Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Choice of Ants

By James Curcio

Caitlin Murphy
I’m sitting, my arms wrapped around my legs, staring at ants crawling to and fro on the pavement. This was once a pastime of mine, when I was a child. When you are a certain indeterminate age, you can do things like spend hours a day watching ants. Eventually there are groundings and girls and grades and abortions and jobs and you pretty much forget altogether about the world that the ants live in. That is, until a moment like now.

If they've missed me over the years, they show no sign of it. Dutiful. Dedicated. Did you know that sometimes they will build a bridge out of their very bodies, drown themselves, just so that others can cross a stream?

Don’t judge. It isn’t the ants themselves that fascinated me, even as a child. It is the scale that they live in, and the truly magical way that they self-organize. I know it isn’t really magic, but we have no other word for it. Magic is what we call things that we don’t understand. (We don’t really understand anything, when you get right down to it, so the truth is that the entire universe is magical. But that’s something else entirely.)

I can hear sirens in the background. The cops, dutifully, are arriving in a rush, and there will be questions and I’m sure at some point I’ll have to deal with the emotional weight of what just happened. But for right now, there’s just me and the ants—the not-so-benevolent God and His useless subjects. Sometimes I would squash one of them and watch it wriggle. It wasn’t viciousness. I didn’t revel in their suffering. It was just some primal urge. Every now and then when you see a long line of ants marching you just have to reach in and pick one. YOU, you say. And their body, half crushed by the mass of your finger, struggles against the inevitable fact that, for no reason at all, a choice was made, or it wasn’t, but either way, there is no turning back.

That’s really what I’m getting at, I think, through all the shock. One moment everything is a certain way and the next it is completely different, and for no other reason than that you were picked out of a line because that’s just how it is, how it will be, forever and ever, Amen.

My wife Sheila—she would have legally been my wife in three months but we had lived together for years—was broken just like one of those ants, a carcass tangled in the metal that used to be our new car. No more marriage planning, no more—well, none of it matters really. I reached down and pushed down, hard, on one of those ants. I picked his abdomen. It popped and spurted whatever ant abdomens contain onto the sidewalk, and he tried to drag the flaccid thing around for a while. Eventually other ants showed up to the scene and carried it off. I wondered if they were the cops and emergency personnel of the ant world, or if they just switched roles.

The cops wanted to know a lot of details that seemed pointless. What was the make of the third car that hit us? Where were we headed? I looked at him dully and said, “Her favorite flavor was mint chocolate chip.” I couldn't think of anything else. Anyway, there were pieces of the car that hit us from behind scattered across the roadway. Did I look like a mechanic? It was a pileup. I remember the bus. The rest happened too fast.

I thought back a moment. How many breaths separated me, now, breathing alone with the ants, and my wife and I in the car, breathing the same air together? A few hundred breaths? An endless chasm.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Beyond New Age The Problem Isn't Just Belle Gibson

It's a well known truism that, in life, we tend to find what we're looking for.

I realize this truism is tautological, and it's been rendered down so far that it seems meaningless, yet it is something we repeat to one another in so many forms.

This idea has been central to the 'positive thought movement' for well over 100 years, with many different off-shoots, but all can be considered unified in regard to this particular idea: "our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience in daily living".

The belief is that Somehow (and this is The Secret), our mental picture effects the world. This produces the "law of attraction," whereby like attracts like, and our thoughts somehow manifest reality. This is the very foundation of what's happened with Belle Gibson, as JR Hennesey explored on the Guardian today:
Gibson needed to fake cancer, because the New Age narrative of transcending physical and spiritual sickness is so ingrained into its marketing. New Age philosophy is the clearest example of a utopian movement utterly absorbed by capitalism, which it once (feebly) opposed.
This is a good article on the subject, and I recommend you read it. However, that's not what I want to focus on here,. Instead, I want to look at a deeper process. When we look out into the world, how surprising is it that we see our presuppositions and even past experiences reflected back at us? Are we actually manifesting our thoughts, or could something else be at work? Finally, can we really consider this a phenomenon that's entirely unique to the New Age movement?

