Towards a Patakabbal part 2

(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.)

Part 2. A Spiral Kabbal

Chapter 1. As above, so below

The first letter of the hebrew alefbet, Aleph , allegedly was created starting from the image of a man pointing down with one hand and up with the other. In magick it symbolizes the equality of microsphere and macrosphere, the similarity in structure between up and down, the meeting and melting point of the opposites.
Eliphas Levi wrote in his magnus opus 'Transcendental Magic' about the Aleph:

  • "the form is proportional to the idea; the shadow is the measure of the body calculated in its relation to the luminous ray; the scabbard is as deep as the sword is long; the negation is in proportion to the contrary affirmation; production is equal to destruction in the movement which preserves life; and there is no point in infinite extension which may not be regarded as the centre of a circle having an expanding circumference receding indefinitely into space."

  • "The first letter in the alphabet of the sacred language, Aleph, a, represents a man extending one hand towards heaven and the other to earth."
One primordial element in 'pataphysics is the identity of the opposites. Not the similarity, but an essential equality in value. In theory it does not matter to a 'pataphysician on which side he's on. Which lead to some attempts at shocking the herd by the college. As such an extended biography (in Monitoires du Cymbalum Pataphysicum n. 29 = l'Expectateur n. 28) was written with old photographs, testimonies and alleged protest of an imaginary pataphysician, Philippe Merlen, who joined the Waffen-SS in World War 3. Only to try to prove in extremis the previous point, most members of the college who were alive at that time (and imagined this character) were active members of the Résistance.

The Collège was always fond of literary mystifications. Let's not forget the collège was founded (on the 11th may 1948) by a cheap painted portret (Sa Magnificence le docteur Irénée-Louis Sandomir), a cat (Provéditrice Générale Mélanie Le Plumet), an unknown russian writer (l'Immarcessible Oktav Votka) and an ego-tripping Provéditeur Jean-Hugues Sainmont who ended up in an asylum, in total solitude only visited by his only friend in the Collège the (male!) satrape Anne de Latis. All one and the same person actually (whose identity I won't reveal), just as the 'greatest 'pataphysician of the 20th century, Julien Torma, only existed in the same way as mathematician Nicholas Bourbaki, Luther Blissett or JR 'Bob' Dobbs! The actual and fourth Vice-Curator, the highest function just below the Curator Faustroll, is Sa Magnificence Lutembi, a senegales crocodile. (2019 Note: in the meantime sa Magnificence Tanya Peixoto was elected Vice-Curatrice by the unique elector TS Fernando Arrabal.)

A 'pataphysician can put on the glove of an Ubu puppet, with a complete Ubu outfit, a gidouille and a little stick of wood, yet underneath another falsehood can be hidden: a smaller Ubu, a housekeeper (Jarry dreamed of being able to have the personality of a caretaker), a conscience… it remains a put-on so it ultimately doesn't matter what role you play, they are all as equal or worthless. Similarly a kaballist will play his role very seriously, using all the given qualities in the given circumstances, accepting the script in all its facets, but realizing that every given emotion, thought, desire, are mere elements needed to play the role, not elements of the self. The major consequence of the equivalence of the opposites is the acceptance or absence of judgment. A kaballist therefore tries to accept his sufferings and fears as part of the lesson, and happiness and hopes as figments useful at that given time for the same purpose. At the same time, the lessons learned at one level of consciousness will find a use on another by similarity. The four sefirotic trees are build in a similar way and each part houses the elements of the whole, almost like a mathematical concept called fractal…

Chapter 2. Patafractalizing the worlds

The imagery was always important in the works of Jarry, and many had to do with mathematics; similarly relationships in kaballah are explained using geometrical figures. Cfr. chapter XXXIX of Faustroll: "According to Ibicrates the geometrician", "César-Antéchrist" and the bit about the polyhedrons in "Ubu Cuckold".

