it is Tuesday when actually it is Wednesday. It is not even to be compared to a major intellectual blunder of the ordinary sort, like Marx’s notion that once a totalitarian “worker’s state” was created, it would then quickly and magically “wither away.” It is even more nefarious and pernicious than the medieval lunacy that imagined witches everywhere and burned over 10,000,000 women at the stake on the basis of hysteria, superstition and the kind of hearsay and rumor that no modern court would permit to be entered as evidence. The “free will” delusion is much more serious than any of that. It is the kind of radical 180-degree reversal of reality that, once it enters a person’s mind, guarantees that they will be incapable of understanding anything happening around them; they might as well be deaf, dumb, blind and wearing signs warning the world, “ULTIMATE DESTINATION: THE MADHOUSE.”
I do not speak flippantly, nor do I mean to be understood as writing satire or polemic. The facts of modern biology and psychology have demonstrated clearly and conclusively that 99 percent of the human race is in a robotic or zombi-like state 99.99999 percent of the time. This does not refer to “other people.” It refers to YOU AND ME. As the Firesign Theatre used to say, We’re all Bozos on this bus. The best that can be said of any of us, usually, is that we have occasional moments of lucidity, but that can be said of any schizophrenic patient.
EAST, WEST AND THE MIDDLE
In the Orient, which has its own idiocies and superstitions, there has always been a singular sanity about the “free will” myth: virtually without exception, all the great Oriental philosophers have recognized that donkeys, grass-hoppers, dolphins, toads, hummingbirds, dogs, chickens, tigers, sharks, gophers, spiders, chimpanzees, cobras, cows, lice, squid, deer, and humans are equally important, equally unimportant, equally empty, equally expressive of the “World Soul” or “Life Force.” Buddhism, Vedanta and Taoism also recognize that each of these clever animals just mentioned, including the humans, have about equally as much “free will” as flowers, shrubs, rocks and viruses, and that the human delusion of being separate from and superior to the rest of the natural order is a kind of narcissistic self-hypnosis. Awakening from that egotistic trance is the major goal of every Oriental system of psychology.
Opposing this Oriental recognition of, and submission to, the order of things as they are, and yet opposing also the Christian and Democratic delusions of “free will” and “individual responsibility,” there is the hidden tradition of Sufism in Islam and Hermeticism in Europe. This “occult” teaching recognizes that, although domesticated primates (humans) are born as mechanical as the wild primates (such as chimpanzees), there are techniques by which we can become less mechanical and approximate in daily and yearly increments toward freedom and responsibility.
These “spiritual” (neurological) techniques of Un-doing and rerobotizing oneself are, of course, of no interest in the Orient, where it is accepted that we are born robots and will die robots; and they are of even less interest in the Christian-Democratic cultures which assume that we are already free and responsible and do not have to work and work HARD to achieve even a small beginning of nonmechanical consciousness and non-robotic behavior.
The Orient forgives easily, because it does not expect robots to do anything else but what was programmed into them by the accidents of heredity and environment. The Christian and Democratic nations are so bloody-minded because they can forgive nothing, blaming every man and woman for whatever imprinted or conditioned behavior is locally Taboo. (This is why Nietzsche called Christianity “the Religion of Revenge” and Joyce described the Christian God as a Hanging Judge.) The Sufic and Hermetic traditions are almost Oriental in forgiving robots for being robots, but are far from sentimental about it. As one Sufi poet said:
The fool neither forgives nor forgets;
The half-enlightened forgive and forget;
The Sufi forgives but does not forget.
That is, Sufism and other Hermetic traditions recognize that robots will behave like robots, and does not “blame” them, but it also does not forget, for a moment or even a nanosecond, that we are living in a robotic world — “an armed madhouse” in the metaphor of poet Allen Ginsberg. Those of this tradition know that when a man spouts Christian and Democratic verbalisms that does not mean he will act with brotherly love at all, at all; he will go on acting like a badly-wired robot in most cases.
Sufism is only the largest of several Near Eastern and European “mystic” movements which recognize the robotry of ordinary humanity but, unlike the Orient, attempt to Un-do and de-robotize those who have a dawning apprehension of their mechanical state and sincerely want to become less mechanical, as far as that is possible. I am not writing a recruiting manual for Sufism (which is doing quite well without my advertisements): I am merely using the Sufi school as one example of the tradition to which this marvelous book, UNDOING YOURSELF, belongs.
