There Is No More Firmament
We could comprehend our condition by the moon
But they've ordered the moon not to shine - Nick Cave
Antonin Artaud again.
In 1933, three years before his dissociative initiation into the peyote ritual of the Tarahumara, Artaud completed an eight-page, one-act play set in the year 2000 entitled There Is No More Firmament:
On a busy street crowds of people witness the sky seeming to fall from the heavens, with light and darkness alternately becoming their environment. Confused, they gossip, argue, pray, and curse while the newspapers distribute conflicting stories about the situation, quoting politicians and scientists alike, all denying that the end is near, and all claiming to have the truth.
The truth of the play is that the star Sirius is about to collide with the Earth. Robert Anton Wilson provides a synopsis of sorts in his Cosmic Trigger, Vol. I:
There Is No More Firmament begins with discordant music indicating "a far-off cataclysm." The curtain rises on an ordinary street scene, with actors coming and going rapidly. There are bits of ordinary conversation ("Wines ... windowglass ... gold’s going down"), suggestions of violence and insanity ("He’s undressing me. Help, he’s ripping my dress off..." "I’m on fire, I’m burning, I’m going to jump") and, finally, the word "Sirius" repeated in every tone of voice and every pitch of the scale:
SIRIUS ... SIRIUS ... SIRIUS ... SIRIUS ... Then a loudspeaker thunders: THE GOVERNMENT URGES YOU TO REMAIN CALM.
Actors rush about claiming that the sun is getting bigger, the plague has broken out, there is thunder without lightning, etc. A reasonable voice tries to explain, "It was a magnetic phenomenon...." Then the loudspeaker tells us:
STUPENDOUS DISCOVERY. SKY PHYSICALLY ABOLISHED. EARTH ONLY A MINUTE AWAY FROM SIRIUS. NO MORE FIRMAMENT.
"One actor claims it is the end of the world. Another says it is two worlds ramming each other.... Finally, one scientist comes forth to explain to the audience, "The molecular grouping in Sirius is everything. These two forces, ours and theirs, had to be put in touch with each other."
While something at least gives the impression of rushing towards us - something that's made claims of Sirian provenance, Freemasonic influence and eschaton - it's not literally Sirius. But Artaud was right about the firmament. Except, of course, that it never was there. It only felt like it because our presumptions of the universe were shared by so many and left untested for so long. Once that began to change, the vault of Heaven that fixed the stars in place wasn't so sure.
I'm not just talking about the High Weird stuff, though I will and we should. I also mean the more mundane unthinkables being enacted upon the stage of this world. That's not to say unthinkable acts are anything new, only that they seem that way to those who've never before considered them.
Of course, this historical moment's premier catalyst for consideration of the unthinkable is 9/11, though the 2000 election makes a strong contender. And once we go there, with all our intelligence and informed intuition, there is no more firmament. The stars are still there, but they're no longer hung like Christmas ornaments from the crystalline dome of a failed cosmology. It's dark and cold with no roof on the world, so we may want to re-imagine one as a fiction of normalacy, and draw a line dividing the corrupt terrestrial from the glorious celestial. That's how we get people who can say "Bush knew" while they call Mena "tinfoil," and for whom Skull and Bones was a forbidden topic after Kerry's selection. But the unthinkables just keep on coming, and those who draw lines proscribing discourse will be overtaken by the events precipitated by the thoughts which earlier overwhelmed them.
Does anyone today need signs and wonders - does anyone even need to read a paper, or maybe the scriptures of their choice - to have a sensible impression of the spiritual monstrosity of the Cheney/Bush regime? Because this is where the loss of my firmament has left me: that this public display of twilight power is merely the secular flowering of an ancient root that shares more with Egypt's Old Kingdom than America's new republic.
In his book Outer Gateways Kenneth Grant - to whom Aleister Crowley entrusted his portrait of Lam and intended to succeed him as "Outer Head" of the Ordo Templi Orientis - observes that occultists have always been asked to persuade "the Masters" to deliver signs and wonders for those who can't imagine the "existence of a world beyond the senses." Yet no number of miracles would suffice to convince those "too obtuse to accept the vast accumulated testimony of tradition and the thousands of well attested cases of transhuman phenomena."
