An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 6, 2021
I wanted to talk for a moment about Esoteric Disorientation Manual. A long time ago, I added a section for this idea I had of a feature project, and have slowly added a few general thing since. In general the point of this is to provide a place for important critical analysis work reflecting on the sections of the library but which work is more meta and that isn’t properly the primary material of the section. Meaning, references and resources that do critical analysis of the material, in the spirit of a “Disorientation Manual”. Examples include warnings and admonitions of failures and pitfalls in the material or corpus, but also hints and clues toward having fuller experiences engaging with the subject matter. Back in the day, and I assume still ongoing, students and alumni of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, and my undergrad alma mater, produced these documents, collections of critical analysis of the overall TESC experience by those who had gone through it, and that inspired me to do something similar for the library. So, again, generally, there has been and is a place for such material, but it hasn’t been something I’ve done a lot with. So, as a reminder that it exists, to myself and everyone, I just now have added some specific items, certainly not new, but very relevant, to the general page itself and also added Disorienting Aleister Crowley and Disorienting Peter Lamborn Wilson / Hakim Bey. I can imagine that eventually there may be more in these sections and also there could be pages for disorienting any and all of the other sections of the library.
The idea is essentially one from an academic footing, which recognizes that even important material, both historical and current, can be problematic, and that it is important to include awareness of the critical analysis of that material when fully considering the subject matter. Personally I don’t follow the academic idea of “the death of the author”, based on the essay by Roland Barthes, which suggests the author of a work’s intentions and life should not be considered when engaging with their work. Quite the opposite, I feel it absolutely necessary to consider the particulars of the author and their entire corpus when engaging in an item of their specific work. To do otherwise is to deny that the author is a human doing human things in the world and that their work participates in and is informed by the human experience which takes place in time, with things, both during and outside of the author’s life span, that come before, during and, after the author’s work that reflect on that work.
In this case, I advocate, with apologies to Hayao Miyazaki, the Feri Tradition, and Dr Manhattan: I think and feel that it is important to see with eyes open unclouded by hate; neither to condone nor condemn, but to understand. It’s my personal academic stance on the material at the library. There’s certainly some material at the library that I don’t like or agree with for some reason. But, moreover, I don’t require everything I read agree with me, or me it. I try to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, with uncertainty, and with holding opposing ideas in my mind for consideration. That’s essentially my recommendation to you, and my intent in my own work, but ymmv! But, now, let me also be clear, it is important to identify, name, and call out critical issues too! These things, an academic stance and calling things out, are not mutually exclusive, but rather part of the whole point of understanding, QED.
That doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t also have filters and standards about what they read and think about. Open the window, certainly, but that does not mean never close it when there is reason to do so; like to keep out the weather or burglars. There’s plenty of shit I won’t bother with, frankly; and that’s a big topic maybe for another time. But, for work that seems important for some reason, and for some value of “important”, it is, I think, essential, and approximately as important as the work is itself, to take an attitude toward that item of work which allows for the fullest consideration possible of it as a manifestation of, and given one’s own limits within, an overall human condition, experience, and situation.
I should probably include something like this statement in the actual Esoteric Disorientation Manual!
Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:
- “Lord of the Flies, or: On the Beauty of Decay.”
- “A mild case of etymological calf love.”
- “Subverting Language.” Conversation with the show’s curator about “Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.” an exhibit of Barbara Kruger’s work, for which I can’t find a direct link that works (there’s one that’s broken!), at the Art Institute of Chicago. By the by, ARTIC is on the site of 1893’s first World’s Parliament of Religions where Swami Vivekananda delivered a response to his welcome and final address.
- “Why Did Everyone in 19th-Century Think They Could Talk [to] the Dead?” From Enchanted New York: A Journey along Broadway through Manhattan’s Magical Past [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Kevin Dann—”A fantastical field guide to the hidden history of New York’s magical past.” Among the contents, at least one chapter, “Occult Manhattan: 1875–1914”, covers the period when Crowley was in New York working on Vanity Fair and The International. Also another, “Sinister Manhattan: 1952–1981”, covers a period when Magickal Childe was active. Whether the book touches on those, I don’t yet know, but how could it not?! OTOH, who knows how variously sensationally or informatively it covers things.
