Saturday, July 26, 2014

Myth Is A Mirror

This is a selection from The Immanence of Myth. It is available in full through Weaponized Press. 

“In early times, the legend goes, the world of mirrors and the world of humans were not separated as they would be later on. In those days specular beings and human beings were quite different from each other in color and form, though they mingled and lived in harmony.
In that time it was also possible to come and go through mirrors.
However, one night the mirror people invaded the earth without warning and chaos ensued. Indeed, human beings quickly realized that the mirror people were chaos. The power of the invaders was great, and it was only through the magic arts of the Yellow Emperor that they were defeated and driven back to their mirrors. To keep them there the emperor cast a spell that compelled the chaotic beings mechanically to repeat the actions and appearances of men. The emperor's spell was strong but it would not be eternal, the legend says. The story predicts that one day the spell will weaken and the turbulent shapes in our mirrors will begin to stir. At first the difference between the mirror shapes and our familiar shapes will be unnoticeable. But little by little gestures will separate, colors and forms will transmogrify, and suddenly the long-imprisoned world of chaos will come boiling out into our own. Perhaps it is already here.” John Briggs & F. David Peat 

 
    Myths are “mirrors of the soul,” which can only reveal to us what we already have in ourselves: so what is a message of love and compassion to one can be a distorting call to hatred and bigotry for another. Meaning exists in the surface interaction with the mythic object, rather than in the myth itself; it is not, as we have said, intrinsic to the myth-object.
    We discover ourselves in these stories, and they are given life through us. We might also say “Myths exist at the cross-roads,” and we find ourselves there, as well. The cross-roads become a potent mythic image: that point where the worlds meet, converge or diverge. We find a similar overlapping of worlds in the symbolism of fog, in the abyssal ocean, and, quite obviously, in the mirror. The mirror is the crossroads, a juncture between two worlds. How do we cross over to the other side?
    Mirrors are curious things. Many animals don't recognize themselves when they see their reflection. A cat may cringe, howl, or seem unaware that the image exists at all. Rather than demonstrating the insufficiency of cat-consciousness, (in not recognizing their self in the image of themselves as an other), it simply demonstrates a little of how they perceive the world – they may, and likely do, perceive it in many ways more clearly than we do. But they do not appear to perceive themselves in it, at least not in the sense that we do.
    When we say we are “self conscious,” this has a dual meaning: we are aware of ourselves within the world, and thereby, as in the myth of the Garden of Eden, we might feel shame, and guilt. We stand outside ourselves, and thus, outside the garden. In an existential sense it is hard to say if we've actually made out in the deal; we gained language and other forms of representation as some sort of consolation prize in exchange for the immediacy of just being. Being in one dimension is exchanged for the possibility of awareness, divided in two.
    When we see ourselves, we see our “selves” in this image of an other. What does self-reflection mean? It implies an exile from one's self. To see a thing clearly we have to stand beside it, outside of it. I see a glass in front of me; I'm one with it in my senses, but I know it through its negation in relation to “myself.” It is not me. If I swallow saliva in my mouth, this is considered normal. If I spat in that glass and then swallowed it a moment later, I might feel revulsion. This is the borderline. After leaving me, bringing it back into myself makes me nauseous. My boundaries were transgressed. The saliva became other. The psychologist R.D. Lang uses this as an example of an element of schizophrenic perception. These barriers are more permeable and confused for them. An author may say “I'm too close to this book to see it clearly, now,” and it is often observed that in some ways, those who know us best know us the least.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Myth of Estrangement

From the Immanence of Myth, available now through Weaponized Press.

“The apocalypse is finished, today it is the precession of the neutral, of forms of the neutral and of indifference…all that remains, is the fascination for desertlike and indifferent forms, for the very operation of the system that annihilates us. Now, fascination (in contrast to seduction, which was attached to appearances, and to dialectical reason, which was attached to meaning) is a nihilistic passion par excellence, it is the passion proper to the mode of disappearance. We are fascinated by all forms of disappearance, of our disappearance. Melancholic and fascinated, such is our general situation in an era of involuntary transparency.” Jean Baudrillard

    Let's explore a new angle of the mirror-myth we looked at earlier in this book. We stand “outside the Garden,” as we said, estranged from ourselves. What does this estrangement mean? Where does it originate? What mythic repercussions does it have?
    Amongst the multiplicity of myths that have played themselves out through the history of the so-called Western world, there is a single idea that seems a prerequisite for all of them. The ideological history we discussed in Pretty Suicide Machine is the legacy of this simple valuation: the priests, scientists, and even artists painted the natural order as something which must be overcome, restructured, and dominated for personal, economic, or even spiritual progress to take place. This prefiguring idea amounts to an underlying assumption that structures the world that we know today. It is not an assumption that lies under all cultural heritages: most Native Americans, for instance, had no such concept in their mythic DNA. However, it would appear that cultures that do not maintain the necessity of mastery, control, and possession quickly become the possession of cultures that do, or they are simply driven into obscurity or even oblivion.1
    This is one of the premises explored at length by Horkheimer and Adorno in Dialectic of Enlightenment, “In thought, human beings distance themselves from nature in order to arrange it in such a way that it can be mastered.” Though this thesis is arrived at in part through only considering the negative function of myth, their point is valid nevertheless. Mastery of nature is far from the only valuation that shapes our heritage, but it is a ubiquitous one. The myth of ownership, the myths of social hierarchies, the myth of capital, individuality, freedom, and so on are all the true backbone of our culture, for better and worse, and all of them are informed by this valuation.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book 1 of the Fallen Cycle: Party At The World's End

"We are on the side of man, of life and of the individual. Therefore we are against religion, morality and government. Therefore our name is Lucifer. We are on the side of freedom, of love, of joy and laughter and divine drunkenness. Therefore our name is Babalon. Sometimes we move openly, sometimes in silence and in secret. Night and day are one to us, calm and storm, seasons and the cycles of man, all these things are one, for we are at the roots. Supplicant we stand before the Powers of Life and Death, and are heard of these powers and avail. Our way is the secret way, the unknown direction. Ours is the way of the serpent in the underbrush, our knowledge is in the eyes of goats and of women." -Jack Parsons
Ten years in the making, "Party At The World's End," is a counter-cultural urban fantasy is coming in September from Disinfo alum James Curcio. A few goodies are being offered in the meantime:
 eBook pre-orders are just $4 until the release date. (Post-release price will be $5.)

