Staying with the Trouble

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene by Donna J Haraway.

Haraway Staying with the Trouble

Donna Haraway makes a peculiar choice in coining “Chthulucene” for use in this book. The difference in spelling from H.P. Lovecraft’s notorious dreaming god is deliberate, and she insists that the etymology is from khthon-; but then why not “Chthonocene?” The fact is that she is deliberately evoking Cthulhu, who “shall soon rule where man rules now,” as the Necronomicon admonishes. But her sympathies, unlike those of (the conscious) Lovecraft are not with the “rulers” coded out as Anthropos or Capital or Plantation Owner, or any future value of that function. Her principal slogan for advancing a Chthulucene agenda is “Make kin, not babies,” and she proposes a “tentacular” program of what an Anthropocentric thinker might regard as species treason–not to mention its profound antagonism to Capital.

Haraway’s program of “staying with the trouble” is an imagining of futures that resists utopianism and dismal forecasting. It reminds me more than a little of the anti-capitalist bolo’bolo (by P.M., 1983–whatever happened to my paperback copy?), which was much more sanguine. The chief difference in gravity probably stems from Haraway’s attention to the damage already done to human and non-human biomes. The final chapter of the book is an SF narrative implementing these visions over the period 2025-2425. Throughout the various essays, Haraway construes SF multivalently as “speculative feminism,” “string figures,” “speculative fabulation,” “science fantasy,” and the more customary “science fiction,” and asserts it as part of her resources and method. Previous SF works that receive her special attention include Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (and others), Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead, and Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

The species that participate in her Cthulhucene imaginings notably include pigeons, squid, orchids, coral, horses, and butterflies. And SF reflections even recruit the Ood from Doctor Who (the subverted Cthulhu again). Some of these are models to overcome the paradigm of organisms, in favor of holobionts. Others illustrate extant and/or possible relationships among “critters” (Haraway’s preferred term, embracing and exceeding all biotic kingdoms) including humans.

Staying with the Trouble is a chewy read, full of accounts of activist art and the results of late-breaking scientific inquiry (not capital-S “Science” Haraway hastens to add). The body text is about half of the total book, and many of the sixty pages of small-type end notes are worth investigating for their further discussion of sources and inspiration. There are black-and-white illustrations throughout. I made slow progress through it, but it was worth my effort, and although I read a borrowed copy, I would be willing to make space for it on my own shelves.

King was never anti-American; he was always anti-injustice in America and anywhere else. Love of truth and love of country could go hand-in-hand.

Cornell West in Martin Luther King Jr, The Radical King

Hermetic quote West King Radical hand-in-hand

Blood in the Aether

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Doctor Strange: Blood in the Aether by Jason Aaron, &al.

Aaron Bachalo Fabela Doctor Strange Blood in the Aether

This collection of the contemporary Doctor Strange comic book covers issues 11-16, immediately following Strange’s costly defeat of the trans-dimensional anti-magic army of the Empirikul. His powers are at a complete ebb, and his accustomed sorceries are mostly inoperable. So this plot arc has a “greatest hits” of his old foes competing for the privilege of snuffing him while he’s down. Jason Aaron’s story makes Strange into a more dedicated pugilist that he has been in the past. There’s some amusing banter between Wong and Zelma. And the arc ends with a tease regarding difficulties to come.

I like that Strange now carries a sword, which is not for fighting, it seems. It is part of an occult magician’s kit, after all. Most of the compositions/pencils in this book are by Chris Bachalo, whose work is commendable, showing influence from the relatively recent work of Emma Rios, and making good as a successor to Dikto, Brunner, and Colan for bringing a coherent and engaging visual style to Marvel’s flagship occult superhero title. His re-imaginings of Nightmare and Dormammu are top notch. Issue 11 had art from Kevin Nowlan, and I was not so impressed there.

The most amusing issue of the arc is perhaps number 14: “A Gut Full of Hell,” in which Satana attempts to conscript Strange into her infernal enterprise. I was relieved to find out that Strange was still capable of astral projection, surprised that that his astral form was nekkid, and dismayed that someone felt the need to eclipse his butt with a black rectangle of modesty.

Omnium Gatherum: May 27, 2019

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

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

  • The Brazen Vessel by Alkistis Dimech and Peter Grey, from Scarlet Imprint, due in June, with Bibliothèque Rouge edition to follow

    Dimech Grey Scarlet Imprint The Brazen Vessel

    “The Brazen Vessel documents the creative, magical partnership of Alkistis Dimech and Peter Grey from 2008 to 2018. It comprises selected texts, essays and presentations, including many previously unpublished works, essays which have fallen out of print and texts that were only published online. The anthology marks the first appearance in print of such pivotal texts as Rewilding Witchcraft, a translation of the critical goetic source Le livre des esperitz, and an extended and original treatment of the witches’ dance. The Brazen Vessel testifies to the prescient, provocative and influential nature of their work.

