People may start out with an initial prejudice against tyrants; but when tyrants or would-be tyrants treat them to adrenalin-releasing propaganda about the wickedness of their enemies—particularly of enemies weak enough to be persecuted—they are ready to follow him with enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, it is human nature to seek simple solutions to complex problems, and when a “solution” is found that is not immediately disastrous, it is often embraced with enthusiasm far outstripping its actual merit.
Robert Kroese, Starship Grifters
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 14th, 2014
- “Review: ‘Aleister Crowley’ explores the life and times of the notorious icon ” — Brooke Wylie, Examiner.com
“Detractors of rock n’ roll have long called the genre, the ‘Devil’s music,’ so in some ways, it’s all too natural that Gary Lachman (known by his stage name Gary Valentine, to some), who is a founding member of Blondie, and has shredded with Iggy Pop, should eventually become an expert on mysticism and the occult. His latest work, Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (available May 15) tackles not only the life and times of the illustrious figure, known by many as The Great Beast, but also the collision of Crowley’s legacy with popular culture.”
The review includes this apropos and awesome typo (emphasis added): “Crowley’s word is a strange one indeed, and wrapping one’s mind around it can be a substantial challenge at times.”
- “Was Jesus a Magician?” — Helen Ingram
“One of these lectures introduced me to the character of ‘Jesus the magician’ and the work of Prof. Morton Smith, who claimed that Jesus’ conduct within the Gospel material constituted a ‘coherent, consistent and credible picture of a magician’s career.’ The theory that the historical Jesus was actively practicing magic and that this behaviour is reflected in the Gospel materials was a very intriguing proposal and immediately stimulated a personal interest in this field of research. This curiosity culminated in the submission and acceptance of my PhD thesis …”
- “SATANIC BLACK MASS AT HARVARD, SATANIC MONUMENT IN OKLAHOMA” — Paul McGuire, NewsWithViews.com; from the RTFM dept.
“But the software of God, which is the downloading of cosmic apps, should be understood as nothing more than a contemporary parable to explain in understandable terms the gifts and abilities that the Living God gives people on a natural and supernatural level, the gifts of the Spirit. Tragically, most of the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic movements which emphasized these gifts did so in a very distorted and degraded manner, so that these terms have become synonymous with hyper-emotionalism, crazy behavior and aberrant behavior. This is a degradation and improper use of both the software and the apps. They did not read the basic operating instructions provided in the manual.”
- The Colbert Report on the Oklahoma Baphomet monument, including a call-in by Satan, Lord of Hell, himself [HT The Lost Ogle]
- “Real Satanists Don’t Send Press Releases” — Thomas L McDonald, God and the Machine
“The modern so-called Satanists who make all the noise are not really Satanists. They don’t actually believe in Satan. Most are atheists who couch their so-called ‘Satanism’ in terms of resistance or philosophy. It’s not a religion, but a critique of religion, or somesuch blather. It’s all theater.”
“The black mass emerged again in the 19th century in the salons, universities, and intellectual circles of Europe, which was the wellspring of modern occultism. Lacking much primary documentation, the upper classes mostly invented their version of a black mass influenced by literature and structured around a simple inversion of the Catholic mass. No real tradition directly linking medieval diabolism to modern so-called Satanism exists, which means horror movies, fiction, and imagination are at the root of most modern practice.”
- “God is dead—What next? Searching for meaning in the age of atheism” — Alasdair Craig, Prospect [HT Arts & Letters Daily]
“[Peter] Watson is more optimistic about the possibility of an emotionally satisfying atheism. His proposal is that we use art and literature to comprehend and re-enchant the world that science has made foreign. Science is one way of understanding the world; art and literature another, he seems to say. Science provides technology, medicine and abstract knowledge; art provides meaning, purpose and a different, more intimate and immediately relevant kind of knowledge. God’s death just means that we need to construct our own, non-authoritative narratives and art, replete with purpose and meaning. Instead of one unified story to which everyone subscribes, we should play around with a plurality of downgraded stories, which can form the basis of our day-to-day lives.”
- “Ancient Egyptians transported pyramid stones over wet sand” — Ans Hekkenberg, Phys.org
“Physicists from the FOM Foundation and the University of Amsterdam have discovered that the ancient Egyptians used a clever trick to make it easier to transport heavy pyramid stones by sledge. The Egyptians moistened the sand over which the sledge moved. By using the right quantity of water they could halve the number of workers needed. The researchers published this discovery online on 29 April 2014 in Physical Review Letters.”
