Gnon and OOon

Twitter gets people counting characters, and thus numerizing language. In only a very few cases does this microcultural activity tilt over into the wilder extravagances of exotic qabbalism, but it nudges intelligence in that direction. Even when the only question is strictly Boolean — will this message squeeze into a tweet, or not? — words acquire a supplementary significance from their numerical properties alone. A phrase is momentarily numbered, in the crudest of ways, which the tweet box registers as a countdown towards zero, and then into the negative accumulation of over-spill. Twitter thus promotes a rigidly convention-bound semiotic practice, which it simultaneously hides, technologically instantiating a precise analog of hermetic ritual.

Qabbalism is the science of spookiness, which makes it a natural companion on any expedition into horror. There is, in addition, an intrinsic reactionary slant to its ultra-traditionalism and attachment to the principle of hierarchical revelation. Its concrete history provides an unsurpassable example of spontaneous auto-catalysis (from discrepant conventions of arithmetical notation). This post, however, is restricted to a very preliminary discussion of its most basic intellectual presupposition, as if it had been developed out of an implicit philosophy (which it was not). It will be coaxed into making sense, against the grain of its essential inclination.

Within the Abrahamic tradition, the Word of God anticipates creation. Insofar as scripture faithfully records this Word, the holy writings correspond to a level of reality more fundamental than nature, and one that the ‘book of nature’ references, as the key to its final meaning. The unfolding of creation in time follows a narrative plotted in eternity, in which history and divine providence are necessarily identical. There can be no true accidents, or coincidences.

The Book of Creation is legible, and intelligible. It can be read, and it tells a story. The noisy squabbles between religious orthodoxy and natural science that have erupted in modern times threaten to drown out the deeper continuities of presumption, which frame the rancorous contention between ‘belief’ and ‘disbelief’ as an intimate domestic dispute. This is nowhere more clearly illustrated than in the declaration attributed to Francis Bacon: “My only earthly wish is… to stretch the deplorably narrow limits of man’s dominion over the universe to their promised bounds… [nature will be] bound into service, hounded in her wanderings and put on the rack and tortured for her secrets.” There is no doubt that nature can speak, and has a story to tell.

Resisting any temptation to take sides in this family argument, we refer neutrally to Gnon (“nature or nature’s God”), ignoring all dialectics, and departing in another direction. The distinction to be drawn does not differentiate between belief and unbelief, but rather discriminates between exoteric and esoteric religion.

Any system of belief (and complementary unbelief) that appeals to universal endorsement is necessarily exoteric in orientation. Like the witch-finders, or Francis Bacon, it declares war upon the secret, in the name of a public cult, whose central convictions are dispensed commonly. The Pope is the Pope, and Einstein is Einstein, because the access to truth that elevates them above other men is — in its innermost nature — the equal possession of all. The pinnacle of understanding is attained through a public formula. This is democracy in its deepest, creedal sense.

Esoteric religion accepts all of this, about exoteric religion. It confirms the solidarity between doctrinal authorities and the beliefs of the masses, whilst exempting itself, privately, from the public cult. Its discreet attention is directed away from the exoteric mask of Gnon, into — or out towards — the OOon (or Occult Order of nature).

The OOon need not be kept a secret. It is secret by its intrinsic, inviolable nature. A very primitive qabbalistic excursion should suffice to illustrate this.

Assume, entirely hypothetically, that supernatural intelligence or obscure complexities in the topological structure of time had sedimented abysmal depths of significance into the superficial occurrences of the world. The ‘Book of Creation’ is then legible at (very) many different levels, with every random or inconsequential detail of relatively exoteric features providing material for systems of information further ‘down’. The deeper one excavates into the ‘meaningless chaos’ of the exoteric communicative substrate, the more uncluttered one’s access to the signals of utter Outsideness. Since ‘one’ is, to its quick, a signaletic product, this cryptographic enterprise is irreducibly a voyage, transmutation, and disillusionment.

The most thoroughly documented example is the esoteric reading of the Hebrew Bible, which need only be remarked upon here in its most general characteristics. Because the Hebrew alphabet serves as both a phonetic system and as a set of numerals, each written word in the language has a precise numerical value. It is at once at exoteric word, and an esoteric number. Nothing prevents an ordinary language user from deliberately coding (numerically) as they write, or even as they speak. The key to numerical decryption is not a secret, but rather a commonly understood cultural resource, utilized by every numerate individual. Nevertheless, the linguistic and arithmetical aspects are in fact quite strictly separated,  because thinking in words and numbers simultaneously is hard, because maintaining sustained parallel intelligibility in both is close to impossible, because the attempt to do so is (exoterically) senseless, and because practicality dominates. The esoteric realm is not forbidden, but simply unneeded.

That the Hebrew Bible has not been deliberately crafted as an intricate numerical-cryptographic composition by human authors is therefore an empirical or contingent fact that can be accepted with extreme confidence. Its esoteric channel might of course, as common sense has to insist, be empty of anything but noise, but it is no less certainly clear. Whatever comes through it, that is anything other than nothing, can only come from Outside. It is the real difference between exoteric and the esoteric levels that makes the OOon thinkable at all. Only that which the exoteric does not touch, is available for the esoteric to communicate through, and to have assembled itself from. Qabbalism has to be seldom, in order to occur. For that reason, it cannot seek to persuade the masses of anything, unless its own senselessness. In an age of triumphant exoteria, this is not an easy thing to understand (thank Gnon).