 Further on as shown in the previous part, the concept of fractals seem relevant in the kaballistic worldview "As above, so below": one can always try to subdivise the world even further and will always be able to analyze similar structures using kaballistic concepts. What better metaphor for a fractal than the spiral, extending infinitely inwards as well as outwards, always remaining similar in form?
Albrecht Dürer, a leading kaballist in his time, was highly praised in Jarry's image magazines l'Ymagier and Perhindérion. Some other imagery here also shows a kaballistic nature.

A soul converting to god. The beasts symbolic of the sins have been pushed out and replaced by Christs, a church, a fish, etc.

The heraldic - metaphoric descriptions in 'César-Antéchrist'; Jarry's most complex work IMHO, with its plus and minus symbolism, find a resonance in some descriptions of Egyptian mysteries. 'Ubu King' was first published as the 'earthly chapter' of 'César-Antéchrist'.

 Alfred Jarry: César-Antechrist; from L'Ymagier II (January 1895)

Part 3. The Four Matrushkadams

Chapter 1. Everything is in everything and reciprocally

Kaballah describes a fall of consciousness from the divine down to the simplest stone. The duty of a kabbalist is to define the alchemy needed to find his way back from the shitR towards etHernity. Kaballah describes four worlds that partially fit into each other and at the same time are each completely defined in the lowest attribute of the world upstairs. 

 The four divisions of the manifest reality: Assiyah the material world, Yezirah the world of souls or paradise, Beriah the spiritual world or heaven and Azilut the divine world.
Graphically they are shown as four upside-down sefirotic trees, each with its root growing from the previous and bearing fruit for the next. Every tree consists of 10 sefirot or attributes, each a metaphor for a certain level of consciousness.

Another way of showing is called Jacob's ladder named after its discoverer Jacob, son of Isaac, who saw it in a dream (Genesis 28.10-15). "Angels walk up and down the ladder, and God comes down to Jacob and promises him his support."

  The stylized representation of Jacob's ladder,…
 …and William Blake's interpretation.

 Every sefirah acts like an island (see Faustroll) with influence on the surrounding sefirot and the 22 paths between them. The most common representation consists of showing 4 sefirotic trees overlapping each other, where some sefirot have a match on another level in a world higher and/or lower.

Correspondances between the worlds.

Yet still another interface shows concentric circles from outwards (the etHernity where Faustroll now resides… and the Ayin and Ayin Sof) to the deepest of the matterdre in the center. Like Ubu's consciousness get thrown in the shithole, consciousness descends towards the center and hopefully will return.
 The macroscopic gidouille.

Finally, a last representation consists of four avatars called Adam that fit into each other as russian matrushkas (fig 6), but who also symbolize the world they inhabit (likewise every island has the attributes of their inhabitant in Faustroll). They are called Adam Kadmon (godhead - divine world), Adam Betzalmenu (spirit - heavens), Adam Adamah (soul - paradise) and Adam (body - material world).

Chapter 2. Adam Kadmon: Faustroll.

The first Adam stands for the cosmical being, the link between the transcendent Ayin and immanent Ayin Sof on the one hand and the manifested worlds on the other. He is the result of the original clinamen, the Kaf trying to gather information from the void (where Ayin / Ayin Sof has disappeared in other to find itself). Other names are Atzilut or Tetragrammaton or 'tree of life'. He is usually shown from the back with a crown in the highest sefirot, the ultimate link from the manifested towards the immanent / transcendent, called Eyeh Asher Eyeh: 'I am that I am'. With enough efforts, we should be able to witness the manifestation of god's fat ass.
 Leonardo's cosmical man…
 …and the same seen from behind.

Kadmon faces the transcendent and could be compared to Faustroll navigating towards his fate in etHernity with a colonial helmet as a crown.
We should also consider the eleventh sphere at this level, which is considered as a non-sefirot: the sphere of knowledge or Daath. On the divine plane it is called Bat Kol, the sphere just beyond the crown and a shortcut towards the trancendence.
Christians naively call this the 'holy spirit'. The only thing Bat Kol does is yieling 'come back', trying to convince all the pieces of information (meaning the whole world, like ourselves) to go back to its origins. This repetitive sentence has a similarity to the 'Ha Ha' of Faustroll's ape-servant Bosse-De-Nage.

