Thursday, March 31, 2011

Clark: More Than Just The “Dick Guy”

Johan Ess made a post about Clark that helps frame this and several other projects that have come out of the apartment we are soon to depart from - Clark likely making his way to India.


William Clark is the ultimate Aghori healer for all your shamanistic needs!"I would like to take the opportunity to discuss a highly unique individual who appeared in my life a couple years ago and has remained one of my best esteemed colleagues, post-human mutants, orgone ontologists, or however else you might want to try (but fail) to frame him properly. Many just call him the “Dick Guy”, but I will take the time to deconstruct such a crude generalization of this multifaceted force of nature a little later.
My first encounter with William Clark was in 2009 when the star of my previous post, Rachel Haywire, had him fly down to hang out with us in Fort Lauderdale where I used to live. Our mission was to play and record lots of music, channel wild chaotic spirits, and attend the Fetish Factory 13th Anniversary which was happening at that time.
Clark was someone who would talk about things that got him arrested, along with his experiences traveling in India, and the time he met the benevolent cult leader Raël. Our experience at the bacchanalia of the fetish event was fairly EXTREME, but Clark and I were able to have an existential conversation nonetheless. At some point later on, when the timing was right, we recorded the most absurd chanting possible, which will likely crop up at some point in our further collaboration.
Clark dressed as the Haitian Loa Baron SamediIt was not very long after that I got the fuck out of Florida, seeing as it was a hellish oppressive landscape for an estranged young mutant like myself, and made my eventual landing in a more northern region of glorious Americana. Meanwhile, I noticed that Clark had started posting images dressed as the Baron Samedi along with a perpetual stream of the most mind-bending anecdotes you could possibly stumble across. In the summer of 2010, I made a transpiritual pilgrimage to the North East which allowed me to spend some time in a mysterious underground bunker where the band HoodooEngine was forged and where one could also be known to find Clark."



Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

Icunabula vol II: Cut ups and Becoming

By Mr. VI

"When you cut into the present the future leaks out." - William S. Burroughs.

Previously, I've spoken of the incunabula - natives of the mythic. I've argued that the distinction between between myth and reality is meaningless because 'reality' as we know it is a model, a narrative created to comprehend our perceptions; reality as we know it is born out of the same construction process that we use to make myth and spin our tales.

You can't separate it from physicality, because the physical is our interface with the wider universe. It's as intimate as blood, breath and bone, as vital as sexual secretions and just as rich.

And just like those fluids, it's a lubricant; a fluid-smooth space that allows flow and tranverse movement. It contains the potential for life, and also death and disease of the psyche

It's not a thing of top-down authority and hierarchy, indeed if there is any movement which could be described as solely vertical in terms of myth, it's an upwelling - born from the ground of being itself - bottom up.

Urðarbrunnr. The Well of Wyrd; the dwelling place of the Weird Sisters, the Nornir who lay down and weave the events of a person's life into what they will become.

Cut, arrange, and put together; folding events in and under over. Perhaps Burroughs was more right than he knew, perhaps it's not the future that leaks out when you cut the present, but the wyrd-fluid, the raw material for becoming?

Make the incision, cut the flesh and the vital fluid wells up - for incunabula the blood of their body flows free, an opening is made to serve as entrance and exit. It becomes an access port to their own becoming-as...

Endorphins get you high, get you flying, get you soaring, get you awake and alive. Opening yourself, creating a gate to the unknown, the unintelligible spaces beyond the senses. It's blood magic, to feed and gift yourself to all comers.

We'll come back to that later - for now recall that the body-as-text is an essential of the incunabula. That being the case, who owns the text? Who has the right to edit and re-write its narrative?

Glossy magazines and moral prohibitions; eidolons of form to aspire to - these are not bottom-up processes. No, they are hierarchical and top-down. The individual must operate as a thrall to such imagery - authorative texts.

Taxonomy via text - classification and definition; truly People of the Book, an inviolate and holy manuscript.

An immovable arrangement of form, sanctified by divinity because YHVH made humanity in his own image and there's only one divinity, yes?

The brimming cornucopia of myth says otherwise; this apparent transcendent authority is not alone. Kami, landvaettir, alfar, dwergar and muses. Annunaki, shedim and lilitu, bodhisattvas, asuras and daevas. Nagas, tulpas, piskies, puccas and ghul.

Not one text - and the knowledge of this is reaching common awareness now - for did G-d have a wife? Anyone with half an interest will smile and tell you this is nothing new. Asherah has been around for years, god-wife or no.

But the incunabula makes the ink into blood, running on skin, carving out new juxtapositional language by dismembering the old - powerful creation. Just ask Odin, Marduk or any personages - human or not - who've broken things down, remixed them and come up with something new.

There's a glorious multiplicity of form here; the fluidic spaces of becoming certainly echoing the amniotic fluid.

The poem by Gabe Moses entitled How To Make Love To A Trans Person speaks loudly of such wonderful becomings and though it's a little long to reproduce on this site, here's an excerpt:

Forget the images you’ve learned to attach
To words like cock and clit,
Chest and breasts.
Break those words open
Like a paramedic cracking ribs
To pump blood through a failing heart.
Push your hands inside.
Get them messy.
Scratch new definitions on the bones.

Get rid of the old words altogether.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Into the Hyper-real 2 - Cargo

by Cat Vincent (Part 1 here )

One of the key perspectives in the work of Adam Possamai in regard to the ‘hyper-real’ postmodern pop-culture belief systems comes from his background as a sociologist. As a result of this, he frames a lot of his analysis of the phenomenon as manifestations of late-capitalism. Put simply, he sees them on one level as product.

He’s got a point. Pop culture, by definition, is something we can buy. (Or steal, or bootleg… but I’ll get to that later.) It’s a manifestation of mass production and dissemination. It’s worship of things you can buy in a shop. Production line totems.

In other words, it’s kind of like a cargo cult.

