One good test

… deserves another. Isn’t it wonderful how creative geeks are? There’s no sense of a thing being a first of anything. I bet the first e-mail ever sent over the Internet was something as bland as “this is a test” and nothing more.

Current Mood: amused

Freemasonry …

I’m looking for information about the system mentioned in Symbols of Freemasonry which, instead of being about Hiram and the Temple of Jerusalem, was supposedly about the building of the Tower of Babel, also switching King Solomon for King Nimrod.

I ran across some interesting pages whicle looking for this. Apparently, there’s some evidence that the origin of Masonry around 1717 was a 2 degree system, not a 3 degree system, nor did it have all the additional Royal Arch degrees which are the Hiramic degrees. [A Pragmatic Masonic History by Leo Zanelli]

That kind of makes me wonder if the Tower of Babel degrees were not a precursor to the Hiramic degrees, but rather one of the mentioned systems a la mode.

“They were the arm of Freemasonry, which called themselves Jacobins. (8) The Jacobin cries of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity” led the first major accomplishment of illuminized Freemasonry, The French Revolution. The Jacobins named a rebellious ex-Jesuit, Adam Weishaupht, “Grand Patriot”. (9) Weishaupht embraced the occult mysteries and organized The Order of the Illuminati in 1776. By 1778 he infiltrated Masonry as a fully-initiated Master Mason. He then inducted the influential European elite of Masonry into the Illuminati—600 men by 1783. (10) On the other side of the Atlantic, mystical Masons were under siege by the occult Illuminists. The Illuminists saw America as the 13th step in evolution, and America’s spiritual destiny as accomplishing world union in the spirit of liberty, equality, and fraternity. (11) By 1789 the mystical Masonry of the New World succumbed to the occult one-world vision of the Weishaupht Illuminati, the guardians of the Ancient Mysteries of Nimrod.”

Yes, Virginia, Freemasonry is a religion by Mac Dominick

And here, all this time, I’ve looked at the Jacobean tartan as a kind of retared cousin to the “real” tartans …

From the same site, here’s an interesting rant about the idea of Freemasonry having an Inner and Outer Temple.

Oh, yeah, now I remember something else, from reading a little bit from the Matthew Cooke Manuscript, about Nimrod sending workers, masons, to work on the Temple of Jerusalem, to help King Solomon. Well, so there’s a reference, and it’d be easy to assume in that some kind of transfer of reference from Babel to Jerusalem. Perhaps this had to do with the sciences on the two pillars, and such, and then is really the two degree system, not something more. If the dating of that MS. is accurate, then the Babel verions must have been very, very old, since that’s several hundred years earlier than the 1717 Grand Lodge.

At any rate, the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and the Yukon’s site, which I’ve mentioned before, as a nice set of writings to gander through.

On Pythagorean readings …

I can see the beginning of what I think of as the stoic viewpoint in statements like those made in some of the fragments of ethical writings by Archytas in Guthrie’s Pythagorean Library.

“The good man, in my opinion, is he who knows how to act properly in serious circumstances and occasions. he will therefore know how to support good and bad fortune; in brilliance and glorious condition, he will show himself worthy of it, and if fortune happens to change, he will also know how to accept properly his actual fate.”

Archytas in The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, Guthrie, ed.

Of course, that’s a lot like being stoic and accepting what’s handed down the pike. The stoics, to me, stink of the same kind of degenerated ethical elitism as in the philosophy of people like Ayn Rand, who in my opinion has become nothing more than an excuse for individual hedonism, if her work was ever anything more at all. It’s all an excuse for not taking any responsibility for the state of things, or at least some kind of ethereal detachment from reality.

Anyhow, the exhortation to handle fortune’s favours in proportion to them, makes sense to me. I’m not sure it’s very profound, however. There was a point when I wanted to behave in a particularily human fashion. I don’t mean “human” as in falible, but human as in not to behave like a primate. I’m not sure that I figured out exactly what that meant, but I do remember that I’d determined that one of the traits of primates was to turn the head when looking at things. This then is a form of what stereotypical tourists do, gawking and craning their necks around. In particular, since large apes like the Gorilla, cannot really crane their necks around at all, I’d figured it a simple continuum to restricting movement to the eyes only as much as possible. I still find myself attempting to not use more than the movement of my eyes to gaze at the things around me.

