Videos can move televisual order and conditioned expectations of perspective from one place and reassemble its elements as if gluing a smashed hologram back together, all the white knowing that each piece contains within it the whole image. In other words, these are all small fragments of how each of us actually experiences life: through all our senses simultaneously. In every direction simultaneously. Even in all five dimensions (at least!) simultaneously. Bombarded by every possible nuance and contradiction of meaning simultaneously. Quaquaversally. This is a relentlessly inclusive process. We do not just view “life” anymore, although perhaps we can, at least potentially, have an option to view everything. Intention is the key. What was once referred to as the “viewer” is now also a source of anything to be viewed, and the Neuro-Visual Screen on which to view it. The constructed and ever increasing digital concoction built from millions of sources that is commonly referred to as “Cyberspace” is accelerating towards deification, and separateness. Towards the moment of a sentient awakening of its own consciousness and agendas that we feel is more aptly described as the “Psychosphere.” This Psychosphere challenges us to seize the means of perception and remain thee source.
“Change thee way to perceive and change all memory.”
-Old TOPY proverb.
Since there is no goal to this operation other than the goal of perpetually discovering new forms and new ways of perceiving, it is an infinite game. An infinite game is played for the purpose of continuing to play, as opposed to a finite game which is played for the purpose of winning or defining winners. It is an act of freed will to No one can “play” who is forced to play.
Play, is indeed, implicitly voluntary.
Thee night under Witches that you close up your book of shadows and open up your neuro-super highway to thee liquid blackness (within which dwells an entity) represents thee edge of present time. It pinpoints precisely the finality of all calendars, wherein it is clear that measurement, in its self, and of its self equals “DEATH” or “DAATH.” The spoken binds and constricts navigation unutterably. The etymology of the word spiral (DNA), from the Greek, indicates an infinitude of perceptive spaces and points of observation, where “down,” “up,” “across,” “distance” and other faded directional terms become redundant in an absolute elsewhere. Thee eyes have it and they suggest a serpent that was once the nearest metaphor to cold dark matters such as wormholes and spaces between.
The aesthetics of death is having a pseudo-posthumous revival. The Great Wheel of History—the Zeitgeist (The Time Spirit)—that allows the Juggernaut (Jagannatha: Vishnu the Sustainer) to move on has the death’s head on its hub. The velocity of the Zeitgeist has never changed. It is just that our perception of reality has speeded up sufficiently, as we near the end of time, so that the true nature of reality is more apparent to all in this post- secular era of today.
Not only do most people want to know the secret of death—What is it like to be dead?—but also speculations like—What or where was I before I was born?—or Why does life have to end in death? Are there ontic states distinct from life and death? On street corners all over the world you can hear evidence of a passionate interest in metaphysics, religious themes and remarks like—“Why is there something rather than nothing?” resound both audibly between conversationalists and silently in the mind.
The aesthetics of death is having a pseudo-posthumous revival.
Thanaton III, Paul Laffoley, 73 1/2” x 73 1/2” oil, acrylic, ink and lettering on canvas, 1989. From the collection of Richard Metzger
The present condition of serious discourse in the world, if you would hold yourself back a bit from who is saying what, might sound medieval. Metaphysics, that division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality which includes Ontology, Cosmology and Epistemology, is back with a vengeance—and this means a concern for the “The Facts of Death.” Gone are the post-Victorian narcissistic snobberies of the independent-minded experimentists of early modernism. For instance, the queen of the British Modern Movement, Virginia Stephen-Woolf of
Bloomsbury, once claimed in a fit of “highbrow” feminine pique that the most obscene thing in the world is religion. Her existence itself might now be considered equally as obscene. The traditional theological categories of belief: Theism, Atheism, Non-Theism, Syncretism, Skepticism, Animism, Polytheism, Agnosticism (either dogmatic or methodological) do not really work any longer. The 19th century position that “God is Dead” offered first by Mainländer, then by Nietzsche, Sarte, and finally the radical theology of Thomas Altizer and William Hamilton in the 1960s, ignores the fact that periods of true secularism are the fertilizer for authentic revivals of mysticism. The German philosopher Philipp Mainländer (1841-1876) born Philipp Batz—a follower of the neo-Buddhism of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), stated in his principle writing The Philosophy of Redemption (1876) that the universe begins with the death of God, since God is the principle of unity which is shattered into the plurality of existence. It is implied, therefore, that God is also the passionate—joy which is now denied proper fulfillment and expression as the result of infinite dispersal into the realm of evil and suffering (the world into which we are thrown). The memory of God’s original unity and joy persists only in the human realization that non-existence is superior to existence. When people act upon the implications of this awareness by either refusing to perpetuate themselves or ending their existence with suicide, they are completing their cycle of redemption. This almost Neo-Gnostic mythos of nihilism was seen as the “cure” for the moral “sickness” that pervaded 19th century Europe, was only partially combated by Nietzsche’s own yea-saying alternative by an ecstatic transvaluation of values. He based his concept of transvaluation on the theory of the eternal recurrence of the experience of time and its contents sustaining vast cycles. Believing, like the Roman poet-scientist Titus Lucretius Carus (99-55 BCE) author of De Rerum Natura, that the universe is infinite, but the number of its possible configurations is finite, it follows that the present configuration of the universe must be repeated time after time in the future until the energy of life becomes continuous with the energy of death.