Kairos I: Exemplary Acts of Revolutionary Potentiality

Kairoticism: Exemplary Acts, the Whatever-Messiah & Revolutionary Post-History

There is no revolution without exemplary acts... moments when revolutionary potentiality was not only present but was affirmed in a negation that, while opening a void and stopping time, also pointed toward the future... 
- Maurice Blanchot, May 1968

Part 1. Exemplary Acts

Writing in Paris during his intellectual and political engagement with the tumultuous events of the student revolts of May 1968 –  a revolution successful at best in part – Maurice Blanchot, in Comité (a single issue publication) defines the “'exemplary act' [as being] such because it goes beyond itself while coming from very far away, superseding itself and in an instant, with a shattering suddenness, exploding its limits.”[1] Two exemplary acts will serve as our approach to the problematic of the eminently temporal conditions of possibility for revolution, to a concept and experience of time as kairos. First, an event of May '68 itself:

Daniel Cohn-Bendit
The highest violence was no doubt in an instant of non - violence,when, to reject the ban (the banning of (Daniel) Cohn-Bendit was the pathetic “exemplary act” of the powers that be), thousands of workers and students – revolutionaries in an absolute sense – stamped their feet and chanted: “We are all German Jews.” Never has this been said anywhere, never at any moment: inaugural speech, opening and overthrowing the frontiers, opening and disrupting the future.[2]

Nuclear Power in the Kali Yuga

by David Metcalfe


"...The fact of the release of nuclear energy, overwhelming and intoxicating though it was, began to seem less tremendous. Was it not simply the first act, even a mere prelude, in a series of fantastic events which, having afforded us access to the heart of the atom, would lead us on to overthrow, one by one, the many other strongholds which science is already besieging? The vitalization of matter by the creation of super-molecules. The re-modeling of the human organism by means of hormones. Control of heredity and sex by the manipulation of genes and chromosomes. The readjustment and internal liberation of our souls by direct action upon springs gradually brought to light by psycho-analysis. The arousing and harnessing of the unfathomable intellectual and effective powers still latent in the human mass. . . . Is not every kind of effect produced by a suitable arrangement of matter? And have we not reason to hope that in the end we shall be able to arrange every kind of matter, following the results we have obtained in the nuclear field?”

- from Some Reflections on the Spiritual Repercussions of the Atom Bomb, Pierre Teilhard De Chardin


Having been well cured in the after glow of the first nuclear tests at Trinity, it’s rare today to find those who fully appreciate the weight of those discoveries. In Teilhard De Chardin’s analysis, written in 1946 shortly after the terrible events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Humanity has discovered a sure sign of it’s unlimited potential. Rather than an end point, he sees the atomic bomb as just the beginning of a new stage of evolution in which Humanity is crowned with the glory of knowledge and comes full face with the roots of existence.

We know today that this discovery is not so easily contained, and the myth of atomic power has a much darker protagonist than the glowing god of progress that was first envisioned. Each of the categories that he discusses are attended by an endless stream of seemingly insurmountable ethical questions within the present state of society. The science of genetics is in the hands of corporations, pharmaceutical companies and a limping Academy, the issues that surround disposal of nuclear waste have stopped development of any far reaching use of nuclear power, and the reactors that have been built are currently decaying under a lapsed economy that cannot support heavy infrastructure maintenance.

The dangers of our ignorance have most recently been shown in the ongoing tragedy of the reactor meltdowns occurring in Japan. We face an aging population of scientists who have the skills and knowledge that have maintained these reactors up to this point. The physicists, metallurgists and chemists who designed, built and maintain these sites are getting older, or have already passed on, and due to the focus of the Academy on providing ‘thought leaders’ and technicians who are ready to ‘face the future,’ we have left behind much of the knowledge necessary to keep up with what we have.

Some foresaw the tragic potential in this exploration of the inner sanctum of Nature. Writing in the 1950′s the anonymous alchemist Fulcanelli discusses a less democratically optimistic view of these advances:

Four Scouts to the New World/ Parts 12-15


By Brian George

The premise, as presented by John Giordano: It is discovered that life can be supported on a pristine planet JUST LIKE THE EARTH located in a distant galaxy. The only difference is that there aren't any humans on the planet. The most evolved animals are apes and monkeys. All the natural resources are the same as Earth. Technology exists to get four people to the planet on a scouting mission. They will stay for one year, planning for the arrival of settlers from Earth.

12

Notes for New World Planners

Group planners 1 and 2 agreed on the importance of the ecoscientist. She was vital to the mission. She would modulate the arrogance of the technocrat, insure that Isaac Newton would behave, and prohibit excess reproduction. She would ban the hoe and the rake, which terrorize the hearts of worms. Mesoamerica could instruct the voyagers in the design of low-tech tools. Natural death is best. Species will beg to be harvested, as they eat from their destroyer's hand.

The ecoscientist would remove all the batteries from flashlights. They do not last. Artificial light obscures the movement of the constellations.

Did I agree with group planners 1 and 2 on the selection of the ecoscientist? As I have said before, my attitude was arbitrary. It was necessary to start somewhere. I delegated my power to the random conjunction of forces. The group mouth had spoken. I would play along.

In the days of the Rig Veda, before any rules for Sanscrit were invented, when the Aryan race was young, poets would free a horse to wander across the fields of anonymous grass. North, south, east or west, where the horse went the hungry tribe would follow. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Citizen Y and Independent Media Production From The Trenches


There’s always a side of the creative process that remains in shadow. We used to call it “behind the scenes,” but the angle shot from behind the scenes has become the new normal. The actor playing the character is, if anything, more at the forefront of the viewers consciousness.

As an example of this, here is me playing the actor JC, who played the character JC in Clark:




Maybe we can see “behind the scenes” if the project has not yet been produced. I want to share a bit of a project with all of you that, so far, has not seen the light of day.

(Read full article on Weaponized.net)


Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

What Is Myth And How Did We Kill It?



