- 93 Bishop, ... Literary Criticism is the systematic study of meaning and mode in written words. Deconstruction is an example of one of many formal methodsMessage 1 of 5 , Mar 9 5:25 PMView Source93 Bishop,
>--- In email@example.com, Bill Heidrick <heidrick@...> wrote:"Literary Criticism" is the systematic study of meaning and mode in written
>> [the Tree of Life is] a schema for literary
>> criticism, after all -- should fit every
>> utterance, jot and thought to some extent.
>Could you expand on this more; specifically, the issue of literary
>criticism and what you mean by the term? Could you provide an
>illustration (even if _not_ with Thelema's Holy Books) of this process
>of literary criticsm?
words. "Deconstruction" is an example of one of many formal methods of
literary criticism currently in some vogue at universities. Terms like
"post modernism" link literary criticism with philosophy, as developed in
There is a small book of 125 pages which addresses this in conjunction with
Kabbalah: _Kabbalah and Criticism_, Harold Bloom, Seabury Press, New York,
1972, ISBN 0-8164-9264-6; but the treatment is minimal, mainly dealing with
M. Cordovero and a little else.
That Kabbalah in general and the Tree of Life diagram in particular are
strongly devoted to literary criticism is something of a secret in plain
sight. So much can be done with these things that one tends to miss the
obvious. The Four Worlds are four levels of interpretation, ranging from
literal sense, through allegory(including dreams or visions) and
rationalized metaphor to inspirational levels. The ten sephirot are ten
categories for analysis of ideas and perspectives (points of view or states
of mind), arranged on a double basis of concrete to spiritual and emotional
to rational. The 22 paths are associated with the Hebrew alphabet, but on
the Tree they act as transitional modes between perspectives. Kabbalah
itself is often treated as an extension of the Talmud, with the Zohar
principally devoted to Gemara discussions in many parts. The Sepher
Yetzirah is an ABCD-iary, a study of the phonetic and associational nature
of the alphabet, including ideas of permutation of letters and similar
analysis of structure of words. Gematria is often used to discover hidden
meanings of verses in the Torah, as are other techniques such as Temurah.
This observation does not detract from the other values of
Kabbalah/Qabalah. Rather, it enriches the subject by disclosing the basis
of collection of these technical methods. Magical Qabalah or the wonder
working of the Balim Shemim uses this structure as an organizing system and
a springboard to the intangible universe.
It should come as no surprise that the means of extracting and organizing
levels of meaning and association in literature or the spoken word also
serves to do the same service for mind and human world views. We think in
words. To understand words is to understand ourselves. From there: as
above, so below....
- Dear Bill, Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Thank you for you interesting thoughts on this. You wrote: We think in words. To understand wordsMessage 2 of 5 , Mar 10 1:14 PMView SourceDear Bill,
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Thank you for you interesting thoughts on this.
"We think in words. To understand words is to understand ourselves.
From there: as above, so below...."
We are able to think in words, but also in pictures, emotions etc. To
understand words is to understand language. Language is only part of
ourselves, so is there a gap between words and ourselves? Or do you
(as some philosophers do) believe that we merely exist in language?
Love is the law, love under will.
- 93! Bill, Thank you for your response. Without putting too fine a point on it here, it would seem that you re suggesting that the Jews have a bit more than theMessage 3 of 5 , Mar 10 5:15 PMView Source93! Bill,
Thank you for your response. Without putting too fine a point on it
here, it would seem that you're suggesting that the Jews have a bit
more than the half in order to explicate the whole for Thelemites.
But ... to continue ...
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Bill Heidrick <heidrick@...>
> the Tree of Life diagram in particular areWhile the 22 Paths might be a bit too involved for the current forum,
> strongly devoted to literary criticism is
> something of a secret in plain sight. So
> much can be done with these things that one
> tends to miss the obvious. The Four Worlds
> are four levels of interpretation, ranging
> from literal sense, through allegory(including
> dreams or visions) and rationalized metaphor
> to inspirational levels. The ten sephirot
> are ten categories for analysis of ideas
> and perspectives (points of view or states
> of mind), arranged on a double basis of
> concrete to spiritual and emotional to
> rational. The 22 paths are associated ...
could you pick a favorite piece of religious literature (thelemic or
not) and briefly walk through these fourteen initial steps?
