Tag Archives: assumptions

Omnium Gatherum: July 25th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 25th, 2014

William Mortensen The Mark of the Devil
The Mark of the Devil by William Mortensen at The Grotesque Eroticism of William Mortensen’s Lost Photography — Larry Lytle, VICE

 

Here are some top gatherum posts from the BBS this week:

  • Excerpt from Hugo Gernsmack’s The Scientific Adventures of Baron Munchausen quoted at U-Boats, Spies, and White Magic: The Invention of Wireless Cryptography — Grant Wythoff, Gizmodo

    “When one contemplates the marvel of sculptured sound on a graphophonic record, and realizes that from the cold vorticity of line there may magically spring the golden lilt of the greatest song voice that the world has ever heard, then comes the conviction that we are living in the days of white magic.”

  • Bringing Back a Lost Museum — Laura C Mallonee, Hyperallergic

    “In 1945, workers at Brown University’s biology department were clearing out storage space when they stumbled on a giant trove of natural and ethnographic specimens and artifacts. The collection had belonged to the Jenks Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, founded at the school in 1871 and dismantled in 1915 to make way for new classrooms. Inexplicably, the workers drove 92 truckloads worth of the carefully curated objects to the banks of the Seekonk River, where they unloaded them into a common dump.

    Now, the collection has been resurrected from that mire by “The Jenks Society for Lost Museums” — a group of students and professors from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design — with the help of artist Mark Dion. Like previous attempts to reimagine destroyed museums, their three collaborative installations, on view at Rhode Island Hall, recreates parts of the museum while challenging assumptions about permanence in museum work.”

  • The Grotesque Eroticism of William Mortensen’s Lost Photography — Larry Lytle, VICE

    “Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of him—he was written into a footnote by the “straight photography” school of the 1950s, and referred to as “the Antichrist” by Ansel Adams, a tag that stuck after Anton LaVey dedicated The Satanic Bible to him. Primarily known as a Hollywood portrait artist, he developed a myriad of pre-Photoshop special effects to craft grotesque, erotic, and mystical images. This fall, Feral House will release [American Grotesque: The Life and Art of William Mortensen], a monograph on his occult photography.”

  • Haiti Doesn’t Have a Vodou Problem, It Has a Christianity Problem — France François, Ebony

    “Contrary to the Cardinal’s statement, Vodou is not Haiti’s problem; Christianity is. No push to spread Vodou ever wiped out entire “savage” indigenous peoples. Vodou has caused no wars due to a desire to convert as many people as possible. Vodou doesn’t tell “saved souls” that they must be complacent, accepting their lot on Earth for the potential of future salvation in heaven. Vodou never told Black people they were a curse or 3/5ths of a person.

    Vodou is of the belief system that sustained our ancestors across the Middle Passage, during the brutality of the plantation, and through the victories of slave rebellions. Haiti should never apologize for it.

    Christianity and the West’s real problem with Vodou is that, like the Maroons who practiced it, it remains elusive to those who would aim to profit off of it, package it, and control it.”

  • Newly-discovered records show history of black Masonic lodge in Winfield — Dave Seaton, Winfield Daily Courier

    “A treasure trove of Winfield history was recently discovered in the dilapidated two-story building at 1307 Main, just north of the Dawson Monument Company.

    Realtors Jeff Albright and Jeff Everhart found a trunk upstairs full of records and memorabilia from the former black Masonic lodge here. They also found the lodge’s gavel.”

    “In its heyday, the Winfield lodge hosted a gathering of individual chapters of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kansas, the organization of black Masonic lodges in the state. The event took place Aug. 20-21, 1917. An estimated 200 Masons attended from around the state.”

  • From the Introduction by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A M Snoek to Handbook of Freemasonry from Brill

    “With roots going back to the medieval guilds of stonemasons, Freemasonry is the oldest initiatory society in the West not dependant on a religious institution. Having lodges in virtually every major city in most parts of the world, it has changed from an originally British institution to a worldwide phenomenon with a wide range of local idiosyncratic features and characteristics. Numbering millions of active members it is also the largest fraternal organization in the world, still managing to attract new members in the postmodern society of the twenty-first century. The continued presence and development of Freemasonry with its rich diversity in practices and interpretations, raises the question what it is that makes such an old phenomenon seem relevant to so many diverse people for over three hundred years? There is no single answer to the question, but part of it surely rests on the fact that despite its emphasis on tradition, transmission and authority, Freemasonry has always been a non-dogmatic organisation in the sense that its rituals, symbols and practices have not had official and final interpretations. On the contrary, Freemasonry is characterised by a striking diversity of interpretation—it is thus possible to find purely moral interpretations of its central symbols, but also scientific, psychological, esoteric, political, philosophical, religious etc. interpretations of the same symbols—a fact that will become more than apparent by reading the various chapters of this handbook.”

