Author Archives: John Griogair Bell

About John Griogair Bell

My name is John. I'm the enigmatic super villain, known only, to some, as the Librarian.

Omnium Gatherum: February 7, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 7, 2019

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • Dorothea Tanning, February 27—June 9, Tate Modern, London

    Tate Dorothea Tanning exhibit

    “Discover the artist who pushed the boundaries of surrealism

    This is the first large-scale exhibition of Dorothea Tanning’s work for 25 years. It brings together 100 works from her seven-decade career – from enigmatic paintings to uncanny sculptures.

    Tanning wanted to depict ‘unknown but knowable states’: to suggest there was more to life than meets the eye.”

  • The mythic connection between Netflix’s Punisher and Satan’s second-in-command, Mephistopheles. Frank is a devil who preys on sinners themselves.” — Cian Maher, Polygon

    “Despite being a devil, Mephistopheles isn’t inherently evil; he merely tries to save those who are hellbound from themselves before it’s too late, and escorts them to the fiery depths of it once they inevitably fail to heed his warnings. Neither does he reside in Hell. Instead, he brings it with him wherever he goes, pulling the damned in with him. He may be an agent for the devil incarnate, but he never consciously seeks to corrupt the hearts of men — only taking those who are already corrupted. As Willard Farnham puts it, ‘He appears because he senses in Faustus’ magical summons that Faustus is already corrupt, that indeed he is already ‘in danger to be damned.’’ And that’s exactly what Frank Castle does to those he sees as irrevocably damned. He appears not because they are powerful or impressive, but because he can see that they are too far gone.”

  • The Satanic Temple is finally getting its big screen moment. Hail Satan? makes a film about Satanists so compelling that you may want to become one.” — Karen Han, Polygon

    “Who knew Satanists were so lovely?”

  • Tweet by CrimsonChains

  • Russian Witches Cast Spells in Putin’s Support ” — The Moscow Times [HT Julia Ioffe]

    Moscow Times Russian witches cast spells in Putin's support

    “Russian witches and seers performed on Tuesday one of their most powerful rituals, “the circle of power,” to pass on their mystical energy to President Vladimir Putin.

    Dozens of people who claim to have supernatural powers stood side by side, reading spells in their effort to support the Russian head of state.

    Self-proclaimed leader of the Russian witches Alyona Polyn said the main intention of the gathering is to enhance quality of life in Russia, the whole world in general and to support the president.”

  • Gossip was a powerful tool for the powerless in Ancient Greece” — Fiona McHardy, Aeon

    “Athenians were well-aware of the calculated use of gossip to launch attacks on their enemies, and they made careful use of gossip in rhetoric to cast aspersions about their opponents in the law courts. The presence in legal cases of women’s gossip, including gossip spread by low-status members of society, demonstrates that the Athenians did not discriminate about the source, but took advantage of all kinds of gossip in their attempts to defeat their adversaries. Through calculated use of gossip, women, non-citizens or slaves with no access to official legal channels wielded a potent weapon in their attempts to attain revenge against those who wronged them.”

  • Keep Learning Science, Kids, with Baphomet, by Headline

    “How did the Devil invent science?

    Hey, kids! It’s your friend, the Prince of Darkness here. Just reminding you to smoke drugs, listen to death metal, and — above all else — keep learning science!

    I tell you what. It was hard work burying all those fake dinosaur fossils. And creating technology like radiocarbon dating. And putting all those ideas in Chucky Darwin’s head when he visited the Galapagos. But in the end, it was all worth it!

    So go ahead. Pick up that biology text book. Enrich your understanding of the physical and material world through observation and experimentation. What could be the harm? All the cool kids are doing it. Muhahahaha!”

  • Tweet by Dani Bostick [HT who]

  • Nigeria Muslims Mimic Pentecostal Worship Style to Attract People to Islam” — SUZETTE GUTIERREZ-CACHILA, Gospel Herald [HT Dr. Supernatural]

    “More and more Muslim groups in Nigeria are adapting a form of “charismatic Islam” in the hope of achieving the same success as Pentecostal churches in the country in terms of growth.”

  • Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery” — BBC News

    “Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves.

    He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.

    It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy.

    He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was “still going on”.

    Last November, the Catholic Church’s global organisation for nuns denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” that prevented them from speaking out.”

  • How a Demon-Slaying Pentecostal Billionaire Is Ushering in a Post-Catholic Brazil. Edir Macedo has a church, a bank, a TV channel, and a Moses complex. And with the election of Jair Bolsonaro, he has emerged as the country’s most controversial kingmaker.” — Alexander Zaitchik and Christopher Lord, The New Republic

    “The building is meant to be a supersized reproduction of the biblical Temple of Solomon, but by way of Caesar’s Palace.”

Omnium Gatherum: January 30, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 30, 2019

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • ‘Friendly’ Satan statue causes anger in Segovia, Spain” — Francesca Street, CNN [HT curiosa]

    Street Abella CNN Statue of Satan too friendly

    “How would you feel if you spotted a horned figure perching near a bridge, cell phone in hand, snapping a selfie?”

  • Proper Breathing Brings Better Health. Stress reduction, insomnia prevention, emotion control, improved attention—certain breathing techniques can make life better. But where do you start?” — Christophe André, Scientific American [HT Shashi Tharoor]

    “Recommendations for how to modulate breathing and influence health and mind appeared centuries ago as well. Pranayama (“breath retention”) yoga was the first doctrine to build a theory around respiratory control, holding that controlled breathing was a way to increase longevity.

    Follow Your Breath*

    Simply observe your respiratory movements: be aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Focus on the sensations you feel as air passes through your nose and throat or on the movements of your chest and belly. When you feel your thoughts drift (which is natural), redirect your attention to your breath.

    Alternate Nostrils*

    Breathe in and out slowly through one nostril, holding the other one closed using your finger; then reverse and continue by alternating regularly. There are many variations of this exercise—for example, inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other. Research suggests that what is most important, aside from slowing the breathing rhythm, is breathing through the nose, which is somewhat more soothing than breathing through your mouth.

    *Technique validated by clinical studies.”

  • Lawrence Lessig quoted in “How the Re-Opening of the Public Domain ‘Has Allowed Us to Have Our Culture Back’” — Emily Wilson, Hyperallergic

    “‘It’s wonderful to be here today to celebrate the gift that the law has allowed us to have our culture back’

    ‘The forces of greed and reaction and selfishness will never be abolished, but we need to live as though it were the first days of another world.'”

  • Dali Lives: Museum Brings Artist Back to Life With AI. Avant-garde Experience Announced on the 30th Anniversary of Dali’s Death.” — The Dali Museum [also]

    “Visitors to the Museum will soon have the opportunity to learn more about Dali’s life and work from the person who knew him best: the artist himself. Using an artificial intelligence (AI)-based cutting edge technique, the new “Dali Lives” experience employs machine learning to create a version of Dali’s likeness, resulting in an uncanny resurrection of the mustached master. When the experience opens, visitors will for the first time be able to interact with an engaging lifelike Salvador Dali on a series of screens throughout the Museum.”

  • On Prayer Beads, Devotions to Gabriel, and a New Way of Doing Just That” — polyphanes, The Digital Ambler

    “I like the convenience, customizability, and attractiveness of prayer beads. They’re useful, they’re tangible, they let the body focus on one thing and allow the mind to focus on another in a semi-autonomous way.”

  • Intent and Procedure” — Scott Stenwick, Augoeides

    “You need an intent to know what to do with magick in the first place, and to focus your operation. You need a procedure to get the best results because that’s the whole point of technique and everything that goes with it. On top of that, you need an approach that is as scientific as you can make it under the limitations imposed by magick so you can debug both your intention and your procedures.”

  • Mutually Assured Salvation” — George Monbiot

    “Perhaps it’s not the whole answer to our many troubles. But it looks to me like a bright light in a darkening world.”

