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Messages - Cramulus

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yeah, really digging the New Sincerity these days

RPG Ghetto / Re: Unified Vidya Games thread
« on: May 23, 2017, 03:29:30 pm »
Yeah it just seems like a bad photocopy of previous mass effect titles. It's still a good game. I got like 50% of the way through it, then had a momentary impulse to play some Bloodborne, and, whelp... Now I'm re-beating Bloodborne. It's not that I wasn't enjoying myself. But it also wasn't really hooking me in. And blooborne fucking rules.

ME: Andromeda seemed like... you can really tell the original team isn't there and the new team didn't bring anything fresh to the table. All they can really do is repackage the original cool ideas.

My top criticism is that it feels very unimaginative, which sucks for a series that I felt was very creative and unique. It also feels like one of these "big studio" games, where every part of the game was designed by a different sub-team, but they aren't coordinated real well.

Like, the whole premise is that you're exploring another galaxy. So this should be cool! Mass effect always has these really interesting aliens, and these ones are from so far away from us that we're gonna be in fresh territory. But, it doesn't FEEL like a new galaxy, it feels like another milky way, if that makes sense? But with less politics, less stuff going on in general.

And oh yeah, what's the deal with how they set up this whole Neil Armstrong moment of being the first explorers of a new galaxy.. and then you find out that milky-way people have actually already been here for over a year. They already littered the whole galaxy with ammo dumps and half-built structures and documented everything. Not only are you not the first ones here, but people have had time to build bases and rebel against each other and split into subfactions...

Regarding the aliens... I can accept the Mass Effect premise that evolution has these "convergence points", some traits are just the "best way of evolving", so we get a galaxy full of bipedals with faces, hands, etc... Sure, that makes sense because you want the aliens to be relate-able.

But somehow.. I was hoping for more stuff like the Elcorr or the Hanharr. Instead, the new galaxy just has different flavors of angarans, which feel basically like space humans? It kinda bothered me that they don't really seem alien at all. Sure there are a few unique features to them, and they look cool, but do they seem "alien"? Nahhh

Also, the Remnants... it just feels kinda like the Protheans.. cruising around the galaxy looking for the super-race that existed here long ago. It's almost like I already did this for three games.

Also, the Kett... so they (((((((SPOILER WARNING))))))) basically do the exact same thing as the Collectors? Capture people and convert them? Seems like something I already dealt with for two games.

Also, as soon as they revealed the kett general, I was struck how this seems like the exact same structure as Dragon Age Inquisition. First you deal with mysterious butthole-faced creatures that want to kill you, you fortify your base(s), then they reveal the big bad, then he taunts you for two or three acts, then you confront him... it just feels like a copy and paste. I mean I get that a lot of RPGs use that structure, but it just feels SO SIMILAR to the plot beats of DA:I...

and the party members are pretty mediocre

and the dialog is far less branched... if you replay the same scene and select different dialog options, the NPCs usually say the exact same things.

and there is no alignment axis like paragon/renegade... but I guess that's okay since it's not like you really make any significant choices, at least in the half of the game I've played.

and oh yeah - and this criticism might not be so much targeted at ME:A but a statement about a lot of games coming out in the last few years... But the 'sandbox' fad is also getting a bit threadbare. Don't get me wrong, I like sandboxes, I like freedom. Games like skyrim have so much replayability because there is so much jammed into that sandbox just waiting for you to discover.

But the way most developers approach the "sandbox" is to create these wide open maps and then dump like 100 little quest icons into it. All of them are light little encounters, a single bite of gameplay.

The consequence of this design is that most of the gameplay gets sucked into this discovery loop. You're tediously clearing every icon from a region, one by one. When set up this way, it *doesn't* feel like exploration. It feels like just going through a check list in a nonlinear order.

I will come back and finish it, but it felt really meh to me. Meh Effect: Andromehda.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« on: May 22, 2017, 10:17:36 pm »
When i read this thread I'm constantly reminded of how these different things you describe resemble other spiritual practices.  Mantra, for example is basically a self-remembering technique. Repeat a a phrase and combine it with beads. Then feed all the experiences from the above two points waaaaaaay up inside the mantra.

A lot of it seems to separate out the pieces for better organization especially if one's habits and routines resemble the  automaton.

