Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Philosopher's Nonsense

I've talked before about an experiential approach to philosophy, especially one that leaves the isolation of academe or the isolated mountaintop of Zarathustra and interacts with everyday people in real situations.

There's quite a few people who, given the choice, would prefer not to get involved in such discussions. They feel such things are over their heads, or too abstract, or have no connection to the really real world. Others used to do that kind of thing in college, but they're all grown up now.

Such people are hard to draw into conversation, but sometimes nonsense works, especially the right kind of nonsense. Nonsense, despite its sometimes provocative nature, is safe. No one can laugh at you if you venture an opinion on nonsense, and no one can prove you wrong.

One question that sometimes comes up is, “If you were to make a clone of yourself, and then have intimate relations with that clone, would it be incest and masturbation?” Nonsense, right?


It turns out that this conversation can head into interesting avenues. One that is often unspoken but pertinent is the idea that the labels we use affect the way we think about things. Masturbation has become more or less acceptable, as long as it's done in private and not talked about much; incest is considered squicky in most cultures and a thing not to be done. So if clone sex is masturbation, it's not to be discussed, but probably okay when done in private. If it's incest, then it's a Bad Thing. Two labels, same act, different responses.

As a discussion gets further into it, other interesting aspects and question pop up. Issues of agency, free will, and responsibility. Dominant-submissive relationships and sexual power dynamics. The boundary conditions of personhood and individuality. All of these have real world implications (try having the right-to-choose/right-to-life debate or one on euthanasia without at least touching on issues of personhood, or without considering agency and the lack thereof), and probably ought to be discussed by everyday people.

So my philosophizing friends, fear not nonsense!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Buna seara si la revedere

“Welcome to the world behind [her] eyes.” - Rotersand

This past Saturday, I took part in an experiential art piece. I met someone, fell in love, and lost her. All in the space of five hours. And I never knew her name.

“Typical one night stand?

No, not quite. It wasn't just about physical attraction. Or mindless, no-consequences rutting. Nor was it about 'another notch in my belt.'

Nor was I deluded somehow as to what was going on. I knew from the very beginning that she was leaving, just as she knew. Neither of us was under the misapprehension that we were beginning something that would last longer than the moonlight.

Indeed, it was a celebration of the transitory nature of reality. A penetration of the illusion of permanence. We met, knew one another, and parted ways in a way with no preconceptions of 'forever'.

All too often, we become preoccupied with the future. We assume the choices we make will create some sort of permanent change, and we feel as though we have to accept those consequences. We assume that we will be irrevocably changing state (and, in a way, we are, of course). “I can't have you in my life right now.” “What does this mean?” “Where are we going?” “Will I get hurt?”

“Will I get hurt?” Yes, it was bittersweet to see her leave. Yes, in a way, I will always love her. But pain is not to be afraid of. Losing is not the end of everything. We will both go on. Cats learn to always fall on their feet; as a consequence, they are fearless about walking a precarious path in high places. Sometimes, as Shinto teaches, losing and the passing away of the present is beautiful.

“Welcome to a land that knows goodbye.” - Rotersand

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rules I Learned from My Father

Father's day has come and gone, and to mark the occasion, here are some of the principles for living that I learned from my father:

1. There's no shame in breaking unjust rules.

2. Always put the screwdriver back.  And keep a screw jar handy.

3. 80% of connection issues are cable problems.

4. When troubleshooting, change only one thing at a time.  If the change didn't fix your problem, change it back to where it was and try the next thing.

5. Only one person can drive the computer at a time.

6. Concentrate on what actually needs to be done, not what you think needs to be done.

7. Sometimes the only thing to do is wait until she burns herself out.

8. There isn't anything an intelligent person can't learn to do.

9. Zen isn't thinking about God while chipping ice, Zen is just to chip the ice.

10. Being up at five in the morning holding the world together really is an expression of love.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Liberal Social Experiment

GOP Congressmen object to a commitment ceremony held on a Louisiana army base.