  • Egbert of Liège quoted in “Meeting Our Students Where They Are” — Jeffrey Cohen, In the Middle

    “Scholarly effort is in decline everywhere as never before. Indeed, cleverness is shunned at home and abroad. What does reading offer to pupils except tears?”

  • Symbolism on Monuments” — Church Monuments Society [HT Steve]

    “Carvings on tombs can be strange and puzzling. This guide explains the meanings of many of the symbols used on post-medieval gravestones.

    Whereas some people in the 17th and 18th centuries had little education, they were certainly well grounded in the scriptures and the catechism. Village schools had been set up from the times of the Reformation, so there were many people from humble homes who could read and knew the scriptures. The emblems of mortality and immortality were seldom used after the 18th century, but many other forms of symbolism were the stock-in-trade of 19th century monumental masons.”

  • Newton and the perils of the imagination” — Rob Iliffe, OUPBlog; about his book Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton [HT OUPReligion]

    Iliffe Priest of Nature

    “Newton argued that they had in fact actively encouraged their own carnal imaginations; … the techniques they deployed to tame their own imaginations could only end in defeat, and their extreme and unnatural mental and corporeal regimens inevitably inflamed the imagination, leading inexorably to the lustful thoughts they professed to despise. In a very short time, monks trained in these practices and driven mad by both day and night-time visions of naked women, formed religious communities that were, Newton concluded, cesspits of fornication.

    To Newton, the imagination was always liable to tempt the unwary into idolatry, idleness, and lust. The only way to avoid its baneful effects was to be relentlessly active, focusing on useful, rational, and godly endeavours such as mathematics, natural philosophy, and theology.

    The dangerous consequences were not limited to the impact on the individual. Since the listless and undisciplined scientific mind was prone to produce a slew of systems and hypotheses that were merely the seductive products of human ingenuity, the whole scientific community would then be beset by the anarchy of mere opinion.”

Summary for two weeks ending Jan 27th, 2019

Here’s a summary of activity for two weeks ending January 27th, 2019.

Welp. That’s it for Google+. I’ve stopped updating that social media account ahead of the entire service being shuttered.

And, IDEK, but I’ve done a lot of omnium gatherum posts in the last few days. I don’t think this means I’ll be doing them this often all the time, but for some reason a lot has caught my eye recently. Don’t forget that you can participate by heading over to the omnium category on the BBS.

You know, by the by, it’s still January, so it’s not too late to make it a New Year resolution to make it part of your daily practice to click on every link I post … you know, actually check out all the material and stuff I post from the library and beyond! … Pretty please?

Finally, it’s darned cold here, where I am. Wow. Hope you’re all staying safe and warm!

Still looking for help and others to join me in a working community around the library, of course.

Lots of new pages and work on old pages on the site, which is pretty much every week, really. You can always check the front page of the site which shows the most recent changes and new pages, or check out the Recent Changes special page for a full list.

Want to join me on this blog and create new art or writing for Hermetic Library? Pitch your Idea.

Help get some conversations started over on the BBS and Chat.

Be sure to check out the actual Hermetic Library, and subscribe on Bandcamp or become a Patron.

Consider also checking out what I’m up to on my personal blog and at Odd Order.

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from this last week

Popular posts on social media

Omnium Gatherum: January 28, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 28, 2019

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • Hustle Witch by nihilocrat

    nihilocrat Hustle Witch

    “Witching doesn’t make money like it used to, so you’ve got a side-hustle delivering packages.”

  • Tweet by nerd garbage pitches

  • Tiddle toddle! Moon and Me joins CBeebies Bedtime” — AK, BBC [HT Livia Filotico]

    BBC Moon and Me

    “Moon and Me is a classic series of gentle and emotive tales about a magical toy, Pepi Nana, who lives in a Toy House with a “family” of comical toy friends. Together they welcome a special visitor from the Moon, Moon Baby, who opens a magical way into Storyland, where they share the wonderful stories waiting for them.”

