Prologue, like the piper at the gates of the dawn
Try to tell something about beat literature as vehicle to carry on a social explanation of our recent history, it may appear an ambitious and maybe oversized plan. This is the kind of criticism everyone may attend. Notwithstanding, looking with open mind, this perspective allows a system of absolutely interesting framing, generating a panorama where politics, economics, religion, culture and mass-media shows their interaction with coordinates of history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, pop-art, rock music, finally meeting the theme of the comparison between raw power and individual emancipation and system of rights.
Being involved in this achievements, beat literature remains full of controversial questions. The mainstream establishment, in fact, refused to identify the occult side in philosophy and literature, indicating this sources as something that may not have a place in “serious” culture. There is a consideration about the way to express thoughts: and here will be celebrated the irregular shapes of Finnegans Wake, the mix of writing characters in the Vortex, the syntax of How it is.
Until yesterday, what was out from the field of observation was the central shot, that is the strange alchemy of transmutation of darkness in light. Coming out from the metaphor, the lost central focus was magic, something that has been re-integrated in our perception through the work carried out by psychoanalysis, Eastern philosophies, yoga and avant-garde movements in past century.
§1. FREE WILL: REASON TO BE HIDDEN
To understand the reasons which leaded to this labeling, we should re-start our reflection since the early years of XX century, when the industrial revolution seems to promise to each individual, male or female, a progressive integration in awareness and emancipation in all fields, involving the material, psychological and spiritual dimension of life.
The going on process of awakening of the whole population was rising from the philosophy of Enlightenment. As Societas Mazzini we realized [as in the book The Open Golden Dawn] the apparent paradox that Enlightenment philosophy comes from an occult doctrine. The mistake we want to avoid is to create condition for a classic misunderstanding, that always well sustained by the official culture, giving the sensation that occult is another form for satanic. In fact, this is not but the classic way to close the question that the establishment uses to reinforce obscurantist position, and avoid any condition to be needed debating different reasons that includes libero arbitrio, individual awareness and increased rights for citizens.
The main information about the light coming from darkness is given by the evidence that the kind of knowledge that improves individual awareness has always been denied by official powers, and this is the reason why it has been hidden under the veil of the occult: otherwise, the official powers would have exercised their right to accuse of heresy against the opponents, just as it happens persecuting doctrines as the Catharians, or torturing scientist as Galileo Galilei or burning at the stake philosophers like Giordano Bruno.
Even astronomy has been for many centuries a forbidden knowledge for Western countries, since the Roman empire, adopting Catholicism as empire’s religion, after the destruction of the Alexandrian Library in 396, they decided to burn all books about stars.
§2. BREAKING THE VEIL
It is well known today that the main doctrines at the early sources of the Enlightenment’s philosophy are given by the narrow line which unifies esoteric Catholicism (under the doctrine of the Rosy Cross) and Jewish kabbalah (with the European involvement of Marranism). This notoriety in the relation has been especially given because of some special events happened inside one of these fringe groups of occult knowledge: The Golden Dawn.
It has been in this point that modernity broke up something that was before reserved to the exclusive use of aristocracy: the ceremonies of initiations into a Rosicrucian framework. This happened when a philosopher and poet published all this material under his name (within the review named The Equinox).
It must be said that this was not the sole case during those years: for instance, Leo Taxil (pseudonym of Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès) published under his name the Masonry’s rituals; nevertheless, the attitude of the two men is completely different, because Taxil is still under the common rule of (well paid) repentance, while Aleister Crowley is under the utopian persuasion that he is offering a great gift to humanity, creating the conditions for a new awareness and spirituality for all.
