Sonata Theme & Variations Theoretical

Breaching the Ephemeral

Intra Inter Media

We breach as a whale breaches. We simply say “it’s breaching”, leaving the object implicit. Of course it is the boundary of the water. Of course it is the boundary of the concrete. Only in our case there are not two sections partitioned by a surface. Or, we could imagine the surface at the very bottom. To move at all is to breach.

We breach as of a contract. We breathe by violating. Inhale ephemeral, exhale not-ephemeral. The surface ruptures and is restored after we go back under. But, maybe not so faithfully. It is not as easy as water, not as fluid, and we come back to the same rupture to breach again.

We breach as of a defense. We want to get to the other side. What’s there? We are only infracting. We must go back under. The violator is caught and punished. The whale does not float nor fly. …Still, we must breathe. We must be free. There is something we need on the other side. We breach.

Subtle and Secular

Tripartite body: corpus, animus, spiritus; nirmanakaya, sambkogakaya, dharmakaya. So, we have an axis of “ephemerality”, dense to subtle. Two surfaces and an intermediate. Maybe there are “surfaces” only because extremes are easier to grasp. A distant thing gestured at vaguely seems concrete. Clouds seem to have a “surface” from far away. But we breach––what’s there?

What is “subtle” or “energy” body? What is the “astral” plane? If these are the same, in that ancient magical and spiritual traditions talk about them similarly yet specifically, it may be more direct to answer: “Is ‘energy’ the same thing as concept or imagination?” Or, “Is contemporary secular meta-abstraction the same kind of thing as ancient magic and spiritualism?”

But first, “How weird are the limits of possible experience?” There is no relevant reality beyond what could ever be perceived (including indirectly), but what I have experienced already is not an ideal measure of what I could possibly experience ever.

As for experiences I’ve already had that many people would not believe: I have communicated with spirits which verified their separateness from my own imagination with minor miracles like telling me trivial details about the near future. I have had very specific prayers answered outside of what seems normal. I have met a sage whose presence was categorically unlike anyone else I’ve ever known; looking into his eyes for the first time transfixed and disoriented me kind of like a psychedelic onset but much faster. I have seen him demonstrate effective prophecy and “magical” herbal medicine from his family lineage. I have seen spiritual possession and performed an exorcism, or at least someone I knew reported hallucinatory experiences resembling what I understand about possession, and my exorcism worked to stop their rampage.

As for what I’ve heard and believe: My mom tells me my grandmother was supernaturally skilled at qigong but my grandfather made her stop because it began to seem scary, even demonic. She also tells a story of a dead relative’s face appearing clearly in a photo, and the photographer being asked to burn the photo. The root lama of the Vajrayana lineage my teacher belongs to remembers details of his past life and has clairvoyant dreams, and has been in the presence of many great sages with a presence similar to the sage I knew, and who also demonstrated miracles like clairvoyance and prophecy. My Vajrayana teacher also says that the rainbow body phenomenon happens literally.

So here is my lower bound for “How weird are the limits of possible experience?”, and to try at an upper bound, we return to the other questions. Reworded: “How mundane is the ‘energetic’, ‘subtle’, or ‘astral’? How much of it have I already experienced?”

A quasi-Socratic dialogue between an imperfect teacher and an impatient student:

Impatient: Is energy the same as concept or imagination?

Imperfect: No, because your ability to conceptualize or imagine is local and limited. It is not necessarily causal, nor necessarily has any influence outside of itself unless you act on it. Sometimes you are wrong or totally deluded, etc.

Impatient: Then, is energy of the “stuff” as concept or imagination? Or of the same category?

Imperfect: No, because the “stuff” of your concept or imagination is just for example, neural tissue, probably. As for category, of course it just depends on where you draw the categories.

Impatient: Then, is the relationship between “energy” and all of the physical realm the same as the relationship between my concept and imagination and my physical body?

Imperfect: No, because in many ways your physical body is not readily comparable to the physical stuff beyond it. Maybe as above, so below, but only to a certain extent.

Impatient: Then, is it worthwhile to practice astrology and magic and other supernatural methods to manipulate the physical realm via manipulation of the astral realm?

Imperfect: No, because I am not a powerful magician. If you have gotten to a point where you can get nothing further out of magical texts, nor know any teacher who can teach you any more beyond what you can figure out for yourself, then it’s pretty futile to try and keep squeezing. Besides, there are other easier, more effective ways of getting what you want in the physical realm.

Impatient: Then, is secular theory like statistics or physics categorically the same as magical theory like astrology or alchemy?

Imperfect: No, in all the obvious ways. Just read any statistics treatise vs. any alchemy treatise, and when you understand both the differences are very apparent.

Impatient: Then, is ancient “magical” theory worthless now that we have stuff like statistics and physics and computer science?

Imperfect: No, because contemporary theory is also very limited, especially in its scope. Also, it is quite severely swayed by fashions, which inevitably tend to be shorter than the cycles of fashion in “ancient magical” theory, because as a whole it is more oriented toward the present than toward the general.

