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Stoneprint introduction

Alchemical correspondences reveal natural structure

Alchemy is a structural craft, based on geology, metallurgy, herbs and protochemistry.
It enabled the discovery of the periodic table (in phases, separately by the geologist De Chancourtois, by Meyer, and Mendeleev). Many of the technology aims of the craft were realised, including transmuting metals and minerals, such as oil and coal into plastics. Transmuting human nature proved impossible. The alchemical impulse for individual self-improvement is not the same as the evolutionary paradigm of science, which seeks and finds evidence of our former supposed primitive state, and of our current supposed elevated state, among the rags of cultural mutation.
The industrial revolution (see Blake’s London, under Kabalah below) had transformed the spiritual version of alchemy into a consumerist cult of alcohol, pills and drugs, making pharmacy and addiction the main economy worldwide. Consumerism transforms experience and people, but not for the better. Practical alchemy is a perpetual impulse in all people and cultures, expressed in cooking, experimentation, and attempted meddling in the structural expressions of nature, lately via genetic engineering. All crafts apply archetype, but only alchemy and kabalah study the implied structure of things and processes. The spectacular result was chemistry and biochemistry.
The Hermetic dictum, inherited or re-invented from alchemy, stresses “the miracles of one only thing… all things have been and arose from one, by the mediation of one, so all things have their birth from this one thing,” in Newton’s translation of the emerald tablet.
Alchemy, like all the esoteric crafts, is largely an elaborate natural correspondence theory, tested by isolating and ‘tacking’ attributes between different sets or categories of things. Thus our alchemical impulse laid the groundwork for chemistry and physics, which closed the circle by finding predicted elements (including Helium), and eventually photographing particles and waves. Among natural categories, alchemy includes some cultural categories, such as motivations and personality, the domain of astrology (which recently became psychology). Structural anthropology also reaped some of the ‘bread’ that alchemy had once cast on the waters of natural philosophy, by applying correspondences to social behaviour.
Ironically the human sciences now shun multi-disciplinary approaches, because they resemble crafts. Instead, the humanities isolate single classes of things, and apply tests of logic to theorise the parts of each class. Science and esoteric crafts now both suffer from the assumption that most behaviour, and therefore culture and artefacts, are conscious, practical constructs, mastered by conscious skills. This ‘scientific’ paradigm results in correspondence theories, typically of supposed ‘hidden knowledge’ that could be shared, improved, withheld, scrambled, or lost.
However the ‘grammar’ of culture is impossible to use consciously, or to fake, even now that it is revealed as readable in artworks and building sites (see the Commission Impossible section)………… [order the book at $30 plus postage from Four Equators Media, via edmond at syrex dot co dot za, using Paypal ]……

Categories
Stoneprint introduction

Structure is the message of all media

‘The medium is the message’, a motto coined by communications researcher Marshall McLuhan, means that each medium, such as art, movies, television, newsprint, magazine, ritual, or buildings, embeds itself in the messages it could convey. Various media thus enable certain messages, and disable others. Each medium forms a symbiotic relationship with its content, and influences how the message is perceived, much like editors and peer
pressure do. My career in trade and technical publishing had taught me that some stories write and sell themselves, while truly new stories are hard to tell, and hard to sell. I have the same task in stoneprint, in demonstrating content that we are not in the habit of seeing in building plans; but rather in the habit of ascribing to imitation of other media, such as grammar from language; stereotypes from astrology; stick figures from astronomy; a grid from geometry; equators and poles form cosmology; sequences from calendars; episodes from myth; altars from ritual; buildings from religion; and time-frames from history. These equations of content and media are pervasive. We are adaptively blind to the axial grid of irregular angles, and irregular radial lengths; to eyes with two constant exceptions; and other quirks in our behaviour. This invisibility confirms that perception is not objective. If we did not see the structure in culture, as demonstrated 130 times in this book, then we see what we expect to see. And we expect media to say what their users intend them to say.
The ‘medium equals message’ phrase was introduced in McLuhan’s book, Understanding Media: The extensions of man (1964). He proposed that we should study media itself, not just the content they carry. Every medium affects society by the content it delivers, restricted or amplified by the characteristics of the medium. Thus we also have a paradigmatic or general bias about what culture is, and about what culture should say about us.
McLuhan’s later book was titled The Medium is the Message, where he views communication as a kind of social therapy. We generate individual therapy in dreams, ‘massaging’ our minds; and we generate collective therapy in myth, legend, and news, as Freud had found earlier. For McLuhan, every medium differently shapes “the scale and form of human association and action”. This view implies that sciences, with their restrictions, formulae and citations, are also cultural media, and thus crafts; and may contain archetypal content invisible to our conscious minds.
McLuhan had also proposed a hierarchy of media: “the content of any medium is always another medium”. Writing carries speech; print carries writing; buildings carry social behaviour. Art appears to carry myth, legend, history, ritual, calendar, concepts, and ideals. However art subtracts the time sequence (which is somewhat arbitrary in the other media), and adds its own visual grammar. Thus art is more like a supplement than a translation (see several versions of Solomon’s Judgement on http://www.mindprintart.wordpress.com). Art and buildings inevitably add to what each other, and myth and ritual say. They also enable some therapy that other media could not activate. Buildings have predisposed content………..[order the book Stoneprint at $30 plus postage from Four Equators Media, via ‘[edmond at syrex dot co dot za], payment on Paypal …………..

