Tag Archives: new york

Middle-class Blacks in a White Society

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Middle-Class Blacks in a White Society: Prince Hall Freemasonry in America by William Alan Muraskin.

WIlliam Alan Muraskin Middle-Class Blacks in a White Society

This sociological approach to Prince Hall Freemasonry contains a lot of fascinating data and some even-handed evaluations. The author faults previous studies of the American “black middle class” for actually confining their observations to the black elite. He then makes a convincing case that, for his purposes, members of the Prince Hall Masonic bodies can all be considered “middle class.” While not all middle class blacks would necessarily be Masons, by taking Prince Hall Masons as an identifiable bourgeoisie within American society, Muraskin considerably expands the middle-class black population to be considered in his study.

The historical information alone, while sometimes anecdotal in structure, is of excellent value. Particular attention is devoted to Prince Hall Masonry in California, Texas, Illinois, New York and Georgia. The author very effectively debunks academic misconceptions about Masonry as a primarily rural organization, or as an antiquated society in decline. He outlines both the virtues and ambitions common to Prince Hall Masonic bodies, as well as their special challenges and shortcomings.

As an initiate of the Order myself, I found this book to be a lucid look at the “big picture” of Prince Hall Masonry, from an objective yet sympathetic outside researcher of the subject. [via]


The Hermetic Organ vol 2

The Hermetic Organ vol 2—St. Paul’s Chapel, NYC [also] by John Zorn, a new release in Jan 2014, may be of interest.

John Zorn The Hermetic Organ vol 2 from Tzadik

“Drawing upon traditions as varied as Messiaen, Xenakis, Ligeti, Bach, Tournemire, Ives, Korla Pandit and The Phantom of the Opera, Zorn’s organ improvisations are transcendent, inspiring, ecstatic experiences, offering a direct line to the workings of his rich compositional imagination. Performed at St. Paul’s Chapel at a time when the organ was undergoing extensive reconstruction, the limited number of stops available to him focused his imagination to new heights, resulting in Zorn’s most revelatory recital to date. The second volume documenting these legendary organ recitals is a overwhelming experience filled with moments of passion, tenderness, fragility and extraordinary power.” [via]

Music the Dead Can Hear at Observatory on Nov 8, 2013 at 8pm

Music the Dead Can Hear: Sound, Symbol, and the Occult in Luigi Russolo’s Art of Noises is a presentation by Luciano Chessa at Observatory in Brooklyn, New York, on November 8th, 2013.

Music the Dead Can Hear at Observatory Luigi Russolo Self-portrait with Skulls

“Music the Dead Can Hear: Sound, Symbol, and the Occult in Luigi Russolo’s Art of Noises

Luigi Russolo (1885-1947), Self Portrait with Skulls, 1908, oil on canvas, 67 x 50 cm, Civico Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan.
A presentation by Professor Luciano Chessa
Date: Friday, November 8th
Time: 8pm

Admission: $10
Presented by Phantasmaphile and ItalianFuturism.org

As the author of the first systematic aesthetics of Noise and the alleged creator of the first mechanical sound synthesizer, Luigi Russolo (1885–1947), Italian Futurist painter, composer, and builder of musical instruments is a crucial figure in the evolution of 20th century music and has influenced artists such as John Cage and David Byrne. In this evening’s lecture, Luciano Chessa will unveil the occult plan of Luigi Russolo’s seminal Art of Noises (L’arte dei Rumori, 1913) which became one of the most important and influential texts in 20th century musical aesthetics. Russolo’s ideas and their practical manifestation — the intonarumori — were for him and his associates elements of a multi-leveled experiment to reach higher states of spiritual consciousness. Russolo’s theories reflected his interest in synesthesia, metaphysics, and alchemy and he readily identified Thought-Forms (1901), an influential Theosophical text by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, as a guiding source for his innovations. We will explore Russolo’s belief that an artist-initiate can invoke spirits fluctuating in the astral plane, communicate with the dead, and harness their energy for the spiritualizing process.” [via]

The Occult Humanities Conference at NYU on Oct 18-20, 2013

The Occult Humanities Conference: Contemporary Art and Scholarship on the Esoteric Traditions will take place at NYU on Oct 18-20, 2013 in New York. The conference was announced today and looks to be quite worth checking out, especially since information about the schedule, participants and exhibition have already been posted. The event is being hosted by Phantasmaphile, the Observatory, and NYU Steinhardt Department of Art and Art Professions.

