Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Reflections On Tour: Magick, Music, Philosophy, and Death

" 'The aesthetic goes beyond every concept because it produces the intuition of another nature than the nature given to us,' Delueze writes. 'Thus invisible beings, the kingdom of the blessed, hell acquire a body; and love, death acquire a dimension to make them adequate to their spiritual sense.' "

 - Gilles Deleuze and the Fabulation of Philosophy, Gregory Flaxman

Why practice magick? Because it works. Speaking now of the thaumaturgic variety, magick intended to change the environment intentionally.  We use it only occasionally after all conventional material means fail to provide working solutions to the problem.  In the case of Alphonse, our recalcitrant Soundcraft digital mixing board, all the stops and tricks had to be pulled out to get him to follow the program.  I'll explain.

I first met Alphonse September 10th in Edmonton, Alberta.  I was in Edmonton to begin rehearsals for the Fall leg of the SIMRIT Songs of Resilience, Global Unity Tour.  The first time I ever spoke to Simrit about touring with her band, she mentioned a problem with the stage sound: whenever the reverb was turned up in the house, it was also boosted in the stage monitors and obscuring the sound. Dynamic reverb rides are a key part of their mix making this a chronic problem.  I thought that the previous sound engineer didn't know what they were doing and wasn't expecting to encounter a malfunctioning mixing board prone to mild acts of chaos.  It was like silicon-based poltergeist phenomena where switches would randomly get turned off, or master faders turned down without the human operator's participation.  That's how it ended up ... in the beginning, it was a real nightmare.

After setting up in the rehearsal space it was discovered that whenever the reverb and delay returns were turned up in the main speakers, they also increased their volume in the stage monitors.  The entire first day and night was spent working on this problem.  The inability to use the FX dynamically would seriously cramp our style.  I found a pdf of the Soundcraft Expression manual online and nearly sprained my brain spending hours trying to decipher and apply the manual's technical language and proprietary nomenclature.  I viewed numerous YouTube tutorials, yet nothing addressed this problem.  A message was left with Tech Support, but it was Sunday and no callback was expected. I delved deeply into the board's programming trying different things all to no avail.  I was told by Tripp that this board had a colorful history of weirdness, unreliability and rogue programming by its first user.  Legends were told of its nonfunctionality.  It could always be made to work, but not without multiple issues.  Russell, a veteran sound reinforcement engineer, had attempted to completely wipe out its programming - a move I was contemplating until hearing this story - to get back to the tabla rasa of the factory settings only to find that it stopped working with the stage box, the digital snake - the microphone inputs plugged into the stage box didn't make it to the board.  In human nervous system terms, this compares with the heart and sense receptors being unable to communicate with the brain. Coincidentally, the heart being unable to communicate with the brain seems a prime feature of the current U.S. government.

Spent that whole first day in the Chinese Hell of Technical Problems exhausting every material resource I could think of with no luck. As a last resort, I appealed to the appropriate Enochian Angel for help.  No space for any kind of ritual, I just invoked using muscle memory and asked for help.

Powered up the system the next day and discovered the FX monitors boost problem had vanished with absolutely no rational explanation.  This particular issue never returned. Only now, the FX wouldn't feed the monitors at all.  From way too much reverb to none at all.  This recalled the old joke about a guy who goes to a psychoanalyst and tells the doctor that he's in love with his umbrella. One day, after 5 years of therapy he suddenly exclaims, "Doctor, doctor I'm cured ... now I HATE my umbrella!."

Reverb in the monitors is a crucial element in SIMRIT's stage sound and affects how they perform.  No reverb on stage was just as much a problem as too much reverb.  I had a back-up plan involving an external foot pedal reverb, but somehow I was able to program one of the FX banks to send to the monitors, it worked just fine for the second rehearsal day.

The reliable, effective functioning of this Soundcraft Expression mixer was crucial to our mission for several reasons, one of the primary ones being that it had a USB output that I could connect to a laptop and make multitrack recordings of the show with Pro Tools software.  Due to the mixer's unpredictable, irrational behavior, I decided to treat it as if possessed by a goetic being, i. e. acknowledge its sentience as a mischievous, disobedient entity.  You will find suggestions in Goetic literature to treat these kinds of entities like you would an erratic junior business partner or a disobedient child who has to be kept in line.  The first order of business was to discover its name.  The ancient Egyptians said that knowing a person's true name can give you power over it, the power of communication.  Immediately upon forming this intention I silently heard the name, "Alphonse" so went with it.  This name had no meaning or significance that I'm aware of.  I liked its quasi-regal sound thinking this might flatter the entity's vanity.  Stroking a daemon's ego seems an old technique for getting it to faithfully do your bidding.

It would take a little time for Alphonse to get with the program.  The first concert in Edmonton revealed more of it's strange behavior.  Connecting a SMART phone for music to check the sound system resulted in it's signal going out multiple outputs along with the designated channels. Muting every channel didn't stop the music from going out the master output.  Still a ghost in the machine.  The problem was solved by using different Line inputs that functioned correctly.

Reprogramming settings differently from how they'd been saved turned out to be one of Alphonse's more irritating quirks.  Nothing too obvious or drastic - small things such as muting the master fader of a monitor mix or attenuating a mic pre a few dB from its last setting.  The rehabilitation of Alphonse into a reliably consistent sound machine was gradual over the next four or five concerts though some features never returned.

At no time did Alphonse's machinic independence compromise the performance.  Except for the concert in San Francisco's massive Grace Cathedral where our PA was lost in the immensity of the space ... One could hear God laughing ...I was always happy with the Front of House sound and always got high on the music's invocation.  Even in Grace Cathedral, a report came back from a music promoter sitting near front claiming it as the best sound he had ever heard there.

Being as the tour began in Edmonton then went south to Calgary before turning west through British Columbia, my former stomping grounds for four years as a live touring soundman in the early 80's, I anticipated some kind of trip down memory lane.  But it turns out that nostalgia ain't what it used to be.  I love Canada and Canadians yet experienced no real connection to my former homeland.  Except when traveling, my former human manifestation, my past life as it were, lived in Calgary from 1969 - 1983 and again from '85 - '87.

Carlos Castenada talks about the spiritual warrior having no personal history.  I felt so disconnected from my history in Calgary that the memories I do have of living there seem foreign, like they belong to someone else.  The city hadn't changed as much as I had.  More and more, personal identity seems like a con game blocking us from reaching our fullest potential.  I'd been reflecting on the theme of "home" - see my last blog - so was expecting reminiscences of that type that never materialized.

The second show in Calgary made me realize how important the performance space was to the event.  It took place in a professional, technically tricked out theater in the heart of the city.  Theater technicians helped us set-up and we even had union stage-hands helping to move equipment.  Alphonse was plugged into a powerful sound system replete with righteous subwoofers. The lighting system was state-of-the-art..  This proved a sharp contrast from the new age community center in Edmonton though that venue was perfect for the opening performance - like starting a Broadway play at a smaller community theater to work out all the bugs in the performance before debuting on the Great White Way.  SIMRIT shapeshifts with each different venue.  The expression of their music is not completely determined by the musicians, but rather the assemblage of the band and the concert hall or theater.  In Calgary, SIMRIT took full possession and owned that theater space.  Beginning with an amazing opening set by cellist Shannon Hayden I experienced the presence of an high aesthetic, world class act taking all us listeners on an incredible musical voyage through a variety of moods and empirically transcendental spaces.

Someone recently asked how I like touring and I replied that it becomes a combination of heaven and hell.  During the concerts most semblance of personal identity dissolves  with the remaining presence becoming intimately connected and linked to a dynamic musical process; part of the attention aware of the invocation with the rest of it placed upon the technical exigencies of mixing sound while staying alert to any signals from the stage.  I attempt to remain faithful to the advice a friend once gave about paying attention to the invocation.  Just because a high aesthetic force gets drawn down through you, it doesn't guarantee you'll be present to reap the benefit.

The hell of touring comes from the constant traveling and the time demands of setting up and tearing down the production for every show. The best way to travel through hell, in this reporter's opinion, is with friends.  Fortunately, everyone in SIMRIT's touring assemblage counts as a close friend; not in a superficial or sentimental sense, but in a philosophical and practical sense.

Philosophy = philia + sophia -  the love of wisdom.  Philia is an ancient Greek word for a particular type of love commonly known as "brotherly love" (Philadelphia as the city of brotherly love, for example).  In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle fleshes out the concept of philia as a dispassionate, virtuous love expressed as loyalty to friends, family, and community.  Sophia means wisdom. In What Is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari emphasize the importance of friends and their common love for wisdom in the creation and initial development of philosophy.

In, Gilles Deleuze, a biography by Frida Beckman she compiles a selection of the philosopher's thoughts on friendship:

"Deleuze's understanding of friendship is not 'that of a common and ideal bond and can hardly be encapsulated in a neat definition.' ...  - friendship is about pedagogy, it is about thought, it is about the encounter, it is about the comical, the impersonal, the dialogic, about love and distance, about joy and about experimentation.  Friendship, Deleuze says in L'Abécédaire is about perception.  He also uses the notion of charm to describe the basic attraction of friendship - a charm that is impersonal, a charm that is the hum of intensities affects, moods and sensations.  Before we even have time to formulate specific thoughts or opinions about a person, we may perceive a gesture, an opening, an awakening that goes to the very root of perception and this constitutes a friendship.  The charm of a friend is also associated with some degree of madness: 'If you can't grasp the small trace of madness in someone, you can't be their friend.'

