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Old 02-10-2017   #1
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The Supernatural

I'm curious to know if the "supernatural" aspect behind most weird fiction has in some way opened the minds of some people here to the possibility that the visible world is merely a small portion of something both quantitatively as well as qualitatively larger.

Speaking for myself, I keep thinking about the account of everyday perception in phenomenology, or the notion that we only perceive a single aspect (side) of an object which presupposes an infinite number of other perspectives that can't be presented all at once. Perhaps the visible world as a whole is governed by the same principle.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 02-11-2017   #2
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Re: The Supernatural

We like to think of ourselves, in the form of human beings, as the top of creation and evolutionary ladder, as enlightened, and perceptive, as morally superior. But our understanding of reality is limited, perverted, and illusionary. For one thing, our anatomical parts are specialized and meagerly developed, fitting into a small earthbound section of reality. And compared to other species, our eyes (we are used to the bent cockeyed picture seen through those particular small lenses), ears, noses, and sensory touches, are inferior, less developed. We perceive only a small and distorted part of reality, far from all sides of reality. And we don't understand so much as we like to think we do. Symbolically we can be said to be sitting inside an "apartment" with walls shielding us all around. We have only recently started to walk upright, which our spines are not even yet anatomically adapted for. Objectively speaking, we are freaks.
Human beings are very very smug and arrogant in their self-positioning. When, instead, we should look humbly upon ourselves as just one among several animal species.

I believe individuals can have glimmerings of more enlightened perception (non-Aristotelian logic, "null-A" to quote A. E. van Vogt), but it rarely lasts.
I also believe evolution can bring Homo sapiens, with time, to something else, of a much higher level of development; but whether that will happen, or not, is dependent on many un-forseeable circumstances of future history. The best we can do, is to strive for it, as maturely as we are able; that is a positive aspect we already possess, in part, for a rough direction.

As to supernatural or spiritual perceptions, I believe those can also be a form of faint glimmering beyond our physical capacity (if not, more often, purely mental illusions and emotional distortions of the senses). But such experiences are so personal, that they cannot really be shared with others. The responses from telling others, will not be meaningful beyond gaping disbelief and blank stares; in other words, deeply unsatisfactory. Such experiences are best left transformed into the arts, where some meaning may be destilled from it.
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Old 02-11-2017   #3
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Re: The Supernatural

Quote Originally Posted by Knygathin View Post
As to supernatural or spiritual perceptions, I believe those can also be a form of faint glimmering beyond our physical capacity (if not, more often, purely mental illusions and emotional distortions of the senses). But such experiences are so personal, that they cannot really be shared with others. The responses from telling others, will not be meaningful beyond gaping disbelief and blank stares; in other words, deeply unsatisfactory. Such experiences are best left transformed into the arts, where some meaning may be destilled from it.
I explained this to someone recently. If someone does in fact encounter something supernatural, then it must be frustrating beyond belief to communicate it to another person.

@ James

Yes, I've thought of the "region of the undefined" you mentioned as an "open space" in which strange things can possibly happen.

@ Ibrahim

I think there's a sort melancholy longing embodied in a lot of weird fiction, a longing for a different world. A materialist can experience this, though he or she must ultimately recognize its attainment as illusory. What do you mean by "Spirit?" My knowledge of Islam is (sadly) very poor.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 02-11-2017   #4
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Re: The Supernatural

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Knygathin View Post
As to supernatural or spiritual perceptions, I believe those can also be a form of faint glimmering beyond our physical capacity (if not, more often, purely mental illusions and emotional distortions of the senses). But such experiences are so personal, that they cannot really be shared with others. The responses from telling others, will not be meaningful beyond gaping disbelief and blank stares; in other words, deeply unsatisfactory. Such experiences are best left transformed into the arts, where some meaning may be destilled from it.
I explained this to someone recently. If someone does in fact encounter something supernatural, then it must be frustrating beyond belief to communicate it to another person.
Oh absolutely.

"So you believe in God. Well, have you seen him?"
"No but i feel Him near"
"Your imagination"
"I believe the eyewitness accounts of those who have seen a mountain see Him"
"Hallucinating madmen"
"Mountains can hallucinate, but men can't feel their creator near?"
" you're being unreasonable"
&c &c

In the end all you can do is shrug, sit down behind your desk & draw a comic.

"What can a thing do with a thing, when it is a thing?"
-Shaykh Ibn Al 'Arabi
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Old 02-11-2017   #5
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Re: The Supernatural

Quote Originally Posted by Ibrahim View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Knygathin View Post
As to supernatural or spiritual perceptions, I believe those can also be a form of faint glimmering beyond our physical capacity (if not, more often, purely mental illusions and emotional distortions of the senses). But such experiences are so personal, that they cannot really be shared with others. The responses from telling others, will not be meaningful beyond gaping disbelief and blank stares; in other words, deeply unsatisfactory. Such experiences are best left transformed into the arts, where some meaning may be destilled from it.
I explained this to someone recently. If someone does in fact encounter something supernatural, then it must be frustrating beyond belief to communicate it to another person.
Oh absolutely.