Most readers, if they have encountered such ideas at all, probably identify them with Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, two of the most talented expositors of a school of neo-Sufism which they peddled under the brand name of “Esoteric Christianity.” The present book also owes a great deal to Aleister Crowley, who belonged to this tradition but sold his own brand of it under the label of Gnostic Magick. There is also a strong influence here of the bio-psychology of Wilhelm Reich; but all this tracing of “sources” is ultimately trivial. The importance of Christopher Hyatt’s work is what you can get out of it and that depends entirely on what you put into it.
IT WORKS, IF YOU WORK
In my travels, I often encounter people who somehow have gotten the wild idea that I am the Head of the Illuminati (actually, I am at most a toe-nail) and who want me to explain the Secrets of High Magick to them. (Although it is hard to restrain my sense of humor at such times, I usually resist the temptation to tell them they can achieve Total Illumination by singing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” in pig Latin while standing on their heads.) The questions I am asked most often, by those who can ask something more specific than “What is The Secret?” are almost always about Crowley’s doctrine of the True Will. People tell me, most earnestly, that they have read ten or twenty or more of Crowley’s books, and have read them many times, and still do not understand what “True Will” means.
As Gurdjieff would say, “What does this question signify? It signifies that these people are walking in their sleep and only dreaming they are awake. That is what this question signifies.”
There is only one possible reason why people can read Crowley at length and not understand what True Will means. That reason seems incredible at first sight, but it is the only reason that can explain this astounding scotoma. The reason many readers of Crowley do not understand True Will is that these earnest students have never performed any of the exercizes that Crowley provides for those who sincerely want to de-robotize themselves and experience what is meant by True Will.
Shortly after my manual of de-mechanization exercizes, Prometheus Rising, was published, I was at a Cosmic Con with, among others, E.J. Gold of the Fake Sufi School. He told me that nobody would do any of the exercizes in my book, but I would still get lots of letters from people saying the book had “liberated” them. Since I sometimes think Sufis and even Fake Sufis are perhaps overly skeptical about humanity in its present evolutionary stage, I have made a point of asking people, when they praise that book in my presence, how many of the exercizes they’ve done.
Most people look faintly abashed and admit they have only done a “few” of the exercizes (which probably means they haven’t done any). However, some people claim to have done all or most of the exercizes, and these people generally look so delighted about the matter that I tend to believe them. I therefore conclude that the Sufi and Gurdjieff traditions are wrong in saying that 999 out of 1000 will never work on the techniques of liberation. Actually, it appears to be only around 987 out of 1000 who prefer to talk about the work rather than doing it. At least 13 out of every 1000 will actually do the exercizes.
I have decided that one of the reasons that most readers of selfliberation books never even make the effort to liberate themselves is that reading the books is actually a kind of superstitious “magick ritual,” which they think will have an effect with no other effort on their parts. The same sort of superstition leads others to think that peeking at the answers in the back of the book of logical puzzles is as beneficial as solving the puzzles for themselves; and there is even a text out now with the answers to Zen koans, as if the answers, and not the process of arriving at them, were the meaning of Zen.
Aside from such “symbolic magick” (as distinguished from real magick ritual, which is a type of Brain Change experiment), the main reason people prefer to read neurological exercizes rather than doing the exercizes is the dread and sheer horror which the word “work” invokes in most people. Some great teachers, especially Gurdjieff and Crowley, have literally frightened away thousands of would-be students by insisting on the necessity of HARD WORK (as I also frightened a lot of readers by using those words several times in this essay.)
Of course, there is a quite legitimate reason why the word “work” has such horrible conditioned associations for most people in the modern world. That reason is that most “work” in this age is stupid, monotonous, brain-rotting, irritating, usually pointless and basically consists of the agonizing process of being slowly bored to death over a period of about 40 to 45 years of drudgery; Marx was quite right in calling it “wage slavery.” Most people know this, but are afraid to admit it, because to dislike “work” is regarded as a symptom of Communism or some other dreadful mental illness.
