Towards a Patakabbal part 1

(first published in Maybe Quarterly vol. 2 issue 4, winter solstice 2005. This online magazine was sadly removed but one can still find its reflections in the Wayback Machine.)

Personification and falsehood


Get a grip on Bat Kol, I'm taking away Jacob's ladder

  • "Talking about things that are understandable only weighs down the mind"
    Alfred Jarry
A 'pataphysician has an altitude in if but no attitude in life. The person, that which mosbunall confuse with the self, is considered as an imaginary solution. There are as many roles on the stage of life as there are possible answers to a poll answered by Jarry. The character of a 'pataphysician is like a glove, like a puppet in a theater.

 Advertisement by Jarry for "Les Minutes de Sable Mémorial" in L'Ymagier II (January 1895)

A kaballist also sees life as a theatre play. The role played is considered a mere shadow resulting from the rules of the divine light. The role on te stage of existence is played seriously but without equating the self with the person. Any emotion, thought, feeling are just necessary props for playing the role.
Both the awakened kaballist and the conscious pataphysician (hence the apostroph) try not to desire, but to elevate the value of the world they adapt themselves to by the way they consider it. In this sense both can be seen as an art of existence.

A few years ago I was striken by similitudes between 'pataphysics and kaballah, two subjects I'm very fond of. I started writing down phrases that seemed relevant to the subject but I never once thought I would have the qualities to write something worthfull of it.
The more I collected the more it seemed unlikely to sort it all out. Then a special number of the Viridis Candela, regular publication of the collège de 'pataphysique was announced centered on the figure of Adam. I got to write a medium piece in french, linking Adam to various protagonists in Jarry's writings. I send it but got no reaction except a small sarcastic reference two months later. As a 'pataphysician I felt no grief, on the contrary I felt motivated to dig deeper into the matter. Encouraged by my fellow Maybe Logic academicians, here are the unfinished results. I consider this as a work in progress which will probably take me years before I get bored of it, so for the exception of two parts below do not expect any polished text. My english translation found its place in part 3 below and part 1 was started a few weeks ago. The rest gets only hinted at, the possible directions for each bit described frugally.
I apologize for possible errors in english. I hate when a language gets raped, but being raised in both dutch and french I do not possess the english tongue enough to ascertain an error-proof text! Let alone an attempt at E-prime… Thank Eris (and Douglas Adams) for Babelfish!
  • "Avoid completion"
    Julien Torma
The following structure seems like a good idea to me at this moment:

  • Part 1. Ontology and Clinamen
    • Chapter 1. A Pantoum of Tsimtsoum
    • Chapter 2. The Word and its opposite
  • Part 2. A Spiral Kabbal
    • Chapter 1. As above, so below
    • Chapter 2. Patafractalizing the worlds
  • Part 3. The Four Matrushkadams
    • Chapter 1. Everything is in everything and reciprocally
    • Chapter 2. Adam Kadmon: Faustroll.
    • Chapter 3. Adam Betzalmenu: Ubu King.
    • Chapter 4. Adam Adamah.: Ubu Cuckold.
    • Chapter 5. Adam: Ubu Enchained.
  • Part 4. The Book of Sand
    • Chapter 1. Emanations and commissions: the Collège as a tree
    • Chapter 2. Questioning the Quinconces
  • Part 5. Gematria and Nominalism
    • Chapter 1. Notariqon, Temurah and Oulipo
    • Chapter 2. The apostroph on the Golem's forehead
  • Without conclusion.

Part 1. Ontology and Clinamen

Chapter 1. A Pantoum of Tsimtsoum

Ayin and Ayin Sof searching for an answer (1)
Retracting from the void sending Ayin Sof Aur (2)
Clinamen, unexpected beast, unfolds the quanta (3)
Disturbing the known order, breaking the vessels (4)

Retracting from the void sending Ayin Sof Aur
Bosse-de-Nage's Tzimtzoum after strangulation (5)
Disturbing the known order, breaking the vessels
Faustroll beheld a pale horse-head and went berzerk (6)

Bosse-de-Nage's Tzimtzoum after strangulation
From Eyeh Asher Eyeh Kaf enter'd the void (7)
Faustroll beheld a pale horse-head and went berzerk
Reaching the deepest Merdre, Kaf bounced back (8)

From Eyeh Asher Eyeh Kaf enter'd the void
Enabling the story, Bosse-de-Nage ceas'd to be dead (9)
Reaching the deepest Merdre, Kaf bounced back
Faustroll return'd to Bat Kol knowing who he was (10)

Enabling the story, Bosse-de-Nage ceas'd to be dead
Ayin and Ayin Sof searching for an answer
Faustroll return'd to Bat Kol knowing who he was
Clinamen, unexpected beast, unfold the quanta!