- “On the Most Misunderstood Aspect of Yoga.” From The Truth of Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Yoga’s History, Texts, Philosophy, and Practices [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Daniel Simpson—”A succinct, approachable guide to the origins, development, key texts, concepts, and practices of yoga.”
- “‘It’s always been counter cultural’: Is witchcraft part of an anti-science renaissance?”
- “Pan: The vengeance of the wild in ‘The Music on the Hill’“—”In this post I will examine the presence of this savage, vengeful aspect of Pan in H. H. Munro’s (aka “Saki”) 1911 short story ‘The Music on the Hill’ …”
- “Esoteric Dune with Alexx Bollen.”—”Alexx brought over some Dune trading cards from the 1980s, and we use those as a jumping off point to discuss esoteric and occult themes in Frank Herbert’s Dune books. Our conversation gets pretty deep in spite of neither of us having read the Dune books in a number of years. We discuss many topics, from clairvoyance to genetic memory to prophecy.”
- “Control group outperforms mediums in psychic test. Some volunteers performed above chance. They weren’t the psychics.”
- From 2018: “‘There Is No Advantage to Thinking’: Leon Festinger’s ‘When Prophecy Fails’” About When Prophecy Fails by [Bookshop, Amazon] Leon Festinger—”The study reported in this volume grew out of some theoretical work, one phase of which bore specifically on the behavior of individuals in social movements that made specific (and unfulfilled) prophecies. We had been forced to depend chiefly on historical records to judge the adequacy of our theoretical ideas until we by chance discovered the social movement that we report in this book. At the time we learned of it, the movement was in mid-career but the prophecy about which it was centered had not yet been disconfirmed. We were understandably eager to undertake a study that could test our theoretical ideas under natural conditions. That we were able to do this study was in great measure due to the support obtained through the Laboratory for Research in Social Relations of the University of Minnesota. This study is a project of the Laboratory and was carried out while we were all members of its staff. We should also like to acknowledge the help we received through a grant-in-aid from the Ford Foundation to one of the authors, a grant that made preliminary exploration of the field situation possible.”
- “Leïla Slimani’s Taboos.”—”French-Moroccan writer Leïla Slimani likes to reveal the dirty underside of bourgeois domesticity: her messed-up characters and their psychosexual dramas are fascinating in the same way that a mass of hair that’s been clogging up a drain is fascinating, as we keep pulling and keep coming up with more of the stuff, fighting against our gag reflex.”
- “Inexhaustible Precision.” From In the Land of the Cyclops [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Martin Aitken—”From New York Times bestselling author Karl Ove Knausgaard comes a collection of ambitious, remarkably erudite essays on art, literature, culture, and philosophy.”
- “Man of Sorrows: On Terry Eagleton’s “Tragedy’” About Tragedy [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Terry Eagleton—”A new account of tragedy and its fundamental position in Western culture.”
- The Dedalus Book of the 1960s: Turn Off Your Mind by Gary Lachman, from 2001 re-issued and expanded for 2020 in the UK. Presumably the updated re-issue will eventually come to the US also. “It is the 60s – yes it is magic, sex, drugs and rock and roll. Uncovers the 1960s Love Generation roots in occultism and satanism. In The Dedalus Book of the 1960s: Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman uncovers the Love Generation’s roots in occultism and explores the dark side of the Age of Aquarius. His provocative revision of the 1960s counterculture links Flower Power to mystical fascism, and follows the magical current that enveloped luminaries like the Beatles, Timothy Leary and the Rolling Stones, and darker stars like Charles Manson, Anton LaVey, and the Process Church of the Final Judgment. Acclaimed by satanists and fundamentalist Christians alike, this edition includes a revised text incorporating new material on the ‘suicide cult’ surrounding Carlos Castaneda; the hippy serial killer Charles Sobhraj; the strange case of Ira Einhorn, ‘the Unicorn’; the CIA and ESP; the new millennialism and more. From H.P. Lovecraft to the Hell’s Angels, find out how the Morning of the Magicians became the Night of the Living Dead.”
