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Techne: The State of the Art

Back in the late 1990’s I found myself deeply involved with two streams of magic. On of these was Chaos Magic and at the time it worked out quite well for me to join a hierarchical order focused on that current. The nice thing about doing so at this stage is that I was able to borrow a lot of books from my mentor, and given a suggested list of books to buy by the order itself, so my learning on the subject increased dramatically.

As a programmer I was particularly attracted to those magicians that incorporated ideas from computer technology into their magic, such as Ramsey Dukes and Charles Brewster. I combined ideas from both into some magical software I called CHAOSHEX. I originally wrote this to run on DOS computers, although recently I began work on a new version that runs on Linux.

Because of this interest I was invited by a friend to write a short article on the subject of magick and technology, This was an incredibly short article that introduced concepts from Dukes and Brewster, combined them, and then turned into almost an advert for CHAOSHEX, even though CHAOSHEX was never actually available in those days.

Anyway, to get to the point, Damien Williams, who I interact with online and who contrubuted the excellent ‘Breathing’ article to ‘The Immanence of Myth’, is currently raising funds to produce an article on ‘Magic and Technology‘. Naturally I supported him. So far I haven’t been so good at promoting his project. This will be a 5000 word essay, so much more in depth than my own meagre offering, and will be called Techne: The State of the Art. Please check it out and see if you can donate a small amount towards helping it achieve its funding goal.

You can get more details at the projects inkshares page.

On The M

Magic — to which altered states of consciousness are the key — has real effects because reality is not separate from consciousness, nature is not separate from mind. Which leads me to two assumptions…

‎(1) The degree to which we can satisfactorily describe a system as separated from an observer (Kordeš; cf. Von Foerster’s trivialization) corresponds precisely to the degree to which magic cannot influence reality. This gives rise to such notions as magic cannot violate the laws of physics.

(2) The corollary that the more an observer is required to satisfactorily describe a system, the more amenable is that system to magical influence. This gives rise to such notions as magic has something to do with quantum mechanics such as wave-particle duality.

This is the basis of my synthesis of magic and cybernetics: that magic describes the (means to) altered states of consciousness required for desired effects, and cybernetics describes the non-trivial relationship between the observer and the observed whereby altering my state of consciousness alters the world I am conscious of. -Joshua Madara

Y0u, Budi Mulyo, Taylor Ellwood & 2 m0ar p33pz <3 7h15

Which leads to a third assumption, from my end: we are already cybernetic and our capacity to alter that cybernetic form is currently increasing. -Kyle Milliken
Gee whilikers, Josh. That is rigorously and clearly stated. Elegantly, even. I think I’ll be quoting it. -Jeff Howard
Magic *could* violate the laws of physics, but it remains to me seen whether it actually happens outside of my mind. -Neko Special
@Jeff Thank you. I have been looking for years for a concise expression of my synthesis of cybernetics and magic; this is the best I have come up with. Next is to formalize it symbolically. 😉

@Neko I would respond to that by saying that the laws of physics are not outside of your mind although they may appear that way to others who are not inside your mind. -Joshua Madara

Perhaps a better way to have put it would be, “magic *could* violate the laws of physics, but it remains to be seen whether other minds can see it when my mind does.”

If all observers witness the same thing, does it matter if it’s a hallucination or not? If everybody agrees to it, it becomes “reality”. -Neko Special

‎@Neko I suppose that depends on whether you are considering the laws of physics trivially or non-trivially. There is a sense in which they are non-consensual (from _consent_); a gale blows you down whether you like it or not, whether you believe in it or not. But there is also a sense in which they are only consensual, they emerge as laws through our consensual (from _con-sense_, to sense together with) interactions with others. Non-consensual physics are mechanical; consensual physics are social. As Carroll said, science describes how apples fall from trees, and magic is a way of asking trees to drop apples when we need them to. Both descriptions require observation, but we can imagine that apples fall regardless of who watches them, yet the second scenario has a special relationship to an observer through her desire for something to happen in a place at a time. -Joshua Madara
If everyone agreed that magic violated the laws of physics, then in a sense, that would be the case. But do their observations corroborate their claims? Did the sun move about the earth until we changed our minds about it? In a sense no, and in another sense, yes. -Joshua Madara
I’m reminded of that story about the Native American tribe who couldn’t see the ship floating out at sea, until the shaman of the tribe noticed it. At that point, everybody in the tribe could see it. -Neko Special
I have heard many versions of that story; I am not sure how true any of them are. Cf. Steven Pinker’s rejection of the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. What I do know is that my everyday experience tells me that reality does not simply conform to my expectations of it, and also that I do not notice things until I notice them. -Joshua Madara
I was also reminded of a Warren Ellis comic, in which the world of the characters saved themselves from Armegeddon by consensus. The majority of people took it upon themselves to believe they’ll be okay, and crisis was adverted. Their morphogenetic fields combined to create a new branch in reality. -Neko Special
There seems to be a lot of truth to this, but how would you explain it interfering with chance in ways that aren’t obviously connected to any system? – John S. Madziarczyk
‎@John I wouldn’t. Not exactly. Magic is magic *because* two things are not obviously connected — they have “opaque causal mediation” (Sørensen). To describe magic as manipulating probability is to trivialize it, which has its uses but starts us down the path of searching for a linear, causal mechanism which we will not find — at least, not apropos of magic. -Joshua Madara

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