Introducing Empedocles, Nietzsche, and Nihilism
“So much depends on the development of the Greek culture because our entire occidental world has received its initial stimuli from it […] There are very many possibilities which have not yet been discovered because the Greeks did not discover them. And others have discovered the Greeks and later covered them up again.” ~ Nietzsche
In his introduction to Heidegger’s Early Greek Thinking, David Krell talks about the history of philosophy in terms of a “nightmare from which we, Dedalus-like, are trying to awake,” unfortunately, as he observes, “indignant refusal and consignment to oblivion are hardly signs of wakefulness” (7). What follows is not however, an interpretation of Heidegger’s engagement with Pre-Socratic thought, if it were, we would be looking at the fragments of Anaximander, Heraclitus, and Parmenides. Rather, I choose to focus on Empedocles, perhaps for one of the reasons Nietzsche found so appealing, namely, Empedocles attempts to “lead humanity across [the bridge] to the universal friendship (koina ton philon) of the Pythagoreans and thus to social reform” (113). Although the issue of social reform on a grand scale is beyond the modest scope of these thoughts, I examine Empedocles’ thought as it moves through Nietzsche’s modern philosophy with the hope of reawakening and reinvigorating the authentic need and drive to philosophize by attempting to understand more clearly what the ancient Greek’s relationship to his world, and by extension, others, might have been like. I want to consider the value and potential in the thought of Empedocles and Nietzsche for inspiring thinking in other directions beyond our contemporary nihilistic condition as Hubert Dreyfus outlines, which might offer a new understanding of who we are in relation to the way in which we inhabit the world.
Politics over the last hundred years has been highly resistant to mythic or legendary considerations.
Legend may be used tactically for propaganda in a crisis or enter into the perceived history of a nation but, despite the influence of legend on nineteenth century romantic nationalism, most modern politicians most of the time like to avoid irrationalism.
Similarly the distinction between mythic and legendary narratives allows us to place to one side faith-based political ideology – notably that of the Shi’a but also the now much reduced, except in the backwoods of America, biblical fundamentalist narratives about race and providence.
J. Briggs and F.D. Peat (1999) describe a link between Chaos Theory and the creative act of making and remaking our world and Being in terms analogous to those encountered in the German philosophical tradition, e.g., Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and the philosophy of primordial truth and the work of art in Heidegger. Against the traditional notion of truth that comes by means of “technique, discipline, or logic,” Briggs and Peat write of a unique form of truth that manifests in moments of creative activity as “something lived in the moment and expressive of an individual’s connection to the whole” (p. 21).
This notion of truth is more primordial than any of our formal notions of truth (e.g., propositional truth) and is connected with a type of knowledge, or better, understanding that represents a “deeper authenticity and ‘truth’ about our individual experience of being in the world” (p. 20). Importantly, as related to Heidegger’s philosophy, this notion of truth, which is revelatory and ecstatic in nature, holds the potential to (1) disrupt the mechanized patterns of our rote day-to-day existence, an existence that conditions us in an inauthentic manner, and (2) awaken in us a creative “vortex,” or center, in which the processes of bifurcation and amplification open the potential for a new principle of self-organization and self-reorganization. As the authors stress, releasing ourselves to the “chaos” attunes us anew and colors our “vision” in a way that allows us to understand and discourse about our existence in a renewed manner.
Robert Monroe interviewed on WPIX San Francisco for his publication of Journey’s Out of the Body.
Oh Light, Eric Lindley’s latest album as Careful, is a well crafted example of sonic Alchemy. As he explains in his essay for Indigest Magazine on the process of creating the album, it was a harrowing month of experimentation in his girlfriend’s closet that lead to the emergence of a unified and beautiful vision through “multiple guitars (plucked and bowed), mbira, flute, punch-card music-box, toy percussion, and hundreds of layers of vocals.”
With a background that includes time at Dartmouth College studying under experimental composer and musical theorist Larry Polansky, and at Cal Arts with the minimalist pioneer James Tenney studying music and cognition, much of his live performance has been focused on creating participatory installation works that use biofeedback to create a direct interaction with the audience. Biofeedback, for Lindley, has become a tool for focusing on the listening experience to better understand composition.