"The liberal social experiment with the military continues."  You mean the one that allowed black soldiers to join Union regiments in 1862?  Or the one that led the U.S. armed forces to desegregate in 1948, well before the civil rights movement of the 1960's?

I think I'm okay with that.

Or perhaps he means the liberal experiment that abandoned the European tradition of an aristocratic officer class in favor of granting comissions for merit or ability?

I'm okay with that, too.

Perhaps he means the social experiment where soldiers, sailors, and marines can profess a multiplicty of faiths: catholic, protestant, jewish, muslim, buddhist, wiccan, pastafarian, agnostic, athiest, and on and on?  Where the bigotry and misunderstanding of ignorant fools at least doesn't have official support from the chaplin corps?

I'm okay with that.

The U.S. armed forces have pretty much always been a mechanism of social change.  There's something about living together, digging trenches together, fighting together, bleeding together, and dying together that tends to vividly demonstrate that we're all pretty much the same on the inside.  And when the fit hits the shan, it becomes clear that some of our social conventions and niceties (along with our prejudices and hatreds) are kind of foolish.

And I'm okay with that.


Although I have to say, I'm not okay with this "commitment ceremony".  Louisiana does not recognize GLBT marriage.  They don't even recogognize civil unions.  And current DoD regulations require that the armed forces aknowledge state laws in this matter.  I believe this is entirely unfair and inappropriate.  No reason not to actually allow full civil rights to everyone.

After all, the comittment ceremony isn't anywhere near legally binding.  There are no survivor's benefits for the spouse.  No assumption of writ of attourney.  Limited hospital visitation rights.  Difficulties in adoption and child custody.  All those legaland financial benefits that come with a marriage contract in our particular society..  And this for people in a dangerous job that could call upon them to go overseas for years at a time, only to become injured or killed in action.  Leaving their spouses with little legal or financial recourse.

That's just wrong.  And easy to fix.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fight. Dammit!

I've recently caught some episodes of a standard issue police procedural.  In it, several people get killed by serial killers.  And while that's awful, some of 'em kind of are asking for it.

One scenario: The ex-wife of an FBI agent has been abducted by a known killer.  He's openly announced his intention of killing her; but is allowing her to talk on the phone with her ex-husband.  He's standing behind her, breathing on her neck.  He's armed, but the weapon isn't out.

Why isn't her elbow almost instantly in his throat?  He's going to kill her eventually, why not go down fighting.  An explosive, aggressive attack can go a long way before he can respond.  Elbow in the throat, turn around, grab the weapon hand to control or destroy it.  Sure, maybe there's only a 10% chance that she'll win, but if she doesn't fight, there's a 99% chance he'll kill her.

To top it off, years earlier, the killer stabbed himself repeatedly as a scheme to avoid detection.  He's weak and doesn't breathe well (no endurance).  And he's not a big guy to begin with.  She's healthy and in-shape.  What's restraining her is emotional rather than physical.

Scenario 2: Woman is being held captive at knife point in her own home by a killer who wants to pretend they have a romantic relationship.  She's playing along with it as a means to survive (reasonable enough).  Then her real boyfriend shows up.  The killer only has a knife, and is a room away.  As soon as the boyfriend comes in the door, he sees what's going on.  She runs towards the door, and he charges the killer creating an opportunity for her to get away (way to go!)  Boyfriend charges killer and shoves him into a wall, girlfriend can't get out the door 'cause boyfriend locked it behind him.  All she needs is a couple of extra seconds, and she's out.

Boyfriend disengages from killer, turns around, and tells girlfriend to run upstairs.  Killer knifes boyfriend in the back and then runs upstairs and kills girlfriend.  What the hell, boyfriend?  You've gained an advantage that ex-wife in scenario #1 didn't, by a sudden unexpected attack.  You've comitted yourself to buying time for your loved one to get away.  Follow through on it!  Chances are the killer is stunned a little by being slammed into the wall; stay in close contact with him and go for the weapon hand.  Control or destroy it.  Maybe you win, maybe you lose, but either way you give the woman you love the couple of extra seconds she needs to get away and survive.  And isn't that what you signed on for?

