Practically all those parts of the Book which deal with social matters may be considered as political in the old and proper sense of the word; of modern politics it disdains to speak.
It has naturally been objected by economists that our Law, in declaring every man and every woman to be a star, reduces society to its elements, and makes hierarchy or even democracy impossible. The view is superficial. Each star has a function in its galaxy proper to its own nature. Much mischief has come from our ignorance in insisting, on the contrary, that each citizen is fit for any and every social duty. But also our Law teaches that a star often veils itself from its nature. Thus the vast bulk of humanity is obsessed by an abject fear of freedom; the principal objections hitherto urged against my Law have been those of people who cannot bear to imagine the horrors which would result if they were free to do their own wills.
How, o my Son, do thou then consider deeply of these Things in thine Ordering of the World under the Law of Thelema. For every Individual in the State must be perfect in his own Function, with Contentment, respecting his own Task as necessary and holy, not envious of another’s. For so only mayst thou build up a free state, whose directing Will shall be singly directed to the Welfare of all.
The absolute rule of the state shall be a function of the absolute liberty of each individual will.
Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob [Amazon, Bookshop (Random House new edition), Publisher (Random House new edition), Local Library] by Lee Siegel.
I made two errors in selecting this book to read. First, I confused the author with the other Lee Siegel, Indologist and novelist, who I thought could have some interesting things to say on this topic, as any contemporary intellectual might. This Lee Siegel is however a journalist, reviewer, and culture critic with a history of work at Slate and prominent US print periodicals. Second, I failed to notice that the book was published in 2008, making it as much a matter of historical interest as contemporary analysis, with respect to circumstances on the internet. It was slightly prior to the first Avatar movie–which it instances in discussing the increasingly immersive qualities of media, after a rather puzzling and factually dubious digression about the effects of “method acting” on media culture (114).
Still, without much in the way of overt prognostication, the book was in some respects prescient. The “Electronic Mob” of the subtitle mostly predated the (today still steeply increasing) usage of “Twitter mob,” as that platform was then in its infancy and didn’t even rate a mention. Instead, the cutting-edge internet landscape in this book consists of now-matured (if not in some cases decrepit) platforms such as MySpace, YouTube (not yet acquired by Google), Second Life (now relevant as a de facto Metaverse beta trial?), eBay, and Match.com.
Seigel positions himself squarely against “Internet boosterism” that trivializes the social and cultural hazards of the ‘net while advancing claims for it to enhance freedom, democracy, “self expression,” and choice. He remarks convenience as the sole genuine benefit of ‘net use. He has a cast of “booster” futurologists and pundits whom he excoriates, and these include Alvin Toffler, Stuart Brand, David Brooks, and Malcolm Gladwell, all of whom are fair marks I think. But he seems to err in targeting Douglas Rushkoff–a conspicuous critic of ‘net “social media”–confusing some of Rushkoff’s diagnoses of internet culture with blithe endorsements. (On p. 84 Siegel doesn’t allow for the possibility that Rushkoff’s “eerie mechanistic idiom” and “outlandishness” might have been calculated to produce the negative reaction towards ‘net indoctrination that Siegel experienced reading it!) Like the old-line cyberpunk Rushkoff, Siegel objects to “the commodifying of ideas and emotions behind hyperbole about liberating avenues of fantasy and play” in characterizations of the internet (36).
He claims that the 20th-century broadcast media which addressed the masses were not yet the “mass culture for the first time” manifested in an internet which surrenders itself to the banalities of sensationalism, hyperbole, and fraud (74-9). He wants to draw a bright line where ‘net-driven culture leaves behind merited fame in favor of “viral” popularity, and he objects to the ubiquitous metaphor: “It depresses me to equate illness with success even in a quotation” (105). Ruminating on the internet devaluation of expertise in culture, Siegel uses medicine as his counterpoint: “That’s why you never hear about the Internet causing a ‘revolution’ in law or medicine … Professions and trades require training. You could not have the equivalent of Jay Rosen creating ‘citizen heart surgeons'” (139). He thought medicine was immune to the assault on expertise! And now a non-metaphoric pandemic virus has killed millions, many of whom refused the preventive measures supplied by establishment medicine, in favor of “doing their own research” on the internet.
Ever so briefly, Siegel brushes up against the hazard of epistemic closure, where “users customize their news sources so they only read news that suits their own interests and tastes” (109), which a reader might be tempted to dismiss as a mere extension of the general human failing of confirmation bias. He misses how this failing can become catastrophic when covertly reified through Google page rank, Facebook feed algorithms, and other subtle devices of surveillance capitalism. Indeed, the surveillance dimension escapes him altogether, and he doesn’t acknowledge the rational, defensive role of internet anonymity in the face of unregulated corporate control.
Against the Machine places a premium on its exploration of the subjective isolation of the ‘net user, with introspective passages about what it is like for Siegel to sit down at his computer and what it is that he is doing and trying to do when he interacts with the ‘net there. As a professional writer, it seems he was unable to perceive the extent–even in 2008–that the main interface for ‘net users had shifted from laptop to smartphone. The nowhere of the internet is now more everywhere than before. When he contrasts the transactional, ulterior nature of internet experience with the exploratory nature of a walk in the park or browsing in a bookstore (174-5), he seems not to have imagined that the internet could so colonize the quotidian that the walker in the park would be listening to a podcast, or the bookstore shopper checking her phone for a recommendation she had read online. (Nor does he seem to have experienced the aleatory pleasure–no matter how contrived–of “surfing” the ‘net!)