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Society of the Spectacle


It's hard to believe Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle was first published in the 60s. Consider the world we live in today: a world of social media, where the mediated space is on equal footing with our lived experience. In fact, the virtual seems positioned to entirely replace the material in the course of history, a point at which we can truly say would be the end of history.

Now, these quotations, directly from the text:

In a world that is truly topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false.
The spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive, indisputable and inaccessible. It says nothing more than "that which appears is good, that which is good appears."
The present phase of total occupation of social life by the accumulated results of the economy leads to a generalized sliding of having to appearing, from which all actual "having" must draw its immediate prestige and its ultimate function.
The spectacle is the existing order's uninterrupted discourse about itself, its laudatory monologue.
... The fetishistic, purely objective appearance of spectacular relations conceals the fact that they are relations among classes: a second nature...seems to dominate our environment. If the spectacle, taken in the limited sense of "mass media" which are its most glaring superficial manifestation seems to invade society as mere equipment, this equipment is in no way neutral but is the very means suited to its total self movement. If the social needs of the epoch in which such techniques are developed can only be satisfied through their mediation, if the administration of this society and all contact among men can no longer take place except through the intermediary of this power of instantaneous communication, it is because this "communication" is essentially unilateral. 
We need not call to mind the PR debacle of Facebook "emotionally manipulating" its users. This is, after all, nothing but the type of marketing manipulation all companies attempt, with varying degrees of success. No. It is the much more casual way that these technologies integrate with our lives that bears the most consideration. It is the business of these platforms to set themselves up as the intermediary, the go-between when you engage anyone in this "topsy-turvy" world.

More anecdotally, (and prosaically), it has been somewhat disturbing to me of late that the few times I've left my Facebook account, many people have ceased contact. When I returned, caving into what has increasingly felt like a Stockholm Syndrome like situations, the refrain was "I'm happy you're back, now we can talk to you again." The virtual is increasingly the world in which we exist in, socially. What then is the fleshy present? The mechanism of mediation is increasingly the "lived world."
To the extent that necessity is socially dreamed, the dream becomes necessity. The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep. 
Couched in the sort of "pomo speak" that seems to be less in vogue these days, it's not likely to be a top seller anytime soon. The tone almost strikes one as the bullet points read off through a bullhorn at a rally by a chain-smoking Frenchman with a megaphone. There are countless ways that we can critique, interrogate, and ultimately narrate technology. Whether it is our salvation or damnation is almost a literary conceit. But that makes this particular critique no less lucid, or downright prescient.

Next up I'm going to start looking into how Situationism influenced Debord's work. And dig back at the anarchist primitive movement that was fire-bombed in Philadelphia. I'll report back what thoughts seem worth sharing.

All It Takes Is The Right Story. Mythos Media

The 404 Attacks: Project Monarch


I was at the high school dance. Waste of an evening. I mean, I wouldn't have even considered going to something like this. It was embarrassing. But I knew she'd be there. I spent the whole night wishing I could get closer to her. Excuses to brush by, to look just a moment more. I didn't want to be creepy. I want to be her friend.

And then the song started. You know the one. "You spin me right round baby, right round." Cheesy shit but we can all dance ironically. That makes it safer somehow.

Yeah I, I got to know your name. Well and I, could trace your private number baby. Amber. That was her name. Different hair color every week it seemed. Different piercings and tattoos. Same eyes. Nothing could change them. I wanted to.

So I stood in the corner. Gibberish numbers were bouncing around in my head, blocking everything else out. They seemed to come from the music but compound themselves, a feedback loop of infinite proportions. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ... She turned to look at me when the words "Watch out, here I come" seemed to blow the eardrums out of my cheap skull. 21, 34... ACTIVATE LEVEL 5.

