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.]

Sunday, January 25, 2015

On Listening to the Call: From “A Shadow in Yucatan” to “Involution: An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God”

Brian George

“I used to envy the father of our race, dwelling as he did in contact with the new-made fields and plants of Eden; but I do so no more, because I have discovered that I also live in creation’s dawn.”—John Muir
__

Philippa Rees has recently published a new edition of her book A Shadow in Yucatan. Many reviewers have already taken note of the near-hallucinatory verbal richness of this free verse novella, whose style contains echoes of such writers as Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hart Crane, Sylvia Plath, and Dylan Thomas, while, at the same time, remaining very vividly the author’s own. “The monocle of light, now focused, flames her hair,/ it lifts, it falls, it curves, it conceals…/ Her open nectar-mouth, now shaded, breathes.” Among her other activities, Philippa is a cellist, and this play of echoes within echoes is what you will often find in a piece of classical music, so that, in listening to Tchaikovsky’s Third Symphony, for example, you can hear Haydn—the disjunctive trickster!—on one side and Stravinsky on the other, in what you had first assumed to be a kind of new and improved Mendelssohn. Yucatan could productively be read, several times over, with only such formal concerns in mind. I am coming somewhat belatedly to the book, however, after wrestling with Philippa’s magisterial opus Involution: An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God, and so I am going to approach it from a different angle. I hope to show how the challenges faced by Stephanie, the protagonist of A Shadow in Yucatan, recapitulate, on an intimate scale, the more supernatural ones faced by Philippa on a beach on the southernmost tip of Florida; at the same time, they prefigure Philippa’s decades-long struggle to give form to her vision. In one moment, prompted by an accident, the whole of a person’s life can change. If a question is posed, does this mean that one has to answer?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pale Emperor In The Mirror



First, a confession. I feel uncomfortable reviewing Marilyn Manson's "The Pale Emperor." I mean, I'm thirty six, for christ's sake. Haven't we outgrown the shock rocker of the 90s, and the androgynous king of self indulgence that followed in the 00s, finally bottoming out in almost overnight, Robert Smithesque debauch that spurned on memes like:

Well. Haven't we all outgrown it? I think that's precisely the point. You get the sense throughout this album of a kind of dawning, bleary eyed sobriety. The album gets more raw as it goes. Seven days? Imagine waking up from a twenty year long binge. And your alter ego once took control of the airwaves, it took over your personal life, and only when that was smoking wreckage did you manage to take a look backward and see the alter ego staring back at you. And on the other hand is the ever immanent grave. Not the Halloween dress-up grave, but the one your friends bodies are starting to OD their way into.
"My dagger and swagger are useless in the face of the mirror when the mirror is made of my face."
I'm not saying that is Brian Warner's day to day life. I couldn't know, because I never met the guy. I'm reading into the narrative I've been given. That's also kind of the point. The "person" I have known over the years was the persona, "Marilyn Manson," not him. The schtick even got tired of itself. So boring, so predictable. The only option left was to try to come clean.
"Don't know if I cannot open up I been opened too much Double-crossed and glossed over in my pathos"
And that dawning self awareness is the conflict that seems to lurk beneath Pale Emperor, giving both the album's "sound", as well as the persona it presents, a serious identity complex. If you think I'm reading a bit too much into what is, even at its better moments, "still a Manson album for chrissakes," graveyard cliche and all... Well, maybe. But it isn't entirely baseless. The dichotomy has between Mr. Bates and Marilyn Manson have created some downright confusing and bizarre articles, such as the following from the New York Times, where he talks a bit about the difference between them,
"They began meeting in Mr. Bates’s home studio, even during daylight hours — a new experience for Marilyn Manson. “Because around 3 a.m. is when my brain starts going really” crazy, he said, using filthier language, “I used to think that that was the time that was best to record at. But I realized that I don’t have that anymore, if I get it out of me early. Daytime is more effective for me to function as a — ah, I wouldn’t say as a normal human being. I would just say as a more effective villain; a more effective, destroying, chaos element in the world. I think that’s what I’m here for.” Left untethered, Marilyn Manson will go on like this, proclaiming himself chaos incarnate and T.M.I.-ing his way through his life story. (“I tangent a lot,” he said, understating broadly.) “He circles the drain of an idea for quite a while,” Mr. Bates said. “But if you have the patience, you’ll see that he is making a point, that he is pretty funny and pretty smart at the same time. Sometimes he doesn’t make a point, but I found him to be interesting.” He also made it clear that there would be no wasting of studio time. “He realized that him walking in the room and being Marilyn Manson didn’t matter to me,” said Mr. Bates, a married father of two daughters, whose email auto-signature is “kindest regards.” For Marilyn Manson, the collaboration felt less like work than a conversation, he said. “I’ve never really had that sort of musical brotherhood in the same way,” he said. Mr. Bates also provided lyrical direction. “I said, ‘I’m not going to do this with you if it’s an angry manifesto,’ ” he recalled. “ ‘The only thing you have left is to inspire people with your words.’ ”" New York Times.
That's what middle age is these days, isn't it? The raging monster of your youth has hit a wall, but you're not quite ready to hang up the gloves yet, either. Maybe that's why I felt this album was worth reviewing, and the ironic way Manson has, at least for the passing moment, managed to make himself relevant again.