§3. REACTIONS OF THE ESTABLISHMENT
It is not difficult to find references to Aleister Crowley as someone like “the wickedest man in the world” and many other amenities that constellate his controversial personality. The culture of the establishment found to label him as a satanist as the simplest way to neutralize the powerful philosophic system he was contributing in restore. Of course, Crowley had no fear to confront himself with the darkest dimension of inner consciousness (and we may use the archetypes paradigm of Jung’s psychology of the deep to have useful keys to query): notwithstanding, it is sufficient to read his Book 150 or the law of liberty, of love, of life and of light to understand that Crowley was too clever and aware to believe in a dualistic system (in this book there is also a clear reference to the Advaita’s doctrine of oneness that goes years light beyond the common ideas of ordinary philosophy of good and evil).
Anyway, the labeling had its effect as far as the eclectic and artistic personality of Crowley seems to allow this interpretation of his thought, so that he was banned from the official culture. As always, this happened not because of the eccentricity of the artist, but for the reason why his theories were considered too open to individual awareness and therefore socially dangerous.
To stay into the mood, now we need to restart our story since the point that – after the early years of XX century – the industrial revolution was promising more freedom for citizens (as in the Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis), while in Russia the proletarian revolution leaded by Lenin and Trotzki under the Marx’s doctrines was going towards an international approach.
There was sufficient matter so that the power élites decided to react creating financial extortion through the mechanism of a deep crisis and financing authoritarian parties. From these fears fascism and nazism took their source, including another dramatic paradox: that in the first phase of this political change, some Jewish capitalist incurred in the tremendous mistake of financing nazism, believing that it would have been just a system to defend entrepreneurs profit.
§4. AFTER THE II WW
In a document – The Ventotene’s Manifesto – written in 1941 by people exiled by the fascist’s Italian government, it is stated that the reasons which leaded the world over the edge of war, were essentially given by a condition were the power élites found the way to capture national states, substituting the people’s interests with their personal advantage.
We can read in this document: «It was claimed the equal right of all nations to organize themselves into independent states (…) The ideology of national independence was a powerful stimulus to progress helped overcome narrow-minded parochialism in a wider sense of solidarity (…) It led, however, in itself the seeds of capitalist imperialism, that our generation has seen magnify up to the formation of totalitarian states and the unleashing of the world wars (…) the will of the military class now holds sway in many countries of the civilian class, making it increasingly difficult to operate free political school, science, production, the administrative body are mainly directed towards increasing military strength are considered merely as mothers of soldiers, and consequently rewarded with the same criteria with which the exhibitions are rewarded prolific cattle children are educated from an early age to handle weapons and hatred for foreigners; Individual freedom is reduced to nothing since all the military establishment and constantly called on to military service; Repeated wars forced to abandon the family, use property, and to sacrifice their lives for goals that no one really understands the value, and in a few days to destroy the results of decades of efforts to increase the collective well-being.».
§5. THE BOOM OF ECONOMY AND THE GENERATIONAL PROTEST
After the II WW, the recovery programs coming from the emerging world leader – the USA – creating in the whole Europe an economic wellness and the great increase of the economy. The ultra-liberal policies that leaded to the financial crack of 1929 were accused of inadequacy, creating the need for a different answer, something else from the ideological statement that an “invisible hand” (to use the language of Adam Smith) may create balance between production and consume. The answer came from the economic idea of the Keynes system of a State-piloted economy, with public investments to carry on incomes and demand, transforming save in further investments. The result was three decades of exceptional development, so that the promise of the beginning of the century seems to wake up and rise from a terrible nightmare, with new and powerful energies.
America was inherent with some important experiences, especially jazz and blues, that were generating new expectations not just for ordinary people, but for people used to be discriminated, like the blacks. Their involvement in situation like jazz and blues, and the extraordinary interest of the most talented American artists, gave to music a new charge as vehicle of emancipation. The electrification of guitars – and the consciousness of the meaningful experience in rock’n’roll and its debt to blues – creates a new ethic of young people, edified in a request of more power to the people.