"So you believe in God. Well, have you seen him?"
"No but i feel Him near"
"Your imagination"
"I believe the eyewitness accounts of those who have seen a mountain see Him"
"Hallucinating madmen"
"Mountains can hallucinate, but men can't feel their creator near?"
" you're being unreasonable"
&c &c

In the end all you can do is shrug, sit down behind your desk & draw a comic.
Another example would be supposed witnesses of Christ (post-crucifixion). The writers of the New Testament mention that he was seen after the crucifixion by hundreds of people. But at some point you can't provide someone with enough evidence for something like that.

It sounds paradoxical, but I sympathize with both the believer and the skeptic. Both seem to be rational in their own way. If I were present at something like that, I would respond in the same way as Thomas. He believed, but he believed after seeing him in the flesh. Thomas' skepticism was nullified. I feel that every person should be given such an opportunity.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 02-11-2017   #6
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Re: The Supernatural

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
I feel that every person should be given such an opportunity.
Ah but we are given this, countless times each day; that we choose to squander or ignore such opportunities is another matter entirely...

With the mention of Spirit, i was just ineptly and generally grasping at an entire group of concepts somewhere between god's inbreathing of creation and the Jewish concept of Shekhinah (insofar i have properly understood it, not being Jewish), to point towards all things that could be roughly described as originally pertaining not to this perishable realm.

"What can a thing do with a thing, when it is a thing?"
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Old 02-11-2017   #7
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Re: The Supernatural

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post

It sounds paradoxical, but I sympathize with both the believer and the skeptic.
It is a constant source of contemplation for me that the Islamic credo consists of both a denial ( there is no god) and an affirmation ( but god).

"What can a thing do with a thing, when it is a thing?"
-Shaykh Ibn Al 'Arabi
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Old 02-16-2017   #8
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Re: The Supernatural

Sounds pretty cliche at this point, but people who are innately convinced of an objectively comprehensible external reality just really haven't done enough drugs yet (or perhaps enough zazen). Cannot stress enough that this is an area that requires personal experience rather than intellection.

Note that I am not asserting the existence of God; neither am I claiming "the self" or mind are not real (or that scientific laws aren't real). I'm just stating that our hold on basic ontology is a lot shakier than we'd like to believe.

I'm sure something like 95% of the human race lives and dies without confronting anything like a directly experienced ontological challenge or shakeup, which means we don't really have a good way of describing it. It's sort of like experiencing an alteration of gravity - since so few humans ever do, we don't have much vocabulary to discuss it.

Think this kind of thing is much more interesting than the "Priest made a deal with the Devil and now must face the consequences!" or "The serial killer didn't really die, watch out for his GHOST!" idea of 'the supernatural' that most people have.
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Old 02-16-2017   #9
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Re: The Supernatural

I think at this stage in my life that I would much, generally speaking of course, rather read a piece of old theology than about a supposedly spiritual drug experience, and I'm a generally pro-drugs person who thinks everybody should have a go. As I have said before, I think this is due to me having too many Grant Morrison hipster broccultist (I am insufferably proud of this term) friends, so this stuff is actually more tiresomely marketable for me individually and less likely to expand my consciousness than 19th century fiction cliches or monotheist homilies.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 02-16-2017   #10
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Re: The Supernatural

Quote Originally Posted by Justin Isis View Post
Sounds pretty cliche at this point, but people who are innately convinced of an objectively comprehensible external reality just really haven't done enough drugs yet (or perhaps enough zazen). Cannot stress enough that this is an area that requires personal experience rather than intellection.

Note that I am not asserting the existence of God; neither am I claiming "the self" or mind are not real (or that scientific laws aren't real). I'm just stating that our hold on basic ontology is a lot shakier than we'd like to believe.

I'm sure something like 95% of the human race lives and dies without confronting anything like a directly experienced ontological challenge or shakeup, which means we don't really have a good way of describing it. It's sort of like experiencing an alteration of gravity - since so few humans ever do, we don't have much vocabulary to discuss it.

Think this kind of thing is much more interesting than the "Priest made a deal with the Devil and now must face the consequences!" or "The serial killer didn't really die, watch out for his GHOST!" idea of 'the supernatural' that most people have.
I don't know how much this applies to me, as I certainly wouldn't call myself innately convinced of anything ('innately' is certainly wrong and 'convinced' might or might not be too strong), but for me, simply discovering the self-defeating nature of subjectivism as I had embraced it meant the realisation that there is a world to explore. That is, I didn't make the leap (as I have seen some people do): "Subjectivism is self-defeating. Therefore something is objective. Therefore I know everything."

On the contrary, it was the beginning of the real discovery of my own ignorance.

Also, "subjectivism" might be misleading here, as the existence of the subject can easily be described as objective in some sense.

"As the Director of one of the five greatest museums in our Eastern States has more than once remarked to me, From the Stone Age until now, what a decline!" - Ananda Coomaraswamy
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