Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Awaken the Amnesiacs 10: The World of Machines and the Retired Engineer

Image from 2017's Cicada3301 rabbit hole, an online/real world code-breaking scavenger hunt. Some people believe that the Cicada online games are recruitment puzzles for an unknown organization. Image Source: Youtube.

This blog is named for a phrase written by Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) in his secret journals. In Yahuda MS 1.1, folio 16 recto, Newton wrote: "the holy Prophecies" of the Scripture are nothing else than "histories of things to come." He was using magic and religion to predict the future and the end of the world. The exact passage in his Untitled Treatise on Revelation (held at the National Library of Israel in the Yahuda manuscripts collection, as cited above; you can see the actual document here) reads:
Rules for interpreting the Apocalyps.

"12. The Construction of the Apocalyps after it is once deter {16r} mined must be made the rule of interpretations; And all interpretations rejected which agree not with it. That must not be strained to fit history but such things chosen out of history as are most suitable to that.

13. To interpret sacred Prophecies of the most considerable things & actions of those times to which they are applied. For if it would be weakness in an Historian whilst he writes of obscurer actions to let slip the greater, much less ought this to be supposed in the holy Prophesies which are no other then histories of things to come.

14. To proportion the most notable parts of Prophesy to the most notable parts of history, & the breaches made in a continued series of Prophesy to the changes made in history And to reject those interpretations where the parts and breaches of Prophesy do not thus bear a due proportion to the parts & changes in History. For if Historians divide their histories into Sections Chapters & Books at such periods of time where the less, greater & greatest revolutions begin or end; & to do otherwise would be improper: much more ought we to suppose that the holy Ghost observes this rule accurately in his prophetick dictates, since they are no other then histories of things to come. Thus by the great breaches made between the sixt & seventh seal by interposing the vision of the sealed saints, & between the sixt & seventh Trumpet by interposing the vision of the little book, that prophesy is divided into three cardinal parts, & the middle part subdivided by the little breach between the fourth & fift Trumpet made by interposition of the Angel crying Wo, & all the other seals & trumpets are as it were less sections. And therefore to these breaches & sections, according to the rule, must be adapted periods of time which intercede & disterminate proportional revolutions of history. Again if a Historian should use no proportion in his descriptions but magnify a less thing above a greater or attribute the more courage to the softer of two persons &c.: we {17r} should count it an argument of his unskilfulness. And therefore since the dictates of the Holy-Ghost are histories of things to come, such disproportions are not to be allowed in them. Thus in Daniel's vision of the four Beasts, it would be grosly absurd to interpret, as some Polititians of late have done, the fourth Beast of Antiochus Epiphanes & his successors; since that is described to be the most terrible, dreadfull, strong, & warlike Beast of all the four, & the Prophet dwels far longer upon the description of that then of all the others put together: whereas the kingdom of Antiochus Epiphanes & his successors was both less & weaker & less warlike then any of the three before him.

15. To chose those interpretations which without straining do most respect the church & argue the greatest wisdom & providence of God for preserving her in the truth. As he that would interpret the letters or actions of a very wise states man, so as thence to know the council wherewith they are guided & the designes he is driving on, must consider the main end to which they are directed & suppose they are such as most conduce to that end & argue the greatest wisdom & providence of the States-man in ordering them: so it is in these Prophesies. They are the counsels of God & so the most wise, & fittest for the end to which they are designed: And that end is the benefit of the Church to guide her & preserve her in the truth. For to this end are all the sacred prophesies in both the old and new Testament directed, as they that will consider them may easily perceive. Hence may appear the oversight of some interpreters whose interpretations if they were true would make the Apocalyps of little or no concernment to the Church. Perhaps what follows may be better inserted in the preface.