- “Harvard’s Top Astronomer Believes Aliens Tried to Contact Us in 2017. In his new book, Dr. Avi Loeb argues ‘Oumuamua, which passed by Earth in 2017, wasn’t a comet but rather alien technology.” About Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Avi Loeb, due January 26—”Harvard’s top astronomer lays out his controversial theory that our solar system was recently visited by advanced alien technology from a distant star.”
- “On the Insidious ‘Laziness Lie’ at the Heart of the American Myth.” From Laziness Does Not Exist [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Devon Price—”From social psychologist Dr. Devon Price, a fascinating and thorough examination of what they call the ‘laziness lie’—which falsely tells us we are not working or learning hard enough–filled with practical and accessible advice for overcoming society’s pressure to ‘do more.'” Consider also Hermetic Library Fellow Bob Black’s The Abolition of Work and Afterthoughts on the Abolition of Work!
- “How to Render Epiphanies in Nonfiction Without Getting Didactic.”
- “What Wave Patterns Can Tell Us About Our Personalities.” From An Outsider’s Guide to Humans: What Science Taught Me about What We Do and Who We Are [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Camilla Pang—”An instruction manual for life, love, and relationships by a brilliant young scientist whose Asperger’s syndrome allows her–and us–to see ourselves in a different way…and to be better at being human.”
- “On the Early Women Pioneers of Trail Hiking.” From We Were There, Too: Pioneering Appalachian Trail Women [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Gwenyth Loose—”When most people think of the making and developing of the Appalachian Trail for the past century, they think of Benton MacKaye and Myron Avery and a few other men. Yet throughout those ten decades, talented, strong, and effective women stood and worked right alongside them–not behind them. Indeed, the meeting that created the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in 1925 was entirely organized by one talented, strong, and effective woman. This is the story of leading lights among that corps of overlooked trail-builders.”
- “‘TS Eliot is the worst living poet.’ Literary burn book featuring Virginia Woolf up for sale.”
- “Unchained Melody. The dark side of Harry Houdini.” About Houdini: The Elusive American [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Adam Begley—”Born Erik Weisz in Budapest in 1874, Harry Houdini grew up as an impoverished Jewish immigrant in the Midwest and became world-famous thanks to talent, industry, and ferocious determination. Biographer Adam Begley has taken on this fascinating and elusive figure, asking the essential question: What kind of man was this?”
- “Google employees kick off union membership drive for 120,000 workers. The new union is open to all types of Google employees, including contractors.” Also “‘Lazy,’ ‘Money-Oriented,’ ‘Single Mother’: How Union-Busting Firms Compile Dossiers on Employees. Leaked files from IRI Consultants, a top union avoidance firm hired by Google, show how it collects data on workers’ personality, motivations, and work ethic to bust unions.”
- “What science can learn from religion. The New Atheists hardened the idea that the two world-views are locked in opposition – but a new breed of scientists has found fertile ground at the border between fact and faith.”
- From the Project Xanadu and Memnosyne Atlas depts: “Rank and File. What if my note-taking system could think for me?”—”We will keep attempting to disrupt thought and, as usual, we will only manage to interrupt it.” Also “‘Notes’ Is the iPhone’s Killer App. Yes, Really. Organize your present and lend a helping hand to your future.” (FWIW, I’ve used a lot of these various kinds of apps in the past. My current go-to for the last few years is Simplenote. Honorable mention, I suppose; I also keep all my book highlights imported to and organized in Evernote, but don’t use it for anything else. Yeah, anyway … Anyone actually interested in my workflow and apps?)
- “The Lost History of Yellowstone. Debunking the myth that the great national park was a wilderness untouched by humans.”
- “Scientists Are Hunting for a Mysteriously Missing Supermassive Black Hole. A distant galaxy should have a back hole that is billions of times more massive than the Sun, but it’s nowhere to be found. Where is it?”
- “One in three US rivers have changed color since 1984. Here’s what this means. Blue bodies of water in the United States are turning to jaundiced yellow and even greenish hues.” Also “A third of rivers in US found to be changing from blue to green and yellow.”
- “119 Human Skulls Unearthed in 15th-century Aztec Shrine.”
- “Astronomers Discover Hundreds of High-Velocity Stars, Many on Their Way Out of the Milky Way.”
- “The Moon Is Rusting, and Researchers Want to Know Why.