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Columbus-ing Around: Columbus, The Borg, and the Great White Devil

History is portrayed as a science. And yet popular history remains as much subject to emotion as reason. History may be consciously rewritten; much more often, it simply evolves. ... The present is a consequence of the past. But the past is an invention of the present. (Empires Apart.) 
In the process of doing research for the next Fallen Cycle book, I've been taking in quite a lot of history-related books. This has gotten me thinking more lately about race and culture, as all identity and meaning is ultimately historic. (See also: Beyond Narrative: Systems Theory and the Unveiling of History)

One thing keeps sticking out to me, and that is the image that forms of what “whiteness” is. We speak so frequently about the problems and experiences of whites and not-whites, and yet it is arguable if those categories are meaningful beyond the sense that we insist on continuing to use them. I'd like to look at the mirage of whiteness, and the very real history that produced that myth. 

Like all Modern Mythology articles, hopefully it'll at least get you thinking about these things in some new ways, all with the point of better understanding the myths (collective narratives) we use to understand ourselves. As always, nothing here is meant to be final or definitive. Productive comments are welcome in the comments section.

Let's begin with a curious manifesto from “Race Traitor,”

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Beyond Narrative: Systems Theory and the Unveiling of History


Eduardo Mata Icaza
It’s going to take a while to properly navigate this, far beyond what can be covered in a single post, but the contours of a train of thought has been surfacing lately—it’s the kind of thought that can very easily lead to a book or PhD thesis, if you’re not careful.

It begins something like this… With systems theory

My interest in systems theory began with De Landa’s 1000 Years of Nonlinear History, as this turned much of my thinking on pretty much everything on its head,
One of the ideas that I attack in my book is precisely the primacy of “interpretations” and of “conceptual frameworks.” Sure, ideas and beliefs are important, and do play a role in history, but academics of different brands have reduced all material and energetic processes, and all human practices that are not linguistic or interpretative (think of manual skills, of “know-how”) to a “framework.” The twentieth century has been obsessed with positioning everything. Every culture, given that it has its own framework of beliefs, has become its own “world” and relativism (both moral and epistemological) now prevails. But once you break away from this outmoded view, once you accept all the nonlinguistic practices that really make up society (not to mention the nonhuman elements that also shape it, such as viruses, bacteria, weeds, or nonorganic energy and material flows like wind and ocean currents) then language itself becomes just another material that flows through a much expanded picture. Language, in my view, is best thought of as a catalyst, a trigger for energetic processes (think of the words “begin the battle” triggering an enormous and destructive process). (Interview with De Landa.)
…and at the same time pointed a way toward a workable avenue of dealing with a serious problem, what I’ve long seen as a gaping hole in how most of us think and speak—we talk of what “Americans” or “the French” or “Women” or “Palestinians” or “gay men” or “Russians” think, so on and so forth, we speak of these things as a given, or at best we flail at a recognition of the generalization we’re performing as being based on meta-narrative or ideology. In other words, our basis for such statements, if there is one at all, is merely stories about stories. Or perhaps stories about ideologies. And we speak of these ideologies (Marxists, Christians, Islamic, Feminist, etc) as if they presented a material force, as if they themselves are fixed and certain, as if they are within themselves causes within the world, sometimes we even speak of them as if they had agency themselves, or as if we are actually saying anything at all, beyond fabricating a myth from whole cloth. And to a great extent we are, but what is the sense in which ideologies do present a material force? How is it that wholes and large scale groups function, in chaos certainly, but how at all?

Only by looking toward emergent, non-linear, or open systems can we even hope to find a way. Post-modernism has burrowed deeply into the role narrative plays, and it tries to get beyond the limitation of single perspectives through multiplicity—compounding conflicting or divergent narratives, the problematic of narratives that overlap or don't line up—but this approach too reaches a limit, and beyond that limit it has exhausted itself,
I don't believe there is such a thing as postmodernism. It's exhausted. We truly need a complete new thing, and [Deleuze and Guattari's] A Thousand Plateaus is the direction. Those guys are fifty or sixty years ahead of everyone else. You read it at first and you think you're reading poetry: "Metals are the consciousness of the planet." Get out of here, what the fuck is that? Then you read about metallic catalysts, how in a way they are like probing heads that unconsciously accelerate certain reactions and decelerate certain others. They allow the exploration of an abstract chemical space by probing and groping in the dark. And you realize those two are right. (De Landa, Destratified
What’s even more poignant for me, poignant and troubling both, is how De Landa’s materialism rests somehow within the very idea of immanent mythology we started to unearth in the Immanence of Myth (and I explicitly always considered that work a kind of beginning, groping around it the dark for what hasn’t been and maybe can never be fully grasped), and yet at the same time, that kind of materialism—which removes us as actors, which completely abnegates or disregards or narratives and ideologies—would seem to be completely contrary to immanent myth. 

