Transmodern Alchemy & Dynamics
THE TRANSMODERN ALCHEMIST transmodernalchemy.iwarp.com
“There is a generic process in nature and consciousness which dissolves and regenerates all forms. The essence of this transformative, morphological process is chaotic — purposeful yet inherently unpredictable holistic repatterning. The Great Work of the art of alchemy is the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, a symbol of wholeness and integration. The liquid form of the Stone, called the Universal Solvent, dissolves all old forms like a rushing stream, and is the self-organizing matrix for the rebirth of new forms. It is thus a metaphor or model for the dynamic process of transformation, ego death and re-creation.” (Miller, 1992, “Chaos As the Universal Solvent”)
Transmodern Alchemy & Chaos
Alchemy is a science-art and tradition of participatory wisdom. Medieval alchemy was couched in the archaic language of its time, but we are not limited to that, nor to theological, Hermetic, Masonic, Theosophical or New Age jargon. Philosophies and sciences evolve in articulation, theory and practice. New discoveries and statements of meaning inform our practice at all levels. In many cases, alchemy anticipated them.
Our worldview has evolved to include quantum physics and dynamics in our models of reality. In the 20th Century, Carl Jung described alchemy in terms of depth psychology and shed new light on an old science [see THE MODERN ALCHEMIST, Miller, 1994]. But that discipline continues to redefine itself. Jung’s notions of a heroic, striving Self have been transcended with imaginal, nonlinear models of consciousness, archetypes as strange attractors and healing fictions. Can we expect any less from 21st century alchemy itself?
Transmodernity is the synthesis of modernity and postmodern philosophy, reflected in alchemical notions of transcendence, transformation and transmutation. So what might a chaos-informed Transmodern Alchemy look like? First and foremost our existential state space is in flux. Phenomena no longer correspond with old-paradigm frameworks.
Trans- is the prefix that guides the vision of reality as virtual and fluctuating. At the subquantal range of virtual photon flux, this is literally true and the metaphysical substrate of manifestation. At the virtual level, the fiction of ‘reality’ as substantive is revealed and the transparent veil is ripped away.
Self-organizing dynamic transactions combine the positive momentum of the modern philosophy with the emptiness of the Postmodern, the longing for unity of the former and the fragmentation of the latter. Our comprehension of the physical world has been transformed. We are wavefronts in local space, undergird by the vacuum fluctuation of absolute space. Material reality, as formation, atom, mass, power, space, time, etc. is an outworn concept that brought order to a Newtonian universe.
The Nature of Nature
Physics defines the nature of nature. There are two branches of physics: theoretical physics predicts and explains the physical behavior of nature, while experimental physics gathers data by observation of physical phenomena using controlled and natural experiments. Theory provides guidance to experiments. The results of either are not always so clear cut and are subject to scientific revolutions.
Concerned with different aspects of nature, theory and experiment have a symbiotic relationship as do the spiritual and practical branches of alchemy. Theoretical advances overturn old paradigms. Generally, theory proposes and experiment disposes. But spiritual alchemy is more than theoretical. It is a form of gnosis or direct knowing and observation through meditatio (meditation).
THE TRANSMODERN ALCHEMIST explores the theoretical usefulness of Dynamics for modeling processes in the alchemical art. Alchemy is a multidisciplinary pursuit focusing on mystic technologies, healing, life sciences, metallurgy, chemistry, dynamics and physics. In the absence of “solid” matter, we must take a revolutionary view of today’s alchemy as dynamic process using Chaos Theory and its related sciences to inform our search.
Dynamics has successfully explained many natural phenomena and been heralded as a new scientific paradigm. The quintessence is now found in nonlinear dynamics, the holographic field and the virtual vacuum of absolute space. Only when we comprehend the groundstate of being can we fathom reality. It fundamentally changes our alchemical and scientific notions about transformations in ourselves, matter, systems, patterns and structure.
Psychology and neurology now recognize the psyche and brain as a dynamic dissipative system. Therapeutic techniques lead to reogranization of the individual at a higher level of order. Medicine realizes chaos is essential to health. The artworld recognizes the aesthetic appeal, rhythm and beauty of fractals. But the poetic science of alchemy made a workable theoretical and experimental system in which chaos was central centuries ago. Each era views nature from the paradigm of its time.