Impatient: Then, is there any definite discernible distinction between the “subtle” or “magical” vs the more mundane or secular stuff that extends beyond the physical? Stuff like concept or theory or imagination, after all?

Imperfect: No.

Ablation and Abstraction

For the Latin tripartite body the etymology is quite obvious. For the Sanskrit, roughly, nirmanakaya is change-body, sambkogakaya is bliss-body, and dharmakaya is nature-body. Change as in metamorphosis; change as forms change, as material things are impermanent, as physical reality is always in a state of flux. Bliss as in pleasure, enjoyment; a certain sensation and state of mind, most evidently ecstatic when it is first discovered, maybe when constant conceptual thought has been cast away for the first time. “Dharma” is already a more common word; maybe it’s enough. Nature as in “the nature of things”; perhaps 道 (dao); law as in “law of nature”.

Why are there three bodies rather than two? Again, “what is the ‘subtle’ or ‘energetic’?” But now we approach an answer through ablation. What would it be like without each body?

But we are quickly stuck. The bodies are not separate from one another. There is an intertwining that makes separation impossible. Except intertwining implies a geometry. Is the ephemeral geometric? Sometimes obviously. Trivially, geometry itself is ephemeral and geometric. Then, as long as we have distance we have geometry, and as long as we have measure between pairs, we have distance. I have written before about certain geometric perspectives on a tripartite body. But this intertwining is not especially part of that; so perhaps we should merely say “inseparable.”

But then, why have three bodies? In fact, why have three bodies rather than one? If we cannot have the direct ablation, let us ablate our relationship to the idea, which is different from the idea itself. Let’s say we have only an idea of the corpus. Without the concept of animus or spiritus, we do not grasp pattern or dynamics. Everything is merely as it is perceived, in that moment. There is no memory, and no induction.

With the same technique we can ablate our understanding of animus or of spiritus to understand why there are three bodies instead of two. Again I want to emphasize that the relationship to the idea is not identical to the signified of the idea as a signifier. The signified thing cannot really be productively ablated even in the thought experiment, for at least two reasons:

1. It requires too much understanding of everything else––how would the dynamics of a physical system change if we ablated gravity? Well, we would have to understand all the forces other than gravity to say. On the other hand, it is much easier to answer “what would we think about the system if we did not understand gravity?”, because we have a better grasp of everything else we already know.

2. The nature of the signified is already often uncertain. Abstractions can be vague. Even if given an answer to “what if this is removed?”, we might not be able to agree if it is correct. This is why there was a big shift in fashion to philosophy of language, and why mystics often emphasized how the domain of mystic manipulation is merely the symbolic. If our power is from towers of abstraction, we do not touch the “real” directly.

So, what is it like to have concept of corpus and spiritus, but not animus; or corpus and animus, but not spiritus? Animus is often associated with mind. The tripartite division is also given as body, spirit, and soul. Perhaps the easiest split is animus as dynamics and spiritus as teleology. Without spiritus, there are physical things in motion, but no identities. There is memory and prediction of specific dynamics, but no “character”. Without animus, there are coherent characters, but no understanding of dynamics. I think this is why perception and control of the “subtle body”, referring to the animus, is often emphasized as a goal of meditative practice. To master the subtle body is to directly master behavior.

Immediate and Intermediate

There are deeper consequences. Why is the subtle body so difficult to master if it is more direct? Shouldn’t spiritus/dharmakaya be more abstruse in a secular world? Well, maybe the answer is quite obvious. Perhaps secularism isn’t so secular after all. It is still too easy to grasp to identities and reifications. Conscious thought, even when secular, is more often the manipulation of spiritus-bodies than animus-bodies. Part of the difficulty is that the animus-plane––the “astral” or “energy” plane cannot be directly talked about, for a rather simple reason: because to name is to reify as a spiritus.

But then the aim of “subtle body” meditations or practices is rather clear after all. It cannot be talked about, not because of some woo woo, but because that to be noticed and mastered is the dynamics, rather than the verbal idea of the dynamics. As long as it is in words or fixed concepts, it is wrong. And attainment is known by its fruit; new motions, new behaviors; perhaps, new correct predictions from new (nameable) angles; new animus.

And there are radical consequences in turning this understanding, developed in introspective meditation, out on the world again. As above so below type beat. What are the animus and spiritus of something non-human? At first glance this may actually be easier to answer––the animus is its behavior, and the spiritus its abstract identity. But remember how animus and spiritus each feel, and perhaps it becomes possible to empathize with non-humans. How much difference is there between your experience of uncontrollable desire (a mechanical behavior pattern), and an animal’s or machine’s, or any object in motion?

And then spiritus; does the perception and manipulation of it, and especially its great immediacy, make us unique? But the child who has not learned to abstract through assimilation and accommodation and such things is often an ideal symbol of mystic attainment. Becoming animal-like or child-like, becoming natural. Or in Deleuzian terms, becoming-schizo, refusing the Oedipal complex. Being aware of the flows and mechanical assemblages, of being part of them… Why do we hold it high?

Let me make a geometric image again. The intermediate is between each extreme, but it is beyond each extreme if you consider an approach from outside a surface, as if to breach it. In our case, perhaps a tube of three segments twisted into a horseshoe: both corpus and spiritus are immediate, but animus is intermediate, therefore beyond, and a little unnatural.

