Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Thu 5 Aug 04 13:40
Oops.... Guess neither spell check nor I know how to spell sublime ;-).
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Fri 6 Aug 04 12:10
I once described myself as having signed on to a succession of lost causes in my life. The counterculture, comix, anarchism, Whole Earth, Western esotericism, and most recently Freemasonry. However, a friend told me that this was too negative a way to characterize my life and I should look at it as a series of adventures. I started out my career as a cartoonist and, for anyone who knows cartoonists, that says it all. Just about every cartoonist I've ever known was introverted, depressed, and passive aggressive. I don't think I'd call myself an exception to that description. <g> But who knows? I think we are often the least capable of giving a good objective account of ourselves. My whole adult life has been spent either trying to overcome those personality traits or learning to live with them. We spoke earlier of the value of a community and I've certainly found that a sense of community can be especially helpful for those of us inclined to be loners and misanthropes. Heh. GNOSIS magazine was, in many ways, my culminating life's work - an instance where everything came together: a clear vision, talented people, a receptive audience, and a quality product. I sustained the magazine through thick and thin for 14 years and was emotionally crushed when circumstances forced its death. It is still tough for me to talk about it. <g> Why was I so committed to GNOSIS? Because experiences in my own life had convinced me of the reality of an underlying order and intelligence in the universe. And I felt that the unsung Western approaches to that reality deserved to be better known. The idea for the magazine - its design, contents, voice - dropped into my mind as a whole gestalt, as if it was meant to happen and I was just the caretaker or implementer. But needless to say, having that project suddenly end triggered a kind of spiritual crisis which I've been slowly overcoming since then. I will say this: I don't think there are any "quick fixes" in this life. Sometimes one's main spiritual work is just finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Fri 6 Aug 04 13:40
You wrote; "I will say this: I don't think there are any "quick fixes" in this life. Sometimes one's main spiritual work is just finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning." Given my dark years and the position I find myself in at this point in my life, I can identify with those comments all too well ;-). I notice though, you still have a web-site up for the magazine and are offering for sale copies of all the old issues at http://www.lumen.org/ for those who might be interested. When I was searching out information about you, I read the articles you had put on-line there from the magazine and found them fascinating. It really is too bad there will be no new ones. But, looking at the articles that are listed for the various issues, I sure hope you will continue to find other ways to get that information out to the world. There has to be a treasure drove of information/ideas in that archive for you to mine for MORE books the way it was for your latest. I haven't really had a chance to take a serious look at your web-site though and was curious about what you have there that might be of interest to me and our readers?
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Fri 6 Aug 04 15:17
The GNOSIS website features listings of the contents of all 51 issues of the magazine, sample articles from many issues, a searchable index of the contents of every issue by key word or author, and ordering information for back issues. One of the virtues of GNOSIS was that the material it ran was pretty timeless, so there is not a high degree of "out of date" material in the back issues. I've been dedicated to keeping back issues available for as long as possible...which boils down to for as long as enough orders keep coming in to cover the storage and overhead costs. I have a nice, dry storage container full of some 20,000 or so back issues (we commonly overran 1000 or so copies of each issue and also took whole copy returns from distributors). About 10 of the issues are out of print but we do small runs of quality reprints of them as needed, especially so that we can make full set orders available. Check out the site for more info. ;-)
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Fri 6 Aug 04 16:42
Now, how about giving us a tour of this one ;-) http://www.jaykinney.com/
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Fri 6 Aug 04 18:00
That's my Clinic of Cultural Collision...a mock clinic for web-induced culture shock. It's really just a site I put together which collects some of my more off-the-wall articles and a slew of links to mostly little known websites that provide intriguing information and diverting stimulation. I've had it up on the Web, in one form or other, for close to ten years. (It was originally a user page on the Well, come to think of it.) One of these days I vow to re-do the whole design and jazz it up, but as it is currently it is so simple that it loads quickly.