“The Egyptians were probably aware of this handy trick. A wall painting in the tomb of Djehutihotep clearly shows a person standing on the front of the pulled sledge and pouring water over the sand just in front of it.”
- “Review: Limp Renaissance sex romp a poor Carry On indeed” — Rebecca Harkins-Cross, Brisbane Times
“Elixir is based on the escapades of Edward Kelley and John Dee, a famed occultist duo in Renaissance England who professed the ability to summon angels and to conduct alchemy. […] [Edward Kelley (Christy Hawkins)] concocts a cunning plan to unlock his colleague’s wife Jane’s (Naomi Takita) chastity belt and pacify the emperor simultaneously, convincing Doctor Dee (Stephen Weir) the elixir should be made from wizard seed and a cuckold’s tears.”
- “Scientists Confirm Vampires Were Onto Something” — Maxwell Barna, VICE News
“New research published this week by two teams of scientists confirmed what Bram Stoker and countless philosophers, scientists, and cannibals have long posited — there’s an indisputable relationship between blood and aging.”
“‘When we added young blood, the older mice not only looked better, but they became cognitively better,’ Saul Villeda, the principal investigator at UCSF’s Villeda Lab, told VICE News. ‘It’s like we can turn back the clock on some parts of aging.'”
- “Footage of Orson Welles’s ‘Voodoo’ Macbeth” — National Film Preservation Foundation
“It had long been assumed that no sound or moving images survived from Orson Welles’s legendary ‘Voodoo Macbeth,’ the Federal Theatre Project’s 1936 Harlem stage production of Shakespeare’s play, set in Haiti with an African American cast. But priceless historical footage can turn up within unlikely places. This long-forgotten record of the first professional play staged by Orson Welles was found in another film, the U.S. government-produced We Work Again, a Depression-era documentary on African American employment.”
- “Stonehenge Discovery ‘Blows Lid Off’ Old Theories About Builders Of Ancient Monument” — Macrina Cooper-White, Huffpost Science
“Last October, [David] Jacques led an archaeological dig at a site 1.5 miles from Stonehenge. His team unearthed flint tools and the bones of aurochs, extinct cow-like animals that were a food source for ancient people. Carbon dating of the bones showed that modern-day Amesbury, an area that includes the dig site and Stonehenge itself, has been continuously occupied since 8820 B.C. Amesbury has now been declared the oldest continually occupied area in Britain.
The finding suggests that Stonehenge was built by indigenous Britons who had lived in the area for thousands of years. Previous theories held that the monument was built in an empty landscape by migrants from continental Europe.”
- “Ancient Desert Glyphs Pointed Way to Fairgrounds” — Sean Treacy, Science
“Seen from above, the jagged rocks strewn about the Chincha Valley desert in Peru seem inconspicuous. But stand in the desert itself and these rocks form lines that stretch toward the horizon. Researchers have found that these lines were probably ancient signposts for the Paracas culture more than 2000 years ago, guiding people across the desert to gathering places for the winter solstice.”
- “Astronomers Identify the Sun’s Long-Lost Sister” — Becky Ferreira, Motherboard [HT Slashdot]
“HD 162826 is 15 percent more massive than our Sun, and is about 110 light years away in the constellation Hercules. It’s not visible to the naked eye, but it is bright enough to be seen through binoculars.
Astronomers had been observing the star for almost two decades without realizing it’s the long-lost sister of the Sun.”
- “LGBTQ Tolerance in the Golden Dawn” — Alex Sumner, Sol Ascendans
“Say what you like about MacGregor Mathers, but on one point he was resolute: he would not brook gossip about Fratres’ and Sorores’ lives — this being a matter purely between themselves and their God. […] Mathers’ firm stand has led to a progressive consequence: the Golden Dawn was the first magical order to adopt a modern approach to tolerance. However, the Western Mystery Tradition was almost derailed by the efforts of Dion Fortune.”
- “Aleister Crowley, aliens, owls and Jesus” — Mike Clelland, hidden experience
“Little is known of the origin of the big headed entity known as Lam. All that can be known for sure is that this image was drawn by Aleister Crowley to depict a being that was summoned during a magickal ritual titled The Amalantrah Working. This sketch later hung on a gallery wall at Crowley’s Dead Souls exhibition in Greenwich Village, New York, in 1919.”
“Things get weirder, when the image is reversed, an image of an owl emerges! Granted, I’m seeing owls everywhere I look these days, but still.
Also, the name Crowley has OWL embedded right in it.”
