An Esoteric Guide to Spencer Brown’s Laws of Form #5
Here ends the formal chapters of LoF, but GSB continues for almost another 60 pages with notes designed to help lead the reader through the main text, or to elaborate on what is found there. It contains some fascinating esoteric nuggets. To wit:
LoF p. 77
- It may be helpful at this stage to realize that the primary form of mathematical communication is not description, but injunction. In this respect it is comparable with practical art forms like cookery, in which the taste of a cake, although literally indescribable, can be conveyed to a reader in the form of a set of injunctions called a recipe. Music is a similar art form, the composer does not even attempt to describe the set of sounds he has in mind, much less the set of feelings occasioned through them, but writes down a set of commands which, if they are obeyed by the reader, can result in a reproduction, to the reader, of the composer’s original experience.
This exactly describes the nature of esoteric communication; its data cannot be conveyed directly, but the process leading to the data can be, which means that the data proper to esoteric communication is that of the process which leads to its data. Indeed the whole of LoF can be taken this way, and is meant to be, as made implicit by GSB in the above quote. Continuing in this vein:
LoF p. 78
- In his introduction to the Tractatus, Russell expresses what thus seems to be a justifiable doubt in respect of the rightness of Wittgenstein’s last proposition when he says [p 22]
- “what causes hesitation is t he fact that, after all, Mr. Wittgenstein manages to say a good deal about what cannot be said, thus suggesting to the sceptical reader that possibly there may be some loophole through a hierarchy of languages or by some other exit.”
- The exit, as we have seen it here, is evident in the injunctive faculty of language.
That is, to indicate that which cannot be indicated, one can indicate a process which, when followed, generates the indication. This is simply to indicate the esoteric process, i.e. transformation, the building of capacity. It is necessarily recursive; following the procedure generates itself (and more). Now:
LoF p. 78
- But in each case the description is dependent upon, and secondary to, the set of injunctions having been obeyed first.
This is the KEY insight into understanding esoteric communication. Process BEFORE product. It can thus be indicated that the key to esoteric work is the activity of the WILL, primarily in ATTENTION. By changing how we direct our attention, we can progress esoterically.