Immanent myth might seem the kind of pinnacle of the post-modern project, standing in opposition to De Landa’s project, (and in another sense Zizek’s as well). But I don’t think that is the case. No. I think this path will show how the absolute mental of myth-theory and the absolute material of De Landa’s “history” are not irreconcilable opposites but two sides of the same.

Eduardo Mata Icaza
This is a problem that ultimately reduces to one of scale, and how we can deal with the infinite expansion or contraction of scale (cosmos, culture, individual, cells, atoms—) without giving primacy to one scale and seeing the others as beholden to that privileged center. Similarly it depends on understanding the structure of our narratives as the chief neurological process through which we come to know both the self and the world; and much as that knowing might seem irrelevant to the macro- scale that emphasizes flows, mesh-works, and all other physical processes that likely span lifetimes as we may take a single breath, even or possibly especially within emergent systems the parts are interwoven with the system, not apart from it, as input or output, but embedded in it. As it. And if we continue to see myth as “collective narrative,” then maybe the first glimmer of this integration of inner and outer, narrative and material, mythos and logos, might occur…

This is the non-fiction or theoretical underpinnings of what I’m looking to do in narrative with the rest of the Fallen Cycle. (So you can see why I say this single project could easily take a lifetime without ever being satisfactorily concluded.)

The problem of the limit of narratives is compounded by how single narratives are used to give us a sense of group narratives (myths.) e.g. Fiction narratives—whether literary or film—tend to over emphasize the role of individuals in the construction of a historic narrative, (nevermind the actual events silently lurking beneath or perhaps tangentially to that narrative.) 

Franz Von Stuck
I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell the story of nations within the personal narrative, and vice versa, e.g. construct a story that deals equally with multiple scales and frames of reference at once. I think within the structure of fiction it remains most engaging to tell the tale of the rise and fall of Peoples as contained within the story of single people, but I'm not blind to how this distorts our perspective of the role that we play in history, when it is quite unlike such a 1:2 ratio. (The tale of Cesar as representative of the "rise of Roman power and at once its own hubris," or even the tale of accidents, such as how a Franz Ferdinand is said to have "caused" the first World War when it's quite evident that the happenstance of that event is merely how the overall systemic trend happened to unveil itself.)

Yet distorted or not, these tales that make us feel that our actions do matter, and that they do reflect on the whole as well as the other way around, never cease to capture our imagination and attention. That’s what is so engaging about Lord of the Rings, I think, that historic scale wrapped up within very “close” narratives, thanks mostly to the hobbits— despite all its other flaws.

The recent TV series “Vikings” in a different way struggles with the same issue, looking to paint personal, relate-able narratives atop the hard detritus and great swath of history.

So that’s my challenge. I intend to use very different source material in Tales From When I Had A Face, Native cultures and the rise of American and Russian imperialism. The Incan rebellion. African shamanic tribal cultures. The fall of Alexandria and Corvinas the “Raven King,” Etc. But even with mindfulness of the systems at work in our world, I can't see a way through, beyond the use of multiplicity (post-modernism) and conflation of individual to collective. I can only hope that doing a couple thousand pages of research reading will at least broaden what can be said in a single story about the loss of a single life as it is unveiled, and how that reflects on the erasure of an entire People.

Check out my upcoming novel, Party At The World's End, book one of the Fallen Cycle. Coming September 2014, available for pre-order now.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

William Irwin Thompson on the Horizons of Planetary Culture: Cyborgs, Psychedelics, & Spiritual Evolution


“Were you to attempt to read all the books Thompson refers to before [absorbing his work], you would likely forget why you were reading them before you finished them. Thus unprepared one must ride the whirlwind with Thompson, holding on for dear life as he escorts us back and forth over ten millennia, integrating the warp and woof of myths into the tapestry of our flying-carpet time-machine as we go.”
– Bobby Matherne

One of the best conversations I've ever had: My second rap with poet-philosopher William Irwin Thompson, former MIT professor and founder of the legendary Lindisfarne Association, on the transformations of self and society in the collapse of civilization and the emergence of a planetary culture - cyborgs, surveillance, and psychedelics in an age of paranoid apocalypticism and inspired new visions for our species.

Get ready for a wild one, folks...comments welcome!

More for the initiated:
My Bill Thompson on Burning Man video mashup
Our first conversation, "AI, Angels, & Mass Extinctions"

Some of the topics covered in this conversation:

• The disappointment of 2012 & each generation's coping with the disillusionment of epochalism/apocalypticism;
• Douglas Rushkoff's book Present Shock, "fractalnoia" & conspiracy theories, the Deep State, media warfare, paranoia as a necessary step along the path of spiritual evolution;
• The interplay between the growth of a global electronic economy and the awakening of the collective unconscious;
• Intelligence as a primary function of entropy to maximize freedom in chaos, fear & intelligence as two sides of the same phenomenon;
• Prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic strategies, the bacterial bioplasm vs. sexuality & individuality as complementary archetypes;
• The pop mythology of the lone genius vs. the reality of collective intelligence;
• Fractalnoia & Autistic Spectrum Disorders, possible relationship between "intense world syndrome" theory of Autism & the psychological impact of electronic communication media;
• Sloughing off the Surveillance State & making it an art object, Big Data/Quantified Self revolutions in the emergence of a new level of personal psychology, Buddhist Geeks & Mindful Cyborgs;
• Psychedelics and Yoga as alternative spiritual paths, LSD's legacy of both burnout and the inspiration of paradigm-changing scientific discoveries;
• Richard Doyle on the exegesis of Philip K. Dick, discussion of how revolutions are colonized by existing power structures, Jan Irvin's argument that the CIA created psychedelic counterculture;
• Isolation/solitude/privacy as prerequisite to the classical visionary/mystical experience, an opportunity eroded in the hyper-stimulation of electronic culture;
• The self as a collective, the "entelechy" as a colonial organism composed of elemental entities & of which the human as defined by modernity is only a part, wearable computers & medical nanobots as "machines in the ghost" with both light & shadow aspects;
• The perils of being an early adopter and the importance of maintaining a critical attitude toward new technologies;
• How Buckminster Fuller & Marshall McLuhan were destroyed by celebrity, the related genius and tragedy of Terence McKenna;
• The liminal spaces of festival culture as a social equivalent to the mystic isolation of individuals in classical wisdom traditions (e.g., Burning Man as an island population, rapidly evolving at a distance from the main population);
• Post-tribal/rule-based sports moving beyond "war in peacetime" toward the individualized rejection of corporate culture, improvisational solo extreme sports as a resurrection of mystical privacy;
• The etherealization of currency (e.g., BitcoinDadara's art-as-money projects), of marriage (e.g., polyamory, nonlocal monogamy), & of other cultural institutions;
• "Wissenkunst" or "knowledge art" as a new art form emerging in post-academic remix culture, "standup philosophy" as an improvisatory approach to the university lecture in the same sense that post-religious spirituality evolves from religion and jazz evolves from classical music composition;
• The critical importance of failure to transformation & of stigma/social exclusion in the creation of revolutionary figures.

Some Bill Thompson quotes from our conversation:

"[The media ecology of exopolitics] is a great group mind, a coral reef dreaming while it is awake."

"I don't NEED to take acid...I got hypercalcemic once on just too much Tums."

"At a certain point, I became sensitive [to the fact] that I am a COLONY..."

"Generally, by the third generation, they've lost the vision."

"Before we rule with armies, we rule with explanations, and an army is really only the outermost external  structure of an explanation."

"Failure is very critical in the transformation."

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Act of Killing

“Behind every work of art lies an uncommitted crime” 

For once, actually true. 
Fiction can often get us closer to reality than the approach of non-fiction. Narratives so often conceal, and the very meaning of the word myth has been subsumed by this idea of the "narrative that is a lie." But, as we've so often explored on this site, this isn't the whole picture.

In fact, it's deeply misleading. Because the reality we live most intimately inside is the world of our own narrative, it is through narratives that we can be brought closest to the prima materia, without ever being able to fully say what it is outside its own context. A narrative exists only on its own terms. The further you are removed from that, the less vital it is likely to be. The more removed, the more easy to use it as a tool of deception.

For as much as narratives can bring us close to the blood of life, it is less of a mystery how they can be used to distort, to deceive, to fabricate. The tarot symbol of the Magus (and Hermes, the God most cognate) can lead us into greater understanding of both sides of this bi-valent truth. It is with logos rather than mythos that the Magus creates the illusions that form the world, but it is nevertheless world from word. The most primal and fundamental magic.

This bi-valence is intrinsically linked to what Horkheimer and Adorno called "the dialectic of Enlightenment." They were speaking more specifically of the rise of Nazism when they said “Myth is already enlightenment, and enlightenment reverts to mythology," but it was nevertheless to this truth that they were speaking, that myths create false histories, they support the very sort of premises that served as justification for the now famous genocide that happened in factories of death such as Auschwitz and Dachau.

Similarly, there is a narrative that has been used to cloak the true history of a less famous genocide, that of Indonesian communists in the mid-60's. The sheer genius of the hard-to-watch, essential viewing of The Act of Killing is a recognition of this dialectic, that narratives can both conceal and reveal.

How so? The director, Joshua Oppenheimer, approached some of the very people that collectively murdered hundreds of thousands of peopleerased them so completely that their side of the story could not be told. They understood the grim truth behind the saying, "history is told by the victors." Yet so often the murderer must give themselves away because if there is no one left to speak, then who is there to gloat? Oppenheimer, it would seem, recognized the banal egoism that lies at the heart of those that kill for personal gain.

He approached them, and he said: let's make a movie. Rolled into that would be the true story of what they did at the time. What resulted is one of the most disturbing, one of the most surreal, and one of the most effective documentaries I have ever seen.
Later, Kongo, ....was surprised to find that his "Arsan dan Aminah" had reportedly been renamed "The Act of Killing" by Oppenheimer.
"Oppenheimer has never contacted me about changing 'Arsan dan Aminah' to 'The Act of Killing'. Frankly, I found out about it only recently, after the film had already been shown in the Toronto Film Festival," said Kongo with irritation, smoking a clove cigarette. The tall and slim man pointed out that he and Oppenheimer had agreed not to widely publicise the film, because in the beginning it had only been intended as part of the latter's thesis. (Article)

(For those having a hard time tracking it down, it can be viewed at here. For those who have Netflix, the full movie is available free streaming.)

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Time is a Flat Circle - True Detective as Psychodrama


Joshua Budich 
Many will agree that HBO's True Detective season 1 has been one of the more thought provoking episodic narratives of 2014. HBO has defined itself for some time now on distributing quality original content, leading the way in that regard, though Netflix is now entering the picture as a serious contender in its own right.
Nevertheless, there is something particularly daring about using the tried and true, rather old school cops and bad guys format for a character-piece.

