Promulgation

i admit up front that I’ve not spent too much time thinking about promulgation. it’s not my bugaboo, so it doesn’t bug me all that much. but what does bug me is that the topic of promulgation is being used to poke at people by people that freak out about being poked.

people have been talking about how controversial the topic is, but the controversy is really a constructed bit of slight of hand. so much of the current drama around promulgation seems to me to be some people with a hammer looking for nails. the chief architects of this drama seem to be looking for something with which to bully their own over. and to draw clear lines in the sand over over who’s pure enough to be on the bus. it’s a pass/fail purity test for orthodoxy. it’s also a way for the desperate to get their ration of attention and ego strokes.

but the discussion is being made out as a simple one out of convenience, to be charitable, or out of manipulation. there’s complexity to be had, that’s seems not to be recognized. and the claim of simplicity is being used to stop people from asking questions. the claim of simplicity is being used to stop people from looking behind the curtain.

promulgation v proselytizing v preaching v evangelizing

- preaching in the proto-mass / liber israfel / confirmation

to promulgate and not to promulgate

not really the question. promulgation is well attested, but what is promulgation in reality, in the current culture.

some will conflate questions of “whether to promulgate” with questions about their particular method of promulgation in order to call into question the patriotism of their critics. it’s an underhanded rhetorical technique which deflects valid criticism of method by mischaracterizing the criticism itself as addressing something it does not. this is no different than the lazy redneck who, when confronted with criticism of a particular policy, accuses the critic of hating america. or worse, it’s the technique of the neocon, who when faced with valid criticism turns around and accuses the critic with that very fault which the critic is highlighting. it’s a technique of surrealism, which turns any debate into a descending spiral of meaninglessness because of how off-base it fundamentally is, and forces the critic into more and more complex responses to demonstrate how bizarre the defense has become.

in turn, accepting that promulgation is a thing does not in turn automatically mean support for a particular method of promulgation. these are things of different orders from each other.

passive and active

but of course, what “active” promulgation is, is not itself such a simple binary. in some ways this question is to pose a false dichotomy because what “active” is, is not one thing but rather a host of things, some of which one might agree with personally and others one might not. bundling all of these agreeable things with themselves and all the disagreeable things with themselves, together divided in convenient piles of difference and calling them either/or “active” is misleading. it is also misleading to bundle _only_ those things one agrees with as “active” and then sell that selection as the only thing which “active” is, a self-referential definition.

it is neither appropriate to use the facile label “active” as if one’s personal preferences were the only possible things under than label, nor is it appropriate to foist one’s personal preference for only what one’s included for themselves on others under that label, as if by a trick. it’s a form of manipulation, and that’s to be thwartsome of others.

“active” promulgation is not only those things that one does one’s self.

using the label “active” is deceptively simple, especially when all actions are active and “passive” is a way of saying those things with which you disagree. it’s parsimonious and peculiar. there is complexity being hidden here under this true/false division. (haven’t we left aristotelean rigidity behind yet?)

“active” promulgation is not what one does oneself, and “passive” is not what one is disappointed with in how others promulgate. and, telling others how to behave while railing against being told is an obvious double standard.

“active” is not, although it gets used this way, a coded way of judging others, a way of denigrating activity that is other than one’s personal preference.

at the same time neither “active” nor “passive” are derogatory, and the hierarchy being set up between them is a premise which I deny. these are merely differing methods, which can be more or less effective in turn given particular accidents and conditions.

and even if one decided to determine some things active and some things passive, as if it mattered, there’s the obvious matter that these things are both equally important in the end:

http://www.hermetic.com/osiris/wandofdoublepower.htm “i control alike the active and the passive” pitting active against passive is a rough dualism appropriate to another age, a previous ago. the work of this age is to be divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union. to take one and not the other is to be stuck in the current age with the mind of the previous.

there seems to be a willful attempt to create a deceptive dualism between these two which rather should be reconciled not encouraged. these things should be united by love, not divided by hate.

container and contained

what is being promulgated? is it the spectacle, the ego or the law?

the spectacle is to turn promulgation into a tent revival. it’s a circus side show with freaks. this is also the refuge of the weak when their seriousness meet with opposition, which is then obscured by disengenuous claims of “merely joking” or “ can’t take a joke?” instead of sticking to the essential original purpose in making serious critique. - but, i find myself thinking about the difference between Thelema and the attitude of Situationists toward spectacle; the spectacle is an experience, and therefore participation in the spectacle can contribute to the building of an individual’s body of light; to celebrate the spectacle as an individual is to celebrate and fully engage in life. but is it a vital kind of experience of life, this spectacle, or rather, isn’t it a distraction from Will?