Yet I meane not that these Prophesies were intended to convert the whole world to the truth. For God is just as well as merciful, & punishes wickednes by hardening the wicked & {18r} visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children. But the designe of them is to try men & convert the best, so that the church may be purer & less mixed with Hypocrites & luke-warm persons. And for this end it is that they are wrapt up in obscurity, & so framed by the wisdom of God that the inconsiderate, the proud, the self-conceited, the presumptuous, the scholist, the sceptic, they whose judgments are ruled by their lusts, their interest, the fashions of the world, their esteem of men, the outward shew of thing or other prejudices, & all they who, of how pregnant natural parts soever they be, yet cannot discern the wisdom of God in the contrivance of the creation: that these men whose hearts are thus hardned in seeing should see & not perceive & in hearing should heare & not understand. For God has declared his intention in these prophesies to be as well that none of the wicked should understand as that the wise should understand, Dan: 12.

And hence I cannot but on this occasion reprove the blindness of a sort of men who although they have neither better nor other grounds for their faith then the Scribes & Pharisees had for their Traditions, yet are so pervers as to call upon other men for such a demonstration of the certainty of faith in the scriptures that a meer naturall man, how wicked soever, who will but read it, may judg of it & perceive the strength of it with as much perspicuity & certainty as he can a demonstration in Euclide. Are not these men like the Scribes & Pharisees who would not attend to the law & the Prophets but required a signe of Christ? Wherefore if Christ thought it just to deny a signe to that wicked & adulterate generation notwithstanding that they were God's own people, & the Catholique Church; much more may God think it just that this generation {19r} should be permitted to dy in their sins, who do not onely like the Scribes neglect but trample upon the law and the Prophets, & endeavour by all possible means to destroy the faith which men have in them, & to make them disregarded. I could wish they would consider how contrary it is to God's purpose that the truth of his religion should be as obvious & perspicuous to all men as a mathematical demonstration. Tis enough that it is able to move the assent of those which he hath chosen; & for the rest who are so incredulous, it is just that they should be permitted to dy in their sins. Here then is the wisdom of God, that he hath so framed the Scriptures as to discern between the good and the bad, that they should be demonstration to the one & foolishness to the other.

And from this consideration may also appear the vanity of those men who regard the splendor of churches & measure them by the external form & constitution. Whereas it is more agreable to God's designe that his church appear contemptible & scandalous to the world to try men. For this end doubtles he suffered the many revoltings of the Iewish Church under the Law, & for the same end was the grand Apostacy to happen under the gospel. Rev . If thou relyest upon the externall form of churches, the Learning of Scholars, the wisdom of statemen or of other men of Education; consider with thy self whither thou wouldest not have adhered to the scribes & Pharisees hadst thou lived in their days, & if this be thy case, then is it no better then theirs, & God may judg thee accordingly, unless thou chance to be on the right side, which as tis great odds may prove otherwise so if it should happen yet it would scarce excuse thy folly although it might something mitigate it.{/19r}{/18r}{/17r}{/16r}"
Newton's occult papers, some of which are now published online, were kept hidden for centuries. When these mysterious diaries resurfaced, about half of them were purchased in 1936 by the economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946); another large portion was collected by Abraham Shalom Yahuda (1877-1951). You can read details about the 1936 Sotheby's auction of Newton's 'Portsmouth Papers' here and here.

Isaac Newton, Untitled Treatise on Revelation, Yahuda MS 1.1, folio 16 recto (National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel). Published online June 2004. Click to enlarge.

It was Keynes who said that Newton “was not the first of the age of reason ... . He was the last of the magicians.” Keynes lectured on Newton in 1942 and 1943, waiting until the very end of his life to reveal this secret dimension of Newton's work. Prior to that, it was not public knowledge at all. The full text of Keynes's 1946 essay on 'Newton, the Man,' is here.

"much more ought we to suppose that the holy Ghost observes this rule accurately in his prophetick dictates, since they are no other then histories of things to come": Isaac Newton, Untitled Treatise on RevelationYahuda MS 1.1, folio 16 recto (National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel). Published online June 2004. Click to enlarge.

Thus, the title suits this blog, which considers present trends in terms of their potential historical significance and imagines their future consequences. However, this blog also has that name to ask its readers to reconsider ideas they take for granted.

