Bone Idols

Writing online for the last three years has involved hundreds (sometimes thousands) of words each day, so apart from polished articles, and unpolished chat, I have honed a few blog entries I feel fairly proud of…just from all the research.

How about Francis Bacon’s Four Idols (no, not the painter guy, brilliant though I consider him, but the man who maybe also helped write ‘Shakepeare’s plays’).

 ‘Idols’ is a term which Bacon used figuratively for fallacies which block or distort men’s perception of reality and their pursuit of truth. They are psychological barriers – prepossessions, prejudices, and delusions, emotional and sentimental biases. In short, they include all the imaginings which prevent men from seeing the object ‘as it really is’.

My brief summary of his theory appeared here, with links to better qualified sites.

Idols of the Tribe: (Human Chauvinism – sensory limits – bodymind?)

A person’s education:
The books a person reads:
The people a person admires: (try not to end up with their bad habits, too)
A person’s experiences:
Our need to seek more and more regularity in the world than there really is: (23s and The Law of Fives?)
Our tendency to seek out evidence of that which we already believe to be true: (self-fulfilling prophecy, The Prover proves what the Thinker thinks)
Our tendency to see personal truths as universal: (opinion disguised with isness)
Our belief in empirical data: (only part of the spectrum)
Our tendency to let emotions rule reason: (faith-based vs experiment-based)

Idols of the Cave: (Personal reality-tunnels)

People see things in light of their own special knowledge and opinions:
Some of us are governed by similarities, others by differences:
Those who love the past and those who love the possibilities of the future obscure the knowledge of the present:
Some of us see only the details and others see only the global:
Bacon advised students to hold in suspicion any idea which particularly appealed to them

Idols of the Marketplace: (General Semantics and NLP)  (Hi Ben!)
Words are misused or misunderstood:
Words have a true and a vulgar meaning: (slang and jargon)
Words cannot be defined because we need words to define them:
Names of things which do not exist confuse our understanding: (nominalizations)
‘Idols of the Market Place are the most troublesome of all’
‘It is not possible to divorce ourselves from these fallacies and false appearances, because they are so inseparable from our nature and condition of life’

Idols of the Theatre: (The State – true believers – ready-made fictions)
Dogma:
Religion:
Political systems (democracy, communism, etc.):
Education:
Political parties:

Ring any bells?

The origin of the name

Funnily enough, if asked, I tend to say that Bogus Magus is just my nickname for someone who pretends to do magic (as in stage/street conjuring) – and rhymes with Hocus Pocus, like a spell.

In fact, the truth proves a litle odder. While studying with Robert Anton Wilson at the Maybe Logic Academy I realised I had to accept the fact that Uncle Bob had certainly involved himself in some Crowleyian exercises/experiments at one time. RAW didn’t have a lot of respect for astrology (which Crowley seems to have studied quite intensively), and didn’t seem to have ever joined a Crowleyian group, but insisted on respect for intelligence (whatever the person’s public reputation – think Timothy Leary, or Ezra Pound).

So in those forums I intended to show a certain intelligent curiosity, but found myself confronted by (and here they’ll hate me) what seemed like Crowleyians, Crowleyites, believers in Crowleyanity, or whatever.  It turned out later that at least some of them had a sense of humour, and tolerance for other’s viewpoints – but not many of them!

So I got a little belligerent (only in a debating sense) and pointed out that Madame Blavatsky (my dad had had a long Theosophical phase) published her Magnum Opus (two volumes of The Secret Doctrine)  HPB in 1889when Crowley was about ten years old, and Gurdjieff about twenty. I dislike ignorance, mostly. As though Crowley (like the supposed Jesus) doesn’t grow up around cultural influences, or steal ideas, or have human failings. He seemed fairly ambiguous about the ‘worship’ thing, although he exploited it at times, with few scruples.

I pointed out her profound influence on all the New Age stuff of that period (end of the Nineteenth Century), including The Golden Dawn – AND her warnings against practical magick, the dangers of siddhis, etc.

I knew full well that the Theosophical Society probably looks a bit flaky to men into Magick.  I only intended it as a put-on (in the trickster tradition) which I did not mean to accelerate into a flame war.

It amused me, in that situation, that I found myself arguing the parallels and differences between magic (with its shamanistic roots) and ritual magick (I won’t reiterate my case here but you might enjoy an imaginary meeting between Houdini and CrowleyMagical Means) – and playing the sceptic (trying to explain to Americans about the British class system, and how the arrogance of privileged people who studied at Cambridge, and never worked a day in their life, tends to put my hackles up).

They wouldn’t have it. They seemed to either mistake me for a sceptical materialist in denial, or a judgemental moralistic type (how wrong can you be) or something.

So it always secretly amused me that I had stolen my avatar name from Lawrence Sutin’s sympathetic and enlightening biog of Crowley, which I had simply read for my course work! You can see the section online here

He boots up his iMac to review the Akashic Record.

Magister: Read the charges.

iMac: Edward Alexander Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) stands accused of the standard crimes – Satanism, murder, reefer madness, hi-jacking the Rituals of the Golden Dawn, riding the Scarlet Women to death, whipping a minor poet with nettles, inspiring Black Metal cultists, abandoning his comrades to the snow demons of the Himalayas, failing to settle his bills at the Cafe Royal, and being a British gentlemen who should have known better than to become a bogus magus perpetrating bombast and buggery –

Magister: (wearily) We have heard all this before. Mr. John Symonds and his King of the Shadow Realm, Mr. Colin Wilson and his Nature of the Beast, Mr Alexander Hutchison’s The Beast Demystified, and all these ancient scandal sheets and psychedelphic papyri…is there any new evidence?

iMac: Our learned friend Professor Lawrence Sutin, an expert in jurisprudence, has prepared an appeal.

Magister: Very well. I suppose Mr Crowley had better materialise for us…Magister Templi draws a pentagram on his screen and slowly intones the Cry of the Tenth Aethyr. His garbled syllables of Enochian reverberate down the corridors mingling with the cries of the Court Ushers: “Bring Forth the Beast!” A great wind fills the Court. Through a vortex of whirling dust and sand Crowley rises from the well of the dock. He is sallow, flabby and priapically naked except for a bedraggled frock-coat and top hat. He coughs and curses as the hat slips off, revealing the familiar phallic dome of his skull.

heh heh

Just another page of bogus magic

I had forgotten about this exploration in Word Press, but have decided to use it to compile the links I like which relate to the whole Bogus Magus project.

The bulk of that specifically focuses around the Maybe Logic Academy that Robert Anton Wilson set up when he was getting too ill and too old to tour and do lectures and seminars and workshops.

A few of us were lucky enough to study online – remote – asynchronously – with him, until he got too ill to continue. The final course we had all looked forward to – The Tale of The Tribe – seems to have become a posthumous project we can all attempt on his behalf.

A floating population of students pass through the MLA, but some of us more or less graduated after three years…

The various projects, face-to-face meetings, online collaborations, etc represent some sort of display of respect for our favourite writer.