But for Deleuze, friendship is also necessarily about friction, about being out of sync. ... The friction of uneven surfaces and the ensuing sparks are what cause the creative hum.  There needs to be joy but also a kind of productive distrust. ... Stival notes how a Deleuze who has worked with Guattari seems to have discovered the necessity of the friend for thinking.  Distress becomes important because it resists the sedimentation of thinking and being.  True friendship is not about two individuals in an established relationship with each other but about pulling each other out of the self."

I am fortunate and blessed to have many such friends to explore music with.

Other tour highlights: driving through the awesome majesty of the Canadian Rockies, a morning drive and hike to an old ski jump site outside Revelstoke - daredevils, in days of yore, seeing how long they could fly without getting hurt.  My mother's attendance at the Vancouver concert.  She arrived at the load-in and stayed until load-out volunteering to pick up the pre-show meal.  She was very animated after the show, blown away by the music, giving me an enthusiastic rundown of what she enjoyed about each musician and the group as a whole and saying  that she didn't expect it to be as incredibly good as she experienced it.


 SIMRIT in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.  photo by Stefan Gosiewski

* * * * * * 

In this nihilist  fin de siècle, he was affirmation. Right through to illness and death.  Why did I speak of him in the past?  He laughed, he is laughing, he is here.  It's your sadness, idiot, he'd say. 

 - Jean-Francois Lyotard on the death of Deleuze.

Affirming death.  Deleuze used to say that affirmation is not acceptance, but rather creation.  If we create our reality in life, why not in death?

You  get immediate feedback from the audience as to whether the invocation succeeded, whether the force produced by the music in concert had strong affects to emotionally move everyone into some form of transcendental empiricism.  Did they get high?  After exiting the stage Simrit and Shannon would go out front to greet people as they were leaving and in the process get direct feedback on the evening's work, often extremely positive.  People got "turned on" by the concert to use the 60's vernacular for an awakened state.

Attempting to expand the forces and healing energy of the event outside of the local domain becomes the work of the theurgic practitioner.  An effort is made to unite the microcosm of the concert space with the macrocosm of everything through a particular application of bhakti yoga.  It's a chance operation, always an experiment, and you rarely get feedback of any effect that may or may not be occurring.  Rarely, but not never.  An unusual constellation of coincidences can suggest either results or the need for theurgic efforts.  In other words, every once in awhile something lets you know you're on track, the resonance from the concert space is getting through.  

On Sept. 29th as the SIMRIT van was pulling up to an L.A. Whole Foods,  a conversation spontaneously erupted about what a horrible place Las Vegas was with a few confirmed stories to that effect.  I didn't join in because the only time I'd  been there was amazing,  a fond memory.  I was mixing sound for Praxis.  We were the first act on a bill that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers headlined.  Two of Petty's sound techs tuned the system before our soundcheck.  That P.A. is one of the best I've ever mixed on; powerful, clean and clear.  Another strong memory from Vegas was being at a stoplight on the strip and saying out loud a sudden realization that Tupac must have been shot near here.  The driver informed us that we were at the exact spot where he died.

Coincidences from a book I was reading started turning up.  The setting for the book was Bob Dylan's tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  It mentioned him doing an annual benefit for a particular Jewish charity organization that an old friend of his was involved with. That charity turned up to be across the street from the Yoga West studio SIMRIT played on September 29th.  I posted a blog on "home" then had the word home in the very next paragraph when I picked up that book.

The Yoga West date wasn't a formal concert.  It was an improvised performance supporting and underscoring a Kundalini workshop given by Jai Dev Singh Khalsa, Simrit's husband.  Quite a special workshop to have a soundtrack like this.  Shannon Hayden alternated between participating in the exercises and playing music.  One fifteen minute passage of cello improv sounded both classical and of the future tapping into something otherworldly in mood.  At one point, Jai Dev spoke of life and death in an unusual way: "when a child is born it exits through a door into this life and when they die they go through a door to the life beyond."  It reminded me of an unusual comment E.J. Gold made years ago that what we call life, what we consider life to be, will seem like death when compared to the life the voyager has after leaving the body at the moment of death.  He has repeated many times what he says is the common expression of the voyager right after leaving the body - "what was I doing in that thing?"

October 1: In the Green Room at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido about 40 minutes before show time Simrit is given a lengthy hand-written note requesting a special chant for someone who has recently died.  She agrees to do it despite it being a departure from the set list.  I believe that it was after the third song that Simrit explained the request to the audience and told them she was going to chant Akal for this person's soul and explained what the chant meant. I don't recall her words verbatim but it was essentially what this review (writer unknown to me) from her website says:

 “Akal…Deathless” introduces a very profound tradition in Kundalini Yoga.  When a person has died, you chant “Akal” a minimum of three times.  Akal means deathless and it helps to release the soul from attachment to the body, the earth and those it left behind.  Simrit’s voice holds a world of power within it; she is an alchemist whose throat, with a simple akal, can take your spirit from grief to love.

I often turn up Simrit's mic a fair amount when she's talking between songs because it's softer than when she sings.  I had the mic gain at a healthy level when she leaned in and intoned "Akal" in a slow, powerful, tenor voice.  In Golden Dawn magic they teach how to vibrate "God names" so that it's not only your voice but rather your whole body that vibrates with the name.  This felt like that, to me.  The whole theater was vibrating "Akal."  Jared and Shannon started droning on their respective instruments underneath Simrit's intonation.  Needless to say, it was an extremely intense space, one of the musicians later reporting that they were on the verge of tears.  I've witnessed and participated in many forms of what you could call "prayers for the dead." This one stands out as one of the strongest and most moving - there was something very real there.

Checked into the hotel late that night, this leg of the tour all said and done with the final show in Escondido.  Turned on CNN - I monitor world events.  It appeared very surrealistic.  I didn't recognize the anchors who seemed a little stunned and confused and spoke with European accents.  It didn't even seem like CNN, my conspiracy brain suggesting that the content was hacked and were just using the CNN logo.  They were talking about a shooter in Las Vegas.  They had very little information at that point airing lots of erratic cellphone footage.  The fear and confusion of an unknown tragedy poured out of the television.  I called my friend Rosa and told her what was happening.  I stayed up as late as I could monitoring the situation.

The full extent of the tragedy was discovered in the morning.  I compared the timeline of events to find that Simrit gave the "Akal" death prayer chant about an hour before the tragedy in Las Vegas began.  I find that synchronicity very interesting. 

Tom Petty had a full cardiac arrest that same morning, October 2, and left his body later that day.  The only professional contact I had with him, albeit very tangential, was when Praxis shared a bill with him in Las Vegas.  No idea what this means, if anything, maybe just freaky coincidences.  

"Akal."  Affirming death.  Going through the door.  Countering tragic events - at least making the attempt.  I am grateful for all the on-the-job training I've had for responding to death.  It inevitably results in a greater appreciation and awareness for the preciousness of this life. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Home

My friend Phoebe asked me to write on this topic for research into her next album project.

The subject of "home" has always been one close to my heart, there are multiple ways to see it.  The old saying, "home is where the heart is," rings true for me.  I have a nomadic nature - wherever I go, there I am, so home for me is wherever I'm currently residing; in bardo terms, whatever Chamber currently being passed through.  At the moment, I'm on tour - home for me, as I wrote this, is room 47 in the Banfield Motel in Portland, Oregon, but only for another hour.  I'm about to upscale to a better hotel downtown, my home is packed and ready to move.

At the same time, I see home as a permanent sanctuary space that I have a vague cellular or memetic memory of having once known but can't consciously recall ever having been there.  Perhaps this partially explains the nomadic tendencies, a journey through a lifetime to return home, wherever that is.  This image evokes the archetypal journey of the Odyssey in Greek mythology, Odysseus's long, perilous journey home after the Trojan war; also the protracted wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land.  Dylan's paradoxical koan-like lyrics: "... no direction home, a complete unknown, like a rolling stone," speak to this feeling as do the lyrics to the Crowley-inspired Led Zeppelin song, Rock-n-Roll.

Like many adolescents, I felt alienated and disconnected from current social expectations and the conventional cultural milieu; any sense of a real kind of home becoming distant, especially after moving out of the parental pod immediately upon turning 16.  Whenever I listened to Led Zeppelin back then, and still to this day, I felt closer to being at home.  A lot of good music in general invokes the home space, the place of sanctuary.

The passage that first turned me on to Deleuze and Guattari nicely articulates the relationship between music and home.  It's the beginning of the 11th chapter in A Thousand Plateaus:

"I. A child in the dark, gripped with fear, comforts himself by singing under his breath. He walks and halts to his song. Lost, he takes shelter, or orients himself with his little song as best he can. The song is like a rough sketch of a calming and stabilizing, calm and stable, center in the heart of chaos. Perhaps the child skips as he sings, hastens or slows his pace. But the song itself is already a skip: it jumps from chaos to the beginnings of order in chaos and is in danger of breaking apart at any moment. There is always sonority in Ariadne's thread. Or the song of Orpheus.

II. Now we are at home.But home does not preexist:it was necessary to draw a circle around that uncertain and fragile center, to organize a limited space...."

