Recently I have been reevaluating my need to always be focusing on the negative aspects of society when, overall, I have a positive outlook and a good feeling about human nature (if not humanity’s future). Are these two perspectives complementary or contradictory? I guess it depends how comfortably they co-exist within our psyches and how they manifest through our actions. Are they at odds, working together, or (sort of both) complicit in an unhealthy “co-dependent” relationship?
In simple terms, paranoid awareness is a belief in organized malevolence—whether merely sociopolitical or metaphysical—operating behind, and shaping, society and culture. This viewpoint—however well-sourced and referenced—is the result of “chunking up.” We start with a set of general data about deception and manipulation (conspiracies) within society, and we end with a blanket description of society and culture as inherently malevolent. While this may be accurate, it may also be premature. More specifically, it may not simply be a position or perspective we take in order to protect or liberate ourselves, there may also be an element that is self-serving, that may be part of a fiction that is just as crucial, in its own way, as a naïve belief in the benevolence of culture and society.
In my own worldview, currently, I am allowing for some chinks in the informational armor I’ve assembled. Partly, this desire is the result of seeing the reactions of others to my attempt to be more open, optimistic, and to orient towards more positive interpretations of (greater) reality, albeit without actually reneging on my previous statements about society at large. Based on the negative, kneejerk reactions to this ongoing effort, it seems almost as if “paranoid awareness” has become, for some people, another sort of cop-out: a prophylactic that supposedly allows them to have safe sex with culture, while avoiding real human intimacy.
Sure, I can carry on watching Netflix since I know it’s bad for me and will take the necessary precautions to not get STDs. But the flip side of this is that I feel like a hypocrite, and maybe even am a hypocrite, because I am using my paranoid awareness, not as a way to more consciously navigate the shopping mall-hell of society, but as an excuse to keep shopping there. “I’m aware, man! I’m paranoid, so let’s keep on drinking the Kool-Aid.” But how nonsensical is that? If this is Jonestown, surely we need to get out?
So what does getting out—acting on paranoid awareness in a way that leads to wholeness—consist of? Clearly I’m neither willing nor able to totally extricate myself from the world, so why pretend? Especially when I’m finding new ways to be in the world that seem fruitful and nourishing to me—why not soften my position about that without backpedaling or (necessarily) redacting any previous claims?
What Comes out of Shit
In the past, writing about organized malevolence and toxic culture, I tried as best as I could not to sacrifice nuance or ambiguity and state that culture is all bad. I have said and written this at different times, true; but I hope there was always a comma and a “but” that came after. In Seen and Not Seen, for example, I wrote:
“I’ve seen it all counselor, and it’s all shit. It’s all shit.” How to write a book about how it’s all shit—all reality excreted out as ideology—without adding to the excrement? There’s really no way, is there? But there’s no need to kill the messenger: he already committed hari kari with his pen. I am a suicide bomber and this message is set to self-destruct. I only hope I can take a few of you with me.
There’s a ray of light in here, potentially at least. Put differently: either I’m an irredeemable hypocrite, or I’m trying to do something that words aren’t able to get at, and in the process having to reveal the contradictory, hypocritical nature of words. It’s not all shit, clearly, because out of shit comes flowers. And flowers aren’t shit.
The word “shit” is very different from shit itself. The word “shit” just means something bad (except when it’s “good shit, man”—which lets you know how confused we are about words!). “Shit” usually means something that no one wants in their life. However, shit, the physical reality, is something we can’t do without in our lives; or at least, there’s no way to avoid having some kind of interaction with shit, however much we might want to.
Clearly it’s not all shit. If it seems easier to—like Brad Pitt in The Counselor—take this position than not, maybe it’s because there is so much shit and it’s been spread so thin, like butter, so far and wide, that sometimes it feels like everything is shitty. And maybe it is; maybe we need to carry around a handkerchief when we’re moving through this world. At the same time, maybe, like dogs, we need to roll in a bit of shit sometimes in order to pass through foreign territory?
Apparently it is a bit of both. We need sensitivity and resistance to corruption. And since there probably is shit on most things we come into contact with in this world, we need to practice some sort of hygiene. We don’t want to get too much shit on our hands if we can avoid it, because then we start to smell too (i.e. be complicit). But everything being a bit shitty doesn’t mean everything is shit. There are surfaces, and then there are depths.