That's one of the cool things about the Gurdjieff work. He was initiated into a LOT of different spiritual traditions. A lot of the stuff he presents can be found elsewhere, but described from a different angle. It kinda feels like Gurdjieff tried to touch the proverbial elephant in lots of different places.  :fap:

Zen teachers say: you think too much, you talk too much, your reasoning apparatus doesn't know how to take a break, you forget  the "primal" self... (the same 'primal' we're talking about when we say 'primal chaos', the world unfiltered by the mind)

MY UNDERSTANDING (which may be wrong) is that in Mantra meditation, you are basically going deep into the mechanical part of the self. You repeat the mantra over and over again, until it's automatic, until it becomes you, until the person who is saying the mantra is gone and only the mantra is left.

One of the reasons that a lot of mantras are nonsense words (OM MANI PADME HUM) is that you don't want the intellectual part of the self to get stuck in the 'meaning', where it will start free associating and taking you down these little side-paths. During mantra meditation, you want to stay in the mechanical, automatic mind while there is no self.

The goal of this practice is to develop a "solid core", to gain mastery over the random impulses and stray thoughts and daydreams that pull our mental arrows off target.

Gurdjieff thinks, by the way, that this is an "unbalanced" way of training. The zen student has to learn to stop the thoughts that create the world. THEN, they basically have to re-learn to think and feel. Zen says - the intellect and emotions get in the way... if you silence them, what's left? Let's stay there for a little while, that's where the real self lives. If you hang out there long enough, you might meet him!

Gurdjieff, on the other hand, is presenting a way of working on all the "centers" at once. That is, you are not trying to quiet your intellect and emotions. You are trying to observe them, and eventually understand them, and eventually, control them. Zen starts at the other end: trying to control the mind and the emotions, and then discovering the self. Gurdjieff understands the self as fractured, as having no unity. We can't discover the self unless we can take in the whole mosaic at once.

And as a point of order - Gurdjieff doesn't think his work is better than zen, or that zen students are training wrong. It's just a different approach!

I'm curious if any of Shiva's 112 Meditation Techniques resemble any of the techniques you read about. I can only find this in reference to Osho, but it seems legit enough.  Plus I think Osho ripped off Gurdjieff all to hell--especially with movement and plain old physical activity. So at any rate, I'm curious as to how they compare.

yeah, reading over this, it feels like there's some shared area

I'd need to study it more, though, before I can say anything interesting about it

and even then, what I say will be boring

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« on: May 22, 2017, 07:10:11 pm »
Last night, I went to the Gurdjieff foundation's presentation of the Sacred Dances.

As I mentioned, this is the first time in over 50 years that the Gurdjieff foundation has presented the dances in public. Before that, it was another 50 years.

I wasn't allowed to take any video or pictures, but I did manage to sneak in a few:

It's kind of hard to describe - if you look up the gurdjieff sacred movements on youtube, it'll give you a sense of what it looks like.

These were really incredible. It was like watching a living machine. A conscious machine! Like a human engine that is not automatic, but deciding to move in perfect sync.

The dances aren't shown to the public because they're really not a performance. They're more like a form of meditation, or prayer. Each movement references some aspect or law of the universe. As the dancer moves their body, they are meditating on its meaning. If you're in the dance, there is a group energy, a group mind which can be felt.

Through this dance, one can momentarily shed ones subjectivity. This is not the silence and stillness of zen, or the frenzy of the ecstatic... it's something else... they say the dances are a study of the transformation of energy.

Watching them in person, I was really blown away. Haven't had my mind blown like that in a long time! It looks like an incredible amount of work, to learn to move in a group like that, in perfect sync, with that degree of precision and specificity.

Make a fake wikipedia page.

Claim something ridiculous.

Back yourself up by showing them the wiki.

lesson: wikipedia

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« on: May 19, 2017, 05:03:48 pm »
I wrote a reply to QGP yesterday and then the Internets ated it.  :cry:

Okay, good question...

So, I keep throwing around the phrase "the cult I joined", etc - part of it is tongue in cheek, part of it is the oldschool definition of cult:

  • a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious
  • a social group defined by its religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object or goal.

I am really sensitive to the traps that actual cults use to suck people in and convert them. Here's why I think I'm safe here:

  • They don't ask for money or labor, it seems like the old people running the show just really love to talk about this stuff and don't ask anything in return
  • They encourage us to stay critical, challenge Gurdjieff.. and they are aware he talked out of his ass a a lot.
  • They don't use group language (like using a "we" to speak for everybody), and there there aren't any group norms being set ("we don't do XYZ", or "Gurdjieff enthusiasts love to...")

I mean really, this feels more like joining a yoga group than a religion.

As for how I'm protecting myself - I braced myself from day 1 that I'll hit the ejector button as soon as I start feeling somebody's will overshadowing mine. It would be really easy to walk away.

