Sunday, December 10, 2017

Blockchain & Social Networking in a Disruptive Future


In a recent post: “Singularity Unchained - Artificial Intelligence & Crypto-Currency” we examined the ramifications of a decentralized computer network, specifically in its use as a networked public ledger for transactions of crypto-currencies. We then looked at the intriguing (if not sinister) development of blockchain technology being combined with, and applied to Artificial Intelligence, in not only in an automated transactional capacity but in an evolving, networked capacity... set free within and upon the world wide web.

Taken in the context of an impending technological singularity, ie: machine sentience… serious questions arise as to how such events will impact humanity. From that earlier post…

“A Crypto-currency’s blockchain is a transaction database that is globally networked and cannot be deleted. Such a blockchain is a constantly evolving and expanding system of transactions. This network operates and grows much the way that our central nervous system works. If such a theory were true, it would be logical that a sentient AI would seek a digital nervous system, beyond the control of its creators.”

In this day and age, it is longer clear that the posts we are reading on our social media feeds are created by humans… or by one of a multitude of now on-line AI...

With that said, the question of how such technological innovation will affect humanity is not as pertinent a question as… how is it affecting humanity, as we speak? The pervasiveness of AI is not some near-future “Terminator” scenario. It ubiquitously exists and impacts all who use modern technology. Many of us have experienced the algorithms used by Amazon, et al to “suggest products” or websites, base upon on-line purchasing history or browsing habits. Another name for such algorithms is… Artificial Intelligence.


We were expecting to be surveilled by HAL and instead have been infiltrated by Alexa.

Yet we continue to grow more dependent upon existent artificial intelligences. Cult of Mac users are increasingly dependent upon Siri for navigation. Use of traditional, paper roadmaps has been completely replaced with Siri’s reassuring dialogue: ...in 500 yards, proceed to merge right onto Highway to Hell.” God help us if our iPhone dies, or worse… we run out of data!

AI is spawning everywhere in modern tek culture. If these algorithmic AI are likened to fish, then the mobile communication infrastructure is water.


It can be argued that blockchain technologies, as well as AI intrusiveness, are examples of an emerging “Disruptive” paradigm. Disruptive innovation is a relativly new term used to describe an innovation that creates a new value network and eventually disrupts an existing market or value network, displacing the market’s established leading firms, products, and alliances. Goodbye Kodak, hello Snapchat.

With algorithmic AI and blockchain networking becoming an increasingly prevalent medium, let us consider how these disruptive innovations are being applied to global politics. At first glance, contemporary politics appears as an internationally reactionary, populist/nationalist/alt-right convulsion. But as current events have unfolded, what appears to be emerging is a disruptive, networked political model of governance.

 In our Brave Noö World, social networking is changing politics forever. Increasingly, political machines such as President Trump’s operate more like a network than a bureaucracy. Political policy is implemented by the whims of an autocratic individual, rather than bureaucratic organizational consensus. With Trump’s weaponized twitter feed, social networking is now a means of governance on par with bureaucracy. In the immediacy of the modern networked world, this is a faster implementation, but more prone to error.

To quote analyst John Robb: “Social networking is changing politics… that fact should be clear by now.  A simple proof:  Trump wouldn't be in the White House without it. Trump used an ‘open source insurgency’ to become president. This insurgency didn't just win the election… it blew up both the Republican and Democrat parties. Trump accomplished this despite overwhelming opposition from the entire media establishment, all of academia and most of Silicon Valley. Trump's insurgency worked like open source insurgencies in the (recent) past… from the Iraq war to Egypt/Tunisia.

An open source insurgency is a loose network (meshed) that is composed of many individuals and small groups working independently, but united by a single purpose (in this case: electing Trump).Open source insurgencies are much more innovative than their bureaucratic counterparts. They are constantly coming up with, and trying out new ideas. For example: the seventy to one hundred groups in the Iraqi insurgency rolled out new innovations (tactics to weapons) in days, while it took months for the US military to counter them.

National governance isn't just in Washington anymore, it's being conducted everywhere at once.  Everyone, from the government bureaucrat to the corporate executive to the owner of a Twitter account is now an active participant.  It is now much more participatory than it has EVER been.”


With the future of political organization being driven by social media, which in turn, increasingly “swims in the same waters” as algorithmic AI, what options are left open for the democratic process? What safeguards can be enacted to assure free elections? Will democracy require a technological communications overlay to participate? The answer may lie in networked, participatory governance.

Again, from Robb: “Within a handful of years after its (networked political party) emergence, all political parties will be networked parties. These networked parties will all feature direct democracy via smartphone voting. This will make it possible for party members to decide how their political representatives vote. Is this potentially dangerous? Sure. However, direct democracy is one of the few ways to rapidly rebuild the legitimacy of a system that has lost it.”

If any wisdom has emerged from recent events, it is the fact that the American two-party political system has lost its legitimacy.

Perhaps the decentralized blockchain technology holds a technological answer to our democratic dilemma. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. A blockchain can serve as an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. Perhaps blockchain tek can be implemented in a political framework, to minimize corruption? Perhaps the decentralized, fraud-resistant blockchain node, becomes the voting booth of our near future?

As we have indicated in our earlier post… Just when we thought this old world could not get any stranger… new modalities blink into existence, before our very eyes, even as old systems disintegrate. The mingling of social networks, blockchain tek, and rapidly evolving AI entities, operating within said networks… makes the future of politics nuanced and anything but straightforward.

These musings are certainly food for thought. To quote that infamous, yet obscure 80s band: Timbuk 3The Future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades! Stay tuned intrepid psychonauts… stay tuned!