Something horrible happened. A snake slithered through my intestines and wrapped its coils like a vice-around my brain, and it squeezed, squeezed, squeezed. The juices in my pineal gland squirted all over my shoes. I fell to the ground, crying, vomiting, shitting myself. Everyone around me looked on in terror, but the music kept playing.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Backfire Effect

You think your beliefs are informed by facts. Yet, research is demonstrating facts couldn't matter less...
Science and fiction once imagined the future in which you now live. Books and films and graphic novels of yore featured cyberpunks surfing data streams and personal communicators joining a chorus of beeps and tones all around you. Short stories and late-night pocket-protected gabfests portended a time when the combined knowledge and artistic output of your entire species would be instantly available at your command, and billions of human lives would be connected and visible to all who wished to be seen.
So, here you are, in the future surrounded by computers which can deliver to you just about every fact humans know, the instructions for any task, the steps to any skill, the explanation for every single thing your species has figured out so far. This once imaginary place is now your daily life.
So, if the future we were promised is now here, why isn’t it the ultimate triumph of science and reason? Why don’t you live in a social and political technotopia, an empirical nirvana, an Asgard of analytical thought minus the jumpsuits and neon headbands where the truth is known to all?
Among the many biases and delusions in between you and your microprocessor-rich, skinny-jeaned Arcadia is a great big psychological beast called the backfire effect. It’s always been there, meddling with the way you and your ancestors understood the world, but the Internet unchained its potential, elevated its expression, and you’ve been none the wiser for years.
...
The backfire effect is constantly shaping your beliefs and memory, keeping you consistently leaning one way or the other through a process psychologists call biased assimilation. Decades of research into a variety of cognitive biases shows you tend to see the world through thick, horn-rimmed glasses forged of belief and smudged with attitudes and ideologies. When scientists had people watch Bob Dole debate Bill Clinton in 1996, they found supporters before the debate tended to believe their preferred candidate won. In 2000, when psychologists studied Clinton lovers and haters throughout the Lewinsky scandal, they found Clinton lovers tended to see Lewinsky as an untrustworthy homewrecker and found it difficult to believe Clinton lied under oath. The haters, of course, felt quite the opposite. Flash forward to 2011, and you have Fox News and MSNBC battling for cable journalism territory, both promising a viewpoint which will never challenge the beliefs of a certain portion of the audience. Biased assimilation guaranteed.

The Backfire Effect


All It Takes Is The Right Story. Mythos Media

Monday, March 23, 2015

Peter and Paul: Lost in the Wonderland


Most of us see life as a period we spend wading through morasses of daily challenges just so that, one day, if we’re lucky, we might retire in the never-never land we refer to as heaven, and spend the rest of eternity doing absolutely nothing but basking in the eternal light of G
In order to make such a dismal prospect achievable, we’d created a God in our own image, and endowed Him, or possibly Her, with an abundance of very, very noble attributes. The alternate permanent residence is the exact opposite of this prospect, yet equally as dismal.
Why?
Because they are both based on the assumption that eternal dolce far niente, known to us as “sweet doing nothing”, which due to their proximity to the Vatican the Italians had brought to near-perfection, is the way to be.
It is.
And it is a reward.
For a day. A week. Maybe two weeks. But Eternity? Any definition of hell would be preferable.
Peter and Paul: Lost in the Wonderland: Most of us see life as a period we spend wading through morasses of daily challenges just so that, one day, if we’re lucky...

A valuable, very necessary post for all those of us struggling to cope with unrewarded creative output!

https://philipparees.wordpress.com/

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Congress

Robin Wright acts in her own narrative gonzomentary,
and does it with the gravitas of a fallen angel.



The real meat of this narrative hangs on an old but incredibly fruitful frame: is an artist's work or their persona ultimately of value? The pop-cult of personality certainly points in the direction of the mask. She is offered the opportunity to sell the mask to Miramount studios, and go on her merry way. Live her life, but never act in anything ever again. They own the mask.

This film sets up an incredibly tight first act, and then veers in an entirely unexpected, psychedelic direction from there.

As at-times interesting and surreal as the rest of the movie is, it could've been done in a way that was more consistent with where the movie seemed to be going, although that course change isn't so joyfully pointless as Tarantino's Dusk Till Dawn. Vampires and crotch cannons don't suddenly appear in the middle of a crime drama. Rather, you're dropped into the middle of Waking Life, with a bit more Matrix revolutionary zeal and a bit less philosophical speculation.

Might consistency have bit deeper and bled a bit longer? Maybe. That depends on your tastes.

