As Jan Fries puts it:
If the visions you are receiving are exactly like those of Castaneda (or of me, or of anybody else) you are probably fooling yourself. Can you dare to be original?
Yes, yes I can. But I wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy right out of the gate.
There’s a related story from film school that I’m going to share. Please hold your painful groans of sympathy to the end.
A few of us from the same year in high school had moved down from the coal mining town in which we all grew up in to Sydney to go to college.
I remember once catching up with a fellow Nocavastrian for coffee late early in our second year as this girl breathlessly recounted an essay her flatmate and mutual “friend” (I didn’t like her) had written about “rave” culture. And how’s it’s all like a religion. And the DJ is god and every takes a sacrament and, like, communes with him/her.
So very many things ran through my mind as I drew deep on my cigarette to stop myself uncontrollably shrieking/hitting a nearby child. I wanted to say “firstly, for this quote unquote idea to work, the DJ would be a priest, not god. Secondly, he wouldn’t be a priest, he’d be a shaman. Thirdly… really? This is new to you? This idea has seriously never occurred to you before? Ever? Cos we hit the pills together at least once a week. In fact, I’m pretty sure what I have just ranted in your face are the exact lyrics to one in every three dance tracks ever composed.”
But I didn’t say that. Not for any noble reasons but because she and I were sporadic fuck buddies. (I know, I know. But we all experiment in college, yeah?) Anyway, the reason I didn’t much like this mutual “friend” is that she was chip-on-the-shoulder entitled. Basically, she thought she didn’t have to do any of the readings or listen to the tutors or whatever because her opinions are like, so original and amazing and whatever. At least 20% of people in arts/film school are like this.
“Originality”, without a grounding in prior orthodoxy (read that carefully), will almost always lead you astray.
I don’t care if you break the rules… but you’ve got to know ‘em cold if you’re going to break them to good effect.
- Jaq D Hawkins
Too many people use “originality” as an excuse for being shit at something or lazy or self-indulgent. In theatre, in film school, in cooking and, most alarmingly, in magic. Incidentally, I’m aware that this behaviour can be a class indicator, flawlessly immortalised -as ever- by Eric Cartman. But not all the time.
How about learning someone else’s truth before, for some unexplained reason, being compelled to speak your own?
The betrayal of Gaga
Lady Gaga is a lot like Dances With Wolves. She suffers from white messiah syndrome. Suddenly all us gays have this champion we didn’t ask for -who isn’t actually one of us- seemingly fighting a culture war straight out of the mid-seventies. Apparently for our benefit. Because, what, we can’t do this ourselves or some shit? (See also Avatar and, I’m quite sure, Avatar 2.)
Her DADT repeal work is to be applauded. Her insistence that we are all freaks who should proudly fly our flag regardless of what “the man” thinks is less so.
It’s 2011. We’re everywhere. We drive volvos, we talk about interest rates, we DVR gardening programmes. Her desire for originality trumps her interest in furthering the cause because she clearly doesn’t know the fundamentals -the prior orthodoxy- of what we have achieved without her help these last thirty years.
She’s one of the most successful recording artists of all time. She could be useful. She could be terrifying Obama (because everything does) into actually fulufilling his promises to the pink vote, she could be reverse-brainwashing those unfortunate children of hicks and racists in regional America so they grow up unbroken.
But no. Her magical target selection is all out of whack because she’s going for originality without understanding, without prior orthodoxy.
Conformity makes your world bigger… eventually
The secret of chaos magic is pretty much the same secret as any other endeavour. You will fail to be original if you don’t conform first. Because making your world bigger is a game of stacked blocks, each one larger than the one before.
It is desirable to elect beliefs which offer the greater scope for Magical results. The belief that our world is but a shadow play of mighty cosmic forces, which can be… manipulated by human wisdom – that is a pretty good Magical belief… That the world was made by one God who forbids the use of Magic is less useful… one of the worst possible Magical beliefs is that our world is made of solid matter shaped only by chance, within which human consciousness… is mere epiphenomena. Magic-wise it’s utter useless crap, and yet it is a belief heavily endorsed by our scientific culture.
- Ramsey Dukes
As the Youtube video above demonstrates, the absolute worst of magic is “whatever, I do what I want”. Too often magical folk consider this to be, somehow, a chaos magic view. That’s inaccurate. That’s assuming chaos magic is, in Jan’s words again, “just a pretty name for organised nonconformism”.
This is not the case. Anyone who thinks this way has fallen in the river. Here’s how you avoid falling in the river:
- Genuinely, humbly learn about the world.
- Each way of seeing the world is a stepping stone, slightly larger than the one you are one.
- Different people either want or need a differing number of stepping stones.
- Trying to leap from one bank to the other will land you in the drink.
Sometimes Penelope speaks to me with such clarity that I wonder if maybe I also have Asperger’s. But then I think, no, her blog posts only sound like my brain when it’s on cocaine -I can’t get this level of clarity and ‘clear seeing’; clairvoyance, without exceedingly rare and always unplanned chemical enhancement. (by rare and unplanned I mean that I have never paid for it in my life and haven’t gone near it in years.)
I wanted to fold a few points from her post into this one but thought better of it. But then I thought what would be the point? What would I change or add? It is gaspingly, clairvoyantly perfect and absolutely on message. She’s my favourite blogger in the world.
Read her post. Print it off. Above all -and I’m talking to you here, Lady Gaga- remember this one line, which is point 3:
You need to know what’s expected to do the unexpected.
Hail fucking chaos.