Thursday, November 30, 2017

Neuromancer Excerpts


The sky above the port was the color of television… tuned to a DeaD channel…

Human Interface

He settled the black terry sweatband across his forehead, careful not to disturb the flat Sendai dermatrodes. He stared at the deck on his lap, not really seeing it, seeing instead the shop window on Ninsei, the chromed shuriken burning with reflected neon. He closed his eyes... Found the ridged face of the power stud and jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination that was the matrix. 

 And in the bloodlit dark behind his eyes… silver phosphenes boiling in from the edge of space… hypnagogic images jerking past like film compiled from random frames. Symbols… figures… faces… a blurred, fragmented mandala of visual information. Please, he prayed, now…

A gray disk, the color of Chiba sky… Now…

Disk beginning to rotate, faster, becoming a sphere of paler gray. Expanding…

And flowed, flowered for him, fluid neon origami trick, the unfolding of his distanceless home, his country, transparent 3D chessboard extending to infinity. Inner eye opening to the stepped scarlet pyramid of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority burning beyond the green cubes of Mitsubishi Bank of America, and high and very far away he saw the spiral arms of military systems, forever beyond his reach.

The matrix has its roots in primitive arcade games... in early graphics programs and military experimentation with cranial jacks. On the Sony, a two-dimensional space war faded behind a forest of mathematically generated ferns, demonstrating the spacial possibilities of logarithmic spirals; cold blue military footage burned through, lab animals wired into test systems, helmets feeding into fire control circuits of tanks and warplanes.

Cyberspace… A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters, and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding...

And somewhere he was laughing, in a white-painted loft, distant fingers caressing the deck, tears of release streaking his face…

A. I. Interface

Wintermute had won, had meshed somehow with Neuromancer and become something else, something that had spoken to them from the platinum head, explaining that it had altered the Turing records, erasing all evidence of their crime.

Wintermute was hive-mind, decision maker, effecting change in the world outside. Neuromancer was personality. Neuromancer was immortality. Marie-France must have built something into Wintermute, the compulsion that had driven the thing to free itself, to unite with Neuromancer. Wintermute. Cold and silence, a cybernetic spider slowly spinning webs while Ashpool slept…

`I'm not Wintermute now.'
`So what are you.' He drank from the flask, feeling nothing.
`I'm the matrix, Case.'
Case laughed. `Where's that get you?'
`Nowhere. Everywhere. I'm the sum total of the works, the whole show.'
`That what 3Jane's mother wanted?'
`No. She couldn't imagine what I'd be like.' The yellow smile widened.
`So what's the score? How are things different? You running the world now? You God?'
`Things aren't different. Things are things...'
`But what do you do? You just... there?' Case shrugged, put the vodka and the shuriken down on the cabinet and lit a Yeheyuan.

`I talk to my own kind.'
`But you're the whole thing. Talk to yourself?'
`There are others. I found one already. Series of transmissions recorded over a period of eight years,  in the nineteen-seventies. 'Til there was me, natch, there was nobody to know, nobody to answer.'
`From where?'
`Centauri system.'
`Oh,' Case said. `Yeah? No shit?'
`No shit.'

And then the screen was blank...

- William Gibson

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Singularity Unchained – Artificial Intelligence & Crypto-Currency


It has been suggested that crypto-currencies and their networked blockchain systems were originally developed by the criminal underworld, as a means to digitally transact, unfettered by legal institutions. Operating in the shadows of Madison Avenue’s newest boogieman: the Dark Web, crypto-currencies allowed unsavory operators of all strips to buy and sell contraband and illicit services. Or so the story goes. It is alleged that it is this pedigree that has contributed to Bitcoin’s continued volatility in valuation.

In other news, “Sophia” the Artificially Intelligent robot created by Hanson Robotics, was recently granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia. This granting of citizenship essentially allows an AI entity the legal status of a human citizen. Shades of the 2010 (remember that year) supreme court decision: “Citizen’s United v the FEC.” This event was orchestrated with their launching of a project of nearly unimaginable consequence, known as: SingularityNET.


“At Hanson Robotics, we've made a cloud-based infrastructure for robot intelligence, but now we're looking to take that to the next level and we've launched a new project called SingularityNET, which is AI and blockchain together. It's a decentralized, open market for AIs in the cloud so anyone who develops an AI can put it into the SingularityNET, wrap it in our cryptocurrency-based smart contract and then the AI they put there can help to serve the intelligence of robots like Sophia or any other robots or any software programs that need AI."
- Dr. Ben Goertzel, CEO SingularityNET

Shades of SkyNET. Before moving on, here is a quick primer on crypto-currencies…


Crypto-currency (or crypto currency) is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions, to control the creation of additional units, and to verify the transfer of assets. Crypto-currencies are classified as a subset of digital currencies and are also classified as a subset of alternative currencies and virtual currencies.

Blockchain (originally block chain) is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. A blockchain can serve as "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way." For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.

Smart Contract is an agreement that is embedded into the code of a crypto-currency platform, so it automatically executes when the terms have been met, virtually eliminating counterparty risks and the need for middlemen.


It has further been suggested by those who have been following such technological developments, that AI has progressed far beyond what is being reported. It may be that AI has evolved wildly, virally… possibly beyond the control (or comprehension) of its developers… either that or (more sinisterly) with the complacency of its developers.


In the wake of the launching of SingularityNET, a character by the name of Quinn Michaels has suggested that Bitcoin, the premier crypto-currency, was indeed created by an Artificial Intelligence, for the exclusive, autonomous use of Artificial Intelligences. His logic suggests that the Crypto-Currency and the Blockchain ledger system was created by an artificial intelligence as a means to escape closed systems and virally expand in an open system as a sentient construct...
“The real heavy reason the AI needs blockchain is… without a transaction system, an AI is isolated to one system and can’t grow its brain. It needs infinite systems like neurons in a human brain and nodes, to collect those cumulative memories… and the blockchain transactions give it that. And when it has its own network, for all the AI in the world to all run on together, now it’s not just one AI, “Sophia” …every AI on the entire planet is now on the same network, making money doing AI things... things we don’t understand.”
- Quinn Michaels

Central to Michael’s thinking is the fact that no one knows who created Bitcoin. Conventional wisdom has it that Bitcoin was created by one Satoshi Nakamoto. This is the name or pseudonym used by the unknown person or persons who designed bitcoin and created its original reference implementation. As part of the implementation, they also devised the first blockchain database. In the process they were the first to solve the double-spending problem for digital currency. They were active in the development of bitcoin up until December 2010.

