A moral critique of capitalism, emphasizing the ways in which it leads to suffering, only reinforces capitalist realism. Poverty, famine and war can be presented as an inevitable part of reality, while the hope that these forms of suffering could be eliminated easily painted as naive utopianism. Capitalist realism can only be threatened if it is shown to be in some way inconsistent or untenable; if, that is to say, capitalism’s ostensible ‘realism’ turns out to be nothing of the sort.
It is worth recalling that what is currently called realistic was itself once ‘impossible’: the slew of privatizations that took place since the 1980s would have been unthinkable only a decade earlier, and the current political-economic landscape (with unions in abeyance, utilities and railways denationalized) could scarcely have been imagined in 1975. Conversely, what was once eminently possible is now deemed unrealistic.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 16th, 2014
Hannah Kunkle’s Controversial Project Turns Kim Kardashian Into The Devil, The Virgin Mary And Even Jesus — Victoria Casal-Data, Beautiful/Decay
- The Dark Ages — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
“Perhaps in time to come the so-called Dark Ages may include our own.”
- Witch Deposits and Witch Bottles — Gillian Bagwell, Wonders & Marvels
“As I began to write my forthcoming novel Venus in Winter, I found an article about the practices common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of placing a shoe within a wall or of concealing other collections of items as ‘witch deposits’ that intended to deflect malevolent spirits or witches’ curses. Witch deposits might include ‘lucky’ items such as family heirlooms or objects associated with someone considered spiritually powerful. Another purpose for witch deposits may have been the desire of the householders to leave their mark after they were dead and gone.”
- The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, by Claude Lecouteux — Freeman Presson, Spiral Nature; a review of Lecouteux’s The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets: Tradition and Craft from Inner Traditions
“The priests inveighing against these charms were particularly intent on discouraging the use of magical characters (alphabetic or sigilic writing that conveys spiritual power). They sometimes waxed poetic: ‘The demon slithers in the characters like the serpent beneath the flowers.’ This ties nicely into his statement that ‘the unknown always inspires the Church with fear.’
Lecouteux summarizes part of this history thus: ‘Implicit in the background are notions of natural, licit magic and illicit black magic,’ ((p. 30)) after giving one of many examples of a churchman condemning the talismanic art as being an implicit pact with a demon, a pattern which, as he points out, is ‘commonly repeated throughout the sixteenth century.’ What this means to me is that the Faustian current which arose in early modern magick didn’t just appear without help. Apparently, it is as possible to call an egregore into being by constant execration as by constant evocation!
- ISIS threatens to destroy the Kaaba after capturing Saudi Arabia — Vestnik Kavkaza [HT disinformation]
“Representatives of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) stated that they will destroy the Kaaba after they capture Saudi Arabia, APA reports quoting Turkish media that ISIS wants to take control of the city of Arar in Saudi Arabia and start operations there.
ISIS member Abu Turab Al Mugaddasi said that they would destroy the Kaaba in Mecca: ‘If Allah wills, we will kill those who worship stones in Mecca and destroy the Kaaba. People go to Mecca to touch the stones, not for Allah.'”
- Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set — Scott Kidall and Bryan Cera [HT Boing Boing]
“Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set is a 3D-printed chess set generated from an archival photograph of Marcel Duchamp’s own custom and hand-carved game. His original physical set no longer exists. We have resurrected the lost artifact by digitally recreating it, and then making the 3D files available for anyone to print.
Inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s readymade — an ordinary manufactured object that the artist selected and modified for exhibition – the readymake brings the concept of the appropriated object to the realm of the internet, exploring the web’s potential to re-frame information and data, and their reciprocal relationships to matter and ideas. Readymakes transform photographs of objects lost in time into shared 3D digital spaces to provide new forms and meanings.”
- Carl Jung’s Surreally Illustrated “The Red Book” Documents The Therapist’s Psychospiritual Journey — Jené Gutierrez, Beautiful/Decay; about C G Jung’s The Red Book
“This journal chronicles a deeply personal voyage of self-discovery that Jung did not wish to be published while he was alive for fear that the book could ruin his professional and personal life, and that people would think him mentally unstable. However, it’s the belief of Jungian scholar Sonu Shamdasani that Jung intended for this work to eventually be published. Shamdasani points to the fact that Jung’s journal is addressed, ‘dear friends,’ and that that he would often lend the journal to friends and patients during his lifetime. After Jung died in 1961, his heirs were reluctant to release the contents of the book, and kept it stored away in a bank vault in Switzerland. It took Shamdasani 3 years to convince his heirs to allow The Red Book to be published, and an additional 13 years for the entirety of the calligraphic text to be translated from German to English.”
- How to plan a pilgrimage — Jarred Triskelion, Spiral Nature
“In this technological age, there are few places that cannot be reached in relative ease and comfort. For a pilgrimage, however, the journey is as important as the destination. […] You gain much by connecting with the environment through which you are travelling. It lends context to the site you are visiting as well deepening the sense of achievement felt at the end.”