It seems an interesting paradox that home doesn't pre-exist, but the sense of it does. Most of us have an idea of how to create a home for ourselves; there usually seems an instinctive direction for going home.

Drawing a circle around an uncertain and fragile center is also a prime instruction in ritual magick.  In ritual magick you learn to create an inner space, a particular mood, of your choosing.  This space can be the home space.  With ritual magick you learn how to go home by creating a home. It is where? "Ritual is to the inner sciences what experiment is to the outer sciences." ( Robert Anton Wilson from 1986 internet chat recently posted by Rawilluination.net).  Building a home, going home appears an endeavor of multiple and prolonged experimentation with perhaps many restarts. The fragile and uncertain center can get wiped out like a sand castle on the beach when the tide rolls in, but there's always lots of sand to construct another;  memory, the collection of data through personal experimentation, makes it easier and stronger next time around.

Hospitality, so important to Sufis, is the art of making the guest feel at home.

I hear the communication in the video below coming more from the guitar playing than the lyrics.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Jason Corsaro - High Fidelity Sound Engineer

A Poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons and preserves their quintessence's. Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes among all men the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed--and the Supreme Scientist!
-  Arthur Rimbaud

The Starlight Lounge, that plane of existence where the best musicians and comedians hang out après-vie, finally got their recording and mix engineer of equal calibre.  Jason Corsaro left his planetary body two weeks ago at the criminally young age of 58, and he is sorely missed.  Jason was to the recording studio what Hendrix was to the guitar, or what Coltrane, Coleman and Davis were to the horn, an innovator of the instrument.  In Jason's case, he used the recording studio to produce and invent new means of musical expression.  This may sound like hyperbole, but it's not, you can check other testimonials around the web where he's getting similar acclaim (" best engineer ever," says one).  The honorific, High Fidelity, doesn't refer to its conventional sense.  Jason created his own fidelity, that of an extremely original, high musical aesthetic that evolved and sometimes devolved, but was always different.  He had a unique sound that always changed.



Jason was larger than life.  Whenever he entered a room, life expanded to accommodate his presence.  That was the first thing I learned from him when we met.  Jason had the natural, unassuming aura of a star. I didn't spend all that much time with him during a short apprenticeship, but I came away from it loving him like a brother.  The longer projects we worked together on, each about a week to ten days, included: The Swans, The Ramones, Ginger Baker, Ronald Shannon Jackson and Stevie Salas.  There were some one-offs: a song by L.A. Guns that never saw the light of day, and a few songs by the French group FFF.  For FFF, he mixed the most important tracks and I took over the rest.  The torch was finally passed on that project and it did very well for the band in France. I also had the great fortune to assist him recording Tony Williams and a group of jazz luminaries.that included Elvin Jones, Sonny Sharrock, Pharoah Saunders and Charnette Moffat.  Each and every of these brief tenures is at the top of my list of most intense life experiences.

In a beautiful tribute to his friend and former collaborator, Nile Rodgers writes to Jason: "In some way you changed the world."  Yes he did.  For instance, it was Jason's mixing skills that temporarily promoted drummer Tony Thompson to a job with Led Zeppelin.

Mixing live sound for bar bands in the early and mid 1980s, every drummer, without exception, would ask me to make the drums sound like Led Zeppelin's John Bonham's kit.  Until, one day in late 1985, the drummer for the bar band Blade Runner requested that his drums sound like the Corsaro engineered Power Station record.  This became my first encounter with Jason's influence and ability to change the music industry.  With Bonham, you could hang one mic in a stairwell (When the Levee Breaks) and get a huge, powerful, drum sound.  The drum sound on the Power Station album started with a powerful hitting drummer but was reached through studio manipulation with Corsaro reportedly punching in and out every reverb move on the drums.  After Bonham died, Zeppelin hired Tony Thompson for their Live Aid reunion.  You can get a good idea of Jason's drum sound on Robert Palmer's hit Addicted to Love, another Thompson/Corsaro sonic collaboration:


 Thompson on that recording experience:

The engineer, Jason Corsaro, took a tube the size of my bass drum and built this tunnel from my bass drum all the way out into the hall and up the stairs. It was this weird thing he hooked up. And it worked.

Another major contribution Jason made towards changing the world, for better or for worse depending upon your perspective, was recording and mixing Madonna's Like A Virgin album, the record that made her a star.  He never once mentioned that to me. 

My second encounter with Jason was also virtual occurring when Bill Laswell played Cold Metal, the first track off of Iggy Pop's Instinct album, in Platinum Island's Studio East control room.  Half of this Laswell produced record was mixed by Corsaro at the Power Station while the other half was mixed by Robert Musso at Platinum Island with yours truly assisting.  From the opening chord the mix of Cold Metal jumped out of the speakers with its energy, intensity, and excitement and made Musso visibly nervous about reaching that standard.  After Bill and company left, as Bob and I began working on the song Easy Rider, Musso lamented that the Power Station studio had beautiful sounding live chambers, how could he match that?  I pointed out that we could set up the recording room in our studio as a live chamber and proceeded to do so.  A live chamber is any acoustic space configured with amplified speakers fed by an auxiliary send from the mixing desk.  This space is miced, often with the mics in a cardiod pattern aimed away from the speakers.  These microphones are routed to return channels on the board to make for a natural reverberation chamber that sounds significantly better than even the most expensive digital reverb devices.

This was the first time Platinum Island's studio was utilized in this way and the room sounded great as a live chamber. I continue to use this mixing technique to this day.  In fact, first on the agenda today when I start mixing the MaMuse record in a couple of hours, is to set up and process tracks through the live chamber at Prairie Sun known as the Waits Room, named for its discoverer as a recording space.  It makes for one of the best small live chambers in the world. This room is another studio on the property that's booked up beginning tomorrow so I'll go through all the songs to send the tracks I want processed through the chamber and record them back into the Pro Tools session.  I inadvertently rediscovered this "old school" method in response to Musso's concern over matching the intensity of Jason's Iggy Pop's mixes.  When Jason started mixing at Platinum Island he used that live chamber all the time.

Bob Musso rose to the occasion and produced comparably powerful mixes on his half of Instinct.  Corsaro's work motivated Musso to reach a higher level in a similar way that Hendrix's guitar virtuosity spurred Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell to play beyond their capacity in the early Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Jason didn't seem particularly keen about sharing his engineering techniques with anyone outside of the sessions yet, as others have also observed, he was very generous about passing on his knowledge and taking proteges under his wing.  The last day of the first project we worked together, The Swans -  The Burning World,  Jason turned me loose to mix the two alternate acoustic tracks giving a short mixing lesson in the process.  I feel it's historically important to the recording community to share some of his techniques and approaches to sound engineering in the same way as it is examining the methodology of any great musician.  No one can take his place and achieve the same results, you would have to be Jason to do that, however, his mixing style can inspire creative, outside-the-box sonic artistry.

Here's a few things I learned from him.  In retrospect, some of these appear quite obvious, but they were revelations to me at the time, and in this day and age where a high percentage of musicians are also amateur engineers, I expect these tips will be useful.

1.  Remember who you are and what you can do.  Bring your full presence of attention and confidence in your ability into the space.  Radiate this confidence like a star.  If you don't feel confident, fake it.

2. Process effects.  Most, nearly all, engineers I assisted prior to Jason would return their reverbs, delays etc. straight back into the board.  On a regular basis, Corsaro would  EQ, compress, gate and route effects into other effects sometimes daisy chaining four or five different processors together to come up with something previously unheard of in this space/time continuum; detune the live drum chamber, add a dash of chorus, flange or phase shifting to a reverb, etc.  Something as simple as low passing a reverb return (i.e. rolling off the high frequencies) can make a big difference.  Darker reverbs sound more natural.  I wish I had saved all the recall notes for Jason's sessions to give specific examples.

3.  Be fully present in the moment.  The moment that the mix is being printed is when the invocation is landing into a corporeal form; when it assumes a morphology taking a material shape.  As much as possible, Jason would make the creation of the mix a live event.  After getting all the sounds and setting up a balance of the tracks, he would assign all the major food groups (drums, bass, keys guitars, vocals etc.) to the eight subgroup faders in the middle of the SSL console.  Then he'd mix the song in one pass as a live performance.  He might do a few or several passes, like a guitar player trying to nail the perfect solo, but, in my experience with him, it was always the whole song in one go.  He wasn't the type of mixer to work on tweaking a section one fader at a time before moving to the next section. Not to say that he wouldn't embellish and tweak this first basic pass, but the idea was to do the whole thing at once, to create a live mix performance in the studio.

A great example to hear that is the aforementioned Iggy Pop song, Cold Metal.  Jason told me that just when that track was going to print, the SSL computer automation broke down and wouldn't work.  All the sounds were set, everything was routed to the central subgroup faders so Jason mixed it live to the two track mixdown recorder.  When working in this fashion, you are mixing from the heart and soul - intuitively and on  the fly.  There isn't time to mentally think about getting everything in its "proper" place.  Any great artistic creation bypasses the rational mind and its worries, concerns and editorial censorship.  The guitar solo in Cold Metal is slightly inside the track, a little lower in volume level than where you'd commonly place a solo, but the energy and excitement of the track is undeniable.  It's the only song from Instinct that made it onto an Iggy Pop Greatest Hits compilation.  Contrast that with the guitar solo level in another Corsaro mixed song from Instinct, Strong Girl which sounds a little louder than your average solo.  There's a couple of syncrhonicities going on here.  First of all, the album is called Instinct; Jason mixed from instinct and intuition - heart and soul, not from his rational mind.  The first line in Cold Metal is: "I play tag in the auto graveyard..." - the SSL computer automation was in the graveyard when Jason materialized that mix into the world.

