Friday, August 24, 2018
Wrinkles in the veil of reality
Coincidence, especially in the form of reincidence*, provides clues that our default reality might be in process of being re-booted. Think of the moment in the movie The Matrix when the black cat crosses the room in exactly the same way twice. This is a signal that a virtual reality is about to collapse – in this case, to be collapsed by the alien forces that are keeping humans in thrall by caging their minds in an artificial world.
There is a vast genre of Eastern literature about this kind of thing. In their dastangos, Urdu storytellers - eagerly heard in princely courts and humble markets - preserved an imaginal geography that includes constructed realities known as tilisms. The word tilism, related to the more familiar "talisman" describes a realm of enchantment created by sorcerers that becomes a prison for one who falls into it.
Any world may prove to be a tilism, a mind trap constructed by Dark Side magic in defiance of "the laws of God and of nature". The vast tilism of Hoshruba, with its multiple layers of illusion and deception, is the realm of Afrasiyab, the Emperor of Enchantment. Its geography is more various and complex than that of the ordinary world.
There are tilisms within tilisms, nested worlds created by magic and imagination. Humans live in such places but do not see where they are. It is much easier to fall into a tilism than to get out. The only way to pierce the veils of illusion and overthrow a tilism is to find the tablet that holds the secrets of the tilism, including the conditions for its destruction and the name of the person who will destroy it. The tablet could be concealed anywhere, often inside the tilism itself. **
The “real world” of the first Matrix movie is a nightmare reality where insectoid machines suck energy from humans who allow their bodies to lie dormant because their minds are trapped in a techno-tilism. But the “real world” beyond our consensual reality may be a brighter, not a darker, one. The shaman-priests of the Kogi warn that the Aluna, the psychospiritual field around the earth, has been polluted by human thought-forms and hungry ghosts to the point where it is difficult for higher intelligences to reach us.
Star travelers (not only in C.S.Lewis’s adult fiction, The Cosmic Trilogy) report that Earth is known by sentient beings elsewhere in the galaxy as the Veiled or Cloaked Planet, because we have been wrapped in the fabric of illusion, limiting our access to higher intelligences, and theirs to us.
Noticing wrinkles and loose threads in the fabric of ordinary reality, we begin to lift the veil. Pull on a few of those loose threads, and the fabric of perceived reality may unravel quickly. In Borges’ story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia leads to the discovery of an alternate reality that soon replaces the “real" world.
* Reincidence. A term I invented for a recurring series or riff of synchronistic phenomena over time.
**These traditions were largely unknown in the west until an Urdu scholar and novelist named Musharraf Ali Farooqi was stirred by a dream to embark on a fantastic enterprise. He dreamed he was visited by mythic creatures who came galloping right out of the great Urdu story cycle known as The Adventures of Amir Hamza. He made a tremendous contribution to world literature in giving us an elegant 900-page translation of this work, published by The Modern Library. But this was only the start of his labors. Farooqi has since produced the first volume of a projected 24-volume translation of the oceanic Tilism-e Hoshruba. Titled Hoshruba: The Land and the Tilism