Chaos, Art & Transformation
Chaos theory has emerged as a transdisciplinary study. Chaos is the synergistic science of change with constrained randomness. It describes the relationship of order, disorder and self-renewal. There are analogies between contemporary practice of sacred psychology, chaos theory, quantum theory, scalar physics and alchemical processes. They are more than metaphorical and illuminate our Transmodern quest for the Stone. Chaos demands we open to new possibilities, to the unknown, to mystery.
Chaos Theory has been associated with every aspect of human behavior. Alchemy is an irreducible fusion of mysticism, science and art that also happens to be therapeutic or growth-promoting and tantalizingly hints at illumination. The process begins with doubts and lack of conviction but time spent on self-knowledge, experiments and spiritual exercises is amply rewarded. Chaos keeps the process fluid. Alchemy calls chaos the “universal solvent.”
Alchemy is a nonlinear organizational framework, a model to make sense of our experience, and a means of facilitating transformation. The universe without and within is our alchemical laboratory. The fire is kindled and stoked in the ‘magic theatre’ of the mind and the retort vessel of the body. Alchemy plants virtual fractal seeds in the gaps or intervals of consciousness. You are the portal for the fractal seed to unfold its liberating potential.
The universe is our “parent fractal”. Matter and consciousness share deep unity. The outer world we observe through our senses is nothing more than a consistent series of mental images that exists in our mind. Matter itself is an image in the mind, and mental images are the behavior of consciousness.
All conscious states are resonant states. Resonant states enable brains to learn about a changing world throughout life. Resonance arises when bottom-up and top-down feedback processes reach an attentive consensus between what is expected and what is in the world. Mining the soul, we disassemble ourselves to reorganize in more refined form, reintegrating at a holistic level.
Chaos Theory & Alchemy
Alchemy calls Chaos the prima and ultima materia. As we practice spiritual and practical alchemy, we come to understand the deep nature of chaos. In this chaosophical philosophy, all systems emerge from and eventually dissolve back into chaos. Chaos Theory allows us to follow the Hermetic Spirit deep into the heart of matter and beyond into the subquantal realm in our quest for Nature’s secrets. The undecomposable domain of Chaos is not an emptiness, but a rich, generative source — a bornless nothingness from which all form emerges.
The void of philosophy and the vacuum state of science is an unmanifest fundamental reality, a virtual field, which is an invisible flux not comprised of parts, but an inseparable interconnectedness. In this dynamic model, there are no “things”, only energetic events. This holoflux includes the ultimately flowing nature of what is, and all that forms therein. This subquantal domain marks the limit of our ability to peer into the Mystery of nature at cosmic zero.
At the human scale, we are blinded to this primal creative field — virtual photon flux. Chaos theory as holism without wholes allows us to describe both psyche and matter in terms congruent with physical reality. This is simply the way nature works, and the way our nature works, too. Chaos provides a comprehensive psychophysical metaphor for uniting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realities.
Because interconnectivity is more than metaphorical, realizations translate across disciplines. Metaphors reflect the interdependency of mind and body, and the embodied nature of metaphor holistically reflects the unity of individual and world. The events and experiences of our lives become embedded in our structure and metabolism. We might call this nonlocal entangled embodiment “metaphorms.”
Physics deals with the energetic aspect of the world. Information theory deals with the communicational or patterning aspect. Fractals, nature’s dynamic self-organizing pattern, exist in the paradoxical space between dimensions, levels and forces of existence. They arise at the interface between processes, at boundary zones where they serve both to connect and separate multiple levels. They translate information/energy, structuring dimensions by adding or recursively removing structure, embodying process.
Fractal dynamics escalate change from tiny to large scales. Self-organization is an emergent property of systems and organisms, from the cosmos to human beings. Chaotic dynamics governs the emergence of this new order from apparent randomness. The deep coherence of the overall process implies hidden or missing information for holistic patterning within the apparent “noise” or randomness of chaotic patterns.
Consciousness, like creativity, is an emergent phenomenon patterned by strange attractors which govern the complexity of information in dynamic flow. Our consciousness appears co-temporaneously with our embodiment, creating the imaginal flux of representational and nonrepresentational perception – the stream of consciousness. The cosmic trinity of chaos, matter, and attraction appears at the heart of modern chaos theory and alchemy.
