In modernity, philosophy is taken to mean thinking about thinking—an attempt to establish the meta-thought that connects sub-disciplines, from music to science, and represent this meta-thought in a rational way; as such, logic is usually integral to the philosophical project—and, further, insofar as the fields of Artificial Intelligence and cybernetics have advanced, philosophy is almost redundant; both fields seem to represent meta-thought in a more rigorous way than any one philosopher could manage through introspection, even with aid from logic—hence philosophy is, at best, a rational art that is an adjunct to the humanities.
The other philosophy, the real philo sophia, dates back to Egypt—it is from Egypt that Socrates acquired the tools to philosophise. Indeed, philosophy truly is “to learn how to die”, as he said; and yet, as a modern, you may think that this just refers to rational thought exercises—rather like Stoicism—that reduce your anxiety over your eventual demise. On the contrary, “to learn how to die” is to learn how to become a god—to return to the star you originated from, as the Egyptians said. The process by which one dies is not a rational thought exercise, rather it is an ascesis; it is a discipline, with very definite activities—often geometric, as with the Hindu mandalas—that strip a person down to their star.
You follow me so far (ha, ha). Take a look at the picture above. Within the picture, there is a language of power—as a postmodernist might say. The black man looks up to the policeman with trust, not into his eyes—that would be homoerotic—but just upward in respect and admiration; the policeman looks down with fatherly benevolence. The image was created at a time when there had been many black riots against the police and it was created to reinforce the idea that black people should respect and admire the police—to say it was reality, in fact.
I have discussed the politics connected to this image elsewhere, the politics do not concern me here; it merely serves to illustrate semiotics—the science of signs—and how a visual icon can convey meaning; in this case, the relative positions of two human bodies in space (black and white) and their dress convey a complex message about expected racial roles in society—a complex message about what the police are and how black men should relate to them. It is a language as surely as these letters have sounds associated with them, as surely as those sounds convey meaning.
The gods are real—literally real. How so? At some level we all understand semiotics, and that is why the sign above works—it conveys an almost unconscious meaning; and many people, particularly conservatives, would dispute the meaning I have correctly derived from the sign, for they wish to preserve a particular power dynamic and to foreground it calls it into question. Now, here is the secret: there is not just a semiotics of images created by advertisers and propagandists—not just the signs of actual language, of speech sounds. No, there is also a semiotics in nature: the trees really do speak to you—the animals speak to you, the animals are symbols for the gods; they are messengers from the gods. Hence the gods are around us at every moment, it is just—as with the way many people would dispute there is any “message” in the Neighbourhood Watch sign—we have forgotten the semiotic. We literally cannot read the signs.
Indeed, in a more sinister vein, as with the conservatives who play dumb about the Neighbourhood Watch sign, there are people who know there are signs—know the gods are real—but have chosen to conceal this fact for…reasons. I say gods, yet, if you prefer a more Christian complexion to it, you could say angels—and demons, of course. Those are real too. Really, the gods are the same everywhere, but they appear in different forms in accord with your particular tribe, race, and locality—they appear in a way that is relatable to you (if you have your eyes open). There are many paths but one destination.
Now, unfortunately, the process by which we contact and speak to the gods—who emanate from the One that is-is-not and may only be alluded to as “Dog” (among other cryptonyms)—has been mostly lost; even Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam are degenerations. The Druids, for example, used to know how to speak to trees, to read the particular alphabet in the leaves—and, of course, in bird entrails.
The most able philosophers in recorded history were the Egyptians; and their tradition is somewhat retained with the Hindus—with the chakras that relate to particular shapes and sounds. The sounds, being rhythms, the rhythm of life, constitute the signifier in the signified—the gods speak through the rhythm in the bird’s flight. Indeed, I always sleep with my window open and one morning in my dreams I heard a great symphony of sweet harps—and when I awoke the birds were singing at my window. The birds are angels. Literally.
The dream reveals the reality—and, of course, there was a time when people valued prophetic dreams; there was a Golden Age governed by song—and to the Golden Age we will return. To philosophise is to return to this state today; as you strip off everything extraneous you die, and so you become objective. Hence, today, a girl said as I walked into the supermarket: “There’s that strange man.” On the way out I passed her again and she said: “Are you from here?” I said: “No.” As she walked off she said: “I feel like I skipped to the end of the movie.” Correct. I am already dead; rather like the symbol I write under, I am a single point of light—the light at the end of the tunnel (skip to the end of the movie). Star man.