The Occult Humanities Conference 2013

 

Pam Grossman announced this on her Phantasmaphile blog today.

I am thrilled to announce The Occult Humanities Conference, taking place on October 18th-20th at NYU, and co-organized by myself and Jesse Bransford. The weekend will feature lectures, an art exhibition, and entertainment, all of which explore occult subject matter.

Speakers include Susan Aberth, Robert Ansell, Elijah Burgher, Laurent Ferri, Mitch Horowitz, Amy Hale, William Kiesel, Gary Lachman, Mark Pilkington, Shannon Taggart, Jesse, and myself.

The accompanying exhibition, Verbal, Somatic and Material, will contain artwork and esoteric books by Jesse Bransford, Elijah Burgher, David Chaim Smith, Fulgur Esoterica, Ouroboros Press, and Shannon Taggart.

Entertainment will be provided by The Parlour Trick and Acep Hale.

And there will be books vended by Catland, Fulgur Esoterica, and Ouroboros Press.” [via]

 

“The Occult Humanities Conference
October 18-20, 2013
Hosted by Phantasmaphile, Observatory and the NYU Steinhardt Department of Art and Art Professions

NYU Steinhardt
34 Stuyvesant St., New York, NY

The Occult Humanities Conference is a weekend conference to be held in New York City on October 18-20th, 2013. The conference will present a wide array of voices active in the cultural landscape who are specifically addressing the occult tradition through research, scholarship and artistic practice.

The arts and humanities at present are acutely interested in subjects related to the occult tradition. The tradition represents a rich and varied visual culture that displays a complex set of relations at once culturally specific and global in their transmission. Roughly defined, the occult tradition represents a series of culturally syncretic belief systems with related and overlapping visual histories. Though there are as many ways into this material as there are cultural — and personal — perspectives, universal occult concerns often include a belief in some sort of magic; a longing to connect with an immaterial or trans-personal realm; and a striving for inner-knowledge, refinement of the self, and transformation of one’s consciousness — if not one’s physical circumstances.

Intensely marginalized throughout most historical periods, these traditions persist and represent an ‘underground’ perspective that periodically exerts a strong influence on structures of dissent, utopianism and social change. Though history is marked with several so-called ‘Occult Revivals,’ the contemporary digital age is a perfect confluence of several factors which make this moment prime for a reexamination of all of the esoteric traditions. While the information age has allowed for easier access to previously obscure writings, imagery, and social contexts, it alternately elicits a deep desire for sensorial experiences and meaning-making once one steps away from the screen.

The presenters at the OHC represent a rich and expanding community of international artists and academics from multiple disciplines across the humanities who share an exuberance and excitement for how the occult traditions interface with their fields of study as well as the culture at large. The small scale of this conference (approximately 100 attendees) will give ticket holders an intimate look at the presenters and their views.

The visually-oriented presentations will be coupled with an exhibition of artworks by several presenters and artisanal books from Fulgur Esoterica and Ouroboros Press.” [via]

In the Center of the Fire

In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult 1966-1989 by James Wasserman, the 2012 hardcover edition, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

James Wasserman's In the Center of the Fire

“In this daring exposé by a survivor of a unique era in the New York occult scene, James Wasserman, a longtime proponent of the teachings of Aleister Crowley, brings us into a world of candlelit temples, burning incense, and sonorous invocations. The author also shares an intimate look at the New York Underground of the 1970s and introduces us to the company of such avant-garde luminaries as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Harry Smith, and Angus MacLise. A stone’s throw away from the Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol’s Factory, William Burroughs’ ‘bunker,’ and the legendary Chelsea Hotel was a scene far more esoteric than perhaps even they could have imagined.

When James Wasserman joined the O.T.O. in 1976, there were fewer than a dozen members. Today the Order numbers over 4,000 members in 50 countries and has been responsible for a series of ground-breaking publications of Crowley’s works.