  • Tweets about She-Ra and the Princesses of Power [also]

  • Horror and Hilarity: The Legacy of The Grand-Guignol with instructor Richard J. Hand, Thursday, 7 February 2019, 7pm—10pm, at Horse Hospital, London

    Horse Hospital Miskatonic Horror Hand The Grand Guignol

    “In this talk, the academic and theatre director Richard Hand will take you on an intimate journey into a night at the Grand-Guignol, recounting the shocking stories, vivid personalities and ingenious tricks of the original theatre before exploring the theatre’s profound legacy and abiding influence over subsequent horror culture.”

  • Edward Gorey, the Father of Children’s Goth. He was a writer-artist ahead of his time, but Tim Burton, Lemony Snicket, and American culture have finally caught up.” — James Parker, The Atlantic; about Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery

    Dery Born To Be Posthumous

    “Gorey ended his days in his house on Cape Cod, contented after his fashion—that is, gently and wittily moaning. He lived alone: silver-bearded, buried under cats, with his books in heaps and his mini-hoards—of tassels, rusty cheese graters, antique potato mashers—around him.”

  • How to Be Bad. What a collection of rape jokes tells us about offensive art in the age of outrage.” — Laura Miller, Slate; about You Had To Be There: Rape Jokes by Vanessa Place, afterword by Natasha Stagg, foreword by Dave Hickey.

    Place You Had To Be There

    “‘For many years, I have made it a practice never to explain or apologize for my art’

    The belief that art ought to be transgressive, that one of its roles is to desacralize whatever the “average” person reveres, has much earlier roots than the 1990s, of course. ‘Épater la bourgeoisie’ was the motto of the French decadent poets more than a hundred years ago. Middle-class culture and society were so banal and repressive, the thinking went, that the only pathway to creative greatness and freedom lay in deliberately outraging them. This was an ethos carried forward by movements like Surrealism and Dada, which Place sometimes cites.

    What is transgression if not the violation of ‘decency,’ the fearless unveiling and celebration of what is “patently offensive to the average person”—in other words, to the good ol’ bourgeoisie, who for generations could reliably be shocked by displays of sexuality, irreligion, and disobedient, messy womanhood? Sometimes the pleasure artists and their audiences take in transgressive works is sheer naughtiness, as the career of film director John Waters gleefully demonstrates. But more often than not, art that courts offense claims to be presenting a truth about human beings, their bodies, and the world that polite society prefers to deny. How urgently that truth needs to be told may vary with the historical moment, but the outsiders’ creed that art must speak the unspeakable truth runs deep in contemporary culture.

    I didn’t, it’s true, find the jokes Place has collected upsetting, but I did find them depressing. That’s because most of them depend, for their effect, entirely on the belief that their subject matter is forbidden. That is, rather like Place’s work itself, they lean too hard on transgression in the absence of any other apparent skill or insight.”

  • Tweet by Taylor Lorenz

  • Thelema for the People by Dionysius Rogers; trailer for an upcoming book Thelema for the People: Exploring New Æon Gnosticism by Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus, due in February

    “Book trailer introducing Thelema for the People. The ambition of the book’s talks, papers, and prayers is to supply a hearty breakfast of Scientific Religion to those who have drunk and danced all night with Doubt, so that they may have the energy and endurance to do so again.”

  • Pamela Colman Smith: Life and Work, Pratt Institute Libraries, Brooklyn Campus, January 31–April 4, 2019, open during Library hours; Opening reception and tarot reading on January 31, 5pm–8pm

    “Pamela Colman Smith, renowned for illustrating the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, began her artistic career in 1893 as a student at the newly founded Pratt Institute. Her artistic output in her brief but successful career included paintings, illustrations, set and costume design for theater, a literary magazine, and books of folklore. Smith moved in bohemian circles both in New York and London, exhibiting at Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery 291, the first non-photographer to do so, and collaborating with W.B. Yeats, Bram Stoker, and the celebrated actress Ellen Terry.