- “Black magician Aleister Crowley’s early gay verse comes to light: Notebook of poems written by heartbroken occultist in 1898 to be exhibited at antiquarian book fair in London” — Maev Kennedy, The Guardian
“In 1898 the Wickedest Man in the World was feeling thoroughly sorry for himself. The occultist Aleister Crowley’s first great love affair, with fellow Cambridge undergraduate Herbert Jerome Pollitt, was in ruins, and he took to poetry as his only solace.
‘When my sick body in his love lies drowned/ And he lies corpse-wise on me, nor will rise/ Though my breath shudders, and my soul be dead,’ he wrote — and much, much more — in a tiny notebook of unpublished manuscript poems which has recently resurfaced.
The actor and rare book dealer Neil Pearson, who will exhibit the little book at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London later this month, concedes that this is not great poetry. ‘The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanise him — and God knows Aleister Crowley, more than most people, needs humanising.'”
- “Critical Thinking #5: Marina Warner: The critic and mythographer on fairytales, feminism, modern art, translation and the LRB” — Zeljka Marosevic, Prospect [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; this seems quite an interesting interview, but here’s a few excerpts that caught my eye
“It’s often encountering the faith of others that I’ve found most disturbing. I don’t wish to scorn faith as it’s a universal part of human consciousness. But as such, it’s a deep puzzle, and I’m interested in its effects and manifestations. I worry about the effects of it, especially in our increasingly conflicted religious world.”
“Grappling with myths has been my principal interest for years, even to a certain extent, my cause: to put the study of imaginative structures back into the frame when confronting important issues. Not to think of imagination and fantasy as merely childish, or to dismiss them as having no purchase on reality.”
“Myth and fairy tale have definitely returned. First of all there’s a generation who have grown up on Dungeons and Dragons, Tolkien and Narnia, and now, Philip Pullman and Harry Potter. I haven’t read the Twilight stories so I probably shouldn’t talk about them, but I have watched one of the films, and it seems to me that it’s an example of the problem of attenuation: instead of getting richer, these stories are being told in a less rich way, and the vampires are being tamed!”
- “‘I gather the limbs of Osiris’: Notes on the New Gnosticism” — Henry Gould, Coldfront
“One way to think of the New Gnosticism, then, might be as the overturning of an analytical negation (Language Poetry). It includes, also, a reversal of the ‘old’ Gnosticism: which was itself a sort of skeptical deconstruction of canonical Biblical texts.”
“The infinite starry realm of scribbling, scrambling poets every now and then produces a new galaxy, that is, a new movement or school. These emergent phenomena always generate a contradictory mix of enthusiasm and doubt.”
- “Do What Thou Wilt” — Brandy Williams, Star and Snake
“The Law applies equally for everyone; each person, each creature, has their own will to do. It’s not my business to figure anyone else’s will out for them.”
- “Exploring Thelema and Chaos Magick, with Pete and Sef (Part 4)” — The Blog of Baphomet
“‘Pure Will’ ‘unassuaged of purpose’ sounds like it can mean anything, everything, or nothing. I consider that people consist of the totality of what they do (which of course includes what they think). The idea of their having some sort of ‘being’ separate from their doing, or for that matter some sort of ‘will’ other than their total doing seems superfluous to me. I can however appreciate the idea that doing some things may tend to give better results than doing others, and to this extent I can understand ‘Do What thou Wilt’ as an exhortation to do the very best of what you can possibly do and love to do, as so many people settle for mediocrity and lousy compromises.”
- Caesar by Plutarch and more, quoted at “Caesar’s reform of the calendar — some ancient sources” — Roger Pearse [HT Rogueclassicism]
“2. For not only in very ancient times was the relation of the lunar to the solar year in great confusion among the Romans, so that the sacrificial feasts and festivals, diverging gradually, at last fell in opposite seasons of the year, 3. but also at this time people generally had no way of computing the actual solar year; the priests alone knew the proper time, and would suddenly and to everybody’s surprise insert the intercalary month called Mercedonius.”
“5. But Caesar laid the problem before the best philosophers and mathematicians, and out of the methods of correction which were already at hand compounded one of his own which was more accurate than any. This the Romans use down to the present time, and are thought to be less in error than other peoples as regards the inequality between the lunar and solar years.
6. However, even this furnished occasion for blame to those who envied Caesar and disliked his power. At any rate, Cicero the orator, we are told, when some one remarked that Lyra would rise on the morrow, said: ‘Yes, by decree,’ implying that men were compelled to accept even this dispensation.”
- “Phantom Time” — Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know from How Stuff Works [HT Wythe Marschall]
“A few fringe professors have caused rumblings with their controversial claim that three hundred years of human history have been entirely made up.”
