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An email interview between Ian Blumberg-Enge (in bold type) and Peter J Carroll.
Awesome! Maybe we could start with your current project, an alternative theory to the big bang? Is it possible to give a basic description? What is wrong with or missing from the big bang? How did you get into this project?
Back in the 1990s a flurry of popular science books came out on the Big Bang theory. At the time I had been conducting a series of seminars and tours about Chaos Magic and founding an international chaos magic order – The IOT. Several participants suggested parallels between the idea of a big bang explosive beginning to the universe and the idea of a primal chaotic creativity underling the mind and the universe, and the ancient Greek idea of the universe arising from Chaos.
At an Austrian Castle we conducted a mass dreamwork scrying experiment following a ritual to send an entity back to the time of the big bang to have a look at it.
Strangely, most participants reported that the universe then looked broadly the same as it does now.
This sent me on a twenty-year quest to resolve the issue. I had a science degree but in Chemistry rather than Physics. Nevertheless, I plunged into the study of cosmology to discover in detail just why so many physicists supported the Big Bang theory. This quest took me through thousands of scientific papers and books and entailed a substantial upgrade to my maths skills.
What I found rather shocked me and goaded me to further efforts. The Big Bang theory had become concocted in defiance of scientific method; it began with an experimental assumption about the redshift of distant galaxies and all subsequent observations have become interpreted in terms of that assumption, no matter how awkward the fit. Later observations that seemed to contradict the initial assumption did not provoke a significant questioning of it, instead they became explained away by inventing vast imaginary cosmic phenomena like so-called dark matter and dark energy. In any other field of science, you could not get away with this, much less get Nobel Prizes for it.
I found it increasingly irritating to find so many cosmologists and popularisers asserting that ‘We KNOW that the universe is expanding’. I also found the Big Bang theory increasingly unsatisfactory in metaphysical terms for it implied a creation event and an eventual apocalypse which gave some comfort to those with a monotheist religious outlook. (One of the main initial architects of the theory - Georges Lemaitre, also had a career as a catholic priest).
After a great deal of struggle and with some assistance from rebel astronomers and mathematicians and invocations for inspiration from extra-terrestrial entities, (these may only exist in my imagination, I often try magic when I have exhausted the possibilities of common sense), a coherent alternative to the Big Bang theory emerged.
I will not go into the details here, the exposition takes an hour or more, but the Hypersphere Cosmology model does fit all the observational data we have to date yet without having to postulate imaginary and unobservable phlogiston like phenomena such as spacetime singularities, inflation fields, dark matter, or dark energy.
The essentials of the new model appear here https://www.specularium.org/hypersphere-cosmology
In short, in the Hypersphere model we have a universe finite but unbounded in both space and time. From the perspective of observers within it (such as us) it has a definite size and a temporal horizon, but we cannot get out of it or to the end of it, so it will appear to go on forever. The final piece of the model came together with a re-analysis of Perlmutter’s data. Conventionally this became interpreted as an accelerating expansion and which led to the idea of a mysterious dark energy driving it. The Hypersphere interpretation shows that the spacetime curvature of the entire cosmos distorts distances like a giant lens and that we see it in stereographic projection. This makes the universe look potentially infinite, but the hypersphere model shows that after a ‘mere’ thirteen billion light years journey you would start moving back towards where you set off from. Something analogous applies to time as well, but do not expect the universe to do exactly the same things each ‘time around’.
Anyway, having sorted that to my metaphysical, mathematical, and scientific satisfaction, I have now turned to the question of the quanta that seemingly underlie all the matter and energy in the cosmos. The current official model, Quantum Field Theory looks as much of an ad hoc mess as does the official Standard Big Bang Cosmological Model. This may take a while to say the least.
My motivation for these quests to see beyond the current official models has two roots. Firstly, I seek to find a natural physical explanation for magical phenomena. My books so far have detailed magical philosophy and practise – basically what to do to increase the probability of making magic work. As to precisely how it works, I would like to know. I suspect it involves something on the quantum level. Initially I began looking there but the question of the nature of time and space and the dynamics of the cosmos seemed to side-track me into cosmology. However, the hypersphere geometry that emerged from the cosmology now appears to have much to offer in explicating the quantum realm. As above so below.
Secondly, in the grand scheme of things, evolution’s gamble in experimenting with humans will only pay off long term if we manage to work out how to make starships and spread the terrestrial biota to other star systems. Contemporary official theories of physics say we cannot possibly do this. I would like to change that.
Nothing Has Ultimate Truth, Anything Remains Possible.