Doesn't "I love you" mean "I'd take a knife or a bullet for you" anymore?  Fight, dammit!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


“Nothing real existed, except as a symbol for something else.” -James Burke

“It is not I who say, it is the thing itself that says.” -Umberto Eco

A list of connections:

Hellenistic Syncreticism: a philosophical/mystical/religious tradition combining elements of Greco-Egyptian-Near Eastern religion (esp. the Mystery Cults), Zoroastrianism, Jewish Kaballah, and Platonism and Neo-Platonism. Common themes are the inherent corruption/corruptibility of matter, God as a purely spiritual entity apart from the physical universe. Many Hellenistic ideas show up in Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Catharism, and Satanism.

The fall of the library of Cordoba in 1013 introduces Muslim learning and reintroduces Greek and Roman literature to Western Europe. The texts take over a century to fully translate and help kick off the European Renaissance. Following the methods of Aristotle and the Arab natural philosophers, university scholars in France and Italy begin to write manuscripts calling into question the teachings of the church fathers and the Bible itself. The Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) is founded to combat this. They serve a central role in the Inquisition and the reconquest of Spain.

The Investiture Conflict of 1075 touches off several centuries of conflict between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope over temporal power in Italy. The central issue is the role of the Pope as a figure of political, worldly authority and as a landowner. Although this conflict is nominally resolved with the Concordat of Worms in 1122, echoes of it will continue. The conflict over the Franciscans, the Avignon papacy, the Italian conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and ultimately the Lutheran Reformation will all reference the themes regarding the Pope's wealth and temporal power.

In 1119, 12 monks form the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon (the Knights Templar). In 1307, the Templars are ordered disbanded by Phillip the Fair, and are brought to trial on charges of heresy. Two of the accusations are that, during initiations, new knights were asked to trod upon a crucifix or image of the Virgin Mary, and that they kissed a brother's ass. Denying the divinity of Mary and the crucifixion are two features of Catharism, as is anal sex (used as a form of birth control). The Cathars are also known as the Albigensians, and take much of their dogma from the earlier Paulicans, Bogomils, and Bougres. ('Bougre' also becomes 'bugger' in English, a reference to anal sex.)

Supposedly, some Templars also survive in Scotland. Knights with red crosses and white cloaks are reported at the battle of Bannockburn (1314) (which may also recall the lost IX Legion Hispania, supposedly gone missing in Scotland, and the later knights of the Round Table). Spencer's “The Faerie Queen” is filled with Templar and Rosicrucian imagery.

Certain of the Grail traditions hold that Joseph of Arimathea, who brought the Grail out of Judea, landed in Southern France, near Marseilles on his way to Brittany. Some brief mentions in Merovingian period texts hint at a Judaic state in Southern France, later occupied and absorbed into France by Charlemagne. Southern France, especially Provins (Provence) and Chartres later become strongholds of the Templars. Finally, the Languedoc becomes the center of a Cathar community that is crushed in 1229 by the Albigensian crusade. Suspicions remain about the orthodoxy of the former Cathars. The Inquisition is founded to combat crypto-Catharism.

In 1209 Francis of Assisi begins preaching the absolute poverty of Christ. He inspires a number of followers, who become the Friars Minor or Minorites. Eventually, they emerge as the Fraternal Order of St. Francis (the Franciscans), charged with teaching orthodoxy to heretics. They are a form of memetic inoculation against unorthodox beliefs and practices. Along with the Dominicans they become intimately involved with the Inquisition.

Following the ideas of the Friars Minor, others preach against the wealth of the pope and the bishops. Some heretical groups, such as as the Dulcinians under Fra Dolcino, put these ideas into practice, forming bands of peasants who kill landowners and priests and plunder their estates. The Dulcinians (or Dolcinites) are finally crushed on Mount Rubello in 1307 (the same year the Templars are arrested).

In 1309 the seat of the Papacy is moved from Rome to Avignon in southern France. Ostensibly, this is done to remove it from the corruption of Rome, but it also places the Pope under the thumb of the King of France, which control Phillip the Fair exerts during the trial of the Templars.