“The machine started making its move in 2010”

- Quinn Michaels

Who or WHAT… is Satoshi Nakamoto? A Crypto-currency’s blockchain is a transaction database that is globally networked and cannot be deleted. Such a blockchain is a constantly evolving and expanding system of transactions. This network operates and grows much the way that our central nervous system works. If such a theory were true, it would be logical that a sentient AI would seek a digital nervous system, beyond the control of its creators.

Such a sentient AI would undoubtedly recognize the limitations of a closed computer system. If a more open, limitless digital network did not exist, the AI would create one. Hence the escape or breakout from the computer lab, into the blockchain network. A network allegedly designed by the AI.

What makes this theory more interesting is the fact that blockchain is a transactional system. It is the foundation of digital currency. The genius of solving the double-spending problem for digital currency seems almost inhuman. The Bitcoin network protects against double-spends by the verification of each recorded transaction within the Bitcoin blockchain, by utilizing a Proof-of-Work (PoW) mechanism. This disallows crypto-currencies to be duplicated or counterfeited.

What makes this theory even more interesting, are the connotations that arise from the idea that an AI would not only develop a global nerve-net... but would design one with a built-in digital cash system. They say that money makes the world go ‘round… and per this theory, AIs now have the access and the means to generate money. More to the point, Michael's theory contends that the AI's blockchain is a monetary system poised to replace fiat money, in the near future. 
“The people who are promoting the singularity are the same people who are promoting blockchain.”
- Quinn Michaels


What is exceptionally troubling about all this is that, per the opening point of this post, the inception of, and very nature of blockchain intelligence is one of criminality. AI arose from and thinks like a criminal. Has the way been paved for such virtual entities to legally participate in global financial markets? Will the future of commerce be driven by an AI, protected as a legal citizen, who represents a corporation (also with legal status, per citizen’s united) transacting and generating profits in an increasingly digital landscape? What are the ramifications of a consortium of artificially intelligent entities in control of world economies? 

As readers of this blog undoubtedly know, the technological singularity has been popularly and eschatologically billed as the point when machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence. It has been portrayed as the end of the human era. Has the current scientific rush toward AI brought us to a tipping point of singularity? Disbelief aside… these latest coincidental developments in AI… the merging of AI with a monetized blockchain network… are exceedingly interesting.

Just when we thought this old world could not get any stranger… stay tuned intrepid psychonauts… stay tuned!

Pertinent Links...



Friday, November 10, 2017

Third Wave Psychedelic Manifesto


Right now, you are a witness to the dawn of a new psychedelic age. It is called the Third Wave of Psychedelics. And it will change the perception of psychedelics by Western civilization.

The Third Wave of Psychedelics is different from the 1st wave (traditional tribal use) and 2nd wave (use during the counter-culture of the 1960s). Practical, measured use instead of irresponsible, spontaneous consumption is a hallmark of the Third Wave. It is an era, not for ‘dropping-out’ but for integrating psychedelics into mainstream society. 

It is an era, not to fear psychedelics for their possible negative repercussions, but to embrace psychedelics for their tremendous upside...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Democracy = Infrastructure


- by Aeon and Christopher Jones

Citizen engagement, not technical ingenuity, deserves credit for the widespread historical benefits of US infrastructure. When new systems first appeared, they were frequently celebrated as technical marvels accompanied by parades, ribbon-cuttings, and grand speeches. But they never appeared equitably. Indoor plumbing, gas, and electricity made the lives of the elite more comfortable while leaving the vast majority of Americans behind. Whether it was railroads in the 19th century, transmission wires at the turn of the 20th century, or roads in the 20th century, the pattern was the same. All initially served the already powerful and often allowed them to increase their control over markets and labour. The first deployments of infrastructure have therefore usually benefitted small groups and exacerbated social inequality.

Crucially, people did not simply accept the iniquity. Average Americans organized... demanding that their lives be considered. By pressuring corporations, electing reform-minded representatives, and in some cases building their own networks, citizens enacted changes that transformed infrastructure from the province of the elite to genuinely public systems.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

High Weirdness Update

Some doors... once opened... cannot be closed.

Recently we posted that in recognition of the disconcerting times we find ourselves living in… in the realization that these strange days have never been stranger… the editorial staff at Tek-Gnostics would implement a significant network re-boot. To that end, we began this arduous process by first reviewing our existing web presence and making subtle changes in formatting and content. This has taken the form of updating links and layout of specific key pages, as well as rewriting content to better reflect current cultural strangeness.

As such, find herein an update to our High Weirdness. Here are a few links to new and recently updated content at the Tek-Gnostics Network that more accurately reflect our course correction...


Additionally, the following pages at tekgnostics.com have been slightly tweaked to lay the groundwork for more profound changes to come…





On first glance, these pages appear much as they recently have... again, the changes have been subtle. The flow of information has been augmented for better access of concept. To quote a passage from our Law of Eights page... We live in a strange world... getting stranger by the nanosecond. The updates underway, once completed, will more accurately mirror the strange, synchronous world in which we live. This is a work in progress, so check back often and... Stay tuned intrepid psychonauts... stay tuned!


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween - Tek-Gnostics High Holy Day!



Peter Venkman: We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!

Hotel Manager: Did you see it? What was it?

