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The Good The Bad The Funny

By Amadi Philotunus (aka Ramsey Dukes) 284pp,p/bk., The Mouse That Spins, ISBN 0-904311-10-4

The Good The Bad The Funny (hereafter TGTBTF) examines the problems attendant to Western culture's primary mode of thinking - the dualistic (alongside the problem of unity/oneness and various fourfold 'type' schemas) - and argues that a useful and productive alternative to dualism would be 'to think in threes'. TGTBTF thus proposes that introducing a third principle into the rigid polarisations imposed by the dualistic either/or, can replace binary opposites with mutable flow. It is the paradigmic example of this interpolation - that into the binary opposition of the Good (God) the Bad (the Devil) can be resolved via the third principle - the Funny (theTrickster) that the book draws its title from.

Thinking in threes is a key theme within the Tantric approaches wherein I locate myself. Within them one finds many variations on three-fold equivalent structures. For example, there is the Three Shaktis Iccha (Will) Jnana (Knowledge) and Kriya (Action) - as Dadaji put it "think-decide-act" which are understood to be interdependent. There is the triplicity of the Measurer, the Measured and the Act of Measurement; the Three Worlds,; Three Cities; Three Lights; Creation-Maintenance-Destruction. Reading TGTBTF, the image of the Sri Yantra, with its shifting multitudes of triadic relationships keeps drifting into my mind.

TGTBTF will be a useful book for anyone who is interested in examining the habitual patterns by which we shape and limit our ways of viewing the world. Ramsey's ultimate aim is that 'triple thinking' should be as natural and effortless as the dominant dualistic pattern, and so as part of this project, he sets up various dualistic opposites, examines their workings, and suggests appropriate third principles which hint at possible resolution. Dualistic thinking, according to Dukes, leads us to project our fears and fight them in others, whereas triple thinking leads to a more alchemical approach, seeking a third principle which dissolves the dualistic opposites. For the most part, Ramsey reflects on various real-world dualities - from the theoretical resurrection of the Liberals to provide the UK with a vibrant three-party political system - to various externalised stereotyped ideals, including his own musings on how his own reactions to situations. The tale of how he reacted to incidents of external yobbery by discovering his own internal yobbishness (the urge to kick over ideas rather than rubbish bins) again reminded me of a Natha approach to cursing which requires that one acknowledges those qualities one abhors in others as qualities that one perhaps refuses to acknowledge within oneself. The everyday examples are fleshed out, with a nod to those who simply must have their ideas put into the familiar territory of the occult, with a brief discourse on working practical magic from a trinary perspective, including a stirring account of his "Cybermass of Thrice-Greatest Data-Hermes" which takes his musings on trinary principles in magic and how they can be demonstrated in a ritual setting.

Ramsey Dukes' writings exude a twinkly-eyed geniality. Unlike the majority of occult writers, his personality peeps clearly out from between the sentences, and he's not so much discussing ideas which are assumed to be universal, but very much putting forth his ideas - woolly notions that have emerged out of his life experience which are not answers to the big questions, but merely pointers for the intelligent reader. TGTBTF doesn't offer solutions as much as a few gentle nudges down the pathways it opens up:

Don't get the simple notion that finding the third principle is an immediate remedy, a magical potion. That would be to elevate the third principle in to a superior position to the original duality by calling it "the solution". Remember what was said about false trinities: the real thing is truly balanced, a horizontal equilateral triangle. The real healing does not come as soon as you find the third principle, but only after you have lived with it and got used to it until it is an equal member of the team.

TGTBTF is a book for quiet reflection, for thoughtful introspection. It doesn't possess the brash gung-ho of the self-help manual or the facile blandness of many modern occult textbooks. It doesn't even pander to the reader's fantasies by implying that one is a revolutionary or spiritual dissenter, for heaven's sake!. Yet like Ramsey Dukes' other works, TGTBTF is nonetheless a powerful book, offering, albeit in a genteel, unassuming manner, a useful strategy in the day-to-day struggle for awake-awareness. - Phil Hine