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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Party At The World's End 2nd Edition

 "She went down beyond the mountains and disappeared between the crease of sky and land, like a great eyelid folding shut. No one knows what happened out in the Black Hills, but I imagine she lies buried in a rusty coffin under the stars. She had Marilyn's enchanting haze, Hendrix's cool, Morrison's smoldering insanity, but the grave was still surely bare. Not that it mattered. Her face was burned into all our minds, forever young, the mantra of every generation's counter-culture. And on nights when the desert crickets sing her tune, they say one day she will rise again. On that day, there is no telling the kind of vengeance she'll demand of us. Fair is fair.
They say, when she fell from Heaven she wore a crown of jagged stars that slit the skies throat. They say she loved them all, in the secret corners of their shallow sleep. Strangers, at the last. They say a lot of things. They’re all lies. Everything is already written."

Party At The World's End2nd Edition is Available NOW. 

(Print only, $11. eBook available but is 1st edition until next week.)




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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mythopoeia of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

Guardian article by Damien Walter lays out something I've long found both fascinating and troubling about Tolkien's mythology:
It’s a double-edged magical sword, being a fan of JRR Tolkien. On one hand we’ve had the joy of watching Lord of the Rings go from cult success to, arguably, the most successful and influential story of the last century. And we get to laugh in the face of critics who claimed LotR would never amount to anything, while watching a sumptuous (if absurdly long) adaption of The Hobbit.
On the other hand, you also have to consider the serious criticisms made of Tolkien’s writing, such as Michael Moorcock’s in his 1978 essay, Epic Pooh. As a storyteller Tolkien is on a par with Homer or the anonymous bard behind Beowulf, the epic poets who so influenced his work. But as works of modern mythology, the art Tolkien called “mythopoeia”, both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are open to serious criticism.
As well as giving some sense of what we've long been laying bare here on this site:
To understand why takes a little consideration of what we really mean by the word “myth”. The world can be a bafflingly complex place. Why is the sky blue? What’s this rocky stuff I’m standing on? Who are all these hairless chimps I’m surrounded by? The only way we don’t just keep babbling endless questions like hyperactive six-year-olds is by reducing the infinite complexities of existence to something more simple. To a story. Stories that we call myths.
Science gives us far more accurate answers to our questions than ever before. But we’re still dependent on myths to actually comprehend the science. The multi-dimensional expansion of energy, space and time we call the Big Bang wasn’t literally a bang any more than God saying “Let there be light” was literally how the universe was created. They’re both mythic ideas that point at an actual truth our mammalian minds aren’t equipped to grasp.
As well put as this article is in some senses, there are a number of issues that need to be pointed out.

