Yes recently the blog has been on what most people would call a jewish mysticism kick. I find as I get older I end up going through these periods where I think about things, then I think about how I think about things. What does the mirror see when it looks into itself? These rants are inspired by the format of The Whiskey Rant. It might not be right, but lets entertain the thought.
Eventually, we decide we need to understand the structure of how we think.
While I’ve played around quite a bit with philosophy, it’s lacking. There never has been any sort of thinking where man does not look at the universe and consider it’s parts. Eventually anyone who seriously puts any time into it comes to mysticism. I think it’s a travesty we don’t teach “The Mysteries” or even civics class. Somewhere, we ended up so politically correct that we couldn’t teach these things because of the fear of indoctrination. The worst part is, institutions of indoctrination (religious schools) don’t present things as mysteries anymore, they’re concerned with putting people onto the path of salvation or somesuch. Some people want the answers. Some people (me) want to learn modes of thinking to more clearly perceive things. This doesn’t say I’m right. This just means if you haven’t gone into any sort of classical thinking and ended up at occultism, give it a try.
People tend to take it too seriously, I think. The rabbis have been kibitzing about kabalah for literally ages and I think people have the right thinking for this problem: You can reduce the process of magical thinking down to “a very small shell script”. This is a particularly sticky wicket to the believer and a nail on the cross for people who would rather see spiritual thought written off entirely. The first google result will figure out any correlation you could possibly want. Want magic squares? We do that too! (Also CPAN whores – add internationalization to author names so you can credit this module).
But that’s not the point. We can literally rip out the values of entire languages in seconds now. In the case of that last CPAN module, we’re ripping out the values of languages which aren’t even formalized (Ethiopian). Why bother? It’s not about the numbers. It’s about the modes of thinking.
Modes of thinking? Yes. I recently read The Chicken Cabalah. It’s a typical DuQuette book where it’s written lightheartedly but more importantly the joke is occasionally on the reader. (Don’t worry, you’re let into the luls later). People talk about it being a useful introduction to cabalah. It’s not. What the book provides is a good introduction to the application of the modes of thought present in classical thinking. Specifically addressed are fundamental questions about identity. Identity? Identity is how we frame ourselves in reality. What is reality? Now we’re in the thick of it. (The dry, unentertaining version is the four worlds, but I suggest you read DuQuettes book for the humorous, playful version about reality being an armchair). They start out in a room full of chairs. They move up and they end up in a factory cutting out parts for a chair. They move up and they have the IKEA plans for a chair. They move up and they find… nothing. What does the notion of something to sit on look like?
This is really a neat model of thought, or I think it is at least.
More importantly, we have another interesting idea we can apply here – the physical world is going away. What does that mean? We’re losing the strong identity of things and we’re moving into a space where things don’t physically exist. The movies we watch are delivered digitally, “filmed” digitally in a computer, we watch them on screens we don’t own, and billions are fought over “rights” and “distribution” of something which doesn’t exist in terms of 1s and 0s. I don’t mean this to be an anti-capitolism rant. I strongly feel that artists should get paid something for their work. On the other hand, owning things keeps becoming more and more of an abstract concept. At what point do we get issued a food replicator and a laptop at birth? Probably around the time when Apple decides it makes more money selling you “media” than it does selling you hardware. The future looks amazing. It will be glorious, we return to the godhead. It will be our undoing as we indulge our fetishes. “Kurt Cobain, shotgun mouthwash, daily at 3pm ONLY ON FOXNEWS”.
We are forever parodies of ourselves – the mirror looks into the mirror. Science has been “finding the resolution of reality” with the large hadron collider for how long now but we still can’t put a number on the resolution of the spirit.
What do we do now? Today? Our torah is a blog. Our kabalah is ascii. Our holy script is whatever our default font is for the paragraph tag. Mine is courier new, 10 point. It was transmitted to our prophets at 9600N81.
Of course, this got me thinking about math, and what’s our new math? Maybe we are ready for new math. The old hebrew was written right to left, in one long line, which is pretty much the reason why people have been doing crosswords on pie plate liners ever since. What would the old rabbi have done? Would they have assigned a value to right to left? Every punctuation mark? Every space? Well, if we think yes, we find some interesting places to look for inspiration.
We think about the famous first verse in the bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. Running this through our electric rabbi, we have some real insights! “Kept in balance by the wisdom”, “Jesus Christ the Groom, I am that I am”, “The biggest douche in the universe” (not kidding). Well if we convert to ascii, and add up all the numbers, letters, whitespace and punctuation, we get 4808. What is 4808? In Hebrew notation: “And He Opened His Mouth In Blasphemy Against God, To Blaspheme His Name, And His Tabernacle, And Them That Dwell In Heaven”.
And that folks, is why I only use EBCDIC.