    From the invocation of Babalon, given at the Thelemic Symposium in Oxford in 2008, to the eschatology of Babalon given at Occulture Berlin in 2018, the 35 works gathered here give insight into the process, thought and praxis of the authors, both as individuals with distinct bodies of work, and as a dynamic magical union. The works in The Brazen Vessel cast significant light on ideas developed through The Red Goddess (2007), Apocalyptic Witchcraft (2013) and Lucifer: Princeps (2015), and prefigures some of the material in Lucifer: Praxis (forthcoming).

    The texts reveal the continuities and evolution of the authors’ work over a decade. Taken as a whole, their work proposes unorthodox and undogmatic understandings of Lucifer and Babalon, as demonised divine figures, as the sources of transmission of the western traditions of magic and witchcraft. A shared love of poetry and the magical power of the word is evident in their distinctive voices. Both have given primacy to the living body in their practice, through dance, performance, ritual and rites of devotion and ordeal. Both situate their magical work within the wider ecological and political environment. In a polyphony of texts, the ongoing dialogue between two practitioners is made apparent, and the important and innovative work of Alkistis given its due.

    During the ten years documented in the anthology, Scarlet Imprint led a nomadic existence, moving from Brighton to Dover, the French Alps and the Welsh Borders, and finally to West Cornwall; these liminal landscapes and their denizens people the book. The texts evidence a second web of journeys to conferences, gatherings and symposia in London, Glastonbury, Brighton, Cornwall, Scotland, Norway, Belgium, Portland and Seattle. Overlapping with these are a series of pilgrimages to sacred sites from Patmos to Cefalù, to standing stones, stone circles, cliffs, caves and the wilds.

    The Brazen Vessel is a work of process, experiment and risk, written by practitioners at the leading edge of the magical revival.”

  • Ancient Egyptian Funeral Collection. A collection featuring a hinged sarcophagus enamel pin inspired from Egyptian Revival art and ancient artifacts. A crowdfunding effort by Jennifer Cox.

    Cox Ancient Egyptian Funeral Collection

    “Hi, I’m Jennifer and this is my Ancient Egyptian Funeral Collection.”

  • Tweet by Connections Museum

  • The Faux Revolution of Mindfulness” — Ronald Purser, Resilience

    “Against this background, the hubris and political naiveté of the cheerleaders of the mindfulness ‘revolution’ is stunning. They seem so enamored of doing good and saving the world that these true believers, no matter how sincere, suffer from an enormous blindspot. They seem mindless of the fact that all too often, mindfulness has been reduced to a commodified and instrumental self-help technique that unwittingly reinforces neoliberal imperatives.”

  • Mindfulness meditation in America has a capitalism problem. Can the mindfulness movement resist becoming a tool of self-absorption?” — Sean Illing, Vox; an interview with David Forbes, author of Mindfulness and Its Discontents: Education, Self, and Social Transformation

    Forbes Mindfulness and Its Discontents

    “Buddhists seek to let go of attachment to the myth of the private, solid, unchanging self, and to promote universal compassion and end universal suffering.

    But capitalist culture enforces the myth of the privatized, self-centered self. So unless mindfulness is employed in the service of making the world a better place — then practicing can and does end up serving to maintain the very self-centered, greedy, individualistic institutions and relationships that contribute to the lack of connected presence, kindness, and compassion that contribute to our unhappiness.

    I think it’s a good thing that people are getting tools to help them cope with difficult circumstances. I don’t want to dismiss that. My problem is that it ultimately doesn’t go far enough because it reinforces the sources of our unhappiness. As long as mindfulness is focused on the individual and not on our social situation, it will not help us change the conditions that are making us unhappy, namely a hyper-competitive, ultra-individualistic culture that separates and alienates us.”

  • New study suggests meditating on emptiness might be better than mindfulness. In a recent study, meditating on emptiness led to a 24 percent decrease in negative emotions.” — Haleigh Atwood, Lion’s Roar

    “Emptiness meditation may be more effective at improving wellbeing than mindfulness meditation, according to psychologists at the University of Derby, UK.

    Led by psychologist and lecturer William Van Gordon, an international research team conducted the first-ever study to investigate the impact of Buddhist emptiness meditation. A central Buddhist insight, emptiness is the understanding that neither we nor any phenomenon in the universe — sentient or otherwise — has a permanent, separate, and independent core, or soul.

