The Lure of the Cosmos


[The moon] is not dead. But maybe we are dead, half-dead little modern worms stuffing out damp carcasses with thought-forms that have no sensual reality. When we describe the moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness. Do we imagine that we, poor worms with spectacles and telescopes and thought-forms, are really more conscious, more vitally aware of the universe than the men in the past were, who called the moon Artemis, or Cybele, or Astarte? Do we imagine that we really, livingly know the moon better than they knew her? That our knowledge of the moon is more real, more “sound”? Let us disabuse ourselves. We know the moon in terms of our own telescopes and our own deadness. We know everything in terms of our own deadness. – D.H. Lawrence (p.53)

In Apocalypse, D.H. Lawrence provides the raw material that begs a furtherance of analysis beyond the scope of the book itself. Curiously, the most interesting points he makes could be extrapolated upon in ways unexplored in the book. The reader notices quickly his fascination with what he calls… the cosmos. Zodiacal knowledge- is it important? How about compared to the science explorations of space? The disenchantment of our bodies and our world on the ground was not enough; Capital knows no limits, and in that vein it had to expand beyond those categories… to the stars.

Lawrence describes astronomical space (as in, space as defined by scientific methodology) as a conception or rationalization that induces paralysis. The never-ending vastness of nothingness that intrinsically reflects the post-modern loss of personal and collective agency only further alienates our beings from a context. Total insignificance is the law and the blunting of intuitive response ensures a level of hopelessness in the modern subject.

In contrast, there is the mythical conception of space, or rather, the sky. In the sky there are stars, planets, the sun, and moon. Each of these characters plays various and interconnected roles in the lives of those on earth. The rational knowledge of the sun as a fiery ball of gas disenchants the sun, removes the impact of the sun, and erases the wisdom of generations past.

If it is true that a practice and belief in magic can generate autonomous cohesion that contrasts itself against the horrors of civilization, the reintegration of our own, unique practices are integral in the struggle against such horrors. With the power of our own narratives, we are enlivened by the actors of the cosmos and driven against our captivity. D.H. Lawrence simply alludes to the potentials of magical thinking in his diatribe against astronomical space, but as rebels it is important to place our findings within a context of subversion. Oftentimes, being inspired by the past gets conflated with the desire to recreate the past, mimicking the same exact names, practices, and stories of those of our ancestors. Lawrence advocates a departure from the scientific reduction of the cosmos, but not in the way of using the name “Artemis” for the moon. Instead, there will be something new, something closer to Artemis than “a dead lump or an extinct globe” (p.54) that regenerates the mythical energy that is to be found in our relation to the cosmos.

The destruction of the human community during the enclosure was characterized most prominently by its elimination of magical thinking, as it was vital in the cohesion of people who would not have their lives totally proletarianized. In this way, the witch-hunts were imperative in the introduction of industrial society. The ability of communities to utilize their intergenerational knowledge of natural healing was fused with a belief in magic and reinforced a level of autonomy that power could not penetrate up until that point. Stripped of these practices and replaced by the practice of specialized medicine, these communities were effectively disintegrated and consumed by the transition into modern capitalism.

Part of re-gathering our selves, creating a base to live by and with in struggle, is developing a practice of story-telling that reinvigorates our human imagination and works to resolve social amnesia among rebel people. Part of that project will be finding new ways to talk about the cosmos, the space around us, the wild, et cetera, that betrays the stronghold of objective science and re-enchants our lives and places.  This is a tool, a driving force that amplifies the quality of our struggle, and I suspect it will be invaluable to those who choose to at least entertain these ideas and explore their potential.

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