What do I mean by that? Well, the case they are investigating does little more than provide us a mirror for the two "bad men," our protagonists Rust and Marty. So if you're looking to unlock the Keys to Carcosa, you're going to be horribly frustrated with this series.
The Lange murder is just a Trojan Horse. The real story here is much richer and stranger: who are these men, and how did this murder change their lives? (DailyBeast)
This is where the show will either sing for you or never quite satisfy you. And this division will likely bring out the intrinsic viewing preferences of an audience. I'd like to talk about this division, between "What's it about" vs. "Who's it about", as well as point out a few of the interesting symbols and devices used in this show in particular.

No story is likely to be all one or the other, of course. There needs to be some balance of the two in most narrativesa continuum which is represented rather confusingly in the prose fiction world as being "literary fiction" on one end and "genre fiction" on the otherbut it should be amply clear which side True Detective is aiming for.

This conflict comes to a head when the spiral loops back on itself a third time, which is to say the final episode. (More on the spiral motif later.) In a character focused narrative, the plotseries of events that occurare a device to get into the character's heads. So to go any further into the "world" of the monster in the labyrinth would take the narrative off track. An ending that told us everything about the Dora Lange case, but nothing about Rust would fail the show on its own terms.

"This is a world where nothing is solved," Rust says, before he has found a glimmer of his own redemption. But even though they ostensibly solved the case, many questions relating to it are left open. Nothing is solved, and there are no true endings. Must a narrative deliver us a complete resolution? (Nervous Breakdown article, "Resolutions.")

In the Salon article "True Detective vs HP Lovecraft", the author sees a cosmology of light and dark, good and evil carved out of the story, in other words it's a morality play, but this doesn't jive with what Pizzolatto himself has said about theme and intent.
PIZZOLATTO:
I think what True Detective keeps telling you, over and over again, is that everything’s a story. Who you tell yourself you are, what you tell yourself what the world is, an investigation, a religion, a nihilistic point of view – these are all stories you tell yourself. You need to be careful what stories you tell yourself.
INTERVIEWER:
You said there was no conversion in the story. But was Cohle suggesting he now believes in some kind of afterlife when he told Hart about his near death experience?
PIZZOLATTO:
It’s not a belief – he’s talking about an experience. And he’s not talking about a reconciliation with loved ones after death: If you listen to what he says, he says, ‘I was gone. There was no me. Just love… and then I woke up.’ That line is significant to the whole series: “And then I woke up.” The only thing like a conversion that he has is when he says, “You’re looking at it wrong. To me, the light is winning.” And that doesn’t describe a conversion to me as much as it describes a broadening of perspective. The man who once said there is no light at the end of the tunnel is now saying there might be order to this. I don’t think it says anything more than: Pick your stories carefully.
Or within the story itself,
Once you attach an assumption to a piece of evidence, you start to bend the narrative to support it. (Marty Hart.)
This is one of the fundamental truths about mythology, and as we've discussed at length on Modern Mythology, myth is merely a publicly shared narrative. Little surprise that Pizzolatto was an English professor before trying his hand at script writing.

What's most poignant about the conclusion? Not the unveiling of 'the lawnmower man.' Hardly. The last thing anyone would expect for Rust is redemption. Which is really what the final episode is about. And it's funny because then you go back and realize it puts the apparent theme of the whole season on its head.

I promised that I'd return to the spiral. Throughout the show we see this device used. It's an element of repeated iconography. It exists in the format of the narrative through time (basing the story in 95, 2001, and 2012). It appears in Rust's hallucinations, birds flocking and dispersing in a whirling spiral. And it's alluded to in the various pieces of "Carcosa gobbleygook" that add that Lovecraftian element of high weirdness to some of the episodes. Clearly it is a motif important to this narrative.


The biggest challenge in the spiral motif is that it's always more rewarding the second time around. But it's really neat how the narrative structure is spiral and that image pops up again and again. The spiral is symbolically the unicursal labyrinth, an image that appears throughout world mythology and appears most explicitly in this story in the iconography of the victims as well as the placement of the villain as the monster in the center of the labyrinth, a Southern Gothic Minotaur. The orbit of the spiral leads you ever inward, toward that immanent encounter. Jung wasn't the only one to recognize the monster in this context is a part of the shadowed, divided self.

This "flat circle," the circle that recapitulates rather than repeats itself perfectly, also relates directly to Nietzsche's eternal recurrence. (If you don't think that was on his mind, notice the aside in the clip above, "what's that Nietzsche shut the fuck up!")
The greatest weight.What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: "This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequenceeven this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!"
Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?... Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal? (Nietzsche's The Gay Science, more Eternal Reoccurence quotes.)
Of course this idea predates Nietzsche considerably, and points the way to Pizzolatto's messagethat the ontological fallacy referred to by Rust is based as much on experience as the narratives we tell ourselves. There are facts in life, to be sure, but just as importantly, we bring our story to it. "The locked room."
But there is a cosmological message behind this motif, as well as an ontological one. And here we can see the distinction between an eternal recurrence that is strictly cyclical, and one that is 'spiral shaped,' which is to say that it implies a sense of progression. The shape of the spiral implies a "return," that is attempted but never fully accomplished, like a planet falling ever to the sun but moving fast enough to miss it time and again. This doesn't exclude myths of apocalypse or teleology (it is after all toward The End that these things move). Supposing that end is never reached, the spiral is a kind of asymptote, an elaboration on the circular model, wherein the symmetry of the endless round and teleology are in a sense unified.
Again we can turn to The Sacred and the Profane, “...to Indian thought, this eternal return implied eternal return to existence by force of karma, the law of universal causality. Then, too, time was homologized to the cosmic illusion (Maya), and the eternal return to existence signified indefinite prolongation of suffering and slavery.”
These karmic ties don’t require an actual belief in karma within the Buddhist or Hindu framework of reincarnation. What it refers to is an element of our memory. Consider something that you own that has a great deal of “sentimental value.” Pick it up. Hold it in your hand. Think about the people you associate with it. Grab hold of those emotions, and travel back to the time that the object brings you to. That’s your karmic tie. You are bound to those things.