The Vedas identify all creative intent and substance as a manifestation of primal consciousness, which is considered the basis of all manifestation. In this worldview, there is nothing but consciousness. Complex dynamics is implicated in the energetic translation of “waves of unborn nothingness”. Healing is the biological equivalent of creativity. The more complex a system, the more stable and self-correcting it is.
The objective (Sol, Frater) and subjective (Luna, Soror Mystica) are not divorced from one another, anymore than the left and right hemispheres of the brain. They marry in the mystic, in entanglement with Cosmos. Science adapted the artist’s sense that the detail of nature is significant. Like yin and yang, they rely on one another in a dynamic meld that transcends the tension of opposites. Synthesizing and transcending opposites is the theme of alchemy.
The metaphors of science have increasing relevance in the artworld and transmodern mysticism. Art and science begin as imaginative speculation that guesses at a unity or gestalt. The same holds true for alchemy. Metaphors reflect universal or holistic references and processes, connecting concepts across disciplines. There is a dimension of reality that transcends mind and matter.
The creative act is one of uniting the unmanifest with the manifest world in a meaningful, often symbolic way. Such conception is relevant to consciousness, organization, structure, faith, subconsciousness, emotion, even spirituality. Above all, creativity means trusting the process. Investigation of the negentropic criterion helps us move toward a truly transdisciplinary doctrine for the artistic field of influence. Chaos Theory provides a metaphorical language for describing the flowing dynamics of the chaotic process of psychological transformation.
Myths are like collective dreams; ritual is an enactment of myth; art is its expression. We create new philosophical and scientific myths to satisfy our need to understand our environment and give us some sense of control and understanding of our place in it. In science we call them ‘models’. Like metaphors, they provide a reference point without defining a reality.
Alchemy is unbound. It evolves like any science or artform through revolutionary paradigm shifts that revision or reframe its philosophy of practice. Chaos theory is an organic model of creation. Chaos prevails from the infinitely small to cosmic levels. Dynamic processes are deterministic though unpredictable. All experience is subjective. Intuition is an informational source that is non-linear and therefore can create quantum leaps in consciousness. Using imagination, we can ‘see through’ to a deeper level of reality.
Alchemists seek understanding of the relationships between all the elements. Holistic vision is developed with experiments on matter and self, fantasy and meditation. In alchemy, meditation is an act of imagination fired by awareness and libido, “an inner colloquy with one’s good angel.” Creative insight, a new perspective on reality, emerges through transpersonal experience.
Alchemy is also a thought experiment that plunges one into the upwelling spring of Nature feeding the roots of matter and psyche. Ultimately, these cycles of experimentation and reflection are warming acts of love that keep the gentle fires of the alchemical transformation going. The formula “VITRIOL” encodes the various operations of the alchemical process.
Creativity is Healing
Alchemy, quantum mysticism and the holographic paradigm reveal the secrets of nature’s subquantal realm. Metaphors are instructive. They are a Way of leaping the chasm between old and new knowledge, old and new ways of essential being. We can tap the source of creativity, healing and holistic restructuring through imagination and metaphor. They can be deeply transformative — more than mere language. They are a technology for changing our behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs — our spirit and soul.
Alchemists are contemplative researchers versed in the science of personal transformation and the art of inner magic. Alchemical insight ultimately short-circuits self-referential feedback loops, leading to breakthroughs in perception and quality of being. At the groundstate, mind is utterly emptied of all contents. Both physical and mental space dissolve in this exploration.
A dynamic vacuum state of consciousness opens paranormal states of awareness and healing. In much ado about Nothing, the bubble of illusion (all mental and physical phenomena) bursts in primordial awareness. In the highest potential energy state, space, time, mind and matter dissolve into their Source — the “melted vacuum” of physics, the “clear water” of the alchemists.
Alchemy is a science-art, a tool to describe and mold reality using experimental and meditative techniques. As an art medium, alchemy helps us illustrate nature and our own nature in contemporary terms by creating new paradigms and environments.
Matter has lost its central role in physics to dynamics. Alchemy can be informed by this new physics. There is aesthetic pleasure in finding likenesses between things once thought unalike. It gives a sense of richness and understanding. The creative mind looks for unexpected likenesses, through engagement of the whole person. Organic metaphors of quantum physics, field theory, and chaos theory illuminate the alchemical art.