618. Obstruction (V)
As an addendum to yesterday’s post about Columbine, we should consider the contention made by the lead shooter Eric Harris that his schoolmates were “robots”. Although primarily a social Darwinist, with a Menckian “cull the herd” take on Nietzsche, Harris also understood Nietzsche’s contention—a Gnostic contention—that there is a form of spiritual evolution that comes about through the interplay and interpenetration of opposites; hence, in alchemical terms, all is recoverable—the interplay between “good” and “evil” is a creative, genuinely progressive, movement by which God grows out of us; or, in more materialist terms, constructs Himself from us.
You can see a similar “spiritual evolutionary” sentiment in the British popular writer Colin Wilson; he spoke about how “the robot” seems to take over and destroys our ability to have, in the jargon of psychologist Abraham Maslow, “peak experiences”—essentially akin to satori or spiritual revelation. In a similarly popular vein, David Icke, a former football commentator know for his view that inter-dimensional reptiles run the world, published a book called The Robots’ Rebellion. Icke had a spiritual experience in the early 1990s, where he announced his union with the Godhead—popularly interpreted to mean he thought he was Jesus. His message, couched, as with Wilson, in scientific terms is that we need to awaken to experience: “The sheeple are all asleep!”.
To take it more highbrow, George Bernard Shaw and Martin Heidegger said much the same. Men like Icke can make it seem like an intellectual position, perhaps something to do with elite plans for vaccines and 5G—yet it is not really about intellect. Harris recorded in his journals that he would go to a Colorado lake and despise the suburbanite recreational users because they could not see the rocks, the sun, and the water—the inhuman beauty of things. In Heidegger’s terms what Harris experienced was that the rocks and the lake were inside and outside him at the same time; the Hermetic position—as above, so below; the exterior world is your creation and you are also its creation; microcosm and macrocosm.
Harris called his fellow students “retards” because he lacked the conceptual vocabulary to articulate what he meant. His school was in an elite area—the student body was undoubtedly intelligent, not stupid. What Harris meant was that the student body was not perceptive—it did not see. In particular, it did not see what Robinson Jeffers called “the astonishing beauty of things”—the students did not absorb the rocks and the lake; they would have to be busy instrumentalising the scene, playing on their cellphones or queuing up to waterski. His fellow students were stereotyped robots who went through the motions without perception—mired in the trivial “they” world, as Heidegger would say. The student body even had a “they” slogan to chant periodically: “We are Columbine” (You are no-thing).
Harris came from a military family, his father was a military pilot—so there is a relation here to the OODA loop: observe-orient-decide-act. This is cybernetic, sometimes its representations incorporate the pentagram—the wizard’s symbol for the whole man, the primordial man (Adam Kadom), man as microcosm. However, the OODA loop is not the same as “the astonishing beauty of things”; it conceals too, since it invites instrumental action (to solve the problem). What people who want to awaken are after is just: observe. The other elements are superfluous and return you to “robot” mode, very cybernetically appropriate.
This is why Harris sought to punish his fellow students for their “stupidity”, for being asleep and not involved in spiritual evolution—yet the idea people must be punished is itself instrumental and conceals the astonishing beauty of things. However, for Harris this was the only way he could articulate a spiritual longing concealed by techno-industrial civilisation and the pervasive hollow Christianity in Columbine—Christianity being a precondition for the techno-industrial deadness itself (a fact that Christians are proud of, ironically—they are the original atheists).