Subjective and Stochastic

Another confusion within the ephemeral came up in a recent conversation with some hedge fund people. Your concrete and total omniscience is opposed by subjectivity and stochasticity both, but these two are quite different.

The conversation was about evaluating financial models or signals, and deciding when a model can be trusted enough to be put into production, or an instrument based on it sold. I have seen similar confusions elsewhere though, most famously in the confusion between whether Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is about knowledge or about physical systems.

Again there is a conflation between our relationship to a concept vs to what the concept is supposed to signify. Subjectivity is about the impossibility of universal certainty due to differences in frames of reference. You cannot get a definite universal answer to a subjective question because you will get different answers if you change your frame of reference. Different people will have different answers, if you will, but e.g. someone asked twice might count as different people, if they have changed very much. Meanwhile, stochasticity is about the impossibility of universal certainty due to the generating function being non-deterministic, regardless of frame of reference. The same question asked (or measurement taken) in exactly the same context has a different answer each time.

But again we only have our relationship to context to manipulate. We only actually have our own frame of reference after all. We do not actually know every aspect of the context, so maybe we cannot tell if we are receiving different answers because the context has changed or not. Nonetheless we should relate differently to the subjective vs the stochastic, insofar as we can conceive of them.

For example, subjective but non-stochastic information is concretely knowable conditioned on a frame of reference. For the hedge fund’s models especially, it is entirely different to consider an indicator’s quality uncertain because it is subjective vs stochastic, and each warrants specific approaches. If it is subjective, then it is a just matter of knowing what customers want, or of knowing whose opinions matter, in the case of internal “customers”. If it is stochastic, then perhaps that stochasticity itself can be quantized, and reduced if that is important.

But complications clearly emerge from only having direct access to one subjective frame. Things are not so easy and there are rarely just “just”s. The matter of resolving stochasticity is inevitably a social matter, because even “stochasticity” or “subjectivity” are themselves concepts which we are relating to, as (tripartite) bodies in the world. To pursue concrete knowledge is an act. To be convinced of truth is a sensation. Maybe we do not agree on the conclusion until we agree on the premise, but there is is no root cause, and everything circles back on everything else.

Math and Metaphor

Circling back, evoking dependent origination. Evoking the “magical manifestation matrix”, or the Avatamsaka sutra. Mirrors in mirrors, fractal structure, dazzling and kaleidoscopic.

But––fractal structure. Must it be dazzling and kaleidoscopic? So many people fancy it. It is profound. It becomes a theme and object of obsession. But fractal is also “just” a mathematical concept. A generalization of dimensionality. Well, dimensionality is something people obsess over too. Concepts really cannot be separated from our human relation with them after all. Frequencies, oscillations, energy levels1As in, solutions to the Thomson problem, entropy… Even Pythagoras was a mystic.

But, with a rigorously-defined mathematical concept, there is a coherent sense of applying it correctly or incorrectly2Maybe more accurately, canonically or non-canonically. There is the beauty of abstraction and generality, but different from poetic generalization or analogy where for the most part anything goes as long as it works in the latter (the poetic) context. The application of a mathematical concept beyond the context of its original derivation is not really like metaphor. In metaphor, the original doesn’t really matter; it’s the metaphorical application itself that counts. As long as the analogy is understood, it is good.

Meanwhile, mathematical abstractions define the criteria of generalization within their originals. Or at least we expect that in the future, someone can do so in a way that we do not expect for poetic metaphor. We can generalize the concept of distance beyond the square root of the sum of squared distance on each axis as in Euclidean space, to elliptic or hyperbolic distance for instance, or even “spaces” with a less obviously intuitive spatial metaphor, like Hamming or Chebyshev distance.

As long as we can have pairwise measure, we can have distance, and we can have a geometry. But still the abstraction of “measure” is defined in a way that goes beyond its specific application in each instance. We do not expect a poet using verbal metaphor to define the rules of her use, and for each use of metaphor to simultaneously prescribe a new category of appropriate use. A poet can imitate a metaphor she has seen elsewhere, but this imitation of the instance is not the application of an abstraction specified by the predecessor.

And it is very different to use a concept mathematically vs metaphorically, even a concept by the same name. Again, the difference is in whether the context of interpretation is specified by the original or by the application. Fractals, frequencies, energy levels, entropy, etc. when applied metaphorically should not be expected to behave like their mathematical formulations beyond the scope of the metaphorical context, just as we would not stretch any other metaphor too far, and expect the metaphorical object to behave totally like the original.

I have tried to always be clear about when I am using a mathematical concept mathematically, and to make the necessary elaborations and definitions to be canonically formalizable if necessary. In fact, similar rules apply to the use of other canonical contexts established by the original rather than the application, and I have tried to be clear about these as well.

Extra Inter Media

Finally, I would like to say a few things about my current inter-mediate situation. I incorporated a company earlier this year, and was consulting for a hedge fund the past few months. Now I have decided not to do consultancy-like things at least for a little while, and might raise a small round to build a specific product, which I might write about soon.