“At what point does paranoia become awareness?” (and vice versa)
This first is a question I wrote about, long ago in a galaxy far aware (Aeolus-major). Now, in 2019, I am wondering: “At what point does paranoid awareness become paranoia all over again, at a new, deeper level?” It seems to me a lot of smart (maybe too smart?) people are selling themselves short. Can’t they handle a little bit of shittiness—or a whole world of it? Don’t we need to if we’re going to sort the seeds of our existence and locate what is of true value? And doesn’t that include what’s of value in culture?
It’s funny, ironic even, because I started out (partially) as a film writer (The Blood Poets), which was all about sorting the shit from the Shinola. But as a full card-carrying paranoid from day one, my perspective has gradually veered more and more towards: “The better the film, the more harm it does potentially, because it’s a delivery device for toxic culture.” I’m not yet willing to renege on that position; I still consider it valid some (maybe even most) of the time. But, as we saw with shit, it’s not that simple.
Shit is the result of the body’s ability to separate nutrition from waste. If we can do that bodily, maybe we can do it psychically as well. That would mean we can be entirely open to culture, as long as we know how to process it and extract the nutrients from it. And there are nutrients in our culture, thank God, for otherwise we would all be dead. And not just dead, but a lot more zombified than we already are.
On the other hand, it’s not as if they aren’t working on this 24/7. It’s increasingly clear to many people that the hypothetical “they” are trying, over time, to reduce the nutrients within our food supply and slowly turning everything to shit. This is more or less literally true, with all the junk food, but it’s also figuratively true regarding culture as a whole. Less and less nutrients and more and more waste, or toxins, makes it harder and harder for us to process what we are given. This means we use up more and more energy just staying alive. If we use more energy digesting food than the food gives us, we die.
It may well be that that the human race is currently dying of indigestion—which would be a fitting enough fate for a race of zombies. Or maybe there’s something we aren’t yet seeing?
A Golden Thread
On the other hand, clearly giving up food entirely is not going to work out well for us either. The art of the ninja here is to develop more, not less, trust via increased discernment. Discernment is dependent on a relentless skepticism that can be mistaken for cynicism, and that—far worse—can also devolve into cynicism.
Recently, there has been a certain amount of disorientation—even a feeling of destabilization—for some readers and listeners, in response to my changing tack so quickly from paranoid awareness to “enlightenment now.” I have tried to point out that, ever since I started (since Crow Enterprises, for those who were really there at the beginning), there’s always been this same golden thread. It is the thread of “This is not it. It’s what we have to get through to get to the thing that I can’t talk about.” This message has always been there for the discerning; but even so, it may have felt for some people like going from zero to 60, or from night to day, without even the rev of an engine.
This current blog post is part of an ongoing (really, lifelong) attempt to construct a bridge between two apparently opposed extremes, the extremes of organized malevolence and organized benevolence. In retrospect, I can see that this has always been a bit of a ropey bridge, so it’s hardly surprising if some people have been thinking, “My God, I can’t even see the bottom of that chasm and he didn’t even bother to build a sturdy bridge! Fuck you, Charlie!”
My aim with this latest piece is to fortify the bridge I have been more consciously building recently (viz a viz Dave Oshana, who in a certain sense is only a symbol). This involves including the paranoid-aware perspective more comprehensively, in the hope of strengthening—by grounding—my new focus and orientation, by showing that, what seems like a radical departure, really isn’t (while in other sense, it truly is).
Being truly skeptical means staying open, and it is hard to stay open when everything we ingest turns out to have a heavy shit-component. When everything we look into turns out to be dirty, seriously flawed, or counterfeit, the temptation to start closing down, to let skepticism turn slowly into cynicism, can be hard to resist. If that happens, however, we’ve missed the boat; all our hard-earned discernment is for nothing.
The only reason to develop discernment is to increase our ability to trust. Discernment allows us to move through the world, recognize the fakes, and keep to what is true. This happens not with our minds, however; when we use our minds, skepticism quickly becomes cynicism, because who can trust fully with their mind? Our minds are configured—by bitter formative experience—to distrust. Our bodies are configured the opposite way.
Perhaps this is why we are currently locked in an apparent war of “nature vs. culture.”
Lost in the Signs
Moving away from paranoid awareness, coming through it, is like coming out the end of a tunnel. It’s only as I begin to emerge that I see why it is so necessary to do so. This in itself is a curious fact, because you would think it would be obvious that the only point in being in a tunnel is to come out the other end. I wasn’t in there to read the graffiti. But in fact, it isn’t obvious at all when we’re still deep in the tunnel. For a long period, we don’t even know we’re in a tunnel, we just think we’re in darkness. Of course, we’re looking for signs of light; but if we don’t see any (and we don’t), we start looking for signs of anything.
