Tales of Faith may seem to have a pulp flavour – the fables that Man is heir to. The way I see it, though, Starstruck is vastly more accurate and entertaining than mainstream contemporary sf/films because of its playful, instinctive urge that replaces any rational, male order. The rational male order that has dominated societies since, oh, the end of the Elizabethan era.
Coincidentally, The Armor of Light is a period Elizabethan parallel reality by Melissa Scott (with Lisa Barnett). The roll-call of characters is legendary, from Mary Queen of Scots to Marlowe. I would say Scott’s period writing has similarities to Howard’s, in a feminine mode. Rather than as most moderns do trying to rationalise history, they invest it with diabolical spirit. Sorcery and mystique. It even opens with a scene straight from Weird Tales
A voice, giddy as a girl’s and sweet as a choirboy’s said, “This is the king who will be.”.. With whirlwind swiftness the mild face vanished, and was replaced with a tiny picture, perfect as a painting. Elizabeth frowned.. The executioner lifted his axe then, at the king’s signal, brought the axe crashing down. The picture vanished. “No!” Elizabeth did not realize she had spoken aloud.. (page 11)
This is what I call “Starstrucking” ....rather than plot, the faiths and foibles of the cast are what count.
What is society without faith? In astrology (Marlowe), in alchemy, in divination. Faith in spirit – not a rational belief in material goods; it is a cyclical belief in regeneration. What is the point of life without that belief? It’s not a precise belief, it’s an existential one (see Adastra in Africa). Our world has a belief in material goods that is Anti-Life. Our reality is only half-real, so is more like unreality.
Francis Bacon introduced empirical reason, the belief that facts have to justify every decision. Facts are usually produced by experiment, and result in a theory (induction). From that point on, facts increase exponentially and we get the modern world of goods (warehouse). That world is essentially geometrical. By the same token, the Elizabethan world of psyche and person (physique) is eclipsed. This is the world of instinctive urge, fortune and faith in spirit. This is the organic world of higher truths to do with balance (CH 5 – Yggdrasil).
Whereas in Bacon every decision has to be justified (proved by fact), the Elizabethan world and the ancient world go by hunches. From this you get divinations, readings of starcharts etc. The basic point is there are two entirely different worlds. One is “proved” by facts and is geometrical; the other can’t be proved and is organic (balanced, proportionate). Now, this is where we enter the story – as the royal astrologer Dee is making an esoteric divination. Seeing as the book is sorcery, Scott makes him into a wizard who prophecies darkness for the Scottish throne (the execution of Charles Stuart), and urges Elizabeth to send a Champion north.
That’s the opening sally, as a war between forces of light and dark in the kingdoms. She’s making it sorcerous, somewhat akin to sword-and-sorcery, but the point is in an organic society almost everything is a hunch. Prophecies and divinations come into their own. In medieval times the tales of charlatans were legion (Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist). Most things in an organic world are not provable, whereas most things in an inorganic world are provable.
Our reality supposes that the material is everything, and the immaterial nothing. In other words, life is everything, death is nothing. But, what’s the point of living if that’s all there is? Without a spiritual faith life is without meaning. The question is; what is spirit? In Elizabeth’s day she was the anointed of God and the fortune of the country; the two were one in her person. Spirit is a belief in the efficacy of psyche, and not of reason, a belief in the person. The Elizabethan world predated reason, and that can be dated with fair precision from Francis Bacon. The difference between us and Elizabeth is seen in Bacon, so he is a good introduction to the book.
The fact that we live in a society that is “provable” actually means that it has no psyche, and no physique as expressed in persons of power like Elizabeth. Bacon’s world is provable because it is geometrical, not balanced or proportionate.
THEN AND NOW:
Sovereign power on Earth (QEI) Sovereign on QEII horse
The cosmos in olden times was viewed as an organic whole (as with Yggdrasil). That’s the way astrology works. The fact you can’t “prove” it just means that there is no geometrical relation between the factors under discussion. However, there could be a psychic or archetypal connection in the very origin of the universe.
If the origin of the universe is psychic or archetypal then it’s not at the same time geometrical. The geometry that scientists see (at CERN, say) are “facts” than can be “proven” to exist. But, as already stated, psychic hunches can’t be proven to exist. They’re only true in the sense of balance and proportion.
In this scheme, the cosmos is first balanced and proportionate – like a sovereign body. Facts are things which can be seen and proven, but that doesn’t make them the origin. There are essentially two different worlds, and one exists outside of the borders of scientific proof. It is the classical (or pre-Bacon) world and, of course, a very good introduction is the reign of Elizabeth, when the irrational power of men and women was invested in costume, almost in a “Starstruckian” way. People of pomp and privilege – from Thomas More to Elizabeth – were sovereign bodies – like planets – and reflected a cosmic harmony.
The famous Holbein portrait of More was recently the subject of a scholarly treatise by Hilary Mantel (of Wolf Hall). She praises the formidable mind
Intellect burns through pale indoor skin, like a torch behind a paper screen
.. but it is his irrational fortitude that is invested in ermine. Sovereign power in those far off days was worn on the body. The mind was not an intellectual tool to prove a+b=c, it was the personality itself, expressed through the power of office. The personality was truth – and that was history. More’s stubbornness against Henry VIII, and later the virgin Queen’s courtly roulette-game of favorites. The Armor of Light captures the Queen’s persona inrobust spirit.
Mantel is flavour-of-the-month but why should people be shrunk to the content of their minds? Elizabeth’s astonishingly unwordly presence is the prism through which her personality shines. That’s really what I mean by “Starstruckian” - the costumes are worn as emblems of a personal mission; they are the means whereby the personality radiates their presence in the cosmos.
