Previously, on The Codex of Poesy…this is such a prettier word for semiotics!
What has best articulated my idea of notions in wishcraft, lately, has been philosophy. I remember hiding out in Miasma’s apartment with her four roommates when she was in university. They would let me read their books, and some of those would be books that they brought from home, and some of them would be the texts they bought for their lessons. One of them was a giant tome that they named Big Bob. It was a compilation of the very important writings of a bunch of dead white guys, for the required philosophy courses.
When I read some of Big Bob, I noticed that the terminology of each academic ancestor was as personal to him as his underwear. The notions of noumena versus phenomena might be contextualized and apply slightly differently, but I thought it might as well be the same thing as the signifier and signified. Then again, in the same book, some English-writing philosophers insisted upon using the French verb form of “to be” (est) in order to highlight “being” as a more significant concept that the English word could convey. The same went for what might be colloquially known as “capital-t Truth” that some dead white guy or other insisted was not mere truth, as English would have it even with Pointed Capitalization, but he would evoke some ultimate transcendental version of the same concept by using the Greek word for it (that would be alethia, but always with a capital A.)
Big Bob got thrown at the wall a lot, accompanied by primal screams of frustration.
I thought that a notion would be the basic unit of a belief, while recognizing that a belief system also generates or synthesizes notions. The dynamic activity between the two became what I now call Glamour.
In studies of witchcraft, the predecessor to what I call wishcraft, I learned of some branches that included material components for the correspondents, and of other branches that preferred to work with subtle energy. In the latter branch, either one didn’t trust the chain of cause and effect, or one saw that chain lead into the mind’s associations and then wondered why bother with that externally-situated cognition at all when it could all be done with the mind and its perception of subtle energy.
When I noticed the treatment of subtle energy among members of the community…flip-flopping in the force of authoritativeness between a conserved quantity (as with encounters with subtle energy leeches) and a performative entity (as with the presence of “dark” subtle energy or “negative” subtle energy when both should have been privative by nature and would not necessarily be awful unless somebody else’s subtle energy were on a different wavelength or quality), I concluded that subtle energy itself is a correspondent or symbol. Subtle energy to me became a signifier for something else-and-deeper that would interfaced with perception.
The idea of different planes of reality or otherworlds through which this subtle energy moved began to seem to me like an effort to create a one-to-one correspondence of physical energy in one world and subtle energy in the otherworld. It would still be a compelling metaphor, but I felt that I ought to return to checking my personal perceptions and interpretations before deciding on a metaphysical model.
It’s not all only personal perception, although adopting any perception that is not the perceiver’s own is impossible. I still believe in the world, although the meaning, quality, or value of any one thing in the world would change depending on the context and the approach of a perceiver, I still believe in realities beyond myself. A tree falling in the forest with nobody to hear it will still make a sound, but whether one can have a care about a specific event that one cannot or does not perceive is another question.
It’s that caring that I began to wonder about. Notions became not only about qualities or qualia or meaning, but meaningfulness.
Rather than a one-to-one between the physical world and physical energies, I began to find far more similarities in the dynamics of society to metaphysics. Social or cultural power imbalances and dynamics can have very real effects.
Glamour worked just as well for both, but I began to wonder about toradh in fairy lore, the social equivalent I suppose would be personal agency. I wonder about it being nascent, then reified, then stolen or corrupted or undermined or devastated. I imagined toradh as a node in the glamour, or like the seed inside a peach, the notions waylaid and bound together enough that it could become something else (although that bundle of notions would itself be a notion, just like part of a notion is just a notion with irregular sticky edges.)
As for what a notion is, I’ve resorted to Derrida’s differentiation. Any one notion is itself because it is not something else or anything else. While focusing on the negative space around a concept might come off a bit, haha, lacking…it stands to reason that diversity could only fail to define a thing through the thing being what everything else is not (occupying the same spacetime, having the exact same qualities of the phenomenon, not outside of identified boundaries) by absolute cosmic homogeny. So, differentiation it is, even though I still make the distinction between dualities: extant and privative, mutually exclusive, complementary, potentially able to synthesize, focused and peripheral…all different approaches to diversity-definition.