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Fri 6 Aug 04 19:17
You are right, it is an easy load ;-). I just took a look around and found your "Reading Material" almost immediately. And, in the pamphlets & Articles section, I spotted a word which I've thought about frequently over the years. So, I immediately clicked on your article' "The Pornographic Impulse," which originally appeared in a special issue on "Sexuality" in Critique #29 (1988). When I read it, what struck me most about it was the way you were attempting to expand the meaning of the word pornography. When you spoke of the 'Pornographic Impulse', you defined it as "the tendency to create (or seek out an already created) media image or fantasy which substitutes for that which is represented" and as I read further, the sense I got of the concept you were attempting to attach that label to was that you were looking for another way to talk about the commodification of our culture, especially various aspects of our cultural experience and the way representations of things can, not only stand in for the real, but become more important to the individual and reinforce the alienation that is endemic in civilized society. I loved your addressing the concept but, have to admit, I didn't agree with the way you labeled it. For me at least, the term pornography has always just meant sexual imagery, whether written or visual, commercial or not. Why conflate the concept of pornography (which literally means the writing of/or about prostitutes in the ancient Greek) with commodification fetisism? I guess the old activist impulse to protect and defend sexual expression sparked my attention ;-). So, what do you think these days about the concepts you were dealing with in that 16 year old article these days?
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sat 7 Aug 04 10:59
I'm sure I wasn't the first - and won't be the last - to use the words "pornography" or "pornographic" for something beyond the strictly sexual definition of the terms. Words in social usage are fluid things. Words like "pimp" or "whore" get applied to people or actions beyond the merely sexual as well. The phenomenon I was discussing in that old article is certainly still with us - more than ever - so I think the article still stands up well. We are increasingly sucked into representations of reality substituting for the real thing, so much so that it is almost a cliché to complain about it. Today's Doonesbury strip is about video games sucking up one's youth. I don't have a wholly negative take on pornography. I certainly defend its right to exist and I've enjoyed my share over the years. With that article, though, I was just trying to examine how it works in a general sense and then apply that principle to wider matters. Like the saying goes, Width Matters. Haha.
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sat 7 Aug 04 13:12
Since I don't believe that it's posted anywhere else on the Web, I thought I'd post the contents page of The Inner West to give readers a better sense of what the book covers. Introduction to the Inner West by Jay Kinney The Wests Esoteric Roots 1. Hermes & Alchemy: the Winged God and the Golden Word by Richard Smoley 2. The Star-Gods of Neoplatonism by Kenneth Stein 3. The Quest for Spiritual Freedom: the Gnostic Worldview by Stephan A. Hoeller The Inner Side of the Wests Religions 4. Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism: An Overview by Pinchas Giller 5. The Mysticism of Christian Teaching by Theodore J. Nottingham 6. Sufism: A Path to Human Wholeness by Kabir Helminski The Secret Teachings 7. The Quest of the Magus: A Summary of the Western Magical Tradition by Thomas D. Worrel 8. The Unexamined Tarot by Chas S. Clifton 9. Ladder to Labyrinth: The Spiritual and Psychological Dimensions of Astrology by Priscilla Costello 10. Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom by Caitlín Matthews 11. Explaining Wicca by Judy Harrow Esoteric Brotherhoods 12. The Hidden Sages and the Knights Templar by Robert Richardson 13. The Rosicrucian Dream by Christopher McIntosh 14. Masonic Civilization by Richard Smoley Mystics and Teachers 15. Heavens and Hells: The Inner Worlds of Emanuel Swedenborg by Gary Lachman 16. Blavatsky and Her Masters by K. Paul Johnson 17. The Apocalyptic Steiner by Anastasy Tousomou 18. Rene Schwaller de Lubicz and The Intelligence of the Heart by Gary Lachman 19. G.I. Gurdjieff: Meetings with a Remarkable Paradox by Richard Smoley 20. Facing the Traditionalists by Joscelyn Godwin
