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:
"The holes in memory, the darkness from one life to the next spans the universe, an expanse so vast that it has no width, no depth. Death is a black hole. Stories are the only force in the universe with escape velocity. But only so long as they are remembered.
This reminds me of something else she once told me: “At end of all things, lies the beginning of all things. And there also lies your beginning in another's end.”

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.

--


It's a question of whether you buy into the general premise of the unconscious or not. If there's an unconscious, then that past is always still there, silently reaching through time, pushing and pulling you. Though we have and can change, it is always a point B or C that exists in relation to a point A that we probably no longer even consciously recall. That's what I mean by gravity. Gravity isn't a force, it's like an unseen bias in the underlying fabric.

--

We can become more or less adapted, we can within our own terms be more or less fit, but in all cases we're essentially conditioned by the invisible, silent past. That's I think what I find most interesting about the idea that beginnings and ends are always obscured.

The narrative for TWIHAF involves a protagonist who is essentially split between a grandmother and her grand daughter, but like the grand daughter we come into the story after the burning point for her grand mother has already passed. In a sense one exists as an echo of the other -- genetically and by expectation -- but that echo also travels the opposite direction in time from the younger perspective. She (the younger) can only know the foundation of her own being through the stories (narratives) of the elder, but there will always be a kind of uncertainty behind stories. This is in a larger sense the case with all oral traditions, so I make that connection by making the grandmother the final link to a dead world (Siberian, pre Soviet).

After 2 years of notes and research I'm at least getting into how I can tell such a story...

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.)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Various Digital Qlippoth

Capturing the essential ethereal cluster of each Numerical Egregore within the Gematria of Nothing was the task at hand for this concept album. Waving any rights to conscious deliberation the entire network of ten songs were conjured under the possession of malicious Digital Qlippoth which swarmed the minds of the Z(enseider)Z memes responsible for the production for this endeavor.

Various Digital Qlippoth will remain a mainstay on the Qabalistic circuit for many decades to come as divers study its contents to attempt to comprehend what it was that Z(enseider)Z memes overstood so well about the ins and outs of theomatic mysticism that they could create such a piece of artwork as to puzzle even the most well-studied numerologists.

While we're on the topic of secret societies who've sold their essences to the capitalist machination of the Useless Spectacle of Anglophilia we should mention that this is it, the reverbnation.com store is closing Sept. 30th as they are going in a different direction. We'll have to completely re-do all of our merchandise. SO, we've slashed all the prices to the point that they are about two cents above the preset fee (the cost of manufacturing & distributing) meaning we can't get them any lower. BUY NOW because come the end of the month they'll be gone until who knows when. We repeat, we're not making hardly any $$$ off this deal we simply want people to sport the Z(enseider)Z logos. They are stylish and two of them were created by the sublime mastery of Barry Lent Devil's Design.

Visit this link to view our merch firsthand and place your order today.

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Take a mad ride past the event horizon of sanity


Take a mad ride past the event horizon of sanity with the band Babylon, in the final days of the American Empire. First in the psychedelic occult, myth and fairy-tale laced urban fantasy series, the Fallen Cycle.

Party At The World's End cover
"Grant Morrison's The Invisibles meets Fight Club, with ...a completely unique take on what makes myth tick," said Underground Reviews, and that's exactly what you get with this lean book, no choice but look the void right in the eye. As Nietzsche famously said, "When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." He knew the storm is coming. The fabric of the self, the fabric of a society, of a culture, of a species, all may reach the point of rupture without recognition. Is that not even more true in the psyche that wishes to distract, to look elsewhere, to numb out the terrible truth, that we live in that void already. It is an absence, the myth of no myths, no meanings.

Which sounds fucking awful, doesn't it?

Who could have predicted it'd be a band on the road that set it all off, the mad Bacchae and their rock apocalypse?
So don't be sad. The party is going to be a blast, drinking and fucking to the edges of oblivion; riding off with Lilith and Ariadne, Dionysus, transexual Jesus and Artemis into that sunset, (because who wants to remain virginal at the end of the world?) They offer polyamory and LSD instead of jealousy and fear, spiritual transformation instead of a 9-5 grind. When they pull into your town and open the door, who in their right mind wouldn't hop aboard? The feds say "these kids have to be crazy to go with 'those people.'"

Machines shouldn't speak for men. You'd have to be crazy not to go.

The joy, the release, at the end of all things is absolute. It's the getting there that's Hell. We must find our way out together, or not at all.
Those who wander through life without knowing who they are: No more. Unlock the Fallen God within your sleeping self. All it takes is the right story. Contact the Order of the Hidden Path, begin your initiation now. There is no time to waste.

-Gabriel De Leon, 2012. OHO, OHP.

