Sime~Gen Inc. Presents
"I'm Better at Fighting Wars Than I Am at
Part 1 "
Babylon -- Five, "Racing Mars," syndicated television episode, 1997.
Forever Knight and Highlander and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues -- syndicated television shows.
Highlander: The Measure of A Man by Nancy Holden (Warner Aspect, paperback, 1997).
Karmic Relationships by Martin Schulman (non-fiction on the astrology of relationships; Weiser paperback, 1984).
Ancestor's World, A Novel of StarBridge by A. C. Crispin and T. Jackson King (Ace Science Fiction,1996).
Those who haven't read many of the previous columns I've done for The Monthly Aspectarian may be very puzzled by a "review" column that is so blatantly a personal opinion essay.
When I took this assignment, I decided not to do the usual sort of "review" column consisting of a paragraph or two for each book commenting on that book as if each book springs up in a vacuum and affects nothing else in the world. I felt that such a column would be inappropriate for a new age magazine that addresses people on various spiritual paths.
Those who are attempting to master the disciplines of the magician gradually gain a vision of the universe in which everything interacts with everything else. Art (such as a novel) is most especially interactive.
So the underlying thesis of this column is that novels, television fiction and nonfiction works should be read as if they were all a single body of work, an integrated course in Life. A magician's mind, if he/she has mastered Mercury, (see the June '97 column) functions best when it is not compartmentalized -- because the universe is not compartmentalized. The more clearly we reflect the universe, the more effectively we affect the universe.
As I've discussed previously in this column, art is the product of what the artist discovers when traversing the astral -- a product of what the artist personally "sees" when looking "down" on the material plane from the astral. A novel can be regarded as a magickal gateway onto a section of the astral. Willingly traversing a novel's gateway to adventure onto the astral can change a person as surely and as profoundly as any ceremonial initiation.
So I set out to create a column which would demonstrate my way of entering the astral through the gateways provided by other novelists. And I set out to show, not tell, what each novel or book I read shows me when I turn around and look back on the material from the place on the astral where that novel took me.
I set out to create a course in how a serious and dedicated student of magick can augment his studies by reading science fiction and fantasy (and having a lot of fun, too). No two people will get the same thing out of a novel, and rarely is what a reader gets out of a novel anything like what the author intended to put into it. Thus, even a flawed novel may have something to teach the student who can use these reading methods.
The key method that makes all fiction into serious instructional material for the student who is ready for the Master to "appear" (as per the July column) is to correlate every fictional piece you encounter with everything else you know -- and most especially with everything you've learned recently so that you build your internal model of the macrocosmic all into a single, coherent, unified whole.
I think of this correlation process as a sort of computer program that runs in the "subconscious" mind somewhat as Norton Antivirus runs in the "background" on your computer. It only intrudes into awareness if it finds a problem -- and it can be set to fix problems automatically, or to ask you what to do. Auto-fix is a dangerous setting. I set my Correlation Program to flash a bright red message when finding something amiss but that stops me in my tracks while I figure out the discrepancies. So I spend a lot of time staring slack-jawed at things others find unremarkable.
Psychologists recognize that an important element in differentiating fantasy from reality (which ability is put in jeopardy by treading any magickal path) is keeping the critical part of the mind working while imbibing fiction. Allow the critical faculties to slack off and it is possible for the subconscious to come to believe things that are, in fact, not true -- things the author of the fiction never intended anyone to believe. (If everyone understood this, there would be no television advertising because it wouldn't be cost-effective. Television advertising uses TV fiction to lull the critical faculties to sleep, and then implants a message in the subconscious. That's another reason TV fiction isn't as attention-riveting and intellectually challenging as novels can be.)
One way of keeping the critical faculties constantly engaged is to run your "Correlation Program" habitually. Sometimes that program just tells you what bits of the fiction to discard as silly -- and sometimes this mental program, if you've built it solidly, will reveal flaws in your own personal reality concept.
When a bit of fiction reveals to you a flaw in your reality concept, it will stop your mind in its tracks, flip you right out of the fictional world, and make you go, "Huh?" Upon scrutiny of the item that triggered the flag, you may find that the item is actually a message from your Teacher who has appeared. It's rare, but it happens.