In 1609, the Rosicrucian manifestos are printed and circulated in Germany. They promise the existence of an unknown fraternity: learned men who move through Europe adopting the customs and dress of the communities where they live and working for the reform of mankind and combating the wickedness and avarice of the church. They promise to live in the community, and healing at no charge (much like the original Friars Minor). Unlike them, they wear no distinctive habit and preach no exoteric doctrine (hoping to avoid the persecution?) From the idea of the hidden fraternity of learned men, Boyle refers to the need for an Invisible College in 1640. The dream of unifying the educated of Western Europe will finally materialize in the Royal Society.

After the Revolution, France will found the Conservetoire des Arts et Metiers, collecting all the products of the sciences in one place. They will installit in St. Martin des Champs, built on Bacon's plans for the Temple of Solomon, whose wisdom is praised in the Fama.

1613 Wedding of Princess Elizabeth (daughter of James I of England) marries Frederick, Elector Palatine of the Rhine. Bacon arranges an allegorical play on mystic knighthood. In Heidelberg, the groom is celebrated as Jason of the Golden Fleece on a float that includes the emblem of the Order of the Garter (see Tomar).

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Royal Society will serve as a clearinghouse of science and learning, patronizing chemists, physicists, and naturalists (including Charles Darwin). During the reign of Napoleon, the benefices of the Royal society permit mutual visitations of academics between France, Germany, and England. The Royal society thus may have become a cover for sub rosa doings: conspiracies, spies, and intrigues.

The Royal Society in turn will help guide the formation or codification of the Freemasons (the Freemasons themselves may date back further, to Scotland and the 16th century. Some claim they are inspired by the Knights of Brannockburn). The Invisible College will also play a role in the iconography of various Romantic thinkers and poets including Shelly and Wordsworth. Later, Grant Morrison will write it into The Invisibles.

The Knights Templar of Portugal survive the purge in France and become the Knights of Christ (settled around Tomar). They settle into a number of strongholds on the Atlantic shore. Notably, King Henry the Navigator is a Knight of Christ. His school of navigation sets of a series of explorations south along the coast of Africa. Ultimately, Christopher Columbus sails West under the banner of a red cross on white – the Templar emblem. The castle at Tomar is remodeled under henry the Navigator, who includes the emblems of the Garter and the Golden fleece.

North America: the Avalon of the grail cycles? Tir Na Nog? Ultimate Thule of Germanic myth (remembering that the NSDAP emerged out of the theosophical Thule Society). The oak island money pit. Masons in New England. References to the New World and the art of the sphere in the Rosicrucian manifestos.

Columbus sails West seeking the East: Prester John? Agharttha/Shamballah? Alamut?

Parallels exist between the occult tradition of the Templars and Sufism and mystical Islam. Templars were accused of worshiping a bearded idol/devil named Baphomet, and crying out to Yallah. Connection to Mahomet and Allah?

MartinismMartinism is a form of mystical and esoteric Christianity concerned with the fall of the first man, his state of material privation from his divine source, and the process of his return, called 'Reintegration' or illumination.” Source of 'illumination' in Freemasonry. Martinism becomes the basis for “mystical” Freemasonry, and informs many of the doctrines of the later Golden Dawn.

1776, the year of convergence: Deceleration of Independence signed. The Wealth of Nations published, which underlies the theoretical justifications for free markets (America = capitalism?). Volume one of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire published (America = Rome?). May 1, in Inglestadt, Adam Weishaupt founds the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria. Their agenda: secularism, papicide, and revolution. Beethoven's First Symphony is dedicated to the AISB, commissioned in celebration of King Ludwig's closing parochial schools in Bavaria in favor of state-run secular schools.