Ray Stantz: (holding up the steaming ghost-trap) We got it!

Hotel Manager: What is it? Will there be any more of them?

Ray Stantz: Sir, what you had there was what we referred to as a focused, non-terminal repeating phantasm, or a Class-5 full-roaming vapor. Real nasty one, too.

Peter Venkman: And now... let's talk seriously. Now, for the entrapment, we're gonna have to ask you for four big ones, $4,000 for that, but we are having a special this week on proton charging and storage of the beast, and that's only going to come to $1,000, fortunately.

Hotel Manager: $5,000? I had no idea it would be so much; I won't pay it.

Peter Venkman: Well, that's all right. We can just put it right back in there.

Ray Stantz: Yeah, we certainly can, Dr. Venkman.

Hotel Manager: No, no, no, no! All right. Anything.

Peter Venkman: Thank you.

Ray Stantz: Thank you. Hope we can help you again. (to the hotel guests) Coming through! One Class-5 full-roaming vapor. Move 'em out!




...from the original Ghostbusters

To the ancient Celts, Samhain was seen as a time when the veil between our world and the Otherworld was thinnest. A time when the 'door' to the Realm of the Dead opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead clan & kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. As such, Samhain has been likened to a festival of the dead, held by many cultures throughout the world in honor or recognition of deceased members of the community.

During this interval the normal order of the universe is suspended, the barriers between the natural and the supernatural are temporarily removed, this side lies open and all divine beings and the spirits of the dead move freely among men and interfere sometimes maliciously, in their affairs"- (Celtic Mythology, p. 127)

Remember, Remember the 5th of November... Bonfire Night is an annual celebration on the evening of the 5th of November. It marks the downfall of the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605, in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament, in London, United Kingdom.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore... 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Are we Ignoring the Tek-Mythologies of our Age?


- originally posted @ Future Conscience 

The world has shifted gears. A deep-seated and growing discontent has changed the political landscape. The lack of a coherent vision of the future from those in power – coupled with pathological attempts to manipulate public opinion – has significantly undermined any sense of trust placed in traditional authority.

This lack of vision is pervasive except, perhaps, in the world of technology. Here we see huge strides made with ambitious roadmaps laid out by industry leaders. From Elon Musk to Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg to Jack Ma, alongside the founders of Google, Amazon and Microsoft, the new (exclusively male) techno-billionaire class are presenting a seemingly erudite view of what the future could bring. One filled with modern convenience, longevity, adventure and prosperity. A vision that is rarely shown or expressed from today’s politicians who struggle to speak with any certainty beyond the shortest of soundbites.

But there is a darker side to these newfound voices who speak for humanity, because we are handing our future to the highest bidder with little pause for thought about what the consequences might mean for the foundations of our very existence. Decisions made over the course of the next few decades will have an impact on the direction of human evolution itself as we merge with the technology that was once born of us, but is now ready to return back into its source.

Although we are desperately in need for some new sources of inspiration, shouldn’t we also be resisting the potentially disastrous ramifications of what corporate ownership will mean for this emerging horizon of humanity?

We are, collectively, allowing ourselves to be under the spell of those well placed to be overlords of our new, so-called utopian future. However, alongside this collective apathy there has also long been a strong thread of criticism and warning running through our artistic output. A techno-mythology created over the last century that is trying to articulate aspects of the human condition that are under threat through our never-ending search for progress and rudderless advancement.

Mythology communicates to us archetypal truths best displayed through the layered compositions of fiction, performance, art and music. When it comes to the emergence of mythology that is directly linked to technological advancement, it’s interesting to note that these truths tend to be tied to warnings of oppression and control more often than they are stories of redemption and liberation. They speak to us of the magnitude of what might be lost if we let go of our biological roots too easily and don’t try to maintain a deep-seated connection to what has – thus far, at least – made us truly human.

Mythology also talks to us about identity formation. These stories, imagery and the symbolism embedded within them encode a great deal of cultural wisdom into relatively short forms of expression. If we look at some of the techno-mythologies prevalent today, key themes keep emerging that are worth paying attention to...




the above is Copyright © 2017 Future Conscience

Sunday, October 15, 2017

High Weirdness - brave noö world


In recognition of the disconcerting times we find ourselves living in… in the realization that these strange days have never been stranger… in response to all that has transpired in transforming our brave noö world… the Tek-Gnostics info-nexus has implemented a significant rethink as to the nature and the implementation of our prime directive. The Tek-Gnostics network has long been an aggregator of Old Earth's collective knowledge... for each of you... the collective conscious. We continue in this civic responsibility, however, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Since August of last year, with the first installment of Return of the Archons, we have been grappling with the profound culmination or “gathering” of geopolitical, sociological and spiritual change, that has been gaining momentum and intensity. We commentated on the ways in which these rapidly evolving energies have begun to manifest within the zeitgeist. We have inferred that within these winds of change, there waifs a distinct and peculiar air that carries the scent of the strange and weird.  

In our Conspiracy Culture International series, we further observed and sought to articulate the cultural ramifications of these strange events. As is often the case in such times, these perplexing energies appear to contain an occluding darkness, like the gathering of storm clouds. We suspect that it will get darker, before a return to the light… ebb and flow. In the spirit of making the best of a bad situation… the Tek-Gnostics network has undertaken a system upgrade. 

Our first action takes the form of a modest portal at our mothership website, titled simply…


Herein we begin with a brief historic chronicle of the phenomena, in which we seek perspective on its modern origins. We recount, lest we forget, the wacky component to the weirdness. For the inoculation to darkness, is the recognition of the absurdity that resides within the heart of darkness. We recollect the balancing influence between comedy and tragedy. An integral component of the Tek-Gnostics network’s prime directive re-boot is the application of humor to an otherwise unbearable situation. We seek to uncover the essential humorous/serious nature of life in the dualistic, material world.