  • Bible Cross-References — Chris Harrison [HT Hemant Mehta]

    “He described a data set he was putting together that defined textual cross references found in the Bible. He had already done considerable work visualizing the data before contacting me. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. However, this was less interesting to us, as several Bible-exploration programs existed that offered similar functionality (and much more). Instead we set our sights on the other end of the spectrum – something more beautiful than functional. At the same time, we wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level – as one leans in, smaller details should become visible. This ultimately led us to the multi-colored arc diagram you see below.”

    Chris Harrison Bible Cross- References

     

  • An Incredible Interactive Chart of Biblical Contradictions — Hemant Mehta, Friendly Atheist

    “Now, computer programmer Daniel G. Taylor has taken all that data and turned it into a visual masterpiece.

    His website, BibViz (Bible Visualization), gives you the same linking arcs as before, but when you hover over one of them, it lights up and tells you in the upper right-hand corner of the screen which verses are being linked together. Click on an arc and it takes you directly to those verses as compiled in the Skeptics Annotated Bible:”

    Daniel G Taylor The Holy Bible contradictions

     

  • Routes of Wholeness: Jungian and Post-Jungian Dialogues with the Western Esoteric Tree of Life — Lloyd Kenton Keane, a thesis

    “This thesis compares and contrasts what could be considered two psycho-spiritual traditions: analytical psychology and the Western Esoteric Tradition. A common link between these two traditions is the use of symbols and metaphors of wholeness, specifically the sefirot of the Western Esoteric Tree of Life.”

  • Meet the electric life forms that live on pure energy — Catherine Brahic, New Scientist

    “Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. We already knew about two types, Shewanella and Geobacter. Now, biologists are showing that they can entice many more out of rocks and marine mud by tempting them with a bit of electrical juice. Experiments growing bacteria on battery electrodes demonstrate that these novel, mind-boggling forms of life are essentially eating and excreting electricity.”

  • Baleen and sperm whales are ocean’s ‘ecosystem engineers,’ new study says — James Maynard, Tech Times [HT Slashdot]

    “Baleen and sperm whales act like ecosystem engineers in the global ocean, according to a new study from the University of Vermont. Whales help maintain the global ecological balance due, in part, to the release of vast quantities of feces.

    A new study examined decades of research on the marine mammals and their role in maintaining the balance of life in oceans.”

  • Rupert Sheldrake quoted at Scientific Heretic Rupert Sheldrake on Morphic Fields, Psychic Dogs and Other Mysteries — John Horgan, Cross-Check at Scientific American [HT Boing Boing]

    “We both agree that science is at present limited by assumptions that restrict enquiry, and we agree that there are major unsolved problems about consciousness, cosmology and other areas of science… I am proposing testable hypotheses that could take us forward and open up new frontiers of scientific enquiry.”

  • Aleister Crowley: Legend of the Beast (Review) — Blacktooth, Horror Society

    “What astounds me is how ignorance has played into turning Aleister Crowley into a myth instead of a historical figure. Instead of being known as a educated man who was a freethinker that went against the norm he goes down as a Satanist […] This is due to how close-minded the masses are now and how they were then. That is why this bio-pic is so brilliant and powerful. It sheds light on one of the most misunderstood figures in history.”

  • Avoid the Uninitiated Mob — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    “Disregard the angry clamour of the lying masses; avoid the uninitiated mob, and you will know happiness and the truth that is revealed to few.”

  • Libraries Are Not a “Netflix” for Books — Kelly Jensen, Book Riot

    “It is not the goal of the library to make money. Nor is it the goal of the library to create levels of service so that those who can afford to indulge will receive more while those who can’t, don’t. Instead, libraries work to ensure their services reach as many facets of their community as possible. Libraries want to offer what they can to those who have nothing and those who maybe have everything.

    The library is the center and the heart of community.”

 

If you’d like to participate in the Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.

Priest/ess

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Priest/ess: In Advocacy of Queer Gnostic Mass by Michael Effertz, which was privately printed and circulated. A trade paperback edition is “in preparation” [via].

Michael Effertz's Priest/ess, privately printed

 

As a writer, Br. Effertz is articulate and polite, and he has obviously invested significant expense and care in the production of this attractive little book. On certain points of church policy and doctrine, he even shows himself to be better read and more perceptive than many clergy of my acquaintance. However, he is fundamentally wrong about the purpose of E.G.C. clergy and mistaken about the E.G.C. hierarchy’s positions on officer gender.

