Tag Archives: James Curcio

Join My Cult!

Chris Arkenberg reviews Join My Cult! by James Curcio from the Key 23 archives.

When confronted with disorder the brain will attempt to overlay some form or pattern to make sense of the chaos. The meticulous geometries often accompanying psychedelic hallucination are one example of this phenomena. The brain, it seems, is an organizing device that recoils at disorder and attempts to subdue it with it’s own imposed sensibilities. Such is the experience of reading James Curcio’s mindwarping novel, Join My Cult! Alexi and Ken are two teenagers in suburbia trying to cut through all the normalcy and order of their lives by investigating the arcane and occult. Their deepening investigations into the nature of reality and the hive mind begins to reveal the seeming existence of an enigmatic cult: The Mother Hive Brain Syndicate. Johny, another teen trying to sort his way through a world increasingly inconsistent with what he’s been raised to believe, also discovers the fiendish machinations of MHBS. Meanwhile, Agent 139 and Jesus (and later, Agent 506) are clearly agents of MHBS hell-bent on completely eradicating the status quo consensual reality through an increasingly severe rash of pranks and thoughtcrimes, culminating in the destruction of a Lenny’s diner. Behind them all looms the mysterious mystic Aleonus de Gabrael – sort of a younger, more vital Alan Moore, or a more overtly revolutionary Aleister Crowley – guiding and educating the whole lot, possibly as the head of MHBS and it’s affiliates.

What are the aims of this counter cultural eso-terror organization? Curcio never makes it quite clear and it’s uncertain whether or not they even exist, but that’s all part of the game. The narrative is fractured and hallucinogenic, veering from coherent tales of Alexi and Ken’s experiences guiding their group into uncharted waters, then diving into unhinged dreams, alien/entity encounters, psychedelic journeys, schizophrenic agitprop confrontations by Jesus and Agent 139, and then swinging back into deeply revealing and compelling thoughts on magick and reality. Indeed, the most astounding current within Curcio’s work is the depth and practicality of his understanding of those technologies commonly referred to as The Occult. Within the more sober dialogues Curcio presents an ontology that reaches into the soul and reveals to the reader the error of history and the path to its redemption. These insights are the unshakable foundation of a house that’s quickly falling into the ground.

The work above all is Abyssal. It’s fractured like the mirror of Self that recurs throughout the novel, plunging into the depths of madness. The sober voice of Aleonis is the only light through the dark night, impelling us to break the mirror but also telling us how to put it back together again. Solve et coagula. The characters are at once illusory and amorphous, difficult to pin down and understand, then suddenly and surprisingly rich with inner turmoil and suffering, deeply human and alive against the howling wind. Amidst the chaos, the heartfelt moments of confession and intimacy anchor the characters and remind us that they’re human too, in spite of the extremity of their divorce from the consensus. And it’s this intimacy, this thirst for community and a sense of one’s tribe, that Curcio is begging us to acknowledge within ourselves and to make manifest in an increasingly lonely and fragmented world.

At times the story hints at science fiction or some alien technology wielded with possibly sinister motives by the Mother Hive Brain. As all visions do, the narrative continuously fades from dreamscape to hallucination to schizophrenia, so any real attempt to follow some of these literary devices ultimately fails. In other words, don’t expect Join My Cult! to answer as many questions as it raises. Seemingly important elements of the story that are introduced early on are completely abandoned in the later half. Diverse characters begin to overlap and appear to be the same, possibly all of them only a single being reflected through multiple selves. Maybe it all happened, or maybe it was all a hallucination of Alexi’s. Like Wilson and Shea’s epic Illuminatus! (to which Curcio’s work has already been compared by Peter Carroll) the journey is more important than the destination.

Join My Cult! will surely baffle many readers and annoy others, but it should nevertheless be standard reading for anyone questioning the world they’ve been told is real when their experiences plainly contradict it. Consume it like a drug or a hypersigil. Just take it in, don’t get too caught up in finding patterns, and let it seep into your blood and work it’s magick. Join the cult, but know that, as Gabrael says, “the real order that doles out initiation, that creates the kind of synchronicities that brought you here and will carry you on to the next step of your mission, is the Universe itself.”