September 13, 2013admin 17 Comments »
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17 Responses to this entry

  • northanger Says:

    Excellent linkage.

    What is metadata — exoteric or esoteric?

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 13th, 2013 at 1:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Says:

    Normally I more or less “get” your posts. But this one is a bit obscure to me.

    Are you arguing that if we find patterns in places like the bible then Nature or Nature’s God or Cthulhu must have put it there?

    I’ll re-read a few more times before I comment further. Except to say this: if neoreaction and horror are linked then by the amount of Lovecraftian references across neoreactionary blogs I suspect a lot of neoreactionaries are actually right-wing atheists who suffer existential angst at our “place” in the universe.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “Nature or Nature’s God or Cthulhu …” … or something. (Sheer randomness is an OK ‘something’ if that’s where the probabilistic calculus leads.)

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 13th, 2013 at 5:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    Any system of belief (and complementary unbelief) that appeals to universal endorsement is necessarily exoteric in orientation. Like the witch-finders, or Francis Bacon, it declares war upon the secret, in the name of a public cult, whose central convictions are dispensed commonly. The Pope is the Pope, and Einstein is Einstein, because the access to truth that elevates them above other men is — in its innermost nature — the equal possession of all. The pinnacle of understanding is attained through a public formula. This is democracy in its deepest, creedal sense.

    With the proviso that this democracy is not skewed to an unattainable equality of outcome. “Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble.”

    Assume, entirely hypothetically, that supernatural intelligence or obscure complexities in the topological structure of time had sedimented abysmal depths of significance into the superficial occurrences of the world. The ‘Book of Creation’ is then legible at (very) many different levels, with every random or inconsequential detail of relatively exoteric features providing material for systems of information further ‘down’. The deeper one excavates into the ‘meaningless chaos’ of the exoteric communicative substrate, the more uncluttered one’s access to the signals of utter Outsideness.

    Picked anything up?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “Picked anything up?” — I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    As an old occult adage allegedly has it, “Nothing is concealed — from him who knows!”

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    It’s all flooding out eventually. Imagine an old, forgotten, three-quarters-rotted-through dam on a sinister mountain river, backed up with detritus-clogged pullulous water fed in from cryptic tributaries. With every day that passes, the leaks are strengthening, the structure strained ever more improbably, until the impending collapse-surge appears almost palpable. It is as if the reservoir had silently assembled itself into a singular thing, thick with dark purpose, slimily knitting-together an instinct for escape. Occasionally and irregularly, but more often now, the crack of over-stressed timbers tells of the concerted breakage to come. That dam is this blog.

    Alex Reply:

    “That dam is this blog.”

    That’s class. Anyone else would have put “This blog is that reservoir” or “This blog is the dynamite that blows up the dam”.

    (Meanwhile a Cathedralite explains what the zombie apocalypse is really about.)

    nydwracu Reply:

    Much like a zombie movie afficionado does, members of visible minority communities have spent years learning to read the warning signs of racial antipathy, even from those who don’t recognize that they’re ‘infected’ with the subtle biases that affect us all.

    So… the racists are the dark and shambling hordes of stupid but violent hordes against whom the everyman must take up arms?

    I’ve used the opposite analogy before. On Facebook, of all places:

    Zombie apocalypse isn’t just idle fantasy, and the last thing the few survivors need during one is zombie government. Bill de Blasio does not appear to be part of a dark and drooling horde, but he won’t be the ones to send in the helicopters.

    The rise of the zombie is already an apocalypse scenario: once the virus escapes from the lab, there is no solution that will not be found extremely distasteful, especially not in a society where one TV camera is more powerful than an army.

    It’s not about economics. It was once, but no longer: once the vial broke — and it was so shoddily designed that its shattering was inevitable from the start — once apocalypse began, everything else was set aside. The old left is completely right to point out that many Republican voters are voting against their economic interest; but economics *doesn’t matter*. There are the zombies, there are the mad scientists — no, mad engineers; calling them scientists would imply that they understand the necessity for a control group, a necessity lost on experimenters who seek to put the whole world in their petri dish — and there are the survivors, huddled away from the outside world, retreating ever further from it by the day, clinging to their guns and religion and praying that they won’t be eaten.

    The rise of Barack Obama had very little to do with grassroots organizing. He made a media-compiled list of the 100 greatest Americans — in 2005, before the publication of his second book and long before his run for president. If Warren can tap into the very real and very large reservoir of economic discontent as fuel for an electoral run, good on her; but this is the same person who falsified her heritage as a career move.