- “First life with ‘alien’ DNA: An engineered bacterium is able to copy DNA that contains unnatural genetic letters.” — Ewen Callaway, Nature News; from the either-way-more-boring-or-way-more-scary-than-it-sounds dept.
“For billions of years, the history of life has been written with just four letters — A, T, C and G, the labels given to the DNA subunits contained in all organisms. That alphabet has just grown longer, researchers announce, with the creation of a living cell that has two ‘foreign’ DNA building blocks in its genome.”
“‘What we have now is a living cell that literally stores increased genetic information,’ says Floyd Romesberg, a chemical biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who led the 15-year effort.”
- “Gay Witches” — Masha Mel, VICE; a photo gallery
- Article about EyeWire at “Computer Game Reveals ‘Space-Time’ Neurons in the Eye” — John Bohannon, Science
“Researchers have known for decades that the eye does much more than just detect light. The dense patch of neurons in the retina also processes basic features of a scene before sending the information to the brain. For example, in 1964, scientists showed that some neurons in the retina fire up only in response to motion. What’s more, these “space-time” detectors have so-called direction selectivity, each one sensitive to objects moving in different directions. But exactly how that processing happens in the retina has remained a mystery. […] Enter the EyeWire project, an online game that recruits volunteers to map out those cellular contours within a mouse’s retina.”
- Katherine Harmon Courage on independently thinking octopus arms and the awful Evil Dead-like tragedy of octopus boredom
“The octopus’s nervous system is a fascinating one. Some two thirds of its neurons reside not in its central brain but out in its flexible, stretchable arms. This, researchers suspect, lightens the cognitive coordination demands and allows octopuses to let their arms do some of the ‘thinking’—or at least the coordination, problem-solving and reaction—on their own.
And these arms can continue reacting to stimuli even after they are no longer connected to the main brain; in fact, they remain responsive even after the octopus has been euthanized and the arms severed.” [via]
“Octopuses are so smart they get bored. Aquarium staff have learned to be wary of a bored octopus because they’ve been known to break the monotony by eating their own arms. That tends to scare the kids.” [via]
- “The Art World is Too Safe Now: H.R. Giger has Died” — Glendon Mellow, Scientific American
“The art world has become safer, less dangerous and less disturbing than it ought to be today. The giant in the night, H.R. Giger, has died, it is being reported. […] Giger is dead. His shadow remains cast over our future. The shadow moves.”
- “L. Rock Hubbard: Revisiting the curious career of the ultimate cult musician.” — Nathan Rabin, Slate Culturebox
“Hubbard’s sonic space opera is, as you might imagine, a staggeringly strange piece of work, a bewildering cross between Queen’s Flash Gordon soundtrack (whose hero is referenced in the shameless opening track ‘Golden Age of Sci-Fi,’ along with Superman and Buck Rogers), an amateur radio play, and a campy audiobook that goes overboard with special effects and musical cues. If you have not recently read all 1,050 pages of Battlefield Earth or seen the film, the album is completely incomprehensible; if you’re familiar with the story, it’s mildly comprehensible.”
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together …
- “Denmark starts meaty argument over animal slaughter” — Leo Benedictus, The Guardian UK’s Shortcuts Blog; from the we’ll-meet-the-meat dept.
“In most European countries, including the UK, the slaughter of an animal is considered humane only if it is stunned before having its throat cut. Muslim and Jewish rules, however, require an animal to be fully alive, healthy, and intact before being killed, and this is often interpreted to mean it must be conscious. Many Muslims and Jews insist the swift technique of ritual slaughter prevents the animal from suffering. But animal welfare activists and their supporters beg to differ. … This is far from the first flare-up over ritual slaughter.”
- Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet [also]; from the party-foul dept.
“A libation without a prayer is just a spilled drink.”
- Crystal Blanton quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet; from the inconvenient-truth dept.
“We sacrifice humans every day.”
- “Will Arizona Go the Anti-Gay Way of Uganda?” — Jay Michaelson, The Jewish Daily Forward; from the freedom-fries dept.
“‘Religious Freedom’ used to be a shield, not a sword.”
- “The ‘Religious Liberty’ Campaign May Be Backfiring For Conservatives” — Ed Kilgore, Talking Points Memo’s Cafe; from the spare-tire-and-a-muffin-top-to-go dept.
“On many fronts in the culture wars, the momentum has usually been possessed by those who can best identify themselves with the ambivalent attitudes of a mushy middle ‘swing vote'”
- “Lawsuit: Calif. Christian missions tortured mentally disabled with Bible ‘punishments’” — David Edwards, Raw Story; from the agape-has-left-the-building dept.
“Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has filed a lawsuit against two unlicensed Christian mission homes for effectively torturing mentally disabled people if they refused to attend religious services, and forcing them to live in filthy conditions.”
- “Zambia: Why Homosexuality Should Not Be Legalised in Zambia (part 4)” [no link because it’s heinous] — Charles Kachikoti, Times of Zambia via allAfrica.com; from the what-is-this-i-don’t-even dept.
“[Reason #]17. Law and Order
The mentality of homosexuals is anti-family and anti-marriage, which mindset is opposed to law and order.
Aleister Crowley (October 12, 1875 — December 1, 1947), the father of modern day Satanism, who massively promoted Satan-worship internationally, and notably so among world music stars, spoke against family and promoted homosexuality.
The mentality of his followers is therefore anti-family and anti-marriage.”
- “Witch hunting | Victims of superstition” — Ashwaq Masoodi, Livemint.com; from the she’s-got-huge-tracts-of-land dept.
“These are women who are unsupported, either because they are single or widows. It is primarily connected to land. It happens with women who are economically well-off or self-sustaining.”
- “The Last of Us” — Frank Swain, Futures Exchange; so-logically-if-she-weighs-the-same-as-a-duck-she’s-made-of-wood dept.
“They kept the [last Great Auk] tied up for three days until an ominous storm arose. Believing the bird was a witch responsible for their predicament, the men clubbed it to death.”
- How Belief In Hell Directly Benefits The Elite — Matt Staggs, Disinformation; from the but-thinking-makes-it-so dept.
“Just thinking about Hell makes people ill and out of sorts, and they don’t even have to think that it’s real. It’s worse for the true believers: Individual belief in what the researchers referred to as ‘supernatural malevolence’ (Coming soon to pay-per-view!) was associated with bad coping skills, low self-esteem and poor health resiliency.”
“Hell isn’t just a religious idea, it’s a meme; an especially toxic one that we might be primed to believe in from birth — especially if you believe those studies that suggest we’re hardwired to believe in god. Hell is such a virulent, deadly little mind-virus that even secular minds have trouble fighting it off. And it seems that there’s a vested interest in keeping it strong.”
- The Race to Save Mali’s Priceless Artifacts — Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian Magazine; from the operation-serapeion dept.
“When jihadists overran Timbuktu last year, residents mounted a secret operation to evacuate the town’s irreplaceable medieval manuscripts.”
- “The Helgo Treasure: A Viking Age Buddha” — IrishArchaeology.ie; from the a-buddhist-a-copt-and-a-catholic-walk-into-a-viking-bar dept.
“Undoubtedly the most extraordinary find discovered during the excavations at Helgo was a small, bronze Buddha. This devotional figure dates from circa the 6th century AD … probably arrived in Helgo via Swedish merchants whose eastern trade routes were concentrated along Russian rivers such as the Volga.”
“The Helgo crozier is probably of Irish origin and would have formed part of a bishop’s staff. Dating from circa the 8th century AD, it was most likely stolen during a Viking raid on Ireland and brought back to Helgo as booty.”
“… a bronze ladle whose origins lie in North Africa, probably in the vicinity of modern-day Egypt. Decorated in small punch-marks, which define a Tree-of-Life symbol, the ladle was most likely used in ceremonies associated with the early Coptic church.”
- “When the Old Gods Died: A Note on Ragnarok and Evaporating Histories” — Jeremy D Johnson, Reality Sandwich; from the a-new-heaven-and-a-new-earth dept.
“Yes, let’s build that Earth. Cast out the old gods and apocalyptic imaginaries as we work to build a new Earth, so desperately and agonizingly waiting, not for the passive, but for those ready to be born.”
- “New documents prove U.S. Army actively targeted leftist protesters, group says” — Scott Kaufman, Raw Story; from the every-breath-you-take dept.
“New records obtained by the Defending Dissent Foundation prove that the United States Army used a multi-agency spy network to gather intelligence on nonviolent, antiwar protesters and to disseminate their findings to both the FBI and local police departments.”
- “How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations” — Glenn Greewald, The Intercept; from the secret-agent-johannes-dee-007 dept.
“Using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world”
- “Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters” — Marc A Smith et al., Pew Research Internet Project; from the a-place-for-everything-everything-in-its-place dept.
