Monthly Archives: November 2020

Omnium Gatherum: 29nov2020

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for November 29, 2020

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • Tonight! “Judi Dench and Ian McKellen head cast for Zoom show in aid of UK theatre workers. Maggie Smith and Derek Jacobi also among those who will take part in comedy fundraiser.” “The comedy performance, called For One Knight Only, will take place on 29 November and tickets cost £45.” “Judi Dench, Ian McKellen and Maggie Smith are among some of the biggest names in British theatre who will join forces for a one-off Zoom performance in aid of the struggling arts industry. Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Branagh will also take part in the performance, which will raise money for people who used to work in UK theatres closed by the pandemic.” Lockdown Theatre, in Association With Acting for Others, Presents: For One Knight Only, Sunday November 29th 2020 7pm (GMT), Tickets £45.
  • Oh, yeah! It’s almost time to start following news about the Gävle Goat!
    There’s already new posts on the Gävlebocken twitter and live stream scheduled for today, Nov 29th, 10am US/Central! Also, head to their site to get your DIY Bockcorn papercraft 🍿 so you’re ready! I gotta say whilst I look forward to the spirit raising fun of vicariously sacrificing a goat in effigy each season up until now, I’m a little ambivalent this year. I’d be okay if the little guy survived the season. I mean, I’ll still enjoy the shit out of it going up in flames, if it does, but I’m also kinda hoping it doesn’t, this time around.

