Staying in the Drama…

by Antonio Dias

Whew, I’ve spent years thinking what synchronicity might really mean. It is an interesting topic, but difficult to discuss, as language is structured on something like causality. Poetry, maybe… Getting the outside and inside to resonate synchronously: making the outside like the inside and inside like the outside. This actually, is what is irking me a bit in the definition of magic as change according to will. In my experience, the moments of synchronicity don’t contain any pushing which, in my perception, is the action of will. I’ve never surfed, but I think it may be like finding/catching a suitable wave that lifts and carries. Of course, to be able to catch any sort of wave one has to have the skills – to have learned surfing. I think in Druidry Handbook there’s a recommendation concerning learning the magical skills, that one just has to have the willpower to do the practice to acquire the skills. But to my eyes, absolutely crucial is having very, very keen attention and sensibility. Walking over one’s preferences with one’s will is going to give practice to exactly the wrong inner muscles. For example, to be a top-notch animal tracker one has to have extremely keen attention, totally uncluttered by any thought of performing/achieving, and very high sensitivity that has not been walked over roughshod with will. To me, it looks like attention and sensitivity are the wildest part of the inner herd, and the will has to learn a totally different way of coping with situations so that the attention and sensitivity can function at top form. Or is it that magical will is something different from this? To me it seems there is something that I tend to call intention shooting out of the situations where synchronicity is happening.

The term hallucinatory wealth has stuck with me: it describes perfectly the drama that is going on right now. As if our culture is stuck in a swamp that produces hallucinatory fumes, that take quite a while to clear out after one has managed to somehow crawl onto dry land. And as with any addiction, the addicts are furious at anyone trying to point out that they’re not living in bliss. And as with addiction, some who manage to crawl out choose to stay at the edge of the swamp sermonizing those who are still stuck. For myself, I notice that I am tempted to be shocked, shocked at what is going on, foaming at my mouth thinking about the cost of crimes banks are foisting upon us. But I’m wasting my time. And it is also part of the withdrawal symptoms of addiction: first thing addicts want to do when coming dry is they naively assume they can help other addicts. But it is just another way to stay in the drama of addiction, a bit less hard on the body but the ambiance stays the same. So, turning one’s attention, changing the wavelength one listens to. This is my intention now.

Kristiina in a comment on The Archdruid Report

JMG’s response:

Kristiina, that’s a common misunderstanding of the magical will, one which I address in my book The Druid Magic Handbook. The magical will isn’t about bulldozing your way through obstacles, or flattening perception; it’s more properly seen as intentionality, the structuring of consciousness toward a goal, and resembles the state of mind of a competent sailor in a wind-powered boat, who knows how to read the wind and currents and uses that knowledge to get them to move his boat toward its destination.


“Our ordin­ary view holds that the field of the finite is all that there is. But if the finite has no true inde­pend­ent exist­ence, it can­not be all that is. We are in this way led to pro­pose that the true ground of all being is the infin­ite, the unlim­ited; and that the infin­ite includes and con­tains the finite. In this view, the finite, in its tran­si­ent nature, can only be under­stood as held sus­pen­ded, as it were, bey­ond time and space, within the infinite.”

‘Infin­ite Poten­tial: The Life and Times of David Bohm’, by F. David Peat 1997 quoted on Peter Kajtar’s site, The Order of Thought.

Beyond time and space.

Cinema is thought articulated in time.

Words are linear, and so is Cinema, stories organized in time: relying on, mediated by, sequence and duration, juxtaposition and inferred connections. Things “make sense” because they follow each other, and we “make sense” of our sensations by healing them together into coherence. This is related to making/finding meaning, but what is the form of this relationship? Are they identical? If so, what does that mean? If, not, likewise….

This post begins with someone I’d never heard of before yesterday writing in a way that feels so familiar to me about serendipity in a way that has been serendipitous for me. What follows, following where her writing led and then bouncing off other conversations either connected or just proximate in the time of my finding them, ends up with some other inklings that have been upwelling in my mind over the last few days as I’ve been living with a particular question,

How do we untangle stories from our expectations and what could that do to alter our expectations and open us up to creativity?

Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell is floating over and around this question as I continue to read it in the way in which I’ve come to read in the last few years.

I used to read voraciously. I would read for hours on end, for days. I read Moby Dick the first time in 36 hours of fevered reading and fevered dreaming in bed with a bad cold as a teenager in a hotel in winter in the north of Portugal. I read to consume, to devour, to be transported, and to blot out the domestic world in which I found myself trapped.