- “Pareidolia: Seeing Shapes in the Cosmos.”
- A few from Phys.org: “Why do men have to wait for ’round 2′?” Also “First glimpse of polarons forming in a promising next-gen energy material.” Also “Researchers report new state of matter described as ‘liquid glass’.”
- “66 Roman Army camps in northern Spain shed light on infamous conquest.”
- “New photos reveal massive canyon on Mars, the largest in the solar system, NASA says.”
- From the Ancient Variable Hours dept:”Earth spinning faster than it has in 5 decades, scientists say.”—”According to scientists, the days are on average about 0.5 seconds shorter than 24 hours. Though the time difference is noticed only at the atomic level, experts say its impact could be significant. World timekeepers are debating whether to delete a second from time — called a ‘negative leap second’ — to account for the change and bring time passage back into line with the rotation of the Earth.” Also “Year 2021 is set to FLY by as the Earth is spinning faster than at any time in the past 50 years – prompting scientists to call for the addition of a ‘negative leap second’“—”Prior to 2020, the shortest day occurred in 2005, but this record has been shattered a staggering 28 times in the last 12 months.” Also “Atomic clock scientists: A minute is actually 59 seconds.”
- “Rock found in English garden turns out to be Roman relic worth $20,000.” Also “Roman slab found in a garden in England, and it’s a ‘complete mystery’ how it got there.”
- “4 Numbers That Make the Pandemic’s Massive Death Toll Sink In. It’s difficult to fully comprehend the magnitude of 350,000 deaths. Other metrics can be more illuminating.”
- “The Lab-Leak Hypothesis. For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not causing one. But what if …?”
- “Don’t fear the Reaper. We have become reluctant to accept death as an integral part of life. Perhaps coronavirus will give us a more realistic attitude to mortality.”
- “Conspiracy theorists share schematic for ‘5G chip’ they claim is implanted in COVID-19 vaccines – only it’s actually for the Boss Metal Zone. As soon as it’s your turn, you’ll have op-amps and 1n4148 diodes injected straight into your bloodstream, apparently.”
- Tweet thread—”But before we can understand the threat that the Proud Boys represent: a force which unites fascist street fighting and paramilitary groups on the street with the Trumpian State desperate to hold onto power at any cost – we have to understand the ideology of the group itself.”
- “Lin Wood’s Fave QAnon Oracle Hopes for Trump Pardon. Before Ryan Dark White reinvented himself as a QAnon oracle, he was serving a 27-month sentence for health-care fraud and incurred a $100,000 court-ordered debt to Medicare.”
- “Enraged Furries Make Internet Hell for Rabid Pro-Cop Group. The National Police Association accuses the cartoon animal-donning community of sending “obscene” images, while furries say the cop lovers are preemptively blocking them.”
- “There is nothing I dread So much, as a Division of the Republick into two great Parties, each arranged under its Leader, and concerting Measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble Apprehension is to be dreaded as the greatest political Evil, under our Constitution.”—John Adams, quoted at “The Greatest Political Evil.” Also “I wish you an happy new Year, and many happy Years — and all the Blessings of Life. Who knows but this Year may be more prosperous for our Country than any We have seen. For my own Part I have hopes that it will. Great Blessings are in store for it, and they may come this Year as well as another.”—John Adams, quoted at “Who Knows?”
- “Counting even yesterday, all past time is lost time; the very day which we are now spending is shared between ourselves and death. It is not the last drop that empties the water-clock, but all that which previously has flowed out; similarly, the final hour when we cease to exist does not of itself bring death; it merely of itself completes the death-process. We reach death at that moment, but we have been a long time on the way.”—Seneca, quoted at “We Die Every Day.”
- “Closing Doors: Race and Opportunity in St. Louis Schools.”—”Decisions about where to build or close a school are not just responses to demographic change. They are drivers of it.”
- “In a Whitney Museum Exhibition, Jewish Artists Go Unrecognized and Unexamined.” Also “In Surprise Ruling, Kandinsky Painting Will Not Be Returned to Jewish Collector Heirs.”
- “He refuses to rhyme and takes refuge in blank verse, like a tight-rope walker whose wire is stretched along the floor.”—James Agate, quoted at “Translation: The Easy Way Out.” Reminds me of Crowley’s “The Nonsense About Vers Libre: Why not a little Free Prose, for a change?”