This book-length essay interestingly complements the recent and widely-hailed article in The Atlantic by Jonathan Haidt, “Why the Past Ten Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid.” Haidt’s piece is a retrospective on the damage done by social media, justifying and amplifying many of Siegel’s indictments, such as those regarding “virality,” the commodification of private life, the erosion of social institutions, and the magnification of hate and outrage. Haidt, like Rushkoff but unlike Siegel, also pays particular attention to consequences for the children of the 21st century, for whom the ‘net has been an inescapable ingredient of social and emotional development. Another point emphasized by Haidt (which Siegel touches far more incidentally) is the fact that ‘net discourse overrepresents the whitest, most affluent, and most ideologically rigid (whether “conservative” or “progressive”) participants.
No one encountering even just the title of Siegel’s book should expect anything other than a jeremiad. His defense of inherited media institutions (despite their complicity in the internet developments he decries) often makes him seem like a reactionary, and some of his arguments are a bit muddled. But most of his concerns have been borne out by the dismal developments of the last decade and a half, and the book is written thoughtfully enough that almost any given paragraph could be meat for earnest intellectual argument. Despite it being not at all the book I had thought I was reserving at my local public library, I thought it was still worth my time to read.
These reactionaries preserved their moral purity (as reactionaries so often do) by not reading, so they didn’t have to see that Soviet writers had been using science fiction for years to write with at least relative freedom from Party ideology about politics, society, and the future of mankind.
The Crowley Corollary achievement has today been unlocked in the 2016 US elections!
I conjured the Crowley Corollary to Godwin’s Law as a “lesser banishing ritual of the analogy” against a particular and common specious rhetorical collocation of Aleister Crowley and Satanism.
“Once a discussion of some topic reaches a comparison between Satanism and Aleister Crowley, its usefulness is over.” [via]
And the corollary to the corollary:
“The person guilty of The Crowley Corollary knows nothing interesting or useful about Aleister Crowley or Satanism, if anything at all.” [via]
Today this level of absurdity has been reached with a recent breathless Satanic Panic release about Hillary Clinton advisor John Podesta maybe attending some Marina Abromovic performance art dinner via totes legit and rational sources Drudge, Infowars and Wikileaks discussed by Xeni Jardin at Clinton advisor Podesta is a sex magic witch: Drudge Report via Infowars via Wikileaks (seems legit):
John Podesta practices Aleister Crowley-inspired blood sex semen magic, reports Drudge Report, citing Infowars, which cites Wikileaks. They just went Full Drudge.
“SPIRIT COOKING”: CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN PRACTICES BIZARRE OCCULT RITUAL
Menstrual blood, semen and breast milk: Most bizarre Wikileaks revelation yet
In what is undoubtedly the most bizarre Wikileaks revelation to date, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was invited to a “spirit cooking dinner” by performance artist Marina Abramovic, to take part in an occult ritual founded by Satanist Aleister Crowley.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 19th, 2014
- Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600; from the distorted-world-view dept.
“Equipped with ‘VI technology’ which combines a deep depth of field lens, CCD linear image sensor and high directivity LED lamp, SV600 is able to minimize unevenness in image quality and generate a smooth image even when scanning from a distance.”
- do-it yourself repro v-cradle for paper books — ereszet; from the v-for-victory dept.
“Why a v-cradle and not a flat bed.
For two reasons: First, you cannot spread the books flat and if you do, the quality of reproduced pages will be compromised. It is especially important if you plan to OCR the book. Second, you avoid light reflections. You need only one lamp with a diffuser just over the v-cradle (picture attached). Lighting is the most difficult part of reproduction. Over the years, I have tried various setups with my semi-professional Manfrotto repro stand and four lamps at 45 degree angle. It doesn’t come close to an overhead lamp and v-cradle. Avoid any other light in the room or take everything to your terrace and shoot at the sunlight with no artificial light.”
- “Release 2.0 of the Standard Spiritualist and Occult Corpus (SSOC) Available” — Marc Demarest, Chasing Down Emma; from the knock-twice-for-yes dept.
“The SSOC now clocks in at 2700+ titles: more than 1.3 million pages of indexed Spiritualist and occult non-fiction from the 1790s until 1940.
Release 2.0 provides more than 500 new and updated titles, and marks the beginning of the re-indexing of the SSOC using a third-party embedded indexing engine superior to the Adobe Acrobat in-built OCR facility, for higher-fidelity searches.”
- “Ancient ‘Ritual Wand’ Etched with Human Faces Discovered in Syria” — Tia Ghose, livescience [Scarlet Imprint]; from the weirwood dept.
“Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient staff carved with two realistic human faces in southern Syria.
The roughly 9,000-year-old artifact was discovered near a graveyard where about 30 people were buried without their heads — which were found in a nearby living space.”
- “800-year-old monk found poking out of cliff face” — Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph [via]; from the i-know-what-happened-to-jimmy-hoffa dept.