I’ve been accused many times of being hard to read, or at least on some level, very opaque when it comes to what my thinking is on subjects. I certainly don’t think of myself as stoic, but definitely guarded. I’m sure that’s an example of not being quick to passion, but I think it leads to behavior that appears to come out of nowhere, when I finally express emotive content.

Now, Archytas holds that the difference between the good man and the happy man is that the good man is good due to virtue and the happy man is happy due to being fortunate. Whereas fortune is subject to uncontrolable fluctuations, the virtue of a good man is not. He also appears to claim that the good man is inherently also a happy one. [Guthrie] I find it hard to believe that proof, as the good man, full of virtue becomes the welcome mat of the individual hedonists and of less ethical people. That’s happiness? Philosophies that advocate acceptance of circumstance seem to be excuses for failure or at least convenient for the winners of any contest to have opponents with such views. However, even at that, there’s something to it all, not necessarily to meet adversity with meek acceptance, but to meet adversity and fortune as in should be met, appropriate to the circumstances. That’s not being meek, but reacting in proportion to the act.

Reminds me of the question I had at times about the idea of “moderation in all things.” Simply put, does that mean moderation in all things, or rather moderation in all things? I tend to think it’s the former, and that the latter is the kind of trap I think was laid by Alester Crowley in “Do what thou wilt.” It seems to me that most people in reading Crowley, end up decyphering his work as saying that one should do whatever one feels like doing or whatever one wants to do, which is tantamount to the same kind of pathetic hedonism of most followers of Any Rand. However, the trick is, I think, Crowley meant to trap people wishing to take to easy way out, but there’s a deeper understanding to be had if one realizes that by saying “wilt” he means that one would do what one’s Will commands, being the higher self. So, in this view, the statement “Do what thou wilt” means to follow one’s true vocation. Understanding that makes it unecessary to bother with the wiccan prefix of “And it harm none …”

The thing I think Archytas is talking about is not to be emotionless nor to be a bending reed in the wind, but rather to meet fortune with right action, by following one’s vocation. I mean, basically, that’s the middle path between Mercy and Severity toward self improvement in the fashion of bringing more light to the world.

Early freemasonry …

So, interestingly, after thinking about the state of Freemasonry in the 1800’s I ran across a statement about the frission between mystic groups that append to every religion, the Gnostics to Christianity, the Kabbalists to Judaism, the Sufi to Islam, etc …

“All these mystic groups were disliked by the establishment and by the clergy — be it Christian, Islamic or Jewish — which claimed to represent them. For institutions require devoted followers not mystical seers, because what they seek is power, not truth.”

Symbols of Freemasonry by Daniel Bèresniak

That’s a pretty bold statement. I’m thinking that there’s a bit of pride to this whole thing, a kind of over statement of the real problem.

Wouldn’t it be inevitable for the power hungry to desire entry into the powerful society, and that society then runs into some inescapable dialectic between integrity versus survival and compromise?

Obviously powerful people would wield their wrath, being, in my view, rather self-centered and somewhat resembling a textbook ethical egoist, against any group which dared to keep a certain ethical purity by not letting such a person in. Certainly this isn’t a non-obvious dilemma. I suppose by having veil upon veil internally there would be ways to misdirect such a person, seeking merely to advance and gain power, as opposed to getting anything useful out of their membership.

So, perhaps that was the later development, in answer: the inner and outer societies. Using a society, as did Wieshaupt’s Illuminati use the Freemasons, as a filter, might be a way to re-direct those ambitious persons toward what they desired access to without creating a mess for everyone else.

The conspiracy theorist might have it the other way round, I suppose, where the ambitious are filtered away from those ethereal, ineffective mystics.