Contentious issues of gender and sexuality aside, it neither is the case nor should it be the case that “it is the sovereign right of every man and every woman and every intermediately sexed individual” to serve as ritual officers of the church according to their own lights and initiative. As Br. Effertz shows himself to understand, the Gnostic Mass is a proprietary sacrament of the O.T.O., and it is not susceptible to proper enactment without the sanction of the Order. Clergy of the E.G.C. rite are exercising the authority of the church body, and do so under corresponding obligations. There is no generic “right” to serve as a priest or priestess any more than there is to serve as a lodgemaster or to preside at the conferral of degrees.

Priests and priestesses do not have the authority to impose their own interpretations on the Mass, because it is not intended as a vehicle for personal expression. What it achieves is threefold (magical, communal, and doctrinal, as asserted here), and rare indeed is the individual priest or priestess with a conscious comprehension of all three of the objects at stake. Accordingly, their service is subject to both written policy, and to hierarchical oversight. The latter involves magical and doctrinal issues that are not–and cannot be–matters of published policy.

The policy of the church on the matter of officer gender hinges on the distinction between private and public Gnostic Masses, a distinction which Br. Effertz at first obscures, and then misrepresents. One might read the first third of his book without encountering any hint that what he calls “queer Gnostic Mass” is in fact perfectly licit under current church policy. What is required, in particular support of what I have called the doctrinal purpose of the Mass, is that public Masses have priests who are socially masculine in their life outside the temple, and priestesses who are similarly feminine. (Br. Effertz provides no support for his contention on pp. 40-43 that the hierarchy have confused gender with sexuality in formulating current policy.)

Individual initiates may indeed use the ceremonial roles of the Gnostic Mass as avenues for personal exploration and expression concerning gender. It may be considered paradoxical or even ironic, but the possibility for an ordinarily masculine initiate to experience the office of priestess as a thoroughly feminine role is maintained and enhanced through the constraint that requires priestesses of public Masses to be ordinarily feminine (and vice versa, mutatis mutandum, et cetera). Br. Effertz proposes that keeping “queer Gnostic Mass” within the initiated regimen of private Mass is equivalent to “closeting” of queer personal relationships. But the comparison is false: private Gnostic Masses are not secret. The queerpriest or queerpriestess is at perfect liberty to openly boast such private enactments. Keeping the actual events among initiates appropriately highlights their experimental and idiosyncratic character.

In the end, the freedom of queer amorous relationships, while it is an essential ingredient of Thelemic morality, is incidental to the work of Gnostic Mass officers. The ceremony does not hinge on the erotic relationship between the priest and priestess or on their sexual orientations. It does use their genders to adumbrate certain chief secrets of O.T.O. I applaud Br. Effertz in his dismissal of certain shallow, uninitiated readings (especially those promoted by Kenneth Grant) regarding the formulae of the Order’s high degrees. But demonstrating someone else’s misunderstanding does not establish his own right understanding in this respect. And since those who know don’t talk, strawmen are the only opponents available to Br. Effertz when he tries to come to grips with the deeper doctrinal elements of the Mass. He should heed the words of the Primate that he likes to quote, and continue to question his own assumptions about what is represented in the drama of our central ceremony. [via]

 

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Enough of Because

Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster has a new post about the “problem of authority” in the Pagan community at “Enough of Because: The Nature of Pagan Authority“:

“In my last post endeavoring to explain the project of this blog, I made the statement, “And, no, you can’t worship Jesus Christ and be a Pagan.” It provoked heated response. The content, regarding the nature of the relationship between Christianity and Pagans, will be the topic of my next post. What is more interesting and immediate is the underlying assumptions about the nature of authority projected upon me, my writing, and to generalize, within Paganism as a whole.

Let’s start with the concrete: I’m the author. As such I have complete “authority.” I wrote the words. But do they amount to anything? Well, they must, they were published in a blog! Is that enough?

Admittedly, it was a provocative assertion. It was stated as an injunction—”you can’t be”—and this rankles some in our rather oppositional community. For me, this was just a rhetorical flourish, and when I go into the content I will represent this idea with greater precision and exposition. But it clearly annoyed some. I am speaking to get your attention, and I see that you have given it to me, but truthfully, I have no desire to irritate, just to focus you. I sincerely offer my apologies.

That said, we need to deal with a bigger problem than my diction: the problem of authority.” [via]

God’s Boredom or Why we are not Enlightened

Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster has a new post over on his Arkadian Anvil blog at “God’s Boredom or Why we are not Enlightened …

“Why are we not enlightened? In this case I mean why do we not experience ourselves, from the moment we are conscious, as an inalienable part of the Divine, with all Its resources and presence? Our fears and worries tell us that we are not immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, etc, etc … even when we know we are part of the Divine. We don’t feel it, at least at first. I think there is an explanation, and it’s a good one, if a bit weird. But, it requires a suspension of our assumptions to understand it. So, please give me a chance to lay it out. You see, God was bored …” [via]