The Liminalist # 223: The Arrival of the Aggrandizers (with Brian Hayden)

Conversation with Brian Hayden on The Power of Ritual in Prehistory and secret societies as the missing link between religion and sociopolitical organization.

Part One: A Prehistorical Protection Racket (0 – 30 mins)

Aggrandizers and the specifics of secret societies, human evolution from hunter-gathers to transegalitarian society, the beginning of private property, aggrandizer self-promotion, feasting rituals, smoke and mirrors, demonstrations of the supernatural, regional networks, the pursuit of wealth, competing factions, blaming the spirits, beginnings of a thesis, the secret function of caves, diving the nature of rituals, European contact, a narrow window of opportunity, transformation rituals, the use of masks, power animals, traces of cannibalism.

Part Two: A Missing Link (30 mins – 52 mins)

The plundering of missionaries and government agents, the work of the devil, ecstatic experiences, the use of entheogens, the question of the supernatural, another dimension of reality, belief in the ancestors, controlled access, what secret society members believe, a transcendental currency, the severity of the cost for initiation, fasting and trauma-induced states, a missing link between religious belief and political organization, the original architecture, early priesthoods, distinguishing between elite culture and popular culture.

Part Three: The Implications of Aggrandizer Strategies (52 mins – 1 hr 23 mins)

Bottom-up mass religion, a religious tax system, Catholic colonization in Guatemalan, eliminating the Mayan elites, academic resistance to Hayden’s thesis, archeology’s exclusion of secret societies, Ruth Whitehouse, fashions in anthropology, different kinds of secret societies, the paranoid mindset, blaming the Patriarchy, Hollywood parallels, Polanski the imposer, a hierarchy of sociopathy, Jimmy Savile, seeing past the benevolent mask of the aggrandizer, the secret of manipulation, intelligence organization & occult societies, modern secret societies & social control.

Part Four: A Parallel Universe (1 hr 23 mins – end)

Deep state politics, elite networks, scarification patterns, paraphernalia, a parallel universe, amorality & initiation, cannibalism & transcending morality, Mexican drug cartels, the dark side of the force, accessing the supernatural through violence, the eight-fold path of the Buddhists, techniques for enlightenment, psychic fragmentation & siddhis, children & initiation, women’s place in secret societies, women secret societies, the subjugation of women, inequalities in the upper-paleolithic, conflicting interpretations of data, pipe dreams of academia, hierarchy and surplus, sharing & survival, the luxury of being an asshole, the crest of a down-turn.

About Brian Hayden

Songs: “Pirates” by Entertainment for the Braindead; “Diamantes and Peanuts” by Rabbit Island; “Never Eject” by Keshco; “Change” by Short Hand.

9 thoughts on “The Liminalist # 223: The Arrival of the Aggrandizers (with Brian Hayden)”

  1. Really excellent discussion. Thank you both.

    The pictorial juxtaposition above though suggests that Mr Hayden has spent a frustrating night in search of a youthful paramour to relieve his secret nocturnal yearning.

  2. Very, very interesting piece Jasun. You did a great job finding the right tone and method to talk with Brian, but I’m very much on your side in this matter. Brian has done a fabulous job making sense of the continuities that spread out over evolutionary time, but the missing piece to his theorization lies in the cognitive sciences and biological sciences. If French intellectuals prefer (or are driven by conspiratorial strategies) to interpret Haydens evidence as if the evidence doesn’t constraint possible interpretations, then someone needs to define the terms by which human interpretation occurs.

    That’s where my work begins. It’s only when its understood how symmetry describes the mechanisms of change and transformation of matter in the universe that you can explain just why and how human mental processes are forced to change. For instance, Hayden mentions that when surpluses build up people automatically change – but that is in my view a one-dimensional and therefore narrow take on the matter. The fact is, beliefs (ideals) anchor our relatedness to the word, so that beliefs are the top-down vector which exist in a tensegrity with the bottom-up vector of ecological flux.

    Top-down changes require massive bottom-up perturbations as their causes, and so when we truly understand the nature of the situation we exist within i.e. our basis in a transcendental, eternal ‘now’ which allows us to exist in a completely different way vis-à-vis our environments, being pushed out of this attractor requires a massive transformation in our relatedness to our physical environments. Something very big has to change us. Hayden assumes – wrongly and primarily because he is influenced by the academic world he operates within – that aggrandizers simply ‘exist’. He drinks the koolaid of neodarwinism which idiotically and unjustifiably posits the existence of effects which derive from statistical mechanisms i.e. “natural selection” does NOT explain the emergence of traits – it simply eliminates those traits which aren’t adaptive. If sociopaths exist, then, there has to be a REASON – a basis in actual experience, in interactions-with-the-world, for such traits to exist. The trick/magic of the neodarwinist agenda is getting people to overlook the fact that a negative description does not explain the existence of a trait or property. It only explains why the other ones didn’t survive.