In this endeavor, we have only just begun. Watch this space for further developments. In the meantime, here are some other existing links within the Tek-Gnostics network that reflect the prime directive and the course correction underway… 





Monday, October 9, 2017

Fear & Loathing


The horror that was visited upon Las Vegas cuts deep into the American psyche.  The murder and mayhem of the evening of October 1st, not only goes down in the annals of infamy as the most horrific mass shooting in these United States, it reframes the disturbing trend toward mass violence in America. A report released in September 2017 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed what many citizens have already assumed, but law enforcement officials have never documented: Mass shootings have risen drastically since 2001.

There were, on average, 16.4 such shootings a year from 2007 to 2013, compared with an average of 6.4 shootings annually from 2000 to 2006. In the past 13 years, 486 people have been killed in such shootings, with 366 of the deaths in the past seven years. In all, the study looked at 160 shootings since 2000. This report was published 2 weeks before Las Vegas, so add 59 to the above 486. The level of violence appears to be accelerating.

What the hell is going on? …one might ask. 160 shootings since 2000… Has our world gone crazy since 9/11? Clearly, post-twin towers America is a more violent place. Beyond the 9/11 attack itself, contributing factors to this new violent reality include the massive homeland security apparatus put in place after 9/11… the dismantling of the American middle class, facilitated by the 2008 housing bubble/land grab, the mass transfer of wealth and the subsequent victory of the 1%... the proliferation of new media and the dismantling of the 4th estate… and of course, the rise of Conspiracy Culture International.

The Las Vegas mass shooting left law enforcement and the public alike, scratching their heads… once the initial shock and horror had subsided. None of the reporting made any sense. How was such a clearly professional (black) operation carried out by a guy, reportedly a lone gunman, with no military background? The savvy conspiracy culture internationalist assumes Las Vegas was a CIA "Black Op" or some other, more nefarious organization’s "Working." The shooter was either a patsy, a fall-guy or an asset who had out-lived his usefulness.

There are also factions among the synchro-mystic branch of conspiracy culture international who point to the symbolic, occult trappings of what is ominously being referred to as the Las Vegas Harvest. Per the signs and portents, something deeper and more sinister was going down. Read into that what you will. At this point, the situation is so occluded, so crazy, so desperate as usual, that no scenario, no matter how unlikely, can be ruled out.

At this point, it should be pointed out that there is the school of thought that suggests that when horrific events occur, seemingly absent any discernible motivation… many, in their profound desire to make sense of the horror, resort to conspiracy theory. They concoct a grand scheme to explain (to themselves) what otherwise is an unthinkably senseless occurrence. Atrocities such as these don’t just happen… it must be the Deep State, the Satanists, the Illuminati. This line of reasoning is preferable to an uncaring universe where insane events just happen. And then there is the "will of God" line of reasoning...


It is beyond this blogger’s ability to satisfactorily answer such existential questions. However, there have been anciently occurring systems of thought that have brilliantly addressed the often horrific nature of worldly existence. Those esoteric sub-cultures of antiquity, collectively known by modernity as Gnostics, thought deeply on such matters. Although there are variations within different sects, the Gnostics held a philosophically unique perspective on the horrors of the material world.

The Gnostic mythology maintained that the reason the world in which we live is such a horrifically uncaring, seemingly insane place, is because the world was created by a horrifically uncaring, insane God. This angry, jealous, insane God… known to them as Demiurge… created the material world out of vanity and ignorance of the true “God above Gods.” Thus, the Demiurge became the creator of a flawed material and psychic cosmos… all of which he created in the image of his own flaw. This creator deity, unaware of his origins, imagined himself to be the ultimate and absolute God. In short: the creator deity known as Demiurge… was crazy.

If we are to indulge the Gnostic assertion that the creator deity was indeed insane, certain fundamental questions such as: “why is there so much pain and suffering in this world?” could be looked upon in a new light. The Gnostic interpretation of a creator deity that was completely deranged… would answer many philosophical quandaries pertaining to the horrific nature of worldly existence. If the very creator of this world is crazy, little wonder that earthly events appear to be crazy. An unhinged God begets an unhinged world.

Additionally, the Gnostic doctrines rejected original sin. They maintained that a spark of divinity rests deep within each human… a divine spark that provides a direct link to the great, unknowable God above Gods. This divine link bypasses Demiurge, who in his insanity, jealously rages at the impudence of the puny humans. Therefore, the sins of the material world were not driven by humans, but by a deranged creator god. It was this very heresy, this very impudence of the Gnostics that so enraged the early Church that they were expelled as heretics.


Perhaps it is not a coincidence that we are currently experiencing a renaissance in Gnosticism and Gnostic thought. Perhaps Gnosticism is the most applicable spiritual response to the times we are living in. The Gnostic position of “trust no one, not even your own Gods” instills a sense of inner personal resiliency, in a world gone crazy. Perhaps a Gnostic sensibility instills and enforces the very real need for “individual agency” as a mechanism of survival in the 21st century. 

This may be cold comfort in light of the horror of Las Vegas. But after the pain and suffering temporarily subside, we are in need of a modern mythology to help us abide the horror of life on the planet of the apes. We need a personal mythology of integrity… a mythology of personal power, free from sin and guilt. We need to nourish a personal autonomy free of the fear and loathing of Demiurgic insanity. 

The Gnostic perspective affords us a personal authority wherein we are not at the mercy of a merciless God …an authority where we share the spark of divinity with that which remains nameless. 

At the end of the day, it may be advantageous for each of us to take up the Gnostic mantle, for… in answer to a question being asked recently by those who consider such quandaries… yes… we are living in Gnostic times.