- “Explanations for the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”—”A list of 210 reasons, from A to Z, that have been suggested, at one time or another, to explain the decline and fall of the Roman empire.”
- “In order to be completely enfranchised in the 21st century, it will be very important for children to get fluent in the three central forms of thinking that are now in use: ‘stories,’ ‘logical arguments,’ and ‘systems dynamics.’ The question is ‘how?'” “Now some things will happen with a piano in every classroom. The children will love to play around with it, and a ‘chopstick culture’ is likely to develop. This is ‘piano by bricolage’. Some will be encouraged by parents to take lessons, and a few rare children will decide to take matters into their own hands and find ways to learn the real thing without any official support. Other kinds of technologies, such as recordings, support the notion of ‘music appreciation.’ It seems to turn most away from listening, but a few exceptions may be drawn closer. The problem is that ‘music appreciation’ is like the ‘appreciation’ of ‘science’ or ‘math’ or ‘computers,’ it isn’t the same as actually learning music, science, math, or computing!”—Alan Kay, quoted at “Stories, logic, systems.”
- “The Last Documented Widow of a Civil War Veteran Has Died.” Also “Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies“—”This is a great example of the Great Span, the link across large periods of history by individual humans. But it’s also a reminder that, as William Faulkner wrote: ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ Until this week, US taxpayers were literally and directly paying for the Civil War, a conflict whose origins stretch back to the earliest days of the American colonies and continues today on the streets of our cities and towns.”
- “The Man Who Turned Credit-Card Points Into an Empire. Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, has created an empire dedicated to maximizing credit-card rewards and airline miles. What are they worth in a global pandemic — and why are they worth anything at all?”—”A major reason points-and-miles trips exist is because airlines turn a more stable profit by minting their own currencies than by selling actual airline seats. The flight seems almost ancillary to the financial transaction it enables — a trend across the whole economy, where the selling of goods or services serves to enable the collection of data, the absorption of venture capital funds or the levying of hidden transaction fees. In this scheme, posting to social media, or collecting points and miles, or ordering a taxi or a gyro on your phone, is merely a gesture to keep the whole process in motion. The real moneymaking happens behind the scenes, driven by a series of exchanges where value seems conjured from nothing at all. But of course, value always comes from somewhere. If you trace the thread back on any one of these businesses, it’s always the same deal: The poor underwrite the fantasies of the middle class, who in turn underwrite the realities of the rich. When credit cards charge high interchange fees, they pass the cost of loyalty programs on to merchants, who in turn pass it back to customers by building the fees into their sticker prices. Those who pay with credit can earn it back in points. Those who pay with debit or cash wind up subsidizing someone else’s free vacation. According to a 2010 policy paper by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the average cash-using household paid $149 over the course of a year to card-using households, while each card-using household received $1,133 from cash users, partially in the form of rewards. It remains a regressive transfer to this day.” [HT Jason Kottke]
- “Where Did All the Sex in Movies Go? 2020 was a great year for movies—but a terrible one for movie sex. Our Marlow Stern and Kevin Fallon break down how Hollywood has become even more lame and prudish.”
- “A Public Vulva Sculpture in Brazil Protests Violence Against Women.”
- “100 Tips For A Better Life.” [HT Jason Kottke—”Oof, this ended on a flat note.”]
- “The malls of the future, today.” Remember, also, the idea that the largest buildings in a civilization belong to the most powerful group and how those change over time? Castle, Cathedral, Bank, Mall, Tech Company … Artist Commune?!
- From the Tripods Have Three Legs dept: “Here’s a nice, low-stakes problem: the Royal Mint’s HG Wells coin is riddled with errors.”
- “GANksy – an AI Street Artist that Emulates Banksy.”
- Watch (listen) “11,780 Votes: Trump Asks Georgia to change the election, but he’s singing Seasons of Love from Rent.”
- Watch (listen) “An album in the style of The Beatles, generated by OpenAI Jukebox.”
- “A Message From Alex Trebek: The Season of Giving.”—”We’re trying to build a gentler, kinder society. And if we all chip in — we’ll get there.”
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