The Snare of Distance and the Sunglasses of the Seer / Part One
“And, spread across solemn distances, your smile entered my heart.”—Rainer Maria Rilke
In a comment on my essay “The Vanguard of a Perpetual Revolution,” Okantomi wrote, “I often feel like I can see what is happening in the world, as well as what is just about to happen, and what will almost certainly happen later on, and it’s like no one else sees what I am seeing. It’s eerie, shocking, and finally depressing.” People do have visions of the future, both individually and collectively. Quite often, these visions are troubling, but few bother to follow the implications of their vision to the end, let alone change their lives. One way or another, though, our visions have ways of making themselves felt, even if we do not register what it is we are seeing. The world is a kind of eyeball. There is no such thing as a “safe space.”
Such visions do not necessarily depend upon telepathy; they can be equally present in the automated workings of the culture, in the demographic analyses that drive the decisions of corporate boards. Hollywood blockbusters, for example—such as Star Wars, The Fountain, The Terminator, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Planet of the Apes, Avatar (and all of their various spinoffs)—strike me as a potent vehicles for contemporary mythmaking, whatever their variations in quality, whatever the motives or self-awareness of their directors. There are cues. There are occult knots. Our responses are overdetermined. Our hands freeze in mid-air as they reach for their absent weapons. Our lips form the first vowels of a chant that will atomize a whole city. As we stare into the distance, the ancient world resurfaces as a technological dream on the horizon. We remember the collapse of complex systems, the hierarchical clash between the rulers and the ruled, but we mix and match the specifics of the story. Our best efforts to solidify the Rorschach blot of the future only point us towards the enigma of our origins. To discover what we know, we must sometimes pause to observe what we create. Seized from afar, as by the magnetism of an almost nonexistent teacher, we are pulled by a current all too eager to instruct us. An unresolved agenda speaks to us from the screen. The screen also acts like an iron curtain, through which the bodies of the living may not pass.
Or, in a different mode, people give form to the future through their fears, by what they do not do as much as what they do, by their belle indifference when presented with a series of ultimatums. Our psyches are jagged. Whole periods have gone missing. As crises converge, our refusal to act is a testament to the scale of the coming upheaval. We finger the rigid outlines of our scars, as if they belonged to someone else. We shape the future by our under-the-skin sense of all of those things we know but go out of our way not to think about: that reserves of oil will almost certainly run out in our lifetimes, that the U.S. doesn’t manufacture much of anything anymore, and that there is not enough locally grown food to sustain most cities in a real emergency. There are many things that it seems better not to know. The future is one of the better places in which to store such unasked for knowledge.
It is always possible that the march of progress will indefinitely continue, that “someone will think of something,” that our way of life will require only a few small modifications, that windmills and solar cells will save us. As ancient souls, we know this is absurd. The problem is, of course, to separate and categorize these alternate versions of the future—in simplistic terms, to discriminate between the more false than true and the more true than false. We can see the details but somehow miss the pattern; we can see the pattern but somehow miss the details. To see clearly we must see from more than one location, from all of the 360 degrees of a circle, and then out beyond the 28 U-Turns of a labyrinth, there to access the ten-dimensional records of a sphere.
Sadly, there are laws that prevent our switching out of “power save” in order to reactivate the full scope of our senses. The art of remote viewing is no longer taught in schools. Bilocation is now seen as unscientific. There are industries devoted to the proposition that a human being has less predictive power than an algorithm. The age of the tool has passed and the age of the prosthesis is at hand. We see what is put before us; we do not see the long shadows that are standing behind our backs. We now see with our eyes; we do not believe that it is possible to see with the solar plexus. From their underground bases, speeding all ways at once, like boomerangs, and with superhuman stealth, suspect forces play games with the horizon. Fear and hope pump out a kind of metaphysical fog, crackling with static, which makes every level of the process difficult and tests our ability to translate the first hieroglyphs that we wrote.
As light can manifest as either a particle or a wave, or both, but not at the same time, so too the future both IS and IS NOT there. It is there for those beings with a panoramic view, as it is for us at the moment of our deaths, but it revolts against all functions that we would force it to perform. It is present in those flashes that it chooses to transmit; it does not see fit to instruct us as to the gaps in our methodology, through which we will fall. We want to believe that our systems are moving each year a bit closer to perfection. How accurate this is! Yet we forget that “what is perfect will soon end,” as it says in the Tao Te Ching. The language spoken by the future both IS and IS NOT similar to that spoken by the present. Floods of information are provided, yes, enough to create the appearance of a world, but too often disinformation is more attractive than the truth. Trolls and gremlins are among us! Fear forces us to misjudge the location of our navels. We dread the constant vigilance that is imposed by the Ideal.
