George Spencer-Brown (1923–2016)

I received news last week that G. Spencer-Brown had passed away. Mostly known for his book, Laws of Form, Spencer-Brown was an esoteric figure. I first encountered him circa 2006, in relation to cybernetics — he influenced a number of cyberneticians including Heinz von Foerster. I have long suspected a deep connection between the LoF’s “Law of Calling: Form of Condensation” and “Law of Crossing: Form of Cancellation,” and the magical operations of evocation and invocation, respectively, though I have never made anything formal of it (perhaps one day). For anyone interested in reading more about the LoF, in additon to the Spencer-Brown’s own text I recommend:

  • Cybernetics & Human Knowing—Peirce and Spencer-Brown: History and Synergies in Cybersemiotics, Vol. 8, No. 1–2, 2001
  • various works by Louis H. Kauffman, including “Laws of Form: An Exploration in Mathematics and Foundations” and “Laws of Form and the Logic of Non-Duality”
  • “Chapter 12: Laws of Form” (pp. 89–96) in Prcoesses and Boundaries of the Mind: Extending the Limit Line by Yair Neuman
  • “Chapter 3: System and Form” (pp. 61—93) in Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narratives and Systems by Bruce Clarke

New Logo

I have created a new logo for hyperRitual, for my new business cards. It is a sign for Uranus (Ouranos), who has featured largely in my magical work, and will have a significant role in the robomancy stuff I am developing.

Astrologically modern interpretations associate Uranus with the principles of genius, individuality, new and unconventional ideas, discoveries, electricity, inventions, and the beginnings of the industrial revolution [cf. cybernetics]. Uranus governs societies, clubs, and any group dedicated to humanitarian or progressive ideals [cf. transhumanism]. Uranus, the planet of sudden and unexpected changes, rules freedom and originality. In society, it rules radical ideas and people, as well as revolutionary events that upset established structures. // Wikipedia: Planets in Astrology: Uranus

The symbol may be variously interpreted, but I prefer to see it as suggesting transition over, above, or beyond the ordinary or traditional magic circle, which is what hyper-ritual has always been about.

hyperRitual Logo 2

Heaven Is Having Multiple Choices

Liberation is indefinitely progressive. // Paul Foster Case

Cf. degrees of freedom.


↓ click to view full size ↓
Hell  Heaven

  1. Heinz von Foerster, “On Constructing a Reality,” Understanding Understanding: Essays on Cybernetics and Cognition. Accurately, the quote is: “The ethical imperative: Acts always so as to increase the number of choices” (emphasis in original).
  2. Peter J. Carroll, “Principia Chaotica,” Liber Kaos.

The Great Work of Robotics

Related articles: Parallax Scribbler 2 (S2)

(some notes from my forthcoming book on robomancy)

The great work of robotics is the same as the Great Work of magic and alchemy: to create (or become) an entity that is not controlled from without.

The Great Work is, before all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will. // Eliphas Lévi, Transcendental Magic: its Doctrine and Ritual

[…] the absolute being is an auto-created being, and we must become in its image auto-created men. // Jean Dubuis (when asked, “What is the basic philosophy of alchemy?”), “An Interview with Jean Dubuis” with Mark Stavish

Cybernetics might, in fact, be defined as the study of systems that are open to energy but closed to information and control. // W. Ross Ashby, An Introduction to Cybernetics (emphasis in original)

A new automaton is born in our midst, having a self-contained automatism in contra-distinction to the automatism of cams and lugs, controlled from without. The directive, that is to say the information, does not originate from factors outside the controlling mechanism, but from within the mechanism itself; thus it is truly automatic. Pierre de Latil (on the miracles of feedback), Thinking by Machine: A Study of Cybernetics

Feedback is key. Individuation can not occur in isolation.

In stark contra-distinction to any naive conception of autonomy as the absolute self-sufficiency of a substantial subject, this concept [double closure, or regulation of regulation] demarcates the paradoxical reality that environmental entanglement correlates with organismic (or systemic) self-regulation. Thus a system is open to its environment in proportion to the complexity of its closure. // Bruce Clarke and Mark B. N. Hansen, Emergence and Embodiment: New Essays on Second-Order Systems Theory

Neocybernetics requires a recognition that there are only two orders of cybernetics or, alternatively, that the shift from a first-order to a second-order cybernetics marks the passage to a general form of recursivity that can (contra Hayles) spiral outwards and thereby create the new at successively higher levels. // Bruce Clarke and Mark B. N. Hansen, Emergence and Embodiment: New Essays on Second-Order Systems Theory

All that has individuality is conscious, and all that is conscious is individual, though emanating from one source. This one source is the absolute cosmic consciousness, the only absolute reality, of which individual consciousness is a segment. This sole reality IS in itself. Because of it, the individual consciousness is prima intelligentia, and so it finds itself subject to a recurring law of cycles; this is not, however, the mere repetition of a common circle closing over itself again and again, but a progressive upward spiral of attainment that ultimately brings the individual into full cosmic consciousness. // Frater Albertus (Albert Richard Riedel), The Alchemist’s Handbook

The Great Work is the uniting of opposites. It may mean the uniting of the soul with God, of the microcosm with the macrocosm, of the female with the male, of the ego with the non-ego. // Aleister Crowley, Magick Without Tears

We understand God in the spirit of pantheism. God is the highest level of control in the Universe. God is for the Universe what human will is for the human body. // Valentin Turchin and Cliff Joslyn, “The Cybernetic Manifesto”

Magic is the practical and spiritual realization of requisite variety and the magician’s own autopoietic (self-creating) nature, the same nature we seek in (and through) artificial life.

A Concise Expression of My Synthesis of Cybernetics and Magic

Related articles: Of Magic and Machine

Magic — to which altered states of consciousness are the key [1] — has real effects because reality is not separate from consciousness, nature is not separate from mind [2]. Which leads me to two assumptions.

1. The degree to which we can satisfactorily describe a system as separated from an observer [3] corresponds precisely to the degree to which magic cannot influence reality. This gives rise to such notions as magic cannot violate the laws of physics.

2. The corollary that the more an observer is required to satisfactorily describe a system, the more amenable is that system to magical influence. This gives rise to such notions as magic has something to do with quantum mechanics.

This is the basis of my synthesis of magic and cybernetics: that magic describes the (means to) altered states of consciousness required for desired effects, and cybernetics describes the non-trivial relationship between the observer and the observed whereby altering my state of consciousness alters the world I am conscious of.

Related: The difficulty with proving magical efficacy is that magic is necessarily a non-trivial phenomenon, while scientific experimentation necessarily trivializes it.

Notes & References

  1. Peter J. Carroll, Liber Null and Psychonaut.
  2. Cf. Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity.
  3. Urban Kordeš, “Participatory Position.” Cf. Heinz von Foerster’s notion of trivialization (“Perception of the Future and the Future of Perception,” also Understanding Systems: Conversations on Epistemology and Ethics).