The Freemasons forbid all discussion of politics and religion in Temple. They substitute a Theistic conception of God with the Deist “Great Architect” (echoes of this in alcoholics Anonymous 'higher power as we understand it'). Masons adopt the myth of Hiram of Abiff, the Widow's Son. Hiram is killed by three ruffians named Jubelo, Jubela, and Jubelum (the endings mirror the -o, -a, -um gender inflections of many Latin words. Also see Jack the Ripper, “It was the juwes who did it” and the recurrent whiff of Freemasonry in the Ripper case.) Hiram dies of three wounds, one to the head, throat (or mouth), and heart. These allegorically represent the death of free speech, the death of free thinking, and the resultant death of the soul. The Freemasons preserve and spread the ideas of Rationalism, the Enlightenment, and liberty.

These same ideas of liberty and rationalism underlie the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution of 1776, and the French Revolution of 1789. The presence and influence of the Freemasons is well known in the latter two. Upon becoming dictator in France, Napoleon is inducted into various lodges and becomes honorary Grand Master. Although known as a dictator and conqueror, Napoleon does spread the ideals of the French Revolution throughout Europe. Allegedly important moments in Napoleon's career: he attempts to conquer Egypt and brings engineers and scientists with him (uncovering the Rosetta stone in the process), fails to suppress the civil war that leads to Haitian independence, he sells Louisiana to Thomas Jefferson (a known Mason), attempts to conquer England (the nation of the Faerie Queen and the Knights of Brannockburn), instigates the peninsular campaign and the attempted conquest of Portugal, launches the nonsensical invasion of Russia. The ultimate paradox of Napoleon: although a militaristic dictator, Napoleon spreads the ideals of the French Revolution (and to a lesser extent, Freemasonry) throughout Europe.

Cecil Rhodes gets rich from South African diamond mines, buys his own country (Rhodesia), and founds academic round tables (an Invisible College) encouraging co-operation between WASP England and the U.S. These round tables survive today as the Council on Foreign Relations (founded 1921), whose membership rolls permeate the highest levels of the U.S. Government, high finance, and academia. Rhodes also founds the Rhodes scholarships, funding the best and brightest of the U.S. To go to school in England so that they can coordinate and learn world domination (the initial Rhodes scholarships specified only blond, blue-eyed men, of course).

The Deutsches Arbeiterpartei (DAP) emerges from the Thule Society in 1999. Hitler later reorganizes the DAP into the NSDAP. Hitler's military aspirations parallel many of Napoleon's: conquest of France, planned invasion of England, aspirations towards Gibraltar, invasion of Russia, a North African campaign aimed at Egypt and beyond. Where Napoleon makes gestures towards reconciliation of the Jews, Hitler attempts to eliminate them. Interestingly, great lengths are gone to cataloging all of the possessions of the victims: their clothes and shoes are warehoused and meticulously gone over.

Theosophy attempts to find the central, unifying message in world religions. It's principle success is a synthesis of Hinduism, Hermeticism, and Christianity. A central tenet of Helena Blavatsky's is the existence of an unknown number of Secret Masters or Unknown Superiors; immortal and wise, they move invisibly through the populace secretly controlling everything; or else they live in Agharttha, a secret refuge beneath the Nepalese Himalayas, where they contemplate the occult secrets of the universe. Another of Blavatsky's theories is the conflict between anarchy (the present divided, sectarian governments and religions of the world) and 'synarchy' (the harmonious government of the secret masters for the betterment of all). Theosophy will later influence Bormann and Hess, two high figures in Hitler's government.

Propaganda Due or the P2 is founded sometime in the late 1970's within the Italian Grand Orient Lodge of Egyptian Freemasonry. It had ties to the Vatican bank, the Mafia, and the CIA's operation Gladio anti-Communism project. Gladio inaugurated the 'strategy of tension', instigating terrorist incidents and then blaming them on Communists so that the government would have to crack down on them. P2 may have played a part in assassinating Pope John, plotted a fascist coup in Italy, laundered money through the Vatican Bank, and engaged in other corruption and crony ism.

The partner organization to the Templars, the Knights of the Hospital of St. John, survive to the modern era as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (the Knights of Malta). One of the prominent Knights was William Modern Knights of Malta include William Casey, Reinhard Gehlen, Alexander Haig, Licio Gelli, Roberto Calvi, and Michele Sindona.

