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Prometheus and Atlas

Prometheus and Atlas

Jason Reza Jorjani

Arktos Media Ltd, 2016

Review: Gwendolyn Taunton

 

 

prometheus and atlasPrometheus and Atlas is not the usual type of book readers have come to expect from Arktos, which typically deals with political publications. This, however, adds to its appeal. The unique nature of the book makes the content all the more intriguing since it leads the reader into unfamiliar territory. This is achieved by combining different research areas which are not frequently encountered together; philosophy, science/technology, and paranormal phenomenon. The difficulty of coalescing these topics is that science tends to prefer rigid empirical facts, whilst unexplained phenomenon has a tendency towards more metaphysical concepts, and therefore often sits under the aegis of what is broadly termed as the “arguments from personal experience”. The issue then becomes a matter of devising methods that can be scientifically verified. Therefore, the author faces the onerous task of attempting to reconcile the material sciences with spiritual sciences and dealing with multiple speculative tangents.

The first manner in which this is deployed is via a connection to Hellenic Tradition which is present in the title itself – the two Titans Prometheus and Atlas. Prometheus’ nature is revealed in the etymological roots of his name, which is,

Derived from the Greek words pro and manthā, his name means “forethought” in the sense of pre-vision (prophecy, pre-cognition) and making provision, say, for the winter season. Prometheus is “he knows in advance.”[1]

As such, Prometheus is the opposite of his infinitely less pragmatic brother, Epimetheus (hindsight). Atlas is commonly known as the Titan to whom maps and geography relate, due to Atlas’ tragic fate, of being burdened to carry the globe aloft. Atlas also has connections to the lost city of Atlantis, which was famously mentioned by Plato and contrasted with the city of Athens. As Titans, they are not part of the same pantheon as Zeus, but rather pre-existent rivals to his reign. However, the use of Titans in the current framework is more akin to that of Nietzsche’s use of the Apollo/Dionysus dyad as is explained here:

They are the prehistoric gods and the gods of a new age, drawing together what Nietzsche called “unhistorical” and “suprahistorical”. In fact, my conception of Prometheus and Atlas as the aesthetic ideas or spectral archetypes of technological science are somewhat similar – in form, not content to the archetypes of Apollo and Dionysus as Nietzsche employs them in his early work, “The Birth of Tragedy.”[2]

Chapter seven also mentions Nietzsche, who is the patron philosopher of Aristokratia, and indeed we do find the journal’s mission statement pleasantly extrapolated where it is stated that “Nietzsche repeatedly states that the rebellion of, even, only a hundred such men, banding together as the youthful vanguard of a single generation, could reverse our cultural decline and bring about a new Renaissance.”[3] And furthermore, “for Nietzsche, the project of developing a non-mechanistic science of the future is one and the same project as cultivating a spiritual aristocracy of post-human supermen.”[4] The theme of the Titans is also referenced by comments from Schelling stating that,

Prometheus [is] will, unconquerable… for which that reason can resist God. Prometheus is the thought in which the human race, after it has brought forth the world of the gods out of its inner being, returning to itself, becomes conscious of itself and its fate.

An explanation of the Titans symbolism is provided via Indo-European linguistics, which occurs with the transition between the Sanskrit Deva/Dyēus/Deava and the Ahura/Asura, mirroring the Hellenic conflict with the Titans. The Promethean archetype is also examined through the lens of gothic literature, via Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound and the classic Frankenstein.

This is then coupled with explanations of the paranormal. Whilst the paranormal is excluded from some Traditionalist circles, one still has to consider that paranormal phenomenon are very much documented in the Traditions themselves, with even figures such as Jesus and the Buddha being capable of magical or miraculous feats. Moreover, a quick examination of the origins of the word ‘magic’ reveals that it is explicitly related to altered states of consciousness.