It is not superfluous to remind the influence that the work of Aleister Crowley had in this new request for freedom coming from the Sixties and the Seventies. It is not superfluous especially because it is not obvious at all. For long time, Crowley was simply a personality who was object of what Freudian psychoanalysis calls “removal”, with the complete cancellation from official literature.
The underground review The International Time – that used to refer to itself as “the paper the press dare not mention” – it is now considered the main source to inquire what has been the protest, the psychedelic movement and the beat literature. In the columns of this review all the personalities of this area are represented: Allen Ginzberg, William Burroughs, Paul Bowles, Andy Warhol, Living Theatre and, of course, the protagonist of the new musical scene: Rolling Stones, Beatles, etc, so well as the sources of the link between blues and r’n’r: John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Dixon, etc. The inauguration of the first number of the review was launched at the UFO club, with an opening concert of the early Pink Floyd.
The name of Aleister Crowley came as answer to a poll made by this review, whose question was: “Who is the unknown prophet of the beat generation?” Then it followed a pair of articles signed by Kenneth Grant, an expert (himself a member of the late Golden Dawn), who depicted Crowley’s personality and thought creating the conditions of the re-emerging of this kind of thought under the title The Revival of Magic. Demonstrations of this interest on non-conventional access to spirituality are given by The International Times through some others articles like David Kimchi‘s writings on Kabbalah and with Ginzberg‘s and Thimothy Leary‘s articles on transcendental meditation.
Since then, the influence of the unknown prophet has been over and over increasing, finding in the psychedelic rock a powerful system of diffusion. Crowley appears in the cover of the Beatles Sgt. Peppers, in the back-cover of the Doors’ live album “13″, it is the subject of the Mick Jagger’s soundtrack for the film “Evocation of my demon brother” of the avant-garde director Kenneth Grant; he is the secret protagonist for the Rolling Stones’ song “Sympathy for the devil”, he become the great reference in the whole Led Zeppelin’s repertory; we may find his name in the word of David Bowie’s song “Quicksand”, as the title of Pink Floyd’s song “The dark side of the moon” is not but the title of the 18th chapter of his novel “Moonchild”. It can be possible to continue over and over, so that these seminal r’n’r bands has been – and still today are – influent on other bands, in an inextricable web of relations.
The Magical Revival (according to the lucky formula of Kenneth Grant) became the secret code to understand the way for modern emancipation, a system to experience collective situation of shared spirituality as research of a more free style of life, delivered from ancient fears and taboos, were often the experimentation with drugs was a further instrument of this path, with people increasingly aware of the inter-dependence of the human destiny, expressing the will for a world more effective in rights of citizens and creating openness to the spiritual side of life.
§6. ECLIPSE OF IDEOLOGY AND BIRTH OF POST-MODERNISM
Unfortunately, as predicted by Aldous Huxley, drugs became the weakness of the system. Huxley is not a retrograde bigot: just as example, he is the source for The Doors in the choice of the name of the band (from the title of a book of him, The Doors of Perception – being in turn a quote of a William Blake fragment). In a perspective much far from the position of supporters of the drug’s power to activate finest sensitiveness (as Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert), he simply wrote that drug is not but an amplifier: therefore, as in a man (or in a woman) co-exist a lot of moods and feelings, it’s impossible to think to drugs as instrument to create just freedom.
Into the individual dimension, fears, shadows, anxieties will enter the person who has experience in this. The legend of Syd Barrett and the great number of excellent r’n’r artists who made (ab)use of drugs is countless. Their fall is not something that has avoided to person this fate. On the contrary, the system of communication created a myth, showing them as an example to emulate. In general, with Huxley’s words, the scientific caste system will abolish free will making servitude acceptable by regular doses of chemically induced happiness.
In add, considering the social implications, it is to say that the establishment took and still takes advantage from the use of drugs in several ways. Controlling the criminal system and making affairs at the international level. Generating interdependence at the internal level. Making people open to blackmail. Not least, holding the possibility to express a moral judgment on people. Opposite to the authoritarian paradigm of the one-party in past century (in literature, the govern of the Big Brother conceived by Orwell), the modern soft-dictatorship is not based on explicit violence, but in a sophisticated system of internal violence, that is inner and masked in the sub-liminal action of the occult persuasion system inherent to propaganda.