The Alchemy of History, Paul Laffoley, 17” x 23,” ink, letters on board, 1975
LeCorbusier (pseudonym from 1920 of the Swiss-born French architect Charles-E’douard Jeanneret Gris (1887-1965)), who was probably the most influential figure in 20th century architecture, shared with the American
engineer-architect-inventor Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) a belief in the possibility of realizing utopia on Earth. They both referred back to Plato’s most famous dialogue The Republic. At the end of Book IX the ontic status of city-state is described as follows:
I understand, he said. You mean the city whose establishment we have described, the city whose home is in the ideal, for I think that it can be found nowhere on earth.
Well, said I, perhaps there is a pattern of it laid up in heaven for him who wishes to contemplate it and so beholding to constitute himself its citizen. But it makes no difference whether it exists now or ever will come into being. The politics of this city only will be his and of none other.
That seems probable, he said
And at the end of the last book (Book X) Plato describes what is called today as “the Near Death-Experience.” It is the tale of the bold warrior Er who is slain in battle but does not decay and who wakes up on the twelfth day as he lay upon his funeral pyre and describes in detail the nature of the afterlife.
When Saint Thomas More (1478-1535) wrote Utopia (literally, nowhere) in Latin in 1516 he attempted to take Plato’s indecisiveness about the existence of the ideal city to satirize England under the despotic rule of his one time friend and eventual nemesis King Henry VIII (1491-1547), who had More beheaded.
Utopia influenced Anabaptism, Mormonism, and Communism due to its appeal of naive realism of 18th century revolutionaries like the philosopher and political provocateur Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) who wrote about how to completely destroy the world and values of the Ancien Regime of France and replace it with utopian rules and visions; or the visionary architect Étienne-Louis Boullée (1728-1799) who from 1778 to 1788 produced Paper Architecture on a megalomaniacal scale of unrealized schemes of the Architecture of Death: tombs, mausolea, cenotaph and cemeteries including the huge Cenotaph of Newton (a vast sphere set in a circular base topped with cypress trees). Utopia as a concept and a literary impulse has a unique if paradoxical history. Both LeCorbuiser and R. Buckminster Fuller helped form the contemporary vision of utopic space—a
space that has a ferocious neutrality and how to build with it. Utopic space— a space that has been hinted at all through recorded civilization. There exist no external clues as to its existence or actual characteristics. Reports of its nature have been by people who have entered utopic space and returned like Er to tell the tale.
One such recent historical person who has entered utopic space and returned was Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), philosopher priest and paleontologist. In his magnum opus Le Phénoméne Humain (1955), published immediately after his death, are his two famous metaphors of utopic space: The Noosphere—the ubiquitous, open, democratic, and forever repeatable sphere of human consciousness or mental activity that exists on the surface of the Earth driven by the force of evolution, and The Omega Point—yielding the true definition of vitalism (which is the realization that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry and that life is in some part self-determining (free-will)), refer to a space which merges that which has only history (life) with that which has no history (death). Unfortunately for Teilhard’s reputation, he ignored the possibility of extraterrestrial life forms, but his principles of utopic space still hold.
Utopic space-a space that has been hinted at all through recorded civilization. There exist no external clues as to its existence or actual characteristics.
Utopic space therefore is in between the space of life (the relative) and the space of death (the absolute) and yet is continuous with both. It is the space of:
- Absolute personal freedom.
- Absolute oneness (like the world soul of the Neo-Platonic philosopher Plotinus (204-274 CE) based on the topology of the fourth dimensional sphere).
- No holiarchies, no hierarchies, and no heteroarchies, only perfect continuity.
- True transdisciplinary knowing, a process of knowledge similar to the child’s mind that faces the cosmos with an eagerness for the authentically new, and makes no distinctions of time, values, or survival logic; in fact logic emerges as a by-product.