I recently heard a politician admit on BBC that the reason English workers are so notoriously “lazy” is that their jobs are so unspeakably sub-human and dull. “If I had to do that kind of work, I would call in sick as often as possible and goof off at every chance,” he said flatly. Alas, I had tuned in late and never did catch this chap’s name, which is a terrible misfortune for me, since I suspect he is the only Honest Politician in the world.
It is this universal but repressed hatred of “work” that causes almost everybody to despise and persecute the unemployed. Almost everybody envies the folks of the dole (on Welfare, as you say in The States) because almost everybody secretly wishes they could escape their own jobs and live without working.
It has taken me decades to understand this, because I am part of that very fortunate minority who work at jobs we actually enjoy. (It is hard to make me stop working, as my wife will assure you.) The minority who actually loves its work seems to be made up chiefly of the writers, dancers, actors and other artists, most scientists above the technician-troll level, computer freaks, and the righteous dopedealers of California. Everybody else wishes they had the courage to go on the dole, but is ashamed of the stigma attached to being a non-worker, and resolves the tension by being as nasty as possible to the unemployed on every possible occasion.
HEY! CATCH THIS! A SECRET OF
THE ILLUMINATI REVEALED!
Here I want to let you in on a real Secret of the Illuminati, one that has never been published before.
The so-called “work” involved in Brain Change is not like ordinary “work” at all. It is more like the creative ecstasy of the artist and scientist, once you really get involved in doing it. Most people
are afraid of it only because they think “work” must be a curse and can’t imagine that “work” can be fun.
So it is best not to think of Energized Meditation as “work” at all, at least as you have experienced “work” in most of the world today. It might be better and more accurate to consider the EM exercizes as “play” than as “work.” Of course, play has its own rigours, and you do have to put energy into it to become a winner rather than a perpetual loser, but it is still entirely unlike the wage slavery that most people call “work.” In fact, to be blunt about it, it is more like sex-play than any other kind of play because it definitely unleashes energies that have erotic as well as therapeutic side-effects. You are a dunce if you avoid it just because you think anything that needs effort must be “work” in the sense that people in factories and offices are suffering from the curse of “work” in our society.
Think of it more in terms of your favorite sport or recreation—fishing or bird-watching or softball or whatever you do with passion and just for the excitement of it. If that kind of thing should not be called “play,” then I do not know what “play” means.
So when I wrote “Hard Work,” I was just trying to jar you into actually paying attention for once. I really should have said, for accuracy, Hard Play.
The second part of this Secret of the Illuminati is what I have called elsewhere Wilson’s 23rd Law. (Wilson’s First Law, of course, is “Certitude belongs exclusively to those who only own one encyclopedia.” Wilson’s Second Law is the Snafu Principle described in ILLUMINATUS: “Communication is only possible between equals.” All of Wilson’s Laws will be published when the world is ready for the staggering revelations contained therein.)
Wilson’s 23rd Law is:
Do it every day
This is the most profound of all the Secrets of the Illuminati and I have often been warned that Terrible Consequences will ensue if I reveal it prematurely, but—what the hell, these are parlous times, friend, and this primitive planet needs all the Light that can be unleashed on its dark, superstitious mind. Let me repeat, since I am sure you didn’t get it the first time:
Do it every day!
Have you ever wondered why Einstein became such a great physicist? It was because he loved the equations and concepts of mathematical physics so much that he “worked” on them—or played and tinkered with them—every day. That’s why Otto von Klemper became such a great conductor: he loved Beethoven and Mozart and that crowd so much that he practised his music every day. It’s why Babe Ruth became such a great ball-player: he loved the game so
deeply that he was playing or rehearsing every day.
This rule also explains, incidentally, how people destroy themselves.
Do you want to become a suicide (it’s the fashionable thing in some circles, after all)? Practise being depressed, worried and resentful every day, and don’t let anybody distract you with Energized Meditation or any other mind-change system. Do you want to land in jail on an assault and battery charge? Practise getting damned bloody angry every day. If you want to become paranoid, look carefully every day for evidence of treachery and duplicity around