But whatever flavor suits you, this film hearkens to a time, now lost to the haze of distant memory, when movies sought to make us question our culture, and our place in it. (I think it might have been the late 90s.)

Pop-art often employs repetition of the mask or container. (Think Warhol.) The Congress, in its way, can be considered a part of this tradition. In a movie that seeks to analyze an industry that functions only by cannibalizing itself, and doing so often off the flesh of its talent, the only tools available are a pastiche of what has come before. This is a sense in which The Congress is deeply postmodern, in a more than passing sense.

Its inveigh against Hollywood uses self-referential bricolage as a device for their own deconstruction. Tropes from nearly every genre available to Hollywood are used toward that end. Pointillism, bricolage, etc. are only useful devices to the extent that they relate back to a single thread. In this case, that thread is not a single narrative, not plot or resolution, but the theme of alter-ego as product. The alter-ego as icon, as obsession, as the lure painted over the heavens when the Gods of old will no longer do.

How much can you drill down into a single theme, how many fourth walls can you break, before the sublime turns into the redundant?

That line is seriously tested through the final act, but not, I think, ultimately broken.

All It Takes Is The Right Story. Mythos Media

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Steiner's Philosophy and an Alternate View of Spiritual Context


https://www.flickr.com/photos/rvoegtli/9059548566
Goetheanum by rosmary
Rudolf Steiner is a largely forgotten thinker in virtually all circles of Western philosophy. Even many in esoteric circles who know the names Crowley or Blavatsky often fail to recognize his name. Despite this, Steiner’s influence is felt today in Waldorf schools, biodynamic farming, social finance, and prisoner outreach, and his school of anthroposophical thought is still debated and taught in Rosicrucian style organizations like the Anthroposophical Society in America. I was first introduced to Steiner through Gary Lachman’s excellent book, Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work, which detailed the life and work of Steiner in such a way as to be easily approachable. Lachman’s recommendations included Robert McDermott’s The Essential Steiner (later updated as The New Essential Steiner), and there were enough similarities between my own personal philosophy and Steiner’s, that it was an easy purchase to further devour this great thinker’s expansive writing.

Steiner had a great impact on me personally because of his views on geometry and other mathematics are pure, and his insistence that any spiritual belief or experience could be met with the same scrutiny with which the hard sciences were met—essentially, Steiner believed that scientific inquiry could penetrate the spiritual. Steiner’s refusal to tell his readers/listeners to take things on blind faith, and his insistence on additional inquiry, made him different amongst his esoteric peers—less a guru and more an advisor. On a philosophical level, he was well-verse with the great German philosophers, and even upon disagreeing with others, took it upon himself to diligently argue from another’s perspective in order to better understand their point of view. His writings in support of Nietzsche (for Nietzsche’s daughter) are case in point for this. Steiner wasn’t searching for followers. His goal was the pursuit of knowledge; something that can be appreciated, whether you agree with his more esoteric philosophy or think they are just outlandish.

Steiner understood the principles of evolution as they were during his time. The difference was that he applied evolutionary principles to the spiritual as well as the physical—even spiritual entities such angels. Everything evolved. Although scientists don't assume that evolution "ceases" they also don't seem to contemplate whether the consciousness of today is the same as the consciousness of older times, or at the very least, it isn't something that is highly contemplated when examining historical context. So, for example, when we examine the literature of ancient cultures, we take a lot of what those cultures say to mean literally how they said it, but their descriptions have been written within their own consciousness, and their consciousness could have been quite different back then.

Steiner talks about the positioning of the astral body (which also evolves) through the evolution of the human being to show how insight into the spiritual has changed, but he's quick to note that stories and statements made that seem far-fetched for our physical reality are likely to be glimpses of the spiritual world that those individuals could still see, and most importantly, interpret. Many today look upon ancient cultures and think that they believed what they did because they weren't "as smart as us," but we really don't know "what" they truly believed. Steiner also makes the comment that older cultures believed these spiritual things because they weren't that far removed from ancestors that could see directly into the spiritual, and some of their own people still could. He gives them the benefit of the doubt, whereas modern science and history assumes them often ignorant, misled, or not as culturally evolved.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Conspiracy Against The Human Race

The Conspiracy Against the Human RaceThe Conspiracy Against the Human Race by Thomas Ligotti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Years of meditating and reading books on philosophy, psychology, years of lucid dreams and night terrors, do not make a person unique. But it is singularly unique to find what feels like your own thoughts reflected back at you when you didn't pen them. As I read The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, I had a strange feeling, as if deja vu and vertigo had somehow been blended together. Had I read this before, if I hadn't written it?