  • Coil: Sacred, Psychedelic, and Very Disciplined. Dais Records releases Coil’s 1999 “Musick to Play in the Dark” on November 27.” About Musick To Play In The Dark [Amazon, Spotify] by Coil
  • My memories of Coil.”—”My memories of Coil resound with warmth and affection and I still very much miss these two playful, inventive, innovative characters. Gracefully their music can continue to resonate and inspire others. Their story is modest, but one that touched and stimulated so many others.”
  • Check out this Large Seraph Pin [Also] by Jeffrey Kupperman, of library reflection Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition.
  • Troy Books has launched a new Redbubble shop featuring artwork and illustrations by Gemma Gary, drawn from a number of Troy’s titles and are available as a selection of art prints and other products. They’ve got a 10% Black Friday discount on all items through midnight on Monday, November 30.
  • Melancholia History Magazine, volume 5 (2020), from Centro Estudios Esoterismo Occidental, available for free download.
  • Issue 10.2 of the International Journal for the Study of New Religions is now available, open access.
  • Sursum, quando arte e occulto si incontrano.” In English: “Sursum, when art and the occult meet.”—”Among the various artistic currents that developed in those years in the territory of the modern day Czech Republic, what deserves particular attention was what has been defined as ‘The second generation of symbolists’, which found its maximum expression in the work of the Sursum artistic association (Umělecké sdružení Sursum), which takes its name from the Latin motto ‘Sursum corda’ (Lift up your hearts!).”
  • Sigil Engine—”Welcome to the Sigil Engine. A technomantic tool to create magickal sigils, quickly and easily.” Also, from 2015: Sigil Generator—”Choose from the dropdown below or just start typing to generate a sigil, calculate gematria, walk the tree of life, use a dreamachine, or deal tarot/runes/i-ching! ”
  • Has the Childhood Home of Jesus Been Found? Excavations underneath a convent have elicited some eye-popping claims from some experts.” About The Sisters of Nazareth Convent: A Roman-period, Byzantine, and Crusader Site in Central Nazareth by Ken Dark
  • Watch “How ‘voodoo’ became a metaphor for evil.”—”‘Voodoo’ has come to represent something evil when it appears in popular culture. ‘Black magic’, witchcraft – it’s always portrayed as something to be feared. But in reality, Vodou, as it’s correctly written, is an official religion practised by millions of people. Why has it been vilified for so long? Josh Toussaint-Strauss looks back over the history of Vodou and its portrayal to find an answer.”
  • “HOUSE OF SPELLS. Couple find ‘witchcraft den’ filled with animal skulls in secret nook under staircase while renovating 16th-century home. A COUPLE renovating an old country farmhouse have found spine-chilling “witchcraft” den hidden under their staircase.”
  • De Natura Deorum, a charity zine focused on Mythology, on digital pre-order, due January 2021. “Born from the desire to finance non-profit organizations committed to protecting the planet’s natural resources, ‘De Natura Deorum’ is a project focused on Nature and Mythology: nearly 130 pages divided into five chapters, one for each element (Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Spirit) complete with Character Designs, Illustrations, Poems and Short stories.”
  • The Coptic Life of Aaron. Critical Edition, Translation and Commentary [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Jacques van der Vliet and Jitse Dijkstra—”The Life of Aaron is one of the most interesting and sophisticated hagiographical works surviving in Coptic. The work contains descriptions of the lives of ascetic monks, in particular Apa Aaron, on the southern Egyptian frontier in the fourth and early fifth centuries, and was probably written in the sixth century. Even though the first edition of this work was already published by E.A. Wallis Budge in 1915, a critical edition remained outstanding. In this book Jitse H.F. Dijkstra and Jacques van der Vliet present not only a critical text, for the most part based on the only completely preserved, tenth-century manuscript, but also a new translation and an exhaustive commentary addressing philological, literary and historical aspects of the text.”
  • Jesus and Addiction to Origins: Toward an Anthropocentric Study of Religion [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Willi Braun edited by Russell McCutcheon, afterword by William Arnal—”This collection of essays constitutes an extended argument for an anthropocentric, human-focused study of religious practices. Part I presents the basic premise of the argument, which is that there is nothing special or extraordinary about human behaviors and constructs that are claimed to have uniquely religious status and authority. Instead, they are fundamentally human, and so the scholar of religion is engaged in nothing more or less than studying humans across time and place in all their complex existence—which includes creating more-than-human beings and realities. As an extended and detailed example of such an approach, Part II addresses practices, rhetoric, and other data in early Christianities within Greco-Roman cultures and religions. The underlying aim is to insert studies of the New Testament and non-canonical texts, most often presented as “biblical studies,” into the anthropocentric study of religion proposed in Part I. How might we approach the study of “sacred texts” if they are nothing more or less than human documents deriving from situations that were themselves all too human? Braun’s Jesus and Addiction to Origins addresses that question with clarity and insight.”
  • The Jefferson Bible: A Biography [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Peter Manseau, part of the Lives of Great Religious Books series—”The life and times of a uniquely American testament. In his retirement, Thomas Jefferson edited the New Testament with a penknife and glue, removing all mention of miracles and other supernatural events. Inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment, Jefferson hoped to reconcile Christian tradition with reason by presenting Jesus of Nazareth as a great moral teacher—not a divine one. Peter Manseau tells the story of the Jefferson Bible, exploring how each new generation has reimagined the book in its own image as readers grapple with both the legacy of the man who made it and the place of religion in American life. Completed in 1820 and rediscovered by chance in the late nineteenth century after being lost for decades, Jefferson’s cut-and-paste scripture has meant different things to different people. Some have held it up as evidence that America is a Christian nation founded on the lessons of the Gospels. Others see it as proof of the Founders’ intent to root out the stubborn influence of faith. Manseau explains Jefferson’s personal religion and philosophy, shedding light on the influences and ideas that inspired him to radically revise the Gospels. He situates the creation of the Jefferson Bible within the broader search for the historical Jesus, and examines the book’s role in American religious disputes over the interpretation of scripture. Manseau describes the intrigue surrounding the loss and rediscovery of the Jefferson Bible, and traces its remarkable reception history from its first planned printing in 1904 for members of Congress to its persistent power to provoke and enlighten us today.”
  • (In)Visibility: Reflections upon Visibility and Transcendence in Theology, Philosophy and the Arts. [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] edited by Anna Vind, Iben Damgaard, Kirsten Busch Nielsen, and Sven Rune Havsteen—”The content of the book reconsiders the relation between visibility and transcendence. The focus is especially on the contribution to this issue from the theological tradition in protestant Europe between the 16th and the 21st Centuries. In the book a thematically broad field is covered embracing more than five centuries and a plurality of methods drawn from theology, philosophy, and the history and theory of art.The book is divided into five sub-themes: In the first and more fundamental part, ‘The phenomenology of in-visibility’, questions underlying the other four themes are sought defined or narrowed down. Here the modes of appearing/revealing or hiding of phenomena are reflected. In the second section of the book dealing with ‘Language as a mode of revealing and hiding’ the specific role of verbal expressions understood in a very broad sense is at the core: What is the fundamental understanding and use of language, when speaking of the ineffable? The third section about ‘Human existence between visibility and invisibility’ focuses on theological anthropology: its features and norms. The ambiguity of anthropological categories such as faith, rationality, imagination, memory and emotion play a prominent role in this context. The fourth section concerning ‘The manifestation of a ‘beyond’ in the arts’ investigates transcendence in the arts. What are the theological discourses behind the religious uses of the different artistic media (i.e. images, music, liturgical inventory, architecture)? Finally in the fifth section concerning ‘Visible community and invisible transcendence’ one finds contributions working with the idea of ‘vicarious representation’.”
  • Mystery Cults in Visual Representation in Graeco-Roman Antiquity [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] edited by Nicole Belayche and Francesco Massa, volume 194 of the Religions in the Graeco-Roman World series—”Mystery Cults in Visual Representation in Graeco-Roman Antiquity aims to fill a gap in the study of mystery cults in Graeco-Roman Antiquity by focusing on images for investigating their ritual praxis. Nicole Belayche and Francesco Massa have gathered experts on visual language in order to illuminate cultic rituals renowned for both their “mysteries” and their images. This book tackles three interrelated questions. Focusing on the cult of Dionysus, it analyses whether, and how, images are used to depict mystery cults. The relationship between historiography and images of mystery cults is considered with a focus on the Mithraic and Isiac cults. Finally, turning to the cults of Dionysus and the Mother of the Gods, this work shows how depictions of specific cultic objects succeed in expressing mystery cults.”
  • Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Peter Schäfer, translated by Allison Brown—”A book that challenges our most basic assumptions about Judeo-Christian monotheism” “Contrary to popular belief, Judaism was not always strictly monotheistic. Two Gods in Heaven reveals the long and little-known history of a second, junior god in Judaism, showing how this idea was embraced by rabbis and Jewish mystics in the early centuries of the common era and casting Judaism’s relationship with Christianity in an entirely different light. Drawing on an in-depth analysis of ancient sources that have received little attention until now, Peter Schäfer demonstrates how the Jews of the pre-Christian Second Temple period had various names for a second heavenly power—such as Son of Man, Son of the Most High, and Firstborn before All Creation. He traces the development of the concept from the Son of Man vision in the biblical book of Daniel to the Qumran literature, the Ethiopic book of Enoch, and the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria. After the destruction of the Second Temple, the picture changes drastically. While the early Christians of the New Testament took up the idea and developed it further, their Jewish contemporaries were divided. Most rejected the second god, but some—particularly the Jews of Babylonia and the writers of early Jewish mysticism—revived the ancient Jewish notion of two gods in heaven. Describing how early Christianity and certain strands of rabbinic Judaism competed for ownership of a second god to the creator, this boldly argued and elegantly written book radically transforms our understanding of Judeo-Christian monotheism.”