“[Karl-James] Langford said a monastic community lived close to the area and the bones appeared to be from a man in his late 20s, in good health.
‘I would say they belong to a monk from the 1200s — due to previous archaeological digs in the past, the depth of the bones in the cliff and the history of the area.
He would likely be buried with nothing except two shroud rings which would have held his burial shroud in place at the head and feet.'”
- “Nasir al-Mulk ‘Pink Mosque’ Of Iran Is Like Stepping Into A Kaleidoscope” — Yasmine Hafiz, The Huffington Post; from the whoa-that’s-a-full-rainbow-all-the-way dept.
“From the outside, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, seems like a fairly traditional house of worship — but it’s hiding a gorgeously colorful secret.”
Photo: Omid Jafarnezhad
- “Bagging a Witch in Ohio” — Chris, Woodyard, Haunted Ohio — [HT Richard Shepard]; from the so-logically-if-she-weighs-the-same-as-a-duck-she’s-made-of-wood dept.
“Today’s post returns to a similar theme: Anti-witch remedies and witch-tests in early 19th-century Ohio. This story–half dire description of lunacy and half Monty Python sketch–comes from the village of Bethel in Clermont County.”
- “Siberian Police Stop Witch Burning” &mdash RIA Novosti, The Moscow Times [HT Judika Illes]; in the titus-andronicus dept.
“In an unexpected incident worthy of the Spanish inquisition, a couple in eastern Siberia decided their acquaintance was a witch and attempted to burn her alive, though police stopped the impromptu auto-da-fe.
The rescue came not a moment too soon, as the couple were at that moment forcing the alleged witch headfirst into a burning stove in an abandoned building, Zabaikalsky region police said Thursday.”
- Wellcome MS373, f.87r — Sienna Lathan, via tweet; from the and-shoot-forth-venom dept.
“Whosoeuer first in the morning drinketh garlicke and Cockes blood hee need not fear venome.”
- Discordian Events List — Chasing Eris; what’s-up-chuck dept.
“What Discordian events are near you?”
- “Embracing Questions” — Thomas Zwollo, Spiral Nature; from the soldier-and-the-hunchback dept.
“Throughout his life, Crowley was asking himself questions, and he encouraged his students and readers to ask questions. This included questions about the things they read, the rituals they performed, the conditions of their magical work, and even to interrogate the entities they invoked. He embraced the method of science, and thus he embraced questions more than answers. I often challenge myself to remember this in my own work.”
- “What The Gnostic Pentagram Ritual Sounds Like” — The Blog of Baphomet [HT Spiral Nature]; from the and-sometimes-y dept.
“Another group of occultists that we’re associated with had asked for some help with a demonstration of the vowel sounds (I, E, A, O, U) that Pete Carroll uses to build the various banishing rituals in his writing. As with many things in life it’s one thing to read a ritual text and another to see, hear and participate in it for oneself.”
- “Sock Magic” — Fire Lyte, Inciting A Riot [HT Sarah Anne Lawless]; from the sock-it-to-me dept.
“Magical tools can be found in all sorts of strange places these days. From conversations about turning your potpourri warmer into a slow-burning witchy cauldron, to using your iPod as a divinatory device, people are getting witchy where they can these days. In bygone eras our witchy ancestry, so we’re led to believe, used what they had on handle — the broom, the cauldron, the sickle — because it’s what they had. Not because a broom is more magical or special than any other household object.
And so, with all that very serious background, let’s make magic with socks!”
- “A Mystic, Magician and Theologian Talk to an Angel” — K Herschel, Star And System; from the july-like-a-dog dept.
“The best way to get a feel for the Enochian entities is to look at Dee’s journals. What you see there are years of promises unkept. The angels promised power, the power that makes empires and tears down thrones. They also promised a complete system. They never delivered on any of it to Dee. After you have feasted on Dee’s disappointments, move on to Crowley’s The Vision and the Voice and the collected work of Benjamin Rowe. All else aside, what you will see is what Rowe realized very early on. The Enochian entities are very good at playing up to your expectations and saying precisely what you need to hear to keep you interested even when it’s not what you expect. This is a danger in magic in general, but the Enochian entities are masters of the genre.”
- “Null-A Mind Software” — seth, An American Mystagogue; from the possibly-maybe dept.
“Two value logic (Ie, True or False) while a highly useful way of thinking manages to darken one’s view of possible alternate ways of thinking and perceiving the world around them. When we become habitually addicted to the categorization of all information as either Totally Existing or Totally Not-Existing we become sloppy, lazy thinkers who are prone to building a self-gratifying personal cosmology. When the two-value system is used in its right way it is simply a systematic approach to what I call ‘the cosmic binary’.”
- “Cultural production of ignorance provides rich field for study” — Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times [HT Wythe Marschall]; from the i-read-it-on-the-internet dept.
“Robert Proctor doesn’t think ignorance is bliss. He thinks that what you don’t know can hurt you. And that there’s more ignorance around than there used to be, and that its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense.”
- “Rethinking Gnostic Intellectuals? Categories as Weapons and History as Construct” — Philip L Tite, Bulletin for the Study of Religion; from the interprefacts dept.