The reason we are discussing Newton now is because his papers were kept hidden and not brought to public light at all until the 1990s. They weren't disseminated online until the 2000s. That is a long time for a central piece of information about the Scientific Revolution to be missing. Newton's private papers tell us how he arrived at his scientific breakthroughs, his methods, and his intentions.

Newton's occult works mean, plain as day, that the Scientific Revolution is not, and never was, what we were told it was. On the surface, Enlightenment principles of secularism and rationalism rejected God and mystical and religious ideas as fairy tales. Religion offered an infantile grasp of the world, beyond which we have matured and evolved.

This would be convincing if secularism and rationalism did not bear all the operational marks of a heretical cult, complete with a hard little esoteric nut at the centre, available only to the initiated. The supreme irony that the cult declares itself the ultimate-anti-cult does not make it any less cultish.

In the cult-like anti-cult atmosphere, anomalies sit out in the open and provoke occasional confusion before the rationalist mantras seal everything back up.

Why was the father of modern science also an alchemist and magician? The occult writings are explained away: Newton was an extremely intelligent, curious individual and he lived in times when religion and superstition had not been completely extracted from scientific thought.

Was Newton really the last of the magicians? The post-2008 economic recovery from the Great Recession was managed according to Keynesian principles. Why was Keynes, a famous thinker in modern economics, so fascinated by Newton's esoteric writings? Keynes's Newtonian occult collection is explained away: it was the economist's personal interest. Magic had and has nothing to do with Keynesian economics.

Well, look at the bottom of this post, and read the transcript from the lecture by German philosopher Jürgen Mittelstraß. He describes the occult distinction between macrocosm and microcosm, with its famous magical spell 'as above so below.' Ask yourself if that sounds anything like the distinction between macroeconomics and microeconomics.

This discussion relates to one of the questions I am pursuing on this blog, namely, why neo-NeoPlatonism is reviving on the Internet, a neo-Aristotelian environment. Owlcation explains the contrast between Plato and Aristotle simply; it is a shorthand, very roughly analogous to our contrast between God and Science, or more precisely between supreme objectivity claiming the standpoint of subjectivity, versus supreme subjectivity claiming the standpoint of objectivity:
"Aristotle rejected the idea of Plato’s 'Theory of the forms,' which stated that the idealized essence of an object existed apart from that object. Plato thought that physical things were representations of idealized perfect forms that existed on another plane of reality. Aristotle thought that the essence of an object existed with the thing itself. In this way, he also rejected the idea of a soul that existed outside of the physical body, instead believing that human consciousness resided completely with the physical form. Aristotle thought simply that the best way to gain knowledge was through 'natural philosophy,' which is what we would now call science."
Below, see a video from Aaron Dykes at alt-conspiracist-oriented Truthstream Media about Pythagoras. Dykes explains how Pythagoras influenced Plato and Newton. Newton is conventionally understood to have been an empiricist, and therefore not influenced by Plato - not, that is, until you read Newton's occult work. In a speculative way, the video describes the esoteric dimensions of famous, exoteric scientific discoveries.

Note that the connection between Einstein's and Blavatsky's ideas mentioned in this video is disputedWhat They Don’t Teach You About the Most Famous Scientists (30 January 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Most startling is Truthstream's discussion on how and why the Pythagorean theorem is a key to cosmological occultism. In other words, the little equation every child learns in school, a2 + b2 = c2, is the tiniest tip of the iceberg of an enormous body of concealed knowledge. Aside from its mathematical beauty, simplicity and utility, we don't even know why every child learns the formula in school. The answer: because it is something that sits at the central crossroads of human and natural organizational principles.

Dykes considers the possibility that the great geniuses of science reached their remarkable conclusions because they incorporated esoteric knowledge into their methods, but did not divulge this. They published the final products of their research, justifying all at the front end with mathematics and philosophy. Meanwhile, the critical back end reasons they were making these breakthroughs were never revealed to the public. These incredible discoveries were hailed as products of Sweet Reason, without acknowledging other contributing, messy, anti-rational, non-linear factors.

