22 October 2010

NOTES FROM A TALK WITH Silo (2 JANUARY 2000)


NOTES FROM A TALK WITH Silo (2 JANUARY 2000)

NOTES FROM A TALK WITH MARIO (2 JANUARY 2000)

This conversation took place in Buenos Aires in a cafe on Calle Corrientes between Mario, Isaias Novel, Roberto Kohanoff and myself (Enrique Nassar).

The conversation begins with comments on the essay entitled "Reverie and Action," written by Mario. It talks about the guiding images that oriented Christopher Columbus's action toward discovery. Mario comments that reveries orient people's lives in many directions. Often the reverie points toward an objective and traces directions of action that end up leading to a different point than the one that was reveried. There are many examples of this in history, and many historical achievements have been led to adequate objectives from reveries that had no direct relationship to such objectives.

Later Mario refers to Pascal and his essay on vanity and explains that in it Pascal talks about personages in his day and he describes how each one of them has a reason for feeling vain. He also explains that the motivation behind the vanity of those who are the servants of the vain is precisely that they work for them. The vain are also located at the center of the world and they live as though the rest of the world didn't exist.

Starting with this comment he explains humanity's tendency to consider itself as something unique and central, he refers to geocentrism: first it was believed that the Earth was the center of the universe. When it is demonstrated that it isn't true, the next pretension is that we are the only form of life in the universe. Now that current research leads to the suspicion that there may be other forms of life, the new pretension is that we are the only form of intelligent life. That is to say, we are always into some form of geocentrism (Earth as the center of the universe, terrestrial life forms as the only extant forms, its intelligent life as the only one of its kind - in the end, some kind of centrism).

•••

QUESTION: One doesn't see the Earth as revolving around the Sun. What one perceives is that the Earth is still and the Sun moves from East to West. We know this is so, but it isn't what we register. How to make the register coincide with reality and not with what I perceive of that reality?

What one perceives forces itself over one. It is not a matter of representations of how things are should be imposed over one's perception of things. It is rather a question of having a field of beliefs that accords with reality, which equilibrates the illusory perception that may be had of that reality.

Q: One perceives oneself as the center of something, and this register is a system of impulses that makes it possible to have different identities. What is the problem with registering oneself as a particularity, as a unique individual, as the center of something?

There is no problem at all with differences, the more differences between us the better. The problem lies is seeing oneself as superior and seeing others as inferior - when one acts from this register many abuses are committed. If things are seen in this way, the register of particularity accompanied by the register of superiority, it will lead to the annihilation of the other differences, to making what is different disappear to impose one's difference as the only one. Then different needs will be established, this will bring with it vital social, cultural, historical consequences. This wouldn't be a problem if it were just a matter of saying, but it is a matter of doing as well, and this 'doing' led to slavery and all the forms of oppression that have been exercised over races, peoples, ethnicities, etc., which have been considered as inferior. Superiority/inferiority is a human construct that conditions entire human groups.

Q: What could help change all that?

The evidence that intelligent life on Earth is not the only form of intelligent life in the universe will contribute to getting humanity out of its vanity, it will be an integrating experience to which the scheme of inferiorities and superiorities will be impossible to transfer; it will make it possible to carry out a revision of many of our actions and to ask ourselves about the kind of history we have created and the kind of life we have built. Then we will say: "what idiots we've been." This experience will make it possible to conceive of another scheme of living.

Q: Is life in the universe uniform?

Life is a universal phenomenon having varied expressions. Intelligent life has multiple modes of expressing itself everywhere in the universe.

Q: Can there be intelligence without a physical support?

Why should it be believed that if the physical seat of life is destructured, then the intelligence that animates it should disappear as well? It is possible for there to be expressions of intelligence without a physical seat, the register of intelligence without a physical seat is possible, there can be intelligences without organic supports. Why should the belief be necessary that all the forms of intelligent life need the support of a chemical substance such as carbon or silica in order to express themselves?

Q: Are those intelligences different from each other?

There are many modes of intelligence in the universe and all these modes have in common that they establish coherent relations and they act with increasing expansion. Not just rational relations ala Descartes. There are meta-universal laws, laws for intelligence. What is fundamental about the human consciousness is valid for all forms of consciousness. The scheme of intentionality that links acts and objects of consciousness is universal. (Brentano).