you. If your ambition is to die young, do the depression-worryresentment system every day but center in especially on visualizing and worrying about every imaginable illness that might possibly
inflict itself upon you.
(On the other hand, if you want to live as long as George Burns, “work hard” every day at being as cheerful and optimistic as he is.)
Almost anything is possible if you
DO IT EVERY DAY
Of course, this rule does not guarantee 100 percent results. Playing Chopin on the piano every day for 4 or 5 decades does not mean you will become as good as Van Cliburn; it merely means that you eventually will be a better piano player than anybody in your home state. Worrying every day does not absolutely guarantee a clinical depression or an early death, but after only a few years it does ensure you will be one of the three or four most miserable people in your neighborhood. Writing a sonnet every day for twenty years may not necessarily make you Shakespeare or Mrs. Browning, but it will make you the best poet for an area of about forty to fifty miles, probably. Doing Energized Meditation or similar exercizes does not mean you will be a Perfectly Enlightened Being or a Guru in a few years, just that you will be a great deal happier and a hell of a lot more perceptive, creative and “intuitive” than most people you’ll meet in an average city.
There is a story that Bobbie Fisher, the chess champion, was once in a room with other chess masters when the conversation turned to the latest nuclear accident and the effects of the resultant fall-out. Fisher listened impatiently for a few minutes and then exclaimed irritably, “What the hell does that have to do with chess?” While I am not urging that you imitate that degree of monomania or obsession, there is a significant lesson in this tale. The reason Fisher became a champion is that he cared so much about chess that he did not even have to nag himself or remind himself to do it every bloody day.
WARNING!
THREATS TO THE PRIMATE EGO
ARE COMING!
Unfortunately—while the Energized Meditation system is fun, and erotic, and makes you “smarter” (in the sense of more aware of detail and complexity), and even jolts you out of total mammalian reflex behavior into something approximating in slow but definite increments toward that mystic “free will” Christians claim you were given at birth, and I recommend it heartily—I must admit that there are pages coming up shortly in this book that will probably make you extremely uncomfortable.
Dr. Hyatt is a rude, insulting and deliberately annoying writer. He does not soothe or pacify the reader with the Christian and Democratic mythology of our society by pretending that we are all
free and rational people here. He insists on reminding us, every few pages, in the most blunt language possible, that most of us most of the time are conditioned chimpanzees in a cage.
Don’t let it worry you too much.
The situation is this: there are mechanical systems operating throughout the domesticated primate (human) organism, each on different levels. For instance, as Bucky Fuller liked to say, you never sit down and ask how many hairs you should sprout on your head and body in the next week: that is one of the thousands of biological programs that operate entirely on mechanical circuitry. Except in various systems of yoga, you do not have much control over your breathing, either: that is also an auto-pilot. The digestive-excretive circuits also operate with a minimum of conscious attention or strategy, except when you need to find a public toilet and the bars are all closed. (Make a list of ten more programs that keep you alive and functioning, over which you have never had any conscious control. Be one of the 13 readers out of a thousand who actually do it before reading on.)
The reason that mystics and certain other psychologists are always “attacking” the ego is that the ego is the one mechanical circuit that suffers chronically from the illusion that it is non-mechanical and “free.”
The ego and its delusions must be undermined—either attacked openly and bluntly, as in the Gurdjieff system and this book, or subverted more subtly and slowly, as in certain other systems—before any real progress can be made toward “liberation,” “enlightenment,” “finding IT,” discovering the “True Will” in Crowley’s sense, or whatever is your favorite term for becoming less robotic and more aware—less the computer and more the programmer of the computer—less the conditioned rat in the Behaviorist’s maze and more the Beyond-Human that the Sufic-Hermetic traditions and Neitzsche have predicted.
The main reason you shouldn’t be afraid of this attack on your precious little ego is that the ego is infinitely resourceful and finds ways to sneak back into its habitual mechanical trance no matter how many times you think you have Awakened once and for all. This is another Secret of the Illuminati and explains the great humility and the keen sense of humor of all the genuine Mages. In other words, if you think it is scary to lose your precious primate ego abruptly and forever, don’t worry about that; it is no more likely than becoming the world’s greatest Rock star tomorrow morning. The only real way to get loose from mechanical ego trips is to learn several ego-transcending games and then for twenty or forty years or longer DO THEM EVERY DAY.