4. Mix as if it's life or death. This seems the difference between an artist attempting to create something that's never been seen or heard before and a craftsperson producing a socially and culturally accepted artifact according to a standard formula.  Quoting from a much earlier post: "One thing I really picked up from Jason was his intensity, focus and commitment to the work. He aimed for mixes that broke barriers and reached for new levels of sonic expression. It's hard to get across just how intense the space was when he was working. You had to be at your highest degree of presence and attention, more so than you ever thought possible because that's where he was at. He was going for sounds, especially in the low end, that would present ground-breaking music, such as the Ginger Baker album, Middle Passage, more powerfully than ever before; to strike a Universal Chord, create a vibrational pattern that could and would, perhaps, resonate throughout the planet. At times it would seem that Jason would mix as if the fate of the World hung in the balance. He intensely loved what he was doing which probably contributed significantly to the success his work enjoyed."

Suggested listening:  I haven't had the chance to listen Jason's to entire oeuvre, but I do intend to catch up with some of his classic mixes as points of study.  Here is a selection of tracks that I know about with a few comments:

1. Public Image Limited, the entire generic Album.  Jason once relayed a story of recording Ginger Baker's drums for this album.  One Sunday at the Power Station recording studio, when most of the staff wasn't around, he somehow managed to stop the elevator, place a sheet of thick plywood for a platform on top of the elevator and set up the drums in the elevator shaft.  Later on he got in a lot of trouble from the Power Station management.  If anyone got hurt, insurance wouldn't have covered it and they would have been liable for any potential lawsuits.

2.  Swans - The Burning World.  In particular, the tracks The River That Runs with Love Won't Run Dry, Let It Come Down, Can't Find My Way Home,(She's A) Universal Emptiness, and Saved. From the earlier post:

"For the first two sessions (of this project) I did the standard assistant's job of patching, keeping notes, etc while also hanging back, staying out of Jason's way and not saying much, which was the politically correct way of working as an assistant - not offering any input or opinion unless asked or if something drastically wrong was occurring.

At the end of the second night, Corsaro had, a 'let's get real' talk with me that was kind of a kick in the ass. I don't remember exactly what he said, but something to the effect that I could either continue working as any other stay-in-the-lines assistant engineer jerk or I could seriously help him mix the record as a co-pilot. From then on I was right beside him at the board watching his every move like a hawk, making suggestions when appropriate, even helping with automation moves when his hands were full."

From another post about this recording:

"One example of how strong the mood became for me was during the mix of the Swans cover of Can't Find My Way Home written by Steve Winwood and originally performed by Blind Faith, the 'super-group' with Winwood, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech.

Come down off your throne and leave your body alone
Somebody must change

You are the reason I've been waiting so long

Somebody holds the key

Well I'm near the end and I just ain't got the time

And I'm wasted and I can't find my way home...


Somehow, the combination of the way Jarboe sang it, the music, and the fact of living the song from the inside out by helping Jason set-up the mix and hearing it over and over again, put me in a mood where, within the confines of the control room, it really felt like a life or death situation. I was mindful of the song's context and history, and the self-destructive excesses it was obviously addressing. I really felt it could go either way, toward life or to death. Trilok's pitch bending, slower tabla rhythm helped produce this effect. Karl Berger, founder of the influential Woodstock based Creative Music Studio, had added a nice bell like counter line on a xylophone that seemed to draw in an angelic presence to guard the vulnerability of balancing on the edge that came through Jarboe's vocal delivery. Even as the lyrics look hopeless, the music, the performance, and the haunting dreamy nature of the audio space Jason created, gave the effect of seeing a distant light at the end of a long dark tunnel suggesting the possibility of transformation, redemption and change."

3.  Ginger Baker - Middle Passage.  This remains one of the most sonically powerful  recording expressions I've ever been a part of.  Quoting about the drum solo:

"The peak of watching Jason work occurred during the mix of the 5th track, Basil, a 4:21 drum solo by Baker. Through extreme, but parallel processing, he created radically different textures in the drum sound which he then, using the SSL automation, brought in and out to create different dynamic sections. I'm hesitant to be more specific about the effects used but I can say that when Jason worked the automation to create or emphasize the different sections, it was like watching a virtuoso musical performance. Both Bill Laswell and I were sitting with Jason at the SSL while he made multiple passes to get the automation just right. I had the feeling that Bill was equally aware that we were watching a master at the top of his game. It's a memory that I'll never forget. I highly recommend checking out Basil, it's some of the most powerful drumming you'll ever hear. It's about the only drum recording I know of that musically and sonically compares with John Bonham's Moby Dick for a powerfully melodic drum composition, brought to the forefront through Jason's mix."

I do remember one of the effects he used for it - a triggered flanged autopan program from the Eventide H3000 SE which he ran the tom toms through.

Bill Laswell and Yoko Yamabe put this together to honor his memory:






To the being of Jason Corsaro: bon voyage, mon ami, you changed my life. Your work and legacy live on.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Butterfly Language, Sumer, and the Plane of Immanence, (Slight Return)

Butterfly Language is an excellent blog that readers of the Oz Mix will likely want to check out on a regular basis.  It's written, constructed and published by Valerie D’Orazio frequently.  It came across my radar when RawIllumination.net posted a link to the first installment in a series about Jack Parsons, one of Aleister Crowley's magical sons and the inventor of solid rocket fuel, titled: An Alternate History of Jack Parsons, Part I: Warrior Lord of the Forties.  Ms. D'Orazio uses a technique called Imaginative Cognition (IC), she learned writer Walter Stein, to intuitively embellish the narrative and offer insights.  The writing is entertaining, engaging, and thought provoking.  I'm reminded of one the more enjoyable Crowley biographies: Magician of the Golden Dawn: the story of Aleister Crowley, by Susan Roberts which took great liberties imagining the Magus' interior states, thoughts and emotions.  D'Orazio is more transparent about her process and that honesty makes for a stronger invocation.  Another interesting and novel feature are the links to popular culture images and tropes to illustrate this alternate history.  I would like to see more writing like this in Thelemic literature because it seems a creative and valid way to effectively explore, expand and communicate the 93 current.  After all, I suspect much of Crowley's artistic output could accurately be described as Imaginative Cognition.


* * * * * *
Well, I stand up next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand.

 - Jimmi Hendrix, Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Earlier we spoke of the plane of immanence as an open-ended environment, a framework where concepts arise, live and proliferate; meet up, connect, and give birth to experimental offspring; mutatis mutandis  Every major thinker posits their own plane of immanence for ideas and thought experiments to flourish and find means of expression. The introductory linguistics of Crowley's and Gurdjieff's systems were presented as examples.  Deleuze conceives of a plane of immanence of the age.  We will observe what that looks like from here: the plane of immanence as it encompasses systems of Initiation; the transformation into the all-worlds sympathetic, post-human condition.

Some Deleuzian commentators make note that the French word plan means both plane - as in a geometrical plane, and plan - forming a strategy, and suggest that Deleuze intends the pun.  We see Deleuze's pun and raise him a gravity defying vehicle, to wit: the plane of immanence = an airplane for traveling through the macrodimensions of the labyrinth, the hidden recesses of the soul, the parts of the brain we don't use because they are mostly dormant, however, they appear immanent, always there, if unseen and unnoticed.  This reads like what they say about bardo spaces - we are always there, always in the bardo, in a between-lives state moving from one relative point of stability to another; like being on a subway train or an airplane flying over the ocean.  We acknowledge at least 3 meanings of the phrase "plane of immanence:" 1) the abstract geometrical plane where concepts are born, grow up and procreate, 2) a plan, a strategy for evoking and invoking the limitless possibilities of our future becomings, 3) an airplane of immanence, a vehicle for traveling anywhere and everywhere the mind can conceive and beyond. " A vehicle for Deleuze's " lines of flight."  I had a dream, crazy dream ... anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go." (Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains the Same, a musical expression of the plane of immanence)  We note the magical pun with the element Air = intellect; the airplane of immanence = a linguistic plane- we get there with language.

What follows is a quick sketch, albeit a very incomplete fragment, of the plane of immanence as it regards Initiation, from this biased reporter.  In modern times, this plane begins to assume its current reach with the emergence of works by Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Rimbaud in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century.

As I attempt to thumbnail on paper this plane of initiatory immanence, a young women walks into the coffee shop sporting a large hawk with outspread wings tattooed across her upper back and shoulders.  The hawk being a foremost iconic symbol of Thelema: "I am the Hawk-Headed Lord of Silence & of Strength; my nemyss shrouds the night-blue sky." Liber Al 3:70.



Synchronicity as affirmation.