“Conversations on Twitter create networks with identifiable contours as people reply to and mention one another in their tweets. These conversational structures differ, depending on the subject and the people driving the conversation. Six structures are regularly observed: divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, and inward and outward hub and spoke structures. These are created as individuals choose whom to reply to or mention in their Twitter messages and the structures tell a story about the nature of the conversation.”
- “Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories” — David Comberg; from the e-stands-for-electricity dept;
- “The Shapes of Stories, a Kurt Vonnegut Infographic” — Maya Eilam; in-hoc-figura-vinces dept.
- Atlas of Management Thinking by Edward de Bono, described on the Edward de Bono website; in the can-you-draw-me-a-picture dept.
“Verbal descriptions of complex management situations are necessarily lodged in the left side of the brain. In order for us to be able to use the right side of the brain we need a repertoire of non-verbal images. That is precisely what this book sets out to provide. The images provided by drawings in this book enrich the perceptual map of the executive. The images allow him to add some right-brain thinking to his usual left-brain thinking. This makes it easier for the executive to recognise situations in a flash instead of having to build them up piecemeal.”
- “The Higgs Boson re-explained” — Jorge Cham, PHD Comics; from the hello-i-mass-be-going dept.
“Without the Higgs Field, there would be no mass terms in the equations … and everything you know would disappear in a split second.”
- “Is the Universe a Simulation?” — Edward Frenkel, The New York Times’ Gray Matter; from the faith-trust-and-pixie-dust dept.
“What kinds of things are mathematical entities and theorems, that they are knowable in this way? Do they exist somewhere, a set of immaterial objects in the enchanted gardens of the Platonic world, waiting to be discovered? Or are they mere creations of the human mind?
This question has divided thinkers for centuries. It seems spooky to suggest that mathematical entities actually exist in and of themselves. But if math is only a product of the human imagination, how do we all end up agreeing on exactly the same math? Some might argue that mathematical entities are like chess pieces, elaborate fictions in a game invented by humans. But unlike chess, mathematics is indispensable to scientific theories describing our universe. And yet there are many mathematical concepts — from esoteric numerical systems to infinite-dimensional spaces — that we don’t currently find in the world around us. In what sense do they exist?”
- “An Introduction to Landscape Theology” — David Titterington, Reality Sandwich; from the my-hair-the-trees-of-eternity dept.
“What is objective and universal may be called transpersonal, or ‘archetypal,’ in the Jungian sense; it is that more-than-human place we share with others, that ‘earthly ground of rock and soil that we share with the other animals and the plants’ (Abram 1996: 281). Merleau-Ponty: ‘My body is made of the same flesh as the world.’ Therefore, if we wish to look for the ‘real archetypes,’ we may want to pay attention to landscapes and their elements.”
- Sleep’s Hidden Histories — Benjamin Reiss. Los Angeles Review of Books [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from between-a-sleep-and-a-sleep the dept.
“Things that we do or experience in private, things we might expect to read about in novels or talk about in therapy, have now generated a hidden-histories boomlet. The best of these works not only make the familiar strange, but they make us think differently about history and its intimate relation to our own lives.”
“Sleep, on the other hand, assassinates the person who might think about it. It’s not just that it’s a stretch to imagine how our sleep connects us to other times and places; it’s that we’re not even there when it happens. Dreaming is a possible exception, since it’s sometimes recoverable by our waking selves — which is part of why dreaming has a much longer historiography than the other 85 percent of the sleep cycle. But the other aspects of the sleeping self — characterized by non-productivity, maddening lumpishness, and obliviousness — are about as unavailable to us as is being born or dying.”
- “The Church of the Paranormal” — Shannon Fischer, Pacific Standard [HT William Thirteen]; from the i-want-to-believe dept.
“Don’t be shy. Depending on your poll of choice, anywhere from a third to nearly half of you either believe in ghosts or are pretty sure you do. And if not ghosts, then aliens, mediums, or astrology, for which belief has either held steady or risen over the last couple of decades. More than two-thirds of Americans hold at least one paranormal—unsanctioned by religion—belief, according to the Baylor Religion Survey. That’s more than voted in the 2012 presidential election.”
- Arnold Toynbee quoted at “Roadmap to an unstoppable strategy” — Stephanie Van Hook; from the i-love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together dept.
“Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an idea that takes the imagination by storm; and second, a concrete, intelligible plan for putting that idea into action.”
- “The War on Reason” — Paul Bloom, The Atlantic [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the let-me-hear-your-body-talk dept.
“In a contemporary, and often unacknowledged, rebooting of Freud, many psychologists have concluded from such findings that unconscious associations and attitudes hold powerful sway over our lives—and that conscious choice is largely superfluous. ‘It is not clear,’ the Baylor College neuroscientist David Eagleman writes, ‘how much the conscious you—as opposed to the genetic and neural you—gets to do any deciding at all.'”