“As a social historian, I still like to think that we can know something about past cultures. However, if I’ve learned anything from my method & theory exemplars over the years, it is to appreciate the value of stepping back and ‘studying the study of.’ Indeed, this theoretical standpoint is a subtext in nearly all my teaching and much of my scholarship. How the past is shaped, directed, juxtaposed, and selectively presented is perhaps far more insightful to the student in religious studies than the actual ‘facts’ (events, persons, things, etc) – even if those ‘facts’ are not in dispute per se.”
- “The Gnostics Were Intellectuals” — April DeConick, The Forbidden Gospels; from the path-less-traveled dept.
“So I have been working upstream most of my career, swimming against a current that is much stronger than I am. I guess I like the challenge, or I wouldn’t keep doing it. I have spent a lot of time within the Nag Hammadi texts, reconstructing the worlds of the authors, which are not crazy once you learn their references and points of view. The Gnostics from antiquity were anything but crazy, inconsequential or irrational. But they were different. And difference often leads to misunderstanding.”
- “Uncovered in Jerusalem, 9 tiny unopened Dead Sea Scrolls” — Ilan Ben Zion, The Times of Israel [HT Disinformation]; from the right-under-your-nous dept.
“An Israeli scholar turned up the previously unexamined parchments, which had escaped the notice of academics and archaeologists as they focused on their other extraordinary finds in the 1950s. Once opened, the minuscule phylactery parchments from Qumran, while unlikely to yield any shattering historic, linguistic or religious breakthroughs, could shed new light on the religious practices of Second Temple Judaism.”
- “The Warlock and Truth-Breaking” — K Herschel, Star and System [HT Storm Faerywolf]; from the curses-foiled-again dept.
“We might find, as well, echoes of the Warlock and Truth-Breaker in Aleister Crowley’s concept of the curse of the Magus. The curse of the Magus is that she must always lie. Having achieved a level of transcendence beyond the dualistic structure of the phenomenal universe, all things are both truth and false for the Magus. As such, language itself is inadequate to capture the understanding (Binah) and wisdom (Chokmah) that the Magus has achieved and so all linguistic statements and teachings are a lie. We are clearly dealing here with a discussion of the nature of the Magus on the mystical register. The experience to which she is privy is beyond the grasp of word or image, as is the case with most mystical experience.”
- The Secret Chiefs and Academia, Ep 1 of The Lost Word, hosted by Greg Kaminsky, with Tony Silvia, from Gnostic NYC; from the master-chief-mischief dept.
- “Neuroanatomical Correlates of Religiosity and Spirituality” — Lisa Miller, et al., JAMA Psychiatry; from the gonna-set-me-up-with-the-spirit-in-the-sky dept.
“A thicker cortex associated with a high importance of religion or spirituality may confer resilience to the development of depressive illness in individuals at high familial risk for major depression, possibly by expanding a cortical reserve that counters to some extent the vulnerability that cortical thinning poses for developing familial depressive illness.”
- Majid Fotuhi quoted at “Is Religion Good for Your Brain?” — Sheila M Eldred, Discovery News; from the hippo-on-campus-would-stress-me-out-too dept.
“One of the worst killers of brain cells is stress […] Stress causes high levels of cortisol, and cortisol is toxic to the hippocampus. One way to reduce stress is through prayer. When you’re praying and in the zone you feel a peace of mind and tranquility.”
- Death Grips, with videos featured on this blog on occassion, will be on tour with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden.
- “On the occult, books, and the senses” — Brigit Katz, Bibliopaths; from the medium-is-the-message dept.
“Occult revivals that are bubbling up in Brooklyn and in other pockets across the country have ushered in something of a Golden Age for small-press, metaphysical publishing houses. ‘That’s sort of the new wave of occult books: a re-evaluation of occult book as tome, and as talisman.’ [Phillip] English tells me. ‘Occultists or magicians, they tend to be collectors … They can appreciate the sort of art and magic that went into the work itself.’ Which isn’t to say that all members of the occult community buy into the idea of book-as-talisman. Phil Hine, a British occultist who has written several books on a practice called Chaos Magic, is among the witches and magicians who have questioned the value of ornately bound hard covers to magical rites. ‘Generally, I buy books because of the content,’ he writes on his blog. ‘Presentation is a secondary consideration.'”
- “Book Review: ‘Plato at the Googleplex’ by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein” — Colin McGinn, The Wall Street Journal; from the drown-me-in-the-shallow-water dept.
“Rebecca Goldstein has written a timely book about our own age by taking us back to an earlier age—that of the ancient Greeks. She wants to know what the works of Plato can teach us about the life worth living, about politics, child rearing, love and sex, about knowledge and reality, brain and mind, truth, goodness, and beauty. Ms. Goldstein’s book is felicitously written, impressively researched, insightful, important, entertaining and glowing with intelligence. Plato is brought marvelously to life, and, as a welcome corollary, philosophy is vindicated against what Ms. Goldstein aptly labels the ‘philosophy-jeerers’—those who rashly claim that philosophy has no intellectual substance or future in this scientific era.”
- “‘Son Of God’ Veers Toward Gnostic Heresy” — Joel Gehrke, The Federalist; from the heresy-gone-tomorrow dept.
“Son of God gives oxygen to a claim that early church leaders denounced as historically and theologically false because it contradicts the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life. The movie’s portrayal of Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples creates the impression that Jesus ordered Judas to betray him.