Nietzsche conceived a new form of humanity, perhaps a life beyond the human.  He suggested that a vast gulf, or abyss exists between what we are now and what we can become.  He also suggested a revaluation of all values.  Contemporaneously, Arthur Rimbaud, steeped with knowledge of the Hermetic Arts, poetically fleshes out and describes this abyss in A Season in Hell with glimpses and snapshots of the life beyond in Illuminations. Rimbaud recognized the power of linguistics: "Rimbaud had outlined his fantastic self-ordained mission to 'change life itself' by means of a totally new kind of language, by means of magic." (Bertrand Mathieu).  Bob Dylan and Patti Smith are two contemporary artists profoundly influenced by Rimbaud and his mission.

Crowley made "Crossing the Abyss" the second and final attainment in his magical system of making the immanent actual. This follows upon the "Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel", magickspeak for learning how to communicate with a highly intelligent, non-human guide.  Scientific materialists might call it learning to active different parts of the brain or unlocking hidden strands in the DNA code, and they could be right.

Apart from Crowley, this abyss has been explored in literature by Robert Anton Wilson, Thomas Pynchon, Phillip K. Dick, Kenneth Patchen, James Joyce, Kenneth Grant, Flann O'Brien and probably others that I'm leaving out.

Nietzsche also referred to the revaluation of values as transvaluation because they are values that go far beyond the current ones.  Crowley made the transvaluation of values a primary theme in his Book of Lies.  Looking for that quote, I became startled with another hawk synch:

Zoroaster describes God as having the head of the Hawk, and a spiral force. It will be difficult to understand this chapter without some experience in the transvaluation of values, which occur throughout the whole of this book, in nearly every other sentence. Transvaluation of values is only the moral aspect of the method

- Book of Lies, commentary on chapter 42

Slight return to the plane of immanence timeline: Madame Blavatsky formed the Theosophical Society in 1875, the same year Aleister Crowley was born. This began the process of making the spiritual path more democratic and self-reliant; advocating an eclectic approach to esoteric practices and strategies for the genesis of the post human animal condition.  Crowley first published his system in the Equinox beginning in in 1909.  In it, right near the beginning in Postcards To Probationers, he claimed to be able to produce "Christs" (Leary's C6) with his methods.  If you entertain the notion that this is possible, then you're open to the plane of immanence.

Right around the same time, or shortly after, G.I. Gurdjieff emerged upon the scene in St. Petersburg and Moscow, introduced to the intelligentsia by P.D. Ouspensky.  Both men absorbed Nietzsche. Using and expanding upon many of the philosopher's ideas, Gurdjieff takes up the production and development of a new kind of human in a completely different, but complementary fashion than Crowley.  Cross-referencing the two radically different systems can prove very useful to understanding both of them.  Once, in a monastery, I saw a drawing of the Enneagram superimposed upon the Tree of Life.


Lady of Largest Heart

The slight return of the plane of immanence refers to the fact that both Crowley and Gurdjieff said that they were presenting a revival of an ancient tradition.  Both these teachers crossed paths with the Yezidi, an extremely ancient culture that archeologists have dated back to at least 12,000 B.C.  Crowley was very specific about the ancient influence: "Aiwaz is not (as I had supposed) a mere formula like many angelic names, but it is the true most ancient name of the God of the Yezidis, and thus returns to the highest Antiquity. Our work is therefore historically authentic, the rediscovery of the Sumerian Tradition."  Aiwaz or Aiwass was the name of the non-human entity that dictated the Book of the Law to Crowley.  He referred to this entity as his Holy Guardian Angel.

Lady of Largest Heart is the name of second oldest known poem in the world.  It was composed by Enheduanna, a High Priestess of Sumer and daughter of the first ruler in that land, Sargon, in homage to the Goddess, Inanna.  I recently discovered this in a wonderful book called: Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna by Betty De Shong Meador.  Enheduanna was passionately devoted to Inanna her whole life and was responsible for elevating her  to the position of supreme deity.  The first poem ever recorded, also by Enheduanna, Inanna and Ebih, tells how Inanna put down an uppity male god challenging her domain who manifested as a mountain. The Hendrix quote above encapsulates what Inanna does in the poem.  I am fascinated by the coincidence that the first verse of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) channels the world's oldest poem.  The poem was translated well after his death so he couldn't possibly have been consciously influenced by it.

The first lines that Meador quotes from Enheduanna greatly resembles Crowley's image of Babalon as she appears in the Thoth Tarot XI called Lust or Strength:

Inanna
child of the Moon God
a soft bud swelling
her queen's robe cloaks the slender stem

             * * *

 steps, yes she steps her narrow foot
on the furred back 
of a wild lapis lazuli bull

and she goes out
white-sparked, radiant
in the dark vault of evening's sky
star-steps in the street
through the Gate of Wonder



In her poems and hymns, Enheduanna reveals Inanna as a complex goddess with multiple natures. Describing how Inanna was understood by the Sumerians, Meador writes:

"In these poems we see that the very being of this goddess infuses and vivifies all nature and natural processes.  She is the divine in matter,  As such, she sustains the ebb and flow, the relentless paradoxical reality of the natural world.  She exists between blessing and curse, light and dark, plenty and want, goodness and malevolence, life and death.  Harsh is her reality may seem, it is the Real every living being must encounter."

Cosmic Trigger, the book where I first encountered the dynamic duo, Crowley and Gurdjieff, begins with parables from traditions that strongly influenced author Robert Anton Wilson. The first anecdote comes from the Sufis.  The second story tells of the goddess Ishtar's descent into the Underworld.  Ishtar is the Babylonian version of Inanna.

On page 156 of Betty Meador's book, she traces the Tree of Life to the second poem, Lady of Largest Heart:

Inanna in this poem 'spans the tree of heaven / trunk to crown.' Likewise the central symbol of the Assyrian Ishtar is the tree that Parpola says 'contained the secret key to the psychic structure of the perfect man and thus to eternal life.'  The tree appears in medieval Judaism as the Tree of Life of Kabbalah, a primary symbol of Jewish mysticism.

Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart is a must read for anyone interested in studying the roots of Thelema or for anyone interested in seeing how the power of the active feminine can change the world.  "Well I stand up next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand.  Pick up all the pieces and make an island, might even raise a little sand."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Deleuze Qabalah Proof

We must learn anew in order that at last, perhaps very late in the day,
 we may be able to do something more: feel anew. 
-  Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn of Day

Slept all night in a cedar grove, 
I was born to ramble, born to roll.
Some men are searching for the Holy Grail, 
but there ain't nothing sweeter than riding the rail
- Tom Waits, Cold Water

Writers who employ qabalistic and other literary devices to transmit multi-layered meanings of imagery and information will sometimes dangle blatant clues encouraging the code-breaking reader to look in that direction.  They start with basic and obvious correspondences to draw attention' then increase the complexity of the associations. Decoding this multi-level writing encourages the reader to develop puzzle solving skills and to eventually become maze-bright.  Learning to negotiate and solve puzzles and mazes of any kind helps develop the skill set for solving more difficult mazes.... such as life ... and death.

Qabalistic subtext, among other things, involves the transposition of letters into numbers.  Each number carries a variety of different avenues of interpretation, different meanings, conrespondences and connections as listed in the standard qabalistic dictionary, 777 and other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley.  This essay presents the argument that Gilles Delueze, at times, communicates qabalistically, a discovery I first made in The Logic of Sense.  Qabalah actually serves as a logic of sense, but by no means the only one.

The experimental nature of Deleuze's masterpiece, The Logic of Sense, becomes immediately apparent upon seeing the Table of Contents where the sections get structured as numbered sets of Series rather than Chapters.  This transposition from Chapters to Series befits both the nonlinear and dynamic nature of the subject material.  Any given subject doesn't necessarily begin with its designated Series, nor does it conclude at the chapter's end.  Each Series comprises a discrete block of subject material, a line of thought, that overlaps, interconnects and runs parallel to all the other series. We envision an analogy with electronics - the two basic electrical circuits being series and parallel.

The first number/letter correlation that caught my attention and tipped me off to the code was the  Twenty-Sixth Series of Language.  There are 26 letters in both the English and French alphabets.  That's what I mean by a blatantly obvious correspondence between number and subject.  Anyone remotely literate in either of these languages knows they have 26 letters in their alphabetr, you don't have to be a certified qabalist to see that.  There seems a reason that Deleuze made language the subject of the 26th series.  I suggest this widely known, simple correspondence, to be a hint to look for more complex relations.  The next rung on the ladder comes right away: Twenty-Seventh Series of Orality plugs in directly to the qabalistic grid.

The framework for this grid is known as the Tree of Life.  It contains 10 Sephiroth (spheres of influence) and 22 paths connecting these spheres.  They get arrayed on three vertical pillars, The Pillar of Mercy, the Middle Pillar, and the Pillar of Severity.  Each path gets assigned a Hebrew letter.  Also, each path and each Sephiroth has a key number, 1 to 10 for the Sephiroth and 11 - 32 for the paths.  I'm giving this very basic outline for the beginning qabalist to demonstrate the significance of 27 and orality.  In the spirit of increasing complexity, more info on this esoteric language will be given in due course.  Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is given a name that suggests a "pictorial glyph suggested by  the shape of the letter."  For example, the first letter Aleph "means an Ox, principally because the shape of the letter suggests the shape of a yoke." The 27th key corresponds to the Hebrew letter, פּ, - Pe (pronounced "pay') -  "a Mouth, is explained by the shape of the letter.  The Yod represents the tongue." (quotes from 777 ).  The Twenty-Seventh Series of Orality presents an explicit association with Qabalah.