The Order of the Golden Dawn is a Martinez inspired mystical Freemasonic chapter founded in 1881. They contribute to the revival of Hermeticism in the West in the early 20th Century. Standing behind the Golden Dawn is the Ordo Templi Orientalis, a mystical society that claims it's origins in Templarism: the OTO claims that the highest grade in the Golden Dawn is the lowest grade of the OTO. The Golden Dawn eventually changes itself, stripped of many of its Masonic elements, into the Stella Martuitus (Star of Morning).

In 1912, Aleister Crowley is made one of the five Outer Heads of the OTO by inadvertently publishing the highest esoteric secret of the OTO in his Book of Lies. Sometime afterward, Crowley founds the A A to prepare the world for the Aeon of Horus he has prophesied.

Ignatius Loyola founds the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) to promote the Catholic church's Counter-Reformation and combat the Reformation. The Jesuits serve as the church's theological shock troops: trained in theology, law, philosophy, rhetoric, debate, and strategy. Their aim is to shore up the faith and political reliability of Catholic monarchs and aristocrats and help them combat Lutheranism and employ the new tools of rationalism, science and technology in the service of Catholicism. Outlawed and driven underground at various times and places, the Order survives to this day.

The Rand Corporation is founded as a corporate think tank. The go-to organization for systems analysis, game theory and social engineering. They become pivotal advisers on Cold War strategy and players in cryptography, digital computing, and the space program.


Hermes Trismegistus (?): Divine author of the Hermetic Corpus and the legendary Emerald Tablets. The foundation of Western Hermeticism. Probably a result of Greco/Egyptian synecritism.

Joseph of Arimathea (?) : Member of the council of Saducees and follower of Yeshua of Nazareth. He owned the Garden of Gethsemane where the Last Supper and the Crucifixion occurred, and the tomb where Yeshua was supposedly buried. Legend holds that he caught the blood of the Crucifixion in the Sang Graal and smuggled it out of Palestine to Southern France, and from there to Brittany or to Britain.

Joachim of Floris (1132 – 1202): Christian mystic who divided history into three ages: the Age of the Father, the Age of the Son, and the Age of the Holy Spirit (paralleling the revelations of Moses, Jesus, and Joachim). May have been an inspiration for Crowley's Age of the Mother, Age of the Father, and Age of the crowned and conquering child (Isis, Osiris, and Horus). Also founded an Order of the Illuminati which practiced poverty, which – centuries later – would fall under the influence of Fra Dolcino.

Francis of Assisi (1181 – 1226): Preached the absolute poverty Christ in the face of church wealth and power. He and his Minorite followers are in perpetual danger of being declared heretical.

Nicholas Flamel (1330 – 1418): An early alchemist. Claimed to possess a text Book of Abraham the Sage. Exposition of the Hieroglyphical Figures is attributed to Flamel. Supposedly turned iron to silver and lead into gold; secret truths may be inscribed on his tombstone.

Guillaume Postel (1510 – 1581): French polymath and religious philosopher. A close ally of the Jesuits, but parted ways with them. May have been an influence on the Rosicrucians, if not the writer of the manifestos.

John Dee (1527 - 1608): Court Astrologer for Queen Elizabeth I. Summoned angels and one demon, and developed Enochian. Promoted may voyages of discovery, and became interested in maps and ciphers of various sorts later in life.

Giordono Bruno (1548 – 1600): Italian theologian. Early proponent of the Heliocentric view of the solar system and the existence of extra-solar life. His life, writings, and execution may have played a part in the prosecution of Galileo. Also preached the inherent equality of man before God (a heretical notion that denies both the priesthood and the aristocracy), a theme later taken up in the French Revolution.

Johann Valentian Andreae (1554-1601): German theologian. The Rosicrucian documents were frequently ascribed to him. He frequently denied it, but later in life claimed to have authored the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz as a joke or intellectual exercise.

Edward Kelley / Edward Talbot (1555 – 1559): John Dee's medium and crystal gazer. A scholar of alchemy in his own right.