Grant then adds:
However, since the middle of the present century the Masters would seem to have decided that the massive exhibition of mysterious phenomena is, at last, in order. For what otherwise explains the frequent and sometimes alarming appearance in our skies, during the past forty years or so, of inexplicable lights and unidentified objects? ... These weird phenomena have been sighted not predominantly by occultists, magicians or metaphysicians, but by ordinary people following the pursuits of ordinary people, soldiers, sailors, policemen, airmen, farmers, lorry drivers, and so on. A glance at any one of literally hundreds of books on so-called UFOs should convince any but the hopelessly purblind that numberless (because uncounted) individuals, and groups of individuals, alive today have seen with their own eyes phenomena equal to, if not surpassing, anything witnessed by the few who were privy to Madame Blavatsky and her Mahatmas. But has there yet been a general acceptance of miracles?
In one of the posts regarding the alleged portals of Skinwalker Ranch I mentioned that a family named Bradshaw had earlier experienced a similar two-year brush with high weirdness near Sedona, Arizona, and "also claimed to witness a similar 'structure' in the sky that appeared to serve as a gateway between different realities." I recently got hold of the 1995 book of the case entitled Merging Dimensions: The Opening Portals of Sedona by Tom Dongo and Linda Bradshaw. (In this interview, Dongo mentions his documenting an earlier Sedona incident of a man who witnessed a "floating window in the air and several nine foot tall Bigfoot type creatures nearby that he felt were guarding it, and how someone later, in the same general area, another man also saw the same type of thing. Neither man knew each other." One, says Dongo, was a retired Air Force colonel.)
There is the usual cluster of paranormal suspects at the Bradshaw Ranch: strange entities, UFOs and orbs, as well as military incursions. And then there's the "portal." Unlike the skinwalker portal, this one was allegedly photographed twice. The reproductions are included in the book.
Bradshaw writes that one evening she was walking on her property when suddenly, "before my eyes, a huge and brilliant light appeared in the sky above me.... I did not see anything but the light itself and it remained there for only a few seconds." She was disappointed she hadn't brought her camera, and then made a point of taking it with her on her walks. Some time later on another evening, on a walk with her camera in hand, the light appeared again in the same spot: "I only had time to click the shutter twice, when the light instantly closed, leaving me to question whether it had been real."
When she picked the film up from the developer, she was surprised to see detail in the huge rectangular light in the darkness that sat about 15 feet off the ground judging by the juniper tree just off its side. Sedona is arid desert, but the detail revealed "an oceanside scene or that of a late afternoon sunset on a sloping plain." A telephone pole is in the right foreground, but the nearest pole is over a mile away from the site where the photos were taken. The two photos are not identical, and show movement between shots, principally of one or maybe two humanoid figures in the bottom left. The pictures also show a discoid UFO in flight and numerous pyramid-like objects.
Perhaps most curiously, there is also what Dongo describes as a "flying bat...along with what looks like the number 39 with a large dot directly after the 9." That's not what I see. The "bat's wings" are not organic, but seemingly tooled straight and tapering lines, intersecting at what looks like the hinge of a compass. The compass rests on its side, with one point directed to the ground and the other to the sky, encompassing the disc. And to me, the "39 with a large dot" looks more like "33°." I think that's interesting, especially because Dongo and Bradshaw don't see it, and don't tell others to see it. (Though naturally I should acknowledge that what I see may say more about me than the photograph.)
Do I believe the story of Bradshaw's portal? I'd be a fool to simply because I read it somewhere and saw a blurry picture open to interpretation. But it's not about belief; none of it is. It's about all the things I can no longer comfortably disbelieve. It's not just the sense that, without a firmament, anything can happen, because anything can still be an exception. It's that the narratives which now make the most sense of our times are approaching fantasy and horror fiction. It's about hearing the ring of truth in the strangest places. With so many unlikely bells ringing the same notes, what are we to do? Especially since we know the answer to Grant's question: "has there yet been a general acceptance of miracles?" So what's expected of us now?
The government urges you to remain calm.