Before you put that much effort and time into it, you need not worry that your wonderful, precious and totally marvelous Ego will go away suddenly, it will merely get transformed a bit,
“enlarged” in perspective and “reduced” in conceit (a little), freed from some of its more idiotic habits, and it will even pretend to go away at times, but it will always come back and usually at the most embarrassing times. It’s easier to assassinate the President of the United States than to kill your own ego.
500 micrograms of pure Sandoz LSD will “destroy” the ego more totally than any of the EM exercizes in this book—atom bomb it out of existence, as it were. The results even in that case, as all old acid-heads will assure you, are, however spectacular, always temporary. As Dr. John Lilly wrote in Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, after a heavy trip on genuine laboratory Acid,
For a time, the self then feels free, cleaned
out. The strength gained can be immense; the
energy freed is double . . . Humor appears in
abundance, good humor… Beauty is enhanced,
the bodily appearance becomes youthful . . .
These positive effects can last as long as two to
four weeks before reassertion of the old programs
takes place.
We are the products of mechanical genetic programs, mechanical imprints and mechanical conditioning, just like the other animals. The progress to post-animal, non-mechanical and trans-ego freedom is often rapidly accelerated for a period, or several periods, of sudden
flash-like Awakenings and post-human perspectives, and I personally suspect that is happening increasingly under the stress of our age of terrorism and accelerated evolutionary change, but the ultimate result of a true transcendence of robot consciousness is approached in slow increments over years and decades. (Total “freedom” from mechanism on all circuits seems impossible to me, in my current level of ignorance. I don’t think the organism would survive if most of it did not remain a smooth-running and unconscious machine.)
E.J. Gold of the Fake Sufi School, mentioned earlier, has a saying to the effect that the attempt to achieve total Transcendence of mechanical ego programs is as absurd as “sticking toothpicks between your eyelids to be sure you never go to sleep for a moment.”
There seem to be genuine biological reasons why we need to spend about one third of our lives asleep and a large part of the other two-thirds half-entranced by mechanical conditioned processes. The purpose of all schools of liberation is to wake up fully often enough to have some perspective outside the sleeping and conditioned ego states.
WHAT “IS” ALL THIS?
The great Dublin scientist and philosopher, de Selby, once took an empty jam jar and filled it with all the small cruddy items he could find around the house. The fuzz that accumulates on carpets, the dust on book shelves, bent paperclips, broken staples, the grunge from bathtub rings, grotty kitchen encrustations, nameless shards of forgotten plaster statues long broken, archaeological excavations from the cellar, miscellaneous delvings in the rubbish bin, torn covers of match books scrawled with inscrutable phone numbers, even belly-button lint, all went in. This was a labour of some weeks, and when it was finished even de Selby himself could not remember or classify the total contents of the jar. He then selected a statistical universe of 123 Dubliners and 246 visitors form England or the Continent just off the Dun Laoghaire ferry and asked each to guess what the jar contained.
77.6 percent of the sample answered at once, “Oh, I know, it is ” and then made some wild guess. (The most common guess, given by 54.3 percent, was that it “was” the stuff mixed into the curry sauce in Pakistani restaurants. Others commonly said it “was” uranium ore, wood cement and tree bark.)
Of the 22.4 percent who did not guess what it “was,” 83.5 percent immediately asked the directions to Clontarf Castle and presumably did not want to guess because they were in hurry to catch the evening Musical show.
De Selby concluded that most Europeans, at this stage of evolution, believe that everything and anything can meaningfully be described in a simple proposition in the form, “This is a thingamajig.”
I believe, on the basis of experience, that similar results would be found in an American sample of the same size. We are still haunted by the ghost of Aristotle, the bloke who first tried to describe and explain the whole universe in permutations of sentences having the form, This is a Y, All Z are Y, Some Y are X, therefore some Z are X.
Most people, and especially most politicians and clergymen, remain firmly convinced that anything and everything can be meaningfully discussed in that Aristotelian manner—or as Ernest Fenollosa once said, Western culture thinks that “A ring-tailed baboon is not a Constitutional Assembly” is one of the two types of meaningful statements (the other being “The U.S. Congress and U.K. Parliament are Constitutional Assemblies.”)