First, the idea that the political views of an author are necessarily reflected in a work, and if they are, they we must agree with them to appreciate the work, is clearly flawed.

This article seems to take the stance that the ideology put forth by a work of art must be the authors, or furthermore if it is, that the audience must agree with it – that you are somehow supporting the underlying ideology merely by reading it. Aren't we better off when exposed to ideologies that are not necessarily our own? Isn't this the troubling danger presented by our online "bubbles" feeding us only the content that support our existing ideology?

This is dangerous territory, if we take it a step further from ideology to act. Is the identity of an artist so wrapped up in the art itself that merely watching it conveys some acceptance of their acts unrelated to the piece?

Second, Walter's analysis of Tolkien's politics is also somewhat questionable. Even if we're to label him "conservative," conservatism of his time is different than it is today. Take an example in his own words,
My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) – or to 'unconstitutional' Monarchy. ... Anyway the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity. And at least it is done only to a small group of men who know who their master is. The mediævals were only too right in taking nolo efiscopari as the best reason a man could give to others for making him a bishop. Give me a king whose chief interest in life is stamps, railways, or race-horses; and who has the power to sack his Vizier (or whatever you care to call him) if he does not like the cut of his trousers. And so on down the line. But, of course, the fatal weakness of all that – after all only the fatal weakness of all good natural things in a bad corrupt unnatural world – is that it works and has worked only when all the world is messing along in the same good old inefficient human way. The quarrelsome, conceited Greeks managed to pull it off against Xerxes; but the abominable chemists and engineers have put such a power into Xerxes' hands, and all ant-communities, that decent folk don't seem to have a chance. We are all trying to do the Alexander-touch – and, as history teaches, that orientalized Alexander and all his generals. The poor boob fancied (or liked people to fancy) he was the son of Dionysus, and died of drink. The Greece that was worth saving from Persia perished anyway; and became a kind of Vichy-Hellas, or Fighting-Hellas (which did not fight), talking about Hellenic honour and culture and thriving on the sale of the early equivalent of dirty postcards. But the special horror of the present world is that the whole damned thing is in one bag. There is nowhere to fly to. Even the unlucky little Samoyedes, I suspect, have tinned food and the village loudspeaker telling Stalin's bed-time stories about Democracy and the wicked Fascists who eat babies and steal sledge-dogs. There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power-stations; I hope that, encouraged now as 'patriotism', may remain a habit! But it won't do any good, if it is not universal.
Hardly liberal, but also not something that would fly on Fox News.

Finally, the supposed xenophobia exhibited in his work often turns this idea on its head, where throughout suspicion and racism is met with despair, and the collective efforts of different people are rewarded. This collective effort is made toward some concept of universal good, and in that we might see a version of conservatism, that old myth of good versus evil, which stands in opposition to the decentered liberalism which I myself generally believe – of no universals, no centers, no absolutes. All the same, such liberal pluralism generally asks we open our minds to ideas of difference.