The inner thought of Aleister Crowley was simplified until the stupidity and vulgarity, codifying it for simple access as a satanic system, like in the Anton LaVey version or in the Charles Manson sectarian asset. It is well known what happen in this late (the famous case of Sharon Tate, murdered during a magical retire) and it is quite sufficient to understand that this kind of facts contributed in creating discredit in the social side of Crowley’s thought.
The establishment used these elements to reinforce the social control. As Huxley perfectly described explaining the way to work of the propaganda system, the élites create condition to absorb the protest and transform its language in something commercial. So the music of the protest became part of the commercial system. The better understanding of this condition was the “The Destruction in Art Symposium” (DIAS) leaded by Gustav Metzger at the Africa Centre in Covent Garden, London, from 9-11 September 1966. The following years demonstrate the leading way was not the uniqueness of the artwork (enhanced in its destruction as a form to achieve the state of Shunyata) but, on the contrary, the serial, industrial creation as in the Andy Warhol production of the pop-art.
Meanwhile, to hold drugs illegal was (and still it is) a main key-factor to take the protest under control. During the Seventies, the practice of infiltration became very common. The pacific demonstrations – as they were marches and happenings – were often altered by fight and clashes, and in a lot of cases this was caused by the infiltration of men paid by the conservative, with political coverage that allowed them to hit without consequences, sometimes even creating massacres that were leaning to the responsibility of anarchist. In add, the political activity of confront and engagement in use during the Sixties, during the Seventies became quite impossible because of the increasing risk to be taken by the police under drug use accuse.
So began the time of disco-music.
No more people discussing politic in squares, just consumers of commercial music, alcohol and drugs into high volume discotheques. This alienation was the kind of dissimulation promoted by the sophisticated aesthetic of post-modern thought – a system where the possibility to identify the cause which gives origins to something else is denied – and this seems to have been the perfect pair with the substitution of an economy socially leaded by the state (the Keynesian policies of the recovery from the ’29 crisis and the financing of the restore of Europe after II ww) towards a new liberalism era leaded by the monetarist approach so loved by Reagan and Thatcher. Monetarist approach generated the conditions to break the Berlin wall (the emblem of the Cold War coming from the contrast between capitalism and communism), but generating a stronger division between social classes, exacerbating inequality of income distribution and concentrating more and more power in the hands of big corporations.
The dream of awareness and social consciousness was eclipsed again.
§7. THE BEAT CHALLENGE: LIBERALISM AGAINST FREE WILL
To speak some honest words in a matter like economics (that, as usually economists remind us, is not a moral science), we may start before this became a humanistic discipline among modern sciences, when the physiocrates – a French philosophic school – were used to say that real richness is exclusively the product of the land which gives nourishment to people, while each other activity is not but exploitation (especially of the town against the countryside.
This statement, founded in a materialistic conception, was overcome by the new theories coming from Adam Smith and David Ricardo that, in different ways, supported the specialization as factor of richness. This explanation was severely criticized by Karl Marx, who came back to the idea of exploitation, better explained with strong reference to the Ricardo’s notion of social classes, that Marx reinterpreted not as something given, but as the result of the hegemony of the leading class.
As recalled before, when the International Socialist seemed to be a wind blowing from Russia and expanding to the whole Western world, the leading classes in Europe react creating barriers through military hierarchies to opposite the emancipation of masses and the progress of individual free will. This is what we call – in The Golden Dawn and in The Morning Star (that are instrument to forge cosmopolitan personalities – the Law of Malkvth, with the meaning that the world is not naturally based on human emancipation, but on sub-human conformists.