- “Does Reading Actually Change The Brain?” — Carol Clark of Emory University, Futurity [HT Disinformation]; from the i-can-go-twice-as-high dept.
“‘The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,’ Berns says. ‘We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.’
The neural changes were not just immediate reactions, Berns says, since they persisted the morning after the readings, and for the five days after the participants completed the novel.”
- “The new theory that could explain crime and violence in America” — Scott C Johnson; from the taking-over-the-family-business dept.
“When the analysis was complete, Meaney saw an intriguing pattern. For the most part, the brains of suicide victims had similar receptor levels to those of people who had died in accidents. But in the samples from victims of childhood abuse, receptor levels were lower — just as with the rats. When he homed in on the cause of the difference, things got even more interesting. Meaney discovered that the gene for the receptor was covered by a chemical blanket that effectively silenced it — exactly the same silencing mechanism as seen in the rats that suffered poor maternal care.
The implication was significant: an abusive childhood might turn the volume down on this vital stress-response gene, leaving the abused vulnerable to stress, and perhaps suicidal impulses, later in life.”
- “Your Ancestors, Your Fate” — Gregory Clark, The New York Times’ Opinion Pages; from the upstairs-downstairs dept.
“The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ … may unsettle us. But studies … support this view.”
- “Jim Jarmusch: how the film world’s maverick stayed true to his roots” — Jonathan Romney, The Observer; from the if-you-look-like-you-could-be-then-you-are dept.
“The word ‘hipster’ invariably crops up in discussions about American film-maker Jim Jarmusch, not least because he looks the part. He is tall, lean, often wears shades and has a famous shock of hair that started turning silvery grey in his teens; his basso drawl completes the uncanny resemblance to a certain Hollywood great, which inspired Jarmusch to found a jokey secret society, The Sons of Lee Marvin.”
- “The Song of the Land: Bioregional Animism” — Sarah Anne Lawless; from the lay-of-the-land dept.
“It is hard to care deeply about something without any personal knowledge of it. Walking this road can start as simply as purchasing a regional field guide and going for a lot of walks with it, photographing and recording what you find. It can be as fun as taking an identification and foraging course with knowledgeable locals who will teach you ethics and proper stewardship as well to make sure you don’t damage or destroy the natural resources you’re learning to identify and use. Go camping, go travelling, go exploring, go on adventures in your bioregion. Walk the trails, canoe the lakes, explore the beach, climb the trees…
When you’re surrounded by nature, sit still, watch and listen.”
- Teju Cole, via tweet; from the thank-you-no-thank-you dept.
“You don’t decide to be a prophet. It happens to you, ruining your life, comforting distant people you’ve never met who may never thank you.”
- Jenna Lilla, via tweet; from the i-roam-around-around-around dept.
“The heroes are usually wanderers … a symbol of longing, of the restless urge which never finds its object of nostalgia for the lost mother.”
- “Magic and Your Lizard Brain: The Mind Tricks Behind Conjuring Ghosts” — Elizabeth Harper, Atlas Obscura; from the i-make-the-blue-cars-go-away dept.
“Your lizard brain is so reliably persistent that knowing how the trick is done doesn’t stop the effect from working.”
- “Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?” — Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the sesquipedalian-tergiversation dept.
“Academic prose is, ideally, impersonal, written by one disinterested mind for other equally disinterested minds. But, because it’s intended for a very small audience of hyper-knowledgable, mutually acquainted specialists, it’s actually among the most personal writing there is. If journalists sound friendly, that’s because they’re writing for strangers. With academics, it’s the reverse.”
- “PantheaCon and the Growing Significance of Conventions as Spiritual Pilgrimage” — Crystal Blanton, The Wild Hunt; from the i-want-to-go-to-there dept;
“Nikki Jardin states ‘A spiritual pilgrimage is a physical journey toward a place of sacred or religious significance.’ This definition fits with how many Pagans, Wiccans, and Polytheists have come to revere Pagan conventions and festivals: As yearly spiritual pilgrimages for transcendent and communal enlightenment.”
- “Sheep reproduction is beautiful.” — Sunshine and Bunnies!
Occasionally, I am contacted by people who are interested in the Western Esoteric Tradition, but are overwhelmed by the daunting amount of information available. They’ve found the Hermetic Library because they’re looking for information, but sometimes it can be really difficult to know where to start.