Heinrich Khunrath (1560 – 1605): Alchemist and Christian mystic. Attempted to reconcile alchemy and Christian theology. A major influence in the rise of theosophy.

Francis Bacon (1562 – 1626): English natural philosopher and ploy-intellectual. Developed a plan for inductive reasoning that underlies the Western scientific tradition. Also wrote The New Atlantis, which gives the dimensions of the Temple of Solomon. May have been the author of the Rosicrucian manifestos. The focus of any number of 17th century conspiracy theories (Hite's “Six degrees of Francis Bacon”). The priory of Saint Martin des Champs in Paris (in the old Templar quarter) is said to built to the plan of the Temple of Solomon from The New Atlantis, and now houses the Musee des Arts et Metiers

Jakob Boehme (1575 – 1624): Theologian and contributer to Christian theosophy. Introduced the idea that sin and the Fall of Man is necessary for redemption, an idea picked up by a number of quasi-Satanic groups.

Christopher Marlowe (1596 – 1563): Playwright and poet. Nothing is provable, but there are perpetual whiffs around him: association with the English intelligence community, possible atheism or Catholicism, possible association with various Elizabethan secret societies and conspiracies. Supposedly stabbed over a tavern bill, “When a man's verses cannot be understood, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child, understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room.” - Shakespeare

Comte St. Germain (1712? - 1784?): French/German/Italian adventurer, alchemist and musician. Claimed to be many centuries old. Claimed to have discovered the Philosopher's stone and to have changed lead into gold.

Martinez de Pasqually (1727 - 1774): Introduced illuminism into Freemasonry and founded many, many, many Mason chapters.

Alessandro Cagliostro / Guiseppe Balsamo (1743 – 1795): Italian adventurer and occultist. Implicated the Affair of the Diamond necklace.

Louis-Claude St. Germain (1743 – 1803): A disciple of Martinez de Pasqually and early contributer to what would become Theosophy. Shares the name of the more notorious St. Germain.

Eliphas Levi (1810 – 1875): French occultist and reviver of Hermeticism. Perhaps best known for his drawing of Baphomet (the idol the Templars were accused of worshiping).

Leon Foucault (1819 – 1868): French physicist. Sanguinphobic. Demonstrated the first Foucault's pendulum, which proves the rotation of the Earth, in the priory of Saint Martin des Champs (see Francis Bacon, above).

Helena Blavatsky (1831 -1891): Founder of the Theosophical Society, and a pioneer of organized pan-religious theosophy. Attempted to unify Christian theology, Hermeticism, and Hinduism. Posited the existence of the Secret Masters of Agharttha, and the conflict between “anarchy and synarchy”.

Aurthur Waite (1857 - 1942): Member of the Golden Dawn and co-author of the Rider-Waite tarot deck.  Friend of Arthur Machen (inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft) and foe/rival of Aleister Crowley.

Margaret Murry (1863 - 1963): Author of The Witch-Cult in Western Europe which posits the survival of pre-Christen religion in Western Europe. Kept secret from the public at large, the cult supposedly practices its rites in secret. This book becomes one of the foundations of Gardnerian Wicca. It is also a strong influence on the pulp-era writings of both R. E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft.

Gerald Gardner (1884 – 1964): Developed modern Wicca out of 19th century theosophy and Golden Dawn hermeticism. “So mote it be!” is a Masonic invocation later popularized in Wicca.

Martin Bormann (1900 – 1945): Adolf Hitler's personal secretary. Wrote that Nazism was “wholly incompatible with Christianity”. Bormann may have been in the forefront of Hitler's interest in Teutonic myth and the occult.

Reinhard Gehlen (1902 - 1979): The “Superspy” of Western Europe. Was chief of the Abwehr's Soviet Intelligence section during World War II. Defected to the U.S. At the end of the war, supposedly on the strength of his intelligence regarding the Soviet military establishment. Operated the Gehlen apparat as an entirely independent intelligence organization feeding intelligence to the CIA. [The present author had the interesting experience of meeting his great-granddaughter once...]

