On Chaos and Magic

Chaos is… well… chaotic. The word comes from the Ancient Greek kháos which refers to the formless void before there was existence. Given this, chaos is a synonym of ‘the void’ but also ‘the all’ in the sense of the most primary “stuff” of all Reality. And so, given that this is the same stuff that you, me, and even [a/the] god and everything material and immaterial, we can call it anything we like.

So the term “chaos magic” is a pleonasm, because you’re saying “chaos chaos”… except you and I know that’s not what we mean when we say “magic”. So just what is magic, and the practice thereof?

Well, there’s the popular imagining of magic as anything that defies the laws of physics, but that wouldn’t be a very honest interpretation since we’d be denying the very chaos of which we are formed since we’ve said that chaos is ‘all’, that includes the laws of physics that we observe around us. So saying magic is not that, well then you’re excluding magic from this entire reality which kind of defeats the whole purpose. That we mean something by ‘magic’ requires that it be in this reality – in some form or other.

And then there’s the New Age idea of magic as ‘energy’ (but again not ‘physical’ energy but some kind of ‘mystical’ energy which at the same time isn’t constrained by the laws of physics yet somehow can affect and therefore interact with this physical realm), but again that’s a little muddle-headed and, I feel, we’re invariably setting ourselves up for disappointment: It makes little sense that something unbesmirched by our laws of physics could ‘come into contact’ with and affect them… and again, that which is not constrained by the laws of physics is our first variant of ‘magic’ as that which defies the laws of physics.

Ruling those out, it may seem that we’re not left much room for anything else. But that’s not how I see it. There is one last mystery in this universe: the very ‘voom’ of Reality itself – that which makes it all happen, the élan vital, the mere fact that anything happens at all. And no, I’m not talking about Time but the reason there is Time; the cause of Time itself. It has many names but I call it, among others, contradiction, inconsistency, “not”, difference, change, and transformation.

This means that whatever “magic” is, it doesn’t defy the laws of physics so much as it defines the laws of physics. The laws of physics as we know them emerge naturally from this ‘magic’.

The reasoning goes like this: In order for something to be possible, anything-and-everything must be possible first. That anything-and-everything is the ‘quodlibet‘ which results from inconsistency. Reality is inconsistent, ever-changing, and unpredictable – maybe even chaotic. But chaos is the ground from which order emerges. That inconsistency – be it ‘logical’ or physical – manifests as a self-involution (a recursive reflection) – the perpetually irresolvable self-contradiction. Think of it like a scratch on a record that keeps skipping backward, or better yet the infinite ‘while loop’ in programming: while this perpetually irresolvable problem subsists – be it logically or physically – then other things can happen. It’s the very dynamism of this reality. So all of reality is chaos and magic – or ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’ – or ‘non-change’ and ‘change’ (change manifests itself in our shared consensual reality as transformation – i.e. it is what it does)… you can call it whatever you like remember.

So the practice of magic is the practice of deliberate and careful (you might even say ‘mindful’) application of transformations in this reality – and since transformations transform other transformations, you are trying to affect and change the outcome of the reality which you and I share. In other words doing stuff. It really is that stupid and simple. But as you see above, there’s a lot that goes into ‘doing stuff’ – for one it empowers you – you become fully cognizant of your own intimate involvement or participation in this reality – and for another it places responsibility squarely on you.

You are chaos, reconfiguring itself, constantly.

You ready for a modern ‘Ouroboros’? OK.

Y’know anything about 3D printing technology? It’s a very simple process: ‘cold’ and solid plastic ‘filament’ is fed into a heated cone. That heated cone is called the ‘print head’, and the heated plastic becomes malleable, and is smeared around on a cold plate under the print head. This allows the hot plastic to cool down again, but this time in a different shape than before – and you are the one to decide what that shape will be (your choice of digital 3D model of the finished product), layer by layer. Here’s a simplified diagram:

3Dprinter

Got it? Ok, so now are you ready to have your mind blown to smithereens?

You are the print-head of Reality.

Here’s my homebrewed (thank you Microsoft Paint) modification to the above diagram:

3DprinterMobiusOuroboros

Meditate on that for a bit… You will see that your thoughts are your future – they are what you put into action via the change of your body (you move your arm right?). Your body and your surroundings are always ‘past’ – that which is done – yet it informs your mind, you make new thoughts based on the information you receive from that past. The loop goes around and around.

But isn’t it strange that while your past informs your future (i.e. you make decisions based on the information you receive from the world around you), your future informs your past (the thoughts you put into action will effectively change the physical consensual reality we share), and yet we don’t disappear into some blank universal sameness? I know that sounds like a strange question. Let me put it in terms of this ouroboros 3D printer: If the movement of the print-head is determined by the shape of the incoming moulded plastic, one would expect the print-head to ‘match’ the input to the output, which would eventually even-out the whole loop so that it just runs smooth, in one end, out the other, without so much as a shudder. That doesn’t make for a very intersting universe. Enter chaos – randomness, inconsistency: you are the source of change – you can at any time decide to do something different. In this way you keep the universe going, in ever-more complex and beautiful shapes and configurations. You are not your mind! You are ‘difference itself’ – that which is perpetually changing itself and that’s magic. You are the boundary between mind and body – you are The Present itself. You make reality happen.

It’s pretty freaky right?

Now expand that awareness to everyone – realize that everyone has that capacity – everyone is ‘not their mind’, everyone is ‘The Present itself’ and is what ‘makes reality happen’ – everyone and every thing. Now do you see why I said “You are chaos, reconfiguring itself, constantly”? There is no ‘you’, unless I’m you, and he’s you, and she’s you, and that snowflake is you, and that bus, and that maggot, and that gust of wind, and that gamma-ray… it’s all ‘you’ – because to all of them, they’re “me” and everyone else is “you” – So you are all ‘me’ and ‘you’ at the same time. Which again is why I said you are not your mind. That’s an illusory side-effect of this body.

See, the old dichotomy of mind/body is a mistake – born naturally from our kind of ‘default’ perspective (so no-one’s to blame here) – Mind and Body are the same sameness – and ‘you’ are the boundary between them. Just like Future and Past are the same sameness, and the Present is the boundary between them.

sameness_difference_diag

The boundary is a transformation between two samenesses.

Take a balloon party-animal, twisted into the shape of a human. You think your mind is the air inside the balloon, and that your body, the world around you, is the air ‘outside’ the balloon. But ‘you’ are neither! You are the rubber ‘skin’ of the balloon. And that rubber skin can be turned inside-out! You can deflate that balloon, and re-inflate it the other way around. Suddenly your ‘mind’ is the whole world, and your ‘body’ is the air inside the balloon… ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ are the same sameness, and the difference (you) lies between them, transforming one into the other and vice-versa.

Ok, well, that’s enough mind-twisting for today. I’ll show you how to burst the balloon in another post.

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