Through the years, and especially in the early 1990s, I have sometimes found myself projected into the future, both in terms of specific images and through wider visionary overviews. These experiences felt urgent. They also, to some extent, seemed almost pointless to report. Before an event, few would have any reason to pay attention to such images, and afterwards, reading poetry would be way down on the public’s list of priorities. I was able to see certain details as well as certain patterns; at first, there was no good way to present these as a narrative, any more than an ocean consists of a series of steps. If steps existed, they were miles down. How is it possible to tell the story of an ocean? The traumas that had possessed us from the time of the Younger Dryas were nonetheless starting to make sense. A finger to my lips, I have spent years keeping secrets. I pretend, when asked, to know much more about football than I do.
In retrospect, certain passages stand out, as having started in one world and then ended up in another. What began as vision had some tangential relationship to fact. For example, references to the destruction of the World Trade Towers popped up five or six times in poems from 1992. “A monster stalked his head through the air vents of the World Trade Towers. He could not find it, for the towers themselves had disappeared.” “The World Trade Towers for a fourth time fall; their shadows stand.” There were other lines from this period that possibly pointed to the BP Gulf oil disaster: “Not one leaf stirs. The sea has met its death by accident. The tree Yggdrasil has been hacked at the root.” And to Fukushima: “You have thrown a wave at the reactors of the Nephilim. Rods overheat, and the whole of the ocean is not enough to cool them.” From the standpoint of vision, what was real was that our way of life was far more fragile than we thought. The complexity of our systems was a liability rather than a defense, and, the more complex they became, the more out of touch and vulnerable we were. What we called “facts” were a way of keeping our eyes fixed on the foreground.
There were dozens of references in my books To Akasha: An Incantation for the End of History and The Preexistent Race Descends to the idea of a “mile-high wave.” To Akasha was structured around this image, and it was a phrase that I never expected to hear in the evening news. But, during the BP Gulf oil crisis, reporters began to speak about what would happen if the vast lakes of methane under the Gulf were to explode. One consequence of this would be a mile-high wave that would rise up to wash over two thirds of North America.
On a day to day level, I might sometimes prefer not to focus on such things. In this, I am no different than the great majority of my race. Signs do not always wait for us to notice them, however, nor do they necessarily take an esoteric form.
December 21st, 2012, was a date that left many prophets disappointed, yet it was on this date that Warner Bros. released a movie called The Impossible. Based on actual events, it tells the story of an English family on vacation at a resort in Khao Lak, Thailand, who were separated when the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 struck. After a movie-length ordeal, they are once again reunited. This was the tsunami that killed 230,000 people and displaced 1.7 million more. Many critics gave it positive reviews. Eric Koln, of Indie Wire, on the other hand, gave it only a B-minus grade. He argued that it suffered from a “feel-good” plot within the context of mass-destruction. Already anxious, I had no desire to see or judge the movie for myself. Waves haunt me, as they have for the past 12,000 or so years, and this one seemed just a local instance of far greater things to come. For me, the Paleolithic glaciers are still just about to melt, and a rise in sea-level will destroy the cities on most coasts.
But why, you may ask, do so many of our predictions turn out to be wrong? Now that 2012 has come and gone, and the visions of its cultic devotees have proven far less than accurate, this issue may be a big one, whose repercussions are only now just beginning to be felt.
It is not that we do not know, perhaps, but rather that there is no way to determine what we know, or to differentiate a corporate logo from a hieroglyph. We see, but we have forgotten how to read. We believe that our minds penetrate beyond the ends of our own noses, when, in fact, they rarely penetrate that far.
If we humans cannot travel from one side of the omniverse to the other, it is perhaps because, at this point in the Kali Yuga, we have gotten much too big. In the Satya Yuga, when the sun still had a face, we knew enough to avoid getting tripped by our own feet. We could enter through the keyhole of the pineal gland to then exit onto the pyre that the Birds had built to burn us, where, as we watched with bland amusement, our bones would turn to ash. Our 10,000-year life-spans allowed for much experimentation.