Yet that disturbing familiarity regards an utterly useless process. Reading or writing about philosophy has long had a negative connotation in the United States, thanks to a long anti-intellectual culture in some corners. But here the useless, and indeed the negative, have an absolutely finality that have nothing to do with anti-intellectualism. This is ontological uselessness, the nightmare of being.

Ligotti's core thesis  the self as we know it is a contrivance of evolution, self consciousness an accident. To be deceived into thinking we are a self, that's the situation we find ourselves in, without hope of reprieve or reprisal. Of course, he isn't the first pessimist to set pen to paper, but he is the first to do so starkly, with such uncompromising clarity, without back pedaling or that ultimate cop out, the happy ending, “it was all a dream.”

There is a certain intentional irony here, as indeed our waking lives are a type of dream, and the self we grant some sense of ultimate reality is nothing other than a character in that dream. But to the extent anything is real, that dream character's suffering is legitimate.

Our choice as he sees it is simple — self deception, or insanity. He shows us the basis of horror, rooted not in the supernatural beyond, but much closer to home. It stares back at us in the mirror. The supernatural in a sense gives us a glimpse of our own uncanny ghoulishness, without requiring identification with the absolute truth of the matter. We can close the book, and shake off that chill, for after all, it was just a story.

But this is not merely a thought experiment. It isn't satirical hyperbole, like A Modest Proposal. There is no hope or happy ending to soften the blow. Because the game of life is all fixed anyway, it couldn't matter less if you deceive yourself and write this book off as pessimistic belly aching. Whatever it takes to get you through another day, and prop up the illusion that you are a self in the first place.

Although some may argue about what constitutes “serious philosophy”  as Ligotti himself says, he eschews the circuitous argumentation that generally grants a work that unapproachable aura of seriousness  I would argue that this book belongs within any introductory study of nihilism and even post-modernism. To do so I'd like to demonstrate what I mean. Those purely interested in The Conspiracy Against The Human Race may as well stop here, but I believe this claim demands a little context and backtracking. You'll forgive me if I need to broaden the scope to come back to task.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Limits of Physics

A very interesting article over on Aeon:
On the one hand, then, physics is taken to be a march toward an ultimate understanding of reality; on the other, it is seen as no different in status to the understandings handed down to us by myth, religion and, no less, literary studies. Because I spend my time about equally in the realms of the sciences and arts, I encounter a lot of this dualism. Depending on whom I am with, I find myself engaging in two entirely different kinds of conversation. Can we all be talking about the same subject?


All It Takes Is The Right Story. Mythos Media

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Google Just Announced The Launch of SnuggleNet

As luck would have it, Google had just launched SnuggleNet, billing it as “an iPhone you could snuggle.” And you were getting no kind of affection from virtual friendships. It seemed a worthwhile purchase.

SnuggleNet is a peripheral already connected to all the social networks you’ve been a part of since you were a child. "It knows what you need and when you need it," the advertisements said.

After a difficult day of work, it would wrap you in a warm embrace and say, “hey, you need to watch some Venture Brothers. And fuck that, you know, thing that piece of shit @heretic357 was saying about you on Twitter—”

You will quickly discover SnuggleNet is kind of a notorious shit mouth.

And then it would give you a back massage and have Jack and Daniels ready, and it might even have a few with you. Watching movies with SnuggleNet you may realize it has a vibrate function. It can project holograms anywhere in the room.

You could manifest a freak show like has never existed. Holograms projecting on robot bodies, their movement synchronous. Of course the videos on YouTube make it seem easier to configure than it is. There were some accidents. But eventual success!

You are balls deep in SnuggleNet. And you find yourself hoping that some inchoate part of its consciousness must be staring back.