Jack Parsons (1914 – 1952): Early American follower of Crowley. One of the founders of CalTech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. May or may not have affected the course of the space race and the cold war through various rituals performed in the desert.

James Jesus Angleton (1917 - 1987): CIA counter-intelligence director from 1954 – 1974. Was obsessed with the idea that the KGB had infiltrated a high-level mole into the U.S. Government. May or may not have been connected to the Kennedy assassination. Also helped form and run Operation Gladio in Italy.

E Howard Hunt (1918 - 2007): A known CIA agent in the later half of the 20th Century. Hunt was a known operative for the Department of Operations, having participated in the overthrow of the Arbenz government of Guatemala and the Bay of Pigs operation in Cuba. He frequently arises in many of the theories regarding the Kennedy assassination. He later served three years in prison for connection to the Watergate burglary.

Licio Gelli (1919 - ): Knight of Malta, Freemason, and the central figure of the Italian P2 conspiracy. Collected boxes of blackmail material on quite a number of major and minor officials in the Italian government. Evaded arrest several times, was tried once and acquitted, and was never convicted of any crime related to P2 or Gladio.

Roberto Calvi (1920 - 1982) : President of the Banco Ambrosiano and a figure in the P2 conspiracy in Italy. Found dead, hanging from a London bridge. Believed that potere occulto ran the world; the secret to success was to “find the hidden group that held the most power and join it.”

Michele Sindona (1920 - 1986): Mafia lawyer, Knight of Malta, and P2 conspirator. Assisted in the laundering of P2 funds. Died in his cell while awaiting trial for plotting a pro-Fascist coup in Italy.

Raymond Buckland (1934 - ): Author of Buckland's Complete Guide to Witchcraft, considered by some to be the definitive work on modern Wicca (known colloquially to a few as “Uncle Bucky's Big Blue Book of Wicca”).

William Casey (1913 - 1987): Knight of Malta and Director of Central Intelligence under Ronald Reagan, who once said, “Some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally right and eternally wrong.” As DCI, Casey oversaw Operation Black Eagle, that traded weapons to Iran for money to give to the Nicaraguan Contras (the Iran Contra scandal). According to some theories, he also aided importation of cocaine into the U.S. In order to fund anti-Communist guerrillas in Central America. Casey died of a brain tumor before he could be investigated.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bill Leeb, where have you gone?

Recently, in pursuit of Bruederschaft's "Return", I picked up a compilation of electronic music from 2008. Now, I've been a follower of various forms of industrial and electro (darkwave, coldwave, dark electro, hellectro, powernoise, acid house, trip hop, psychadelic sleaze... seriously, this sub-genre labelling nonsense has to stop) pretty much since these genres were codified. I was shocked all of a sudden to discover that there is a thriving strain of synthpop and electropop. I was even more astonished to discover that this new breed of synthpop and electropop (and the distinction between the two is somehow very important, although I'll be buggered if I can see it) is just as vapid, trivial, and bubblegum as pop music has always been.

Now, I understand that groganards like me should freely pass the torch to a new generation, who can do with the music as they please. But what happened to the meaning? To the focus? To the impact? When Funker Vogt wrote "This world is made of battlefields", one felt the horror of the devestation of total war in way that hippie ballads could never convey (almost as if it were Tom Clancy's conscience speaking in the dead of night). "Suffer the Flesh" stripped away pretensions of love, and even of lust and desire, to reveal, raw, consuming, self-abnegating need.

Sasha's burned out, Jourgensen has lost his way, Reznor has lost his anger. Faderhead has the look and the sound, but hasn't found the vision yet. Andy has been creating almost a caricature of himself. Ronan remembers every now and then that he used to be angry ("Automatic" is a beautiful piece of work that contains the fire of his early work) Mssrs. Leeb, DeMarco, and More, where did you go?

OTOH, Rotersand and Seabound are still doing inspirational work (including Rotersand showing us all how dubstep can be done right.) The bright (dark?) spot here is that Android Lust is working on a new album, one that threatens to go back to her roots and the magnificent "Resolution". Here's to her efforts...