They aren’t the first to do that. An ancient Gnostic sect known as the Cainites honored traditional villains such as Cain and Judas, praising the latter as the closest confidant of Jesus, according to the second-century church father Irenaeus of Lyons.”
- “Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?” — Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian’s Earth Insight; from the IDM dept.
“A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that ‘the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.’ Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to ‘precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common.'”
- “Detection of primordial gravitational waves announced” — Matthew Francis, Ars Technica; from the bang-bang-that-awful-sound dept.
“When the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced a press conference for a “Major Discovery” (capital letters in the original e-mail) involving an unspecified experiment, rumors began to fly immediately. By Friday afternoon, the rumors had coalesced around one particular observatory: the BICEP microwave telescope located at the South Pole. Over the weekend, the chatter focused on a specific issue: polarization in the Cosmic Microwave Background left over from the Big Bang. With the start of the press conference, it’s now clear that we’ve detected the first direct evidence of the inflationary phase of the Big Bang, in which the Universe expanded rapidly in size.”
- “Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun” — Dennis Overbye, The New York Times; from the bang-bang-my-baby-shot-me-down dept.
“One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year’s appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics.
He was trying to understand why there was no trace of some exotic particles that should have been created in the Big Bang. Instead he discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with.”
- “The Remnants of Prehistoric Plant Pollen Reveal that Humans Shaped Forests 11,000 Years Ago” — Josie Garthwaite, Smithsonian Magazine; from the ancient-anthropocene dept.
“A new study of pollen samples extracted from tropical forests in southeast Asia suggests humans have shaped these landscapes for thousands of years. Although scientists previously believed the forests were virtually untouched by people, researchers are now pointing to signs of imported seeds, plants cultivated for food, and land clearing as early as 11,000 years ago—around the end of the last Ice Age.
The study, to be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Archaeological Science comes from researchers led by paleoecologist Chris Hunt, of Queen’s University, Belfast, who analyzed existing data and examined samples from Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam.”
- The Famished Road by Ben Okri [HT Literary Interest]; from the bring-me-a-dream dept.
“We can redream this world and make the dream come real. Human beings are gods hidden from themselves.”
- “Hodges’ Constellation cards” — The World of Playing Cards; from the he-saw-stars-in-his-eyes dept.
“The Ram, the Bull, the Heavenly Twins,
And next the Crab, the Lion shines —
The Virgin and the Scales,
The Scorpion, Archer, and the Goat,
The Man that Bears the Watering Pot,
And Fish with glittering tails.”
- “Masonic Playing Cards” — The World of Playing Cards; from the know-when-to-hold-em dept.
“This attractive pack commemorating the history of freemasonry has the Kings as masters of the lodge, the Queens and Jacks are other masonic officers while the Jokers are two operative masons. The deck contains two interpretation cards explaining the meaning of the Masonic symbolism.”
- Hermetic Library anthology artist Doleful Lions has a new release, Annotated Gilgamesh b/w Tearstreaked Monster.
- “Child’s illustrated garden of Satanic ritual abuse” — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; from the is-that-a-euphemism-in-your-pocket dept.
“I want to go home. I already HAD the ‘magic surgery.’ They put a monster in me.”
- “Ancient Egyptian Kitten Skeletons Hint at Cat Domestication” [HT Boing Boing]; from the curious-what’s-in-that-bag dept.
“The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 12th, 2014
“An illustration from an 1877 issue of Little Wide Awake magazine.” — Craig Conley, Abecedarian
- “Ask Massively: And the money will follow” — Brianna Royce, Massively; from the two-pennies-to-rub-together dept.
“My mother always told me, ‘Do what you love, and the money will follow.’ It’s not true. I wish it were. Sorry mom. It’s a dangerous thing to tell a geeky little girl something like that when she’s trying to decide whether to be a coroner, an international diplomat, or a butterfly. I did not become any of these things. I got a degree in what I loved, but the money followed only when I got a job I didn’t love to pay for my husband to do what he loved. My landing a job with Massively (almost four years ago!) was the product of an unrelated cross-country move, a lot of luck, and an unusual combination of otherwise mundane knowledge. It was not something I planned and executed meticulously as a career plan.”
- “#AmtrakResidency” — Amtrak; from the they-who-curse-the-bum-on-the-rods dept.
“#AmtrakResidency was designed to allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment. Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by a panel. Up to 24 writers will be selected for the program starting March 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015. A passion for writing and an aspiration to travel with Amtrak for inspiration are the sole criteria for selection. Both emerging and established writers will be considered.
Residencies will be anywhere from 2-5 days, with exceptions for special projects.”
- “WIT researchers discover ‘lost’ Einstein model of universe” — Dick Ahlstrom, Irish Times; from the i-will-not-be-pushed-filed-stamped-indexed-briefed-debriefed-or-numbered dept.
“‘I was looking through drafts, but then slowly realised it was a draft of something very different,’ Dr [Cormac] O’Raifeartaigh said. ‘I nearly fell off my chair. It was hidden in perfect plain sight. This particular manuscript was misfiled as a draft of something else.'”
- Albert Einstein quote via “Albert Einstein, when he arrived in America, was shocked at how African Americans were treated.” — Emily, Dichotomization [also]; from the emperor’s-new-clothes dept.
