I have added this suggestion to the contact options at the site:
If you have a specific subject you want to discuss and are willing to do so in a group, a meeting can be structured around your interest (as long as it perks mine)
(Register with your request here.)
As a first go at this blend of 1:1 with group Liminalist event (in which all attendants are invited to actively participate), the proposed subject is “William Blake, soul, body, & the liberating power of the imagination: what’s the catch?”
To introduce the subject I am reproducing, with permission, excerpts from the email exchange with a reader that inspired this event. I have bolded passages that are integral to event as I envision it.
Paul wrote me after listening to the podcast and reading the blog:
I was compelled by what seemed like a novel meta-gnostic reading of the occult and culture. I felt sympathetic to the desire to return to, and trust, “the body,” though I was unsure of what you meant by that—the brute physical form? Does the imaginal count? What’s the outline of this body? Which is the essential body, which the traumatic one? I immediately thought of William Blake. Like you, he was very suspicious of culture and institutions (for him it was the Greek poets, Milton, the Royal Society), and he located the most fucked up thing about the social order in its abuses of art, in service of war and money.
it might come as no surprise that I have come to distrust Blake somewhat as the veils continue to be drawn aside – he, after all, massively influential—via Huxley to The Doors & beyond—which shows his vision was compatible with—assimilable to—the “liberal-progressive/Dionysian/unleash the imagination/id” end of the social program. . . . OTOH there may be no way around the Borg in this particular regard, it will devour everything and shit out its own version of it in the end, if it doesn’t simply ignore it as beneath its interest, as sharks ignore small fish.
Paul: Blake is someone I deeply internalized, and that influence definitely shaped the course of my life, maybe not for the better. To use your own term, he’s part of my “crucial fiction”; and now I’m trying to deconstruct the fiction to understand what drew me to Blake in the first place. What makes this particularly perilous is the fact that I’m aware, on some level, by continuing to read him—in such a personally invested and emotionally significant manner—I am acting on the same impulse/energy that led me to him, keeping it alive; and what makes it doubly perilous is that, in reading Blake, I will, at times, begin to see what I’m doing in wholly Blakean terms, i.e. I am still navigating myself and the world with his map of the psyche.
*your work*, as far as I have understood it from your podcasts and blog, addresses many of the problems Blake addressed—alienation from the body, the vital forces; elite manipulation of culture through art, enforcing that alienation for dark political ends ~ and even offers some of the same solutions, like embodied sexuality. But the crucial difference seems to be the role of imagination. I think, perhaps, from your point of view, Blake’s deification of the imagination could be something like complete alienation from the body—total surrender to disembodied being.
Before I encountered your work, the book Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, by Seraphim Rose caused me to carefully examine the effect of certain interests (ufo phenomenon, elevated spiritual states, spirit contact, even Yeats and fairy lore) in light of the possibility I was, if not opening my soul up to malevolent forces, at least adhering to a vast revolutionary religious project I wouldn’t support, were the metaphysics and the political consequences put before me. That’s when the mistrust of Blake began, I’d say. And then, listening to you, I questioned it more, though not from the orthodox angle, but from the angle of occult politics and social engineering. some of what you’ve said rhymes with what I’ve heard from orthodox ascetic writers—namely, that spiritual health is to be found in the body and attention to everyday life, and elevated states, visions, disembodied states, are more than likely demonic temptations; also, that the measure of a vision or practice is its effect on your mundane life, e.g., how your body feels, how well you can relate to those you love. That’s where I’m at presently, in terms of being “spiritual” at all.
What makes me think of Blake, when I hear you, is the interest in mapping hell. I think he meant something like that when he promised to produce “the bible of hell” (is that what his prophetic books are?) I am very interested in this myself, and pretty much all my own creative endeavors have been to give definite form to indefinite horrors in my imagination, that complicate my life and estrange me from people. I am uncertain of my ability to both examine that hell closely and remain untouched by it, i.e., be an observer capable of relating what he’s seen for the benefit of others.
Have you looked much into Blake’s Druidry? What did he participate in at an active level is an essential question, as regards the real nature of his philosophy (as with Crowley it’s the practice that reveals the theory). Belief in the realm of the imagination as supreme is similar to the Surrealists, for whom murder was the ultimate surrealist act, just as child sacrifice is the central act of occultism.
These things can be symbolic but if you believe that imagination is more real than anything, then actual murder becomes less real than symbolic, and a means to liberate the imagination from shackles of reason. The question then becomes, did these men of renown put their money where their mouths were?
After that we got into Blake’s relation to the Druids & I asked Paul if he wanted to take this up in a online group setting. He agreed and so here we are. To be clear, an interest in or knowledge about Blake is not essential to participation in this event. Blake is only the starting point and the larger subject is imagination and the body.
This meeting will be on Wednesday 15th, around 3 pm PST, 6 pm ET (11 pm GMT). Register for the event here. If you have already attended a similar event, just email me and let me know you are interested.