An Excerpt from The Upcoming Immanence of Myth Anthology:

By James Curcio 

 It may seem that the word “myth” has lost its meaning to us as a psychological or spiritual term. No, the situation is more drastic than that. Myth has become the opposite of fact, something that is generally accepted but untrue; “it is a myth that reading by flashlight ruins your eyesight.” The popular television show on the Discovery Channel, Myth Busters, uses this definition, attempting to disprove “myths” with something vaguely resembling science. The myths of antiquity are looked upon as quaint stories, despite the fact that they have shaped our cultural history. It is neatly overlooked that myths remain at the center of the bloody stage of modern religious, national, economic or ideological dynamics, not to mention our personal and everyday lives.
    The fact that the word “myth” has become synonymous with untruth belies an underlying shift in the Western epistemological focus over the past several thousand years. This is clearly a sweeping generalization, and in these we are also inventing a myth, but bear with me. We have become, in this juncture of time and culture, a great deal more concerned with verifiable facts and less concerned with existential experiences which have little relation to fact. This progression ties into the Enlightenment focus on rationality and the scientific method, but perhaps more pervasively, we can see this following from the needs of industrialization.
     This shift, though not concocted as some conspiratorial scheme, does serve a purpose. As we will see, fundamental business principles rely on actions that are easy to reproduce, and which produce similar (if not identical) results with each repetition. This cultural homogeneity promotes an economy of scale that is absolutely necessary for so-called big business. Similarly, the myths of a culture must ultimately serve the best interest of industry. The evolution of such co-related myths is often symbiotic, for instance, it is through the spread of industry as the backbone of a civilization that myths which better serve it spread. These in turn effect the further growth and spread of an industrialized infrastructure. (Read full article on Weaponized)



Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Silver Era Tarot: Interview With Aunia Kahn

Aunia Kahn's work combines many disciplines, wrapping them into a hybrid art form melding photography, painting and collage. She invariably designs, builds, and executes characters, non-existent places, dreams, illusions, fears and fables into creation, which meld elements of classical, and contemporary art. Each work makes use of her own likeness in movie-like stills, dealing in varied taboo and often controversial subject matter to challenge the viewer, their understanding and preconceived notions; yet she connects through honest feeling and emotions. Aunia’s work has constantly evolved, earlier works dealt more with her past, while her more recent creations delve into present emotional conflicts and inspirations.

JC: I tend to look at Tarot more as a collection of archetypes, an arrangement that can be used to create some pretty primal narratives. I'm curious to know what your perspective on it is.

How did you put together the symbolism for the deck?


AK: The deck was based on the original symbolism of the Ryder Waite deck. The symbolism from such an influential deck in the tarot community is something that you either embrace or stray away from. If you stay away from traditional symbolism with your deck, it can be considered a non-usable “art deck”, rather than a fully functioning deck.

It’s like Monopoly. If you create boards with different themes or designs, but stick to the traditional ideas of the game and how it’s played - then it works, yet if you changed everything and made it your own thing, it would become a new game all together. The symbolism of the Ryder Waite was the basis of where we started the foundation of our works and then I created artwork telling the same tale but in my own style and followed the journey of the deck while doing so.

Four Scouts to the New World/ Parts 7-11


By Brian George

The premise, as presented by John Giordano: It is discovered that life can be supported on a pristine planet JUST LIKE THE EARTH located in a distant galaxy. The only difference is that there aren't any humans on the planet. The most evolved animals are apes and monkeys. All the natural resources are the same as Earth. Technology exists to get four people to the planet on a scouting mission. They will stay for one year, planning for the arrival of settlers from Earth.

7

The One Year Plan

Goals will be set, but never achieved. The one year plan will fall by the wayside. Gifts will be kept in circulation. The seven day work week will go the way of taxes, death and television. Food will be sufficient for each day. Projects will be projected from an unknown source onto clouds.

There will be no permanent leader. Skills judged to be valuable on Gaia 1 may prove useless or destructive. Power relationships will be subject to ongoing negotiation. There will be no external agency to impose rules from above. There will be no police to call. The group (of necessity) will be the judge, the punishment and the refuge.

Echoes will collaborate. The dead will all at once remember how to read. Birds will excavate the crumbling records. Leaders will be the temporary masks through which the voice of the new planet will jump as it clamors to express itself.

8

Future of the Group/The Open House

Let us say that the purpose of the four scouts to organize a society. Auroras will cause them forget.

Should we not put aside conventional wisdom, and attempt, as dead and resurrected actors, to see the universe anew? Anxious to avoid being ignorant, there is a good possibility that we know too much. The faculty of direct perception works best when there is empty space. It is simple to ask questions. Such as:

Does consciousness begin at birth? Is matter, as we have been lead to believe, inanimate? Are the living truly separate from the dead?

Can animals talk, and can we stretch our language to communicate with pet prehistoric species?

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Perceived Labyrinth: Reality's Inevitable Fall


By Stephen Hershey 
There have been numerous staples in my recently evolving life that in the very least have corresponded to the purer deconstructions of the known reality. Days before the world's last Christmas, I watched the 1980s film Labyrinth both while rolling and drugged up with an inebriating and exhilirating amount of ketamine.

Before anyone injects their own toxic levels of judgment on my experience, be forewarned that I could care less. Get with the program; they're fun. My admittedly first viewing of
Labyrinth made it clear that Hensen's creations were bred for the altered state of mind. The wake of the evening's opened consciousness has finally brought to words what I'd started to feel.

Bearing the mantle of the planet's current "meta-transformation"--struggling with a near mythological hunger for hoarding energy and obsessions with the ego--it became clear that the protagonist's imaginary labyrinth, created to remove the innocence of "the child," was a metaphor for the disillusioned realities that have been created around us, forming what we see, hear, and relate to on a day-to-day.

As we approach this magnified turning point in our world, the necessity for our species to
choose evolution becoming exponentially direr as the seconds pass, the parasitic technologies and illusions we've created to satisfy and feed the ego are clamoring for survival. As Sarah travels through the labyrinth, searching for her "inner child," Jareth, the Goblin King, the trickster and master of ceremonies, appears to both lead her astray and confide in her wishes.

One doesn't have to be particularly interested to look outside and learn that the boundaries we've established, or the perceived reality--economics, corporation, implanted disinformation--is collapsing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Unlearning Reality : Afragility, Twitter, and Embodying Myth as Incunabula

By Mr. VI

I personally don't suffer with the problem that Hunter S. Thompson did, the problem which he elucidated in the 1978 BBC documentary, and James recalled in his post on Living and Embracing Ego:

"I'm never sure which one people expect me to be. Very often, they conflict — most often, as a matter of fact. ...I'm leading a normal life and right along side me there is this myth, and it is growing and mushrooming and getting more and more warped. When I get invited to, say, speak at universities, I'm not sure if they are inviting Duke or Thompson. I'm not sure who to be."
There is no conflict between the myth and reality for me. The Roman numerals which make up VI are as much a signifier of my self-hood as the name I was given at birth. Gonzo is the insertion of self into the narrative - the breaking of the notion of objectivity. The author goes native, becoming a native of the text or medium.