I stopped writing for a long time because I had nothing to say, and then recently I wrote a few things again because of tumultuous love. I very much like being in love, and I at least like the beauty of turmoil in its aftermath, if not its sensation. I also wrote several more private letters, which I have said before are really my favorite among all the things I write. I might publish them eventually.

Cultivating “same taste” in a total and radical sense seems like it might be a little extreme, but my opinion here isn’t very solid, and I have begun a mentorship under a certain Vajrayana teacher. My decision here was surely related to the tumultuous love, but not completely. There’s not much more to say about this; it’s a lot like what I expected, which maybe is bad, but it’s early.

Also, I think my interests have again shifted away from most of my friends and followers. This means I expect even less people than before to understand what I write as wholes (even less, as one whole), and anybody who understands in wholes to understand less particulars. Sometimes I have grandiose delusional fantasies about being rediscovered many generations after death and having many scholars devoted to a thorough exegesis. It’s fun.

Maybe when I am older I will do something like Bach compiling his favorite compositions into the Mass in B minor. But, I might also start making more exoteric media. I subtitled this blog “eclectic esoterica, exoterically”, but it has not very exoteric after all. I think I’ll try making YouTube videos (haha I’m inter-media get it haha), maybe starting with explanations of my old discoveries like the correspondence between the Taijitu and the Kabbalist Tree of Life, or that dialetheistic fuzzy logic with -1 as the falsy value. If you know a lot about making videos and have recommendations for good resources, please let me know.

Applied Sonata Theoretical

Analyzing Superhuman Entities

Tripartite Body

In Hermetic philosophy and many other esoteric traditions a being’s body is divided in three: the corpus, the animus, and the spiritus. As the Hermetic alchemist Kremmerz writes:

Gods, daimons, and men: among them the same relationship exists as among the three states of perceptible matter: that which is heavy, that which is light, and that which is evanescent. The synthesis of nature presents the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gaseous.

This number three recurs in the kingdoms of visible nature. This number makes up the series in divine progression: man (the heavy body that imprisons an intelligence), daimon (the light body that comes near to intelligence), spirit (the evanescent body, which has not even an ideal form, and is symbolized by light).

Giuliano Kremmerz, The Hermetic Science of Transformation

We can understand this division most clearly in ourselves through introspection, but the same division applies equally to non-human beings. The corpus is static substance; the animus animates the corpus; the spiritus determines the nature of the animus. The axis along this hierarchy of determination is the orthogonal axis through the “planes” of being.

Historically, esoteric scholars have been concerned with beings like states or cultures. The anonymous author of Meditations on the Tarot, distinguishing spirits from egregores, writes:

However, it is the souls and spirits from above—forming, inspiring and directing communities of human beings—who nourish and vivify human souls: for example, Archangels (who are the spirits of nations); Principalities (Archai or “time spirits”); the spiritual entity which is behind Tibetan Buddhism; not to mention Christ, whose Flesh and Blood each day vivifies and unites the Church (Christ’s Mystical Body). Egregores are therefore nourished by men, whilst the latter are nourished by souls and spirits from above.

Nevertheless, although God, Christ, the Holy Virgin, the spiritual hierarchies, the saints, the Church (or the Mystical Body of Christ) are real entities, there still exists also a phantom or egregore of the Church, which is its “double”, just as every man, every nation, every religion, etc., have their “doubles”.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VI: The Lover

The tripartite body of a superhuman being is not a purely conceptual existence, “nourished by men”, but constitutes a free and noumenally independent existence.

[T]he Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. All these beings—including man (the Ischim)—have an existence that is either real or illusionary. If they have a real existence, if they are not a mirage, they are independent entities endowed not only with a phenomenal independence but also a noumenal independence. Now, noumenal independence is what we understand by freedom.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter IV: The Emperor

Beings with real existences exist across all planes of being. They are not subject to any human’s will, but are superhuman and free, and human-like in their spiritual structure. They have the same capacity to act, to will, to affect, and are subjects as much as they are objects. These beings are the spirits of states, organizations, languages, cultures, and other systems.

The corpus of an organization of people is not even merely the union of its constituents’ corpora, because physical beings do not have strict boundaries. The corpus associated with an animus is better thought of as a domain over which the animus has influence. A human body has a strong center of subjectivity where the nerves run, but exists in the world and is not separate from it. It uses tools and cognizes via external artifacts. Even its immediate substance is constantly renewed. Similarly, the interaction of individuals does not merely join their domains of influence in the world, but creates a new context of interaction with its its own physical scope.

With the advent of systems theory and cybernetics, we have an understanding powerful enough to quickly create new media in which other systems can be represented. There have long been systems like law and theory which duplicate and co-affect a system outside of themselves. Now we have the computer (which is only abstract), and its worldly extensions in beings like a program or a computational blockchain.

Each representation-capable medium contains extensional bodies of other spirits represented in it, or emerging from the interaction of these spirits, so that within each plane of being there may be diverse realms governed by these media. Each medium is also itself a free being with a noumenal body across each plane of being.

