“The function of the artist is to provide what life does not.” —Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction
“Those people who recognize that imagination is reality’s master we call ‘sages,’ and those who act upon it, we call ‘artists.’” —Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All
In the human psyche, from the moment a newborn baby emerges into the light of day, he/she has a desire for magic.
We are told this is an early fetish that fades away as the experience of the world sets in. As maturity evolves. As practical reality is better understood.
In most areas of psychology, sensible adjustment to practical reality is a great prize to be won by the patient. It marks the passage from child to adult. It is hailed as a therapeutic triumph.
In truth, the desire for magic never goes away, and the longer it is buried, the greater the price a person pays.
A vaccine against a disease can mask the visible signs of that disease, but under the surface, the immune system may be carrying on a low-level chronic war against toxic elements of the vaccine. And the effects of the war can manifest in odd forms.
So it is with the inoculation of reality aimed at suppressing magic.
One of the byproducts of the “reality shot” is depression.
The person feels cut off from the very feeling and urge he once considered a hallmark of life. Therefore, chronic sadness. Of course, one explains that sadness in a variety of ways, none of which gets to the heart of the matter.
It is assumed that so-called primitive cultures placed magic front and center simply because “they couldn’t do better.” They didn’t have science, and they couldn’t formulate a “true and rational” religion with a church and monks and collection plate and a European choir and an array of pedophiles.
Historically, the impulse for magic had to be defamed and reduced and discredited. Why? Obviously, because the Westerners who were poking through ancient cultures had already discredited magic in themselves—they had put it on a dusty shelf in a room in a cellar beyond the reach of their own memory. But they couldn’t leave it alone. They had to keep worrying it, scratching it, and so they journeyed thousands of miles to find it somewhere else—and then they scoffed at it and tried to crush it.
And we wonder why, under the banner of organized religion, there has been so much killing. At a deep level, the adherents know they’ve sold their souls and they’re depressed, angry, resentful, remorseful, and they want to assuage and expiate their guilt through violence.
But the urge for magic is forever.
And yet the charade goes on. While paying homage and lip service to ordinary practical reality seasoned with a bit of fairy-tale organized religion, people actually want to change reality, they want to reveal their latent power, they want to create realities that, by conventional standards, are deemed impossible.
They want to find and use their own magic.
In our modern culture, we’re taught that everything is learned as a system. That, you could say, is the underlying assumption of education. It has far-reaching consequences. It leads to the systematizing of the mind. The mind is shaped to accommodate this premise.
“If I want to know something, I have to learn it. Somebody has to teach it to me. They will teach it as a system. I will learn the system. I will elevate the very notion of systems. Everything will be a system.”
In the long run, that gets you a lump of coal in a sock, a spiritual cardboard box to live in.
The intellectual enrolls at Harvard, he studies anthropology for six years, he flies to a jungle in South America, he digs up remnants of a lost culture, he infers they performed arcane ceremonies six times a week, he writes monographs—and he concludes they were a very picturesque society with fascinating customs and totems, and their brand of magic can best be understood as an inevitable consequence of their matriarchal organization, which itself was an accommodation to rainfall levels.
Back home, the anthropologist takes two Paxil and goes off to teach a class on the meaning of ancient eyebrow trimming in Tierra del Fuego.
Systems are wonderful things. They produce results. They take us into technological triumphs. They help us become more rational. But when they are overdone, when the mind itself becomes shaped like a system, it reaches a dead-end. Then the mind works against the unquenchable desire for magic. Then society is organized as a tighter and tighter system and turns into a madhouse.
And then people say, “Maybe machines can actually think and choose and decide. Maybe machines are alive. What would happen if we grafted computers on to our brains? It might be wonderful.”
People move in this direction after their own minds have been shaped, like putty, into systems. They don’t see much difference between themselves and machines.
The desire for magic in every individual is squelched. So the first order of business is the restoration of imagination, from which all magic flows. Imagination is sitting there, always ready, waiting.
Imagination is saying, “The mind has been shaped into a system? I can undo that. I can liberate the mind and make it into an adventurous vessel. I can provide untold amounts of new energy.”
Life is waiting for imagination to revolutionize it down to its core.
Since imagination is a wild card that technocrats can’t absorb in their systems, they pretend it a faculty produced by the action of atoms in the brain. They pretend it is a delusion that can be explained by demonstrating, for example, that a machine can turn out paintings. Or poems.
“You see? We don’t need humans to make art. Computers can do just as well. Imagination isn’t mysterious at all.”
Technocracy and transhumanism flow from the concept that the human being is just another machine. And any machine can be made to operate more efficiently.
Meanwhile, imagination waits. It never vanishes. It stands by, just in case an individual decides to live a life that overflows with creative power.
If my work in this area has any organized precedent, it is ancient Tibet where, 1500 years ago, before the priests took over with their interminable spiritual baggage of ritual, practitioners engaged in exercises that engaged imagination to the hilt.
The entire goal was revealing that the Universe was ultimately a product of mind.
This was not about ultimate worship. This was not about some deep substrate in the Universe that one could plug into, to guide his actions and thought. It was about liberating the individual from all systems. It was about endless creation.
The first teachers of this Way came from India, where they had been pushed out of the academies of orthodox religious instruction. They were rebels. They had offloaded the metaphysical labyrinths of control. They were, in a sense, artists. Artists of reality.
They were brilliant riverboat gamblers, and in Tibet, for a time, they found a home.
They found students who, as now, were tired of the preaching designed to make humans into sophisticated mind-machines.
These people wanted more. They wanted to awaken their own imaginations and exceed the illusory boundaries of space and time.
They wanted magic.
Despite every cynical ploy, that desire is still alive.
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at NoMoreFakeNews.com or OutsideTheRealityMachine.