    Thankfully, her election would likely not herald a new stage of the apocalypse. Martin O’Malley’s would, if he had a chance in hell of it. De Blasio’s may; or it may merely signify the City’s regression to the zombified mean — a mean which Giuliani and Bloomberg dragged it away from in a tug-of-war opposed by the full weight of the people who began the apocalypse. Their efforts are heroic. But de Blasio has declared opposition to them, and with a generation too young to remember the pre-Dinkins days, and with the ever-increasing weight of the zombie hordes behind said generation, Lhota doesn’t stand a chance, and the City will burn again.

    Make no mistake: stop-and-frisk is de facto segregation. It’s much more accurate than the old laws, which were far too sloppy to either survive or merit survival, but it’s de facto segregation nonetheless. Many people have said this, and they’ve all missed the point: during a zombie apocalypse, if you don’t segregate the zombies away from you, you will be eaten.

    Civilization or righteousness. Always and everywhere, there can be only one. When the last pretense of civilization falls, it is because its core has already been eaten, by zombie-commanders and Brahmin philosophasters, by mad engineers intent on improving man by freeing him from all higher than his zombie base.

    Alex Reply:

    So… the racists are the dark and shambling hordes of stupid but violent hordes against whom the everyman must take up arms?

    It would seem so. You’ll note this fellow has helpful tips for “when you, as a member of the majority group, enter a minority space”, presumably so as to avoid being mistaken for an unreasoning cannibalistic racist and getting a “well-timed shotgun blast to the face”. What times we live in.

    (It may have been Tim Wise who wrote the first chapter of this horror story when he penned his open letter comparing white American conservatives to Jason of Friday 13th fame.)

    Posted on September 13th, 2013 at 6:55 pm Reply | Quote
  • Neener Says:

    Cool post. Random thoughts while reading it:

    Are the Gnostics the original cryptanalysts? Not in some numerological sense, but in the sense that they were the original individuals to start deep interpretations and decoding of some contradictory aspects of the “God” of the old testament.

    How does your distinction between esoteric and exoteric deal with revelation? By revelation I mean the direct contact that people have claimed throughout history with the spiritual big brother entities (Shamanic animal guides, to Gods, to UFOs). Here I mean revelation in two senses: Firstly, there seems to be random events where the entities contact us (direct contact stories in the Bible, the Fatima contacts, most major spiritual movements on the planet started this way). Secondly, there seems to be us trying to contact them (most of the western esoteric and western magic tradition is dedicated to this). Could it be that exoteric religions have a habit of forming after the entities contact us; while esoteric is trying to communicate in the other direction? Assuming for a second that these contacts are a real phenomenon, what are the ramifications for humanity where the entities choose exoteric contact over esoteric? In a sense, they control the comms channel with their outward broadcasts, which in itself is kinda spooky I guess (how can we rely on anything they say when they are the cosmic equivalent of radio free europe?).

    Are there cross-cultural analogues to this science of spookiness that don’t rely on Middle Eastern religions like Christianity? The Aztecs might make a good study. A society in which hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered, because their “Gods” told them the sun would drop out of the sky if they didn’t have blood sacrifice.

    [Reply]

    Neener Reply:

    Also, if I step away from the speculative forteanism for a moment, philosophically the exoteric/esoteric distinction seems to raise the issue again I talked about in the Antechamber to Horror thread. Quote:

    Is it possible that horror is metaphysically set up in such a way that doesn’t allow it to be captured by words? By metaphysical I mean that the connection is between some aspect of the world and the mental state of the person witnessing the horror (not that I’m putting forward some dualistic explanation here, both mind and world are part of the same thing, here I’m talking of mental states rather than a mind-body distinction). The state of affairs is set up in such a way that seems to bypass language (then again, a counter-example might be horror fiction, but is horror fiction horror?). Would a philosophical analysis of horror have to capture both the properties/characteristics of the horrific thing in the world, and the attributes of a horror-fied mental state? Or would the mental state be enough?

    It makes me wonder how exoteric and esoteric traditions respond to horror in a metaphysical sense. That is, what happens when they actually encounter it in the world. It seems also like the empirical versus rationalist tradition in philosophy. Where exoteric is a public, empirically gained knowledge. While esoteric is inward, private knowledge resembling rationalism of sorts. Of course, where they differ from this empiricist-rationalist analogue is the fact that esoterics actually want to make contact with supernatural horror again through various rituals. While exoterics seem to follow a tradition of shunning such knowledge, and repeating the narratives of when they first witnessed it. Maybe contact with supernatural horror is a normative reason why exoterics have various moral narratives to shun esoteric knowledge.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Lots here — I’m not going to pretend to anything more that toe-dipping right now. But on the language point, qabbala is more self-reflectively ‘linguistic’ than quotidian language, with a marked trend to quantization and numerization of messages that anticipates information theory and cryptography. So I don’t think the esoteric is in some strong sense mute or (inarticulately) mystical, at least not when approached methodically.

    “Maybe contact with supernatural horror is a normative reason why exoterics have various moral narratives to shun esoteric knowledge.” — that is indeed possible. Also, given the compact between exoteric traditions and social power, why rock the boat (even a little bit)?

    [Reply]

    Posted on September 20th, 2013 at 8:37 am Reply | Quote
  • Esoteric Sentence Says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on esoteric auto
    detail. Regards

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 12:11 pm Reply | Quote
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