Information as a Fluid

From another perspective which diminishes separateness, subjects and objects are only structured regions in a rarefied field of pure information. In this sense, information is a substance so abstract as to be meaningless; yet it can be measured and analyzed, and retains some aspect of its mathematical sense as the capacity to resolve an uncertainty. It is more general than flows like matter, energy, value, and libido; yet flows of each of these quantities are necessarily also flows of information. In this sense information is the most general fluidic quantity, an ur-fluid.

The Dao Jing of the Dao De Jing, as explained to me by the lineage master of the Wind Fire Thunder (风火雷; feng huo lei) sect in a WeChat message, is about clearly perceiving the front and back of natural changes, the patterns of subject-change (self-changing) and object-change (being-changed) (道德经的上经为道,指要参透自然变化的正与反;自变和被变的规律,道本。).

This association between front/back and subject/object provides a ready analogy in the context of information flows. A subject is a region of positive divergence; an object is a region of negative divergence. The subject acts on the world outside it, transmitting information outwards; the object is acted upon by the world outside it, receiving information inwards.

The distinction between esoterica and exoterica, or between the sacred and the mundane, are also matters of viscosity or of external barriers to information flow. Information cannot flow easily past a physical barrier, a geographical boundary like a mountain or ocean, or a political boundary like of a city or nation. Now the internet has made such flows much easier than before, and the more powerful boundaries now exist in a separate realm. Information does not flow easily between languages, and concealment in twilight language still has a substantial effect.

From the fluidic perspective, the distinction between the planes of existence is a distinction of dimension. The corpus exists in a static field. The animus adds the dimension of time. The spiritus adds a dimension beyond time. But there are many dimensions beyond time, hence the continuity of the planes.

Metaverse and AR

With metaverse and AR technologies, the relations between bodies across planes of existence is immediately relevant. A simulated body directly replaces a physical body for a time, and they exist on the same plane insofar as they are experienced in the same way. On a simple level of analysis, the bodies compete because a spirit might only need one body on each plane. An inferior body can be thrown away, or naturally disappears as it is no longer maintained.

The relationship between AR and traditional experience therefore parallels the relationship between blockchain computation and traditional computation. They have the capacity to hold a body of the same spirit on the same plane. The new body may coexist with the old body temporarily or indefinitely; the same spirit can have multiple bodies in the same plane at an equilibrium, and different media have different degrees of exclusivity with each other.

The technology of the metaverse can be grouped together with the boat, the plane, the phone, the internet. These are technologies that have accelerated the flow of information, or equivalently, that have made it easier for spirits to travel between realms.

Distance within a medium may be bypassed via a body in a different medium. Such “astral travel” is canonical to many magical traditions, wherein a spirit ascends to a higher plane of existence to travel at supernatural speeds on a lower one. One’s body in the metaverse intersects more realms than an internet chat service, and can be associated with a grander spirit.

Another aspect of astral magic is to become a foreign body, like of an animal or god, and to incorporate what one learns from the experience into one’s life as a human. This kind of spiritual metamorphosis also becomes quite literally enabled by AR technologies and other applications of brain computer interfaces, where the activity from a user’s brain, and thereby their conscious experience, can be mapped directly to an augmented super-human body, or even a non-human body.

In such an environment, where lower bodies on the plane of the corpus and animus become so readily malleable, there are inevitable political and social consequences. Many esoteric traditions, which are protected enough by various mechanisms of sacredness to be able to say some very cruel things, speak of a hierarchy of spirits, which in reality are all human spirits. In Buddhism there are the gods, men, demons, and hungry ghosts, who each perceive reality differently and have different desiring-machines. The Wind Fire Thunder lineage master is more explicit: “Yang is above the temple; yin is the rivers, lakes, and seas. Below the temple is not the rivers and lakes but the general’s platform. Below the general’s platform is the row of soldiers extending to the rivers and lakes. Below the rivers and lakes are the people-slaves, blind-slaves, grass-slaves” (阳为庙堂之上,阴为江湖四海。庙堂之下不是江湖而是将台,将台之下是兵道直通江湖,江湖之下为名奴,盲奴,草奴。).

Perhaps these social observations currently only have an esoteric significance, applying only to a realm beyond what everybody can easily see. But if the strata of lower realms are transformed to be like the domain of the astral, the values and dynamics of astral realms will likewise apply to them. Kremmerz explains the astral thus:

In Greek grammar the word aster means “star.” In hieratic Greek, astron is made up of the negative prefix a- and stereon, the state of being fixed or solid, and thus means without fixity, wandering, and therefore astral light in its secret sense is the light that is not fixed, which is wandering, ethereal, evanescent.*

Giuliano Kremmerz, The Hermetic Science of Transformation

In this context, the mechanism of deterritorializing technologies like the internet or the blockchain or the metaverse in transforming a plane of being becomes very explicit.

DAOs and Blockchain(s)

Where are the bodies of a DAO? It is a program on a blockchain. It is a collection of people. A participant in a DAO interacts with the DAO contract through the blockchain it exists on; that blockchain has its own bodies across various planes and realms, in computers, in theories, in dreams.