Native has its roots in natal, relating inextricably to birth and innateness. There is only a conflict if you were ever born somewhere else; the ontological and cultural tensions induce a kind of schizoid existence.

A double life, like Clark Kent and Superman or Bruce Wayne and Batman. We've all read enough comics or seen enough of the films and other media to realise that this tension is manufactured by the environment we're in.

Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne are masks. Batman and Superman are the faces behind those masks. Those faces are the real identities, and they are made of myth, born of it. In Immanence of Myth James and I talk a great deal about the body, the corpus of myth as living flesh.

Whether it be the twilight world of cannibalism, butchery, or simply eating fucking and dying, the reasons for such discussions are horrifically simple:

Our bodies, these flesh and blood machines; by their creaking, groaning, pounding and pulsing they are our method of experiencing the universe, and they are the only one we will ever have.

Going native, becoming part of the narrative; this requires that you become myth. It is in a sense, a second birth, a second Nativity - to become the 'rough beast that slouches toward Bethlehem to be born'.

The body becomes the text, the medium. That is when you have become a native, when your very flesh has been juiced with myth, suffused with and marinaded in it.

It may sound insane, to aim to become a living being composed solely of myth; a thing of dream and nebuluous, quixotic creative potential. After all, if there is no dividing line between fiction and reality, one is insane, no?

Except, there's things like this, where fictional characters tweet supportive messages to the people of Japan:

In the light of last week’s events in Japan, a twitter account has recently surfaced with encouraging comments from previous heroes on tokusatsu shows such as Ultraman, Super Sentai and Kamen Rider.
Tokusatsu means 'special filming'. Of the like seen in, y'know, Godzilla movies or Power Rangers for those of us not up on Japanese culture. Miraculous effects.

This isn't some mystical 'becoming-myth'. No, it's an attempt to help people parse the enormity of a catastrophe. This is an attempt to give people hope.

And it's happening right now, in a so-called 'rational' age. Seriously, am I the only one seeing the connections here? As I said in my last post, albeit obliquely - Godzilla and fellow mythic monsters serve a need that goes way beyond rationality.

Self-Immolation and the Heart of Revolution - Awakening Out of the Dream



By David Metcalfe
“The heart of revolutionary faith, like any faith, is fire: ordinary material transformed into extraordinary form, quantities of warmth suddenly changing the quality of substance. If we do not know what fire is, we know what it does. It burns. It destroys life; but it also supports it as a sort of heat, light and – above all- fascination.”

- James Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men, Origins of the Revolutionary Faith


In November, 1990 a man set himself on fire in front of the U.S. capitol, the news reports from the time say that the reasons for the man’s act were unknown, no riots were forthcoming. Last year the cultural shifts in Egypt, Yemen and Algeria proved a different outcome in light of similar self-immolation. As individuals express their anger, alienation and rejection in self willed conflagration it is igniting their communities into violent uprisings shaking the foundations of global culture.

Our media reports the bare essentials of the acts: lost job, police harassment, oppressive officials; editorials pontificate on the meaning, craft clumsy hagiographies of the individuals involved. The past month there have been reports of self immolation attempts stretching across North Africa, through the Middle East, Central Asia and into China; riots and revolutions erupting in the wake of these incendiary public sacrifices. More than the descriptions, the very flesh on fire is enough to break open the tension flowing through the lives of the worlds hopeful and disaffected.

“It is necessary to seize the suitable moment…with the smallest spark a great fire can be ignited…”

- Sylvain Marechal, Voyages of Pythagoras (1799)


As I’m writing this a young man sits in protest in a Palestinian Mosque, part of the March 15 Youth Coalition who set up tents in the Bethlehem municipality to demand a new Palestinian national council and a unified Palestine. He is threatening to set himself on fire if the Coalition’s demands are not taken seriously. Unlike the young gunmen we have seen emerge in the United States, whose outward acts of inflamed anxiety cause communities to hold vigils and encourage greater controls, these self sacrificial immolations “change the quality of the substance,” of the estrangement, isolation and abuse, to open up the opportunity for cultural change.

Fire is a fluid element, summoned with self sacrifice it rushes through communal streams of thought, transforming dormant discontent and revolutionary potential into active heat. Death comes on as a cold reminder, when someone opens fire in a crowded room the sacrifice opens the void of our own mortality. Invoking fire, invoking change in such an act of stunning self willed abrogation, calls to the very essence of action, of life, inseminating the communal psyche with a heaving need to move and react.

“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

- Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International, at a Human Rights Day ceremony on 10th December 1961

Two years after Beneson spoke Thích Quảng Đức was guided by two Buddhist monks into the street in front of the Cambodian embassy in South Vietnam. As he stood patiently, one of the monks placed a cushion the ground, Duc sat down, drawing himself into the traditional lotus position he offered a prayer to Amitabha Buddha as the other attendant monk poured gasoline over him, and then he lit himself on fire. His austere immovability as the flames erupted around him proved his protest against the Diệm regime’s treatment of Buddhists in South Vietnam.

During a vigil candles are held to remember the dead, when human beings themselves become candles we are called to remember the living and rethink the ineffable community that binds us together. In 2006 a member of the Chicago jazz and improvisational scene, Malachai Richter, set himself on fire in protest of U.S. military actions in the Middle East. In an explanatory note he posted online he says “Maybe some will be scared enough to wake from their walking dream state - am I therefore a martyr or terrorist? I would prefer to be thought of as a 'spiritual warrior'.