The word ‘magic’ originally meant the wisdom of the Eastern mystics (‘magus’ or ‘magi’, denoting members of the Persian priestly class). The word is probably derived from the Sanskrit ‘magha’ which means not only a class of people (c.f. the lexicon Medinī), but ‘great wealth’ (c.f. Ṛg Veda, 7, 2, 7 ‘endowed by the chief of the gods Indra, who possess it in plenty, hence called Maghavān) and ‘best medicine’ (in the feminine form of the word c.f. the lexicon Dhāraṇī). The word ‘magha’ is cognate with ‘mahat’ (from maghash), which means undifferentiated consciousness or ego, ahamkāra, and objective consciousness or manas.[5]

Since what is now often referred to as ‘occult’ or ‘esoteric’ takes its origin in states of consciousness, the connection it shares with such phenomenon should be glaringly obvious. This is even more apparent in Asian Traditions where such states are frequently utilized in meditative practice. In Hinduism, the term siddhi (accomplishment) is used to describe magic/psychic abilities and are documented as far back as Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras. From the perspective of Hindu Tradition, the siddhi are considered to be normal and it appears that the author also does not view these experiences as being strictly paranormal in origin when he states that,

These aspects that come to be viewed as “paranormal” are not actually indicative of anything supra-natural, as even Kant’s most generous reading of Swedenborg would have had them be; rather they are “supernatural” only in a sense of revealing the Supernature that is generally occluded or occulted by our own practical projections and reductive models of “Nature.”[6]

Furthermore,

As Heraclitus puts it, “Nature loves to hide.” This is the hiddenness of The Occult. Paranormal phenomena are only super Natural insofar as the primordial forgetfulness or concealment of technical intelligence effects an occultation of Supernature. This enframing is resisted by Supernature, but the latter winds up being misinterpreted as a “supernatural” order of being separate from a mechanically modelled “natural” world that has been mistaken for “Reality”.[7]

Of course, no one enters the same stream of thought twice, so immediately this becomes an issue of perception. The author explains this by defining what Michel Foucault calls an episteme, and “What one learns under a given episteme conditions even the perceptual process in such a way as to affect what one accepted as a probable or improbable construction of that which is being seen, and is determinative of what one deduces and postulates in view of it.”[8]

However, it’s not just a matter of some individuals not being to perceive events correctly, there is also the problem that mainstream science needs to be able to verify them, and that with current techniques this isn’t really possible. Along these lines, there is a chapter which addresses the problem of failing to replicate telepathy or precognition under laboratory conditions which raises the issue of a “negative psi effect” or an abnormally low score under laboratory conditions. But, that could arise from conditions of the tests themselves, given that ‘exam anxiety’ is a reasonably common problem for many people.

Chapter four highlights the issue of paranormal phenomena occurring and being known to occur, but preferring to occur outside of empirically verifiable situations. The author then goes on to mention early experiments with telepathy, and the well-known experiments with phone telepathy, which produced some positive results. Other attempts by scientists have been made to record precognition and remote viewing (which is perhaps just an extension of telepathy, rather than projection or bilocation). Modern science has apparently been able to gauge some data here via the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) and the “Precognition Remote Perception” (PRP) experiments.[9]

Psychokinesis is addressed in the following chapter, which addresses the manifestation of this at séance’s and in the presence of mediums, or at hauntings etc. Again, this is not something which would be easy for any form of contemporary science to verify. In particular, this chapter describes the case of the medium Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886) who, “Born in Edinburgh, D. D. Home moved to the northeastern United States, and then returned to Great Britain where he became famous for his power as a supposed medium.”[10]