Interroga Omnia – Question all things.
Was this mass dreamwork in Austria the first time you used magic for scientific ends, or do you not see a worthwhile reason for distinguishing the two at all?
I consider myself a Natural Philosopher of the old style like Newton, prepared to look at both science and magic. Scientific and magical thinking complement each other in my view.
Sending an entity back in time seems like a clever yet straight forward application of a magical technique for a scientific end, are there other magical techniques you like for scientific work?
I frequently invoke the goddess Apophenia for scientific inspiration. Her ontological status remains a matter of debate. Imaginary friend? Part of my own subconscious? Grecian style goddess with a mind the size of a planet? As a Chaoist I have a situational belief structure.
Are there current or past models, like orgone, that you like for quantum phenomena?
Many mutually contradictory schemes of esoteric bodily energy exist. They do however all have one thing in common – the projection of attention and intent into the body.
I find the Transactional Interpretation the most interesting model of quantum phenomena, it says that time goes in both directions simultaneously, and it appears to have considerable explanatory power in magic.
In order for your new cosmological model and your coming quantum one to help get us to the stars do they need to be adopted by mainstream science,
I keep requesting that the scientific community falsifies the Hypersphere Cosmology. So far nobody has. Hopefully, an insider or group of insiders will either show a mistake in it or run with it. Before we go to the stars, we need a good map.
…..and does the fact that you used magic to help formulate them hurt that goal?
Well. I made a successful commercial business without ever having a haircut or a suit. I think this persuaded my bankers, suppliers, and customers that I has sufficient confidence in my schemes. I hope that wearing my pointy hat openly will attract scientific attack and force the issue.
Like you said the big bang can be seen as a monotheistic interpretation, how much of that sort of thing is there in modern physics do you think?
In the west we inhabit a post-monotheist culture. Einstein famously refused to believe that god plays dice (quantum indeterminacy). The debate about causality vs a-causality rages to this day. Causality implies some form of initial cause, a-causality or retro-causality does not. The quest for a unified theory of all forces perhaps partly derives from a monotheist idea of unity.
And do magical experiments lend themselves more to either quantum or cosmic phenomena more?
That all depends on the experiment. Some of us like to use ‘Aliens’ as sources of power and inspiration, some do this metaphorically, some invest deeper belief in them, cosmological theories may well have some influence on our choices about what to expect of ‘Aliens’.
I always recommend taking a ‘quantum’ view of results magic because it seems to work by probability modification rather than by direct causality. The quantum view leads to the principle of ‘enchant long and divine short’, and this seems good practical advice.
The natural philosopher comparison feels right on, but you seem to have a better sense of humour about your pointy hat than Newton did. Do you own a real point hat?
I currently have two black pointed hats, a specially made formal serious one over a foot high with an embroidered chaostar on it. I only use this when doing something important in full ritual/ceremonial magic. For everyday wear I have an ordinary black hat with the top pushed up to a point and the brim flattened under hot water. This makes a distinctive though not wildly ostentatious hat. Biologists have noticed that if all members of a species look virtually identical it usually indicates that the species lies under intense selection pressure. The same seems to apply to human professions – look at all those suits in politics and business. I prefer to present myself as mildly contemptuous of selection pressures.
Newton seemed a very dour and antisocial type, fanatically devoted to the quest of knowledge and ideas, he also developed his manual skills and built himself the first reflecting telescope. I perhaps have a little of that, but I do have a small social circle and a wife and family. Fortunately, my wife reads a lot, leaving me time for research.
Do you think the current state of academia and information technology makes your job easier than in Newtons day or harder?
Information technology makes it possible to instantly obtain a stupendous cornucopia of up to date and historical scientific thought and data. It also makes it easy to find people you will probably never meet face to face, to discuss ideas with. Electronic calculations can reduce data crunching to the work of a moment rather than weeks on paper.
On the downside, information technology does seem to lead to a scientific herd mentality where everyone in the official herd comes under pressure to accept the same theories and academics tend to become the policemen of the intellect. Academics within the fold take a risk with their careers by even acknowledging contributions from without. Some of the more dubious assertions of conventional theories tend to become defended with almost religious fervour.
The Transactional interpretation, with time moving in both directions, fits within the Hypersphere model?
The Transactional Interpretation remains an unfalsified minority view of what goes on at the quantum level. Basically, it says that interactions consist of closed loops of waves going both forwards and backwards in time. It provides a way of visualising what actually happens in the otherwise bizarre and inexplicable double slit experiment, the apparent wave/particle duality, and in the seemingly impossible but measurable phenomenon of quantum entanglement. I hope to show that all those events we commonly regard as ‘particles’ consist of spin-waves of varied dimensionality that often extend in some sense right around the entire hyperspherical universe.