    This exhibition presents an overview of Smith’s life and multi-faceted career, showing books, prints, reproductions of illustrations and paintings, and tarot decks, along with photographs of her illustrious family and friends. Telling her story and providing a context for her work, this exhibit shows how her style, archetypal subject matter, and interest in ancient spiritual traditions profoundly influenced her drawings for one of the most popular tarot decks in use, the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot.

    Linking Smith’s time to now, Pratt alumni Emi Brady, David Palladini, Jen May and Phil Williamston, will have tarot decks on display to showcase contemporary variations on the traditional deck.

    This exhibition is co-curated by Pratt alumni Colleen Lynch and Melissa Staiger.”

Omnium Gatherum: January 27, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 27, 2019

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • Tweet by Steak-umm

  • Down in the deep, beneath the Antarctic ice, a new strange world is rapidly forming” — Liam Mannix, Sydney Morning Herald; from the Iä!-Iä!-Cthulhu-Fhtagn! dept.

    “Under the Antarctic ice, in the pitch-black depths of the ocean, Australian scientists have discovered animals are evolving into strange and sometimes monstrous new shapes and forms.

    Life, these scientists believe, is using the frigid Antarctic waters to experiment, and animals there are evolving at a much faster pace than anywhere else in the world.

    And the weird creatures are riding deep-sea currents to migrate to other parts of the world.”

  • Tweet by Rachel True [HT DIANCA LONDON]

  • What White, Western Audiences Don’t Understand About Marie Kondo’s ‘Tidying Up’. Backlash to the Netflix show ignores an essential aspect of the KonMari method: Its Shinto roots.” — Margaret Dilloway, HuffPost [HT Technoccult]

    “It’s OK to say, ‘Hey, I like my clutter. It causes me no anxiety, so I’ll pass on Marie Kondo’s suggestions.’ And it’s true that people with compulsive hoarding tendencies may be unable to undertake her style of cleaning without guided help. Her method is not for everyone. But to wholesale dismiss her suggestions with xenophobic language and unadulterated Western hubris is to dismiss an entire ancient cultural tradition that has harmed exactly no one.”

  • Lucifer Baphomet hand puppet by VikysKnitNCrochet [HT curiosa]

    vikysknitncrochet lucifer baphomet hand puppet

    “You can put this toy on your hand and let imagination to lead you ….”

  • Death Stranding: Mads Mikkelsen Risks His Life to Talk About Kojima’s Game. The ‘Polar’ star also talks ‘Hannibal’ Season 4 and what it was like being in a Rihanna music video.” — Jake Kleinman, Inverse

    “[Speaking to Polar director Jonas Åkerlund:] If you were working with Mads again on another movie, what role would you cast him in?

    Åkerlund: Aleister Crowley. That would be amazing.

    Mikkelsen: Let’s do it. You heard it here first.”

  • People with extreme anti-science views know the least, but think they know the most: study. People often suffer from an ‘illusion of knowledge,’ write the authors of a new study that finds that people who hold the most extreme views about genetically modified foods know the least.” — Sharon Kirkey, Edmonton Journal [HT Slashdot]

    “Humans often suffer from an ‘illusion of knowledge,’ the authors write, ‘thinking they understand everything from common household objects to complex social policies better than they do.’

    ‘So, the obvious thing we should try to do is educate people,’ Fernbach said. ‘But that generally hasn’t been very effective.’

    Sometimes it backfires, and people double down on their ‘counter-scientific consensus attitudes,’ Fernbach said. ‘Especially when people feel threatened or if they are being treated as if they are stupid.'”

  • Earth’s Oldest Known Rock Was Found on the Moon. One of the moon rocks collected by Apollo 14 actually originated on the Earth.” — Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics

    Thompson Popular Mechanics Earth's oldest known rock was found on the Moon

    “… a group of scientists recently announced they’ve found a rock that formed only half a billion years after the Earth itself. The twist is that this particular rock wasn’t discovered on Earth at all. It was found on the moon.”