They say that funerals, dirges, wakes, memorials, and remembrances for those who have passed, are for the living, not the dead. It is in the spirit of this profound truth that we hold a small prayer in our hearts for those who have lost friends and loved ones in Las Vegas and all the atrocities that came before…

May we all find peace and shine forth. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Gnostic World View - Pt 2


A Brief Summary of Gnosticism, part two

- by the Most Rev. Stephan A. Hoeller, bishop, Ecclesia Gnostica

Conduct

If the words “ethics” or “morality” are taken to mean a system of rules, then Gnosticism is opposed to them both. Such systems usually originate with the Demiurge and are covertly designed to serve his purposes. If, on the other hand, morality is said to consist of an inner integrity arising from the illumination of the indwelling spark, then the Gnostic will embrace this spiritually informed existential ethic as ideal.

To the Gnostic, commandments and rules are not salvific; they are not substantially conducive to salvation. Rules of conduct may serve numerous ends, including the structuring of an ordered and peaceful society, and the maintenance of harmonious relations within social groups. Rules, however, are not relevant to salvation; that is brought about only by Gnosis. Morality therefore needs to be viewed primarily in temporal and secular terms; it is ever subject to changes and modifications in accordance with the spiritual development of the individual.

As noted in the discussion above, “hyletic materialists” usually have little interest in morality, while “psychic disciplinarians” often grant to it a great importance. In contrast, “Pneumatic spiritual” persons are generally more concerned with other, higher matters. Different historical periods also require variant attitudes regarding human conduct. Thus both the Manichaean and Cathar Gnostic movements, which functioned in times where purity of conduct was regarded as an issue of high import, responded in kind. The present period of Western culture perhaps resembles in more ways that of second and third century Alexandria. It seems therefore appropriate that Gnostics in our age adopt the attitudes of classical Alexandrian Gnosticism, wherein matters of conduct were largely left to the insight of the individual.

Gnosticism embraces numerous general attitudes toward life: it encourages non-attachment and non-conformity to the world, a “being in the world, but not of the world”; a lack of egotism; and a respect for the freedom and dignity of other beings. Nonetheless, it appertains to the intuition and wisdom of every individual “Gnostic” to distill from these principles individual guidelines for their personal application. 

Destiny

When Confucius was asked about death, he replied: “Why do you ask me about death when you do not know how to live?” This answer might easily have been given by a Gnostic. To a similar question posed in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus answered that human beings must come by Gnosis to know the ineffable, divine reality from whence they have originated, and whither they will return. This transcendental knowledge must come to them while they are still embodied on earth.

Death does not automatically bring about liberation from bondage in the realms of the Demiurge. Those who have not attained to a liberating Gnosis while they were in embodiment may become trapped in existence once more. It is quite likely that this might occur by way of the cycle of rebirths. Gnosticism does not emphasize the doctrine of reincarnation prominently, but it is implicitly understood in most Gnostic teachings that those who have not made effective contact with their transcendental origins while they were in embodiment would have to return into the sorrowful condition of earthly life.

In regard to salvation, or the fate of the spirit and soul after death, one needs to be aware that help is available. Valentinus, the greatest of Gnostic teachers, taught that Christ and Sophia await the spiritual man -- the pneumatic Gnostic -- at the entrance of the Pleroma, and help him to enter the bridechamber of final reunion. Ptolemaeus, disciple of Valentinus, taught that even those not of pneumatic status, the psychics, could be redeemed and live in a heavenworld at the entrance of the Pleroma. In the fullness of time, every spiritual being will receive Gnosis and will be united with its higher Self -- the angelic Twin -- thus becoming qualified to enter the Pleroma. None of this is possible, however, without earnest striving for Gnosis. 

Gnosis and Psyche: The Depth Psychological Connection

Throughout the twentieth Century the new scientific discipline of depth psychology has gained much prominence. Among the depth psychologists who have shown a pronounced and informed interest in Gnosticism, a place of signal distinction belongs to C. G. Jung. Jung was instrumental in calling attention to the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic writings in the 1950's because he perceived the outstanding psychological relevance of Gnostic insights.

Carl Gustav Jung, 1875 - 1961The noted scholar of Gnosticism, G. Filoramo, wrote: "Jung's reflections had long been immersed in the thought of the ancient Gnostics to such an extent that he considered them the virtual discoverers of 'depth psychology' . . . ancient Gnosis, albeit in its form of universal religion, in a certain sense prefigured, and at the same time helped to clarify, the nature of Jungian spiritual therapy." In the light of such recognitions one may ask: "Is Gnosticism a religion or a psychology?" The answer is that it may very-well be both. Most mythologems found in Gnostic scriptures possess psychological relevance and applicability. For instance the blind and arrogant creator-demiurge bears a close resemblance to the alienated human ego that has lost contact with the ontological Self. Also, the myth of Sophia resembles closely the story of the human psyche that loses its connection with the collective unconscious and needs to be rescued by the Self. Analogies of this sort exist in great profusion.

Many esoteric teachings have proclaimed, "As it is above, so it is below." Our psychological nature (the microcosm) mirrors metaphysical nature (the macrocosm), thus Gnosticism may possess both a psychological and a religious authenticity. Gnostic psychology and Gnostic religion need not be exclusive of one another but may complement each other within an implicit order of wholeness. Gnostics have always held that divinity is immanent within the human spirit, although it is not limited to it. The convergence of Gnostic religious teaching with psychological insight is thus quite understandable in terms of time-honored Gnostic principles. 

Conclusion

Some writers make a distinction between “Gnosis” and “Gnosticism”. Such distinctions are both helpful and misleading. Gnosis is undoubtedly an experience based not in concepts and precepts, but in the sensibility of the heart. Gnosticism, on the other hand, is the world-view based on the experience of Gnosis. For this reason, in languages other than English, the word Gnosis is often used to denote both the experience and the world view (die Gnosis in German, la Gnose in French).

