The Spirit of the Thing (egregores)
“You’ve been doing some independent research, I see…” Lloyd says with a lopsided grin. “Are you familiar with the concept of egregores?”
“No. What’s an egregore?”
“When two minds come together to achieve a common goal, a third and superior mind is created—an egregore.”
“What’re you saying about greed and gore?” Jimmy interrupts from the backseat, where “Houses of the Holy” is just ending with a flurry of wailing from Robert Plant.
Lloyd turns off the stereo. “Egregore…” he enunciates. “It’s an Old English term that roughly means ‘the spirit of a thing.’ As I was telling Gordon, an egregore is a kind of group-mind that’s created whenever two or more people come together for a specific, shared purpose. For instance, let’s say you and Gordon put your minds together to create an article for the school newspaper, as I know you’ve done in the past. And let’s say the purpose of that article is to tear down the reputation of a certain hypocritical high school administrator who shall remain nameless.”
“Witzkowski!” Jimmy shouts with uninhibited glee.
“That raging dickhead,” Skip further clarifies.
“Now… so long as you both remain true to your original purpose—to destroy someone’s reputation—your minds will be ‘entangled’ on a quantum level,” Lloyd tells them. “You’ll experience some commingling of your morphic fields, which might result in mind-to-mind communication—a nonlocal transference of information that explains things like how you sometimes know who’s calling before you pick up a ringing phone. That quantum entanglement also creates a third mind, or egregore, that can know much more than either one of you on your own. In the beginning, an egregore is no more than a kind of crude quantum computer program that helps you to achieve your goal. Such help can arrive in many forms. From within, it might turn up as inspired thoughts. From without, it might appear as useful synchronicities: Jimmy might happen to be in the right place at the right time with a camera on a day when his quarry is looking somewhat… fishy.”
“Like a sanctimonious fishman,” says Gordon, to get the phrase exactly right. “I’m pretty sure Witz never forgave us for that.”
“Yes, well, remember what I said: The egregore is like a rudimentary computer program in its early stages. Although it’s meant to serve, if it’s not given the proper commands it can easily turn on its creators, like a golem. In your case, that would mean the reputation you end up destroying could be your own.”
Gordon remembers the joke that came back to haunt him—his father’s fury over what he’d written in the Columbia Journalism Review: “Norman Mailer could be reading right this minute that my jackass son thinks he was raised by wolves!” The same queasy-sick sensation that he felt then rises from the soles of his sweaty feet to shudder through him all over again. “Oh crud…” he mutters.
“Fortunately, most egregores dissipate rather quickly once their objective has been achieved,” Lloyd says, as if to soothe him. “But when the process continues over a long period of time and more minds are persuaded to add their psychic energy to its agenda, an egregore can grow strong enough and smart enough to survive even the death of its original creators. At that point, the egregore truly has a life of its own. And that’s when things get interesting….” Lloyd takes his hands off the steering wheel long enough to rub his palms together in a pantomime of an evil genius anticipating the fruition of his havoc-wreaking schemes.
“Interesting how?” asks D.H., leaning forward from the backseat.
Lloyd says, “Consider the egregore of the Templars, energized by the fanatical devotion and bloodshed of thousands of men for nearly 200 years. In 1314, after Pope Clement nullified the Templar Order with a helping hand from King Philip the Fair, the egregore of the Templars lived on. By then, it had become conscious. It knew how to think—how to get what it wanted. It murdered those who had conspired against it and then it withdrew to the inner dimensions. There, with infinite patience, it waited for centuries until it was contacted by a new order of men prepared to carry out the intentions of its original founders and supply the egregore with the psychic energy it requires to function in our world. What those men gained in return was access to the Templar egregore’s vast accumulation of knowledge and power. The name of that new order was… can anyone guess?”
“Devo?” D.H. suggests.
“The Freemasons,” Gordon says.
“Good man!” Lloyd congratulates him. “You’re starting to see how it all works…. Corporations, political parties, religions, and even nations all have their own egregores. And all those egregores are warring for influence over us. Obviously, we can’t help but become affiliated with at least a few egregores over the course of our lifetimes. But if we do so without thinking, there’s bound to be trouble.”
“So an egregore is like Jung’s ideas about the collective unconscious,” says Gordon, trying to understand, “only narrowed down to just Republicans, or just the Catholic Church.”