A Pantoum is an old persian form of poetry. It consists of five sonnets, each of four verses, each of twelve syllables. Every verse appears twice, the second and fourth of each sonnet reappears on the first respectively the third place of the next. In the last sonnet the second and fourth verse are repetitions from the first sonnet, appearing as if the pantoum could be read all over again.
1 2 3 4
2 5 4 6
5 7 6 8
7 9 8 10
9 1 10 3
Given the attraction in 'pataphysics for obscure ways of expression this form seemed fitting the subject.

1. In kaballistic ontology or theory of the origins, No-thing the trancendence (Ayin) and Every-thing the immanence (Ayin Sof) stand for the two most abstract representations of the origin of all, that which believers call 'god', unbelievers 'chaos' and of which kaballists only can say the following: trying to understand what itself 'is', Ayin and Ayin Sof searched for a way to dissociate from itself and look in a mirror. It was nowhere and everywhere, so it needed to withdraw itself from a place and a void was created. For the withdrawal or contraction the musical word 'Tzimtzoum' is used.
2. Ayin Sof Aur, the third part of the totality, being neither nothing nor everything but something, is the basic emanation: that which can be perceived (as opposed to the immanent and the transcendent). The very first emanation resulting into the void is the highest sefirot Kether in Atzilut, also called 'Eyeh Asher Eyeh': 'I am what I am'. To see Popeye as a metaphor for the highest consciousness seems pataphysical enough to me.
3. 'La bête imprévue Clinamen' appears in Jarry's "Gestes et opinions du docteur Faustroll, pataphysicien" chapter XXXIV, the 'pataphysical bible in a way, and appeared first in the ideas of Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) and meant literally 'spontaneous deviation of the atoms in their trajectory', a concept later on developped by Roman philosopher Lucretius (90-52 BC) on the subject of free will. See this introduction to materialism and Wikipedia's excellent explanation.

 Epicurus, a very serious person.

For Alfred Jarry, Clinamen stood for the very first tiny deviation without a cause (it just happened because it seemed a good idea - 'parce que le besoin s'en faisait sentir'), resulting in more and more effects and finally in the world as we know it. Giving this deviation, which we could as well associate with the trigger to the Big Bang, a name and calling it a beast makes it a bit more familiar. An animal which would fit very well in Borges' bestiary.
4. The Clinamen is the agent of chaos in a perfect grid, according to Epicurus.It's the entropy pushing the system further away from equilibrium with each increment. Breaking the vessels is the stage happening after the contraction, when different worlds got created in an attempt to reach a new equilibrium, which kept failing because the sefirot, or emanations, or vessels seemed unable to keep the divine light in balance. The following quote is from The Inner Dimension site (note the present tense: for a kaballist, everything is happening… right where you are sitting now!)
  • The breaking of the vessels is a stage in the creative process which takes place several stages after the initial tzimtzum, which is the contraction of G-d's infinite light. After the initial tzimtzum there is then a ray of infinite light which shines into the vacuum. Then the world which is known as adam kadmon, "primordial man," is created. This is a purely spiritual and Divine state of universal cosmic consciousness. Then comes another world: olom ha'akudim. This is the first world which possesses an actual vessel to contain and define its light. All of the ten lights of that world are contained within this one vessel. Then comes another world: olom ha'nikudim, in which the ten vessels to contain the ten lights are very small. Since the vessels are not mature, they are broken by the light that shines into them.
5. The death of Bosse-de-Nage (see note 6), doctor Faustroll's mandrill and ape-servant which knew no other words than 'ha ha' is joyfully celebrated in the pataphysical calendar on the 20th of the month of Haha. On the 22nd his resurrection is also joyfully celebrated. In between during chapters XXVIII to XXXI he retracted himself out of the story, being only present by his absence: he left his negative form, a void, so the pataphysical calendar celebrates on the 21st of Haha the "Tzimtzoum of Bosse-de-Nage".