I think everybody recognizes that G does come off as a bit of a charlatan at times. That keeps my guard up.

I have also alerted my friends to my strange spiritual experiment. When I discovered Taoism at age 15 and Discordianism a few years later, I was intolerable. I became a preachy, insufferable spag. I've asked my friends to let me know if this starts to happen again.

Propaganda Depository / Re: Banning Nazis from PD
« on: May 18, 2017, 03:21:28 pm »
What metric would you propose to measure equality?



Also, I think I should try making that.

Principia Discussion / Re: New Chart
« on: May 17, 2017, 01:28:20 pm »
Hey LMNO, do you have the New Chart jpg?

Some spag on Tumblr is asking me about the 16 forms referenced in the 56th chapter of the CTC

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« on: May 17, 2017, 03:20:08 am »
At the meeting tonight (Week 3 of 6), I asked about the bad science.

Because like, Gurdjieff tosses around a lot of stuff which is plausible if it's 1910.

In one case, he hits the nail on the head - he thinks the moon was formed when a comet hit the still-molten earth. Nobody in 1910 believed that. We would figure out that this is probably true in the 1990s.

But a lot of it is just ... weird. Like he talks about how the moon might one day have life on it, but it's too young now.. it's still gathering energy to grow up and be a real planet. Stuff like that. I wanted to know - how do the older people feel about that stuff? Do you just ignore it, because Gurdjieff wasn't actually a scientist and is just kinda speculating? Do you say "Ah but this is is actually just a metaphor", and then try to extract some esoteric truth from it?

I asked about the moon, and the dated non-science. This old timer at the meeting tonight gave me a good answer, "The cosmology which Gurdjieff sets up... all the stuff about how the planets are formed and the energies that pass between them... If you ask a lot of people why they like this stuff, very few people mention his cosmology. It's just part of the way he talks about the world. But it's definitely not literally true, and it's not even the most interesting thing about Gurdjieff's ideas.  If you get frustrated by the science, don't sweat it - move on to something else."

well that's cool, I'm glad they're not going crazy trying to rationalize some of the bizarre ideas that Gurdjieff drops. Like how the moon feeds on organic matter, and if humanity was collectively enlightened the moon would starve.  :lol:

It made me feel better that there isn't this huge serious grayface effort to rationalize all that. When I read something absurd from the book we're reading, the old timers laughed too.

The guy said to us - All of Gurdjieff's propositions, you have to verify them for yourself. Don't just take it on him that it's true. If he says that human life is food for the moon, you can't really observe that yourself, so don't worry about it. But stuff he says is happening inside of you - like how most of the time, we are asleep, or we are stuck in a prison and one of the things confining us is our obsession with what others think of us.... you can look at yourself and verify if that's true or not. That's where you have to start.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« on: May 16, 2017, 03:03:11 pm »
Just want to chase some thoughts I've been having about the Gurdjieff work...

The Medium is the Message
Marshall McLuhan wrote a lot about the 'modal shift' between "tribal" culture and "literary" culture. Electric media, like TV and Radio nd the Internet, represent a return to tribal organizations. In pre-gutenberg times, before the printing press, knowledge was shared through these special tribes. Groups would have a shared, collective understanding of something, and would impart knowledge to newcomers piecemeal. Learning was personal, nonlinear. There are types of knowledge that can be transmitted through this medium, and not as well through the newer linear-literary medium. The study of the spirit is one of these types of knowledge... in the shift towards literary culture, we lost the best methods for transmitting some of these truths.

The Carpet Dance
Gurdjieff invokes the image of these old-world villages where carpets were made. Carpet making, he explains, is an ancient art. There used to be a lot of symbolism and ceremony in how a carpet was manufactured. In some places, an entire village would come together and make a carpet in one day. The village would be divided into different groups ,each group had a job.. and as they did these jobs, they'd be singing special carpet-making songs and doing special dances. Each motion in the dance had a meaning built up over centuries. All these dances came together to make a carpet. The music and symbolism and dance steps brought everybody's consciousness together, rolled it into a big ball. It was like the village became one entity, united through this task.

That's part of what Gurdjieff means when he's talking about Self Remembering... there is a mind, a self, that is bigger than the ego. We all share it, in some small way. We forget this, because we're distracted by the ego, we think the ego is the whole self.  (The Sacred Dances are a way of remembering this)

The Loss of Secret Knowledge
There was a lot of knowledge lost when we moved from tribal to linear / literary culture. There's a myth of progress, that we just keep advancing over time, and anything going on now is probably more advanced than anything happening in the past. And that's true in a lot of ways, but there are also types of knowledge that can't be encoded well into a linear, textual medium. They were lost. The modern mind thinks "eh, if it was lost, it probably wasn't valuable" - and "scientism" feeds into this as well - the idea that Truth is best captured through our modern empirical framework and cannot come from anywhere else.