Does the Hypersphere model take a position on causality or imply some initial creative force other than refuting the big bang's constant expansion?
I seriously doubt that any big bang ever occurred. I suspect that the universe will appear broadly the same to any observer anywhere and any-when within it. The big bang theory does not tell us how the universe came into existence, it merely claims that a long time ago the whole thing occupied almost zero volume and had near infinite density and that our theories give us no clue as to how such a state arose.
Monotheist thinking suggests that Non-Existence somehow precedes or has a more fundamental reality than Existence. I do not buy that. Existence seems more fundamental to me. Something always exists and existence means continual change. Ultimately everything causes everything else across immense loops of closed space and time.
Scientifically speaking does the task of creating quantum models prove more difficult than cosmic ones? you don't need a super collider or something? What about accessing the proper data for one vs the other?
As most data from astronomical and particle observatories has no military or economic value it tends to become made available quite quickly in order to win prestigious prizes.
If I could do two experiments, I would do these two as a priority: -
Do a re-run of a deep space probe mission with high-precision telemetry to rigorously test the Pioneer Anomaly again.
Test the hypothesis that the so-called Higgs Boson consists merely of a ZZ Di-boson resonance.
Are you having to learn new maths?
I suspect and hope that the secrets of the universe remain comprehensible in terms of fairly simple algebra and geometry and that where we have ended up with descriptions that use exceedingly baroque and abstract mathematics we have not yet penetrated to the fundamentals.
This has become a serious problem in quantum matters. Current standard Quantum Field Theory consists of a mass of abstract mathematical operations and concepts that can partially model some of what the quanta seem to do. However, these bits of mathematics do not really translate into algebra or words or into geometry or images. As the great quantum physicist Richard Feynman quipped - ‘Nobody understands quantum physics’.
Wouldn't any new quantum model have implications for computing and energy?
Perhaps. Most would admit that the current official theory remains incomplete, if we manage to complete it further, we may find some existing parts erroneous. Presently we have dozens of competing interpretations of what the strange data and the mathematics used to describe them actually mean, perhaps some breakthrough here will lead to new testable predictions and new technology.
Why go to space? environmental disaster, it looks cool out there, DNA coding?
Hypersphere Cosmology asserts that for us as a species the universe will effectively persist indefinitely, and that we could do so as well. Thus, we need to look after the environment of this planet for as long as possible until astronomical events render it uninhabitable, and well before that we need to work out how to make starships – this will require something beyond our current physics. Presently we have economic systems that depend on growth of both population and consumption. This planet cannot support even the current human population and its consumption in the medium term, let alone in the long term.
I shudder to think what mistakes humanity will make when it starts re-writing its own genetics. A planet full of seven-foot-tall beautiful immortal super athletes all with an IQ of 200 might have poorer survival prospects than a planet full of three-foot-high vegetarians of mixed and eccentric abilities.
How did you get into ceremonial magic?
For me it began as a discipline for carrying out results-based magic in a formal way so that I paid minute attention to what I did, and nothing got left out. Later when I did stuff on my own, I tended to simplify the procedures to what seemed essential for me. Later still when I started setting up groups for collective conjurations, I found the ritual structure useful for coordinating and synchronising everyone’s efforts. However, by then I had simplified a lot of the traditional rituals to emphasise the effective important bits.
Was chaos magic created out of a need for a better working model?
Yes indeed, a lot of the old systems remained full of unnecessary beliefs and faux historical mythology. Magic continually reinvents itself and then pretends to an ancient hidden knowledge. You only really need intent and imagination and a few techniques for putting the mind into an extremely excited or a very quiescent state. You can dress it up with any beliefs or symbols that appeal.
Do you think it was important that you created a working model for tuning and hacking your inner space before moving onto modelling the cosmos?
Magic did wonders for my imagination and for my arrogance. The practise of stilling the mind and the imagination has the peculiar effect of making it work much more powerfully afterwards. Identifying myself as a wizard somehow obliged and inspired me to attempt extraordinary things.
Are the theatrical aspects of ritual magic (Austrian castles and pointy hats) as important after decades of ceremonial work?
The high years of large magical orders and mass interest in hardcore occult activities seem to have passed for various cultural reasons. So much occultism now consists of individuals working alone and communicating mainly online. Nevertheless, I still keep my hand in with the local Druid Grove once a month, we still use robes, staffs, candles, and circles.