Some people say that DAOs will replace VC firms and maybe even corporations. Does a DAO refer specifically to the blockchain body of an organization? Or is any organization with a blockchain body a DAO? If it is the former, it will certainly not replace VC firms and corporations, which do not even exist in the same realm. Otherwise, the claim is that every corporate spirit will develop a blockchain body, which seems more reasonable.

But the latter claim acknowledges that corporate spirits also have other bodies in different planes and realms. Will DAOs eventually be captured in law? Wyoming already defines the legal rights of DAOs by analogy with existing LLC definitions. The relations between people in an organization are also matters of interaction between anima and between spirits. Will on-chain contracts and the anima governing them replace the anima emergent from systems of human relations? If not, we must acknowledge that a program’s rules shape but do not wholly define the animus of a DAO.

Some people say that the point is not for programmatic systems to replace human decision-making, but for on-chain programs to define incentive structures that encourage better human behavior within human systems. Then what are the advantages of an on-chain system over a traditional legal one? There are interfaces between an on-chain system and parts of the off-chain world it must represent, just as there are interfaces between a legal system and the off-legal world it must represent. One submits a transaction to a node, or pulls data from an oracle; one represents oneself in court, or calls for witnesses. Even if the blockchain is more transparent and decentralized than the bureaucratic legal system, it does not constitute the whole body of a spirit even on a single plane of existence (e.g. human bodies and computing machines exist in the same plane); opacity and even centralization have lots of room to unexpectedly emerge.

Perhaps the advantages of DAOs inherit from the advantages of the blockchain in general. It is easier to interact with a smart contract than with a bureaucracy, so a blockchain corpus is preferred to a bureaucratic one. But what about the blockchain spiritus? We may deploy the bodies of existing spirits onto the blockchain, but what kinds of spirits and more tangible bodies might crypto technology uniquely generate?

Patterns of behavior repeated across time in different media are also spirits. Finance, economics, and governance are all spirits. Will the current corpora of finance and governance be largely obsoleted by crypto? Even with the infrastructure available today, we still have cash transactions and in-person rituals in governance. Perhaps the immaturity and imperfection (e.g. centralization, lack of robustness) of available infrastructure contribute to this, and crypto at least partially “solves this”. But existing corpora struggle for their own survival and often win; how much more powerful is crypto than the existing dominant infrastructure, compared to how much more powerful that infrastructure was than what came before it?

Decentralization has long been an ideal theme. Even the use yang (用九) of the I Ching hexagram Heaven (乾; qian) says, “to see a crowd of dragons without a head; auspicious” (见群龙无首吉). Foucault asks if we are in a Deleuzian century; Deleuze and Guattari begin and conclude their Thousand Plaeaus with the rhizome opposed to arborescent structure.

But even if crypto is a deterritorializing technology, does it reach the level of establishing a new plane of consistency? Then it mustn’t impose a homogenous surface over the smooth space otherwise represented. Deleuze and Guattari write, applying equally to a blockchain ecosystem as to the “legal model”:

This does not mean, however, that the legal model knows nothing of forces, the play of forces. That it does is evident in the homogeneous space corresponding to the compars. Homogeneous space is in no way a smooth space; on the contrary, it is the form of striated space. The space of pillars. It is striated by the fall of bodies, the verticals of gravity, the distribution of matter into parallel layers, the lamellar and laminar movement of flows. These parallel verticals have formed an independent dimension capable of spreading everywhere, of formalizing all the other dimensions, of striating all of space in all of its directions, so as to render it homogeneous.


Is a programmatic system even theoretically capable of establishing a plane of consistency? Crypto claims to be representative of an ideal it could not wholly encapsulate. In this way it becomes a bound spirit in service of a higher spirit. Even as it contributes to the process of decentralization, or of deterritorialization and the establishment of lines of flight to a new plane of consistency, or of the establishment of a crowd of dragons without a head, it is in no way the whole body of the process, nor identical in spirit.


This post has been a little out of character for me, and it’s mostly because I work at a crypto company now. I am no longer writing developmentally, but toward application in the world. Incidentally, toward what is symbolized by the 利 and 贞 of 元亨利贞, or by the waw and he of tetragrammaton.

In the Chariot arcana from Mediations on the Tarot:

What my intention is here is to refute the false accusations concerning occultism, on the one hand, and on the other hand to show up the real danger that occultism presents—so that one is put on guard against it. But what should one do against this danger, in order to guard one’s moral well-being?

The ancient saying “ora et labora” (“work and pray”) constitutes the only answer that I have been able to find. Worship and work constitute the only curative as well as prophylactic remedy that I know against megalomaniacal illusions. It is necessary to worship what is above us and it is necessary to participate in human effort in the domain of objective facts in order to be able to hold in check the illusions concerning what one is and what one is capable of.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VII: The Chariot

Indeed, the domain of esoteric theory is no other than the domain of real life. There is no “other” power outside of common power, nor other value outside of common value, nor other truth outside of common truth.

It is the same conduct which must be applied by the Christian Hermeticist in that which concerns knowledge and science—natural, historical, philological, philosophical, theological, symbolical and traditional. It amounts to learning the art of learning.