Lately, and how much of this is due to on-line habits of foraging and nibbling and moving on I don’t know, I read differently. I come to things that are worth reading feeling a charge that seems to repel as it attracts me. I read in short bursts, filling up quickly and then having to put the book, or screen page “down.” There appears to be a need to balance what I find there with what I find in here as the words affect me. There is a respect for a need to spread my attention and awareness between these two realms and not let either predominate.

Part of this is a writer’s instinct. I don’t want to lose anything that might be the beginnings of that pressure welling up from wherever it comes that signals the need to begin writing and to find what it is that is ready to come out, ready to surface. Besides Moby Dick, I did grow up with actual whales around me. The ways of those who are keen to find immensities hidden below still surfaces or roiling waters alike came naturally to me. There is a need to watch and a need to listen, but not in the usual ways. As Kristiina says,

it looks like attention and sensitivity are the wildest part of the inner herd, and the will has to learn a totally different way of coping with situations so that the attention and sensitivity can function at top form.

Reading this way has come to be an uppermost necessity. I think it is a way to best respect both the writer I’m reading and the sources of whatever I may subsequently write as a result of reading what they have written. It is also a reflection of a wider sense of a way to be that has been upwelling over this time as well.

Solnit writes of the breaks and gaps enforced by disaster and encoded in certain habits we have as societies to create situations that mirror certain of disaster’s effects. In Carnival and revolution we seek to step out of the ruts of institutionalized existence and savor the benefits to be gained by their breakdown.

I’ve long had a similar sense of what is required internally to deal with the reality of the infinite and the timeless. In face of the inconsequential nothingness of any finite quantity of thought or any finite length of time to be able to stand up to the infinite and the timelessness of deep-time, it has come to me repeatedly that it is in the caesura that we gain the most. That as we pause after “filling up” and then allow ourselves and our conceptions to breakdown, allow ourselves to forget what we cannot hold onto without some arbitrary technological storage capacity to maintain it for us and make it easy for us to retrieve what we’ve discovered and then forgotten – wasn’t this the job of the book? Even long before computer’s and Google made it seem like child’s play…. It has long seemed to me that the closest approaches to creativity have often come to me in the moment after I’ve let go of what seemed to be a lot, but which is, must always necessarily be, just a tiny fragment and as much a lie as a truth, especially if it is held onto too tightly.

From out of a stumbling habit and a predilection for this sort of binge and forget way of doing things – in part a chore and an often regretted necessity as I have insisted on bringing so many different ways of doing things along with me. While most who write, only write and most who paint only paint and most who design only design; I’ve insisted on doing them all, along with a variety of other tasks either self-imposed or pushed on me by society at times I was not strong enough to resist! From out of what has been essentially a base condition of my make-up I’ve now been attending to developing this into a way of being that integrates awareness of what happens even when I don’t consider it with what it might mean to intend, again as Kristiina puts it,

To me it seems there is something that I tend to call intention shooting out of the situations where synchronicity is happening.

So, turning one’s attention, changing the wavelength one listens to. This is my intention now.

The serendipity and alignment here is uncanny! I’ve never found any echoes anywhere of my growing appreciation for a different understanding of intention, not as will, but as a gentle form of focusing of awareness and attention. That, at least for those of us who are disintegrated that a valuable step, if not a total way of being, is to look at this potential role for intention. That intention is not a demand to meet a certain result decided upon by “reason,” but that it is a gentle urging to maintain focus on attention out of an awareness that it is all we have.

But, all our stories, stories built of words and images, either imagined or projected upon a screen, have a different conception of intention at their base. In our stories we have – inescapably? – been held within a habit that demands that intention is tied to will, and that satisfaction results from fulfilling will’s desires, even though what keeps us going back – in real life as much as in our fictions, perhaps this is what drives our “real lives” so deeply into fantasy that they now rival fiction! – is that this effort is doomed by the sort of equation Bohm has outlined, an equation more fundamental and more earth-shattering than Einstein’s E=MC2. That the finite can only exist within the infinite. Time within timelessness and that our failure to see this reality condemns us to forever acting out in a striving within addictions that leave us hungry to,

“stay in the drama of addiction.”

So here we are thrown back on the question,

Can we live, can we tell stories of how to live, outside this form of drama?