- Oldness — Ian Corrigan, Into the Mound
“As I usually say, if one is lucky, one gets old. One of the goals of traditional magic has always been to extend life. For a Vedic yogi ‘immortality’ meant a lifespan of 100 years or more, as average lifespans of 40 or 50 years rolled on by. For many of my generation, and many more of those just following, 100 years will be achieved by the magic of modern culture and scientific medicine, far more effectively than it was ever managed by sorcery or alchemy.
But, as they say, ‘Eat right, achieve wisdom, die anyway.’ Our spans are not determined by our effort, but by the capricious (or sneaky) cutting of the thread, the song ended in a half-measure, the nail-flick of a passing giant. To this annoyingly unfair reality, we can only respond with resignation. Our fate is not in our hands.”
- Collective Nouns and Medievalist Collectivity: A Poem — Jonathan Hsy, In The Middle
“During the conference banquet, some of the conference participants were wondering if there’s a collective noun for Gower scholars, and Brian Gastle joked that it should be called a ‘recension of Gowerians.’ On the last day of the conference I expanded Gastle’s joke on twitter and Facebook and other people began submitting their own suggestions for other collective nouns for medievalists.”
“A troop of Anglo-Saxonists
A roundtable of Arthurians
An orientation of cartographers
A compaignye of Chaucerians
A gathering of codicologists
A circle of Dante scholars
A Swerve of Shakespeareans
A fellowship of Tolkienists”
- Haunting Knitted Animal Pelts Draw Attention To the Plight Of Endangered Species — Ellyn Ruddick-Sunstein, Beautiful/Decay; from the now-I-can-cosplay-Aleister-Crowley-guilt-free dept.
“Stretched and bound over wooden frames, the animal pelts of Australian artist Ruth Marshall are so utterly realistic looking that it is difficult to believe that they are not in fact fur and hide. Constructed out of knitted yarn, they compel us to consider the endangered species killed and skinned by poachers and collectors.”
- Agnostic and Gnostic — Troy W Pierce, The Path of Gnosis [HT disinformation]
“One of the common misunderstandings when you tell people that you are a Gnostic is that they hear the more familiar word ‘Agnostic.’ (This becomes quite amusing when they mishear ‘Agnostic Priest,’ or ‘Agnostic Eucharist.’) This becomes a good opportunity to elucidate one of the truisms of contemporary Gnosticism: You have to be an Agnostic before you can become a Gnostic.”
- Everything is Sound and Light, Plus Sigil Generation Technology — Thad McKraken, disinformation
“What I love about this is whereas what I do is essentially translating mystical concepts for a generation of kids raised on crap like VICE and stoner comedy, he takes a vastly more scientific approach.”
- Manifesting An Other World — Rhyd Wildermuth, Wild Hunt
“Perhaps it might seem strange to some that I wasn’t seeing this all in a Wiccan shop or Occult store. Perhaps where I found these things may seem even more strange: an Anarchist café in Seattle.
But this shouldn’t sound strange at all. Paganism and its beliefs mirror the struggle of Anarchists, and the indigenous activists who host ancestor prayers at that same cafe, and the queer trans* folk who hold meetings and organize protests against corporate pride events or the killing of a man who didn’t have correct fare on the light rail.”
“They are fighting against hegemonic control of existence, the limiting of human life itself; against the structures which displace people from the earth, disconnecting them from the strength and influence of spirits and ancestors, and turn humans into consumers and producers and subjects of hegemonic control of the powerful. And particularly, they are all fighting against the crushing oppression wrought upon the world by Capitalism.
We should be too, if our beliefs are more than mere opinion.”
- Golem: a Pagan view of Corporations — Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster, Wild Hunt
“Like a Golem, a corporation is made by words; its articles of incorporation once signed and seal by the Secretary of State bring it to life. At one time ‘life’ might have seemed like hyperbole, but living in the age of the Citizens United ruling, corporations have personhood before the law and with it ‘human’ rights. It will continue doing what it was set up to do unless commanded or forced to stop. This can be very hard to do when those with the power of command are benefiting (making profit) from the creature’s actions. It is effectively immortal, only to stop functioning when it runs out of cash or credit, its life blood so to speak. It can only ‘die’ if it is disbanded by sale, in which case it continues in another form, or experience ‘true’ death by the revocation of its articles of incorporation, which will actually end it. Like the Golem, it will only stop when its words of creation are ‘erased’.”
- Where has all the light in the universe gone? Astrophysicists mystified after noticing 80 per cent of the light in the universe appears to be missing — Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph; from the my-soul-is-wandering-in-darkness-seeking-for-the-light dept.
“The universe is a pretty dark place – but according to astrophysicists it is much too dark.
Scientists have been left scratching their heads after noticing there is a huge deficit of light.”
- Public Priesthood: Big Fish in a Small Pond — Hermetic Library anthology artist T Thorn Coyle, Numinous Concrete
“Some have written much about whether or not professional clergy is useful to Paganism. Others have written to deride or uphold ‘Big Name Pagans.’ I’m not going to do any of that. What I want to do is talk about the reality of my life. And some hard numbers. I’m offering this to give people a better idea of what we might actually be talking about in the midst of these conversations.