“There is a separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.”
- “On Gaia tests whether the hypothesis holds up to scientific scrutiny” — Scott K Johnson, Ars Technica; from the because-the-cosmos-is-also-within-us dept.
“In the early 1970s, Lovelock—with the help of Lynn Margulis—developed the Gaia Hypothesis, which views the Earth and its ecosystems as resembling a sort of superorganism. Lovelock was working for NASA at the time, developing instruments that would aid the Viking landers in looking for signs of life on Mars, so he was thinking about how life interacts with its environment on a planetary scale. And Margulis was famed for her ideas about symbiosis.
This intellectual background led to the idea that organisms are not just passive inhabitants riding a big rock that determined whether they lived or died. Organisms were active participants in the molding of their environment, tweaking and improving conditions as part of a massive, self-regulating system.
In On Gaia: A Critical Investigation of the Relationship Between Life and Earth, University of Southampton Professor Toby Tyrrell sets out to comprehensively put the Gaia Hypothesis to the test, using everything we’ve learned about life and its history on our planet.”
- “Recreating the Cosmos in Our Druidic Ritual Order.” — Ian Corrigan, Into the Mound; from the we’re-made-of-star-stuff dept.
“In my understanding, the basic steps of our Order of Ritual (OoR) amount to a recreation of the Indo-European cosmos. As in many traditional ritual systems, our rites are set in a cosmological diagram. Since our Order is written for modern, park-and-church-basement Paganism, we assume that this cosmic model must be rebuilt and reconsecrated for each ritual. Thus our sacrifices open with rites for consecrating the space and establish it as a gathering-place for the Gods & Spirits.”
- A new “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, presented by Fox and National Geographic, guest appearance by Giordano Bruno in the premiere [also]; from the we-are-a-way-for-the-cosmos-to-know-itself dept.
- “Petra monuments oriented according to celestial events” — Past Horizons; from the summer-sunday-and-a-year dept.
“During the winter solstice, the sun is filtered into the Monastery at Petra, Jordan, illuminating the podium of a deity. Just at this moment, the silhouette of the mountain opposite draws the head of a lion, a sacred animal. These are examples from a study where researchers from Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias and CSIC (Spain) showed how celestial events influenced the orientation of the great constructions of the Nabataeans.”
- “Research Suggests We Unconsciously React to Events Up to 10 Seconds Before They Happen” — The Mind Unleashed [HT Reality Sandwich]; from the wake-me-up-before-you-go-go dept.
“Can your brain detect events before they even occur? That was the stunning conclusion of a 2012 meta-analysis of experiments from seven independent laboratories over the last 35 years, which found that the human body ‘can apparently detect randomly delivered stimuli occurring 1–10 seconds in the future’ (Mossbridge, Tressoldi, & Utts, 2012). In the studies, physiological readings were taken as participants were subjected to unpredictable events designed to activate the sympathetic nervous system (for example, showing provocative imagery) as well as ‘neutral events’ that did not activate the nervous system. These readings showed that the nervous system aligned with the nature of the event (activated/not activated) — and what’s more, the magnitude of the pre-event response corresponded with the magnitude of the post-event response.”
- “Scientists unlock mystery of out-of-body experiences (aka astral trips)” — Jordan Kushins, Sploid [HT Disinformation]; from the why-am-i-up-here-what-do-they-see-in-me dept.
“The fMRI showed a ‘strong deactivation of the visual cortex’ while ‘activating the left side of several areas associated with kinesthetic imagery,’ which includes mental imagery of bodily movement. This is the part of the brain that makes it possible for us to interact with the world. It’s what makes you feel where your body is in relation to the world.”
- Translation of Theodor Klauser at “Mithras scholar Vermaseren on the Mithras cranks” — Roger Pearse [HT rogueclassicism]; from the let-that-be-a-lesson-to-you dept.
“Anyone who really wants to promote scholarship may not content themselves with uniting uncontrolled ideas and research into a seductive synthesis, written in an attractive form, for the slightest critical touch causes such constructs to collapse. The established rules of scholarly method cannot be ignored with impunity; even the most gifted may not skip over the necessarily lengthy process.”
- Priestess Najah, via tweet.
“Queen of Conjure, sacred Marie LaVeau. Her tomb needs restoration. Donate at http://www.saveourcemeteries.org“
- “Maidens, Matrons, and Magicians: Women and Personal Ritual Power in Late Antique Egypt” by Meghan Paalz McGinnis, Masters Thesis, University of Louisville, 2012; from the sparks-fly-from-her-finger-tips dept.
“Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to a variety of material, textual, and literary evidence, the aim of this thesis is to shed light on the realities — rather than stereotypes — of an important aspect of late ancient women’s experience: the use of ritual power. Patterns of gender differentiation in late antique Egyptian magic are investigated and shown to be connected to the particular aims to which numinous powers were employed, aims which were in turn bound up with the social roles expected of each sex. The majority of this study consists of a series of case studies of different types of women’s rituals of power, which emphasize examples of significant trends in ritual iconography, praxis, and context, both those which were typical of late antique Egyptian magic as a whole, and those which were uniquely female in character. The fact that female practitioners came from a wide array of socio-economic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds is also addressed.”
