Today I’d like to talk about a way of approaching Magick that is often talked about in Art circles, but rarely in the Occult world, The Paranoiac Critical method. The Paranoiac Critical method was a sensibility, or way of perceiving reality that was developed by Salvador Dalí. It was defined by Dalí himself as “irrational knowledge” based on a “delirium of interpretation”. More simply put, it was a process by which the artist found new and unique ways to view the world around him. It is the ability of the artist or the viewer to perceive multiple images within the same configuration. The concept can be compared to Max Ernst’s frottage or Leonardo da Vinci’s scribbling and drawings. As a matter of fact, all Magicians have practiced the Paranoid Critical Method when gazing at a Skrying stone, or wood Grain to find the Sigils in a table, and seeing different shapes and visages therein. Dalí elevated this uniquely human characteristic into his own art form .And Magick is nothing if not an Art; In fact I’m bold enough to say it is THE Art that all other Art forms sprang from.
Dalí, though not a true paranoid, was able to simulate a paranoid state, without the use of drugs, and upon his return to ‘normal perspective’ he would paint what he saw and envisioned therein.
Dalí was able to create what he called “hand painted dream photographs” which were physical, painted representations of the hallucinations and images he would see while in his paranoid state. Although he certainly had his own load of mental problems to bear, it can be said that Dalí’s delusions and paranoid hallucinations did not totally dominate his mind, as he was able to convey them to canvas.
Being a painter of miraculous skill, he was capable of reproducing his myriad fantasies and hallucinations as visual illusions on canvas.
It is in this context that one of Dalí’s most famous statements takes on a whole new meaning and understanding.
“The only difference between myself and a madman, is that I am not mad!”
In Dalí’s own words, taken from his Conquest of the Irrational, published in 1935:
“My whole ambition in the pictorial domain is to materialize the images of my concrete irrationality with the most imperialist fury of precision…”
He then goes on to say:
“Paranoiac-critical activity organizes and objectivizes in an exclusivist manner the limitless and unknown possibilities of the systematic association of subjective and objective ‘significance’ in the irrational…”
“..it makes the world of delirium pass onto the plane of reality”
As Rob Horn wrote “Paranoia, as the cliché has it, is a higher state of awareness, a form of privileged insight unburdened by such trivialities as plausibility or verification. It’s sometimes seen as a cancer that afflicts our hermeneutical faculty, causing it to enlarge and impose itself everywhere, explaining everything in terms of everything else in an ongoing, provisional way, usually to simultaneously rationalize and vitiate a sense of futility. It substitutes spurious explanations for actual efforts to change things, often things about oneself. This sort of thinking can create an impenetrable fortress of depression, repelling all intuitions that it can actually make a difference to do something. According to Dali by simulating paranoia one can systematically undermine one’s rational view of the world, which becomes continually subjected to associative transformations, “For instance, one can see, or persuade others to see, all sorts of shapes in a cloud: a horse, a human body, a dragon, a face, a palace, and so on. Any prospect or object of the Physical world can be treated in this manner, from which the proposed conclusion is that it is impossible to concede any value whatsoever to immediate reality, since it may represent or mean anything at all” (Marcel Jean).This can, and does happen with spirits, as they love to persuade you to see all sorts of wild things, But in a simulated Paranoid state you are in control of what, and when your rational world breaks and takes a nose dive into the Rabbit hole so to speak. “surrealist works are not important as poems, as pictures, as objects, but as being the residue left when we have strip down our souls to the bare framework of the unconscious which is beneath all ourselves and from which we never escape” (Gauss, Charles E. “The Theoretical Backgrounds of Surrealism.”)A Conjurer does just that when he or she calls a spirit, we strip down our souls to the bare framework and convince ourselves that what we are seeing is real, each one of us becomes a surrealist the moment we enter the ritual chamber and light up the incense. According to Wikipedia, “the aspect of paranoia that Dali was interested in, and which helped inspire the [paranoiac critical] method was the ability of the brain to perceive links between things which are rationally not linked.” And that is exactly what we do when we stare at a Sigil and “Link” it to the spirit it corresponds to, there is no rational reason why that bunch of dots and lines mean Astaroth, by putting on the mantle of Conjurer we “Know” from study and subjective understanding that Astaroth=Sigil of Astaroth. The Conjurer perceives alternate meanings of individual Sigils, and interpretations displace one another almost instantaneously. Whether these new relationships are created or merely noticed by the Conjurer is irrelevant. Yes, you heard me right, It does not matter if you created the spirit or for the first time today noticed it in the shower watching you wash your ass. It is the result of the Conjuration that is the point of the Art, just like the Paranoiac-critical activity is the spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based on the interpretive critical association of delirious phenomena. So how do we achieve critical association of delirious phenomena? Read on my friends and let’s find out together. This is how The Paranoiac Critical method works: one links various little and un-related “illogical” events into a “logical” bigger picture, then lends them the “agency” of deliberate intention. Let’s put this into practice with a little Magical exercise .Go to four places in your town that have nothing to do with each other (ie:Cityhall,Graveyard,Playground,Supermarket)and pick up any part or thing of that place that has meaning there (Graveyard=Grave dirt)Hold it in your hands, look at it and the place it came from at the same time ,shifting your focus back and forth quickly for 3 minutes while repeating to yourself in your mind “this does not belong here”. Do this with all of the places and things, and then bring those things home with you. Now once a day for 3 days and whenever in those 3 days when you do think about them (trust me, you will once or twice) immediately visualize the place that it came from and say to yourself “this thing does not belong here” at the end of the 3 days, try to bring the objects back to their home places…hard isn’t it? How do you feel? A foreboding will creep over you, like you are being watched or judged…..paranoia at its finest. Force yourself to bring the thing back to Its true home, sit with it there and write down all of your thoughts and feelings about what you are experiencing. You have just removed something from its proper place both in your subjective universe, and in the “Real world”, by doing so you have created a void in your reality that is just yearning to be filled….and that void is what powers magick. You can now take that object and contact the genius loci of the place you took it from. A genius loci is the protective spirit of a place [Latin genius locī : genius, spirit + locī, genitive sing. of locus, place.] How this spirit makes itself felt frequently depends on a person’s mental, spiritual, and emotional state, but most cause one to feel uneasy and unwelcome. Since you have created that state of uneasiness with The Paranoiac Critical method, you can now call that Genius Loci to you anywhere just by holding the object in your hand and focusing on that feeling of unease, you can even push the Genius out of the object and into the place that you are at, say you are about to get in a fight or someone is about to hurt you, the Genius will cause them to feel the same unease that you do….but without the knowledge of the source (this can in handy for my more than once in Prison)Make friends with your Genius loci, ask its name and it will remain in your service till the end of your days.
An Excerpt from the Grimorium Carceris, Copyright 2015 Vincent Piazza, Abstract Dali Portrait done by; Vincent Piazza, all rights reserved