 Le Grand Singe papion Bosse-de-Nage, lequel ne savait de parole humaine que: "ha ha"

6. In chapter XXVII ('Capitalement') Faustroll explains to Panmuphle that "I only felt the urge to call after having the vision of a horse-head, which became to me a sign, or an order, or more precisely a signal, like the thumb up in a [Roman] circus, that I had to hit". Later on together with the bishop Mensonger and the ape-servant Bosse-de-Nage they walk through a street of mists, and the bishop lets the streetsigns fall with his stick and Bosse-de-Nage carries them in his arms. All is well until he takes down the sign of a horse butcher, which causes Faustroll to cause a holocaust for seven days using just a little perfumed candle. Having killed all the military, all the women and all the children of the world he calmed down, until the street sign of a corral came down, and then he decided to strangle the ape.
7. Kaf is a word used for what I see as a more downsampled version of the 'divine light' Ayin Sof Aur, obscured already a bit by the distance from the source, getting weaker and weaker after descending the four consecutive worlds. Symbolized by a lightning bolt, straight on the Jacob's ladder; in zigzag on the sefirotic representation.
8. Kaf gets finally reflected bouncing on the lowest sefirot in the material world (Malkuth in Assiyah), going back to its source boosted and accompanied by the growing human consciousness. Which ultimately is supposed to dissolve into it and leave the void taking with it everything that was send into the world. When the lowest stone comes back to daddy, Ayin / Ayin Sof finally will know itself completely.
9. Bosse-de-Nage returns in chapter XXXII. "the ghost of Bosse-de-Nage, who only had ever existed in imagination, so couldn't have died, became opaque again, said respectfully 'ha ha' and then said nothing more, waiting for his orders". For the company to move on in the story, they needed the ape-servant to go and buy canvasses to repair the land-boat. So it was necessary that he stopped being dead.
10. In chapter XXXV Faustroll conciously makes his boat sink and drowns: "So doctor Faustroll committed the act of dying, aged of sixty-three years". But his death also is only a further voyage, and in chapter XXXIII "In the meantime Faustroll, with his abstracted and naked soul, took on the garments of the unknown dimension". His first action consists of a telepathic letter to Lord Kelvin (chapter XXXVI), concerning different methods of measurement when in a state of immateriality. And then the rest of Jarry's book gets written not by the notary Panmuphle but by Faustroll himself, out of his state of "ethernity" which is neither real nor imaginary. The link with the kaballistic voyage out of both the kharmic wheel and the illusion of duality seems obvious to me.

Chapter 2. The Word and its opposite.

The very first word of Ubu King, the word that shocked the audience to the extend they demolished the furniture of the Théâtre de l'Œuvre on 10th december 1896 was the word 'Merdre' usually translated into English as 'Shitr'. Although it seems impossible to translate. The French word 'merde' looks and feels like the fecal matter made into a symbol, while 'shit' most of the times sounds like nothing but a curse. The meaning in French kept attached to the word and makes it dirty.
Now Jarry took this word and transformed it into a marvelous metaphor, the meaning of which could easily fill a few books. Some 'pataphysicians see a verb into the Word: not like 'to take shit' but rather like 'to become shit'. Hamlet could have said: "To die, to sleep—to sleep, maybe to become shit".
Indeed, to go down into the materiality, to show no sign whatsoever of spirituality but to take descent as a quest seems the most endearing purpose of father Ubu. The three plays featuring Ubu show it well: first a king, then cuckolded and finally enchained. More on this in part 3.
The Christian churches took many elements from kaballah and integrated them into their doctrine. One important element in the catholic ontology is the dogma "In the beginning was the verb and the Verb was with God, and the Verb was God". Actually the kaballah doesn't really express it that way although Samael Aun Weor does refer to it in his Gnostic teachings in the following way:
  • "The word produces objective geometric figures. Said figures are filled with cosmic Matter and crystallize materially. In the beginning was the Verb and the Verb was with God, and the Verb was God; because of Him, all things were made"
He places the verb in Daath of Atzilut, the highest non-sefirot, usually a metaphor for knowledge. And indeed here is the first instance of a (simili-) emanation which can be percieved. In Atzilut's Daath kaballah usually places the picture of a dove and calls it 'Bat Kol' (this metaphor was later on misunderstood by catholics who turned it into a 'Holy Spirit'). Its one task is to keep repeating the same phrase over and over again: 'Come back', trying to remind the kaballistic seeker of its path. It forms a reflection to the word associated with the highest sefirot Keter above: 'I am', according to kaballah the only level of consciousness where the verb despised by E-prime has actually a meaning.
Both first words of 'pataphysics and kaballah seem opposite, but actually they tell a story in two stages. In order to become aware, one must first stop from the blind 'I am' and descend deeper and deeper until submerged by the muddy matter, into the 'Merdre'. Only then one is reminded of the goal and hears from afar the Bat Kol's calling 'Come back' and can ascend the spiritual ladder again, but this time with all the knowledge up to the lowest level, and to become 'I am' again, this time all-seeing.

(to be cont'd)

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