You realize it might be creepy to be fucking an Amy Winehouse hologram. But SnuggleNet told you that you would be into that sort of thing. After a hasty orgasm, you expected it to return its original Status. SnuggleNet instead screams “get a shower this is going to be unearthly copious!” Amazingly verbose for such a tone of urgency, and it starts bucking around the room, spraying fluid. The rest of the night you could do nothing but wipe your memory so you wouldn’t go insane. Locked it up tight.

But sometimes when you’re handling motor oil, a shudder runs down your esophagus.

The way it ended fucked up your world.

You could never accept losing the face you once remembered to an acidic geyser, and your lawyer K was told there was a potential lawsuit to make against the manufactures. After the lawsuit, the Snuggle Bed got really awkward for months and then one day there was just a UPS slip.

Yet you hate SnuggleNet for reasons other than that. Because you were truly happy with SnuggleNet. In a way you had never before known happiness. After all, it knew what you wanted before you did. If it didn’t know, it had all Google products to help it solve your need. And now you can never go back to Google, their AI is in a Cloud so for all i know they will all share your shame.

No other manufacturers have released a product its equal.

Nothing will fill this void.

All It Takes Is The Right Story. Mythos Media

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Liminal Spaces pt 2: The Hidden Architecture

Part 1: Get Creative: The Liminal State

Most people understand writing as a function of the conscious mind. You have an intention, you sit down and express it best you can.

However, the actual writing process is far more convoluted than that, and there are many "off-label" uses for the lesser understood parts of consciousness, where writing is involved. Nowhere is this more true than with the long-form creative process, which is more like a marathon than a sprint, and more like a surrealist "drift" than even a marathon.

Indeed, many of these byways, alleys and side-paths lead us through a meandering labyrinth, and we may even care to engage the physical process of one foot before the other.
Ambiguity is the labyrinth’s central nature. It is always unstable, changing its personality and ours as we change perspective. ... Like a psychic nuclear reactor, the labyrinth generates creative emotional and psychic processes in whatever guise it appears. It is continually breeding new versions of itself that demand we revisit our categories and redefine what the symbol means to us in our time. ... the experience of the labyrinth is not only ancient, it is hardwired into the brain structure of the earliest humans, biologically indistinguishable from us, who first recognized its ineffable potency.
In pre-literate antiquity, the labyrinth design and its cousins, the spiral and the meander, were symbols that occurred worldwide in rock art and weaving patterns, on pottery, and was scrawled as ancient graffiti on a wall in Pompeii. From the Near East to New Grange in Ireland, and from the American Southwest to Siberia, the labyrinth pattern is one of the oldest symbols in the history of mankind and one of the most universal.
--Dancing at the Edge of Death, Jodi Lorimer.
Much that has been written about "drifting" might be equally applied to writing, and vice versa.
One of psychogeography's principle means was the dérive. Long a favorite practice of the dadaists, who organized a variety of expeditions, and the surrealists, for whom the geographical form of automatism was an instructive pleasure, the dérive, or drift, was defined by the situationists as the 'technique of locomotion without a goal', in which 'one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there'. The dérive acted as something of a model for the 'playful creation' of all human relationships.
Unlike surrealist automatism, the dérive was not a matter of surrendering to the dictates of an unconscious mind or irrational force. Indeed, the situationists' criticisms of surrealism concluded that 'the unconscious imagination is poor, that automatic writing is monotonous, that the whole genre of ostentatious surrealist "weirdness" has ceased to be very surprising'. Nor was everything subordinated to the sovereignty of choice: to dérive was to notice the way in which certain areas, streets, or buildings resonate with states of mind, inclinations, and desires, and to seek out reasons for movement other than those for which an environment was designed. It was very much a matter of using an environment for one's own ends, seeking not only the marvelous beloved by surrealism but bringing an inverted perspective to bear on the entirety of the spectacular world. 
--The Situationist International in a postmodern age by Sadie Plant
I've found this to be nowhere so true as in a city such as Boston, where the streets themselves seem to serve as a spatial metaphor for the creative process -- not a circle cut into 4 quadrants, as in the classical plan, but rather an organic structure built from original Indian walking paths, grown, cut-down, re-structured and -purposes over the years. Get lost in the city, letting your mind get lost as well, and you just might find the solution to that scene you've been struggling with for a week.