  • What Was New Atheism?” — Jacob Hamburger, The Point [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “Criticism of the liberal mainstream has been a part of New Atheism’s identity since it first appeared nearly two decades ago. Yet in presenting themselves as the defenders of reasoned argument against the various forces of ideological conviction, the New Atheists also unwittingly reflect some of elite liberalism’s deepest instincts. The movement’s rightward journey from the cutting edge of anti-Bush liberalism to the fringes of today’s “intellectual dark web,” moreover, reveals a striking divergence over the meaning of liberalism itself. Is “true” liberalism grounded on reason alone, or can it be, as some on the liberal left have insisted in recent years, made consistent with a politics of conviction?”

  • States of Grace. A religious scholar’s memoir of faith.” — Michael Robbins, Bookforum; about Why Religion? A Personal Story and other works by Elaine Pagels [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    Pagels Why Religion

    “Ours is, of course, an age of barbarous superstition—surveying a journal of opinion, for instance, I discover that human beings are genetically hardwired for tribalism. What I learned from Pagels’s book in college, and then from the hidden gospels themselves, and then from myriad other sources, is that there are ways of being religious that are ‘beyond belief.’ All they require of you is that you listen for the still, small voice that is already within you. ‘Recognize what is before your eyes,’ Thomas’s Yeshua says, ‘and the mysteries will be revealed to you.’ ‘Wherever you turn,’ says the Qur’an, ‘there is the face of God.’ The Nag Hammadi text called Allogenes, or ‘The Stranger,’ describes ‘a stillness of silence’ in which ‘I knew my true self.’ The voice of that stillness is often too small to hear, but it has yet to ask me if I’m ‘saved.'”

The Martian named Smith

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Martian Named Smith: Critical perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land by William H Patterson Jr and Andrew Thorton.

Peterson Thornton The Martian Named Smith

When The Martian Named Smith was published in 2001 it was the only full book dedicated to literary analysis of Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. If that has changed in the years since, I haven’t been able to find the others. Author William Patterson was a longstanding and insightful proponent of Heinlein’s work, who went on to write the magisterial two-volume biography Robert Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century. Co-author Andrew Thornton is a cipher to me.

This book is clearly designed for use in undergraduate instruction. It is written in an academic style, but it also pauses to furnish a great deal of background on basic concepts that might have been addressed with more succinct allusions and citations. Each short chapter is supplied with a set of “questions for discussion” to aid instructors and students, and the book includes a glossary defining terms that the authors considered recondite. Since Stranger in a Strange Land has been included in college curricula since the 1960s, these choices are reasonable, but they did make the book feel a little remedial when I read it.

The larger monograph is divided into five sections, named after the sections of Heinlein’s Stranger (just as The Martian Named Smith was a working title for Heinlein’s book). But the criticism does not proceed through the novel’s contents in sequence. Instead, “His Maculate Conception” treats the biographical context and publishing history of Stranger, “His Preposterous Heritage” concerns literary traditions and critical concepts relevant to the book, and “His Eccentric Education” works through the book’s concerns and themes in detail. “His Scandalous Career” includes a full review of the prior critical publications concerned with Stranger, and the authors don’t find much to like, entitling this section’s only chapter “Martyrdom.” The final section “His Happy Destiny” is concerned with the popular reception of Stranger and its presence in American culture. An appendix on “The Significance of Names in Stranger” has a slightly wider scope than its title would indicate, speculating on the general significance of the main characters of the book, individually and in combination.

Although I should have read this book last year when I was researching toward the composition of a paper on the relationship of Stranger in a Strange Land to Thelemic occultism, there was hardly anything relevant here that I didn’t already know from my own studies (which included a good deal of Patterson’s other scholarship). On the whole, I found it an admirable treatment, and I would recommend it to anyone undertaking critical analysis or serious textual study of Heinlein’s pivotal work, which I believe will endure as a key to the culture of its era as well as perennial inspiration to those who can read it lucidly.