For some historical perspective when were those high years and what did they look like? how many people at a large ritual and how often was that stuff happening? you were traveling the world giving classes and workshops also?
For me, the peak years seemed to run from 1985-95. At the castle seminars we had about 40 participants mainly drawn from the professional classes at the annual event for about 5 years running. I went to the USA 3 times to give lectures in esoteric bookshops. We had some events in London and a dozen or so temples that met in various cities around the world.
Long term you could say that your dreamwork in that Austrian castle in the 90's sort of didnt culminate until you finished your cosmological model and its impact still hasn't been fully realized. Are there still spells from those high years working themselves out on us all?
Some spells take ages; thus, we should always try to ‘Enchant Long’. In my earliest book I put a spell to ‘Obtain the Necronomicon’, a quarter of a century later I obtained one somehow out of the aether or my subconscious or with extra-terrestrial assistance. It seems to do the trick.
Has anything been lost do you think in that shift away from communal magic or is this an evolution or maybe just a lull? I don’t remember whose idea it was, but I think Wilson introduced me to the idea that it takes a generation for new information to integrate itself into a culture. I like to think that is what is currently happening to chaos magic and all the sort of open-source spiritual science from that era.
Often when I look at any modern book of magic today, I think well, we are nearly all Chaos Magicians now. Deep down I suspect that most neo-pagans (with perhaps a few American exceptions) believe the gods and goddesses exist as thought forms of our own creation and that in magical evocation you basically create ‘spirits’ as servitors, but they remain no less useful for that, in fact it makes them more useful and versatile.
Unfortunately, the internet gradually brought with it what I call ‘Internet-itis’ - a huge reduction in attention spans, a relentless need for continual novelty, and an increasing reluctance to put in sustained work. Plus, in an increasingly noisy medium the short shout has tended to replace proper debate and genuine exchange of ideas.
Wikipedia says Robert Anton Wilson invited you to teach at the maybe logic academy? what did you teach there, was it a physical location?
When Wilson got old and sick his friends opened an online academy that offered courses to raise money for his care. They invited me and quite a few others as tutors. I gave three or four courses of about eight weeks each, two in basic chaos magic and one on chaos magic in business. After it wound down, at the encouragement of participants I opened Arcanorium College online and carried on doing something similar for another near decade, until it began to suffer from internet-itis.
Did you know Wilson personally?
I spent two evenings with him at his place near LA when I did lectures over there. I found him very agreeable company and he had a mind like jet engine, voraciously sucking in ideas and mixing them with the fuel of his enthusiasm and blasting them out in accelerated form, though I often wondered if he lost track of them afterwards………
What did you study at university?
Officially mainly Chemistry with some Biology. However, I rapidly became bored with a chemistry that merely resumed what we had done in school but in excruciating detail, so I spent most of my time and energy studying esoteric and magical matters. In those days many of the core texts of western magic appeared in bookshops for the first time. I settled for a minimum pass at chemistry and an unofficial major in magic.
Wikipedia also says you taught in India and the Himalayas, what did you teach there? Did that experience influence your magic studies?
No, I spent many months studying English language works about Tibetan esoterics in the Tibetan Library at Dharamsala/McCleod Ganj. Despite the cultural and symbolic differences there seemed a great deal of overlap with western magical techniques. Tibetan magic derives from Bon Shamanism overlaid with Buddhist ideas with some input from Hindu thought.
Did magic bring anything to your parenting, and did you learn anything about magic raising kids?
I tried to encourage their imaginations and their ability to visualise. They both got degrees in biological sciences and one carried on and got a PhD, now they teach me a lot about nature and biology. I found it fascinating to watch their consciousnesses and personalities emerge, and how they chose their opinions. Neither of them really got into magic, it did not form part of their cultural milieu or peer group interests which seemed more centred on yoga and meditation and sports.
You say in liber null that white magic leans toward the acquisition of wisdom and a general feeling of faith in the universe, does that not include yoga and meditation? or what parts are missing?
Most forms of yoga and meditation do not include activities designed to make wishes about exterior things come true. However, India seemed overflowing with gurus, sadhus, and ‘holy’ men trying to make a living or a fortune out of peddling questionable spiritual services and practices. A lot of people on mystical and spiritual paths seem to acquire the habit of despising attempts to make things happen by magic and do not even try to make good things happen - basically because they fear they will fail and compromise their faith in their beliefs. Magic does not always work, it often fails, but to me that means just do a lot more of it. If it only works one time in five it still provides a powerful edge if used cunningly.