It happened to me twice on the exact same line in a Babylon 5 episode I saw twice. I saw the rerun this morning over breakfast and exactly the same "Huh" happened on that exact same line -- which I had forgotten was coming up. I had forgotten it was even in this episode. I was studying something else in the script and got blindsided. I grabbed a bit of paper and scribbled notes for this column. Then I watched the rest of the tape.
The title of this month's column, "I'm better at fighting wars than I am at relationships" (I hope I've got the quote exact -- but it is what I heard that's important here, not what was actually said. The quote may have been, "I'm better at fighting wars than relationships" which means something else.) is the line that triggered my "Correlation Program" and it is from the episode titled "Racing Mars," in which Sheridan confronts Garibaldi about the interview Garibaldi gave to the reporters from Earth in a previous episode. Garibaldi said some nasty things about Sheridan.
In "Racing Mars," Delenn invites Sheridan for another (of perhaps 50) courtship ritual, omitting the tiny detail that others would be praying outside the door while she and Sheridan explore sensuality. Meanwhile on Mars, the Doctor and our favorite Ranger (who used to be a vampire on Forever Knight, Vachon) discover that Mars-Resistance hasn't heard anything plausible about the interstellar war where B-5 and alien allies defeated the Shadows and the Vorlon.
The show, B-5, is a delight and a marvel because it is an sf/f show which uses a story-arc -- that is, each episode is self-contained, but each of the "arc" episodes (and not every one is on the arc) advances the situation and plot. Once things have changed, later shows take that into account and build on it.
This is in sharp distinction to the "anthology" format show, such as all the Star Treks, in which the situation and the characters must return to the original condition at the end of the episode. An anthology show sometimes advances a little between seasons, but otherwise remains static.
Real life is anything but static -- though sometimes matters governed by the outer planets make life seem static because they progress by the decade, not the day.
Relationships seem to me to have parts that are absolutely static within a lifetime, parts that change almost daily, and parts that progress by the decade, if at all.
Sheridan's line about war and relationships stops me cold in my tracks every time because -- as I personally see it -- war is a relationship. And it is a more "committed" relationship than any other relationship except maybe the mind/body relationship because like the mind/body relationship, war is a "to the death" relationship.
If you're not good at relationships, you can't possibly be any good at war. That is my reality concept that is challenged by Sheridan's line in this episode.
In addition to B-5, I've been watching reruns of the TV show, Highlander which was first-run simultaneously with my favorite vampire cop show, Forever Knight. In my mind, Highlander and Forever Knight must exist in the same universe -- they exchange actors, script writers, plots, themes, and hold similar philosophies.
Highlander emphasizes the martial arts as Kung Fu: The Legend Continues also did. I had been a fan of Kung Fu in its original incarnation, and long before that I had investigated the spiritual paths of the martial arts. So I can't really tell you exactly where I came by the following impression -- I just know I keep rediscovering it again and again, brand new and fresh each time. And now yet again in Highlander reruns and then it hits me between the eyes from a B-5 rerun.
Every relationship has a language that best conveys its essence. Love uses a language made from color, sound, light, touch and graceful motion, but few words. And war uses a language of color, sound, light, touch and graceful motion -- but few words.
The master of the language of war speaks the language of love fluently -- should he/she choose to do so -- because they are cognate languages. I'm not talking about sexuality here; I'm talking about love.
There are so many romance novels where the hero is some kind of warrior because the master of war must necessarily be a master of love. Warriors are good at love because they are good at honor, at commitment, at risk management, at resource deployment, at taking responsibility and at carrying out orders. A man who doesn't have these skills is just a boy in an adult body -- not a lover. A warrior who doesn't have these skills is a dead warrior.
The ancient Chinese, inventors and masters of chess, make it very clear that war is a relationship whose language must be composed of the graces. Modern martial arts delineates it precisely -- as Nancy Holder writes in her Highlander novel, "Measure of a Man" which is about a Relationship founded in Honor; on page 156 of the Warner Aspect paperback, Duncan MacLeod tells a woman who has discovered his pages of calligraphy practice, "It's bokuseki," he said, "One of the seven traditional martial arts." She guesses it's painting, but he corrects her, "The stroke of a pen, the stroke of a sword." Take note of that "seven." Seven is associated with Venus -- color, sound, light, grace.