Well, honestly, I always hesitate to suggest directions and such for anyone, let alone someone I’ve never met. However, I have over the last few years managed to put together some general ideas in response to these questions when they come my way. Here’s an example of a few remarks I currently have prepared, that I thought I’d share here now.
First, I point out that I have no idea what path someone else is on, what ‘current’ or tradition they work in. There are so many, and it seems to me that anything specific about one person’s practice is not necessarily useful or suited for another’s, even if under a ‘tradition’, a general label, for which I might share a similar understanding. With that said, I suggest people consider thinking about work developing two things: theory and practice.
For theory, of course, I encourage people to read through and engage the materials at the Hermetic Library site. (If one is interested in Thelema, a good place to start is by checking out Thelema for example.) There’s a lot there, to be sure. However, there’s plenty that is not there. One technique that I’ve suggested to people is to head to a good esoteric bookshop. I don’t recommend the big chains or the fluffy new age kind of shop, but there should be, somewhere local if not nearby, a shop with a serious selection. (If there isn’t one of those latter kinds of shops, then one can made do with one of the former.) Go into that shop and start checking out books. Flip through materials until something really grabs the attention, and that one feels an enthusiastic reaction about. Now, I want to be clear: I am not saying that the material creates warm and fuzzy feelings, though it might be. I suggest taking note of anything that gets one’s attention even if, perhaps specifically because, that is something that seems transgressive and edgy. For this purpose look for things about which there are energetic reactions of any kind. Once something like that has been found, read it. Repeat that process: follow enthusiasm!
For practice, consider starting a daily practice that includes both ritual and journaling. Don’t think of the specifics of daily practice as a life-long commitment. Think of daily practice as general container for a varied series of specific experiments about which to record results in a journal. Pick a specific practice and make a commitment to do that for a month. See what happens. Record the experience, the ongoing results. Then, pick something else to do for some period of time. And remember that for experiments it’s actually the failures from which one can learn the most interesting things, so don’t self-flagellate about the particular experience and results. Just do the experiments, and if they fail half way through so be it, record that a journal as something to learn from. Experiment, experiment, experiment.
Also, for practice, consider checking the local area for groups that are actively doing public ritual of some kind, and attend those events. At that previous good esoteric book shop, look for their newsletter, bulletin board or website for notices and a calendar of events. Get to know people doing these activities and talk to them. See if they are people that seem both interesting and grounded or not. Attend a variety of events in the local area and see what they are about, and how you feel during and after the ritual they celebrate; compare them and see what seems to be the best personal fit. Then, when there is some group doing active ritual that seems compelling, start to participate.
So I suggest that people follow enthusiasm and experiment, experiment, experiment. Do a personal daily practice and participate in the community. I personally think doing some combination which works toward all those things will help people find their people and more fully follow their path, and perhaps more importantly have a strong relationship with themselves and a strong personal practice either way, from which to take next steps.
I hope these remarks offer some help, even if only a little bit. Of course, each individual’s milage may vary, and so on. If you have comments or suggestions about these remarks, do consider contacting me. If you take the advice offered, consider letting me know how it goes, if you like!
In conclusion, I find these Cole Porter lyrics to be so completely spot on that I cannot but recommend them to everyone when I get a chance: “Experiment” by Cole Porter
Before you leave these portals
To meet less fortunate mortals
There’s just one final message
I would give to you
You all have learned reliance
On the sacred teachings of science
So I hope, through life, you never will decline
In spite of Philistine defiance
To do what all good scientists do
Experiment, make it your motto day and night
Experiment and it will lead you to the light
The apple on the top of the tree is never too high to achieve
So take an example from Eve
Experiment, be curious
Though interfering friends may frown
At each attempt to hold you down
If this advice you always employ
The future can offer you infinite joy
And merriment, experiment and you’ll see
“yet in his visionary realism, and in his enthusiasm for what, after all, is perhaps the greatest art, and a necessary part of every picture that is art at all, he forgot how he who wraps the vision in lights and shadows, in iridescent or glowing colour, having in the midst of his labour many little visions of these secondary essences, until form be half lost in pattern, may compel the canvas or paper to become itself a symbol of some not indefinite because unsearchable essence” [via]
“This letter may have been the expression of a moment’s enthusiasm, but was more probably rooted in one of those intuitions of coming technical power which every creator feels, and learns to rely upon; for all his greatest work was done, and the principles of his art were formulated, after this date. Except a word here and there, his writings hitherto had not dealt with the principles of art except remotely and by implication; but now he wrote much upon them, and not in obscure symbolic verse, but in emphatic prose, and explicit if not very poetical rhyme.” [via]