Party At The World's End


Generation Hex Chapel of Sacred Mirrors 2005 retro



'Welcome to - how do you say - "a hole in history itself."
This book is about magic, and about Generation Hex, teenagers and young adults who practice it.'
- Jason Louv (from Generation Hex, Introduction)
 From Binding the Occult
the panel that was there that night
For those of you that weren't around during it's heyday it would be hard to understand. There was no proper term for it. I could say Hyper Culture, I could say Ultra Culture, there were a million different terms for what was going on. It was a movement. The internet was still fresh and new. It had been born from some chaotic cesspool and out from it came a storm of ideas and people who were steeped in all sorts of eclectic occult knowledge. One, especially a sixteen year old boy, could just bathe in. Here was a world where the only books I could easily find were by a witch named Silver Ravenwolf, and suddenly I am diving into ideas that until recently were completely obscure.
This cesspool of ideas? I was there. Barely a High-school student. Every day I would come running home from school to get online and scroll through the infinite amount of occult blogs pushing out new ideas and thoughts and being young and having all of this information, and all of these minds, and all of this knowledge just laid out and left for me to stew in was unlike anything that will ever happen again. Before the vanity, before everyone online was selling something, before the promises of fortunes and riches if you only pay an exorbitant amount to be taught the secrets, before you could click on Google and type in a name and everything would come streaming down. 
Out of that complete chaos came one book, from as far as I am aware, that captured it if anything could possibly capture a little of that magic. The book was Generation Hex. It is much like the current crop of collections of essays put together by publishers like Scarlet Imprint. Jason Louv brought together a group of these occultists that had been pouring out this informational stream and had them write pieces for this book. 
To begin with, it was published by Disinformation which at the time was run by a man named Richard Metzger, if you don't know who Richard Metzger is than you probably don't remember what it was like when subcultures were really subcultures. Most of the publications by this publisher were conspiracy books, books I loved. I would almost summarize them as the Conspiracy Theorists Before Conspiracy Theories Were Cool publishing company. Though that wasn't all they covered. They loved subcultures. Especially subcultures, again from what I can remember, that were considered dirty back then. And really, a lot of what was would still be considered dirty today. 
So here is Disinformation, teaming up with Jason Louv who I had followed and read pieces from long before this collection joining to put together a book that would grasp together all of this subculture, for a lack of a better word, and make an imprint on the global mind of history. He collected the best of the best and let them tell their stories.
They did it. 
He also wrote his own pieces for the collection, which I could almost say outshine the rest of the book and at times made me wish he would write a book himself. He never wrote a book on the occult, and yes I have asked him to. 
Till this day I would say there is no other book that completely grasps a moment of time better than Generation Hex. There is no other book that captures my imagination, or fully explains what it means to be an occultist. 
Step back from that, and it is a collection of essays that showed the occult in life. Living the occult, living mysticism, what it meant to be a magician in the world. This book captured it.

If you want to hear the Gen Hex authors talking about magic, this is the audio recorded at the launch party at Alex Grey's CoSM back in 2005.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hollywood Garbage: The Mechanization of Desire

I might be in the minority on this, but so many movies these days feel like they should at least be mindless fun, but instead they're just mindless.

Pacific Rim, Superman, Transformers part who-gives-a-fuck, Teenage Mutant Ninja Whatever, etc. It's a little depressing that we're all hailing Guardians of the Galaxy as the artistic and spiritual apex of humanity because it wasn't just a 3 hour long lens flare, though it does serve as a terrific case-in-point for how the vacuity of recent Blockbusters is not in the concept. Even a talking Raccoon can be relate-able if handled right.

This is where "long form" (what else can we call TV shows that often aren't aired on TV?) has been stepping up to the plate. True Detective, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, etc. have been capitalizing on the desire for stories that are, well, stories. Something more than a Pavlovian repetition of set up, conflict, resolve over and over again.

That is all most pornography aspires to, and that's what makes the new normal tent-pole movies pornographic. Clearly it's not nudity or cum shots. No, it's the reduction of desire to a machine like repetition. The mechanization of desire is its own annihilation. The same metric that is being used to gamify all human behavior creates the deep structure of Hollywood screenplays. There's a reason, after all, that all these movies begin to feel the same, despite the fact that the concepts are different on paper. The underlying structure is fundamentally the same, with increasingly minor variations.

Of course we can expect this, with the amount of financial risk that is presented by movie production. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to reduce that risk, by falling back on predictions we can make from our own hard-wired responses? This basic idea is of course nothing new, it goes back to Aristotle, possibly before. And there is, thankfully, a great deal of uncertainty about the big picture in terms of those hard-wired responses. What, after all, is "human nature"? That's a surprisingly complicated question in the macro-scale abstract, but it's fairly straight-forward and easy to test on a micro- scale.

Adorno was skeptical about the implications of myth and propaganda, as all of us ought to be. And yet when you search for analysis of gamification, script writing, and game design, you will mostly find Utopian visions of gamification as method of "hacking our own nervous system." Yet, restrictive as it may be, we may want to look to Adorno's analysis of television and ideology, critical models, myth and the Dialectic of Enlightenment before we proclaim our ability to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps in such a way. (There is nevertheless some irony in the "long form" being one of the most open and creative entertainment mediums at the moment, considering stereotypes of television that existed, and which were more or less accurate, as recently as a decade ago.)