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gravity of the Past

These are all thoughts and reflections on some related ideas as I continue to work on the next Fallen Cycle book, Tales From When I Had A Face:
"It seems strange, but I think so. We experience time; it is merely space being made for a story, like an indentation in our being. But maybe the problem is finding /that/ story. Colliding with that right one at the right time. You have to know the past to know the present. When our lives overlap, it is not an unbroken line but instead overlapping ripples. In a sense, everything happens at once. In another, there is nothing that happened, except the remaining story, peeking out like fossils after a rockslide.
They say Gran Nadja fell hands over feet in the forest, and they burned in that starving ice, burned like fire. Running for a clearing, a desolate field with a lone tree at its center. She looks to the sky and sees her granddaughter, her granddaughter who will carry the fire of her light, but in her, that Nadja, the fire will one day burn all the brighter. That thought keeps her going, it warms her, saves her from frostbite, and it is not wishful thinking it is What Is To Be. She cannot die, just as those who have no Life Bearer are cursed to die and see that fire extinguished. She cannot die. She must push on. Because after all, doesn’t she have a granddaughter named after her, and isn’t she to be her Voice to the new world? It is, so it must be. The pain of broken ribs, and worse, suddenly didn’t seem so bad. She would have her revenge, a razor edge, not honed but cracked from a blunt whole in one single stroke, like obsidian: me. 
The void was given a shape.
It was given her name.
But it did not yet know itself. 
You need only the will to peer between the cracks in your fingers as you drift toward the blinding light at the end of that corridor, your heart shuddering offbeat triplets in its broken cage to find the real secret that this invisible Snipe has for you, wedged between the bloody thicket of every noun, character, tone shift. The only secret. Regurgitated, mouth to mouth—you do know that mythos means “by mouth,” yes? Stories only matter because we are made of them. They have to out. And with every word, breath, image, we are not conveying a fiction, but passing on something more vital."
--

What is the point in trying to reclaim a lost past? If we look back we’d end up like Lot’s wife. But sometimes you reach such an impasse that the only way forward is to go back. It’s one of the peculiarities of some people that for them everything is backwards. For those wired in reverse, we already know how the story will end — and who doesn’t? death, despair, loss — but we want to work backwards toward a halcyon beginning, a Garden of Eden bordello. But the road to the past is asymptotic, so not even Atlas can bear the burden of truly fresh starts. Every day the past takes a little more of you, like a homunculus perched atop your diaphragm, gloating with a broken smile. The ugly little dwarf. He’s breaking you down. Filling your head with daydreams of a backwards Eden that gradually makes the approaching death seem pleasant. There isn’t any other way out of this thing. Beginnings are forever out of reach.

--

I don't think you really choose what gravity a past or event has on you. Just because you've stopped thinking about it doesn't mean it's not there, determining everything that will be.

Beginnings and ends to life (birth and death, specifically) don't exist as they are. They exert an invisible effect from some hidden vantage point that can never be directly encountered. Gravity is the most apt metaphor I can find.

I've yet to find any kind of freedom from the past -- whether moving across the map or burning everything and 'starting over', sure I've done that plenty, more than most (not by choice), but again none of that is a beginning. It's all a part of the middle of life. We really know nothing of fresh starts because we're always already ourselves.

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Check out the first at Party At The World's End.


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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Confident Idiots

From PSMag
"To know how skilled or unskilled you are at using the rules of grammar, for instance, you must have a good working knowledge of those rules, an impossibility among the incompetent. Poor performers—and we are all poor performers at some things—fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack.
...
An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge. This clutter is an unfortunate by-product of one of our greatest strengths as a species. We are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers. Often, our theories are good enough to get us through the day, or at least to an age when we can procreate. But our genius for creative storytelling, combined with our inability to detect our own ignorance, can sometimes lead to situations that are embarrassing, unfortunate, or downright dangerous—especially in a technologically advanced, complex democratic society that occasionally invests mistaken popular beliefs with immense destructive power (See: crisis, financial; war, Iraq). As the humorist Josh Billings once put it, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Ironically, one thing many people “know” about this quote is that it was first uttered by Mark Twain or Will Rogers—which just ain’t so.)

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In The Embrace Of The Ledger: Art On The Blockchain


We've been hearing that the future of music is streaming. This may be so, it certainly looks that way. A future in which music is streamed and not owned looks to be here, but its current mode of delivery through central services that operate with heavy costs, from licensing to data storage to bandwidth is an animal that feeds off venture capital and music creators with a voracious appetite and has yet to prove profitable. Anyone who doesn't limit their listening habits to the Disney assembly line of future nervous breakdowns has been witness to much hand-wringing, rending of teeth and gnashing of garments or sommat over the economics of culture creation dissipating like a fog in the mid-day sun.

