self-secret language

Self-secret language and patterns of reality

In Darwin's Pharmacy, the author points out the following: "I want to suggest that trip reports are fundamentally scripts, what I have called elsewhere rhetorical software: linguistic, visual, musical, and narrative sequences whose function resides less in their "meaning" than in their capacity to be repeated and help generate patterns of response. They are part of the psychonautic apparatus and not a supplement to it. They are compositions that suggest, but do not exhaust what one may very well become in contact with entheogens." There are three things that interest me about this quote. One of those things is the concept of self-secret language, which I've written about before. Self-secret language is the discourse of a given community and it is language that is only understood when you've had enough experiences that allow you to understand the various terminology being used, and enables you to contribute to the community you are seeking entrance to.

What stands out to me about the quote above is that another function of self-secret language and its various artifacts is that people do need to be able to repeat them and use them to generate responses. You see this in academia, where mastering the academic language is an initiation in its own right, with the expectation being that you'll be able to successfully replicate the language and use it to generate your own responses to other artifacts in the academic field you are in. Self-secret language, when used in this way, protects the discourse from the uninitiated, while also qualifying who is initiated. The downside of such an approach is that it can also cause stagnation. This is one of the reasons academia tends to be conservative in its approach. It's also why you see a similar conservative approach in a lot of occult traditions. The traditions are preserved and the uninitiated are kept out, but the tradition progresses slowly and views potential changes as a threat, and responds accordingly.

The second thing which interests me about the quote is the concept of generating patterns of response. I've explained that above, in terms of self-secret language, but lets consider as well that a pattern of response also leads to a pattern of reality. The response is the confirmation of a discourse, but it is also what is used to discover patterns of reality that support the discourse and may even be used to generate those patterns of reality. A pattern of response sets up an expectation for what will be manifested as reality and trains the people involved to look for that reality and/or manifest it through their own actions.

There is also an ontological element that interests me about the quote, specifically the use of the word become, which is an ontological shift from one state of being to this case in reference to entheogens, but it can also be applied to magical work, or really any kind of work that involves some kind of identity shift. I'd argue that self-secret language, i.e. discourse is an example of an identity shift. A person must adopt the discourse of a given discipline, and that adoption includes a fundamental change in identity, a becoming of something new through the mastery of the discourse.

And what do I really mean by all the above...It's an example of self-secret language in and of itself, a discourse analysis provided by my own experiences in academia and tempered by my interests in ontological shifts and magical work.

Discourse and Self-Secret Language

I've just started reading The Six Yogas of Naropa and in the preface the editor makes a very interesting point about self-secret language. He notes that not every person that reads a book will get it, because even if s/he knows the words of the language, it doesn't mean s/he understands the message and meaning. He uses an example where a friend picked up a book and read a half page about emptiness and then admitted that although he knew all the words, he didn't understand what had been written.

The editor goes onto note  the following: "When one approaches self-secret literature in its own environment, allowing it to speak in its own words and to use its own metaphors and illustrations, a sense of the profound integrity of the language soon begins to dawn."

Reading that made me think of the word/concept Discourse. A discourse is a specialized use of language for a given discipline and generally its use is only understood by the practitioners of that discipline. Occultism has its discourse, and sub-discourses, but so does any discipline, religion, etc. out there. A technical writer, for example, has a specific that s/he engages in during the process of doing tech writing.

The point the editor makes about people not understanding something despite knowing the words is so true. I've experienced it when I've read books in disciplines I'm not very familiar with and I've seen other people struggle in a similar fashion. My mom, a devout Christian, once bought one of my books and tried to read it and admitted that even though she knew the words, she didn't get the underlying meaning and concepts. I think of this as the discourse protecting itself. After all discourse is also a social indicator as to whether or not you get the culture and ideology of a given discourse community.

You don't get the self-secret language until you can approach it on its own territory and that only begins to occur when you have experiences that allow you to integrate the concepts you've read into actual practices that you embody. Nothing is so esoteric that it cannot be understood, but what is required is a willingness to move past language into experience, so that when you actually do read a book, you have experiences that allow you to use the metaphors and illustrations of the self-secret language you are learning.

The value of any book is not the knowledge contained within it, or the words you read. It is the application of that knowledge to your life, which results in genuine learning and understanding of what you have read. Until that occurs the words are lifeless, etchings on a piece of parchment that can only come to life through your effort to write them in your soul through the embodiment of them in your life.

Book Review: Seducing the Subconscious by Robert Heath

This is an intriguing book that explores the emotional influence that occurs in advertising. The author makes a convincing argument that advertisements are not effective for influencing our consciousness, but are effective at influencing the subconscious. He provides case studies to illustrate his point, all of which are helpful in demonstrating that what really makes advertising powerful is the subconscious. I would've liked it if he'd focused on suggesting strategies and practices for resisting subconscious manipulation. He didn't offer too much in that direction, but this book is illuminating and can help you understand how advertising actually works.