the ego is to turn promulgation into televangelism. it’s about charismatic preaching to weeping housewives and invalids hoping for healing. - on the other hand, in an ego-centric “there is no God but Man” way, the celebration of self could be part of one’s work; but, this is not the individual celebrating themselves, it’s an individual trying to get others to celebrate them; it’s treating people as planets not stars.

the law is the content contained by promulgation. do what thou wilt is the message. - anything more is adding pestilence.

if the message is anything other than the law, it’s not promulgation of the law; but something else. the most charitable thing that can be said about these various promulgations of things other than the Law is that they no doubt are very well suited to those persons desperate for attention; but, unfortunately completely miss the mark as far as spreading the actual Law which is to be promulgated.

form and function

whether to promulgate and whether to actively promulgate are two questions to ask, but it is also a question of what form it takes and what function it fills.

blaspheme against one, you’ll blaspheme against another quote

is the form and function of promulgation to belittle and attack other people’s beliefs? if so, that’s a pretty unsophisticated and fanatic. promulgation is not to pound on people, bully pulpit and revival.

conclusion

use the form/function model to build your own map of what promulgation means to you, and don’t be trapped by someone else’s definitions around what “active” promulgation means. rather, since all actions are active, let your own style and preferences and skills determine what forms best serve the overall function of promulgation for you. and, recognize that that might change over time. but, don’t assume your answers are another’s,

using the topic of promulgation to tell others how to behave, how to express themselves … is contradictory to the notion that each is to determine their own way, their own Will. to say that one ‘must’ promulgate in a particular way is to determine for another how they are to act under the guise of ‘promulgation’, and since the most vocal proponents of particular promulgation styles are often the most testy about being “told what to do, or how to act” it becomes an interesting and telling study in hypocrisy for those self-same people to do to others what they rail against for themselves.

where promulgation is used as a backdoor to making a list of “good” thelemites versus “bad” thelemites and checking it twice, determining for others how to behave, the topic becomes a meaningless prop to hide a crusade that’s really about purity of the faith, conformity to an orthodoxy, of nascent tyranny and inquisition.

i also believe that propaganda, er, pardon, I mean “promulgation”, of this sort is both self-defeating and not sustainable.

first, it’s repeating an historic pattern of zealous evangelism which has been repeatedly rejected over time. the apparent success of such efforts is, in fact, a primary cause of failure. the more zealous and intense the evangelism, the more ridiculous and scorned it eventually becomes to all but the most gullible or duplicitous.

second, this kind of zealotry is simply one that wears out one’s welcome. a sure sign of this kind of evangelism is a pattern where the person engaging in it is either constantly moving to new ground because they’ve spoiled their image or their persona. moving on to new pastures to plow and new personae to deface with their efforts is a sure danger sign of unsustainability. on the other hand, it may also come to pass that such efforts result in the development of an echo chamber where those engaging in it are finally surrounded by sycophants, effectively giving them the kind of ego strokes they seek but ultimately such outcomes are dead ends.

in many ways, I suppose, having these efforts stall out in an echo chamber is the best possible outcome, with those in the middle becoming enamoured with themselves reflected in the eyes of useless others; but, unable to break free and spoil any new territory or ruin any more venues for others. when those engaged in these kinds of activities are found to be either desperate for attention or reactive to criticism, or both, this should be a clear warning that the activity is being engaged in for dysfunctional reasons other than promulgation of the law of liberty, of thelema; but, rather, for reasons having to do with the actor’s inability to be intrinsically true to themselves, to conquer themselves, or to seek beyond themselves for true beauty.

moreover, this kind of activity seems to attract kookiness because it appears to be a form of kookiness. thus, the signal is ultimately a diminishing return on the ever increasing level of noise.

if anything, I suspect that liber oz could be the Thelema’s prime directive, and promulgating anything other than the structure which creates liberties outlined in that document is a violation of that prime directive. where the OTO’s prime directive to promulgate is taken to be something other than to create liberty, is taken to limit what is acceptable, to determine what actions are allowed within that framework; this is to be internally inconsistent. So, those that wish to proselytize, propagandize, advertise, spectacularize are, of course, free to do so; but, it is my considered opinion that such actions are self-defeating and dysfunctional and not sustainable.


Contact John Griogair Bell, the Librarian via librarian@hermetic.com
The works presented are © 2006–2016, John Griogair Bell