Tag Archives: human beings

The Hidden Dimension

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Hidden Dimension [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Edward T Hall.

Hall The Hidden Dimension

The Hidden Dimension is, among other things, cutting-edge theory of multiculturalism … for 1969. Author Edward T. Hall was, as well as an anthropologist with an expressed interest in city planning, also an adroit neologist. His coinages in this volume include: proxemics for the study of interpersonal distances and personal space, infraculture for the unconscious perceptual conventions on which culture is erected, and the self-explanatory term pair sociopetal / sociofugal to characterize the dynamics of spatial factors and arrangements.

I was interested in this preliminary overview of nascent proxemic science for my own purposes as a performing liturgist (i.e. designer and executor of ceremonial ritual). The core chapters of the book (IV-X out of XIV total) do in fact have useful information and ideas toward that end: in particular, the correlation of different sensory qualities and capacities with different distances. Chapters XI and XII provide cross-cultural comparisons and contrasts that substantiate the idea of benchmarking ceremonies to national standards–even in an international organization dedicated to the principle of universal brotherhood. 

The concerns of the author, however, revolve around quotidian life and labor. While some of his remarks about “the American Negro” and the “Spanish American” populations are painfully dated with respect to their language and assumptions, this book participated in the process that led to new perspectives on cultural minorities in American life. Hall is especially concerned with the condition of cities: perceiving the hazards of both decline in which capital flees the central urban areas, and also of “urban renewal” with its gentrification and new housing designed for appearance and profitability rather than livability–when the latter depends on infracultural variables that have never been consciously assessed.

He also offers indictments of the whole of American mass culture. Even though he avoids value-judgments when comparing cultures, he does repeatedly emphasize how American culture facilitates a sensorily-poor environment. He has some sage warnings (still unheeded half-a-century later, alas!) about the impacts of the automobile and the telephone on socio-spatial perception. Hall cautions his readers that the hyper-urbanization transpiring worldwide is creating dynamics “more lethal than the hydrogen bomb” (165) — a warning which is tempting to dismiss as hyperbole. And yet the combined evidence of both history and ethology is on his side in making this claim. 

Considering how outmoded some of the presentation in this book is, I was surprised to see that it had been reprinted in the 1990s. It would be a shame if no one has followed up in this topic so as to obsolete this ground-breaking text. If such further work has been done, I would be very interested to read it.

Venus Plus X

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Venus Plus X [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Theodore Sturgeon.

Sturgeon Venus Plus X

In his introduction to The Book of the Law, Aleister Crowley wrote: “Observe for yourselves the decay of the sense of sin, the growth of innocence and irresponsibility, the strange modifications of the reproductive instinct with a tendency to become bisexual or epicene, the childlike confidence in progress combined with nightmare fear of catastrophe, against which we are yet half unwilling to take precautions.” 

These are precisely the observations that undergird Sturgeon’s prescient 1960 novel Venus Plus X, about human gender, religion, and social control. The protagonist Charlie Johns is transported into a strange time in which the not-quite-any-longer-homo sapiens seem to have realized the Law of Thelema on the level of an entire society. One of its advocates explains its religion thus:

“We worship the future, not the past. We worship what is to come, not what has been. We aspire to the consequences of our own acts. We keep before us the image of what is malleable and growing–of that which we have the power to improve. We worship that power within ourselves, and the sense of responsibility which lives with it. A child is all of these things.” 

In common with Sturgeon’s work generally, this book has an awareness of the tragic aspects of human interaction, and an assertion of the redemptive power of love. Parallel to the exotic utopian scenario, he presents vignettes from the life of an American middle class family, highlighting the relevance of the issues addressed by Charlie Johns’ adventures in the strange country of Ledom. The deft prose style makes the reading an easy pleasure throughout, despite the extensive descriptions and lean plot. One substantial “sermon” is compensated by an equally substantial plot twist.

While this book is not about homosexuality (although some thickheaded reviewers have understood it thus), it is certainly a timely read when the issue of gay marriage is an object of political contention. And it should be abidingly provocative to those of us who have affirmed our entrance into the Aeon of the Crowned and Conquering Child.

“Why did we go and perform that ritual around that other oak tree? How does that help us become better human beings?” “Precisely because most people don’t perform rituals around oak trees anymore, and because by performing apparently absurd rituals, you get in touch with something deep in your soul, in the oldest part of yourself, the part closest to the origin of everything.”

Paulo Coelho, Aleph [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Coelho Aleph perform ritual become better human beings performing absurd deep soul yourself origin everything

Many religions have a belief in the supernatural. This may be a belief in God or in supernatural forces. Some ask for a belief in many gods. In H+ there is only a belief in the potential of yourself and in the potential of your fellow human beings.

Edward De Bono, H+ A New Religion?

Hermetic quote de Bono H+ supernatural

The Great Dictator

 

The Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin

“I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate;
has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in:
machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.
Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little:
More than machinery we need humanity;
More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.

Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die liberty will never perish …

Soldiers: don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate, only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers: don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written:

“The kingdom of God is within man”

Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men; in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power, let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfill their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!”

Egyptian Magic in Egyptian Magic by Florence Farr.

“it appears extremely probable that the whole Egyptian population was allowed a certain participation in the Mysteries; for the tests of a candidate before Initiation were of such a nature that none but human beings developed to a considerable degree of perfection could hope to stand them.” [via]