Now, it is the Arcana which stimulate us and at the same time guide us in the art of learning. In this sense, the Major Arcana of the Tarot are a complete, entire, invaluable school of meditation, study, and spiritual effort—a masterly school in the art of learning.

Dear Unknown Friend, Christian Hermeticism therefore has no pretension to rival either religion or official science. He who is searching here for the “true religion”, the “true philosophy”, or the “true science” is looking in the wrong direction. Christian Hermeticists are not masters, but servants. They do not have the pretension (that is, in any case, somewhat puerile) of elevating themselves above the holy faith of the faithful, or above the fruits of the admirable efforts of workers in science, or above the creations of artistic genius. Hermeticists are not guarding the secret of future discoveries in the sciences. They do not know, for example, just as everyone at present is ignorant of it, the effective remedy against cancer.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter I: The Magician

But esotericists and fans of esoterica have often looked for a unification of esoteric theory and mainstream science or academic discourse. Kremmerz writes:

The concept of the universe as a unity leads in magic to the principle of unity of force and unity of matter that some superior intellects have already glimpsed, in their studies, outside of the teaching of magic. In this case, magic, which no progress of vulgar science will ever be able to find fault with, identifies many modes of existence of the one force of the one matter that begins with the metal and, from liquid to gas, passes to infinitesimal attenuations.*

*This is the basis of alchemy, which its few researchers believe to be rudimentary chemistry, whereas it is, in fact, the philosophy of chemistry.

and later

Modern history will begin when a new type of chemistry analyzes the elements of the soul that make up the individual person and causes them to unfold, and this will mark the end of a long period of darkness in which man has not known himself.

Giuliano Kremmerz, The Hermetic Science of Transformation

Clearly today’s sociology is not such a chemistry. Psychoanalysis, being the product of a particular place and time, also lacks the universal scope of a “chemistry”. Deleuze and Guattari, perhaps having lost faith in “science”, say of their schizoanalysis:

Nowhere do we claim for our concepts the title of a science. We are no more familiar with scientificity than we are with ideology; all we know are assemblages. And the only assemblages are machinic assemblages of desire and collective assemblages of enunciation.


Indeed they say later of chemistry and science in general:

Universal attraction became the law of all laws, in that it set the rule for the biunivocal correspondence between two bodies; and each time science discovered a new field, it sought to formalize it in the same mode as the field of gravity. Even chemistry became a royal science only by virtue of a whole theoretical elaboration of the notion of weight. Euclidean space is founded on the famous parallel postulate, but the parallels in question are in the first place gravitational parallels, and correspond to the forces exerted by gravity on all the elements of a body presumed to fill that space. It is the point of application of the resultant of all of these parallel forces that remains invariable when their common direction is changed or the body is rotated (the center of gravity). In short, it seems that the force of gravity lies at the basis of a laminar, striated, homogeneous, and centered space; it forms the foundation for those multiplicities termed metric, or arborescent, whose dimensions are independent of the situation and are expressed with the aid of units and points (movements from one point to another). It was not some metaphysical concern, but an effectively scientific one, that frequently led scientists in the nineteenth century to ask if all forces were not reducible to gravity, or rather to the form of attraction that gives gravity a universal value (a constant relation for all variables) and biunivocal scope (two bodies at a time, and no more). It is the form of interiority of all science.


So what of the project that Kremmerz articulates? It is a homogenizing project, of “one force” and “one matter”. It articulates a homogenizing force that accompanies many realm-establishing technological advances, wherein the realm-establishment inevitably overcodes whatever it captures as if to establish itself as a perpetual monopoly on its plane.

Does crypto provide the basis for a chemistry of the “elements of the soul”? Indeed we may explicitly define agents in a program, and observe their interaction much like we algorithmically analyze the interaction of chemical molecules based on their abstract models. AR also provides a chemical methodology for experimenting with the soul, wherein we are able to attempt to combine an existing soul with something foreign to it, to see what reactions are possible and not, and to determine what elements of the soul are active or inert.

But in such a project are we merely following ancient striations that have captured our modes of thought, and that tyrannically govern the production of legitimacy? I think it still remains to be seen who is stronger and truer between the tree and the rhizome; perhaps it is an eternal and transcendent conflict.

Even by participating in a discourse we are engaging with spirits larger than ourselves, advancing one epistemic project or another, diverting flows of information. Will we speak of things in terms of spirits and bodies, or in Deleuzian words and methods, or in the context of another canon coding the same domain, or something new altogether?

Even without an established canon, by framing the discourse within any context accustomed to superhuman entities, we recognize their presence by whatever names they may be known. Thereby these questions about the interaction and evolution of projects, theories, epistemologies also become subject to analysis.

Applied Sonata

My Spiritual Orientation


I am young, and at a point of indecision perhaps characteristic of young people. I’ve dabbled in several spiritual traditions, most notably Protestantism (Baptism), Western mysticism centered around the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, a la Crowley and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Buddhism, particularly Dzogchen but also some other schools, Taoism and Neidan a la Liu Yiming. By this I mean only that I have some basic degree of familiarity with the idioms of these traditions, because these are the persons I have conversed with and the texts I have read; I have not committed to any path of practice, which brings me to my point of indecision now.