Some Marxist theoreticians believe the right answer to exploitation was blocked by some main historical factors. In a simplified scheme, we may try a synthesis saying that the first factor was the death of Lenin; the second, the rise of Stalin in Russia; the third, the Kautski’s thesis at the Third International Socialist that the sickle have to be separate from the hammer. There’s no comment on the first one. On the second, we must recall that Stalin ordered the murder of Lenin’s great theorist, Leon Trotzki; in add, accepting the pressure from the international diplomacy, he adopted the thesis of “socialism in just one country”. The third factor is the perfect construction of the isolation of Russia created by the capitalist élites of Western world, buying Kautski to create an artificial (and incongruous) separation between agricultural and industrial proletarian, having the simple objective to weakening movements of mass emancipation. All these elements were empowered by an umbrella organization created by the secret services of USA, the so-called stay behind, to avoid that communist may enter into the government in any European Country.
While doing all this diplomatic work, the capitalistic system had to face a strong crisis at the end of the Twenties in XX century. From this crisis, the capital found the way out through the compromise solution between liberalism and socialism, balancing State and market through the Keynes’ thesis on the role of public expenses for investments.
This system offered the key for development through more than three decades, until the capitalistic cry started to accuse the public administration to manipulate the system with inefficiency, because the public intervention was increasingly used not for investments, but just for consumption. This misleaded system, according to liberal thinkers, must be correct through balanced budget and no more allowing public system going in deficit spending.
These ideas, that seems to exhort to a more rigorous management, concretely created a new distribution of income, creating ultra-profits for capitalists and weakening the position of workers. Avoid public expense and exercise pressure over salaries, taxes and public health, this has been the overall policy of liberalism, generating that total disconnection between wages and labor that is the modern equivalent of the disconnection between agricultural production and money and power.
The complete primacy of financial rapports has been the output of this approach. Therefore, after some years when people had their opportunity of emancipation, through the enlargement of the number of people who had the possibility to attend studies and valuable social positions, liberalism operated to re-introduce cleavages and barriers between social classes, decreasing wages as compensation of the financial transformation.
To hold on this new form of dominion, as perfectly foresaw Huxley, it has been decisive contribution of mass-media control, where the shape of desires and wishes has been forged to change the attitude to save in a new idea of complete waste of money in consumption because of the low degree of interest rate, something that can be translated as the useless to save. This new wave of liberalism produced therefore a mass of people increasingly indebted and, therefore, weakened and lesser concentrated on their individual freedom, going towards a situation of non-control of their life.
Drugs, gambling, bets have been encouraged by the system, with the propaganda always active in creating opium of the people, real and metaphorical. It is a date that since Western armies entered Afghanistan, opium production increased dramatically. Propaganda state that Western armies go in Middle-East to perform peace-missions, while the concrete real goal is to control petroleum affairs through the commerce of weapons and drugs.
This is also the reason why drugs are still now illegal: at the global level, because this is the main link between State policies and international affairs; at local level, so that Prohibition allows the State to control dissidents. As says Huxley, it is drugging of individuals for the benefits of the State, a main plank, an insurance against subversive ideas.
Allen Ginzberg showed to be perfectly aware of this. Not the same can be stated for Aleister Crowley. To stay on the beat, Kerouac seems to be in the middle: a bit of drugs and a lot of (fantastic) and confusion. Burroughs being on the dark side, eventually talking about it from another dimension, What is an exigence of our time is to make substitution of drugs with light spirituality (of breath, like in pranayama, and of gestures, like in mantra and mystical theatre of ceremonial magic) and create a true liberal attitude, able to hold social balance.
It was Gandhi who said that mystical state, to be authentic, needs to be created not by addiction, but by subtraction. This is a real mystical law.
In the spirit of the historical Naropa (that, before the co-founder with Allen Ginzberg of the modern University, was a mystic of the early Shivaism), we ought to remember Mahatma Gandhi was the modern prophet of Advaita – the theory of non-duality, and of Ahimsa, the practice of non-violence).