- “Tutankhamun’s Blood” by Jo Marchant, Matter; from the blood-feud dept.
“[Yehia] Gad isn’t the first to attempt to test Tutankhamun’s DNA, but he is the first to get this far. Previous efforts by foreigners were cancelled at the last minute. After decades of outside interference, Egypt’s politicians were reluctant to hand over the keys to the pharaohs’ origins—especially when the results, if dropped into the crucible of the Middle East, might prove explosive.”
- “Israel reveals eerie collection of Neolithic ‘spirit’ masks” — Ilan ben Zion [HT David Metcalfe]; from the starting-with-the-man-in-the-mirror dept.
“With vacant sockets and jaws agape, they stare at you like the skulls of the dead. They are 9,000-year-old masks found in the Judean Desert and Hills, and they are going on display for the first time next week at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.”
- Myrtle quoted in “Paganism in Israel: Where the Modern meets the Ancient” — Heather Greene, The Wild Hunt; from the grand-central-station dept.
“Ever since the dawn of [humanity], even stretching back to the exits from Africa, people of different cultures have passed through this tiny country. There are places of worship to the Canaanite deities, Egyptian temples to Hathor, countless shrines to the Greek and Roman Gods, Phoenician influences and more.”
- Consult the Oracle! [HT rogueclassicism]; from the ask-me-no-questions-i’ll-tell-you-no-lies dept.
“The ancient Delphic Oracle was the inspiration for a recent application created by the Department of Classical Studies at the University College of London. This application will give the user the chance to have a unique experience. The application is very tempting and attractive as one can ask whatever he wishes online.” [via]
- “Shape-Shifter” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti; from the i’m-gonna-git-you-sucka dept.
“Zeus became a swan, a bull, a satyr, gold, for love of
Leda, Europa, Antiope, Danaë.”
- “Jesus Wept” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti; from the dacryphilia dept.
“Some in the ancient world might have interpreted the act of weeping as evidence that Jesus was not God.”
- “Grimoire” — Michael Quinion, World Wide Words; from the cook-the-books dept.
“The shift from book of grammar to book of magic isn’t as weird as it might seem. Few among the ordinary people in those times could read or write. For superstitious minds books were troubling objects. Who knew what awful information was locked up in them? For many people grammar meant the same thing as learning, and everybody knew that learning included astrology and other occult arts.”
- “California’s drought is so bad people are turning to witchcraft” — Holly Richmond, Grist; from the liquore-strega dept.
“Did you know that witches help make Two-Buck Chuck? Sadly no one from The Craft is involved, but water witches are increasingly in demand in California as the state’s epic drought continues. John Franzia of the Bronco Wine Company, which makes Two-Buck Chuck and a slew of other wines, regularly uses diviners to find water underneath his California vineyards.”
- “Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics, by Marco Pasi” — Clive Bloom, Times Higher Education; from the piecemeal-social-engineering dept.
“Pasi’s book, which has already appeared in Italian and German, proves an admirable introduction to the complex magical and political connections of this most elusive of figures. Ironically, what the book proves is the opposite of its title, which is simply that magical practice and practical politics have never mixed, and the attempt to fit them together was a doomed and ‘childish’ project. Crowley’s ‘political’ legacy lies more properly in the politics of personal liberation that he advocated and in the counterculture he helped to create.”
- “Alchemical Interpretations of Masonic Symbols in the Rituals of Russian Rosicrucians of the 18th-19th Centuries” (in Russian) — Yury Khalturin; from the watching-the-world-wake-up-from-history dept.
“In the article symbolic mechanisms of the transmission of alchemical tradition within the Russian Rosicrucianism are analyzed. The main point of the article is the idea, that masonic symbols and their interpretations were not just a form of communicating the alchemical tradition, but also a mode of its transformation according to the principles of rosicrucian worldview. All the alchemical interpretations of masonic symbols in rosicrucian rituals could be reduced to paradigmatic and syntagmatic models. Within the ritual those symbols and interpretations realized two main functions — suggestive (creating the sacral atmosphere for getting the esoteric knowledge) and initiatic (initiation through the shift from one level of hidden sense to another), which changed social and existential status of the neophyte.”
- “Is there any super bad-ass Catholic weapon around out there?” — Benito Cereno, Burgeoning Lads of Science; from the ten-hail-marys-and-turn dept.
“Some of these might be of dubious Catholicity, but they all at least have something to do with a saint or a relic, so there you have it.”
- “Mindscapes: The first recording of hallucinated music” — Helen Thomson, NewScientist’s Mindscapes; from the stop-children-what’s-that-sound dept.
“‘It’s like having my own internal iPod,’ says Sylvia. While she goes about her daily life she hears music. It may sound to her as if a radio is playing, but it is entirely in her own head.
Sylvia calls the hallucinations a nuisance, but they can be turned off, which has allowed researchers to work out what might cause them. The discovery paves the way for new treatments and hints at the cause of more common hallucinations, such as those associated with schizophrenia.”
- “Are Stonehenge’s Boulders Actually Big Bells?” — Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic [David Raffin]; from the everybody-must-get-stoned dept.
“If you’re building a monument, why not build it out of stones that speak?