 The few following sentences are completely indebted to RAW, that with the head inside a head inside a head; Kadmon symbolizes not only the divine plane, but all other planes and Adams are part of him. Kaballah fractalises reality.

 There used to be a French cheese in a box with the illustration of a little girl holding a box with the illustration of a little girl holding a box with the illustration of a little girl holding a box…
Kadmon can be represented by four letters representing the four worlds: Yod - He - Vav - He. Draw them on top of each other and you have the simplified drawing of a little man. Kadmon itself is symbolized by the 'Yod' that looks like a head, the 'godhead'.


The next world, heavens or Beriah, the tree of knowledge, is also Adam Betzalmenu, whose adventures are described in the first chapter of Genesis. It is shown as 'He': the arms of Kadmon, symbolizing the world of creation.
Paradise or Yetzirah, the tree of knowledge of good an evil, is also Adam Adamah, told about in the second chapter of Genesis; it is the world of formation shown as 'Vav': the trunc or reign of the soul and world of formation.
This tree bears fruit: the knowledge (or awareness) of good and evil, existing only throughout the material world of appearances, shown in the final 'He' that looks like legs. It is the stage on which we all play our role, the material world of Beriah, Adam the last, the anonymous one.

We all need to try to leave the sunday of life and reach the hunyadi of etHernity.

Chapter 3. Adam Betzalmenu: Ubu King.

Chapter one of Genesis describes the specific world of creation, not the creation of the material world. 
The start of creation.

It is the fruit of the tree of life: life, itself expanding into the tree of knowledge. Adam Betzalmenu stands for the highest possible consciousness in the realm of creation (the following two worlds shown as a part of this one). Just as the body is considered a vehicle for the soul, the soul is considered a vehicle for the spirit and the spirit a vehicle for the godhead. So paradoxically the vehicle of one Adam is the Adam which procedes (and is shown smaller) from him. After five days all is ready for the first appaerance of man on the stage. 
 …And god saw all was well.

The seven days of creation from the bible are also mapped on the tree of knowledge.
 The first week ever.

In kaballah the Elohim (feminine plural) tell the story of Genesis 1. They symbolize Adam Kadmon, the diverse manifested aspects of the divine. Christianity made 'God' out of it, which has lost a lot of meaning. Adam (Betzalmenu) is asked to be fertile and to have supremacy over the world. This only means that he has to learn the lessons down to the most material level before even thinking of coming back. All the 'creatures' of the world symbolize the difficulties for learning.
Betzalmenu is shown with his face halfway Beriah with Kadmon s(h)itting above him, providing him with the knowledge (and finally the needed matterdre) coming out of a secret place. The throne of God seems like a toilet seat. 
 I would associate Betzalmenu to King Ubu, being the king of creation, with his head in Tifereth (self) of Beriah corresponding to Keter (crown) of Yetzirah or 'Christ consciousness' or 'heavenly Jeruzalem'. He stands on Malkuth (kingdom) of Beriah, the kingdom of Israël.
Ubu looks like a fat Jesus, fighting the merchants - russians in the temple - Poland. The (spiritual) kingdom of Israel is situated everywhere and nowhere, just like Jarry's Poland.
Mother Ubu scares Father Ubu in the bear scene by taking on the heavy voice of archangel Gabriel, trying to convince him to overthrow the ruling king. Kaballah also shows the sefirot in Beriah as the archangels (fig. 14b). Gabriel is situated in Yesod, corresponding to the ego: similarly, Mother Ubu tries to tickle Ubu's gigantic self-delusion.

Chapter 4. Adam Adamah: Ubu Cuckold.