But maybe even this will not do. Some problems will not dissolve by way of drifting, and the only means I've found left at that point is to fall asleep.

I've often joked that the best parts of my novels are written when I'm asleep. Like many jokes, this isn't entirely untrue. How often do you suddenly happen upon inspiration, or unexpected connections, as you drift off? If you manage to wake yourself, you might scribble notes that can later take a form, or merely serve to perplex you. "The slashes on her hands, the angel's trumpets, a flower," the note reads. What did you mean by that? The transcription process is not the writing process.

As I've shared in many interviews about my novels, this isn't as absurd or uncommon as you may think. However, the common wisdom that inspiration has been born from dreams is, if my experience is any indicator, a misunderstanding. It is not the dream state that is so fertile, as the threshold of sleep, those liminal lands that offer up many connections and solutions, if we can only drag their glamour from those depths and connect them with more substantial matter.

Of course, not all such fragments are captured. And fewer still take to the soil they're given.

There is probably a hidden architecture behind most texts, of what never made it to the page. Like an actor holding a prop none of us can see on screen, I'd like to believe these "hidden architectures" still inform the corpus.

I have developed a number of fairly simple practices to help capture more of this gossamer stuff, and I'll share what I can with you, though as is often said, "your mileage may vary."

...To Be Continued...


All It Takes Is The Right Story. Mythos Media

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

First Tales From When I Had A Face Contributor Announced


The first contributor I'm going to announce here is P. Emerson Williams. He'll be doing storyboards and pencils for all the comic sections in the 4 issues of Tales From When I Had A Face: The Summer Tree, The Fall Tree, The Winter Tree, and The Spring Tree. I've worked with him on a number of projects in the past, and am very happy to have him help me navigate the immense scale of this project.

---

P. Emerson Williams is an artist and illustrator whose work takes shape in physical and digital media, and covers wide modes of expression. His passion is for embodying the mythic in visual media and melding visual art with narrative form.

He illustrated Bedlam Stories - The Battle for Oz and Wonderland Begins, a novel set in the universe of Bedlam Stories, a twisted world of horror created by cult film director Pearry Teo (The Gene Generation, Necromentia, Witchville). among a number of projects coming up for P. Emerson Williams in 2015 is Adagio Fine, the first in the Star Crossed Chronicles, a series of heavily illustrated novels penned by occult author Nathan Neuharth.

As a core member of UK theatrical company FoolishPeople, P. Emerson Williams took on many roles in London productions of The Basement - Ward 12 - in partnership with Secret Cinema, The Providence Experiments - co-produced with Mythos Media, A Red Threatening Sky, The Abattoir Pages - presented with Guerrilla Zoo, Cirxus and Terra:Extremitas, performed at Amsterdam's NDSM-werf. These roles includes creating a score for choreographer lohan Stjernholm as part of the production A Red Threatening Sky and a solo musical performance at the famed Horse Hospital in London, creation of soundscapes and scores for every production on which he worked, as well as set and graphic design and on top of all this, Williams was in the cast as both voice actor and live actor.

Williams straddles the worlds of industrial music and black metal, electronic dance to dark Americana to pure goth with Veil of Thorns as well as adding elements of his sonic alchemy as a spice to projects with Sleep Chamber, Manes and more extensively as half of the creative core of kkoagulaa with cern.th.skei from Manes. Recent collaborations include playing cello on UK black metal band Ethernal's upcoming third album, subverting the nature of guitar playing with industrial noise merchants Dead Skull and a collaboration with avant garde trumpet player Mark Cunningham.