The author founded New York City’s TAHUTI Lodge in 1979. He chronicles its early history and provides a window into the heyday of the Manhattan esoteric community. He also breaks his decades of silence concerning one of the most seminal events in the development of the modern Thelemic movement — detailing his role in the 1976 magical battle between Marcelo Motta and Grady McMurtry. Long slandered for his effort to heal the temporary breach between the Orders of A∴A∴ and O.T.O., James Wasserman sets the record straight. And, he meticulously chronicles the copyright contest over the Crowley literary estate—of which he was an important participant.

This is also a saga with a very human tableau filled with tender romance, passionate friendships, an abiding spiritual hunger, danger, passion, and ecstasy. It also explores several hidden magical byways including the rituals of Voodoo, Tibetan Buddhism, and Sufism. Finally we are given a bird’s eye view of the 1960s hippie culture and its excesses of sex and drugs, and rock n roll—along with the personal transformations and penalties such a lifestyle brought forth.

Reconstructed from personal memories, magical diaries, multiple interviews, court transcripts, witness depositions, trial evidence, and extensive correspondence, this book elucidates a hitherto misreported and ill-understood nexus of modern magical history. It also shares tales of a mythical moment in American life as seen through the eyes of an enthusiastic participant in the hip culture of the day.”

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Paul Laffoley’s Alchemy

 

Paul Laffoley’s Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe from Imperium Pictures

“Artist Paul Laffoley walks us through his painting, Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe, at the Kent Fine Art gallery in New York City. The exhibition “extrapolates on the mission of the Boston Visionary Cell as it has related to Laffoley’s production over the past forty years.”

From the founding charter of the Boston Visionary Cell:

We … believe that the evocation of the mystical experience by means of symbols, which has functioned as part of the intentioning process throughout the course of human history, is the intended direction of evolution that becomes most expressive through visual art during those periods in history that are characterized by rapid change, e.g., the twentieth century, which has seen a series of movements from the Modern era to the Post-Modern era, finally culminating in the Bauharoque era.” [via]

A Modern History of the O.T.O.

“This is the video record of a talk given on December 16, 2012 at Swirling Star Lodge of Ordo Templi Orientis. It includes numerous photos of influential figures in the development of Thelema as well as the early years of TAHUTI Lodge in New York City. James Wasserman shares his experience in the development of the modern Thelemic movement and his enthusiasm for the spiritual teachings of Aleister Crowley.”

Pax Hominibus Bonae Voluntatis by Aleister Crowley in International, Dec 1917.

“We can justify the existence of President Wilson in keeping us out of war, making the world safe for democracy, and all these nice things which he does so splendidly; and we can also justify the existence of the monster, tyrant, assassin and religious maniac invented by the New York papers and labeled William.” [via]

What’s Wrong with the Movies? by Aleister Crowley in Vanity Fair, Jul 1917.

“See the wealthy New York man of fashion, dressing for a dinner at Mrs. De Peyster Stuyvesant’s! See how deftly he shoots on his detachable cuffs and snaps on his elastic tie. See how charmingly he wears his derby hat with his evening coat. He even retains it, possibly fearing that it may be stolen in Mrs. Stuyvesant’s drawing room, which is, of course, furnished in the manner of the gentlemen’s lounge on a Fall River boat.” [via]

What’s Wrong with the Movies? by Aleister Crowley in Vanity Fair, Jul 1917.

“SOME months back two wealthy gentlemen where lunching at the Knickerbocker Hotel, in New York, where all movie magnates seem to make a habit of foregathering. They were trying to think of a book to ‘film.’ A pause. One suggested Victor Hugo’s ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame.’ ‘A grand sweet story! Some story! Some Punch! Some pep!’ A longer pause. ‘Say, why, in out film, shouldn’t that hunchback marry the beautiful gipsy chicken?’ ‘But, say, we can’t have that little pippin tied to a hunchback.’ ‘I got it, bo, we’ll get a Johns Hopkins guy to straighten him out on the operating table.’ ‘Say, you’re some artist, Al.'” [via]