OK, it's been a while since I have gotten a chance to blog, so basically it's time for yet another edition of Geekback.
One, I was up in the Bay Area between Thursday Night and Saturday Afternoon. I wasn't there for pleasure, I was there at a hastily convened family reunion for the benefit of my father in law, whose cancer has spread and his time is getting short. This was not the greatest time for this to happen, because tomorrow morning...really, really early in the morning...my husband is off to play All Tomorrow's Parties in England with Saccharine Trust.
I will have to get to school on Tuesday and Thursday on my own. I had to miss Thursday's classes, which bummed me out for the reason that I could not see part two of the movie version of Billy Budd. In an effort to find out how the damn story ends, I have attempted to wade my way through the ponderous prose of the original Melville novella, but have found it a painful slog. Peter Ustinov, who adapted the novella for the 1962 motion picture version he also directed and starred in, added some scenes that are not in the book but were probably in the stage play.
I suppose the reason the movie was shown in Philosophy 20 was Captain Vere's strict adherence to naval law being an illustration of the extremes to which Kantian ethics could be taken. To most, Billy decking Master-At-Arms Claggart was something the asshole deserved, and the fact the blow was fatal was merely Karma having its say in the matter. Captain Vere could not be swayed, Billy hung for his crime, and a legend was born. Hopefully that's the essence of what I was to take away from the movie. Hopefully I won't come off as a complete idiot when the movie is discussed in class tomorrow.
Today I also got the results of the battery of tests done on me in the name of finding out whether or not I have a math Learning Disability^H^H^HDifference. Long story short, yes I do. It's not full-on Dyscalculia, but it basically entails a lot of elements of that malady. I have deficits in short-term memory, number sequencing and processing speed. To wit: it's a lot like being a "Mainstreet" G3 PowerBook. No cache, low-end processor. It can do the job, but it does it slowly. I now qualify to get special help and accomodations in my math classes. I hope it will be enough to where I can finally understand the subject.
As far as my cryptic comment on the Spring Equinox: the "specialness" of this particular Spring Equinox has to do with events that happened April 8th, 9th and 10th in Cairo, Egypt almost 100 years ago. At noon on those three days, Aleister Crowley sat down and wrote what he heard in his mind. Some say that the voice he heard in his mind was that of an unnatural being called Aiwaz. Some, like Israel Regardie, believe that the communication was from Crowley's own subconscious. The result was Liber AL Vel Legis, The Book of the Law. Those who believe Thelema to be some sort of new religion look upon the book in the same way Jews look at the Torah and Tanach, Christians look at the Gospels and Moslems look at the Quran. I don't consider Thelema to be a religion at all, but rather a philosophy spelled out, both in plain words and in code, in the rather cryptic and sometimes embarrassingly melodramatic text.
Anyway, the book suggests that there had been a major paradigm shift on the Spring Equinox of 1904 CE. I am one to place the paradigm shift sometime well before then, around the time of the American Revolution and the discovery by Herschel of the planet Uranus. But there are thousands of people who go along with the former date, and their considerable mental energy was something I picked up on when I wrote that little entry in my blog. Oddly, there are not really going to be any major commemorations of the centennial of the Book of the Law aside from a special edition of the book released by Weiser and the OTO. I suppose it's all well and good...Crowley all but threw it away after he wrote it, only finding the manuscript a few years later.
Once you distill the book down to its essence, there are a few bullet points I can put in as a jumping-off point for anyone with further interest to explore:
- Every man, and every woman, with no exceptions for race or ethnic origin or any other arbitrary way we humans divide ourselves by, is worthy of respect by the very virtue that they exist. And part of this respect implies that we acknowledge that every human being has rights, also by the very virtue that they exist. Jefferson's trinity of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" is as good a summation of these rights as any.
- The metaphysical conditions we live under have changed. The last time a change of this magnitude happened, we went from being largely agricultural people in small villages with limited trade, no tradition of warfare, and worshipping Earth Goddesses; to being city dwellers ruled by strongman kings and worshipping Angry Father Gods with supplication, prayer and sacrifice. This time, we are moving from this paradigm of kings, warlords, vassals, serfs, Angry Father Gods and sometimes Suffering Redeemer Gods to a new era, where the rules are not yet written. This new era is symbolized by the Egyptian deity Horus, a powerful, youthful being who when shown as a humanand not as a falcon is either a child or a young adult. The previous aeons, that of Isis the Mother and Osiris the Father, were humanity's childhood and youth respectively. This new aeon finds us at the brink of adulthood. A time when we must accept our responsibilities at the same time we embrace our new freedoms.
- The name which has been chosen for the philosophy of this new aeon is Thelema. It is a word predating Crowley, and which was used by the satirist Rabelais as the name of the "abbey" that Gargantua founds for high-born, intellectual men and women. From the Greek, the name means "will." Further, I would say it has the connotation of freedom of will, the freedom to make decisions for ourselves without bowing to any external authority. The philosophy also predates Crowley, and includes the writings of such folk as the legendary Lao-Tzu of China and of people like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.
- The central operating principle can be summed up thusly: Follow the watercourse way of your life's purpose in an aware manner. In the book, the principle is stated as "Do what thou wilt shall be the Whole of the Law....Love is the Law, Love under Will." It has passed on to Neo-Paganism as "Harm none and do what you will," which makes explicit the concept that no true will, no life purpose, is at loggerheads with any other will. A companion phrase in the book is "The word of sin is restriction." When something one does is harmful to oneself or to others, it's a good time to question that behavior and make necessary changes.
- It is to be expected that old power structures will not take this new state of affairs lightly, for by its very nature this paradigm shift implies doom for them. What happened after 1904 CE in human history? World War I, World War II and the uncorking of the Nuclear genie from the bottle, the reignition of conflict between Islam, Judaism and Christianity over the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 CE, and finally the new innings of the Crusades fought between the tinhorn Saladin, Osama bin Laden, and the lionhearted but pigeon-brained President George W. Bush and his allies.
I have been struggling with even posting this to my blog ever since 3/19. I am not interested in preaching religion here, I am not interested in converting anyone to my belief system. It bears repeating: I don't even consider all this to be religion at all, but a philosophy. However, it's part of me and isn't "let's talk about me" the prime maxim of blogging? ^_^
I cannot say, even, that the new current afoot in the world is going to be worth a damn in preventing assholes like the aforementioned bin Laden and Bush the Younger from destroying ourselves and rendering the paradigm shift moot. The aeons are metaphors for stages in human evolution. If we humans go extinct, that's it, game over, cede the planet to whatever creature is going to develop sapience next, be it rat or cockroach. All of this is moot then. I have to say that these times feel even more perilous to me than any I have experienced in my 40 years, worse than the Vietnam Era, worse than the frozen depths of the Cold War during the Reagan regime.
Then again, Crowley was convinced that the world would eventually go through a Dark Age as bad or worse than that which struck Europe and Asia after the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire and which only ebbed back a millenium later in Renaissance Italy. Well, certainly the current situation we face has the potential of doing just that. I hope we can pull ourselves out before this comes to pass. I really do hope so.