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Hakim Bey over interpretatie

Updated On: February 9th, 2011 by Pennywise


Uit For and Against Interpretation
"According to the 13th century Andalusian Sufi Ibn Arabi there exist "delicate tenuities" that stretch between heaven and earth like Jacobs-ladders - and the "meanings" which descend along these tenuities are like angels. I believe he actually saw the tenuities as nearly-transparent ribbands of light, strands of aurora borealis pulsing with luminous nodes like stars falling through gauze curtains. There's no need to limit this perception either by theological or psychological explanations - for the naïve realist any experience has as much a prior claim to ontological authenticity as any other experience - a spirit is seen or a meaning descends in the same manner that a soft rain is seen and descends. But how naïve can we be? Never mind - the most advanced science or abstruse theology leads us in bewilderment back to the same crude existentialist proposal: since it appears, it might as well be real. So - if the meaning that appears in the tenuity is real, it can be traced back to its source which is real - or real enough for our present purposes - and this tracing-back is called (by the Ismaili gnostics) ta'wil, or "Interpretation." The psychologist would say the knowledge that arises in this operation comes from inside - the theologian would say it comes from outside - but for us both explanations have lost power to beguile. As an alchemical process, interpretation transpires in a space both inside/outside and neither simultaneously; as "hermeneutic exegesis" (in Henry Corbin's phrase) it belongs to an in-between or isthmus called Mundus Imaginalis, where images appear as autonomous, or where dreams foretell the truth. In one sense neither real nor unreal, in another sense, perfectly capable of appearing to us as spirit, the world of imagination acts as if it were the source of significances, location of personae, breath of the world. Science and religion might unite to call this delusion - but for us it is rather a matter of sheer desperation. The two-dimensionality of duelling epistemologies, dichotomies, semantic traps, bad faiths - fuck science and religion - we should demand a rationalism of the marvellous - an end to the violence of the explanation.
In this context, individuals and groups bear the responsibility of making contact with their own angels - even the mystic gurus has misled us here, since they stand between us and our own awareness and pretend to an authority that reduces us to subjects - or rather to objects - objects of someone else's interpretation. It seems we cannot escape the imputation of an old heresy here - based on the presumption that everyone at every moment knows precisely what's going on and what to do - if only they can break free of need, oppression, and the suffocation of false consciousness - and escape the scarcity by which authority measures its wealth and its power against us. Above all - the scarcity of interpretation.

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