    ‘Mindfulness and other contemplative techniques are very useful for creating mental calm and space in which to explore the mind,’ Van Gordon said. ‘But one has to go a step further and undermine the emptiness of self and the emptiness of all phenomena — that’s very consistent with the Buddhist teachings across most traditions.'”

  • Deceased Mother Who Was Accused of Witchcraft by Sons Was Justified to Remove Them From Will, Judge Rules” — Jason Murdock, Newsweek

    “A Spanish mother who was accused of practicing witchcraft by two of her three sons was justified to financially disown them before her death, a judge has ruled.”

  • My Business Is to Create: Blake’s Infinite Writing by Eric G Wilson, from University of Iowa Press, 2011 [HT bibliodaimonia]

    Wilson My Business is to Create

    “For William Blake, living is creating, conforming is death, and “the imagination . . . is the Human Existence itself.” But why are imagination and creation—so vital for Blake—essential for becoming human? And what is imagination? What is creation? How do we create? Blake had answers for these questions, both in word and in deed, answers that serve as potent teachings for aspiring writers and accomplished ones alike. Eric G. Wilson’s My Business Is to Create emulates Blake, presenting the great figure’s theory of creativity as well as the practices it implies.

    In both his life and his art, Blake provided a powerful example of creativity at any cost—in the face of misunderstanding, neglect, loneliness, poverty, even accusations of insanity. Just as Los cries out in Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion, “I must Create a System, or be enslav’d by another Man’s; / I will not Reason and Compare: my business is to Create,” generations of writers and artists as diverse as John Ruskin, William Butler Yeats, Allen Ginsberg, Philip K. Dick, songwriter Patti Smith, the avant-garde filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, and the underground comic-book artist R. Crumb have taken Blake’s creed as inspiration.

    Unwilling to cede his vision, Blake did more than simply produce iconoclastic poems and paintings; he also cleared a path toward spiritual and ethical enlightenment. To fashion powerful art is to realize the God within and thus to feel connected with enduring vitality and abundant generosity. This is Blake’s everlasting gospel, distilled here in an artist’s handbook of interest to scholars, writing teachers, and those who have made writing their way of life. My Business Is to Create is indispensable for all serious artists who want to transform their lives into art and make their art more alive.”

  • Here’s How to Tell If Someone Is a Toxic Person in the First 5 Minutes. If your new acquaintance does any of these things, you should probably stay away.” — Minda Zetlin, Inc

    “You know how damaging it can be to have a toxic person in your workplace, or in your life. Unfortunately, most of them don’t come with warning labels the way toxic chemicals do. Many of them seem very likable at first. After all, most toxic people are good manipulators, so getting you to like them is part of their toolkit.

    Is there a way to tell early on–ideally the first time you meet–that someone will turn out to be a toxic person? While there’s no foolproof method to tell right away if a new friend or colleague will be a drag on your energy, mood, or productivity, there are some early warning signs many toxic people display. If you encounter any of these when meeting someone for the first time–and especially if you encounter several of them–proceed with caution:

    1. They badmouth someone else.

    2. They complain.

    3. They ask for special treatment.

    4. They boast.

    5. They put you on the defensive.

    6. They make you work to please them.

    7. They don’t show interest in your concerns.

    8. They don’t make you feel good.”

  • Vatican confirms secret Catholic Church guidelines for priests who father children” — CBS News

    “CBS News has confirmed that the Vatican has secret guidelines for priests who father children, despite their vows of celibacy. Vincent Doyle, the founder of a support group for children of priests, told CBS News that a Vatican official showed him the confidential instructions.

    Doyle said he’s been pushing the Church to publicly support those children, who often grow up living in shame and secrecy. CBS News correspondent Roxana Saberi spoke with him and other children of priests fighting for recognition from the Catholic Church.”

The New Satanists

The New Satanists by Linda Blood, reviewed by Majere, Pr.ODF, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Reviews.

Blood The New Satanists

This load of utter drivel was penned by a former member of the Temple of Set (and allegedly a “lover” of its founder, Michael Aquino). Basically, it is a propaganda piece full of the typical sour grapes backlash one would normally expect from someone who leaves their group on bad terms. It dredges up all sorts of inane conspiracy theories regarding modern Satanism, and also tries to drag Michael Aquino through the mud with a considerably sizable chunk of the book devoted to accusations leveled against him over an alleged paedophilia case in the eighties. Aquino apparently responded by suing the author for slander. But regardless if you like or hate Aquino- the rest of the book is a load of hysterical, cliched nonsense, and, as one might quite reasonably wonder: if Satanism is so utterly evil and repulsive as Blood claims, then why was she so immersed in it in the first place? As anyone in genuine Satanism knows – no-one is ever forced to join. This book isn’t even worth using as a doorstop.