But let's look at an example... One topic I keep thinking about is Automatons. These super cool robots were built in the 18th century by these guilds of craftsman.. The knowledge of how to build these things was secret, just passed between master and apprentice when the apprentice was ready. And because this knowledge was hidden behind a veil of initiation, it was never encoded so that somebody could just read a book about it. When the guild structure collapsed, their secrets vanished. But they were cool secrets! Without computers, these guilds were able to produce these insanely complicated clockwork machines. We still don't know how they did it - and nobody alive today can make one.

So it is with matters of the spirit. People spent their entire lives studying the internal world. There was a rich network of symbolism and techniques which were used to pass on this information. A lot of this was lost. Or the modern version of it is reduced to a silhouette.

Tarot, for example, is basically just for fortune telling today. But it used to be part of a larger spiritual system... the goal of which is to transform the Fool into the World.

Alchemy... people think of alchemy as proto-chemistry.. those are the only parts of alchemy we care about today. But all that material stuff it dealt with (turning lead into gold, etc) was just a metaphor for its ultimate aim, which is to study SPIRITUAL transformation. How DOES a shitty person become a better person? Through these processes like calcination, fermentation, there is something (almost like a chemical process) which happens to the spirit. If you want to turn iron into steel, or you want to focus your life and will into a harder substance, it's a similar process ... you heat it up, you burn out the slag and impurities, you pour it into a form...

ahh I'm on a tangent...

What I'm getting at is --

The Incompleteness Theorem of the Self
There are lots of ways to understand the self. No single way can reach every truth. Gurdjieff was missing out on modern science. But science is an incomplete picture too. If we insist on understanding the world using empiricism alone, we abandon the network of symbolism and meaning that humanity developed over thousands of years. You know what I mean here? There are truths you can reach through, say, Buddhism, that can't be expressed in terms of empirical findings which could be laid out in a textbook; they're too subjective, personal, internal, symbolic...

I share this only because it's a demon I had to defeat in myself - scientism and the dominance of literary culture. My reactive mind, armed with an experimental psych degree, rejected or dismissed anything that didn't fit into its linear/literary "mode".

That's part of why I'm on this Reality Safari - to explore what else is out there.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« on: May 15, 2017, 03:43:36 pm »
Just to touch base again with why this might be interesting to some of you --- Gurdjieff literally wrote about the Black Iron Prison and the Jailbreak a full century before we did. He and his followers spent their lives figuring out how to describe and escape from this "inner slavery".

He described two "walls" in our cell:

-We are slaves to what Gurdjieff calls "considering", which is being concerned with what other people think of us. This is an ego-drive and it keeps us anchored in the smaller, immediate, local parts of the self.

-And we're victims of "identification", which is basically becoming what you experience. When you feel something, it takes over. Most of the time, you have no objectivity about it, and no point of view outside of it.

A lot of the Gurdjieff work involves practical exercises in which you can begin to free yourself of these traps.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Reality Safari: Gurdjieff
« on: May 15, 2017, 03:31:04 pm »

I had to fight my way in, like Meatloaf standing on the front porch of Project Mayhem.

Originally, I gave a wishy washy answer about whether I could make a Monday meeting. It's a long drive for me, and it conflicts with another thing I have. So consequently, they never gave me the invite. I had to reschedule some stuff and then check back in... then I got the invite to the reading group. Went to one last week.

I'm about four chapters deep in In Search of the Miraculous. In this book, Ouspensky is sharing the tale of how he met Gurdjieff and what it was like being in his orbit. Because of its narrative style, this book reads much smoother than the other Gurdjieff books I've picked up. It also shows another side of G, one I've seen other people mention - the man definitely comes off as a charlatan at times. In the first two chapters, Gurdjieff spends a lot of time setting up the Hard Sell... basically saying, look, you can't figure this stuff out on your own. You need a teacher... here's why you need me:

                      BILLY MAYS HERE

-You could study the way of the Fakir and it will take years of training before you have mastered your physical body and have a chance to build the "divine body",
-OR You could study the way of the Monk and spend months mastering your emotions, and then have a chance to create that divine body,
-OR You could study the way of the Yogi and, after really diligent training and mastery of the intellect, you can have meditative experiences in which you'll feel the stirrings of your divine body...
-OR you could study THE FOURTH WAY and work on all three centers at once - it's still a lot of work. But you don't have to quit all your shit and go study at a monastery... in the Fourth Way, you figure out how to escape the black iron prison, develop a soul, while immersed in everyday life.