  • The Final Pagan Generation: Rome’s Unexpected Path to Christianity [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Edward J. Watts,part of the Transformation of the Classical Heritage series—”A compelling history of radical transformation in the fourth-century–when Christianity decimated the practices of traditional pagan religion in the Roman Empire.” “The Final Pagan Generation recounts the fascinating story of the lives and fortunes of the last Romans born before the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Edward J. Watts traces their experiences of living through the fourth century’s dramatic religious and political changes, when heated confrontations saw the Christian establishment legislate against pagan practices as mobs attacked pagan holy sites and temples. The emperors who issued these laws, the imperial officials charged with implementing them, and the Christian perpetrators of religious violence were almost exclusively young men whose attitudes and actions contrasted markedly with those of the earlier generation, who shared neither their juniors’ interest in creating sharply defined religious identities nor their propensity for violent conflict. Watts examines why the “final pagan generation”—born to the old ways and the old world in which it seemed to everyone that religious practices would continue as they had for the past two thousand years—proved both unable to anticipate the changes that imperially sponsored Christianity produced and unwilling to resist them. A compelling and provocative read, suitable for the general reader as well as students and scholars of the ancient world.”
  • Bertelsmann to Buy S&S for $2.2 Billion.”—”Bertelsmann has emerged as the winning bidder for Simon & Schuster. In an announcement this morning, the parent company of Penguin Random House said it had reached an agreement to buy S&S from ViacomCBS for $2.175 billion.” Also “Book Business Reacts to Simon & Schuster Sale.” Also “Pretty Soon There’ll Be Just One Big Book Publisher Left. The acquisition of Simon & Schuster by Penguin Random House shows that the industry is headed toward a monopolistic singularity.” Also The Monster Publishing Merger Is About Amazon. Penguin Random House purchasing Simon & Schuster is not the gravest danger to the publishing business. The deal is transpiring in a larger context—and that context is Amazon.”
  • William S Burroughs and the Cult of Rock’n’Roll by Casey Rae review – countercultural hero. From Bowie to Cobain, heavy metal to Blade Runner – how the Naked Lunch author changed pop culture.” About William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by library anthology artist Casey Rae—”William S. Burroughs’s fiction and essays are legendary, but his influence on music’s counterculture has been less well documented-until now. Examining how one of America’s most controversial literary figures altered the destinies of many notable and varied musicians, William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll reveals the transformations in music history that can be traced to Burroughs.”
  • Delusions of failure. We are drawn to the idea that we can turn our mistakes into milestones – but there are no great lessons to be learned from losing.” About If You Should Fail: A Book Of Solace [Amazon, Publisher] by Joe Moran—”Enter widely acclaimed observer of daily life Professor Joe Moran, not to tell you that everything will be all right in the end, but to reassure you that failure is an occupational hazard of being human. It’s the small print in life’s terms and conditions.” And about Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong [Amazon, Publisher] by Elizabeth Day—”In Failosophy Elizabeth Day brings together all the lessons she has learned, from conversations with the guests on her award-winning How to Fail podcast, from stories shared with her by readers and listeners, and from her own life, and distils them into seven principles of failure.”
  • Down with Occurrences.” About Out of Italy: Two Centuries of World Domination and Demise [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds—”In the fifteenth century, even before the city states of the Apennine Peninsula began to coalesce into what would become, several centuries later, a nation, “Italy” exerted enormous influence over all of Europe and throughout the Mediterranean. Its cultural, economic, and political dominance is utterly astonishing and unique in world history. Viewing the Italy–the many Italies–of that time through the lens of today allows us to gather a fragmented, multi-faceted and seemingly contradictory history into a single unifying narrative that speaks to our current reality as much as it does to a specific historical period. This is what the acclaimed French historian, Fernand Braudel, achieves here. He brings to life the two extraordinary centuries that span the Renaissance, Mannerism, and the Baroque and analyzes the complex interaction between art, science, politics and commerce during Italy’s extraordinary cultural flowering.”
  • The Way We Speak Now: On David Bromwich’s ‘Writing Politics’.” About Writing Politics: An Anthology [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] edited and with an introduction by David Bromwich—”David Bromwich is one of the most well-informed, cogent, and morally uncompromising political writers on the left today. He is also one of our finest intellectual historians and literary critics. In Writing Politics, Bromwich presents twenty-seven essays by different writers from the beginning of the modern political world in the seventeenth century until recent times, essays that grapple with issues that continue to shape history—revolution and war, racism, women’s rights, the status of the worker, the nature of citizenship, imperialism, violence and nonviolence, among them—and essays that have also been chosen as superlative examples of the power of written English to reshape our thoughts and the world. Jonathan Swift, Edmund Burke, Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, George Eliot, W. E. B. Du Bois, Mohandas Gandhi, Virginia Woolf, Martin Luther King, and Hannah Arendt are here, among others, along with a wide-ranging introduction.”
  • “Review: Rebecca Harkins-Crosson the Ferrante Letters. A Dying Art.” About The Ferrante Letters: An Experiment in Collective Criticism [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Sarah Chihaya, Merve Emre, Katherine Hill, and Jill Richards; part of the Literature Now series—”Like few other works of contemporary literature, Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels found an audience of passionate and engaged readers around the world. Inspired by Ferrante’s intense depiction of female friendship and women’s intellectual lives, four critics embarked upon a project that was both work and play: to create a series of epistolary readings of the Neapolitan Quartet that also develops new ways of reading and thinking together.”
  • “Middle-age crisis. The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science by Seb Falk reviewed.” About The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Seb Falk—”An illuminating guide to the scientific and technological achievements of the Middle Ages through the life of a crusading astronomer-monk.” “The Light Ages offers a gripping story of the struggles and successes of an ordinary man in a precarious world and conjures a vivid picture of medieval life as we have never seen it before. An enlightening history that argues that these times weren’t so dark after all, The Light Ages shows how medieval ideas continue to color how we see the world today.”
  • The Liberal Establishment Is ‘a Stranger to Self-Examination’. A conversation with Pankaj Mishra about Biden’s closer-than-expected victory, the sterile state of mainstream intellectual culture, and his new book Bland Fanatics.” About Bland Fanatics: Liberals, Race, and Empire [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Pankaj Mishra—”A wide-ranging, controversial collection of critical essays on the political mania plaguing the West by one of the most important public intellectuals of our time.”
  • Government Security Clearance Isn’t Always Great fora Writing Career. ‘I submitted my work and waited. And waited. Fifteen months, I waited.'”
  • Jupiter and Saturn are going to form a ‘double planet’ before Christmas. Jupiter and Saturn will align in a way that shows a double-planet.” Also “Jupiter and Saturn are about to do something not seen for nearly 800 years.”
  • From the Quark dept., it’s the United Galactic Sanitation Patrol: “ESA commissions world’s first space debris removal
  • Can a Computer Devise a Theory of Everything? It might be possible, physicists say, but not anytime soon. And there’s no guarantee that we humans will understand the result.”
  • Ancient Earth had a thick, toxic atmosphere like Venus—until it cooled off and became liveable.”
  • Earth is closer to supermassive black hole at center of our galaxy than we thought.”
  • Scientists find neutrinos from star fusion for the first time.”
  • Teacher’s decades-old find on a Northern Ireland beach turns out to be the island’s first-ever dinosaur discovery
  • Dino-era bird had the head of a Velociraptor and beak of a toucan. Meet the “Toucan Sam” of the dinosaur era.”
  • Neutrino detection gets to the core of the Sun.”
  • Temple Restoration Reveals Previously Unknown Names of Ancient Egyptian Constellations. The restoration of an ancient Egyptian temple in Esna, located about 60 km south of the ancient capital of Luxor in Egypt, has uncovered the original colors of the temple inscriptions and images, and revealed previously unknown names of ancient Egyptian constellations.”
  • Amateur astronomer Alberto Caballero finds possible source of Wow! signal.”
  • Leaf-cutter ant first insect found with biomineral body armour.”
  • New X-ray technique reveals clues about ancient 1,900-year-old mummy
  • Facebook Struggles to Balance Civility and Growth. Employees and executives are battling over how to reduce misinformation and hate speech without hurting the company’s bottom line.” Also tweet—”Facebook also ran tests this year to figure out if ‘bad for the world’ content could be demoted in users’ feeds. It could, but there was a problem: it decreased the number of times users opened Facebook.”
  • Tweet—”Holy fuck. The word dystopian is not nearly strong enough to describe the fresh hellhole Microsoft just opened up. Just as the reputation of a new and better company was being built, they detonate it with the most invasive work-place surveillance scheme yet to hit mainstream.” Also tweet—”They told us who they were back in 2013 when it came to systematizing and promoting the exploitation of workers, but we did not really listen, did we?” Also tweet—”Esoteric metrics based on analyzing extensive data about employee activities has been mostly the domain of fringe software vendors. Now it’s built into MS 365. A new feature to calculate ‘productivity scores’ turns Microsoft 365 into an full-fledged workplace surveillance tool:” From 2013: Microsoft’s dystopian pitch for remote work.
  • Tweet thread of a train wreak—”Broken Arrow City Council about to vote on whether they want to pass a resolution ‘strongly encouraging the use of masks’. There was a ton of misinformation about masks/COVID at their last meeting so I wouldn’t take it as a given that even this will pass, but, let’s see”
  • Tweet thread—”Right-wing media is now absolutely completely consumed by anti-voting machine hysteria. I have to tell you, I’m okay with this! If their anxiety results in more thorough audit trails and a determination to keep these machines updated and with paper verification, it’s good!”
  • Bird flu fears grow after spate of mysterious UK swan deaths. Virus causing ‘high levels of mortality’ in birds, with risk to chickens and other poultry”
  • Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts. To come out of this pandemic better than we went in, we must let ourselves be touched by others’ pain.”
  • Americans revive spirit of first Thanksgiving by carrying disease to new areas.”
  • Lockdown loneliness: Social isolation makes you ‘crave’ company like a hungry person longs for food.”
  • Prof Said Jade Amulets May Block COVID—and Became a Science Supervillain. Unlike bogus far-right conspiracy theories about COVID-19, this idea did not emerge from the digital fringe, but from a respected academic journal, resulting in a total shitshow.”
  • A mildly insane idea for disabling the coronavirus. What happens when you set biotechnologists loose without any practicality limits?”