This mode of intentional action on the part of other intelligences is seen in how cultures represent their traditional gods. In the Vedic description of Brahma, one observes the intentional scheme in operation (linking acts and objects) in Brahma's dream. (There was nothing; he sleeps, he dreams, and each one of his dreams is the creation of a universe, and when he awakens, the universe disappears. Absolute repose.) Brahma's dreams are the trace images that create worlds (structure of act-object operating in the dream). When he awakes, the universe disappears.

During the Middle Ages the collective expectation of a new world was so powerful that those expectations created in individual reveries, the trace image that directed actions toward the discovery of a new world (Columbus). The discovery of other intelligent life will help produce an important leap.

Q: To continue what was said that theories describing phenomena as they are create a field of beliefs that balance out the non-coincidence of daily perception of phenomena with their reality, the next question is: In relation to death, where what is perceived is the existential dissolving and disappearance of the one who dies - is there a theory that can broaden the field of beliefs and make it possible for there to be a more adequate mental emplacement regarding the fact of death?

The illusion of the perception of death is not resolved with theories, it is resolved with experiences. The experience of death places us in the field of religious phenomena, in the field of transcendental experience. In the origin of religions one always finds a transcendental experience. This experience produces at the moment of its historical eruption, such a powerful impact, that despite the fact that the experience is later diluted and is lost, the inertia it leaves behind is of such magnitude that the generations that follow create rituals, churches, hierarchical organizations that survive for hundreds and thousands of years after the original impact. This original impact is so strong that after it disappears, it endures all the rest of those things that arise and that have nothing to do with the original experience.

First the original experience is had, later a few generations manage to scratch a little bit of it for themselves and after that they are distanced from it and that entire superstructure begins to form of rituals, churches, hierarchies, and so on.

The transcendental experience has its impact over the historical moment and it passes, it deeply affects the people who are contemporaneous with that transcendental eruption (i.e., living at the moment of its occurrence). The eruption must be compatible with the historical moment. There are historical moments that do not allow the arising of these phenomena. Until the environment opens up and these experiences arise.

When these eruptions approach, the historical environment begins to experience variations and extraordinary phenomena are produced in the collective psychism which are tremendously disturbing. It is from this perspective that we understand the legends of cyclones, meteors, comets which precede these phenomena. The allegories of each era present in a plastic mode the dramatic changes in the collective consciousness. The transcendental plane needs psychosocial conditions for it to manifest itself in human history. This eruption will affect each person's particular time.This is an era of great disturbances, this is a pre-religious era.

Q:  What are the historical conditions that must arise for the eruption of the transcendental plane to be produced?

A: We can cite specific conditions, such as: - that the culture wherein the phenomenon will arise is passing through a moment in which it is being destructured at great velocity. - that the phenomena become the origin of a new civilization. Without these phenomena, a new civilization does not arise.

Q: Can you explain what you refer to when you speak of the eruption of a transcendental phenomenon in history?

To refer to the subject of what is known as a transcendental experience, we will cite some historical examples of certain types of experiences which, without being transcendental, have characteristics that make them similar to transcendental experiences  which make an impact on some persons, which affect those to whom they happen, and later create an inertia that is sufficient to allow something to continue which is perpetuated through time.

Let's look at some cases of this.

In the history of India, at a certain moment the god Soma arises among its deities and quickly gains importance, to the extent that the other gods diminish in influence until they are converted into minor gods and Soma becomes the maximum divinity of the Pantheon.  What explains the ascendancy of this god and the central place he comes to occupy is that the god Soma could be experienced by the people.  Not only did they talk about the god, they could have contact with him, they could feel the god Soma.

Such contact was possible thanks to the fact that the priests, who were in contact with Soma, could enable people to make contact with the god.  The priests told the people what it was like to be in his presence and besides this, they prepared them to come into contact with Soma.  For this to take place, the priests carried out certain rituals where people went with clay bowls, the priests urinated in them and the participants in the rite drank the "holy man's" urine.  Shortly after this they experienced the presence of the god Soma.  All of the foregoing was explained by the fact that the soma was a hallucinogenic substance that the priests ingested (thanks to which they had the experience) and the psychoactivating components of this substance were secreted in the urine without being metabolized.  Because of this the participants in the soma ceremony also had the experience upon drinking the priest's urine.