Raga Six

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Raga Six by Frank Lauria.

Luria Raga Six

Raga Six is the second of Frank Lauria’s Doctor Orient novels. The protagonist is just sufficiently removed from Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange to dodge trademark litigation. Owen Orient has an alliterative name, fame as a medical practitioner, a mansion in New York City, and training in esoteric sciences from Tibet. I found this second volume significantly less campy than the original Doctor Orient. There was nothing about the goddess Urvashi in this one, but the encounter with a sheikh in Marrakesh who superintended Orient’s “expansion to the second level” was a high point of the book. Orient’s parapsychological studies are relevant in this book, but occultism is even more to the fore.

The first third of the book takes place in New York, followed by episodes on a transatlantic voyage, adventures in north Africa, a climax in Rome, and denouement back in New York. The pacing is unusual, with Orient dispossessing himself of all his worldly assets and accomplishments at the outset. He falls in with hippies, and the first third of the book could have almost stood alone as he eventually arranges a coercive exorcism to break up a little black magic cult. (This subplot was left strangely incomplete, in that there was no follow-up regarding the well-being of the girl whose safety initially led him to explore the group.) Chapter 9 (out of 28) is a vivid occult murder, which at that point seems rather loosely connected to the plot of the novel, with Orient absent. This chapter is where the story pivots to his international voyage, though.

Orient is less healthy and less confident in Raga Six than in the prior volume, but he is more amorously accomplished, bedding nearly every desirable woman he encounters. There’s no editorial condemnation of this behavior, but it is evidently not to his full advantage. “Raga Six,” the reader learns shortly before the midpoint of the novel, is the name of a character, the wife of the menacing Doctor Alistar Six, and she becomes the object of Orient’s chief romantic affair.

There are several major plot turns, none of which are especially surprising, but Lauria manages to sustain enough ambiguity about the real state of affairs that the reader can experience some real suspense. I did enjoy this book, and I’d read another in the series. There are seven!

Omnium Gatherum: January 26, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 26, 2019

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • The most beautiful boy in the Roman empire” — Max Norman, Apollo; about the Antinous: Boy Made God exhibit at Ashmolean Museum, Oxford through 24 February.

    Norman Apollo The most beautiful boy in the Roman empire

    “Antinous is always on the verge of unrecognisability, hovering between equivocations, between particular and idealised forms. The object of Winckelmann’s hyperbole – the so-called Albani Antinous – is the most idealised of all, and doubly idealised in the ghostly white resin cast displayed in the Ashmolean show. It shows the boy in profile, wearing a laurel and grasping another in his left hand; his right emerges from the relief, loosely open, as if holding the reins of a chariot. Winckelmann fantasised that he was driving out of this world to his apotheosis – an allegory of the power of art to elevate the human to the divine.”

  • Aristotle’s binary philosophies created today’s AI bias” — Twain Liu, Quartz [HT Damien saw the Time-Knife once. Highly Recommended]

    “When you think of Aristotle, you probably think of the Ancient Greek philosopher as one of the founding fathers of democracy, not the progenitor of centuries of flawed machine logic and scientific methods. But his theory of “dualism”—whereby something is one or other, true or false, logical or illogical—is what landed us in this sticky situation in the first place.

    Alas, Aristotle’s hierarchical classification system got implemented into AI, load-weighting in favor of men like him. The very system on which all modern technology is built contains the artefacts of sexism from 2,000 years ago.

    Until we design non-binary and more holistic modes of categorization into AI, computers won’t be able to model the technicolor moving picture of our intelligence.”