- 93 Isabel, ... Right. We can think in ways other than words. In addition to images and emotions, we can also imagine smells, sounds, touch, internal bodyMessage 4 of 5 , Mar 17 11:16 AMView Source93 Isabel,
>You wrote:Right. We can think in ways other than words. In addition to images and
>"We think in words. To understand words is to understand ourselves.
>>From there: as above, so below...."
>We are able to think in words, but also in pictures, emotions etc. To
>understand words is to understand language. Language is only part of
>ourselves, so is there a gap between words and ourselves? Or do you
>(as some philosophers do) believe that we merely exist in language?
emotions, we can also imagine smells, sounds, touch, internal body
sensations and in a great many other modalities.
However, words are special when it comes to communication; and, slightly
less, when it comes to the exercise of reason and manageable memory.
An artist can render many things in an image, and we can accurately
reproduce images electronically or on film even if we lack fine artistic
skills. With scent bottles, we can reproduce smells -- odors natural to
the body can even reflect emotions, health and complex moods without
The problem arises with what comes next. It's the old conundrum of
communication in levels of meaning. If I have to point at one chair and
grunt every time I want to communicate an idea about chairs, that just
doesn't get me very far along. Even in the case of memory, it's cumbersome
to be so limited. If I have to summon up the mental image of a chair every
time I want to recall an idea about chairs, that will slow me down and
restrict my mind.
We use words graphically, as sounds and as a sort of algebra of the mind to
represent things, functions and ideas. When a dream or astral vision is
experienced, it needs to be set down in words. A painting can be executed
to capture a "still frame" and even suggest change or motion (like Picaso's
faces showing several angles merged together or -- was it Monet?-- a blur
of multi-legged motion under a small dog to indicate running). That takes
too long and, for all that people say that "a picture is worth a thousand
words," it communicates too poorly. We describe things, sharing the
description in words and writing that down for future reference. Animals
and birds have languages, but those languages are more phathic than
denotative. I had a cat at one time who was able to tell me what passed on
the road. One "meow" meant a car, while two meant something bigger.
Another cat managed "me-out" to get a door to be opened. Still another
managed a fair aproximation of "hello". Most of the language of animals
and birds is suggestive rather than denotative -- a pathic expression of
mood or a general category like "big". Humans have a rich vocabulary of
such things too, and obscenities are definitely included. An obscenity
usually does not refer in primary intent to sex or excreta, even though the
literal meaning may be such. These terms are "explatives", noises that
carry a situational meaning or an emotional tone. A little black bird
utters a string of song that a human might literally translate as speech
that would blush a sailor, but all it may communicate to another little
black bird is "my twig!" -- we get a lot of that here in nesting season....
Words encode meaning more flexably, precisely and more durably than other
means. There is no end of ways to describe and elephant or Michael
Angelo's David. Yet each well done verbal description can focus on some
particular impression. One person might remark that David's legs are not
anotomically correct, rather that one is longer than it should be, in order
to please the eye and keep the statue from falling over. Another might
compare the face to a face in another of the artist's works. Still another
might remark that the statue is a copy, and the original is kept in-doors
to protect it from harm. A geometer might set down the proportions and
angles .... and so on.
When we start to examine meaning in a non-verbal matter, we shift to words
very quickly. Literary criticism is the study of the ways to get meaning,
and it depends on words. Non-literary criticism may begin with painting or
other depictions, but ultimately the words must flow.
- 93 Bishop, ... Proportion aside, there s good stuff in Kabbalah. ... I could, but it would be a little complex and not too helpful at this stage in theMessage 5 of 5 , Mar 17 11:59 AMView Source93 Bishop,
>Thank you for your response. Without putting too fine a point on itProportion aside, there's good stuff in Kabbalah.
>here, it would seem that you're suggesting that the Jews have a bit
>more than the half in order to explicate the whole for Thelemites.
>While the 22 Paths might be a bit too involved for the current forum,I could, but it would be a little complex and not too helpful at this stage
>could you pick a favorite piece of religious literature (thelemic or
>not) and briefly walk through these fourteen initial steps?
in the discussion. Religious literature is often very rich in valid levels
of meaning. There are people who have spent generations studying the
ramifications of "Berishit" -- the first word in Genesis. That's been done
letter-by-letter, in various contexts, and in such detail as gematria,
noteriquon and even the fact of this word not beginning with an Aleph.