The Tree of Life

Key 27 is the exact place to start if one considers Deleuze a philosophical beacon for Thelema.  This key corresponds with the tarot trump The Tower also called War.  "The picture shows the destruction of the existing material by fire." (The Book of Thoth).  Relate that to Deleuze taking up and continuing Nietzsche's project of overturning Platonism, his criticism and rejection of Hegel's dialectic or of Descarte's cogito (i.e "I think therefore, I am").  Deleuze has been at war with and sought to destroy conventional assumptions in mainstream philosophy right from the start of his career.  One of his key concepts for breaking with past convention of any kind is the War Machine which he developed and wrote about with Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus.  More on the War Machine and Magick here.

Crowley's Tower card has a large eye at the top which he implies is the opening of the Eye of Horus - the gnostic, experiential introduction of Thelemic cosmology.  The popular introduction to Thelema masked as one of the best Science Fiction books ever, Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land contains much symbolism of the path of Pe.  This may be the best path to introduce Thelema because it is the first path that crosses the vertical pillars to connect the Sephira Hod on the Pillar of Mercy with Netzach  on the Pillar of Severity - the intellect (Hod) with ordinary emotions (Netzach).  It also connects the element Water (Hod) with Fire (Netzach).  More on that later.  The balance and uniting of the three lower centrums, the physical, emotional, and intellectual in a common direction produces real Will, according to Gurdjieff.

The Tower Thoth Tarot card

Immediately north of the path of Pe on the Tree is what's called the Veil of Paroketh.  The Book of the Law indicates three grades in Thelema: the Hermit, the Lover, and the man of Earth. Coming just below Tiphareth and above Pe, the Veil of Paroketh separates the grade of the man of Earth from the Lover. The man of Earth begins the process 'know thyself" - self-observation, self-study etc. and begins formulating their True Will.  The Lover grade gets attained when passing through the Veil of Paroketh to reach the solar emanation Tiphareth.  The veil represents the obstacles to that.  This veil is symbolized in Biblical scripture in Mark 15:38: "And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom."  This occurs at the moment of JC's death on the cross, or as they say, when he "gave up his ghost."  This death/rebirth motif appears a basic tool in the Thelemic war machine of Initiation and represents a major apsect of the symbolism of the path of Pe.

Back to The Logic of Sense: the series/parallel nature of the book already becomes apparent with the increasing  numerological complexity between Series 26 and 27.  They follow each other in the Table of Contents in serial fashion while the occult series of qabalistic subtext runs parallel to the literal text.

The next series demonstrating increasing qabalistic subtlety to this eye is: the Fourteenth Series of Double Causality.  Key 14 signifies the path of Daleth and connects the sephira of Chokmah with Binah, the archetypal Father with the archetypal Mother - double causality.  This represents the third and topmost crosspath on the Tree of Life.  It also connects the root of Fire (Chokmah) with the root of Water (Binah).  Series 27 and 14, the lower and higher crosspaths in the Tree of Life, appear the only two that show an obvious qabalistic link between its number and title.

That it happens to be these two paths so indicated has much personal significance for me because I got an instruction very early, as a student of this Art, to examine the relationship between these two paths. I thus associate these two paths with beginning studies of this kind, so find it synchronistic that Deleuze also begins here.

Still with the Table of Contents: other Series titles have no obvious correlation with Qabalah in its universal form, however, every unorthodox practitioner of the Art devises their own lexicon based on personal experience and individual associations.  For moi, the Sixth Series on Serialization indicates an advanced look at Tiphareth (key 6).  The first sentence in this Series: "The paradox of indefinite regress is the one from which all the other paradoxes are derived." strongly resonates with the function of Tiphareth along with the prime directive that to go anywhere in the macrodimensions one must first pass through the heart of the Labyrinth. (Labyrinth terminology originates from Nietzsche: "If we had to venture upon an architecture after the style of our own souls, a labyrinth would have to be our model.  That music which is peculiar to us, and which really expresses us, lets this be clearly seen." - The Dawn of Day).

As mentioned, The Logic of Sense comprises a collection of Series. The Sixth Series on Serialization beginning as it does with "indefinite (not infinite) regress" suggests that the whole book embraces an indefinite solar invocation.  An indefinite regress seems far more experientially accurate than an infinite regress in the multiplicities of experimental solar invocation. Every Series starts its title with a number followed by the word "of;"  for example, First Series of Paradoxes of Pure Becoming etc., except the Sixth and Twentieth Series which has the Series number followed by the word "on."  Long time readers of this blog, as well as adepts with Crowley's linguistics, will recognize the word "on" as one of Crowley's magical formulas.  I suggest that Deleuze was aware of this; this formula relates to Tiphareth, one could say that it's solar powered.  The Twentieth Series on the Moral Problem In Stoic Philosophy concludes its synopsis in the Table of Contents with: "To understand, to will, and to represent the event;" a phrase that speaks as equally well to the ON formula.

The Twenty-Third Series of the Aion has a synchronistic association for me.  23 will be forever connected with Robert Anton Wilson who wrote about the 23 Conspiracy in Cosmic Trigger Volume I.  Readers who followed Wilson down that particular rabbit hole report experiencing many unusual coincidences with that number which has been my experience as well.  Wilson wrote that it was 23 which cracked the Cabalistic (as he spells it) DNA code for him.  It was also an entry point for me.  The Twenty-Third Series is about time.  It begins: "From the start, we have seen how two readings of time - time as Chronos and time as Aion - were opposed."  Wilson reports in Cosmic Trigger that his Holy Guardian Angel communicated mostly through synchronicities and that a lot of the messages had to do with the paradoxes of time.  During the period of July 1973 to October 1974 he says that he was frequently in contact with a nonhuman entity or entities unknown:"But the entity always intently urged that I should try to understand time better." (italics in the original).  Timothy Leary's story and work also feature prominently in Cosmic Trigger and he wrote the Forewards.  He also had great interest in the paradoxes of time.  The Forewords end with: "We thank-you, Robert Anton Wilson, for this timely and time-full treasure." Timely sounds like Chronos as Deleuze describes it, while time-full accurately describes Aion.

Let it roll, roll, roll, let it fill my soul, all right ...  

Let it roll baby roll, let it roll baby roll, 
Let it roll,..... all night long.
                                        -  The Doors/Roadhouse Blues


We finally arrive at the Preface.  Deleuze lets on his qabalistic intent by hiding it right out in the open like Edgar Allen Poe's, The Purloined Letter, which Deleuze specifically references elsewhere in his oeuvre. The first sentence of LoS reads: "The work of Lewis Carroll has everything required to please the modern reader: children's books, or rather books for little girls; splendidly bizarre and esoteric words; grids; codes and decodings; drawings and photographs; a profound psychoanalytic content; and an exemplary logical and linguistic formalism."  Aleister Crowley includes Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and The Hunting of the Snark on his reading list with an identical comment for each piece: "Valuable for those who understand the Qabalah."  Even as he lists this recommendation, Crowley simultaneously communicates qabalistically ... for those who understand the Qabalah, -  a lot easier than people imagine.

 A frequent metaphor given to a student entering an esoteric school is that of going down the rabbit hole to the topsy turvey world of Wonderland.  This was illustratrated on the big screen in The Matrix which borrowed heavily from various esoteric school sources.  Neo literally gets told to follow the rabbit, and he does, leading him completely underground and out of the computer simulated world illusion he's accustom to living in.  We find The Matrix one of the best contemporary qabalistic allegories for the genesis of the Ubermensch right from the first scene, which literally spells out its beginning from the Heart of the Labyrinth; hidden right out in the open like The Purloined Letter.  Another excellent genesis film is Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein.  The genesis allegory in Young Frankenstein was used to great effect in the recent documentary series Long Strange Trip about the Grateful Dead. 

Along with the just mentioned Labyrinth clue in this two minute scene, we see a quick graphic representation of the Veil of Paroketh (or any bardo space, for that matter) at the end of the numerical display.  There's also a possible oblique reference to Alice in Wonderland if we can imagine that the writers read the opening words from LoS posted above.

Deleuze began his studies of nonverbal communication systems at least as early as his 1964 book Proust and Signs in which he creates a taxonomy of symbolic communication, i.e. signs, based on the magnum opus In Search of Lost Time.  As one description puts it: "Deleuze reads Marcel Proust's work as a narrative of an apprenticeship of a man of letters.  Considering the search to be one directed by an experience of signs, in which the protagonist learns to interpret and decode the kinds and types of symbols that surround him."  This, of course, perfectly describes the qabalistic method.  It shouldn't be surprising that after classifying Proust's use of signs, Deleuze plants coded linguistics into his own works.

Another fairly straightforward clue that Deleuze utilizes Qabalah for the basis of some of his coding comes when he examines the linguistic process of schizophrenic writer Louis Wolfson.  Wolfson had a pathological aversion to his native language, English, so he invented a process of immediately translating every English word into a foreign word with a similar sound and sense.