    Hayden hasn’t contemplated this issue at this level of depth, and so his research is limited – albeit, he see’s further than any archeologist/anthropologist alive on this matter – to the last 30-70 thousand years; conversely, I am blessed enough to understand that there is a very plausible argument to be made that something significant happened 74,000 years ago which severely disrupted the continuum that existed between the human species and their physical environment, namely, the eruption of Toba and ecological crisis that it created. I posit that the emergence of trauma cults like this begins around this time period in human history, which is why the archeological record and especially the evidence of symbolic art can only be found after this time period in human history.

    Systems biology and epigenetics has already caught up with physics – the perennial doctrine of physics – which says that physical reality is both discrete (made of tiny little objects) yet continuous, so that physical interactions between parts necessarily lead via the ‘path of least action’ to certain regular geometrical structures.

    Hayden cannot fathom how utterly true and real his thesis is – although I think its clear that he is incredibly cautious and concerned that he not be misconstrued as paranoid, even though paranoia is unreasonable suspicion of what all the evidence justifies that you should trust, whereas judicious skepticism of the French school, for instance, is merely a matter of the more general trends derived from many fields of knowing which impels a certain deduction – indeed, if paranoia is the threat of being overly skeptical, and therefore, grading into fearfulness, naivety is being overly trusting, and given such trust is being motivated by unconscious fears of being disapproved of by others, is also motivated by fear.

    It takes courage and wisdom to know the difference between the two, and given Hayden has pursued this path in opposition to a field that is mostly pushing the narrative of a benevolent social evolution, he is both courageous and wise; but his wisdom and courage is limited still by his inability to recognize that the very matter he brings up is pervasive and indeed, better known and understood today than ever before. If knowledge is power – then todays knowledge base provides more food-for-thought for aggrandizers than ever before. The complexities of the manipulation they have at their disposal, specifically, the creation of a particular scientific narrative (in addition to the existent religious narratives, and sociopolitical and economic narratives) allows them to play games even with the most evolved minds – philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, etc etc. Otherwise good people are trapped by a system of referents in which certain well-positioned people with lots of power committed to an egregiously insane philosophy dedicate their existence to playing pinball with the symbolizing processes of others. All of it mediated by the simple complexities of attraction and repulsion, love and fear (or hatred).

    In the library of the town I live in, there is this ominous painting – so subtly done, and so inconspicuous that I could be accused of being paranoid – yet the iconography and details are so clear that only someone drowning in ignorance could fail to know what their looking at. You have in the background a drug store (medicine), a grocery store (food), and a bargain store (stuff); in the foreground is a man and woman in a care, both with grey, nondescript, alien-like faces; in the far background on the sidewalk is a roman centurion; at the other end, looking right back at him, is a modern navy man. The picture says it all. It says what is going on – the people in the car, the average people you think you know; zombies; tools; alienated. The three stores depicted are the mechanisms of control – health, food, and material things. And the menacing figures in the background go all the way back to Hayden’s narrative of big men, warriors, bent on accumulating power over others.

    • Hooray! I was hoping this would bring Till out of the woodwork. Till – please keep us informed on when your book is to be published.

      • actually till re-emerged some weeks back, as you’ll see if you look at the older comments; tho it may have roughly coincided with when this conversation was recorded…?

    • Hi Till,

      I’m also unsatisfied with Hayden’s postulation “that aggrandizers simply ‘exist.'” In his scenario, aggrandizer-type personalities are lurking in the shadows of the human genome, waiting for the ideal sociocultural environment that leads to resource surpluses, which gives them the opportunity to “come out” and begin exploiting others. It has a slight tinge of Christian morality, as if humans are naturally “sinful” if the conditions are right.

      Unfortunately, it’s simply impossible to know for sure which came first. There are others who claim like yourself that some ancient ecological crisis traumatized humanity so deeply that it fundamentally cracked our nature. Before that, everything was peace and flowers, Adam and Eve in the garden, until some outside force like the serpent messed everything up.

      I do believe in catastrophism, but I hesitate to blame all of our problems on some mysterious event that happened in prehistory. When natural disasters occur today, it brings out both the best and worst in people.

      But if I were to be completely honest, I would admit that Hayden’s hypothesis scares the hell out of me. It implies that we are fundamentally “evil” in some way, and therefore aggrandizers will always be waiting to capture the system whenever a society builds up sufficient resources. There’s no way out…!

  3. Wow, was that a conversation about the archeological/historical precedence for HRC eating babies ?
    Nice one.
    .. and yeah, The Power of Ritual in Prehistory is not easy to acquire.

  4. It’s been a while since I’ve heard information as novel as this. Definitely a welcome addition to the puzzle. I never once considered these systems of organisation as secret societies as they obviously were.

    I agree with Till, you excellently approached the guest, it’s just a shame that he couldn’t follow you further.


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