  • We don’t have a COVID vaccine yet, but distribution is already messy. Vaccine allocated based on population, not cases or high-risk groups.”
  • How three conspiracy theorists took ‘Q’ and sparked Qanon. Pushing the theory on to bigger platforms proved to be the key to Qanon’s spread — and the originators’ financial gain.”
  • From the What Is Dead May Never Die dept: “The Kraken: What is it and why has Trump’s ex-lawyer released it?.”
  • I’m not sure he thought this one through? “Trump Is Racing to Bring Back Firing-Squad Executions Before He Leaves Office, Says Report.”
  • Inside the Lives of Immigrant Teens Working Dangerous Night Shifts in Suburban Factories. During the day, immigrant teenagers attend high school. At night, they work in factories to pay debts to smugglers and send money to family. The authorities aren’t surprised by child labor. They’re also not doing much about it.”
  • The Right-Wing Medievalist Who Refused the Loyalty Oath. On Ernst Kantorowicz, academic freedom, and ‘the secret university.'”
  • Why We Need to Decolonise and Democratise Our Imaginations. Our collective imagination both shapes and is shaped by reality. We desperately need an intervention.”
  • From the Indo-European Horse Epic dept: “The Horse Girl Canon“—”Space,Space, dinosaurs, trains, wolves, trucks, dolphins, construction machines, dragons — there are as many different childhood obsessions as there are children. And then there are horses, and their fans: the Horse Girls.” Also Aragorn is absolutely a Horse Girl. But only in the movies.”
  • Torturing Geniuses.”
  • How to Lose a $10 Million Botticelli Masterpiece. A famous painting by Botticelli has been missing for six years. Is it hiding in plain sight?” What ho?! “Kraken Investments” is mentioned. MOAR KRAKEN!
  • This is from a while ago, but, since we’re on the topic: Seattle Kraken Hockey. “Now, we breathe new life into a legend. An ancient and powerful force reawakens in the heart of the great Pacific Northwest.”
  • A Case for a More Regional Understanding of Food. American food media’s focus on national cuisines turns cultures into monoliths as it ignores regional differences in cooking and eating.”
  • Watch “The World’s Bounciest Surface“—”In this video I show you what it looks like to drop a ball on one of the bounciest surfaces in the world. The coefficient of restitution is 97% or greater. I show you how you can easily make this bouncy surface at home as well!”
  • I like Conlangs, and I cannot lie. Also this reminds other stories like how Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler learned enough Elvish to want new scenes written for them. And how Jorma Taccone learned Pakuni for The Land of the Lost movie. And the cast of The 100 started speaking Trigedasleng. “Emilia Clarke was asked to rewrite an entire ‘Game of Thrones’ scene in Valyrian, and she pulled it off in 10 minutes.”
  • Scarfolk Beer Mat Set by Richard Littler.