The same is true of the memories and emotions we hold onto of those we love, who are now gone, and of the life we lived which is also gone. Of course, outside a framework that espouses transcendence, these are neither positive nor negative in themselves, but they are attachments. From this, we can see that a mythic symbol serving some kind of ethical function would arise, when it comes to recapitulation and renewing. To renew, the soil must be tilled. Some attachments can be maintained but others must be severed. (Krampus and Holiday Myths.) 
This seems embedded within True Detective's narrative, as we see at the end with Rust's partial redemption. In this, the final episode fits perfectly within the whole, a masterstroke not marred by the essential irrelevancy of the crime they are investigating.

My only frustration with any of this is strictly personal, as I have been working on exactly the same model
in the Fallen Cycle, (the final installment is planned to be entitled "Center of the Spiral,") and now everyone is going to think it's an homage to True Detective, at least in theme. But there are certainly worse things one could be likened to.

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

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Upon the Wings of Huginn and Muninn

To celebrate the great summer solstice we at the Great Octarine Siblinghood of the Z.'. Z.'. bring to our latest audio viral release in the form of a sequence of aural pleasures to attune your ears to.

"Upon The Wings of Huginn and Muninn" combines the talents of several Z(enseider)Z memes both on the mic and behind the screen.

Warning: Psi-Hazard!

A necessary advisory please: the meme-bearers and maintainers of zenseiderz.org accept NO responsibility for ANY alleged symptoms of immediate psychic corruption listeners may report experiencing as a result of exposing themselves to our arsenal of sound concentrations.

By legal authority, we deny the validity of claims that our creations are 'dangerous' and furthermore, admit no such viable, or even tenuous, connection between supposed delta-wave disruptions; fabricated by some of Z(enseider)Z's more emotionally unstable end-users; and the unclassifiable sonic emanations of waveform distortion that comprise much of the media on our albums.

Our full statement of public trust can be found by visiting our warning page.

We thank you for your support.

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Gate of 9

The Gate of 9 is an original piece of artwork commissioned by my partner and I from Barry Lent Devil's Design. It is an air-brushed piece of birch wood 21 inches in diameter. We were colloquial in designing this object of art along with the artist as he wanted to deliver to us exactly what we envisioned. It began as a facsimile of a 3-dimensional Yggdrasil, but the artist quickly evolved it into his own creation and we ended up with an entirely new occult symbol on our hands. We were ecstatic. From what I understand of the artist's process he uses trance states to achieve his desired results and "loses a piece of himself" in each of his selections of handiwork. My partner and I were overjoyed to have such a one of a kind composition all to ourselves.

At first we were naive as to what to do with it or how exactly to use it, but the unequivocal nature of our spontaneous insights the first few nights it hung on our wall made it readily apparent to us that this piece chose us for an especially important purpose. Doubt left our minds with the quickness and a fully conscious torrent of clarity overtook our greater sense of what Jung calls coniunctio. Now, let me be clear, before I physically held the Gate of 9, my partner possessed it and I possessed only a digital representation of it however the psychick link that we created from this tenuous connection alone was immeasurable. The Gate opened up an unimaginable strain of telepathy wherein my partner would get into some kind of trouble like breakdown on the side of the road and within seconds I would call her. Or whenever I was in pain she would know the exact details of my aching or malady.

The same went for her, whenever she was going through an unusually emotional or turbulent time in her life I would know almost every aspect of what she was going through. The two-way digital/corporeal Gate of 9 also opened up a postern for teleplasty as my partner had sent one of her atavisms ("guides") through to assist in healing me and it totally worked (I'm usually skeptical of things this far fetched) as this particular guide was a doctor in his previous life I could feel the heat from his hands working on me. The same applied to her in a similar fashion. I sent a servitor on a mission in which it was bound to pass through her territory and it just so happen to 'decide' to make a stop in her yard late at night and say hello. It actually answered to its name when I told it to her. This was far beyond my experience with any other servitor or any other humans interaction with any of my own servitors. Then again, this was around the same time that I was doing evocations with the Goetia so, to me, it's almost not surprising that this particular entity took a liking to her.

Allow me to digress a bit here to offer up some background on our praxis before we get back into the Gate proper. My partner is what one might call a shaman-in-training and deals exclusively with the realms of trance, vision, imagination, as well as that of lucid dreaming. I, myself, am undergoing the shamanic operations detailed in Liber KKK which my partner has been of invaluable benefit to me. The five conjurations at the shamanic level occur in the fields of evocation, divination, enchantment, invocation, and illumination. Although these fields are somewhat alien to her, as she was not raised amidst the Hermetic tradition as I was, she knows not to what extent her aid has given me in these five areas; and so much more such as free-form conjure, Reiki, and necromancy. While my partner devotes much of her magickal time utilizing ancestor veneration, astral travel ("journeying"), and connecting with various atavisms I, on the other hand, am much more likely to find myself employing audiosigils, gematria, and bare-hands magick in my day to day practice. We seem to find quite a happy medium in the liminal spaces between these disparate motifs.