‘We don’t know of course that they moved them because they rang, but ringing rocks are a prominent part of many cultures,’ English archeologist Tim Darvill told the BBC. ‘Soundscapes of pre-history are something we’re really just beginning to explore.’
It’s true. Academics and researchers are just beginning to think about what many historic places—both geographic and architectural—sounded like.”
- “Wagner & Me“, a movie with Stephen Fry, currently on Netflix; from the is-wagner-a-human-being-at-all dept.
- Richard Wagner and his Operas, an online archive and resource.
- “Mathematicians Are Chronically Lost and Confused” — Soulskill, Slashdot; from the dazed-and-confused dept.
“[Jeremy Kun] says it’s immensely important for mathematicians to be comfortable with extended periods of ignorance when working on a new topic. ‘The truth is that mathematicians are chronically lost and confused. It’s our natural state of being, and I mean that in a good way. …”
- Roelof Nicolai quoted in “648 – Portolan Charts ‘Too Accurate’ to be Medieval” — Frank Jacobs, Big Think; from the maps-of-the-ancient-sea-kings dept.
“Perhaps we should re-evaluate what we think was the state of science in Antiquity”
- “Scientists Revive a Giant 30,000 Year Old Virus From Ice” — bmahersciwriter, Slashdot; from the andromeda-strain dept.
“It might be terrifying if we were amoebae. Instead, it’s just fascinating. The virus, found in a hunk of Siberian ice, is huge, but also loosely packaged, which is strange says evolutionary biologist Jean-Michel Claverie: ‘We thought it was a property of viruses that they pack DNA extremely tightly into the smallest particle possible, but this guy is 150 times less compacted than any bacteriophage [viruses that infect bacteria]. We don’t understand anything anymore!'”
Antinous: Last God of the Ancient World
24 February 2014
John J Johnston
When, in 130 AD, the beautiful youth Antinous, favourite of the Roman emperor Hadrian, drowned in the Nile, under suspicious circumstances Hadrian proclaimed him a god and his cult survived until the eventual fall of the Empire. Drawing upon archaeological and textual sources, tonight’s lecture explores Antinous’ religious and artistic legacy from the time of his death and apotheosis until the modern age, and examines the importance of his name and image to gay men since the 18th Century. John J Johnston is Vice-Chair of the Egypt Exploration Society. This event celebrates LGBT History Month.
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start
Crowley and Politics
19 March 2014
Book Launch Party with Marco Pasi
Tonight join us for the launch party of a seminal study of Crowley’s relationship with the politics of his times, published by Acumen. Crowley sought an alternative way to express his religious feelings, which led him to elaborate his own vision of political and social radical change: he announced a new era, echoing the ideal of a new man proposed by the totalitarian regimes and the radical politics of his era. Author Marco Pasi has worked with many unpublished documents and his study offers fresh insights. Joining us at the launch is Marco Pasi, Assistant Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. Signed copies will be available on the night. Please note this event is a book launch party and not a formal lecture.
Price: Free but reply essential to be added to guest list
Time: 7pm to 9:30pm, speeches 7:46pm
The Oldest Sex Magic Text?
20 March 2014
Lecture — An Early Mesopotamian Tablet
A very early tablet, written in cuneiform, refers enigmatically to a sex magic act. Our speaker tonight reveals this brief but important discovery and uses it to shed light on ancient Mesopotamian ideas of ‘sacred marriage’, goddess power, sovereignty, hallucinogenic drugs and — yes — sex magic. Our speaker is an academic scholar in the field with a deep interest in magic. Tonight is for everyone with a fondness for Ishtar, Ereshkigal, Inanna, Enkidu, Tammuz, Pazuzu and the wonderful world of the Tigris-Euprhates valley. This is a repeat lecture: those who came in January and wish to re-attend may do so without charge: please email or ring.
Price: £7. Ring 0207 419 8507 or book online
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start
Alchemy’s Mutus Liber
24 March 2014
The Mutus Liber (The ‘silent’ or ‘symbolic’ Book), first appeared in the town of La Rochelle in 1677. The author ‘Altus’, is now thought to be Isaac Baulot, a local apothecary and physician. There is no text, and the work consists of fifteen plates apparently illustrating an alchemical process, a process which inspired the successful plant alchemy of Armand and Jacqueline Barbault in the 1960s. Some believe it to be entirely psycho-spiritual in its intent, while others interpret it qabbalistically. In this illustrated talk Paul explores each plate, offering comments and suggestions on the symbolism .We promise an enriching exploration of one of alchemy’s most famous enigmas. Paul Cowlan is a spiritual alchemist of over twenty years’ experience and a popular speaker.
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start
Magic in 17th Century England
26 March 2014 (Wednesday)
Seventeenth-century England — with its Civil Wars, Revolution, and Restoration — was a tumultuous place. It was also a period where early modern people consulted astrologers, magicians, and cunning-folk for a variety of occult services and magical objects. The stars’ influence was traced in all aspects of life: from planting crops, to political propaganda, to medical care and guidance counselling. In investigating early modern English astrology, this lecture will explore fascinating historical perspectives on the nature of time, meaning and human life. Alexander Cummins is an historian of magic and emotion. He is currently finishing his doctorate at the University of Bristol.
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start