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I squeeze my eyes shut and try to reach for him across the hundreds and hundreds of miles, to send my thoughts into his mind, to let him know he is not alone. But he is. And I can’t help him.

Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher]

Hermetic quote Collins Mockingjay to let him know he is not alone but he is

Oldest Chicago

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Oldest Chicago [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by David Anthony Witter.

Witter Oldest Chicago

Oldest Chicago is a guidebook to the most venerable sites and businesses in the Chicago area. Each location is accompanied by a black-and-white photo, usually taken by the author. The main text for each short chapter gives the history of the venue in question, usually grounded in the author Witter’s interviews with proprietors or experts, whom he quotes liberally. A significant exception is the rich chapter on Chicago’s “Oldest Indoor, Olympic-Sized Swimming Pool (Now Junior Olympic),” in which Witter discusses his own experiences working at the pool of the Medinah Athletic Club in the 1980s. Every chapter concludes with a boxed inset directing attention to other attractions that are nearby or conceptually related to the main subject, even if the others lack Oldest credentials. This device permits Witter to introduce more information about Chicago neighborhoods, and provides the reader with better justification to make visits to the sites that are most intriguing, with the opportunity of a fuller trip in the offing.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is “The 1800s Club” with survivals from that period. The second is misnamed “Food, Fun, and Entertainment,” even though it includes chapters like the “Oldest African-American Newspaper” and “Oldest Vertical Lift Bridge,” that evidently don’t fall in those categories. What the second section really is, is simply “20th-century Classics,” continuing past the year 1900 with the same chronological sequence of chapters established in the first section. The final section has its own separate chronology, and treats notable old places outside of Chicago proper, in “The Suburbs and Exurbs.”

Although I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, have lived in the city, and reside in the area today, there were plenty of interesting facts that were new to me in Witter’s book. I was shocked to discover the Chicago whereabouts of “the largest mass grave in the northern hemisphere.” (21) Learning where I could spot a dirigible port in the downtown skyline was a piece of delicious trivia. (164) The identity of Chicago’s earliest recorded Chinese resident as “Opium Dong” certainly gave me a laugh. (147) 

Witter is a lifelong Chicagoan, whose pride and sense of place is clear in his lucid, journalistic writing. He commits some howlers when he resorts to historical generalization, though, of which the worst by far is to claim, “America was settled largely by Puritans, whose beliefs in temperance still influence much of the politics of the nation’s heartland today.” (Here he also neglects specific Chicago history. If there were a sectarian connection for the origins of the temperance movement, it would probably be the Methodism of key Women’s Christian Temperance Union president Frances Willard, who was a Dean of Women for Northwestern University in Evanston, immediately north of Chicago. Evanston was a hub of the temperance and prohibition movements, and remained an entirely “dry” community until the 1970s.)

A major failing of the book is the omission of maps! Both historical maps to show the changing contours of the city around the sites described, and contemporary maps to help orient would-be visitors today, are unfulfilled desiderata for this volume. They might also have helped orient the author, who in at least two instances writes “west” where “east” would be accurate. (96, 131) Still, Oldest Chicago is entertaining and educational, and should be useful for both prospective visitors and longtime residents. 

Theory Now

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Theory Now [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] edited by Grant Farred and Michael Hardt, South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol 110, Iss 1, Winter 2011.

Farred Hardt Theory Now

This number of South Atlantic Quarterly debuts its division into a main body of articles plus a smaller section of less research-driven and more topical essays, and it seems to work well enough here. I read the latter portion first, mindful of its timeliness. Titled in this case “Against the Day,” the title couldn’t help but remind me of the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name (which I have two-thirds read), about a different “day.” (There is a surfeit of polysemy in Pynchon’s title on its own ground, but I’ll leave that for its own review.) These essays on “Obama and the Left at Midterm” are really about “The Left at Obama’s Midterm.” The articles are all very short, often insightful, and actually less dispiriting than I had anticipated. 