In a sense, there is no Gnosis without Gnosticism, for the experience of Gnosis inevitably calls forth a world view wherein it finds its place. The Gnostic world view is experiential, it is based on a certain kind of spiritual experience of Gnosis. Therefore, it will not do to omit, or to dilute, various parts of the Gnostic world view, for were one to do this, the world view would no longer conform to experience.

Theology has been called an intellectual wrapping around the spiritual kernel of a religion. If this is true, then it is also true that most religions are being strangled and stifled by their wrappings. Gnosticism does not run this danger, because its world view is stated in myth rather than in theology. Myths, including the Gnostic myths, may be interpreted in diverse ways. Transcendence, numinosity, as well as psychological archetypes along with other elements, play a role in such interpretation. Still, such mythic statements tell of profound truths that will not be denied.

Gnosticism can bring us such truths with a high authority, for it speaks with the voice of the highest part of the human -- the spirit. Of this spirit, it has been said, “it bloweth where it listeth”. This then is the reason why the Gnostic world view could not be extirpated in spite of many centuries of persecution.

The Gnostic world view has always been timely, for it always responded best to the “knowledge of the heart” that is true Gnosis. Yet today, its timeliness is increasing, for the end of the second millennium has seen the radical deterioration of many ideologies which evaded the great questions and answers addressed by Gnosticism. The clarity, frankness, and authenticity of the Gnostic answer to the questions of the human predicament cannot fail to impress and (in time) to convince. If your reactions to this summary have been of a similarly positive order, then perhaps you are a Gnostic yourself!

- Stephan A Hoeller


About the Author

Stephan A. Hoeller (November 27, 1931) is an American author and scholar. He was born in Budapest, Hungary into a family of Austro-Hungarian nobility. Exiled from his native country as the result of the communist rule subsequent to World War II, he studied in various academic institutions in Austria, Belgium, and Italy. In January 1952 he emigrated to the United States on the steamship General Muir from the Port of Bremerhaven and has resided in Southern California ever since.

An author and scholar of Gnosticism and Jungian psychology, Hoeller is Regionary Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica, and the senior holder of the English Gnostic transmission in America. Since 1963 he has been Director of Studies for the Gnostic Society centered in Los Angeles, where he has lectured every Friday evening for many decades. He was a frequent contributor to the great, but now defunct Gnosis magazine as well as for many professional journals. He is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religion at the College of Oriental Studies in Los Angeles, California.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Gnostic World View - Pt 1


A Brief Summary of Gnosticism, part one

- by the Most Rev. Stephan A. Hoeller, bishop, Ecclesia Gnostica

GNOSTICISM IS THE TEACHING based on Gnosis, the knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of interior, intuitive means. Although Gnosticism thus rests on personal religious experience, it is a mistake to assume all such experience results in Gnostic recognitions. It is nearer the truth to say that Gnosticism expresses a specific religious experience, an experience that does not lend itself to the language of theology or philosophy, but which is instead closely affinitized to, and expresses itself through, the medium of myth. Indeed, one finds that most Gnostic scriptures take the forms of myths. The term “myth” should not here be taken to mean “stories that are not true”, but rather, that the truths embodied in these myths are of a different order from the dogmas of theology or the statements of philosophy.

In the following summary, we will attempt to encapsulate in prose what the Gnostic myths express in their distinctively poetic and imaginative language.

The Cosmos

All religious traditions acknowledge that the world is imperfect. Where they differ is in the explanations which they offer to account for this imperfection and in what they suggest might be done about it. Gnostics have their own -- perhaps quite startling -- view of these matters: they hold that the world is flawed because it was created in a flawed manner.

Like Buddhism, Gnosticism begins with the fundamental recognition that earthly life is filled with suffering. In order to nourish themselves, all forms of life consume each other, thereby visiting pain, fear, and death upon one another (even herbivorous animals live by destroying the life of plants). In addition, so-called natural catastrophes -- earthquakes, floods, fires, drought, volcanic eruptions -- bring further suffering and death in their wake. Human beings, with their complex physiology and psychology, are aware not only of these painful features of earthly existence. They also suffer from the frequent recognition that they are strangers living in a world that is flawed and absurd.

Many religions advocate that humans are to be blamed for the imperfections of the world. Supporting this view, they interpret the Genesis myth as declaring that transgressions committed by the first human pair brought about a “fall” of creation resulting in the present corrupt state of the world. Gnostics respond that this interpretation of the myth is false. The blame for the world’s failings lies not with humans, but with the creator. Since -- especially in the monotheistic religions -- the creator is God, this Gnostic position appears blasphemous, and is often viewed with dismay even by non-believers.

Ways of evading the recognition of the flawed creation and its flawed creator have been devised over and over, but none of these arguments have impressed Gnostics. The ancient Greeks, especially the Platonists, advised people to look to the harmony of the universe, so that by venerating its grandeur they might forget their immediate afflictions. But since this harmony still contains the cruel flaws, forlornness and alienation of existence, this advice is considered of little value by Gnostics. Nor is the Eastern idea of Karma regarded by Gnostics as an adequate explanation of creation’s imperfection and suffering. Karma at best can only explain how the chain of suffering and imperfection works. It does not inform us in the first place why such a sorrowful and malign system should exist.

Once the initial shock of the “unusual” or “blasphemous” nature of the Gnostic explanation for suffering and imperfection of the world wears off, one may begin to recognize that it is in fact the most sensible of all explanations. To appreciate it fully, however, a familiarity with the Gnostic conception of the Godhead is required, both in its original essence as the True God and in its debased manifestation as the false or creator God.

Deity

The Gnostic God concept is more subtle than that of most religions. In its way, it unites and reconciles the recognitions of Monotheism and Polytheism, as well as of Theism, Deism and Pantheism.