From the point of view of current science, c. 1980-87, there appear to be two things wrong with this Aristotelian mind-set. In the first place, scientific models are not expressed in this metaphor of identity (A is a B) but in the functional language of relationships (When A moves an increment of x in any dimension, B will move an increment of y in some other dimension.) The latter type of functional statement allows for scientific predictions, which can be partially verified or totally refuted by experience and experiment; the former, Aristotelian type of is-ness statement leads only to verbal argument.
The second objection to Aristotelian A is a B statements is that they appear totally contradicted by neurology and experiments with instruments. Neurologically, we never know what A “is,” but what it appears to our senses and brain. The senses pick up some (not all) the signals of the space-time event and the brain edits and orchestrates these signals into some familiar Gestalt. (This seems to be how de Selby’s subjects edited and orchestrated a jar full of junk into Pakistani sauce or uranium ore.) Instrumentally, the same editing goes on. An instrument does not tell us what A “is” but what class of signals from A that particular instrument can measure. A voltmeter tells us nothing about the temperature of A, a thermometer tells us nothing about the height of A, a ruler or scale tells us nothing about the molecular structure of A, etc.—each instrument creates its own gloss or reality-tunnel, just as our inner instruments (brain and perceptors) create a gloss or reality-tunnel. To speak accurately, we should never say “This ‘is’ an A,” but, rather, “This seems to fit the category of A in my system of glossing or in this instrument’s reality-tunnel.”
Does this sound like pedantry or unnecessary hair-splitting? Consider for a moment the human suffering and social catastrophes that have been unleashed in various times and places by such statements as “Miss Jones is a witch,” “Mr. Smith is a homosexual,” “Mr. Goldberg is a Jew,” “This book is heretical,” “This painting or photo is pornography.” If you think about this deeply enough, it might almost appear that the Catholic witch-hunts, most idiotic censorship, Hitler’s annihilation camps and quite a few other historical horrors never would have happened if we had no words for “is” in our languages, or if we remembered that “is” always functions as a metaphor.
Most of the guilt and “chronic low-grade emergency” (as Fritz Perls called it) which keeps you from realizing your full potential can usually be traced to some sentence having the form “I am a B” in which B equals roughly “no-good shit.” That sentence got conditioned into you when you were very young and you may not think it consciously any more, or you may well think it and even say it aloud frequently, but if you feel basically unhappy with your life some such sentence exists somewhere in your brain.
Even is-ness sentences that seem factual contain dangers due to the mechanical-conditioned level of most human consciousness on this planet at this time. “He is a homosexual” may appear a safe remark when heard in a Group Encounter session, or at a San Francisco cocktail party, but in the Bible Belt, “homosexual” contains the conditioned association of “sinner” and particularly nefarious “sinner” at that, and it is not unknown for violence or even murder to result from this is-ness sentence, just as “Jew” seems to be a neutral label for one of three major religions of the West but in Nazi Germany signified somebody subject to arrest, slave labor and eventual execution.
I read recently in a science-fiction fan magazine, “The Irish really are disgusting.” Leaving aside my own mechanical prejudices (as a person of partially Irish genetic structure who lives by preference in Ireland) the most fascinating thing about this is-ness statement seems to me that it occurred in a publication where one would never see such semantically isomorphic statements as “The Jews really are sub-human” or “Women really are inferior to men.”
To quote Mr. G. again, “What does this signify? It signifies that most people are walking in their sleep and dreaming they are awake.” That is, certain historically infamous types of racial or sexual stereotypes have become unfashionable and virtually Taboo in “educated” circles, but the mechanical conditioned reactions underlying such stereotypes still exist, the machine is still asleep, in Gurdjieff’s terms, so people who would not stereotype Jews see nothing inconsistent in stereotyping the Irish or the Poles or some other group. In a mechanical or primitive stage of evolution, this cannot be considered surprising.
What does still surprise me (occasionally) is that people who can see this mechanical level of functioning in others can remain blissfully oblivious of the same mechanisms in themselves.