For all intents he was an ordinary man, who he describes in his self written obituary as:

“A lover of literature, even more than music, he had always dreamed of being a writer. The handwritten manuscript of his 'fictional autobiography', titled "Farewell Tour", was under consideration by publishers. It had a general theme of shared universal aloneness, and was controversial for seeming to endorse suicide after the age of fifty. His favorite classic authors were Proust and Shakespeare. The metaphor for his life was winning the lottery, but losing the ticket. In the end, the loneliness was overwhelming. He was deeply appreciative for everything that had been given to him, but acutely aware that the greater the present, the higher the price. He was a member of Mensa, and Alcoholics Anonymous since 1990. For him, sobriety was virtually getting a second chance at life. He practiced a personal and private spirituality, seeking to connect across the illusion that separates us from each other. Reportedly, his last words were "rosebud... oops"…and the epitaph that he chose is “I dreamt that I was dreaming.”

In the fire all of that changed, from a guy you might run into at a jazz set, into a signpost for society and a condemnation of our inability to embrace each other. He left a simple note near where he lit himself on fire, a reminder for when the flames died down. It was a brief commandment for the governing powers of the world in hopes that life would prevail through the pain: “Thou shalt not kill.

***

David Metcalfe is an independent researcher and artist focusing on the interstices of art, culture, and consciousness. He is author of “Of Dice and Divinity – Some Thoughts on Gambling and the Western Tradition,” forthcoming in The Immanence of Myth.

Writing and scrawling regularly for The Eyeless Owl, his illustrations were brought to life in the animated collaborative grotesquery A Serious Enquiry Into the Vulgar Notion of Nature featured at select venues in downtown Chicago during the Spring and Fall of 2010. He also co-hosts The Art of Transformations study group with support from the International Alchemy Guild.


Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Living Your Myth 3: Transcendence and Clarification of the Ego

gardenofbadthings
By James Curcio

Living Your Myth series.

In part one, we looked at what complete control one's narrative can play in a person's life - up to the point of death - and ask whether this kind of mythic, literary commitment is a good or bad thing. Of course, that kind of question cannot be definitively answered, only pondered. 

In part two, I talked about transcending the ego, and what a load of horseshit that phrase so often is.



"So often"? Yes. "Transcending the ego" can mean something, but it so rarely does. After discussing this with some people, it seems to me that I wasn't clear enough in my terminology. 

So that, apparently, is part three: clarifying what the hell I meant in part two. (Hey, it's a blog and we're running a piece almost every day lately. What do you want from me?)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Media and Monetizing The Container


By James Curcio
Some of us still remember going to a store to buy a CD, a tape... a record! Or a book. Most of us don't want to buy just any book. We want to buy a book with certain content. A book associated with a certain author or idea we are attracted to.

A few of us bemoan the loss of quality that occurred with the containers themselves over the years. The decline of paper quality, the loss of craftsmanship in the process of mechanization, mass-market industrialization. They are the few who relish the feel of the material object in their hand, consider its craftsmanship a part of what it is. Books themselves used to be works of art. But this is unfortunately an even older perspective on media. Most consumers don't think much about the container, the packaging, or anything else. It is all to be discarded, it is all attractive junk. They want to devour the "good stuff" inside. Or maybe they just want to put the book on their bookshelf and make people think they read it.

You know the story of what's happened. Digital media doesn't require a container. You can download an album, a movie, and now a book, without needing a container. You can carry hundreds or thousands of them around with you. And so we have the advent of "piracy," because all these years we've been monetizing the container. This is not an entirely new point, even for me - I've weighed in on this subject many times in the past. 

What I want to ponder - what I want all of us to ponder - is the conundrum facing both the producers of media and the companies that "support" them. We'll also look at some of the ways that these companies have failed to sufficiently understand the problem they're facing. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cultural Curation On A Chaotic Web: SEO and World-wide Content Strategy

By James Curcio
Over the past few years, I've noticed that it is increasingly difficult to find what you're looking for online. Of course there are (or were? wow) services like delicious. But the issue I'm talking about is signal to noise. There's a ton of information on the net. As Carl Sagan would say in his Kermit-the-frog voice, "billions and billions of" interwubs. How can we parse it, and find what we need? What about when we don't even know what we need?  

This problem is of course how Google has built its empire, especially when it paired this with the concept of ad placement. (Though advertisers themselves are still primarily thinking in non-interactive ways, even when they call it "interactive." subject for another post.) Every time Google puts out a product/service that helps with that, it seems to do well, and whenever they try to enter the social media sphere... well, that's yet again a subject for another post.

Here's the situation. Maybe you can relate: I'm talking to a friend and want to find a video I saw the other night to show them. It takes thirty minutes trying to track down a video that I know is there. Kind of slows down the pace of the discussion, you know?

He says, "yeah, one day they will create algorithms that will make all of this easier."

I think this is precisely the issue: this idea that we should just rely on machines to sort through the noise and somehow know what we're looking for. That the entire brunt of the responsibility falls on our search devices. It's a simplistic view of how information is structured, organized, and how we can deal with it in an increasingly complex, chaotic environment.  

The problem is not a "lack of the right algorithms." 

The problem is manifold. Let's look at it.

Myth as a Weapon: God-Craft

By Dr.Adventure!


Via DC Comics
We live in a culture that often grasps desperately at self creation and improvement. The notion that a person needs to become "better" than they already are is ubiquitous.
Motivated by fear, self consciousness, low self esteem, peer pressure or psychological trauma, people start looking for ways to not suck so hard. This is a double edged sword and in missing the point many are cut by it.

If someone comes to a moment in their life where they are unequivocally fucked by their own actions, it makes sense that they want to change. This comes from an honest assessment of circumstance. If, however, a person is motivated to "improve"
themselves without first understanding their weaknesses, strengths and situation, then they run the risk of weakening themselves by becoming a slave to "Self-Improvement".
How then do we become more than what we are without undermining that change through our insecurities? It starts simple enough, by acting and making decisions from a place of strength.

Guide your actions towards through intimate self knowledge, practical assessment of personal circumstance and courage in the face of the unknown. Please understand that the paths of basic self improvement and Living Mythic are different, but they are paved with the same stones.
I'm not talking about hitting the gym or quitting smoking or not being a lush or not jacking off in public as often; I'm talking about pushing the boundaries of human achievement and Reality itself.
All of these things have something in common: Discipline. Now I know that’s a dirty word to many self styled anarchists and neo-libertines but honestly, how in the fuck do you expect to not be governed without controlling yourself?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Social Evolution: Harking Back to Move Forward?