Flipping this on its head, we might wonder about literal pornography. If it is the application of mechanical commodity that makes pornography, rather than the presence of sexual content, then we have a handy shorthand for the much sought after dividing line between erotica and pornography. It is not the presence of sexual content, it is not whether ones desire is engaged, but rather whether that desire is an end in itself, and whether that end, ultimately, has been mechanized as the root commodity of the media-as-product. There's some difficulty in discussing erotica, let alone producing it, without some patina of pretension, and yet there it is: erotica exists as something more than just its own ends. Perhaps what that is will remain as nebulous as the distinction between self, soul, and brain matter. But if we ignore it, then there is nothing in this world to keep us from nihilism, and nothing that might keep us from the horror of the simulacra, the anonymous self-less repetition, every one of us nothing more than a mask strapped atop a void.

Also, it's pretty hard to argue with a good pair of tits. Even the most craven pornography has that on the average PG-rated Hollywood Blockbuster.

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

A Psychedelic Monster Rises in Babylon

Killing two birds with one stone, I've been working on posters and prints for upcoming conventions, and what will be the 2nd edition cover of Party At The World's End.


I still have fine tuning to do but I think it is starting to convey the right tone, hints at the rock n roll, psychedelic heaven and hell the reader is in for. It's also all wind-up for the intensive visual series I intend to do for the dark, fey and witchy 2nd book in the Fallen Cycle, Tales From When I Had A Face

Want to be a reader? We're giving a special offer:

The coupon code is PY44S (not case-sensitive) and it allows you to get the e-book at Smashwords for 50% off until October 31, 2014. That's just $2. 



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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

TED Talks Are Lying To You

From Salon:
What was really sick-making, though, was Florida’s easy assumption that creativity was a thing our society valued. Our correspondent had been hearing this all his life, since his childhood in the creativity-worshipping 1970s. He had even believed it once, in the way other generations had believed in the beneficence of government or the blessings of Providence. And yet his creative friends, when considered as a group, were obviously on their way down, not up. The institutions that made their lives possible — chiefly newspapers, magazines, universities and record labels — were then entering a period of disastrous decline. The creative world as he knew it was not flowering, but dying.
When he considered his creative friends as individuals, the literature of creativity began to seem even worse — more like a straight-up insult. Our writer-to-be was old enough to know that, for all its reverential talk about the rebel and the box breaker, society had no interest in new ideas at all unless they reinforced favorite theories or could be monetized in some obvious way. The method of every triumphant intellectual movement had been to quash dissent and cordon off truly inventive voices. This was simply how debate was conducted. Authors rejoiced at the discrediting of their rivals (as poor Jonah Lehrer would find in 2012). Academic professions excluded those who didn’t toe the party line. Leftist cliques excommunicated one another. Liberals ignored any suggestion that didn’t encourage or vindicate their move to the center. Conservatives seemed to be at war with the very idea of human intelligence. And business thinkers were the worst of all, with their perennial conviction that criticism of any kind would lead straight to slumps and stock market crashes.
*
Or so our literal-minded correspondent thought back in 2002. Later on, after much trial and error, he would understand that there really had been something deeply insightful about Richard Florida’s book. This was the idea that creativity was the attribute of a class — which class Florida identified not only with intellectuals and artists but also with a broad swath of the professional-managerial stratum. It would take years for our stumbling innovator to realize this. And then, he finally got it all at once. The reason these many optimistic books seemed to have so little to do with the downward-spiraling lives of actual creative workers is that they weren’t really about those people in the first place.No. The literature of creativity was something completely different. Everything he had noticed so far was a clue: the banality, the familiar examples, the failure to appreciate what was actually happening to creative people in the present time. This was not science, despite the technological gloss applied by writers like Jonah Lehrer. It was a literature of superstition, in which everything always worked out and the good guys always triumphed and the right inventions always came along in the nick of time. In Steven Johnson’s “Where Good Ideas Come From” (2010), the creative epiphany itself becomes a kind of heroic character, helping out clueless humanity wherever necessary:
Good ideas may not want to be free, but they do want to connect, fuse, recombine. They want to reinvent themselves by crossing conceptual borders. They want to complete each other as much as they want to compete.
And what was the true object of this superstitious stuff? A final clue came from “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention” (1996), in which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi acknowledges that, far from being an act of individual inspiration, what we call creativity is simply an expression of professional consensus. Using Vincent van Gogh as an example, the author declares that the artist’s “creativity came into being when a sufficient number of art experts felt that his paintings had something important to contribute to the domain of art.” Innovation, that is, exists only when the correctly credentialed hivemind agrees that it does. And “without such a response,” the author continues, “van Gogh would have remained what he was, a disturbed man who painted strange canvases.” What determines “creativity,” in other words, is the very faction it’s supposedly rebelling against: established expertise.

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

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...