David Bowie is known as a musician and actor. Few people know that he is a member of an initiatory organization professing the principles of the Left Hand Path and Thelema. It is therefore not surprising that his songs, music, and aesthetic projects have an occult dimension.
His song “Absolute Beginners” is a typical example of such a multi-level message, in which outward emotional and psychological aesthetics conceal a secret esoteric core.
An “absolute beginner” is a phrase that contains within itself a complete logical contradiction. That which is absolute does not “begin,” since an authentic absolute has no beginning or end, does not emerge or disappear. And vice versa: that which has a beginning is not absolute in principle, but, instead, relative. This is a philosophical aspect.
There also is a contradiction on a purely everyday level: our contemporaries’ attempt to “start over”—their weak and wishy-washy protest against their own degeneration, aging, and dumbing-down against the backdrop of a rapidly cooling-down civilization, where no one opposes or even tries to oppose entropy—is highly doubtful. Children, according to Hesiod, are born today with gray temples and strive to wash cars and open bank accounts right from the cradle. These are all the signs of the end of the Iron Age. How can there be a “New Beginning,” and even an absolute one, to top that off…?
Bowie himself, despite his ingenuity and talent, is unlikely to make any seriously claim to being an alternative. He fascinates precisely with his decadence, as a pervert submerged into disturbing narcissism, as an aging Anglo-Saxon melancholic deviant, but absolutely not as a hero or a carrier of something “new.” He contains no “absolute” or a “beginning,” but rather an intoxicating exoticism of decomposition, the aroma of decaying flesh wrapped in mondialist gadgets.
The Absolute Beginner is a concept that David Bowie borrowed from the arsenal of very profound gnostic doctrines. It inspired a good song and a strange music video.
3. Doctrine of the Star
The Absolute Beginning—that is not and cannot be—is, however, the axis of forbidden, heroic knowledge transmitted down through a secret network. A special kind of paradoxical will of some initiates—the mutable Relative below and the immutable Absolute above—established a dizzying, exciting prospect, risking both mind and life, through the banal, static image of metaphysics.
There is something that cuts through logical and religious dualism—the Eternal Beginning, a mysterious Ray that is “concealed,” on the one hand, and “open,” on the other. In this ray, all the great proportions and correspondences between the three worlds lose their meaning. What is above and below is reversed, the impossible and incredible Marriage of Heaven and Hell takes place, which the genius William Blake suspected.
This is called the “doctrine of the Star.”
“Thelemites,” the followers of the Frenchman François Rabelais and Englishman Aleister Crowley—it is from them that Bowie borrowed the concept for his song, himself being a member of the OTO Thelemic Order—believe that “a star is every man and every woman.” An embodiment of finiteness and relativity, an obvious loser completing his history with the utter vulgarity of the World Bank and global markets, an outright biological imitation of a proud and pure angelic creature—man carries within a “star”, a blazing ice ray, according to the other (“Thelemic”) side. A strange, impossible, dizzying light breaks through the wretched mess of his frail little soul.
This is the light of the Absolute Beginning—the one that cannot be.
4. Black Rays
Ground is slipping from under feet. Values and traditions have degenerated and become profaned so greatly that they are unable to resist sluggish nihilism any longer. Conservatism and progress are the two faces of the same process—degeneration. All that is left from the once-turbulent history is hunger, lust, and the police. All the signs point to the fact that we are incredibly far from the Beginning. Both the old and the new. Passionate aspirations have been completely exhausted.
What do those “Thelemites” mean—whose disturbing ideas are far from the optimism of the New Age or retired Theosophists—when they say that everyone possesses the paradoxical possibility of a “star”—a “New Beginning”? Of course, they are not talking about a vulgar “transformation,” “enlightenment,” “finding the truth”, etc. Look at these “neophytes” of all religions and cults—frightened eyes, flashes of blissful stupidity, strange gestures on the part of those bodies that are clearly unhealthy within. . . They are departing, twitching and hissing, instead of acquiring or initiating something.
The black ray of the Thelemic star slides along on a different trajectory. It cannot be recorded on the outside and is not graspable by the usual means. It deliberately frightens and repels, dressing itself (provocatively) into the robe of antinomy. It quickly leaves those who want to transform inspiration into a system. It cannot be institutionalized. But it always and absolutely shimmers in its aeonic rhythm against the will of cycles and the thickening masses of the dark ages. It itself chooses its forms and bodies for its manifestations. It is futile and meaningless to strive toward it. Its choice is arbitrary and unprovoked. It does not depend on the merits, virtues, and actions. It is indifferent to the “moral image” and successes in breathing exercises.
The Absolute Beginning has no sex, age, profession, or an office. It is a razor of crystal awakening cutting through the curtain of an insane clutter of atoms.