In a side note, I find it interesting that the previously mentioned “Symbols of Freemasonry” mentions Lodges which are a combination of Males and Females. After reading in Johnston’s works how important that division was, I find that a surprise. Of course, the book is a translation from French, so represents the French lodges … and we all know how those French are.

Semi-non sequitur: The Grand Lodge of British Columbia and the Yukon has a very nice website.

Check out their page on Palmer Cox and The Brownies.

Pythagorean backlash

While reading a book about Pythagoras, I came across a surprise. It seems that the Pythagoreans were the victims of a smear campaign that ended in the mobilization of violent citizens. This resulted in many deaths and also the diaspora of the Pythagoreans.

“Pythagoras and his associates were long held in such admiration in Italy that many cities invited them to undertake their administration. At last, however, they incurred envy, and a conspiracy was form against them …”

– The Life of Pythagoras, by Porphyry, trans. Guthrie.

What’s more interesting is that this all appears to have been due to the rejection of a powerful individual by Pythagoras himself. Further, this individual was able to play upon the fears and prejudices of the citizens. Those fears and prejudices revolved around the Pythagoreans being insular, exclusive mixed with that they were also often times politically, becoming the writers of law and becoming the politicians also.

This seems like a pattern I’ve heard about before. Primarily this made me remember some things I’d learned about the anti-masonic movements, and that Freemasonry not only resembled the descriptions of the Pythagoreans in my mind, but also that there are similar events in the history of Freemasonry in my country.

This link bewteen an exclusive, mystic tradition with active political clout very closly mirrors the position and character of Freemasonry during the the late 1800’s in the US. One source, a video program I remember, discussed how the orderly and debate oriented culture in the Masonic lodge became a training ground for political duty, and in fact that much of the polictical power in the early US was in the hands of men involved with Freemasonry.

An address by Fred P. Corson, President of Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa., was printed in the Congressional Record on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the United States Constitution. President Corson was talking about the stability of our government. He said: “America owes its governmental stability and her success as a democracy to her spiritual foundation. Prior to 1787 the work of laying this foundation was by the Church and by the Masonic Fraternity. It was no coincidence that of the six men who produced the Constitution, at least half were members of the craft.”
Whys & Wherefores by George Peter MPS

The link to the wave of anti-masonic feeling in the late 1800’s revolved around a flashpoint, the William Morris affair. This triggered, or was the fulcrum for the rise of one of the only effective third political parties in the history of the US, the Anti-Masonic Party. (See also “Whys & Wherefores” ibid.)

So, this pattern then, of an exclusive, private group which is founded on the ideas of an elite improving and bettering the world, sounds like a constant refrain. While both the Freemasons and the Pythagoreans, depending on whom you ask, are focused on creating more good in the world, other examples of this pattern might even be broadened to include disasterously evil things like the Fascist movements and splinter religious groups like the Branch Davidians, whom we all know from the siege in Waco, TX. Both of these latter groups were the targets of massive, violent backlashes.

Perhaps, this even relates to the severe backlash against groups like the Wobblies during the golden era of militant labor.

Obviously, there a gut level reaction to being an outsider, that creates resentment and fear. I wonder how much of this is the cause of the backlashes as opposed to the more likely scenario where the backlash was created using that resentment and fear as a way to mobilize the violent, to the agenda of a more machiavellian purpose.

Clearly a much repeated pattern reflects some core lessons for any such movement as these. Lessons about exclusion and elitism being the source for violent opposition should be clear enough, but what other lessons might there be?

Perhaps it is not so easy to tell the difference between the truly beneficial and the diabolical when secrecy provides such a blank slate on which to write one’s fears and prejudices, but that’s almost too easy. There’s something more fundimental here or at least more interesting.

There’s a fundimental resistance to change in the character of history. Revolutions seldom bring about such serious changes, after the dust settles, that you can tell the difference between the new and previous regimes. So, this mechanism is a way for history to push back against the revolutionaries, and the more revolutionary the more push back there is.

So the secret society is probably both a defense mechanism against this push back, an attempt to fly under the radar, and also a cause of the push back.