Fallen Nation

Michael Szul reviews Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning by James Curcio from the Key 23 archives.

How can I put this lightly? Fallen Nation is like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on an ayahuasca trip, while rocking out to the noise of Mushroomhead, with the lyrical subtext of Steely Dan. To all those that thought Curcio’s Join My Cult! was good, this is James Curcio to the second power… with spicy mustard for added kick.

There has been a lot of comparisons made between James Curcio and Robert Anton Wilson, Philip K. Dick, or even a little Neil Gaiman. Throw those out the window – even my comparison above. If you’re reading Fallen Nation with those comparisons in mind, you’re not doing the book – nor Curcio – any justice. This is something totally new. Curcio’s book is specifically meant to stimulate the missing art of storytelling and hijack the archetypes of mythology that have – for too long – been buried in your subconscious.

Curcio has stepped up his game since Join My Cult!. Fallen Nation is big on cultural warfare, but unlike the rebellious “teenage revolution” feel of Join My Cult!, Fallen Nation is the more mature sibling that knows which battles are best to fight, and goes in with a game plan rather than a grenade. This isn’t to say that its tame; to the contrary, it makes it that much more powerful.

For additional information – and downloadable content – check out the book’s web site.

Party at the World’s End

Party at the World’s End is book one of Fallen Nation / The Fallen Cycle by James Curcio. This may be confusing because Fallen Nation: Party At The World’s End was released in 2011, and there’s another, Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning, from back in 2007; the author’s own page says book one will release in 2014, followed by two more books still in production. However, “Party At The World’s End is the conclusion to a project over a decade in development, as well as the first installment of the Fallen Cycle, a series that presently sprawls through a pile of notebooks, sketchbooks, and documents. ” At any rate, there are a number of books involved in this series that may be of interest. You can check out the first chapter over on Scribd, and there are several albums of music and more which are connected to the narrative you can find on Bandcamp.

James Curcio Party at the World's End

Take a mad ride past the event horizon of sanity with the band Babylon,
in the final days of the American Empire.

Party At The World’s End
Lilith has returned. Or so she says.

In her hand is a ticket to a party on the rooftops as the cities burn. This is the story of that party, and the pranksters that tried to outrun reality and got branded terrorists on their psychedelic roadtrip across the highways of the collective unconscious.

We are on the side of man, of life and of the individual. Therefore we are against religion, morality and government. Therefore our name is Lucifer.

We are on the side of freedom, of love, of joy and laughter and divine drunkenness. Therefore our name is Babalon.

Sometimes we move openly, sometimes in silence and in secret. Night and day are one to us, calm and storm, seasons and the cycles of man, all these things are one, for we are at the roots. Supplicant we stand before the Powers of Life and Death, and are heard of these powers and avail. Our way is the secret way, the unknown direction. Ours is the way of the serpent in the underbrush, our knowledge is in the eyes of goats and of women.

—Jack Parsons

Inaugural Modern Mythology podcast with Howard Bloom

You might be interested in checking out the inaugural episode of the Modern Mythology podcast [also also], produced by James Curcio.

“In the pilot, Rusty Shackleford interviews Howard Bloom, author of The Lucifer Principle, The Global Brain or The God Problem. He was also publicist for top music talent for two decades, including Michael Jackson, Prince, Styx, Billy Joel, and many others. Howard manages to distill the essence of the past hundred years in culture – especially the culture of rebellion evident in music – into a 40 minute interview.” [via]

“In this special Pilot episode of the new Modern Mythology podcasting series, Rusty Shackleford takes time to have a sit down chat with Howard Bloom. Many of you know Bloom from his books The Lucifer Principle, The Genius of the Beast and The Global Brain, in addition to his interviews and appearances on the disinformation television series. In this interview, Rusty discusses Howard’s role in helping to build relationships between artists such as Prince and Joan Jett and their public, touching upon the role of the artist as a modern day myth maker and the heir apparent of the shaman. Bloom’s scientific and biological perspectives are also examined in conversation, particularly in reference towards the cultural myths explored and exposed in his newest book The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates.” [via]