- No natural directions, such as those associated with Cartesian
Coordinates, it can receive information of any kind and in any amount without the limitations of organization.
- Energy which is distinct from that associated with the secular concept of energy—energy that is efficacious with motion—instead it is energy that is efficacious without motion.
- The conventicle—the only authentic social structure that can enter and leave this space; the conventicle is a completely future oriented concept with no elements of past social structures.
The Nihilitron, Paul Laffoley, 73 1/2” x 73 1/2” oil, acrylic, letters, India ink on linen, 1985
For most of the 20th century the sense of death in many forms gradually took over the psyche of the world—wars that grow progressively more dangerous to all, homeless-ness, populations that seem to expand without reason, the gradual increase in world starvation, continuous exposure to horrors, both social and individual, the rise in personal and social apathy, and finally mass insanity and sexual neurasthenia as an escape from feeling anything except a lack of motivation, inadequacy, and psychosomatic symptoms of depression, nausea, dizziness, loss of all appetites, blurred vision, weakness, drowsiness, trembling, thoughts of suicide, paresthesia, nameless fears and anxieties, all subsumed by hallucinations—in short the effects of violence being done to the human personality by the poison of absolute evil.1
The “Lost Generation” of disillusioned American intellectuals after World War I had its counterpart in the disenfranchised German Youth after the same period. They were the “Wander-Vogels” (the infantilized wandering birds) the exact precursors of the American “hippies” of the 1960s and 1970s.
Right after the Second World War came the Beat Generation2 with their sharpest edge being honed by the Jewish stand-up comic Lenny Bruce who scorned the racism, conservatism and the affluent complacency of suburban America. He once asked an audience to consider why it is obscene to show sex in the movies but not violence, or obscene to show breasts but not obscene to show mutilated body parts. Bruce moved everyone into the world of the “hippies” which became international in scope. It started simultaneously on Fort Hill in Boston, Massachusetts with the Mel Lyman Commune in the early 1960s, and in the Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park section of San Francisco. Wearing folksy used clothes, beads, headbands, sandals, and flowers they took us into an aura of non-violent anarchy, tracking the civil rights movement, concern for the environment, the rejection of Western materialism and an all consuming interest in the occult and the mystical and what happens after death. One of the famous rock bands of the era was named The Grateful Dead. One of the finest achievements of the hippies was the spearheading of the protest against the US involvement in the Vietnam War which began in 1954 after the defeat of the French and lasted until 1975. The protest was whipped up from the mid-west by the SDS
(Students for a Democratic Society) and “The Weathermen” its violent inner core.
Although the hippies took us to the brink of Postmodernism (July 15, 1972), middle America was left again in a cultural vacuum with no one to guide us except the two control freaks who formed the “inside” and the “outside” of hippieland—Timothy Leary and R. Buckminster Fuller. Then the Youth International Party (A “Yippie” was a person loosely belonging to or identified with a politically active group of hippies) raised its head above the crowd and realized it was “all over” but the shouting, and so returned to Wall Street and Madison Avenue to become young business professionals as the “Yuppies.” They are the young college educated who are employed in well paying professions who live and work in or near a large city and contract the Yuppie flu attempting to fight off yet another British invasion, this time the Punk Movement of disaffected youth manifesting itself in fashions and music designed to shock or intimidate—pins through the skin, razor blade necklaces, hair in various colors and gelled into vertical spikes with Frankenstein make-up, wearing yobbo clothes, and listening to The Sex Pistols, and living on the dole.
Lenny Bruce once asked an audience to consider why it is obscene to show sex in the movies but not violence, or obscene to show breasts but not obscene to show mutilated body parts.
This physical dip into the world of monsters and making the celebration of Halloween a year round event produced the inevitable next step, The Goth; those who see everyone through distorted lenses like the most famous horror writer of all time H. P Lovecraft (1890-1937) who could not stand to look at himself in the mirror. As Susan Sontag wrote, reviewing Diane Arbus’ photographic documentary homage to Tod Browning’s fantastic film, Freaks, Arbus’s photos “undercut politics … by suggesting a world in which everybody is an alien, hopelessly (we are all alone together, sliding forward on the razor edge of life, egged on by those behind, held back by those in front) isolated, immobilized in mechanical, crippled identities and relationships. They render history and politics irrelevant … by atomizing … [the world] into horror.” Browning directed Freaks in 1932 for MGM, adapted from a story called Spurs by Tod Robbins. The story was initially suggested to Browning by his friend, the famous German midget Harry Earles. Freaks had everything: Johnny Eck, the boy with half a torso, Martha