Literally, it just means "In the beginning". You can get from the spelling
of that word to a discussion of the nature of the Thelemic God of the Aeon,
since "Ra Hoor Khuit" is a shortened form of "Ra-Heru-Khuti-Ba-Hadit" --
"Ra who as Horus flies into the disk of the Sun". The "Ba" of Egyptian is
the "Be" of Hebrew -- a particle indicating Dative declension, motion to or
toward. That can lead to a discussion of Latin... and so on. Before long,
we get to Crowley's spelling of "Hadit" instead of "Ba-hadit", winged sun
disks over doors in Egyptian tombs, Arabic religious committees and a dot
in search of a circle. This gets very, very complicated indeed. Structure
is needed to classify and keep track of all this goings on. That's where
Literary Criticism and things like the Tree of Life diagram come to our
It's not a matter of "fourteen initial steps". It's a question of bringing
the tools suited to the particular task. There are rules, and I'll
demonstrate with your own words (apology, but this does get a little
intrusive!) Let's take just this bit:
"briefly walk through these fourteen initial steps"
1st, take the Literal meaning (Assiah or Malkut, depending on whether you
consider the four worlds set or the ten sephirot). Paraphrase is the usual
way of doing that, and one paraphrase might be: "shortly ambulate by
advancing your feet fourteen times (in the manner previously alluded to as
That's not too helpful in this example, although it might serve very well
for someting more simple. It's like translating back and forth between
English and Russian in the classic joke. The English sentence "The spirit
is willing but the flesh is weak" was translated into Russian. Another
person then translated the Russian back into English: "The vodka is strong
but the meat is rotten".
Ok, not much help on the literal. Let's try the next one, Yetziratic
meaning: "communicate by example what you have said about this subject".
Taken with the literal, we see that the need is not to discuss a walk but a
meaning, to provide some additional understanding.
Still not that much help, but it's a little better. Go for Briah: Brief --
not much talk. Walk -- pass in sequence. Through These -- ok, subject
coming. Fourteen -- a difficulty of antecedent, but on inspection of the
quote, there seems to be only one meaning: four worlds plus ten sephirot,
with various ways to associate those categoricals. Initial -- we assume
this to be what comes first in something. Steps -- discrete stages of
advancement, from context, in literary critical method.
Now we have more to work with. We could go on to the Atziluthic world, but
is there need to do that? Because the question focused on analytics, Briah
seems to be the best grab for it. Atziluth does little more, in this case
just to suggest the goal of understanding for universal appreciation.
That was only four of the fourteen, and number three "step" got us far
enough. If more was desired, we could then look to the ten Sephirot.
Malkut is already there, and Yesod takes care of most of the Yetziratic
level. Hod would examine sentence structure, Netzach the expressed need
for a reply, Tipheret the entire context, Geburah the moral force of
persistantly forcing a reply, Chesed the hope of getting one, Binah the
patterning of the words and ideas, Chokmah the flow of the question and
Keter about the same as the Atziluth insight. In the four worlds analysis,
sephirot Hod through Binah seem to be skrunched up together to work the
Briatic insight. That's not exactly what's happening with the sephirot.
It's just that aspects of those sephirot outside Briah do not help as much
as aspects of the "Tree in Briah".
In another way of putting this, first examine the literal meaning. Second
try the other three worlds. Third, see if the ten sephirot shed more
insight. Fourth, determing from step Three if a tree within one of the
four worlds works better than a tree of ten sephirot taken in isolation.
We could use gematria in Yetzirah on "fourteen", but that would not be of
much use under the injunction "briefly".
The method is as I have given it; but, like descriptions of an elephant or
statue, each person will come up with a little variation at each stage.
The trick is to forumulate the stages and then to render them by your
ingenium. Other people who understand these stages can then derive insight
from your efforts.
The merit of the four worlds is simplicity. The merit of the ten sephirot
is unique conceptual categorization with dynamic relations between the
categories -- or "interrelatable points of view", if you prefer.
It is possible to forumlate rigid rules for doing this sort of thing.
However, those rigid rules better suit the smaller number of categories
than the larger.