By Gunther Sonnenfeld
[The following was a real exchange between my friend, Brendan, and his wife, Maureen, over breakfast just the other day. Quick note: Brendan is on the content side of the media business, Maureen deals in social marketing.]

Brendan: "We're so lucky, to be in a moment in time where (storytellers) can literally communicate globally, in real time, about what matters. Beethoven and Picasso and Da Vinci would've given their eye teeth to have what we have. I used to think we had to storm the barricades. But there are no barricades. That's the revolution. There are no barricades."

Maureen: "Yes. We're a new aristocracy -- in the Jane Austen sense: we have the tools and the time and the causes that we can advocate for, because of who we are and because we know these technologies. It's not about an aristocracy of money, either, it's an aristocracy of responsibility and listening. We can lead responsibly, collaboratively, transparently. ‘Social media’ or whatever you want to call it... It's us, because we know how to listen. We are all media. We are all narrative. We are all consensus builders. We are all responsible because we're privileged to understand these technologies and how they change relationships.

By learning how to listen, we've gone back 200 years. Maybe more."

Brendan: (stunned silence)


Image
The transportation of ideas and intentions have existed for centuries. People always were the telegraph system. And when couriers brought messages via horseback, conversations were seeded. People gathered at train stations to discuss the news of the day. In American urban and rural centers, the town hall meeting was a means to converge around economic problems in the community, and there, right in that physical time and space, people made critical decisions and took action.

Technology will always be here with us, or even ahead of us, waiting for us to help it guide us down empathic or ethically-driven paths. The questions remain as to what we are willing to do to make these systems main veins into collective consciousness and civil application, or simply disruptors that enable the manipulation of our individual thoughts, our hearts and our circumstances.

Perhaps the identity of the self can really only be defined through meaningful contribution. And perhaps the social evolution we are witnessing on a global scale is driven by that mythical imprint. It is the ability to harness a narrative through one's own genealogy, and through the promise that biology can be hyper-extended into new spaces in which the choice to become whole is manifested by those truths which really are self-evident.

Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

The Long War – Conflict, Crisis & Militant Myths

“Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let's to music!
I have no life save when the swords clash.
But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,
Then howls my heart nigh mad with rejoicing. ”

Verse 1 – Sestina Altaforte, by Ezra Pound

Riots in Egypt, riots in Bahrain, riots in Greece, and now war in Libya, the breaching beast of globalization will have no bloodless birth. Conflict is the price of emergent paradigms; whether it’s polemical rants or missile strikes, a new world is no easy child to bear.

With the shooting in Arizona we saw the power of words and images to create an atmosphere where a subtle spark in the mind of the right individual can lead them to wing off in a violent purgation of their inner demons. Take that to the level of an entire society, and we see the roots of global conflict.

The conflict currently raging in the Middle East and Northern Africa are logical proofs for the powerful marriage of λόγος (logos) and τέχνη (tekhne), language and art, rhetoric and artifice. Communications spurred by technical proficiency engage directly with the immediate mind of individuals and cultures, allowing for slow seeding with the social equivalent of SEO. Produce a cultural script with the proper terms, and then bring it to life by working those terms into the narrative of your choosing. Or use preexisting cultural scripts and reformat the keywords to fit your meaning, repeat across all mediated outlets and let simmer until it starts to spark.

Myth draws out images from the ever present plenum, the chaotic matrix where all possibility resides. Myth sculpts raw energy into motivating forces that act on the culture to produce tangible results. Sound, narrative and image reproduce the potential for action and build guidelines for actualization. When this is used for militant ends we “see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing ; And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson.”

We write our wars against the standards of the divinized rights of humanity, but the underlying truth still shows up the artificial script. A Κρίσις (Krisis) is the ‘turning point in a disease’, pointing to a trial that separates the healthy from the unhealthy, the gold from the dross, sometimes it’s even rendered as ‘judgement’. A crisis in society marks the point at which the social infrastructure is tested, Violent lesions break out on the surface, the poison pushes out through the skin.

Last night I met three kids from the Navy, barely 18, it was 4am and they were wandering the streets waiting for a 6:30 train. They had taken two trains, and traveled for at least 3 hours to go dancing at a local club. As I walked past them and down the street I noticed the headlines and realized that “Gadhafi Vows to Defeat Western Forces” and “Gadhafi warns of ‘long-drawn war’ after airstrikes” meant that these kids might not have very many opportunities to dance in the coming years. Last night may be one of the last good memories they have of quiet suburban streets and the minor inconvenience of public transit.

Here is where the myths steps forward, to reenact the event in light of some broader narrative that reads “crimson” in place of pain. Stories clad in symbols rewrite the horror, and pave the way for the true long war, the continuous conflict raging since the first stone was set and civilization rose out of the crisis of nature ravaged by an orgy of technical hubris. The news writes ‘raining missles’ and authorizes a vision that keeps corpses in the background, and the light opens on our sons and daughters dancing to a song of war, awaiting the spark of life in their eyes to dim as “the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,”

“I tell you that I find no such savor in eating butter and sleeping, as when I hear cried "On them!" and from both sides hear horses neighing through their head-guards, and hear shouted "To aid! To aid!" and see the dead with lance truncheons, the pennants still on them, piercing their sides.

Barons! put in pawn castles, and towns, and cities before anyone makes war on us.

Papiol, be glad to go speedily to "Yea and Nay", and tell him there's too much peace about.”

- Be'm platz lo gais temps de pascor, by Bertran de Born (trans. Ezra Pound)

***

David Metcalfe is an independent researcher and artist focusing on the interstices of art, culture, and consciousness. He is author of “Of Dice and Divinity – Some Thoughts on Gambling and the Western Tradition,” forthcoming in The Immanence of Myth.

Writing and scrawling regularly for The Eyeless Owl, his illustrations were brought to life in the animated collaborative grotesquery A Serious Enquiry Into the Vulgar Notion of Nature featured at select venues in downtown Chicago during the Spring and Fall of 2010. He also co-hosts The Art of Transformations study group with support from the International Alchemy Guild.

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Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

EPISODE TWO: STILL BI WINNING!