It has an aura of salesmanship...

He also talks about "immortality", though he's never clear about what he means. A lot of people approach Gurdjieff because they want to learn occult secrets. He kinda teases them, or gives them a run-around. When he talks about immortality, he never resolves whether he's talking about creating some eternal essence that is preserved after death, or a more abstract kinda of immortality via having REALLY EXISTED in the world and leaving a legacy. it seems like he doesn't even want to talk about immortality except that people keep asking him about it.

Gurdjieff was a really intense character, people loved him, but he made a lot of people hate him too. That's a normal reaction to these super extreme people. In reading criticisms of Gurdjieff, you see a lot of that - that he could be absolutely terrible when he wanted to be. It seems like he's still in control of his emotions even when he's raging... people say that Gurdjieff could be screaming at one moment, and in the next breath, when it's no longer needed, turn it all off and go right back to a calm tea.

Burns recently linked me to this page discussing the meeting between Crowley and Gurdjieff: ----------------

Crowley arrived for a whole weekend and spent the time like any other visitor to the Prieure; being shown the grounds and the activities in progress, listening to Gurdjieff’s music and his oracular conversation. Apart from some circumspection, Gurdjieff treated him like any other guest until the evening of his departure. After dinner on Sunday night, Gurdjieff led the way out of the dining room with Crowley, followed by the body of the pupils who had also been at the meal. Crowley made his way toward the door and turned to take his leave of Gurdjieff, who by this time was some way up the stairs to the second floor. “Mister, you go?” Gurdjieff inquired. Crowley assented. “You have been guest?”—a fact which the visitor could hardly deny. “Now you go, you are no longer guest?”

Crowley—no doubt wondering whether his host had lost his grip on reality and was wandering in a semantic wilderness – humored his mood by indicating that he was on his way back to Paris. But Gurdjieff, having made the point that he was not violating the canons of hospitality, changed on the instant into the embodiment of righteous anger. “You filthy,” he stormed, “you dirty inside! Never again you set foot in my house!” From his vantage point on the stairs, he worked himself into a rage which quite transfixed his watching pupils. Crowley was stigmatized as the sewer of creation was taken apart and trodden into the mire. Finally, he was banished in the style of East Lynne by a Gurdjieff in fine histrionic form. White faced and shaking, the Great Beast crept back to Paris with his tail between his legs.

by the way, there's another section of that doc which I found interesting - it unpacks the double edged sword that is the "guru" figure:

Quote master is myself—lies at the heart of the ancient Eastern tradition of “guru-yoga,” something found in both Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The essential idea behind it is to see that the spiritual teacher is, in principle, a reflection of the awakened self within the seeker. To regard one’s teacher as the “buddha-mind” as they put in some Buddhist traditions, is a generally trustworthy way to accelerate one’s spiritual progress, because it gives a good opportunity to subdue the ego, which by nature does not trust in the higher values represented by the guru’s teaching and seeks to maintain separation and ego-identity at all costs. (This was also the rationale behind Osho’s “device” of creating lockets for his disciples containing a photo of himself).

Of course it is a given that such an approach carries a risk factor, because to regard one’s teacher as a reflection of one’s awakened self assumes that the teacher is a worthy representative of such. But a subtler point behind guru-yoga is that it has the power to override “imperfections” in the guru. Put simply it is possible to attain significant spiritual realization in the company of a flawed teacher. Likewise, it is also possible to experience considerable disillusionment and pain when associating with a teacher who turns out to have greater character flaws than one might have initially imagined.

I am still finding the Gurdjieff work really challenging. Sometimes I read something that actually really upsets me, like Gurdjieff bandying about some sincerely unscientific proposition  - stuff that was still a bit believable in 1910, that wouldn't hold up now. Then I sleep on it, and I can see that there is a layer of metaphor. And that's like a key... once I understand the metaphor, it "unlocks" that passage and I can get what he means. The trial, IMO, is to not fall into the trap of justifying everything he's saying, but remaining critical all the time. That's also Gurdjieff's intent... just like Robert Anton Wilson, he doesn't want you to just accept what he's saying. He wants you to question it, test it for yourself. Stay in the critical mind.

I have more to say, but that was a long post already.

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