People reading my work here and elsewhere know already that I have enemies. Today I’ll talk about the enemy called ‘shallow thinking’.
There’s nothing that gets my sword out of its scabbard faster than shallow thinking, whether this be my own or that of others.
That is to say, this is the samurai speaking, or my witch embodiment speaking. If I go to the Zen master in my desired identity projection, there are no enemies. But this embodiment is not one that gets people excited.
So let’s keep with the witch or the samurai.
Where was I, yes, shallow thinking. Here’s a clean cut representation of it. The idea that nothing succeeds like success is the direct result of shallow thinking, with people losing the open battlefield ground to glitter.
People fall for the 7-figure promise. ‘I did it. You can also.’ [Insert here glitter sprinkled in your eyes, with the consequence of your eyes shining brightly].
People fall for the global reach promise. ‘Just get a podcast and start advertising your pants off, affiliated links and all…You’ll be famous, baby, in no time at all. Content is king, especially if there’s virtually none of it. But let’s not talk about that, shall we? You give people real content and they’ll feel threatened by it. Better not to.’ [Insert here glitter sprinkled in your eyes, with the consequence of your eyes shining brightly].
People fall for magic. ‘Just plaster your walls in gold to attract gold, and you’ll be set. Sigilize for Jupiter, wear some Venus perfume, and your fortune is made.’ [Insert here glitter sprinkled in your eyes, with the consequence of your eyes shining brightly].
I could go on. My point with this essay today is to ask a simple question: Say, the promise of success, even when it’s clearly based on shallow thinking and glitter galore, gets you exactly what you desire; mostly money because as some figured it out, money makes the world go round. You have the money, you can score the date, get laid, and lose weight too, if that becomes a thing of your fancy. Say that all the magic you perform in the name of success gets you close to Midas’s touch. Not too close, though, because then you’re fucked.
My question is, what then? What is the purpose of your power? What do you do with your 7-figure income, your content that is no content, your fame that is the thing of transience? Many promise the big and the grand beyond your wildest dreams, but few offer any wisdom about the situation of ‘and then what?’
Where are you in this relational address: ‘look at my success, it’s so inspiring…’, where the other, you listening to stories of success actually, is basically annihilated? After all, the one who succeeds because of success, because of the glittering label, is King of the World, and as history has shown, we can’t have two rulers. The other must always die, one way or the other.
I often talk about what we fall for as a matter of Zen practice and deconstructive force, when I look at what we internalize as ‘natural’, but I also like to bring in the cards in this observation of what we fall for, as the cards have a way of pointing precisely to where we get caught with our pants down.
A nasty question for your cards:
What is the purpose of my costumes, cosmetics, and contrived countenances? – the implicit here being that you’re actually interested in more than following the flock.
I put it this way simply because I see that the more glitter there’s out there, the more restless we become. Say, the one engaged in rites for world domination achieves that, but what I want to hear in all this endeavor for conquering is what happens to distinction. I have a problem with the sprinkling of glitter simply because glitter makes no distinction between what it falls on. Not all that glitter falls on looks good or smells good with glitter on it.
I pulled just two cards for this general question to see what they might say:
Woman and Mountain, Ace of Spades and 8 Clubs
Glitter creates a block. The more you bury yourself in its promise, the more you’ll feel the weight of the world. You can say goodbye to your natural lightness of being. Glitter makes you shine, but not in splendid ways. Here I’m actually talking about being subject to the enchantment of others, and participating in it yourself. ‘Here’s some glitter, you’ll feel better,’ some say…
As an aside to this, think of what the prophets say. This past month in my class on Cards and Magic I made extensive references to my compatriot, Ioan Couliano, late professor of comparative religion at Chicago University. Here’s what he said before the advent of the internet, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, in his influential book, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance (1984), identifying the glitter magician’s con:
‘Nowadays, the magician busies himself with public relations, propaganda, market research, sociological surveys, publicity, information, counterinformation and misinformation, censorship, espionage, and even cryptography… (104) Magic is a means of control over the individual and the masses based on deep knowledge of personal and collective erotic impulses. Insofar as science and the manipulation of phantasms are concerned, magic is primarily directed at the human imagination, in which it attempts to create lasting impressions. The magician of the Renaissance is both psychoanalyst and prophet as well as the precursor of modern professions such as director of public relations, propagandist, spy, politician, censor, director of mass communications media, and publicity agent (viii).’
Couliano wrote all this in 1984. He anticipated many a horror thing. I see him winking from his grave. Having access to technological innovations, writing platforms, and personal broadcasting ‘corporations’ does not an authority make. What does, ‘I, the podcaster’ mean? That you know everything, that you’re good at networking, that you’re good at associating yourself with the ones who know things, thus suggesting to the world that, ‘I also am an expert?’ Now I hear Couliano laughing…
As a practitioner of magic myself, all I can say is this: Magic without purpose other than global conquering, because, hey, people follow you, magic without a justification that’s anchored in acute distinction is just magic that’s the result of shallow thinking. Some can live with it. I spare myself.