Somewhere between the writing of the play in Beriah and its execution in Assiyah, a place of formation is needed, where the stage is build, the dialogues are written, the puppets are build. Kaballah calls this place Yetzirah, the paradise. The upper part of it which overlaps heavens is called the garden of Eden. Chapter two of Genesis tells the adventures of Adam Adamah in this place.
Yetzirah is also the fruit beared by the tree of knowledge: knowledge, which itself also stands for a new tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The forbidden fruit should be seen as a temptation: it is necessary to eat the fruit, to descend into the fallacy of morals, deep into the next world, in order to learn the lessons and be able to return with the necessary knowledge.
Conscience is shown descending from Beriah to Yetzirah by spiralling downwards, with his face towards the material world.
Up untill now, the figure of Adam was shown as asexual (Kadmon) or hermafrodite (Betzalmenu); in order to enter Assiyah and duality it needs to become dual itself, so it splits into a (sur)male and a female part.

 Similarly in Ubu Cuckold, Ubu overthrows professor Achras and takes possession of his science of polyedres, standing for the hard matter. His consciences tries to dissuade him but by doing this pushes him towards the matter. In chapter two Ubu can't seem to pass through the shithole because he is too fat, just like Adam Adamah cannot reach the material world without the help of a female part. 

Genesis was originally written in the present tense: it describes the adventures of consciousness right now and the path to go back to its origins.

 Ubu Cuckold (Adamah) is the upper soul, which still has a grip on his previous majesty as a King, and Mother Ubu (Ishshah) is the part of the soul finding contact with the matter and body. Deception, cuckoldry is needed between the two to make further descension possible. Of course, neither Adamah nor Ishshah stand for the physical entities of male and female. They are beyond physics and metaphysics, into the realm of Science. In Ubu Cuckold, Mother Ubu starts a relationship with Memnon, symbolizing Ishshah eating the forbidden fruit under influence of the serpent. Only the fallacy of knowledge of good and evil provides a doorway to the matter. By eating the fruit she learns the lessons in the matter.

The story of Joseph, son of Jacob, is also the story of a flight into the matter, symbolized by Egypt, ruled by the faraoh: reason. At the end of Ubu Cuckold, Ubu, his consciousness and Achras flight to Egypt, where they meet the present vice-curator of the college, the crocodile ('with hands like serpents').
Ishshah the lower soul is in contact with the upper part of the physical body. This is symbolized by a turning circle, the realm of Mater Fortuna. Only after having learned what is needed, in this life or in another, is it possible to ascend and go back. The cycle of life and death and rebirth ressembles the wheel of a bicycle, the favourite transportation of Jarry and used in his description of the Passion of Christ as a bicycle race.

The Ourobouros cycle.









Chapter 5. Adam: Ubu Enchained.

After being thrown out of Eden, consciousness is symbolized by Adam anon, the physical man.

The following stage in the descent of consciousness is the emprisonment into the cycle of the material world, just like Ubu is in chains. When having tasted from fruit, the realisation of the physical realm, Adam anonymous and his sidekick Eva realize they are naked. They still need to find out what costume fits their role best. In Genesis the one they call 'God' asks where they are. It's a rhetorical question: do you realize where you're sticking your nose into? Consciousness was innocent in paradise: dumb but not realizing it. Now in the matter it's time to be confronted with oneself. Adam will feed on brambles and spines: the harshest lessons, just like Ubu feels like ascending when he descends: "Do you hear, mother Ubu? I ascend: feetshiner, servant, porter, slave, I will go into jail and one day, if God gives me life, I'll go to the gallows".
Eva (in hebrew Hawwah, the life bearer) appears in kabbalah also as the primordial mother next to Adam the primordial father.  

They are both looking down to the material world. One of the protagonists in Ubu Enchained is called 'Lord Catoblepas', named afterf a fish which name literally means 'one who looks down'.
I would compare the point of vue of kaballah on this material plane in similarity to the OuLiPo, but adapted to life: potentiallity as the possible paths in ones existence. Not everything is possible, but there are rules to be followed and a little freedom in choosing at the crossroads. Kaballah talks of 3240 possible characters, E. Souriau of 210.141 possible dramatical situations on a stage.

(to be cont'd)


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