One way to understand Energized Meditation, and simultaneously grasp the significance of what I have just been saying about Aristotelian habits, is to apply mathematical subscripts to significant nouns in the manner urged by the semanticist, Alfred Korzybski. For instance, the Nazi mentality consists of something like
Jew1= Jew2 = Jew3 = Jew4 etc.
Now this is obviously false to sensory-sensual space-time experience. In sensory-sensual space-time experience—or what we ordinarily call “reality” if we haven’t been ruined by philosophy courses—every Jew we meet is a specific event in the space-time continuum. The first may be a poet, the second an actress, the third a grocer, etc. if we place this group in the gloss of category-by-occupation. Put them in the category of good looks, and the first may seem as handsome as Paul Newman, the second as unhandsome as Edward G. Robinson, the third as cute as Barbra Streisand, etc. Put them in any other grid, and differences still emerge, just as there are no two leaves on an oak tree that are exactly the same in all respects.
Don’t go back to sleep yet; hang in there a moment. We are not preaching a sermon on “tolerance” like a 1950s Hollywood movie. We are just using anti-semitism as an example of a mechanical mental set that illuminates many, many other mechanical mental sets that you are going to have to recognize in yourself if Energized Meditation is to do you any good.
For instance, at the beginning, for the shock effect, I said some critical things about Christianity and Democracy. If you drew the conclusion that I dislike all aspects of Christian and Democratic society, you had a mechanical “is” somewhere in your evaluations. In fact, I would much rather live in Christian Democratic nations, for all their faults, than in any of the Moslem Fundamentalist nations or Buddhist nations, and I would rather be gored by a rhinoceros than try to live in a Marxist nation. As for fascist nations, whether I tried to cope or not, I rather suspect they would shoot me in a few months, if not in the first week.
If the Nazi mentality acts “as if Jew(n) = Jew(k) or any Jew is “the same” as any other Jew, people who seem a lot more sophisticated often act “as if any Rock music = any other Rock music (it “is” all equally wonderful or equally “barbarous”)/ or any science fiction novel = any other science fiction novel (the book critics in Time seem to have that mechanical conditioned reflex), or “all television should be abolished” (there was a book on that subject recently, in which the author seriously seemed to have the Nazi-like hallucination that TV shown = TV showk), or any cop = any other cop, or any fast food place is as “bad” as any other fast food place, etc.
Mechanical reactions are the statistical norm; full conscious attention remains very rare. (That’s why one Zen Master always gave the answer “Attention!” when he was asked what Zen “is.”) We started from that unChristian and unDemocratic premise and we have worked our way back to it by a circuitous route, but now perhaps we can see more clearly what this mechanical A=B hypnosis does to us.
We have been using examples of difference between elements of the “same” group, but no element remains unchanged in time. Consider yourself as an element, X, in the group “humanity.” It should be obvious that
X(1987) is not X(1976)
You have changed quite a bit in the last ten years, have you not? If people weren’t in the habit of calling you by the same name, you might not even “believe” that the You of today “really is” in some sense the You of 1976. In fact, if you can forget your name for a few moments, the entity or more precisely the space-time event called You obviously was changing, sometimes faster and sometimes more slowly all through the decade. If you are more than 20 years old, just think of how absurd it would be to claim that the You of 1986 “really is” the You of 1966 …
Think about this seriously. It would be a damned good idea, right now, to make a list of ten important changes that have occurred in “You” since 1966 and ten changes since 1976. Is it too much trouble to get a paper and pen? Well, at least make a list in your head. Can you even visualize what you looked like and dressed like in 1966? Really think hard about some of the other changes in You over 20 years.
Now, to understand what this book can do for you, try to apply this awareness on a smaller time-scale. Is it possible that You(last week) “really is” in every respect You(this week)? Alas, this may almost seem possible, but it is not strictly true unless you have died and they pickled you in formaldehyde.
Think, really, about the changes in “You” in one week. How many more changes could have occurred in that week, if You did not have the illusion that You are a finished product and not a Work in Progress?
Keep at it. Think seriously about whether it is strictly and totally true that You(yesterday) really is You(today).
When you get to the point of understanding that You(one second ago) is not strictly You(right here and now), then you are ready to begin to understand what Christopher Hyatt is offering you in this book and how you can use it.