Plenary Session on Evolving Concepts of Nature at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (24-28 October 2014) Casina Pio IV, Vatican City: Jürgen Mittelstraß | 2014 | Evolving Concepts of Nature (23 October 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

In 2014, the German philosopher, Jürgen Mittelstraß, spoke (above) on how our concepts of nature have changed over time. He distinguished between Plato and Aristote. But he also explained how those philosophers' opposing concepts have come down to us through Newton, to Einstein, up to today's quantum physicists. Notice that Mittelstraß implies that Newton reached modern scientific ideas and his law of universal gravitation via Hermeticism (about which I have blogged here):
"With Plato’s world, i.e. with Plato’s cosmological concept, the idea of a philosophical as well as a scientific cosmology is born. Here, in Plato’s dialogue Timaios, a powerful craftsman creates the world according to a perfect model, namely the ‘cosmos’ of the Platonic ideas. Like a perfect living being, the cosmos turns out to be an animated rational being, as a visible god in the form of a perfect sphere. Its soul, the ‘world soul’, has an astronomical nature: it is formed by the mathematical order of the trajectories of the planets. At the same time the planets function as ‘tools of time’; time (καιρός), arising with the heavens, is an image of eternity (αἰών). The planets are visible and created gods, the earth the ‘most venerable goddess in the heavens’. Man in the cosmos, which consists of purely godlike entities and is itself a living god, is compared with a plant, which roots ‘not in the earth but in the heavens’; he connects the earth with the heavens related to him. Later on, in Christian thought, i.e. in Christian Platonism, the world of Platonic ideas to which the craftsman refers as a perfect model, becomes the realm of thoughts of God creating the world.

Unlike a Plato world, which, apart from the mythical language in which it is presented, is governed by mathematical (geometrical) and astronomical laws, Aristotle’s world is a world of natural things that consist of matter and form and have within themselves a source of motion. Motions caused by such a ‘natural’ source are ‘teleological’ motions, i.e. they make a thing into what, according to its own nature, it really is, or they lead it, in the form of a ‘natural’ local motion, to its ‘natural’ place. ...

The Aristotle world is thus characterized by a high degree of experi[ment]al evidence. The scientific propositions describing this world are confirmed by the experience acquired in everyday life, or are derived through generalizations made on the basis of experience. Examples of this are (1) the Aristotelian law of gravitation, according to which the velocity of a falling body is proportional to its weight and inversely proportional to the density of the medium, (2) the above-mentioned Aristotelian ‘law of inertia’, which states that all things moved have a mover, and (3) the Aristotelian theory of elements with its familiar concepts derived from the experience of daily life, for example, ‘above’, ‘below’, ‘natural’, and ‘unnatural’ (as in the case of violent movements that run counter to natural movements). The Aristotle world, moreover, is always in the process of becoming a natural order, embedded in the inner teleology of this world or the teleological nature of all things. This natural order never appears as a perfect state, but it is constantly present in the form of an astronomically ordered, supralunary world. In other words, disorder as well as the tendency to order is the normal state of the (sublunary) world. It is the world of experience and hence – despite physics and natural philosophy which seek to interpret it – a very human world.

As opposed to the Aristotle world, a hermetic world – by which is meant the world of alchemy, astrology, and parts of natural philosophy in the Renaissance – is a world of mysterious interactions. Occult powers and living substances take the place of the simple bodies characteristic of the Aristotle world. Nature consists of different combinations of primary substances that originated in undifferentiated primordial matter. At the same time, these combinations are conceived of as developmental processes that man can accelerate or retard, though always with methods that ‘imitate nature’, for example, by ‘refining’ metals and other substances (transmutatio). Inorganic processes are viewed analogously to organic processes. Explanations of the world take the shape of allegorical interpretations: coming into being and passing away as birth and death, separation and unity as the polarity of the sexes (the conjunctio as sexual union or the hermaphrodite as the overcoming of sexual differences). ...