At last, what can be said is that beat literature is a special key to explain our recent history.
Epilogue: the rising of the Morning Star
Sincerely, we believe that the only way to create emancipation and freedom is to look at life including everything in a framework of legality. Drugs must be legal, and sold with a price able to contain tax to finance prevention at school and rehabilitation policies. Legal drugs will free society from its bond with criminality; a more advanced level in collective and connective consciousness will deliver new generations from the bond with alcohol and drugs, making clear that these substance are not useful to create open mind but, instead, their abuse damages neurons and synapses.
In the economic sphere, it is clear that financial liberalism goes exclusively in make private the earning and public the loss. The fable that there is an invisible hand that move markets for the better (and more efficient) choice is the laugh of rich over the shoulders of general people. There is no “invisible hand”. At least, no one else than the hand of personal advantage, and this create an increasingly cynic and evil humanity. Liberalism must be controlled by the State, and the public investments needs to return in their role of primacy in reason of public utilities and common goods.
To come back to a modern Enlightenment philosophy is absolutely important. But, you know, propaganda now uses words – especially emancipation’s words – with a meaning that is the opposite of their true meaning. Therefore, although the nobility of the word, do not trust in “Enlightened”.
Trying to contribute to hold the torch of emancipation through free will, we may remind that this is not the rule of the world, but the exception.
Before closing this short (and irregular) essay, it is important to underline two considerations that concern the core of the matter here presented. The first one comes from the end of Jack Kerouac’s final for On the road, where Sal (the protagonist) gives some words that sound like a statement where, beyond any ideology, the utopian dream to live in an equal perspective is definitely missed.
Remi had gotten tickets for the Duke Ellington concert at the Metropolitan Opera and insisted Laura and I come with him and his girl. Remi was fat and sad now but still the eager and formal gentleman, and he wanted to do things the right way, as he emphasized. So he got his bookie to drive us to the concert in a Cadillac. It was a cold winter night. The Cadillac was parked and ready to go. Dean stood outside the windows with his bag, ready to go to Penn Station and on across the land.
This scene is a paradigm of the failure of drugs to represent a system to destroy the barriers between social classes. This statement signs the end of that utopian dream and the come back of Sal to his social place.
From this perspective, this statement is the rational complement to the Ginzberg’s starting point for his poem The Howl, the well known flamboyant beginning phrases that say
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
which is another way to demonstrate drugs have not the power to deliver the spirit.
Then, the second final consideration concerns how to conceive another generation able to enter the spiritual side without the addiction of drugs but, instead, through the subtraction of the superfluous. This is not without meaning, if we accept that is an idea for a small number of people with the gift of a new sensitivity, able to understand the creative power of yoga and alchemic theatre, deep into ceremonial performance experiences. These are the correct tools to improve free will, and these instruments are the secret weapons of the cosmopolitan generation the globalization of the internet connectivity is creating.
The meaning is the rising of transnational cooperation in creating new outbreaks of awareness, using these tools as instruments of education towards free will.
Education in how getting stronger your free will, to be aware that the indivudual task is to rise the consciousness at the level to meet Universal Will: that is all.
Don’t you worry about external opinions, believe in what you are doing, if you are working sincerely to find your real Dharma; because Dharma is not what you want, but simply what you must do.
To be slave is the rule, to be free is the exception. Therefore, we must recognize this is just for a few.
What we can do is to enlarge of a bit the number of these few.
Knowing that these few are no more so few, and every day a new cosmopolitan personality has his(her) birth.
May this flower bloom in the earth of universal consciousness, and be dedicated to the complete liberation of all being, everywhere, in light and darkness, above and below, in sunset and sunrise. Always and everywhere, in the perfect center of your mind, you can see the morning star. So mote it be.
L V X I N E X T E N S I O N
拡 張 子 の 光
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