Additionally, I’ve had brief exposure to several other spiritual idioms and traditions, mainly through the perspective of anthropology. I am also continually learning new things and making new connections between various idioms and between my own experience, mainly through reading, conversation, and meditation. My own spiritual experience is scattered, perhaps exactly because I have not been guided by a traditional Path; yet I want to say some things, and here is my attempt to tell an understandable story amid the chaos.


A view on my current thoughts, a dilemma if you will: I’ve been considering committing, actively and completely, to a particular mystical system and attaining a certain level of spiritual maturity within it before spending much time pursuing eclectic methods and teachings. I would at least like to achieve a level of spiritual attainment roughly equivalent to A:.A:.’s 7°=4□ grade, Adeptus Exemptus1See James Eshelman’s The Mystical and Magical System of the A:.A:. for a pretty clear picture of the process of spiritual growth I’m thinking of here.

I like that structured paths of spiritual pursuit, such as those based on the Tree of Life, have a clear progression towards increasing spiritual maturity, with signs and assessments along the way to ensure one’s honesty with oneself. Yet committing to any such pursuit, even including the yogic practices of the East, would be a huge commitment of effort and time, and I would want to be quite confident in my selection, that it fits my personal temperament, and that it be productive and worthwhile.

Particularly, I notice that in Taoism, there is the idea of a distinction between upper de and lower de2see Few persons are able to practice the way of upper de, but these persons need not follow an active, “doing” Path of spiritual practice, rather making the dao itself their Path—a Path of “non-doing”; a teacher is still required, however. I see parallels between this idea and Nyingma’s distinction between the lower eight yanas and Dzogchen or atiyoga3see, where Dzogchen is quite like the Path of upper de.

Personally, I have often gained much from meditating on “primary” materials like the I Ching, the Bible, or even symbols like the Ouroborous or the Cross, without much prior structured study or instruction or exposure to commentary. I often find that I gain understandings quite suddenly, resonating with what are commonly described as “higher” understandings, without passing through common intermediary processes, though I am able to understand the intermediary discourse in conversation or in reading. These experiences, along with certain others, have persuaded me that I am more apt to walk the path of upper de, and indeed I’ve always felt more Drawn to Dzogchen and its analogs than any of the other yanas. Yet a subtle feeling does linger that I may be deceiving myself, and for this reason, I very much seek a teacher.

There is also that question of a teacher. In the yanas according to Nyingma, the fourth through ninth yanas in particular absolutely require a teacher to perform an initiatory empowerment. In all other spiritual traditions I know of as well, Western, Eastern, or eclectic, a reliable teacher or master is at least highly recommended, if not absolutely required.


The one person I’ve ever met who I’m quite sure is a legitimately qualified Taoist teacher told me through his disciple to 立 (establish, erect) de, which comes from a verse “太上有立德,其次有立功,其次有立言” In the highest antiquity, there was establishing de, then was establishing work/action, then was establishing speech. This was in response to his disciple asking him about me pursuing a magical path, because I had told him before that I was considering committing to a Western magical tradition (about the same things of which I’m writing now).

But the Taoist master was very explicit that he was not my teacher, and made no hint that he would accept me as a disciple. His words reinforce to me my conviction that I am to walk the path of upper de—this master was a teacher of lower de. I wonder if the path from 1°=10□ to 7°=4□ is necessarily a path of lower de, and also what happens if someone who naturally, by the cycles of reincarnation or whatever, is able to use the higher vehicle/Path, pursues a lower one. I’m also thinking, therefore, that perhaps the Third Order of A:.A:. is analogous to upper de.

I have been told that Crowley himself establishes, with regards to the Path, certain correspondences between the Kabbalistic idiom of the Golden Dawn and certain Eastern idioms4In particular, I was pointed to Liber 777, but also that these correspondences may be quite dubious. I have also been told that discourse and literature about anything above 8°=3□, above the Abyss, is quite confused and difficult to navigate at best, even pointless.


So here I am now at this point of indecision, and here is my intention in the short term:

I know very little about the Kabbalah, so I shall study that and meditate on it, with particular emphasis (this is more of a mid-term idea) on the portion of BINAH, CHOKMAH, and KETHER. I hope thereby to see clearer connections with what else I associate with the paths of upper de and Dzogchen. I may also try to find commentary on 8°=3□ through 10°=1□, to see if I can intuitively thresh the trash from the golden elixir; I have been told though that this would take a lot of time, for there is a lot of trash, indeed infinite seas thereof.

I will also continue to focus my research on the question of what happens when someone capable of taking the higher vehicle instead pursues a lower one, or whether that is even possible. And if you, reader, have any clues towards this inquiry, please do inform me, for I am quite without even an initial lead.

Finally, I am seeking a teacher. It is often said that when the student is ready, the teacher shall appear. So may my pursuit be test and testament of my readiness, and may I receive the reward appointed to me, and of which I am deserving, whatever it may be.

God’s Will be done, I in it.