I have been thinking lately about the myth of progress.
Not that I am against science and technology, I am only a partial Luddite. But I do question the effectiveness of academia and “progress” when we layer upon it titles, and awards, and confer honors that bloat the ego and cloud partiality. When ideas, concepts and propositions challenge our carefully constructed ideologies and edifices how quick are we to dismiss them? How do we approach what challenges or upends our diverse Titles, our mouthfuls, our egos? With the infinite layers of propaganda and mind numbing claims that insist we need to see this here a specific way, buy this other thing so that our lives will be better, live this way to find true happiness, who do we believe? What do we really need? What things are essential to human life? Instead of taking all these pontificated assertions at face value, why not explore what they all mean, why not reclaim our individual agency from the machine?
At the end of the day, pardon the cynicism, I think we are such silly creatures (and I include myself). Constructing elaborate ideologies that keep us constricted and blind. Illusions for ourselves and the masses. Selling tropes, and shadows that are devoid of substance.
Here is one little somewhat related story. When I picked up my first pack of cards I wanted to dive right into the world of Esotercism, I wholly believed all the associations conferred to the pack of cards, the astrology, kabbalah, and philosophical bits. I bit into the cake and loved it. Then I started thinking, wait so when I am done reading this I will know this here, but then I will have to start learning this other thing so that I can understand this bit, cycling and cycling around the abyss of the never ending. Then at the end of it all is this title conferred to me by the tarot gods that will confirm my ego with some meaningless title. All pointless and futile in the end, because when I read cards, for myself and others, I ask a question seeking an answer, simple as that. I don’t want to know about the 9th gate, about finding the key to the unknown, nor about the complexities of the sephirot. None of these things have to do with me reading the cards. Esoteric knowledge, hidden wisdom, astrology, all these currents have meaning in so much as we understand their meaning in our self, and as their meaning is useful for us (at the individual personal level). As someone wisely said in similar words, create your own story, write your own myth, or someone else will do it for you. (I believe it was Gordon White from RuneSoup or Miguel Conner from Aeon Bytes Radio, can’t recall…)
Map your inner constellations, create your own narratives, and be wise in what you allow entrance into your creation, be astute. Be the Magician coupled with La Papess, knowledge and understanding of the ways crowning the cunning one. Moreover, I must add, I am not against the other traditional systems of reading the cards, all systems have value in as much as we understand their value, what they mean, and in conclusion we are able to derive the answers we seek from that system.
Furthermore, what I mean to say in the end is that one should decentralize, detach, and decolonize the inner landscape. Stop holding on to things so intensely you cannot think outside the box. That for me is the value of reading, all forms of reading, the symbol, the word, the image. As George Orwell says, “Good prose is like a window pane.” I add, all good literature is like a window pane that allows you to see different worlds outside of your self, the ego. That is the value of thinking outside the self, the value of symbolic thinking, of reading these hieroglyphs that have meaning and that taps into the imagination, allowing one to explore different modes of being, of thinking, and of living. This is also the value of cartomancy, posing a question to a set of images, which, as our gaze clashes with them, we formulate from this interaction the answers we seek. Deriving by extension, different routes of approach and different perspectives to situations. Similar to the function of reading literature.
It seems to me that all our resistance to honesty and true inner exploration stems in part from a fear of not wanting to approach something that challenges our stability, our foundations. A fear of decentralizing and decolonizing the self, a fear of what we will find underneath it all. I vote that in all things we approach, both magically and mundane, read, accumulate knowledge, then decentralize, take it outside of the self and ask, what does this all mean? Where is this valuable? Where is this applicable?
All the the feedback stuffed down our throats via the media, cultural norms, and our upbringing, these are all repetitive functions that are not real. They are modes of sustaining power and order in an increasingly complicated society, the more aware we are of this the more we are able to clear away the debris, while also knowing when it is wise to dismantle and when it is not. It is my belief that the more frequently one does this, the more one is able to tap into clarity and freedom.
Then one becomes a better reader of the signs.
If I err, let me err on the side of humility, that is my everyday endeavor.
I leave you with the words of Pablo Neruda, from his poem, Por Boca Cerrada Entran Las Moscas.
Es tan poco lo que sabemos / y tanto lo que presumimos / y tan lentamente aprendemos, / que preguntamos, y morimos. / Mejor guardemos orgullo / para la ciudad de los muertos / en el día de los difuntos / y allí cuando el viento recorra / los huecos de tu calavera / te revelará tanto enigma, / susurrándote la verdad / donde estuvieron tus orejas.
What we know comes to so little, / what we presume is so much, / what we learn, so laborious, / we can only ask questions and die. / Better save all out pride / for the city of the dead / and the day of the carrion: / there, when the wind shifts / through the hollows of your skull / it will show you all manner of / enigmatical things, whispering truths / in the void where your ears used to be.