The priestly caste, thanks to drinking soma, had access to a hallucinogenic experience.  The drink, because of its chemical properties, preserved its psychoactivating power in the urine, allowing those who drank it to have a powerful experience.

The experience of the god Soma was administered by the priesthood (which enabled them to create a very powerful priestly caste).  Later, with the passing of time the experiences were discontinued and they were only spoken about, they described what it was like to make contact with the god Soma.

First there is an experience, later when there is no longer an experience its memory is powerful enough to create a marker event that generates an entire superstructure that is formed and continues through time far beyond the moment of the original manifestation.

Similar cases of activation of powerful experiences produced through the ingestion of psychotropic substances happened around the cult to Dionysus.

With the support of experiences produced by such substances, these forms would not have survived beyond the moment of original arisal.
In all these cases, strong psychological experiences were produced which brought people closer to what could have presented itself as a transcendental experience.  These experiencias allowed them to intuit what the action of a divinity might be like, it allowed them to have an intuition of the reality (different from daily reality) of what was being spoken to them about.  The practitioner then understood that those worlds and gods that were being spoken of to him/her, were possible, that they weren't just a discourse.
Before having the experience, there had been no acceptance of those matters.

Q:  In the specific and particular examples you've given, ordinary people had access to experiences that had great impact on them thanks to ingesting some kind of psychoactivating substance.  Is it possible to have access to such kinds of powerful psychological experiences, which allow one to be well-disposed to accepting the existence of other realities, without using any kind of psychotropic substance?

A: Yes, it is possible.  Remember such historical things as:
"I will teach you to pray and you will do as I tell you if you wish to have this kind of experience."
It would be like saying: "Through the power of the word, I will teach you to release endorphins and you will do as I tell you if you wish to have access to this kind of experience.  You may discuss it or not, but if you want to have the experience you must do as I say without arguing with me."

Using forms such as this, without taking recourse to chemicals, you can have access to certain registers of a psychological type that will put you in resonance with another kind of experience, different from daily life experiences.  These kinds of experiences, in a historical moment, are what create enormous impact over the population.

There are different ways of enabling the rabble to attain a minimal degree of resonance.

Q: These experiences without the use of substances which have great psychological impact, are they transcendental experiences?

A: No, such experiences are not transcendental, but they do allow you to realize that there are other realities.  These experiences have an impact on you, they shake up your existence, they shake up your life, they produce a strong commotion in you. All these experiences are corporal, they release endorphins:  prayer has to do with the body, powerful psychological experiences have to do with the body.

Q: Everything that is taking place - altered states, superstition, magic, etc., and this entire pre-religious state that is developing - is it enough by itself for a change to take place?

No, because here there is no directed consciousness, the consciousness is passive, it is suffering these disturbances, it is not directing them.  What is important here is a direction that is useful to everyone.  Here a message must be given, here a contribution must be made.

Parallel to all the psychic alterations, people's lives are falling apart and being destroyed:  financial problems, social problems...  This destruction has diverse expressions, from the war in Chechenya to the person who throws himself out a window from the fifth floor.  Not just psychological disturbances are taking place, it is something much more serious.  Here a contribution must be made.

Q: Therefore the experiences you spoke of aren't enough?

A: By themselves they are not enough.  Such experiences have the great virtue of making people sensitive to a transcendental narrative.  There must be a transcendental narrative.  Just the narrative without the experiences that place people in a disposition to listen to the narrative and allow it to direct their lives, will not be enough.  These experiences make it possible to realice that there are other things, for this reason they are very important experiences.  Experiences accompanied by a narrative which has to do with the transcendental plane.

Q:  Does the narrative turn into a founding myth?

A: No, the narrative is reality, it is received as a reality.  The one who presents the narrative always appears as a god, or god's messenger, or the son of god, of god's prophet; that is to say, as someone who knows how the thing is, someone who belongs to the club.  The narrative tells something that gives direction, which brings the transcendent closer.

As the historical time approaches (not mythical time) of joining with the transcendental plane, miracles arise, prodigious events, weird happenings. After the eruption of the transcendent occurs and the phenomenon grows distant in time, these things cease to happen.  The miracles, prodigies and other things described that accompanied the historical moments close to an eruption of this type, are real events, they truly happened.

We need:  a destructured world that will produce these experiences and a narrative. What must be said, will be said at a precise historical moment -- not before, not after.

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