  • Marie Kondo and the Life-Changing Magic of Japanese Soft Power. The tidying guru is heir to a long tradition: Japan marketing itself as spiritual foil to a soulless West.” — Christopher Harding, The New York Times [HT Sam Kestenbaum]

    “Marie Kondo is by far the most successful participant in a larger trend of the past few years: packaging inspirational but fairly universal lifestyle advice as the special product of Japanese soil and soul, from which Westerners might usefully learn. We’ve had “ikigai,” which translates as the familiar concept of value and purpose in life. We’ve had forest bathing, as though the soothing power of nature had not occurred to people like Wordsworth and Emerson. Such advice books may be having a moment, but they are not new. Rather, they’re the latest installment in a surprisingly old tradition: Japan and its culture marketed as a moderating force in a world otherwise overwhelmed by the West.”

  • The New Sabrina Practices What it Preaches (Not Just Satanism)” — Carrie Mannino, Yale Daily News

    “The series is great for its plotline alone: It’s exciting, creepy and, in every episode, dappled with humor. The aesthetics are also fantastic: The outfits are fantastic and colorful; Sabrina’s house is a wallpapered, wood-banistered imagining of an old magical home; and the shots, especially towards the beginning of the series, are terrifically framed. If you get a kick out of the occult, the demons, magic and gore that Sabrina faces is horrifically wonderful. It is everything a Halloween-loving viewer could want. However, the reason I feel the show is one especially worth watching, though, is its broad positive representation of people often excluded from mainstream TV, especially sci-fi shows like this.

    It is wonderfully suited that a show that highlights these themes in the context of a fantasy world also represents the diversity of our real world, echoing the issues of intolerance in our society and the triumph of acceptance, empowerment and love.”

  • New Documentary Explores The Satanic Temple Rise in US” — Cathy Burke, Newsmax [HT Dr Death Studies]

    “The reason this became a feature length documentary was that I found so many interesting surprises at each stage of discovery”

  • It just got easier to buy young blood using PayPal” — Raquel Laneri, New York Post; from the Bathory dept.

    “Ever wanted to have the blood of young virgins coursing through your old, withered veins?”

  • Conspiracy Theories by Gauche [HT The Baffler]

  • Research Suggests We’re Not as Irrational as We Think. Decades of psychological research have emphasized the biases and errors in human decision-making. A recent approach challenges this notion.” — George Farmer & Paul Warren, Undark

    “Suppose you toss a coin and get four heads in a row — what do you think will come up on the fifth toss? Many of us have a gut feeling that a tails is due. This feeling, called the gambler’s fallacy, can be seen in action at the roulette wheel. A long run of blacks leads to a flurry of bets on red. In fact, no matter what has gone before, red and black are always equally likely.

    The example is one of many thought to demonstrate the fallibility of the human mind. Decades of psychological research have emphasized the biases and errors in human decision-making. But a new approach is challenging this view — showing that people are much smarter than they’ve been led to believe. According to this research, the gambler’s fallacy might not be as irrational as it seems.

    The perception that we are irrational is one unfortunate side effect of the ever growing catalogue of human decision-making biases. But when we apply computational rationality, these biases aren’t seen as evidence of failures, but as windows on to how the brain is solving complex problems, often very efficiently.”

  • Philosophy must be useful. For Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle, much of philosophy was mere nonsense. Then came Frank Ramsey’s pragmatic alternative.” — Cheryl Misak, Aeon

    “Ramsey was the bridge between 20th-century pragmatism and analytic philosophy, and when he died, that route was obscured – only to be recently rediscovered and put on the map.”

  • Tweet by (((Howard Rheingold))); about J. Corneli, C. J. Danoff, C. Pierce, P. Ricaurte, and L. Snow MacDonald, eds. The Peeragogy Handbook. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL./Somerville, MA.: PubDomEd/Pierce Press, 2016.

  • The best way to use social media is to act like a 19th-century Parisian” — Ephrat Livni, Quartz [HT David Pecotić]

    “If you’re not quite ready to quit Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, a more measured approach is to treat virtual spaces more like a bustling street—a place where, like a flâneur, you can pick up a lot of information by observing the action, while being more reticent to offer opinions and circumspect about posting.”

  • Glastonbury Occult Conference, 23rd – 24th February, 2019 [HT Treadwells Bookshop]