People have asked how I planned my career trajectory. What did I do to end up where I am? My first response is surprised laughter at the question.”
- Second 4,000 Year Old Timber Circle Revealed — Past Horizons
“In the late 1990s two remarkable Bronze Age timber circles were discovered on Holme Beach, Norfolk (East England). One of these popularly known as – ‘Seahenge’ – was excavated in 1998 and 1999.
Since the excavations the second circle has been monitored and evidence of damage by coastal processes has been recorded. In the last year dendrochronological (tree ring) dating has shown the timbers used to build this circle – ‘Holme II’ – were felled in the spring or summer of 2049 BCE, exactly the same time as those used to build ‘Seahenge’ and places the construction of both circles early in the Bronze Age.”
- Intersectionality isn’t just a win-win; it’s the only way out — Henia Belalia, Waging Nonviolence [HT disinformation]
“This question of intersectionality isn’t the first time that science is playing catch-up to traditional knowledge, and it won’t be the last. As Pachamama Alliance’s accompanying blog explains: ‘Scientific research is bringing knowledge of the natural world full circle, offering biological and theoretical authority to the enduring truth of indigenous wisdom.’ Yet, among all of these enduring truths, intersectionality is one of the most central. ‘Perhaps the most universal indigenous perspective is the idea of a world inextricably interconnected, on all levels, and across time,’ the Pachamama Alliance wrote.”
- Cognitive bias in software development considered harmful — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; introducing Cognitive Biases in Software Engineering by Jonathan Klein
“In an excellent 2013 article, Jonathan Klein lays out the many ways in which cognitive biases undermine the software development process. Whether it’s fundamental attribution error (‘my bugs are easily excusable mistakes, your bugs are the result of unforgivable sloppiness’); confirmation bias (‘that’s enough testing, we know that this works!’); bandwagon effect (‘Bob’s the bull-goose devops person, it would be silly to doubt his views on this software’); hyperbolic discounting (‘a shortcut that saves me a day’s work now is OK, even it costs me ten days’ fixing in a year’) and negativity bias (‘the last time we did this it was a huge pain in the ass, screw it.’)
But more importantly, Klein also suggests ways that you can mitigate these universal biases in your own software development practices — procedures that you can follow to make sure that when your stupid brain tricks you, you can spot the slight of mind.”
- We love to laugh at modern prophets – but we’ve forgotten how much they matter — Lionel Laborie, The Conversation [HT Sarah Green]
“Each age has its visionaries, and the 21st century is no exception.”
“Prophets are by definition those who provide insight into the future. Whether they are secular or religious, all claim superior knowledge and spark either interest, laughter or hostility. They find legitimacy in persecution; but they also deliver messages of hope, justice and the promise of a better future.
The very fact that their predictions leave no-one indifferent points to our subconscious fascination with them. The dominant attitude in our Western societies is generally to dismiss prophets as fools and impostors, relics from the most obscure times in our history. Yet we often forget that new religious movements also appear every year.”
- How to Make Sense of Conspiracy Theories — Rob Ager [HT disinformation]
“Today conspiracy theories are a staple aspect of academia, entertainment and politics, though the term conspiracy theory isn’t always applied. There are thousands of conspiracy theory claims made across all forms of media distribution. The vast ocean of information on these subjects is far too great for any individual or even any government to fully absorb.
On that basis, it is crucial that any person or group wishing to explore such matters should begin with a set of reliable information filters and organising principles. You will already have filters and organising principles of your own, but it’s likely that many of those perceptive habits are unconscious. It’s also likely that you have picked up those habits in non-conspiracy theory contexts.”
“However, the type of scepticism we naturally hold unconsciously in our daily interactions with strangers tends to veer towards the idea that some people are simple opportunists trying to make a buck here or there or in some other way take short term advantage of us. We tend to be less adept at defending ourselves against society’s more cunning manipulators, especially the more intelligent ones.”
- The Shortest Path to Happiness: Recommending Beautiful, Quiet, and Happy Routes in the City — Daniele Quercia, Rossano Schifanella, Luca Maria Aiello [HT Gizmodo]
“When providing directions to a place, web and mobile mapping services are all able to suggest the shortest route. The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant. To quantify the extent to which urban locations are pleasant, we use data from a crowd-sourcing platform that shows two street scenes in London (out of hundreds), and a user votes on which one looks more beautiful, quiet, and happy. We consider votes from more than 3.3K individuals and translate them into quantitative measures of location perceptions. We arrange those locations into a graph upon which we learn pleasant routes. Based on a quantitative validation, we find that, compared to the shortest routes, the recommended ones add just a few extra walking minutes and are indeed perceived to be more beautiful, quiet, and happy. To test the generality of our approach, we consider Flickr metadata of more than 3.7M pictures in London and 1.3M in Boston, compute proxies for the crowdsourced beauty dimension (the one for which we have collected the most votes), and evaluate those proxies with 30 participants in London and 54 in Boston. These participants have not only rated our recommendations but have also carefully motivated their choices, providing insights for future work.”
If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.