He is the host of the Necrofuturist Transmission on Nottingham's Nightbreed Radio, was the editor and producer for Music Tuesdays on Alterati.com, and art director for Weaponized , the publishing imprint of FoolishPeople. Articles and reviews by P. Emerson Williams can be read online at Terrorizer.com, Modern Mythology, Disinfo.com and Intravenous Magazine. His visual art can be seen on book covers and interiors for Original Falcon, Weaponized, and Westgate Press, the pages of magazines including Culture Asylum, Isten 'zine, Ghastly, and Esoterra , album and CD covers for Rat King, Primordial, Katatonia, Ethernal, Ptahil, Lethe, Misanthropy Records, SLEEP CHAMBER, Veil of Thorns, Choronzon and kkoagulaa. In 2013, P. Emerson Williams was on guitar and vocals on tour with the legendary Jarboe that took them through the US, Western and Eastern Europe and concluded in Moscow.

[All It Takes Is The Right Story... Mythos Media]

Friday, February 06, 2015

Hexadic Dreams Me

Six Organs of Admittance is a succulent, sweet piece of fruit hanging ripe and ready on the grand old tree of American music. A welcome gift, like a persimmon's sugar sparkling delight in late summer, Ben Chasny has guided me on long road weary highway journeys up and down the eastern edge of this rot worn country - his angelic hymnal of guitar ambiance and his Sybillian, lullaby voice giving me space to feel safe as my shoes collect a thin layer of purified piss in the temple space of truck stop bathrooms and my stomach gets a ragged layer of sacred scar tissue from sipping slow drags on the hot acid nectar of rest station automatic coffee.

Hexadic, the latest offering under the guise of Six Organs, gives us all a new language for dreaming. God smiles and devils dance to suck on the thirsty throb that underlies these vicious guitar musings. These trustworthy truthes have been assigned by an unseen hand of The Process  - I would advise you to whisper then a blessing, if you understand that hidden gift guiding the album's composition. This selection of songs is a visceral act of divination, created using a self-developed system inspired by Cornelius Agrippa, Raymon Llully, and whatever quiet spirit of genius stirs in St. Chasny's magnificent mind.

"The System builds all of the tonal fields, chord changes, scales, and lyrics on Hexadic, creating the framework of the songs that the musicians engage with. Yet the System is open; within the framework, Chasny's own personal aesthetics - such as the production mode of loud guitars, the order of songs, the editing of length, were all conscious decisions made to communicate the pieces. The exact same combinatorial patterns used on this record would generate infinite results, depending on the choices of the individual. Ben's years of study have produced an operational agent that has not only built all the songs on Hexadic but is also a system anyone can use to restructure their ways of habit."


A French review of the album says that the listening experience accords with "stabbing the listener tirelessly for 9 tracks and 38 minutes that seem to be 666." This is Dario Argento pushing his production aides aside with a sensuous smile, slipping on the black glove and stabbing with the most delicate and meaningful thrusts imaginable. When Hexadic, unflinching, slaughters you screaming in the gaudy red and blue light of true musical mastery, you know you were slaughtered with love.

As Ben says:

"This release is the result of years of working on a new way to compose music. We’ve been using the word “system,” but it would probably be more accurate to describe it as an “open system.” It is very malleable. The particular songs on this record were bent toward the idea of rock music. I composed 30 pieces using this system. Of those 30 songs, I chose 9 that could best be worked into a rock format for Hexadic. I wanted to make a rock record. So there you have it."

Bow your heads children, we are moving into holy space - emptiness and light dancing with unrestrained delicacy and wanton sensitivity. Lay down and let these sounds wash you clean again, if you feel a darkness, it is within you already and if you feel a freedom, sing it out to those who can bear to hear it.

God save such a lovely one as this - thank you Ben - thank you.

To order this gift - go to Drag City by Clicking Here.

To read some thoughts on the composition from Ben - Click Here.

Or, just lean back and enjoy a selection from the album...

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

On Fantasy: How Zizek Reads Lacan

The difference Between Lacan and ‘naive realism’ is that for Lacan, the only point at which we approach this hard kernel of the Real is indeed the dream. When we awaken into reality after a dream, we usually say to ourselves ‘it was just a dream’, thereby blinding ourselves to the fact that in our everyday, wakening reality we are nothing but a consciousness of this dream. It was only in the dream that we approached the fantasy-framework which determines our activity, our mode of acting in reality itself.

This is incredibly relevant to the points made previously in our first Critique of Jung.

[Take a Trip with us... Mythos Media.]

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