Deleuze begins this section with a solar invocation (i.e. reference to Tiphareth) which could simply seem coincidental until we dig a little deeper.  He starts: "... let us examine another text whose beauty and density remain clinical."  (beauty = Tiphareth).  He then provides some analysis before choosing a word to examine Wolfson's process, that word being: "'Tree," for example, is converted as a result of the R which recurs in the French word "arbre," and again as a result of the T which recurs in the Hebrew term; ..." (LoS p. 85)  In this one sentence fragment we get the clues "Tree," "R" (= Resh = The Sun) and Hebrew (Qabalah is based on the Hebrew alphabet).

This could still be a circumstantial coincidence until we get an even more definitive link to Qabalah a few pages later.  Deleuze returns to examining the permutations of "tree:" "With respect to the Russian word "derevo" ("tree") the student of language is overjoyed at the existence of a plural form derev'ya whose internal apostrophe seems to assure the fusion of consonants (the linguist's soft sign)." In a footnote he writes further about the effect of the apostrophe upon the consonants; "... or as if fused by a yod." Crowley writes about the importance of yod in the esoteric alphabet: "The letter Yod is the foundation of all the other letters in the Hebrew alphabet, which are merely combinations of it in various ways"  (The Book of Thoth) - Crowley continues with more relevant Yod symbolism). Bringing up a foreign word that's a plural form of "tree" as being "fused with a yod," makes for a blatant Qabalistic indicator; a sure sign.

Now that it's been shown that Deleuze uses Qabalah, at least some of the time in his communication, we will examine and decode more complex messages presented through this Art in a subsequent post.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Magick, Linguistics and the Plane of Immanence

The title suggests, "the airplane of immanence," or in Deleuze/Guattarian terms: "lines of flight;"  Magick = lines of flight.

This is the fifth post in the Deleuze/Crowley series with various other of the Usual Suspects (conceptual persona?) showing up from time to time to pitch in.  To honor the Discordian Law of Fives we are going to preface this post with a big I DON'T KNOW! This formulation of model agonsticism was inspired by a quote from D&G's What Is Philosophy (WIP, p.128):

"But on both sides, philosophy and science (like art itself with its third side) include an I do not know that has become positive and creative, the condition of creation itself, and that consists in determining by what one does not know ..."

This resonates with  a subject title Robert Anton Wilson presented in the Crowley 101 course: A Gnostic Approach to Agnosticism.  The 'I do not know' of model agonsticism defines a starting point for experimentation and the search for knowledge, not an ending point of resignation to the unknowable unknown.   Agonstics have received criticism for being indecisive and wishy-washy for not choosing a theism or atheism.  They get accused of hiding behind 'I do not know' as a form of spiritual and intellectual laziness.  That may accurately describe some agonstics, those who don't take the gnostic approach or make 'I do not know' "the condition of creation itself."  Gnosis proceeds through experimentation whether in science, art, philosophy or in some synthetic mixture of the three.  For instance, Magick, which calls itself the Art and Science of causing change to occur in conformaty with Will,  and has a philosophical basis.

Gnosis likes to communicate after its been received though it's not always easily translated.  Robert Anton Wilson was a prolific writer who also regularly toured  North America and Europe giving lectures and workshops.  He had a desire to communicate.  I recall once in an online course: he corrected something I wrote by saying, "magick IS communication" Both Wilson and Timothy Leary described themselves at different times as stand-up philosophers.

Timothy Leary once compared his success rate as a philosopher with a baseball player's batting average pointing out that a player who hits one third of the pitches thrown his way for a batting average of .333 is considered very successful, at the top of the game.  If at least one third of his postulates/hypotheses/theories proved accurate and/or useful, he was a success and that, to him, vindicated the 2/3rds he might get wrong. I don't know if Deleuze would agree with that metric.

This return to the subject of Skepticism should have been included in an earlier post of this series if I wasn't making it up as I go.  This particlular magick/philosophy flow is closer to a musical improvisation, expressing and changing direction on the spot -than a well-rehearsed symphony playing off a musical score.  You constantly make up a lot of songs then one day Like A Rolling Stone (Dylan) comes through, and it changes people's lives.  You experiment frequently with classical modes of music and opera in contemporary electronic form - so-called "Art Rock,"  and get The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Genesis).  All of these folks, Leary, Deleuze, Dylan, the members of Genesis, Crowley, and Robert Anton Wilson, who put out acknowledged masterpieces, were extremely prolific.  What they also all have in common is the affinity with, and healthy application of skepticism.  Skepticism doesn't have to slow down extreme and prolific experimentation.  It's ok to get it wrong sometimes. 

The Plane of Immanence

The plane of immanence is not a concept that is or can be thought but rather the image of thought, the image thought gives itself of what it means to think, to make use of thought, to find one's bearings in thought. (WIP p.37)

D&G devote a whole chapter in What Is Philosophy to describing the plane of immanence. It seems, to oversimplify, like a philosophical tool for framing a set of related concepts or ideas.  They answer the question that the book poses by saying that philosophy is the creation of concepts.  These concepts reside on the plane of immanence.  Every school of philosophy creates their own plane of immanence which may include elements borrowed or appropriated from earlier philosophers.  Following the plane of immanence, D&G introduce the notion of conceptual personae - anthropomorphic fabulations used by the philosopher to introduce and demonstrate their concepts. 

The rejection of signified transcendentals such as Plato's archetypal Ideas or the Judeo-Christian God as ultimate causes of things does not diminish the importance of transcendence itself.  Deleuze talks about transcendental empiricism, which appears cognate, if not identical with, gnosis.  From one point of view, perhaps an ethical one, his whole philosophy could be described as transcending fascist, reactive programming to a place of freedom to create and serve what thou wilt within the immanent world.  It requires immanence to make it possible and transcendence to actually get you there.  Without any kind of transcendental empiricism or gnosis, it's easy to reject the idea that extraordinary capabilities are possible or that magick works.

Deleuze and Guattari define the plane of immanence in terms of movement and chaos:

"The image of thought retains only what thought can claim by right.  Thought demands "only" movement that can be carried to infinity.  What thought claims by right, what it selects, is infinite movement or the movement of the infinite.  It is this that constitutes the image of thought." (WIP p. 37)

"The plane of immanence is like a section of chaos and acts like a sieve. In fact, chaos is characterized less by the absence of determination than by the infinite speed by which they take shape and vanish."  (WIP p. 42)

The authors provide a warning that could apply just as easy to magick:

"Thinking provokes general indifference.  It is a dangerous exercise nevertheless.  Indeed it is only when the dangers become obvious that indifference ceases, but they remain hidden and barely perceptible, inherent in the enterprise.  Precisely because the plane of immanence is prephilosophical and does not immediately take effect with concepts, it implies a groping experimentation and its layout resorts to measures that are not very respectable, rational or reasonable.  These measures belong to the order of dreams, of pathological processes, esoteric experiences, drunkenness, and excess. We head for the horizon, on the plane of immanence, and we return with bloodshot eyes, yet they are the eyes of the mind." (WIP p. 41)

The warning continues with words that mirror Crowley's fate:

But then "danger" takes on another meaning: it becomes a case of obvious consequences when pure immanence provokes a strong, instinctive disapproval in public opinion, and the nature of the created concepts strengthens this disapproval.

Later, they warn about and discuss the "negative of thought:" ignorance, superstition, delusion, delirium, illusion, etc. 

The plane of immanence can be seen as an experiment in linguistics. - the notion that words, propositions, concepts, and literature in general, though metaphysical in nature, can change material bodies and states of affairs.  Language, in conjunction with the physical universe, creates reality as we know and experience it.   Deleuze explores this duality between language and physical things extensively in Logic of Sense.  Sense, he says, is what connects language with physical objects.  He could definitely be described as a linguistic philosopher, albeit an unusual one.

Aleister Crowley's Plane of Immanence

The special use of words to alter reality partially describes the method of ritual, or any other kind, of magick. In a lecture titled, Life of Aleister Crowley, Robert Anton Wilson says that one book, Portable Darkness,  a compendium of Crowley pieces put together by Scott Michaelsen, "interprets Alesiter Crowley as a linguistic philosopher with everything else subordinate to that. A linguistic philosopher in the vein of Wittgenstein only further."

Magick in Theory and Practice begins with establishing a plane of immanence in Chapter 0 The Magical Theory of the Universe.  Crowley advises the student, in the first paragraph, to study the history of philosophy.  Yes, magick has philosophy as its base, a unique philosophy that Crowley proceeds to unfurl in this chapter.  In the second paragraph, regarding theories of philosophy:

 "All are reconciled and unified in the theory which we shall now set forth.  The basis of this Harmony is given in Crowley's Berashith - to which reference should be made." (emphasis in the original). 

 Berashith is the first Hebrew word in The Book of Genesis.  Crowley writes of the genesis of his plane of immanence, his new image of thought, thought that can get creatively used to change the world; genesis of a new world.  Berashith represents Crowley's plane of immanence prior to the reception of The Book of the Law (Liber Al) dictated to him by his Holy Guardian Angel. The third paragraph updates his plane of immanence to include the cosmology and understanding he arrived at  through Liber Al:

Infinite space is called the goddess NUIT, while the infinitely small is called HADIT.  These are unmanifest.  One conjunction of these infinites is called RA-HOOR-KHUIT, a Unity which both includes and heads all things. 

He goes on to say in the third paragraph that this theory is based on experience, but then suggests that these ideas can be reached by a particular application of reason.  The last sentence advises the reader to consult a couple of his previous works, the first one being The Soldier and the Hunchback, an essay on Skepticism.  It's almost as if he's telling the reader, don't believe me, find out for yourself.