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Sat 7 Aug 04 17:02
Jay, I'm glad you posted the book's contents page. Unfortunately, it's not easy to give any real sense of it's scope in a format like this one but that page does it very succinctly. Interestingly enough, I thought I noticed a change in the way the Well is advertising our discussion. Did they always use "Finding Religion" for their Title/link' and ask the question, "Does God play spiritual hide and seek?" or has it just changed it's position on the page? Anyway, whether it's new or just new to me again, it's a good question so, how would you respond to that one? I had to laugh at your ending comment in #58; "Like the saying goes, Width Matters." But, but...you know, that doesn't necessarily mean it's always a "good" thing ;-). Have to admit, I feel "protective" about the word but my concern wasn't just because it was being widened so much as I was worried about the potential for it becoming even more distorted that it has been in our sex negative culture. However, since that discussion might be a little off topic, I'll restrain myself. On the other hand, given the reality that so much of today's world is fundamentally sex-negative, I feel it's important to affirm that sexuality itself has a strong spiritual component that, given the right frame of mind/spirit, can help one understand our connection to the universe every chance I get and, would bet that both of us are in agreement about it being a link to the divine.
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Sat 7 Aug 04 21:46
I just re-read this whole discussion and it makes me appreciate the importance of editors ;-). No matter how many times I re-read or re-write my posts for this discussion, seconds after I've finally posted it, an awkward construction or misspelling or missing word pops out at me. It's too bad there's no way to correct mistakes like that once I've let my thoughts loose in the world....sure wish this was as editable as a Wiki
Joy Lindsey-Mitchell (joyam) Sun 8 Aug 04 03:55
Jay, I have not read your books, but will soon obtain your The Inner West as a promising reference to metaphysical traditions. Thanks for sharing your inquiries and practices. Have you studied a branch of the U.S. Christianity from the early 19 hundreds? The mentor of the movement was Emma Curtis Hopkins. Her many students started new Churches such as Science of Mind, Unity, Christian Science. During Emma Curtis' prime she spoke to large audiences on her lecture curcuit. High Mysticism was her last work. Also, the Tarot system of symbolism comes out of the Kabbalah, as does Christianity. Each of the Tarot major arcana represents aspects of human intelligence. There is a western mystery school based on this discipline still in existence in L.A. It teaches the principles and practice of Kabbalistic metaphysics to its aspirants through a Tarot curriculum handed down progressively by its masters. I don't think this is the Madonna connection to the kabballah. In both of these esoteric streams of thought is an emphasis on the universal inner life and the major collective objective to promote the welfare of humanity. They do not advocate any "ism" nor promote specific economic or political systems. But they do turn the powerful light of occult knowledge upon human and social problems to show what can be done by exercise of intuition and reason.
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sun 8 Aug 04 09:05
Bobby wrote: "Interestingly enough, I thought I noticed a change in the way the Well is advertising our discussion. Did they always use "Finding Religion" for their Title/link' and ask the question, "Does God play spiritual hide and seek?" or has it just changed it's position on the page? Anyway, whether it's new or just new to me again, it's a good question so, how would you respond to that one?" I think they updated the blurb to keep it fresh. The hide and seek question was probably just picking up on a comment I made a couple of days back: "I think that we are engaged in a 3-way hide and seek between our psyche, the universe, and an underlying order or intelligence or consciousness." You know, I prefer not to think of God as a separate entity, but its hard for our minds not to think of it that way. Any encounter between the finite and the Infinite is going to subjectively feel like hide and seek.