This conception finds its cosmological expression in the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm which interprets the world in antiquity and in the hermetic tradition as a great organism mirrored in the microcosm, particularly in man: 'what is below is like what is above; what is above is like what is below: both reveal the miracle of the one'. The influence of the macrocosm on the microcosm corresponds to the ever-present assumption in magical thought that it is possible to effect a change in the macrocosm through changes in the microcosm. This conception, as the ‘sympathetic’ relationship between all of the parts of the world, is still at work within the context of natural philosophy in the Romantic period: man as a microcosm 'in which the universe looks at itself'.

In a Hermes world everything becomes a riddle or a key to solving its secrets. The familiarity of the Aristotle world gives way to a demonic world that is only accessible through ritual and mystical forms of knowledge. The scientist becomes in this way the mediator between two worlds, a life-world and a hermetic world, and at the same time the real ‘addressee’ of his own hermetic knowledge. The alchemical separatio reproduces itself as the separatio of the material and mystical body (the ‘diamond body’) in the scientist. It constitutes the actual magisterium, i.e. the ‘great work’, the self-development or spiritualization of man. Thus the hermetic world stands not only in opposition to the familiarity of the Aristotle world, but also in opposition to the me­chanistic world that in the modern age begins to supplant both the Aristotle world, as well as Aristotelian physics.

The foundation for this mechanistic world picture is Newton’s world. In this world it is only (gravitational) mass that moves in absolute time, through absolute space. Matter and space are the real elements of this world. The smallest particles of matter, hence the actual atoms, combine to build complex formations or second-degree particles. Several of these combine in turn to become third degree particles and so forth. The inner structure of matter is thus characterized by a complex hierarchy of particle formations. These formations are not massive corpuscles, but contain empty space. As the order of the particle hierarchy expands, the amount of empty space in them increases while the extent of solid matter decreases correspondingly. Matter in the world is thus only seemingly solid. In fact, the world is a vacuum for the most part. The actual amount of solid matter in the universe could fit into a nutshell (atomistic nutshell theory).

Characteristic of the Newton world, moreover, is the assumption that a fundamental dualism exists between passive matter and active immaterial principles. According to this notion, which can be traced back to Cambridge Platonism and hence to hermetic conceptions of the world, matter can be the origin only of mechanical effects, that is, effects mediated by pressure and impulse. Matter itself does not exert force, but only withstands the effects of forces (through its own inertia). Gravitational pull, in particular, is not a trait of matter. Gravitation has more the status of an active principle and finds its origin in a non-material ether that exerts an effect on matter. Matter, ‘inanimate and brute’, is not able to guarantee even halfway stable processes of development through its essential characteristics. Since in this world a general principle for the conservation of energy does not hold, mechanical interactions lead to a steady loss of movement, which cannot be fully compensated for by the active principles that bring forth new movement. All the regularly functioning causes (material or immaterial) taken together would not be able to impede the movement of the world toward disorder and chaos. The stability of the world, i.e. compensation for the energy loss, is a matter only for God or an occasional divine intervention in this world.

The nutshell theory of matter on which this world is based corresponds, as regards its concept of space, to a container or arena theory. The space of the Newton world is not formed by spatial relations of material bodies (concept of relational space), but exists ‘in and of itself’ as an ontological entity on the same level as matter. Space is independent of matter. In proving the existence of inertial forces, Newton attempts to endow the related concept of absolute space, i.e. the conception of a stationary system of coordinates that differs from the mere relative state of rest between bodies, with experimental content. He himself tried to show that the centrifugal forces generated by rotational movement cannot be traced back to relative rotations of whatever type, i.e. they have to be conceived of as ‘true’ rotations, as rotations against an absolutely stationary space. This absolute space is analogous to the sensorium Dei, i.e. the omnipresence of God put into law (following here the Cambridge Platonists as well). Just as the mind of man can receive sense impressions through its presence in his brain, so God perceives the processes in the universe through his presence in absolute space.

