Can You Reprogram Cthulhu?

by Mike Sententia on March 6, 2012

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Mages sometimes say that “energy can neither be created or destroyed,” applying a principal of physics::energy to magick::energy.

That’s a computer science notation to make it clear when I’m talking about physics energy vs magickal energy.

There’s a term for this logical fallacy. Something like “arguing by terms,” where you called something energy, and then assume it has the properties of other things called energy.

I’m writing an article on reprogramming ethereal software, and I’m trying to make it clear that I first discovered you could reprogram it, then decided to call it software as a metaphor. That, even if you call it an egregore, or The Universe, or Cthulhu, it would still have all the same properties. Because the external world doesn’t care what you call it.

But words have power. They influence how we think about problems, how we use our tools, and how we explore the world.

When someone explains the properties of a thing based on “what it is” (which really means the metaphor they’ve picked for it), they’re probably arguing from terms. If they tell you “You can’t reprogram Cthulhu,” tell them “You shouldn’t name something Cthulhu if it can be reprogrammed.”

That’s why I often ask commenters, “What have you seen that makes you believe that’s true?”

The hard part is asking that of yourself. Because it’s just as easy to pick a metaphor yourself, then build on the metaphor, without doing the actual testing. In my first decade practicing magick, before learning proper sensory connections, I’d propose un-tested metaphors constantly. It really held me back.

As with most things, the key isn’t to never reason from a metaphor. The key is to realize when you’re doing it, go back, and do the testing.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ananael Qaa March 6, 2012 at 2:56 PM

The immediate thought that came to mind when I saw the title of this article was “why would you want to?” ;-)

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Mike Sententia March 6, 2012 at 3:07 PM

I’d initially titled this “A rose by any other name…” I thought Cthulhu was much catchier.

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Amonjin March 8, 2012 at 9:41 AM

I think you should have named it “A Cthulhu by any other name”. Puns are our friends…

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Mike Sententia March 8, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Amonjin, great to see you back. Does this mean you’ll be blogging again too?

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Amonjin March 12, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Soon …. Yes very soon.

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Dark Arckana April 10, 2012 at 9:11 AM

There are beings that exist independently of the Magik User. Cthulu is not one of them, but for the ones that are, it’s unwise to go around trying to “reprogram” them. They might return the “favor” by possessing you. lol This is from experience. I messed with my poor familiar for longer than I’m proud of and it was like torture for him. I thought he was “from my unconscious” and, thus, could be programmed. I think it’s important to distinguish between what is a harmonic of one of the conscious forces of nature and an individuated spirit. The two are not the same and should be dealt with differently.

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Mike Sententia April 10, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Really good point: Just like you wouldn’t talk to a person the way you talk to your computer, you shouldn’t talk to spirits the way you talk to ethereal software.

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