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sun 8 Aug 04 09:27
Bobby wrote: "On the other hand, given the reality that so much of today's world is fundamentally sex-negative, I feel it's important to affirm that sexuality itself has a strong spiritual component that, given the right frame of mind/spirit, can help one understand our connection to the universe every chance I get and, would bet that both of us are in agreement about it being a link to the divine." I have to suspect that the majority of human culture throughout history has been "sex-negative," if by that you mean being wary of it, fearing it, being confused by it, regretting it, and so on. For most of history, sex was perforce intertwined with pregnancy and thus with the pain of childbirth and the real danger of death from childbirth. So I suspect that women always tended to hedge in the free expression of sexual impulses with boundaries that could be seen today as "sex-negative." But that aside, America's heritage is one of the puritans and pilgrims and other religious dissenters who took a dim view of sensual pleasures in general (not just sexual). The result today is a truly schizophrenic society which embraces gluttony but gets a charge out of denying others pleasure. But, to answer your question, I do agree that sex can be a link to the divine. This has been more fully explored in Eastern paths like Tantra than in Western ones, alas. But even just for the average person on the street, sex may be as close as they get to an ecstasy that pulls them outside of their daily cares.
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sun 8 Aug 04 09:37
Joy, I've read a fair amount about the whole New Thought movement, which Emma Hopkins falls within. I would have included a piece on it in my book if I had been able to find a good succinct history/summary of it. I looked for such a piece but never found one to include. The L.A. outfit that you may be referring to is probably the Builders of the Adytum, no? I've had a generally good impression of them, based on speaking with people who have taken their lessons. The connection between Tarot and Kabbalah is relatively recent, I believe. It's my impression that the French occultist Eliphas Levi invented the relationship between the Tarot Major Arcana and the paths on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. That was in the mid-1800s. There are actually several approaches to Kabbalah. There's the traditional Jewish mystical one, but there have also been Christian variants and Magical ones. So, things can get a bit confusing depending on which one one is referring to. ;-)
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Sun 8 Aug 04 14:12
Jay, When I used the term "sex negative" above, I wasn't talking about anything as simple as a realistic wariness or fear of sex because of it's connection with childbirth and the very real danger of death from childbirth which tended to hedge in the free expression of its impulses. Nor was I talking about fears that limited orgiastic or promiscuous sexuality because of the threat of disease. I was trying to address something much more malignant that transforms a relatively healthy respect for (fear of) a natural force of immense strength and power into a control mechanism that can be used by whoever the "powers that be" are to maintain and reinforce their position. I was trying to point to the morphing by religious hierarchies and others of that respectful fear into mechanisms to maintain and reinforce their control of very diverse cultures around the world. I believe that America today has it's own legacy of "sex-negative" control mechanisms and that, although some of them may appear have eroded, I fear that they have actually just been transformed not eliminated. You were right, our heritage is one of puritans and pilgrims who took a dim view of sensual pleasures including the sexual, although I suspect that is an over-generalization since we also hear of practices during the early years of our country that even today many would consider shocking like bundling and I understand many dissenters also had a healthy respect for sexuality and sensuality though its indulgence/expression was controlled/limited to certain "approved" situations. Looking at the world I was born into, it's possible to tease out strands of the mindset that those mechanisms create. My grandmother was berated by her father, called a sinner and a loose woman and at 14 years of age shamed for having a pink ribbon threaded through the eyelets of her camisole. I can point to the reality that 62 years ago my mother was fired from her job as a secretary in a high school office when she became pregnant with me once she began to show. In her world it wasn't acceptable for teenagers to be exposed to the fruits of sexuality even if it had been socially sanctioned by marriage. Sex was perceived, not only as dangerous, but as something inherently dirty and evil. I grew up in a world where people only a few years older than me felt too uncomfortable to even announce a pregnancy without resorting to euphemisms. I'm talking about a world in which women my age were being send out of state to give birth or submitting to illegal abortions (with their risk of death) because of shameful stigma that would destroy not only themselves but shame their family and blight all their futures. I'm talking about a world in which a rational response to the AIDS epidemic was delayed due to the perception that it was just a "homosexual disease" that wouldn't affect anyone but those who, in the minds of large segments of society, were "degenerates" and that legitimated letting them suffer and die. I'm trying to find words to talk about a world in which sex was seen as so shameful that any participation, no matter whether it was engaging in a commercial act, having been the victim of rape or merely swept away by desire in the embrace of their legally wedded spouse would leave participants with a sense of guilt and shame. In some cultures, sex workers may have been honored and respected members providing a needed service to those without a partner but not in ours. Even in this country, prostitution itself was not always criminalized, but it is now. I see the applicability of that term even today because I see our much more overtly sexually open society still controlled by negative mechanisms linked to our desire to be attractive not to mention the push by certain to reinforce old ones around issues of abstinence and control sexual orientation to mention just a few of them. The mechanisms may not always be obvious in today's apparently sex-obsessed society but they are there and at the bottom there is still a sense of dirty shamefulness not joyous abandonment when it comes to sex which is why I used the term "sex-negative". Oops, better get of my soapbox before I get too carried away ;-).