“Essentially, yes,” Lloyd agrees, “but with the caveat that the egregores of the Republican Party and the Catholic Church are far more virulent than the all-embracing collective unconscious. Which brings me to my next point: Some egregores are created in fits of malice or xenophobic hatred, and those egregores exist only to destroy, giving rise to instincts for death and domination in their individual members. The Nazi egregore would be a prime example, of course.”
“The Michael Jackson egregore would be another one,” D.H. says, thinking of the singer-songwriter that he currently despises most.
“Such an egregore has a vicious, malign strength,” Lloyd continues, choosing to ignore D.H., “and it can infect other egregores like a virus. By imposing its form on its enemies, it thereby becomes its enemies. I believe something like that occurred when the CIA made the grotesque moral error of bringing Nazi war criminals to our shores during Operation PAPERCLIP. The Nazi egregore infected the CIA egregore and eventually overpowered it. The Nazis even had a word for such invisible battles among egregores: Weltanschauungskrieg. It translates as ‘world-view warfare.’ They may have been the first to name it, but this type of warfare has been going on for centuries. More than a thousand years ago, I believe a similar battle was fought and lost by the egregore of the Roman Catholic Church.”
“The same thing happened to me with ‘Beat It,’” says D.H.; “I couldn’t get that stupid song out of my head for months.”
“If that’s how it works, then what about the Assassins?” Gordon asks Lloyd. “Did the Assassin egregore infect the Templar egregore, then get passed along to the Masons?”
“I’m afraid that it did,” Lloyd says.
That isn’t the answer Gordon was expecting to hear.
“The Freemasons have certainly been known to commit assassinations from time to time,” Lloyd admits. “Just look into the Propaganda Due Lodge in Italy, if you don’t believe me.”
“Then why were we even talking about soul-sucking moon men and all that other junk?” Gordon asks, exasperated. “We should’ve been talking about egregores all along!”
“Are you sure there’s a difference?”
“An egregore doesn’t need a spaceship.”
“Point taken…” says Lloyd, “and you may well be right. Perhaps my tale of interdimensional alien mind-parasites is just a useful allegory for the workings of our self-created egregores. After all, the magickal birthing and feeding of egregores was the carefully guarded secret at the core of the ancient mystery cults—a process they called ‘The Art of Creating Gods.’ And some of mankind’s oldest myths refer to a war between those so-called gods, at which point Man became a slave to egregores that he himself had created. We’ve been obliged to serve them ever since, not only with sweat and tears, but with our blood.”
“Smells like the same old bullshit to me,” says Jimmy.
To Gordon’s more refined nose, the odor wafting off Lloyd is redolent of high-priced cologne, smothered farts, and the usual halitosis-punctuated pedantry. Jimmy’s right: Nothing new.
“Let’s think for a moment about how the egregores of corporations operate, since the Reagan administration seems so determined to hand our country over to them,” Lloyd says as the wind blows his toupee into devilish snarls. “It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that corporations are immortal soulless entities that take as much as they can and give nothing in return. Their primary goal is to keep increasing productivity and earnings in an all-devouring, endless cycle. Corporate egregores exploit their workers, pollute the environment, and turn vast quantities of the world’s irreplaceable natural resources into disposable junk products, all just to show a quarterly profit. They steal from the poor and give to the rich, creating enormous concentrations of wealth in the hands of just a few thousand elitist assholes. If Reagan and Bush get their way and all that money and power isn’t redistributed—via a system of fair taxes and the checks and balances built into our Constitution—then America’s liberal, democratic society will soon be looking a lot more like a corporate-sponsored fascist police state. And that will be because, quite simply, the egregores of unchecked capitalism tend to penalize those who would better the lot of humanity, while at the same time rewarding the relatively few unbridled sociopaths who take advantage of anyone and anything that they can.”
“Yeah, but where would we be without porno and Diet Coke?” Jimmy asks, pointing to just two of their recent purchases.
“Well, if you can’t beat ‘em…” Lloyd says cheerfully. “Seriously, why do you think I ended up in the insurance racket, anyway? My line of work probably has some of the most evil egregores out there—aside from Big Oil and the tobacco companies—yet most insurance brokers see that evil as something apart from themselves. They fail to recognize it as coming from their own hearts and souls.”
“But not you,” says Gordon.
“No… not me,” says Lloyd. “Not now, at least. That’s why I’m here doing my penance, trying to provide a little enlightened adult guidance to a carload of snarky but redeemable teenage jerk-offs.”
[Derek, from his forthcoming book Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg, as posted in the comments on Rigorous Intuition]
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