Thus continues the descent of Rusty Shackleford. This is the most recent installment I received from him. He's becoming increasingly... Well. See for yourselves. -JC



NOTES ON "MY" FRIEND DONALD:
My Friend Donald just left. "I" "think"(?) He *IS* permanently scarred after watching "me" "write" "shit like this" for like "six"

(an "arbitrary" "unit" ov "measurement",)

"HOURS",

(which *IS* another "arbitrary" "unit" ov "measurement" that relates to
another "illusion", that which *IS* called "Time" and "IMAGINED" as a "FOURTH DIMENSION" by "SOME CREDIBLE SCIENTIFIC ASSHOLE CALLED 'EINSTEIN'"(TM!),

[who incidentally also happened to be called "retarded" by his "teachers" at a young age...]

and which does not "Really" "Exist" in any sense other than "being" "imaginary" (?).... And iT's "too late" [or "early", depending upon how "YOU" "see" iT, for thee "writer" to get into trying to "talk" about that anyway])....


[NOTE thee "BROAD FUCKING FINGER QUOTATION MARKS" USED to denote concepts as "inauthentic" (like this blog "RUSTY SHACKLEFORD"(TM!) *IS* "writing", if "you, thee reader" can call this "WRITING".... ) or "imaginary constructs" & "made out of words" and thus BULLSHIT/beLIEf systems (BS).]

Dystopian Fallout Tunes in the Wake of the 1950's Nuclear Family; (Or, Why Purim, Elin Nordegren, the Supermoon, and Forever 21 are in this Title)

Social Media Marketing Madness Cartoon by HubSpot
By Wes Unruh
If you want to understand social media SEO and figure out why I referenced Purim, Elin Nordegren, the Supermoon, and Forever 21 in the title to this piece, forget what gavin said about the 1950's - the 1950's were far from a wonderful time - though the rest of his piece makes sense and is a much more logical thing to read. Let me explain what I mean with these five songs which, for some strange reason, drip with dystopian essence for me, and which were all written by people trying desperately to escape the energies of the 1950's:

The Animals rendition of We Gotta Get out of This Place, recorded 1965.

Lyrics clip: Now my girl you're so young and pretty / And one thing I know is true / You'll be dead before your time is due, I know.

Living Your Myth 2: Living And Embracing Ego

By James Curcio
Living Your Myth series.

There is a question that I left floating under the piece I wrote about suicide, Mishima and Hunter S Thompson. It was raised to me by several people, though it was a conversation with Rudy Rauben that got me thinking maybe I should fill in that silence rather than just leave it hang in the air.

(And dealing with it, filling that silence - maybe this is the ego of the writer, which refuses to just shut up and let you take that extra step. And I'll get to that in a second.)

Photo Rachel Reynolds
Why is it so important how they died? We are interested because of how they got there, yet we fixate on the end. Thus we see our fixation on ends; the culmination, finish, or goal, the idealized future, and also the ends to means.

This future-fixation, as I discussed previously, was dealt with in an essay by Alan Dundes. I won't repeat that, especially as I've reworked it in the process of compiling The Immanence of Myth.

But I do want to direct our gaze towards living rather than dying, for those who might interpret what I said as advocacy of suicide. There are, maybe, many people this world could use less of. The likes of Hunter S Thompson and Yukio Mishima are not amongst them.

Maybe the literary nature of the suicides of authors, we can for instance add Hemingway to this list, should not be especially surprising. As every story, we believe, must have a beginning middle and end.

There is the end, and if we are so committed to a particular identity, or if our body simply will no longer bear us forward into a new story, then that end will be literal.

But what about this identification with character?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Godzilla's Rage: Japan's Doom, Myth, Magic and Black Swans


By Mr. VI

Godzilla is distinctly annoyed. So is Mothra, and it’s not good to annoy giant monsters, whether they be saurian or of the genus Lepidoptera. Earthquake, tsunami and radiation? Japan knows what’s happening - it’s known for years.

Don’t tell me otherwise. This is the realm of strange beasts, the kaiju; the giant monsters, the daikajiu. Plumes of atomic fire, thousands dead, cities crushed while valiant nuclear workers struggle to stop their power stations from meltdown.

Across the world, the panicked peoples twitch and bulk-buy radiation pills, echoes of Chernobyl reverberating up from the memory of the past. Whole cities emptied, half-ruined in irradiated moments - petrified by absence as man fled.

Go back a quarter of a century. Wormwood blazed out then; bitter blasted grass marking the passage of star-fire - and yet people have the gall to ask ‘what’s in a name?’

And the inexorable biological movements continue. The biosphere creaks and groans, an alien speech which is way beyond hominid primates. It adapts and shifts, moving with epochal speed; tellurian movements ripple and shudder like the scales of some great monstrosity beneath the waves.

The gloaming is Cherenkov blue; between today and tomorrow the chaos is raising its head, birthing monsters like Tiamat from the salty seas.

The Tower’s been blasted, and everything is in free-fall.

Listen to the narratives, the white noise - the babble of confusion. Myriad voices, all striving to be heard. Experts rise and fall like the wave of a tsunami. The fact that Japan wasn’t totally destroyed by 9.0 earthquake is conveniently forgotten.

Yes, Godzilla is pissed off. The kami stretch and yawn; mountains shiver in their beds. In time, the risk assessors will sagely nod. Oh yes.

And yet:

'The Japanese Nuclear Commission had the following goals set in 2003: " The mean value of acute fatality risk by radiation exposure resultant from an accident of a nuclear installation to individuals of the public, who live in the vicinity of the site boundary of the nuclear installation, should not exceed the probability of about 1x10^6 per year (that is , at least 1 per million years)".

That policy was designed only 8 years ago. Their one in a million-year accident occurred about 8 year later.'

Living Your Myth 1: Mishima And Dying For Your Convictions

By James Curcio
Living Your Myth series.

To die for an idea is stupid, people say. Ideas aren't real.

Nowadays, the posture of choice is disengagement. Sure, we'll discuss ideas. Especially if it has any hope of getting us laid. But commitment to an idea or an ideal is so... passe. That was something that died with the 20th century, along with a lot of things that we can happily say we've left to rot in the past. Intellectual is a synonym with ineffectual. Art is a pretense by definition. The highest art now is art that makes fun of itself, or so says the co-creator of just such a piece.