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sun 8 Aug 04 18:13
Haha...too late! <g> Thanks for clarifying what you meant. I don't really disagree with you on all that. I do kind of wonder if any society has existed that you can point to as a baseline for "sex-positive", though. Most cultures that come to mind, that I know anything about (which isn't all of them, by any means), seem to have some components of control and shaming in the sexual area.
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Sun 8 Aug 04 22:17
You wrote; "I do kind of wonder if any society has existed that you can point to as a baseline for "sex-positive", though." And I'm afraid I can't. I'm not scholar enough to know when or where or even if an "ideal" sex positive culture ever existed. And, have to agree with you that most cultures I remember hearing about seem to have some components of control and shaming in the sexual area. But, as an ideal to emulate. It can be better expressed in one culture than another and even differently in the same culture over time. And, I know that it is a direction I'd like to encourage in the world in which I live. To be honest, I don't see those two characteristics as polar opposites so much as recognize that each path holds the seeds of the other and that to grow individually or culturally, there is an ongoing search/struggle/attempt to find a balance between the two. I'd like to get back to your answer when I asked you what you thought of the question "Does God play spiritual hide and seek?". In an earlier post<63> you wrote, "You know, I prefer not to think of God as a separate entity, but its hard for our minds not to think of it that way. Any encounter between the finite and the Infinite is going to subjectively feel like hide and seek. I just wanted to say, I think the two of us are on the same wave length here. Although, here again I wouldn't be absolute in any assessment that encounters between the finite and Infinite are enigmatic and may subjectively be felt as playing hide and seek.
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sun 8 Aug 04 23:48
I'm rarely absolute in any assessment of anything. ;-) This hide and seek notion is just a whimsical metaphor for the ebbing and flowing of awareness or the ongoing repositioning of one's subjective location in the greater scheme of things. (If that makes any sense whatever...) Sometimes I feel in touch with the divine and other times I don't. I suppose that if I were better at maintaining a regular meditative practice I could better sustain the "in touch" feeling. But, at any rate, since I take it for granted that the omnipresent infinite is always present, this fluctuation in connection must be due to variations in my own awakeness. But from my limited perspective it feels like God is playing hide and seek with me.