5. Betrayed Alternative
This, in fact, is a central question. “No future” is not just a catchy thesis on the part of a grotesque youth movement, which has now completely run out of steam. Another thesis about the “End of History” developed by Francis Fukuyama is, indeed, the same thing, only portrayed more euphemistically. Exhaustion is the key discovery of Postmodernity. The triumph of simulation is an unhealthy kind of joy. Cunning predators of electronic lies rape reality so violently that they will finish their social manipulation in the company of machines that have gone insane.
Ultimately, all the sci-fi literature of the 19th century ended up being the technological banality in the 20th. We can expect the same thing from the 21st century. This is especially true if we consider the fact that most of the major sci-fi authors (from Jules Verne to H.P. Lovecraft) were members of powerful esoteric organizations actively involved in giving civilization a preplanned appearance.
None of the sci-fi authors or futurologists predicted a “New Beginning.” Their forecasts are frightening, and the further one goes, the more monstrous it looks. And man rushes into narcissism that rescues him from nothing, beneath a patchwork bedspread of obviously false and uncomforting formulas. Like painted vultures, bankers and television hosts hover over the collapse. Charmers of dead bodies. To believe in television myths is to turn into an idiot; not to believe in them is akin to losing one’s mind from loneliness (because everyone around believes in them). No star in sight.
The Soviet system somehow had a very cool and dull reaction toward the desperate attempt by the “New Left” to develop an alternative ideological vision to the bourgeois order through modernizing (and revising) traditional anti-capitalist doctrines. Cozy apparatchiks kept spitting at the desperate attempts of non-conformists to break through toward a positive project. Having realized the inevitable failure of the Soviet initiative even then, the “New Left” turned toward esotericism, Gnosticism, and other disciplines (unorthodox for the Left).
The “New Right” developed according to a similar trajectory, getting rid of chauvinism, xenophobia, and the “free market” of the “Old Right,” and having discovered for themselves the values of revolution and socialism. Soviet-style “partocrats” (future “democrats” and the new Communist Party of Russia) accused both the New Right and the New Left of being “nihilist.” Soon, the beefy bodies of these “partocrats” themselves collapsed into the lustful rot of “reforms” and national betrayal. Once again, as it happened thousands of times throughout history, the real nihilists accused those who sought to overcome nihilism of being nihilists.
The outcome is sad. Without the help of Moscow, the smart and honest but powerless “New ones” were crushed by the System (Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Guy Debord—suicide, while the rest died naturally or faced oblivion) or degenerated into “thought police” (Henri Bernard Levy, André Glucksmann, Jürgen Habermas, and other scum). Without the sickly spirit of fiery rebellion, Moscow itself fell into the snares of the World Government.
None of this has any Beginning, not even a hint or a chance. In the best case scenario, cultured pessimists are hoping that the upcoming catastrophe will take place smoothly like euthanasia. What do all “democratic” and “patriotic” publications have against the “one-dimensional man” of Herbert Marcuse? Much like the “people” at the beginning of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Zarathustra—seeking the “last men”—all sectors of our society would have gladly stopped at the “one-dimensional man,” who would then lead a “coalition government.”
And former young people (today they’re far past 30) would have been listening to Bowie’s songs while sipping Heineken.
6. The End of an Illusion
There is no alternative, no New Beginning. It is not on the outside (forgeries are everywhere). It is not on the inside (the power of the soul has cooled). And nonetheless, the grapes of wrath are ripening, conspiracy nets are being weaved—a world conspiracy against the loathed present.
This is a conspiracy of the Star. At any age, in any place, in any condition, at any time, in any situation, in any position, “every man and every woman” can begin, may discover the Absolute Beginning, and pierce themselves with the black Ray with no end, passing through cycles and ages against all logic, any external predisposition, and every causal system. Any vital impulse, any passionate urge, any poignant state can suddenly go over the edge if it becomes excessive, unbridled, and exceeding meaning. Greed and generosity, asceticism and debauchery, jealousy and loyalty, anger and tenderness, illness and satiety can become the Absolute Beginning, the terrible thunderous chord of a New Revolution, one and indivisible, Right and Left, external and internal.
What we cannot allow to happen is that a new decline occurs after this peak. The intensity must keep increasing, one culmination should be followed by another, greater one. Overheating of individualism must ignite the entire outside world with the flame of rebellion—the kind of rebellion that is (according to Jean-Paul Sartre) the only power that saves man from loneliness.
The Absolute Beginning does not depend on objectivity; it has no concept of “early” or “late,” here” or “there.” It is even better if it has “nothing much to offer, nothing much to take”. . .
The end of the cycle is, ultimately, the end of an illusion, according to René Guénon.
Bowie’s song accompanying the reading of the Book of Law, the bitterness of absinthe, which Crowley called the only initiatory substance among alcoholic beverages (the “green goddess”), an unexpected reel of Eros-coma, beautiful and sickly fanaticism of an extremist political cell, an accidentally fallen shadow resembling a Celtic cross …
The Absolute Beginning at a (left) arm’s length…
This article (source) was written in 1996, first published in Nezavisimaia Gazeta (1996), reproduced in Elementy (dossier on National Bolshevism), 8, 1997.