From the very existence of these books he learned one primary truth: that everything in the world was enveloped in great skeins of mystery into which one could bravely probe but which one could never fully untangle.

Jeremy P Bushnell, The Weirdness: A Novel

Hermetic quote Bushnell Weirdness books

Omnium Gatherum: May 23, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 23, 2019

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

  • Jinn, an ominous, supernatural teen drama, the first Arabic-language “original” for Netflix, due June 13

    “A group of high schoolers’ lives are disrupted when a jinn arrives seeking their help. High school will never be the same. Coming June 13. Only on Netflix.”

  • His Dark Materials: Season 1, from BBC with two seasons funded, distributed by HBO, coming in 2020 [HT Michael M. Bind Trump Hughes]

    “Adapting Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name, which is considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction, the first season follows Lyra, a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Her search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets Will, a determined and courageous boy. Together, they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living — and the dead — in their hands.”

  • The House of Flames by Hermetic Library Anthology Artist Michael Idehall, limited edition of 23, on pre-order

    Idehall The House of Flames

    “The House of Flames contains two intersecting books: Tavulaxa and Glyphï. Tavulaxa details 11 mythological concepts of the Draconian current and navigational sigilisations that assist the reader in connecting the mystery to the accompanying sound composition. Glyphï consists of 23 channelings of automatic ink drawings and oracular texts. The third component is an indexing diagram called The Circle of Sight which is a matrix displaying how the different oracles, sigils, and sound compositions correspond to each other.

    This is an edition limited to 23 copies. The box set contains a hand bound book in quarter leather binding, one of the 23 original ink drawings featured in the book, a CD, and an LP. €170 + shipping. Place your order here: info@belzebez.se”

  • Early Greek Alchemy, Patronage and Innovation in Late Antiquity [also] by Olivier Dufault, from California Classical Studies [HT OlivierDufault]

    Dufault Early Greek Alchemy Patronage and Innovation in Late Antiquity

    Early Greek alchemy, Patronage and Innovation in Late Antiquity provides an example of the innovative power of ancient scholarly patronage by looking at a key moment in the creation of the Greek alchemical tradition.

    New evidence on scholarly patronage under the Roman empire can be garnered by analyzing the descriptions of learned magoi in several texts from the second to the fourth century CE. Since a common use of the term magos connoted flatterer-like figures (kolakes), it is likely that the figures of “learned sorcerers” found in texts such as Lucian’s Philopseudes and the apocryphal Acts of Peter captured the notion that some client scholars exerted undue influence over patrons.

    The first known author of alchemical commentaries, Zosimus of Panopolis (c. 300 CE), presented himself neither as a magos nor as an alchemist. In his treatises, he rather appears as a Christian scholar and the client of a rich woman named Theosebeia. In three polemical letters to his patroness, Zosimus attempted to discredit rival specialists of alchemy by describing them as magoi and demon-worshippers and by equating their techniques with Egyptian temple practice. In a subtler attempt to edge out his competitors, Zosimus pointed to their limited education and suggested that true alchemy could only be acquired by a meticulous interpretation of Greek alchemical texts.

    Extant evidence thus suggests that alchemical texts were first introduced among other Greek scholarly traditions when Zosimus annexed Egyptian temple rituals into the ambit of paideia thanks to the support and venue provided by his patroness.”

  • Strange Angel Season 2 – Official Trailer from CBS All Access

    “… new season of Strange Angel, premiering June 13th …

    In season two, the U.S. is fully engaged in World War II, transforming Jack’s rocketry work into a lucrative business and further entrenching him in the military-industrial complex. While Jack’s career takes off, he and his wife Susan’s devotion to their new occult religion grows, leading them to invite the sex cult into their Pasadena mansion and Jack to forge a personal relationship with the group’s notorious founder, Aleister Crowley himself.”

  • Boleskine House: Former Highland home of occultist Aleister Crowley and Led Zeppelin founder is sold” — Alison Campsie, Scotsman

    Scotsman- Boleskine House Aleister Crowley sold

    “The former Highland home of occultist Aleister Crowley that was largely destroyed by fire four years ago has been sold.