Plunder or preservation? How Asian art came to U.S.

‘America’s involvement with China goes back to the late 18th century, when Yankee ships began to trade fur pelts and wheat (and later opium) for tea, silks and dishware. As early as 1845-1847, Boston presented the “Great Chinese Museum.”

Harvard University trained and underwrote many early explorers of China’s cultural and archaeological heritage. The 19th century scholar Ernest Fenollosa traveled to the East, converted to Buddhism, oversaw the Oriental section at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and wrote an essay on the Chinese written character which inspired Ezra Pound’s translations.–http://hamptonroads.com/2015/03/plunder-or-preservation-how-asian-art-came-us

Ernest Fenollosa 2014 and TTOTT

“Ezra Pound was no starnger to Oriental art when he met Mary McNeil Fenollosa, the widow of the American Orientalist Ernest Fenollosa (1853-1908), in London in late September 1913.”–Zhaoming Qian, Orientalism and Modernism (1994)  pg. 9.

 

Fenollosa 2014 and TTOTT

by Steve Fly

“Fenollosa [1853-1908], wrote an essay on
The Chinese WrittenCharacter as a Medium for Poetry” which vastly influenced
Ezra Pound and, through Pound, modern poetry generally;
said essay also anticipates some formulations of General Semantics
and NeuroLinguistic Programming [NLP], and foreshadows
modern critiques of “linear” and “alphabetical” thinking. –Robert Anton Wilson, Recorsi 2005.

Ernest Fenollosa (1853-1908) found a place in the chain of human innovation, and the lineage of modernism as defined by Dr Robert Anton Wilson in his unfinished project called ‘the tale of the tribe’. Please read some of my others posts trying to get at TTOTT and what it all means to me.

Fly On The Tale Of The Tribe: A Rollercoaster Ride With Robert Anton Wilson

by Steven James Pratt

Link: http://a.co/gOGNKyV

 

Continue reading “Ernest Fenollosa 2014 and TTOTT”