The larger portion of the book is a special issue called “Theory Now” edited by Grant Farred and Michael Hardt, each of whom also contributed articles to it. In addition, the collection is introduced by Kenneth Surin, and afforded an afterword by Jonathan Culler. Of the two, I thought Culler did the better job of summarizing the contents and identifying lines of connection among them: a tall order, since the contributors had been asked not to write about “theory now,” but simply to write theory in the way that they do now. 

Culler notes the theoretical approach to “spectrality” as a recurrent feature, and I most enjoyed the articles exhibiting it: Hanson on reparative reading, Gordon replying to the film The Halfmoon Files, and Naas digesting Derrida on photography. Theory regarding race and gender was, if not ubiquitous, common to many of the better articles in the volume. I was pleasantly surprised by Rei Terada’s “Frailty of the Ontic,” which demonstrated an approach to psychoanalysis as a form of philosophy, whereas I am used to considering it a mutation of religion–and have no patience with its self-presentation as a form of therapy. I was disappointed by Ellison’s “The Spoiler’s Art,” which discussed architectural matters with the stakes of “embarrassment” (so I suppose that my lack of enthusiasm was somehow in harmony with the content). 

Of the two articles written by the principal editors, I was less excited by Farred’s reflections on interdisciplinarity, which I found to be a rather unuseful exercise in ivory-tower navel-gazing, somewhat heavy with cant, and notably dependent on a canonical reverence for Heidegger. By contrast, Hardt’s “Militancy of Theory” reviewed an important trajectory in the critical tradition which now has me reflecting on what I may someday write about as the final paradox of philosophy.

I am a sometime buyer of SAQ, grabbing issues off of the newsstand as they catch my interest. I always find some of the contents challenging and worthwhile, and this number was no exception.

The Sacred Canopy

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Peter L Berger.

Berger The Sacred Canopy

Here is an older book I should have read a couple of decades ago (when it was not new), in order to apply its insights in my academic work. First published in 1967, Berger’s The Sacred Canopy is subtitled “elements of a sociological theory of religion.” Despite his insistence on sociology as an empirical discipline, the book is not oriented to primary studies of the sociological features of contemporary religious operation. Most of the book is trained on very large-scale phenomena over long periods, using lenses inherited and adapted from theorists such as Weber, Durkheim, and Mead.

Berger hardly touches the term “belief,” but makes extensive use of the closely related concept of “plausibility,” advancing the creation and maintenance of “plausibility structures” as inherent operations undertaken by society in the religious mode. There are useful distinctions between the methods used to maintain plausibility in religions that dominate entire cultures and the different strategies that are necessarily adopted by “cognitive minorities” He also highlights theodicy, taken in a sense generalized beyond the usual theological problem to any religious explanation of the anomic phenomena of death, suffering, and evil.

The later parts of the book are preoccupied with the phenomena of secularization and their relationship to parallel and dialectically related developments in economic and scientific development. Throughout the book, Berger uses examples from a wide diversity of religions, but in these sections he pays special and deserved attention to Christianity generally, and Protestantism in particular. “If the drama of the modern era is the decline of religion, then Protestantism can aptly be described as its dress rehearsal” (157).

Perhaps the high point of the whole volume for me was “Appendix II: Sociological and Theological Perspectives,” in which Berger points out some methodological distinctions, withdraws and revises positions made in a previous book (The Precarious Vision, 1961), and proposes possibilities for constructive dialogue between sociology and theology. He is clear that such possibilities may not be realized, because of the demands for “openness” that they make on both sides.

This Is Not An Hermetic Library Anthology Album -2

This Is Not An Hermetic Library Anthology Album -2 is a special alternative issue in 2020 released today exclusively for Patrons on Patreon and Subscribers on Bandcamp, ongoing supporters of Hermetic Library.

This Is Not An Hermetic Library Anthology Album -2 subscriber and patron exclusive by Hermetic Library in 2020

Please join the Hermetic Library in promoting these artists who have contributed their work to this benefit anthology album project. Please also spread the word about these anthology albums to people you think may be interested in the work of artists who combine magick, music and ritual.

Be sure to also check out the entire Hermetic Library Anthology project, all the previous releases; and consider becoming a Patron or Subscriber to pick up the digital download of this album and help support the work of the library!

The full tracklist for this exclusive consists of 5 tracks by 4 artists:

  1. Jericho Button – Wode 07:41
  2. King Venus – Inhumite 06:07
  3. Mishorka – Eventide 03:19
  4. Mishorka – Hekate 02:56
  5. The Arcanauts – Moonflower Waltz 06:03

This Is Not An Hermetic Library Anthology Album -2 is a special alternative release in 2020 just for Patrons and Subscribers of Hermetic Library. This playlist, presented in no particular order, has 5 tracks by 4 artists, all new voices to the project this year.

An essay about Moonflower Waltz by David Moore / The Arcanauts is also included as a bonus download along with this issue.

For 2020, I decided to ask for two submissions as part of the call for participation in another attempt this year, after a hiatus, at releasing Magick, Music and Ritual 15. One submission each for the regular anthology issue along with another specifically for this additional release in 2020. So with extra gratitude their way, those who were kind enough to submit additional material, here is this special new issue exclusive to Subscribers on Bandcamp and Patrons on Patreon. This, then, is a thank you gift just for those who offer their ongoing support for the library and my work as the librarian, from both myself and these artists.

To both participants and supporters, I say happy and hearty Thanksgiving day, and, moreover, thank you, thank you, thank you!

The Hermetic Library at Hermetic.com has an overall vision of Archiving, Engaging and Encouraging the living Esoteric Tradition, Hermeticism, and Aleister Crowley’s Thelema for over 20 years. I started the benefit anthology project to help promote newer works in the Esoteric Tradition to the audience of the Hermetic Library and beyond. The anthology project also further raises awareness about the corpus and culture of magick and ritual.

I encourage you to check out the Hermetic Library at Hermetic.com, if you aren’t already familiar with it, as that’s the reason this project exists and may also offer inspiration to you. The site was started in 1996 and has ever since consistently been an extremely popular resource for students and researchers interested in the Esoteric Tradition.

Hermetic Library
Anthology Project
Become a Patron
Become a Subscriber

Production and Design by John Griogair Bell

All songs used with permission. All rights reserved.

Omnium Gatherum: 25nov2020

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for November 25, 2020

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

This post was possible because of support from generous ongoing Patrons and Members of the newsletter. Both Patrons and Members get access to Omnium Gatherum immediately and directly via web and email. On the blog, this will be exclusive to Patrons for one year, after which I’ll make it publicly available to everyone so they can see what they’ve been missing.

Omnium Gatherum: 22nov2020

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for November 22, 2020

Whew! Okay! Both TINAHLAA -2 and MMR15 are indeed just now well and fully baked. Preview tracklists and covers now, but you’ll have to wait to listen (Nov 26 & Dec 3 respectively)!

