A Series of Empty Boxes
When did our lives become a series of empty boxes?
When I was a child, I loved Christmas. In the lead-in to Christmas, I always had an advent calendar, hanging on the wall, with 24 little windows, one for each morning leading up to the Big Day. Each window opened onto an image, a framed drawing of something “unexpected” (except it couldn’t have been, because how many new Christmas‑y images are there, year after year?). Why did I find these little boxes so thrilling? Because they promised a wonderful future.
All boxes lure us into them with promises of freedom, joy, and fulfillment; but they only lead to the next box, and the next failed promise that quickly covers up its failure with new promises, like the next president elect.
The advent calendar windows were not the only boxes I escaped into. On Christmas Day, there were three dimensional boxes to excitedly unwrap and open. Then there was TV (the box) and movies, offering packages of imagery inside units of precisely measured time, all promising marvels. Speaking of marvels, before movies were Marvel comics, each panel (box) leading to the next, bursting with four-color new wonders, all leading nowhere.
Has anything really changed?
The Black Iron Mind That Never Ended
We portion out our lives into sequences and segments of time, things to anticipate and look forward to: the next meal, the next email, the next TV show, the next blow job, the next podcast, retweet or Faceborg “like.” And meanwhile, we are boxed in, by our pleasures as much as our pains.
At school, we are sent from one box-room to the next, for a box of time, made to study box-like books and compartmentalize facts and theories into boxes to be scored. Papers and magazines and Smart phones and tablets give us “the news,” mediating our experience in, through, and as boxes. Our minds become boxes filled with ever smaller, tighter boxes. And meanwhile, all of existence gets further and further away, on the outside.
We approach and anticipate each new thought and feeling in just the way I opened those little windows each morning as a child, eager for the next one, my hollow hopes eternally rekindled, hopes of more distraction, while preparing for the ultimate, the grand surprise, the big reveal. What will it be?!
But Christmas is just another day, and we are older, each year, and the revelation still hasn’t arrived.
There are only two days that can ever truly meet the endless hunger within us. Neither of these days can be boxed up inside our minds, because both bring about the end of the mind. They are either the day of our enlightenment, or the day of our deaths.
At least one of these is coming to you, very soon.
Activity without Author
I have been listening to the audio book of Steven Norquist’s Haunted Universe. I first bought it in 2010. (Available here) and I must have listened to it over a hundred times by now. Most of those listens have been in the last couple of months, since I started listening to it in bed, because Norquist’s voice is so relaxing and hypnotic that it sends me into a relaxed state, and thence to sleep. Lately, it sends me to sleep almost immediately, each time I wake in the night, which means I am listening to the book (which is less than an hour long) several times a night while I sleep! This is not a spiritual practice. It is what Dave Oshana called “a secret vice” (which I characteristically make public now).
I have loved and hated, feared and loathed this book over the last twelve years. I have disagreed violently with much of it, yet felt strangely compelled to submit to even the most contentious and horrifying passages within it. Most strangely, after over a hundred listens of a book that can’t be more than 20,000 words, I continue to hear things that are new, things I could swear were not there before, that I have no memory of ever hearing. The most recent example was last night, when I finally heard Norquist describe enlightenment in “terms of the deal you will make with the devil”).
(This is interesting timing, as I just emailed Norquist suggesting that HU might be propagating a satanic credo.)
Not What You Are Looking For
Norquist does not do tours or talks or workshops, or anything at all (except occasionally answer my emails) that would cause anyone to mistake him for a spiritual teacher. For years, I have doubted his claim to enlightenment. All such claims are to be doubted, at least until we can experience a measure of the claimant’s enlightenment for ourselves, via direct and sustained interaction. But last night something hit me, some passage that I had not heard before, that was so eloquent and profound, so palpably true, that (it seemed to me) only an enlightened consciousness could have formulated it.
Whatever the case, Haunted Universe is a lyrical masterpiece with a whiff of the beyond, and everything that implies (including truly adult horror). Whether it comes from God or Satan or both, it is not for the faint of heart or the weak of ego-mind. Listening to it is a kind of initiation, into existential horror and what might lie on the other side of that annihilating encounter with ultimate truth.
“Do you want to die, be burned to ash, have your life ripped from you? Do you want the clear and irrevocable understanding in the heart of your being that everything, every single thing, up to this very moment of your life, has been complete lies and bullshit? Do you want that? To cry and mourn all that is, to finally stand alone and unconnected to any human purpose or endeavor, forever. Does this sound even close to what you are looking for?”
Nothing Like This
“There is no better world. The very thought that a world could be changed for the better is the darkest evil, the darkest delusion. Every person that ever raised a flag was completely insane.” (HU)
At some level, it is impossible to deny what the book conveys. At another, it is impossible to agree with it. And how could it be any other way, when a book attempts to encapsulate the infinite? Haunted Universe is both profoundly true and profoundly untrue. The truth of the words is irrelevant, because all that matters is the effect of the words, on the consciousness that encounters them.
It is this, finally, that “persuades” me as to Norquist’s enlightenment (and inspires me to share my experience and recommend the book). He has constructed a lethal spiritual text, one that no false identity can ever embrace or agree with, but that, at some strange, mysterious level, is enchanting and delightful to the very soul that Norquist denies exists. It whispers to the dragon in us.
Part of my fascination for this work is that I feel sure my late brother would have been able to receive it, as he would not have been able to receive anything else “spiritual” I might have tried to share him (not counting my own words, which he occasionally received). He might even have loved the book. My brother was the most “anti-spiritual” person I have ever known, contemptuous of all new age gurus, no matter their shape, style or pedigree. But Haunted Universe speaks a language he would have understood, the language of the inescapable, intolerable existential horror and revulsion the mind experiences when confronted with the infinitude of existence.
The false identity mind has no choice but to negate the infinite and scream out, “in horror and in hatred” its own puny insistence on existing. This cry of defiance, if made passionately enough and heard deeply enough, is the cry that finally opens the door (the wound), back to the reality of the soul.
Lastly But Not Leastly…
Meanwhile, on the other side of hatred and horror, Dave Oshana, the only enlightened soul I know of who does more than answer emails (who is willing to meet you wherever you are), the polar opposite of the lurking ghoulish mastery of Norquist, is hosting a final 2022 free event tomorrow, Saturday.
Recent article by Dave: “The Geniuses Who Will Actually Save The World”
If you can logistically make this event, why in Heaven’s name wouldn’t you? Are you so sure that life has no surprises in store for a soul bold and unjaded enough to take a real chance? Then you’ve been conned! (Just don’t expect it to fit into any of your mind-boxes.)
This event is, I believe, 15 years to the day after my first encounter with Dave, in Hampstead London in 2007—a day that changed my life forever (though I only half knew it at the time).
Tomorrow could be a day like that for you.
 Do you perceive any inherent problem in equating all of existence with materiality (consciousness with the universe)? [I quote from The Kubrickon:] Evolutionary theory wants to basically do away with the need for a religious or a divine principle by saying that matter itself is self-evolving. Theologically, this is Satanism. [I cite the von Triers movie, The House That Jack Built, in which the serial killer (an engineer who’s trying to become an architect) believes that matter has its own will, its own intelligence, and that things just happen according to that material will.] This is immanence without transcendence, and it is more or less in accord with the Satanic zeitgeist. (Norquist had help with his book from Lovecraftian horror writer Thomas Ligotti. Ligotti is an antinatalist and pro-mortalist who admits he’d rather live in a shopping mall than rough it in a natural environment.)