Well, I've talked a great deal on this site about the ways that ideas-as-myths are living as much as we are. The ways that they enter into the world, enter into "reality," especially through our actions. The ways they real-ize ideas, and how we re-ify the world through them.

Sounds like a lot of bullshit ideas to me.

A writer deals in words. Words symbolize ideas. They can evoke emotions. But what's in a word, really? When is it time for action, and what is that action?

What is the greatest act a person can make? Is it the greatest sacrifice? And how many of you think your ideas are worth dying for? Certainly the suicide bomber has been convinced of this. We look away in discomfort or snub our noses at such fanatics. Mostly, I'd say, rightly so. They've been duped. They've been sold a unicorn and paid for it with flesh blood and mortar, and not all of it was theirs to sacrifice.

But there's another side to this posture of disengagement and apathy. It turns us to good cattle, good consumers. Good slaves who do our master's bidding because it is easier that way, easier than challenging and possibly facing death as the repercussion of our actions. Maybe this was the future that Yukio Mishima saw for his dying Empire; a future so bereft of honor and dignity that the only thing he could do in response was shove a blade through his innards. The death of a warrior, not a writer. His suicide could then be seen as a final transformation: writer into warrior. Thinker into actor. But this transformation is only complete when it resonates with a culture. When those ripples reach outwards across the years, transform entire civilizations. We all know the power of a martyr.

This was not Mishima's fate. He was a man in so many ways out of step with his time, a relic. To mix metaphors, if a man can become a metaphor, he was the final gasp of a dying mythology. The modern narrative on suicide, even in Japan, is not what it was. To the West, his was the death of a coward. We even sigh sadly at the thought of Hunter S Thompson blowing his brains out, a sound not unlike a book dropping heavily to the floor, or so said his son Juan. What poetry, the final sound for a writer to make. A book falling to the floor. Or perhaps Juan was doing a little myth-making of his own.

Bees, Nectar, UX and Viral Marketing

As a follow-up to the thoughts considered in this post (the final version of this will be in The Immanence of Myth), here are some follow-up thoughts including a video provided by a commenter:




An Environmental Machinima film based on Willi Paul's modern myth, The Bee Cave Spirits

...To an extent we all serve both as “bees” (memebearers) and “flowers” (nexus points, which can be codified within books, movies, or really in whatever container seems most appropriate to the nature of the narrative.) So we may be lured in by the narrative, or some other element, but what we take in and carry on are the memes embedded within it, which may very well have been placed there completely unconsciously by the author. As I previously stated, this can be seen as the genetic code of a myth, and I imagine few of us are consciously aware of our genes. Consider this rather bizarre fragment from my even more bizarre first novel, Join My Cult!, (free PDF!)
Black Osiris: Time to start spreading us a little pollen, ain’ that right boys ’n girls?
Anne: Pollen?
Leri: That’s how we look at spreading memes.
Crazy Fingers: Viral marketing.
Anne: Memes?
Black Osiris: Bees help big flowers make little flowers, Anne. A
meme’s a… thought-language pattern, a contagious one.
Leri: (READING FROM DICTIONARY) “A unit of cultural
information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted
verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.”
Anne: Like… “mother hive brain,” or “I am America’s favorite soft
drink,” or “I am the monkey flower, pollinate me,” or “I am a
neurosurgeon,” or…
Black Osiris: So like I was saying about d’ bees…
Leri: (CUTTING HIM OFF) They have no vested interest in the
spreading of pollen. It’s just an accident that flowers capitalize on. It
allows them to reproduce.
Black Osiris: Yeah, yeah! Gettin’ wu wei with that shit. If I’m really doing things right, I’m doin’ them effortless.
Crazy Fingers: I was watching Muhammed Ali box today. He looked
almost careless to an untrained eye. But he tore Holyfield apart, or more
accurately, pecked at him until he made himself fall apart.
Leri: That’s why Bruce Lee was so impressed with him.
Black Osiris: So ya see, If I’m operatin’ effortless, dialed up the
morphone see, then I’m really spreadin’ pollen.
Rachelle: There’s a saying in the Hopi tradition… when you’re acting effortlessly like that, you’re “on the pollen path.”
     What sweet nectar and bright colors will lure in the unwitting insects? That's the question advertisers are bound to ask. The market is strictly concerned with selling the container. We imagine bees are blissfully unaware of the pollen, they are drawn by the flower. The same is true in advertising. Countless dollars have been spent researching customer reaction to different colors, configurations of symbols and patterns. Certainly, much of this plays into the cutting edge of UX design. But, in contradiction of the common wisdom that says our biological similarities make us all susceptible to the same patterns, at least if we are looking for big-picture trends, it has been my experience that results vary depending on the “species of insect.”






Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

Four Scouts to the New World/ Parts 5 and 6


By Brian George

Note: “Four Scouts to the New World” was written several years ago, but I have chosen to post it now because of its connection to the crisis that is unfolding in Japan. One of the central themes of the essay is that any and all “perfect systems” have an innate tendency to self-destruct. The Tao Te Ching says, “The greatest perfection seems imperfect,” and “That which approaches perfection will soon end.”

People tend to use the words “tragedy” and “disaster” as if they were interchangeable; they are not. A “disaster” is an event that appears to happen by itself, that is thrust upon us from the external world—although this may or may not ultimately be so. A “tragedy,” on the other hand, is an event that directs us reexamine and to probe the highly peculiar nature of human action in the world. The key point is: That the actor has done nothing wrong.

A crisis has arrived, which demands that the actor act; in order to do so he must choose between two equally impossible alternatives. We are left with no choice but to empathize with the actor—for any choice that he makes will be simultaneously both right and wrong. The daily bureaucratic and scientific and political business of the world may be little more than the slow-motion clockwork that gives form to this tragic arc.

If the actor could view his projections from all of 360 degrees, it might be possible—for some period of time, and only just—to keep his actions in alignment with the whole.

If he launches a pet project—whether an essay called “Four Scouts to the New World,” or a boat made from the bones of gods, or a genetically engineered species, or a form of government, or a chain of nuclear reactors—he will tend to see it in a positive light. To act well, he must keep his focus; it is natural that he should block out any dissonant information. But reality is always vaster and more unpredictable than we think.
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