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • Liv Rainey-Smith is holding her annual holiday sale early with 25% off everything in her Etsy shop, including “cards, stickers, pins, open & limited edition art, & a few unique originals.”
  • Matmos Thanksgiving Leftovers, a livestreaming event, November 26, 2020, 8 pm Central/US. “Whether you are alone or swamped with family and friends, Matmos is ready to provide you with Something To Do on the heavily overdetermined day that some in the U.S. call ‘Thanksgiving’, aka Nov 26th at 9 pm Eastern Standard Time. From a tryptophan haze, we proudly present Matmos Served Two Ways: a 45 minute set originally made for a West Coast showcase and a 35 minute set (WITH JAPANESE SUBTITLES) originally made for a Tokyo showcase from the Imaginary Network Topologies series. We think that these sparkling mixtures of musical performance, video art, hapless random shenanigans and unclassifiable acting out will amuse and delight you. Why curse the darkness when you stare into the glowing box and experience 100% Genuine Matmos Family Entertainment in the convenience of your own home? Features extra video material made by David Jude Thomas and Tom Boram and pastoral scenery shot at Pretty Boy Reservoir.”
  • Watch the promo for The MST3K TURKEY DAY MARATHON On Thursday, November 26th! Also at the Shout Factory Live page: “Break out the pureed giblets and crack open some canned wassail– it’s time to celebrate Turkey Day Mystery Science Theater 3000-style! This year, give thanks for turkeys of the cinematic variety as Shout! Factory and Alternaversal Productions continue the beloved holiday tradition with a newly curated Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day streaming marathon, hosted by the cast of MST3K LIVE and special guests from the Netflix series. Starts at 9 am ET / 6 am PT on Thursday, November 26.”
  • Enter to win an A is for Activist library! Social Justice… for kids! Enter to win one of five bundles of books from best-selling children’s author Innosanto Nagara, featuring: A is for Activist, Counting on Community, My Night in the Planetarium, The Wedding Portrait, M is for Movement, and Oh, the Things We’re For!”
  • Artaud and the Gnostic Drama by Jane Goodall, on pre-order in a variety of formats, including fine, standard and paperback, from Scarlet Imprint. “In Artaud and the Gnostic Drama, Jane Goodall offers a reappraisal of the importance of Antonin Artaud (1896–1948), mythologised as an icon of failure and madness, and examines the intricate parallels between his heretical dramaturgy and the heresies of ancient Gnosticism. The book situates Artaud, as the most extravagant of heretics, in company with the Gnostics whose speculations served to define heresy in the beginnings of the Christian tradition. Artaud subscribed to the Gnostic idea that the sensible world was created by a demiurge who was “imperfect, possibly evil and depraved.” His cosmology is inherently dramatic, setting creature against creator, force against form, matter against spirit, pious knowledge against heretical gnosis. Jane Goodall argues that major post-structuralist critics such as Derrida, Deleuze, and Foucault, who have enlisted Artaud in their own anti-orthodoxies, have refused to pay attention to the terms of his own heresy. In this refusal, they display an anxiety towards the gnostic drama and its heresies, which mount an assault that may be more powerful than their own upon the founding tenets of western thought. This work was first published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford in 1994. The text has been lightly revised for this second edition, and is illustrated.”
  • Cunning Folk: A Casual Invocation.”—”This year I finished my annual Machen binge the day before I first heard Cunning Folk’s new album, A Casual Invocation, and the coincidence struck me as deliciously uncanny. Notably, it contains a psych-folk opus, nearly ten minutes long, called Pan To Artemis. It takes the words of an Aleister Crowley poem and attaches them to a lysergic jam that fuses elements of doomy space-rock, bendy trance, a kind of baggy swagger and nimble acoustic guitar. Imagine the Incredible String Band trapped in a Victorian drawing room with The Orb, or Hawkwind with bucket hats, and you might be on the right lines. It is a song about the act of invocation, but it is also an invocation in itself: it’s the kind of music that seems designed to take you to the same tantalising realms as the stories of Machen.” More about About A Casual Invocation [Amazon, Spotify] by Cunning Folk. Also read Pan to Artemis / Uncharmable Charmer at the end of The Rite of Luna, one of the Rites of Eleusis or watch a performance of the piece by Eleusyve Productions from 2005).
  • TikTok creators defend their usage of Baphomet against claims of Satanism. ‘He is a goat man calm down.'” Also “TikTok Is Looking to Baphomet for Inspiration, and Some Folks Are Scared.”
  • Vril – The Power of the Coming Race [Amazon] by by Edward Bulwer Lytton, with an introductory essay by Carl Abrahamsson, a new edition from Trapart Books. “Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton’s cautionary tale of occult super-powers and advanced subterranean cultures have fascinated readers since 1871. Part early science-fiction, part educational tract, part occult romance, Vril keeps spellbinding readers thanks to its wide range of themes and emotions, as well as its thrilling sense of adventure. A curious man descends into a mountain through a mine and experiences far more than he bargained for. Deep inside the mountain lies a completely different world. Its inhabitants, the Vril-ya, are human-like but physically superior and philosophically more advanced. They live in harmony made possible by their wisdom but also by the powerful and potentially destructive magical energy they call ‘Vril.’ The impressed yet terrified visitor is allowed to stay and learn more about their ancient and advanced culture, something very few visitors have – it seems that all the previous adventurers have been mercilessly disposed of by the Vril-ya…”
  • A November Miscellany from Midian Books.
  • Weiser Antiquarian Books Catalogue No. 256: Hermetica & Mysticism.
  • Aca’ib: Occasional Papers on the Ottoman Perceptions of the Supernatural, 2020 Vol. 1, an open access journal from GHOST: Geographies and Histories of the Ottoman Supernatural Tradition.
  • Freemasonry and Western Esotericism from Handbook of Freemasonry [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] edited by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A M Snoek, part of the Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion series—”Freemasonry is the largest, oldest, and most influential secret society in the world. The Brill Handbook of Freemasonry is a pioneering work that brings together, for the first time, leading scholars on Freemasonry. The first section covers historical perspectives, such as the origins and early history of Freemasonry. The second deals with the relationship between Freemasonry and specific religious traditions such as the Catholic Church, Judaism, and Islam. In the third section, organisational themes, such as the use of rituals, are explored, while the fourth section deals with issues related to society and politics – women, blacks, colonialism, nationalism, and war. The fifth and final section is devoted to Freemasonry and culture, including music, literature, modern art, architecture and material culture.”
  • Runa: The Wisdom of the Runes by A D Mercer, available for pre-order from Troy Books, in special and standard editions, with a paperback to follow, due in January 2021. “‘Runa – Wisdom of the Runes’ presents what is, without doubt, the most misunderstood, probably the most cynically abused set of runes in the history of runology. The Armanen runes have been ignored by scholars, abused by right wing extremists, and largely forgotten by students of the occult. Nevertheless, the Armanen runes are in many ways the quintessential esoteric rune row. Originally conceived of by the nineteenth-century German mystic Guido von List, the Armanen runes offer us the most esoterically charged futharks ever encountered. As well as exploring their true history, Runa discusses the deeper significance of the Armanen runes with the intention of returning the runes to their rightful place at the zenith of true runic magic as well as their true meaning as symbols of transformation granting access into the deeper unconscious and what may lie beyond. Runa examines each rune in detail, before embarking on a detailed exploration of the relationship between the Armanen Runes and Yggdrasil, the Germanic and Nordic world tree directly link the two, in this respect Runa is a unique text, as it is the only text to directly link the two, exploring the importance of this connection, which cannot be overstated.” Watch an introduction by the author.
  • Why Harry Houdini DID NOT Like Arthur Conan Doyle.” Excerpt from Magic: A History: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Chris Gosden—”An Oxford professor of archaeology explores the unique history of magic–the oldest and most neglected strand of human behavior and its resurgence today”
  • Blavatsky Unveiled: The Writings of H.P. Blavatsky in modern English. Volume I. [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Moon Laramie—”Isis Unveiled, published in 1877, was H. P. Blavatsky’s original occult masterpiece and covered a wide range of topics from ancient Egyptian Mystery schools to the conflict between science and spiritualism. But Blavatsky’s elaborate Victorian prose presents a major stumbling block for the 21st-century reader. Blavatsky Unveiled Vol. I addresses these linguistic challenges by rendering the original text into easily accessible modern English with detailed notes and a comprehensive ‘Who’s Who’ section. All references have been meticulously researched and, where possible, verified from their primary source material. Blavatsky Unveiled Vol. I is a psychedelic rollercoaster ride through a world of Gnostics, Kabbalists, Chaldean Oracles, cataclysms, seances, skeptical scientists, perpetual lamps, phantom dogs and Indian conjurors, to name a few. Along the way the reader encounters such figures as Pythagoras, Paracelsus, Darwin, Schopenhauer, Isaac Newton, Julius Caesar, Plato, Galileo, the spirit entity Katie King, Franz Mesmer, Aristotle, Eliphas Levi and many more. Seekers of hidden knowledge and those interested in the supernatural will find Blavatsky Unveiled an indispensable treasure trove of information and rip-roaring entertainment.”
  • Occult Egypt in the Victorian Popular Imagination: An Interview with Dr Eleanor Dobson.” About Writing the Sphinx: Literature, Culture and Egyptology [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Eleanor Dobson, due December from Edinburgh University Press. “Unearths a rich tradition of creative flexibility, collaboration and mutual influence between literary culture and Egyptology” Also, although the date is listed for 2020, I presume this a typo and they mean 2021: Scroll down to the upcoming virtual seminar “10 March 2020[sic] — ‘Performing Egyptian Magic’, Dr Eleanor Dobson (University of Birmingham)” on the EHU Nineteen Seminar Series page at Edge Hill University—”The EHU Nineteen Seminar Series combines the Romanticism and Victorian Seminar Series which have run from 2010. The Seminar Series invites research papers from established scholars and emerging researchers on topics as wide-ranging as eighteenth-century Gothic texts and orientalism to girls’ periodicals and Victorian audiobooks.”
  • A gallery of examples on the author’s website: Eyeball Fodder: The Art of the Occult Edition. More about The Art of the Occult:A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by S Elizabeth—”A visual feast of eclectic artwork informed and inspired by spiritual beliefs, magical techniques, mythology and otherworldly experiences.”