Chapter twelve brings us to the topic of unidentified flying objects, and remember the keyword here is unidentified, which does not necessarily imply an extra-terrestrial origin. Invariably this topic does appear to be found in conjunction with people interested in psychic phenomenon, and apparently, this extends well beyond the “grassroots” foundations. The author cites Jaques Vallée, who was associated with the DARPA internet project and realized the “deep connection between the two phenomena, UFOs and psi, or even that they are two aspects of the same phenomenon – which has been with us throughout our recorded history.”[11] Interestingly, Vallée seems to have noticed the similarity between old legends of being ‘away with the fairies’ to UFO incidents. If so, in the cases of ‘channelling’ what is being contacted is not so much a distinct entity, but an extension of the ‘occult’ will of the individual as an externalised phenomenon. Along similar lines, later in the chapter William James suggests that “animistic interpretations of Nature would have gradually yielded to scientific ones, and all that would have remained valid of animistic ‘religion’ (and its associated practices of ‘sympathetic magic) would be a kind of phenomena scientifically studied in psychical research”.[12]

Chapter three places the paranormal back with the narrative of Tradition, via well-known esoteric figures such as Giordano Bruno, Cornelius Agrippa, John Dee, and the Rosicrucians. Unfortunately, the Church at this time had a negative view of both Science and the Occult, causing widespread ‘Satanic Panic’ in the community, which undoubtedly had an underlying political motive, more than a religious one. Chapter four extends on this by evoking Immanuel Kant, with the statement that, “A denial of spectral phenomena constitutes the specific ‘limits of possible experience’ set by Kant in his attempt to equate mathematical laws of physics with laws of consciousness”.[13] And “that Kant produced a ‘very strange little book on Swedenborg entitled Dreams of a Spirit-Seer’.”[14]

This appears to have been a refutation of Swedenborg’s claims, which implies that Kant took Swedenborg seriously enough to deem him worthy of discussion. At any rate, it’s clear that Kant had a number of major issues with Swedenborg, and the analysis of Kant continues into chapter five, where it is plainly stated that Kant’s hypothesis may just stem from ethical sentiment, when it is written that “Certain passages in Kant’s writings on the spectral have left me with the distinct impression that he cannot bear the thought that honest-to-goodness folk with no psychic powers can be harmed with impunity by a terribly unethical virtuoso of the occult arts.”[15] Unfortunately for Kant’s position, ‘unethical virtuosi of the occult arts’ are reasonably common.

The chapter entitled Worlds at War proceeds in a different direction, describing the influence of technology. This leads the reader towards Heidegger and his views on the influence of technology, in which Heidegger sees “democracy”, both under the guise of Communism and of “Americanism”, as forms of “the planet-wide movement of modern technology”.[16] Heidegger also “considers the possibility that only our most desperate abandonment to the frenzy of ubiquitous technology may be able to awaken us to what we really are.”[17]

All of these ideas and more, are combined to offer us a new perspective on philosophy, metaphysical concepts, and technology so that “Prometheus and Atlas, as the aesthetic ideas of Technoscience, afford us a radical empiricist understanding of what were once taken to be “miraculous” occurrences that bedazzled people into submitting to the will of a Heavenly Lord who used to fallaciously claim to be omnipotent and omniscient; to claim, in effect, that resistance is futile.”[18] Ultimately then,

Nothing less is demanded of us than the preservation of an Atlas, and the daring of a Prometheus. Mankind is about to be gifted with a new world – but only if we can bear it, and only if we steal it.[19]

 

 

[1] Jorjani, J. R., Prometheus and Atlas (UK: Arktos Media Ltd., 2016), p. 213.

[2] Ibid., p. 209.

[3] Ibid., p. 201.

[4] Ibid., p. 404.

[5] Rao, S. K. R., The Yantra: Text with 32 Plates (India:Sri Satguru Publications, 1998), p. 2.

[6] Jorjani, J. R., Prometheus and Atlas, p. xxiii.

[7] Ibid., p. 179.

[8] Ibid., p. 8.

[9] Ibid., pp. 40-41.

[10] Ibid., p. 46.

[11] Ibid., p. 367.

[12] Ibid., p. 402.

[13] Ibid., p. 86.

[14] Ibid., p. 87.

[15] Ibid., p. 112.

[16] Ibid., p. 203.

[17] Ibid., p. 208.

[18] Ibid., p. 332.

[19] Ibid., p. 404.

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