Measure of A Man is a novel composed of a chess game between two Immortals, Duncan MacLeod and Machiavelli (yes, the original Machiavelli who, it turns out was/is an Immortal) played on a board and in life. And the burning question in this novel is, "Is it ever honorable to break your word of honor?" Many who don't play chess don't realize that it is a game of war based on honor. Chess itself is an education in the language of war -- the language of relationship.
When you play a game of chess with an opponent, you communicate on a level of pure intimacy that is not available in any other activity -- game or otherwise. This is why the fact that Captain Kirk and Spock of Star Trek play chess with each other but Kirk and McCoy do not is so vitally important in delineating their three-way relationship.
So how can it be that "warriors" (like Sheridan on B-5) who are "good at war" claim to have such difficulty with personal relationships?
As I see it, the only difference between war and love is that war is a zero-sum game, and love isn't. In love, neither party wins. There can be no victory in love. But likewise, there can be no vanquished. This is a significant difference, yet both relationships culminate with both parties becoming one with each other. The victorious country that conquers, absorbs the conquered -- and the two countries become one entity in economy and culture. The lovers likewise become one heart.
However, the one formed from love is apt to be longer lasting and more stable under outside challenges because the conquered always hates the conqueror and will eventually strike back, triggering another war and either revolution or division. The conquered is always looking for an enemy of the conqueror to make alliance with.
In the training of a magician, the "warrior" is one of the very first initiations. I suspect it may be the masculine version of the feminine "artisan" initiation -- where the "warrior" represents the Martian force associated with the Fives of the tarot, coming down into Seven via Six, and the "Artisan" represents the building-up force inherent in the Fours of the tarot arriving at Seven by another, more direct path.
People have relationships not only with other people -- but also with possessions, society, with the Divine, with their prior life selves, and with their environment in general whether it's home, work, vacation or adventure.
People affect environments and environments affect people. Simultaneously. Interactively.
Master relationship in any of these venues, and you've mastered relationship in all of them. The master understands mastery -- the subject that is mastered is irrelevant to mastery. Mastery includes such abstracts as "feedback loops" as discussed in the January 1995 column and "perspective," which is this month's focus. Master any one subject, and other subjects can be mastered with much less effort.
In the path of occult initiations, mastery is one of the lower levels of attainment -- something on the order of a Bachelor's Degree from college. Mastery qualifies you to begin learning on your own. It is not something that is conferred upon you -- it is something you sweat to attain. It is not an achievement to put in a frame on your wall. It is a skill-set you use every day -- and by use, progress beyond skill into art.
The student of magick must acquire four essential, basic disciplines to attain the level of master in magick: mathematics, tarot, alchemy, astrology.
Mathematics can be thought of as the relationship of the mind with reality and it speaks in the language of reality -- numbers, harmony, music, the fundamentals of creation of the universe in the most abstract form. It's native to the suit of Wands in tarot.
Tarot can be thought of as the relationship of the person of now with all prior and future incarnations -- of the Self with the self -- and speaks in the language of psychological symbols that deal with emotions. And this is native to the suit of Cups in tarot.
Alchemy is the relationship between the self and the material environment and brings the symbolism of mathematics and tarot into the more concrete realm where the mind writes in the body (see August's column) -- yes, alchemy is the relationship of action, reaction, and interaction -- the core of transformation -- and is native to the suit of Swords in tarot.
Astrology bespeaks the relationship between self, other and time, between the purpose of your life and the foundation of your life, bringing the summation of what we are into the matrix of the space-time continuum, -- and is native to the suit of Pentacles in tarot.
Next month, we'll talk about Captain Sheridan of Babylon 5 who explains in the episode "Racing Mars," that he is better at war than relationships.
Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg, POB 290, Monsey, N.Y. 10952
Find these titles by using copy/paste (in MSIE use right mouse button to get the copy/paste menue to work inside text boxes) to insert them in the search slot below -- then click Book Search and you will find the page where you can discover more about that book, or even order it if you want to. To find books by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, such as the new Biblical Tarot series, search "Jacqueline Lichtenberg" below.
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