The ‘mechanism’ of the Newton world, expressed in a mechanics of gravitational movement, in Newtonianism not only determines how inorganic nature is understood but also proliferates itself in the organic, psychic, and social cosmos. In the theological aspects it still retains, this mechanism documents their fundamental dispensability. The criticism of the effects of occult powers (qualities) in a hermetic world also applies to Newton’s theological legitimations. The Newton world, the quintessential ‘mechanization of the world picture’, becomes a ‘world of machines’ – with God as a retired engineer.

In contrast to the concept of absolute space in the Newton world, a concept of relational space is dominant in Einstein’s world. Here space is constituted only by matter, with energy also being matter. In order to do justice to the special effects of rotation discovered by Newton, Einstein refers to ‘Mach’s principle’, which considers the centrifugal forces not as the result of true rotation (rotation against absolute space) but as the effect of rotation relative to distant masses (that is, the centre of gravity in the universe). Einstein’s general theory of relativity attempts to give Mach’s programmatic idea a physical dimension in order to establish the validity of a theory of relational space in terms of epistemology as well as physics.

Particularly relevant philosophically is the idea of a geometricization of nature. In the general theory of relativity, gravitation (with certain restrictions) is no longer conceived of as a force that diverts bodies from their natural trajectory, but as an entity that is inseparably bound up with the structure of space and time. If one examines the trajectory of a body in the field of gravitation from an adequate standpoint, one would recognize that this body actually follows the most linear trajectory. Later Einstein also tried to apply this idea to electromagnetic forces in order to achieve a unified theory of gravitation and electrodynamics. The central idea was that all interactions between particles can be traced back to space-time structure. This means that a particle has an effect on space-time, which in turn has an effect on a second particle and in this way mediates the interaction between the two."
This post provides a background for considering why the new Millennium is unfolding as it is, in our world of machines. There is something odd about the all-consuming, global addiction to technology. The Internet became so powerful so quickly. It now frames how 42 per cent of the planet sees much of reality.

I am not relating this fascination with computers to the above exoteric-esoteric discussion of science in a facile way, as though the original developers of the Internet and of tech gadgets embedded them with spells to bewitch its users.

Rather, I am suggesting that the Internet, and other technological endeavours, are built on the exoteric scientific method and secular rationalist foundations. However, those foundations depend upon a much larger esoteric body of information that is not normally considered when understanding the intention, purpose, effect, and meaning of Big Science and Big Tech. That larger body of knowledge is mystical, mysterious, universally idealized and objectivist, and at times, inaccessible to reason. It may even be anti-rational.

See all my posts in the series, Awaken the Amnesiacs.

The Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Isaac Newton’s Manuscripts by Sarah Dry (Oxford: OUP, 2014).

Blurb for the above book: When Isaac Newton died in 1727 without a will, he left behind a wealth of papers that, when examined, gave his followers and his family a deep sense of unease. Some of what they contained was wildly heretical and alchemically obsessed, hinting at a Newton altogether stranger and less palatable than the one enshrined in Westminster Abbey as the paragon of English rationality. These manuscripts had the potential to undermine not merely Newton's reputation, but that of the scientific method he embodied. They were immediately suppressed as "unfit to be printed," and, aside from brief, troubling glimpses spread across centuries, the papers would remain hidden from sight for more than seven generations.

In The Newton Papers, Sarah Dry illuminates the tangled history of these private writings over the course of nearly three hundred years, from the long span of Newton's own life into the present day. The writings, on subjects ranging from secret alchemical formulas to impassioned rejections of the Holy Trinity, would eventually come to light as they moved through the hands of relatives, collectors, and scholars. The story of their disappearance, dispersal, and rediscovery is populated by a diverse cast of characters who pursued and possessed the papers, from economist John Maynard Keynes to controversial Jewish Biblical scholar Abraham Yahuda. Dry's captivating narrative moves between these varied personalities, depicting how, as they chased the image of Newton through the thickets of his various obsessions, these men became obsessed themselves with the allure of defining the "true" Newton.

Dry skillfully accounts for the ways with which Newton's pursuers have approached his papers over centuries. Ultimately, The Newton Papers shows how Newton has been made and re-made throughout history by those seeking to reconcile the cosmic contradictions of an extraordinarily complex man.

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