They are work clothes as with a gamekeeper, a Highlander on a stalking mission, an Apache brave. The game of life can be high or low, it is reflected in personal apparel; the picturesque is close to nature, to the cosmic spirit. That mode of life is celebrated in Starstruck, where life is a game and the folks of rec station 97 bet on the results.
There is much in Starstruck that reflects the Elizabethan court! There is even a Queen Glorianna (of Phoebus), Mary Medea doing a good impression. The organic and the irrational, but where everything is proportionate – the head to the body; the body to the society (see Pictorial 1 Weird 15). This is where the mystery comes into play since the folks inhabit a universe that is in a state of balance. The tidings, the omens, the fates, signs, portents, symbols, all count towards fortune, good or ill.
A knight versed in ceremonies and action, symbols and realities.
Fortune is to do with the cycle of life, Man’s destiny written in the stars. Without the presence of death there can be no fortune; all things must balance. There can only be order, or Anti-Life, which is the state we are in (see Weird 8 Korvac). Anti-Life is non –life, non-death, mere existence. Imagine if you will a world that is NOT versed in ceremonies and action, symbols and realities. No ravens circling corpse-laden fields. Perhaps you think that’s good? What about owls, the symbol of wisdom? Snakes, the symbols of fertility and opposite tendencies.
Without symbols there are no opposites and no meaningful action. Only travel, like Musk’s absurd Mars rocket (has it exploded yet?) Meaning (epistemology) and power (ontology) are dead. The end-product of a rational order is simply bits of matter – a quantum computer – since that is what material is. Hameroff obviously thinks a worm (say) can have consciousness without the symbolism of a worm, which is the opposite tendencies of movement. However, life isn’t in bits like a quantum computer, it’s an organic whole, hence the symbolism of action - ceremonies, action, rituals and realities. All of these are conscious acts; you’ll never find consciousness in quanta. Why? Because quanta are just bits, like a computer. “They” are looking in the wrong place, basically the wrong universe. The sensual world is the world of action, not information.
This naturally brings in sex, and here The Armor of Light is particularly strong at Elizabethan mores. Apart from queer sex (Scott’s word! The court of James VI of Scotland is stuffed with favorites and the question as to his bisexuality is left open. Marlowe’s appetite for rent-boys is such that a lad offers himself up to be buggered in order to escape the black-coven of Raleigh.
If you zoom forward to James II of England, peccadillos are still up-front, enlivening the gay court of the Jacobite dynasty. Wind forward again to Dr Johnson’s era and Boswell’s journal and the openness of sexual encounters are legion. That is mind, body, society all of-a-piece, almost a type of anarchy but highly proportionate as befits a classical order.
One of R Crumb’s 18th century naughty scenes a la Gilray –mind, body, society – no psychotic talking-heads
Without sensuality there can’t possibly be consciousness of action, the grace and flow of nimble limbs on planet Earth (or off it, come to that!) Hameroff’s “bits” of consciousness are just a way of ushering-in a future where humans and AI are very close – the best of buddies – in other words they will resemble eachother in many ways, existing not living to the full cycle of lifedeath.
We’ll be in the future of talking-heads, psychic-weakness of “bits” of information droning on and on ad nauseam. Consciousness itself will be supressed; like everything else, it has to be a factor of balance and proportion. An emergence, immanence. You can’t have consciousness without belief, and belief is an emergent property of symbols that have meaning. Where do the symbols originate? From action, ceremony, ritual, realities. The origin of things in consciousness of symbols is as ancient as human culture.
“DA BORING BIT”
I’m a romantic who happens also to have scientific training and also a cynic. Putting them together, one wants to evade being inundated by dubious “facts” of corporate origin; the more one lives on Mother Earth, the more one is under the impression that “they” marshal facts because that is what “they” like.
Our chemical-laden atmosphere is not healthy, hence we get advances such as gene-editing to combat disease. However, gene-editing has the potential to create toxic viroids, and there is the threat from AI that has more than human capability to engineer toxins. The threat is actually from an environment that contains facts that “they” need to advance AI. Therefore, it’s time to beat a retreat and that can be either on Earth – see National Parks – or on a “National Park” in space. We have to get away from facts that are just fodder for AI, so this is what I say:
The Earth has become a “male” environment saturated with deadly rays and chemicals, We have to redress the balance with feminine wildness. Space is the ultimate male environment, so hostile astronaut Scott Kelly lost 7percent of his DNA in one year. You can predict “they” will put AI to work on solving the problem.
The problem is balance itself: mind, body, society. Recall the quote from American Flagg ?
Americans are individuals but not cy (yet) and that is the way the future is going. You might say I’m writing this on a website so isn’t that 2-faced? Yes, but it’s a case of TINA. I appeal to those out there to establish a commune based not on reason & pleasure (the usual suspects!) but on faith. Faith is a balance between life and death and puts a value on both. The female protects us from the hostility of space: we will plant trees and seeds of truth. The feminine roots will soften the impact of extraterrestrial rays. Rotational gravity will keep out bones and immune-systems sound.
We will not recklessly travel distances through the solar-system in a vain quest for glory; we will establish roots and appeal to Mary Magdalene for support. Men and women will live and die on the space-station, and the rituals and ceremonies of communal life will give them meaning. All hail Mary Magdalene (misquoting Chuck Berry).
Now, you can forestall the cries of “hippy folly” that will follow such a venture, from those who have recklessly wrecked Mother Earth. To those I repeat, Mary Magdalene will give support to those who trust her, to those who have lost faith in the god of technology (evolution, shmevolution). Your future leads ineluctably to AI, and Frank says
“FIN DES TRUCS ENNUYEUX”