  • The Cambridge Companion to Apocalyptic Literature [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] edited by Colin McAllister, part of the Cambridge Companions to Religion series. “Jewish and Christian apocalypses have captivated theologians, writers, artists, and the general public for centuries, and have had a profound influence on world history from their initial production by persecuted Jews during the second century BCE, to the birth of Christianity – through the demise of the Western Roman Empire and the medieval period, and continuing into modernity. Far from being an outlier concern, or an academic one that may be relegated to the dustbin of history, apocalyptic thinking is ubiquitous and continues to inform nearly all aspects of modern-day life. It addresses universal human concerns: the search for identity and belonging, speculation about the future, and (for some) a blueprint that provides meaning and structure to a seemingly chaotic world. The Cambridge Companion to Apocalyptic Literature brings together a field of leading experts to provide a comprehensive overview of the subject.”
  • Review by Elliott Piros of The Phantom Image: Seeing the Dead in Ancient Rome [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Patrick R Crowley—”Drawing from a rich corpus of art works, including sarcophagi, tomb paintings, and floor mosaics, Patrick R. Crowley investigates how something as insubstantial as a ghost could be made visible through the material grit of stone and paint. In this fresh and wide-ranging study, he uses the figure of the ghost to offer a new understanding of the status of the image in Roman art and visual culture. Tracing the shifting practices and debates in antiquity about the nature of vision and representation, Crowley shows how images of ghosts make visible structures of beholding and strategies of depiction. Yet the figure of the ghost simultaneously contributes to a broader conceptual history that accounts for how modalities of belief emerged and developed in antiquity. Neither illustrations of ancient beliefs in ghosts nor depictions of afterlife, these images show us something about the visual event of seeing itself. The Phantom Image offers essential insight into ancient art, visual culture, and the history of the image.”
  • Prophetic Practice for a Time of Racial Reckoning.” About The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets: Then and Now [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Nahum Ward-Lev, foreword by Walter Brueggemann—”In a time of social turbulence, Nahum Ward-Lev mines Biblical wisdom to illumine a way forward. His book explores the rich territory of liberating social change as articulated by the Hebrew prophets and lived by Biblical persons. Ward-Lev examines the development of these Biblical liberation themes in contemporary prophetic writers including Paulo Freire, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Martin Luther King, Jr., and bell hooks. In clarifying practices for the liberation journey, prioritizing reciprocal relationships, engaging in dialogue, exercising social and artistic imagination, and nurturing a love ethic in public life, his book empowers readers of all faiths and backgrounds to see through a prophetic lens and engage in prophetic action.”
  • Treasure trove of Jack B Yeats watercolours discovered. Travel Case belonging to artist had 19 of his original drawings pasted on to the inside lid.” Jack was the brother of library figure William Butler Yeats.
  • A Literary History of the Writerly Love Affair with Bookstores.” Excerpt from Against Amazon and Other Essays [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Jorge Carrión, translated by Peter Bush, part of the Biblioasis International Translation series. “A history of bookshops, an autobiography of a reader, a travelogue, a love letter―and, most urgently, a manifesto.”
  • Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions may finally be published, after five-decade wait. Sci-fi anthology stalled since 1974 will be produced by executor, screenwriter J Michael Straczynski, adding stories by today’s big-name SF writers.” So, it’s basically a crowdfunding effort, if enough people help fund it on J Michael Straczynski’s Patreon.
  • From 2017: ““The Whole Art of Everything Is About Forgetting Yourself” – a Conversation With Alice Oswald“—”It’s really interesting and something I feel very strongly about because people always believe that metaphor is more poetic. But I’ve always loved simile. One of the reasons is that simile keeps both worlds alive at the same time whereas metaphor changes one for another. So you get this beautiful kind of doubled feeling with the simile. You don’t lose anything. It’s like a theatre curtain. You get the feeling of the artifice and reality going on at the same time. And this beautiful pivotal word ‘like’ or ‘as’ allows the thing to exist in two places at the same time. I love that. And I was always, again I’m afraid it’s Homer, but Homer has these extended similes which find a point of likeness and then go on long enough that they become unlike what they were describing, so it turns into a dis-simile half way through and I just love that because it gives you such a feeling of a kind of growth of word form. That’s how language works. It starts off doing something and then it’s still alive and ends up doing something else.”
  • Why Does Facebook Keep Rejecting Our Products?“—”Although Facebook helpfully listed the “Policy Issues” each art-inspired item violated, a number of the reasons provided were absolutely baffling, and to top it off, we’re unable to dispute the majority of them. Oh well.” “Here’s a list of some of our favorite gifts, books, toys, and more that, to our best guess, were simply too hot for Facebook to handle.”
  • On Scientism“—”Scientism: Scientism is the dogma that the sciences have access to truths that hold some essential Truth denied by other organizations of knowledge. It is a secular religion with its own hierarchy of priests, theologians, and secular proselytizers who deny all other forms of truth beyond their own.” “Why do men seek dogmas, seek to ground their stubborn beliefs in systems of thought or inquiry that in their own domain hold great promise, but the moment they assume the mantle of spokesman or preachers of the Real and Reality they suddenly seem superficial navigators of the horizon of thought?”
  • From the Nope dept: “Prehistoric Shark Hid Its Largest Teeth. Some, if not all, early sharks that lived 300 to 400 million years ago not only dropped their lower jaws downward but rotated them outwards when opening their mouths. This enabled them to make the best of their largest, sharpest and inward-facing teeth when catching prey, paleontologists at the Universities of Zurich and Chicago have now shown using CT scanning and 3D printing.” But, at least the rotating lower chainsaw jawed sharks aren’t in a tornado?
  • Ancient theory FINally supported.”—”The theory first mooted in the late 1800s, suggested that paired fins evolved from gills, but has since been widely discounted. Now researchers have found evidence to support the original hypothesis.”
  • A Record Close Shave: Asteroid 2020 VT4 Just Skimmed by Earth. Wow. A low-flying space rock set a record last Friday (appropriately, the 13th), when 2020 VT4 passed just under 400 kilometers (250 miles) over the Southern Pacific.”
  • Small finlets on owl feathers point the way to less aircraft noise. Collaboration between City and RWTH Aachen University researchers reveals how these micro-structures enable silent flight.” Also, as an aside, “Tiny owl rescued from Rockefeller Center Christmas tree that traveled 170 miles to NYC. The Ravensbeard Wildlife Center said the Saw-whet owl was rescued after the 75-foot Norway spruce was cut down in upstate New York.
  • Parasite discovery could assist mental health treatments. New research into how a common parasite infection alters human behaviour could help development of treatments for schizophrenia and other neurological disorders.”
  • Scientists defy nature to make insta-bling at room temperature. An international team of scientists has defied nature to make diamonds in minutes in a laboratory at room temperature – a process that normally requires billions of years, huge amounts of pressure and super-hot temperatures.” Also “Scientists create diamonds at room temperature in minutes.”
  • Watch “How To Make Ruby in a Microwave.”
  • UW engineers create device to make masks more effective.” And you can make it yourself: “All the designs are available for free online and can be made at home.”
  • But check out this awesome simple and cheap tip, via tweet—”If you’re having a hard time with glasses fogging or keeping your mask up over your nose, a simple bandaid does wonders. Learned it in the OR.”
  • The Moral Calculus of COVID-19.”
  • How to Defund the Police.”—”The inconvenient truth of police history in the United States, however, is that police departments were not designed to keep a generic public safe. Rather, they were meant to serve the needs of capital and to uphold racial and ethnic hierarchies. To put it differently, police were designed with power and control in mind, not generalized public safety.” “To know the history of American policing, from departments’ origins to past efforts to reform them, is to reckon with the fact that something more than reform is needed if we are truly to confront and solve the policing crisis in this country.”
  • Defund the Global Policeman.”—”The problem with US foreign policy — represented in the figure of the global policeman — is that it is like a fully resourced police department in a time of dwindling fears of crime: robustly equipped with sophisticated tools to answer any exigency with force, even as the strategic and political value of using such lethal force recedes.”
  • Rebecca Solnit: On Not Meeting Nazis Halfway.”
  • American Brown Shirts in the Streets of the Capital.”
  • The Cassandra Conundrum.”—”Question: What do you do with a Cassandra whose warnings are heeded? Answer: Ideally, you thank them.”
  • Weeeeeoooo-weeeeeoooo! Pull over! Pull over! Do you realize you missed a serial comma back there and ran on a sentence? “The Language Police Were Terrifyingly Real. My Grandfather Was One.“—”Our society seems divided between those who want to abolish the police and those who want to abolish the language police. The Left fears people with handcuffs and guns making violent arrests while the Right fears newspaper editors and college teachers canceling offensive words.”
  • The Writer Who Uncovered Crimes Against His Native Ancestors.” From The Deaths of Sybil Bolton: Oil, Greed, and Murder on the Osage Reservation [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Dennis McAuliffe, foreword by David Grann—”The book uncovers the full extent of the crimes committed against the Osages: how white lawyers appointed by Congress to protect the Osages systematically swindled the tribe; how a ring of prominent and envious whites poisoned or shot possibly hundreds of Osages to seize their oil wealth—and then papered over the Reign of Terror with doctored death certificates; and how solving the mystery of his grandmother’s death led McAuliffe to confront the mysteries of his own life. Part murder mystery, part family memoir, part spiritual journey, The Deaths of Sybil Bolton reintroduces us to a people whose story has been literally torn from the volumes of our nation’s history.”
  • Repatriation Activists Acquitted for Removing Ceremonial Spear From French Museum.”
  • Euphoria “returns with two new special episodes that pick up in the stunning aftermath of the Season 1 finale.” Part 1 premieres December 6 on HBO Max. “Euphoria follows a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma, and social media. Actor and singer Zendaya leads an ensemble cast including Hunter Schafer, Jacob Elordi, Algee Smith and Sydney Sweeney.”
  • Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard | EP260 Adam Brody—”Adam joins the Armchair Expert to discuss Jack Parsons and the book Strange Angel” & more.
  • Watch “The Mythology of Anti-Sisyphus“—”This is a video essay about the tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) zine called Anti-Sisyphus, created by Jared Sinclair. It’s also kinda about a certain way of looking at/creating art.” Check out the zine.
  • Contact from Unknown is a 2-player role-playing investigation game of dark lunar mysteries, esoteric chatroom weirdos, and gut-feeling horror that’s designed for play via online messaging apps!”
  • Turn Your Feline Into a God With This Cardboard Shinto Shrine for Cats.”

This post was possible because of support from generous ongoing Patrons and Members of the newsletter. Both Patrons and Members get access to Omnium Gatherum immediately and directly via web and email. On the blog, this will be exclusive to Patrons for one year, after which I’ll make it publicly available to everyone so they can see what they’ve been missing.