We inhabited our bodies from the outside in, like the visitors to a museum—the Smithsonian Institution, let’s say—and not, as in the present, from the inside out. The bright tunnel that leads to the edge of the known world, and the aperture that opens out of Life and onto Death, to some can seem as frightening as a kind of demonic kaleidoscope, which, ignoring the instruction manuals that were left to us by the Ancients, they now wait for 70 years to touch. Then again, on the other side of the aperture, we may draw to ourselves beings who are adept at playing games, and who are quick to realize that our skill-set has grown rusty. We may inadvertently have traveled with big targets on our backs.
It is certainly odd: that even though some part of ourselves may be living in the future, our predictions are far more likely to be wrong than to be right. As Okantomi suggests, prophesy may have less to do with the prediction of the future than with the ability to see clearly into the present—to boldly recognize patterns that are just beginning to be formed or to probe into patterns that have long been in existence, but which, for whatever reason, have not yet become visible.
For the most part, this involves a set of classical virtues rather than a bag of supernatural powers. Let me translate these as the “Anamnesian Virtues.” These are real virtues, however much they have been formatted by an artificial author. To the extent that they remain on this side of the existent, we must acknowledge that they are fragments from a long since vanished text, which was copied and then recopied into half a dozen languages before once again being lost. Tibetans would refer to such a text as a “terma,” a “hidden treasure,” whose contents could only be deciphered by a “terton.” Such a text is obviously prone to mistranslation, if not self-serving paraphrase; so too, perhaps, with these “Anamnesian Virtues.” These virtues are coupled with another 21 “Anamnesian Maxims.” I will speak of these later on. But first, let us look at the seven virtues. These are as follows:
1) Detachment: the capacity to see the ocean that will swallow up all things, and to listen as it whispers in your ear. You should, paradoxically, become even more empathic as the degree of your detachment grows. You may act on this, or not. You may spill your blood as a purely symbolic gesture, in service to those humans yet unborn. You may feel the pain of the multitudes that you kill.
2) Foresight: the capacity, while still in love with life, to be dead, and productively so. So too, the longer you are dead the more alive you will be.
3) Self-reliance: the capacity to stand on your own as you free yourself from the force-fields of the common wisdom, and then not complain too much. This will be more of a challenge if your head, hands, heart, and feet have been removed. Most prostheses will require some amount of training, after which you will become 100 percent free.
4) Balance: the capacity to see the right in every wrong, as well as the wrong at the dead center of each right. By the blinding light of the hypersphere, we can see that even the most generous of our actions is a crime; at one and the same moment, every crime can be regarded as a type of revolutionary act, as a flawed but useful reinvention of the law. Strange indeed are the methods of the stern Goddess of Necessity!
5) Hindsight: the capacity to remember just when to shut up, and the knowledge that you have seen these things a great many times before. To all others has a role and a position been assigned; to the seer, only the pathos of descent.
6) Stealth: the capacity to bring your full energy to a project when there are few who understand what you are doing, and none who will reward you. Only in this way will the dead be prompted to grant access to their libraries.
7) Simplicity: the capacity to make do with whatever Fate deposits. We must do what we were meant to do. We must go where we are meant to go. The shortest distance between two points, however, may turn out to be a labyrinth. We must read each accident as a catalytic cue in order to discover the true outlines of our work.
As Lincoln said in his 1862 Annual Message to Congress, “We must disenthrall ourselves.” These are the key virtues that will help us to develop the breadth of vision that we need. They are of use to both the solitary artist and the multitude. No line divides the subject from the object. “One thought fills immensity,” as Blake argues in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Even good habits must be probed and then, finally, dismantled. All crutches must be thrown away, as you free yourself from the advice of experts, from the urge to see your side win and the other side destroyed, and from the high-tech wet-dreams each day generated by the media. At the end, there should be nothing left but space.
Conversely, you must have the courage to accept that you do not, in fact, create your own reality. For the “You” is inextricably bound to the experience of the “We.” The “Body Politic” is an actual body, however much we might choose to view it as a metaphor. You are one of 6 ½ billion being swept along through the veins of a metastasizing empire, whose reach is interdimensional in its scope, but whose key principle, at the moment, is nowhere to be found. Its search engines troll for evidence that it has not ceased to exist, as there, just up ahead, the ghosts of failed super-beings beckon from the fallout.