Observing the tense negotiations between indie labels and aggregators with Youtube, Pandora and Spotify many issues were brought up like a bad breakfast and chewed like a bitter, ever-repeating cud that couldn't be spat out. Politicians were lobbied, Youtube has yet to unveil their music subscription service and labels joined the streaming bandwagon, withdrew their releases from streaming and few of us would be surprised to see our finest artists show up as our roofer's apprentice or begging change downtown.

In the current mode of business there is no way artists could ever get a fair share of revenues created through music unless they have a proportionate ownership in all the companies involved. I had thoughts that perhaps what little cash we artists bring in should go directly into stock in Apple and Amazon, or establishing funds that invest in not-yet-public streaming startups to get a cut of the middle man's always disproportionate share of the still enormous amount of capital flow generated by music. Maybe one thing that prevents this is what music careers and startup tech companies have in common: the high early mortality rate of music careers and tech startups. You're taking the small gains from one high-risk endeavor and placing a bet on an uncertain proposition in another. But from the point of view of the middle men, maybe giving artists an equity stake would be a better position to negotiate lower rates. This would be a reversal of capitalist practice, though, for the hands that got dirty making the widgets have always gotten the smallest share of the value generated. And one may ask if what could happen to a successful cabal of small to mid-sized labels with ownership in delivery infrastructure be but another hegemonic gatekeeper.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

A Group of One's Own: Full Circle

Much of this comes from rough drafts that inspired a piece in The Immanence of Myth. This is an important post re: the intent and future of this site so please read on...

Art is a medium of personal and cultural revolution. 


How do myths of progress and individuality effect our perspective of art and creativity? Though we regarded it from a macro- level in PrettySuicide Machine, I would like to turn our attention back to the micro- level: specifically the myths that we have of artistic progress, which we can then fold back into some of the larger issues of progress within Western, which is to say, industrialized and capitalist, culture. It is impossible that the myths that structure the place of art within the world should not similarly structure our views of value and commodity, or perhaps it could be flipped around and remain the same.
    Let's consider: it is a common conception that breakthroughs in science, philosophy and the arts have all come about through critical analysis of an established corpus of previous works, and that the process is a gradual one. This is a myth cemented in the natural methodology of teaching art history, or history in general: we assume a gradual progress from one point to the next through time, carrying up to the present day. Perhaps the rate of progress accelerates or slows down, whether through the convergence or divergence of trade routes, the friction and choke points of information of culture in the formation of cities, or the growth of an arts culture in a certain location, (not unlike a bacterial culture) and so on. But we imagine that we can safely assume that this Hegelian myth of gradual synthesis is a sound one. “In all ways we have Progressed, and this progression is towards some end,” so says the teleological myth. Let's proceed with it, but also consider the possibility that, like all myths, it is also misleading.
    It also follows that wherever we have a prevailing myth of “the artist,” rather than a tradition of artisans and skilled tradesman that attempt to do nothing beyond furthering and perfecting traditional methods, the real breakthroughs occur in the hands of rare individuals who change the playing field in varying degrees. Through figures such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, or Ornette Coleman, blues and jazz were transformed into bebop and free jazz. They all had varying experience in the traditions that came before, but all of their contributions are measured in the uniqueness of their own voice, and how the addition of that voice forever changed the tune afterward. An artist is often somewhere between a medium and a curator, picking which elements in the screaming cacophony around us to focus on, to enlarge or elaborate upon, or to rail against. What was Hunter Thompson's mode? What's yours? The emphasis on the role of artist in this process, which really involves everyone engaged within a particular social domain, is clearly something valued in Western culture, even if it is also feared by the conservative elements of that culture. (If a conservative perspective is one that seeks to be backwards facing, emphasizing and idealizing the importance of tradition rather than revolution.)
    We simply don't find the same emphasis on an artist as a unique individual, at least as the rule, in traditional tribal cultures of South America, or in many Asian cultures before Western values began to take hold. (Through it does crop up in various forms of guru worship, which is probably a variation on a similar theme.)

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