Another point of interest about these opening statements is that Crowley alludes to Tiphareth twice: "The basis of this Harmony..." (AC's capitalization) in the 2nd paragraph and "... a Unity which includes and heads all things."  Harmony = Tiphareth and head = the Sun = Tiphareth.  I refer to these as solar invocations and note that similar solar invocations or references to Tiphareth occur at the start of Illuminatus!, Schrodinger's Cat, Masks of the Illuminati, and Email to the Universe by Robert Anton Wilson, and in both volumes of  Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari.  The cover of The Book of Lies shows an illustration of the sun and nothing else.  Gurdjieff begins his magnum opus, Bellezebub Tales to his Grandson, with a direct invocation of both Kether, Tiphareth and the omniscient divine spirit with the traditionally Christian, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."  He calls it an invocation but makes it more universal saying that " (it) has been formulated in different ways, in different epochs."  When you begin reading Beelzeub you enter a Church.  The difference with Gurdjieff's Church is that he's an extremely funny writer. Apparently he used to do stand-up comedy during the war. Groucho Marx apparently inspired his famous mustache.  On the second page, the fifth paragraph in the book, Gurdjieff makes a direct solar invocation:

First and foremost, I shall place my hand, moreover the right one - although at the moment it is slightly injured due to an accident that recently befell me - is nevertheless really my own, and has never once failed me in all my life, on my heart, of course also my own - but on the constancy or inconstancy of this part of my whole I see no need to expatiate here - and frankly confess that I myself have not the slightest wish to write, but am constrained by circumstances quite independent of me, though whether these circumstances arose accidentally or were created intentionally by extraneous forces I do not yet know.

As if to confirm, the second chapter in Beelzebub is: "Why Beelzebub Was In Our Solar System" which he calls the Prologue.  All of these solar invocations that begin some of the most magically powerful books of the last century indicate a very basic bardo instruction:  before traveling anywhere in the Macrodimensions of the Labyrinth, one must first pass through the Heart of the Labyrinth.  This form of linguistic expression derives from a plane of immanence given by E. J. Gold.

Crowley continues presenting his plane of immanence, his new image of thought, throughout this first chapter mostly talking about qabala while also referring the student to other articles he's written.  He includes a few other key statements to further diagram this plane, for example:

The Microcosm is an exact image of the Macrocosm; the Great Work is the raising of the whole (wo)man in perfect balance to the power of Infinity.

The apologia for this System is that our purest conceptions are symbolized in Mathematics.  "God is the Great Arithmetician."  God is the Grand Geometer."  It is best, therefore to prepare to apprehend Him by formulating our minds according to these measures.

Deleuze and Guattari introduce the notion of conceptual personae in the third chapter of What Is Philosophy? " ...conceptual persona carry out the movements that describe the author's plane of immanence, and they play a part in the very creation of the author's concepts."

Crowley borrowed heavily from Egyptian mythology to populate and express his plane of immanence, appropriating those gods for his own purposes, making them into conceptual personae. Perhaps more than any other modern philosopher, Crowley went to great lengths to present his plane of immanence as a revealed religion. In other words, he ascribes the authority of Thelema, his "new image of thought" to an entity far beyond himself and human life in general.  He maintains that it was divine revelation; his account of the circumstances surrounding the reception of Liber Al has never been conclusively refuted, nor has it been conclusively proved.  Crowley's diaries around that time are suspiciously vague or missing.  His account of how Liber Al went down seems to have been written some years after the event.  He claims to have rejected the significance of it for about five years having allegedly lost the original manuscript.  I'm not saying it was a hoax, I remain agonstic on the subject, however I do know that much praxis with Crowley's techniques - including advances made by his next generation:  Robert Anton Wilson, Kenneth Grant, Lon Milo Duquette , Christopher Hyatt etc.  - and his brother, George, will render contact experiences of equal intensity such that the way Crowley received his mission appears a real possibility.  My opinion is that indeed Liber Al is a communication from an exterior Intelligence far beyond the human though I suspect Crowley of somewhat altering and/or creatively enhancing the narrative to play better for the masses.

 Chapter O introduces another crucial point immediately after Crowley introduces the Thelemic triad of conceptual persona: "This profoundly mystical conception is based upon actual spiritual experience, but the trained reason can reach a reflection of this idea by the method of logical contradiction which ends in reasoning transcending itself."  Crowley demonstrates this by beginning The Magical Theory of the Universe with a hidden logical contradiction.  A German phrase is quoted right below the chapter title "Nur Nicht ist,"  which translates as Only Nothing is and is attributed to a Frenchman - Compte de Chevallerie.  Compte = count - what is there to count if only nothing is?  The editor's footnote says that no such Compte de Chevallierie can be found in their philosophical reference books, but that the phrase is also in an earlier work by Crowley, Clouds Without Water, p.93: "This is our truth, that only Nothing is and Nothing is an universe of Bliss.  Later, in the same book, Crowley calls this "metaphysical nonsense culled from German atheistic philosophy.  You have the introduction of nonsense, paradox and logical contradiction with the opening quote.  A French noble quoting a German reminds me of Deleuze quoting Nietzsche.

The chapter finishes off emphasizing the importance of Qabalah:  "The whole basis of our theory is the Qabalah which corresponds to the truths of mathematics and geometry.  The method of operation in Magick is based on this, in very much the same way that the laws of mechanics are based on mathematics."  Some knowledge and recognition of Qabala seems invaluable to any contemporary system or presentation, across the board, of the science of transformation whether it be Magick, the Fourth Way, Deleuze and Guattari, E. J. Gold, Robert Anton Wilson, Thomas Pynchon, James Joyce, Artrhur Rimbaud etc. etc. etc.  It becomes especially useful in Magick because that is how the knowledge and communication with the Holy Guardian Angel begins and gets established.  The Holy Guardian Angel represents the heart's intelligence, or solar intelligence externalized as a Guide.  There is no greater guide.  Contact with the guide increases with use, prompting one of the great hermetic truths: use it or lose it.  Qabalah serves as the laws of mechanics on Magick's plane of immanence.  Crowley closes with a directive followed by a joke: Every Magician, therefore, should study the Holy Qabalah. Once she has mastered the main principles, she will find her work grow easy. Solivtur ambulando: which does not mean "Call the Ambulance!" (translation modified).  The editor's footnotes gives the Latin translation: "it is solved by walking," i.e. practice.

Time for a related entertainment break.  Join Jimi Hendrix for a short bardo voyage:


 

 Gurdjieff's Plane of Immanence

The first chapter of Gurdjieff's magnum opus, Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson is titled The Arousal of Thought.  This is the arousal of a new image of thought, a plane of immanence, the beginning of Gurdjieff's unique presentation of esoteric development and transformation.  Unlike his evil twin brother, Aleister Crowley, Gurdjieff doesn't attempt to diagram his whole system in the first chapter, almost just the opposite. He begins from ground zero by stating up front that he's not a writer and wondering what language he should write in.  By realizing his own nothingness as a writer, he's able to make apparent very basic linguistic functions and applications.  For instance, he out and out tells the reader that he's going to use puns:

"I decided to make use of one of the oddities of that freshly baked fashionable language called English and each time the occasion requires it, to swear by my "English soul."

The point is that in this fashionable language the word for "soul" and the word for the bottom of the foot, also "sole," are pronounced and written almost alike."

He goes on to lament the similarity of these two words for the highest and the lowest in a way that echoes the qabalistic statement: Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth in Kether.  A few pages later, p. 17 - 19,  Gurdjieff tells a story that, to me, clearly suggest a qabalistic basis to his writing:

"I have already decided to make the "salt"  or, as contemporary pure-blooded Jewish businessmen would say, the "tzmmies" (a traditional Jewish sweet stew)  of this story one of the basic principles of that new literary form which I intend to use for attaining the aim I am now pursuing in this new profession of mine." (i.e. as a writer)

The story begins with a certain Transcaucasion Kurd going to a market and being impressed with the display of fruit, in particular, one fruit "very beautiful in both color and form."  He buys a pound of that fruit, which turn out to be red peppers, for 6 coppers.  The story goes on in Gurdjieff''s inimitable roundabout fashion to describe the tribulations of this Kurd when he eats the fruit and finds it makes his innards on fire.  He encounters another fellow from his village who sees his distress and tells him quite bluntly to stop eating the peppers: 

"But our Kurd replied: Not for nothing on Earth will I stop.  Didn't I pay my last six coppers for them? Even if my soul departs from my body, I will go on eating." 

Whereupon our resolute Kurd - it must of course be assumed that he was of such - did not stop, but went on eating the red peppers."

On page 11 Gurdjieff states his intent: " ... to express the so to say niceties of philosophical questions, which I intend to touch upon in my writings rather fully."  As with Magick, his system appears one of applied philosophy.  In the very next paragraph, he mentions becoming deeply absorbed by "philological questions" at a young age.  This seems to me a tip of the hat to Friedrich Nietzsche, whose day job was as a Professor of Philology before he became a full time philosopher, as well as an acknowledgment of linguistics in formulating his new image of thought,  Nietzsche profoundly influenced both Gurdjieff and Crowley.  They also both dissected and used language for purposes.of service to their mission.