That's all very well in practice, but how does it work out in theory?


Christopher I. Lehrich. The Occult Mind: Magic in Theory and Practice. Cornell University Press, 2007.

Christopher Lehrich sets out to examine the mind of the occultist, from the writings of those such as Giodarno Bruno, John Dee and Athanasius Kircher, who sought to resurrect the lost wisdom of the Egypt of the Imagination (Aegypt to distinguish it from the real geographical and historical entity), and the role of modern commentators such as Francis Yates, Brian Vickers, Claude Levi-Strauss etc in constructing images of these mages. This looks as though it could have been a fascinating discussion, but we must remember that Lehrich is an American academic in a ‘humanities’ department, so naturally what emerges is less an explication of, than a manifestation of the occult mind.

The ‘occult mind’ of Lehrich is demonstrated by the use of language, which here serves not as a medium of instruction or explication, but rather as a gate-keeper blocking the door of the inner mysteries to the uninitiated. The mystery school to which Lehrich belongs is presumably ‘theory studies’.

In a sense ‘theory studies’ shares with much of modern science the use of special sacred language to penetrate beyond the surface realities of the manifest world. In the case of science, especially physics, this language is that of mathematics. However unlike theory studies, science possess an evangelical spirit, which seeks to convey as much of its findings as possible in admittedly imperfect form, through ordinary secular language.

Theory studies is a much more occult, Gnostic movement, with little desire to transmit its gnosis to the great unwashed. Rather its main purpose is to strip language of all intellectual, sensual and emotional properties. Its aim is to construct language which conveys absolutely nothing to the outsider, a rather difficult job, as even nonsense language can often convey sensual or emotional imagery. The language constructed uses both neologisms and the use of ‘real’ words in unreal settings to convey a sense of impenetrability.

Surely this all must mean something to the initiated? Not being an initiate I can’t answer that, but I suspect not, for I think that the actual aim is to construct language which only refers to itself, and not to any ideas, emotions or imagery than it might transmit. In that sense the ‘language’ of theory studies is like Dee’s Enochian without the translation key. Presumably it is at this point where language is stripped bare that it becomes the opening to altered states of consciousness, which themselves cannot be expressed in words.  -- Peter Rogerson


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