    The new owners of Boleskine House near Loch Ness will be hoping for a new peaceful chapter in the property’s story with it understood the house is to become home to a charitable foundation and opened up to the public.”

  • Joaquin Phoenix and ‘The Gospel of Mary’: Gnostic fiction at a theater near you” — John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris, Christian Post; about Mary Madalene directed by Garth Davis, with Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix, from IFC Films,

    Davis Mara Phoenix Mary Magdalene

    “Remember that 1980s cough syrup commercial when Chris Robinson said, ‘I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV’? I wanted to paraphrase these immortal words when I read what actor Joaquin Phoenix of ‘Gladiator’ fame said about his role as Jesus in the movie, ‘Mary Magdalene.’ Phoenix is not the Son of Man, but he plays him on the big screen. His is a very different Jesus than the one we meet in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

    Judging by the trailer and the press roll-out, the movie drew heavily on a second-century Gnostic text known as ‘the Gospel of Mary.’ In a recent interview with Newsweek, Phoenix slammed early Christianity for not canonizing this and other apocryphal writings about Jesus, saying: ‘Why was Mary’s book not included in the Bible? The stench of blatant sexism,’ he says, is ‘inescapable.’

    Phoenix went even further in another interview: ‘Somebody made that decision to exclude [Mary Magdalene’s] observations and feelings about the life of Christ and her experience. There seems to have been an overt intention to exclude women from that process.'”

  • Muslims of Color Issue Call for Unity” — Hamil Harris, The Washington Informer

    “Noble Drew Ali was the Moorish American leader who founded the Moorish Science Temple of America. Considered a prophet by his followers, Ali founded the Canaanite Temple in Newark, New Jersey, in 1913 before relocating to Chicago, where he gained a following of thousands of converts before his death in 1929.

    ‘We organized as the Moorish Temple of Science in the year of 1925, and were legally incorporated as a civic organization under the laws of the State of Illinois, November 29, 1926,’ Ali once said in a statement. ‘The name Moorish Temple of Science was changed to the Moorish Science Temple of America, May 1928 in accordance with the legal requirements of the Secretary of the State of Illinois. The object of our Organization is to help in the great program of uplifting fallen humanity and teach those things to make our members better citizens.’

    Brother R. Jones Bey, Grand Sheik of the Moorish Science Temple of America Inc., told the gathering, ‘You must be the message that you bring. … I can’t lead anybody being a hypocrite, and if you are going to be real it has to begin with you.’

    Some of the toughest words were challenged issued by the Moorish Science brothers who have been instrumental in working with inmates across the country.

    ‘We separate ourselves because we don’t practice Islam the same way,’ said Brother Lomax Bey. ‘This ain’t about me, this ain’t about brother Yahya, it is about doing Allah’s work because he ain’t pleased in what we are doing. What we have to do is find our way back home.'”

  • The black Muslim female fashion trailblazers who came before model Halima Aden” — Kayla Renée Wheeler, Grand Valley State University, The Middletown Press

    “In the 20th century, black Americans were reintroduced to Islam through several people and organizations.

    These included the Moorish Science Temple of America and the Nation of Islam. The Moorish Science Temple of America was founded by a Moorish American, Noble Drew Ali, in 1913 in Newark, New Jersey.

    Drew Ali taught his followers that they were not Negros or Ethiopians, rather they were Moors and that Islam was their true religion. According to Drew Ali, Moors are descendants of the ancient Moabites who founded Mecca, one of the most important cities in Islam.

    Clothing played a central role in constructing a unique black Muslim identity. Black Muslim women used their dress to challenge American beauty standards, which typically holds thin young white women as the ideal beauty. Their dress practices also challenged beliefs that Islam was only an Arab religion by encouraging members to develop their own local dress practices.

    In the Moorish Science Temple of America, male members wore fezzes or turbans and women wore turbans often paired with long shift dresses as part of their everyday wear.”

The New Satanists

The New Satanists by Linda Blood, reviewed by Julianus, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Reviews.

Blood The New Satanists

A sort of memoir by a woman who claims she was seduced into the Temple of Set and had an affair with Michael Aquino. Aside from the insiders details of ToS, it is mostly a re-hash of the usual legends with an emphasis on the neo-Nazi connection and Satanic child abuse.

Unfortunately, the few details of Setian life and ritual that Ms. Blood (her real name apparently) shares with us seem far too shallow to give her narrative the required air of verisimilitude.

“Are you denying what I have said?” the Major asked. “You have a handful of facts, Major, and from them you have made ridiculous conclusions.”

Trevanian, Shibumi: A Novel

Hermetic quote Trevanian Shibumi facts