Both our methodologies seem to get the job done and both our practices represent effective peculiarities in the long run. Sure we hit dry spells as any magician does, but we shall proceed and continue to rock the mic. I mean, hell, we both spend time in meditation attempting to control our own minds whether this be through the exercises outlined in Liber MMM (motionlessness, breathing, not-thinking, the magical trances, and object, sound, and image concentration) or through Crowley's lectures on Yoga or through various banishings both modern and archaic. There are innumerous ways to go about perfecting the self or at least strive toward refining alchemical lead into gold. And we both spend quiet time in nature simply observing the air, trees, water and animals that surround us. The sounds, the smells, the subtle foreplay that exist between all phenomena. We all stumble along the way at some point, but it's our struggles that define us.

As we botch our way through life here on Midgard the Aesir laugh at us from Asgard and the demons thirst for our souls in Helheim. It is for several reasons that we chose our Gate of 9 to be modeled after Yggdrasil. Firstly, we have the deepest respect for early shamans and myself in particular the Northern European tribal seidrs who I initially read about ever so briefly in Jan Fries' book Visual Magick and later in his works Helrunar and Seidways. This led me to all manner of Nordic mythology and Asatru literature many, many moons ago. This is where the Teutonic influence stems from, but reading Richard Harner's classic The Way Of The Shaman also opened my eyes up to the possibility of there being multiple worlds upon which to travel in astral trance. Not that these ideas hadn't occurred to me prior to this, but they seemed somehow more accessible the way that Harner phrased it.

To the untrained eye, The Gate of 9 almost resembles the Qabalistic Tree of Life (especially its middle pillar), but it much more clearly represents the sacred Ash World Tree of Norse cosmology which is why it is actually neither of the two as you can tell from the image provided. It is only The Gate of 9 as the artist has titled it. This portal, as we have come to know it, hangs over our mattress so it is most commonly fed sexual (pleasure-pain) gnosis whenever we're in the bedroom. This takes place at random intervals most of the time, yet we make a point of charging it during lunar cycles and especially on the eight seasonal festivals.

Typically our copulation takes place to the sounds of one of Z(enseider)Z's numerous albums, whatever happens to be the most recent title, but we listen to nothing as often as we do to this "best of" compilation recently thrown together by thee zeepotheosis in order that ritualists may have a soundtrack to fill their intellectual decompression chambers and so that transcendental meditatiors may have escorts in the absence of their own mantras with which to persuade their discursive mind to cease its unrelenting level of subjection over the individual cerebral data stream.

Aside from coital catharsis we also give The Gate of 9 offerings of blood and spirits in a pure crystal champagne flume used exclusively for The Gate and nothing else. This type of ritual is a bit more complex and involves other tools of the trade we have accumulated separately over the years and together in the last few months since receiving the hand painted artistry. Now, every once in awhile I gather together what I consider an arrangement of forfeitures to furnish The Gate of 9 with. I use a vessel to hold these provisions in and I pay devotion to our aperture with these contributions.

My most recent sacrificial pseudo-kenobic jar contains some personal OV(tm) such as piss, spit, snot, a scab, puss, and a fingernail from my left ring finger plus items of specific idiosyncratic value and other articles of power like Bali Shag tobacco, an oxycodone, a xanax, a bud, some beer, clear rum, three pot seeds, two espresso beans, a rudraksha bead, crystalline salt (ampicillin sodium), sand from the Giza plateau, a sliver of copper wiring, a slice of deer hide from an honored kill, a roach carcass, and a tick my partner pulled off of me.

The process of collecting offerings takes more than one session and each time I unplug the small jar I burn white sage blowing smoke into the jar itself before and after including new ingredients. After which I fan the jar with my eagle feather up and down and back and forth invoking the fissive powers of air (DNA; the genome) in the process. Then I would chant the names of my three ascendant thoughtforms and blaze up in their honor. Upon closing the jar I would blow cigarette smoke into it to finalize the pact and then plug it back up. I keep the jar on top of a plaque given to me by Infek-Ren Sekem Khu (aka The Archetypal Theriomorph) who designed them himself and sent them to me shortly before his death in 2001.

The Gate of 9 is a potent magickal tool and one that we are constantly discovering new uses for. In fact, the artist is so detail oriented that just gazing can reveal some of the most awe-inspiring imagery that one hadn't noticed at first glance. Eyes within eyes. Faces within faces. Stare at the image long enough with a bit of a buzz going and you'll see what I mean. There is so much I'm omitting from this rite up out of the importance of silence. If you're ever down around our way we will be more than happy to show you The Gate of 9 and reveal its mysteries to you in person, but until then you'll have to deal with the haphazard mess on an article I've written out here.

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wizard World

So, kind of a last minute thing -- but thanks to the very kind Kristilyn (and her table partner not being able to make it), it seems likely I'm going to be sharing a table at Wizard World next week (19th - 21st) in Philadelphia. I'll be making an early edition of Party At The World's End available just to convention goers as well as making the rounds and perhaps getting some interviews and reviews going for Modern Mythology.


I'm not going to be flying the full flag -- prints, banners, or anything like that. Just getting back into the swing of things. I'm looking to build up merch and material for late 2014 - and 2015 conventions.

See some of you there, perhaps. There's always the slim chance something will come up making it impossible but right now it's looking pretty good.

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

Monday, June 09, 2014

Game of Thrones : "Some Weird Ritual of Self Flagellation"

Now that Game of Thrones is officially HBO's most popular show, I think it's fair to look at the show not just in terms of its own narrative, but in terms of the "phenomenon" it may stand to represent. So perhaps we can say a judgement of the show is in fact a judgement of ourselves. To a small extent, that's fair enough.

So, what can we see in that? To start with, I think HBO got "gritty" right with True Detective; it's bleak and realistic in its way but then just when you think it's all darkness you see what the point was all along. Meaning demands some kind of contrast even if the moral center is totally subjective. If there's no light then it all becomes senseless barbarism. That is in fact one of the takeaway points of the final scene of season 1.