Do you think magic is for everyone? is this a science that should be taught to school children or is there always going to be a form of shaman in communities?
Well, we now attempt to teach some science to everyone in schools. Perhaps we could introduce elementary magic in disguise by teaching the usefulness of stilling the mind, visualising, and imagining desired intents, exploring the subconscious, developing personified forms of inspiration, and so on. Obviously at this stage in our culture we would have to call it something other than ‘elementary magic’.
Can you say a little bit about how your chaos magic in business class differed from your other work?
We looked at the whole process of setting up a business as a series of magical operations. Illumination to clarify motives and inspirations for the business ideas. Invocation to bring forth the personal qualities to make it happen. Divination to discover relevant information. Enchantment to increase the probability of desired events occurring. Evocation to bring forth staff and allies.
What are your thoughts on Leary and Wilson's theories about the evolution of consciousness and chaos magic sort of being the think edge of that wedge?
The human mind seems the most complicated object we have so far detected in the universe although the entire internet, now approaches the same complexity and information storage capacity as a single human brain, (we just do not have the same memory recall, we have creativity and imagination instead - precisely because of this). Now the human mind has the astonishing capacity to supply some confirmation of almost any scheme we choose to project upon it. Thus, if you attempt to project a Freudian or Jungian or Kabbalistic or Behaviourist or Astrological or Evolutionary Biological or Pagan Polytheist or Monotheist/Dualist scheme on to it, it will provide appropriate feedback or observations that you can interpret within the chosen scheme. All psychology seems more or less arbitrary; but some nonsense proves more useful in some situations than others. I prefer ‘Situational Beliefs’.
Oregon, my home state, just legalized magic mushroom therapy. how do you feel about psychedelics?
I think they have a value in demonstrating what the mind can do, but the magician should then strive to achieve such states by meditation and imagination alone. I have seen too many magicians fall into the trap of using them as a substitute for magic.
Do you think physical aliens have visited earth?
There seems no material evidence, but aliens with the knowledge and power to get here would almost certainly have the ability to remain completely invisible to us and a strong motivation to remain so. If they can move freely around the universe then we have nothing that they could want, except the opportunity to observe us undisturbed, out of curiosity.
What are your hopes for the future?
As a species we urgently need to find an alternative to economies based on debt, and growth in population and consumption. As I said before - This planet cannot even support current levels of human population and consumption in the medium term, let alone in the longer term. Profound or catastrophic changes to the whole human adventure seem inevitable within the lifetime of my children and grandchildren. I hope we take the least bad of the tough options ahead. In general terms we need to focus on quality rather than quantity.
Why is astrology not an ideal divination system?
It all depends on how you define astrology and how you define divination.
Mundane Astrology developed in the ancient world for the purposes of deciding the best times to do things like planting seeds, starting military campaigns, crowning monarchs, breeding, or slaughtering animals, and maybe navigation as well. Heck, we seem to have built the mighty Stonehenge primarily to calculate the exact date in a climate with deceptive weather. The Natal Astrology that developed in the late Hellenic world seems to have almost zero objective predictive power despite that health and life outcomes in temperate climes have a weak correlation to season of birth, but less so as we lead more pampered indoor lives.
On the other hand, the baroque Neo-Platonic inspired nonsense of natal astrology does have a value in Lateral thinking and Apophenic thinking and it can also offer a symbolic alphabet for the construction of spells and rituals. I might also add that it can prove useful in pulling the wool over people’s eyes, manipulating them, and extracting money from them.
Any book recommendations from your current reading list or from your lifelong list of favourites?
I can of course heartily recommend my own six books which may well save the aspiring magician from ploughing through the vast number of classic source tomes from antiquity to Mathers, Spare, and Crowley from which I partly distilled them.
I can also recommend the following for their alternative perspectives on magic: -
My Years of Magical Thinking by Lionel Snell. This explores magical philosophy in depth.
The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking – How irrationality makes us healthy, happy, and sane, by Matthew Hutson. Written by a highly rational man.
Sorcery by J. Finley Hurley. An intriguing investigation into whether magic really works.
Placebo - The belief effect, by Dylan Evans. The astonishing effects of expectation.
Lost in the Cosmos - The last self-help book, By Walker Percy. Quirky and immensely though provoking.
Plus, for entertainment read anything and everything by Sir Terry Pratchett, one of the few novelists who wrote about magic from an insider’s perspective. I guess its okay to mention that now that he has sadly left us.