Joy Lindsey-Mitchell (joyam) Mon 9 Aug 04 02:21
Thanks ,Jay, for that possibility about the synthesis of kabbalah and the tarot system long after the advent of kabbalah. That is not my impression, so you have given me something interesting to research that well could be. Also integrated into the tarot system are astrology and numeralogy. I'll get back on that one. You win on the L.A. group! I am currently interested in the writings of Ann Davies, who was the last master of the group. She has a way of conveying so many "great notions" in personable ways that open the mind and the consciousness very succinctly. I have no accomplished absorbtion or description of E. Curtis to offer. I find her very difficult to paraphase--perhaps that's true of all the truth language. She is a mystic of who focused on the Christian . I know of no biography. It seems that the best way to find out about her is to go back to the time when she was better known. Actually I have never "googled" her, but I do have some unpublished works of hers. I required some years and methodology for observation of my inner relationship, to identify my game of "hide and seek. For me it is not that God plays hide and seek--alas it is I who hide and seek. My ego and all its deluded self interested motivations, "often hides" those motivations and behaviors that I would rather not recognize or change. I have " hidden/separated myself from God. Those times seem to be when I am waylayed by my habit/racial mind, acting out emotions therein attached; or when, as Jay say, I am not living out of my higher principles and understandings. I think this must be a necessary tension as long as we are incarnate. As Jesus guided his apostles: you must learn "to live in the world but not be of it". Simple, not easily done. Because of some basic duality we best overcome, we all have a very steep learning curve to enlightenments. About the level of cultural understanding and judgements about sex: a reflection of our difficulty with intimacy of all kinds. I feel like the sad thing is that in this culture the iconization of "getting sex" has become the only way to experience intimacy. And then of course, "the getting of it" mentality, robs these interchanges of any real intimacy. Separating sex from other human expressions of intimacy, generally contributes to the negative ways in which sex is used, routinized, practiced and experienced. The occult saying is that: "As above, so below" and vice versa. Our cultural "above" or consciousness, usually interferes with our expressive natures, so necessary in finding our natures and identity.
Joy Lindsey-Mitchell (joyam) Mon 9 Aug 04 02:29
Just another way to say, we have not slipped the bounds of judgementalness consciouness even long years after the tale of Adam and Eve's fall out of paradise.
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Mon 9 Aug 04 08:00
Joy, I really liked the your comment when you said, "For me it is not that God plays hide and seek--alas it is I who hide and seek." I can't emphasis how important an understanding that is to know it is your own ego that masks the connection with the infinite that exists in all of us. Although, I probably wouldn't call the ego's "self-interested motivations" necessarily "deluded" ;-). From my perspective, they are merely limited understandings which it is important to pay attention to and ultimately accept and will be better understood when integrated within the larger context of your self, your life and your relationship with others and material reality itself. Higher principles will lead to to fuller understandings which in turn will lead to becoming more emotionally aware which will shape the choices one makes. One needs to start by cultivating an awareness of what one feels and the "truth" behind WHY one feels the emotions fueling those motivations. They are not something to be repressed or denied or even necessarily acted upon, just accepted as one more bit of information about the state of one's relationship to the material world.
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Mon 9 Aug 04 08:01
Joy, I think your observation says it very well: "I required some years and methodology for observation of my inner relationship, to identify my game of "hide and seek. For me it is not that God plays hide and seek--alas it is I who hide and seek. My ego and all its deluded self interested motivations, "often hides" those motivations and behaviors that I would rather not recognize or change. I have " hidden/separated myself from God." Re Emma Hopkins, I recommend a book that discusses her and other founders of New Thought. It is _Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought_ by Charles S. Braden, published by SMU Press, 1963. It is, I think, long out of print, but there are probably used copies around. She began with Christian Science and then branched out on her own.
Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Mon 9 Aug 04 09:47
Jay, After our comments about the need for community, it was interesting for me to find in the current SF Weekly (Aug 4-10) that their Night Crawler column on-line at http://www.sfweekly.com/issues/2004-08-04/nightcrawler.html is focusing on "One Space" an "urban retreat center" that the column characterizes as a "mindful-living clubhouse and transcendental marketplace for all your California-conscious needs." which was founded by theosophy students. Sounds quite new and VERY interesting. Do you know the place?
Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Mon 9 Aug 04 10:35
Bobby, I'm not familiar with the place, though its name appears to be One Taste (not One Space)... ;-) It sounds like an idealistic endeavor and I hope it flourishes. It would have helped if the column had given their address. It also sounds like a generational project, based on the article's description. Let's hope they can bring in all ages and not just be one more club for 20-something vegans. (Not that I have anything against 20-something vegans.)
Members: Enter the conference to participate