Game of Thrones does something else entirely. I went from being fine, even happy with not investing in the stereotypical fantasy meta-narrative, the good guys on a quest or whatever, to just feeling like the entire point of the show is to antagonize the audience and slap your hand whenever you follow such "conventional" thinking as "maybe we can get through tonight's episode without the one character I care about at this point not getting raped?"

I'll still probably watch it at some point because I do like eschewing ideological cliche and seeing how they are playing with that. If only the process didn't feel like some weird cultural ritual of self flagellation. Like is this culture really hung up on punishing any thought of human kindness and genuine contact or what? How many torture scenes can you watch, how many hopes and lives pointless crushed, before you go from "we get it, life sucks and never works out" to admitting you're actually just punishing yourself and using the show as the straight razor.
And if that kind of mirrored social commentary is intentional then it's genius but I'm not sure they don't just want to show titties rake in cash and give the world the middle finger and all the rest is just incidental

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

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Words of Traitors added to Powell's Books "Short List"


"This is a brutal, darkly funny, and, above all, honest collection of short stories crafted especially for lovers of physical books. Illustration styles and even typeface are carefully matched to enrich the unique narrative experience of each tale. Words of Traitors is a work of art unlike anything you've read before."
Recommended by Brian S., Powells.com
Check it out
Note: Words of Traitors is a limited full color short story collection which includes several stories that have been since integrated (along with 404 Documents) into a single edition of Party At The World's End to be released autumn 2014.

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

Slenderman: Yet Another Modern Myth


As most of you likely know by now, two pre-teens attempted to kill a friend as a sacrificial offering to the mythical creature 'slenderman,' a clear product of internet lore. Unsurprisingly, people are immediately looking to place blame, in a sense themselves literalizing and mistaking how myths and narratives function psychologically in the first place,
Such stories have appeared often on CreepyPasta, a creative writing and microfiction site dedicated not only to horror and thriller-type stories, but also supernatural, mythological and science fiction genres as well. The goal originally was to create short, compelling, easily shareable pieces of fiction that often spread around the Web. Now the site has a vast following and serves as, among other things, a creative writing and "hivemind" outlet where stories like that of the Slenderman breed and spread. According to the criminal complaint in the recent Wisconsin stabbing case, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were fans of CreepyPasta.

An administrator from CreepyPasta was quick to issue a statement when the site started getting attention through Geyser and Weier's alleged crime. In the lengthy piece, which HLN obtained Tuesday, the administrator admits they are not personal fans of the Slenderman lore, that the site encourages creativity, community and self-expression, that the site was not initially meant for young teenagers, and, most aggressively, that a site that encourages what could be seen as morbid expression is not at fault when two teenagers allegedly attempt to take another's life. 
"But if I may be so bold, I don’t believe that it’s the fault of Slenderman or horror writing in general that this happened," the admin writes. "I remember reading scary stories and watching slasher movies when I was a child and young teenager and while they certainly gave me nightmares, they did not instill within me a desire to murder my friends. For someone to make the jump from reading a creepy story that is -- at least on this website, once again, I can’t speak for all creepypasta websites -- being presented as 100% fiction into actually using it as a motive to plot and murder another human being -- something else has to be going on there."
Let's get some things clear. Slenderman is not materially real, any more than religious myths such as tales of Hanuman or Jesus Christ, and likely will never take on the cultural magnetism to live for such a time. But historic age does not change the ontology of a concept, it remains nevertheless concept, yet at the same time a kind of living apparition of our own minds, and to the extent that they influence our experience, yes, they are real. Which is so often too much for people to bear, they want something to either be "real" or "not," without taking any time to examine what they might mean in the first place.

When we try to find meaning, we look to narratives. It's impossible to say which will satisfy us emotionally -- so that we might invest in them -- and which won't. But before anyone looks to place blame on the internet or slenderman or pasta or whatever crusade might serve their own needs, they might consider asking some obvious questions. From an earlier article here on ModernMythology,
Narrative and myths plays the principal role in our lives, both from the inside out (sense- and identity-making), from the outside in (narratives place ourselves in relation to one another, conceptualizing the structure and nature of the outside world), and they are also self perpetuating (narratives as pedagogical or even mimetic device).
This cannot be emphasized enough. The entirety of our lives that don't arise through independent natural process are story. Even those can only be understood when they're brought into relation through narrative processes. We can agree or disagree about whether a given narrative is good or bad, accurate or not, but this is in a sense adding a layer, not cutting down to some underlying truth. This is why the metaphor I so frequently refer back to for the self is the palimpsest. We can never hope to somehow clear away or sidestep the "mythic process."
If we have any doubt about the centrality of narrative in our extended, communal, and personal lives, one need only turn on the news or witness how, without changing ones own behavior, another may change their story from how amazing and wonderful you are to how awful and villainous. What has changed in this case except their internal narrative? The levels and dimensions of this process are quite simply endless, and try as we might to extricate ourselves, it is our investment in a particular narrative over another that defines belief.
With these two individuals we get nowhere by learning they did it to satisfy a narrative -- that's all anyone does, and we don't oughtn't consider it normal behavior to try to kill someone for Slenderman or Mohammed or Jesus Christ.  (Again, not to draw cultural equivalency between these, but the difference is of quantity rather than kind.) So we are left as every with asking for the "why" behind the why, and without considerable direct analysis, that's not possible. The reason we make up the stories we do around such crimes is simply to serve our own narrative need: for simplicity and simple, direct meaning.

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

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