The Most Dangerous Drug

The Western Hermetic tradition lays great emphasis on the memory and the ars memorativa. Where most of Western society learned to get along without mnemotechnical art as literacy became more common, magicians continued to recognize the value of a powerful memory and jealously guarded theirs. The use of the memory in the ars notoria was supposed to bring the adept to gnostic mystical union, allowing him to gain godlike powers.

Medieval scholasticism, which influenced the Hermetic tradition, considered the training of the memory to be a part of the virtue of prudence. It was thought necessary to the effective direction of a man’s actions to his last end. We saw how St. Thomas Aquinas proved that the ars notoria was both futile and offensive to God. However, he would not have agreed with us moderns that the memory was something that should be left untrained.

If it is true that the training of the memory helps men to be happy, then the corollary must also hold, namely, that a weakened memory will cause men to become closer to beasts, vicious, weak-willed, foolish, and incapable of self-rule. Yet the most impressive technological advances recently brought to popular use by alphabet agencies and alphabet corporations are so very effective at causing both short-term and long-term memory to atrophy, that upon a moment’s reflection, one cannot help but hypothesize that they were actually designed for this explicit purpose.

In the last century, the Central Intelligence Agency’s MK-ULTRA program researched methods of mind control that included sexual abuse and surreptitious administration of psychoactive chemicals. The goal was to cause a rift in the subject’s personality such that information and learned behavior could be compartmentalized between mutually unaware sub-personalities.

Clearly, the subject of any such technique is necessarily the memory. It hinges on the mind’s ability to cope with traumatic memories by burying them beneath the surface. The power of recall or recollection must be inhibited such that the target individual cannot use them at will, but a conditioned response to a certain stimulus will reassociate the desired information.

If training the memory increases one’s own power, then, deliberately destroying the memory by psychotechnical means can decrease the power of others. If we combine both arts, we have a working method for the domination and total control of one’s peers.

Our power of memory is in fact being destroyed. We do not retain facts as well as we used to, because it is trivial enough to look them up with Google. We do not concentrate as well as we used to, because smartphone notification systems cause a steady stream of distractions.

Moreover, compartmentalization is a common coping mechanism against the stress brought on by constant voluntary surveillance by the members of one’s social graph. This phenomenon is known as “virtue signalling.” It is the reflexive suppression of one’s own personality for fear of the punishment that follows the expression of beliefs or intentions that are considered politically incorrect. A small minority of individuals is able to determine what the rules of political correctness will be using simple leverage: they are organized, and the rest of the user base is not.

It is one thing for a man to face social pressures when he can retreat to a private space where he is allowed to recollect. But when the stimulus is in his pocket, and he has been trained by a system of rewards to go to it at every free moment, then there is no escape. The integrity of the personality slowly begins to break down under this constant, unnatural pressure, and his behavior both online and IRL becomes increasingly erratic.

The target will find himself drawn into political “debates” without the power to bring clear, carefully reasoned thoughts to bear on the discussion, without the power to concentrate well enough to follow an argument to its conclusion, and without the recall needed to confidently use facts and principles that he knows well. The only tools that he has at his disposal are his emotions, but even these are necessarily constantly being manipulated. The various parties to the debate can thus only emote at one another with no hope of arriving at a consensus or furthering their own aims. Only a disengaged party that sets the conditions for the confrontation can possibly control the outcome of the dialog.

The target will find himself in the midst of a competition to have the most impressive online life; people are trained to share every little detail of their lives, so that everyone else sees these details and spends as much time as possible comparing themselves to others. The target is compelled to post, and therefore to do, not what he himself may hold in high regard, but what the members of his social graph do. To the extent that there is any important difference between these sets of interests, the original personality will find less and less time for expression. His own thoughts and feelings will become largely repressed.

In the logical conclusion of this process, it seems that he eventually forgets who he is. It seems a lot like MK-ULTRA-lite, in slow motion, on a massive scale. And that raises the question, of all of America’s problems with drugs and addiction, which is the most serious?

For now, I would just suggest that perhaps the most dangerous drug is the one in your pocket.

Arboretus