Categories
Stoneprint introduction

Psychological motivations express archetypes

Culture, and the study of its media and mechanisms, is not an idle game. Culture integrates subconscious and conscious elements in our perception and behaviour. On consciousness, Carl Jung (1951; Alchemical interpretation of the fish) wrote: “Without the existence of conscious concepts, perception is impossible. This explains numerous neurotic disturbances which arise when certain contents are constellated in the unconscious, but cannot be assimilated, owing to the lack of perceptive concepts that would grasp them.
“It is extremely important to tell children fairytales and legends, and to inculcate religious ideas and dogmas into adults, because these things are instrumental symbols, with whose help unconscious contents can be canalized into consciousness, interpreted, and integrated. Failing this, their energy flows off into conscious contents which, normally, are not much emphasized, and intensifies them to pathological proportions. We then get apparently groundless phobias and obsessions; crazes, idiosyncrasies, hypochondriac ideas, and intellectual perversions, camouflaged in social, religious, or political garb”.
Alchemists and astrologers had an intuitive grasp of the need to study myth and the inherent structure of nature and culture, including organs and personality types, long before psychology was a science, or even a word.
Crafts and science became popular pursuits, thanks to the printing press, enabling the Enlightenment. Jung and Freud have made the elements of personality, components of the soul, defence mechanisms, and therapy, into popular crafts and household terms.
The study of archetypal expression on a worldwide scale became possible only in the last two decades, thanks to access to rock art reproductions in academic papers, field work, archives; and plans of buildings, temples, ruins, complexes, pyramid fields, geoglyphs and cities of every culture and era, posted on the Internet. Demonstration of stoneprint in these two media, raises the possibility that more features of the culture code could be discovered in more media, such as literature and personality. The humanities may yet catch up on natural sciences.
The periodic table was resisted by leading scientists for several years, for being ‘simplistic’. Psychology was resisted by other sciences, including medicine, for being ‘shamanistic superstition’. Our reluctance to see culture as subject to universal laws, is evident in the limited applications of structural sociology. We label repetitive behaviour as ‘ritual’, and as ‘primitive’ (as even Levi-Strauss did). We treat ritual as a remnant of our supposedly former ‘savage thought’ (the title of one of Levi-Strauss’ best known books, mistranslated into English as Savage Mind). We should study mythical logic, or mythologics (the title of one of Levi-Strauss’ more substantial, but lesser known books). Anthropology anthologies demonstrate that human sciences developed from crude assumptions, to a variety of sophisticated theories and applications (Hayes 1979; From ape to angel). The study of nature, and abstracts such as geometry and math, seem mature and sophisticated in comparison………….. [order the book Stoneprint at $30 plus postage from Four Equators Media, via Edmondfurter at gmail dot com, using Paypal ]…………..