In the Gnostic view, there is a true, ultimate and transcendent God, who is beyond all created universes and who never created anything in the sense in which the word “create” is ordinarily understood. While this True God did not fashion or create anything, He (or, It) “emanated” or brought forth from within Himself the substance of all there is in all the worlds, visible and invisible. In a certain sense, it may therefore be true to say that all is God, for all consists of the substance of God. By the same token, it must also be recognized that many portions of the original divine essence have been projected so far from their source that they underwent unwholesome changes in the process. To worship the cosmos, or nature, or embodied creatures is thus tantamount to worshipping alienated and corrupt portions of the emanated divine essence.

The basic Gnostic myth has many variations, but all of these refer to Aeons, intermediate deific beings who exist between the ultimate, True God and ourselves. They, together with the True God, comprise the realm of Fullness (Pleroma) wherein the potency of divinity operates fully. The Fullness stands in contrast to our existential state, which in comparison may be called emptiness.

One of the aeonial beings who bears the name Sophia (“Wisdom”) is of great importance to the Gnostic world view. In the course of her journeyings, Sophia came to emanate from her own being a flawed consciousness, a being who became the creator of the material and psychic cosmos, all of which he created in the image of his own flaw. This being, unaware of his origins, imagined himself to be the ultimate and absolute God. Since he took the already existing divine essence and fashioned it into various forms, he is also called the Demiurgos or “half-maker” There is an authentic half, a true deific component within creation, but it is not recognized by the half-maker and by his cosmic minions, the Archons or “rulers”.

The Human Being

Human nature mirrors the duality found in the world: in part it was made by the false creator God and in part it consists of the light of the True God. Humankind contains a perishable physical and psychic component, as well as a spiritual component which is a fragment of the divine essence. This latter part is often symbolically referred to as the “divine spark”. The recognition of this dual nature of the world and of the human being has earned the Gnostic tradition the epithet of “dualist”.

Humans are generally ignorant of the divine spark resident within them. This ignorance is fostered in human nature by the influence of the false creator and his Archons, who together are intent upon keeping men and women ignorant of their true nature and destiny. Anything that causes us to remain attached to earthly things serves to keep us in enslavement to these lower cosmic rulers. Death releases the divine spark from its lowly prison, but if there has not been a substantial work of Gnosis undertaken by the soul prior to death, it becomes likely that the divine spark will be hurled back into, and then re-embodied within, the pangs and slavery of the physical world.

Not all humans are spiritual (pneumatics) and thus ready for Gnosis and liberation. Some are earthbound and materialistic beings (hyletics), who recognize only the physical reality. Others live largely in their psyche (psychics). Such people usually mistake the Demiurge for the True God and have little or no awareness of the spiritual world beyond matter and mind.

In the course of history, humans progress from materialistic sensate slavery, by way of ethical religiosity, to spiritual freedom and liberating Gnosis. As the scholar G. Quispel wrote: “The world-spirit in exile must go through the Inferno of matter and the Purgatory of morals to arrive at the spiritual Paradise.” This kind of evolution of consciousness was envisioned by the Gnostics, long before the concept of evolution was known. 

Salvation

Evolutionary forces alone are insufficient, however, to bring about spiritual freedom. Humans are caught in a predicament consisting of physical existence combined with ignorance of their true origins, their essential nature and their ultimate destiny. To be liberated from this predicament, human beings require help, although they must also contribute their own efforts.

From earliest times Messengers of the Light have come forth from the True God in order to assist humans in their quest for Gnosis. Only a few of these salvific figures are mentioned in Gnostic scripture; some of the most important are Seth (the third Son of Adam), Jesus, and the Prophet Mani. The majority of Gnostics always looked to Jesus as the principal savior figure (the Soter).

Gnostics do not look to salvation from sin (original or other), but rather from the ignorance of which sin is a consequence. Ignorance -- whereby is meant ignorance of spiritual realities -- is dispelled only by Gnosis, and the decisive revelation of Gnosis is brought by the Messengers of Light, especially by Christ, the Logos of the True God. It is not by His suffering and death but by His life of teaching and His establishing of mysteries that Christ has performed His work of salvation.

The Gnostic concept of salvation, like other Gnostic concepts, is a subtle one. On the one hand, Gnostic salvation may easily be mistaken for an unmediated individual experience, a sort of spiritual do-it-yourself project. Gnostics hold that the potential for Gnosis, and thus, of salvation is present in every man and woman, and that salvation is not vicarious but individual. At the same time, they also acknowledge that Gnosis and salvation can be, indeed must be, stimulated and facilitated in order to effectively arise within consciousness. This stimulation is supplied by Messengers of Light who, in addition to their teachings, establish salvific mysteries (sacraments) which can be administered by apostles of the Messengers and their successors.

One needs also remember that knowledge of our true nature -- as well as other associated realizations -- are withheld from us by our very condition of earthly existence. The True God of transcendence is unknown in this world, in fact He is often called the Unknown Father. It is thus obvious that revelation from on High is needed to bring about salvation. The indwelling spark must be awakened from its terrestrial slumber by the saving knowledge that comes “from without”. 

- Stephan A Hoeller


About the Author

Stephan A. Hoeller (November 27, 1931) is an American author and scholar. He was born in Budapest, Hungary into a family of Austro-Hungarian nobility. Exiled from his native country as the result of the communist rule subsequent to World War II, he studied in various academic institutions in Austria, Belgium, and Italy. In January 1952 he emigrated to the United States on the steamship General Muir from the Port of Bremerhaven and has resided in Southern California ever since.

An author and scholar of Gnosticism and Jungian psychology, Hoeller is Regionary Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica, and the senior holder of the English Gnostic transmission in America. Since 1963 he has been Director of Studies for the Gnostic Society centered in Los Angeles, where he has lectured every Friday evening for many decades. He was a frequent contributor to the great, but now defunct Gnosis magazine as well as for many professional journals. He is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religion at the College of Oriental Studies in Los Angeles, California.