It also changes the way that he experiences music. Through Biofeedback Lindley is able to tap in to a deeper understanding of how harmonic elements come into play in changing and enhancing emotional responses. It gives him a direct look at how the listener is being physically affected by the experience they are having.
While building one of the devices he uses in his installation pieces, a friend of Lindley’s helped him test the GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) sensor by using it to monitor their meditation. These direct applications show the potential for those willing to explore a wider understanding of the creative process to have a deeper relationship with sound and art.
As the media pushes its picture of a world sunk in consumption, all too often artists fall into the role of mediators for the sale. This is nothing new, the roots of popular blues, jazz and country music spend some time in the muddy waters of the traveling Medicine Shows, and artists have always been called upon to provide the motivation for the populace to interact with their controlling interests. What has changed is the technology that makes this possible, and the reach these messages are able to achieve.
Within this there is still the subtle relationship that exists between the true artist and their art. For all of the throwaways created with the speed of today’s mass culture there are still those who spend time with the more delicate aspects of their craft. James Blackshaw has emerged as a guitarist of considerable dexterity and intimacy; coming from punk rock roots he has turned his musical aptitude towards longer, more meditative modes with great success.
Thinking about what is necessary to bring the power of art into the creation of a more sustainable society we must come to understand the craftsmanship that underlies true expression. Blackshaw is part of a growing circle of artists whose appreciation for this relationship is bringing a brighter light to the creative scene and providing hope that the darkness on the horizon can give way to the sublimity of a well played song.
“I one day got the advance pages of Wolfshead which was about to be published. Reading it over I was so depressed and discouraged that I went and got a job jerking soda in a drug-store.”
- Robert E. Howard in a letter discussing his first story published in Weird Tales
Kenneth Grant made the observation that the work of H.P. Lovecraft was an unconscious form of communication with extra-dimensional entities. Many have looked askance at this idea, considering Lovecraft’s atheism and his well documented rejection of the supernatural it seems odd to think that he would be some sort of unknowing psychic medium. However, this is assuming that what we call the paranormal, supernatural, or preternatural is actually outside of the normal course of events.
It’s important to understand that at the core of any anomalous phenomenon is very simply an experience, and that these experiences are codified through the cultural discourse to bring out some kind of linear meaning within the social narrative.
An orb in your house is a ghost, an orb in the forest is an elemental, fairy or Will o’ Wisp, and an orb in the sky is a UFO. Is there really any difference in the phenomenon itself? Or are these differences merely narrative devices that have grown out of a heavily mediated understanding of the event.
What is the difference between visualization techniques used by authors and artists and the visualization techniques used by someone trained in remote viewing?
“All the stars are on the inside…”
- Blue Oyster Cult, Veteran of the Psychic Wars
Shortly after writing a piece for Modern Mythology on the somewhat obscured psychical basis of Napoleon Hill’s famous 1937 work on the philosophy of success, Think and Grow Rich, I noticed that he had written another book the following year which was held from publication until 2011. Whatever surprise I may have had at the contents of Think and Grow Rich was minuscule compared to my surprise at finding his follow up book contained nothing less than a sustained dialogue with an entity that he identified as the Devil.
You can imagine why this might have been considered a bit controversial in 1938, and why his family withheld the publication of Outwitting the Devil, even after his death, until the book could be properly framed to avoid too much shock. The books contents are a fascinating look at the depth and social conscience of Hill’s philosophy, which often get’s shoved into the self help category, but I must save any reflections on that topic for another article.
My inquiries into the reception of Hill’s philosophy within the business world lead to a fortuitous connection to Matthew Joyce, who was kind enough to respond to a HARO request that I sent out, and our conversations via email and over the phone opened up an entirely different understanding of the nature of intuition and the mind.
“If the land is being poisoned witchcraft must respond…”
- from an interview with Peter Grey & Alkistis Dimech of Scarlet Imprint
“Few mysteries are as misunderstood as those of the night…”
- from Craft of the Untamed by Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold
The Eyeless Owl presents…
St. Joseph’s Waltz – A Silent Tale of Nigromancy
A Screen Test from a Non-Existent Film
‘Lydia’s Circle’ by J. Stockinger & D. Metcalfe
Puppet/Set Design/Production -