The problem here is that, if we get stuck on signs of anything besides light, we stop moving forward; we forget that we may be in a tunnel; maybe we even forget that we are trying to find a way out. We might have started out by looking for signs of a way out, but the signs become so overwhelming, so compelling, and so confusing, so hard to decipher, that, at a certain point, we end up obsessed by them, imaginally wandering through a mental labyrinth of signs. We then start to let the signs tell us what we’re trying to discover. But by definition, there is only one kind of sign while inside a tunnel that is absolutely guaranteed to lead us out: signs of light.
What this graffiti-gazing looks like from the outside is somebody—whether synchromystic, Kubraphile, New-Ager, or paranoid—who has become so overwhelmed by the signs that the signs have become everything to them. Of course, they believe they are involved in something meaningful; but the meaning they’ve latched on to is self-referential, existing in a vacuum, because it is being generated by the signs themselves.
This is very different from letting the evidence tell us what’s happening, which is a solid research method. It is different because we’re talking about a transcendent goal—how do we get out of this mess?—and no amount of evidence of organized malevolence is ever going to tell us how to get out the trap. It’s only going to tell us how the trap is configured.
The Light of the Body
So where is the light at the end of the tunnel, the light that I cannot see? How do I keep moving towards it when I can’t see it? Understanding the nature of the trap (the world) helps me to understand my own nature. That helps me deduce more effectively which of my intuitions are correct and which are not (are delusions). This in turn can help me to move forward, through and out.
Referring to the evidence is essential to know we’re staying with the factual, and we’re moving through the evidence to make a coherent picture of the world—of our world. But if we stay fixated on the world, we stay in the tunnel indefinitely, because the world is literally endless. The only reference point we can ever confirm is that of our own lives. As we confirm that, we confirm it in our bodies, but not (necessarily) in our minds. Our bodies know the truth because they experienced it; and as we place our awareness in our bodies, we start to see—to sense—the light. We start to see a way out.
The more our focus is on our bodies, the more we are confirming the existence of organized malevolence and the nature of the trap we’re in, the more we can sense the way out of the trap, the less important it becomes to have any reference point to worldly information. Paranoia comes metanoia.
With metanoia (technically μετάνοια, “a transformative change of heart; a spiritual conversion”), it doesn’t matter that the world is configured the way it is, because one’s orientation is away from the world, away from form, towards the eternal. It’s not an issue, and nor is it an issue to understand the nature of the world mentally, or to be able to judge, mentally, between good and bad culture. It is not necessary, because the body already knows all this.
Back to Eternity
The flip-side of this is total worldliness, which is when we get comfortable in the nightmare of history. This is the worst-case scenario, because if we are comfortable in the nightmare of history, what’s left to awaken us? This comfort in misery scenario can take the form of a spiritual concept—such as the idea of a dark night of the soul—or a more materialistic one, as with belief in a paranoid conspiracy-world that we are trapped inside. But as soon as it becomes the familiar narrative, a crucial fiction, then we’re lost. The tunnel has replaced the light.
The very thing that exists, in a divine sense and an existential sense, to wake us up has become our comfort-zone. It’s no longer sufficiently nightmarish to wake us up because we have adjusted to it to survive it. It’s become merely dreamlike—dissociative—because we’ve found a way to adapt to it. We’ve become of the world, in our fierce attempts to get free of the world.
Becoming not-of-the-world isn’t about trying to escape from the world but the opposite. It’s about coming all the way into the body, and the body is nested in the world: in society, culture, human beings, and in nature. These are the levels of matrices we are nested inside as consciousness. Eventually, if we follow the levels through and out, they’re all benign. Nature is not entirely benign—it is ruthless and predatorial—but nature is nested in eternity, and eternity is benign through and through (this is where faith comes in, and why we are lost without it).
All of that (infinite) benevolence bleeds, like Christ on the cross, eternally through all the layers, into nature (the creation), into human beings (the divine image), into culture and into society (the shadow or counterfeit of the divine). It’s all us, and since it’s all eternity, it’s all benign. If we stay focused and fixated on the nightmare of history, however, and if our only way to deal with that fixation it is to adapt to the nightmare and become more and more like it—and if part of this unholy pact is that we’re going to fight it, resist it, and reject it because that’s what the world is like—then were well and truly trapped.
The trap is all in our minds. That’s the mind’s defense: to create a heaven out of hell, and to thereby make a hell out of heaven.
Some video excerpts from last event, which the above article is a partial transcript of.