Clearly, a Sisyphean task this social evolutionary work …

homepage and the dialectic between honesty vs truth

Last night, I watched “homepage” which is an interesting documentary about the early culture that surrounded the web, the revolutionary fanaticism, and a bit about its demise.

However, there was a part that had me thinking about some stuff from my own past, actually previous to all the events of the movie.

honesty vs. truthfulness is an interesting topic. If one accepts that they are not identical, one wonders how much truth is necessary for complete honesty, and if it’s possible to have truth without honesty. Is truth communicated by the non-present presenter still honesty, when not professed? As the better part of valour is restraint, is that also the better part of honesty in regards to the truth?

I’ve suspected that moderation in all things is a guiding principle. Not that it means moderation in _all_ things, but rather _moderation_ in all things. The difference being that it’s not necessary to partake of everything in moderation, but rather to be moderate in all things in which one partakes.

I had written a bit on this topic.

Strong Drink, 1993 (c) j g bell

it is a strong drink
to drown adultery in drunkenness
it is a stronger drink
to face my lover’s face with honesty
stronger than fidelity
it is an even stronger drink
to drink to my own weakness

it is a great grief to me
to weakly write myself
into my father part
it is a greater grief to me
to strongly write my lover
into my mother part
it is the greatest grief to me
to wholly write my past
into my future past

there is no art in drink
there is no salvation in sorrow
there is no love in lies
there is no love in lies
there is no love in lies

I’ve learned my sorrow from my father
I’ve learned myself from my sorrow
I’ve learned to lie from myself
I’ve learned myself from my lie

there is no love in lies
but honesty ruins love with revealed lies
there is no love in lies
but justice ruins love with concealed lies
there is no love in lies

there is no salvation in sorrow
but somehow sorrow saves lovers from future pain
there is no salvation in sorrow
but somehow suffering saves me from future pain
there is no salvation in sorrow

there is no art to drink
but drink can remind me to forget
there is no art to drink
but drink can force me to sleep
there is no art to drink

it is a strong drink
to drown adultery in drunkenness
it is a stronger drink
to face my lover’s face with honesty
stronger than fidelity
it is an even stronger drink
to drink to my own weakness
my honesty stronger than the lie
will ruin my love and with this in mind
I will tell the truth in time

the militant labor movement and personal history

I’ve started to read a book about the IWW because I got interested in the idea that WA was once a center of militant labor, through hearing some spoken word by Utah Philips.

Anyhow, we have a bit of history in mining probably between then 1880’s and 1920’s, which is around the time that all this was happening. Then I remembered something about Great Grandfather getting away from the mines, in the midwest, back around that time because of the violence. I guess I never made the connection.

So, Great Grandfather was part of the _establishment_ as a guard for the mining companies right? Interesting. So, did he leave it as the violence started or after some big event, I wonder?

Turns out there’s quite a bit more history than just the WTO locally here in Seattle, and the state.

The museum of labor & industry has, at least, a nice searchable photographic database which has a good number of pictures from the era. Some of these pictures relate to the Great Strike of 1919 and some others.

There was also a big display in 1999 …

The University of Washington also has a department of labor studies. Further, at least one of the staff has thier own page about the labor movement.

You may find more than I did, but at least you’ve got a place to start.

The Sense of Pleasure

In this age we have created a senseless pleasure with no quality other than a one dimensional quanity. We’ve created an age that has no sense of a quality in pleasure other than dissatisfaction with intensity. This dissatisfaction is gained from the ever increasing need for more from a one dimensional pleasure that is a scalar of intensity. There’s no aesthetic of pleasure, rather merely a quantity.

A simple transposition of quality for quantity will not be enough to return an aesthetic to pleasure. This culture needs to touch the texture of a new aestheic pleasure. As a culture we need to re-connect with the taste, smell, sound and sight of pleasures. Rather than a focus on the greater pleasures, we can focus on the moderation of pleasure with the purpose of maximal experience of qualities.

Pleasure should be an art, not a commodity. Rather than a shallow pleasureless pursuit, we would have a rich pursuit of pleasures.