Good morning, adept of magical realism. Today's lesson is about creating a face.
Let me begin by quoting Halévy's Nietzsche biography.
It is about an event in 1886. Nietzsche was then at the height of his creativity. The Zarathustra book had been published some years before. He was in high spirits. He was, in short, approaching supermanhood.
Halévy paints the scene thus. Nietzsche's comrade Paul Lanzky was meeting Nietzsche in Ruta, near Genoa:
Paul Lanzky rejoined Friedrich Nietzsche at Ruta. Not having seen him for eighteen months, he was struck by the change which he observed in him. The body was weighed down, the features altered.
In other words, Nietzsche is becoing superhuman.
And it shows in the face. The face is a sign of the ultimate opus, the alchemical work, the statement of being “more than what you are”.
And a similar instance can be seen in the life of Carlos Castaneda.
Castaneda's doctine per se is rather pertinent for a superman primer. It is about memento mori. About raising yourself with selfless action. And about going to knowledge as you go to war – wide awake, with fear, with apprehension, and with absolute determination.
Castaneda, as a disciple, embraces all this. Then, in the exam as a nagualist shaman, he has to jump off a precipice and, via the so called “assemblage point” on the astral body, assemble a new world, so as not to be crushed to pulp at the bottom of the gorge. – This is an elaborate shamanic test and it has to be done with firm guidance by a guru – or two, actually, as it was in this case. Conversely, to simply jump off a cliff and expect “magic” to ensue is said to have led one reader of Castaneda’s books into certain death. He jumped from a bridge and of course couldn’t assemble a new world, since he had no shamanic guru around to coach him (the source for this tragic episode is Wallace 2003).
However, Castaneda, for one, managed to jump of his cliff and not land at the bottom of the vale – no, in mid-flight he assembled a new world – several, in fact, in succession – before he ended up in his Los Angeles apartment.
Castaneda has told of the “jumping off a cliff” and what followed in several books – like Tales of Power and The Second Ring of Power. The below version is based on The Active Side of Infinity (1999).
After the event he was, of course, a little surprised to be alive. But he gathered himself, got out of bed, went to the bathroom. And sat in the bathtub for a long time, water from the shower besprinkling him while he was “recalled to life,” so to speak.
And “the face”? What has this got to do with “creating a face”?
I’ll come to that.
Having recovered body and soul Castaneda finally went out for a bite. He went to the usual diner nearby and had a meal. Then a drifter he recognized from before entered the restaurant. And after a while he went to Castaneda’s table. But when he saw Castaneda he screamed and ran away.
In Castaneda’s own words, this is the story:
When he [= the hobo] entered the restaurant, he sat at his usual place, and then he looked at me. Our eyes met. The next thing I knew, he had let out a formidable scream that chilled me, and everyone present, to the bone. ... The man jumped off his stool and ran out of the restaurant, tuning back to stare at me while, with his hands, he made agitated gestures over his head.
[Castaneda 1999, p. 271-272]
Castaneda runs after the man, overtakes him in the street, asking him what made him scream. But the man just covers his eyes and screams again. So Castaneda leaves him and returns to the diner – and the waitress asks him what happened and Castaneda says he just went to see a friend. A friend, really? she says but he means it, musing that this guy was someone who had “seen through the veneer that covers you and knows where you really come from” [p. 272]
The hobo had seen something in Castaneda. Probably his altered features. The features of a superman.
For, magic practices aside, the exact “way to do it” – if you have jumped off a precipice and survived, ending up some hundred miles from where you started – then you are superman.
We shall say a little more about the magical way to supermanhood.
We don’t teach magic per se. No ceremonies or such. But it has got to be said that the magician approaches the superman role.
For instance, they say that among Etruscan magicians there were some called “fulguriators”. They let themselves be struck by lightning (Lat. fulgur) and thus became changed into something more than ordinarily human. The event of course was preceded by “Hyperborean initiation”. You had to have will-thought united in your being, and be prepared to die, before letting lightning struck you. But with the right mindset, and right condition, you could let the thunderbolt hit you and then end up as a supreme being. As a shamanic superman.
And as for the mere possibility of surviving a lightning strike, it is said to be about 90%.
Thus, the fulguriator practice is a probable usage.
You needn’t jump off a cliff or be struck by lightning to raise yourself. You can test your strength in other ways.
You can go to war. You can go hiking in some strenuous way. You can fast, live on a limited diet for a while. You can meditate, focus your mind on the Absolute.
There are many ways of skinning a cat. There are, beyond the basic initiation, many ways to supermanhood. All of them might, in the end, lead to a change in your appearance – a different face, a face exuding both “innocence and experience”. Your face will change, have an appearance like it is made of metal – not iron, in this case, but bronze, the bronze of a statue, come alive by the different shades and highlights given by the shifting sunlight during the day.
Castaneda, Carlos. The Active Side of Infinity. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1999
Halévy, Daniel. The Life of Friedrich Nietzsche. London: T. Fischer Unwin, 1911
Wallace, Amy. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life With Carlos Castaneda. New York: North Atlantic Books, 2003
Castaneda: words and concepts
Ascended masters: some notes
History of Atlantis
Lule river with Langas, Svensson pic from 1981