This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
by David Metcalfe (Originally published at The Teeming Brain) De Umbris Idearum: the shadows of ideas. Giordano Bruno used this as the title of one of his treatises on the art of memory. Taking the notion of shadows is taken for its most expansive potential, everything we encounter in the environment is in some way a shadow of an idea, whether in nature, where our interpretation of what we encounter is predicated on a complex assemblage of conceptual precedents, or in the social world of artifice, where everything from our cell phones to the buildings we live in are in some ways the physical shadows of someone’s idea. Meditation and contemplative practice, in many traditions, are tools for overcoming some of the inherent problems that come from dealing in shadows. Think of yourself on a darkened street. You see a tall figure moving towards you from an alleyway. Unsure of whether facing friend or foe, the mind immediately moves to react in the way best suited for survival. If friend, the shadow will be no threat, but if enemy, then without the proper attention, we could face injury or death. It makes sense, then, to react immediately in defense rather than taking a chance on becoming a victim. But this is nevertheless a very taxing way to go about things. What if one could more clearly judge potential threats or potential benefactors? In the material realm, this is a key to the practice of martial arts. In the mental and spiritual realm, this is the key to the practice of philosophy.
secular/spiritual) creates a gross distortion of what we could be if we existed as one unified being. and unfiltered connectivity is directly related to relying on uncoordinated specialization to handle issues that affect the whole. the inspiration came from our discussing the notorious Men in Black mythos.War is father of all. mental/physical. technological ubiquity. The inspiration for today’s column. king of all. and that it is a recent innovation. We must be ready for the unveiling. especially in times of crisis and change such as those we are facing now. The failure of our current culture to deal adequately with the responsibilities of mass communication. – Heraclitus One must never forget that Socrates was a soldier. There is no better time to explore the potential of philosophy as a martial art than in the shadow of the apocalypse. predicated on the specialization required for technological efficiency. some it makes men. where separating the holistic nature of our organism into specialized components (public/private. as the title of his well-known book implies. that Paracelsus slept with his sword at hand. This applies as well to our personal lives. was spurred by a conversation that I had last night with the noted parapsychologist George Hansen. whose specialty. This is very important to understand. . is the trickster and the paranormal. Some it makes gods. the mental and spiritual aspects of philosophy are merely the crown which is won after an arduous struggle to engage the fact of our material existence. Look around and you can see the obvious danger of erring on either side of the issue. In reality. and ready to address what is unveiled. some it makes slaves. one can move easily between experiences and coordinate the wealth of opportunities that arise from interacting on all levels of reality. Adopting this outlook. Specifically. some free. which has relegated philosophic practice to a purely mental realm. for instance.
Along the road there came a stranger in a land where strangers were rare and suspect. She opened the door a crack and her sleep-swollen face winced with fear as she stared at the apparition on her doorstep. His face. He walked up to the door of a crumbling farmhouse and hammered. The flashes of lightning behind him added an eerie effect. black hat. He wore a black suit. and black overcoat. After a long moment a light blinked on somewhere in the house and a young woman appeared. with impractical black dress shoes covered with mud. He was over six feet tall and dressed entirely in black. drawing a cheap mail-order bathrobe tightly about her. barely visible in the darkness. – John Keel. sported a neatly trimmed mustache and goatee. black tie. The Mothman Prophecies .
How do Men in Black correlate with the shadow of ideas? What better symbol of how fluid our view of reality is than these stories of sinister strangers encountered on the eve. stories of the Devil. this notion of shadows is a potent source of power for the event. and Aphrodite. which I related in a previous column discussing the work of medievalist Claude Lecouteux.) Medieval faerie lore. It is from the opening chapter. could in some ways fall into the mythopoetic web of the MIB phenomena. Whatever the material reality of our experience. I realized that even something like the story of the ghost at the bus stop. such as Odin. As George and I discussed this phenomenon. of anomalous events. misgivings. Within the liminal realm of anomaly we are faced with an unnerving mirror that reflects our own assumptions. The above selection from Keel’s most famous book plays on this ambiguity. Zeus. and ET’s. Dionysus. The Men in Black mythos moves easily through classical religion (one thinks of stories of gods assuming mortal form to travel amongst the people. secret societies. we are faced with an amorphous potential that bears no clear relation to fact or fiction. In fact. When it comes to anomalous phenomena. It is a rare nexus point in which so many anomalous aspects of experience can be codified in the simple image of the mysterious stranger. in Claude Lecouteux’s The Secret History of Poltergeists there is an account. and fears. witch lore. . or in the aftermath. titled “Beezlebub Comes to West Virginia.” and the odd figure that appears at the night-shrouded door is John Keel himself. and into fears of government conspiracy.
The Teeming Brain and his own blog The Eyeless Owl. and not kill those things lurking in the shadows of ideas which. This is philosophy with a sword.which I quoted in that previous column. Modern Mythology. The Revealer. Disinfo. writer and multimedia artist focusing on the interstices of art. Chromatic: The Crossroads of Color & Music (Alarm Press. can enlighten us to the depths of reality that often go unnoticed. He is a contributing editor for Reality Sandwich. 2011) and Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness (North Atlantic/Evolver Editions 2012). David Metcalfe is an independent researcher. Metcalfe is an Associate with Phoenix Rising Digital Academy.” What George pointed out to me in our conversation is that it is important to keep an open mind and not allow an easy dismissal to cloud potential inspiration. which can come from some very odd angles. Andrew Chesnut. and ready to address what is unveiled. a collaborative project hosted by Dr. and consciousness. culture. and the sanctification of death in the popular faith traditions of the Americas. check out http://skeletonsaint. if properly addressed. . For more information on Santa Muerte. R.com. and is currently co-hosting The Art of Transformations study group with support from the International Alchemy Guild. Inspiration. and The Daily Grail. and being able to parse out what is valuable from even the most obscure shadows that creep into our lives. encompassing all areas of experience. like the stranger in the alley. We must be careful to wield our sword with skill. David Metcalfe and Liminal Analytics. He writes regularly for Evolutionary Landscapes. the online journal of NYU’s Center for Religion and Media. of my own family having a 17th-century encounter with a mysterious figure appearing at the door. Alarm Magazine. can be easily mistaken for an enemy. We must be ready for the unveiling.com. His writing has been featured in The Immanence of Myth (Weaponized 2011). “There is no better time to explore the potential of philosophy as a martial art than in the shadow of the apocalypse.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.