• Seek The Higher Ground

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    Justin-Bieber

    The more I look at this image, the less concerned I become about a meteor destroying the earth.

    Perhaps this is what happened to the elves when mankind discovered magic? They moved deeper into the Otherworld.

    JJ Abrams ruining Star Trek and Star Wars, Joss Whedon writing the one story over and over and over, Chris Nolan turning every superhero and villain into the same character… his own misogynistic, sado-fantasy.

    Hollywood ruined by endless repeats and reboots.

    Comics existing solely as loss-making testing grounds for ideas to turn into movies (that are quickly rebooted).

    Evaporating TV audiences ruining the networks’ appetite for ambitious programming, bestseller lists dominated by celebrity cookbooks and sportsperson biographies.

    As for the internet, the great hope of Alternativia?

    Cats, bacon and spooks. (And more misogyny.)

    It would be tempting to say “twas ever thus for the Seeker, now get back to work.” But that’s not quite it.

    It is as if we have woken up one morning to find the ocean of inspiration is now two miles further out from the beach… leaving nothing but wet sand and flapping fish as far as the eye can see. (See above image for flapping fish.)

    And whilst, in ages past, one might risk physical death for the pursuit of the Mysteries, for sources of inspiration that have been suppressed; today they aren’t suppressed, they are ruined.

    Understanding the difference between suppression and ruination, commodification, is crucial. Welcome to the wasteland. Welcome to the Kali Yuga.

    Note to self. Don't reincarnate as a student of early twenty-first century culture.

    Note to self. Don’t reincarnate as a student of early twenty-first century culture. (“Ooh! 33 degrees! Do you see it??”)

    We turn first to so-called ‘Geek culture’, via an article Chris Knowles shared on Facestalk, about a reality programme I had previously never seen or heard of, Fangasm.

    In reality (no pun intended), what we casually refer to as “geek culture” has in the last 10+ years ascended from a derided subculture to a massive consumer class actively serviced by virtually every commercial sector in America, a fact that’s put an existential challenge to the nature of “geekdom,” particularly its claim to underdog status. That Fangasm exists at all speaks to this notion of cultural currency, but unfortunately it’s the literal currency that is the most basic and base element of the entire Fangasm enterprise, which we discover is even faker than the kinds of series — to use the reality show parlance  – it throws under the bus.

    However, it is through Fangasm’s breathtakingly brazen expression of unreality and exploitation that we ultimately see the truth of how geek culture is understood by those to whom geeks pledge their once hard-earned allegiance, and perhaps by a generation of geeks themselves.

    If we accept Fangasm as the reality of geek culture, then this reality is the worst of all possible timelines. It says geek culture isn’t a community of human beings brought together by a shared passion for interesting and creative things that have enriched their lives, but about reflexive, unchallenged brand loyalties; celebrity worship; and enduring social exile. It says that unlike the “guidos” of Jersey Shore or the artisans of Heroes of Cosplay or the cooks of Top Chef, there is nothing unique or special or misunderstood about being “a geek”; that geeks or fans or nerds or whatever you want to call them are at worst just the same bad stereotypes they’ve always been, and at best just ferocious consumers in Batman t-shirts.

    There are two main challenges when it comes to examining “fringe inspiration”, like “Geek culture”. The first is that many of its cornerstone symbols (Batman, Superman) have, for much of their history, supported the dominant cultural and political agenda. So their deployment in service of our deranged, hyper-consuming, post-apocalyptic culture is not without precedent. As such, their role as nodes or rallying points for fringe groups has always been somewhat precarious.

    Secondly, any discussion of the mainstream of Geek symbols very quickly gets hijacked. The level of sexism encountered -as if girls couldn’t possibly enjoy comics or sci fi novels or Blood Bowl- is genuinely better suited to the Saudi Arabian educational system. It is appalling and in no way matches my own experience of being a kid growing up playing tabletop wargames or Star Trek card games. There were girls everywhere. They were freaks to be sure (just like we were), but they were still girls.

    My two Geek schoolfriends and I had to invent code words for discussing the previous evening’s episode of Star Trek back then. When one of the girls in our English class broke the code, it was like some kind of revelatory Christmas Day. The code wasn’t particularly sophisticated. The discussions were referred to as ‘The Masquerade’ after a certain vampire role-playing game, which, in hindsight, is sort of like concealing a paedophile by dressing him up as a priest. She was familiar with the game. She worked out what was on television the night before, as she had watched it, and boom. The rest is history. That weekend we were all listening to The Pixies and building Werewolf: The Wild West characters. (I don’t care what you say. I liked Werewolf: The Wild West. Go ahead and picture a bunch of Australian kids in a coal mining town pretending to be American Indian wolf spirits in their suburban attics. The nineties!)

    Clearly, Adam Weißhaupt's 250 year plan has finally come to fruition! You're all doomed!

    Clearly, Adam Weißhaupt’s 250 year plan has finally come to fruition! You’re all doomed!

    The second challenge with discussing “Geek culture” -and let me assure you it is intimately related to the first- is the dominance of fat, loudmouthed Reddit-types whose militant atheism is scorching the earth of High Strangeness upon which our freak cathedral was once built. Talk about not knowing your own history!

    This is the same earth scorching we see everywhere that genuine inspiration, truth, or expression might attempt to grow. You may be familiar with the Wikipedia Wars. Here are the demographic reasons why it is being waged:

    Among the significant problems that aren’t getting resolved is the site’s skewed coverage: its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive, but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy. Authoritative entries remain elusive. Of the 1,000 articles that the project’s own volunteers have tagged as forming the core of a good encyclopedia, most don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle-­ranking quality scores.

    The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage.

    The voice of the internet is destroying the voice of the internet.

    Historically, the “Geek economy” had always been large enough to accommodate an ‘inspirational fringe of the fringe’. Don’t like Spiderman? There’s always Alan Moore. Don’t like AD&D? Try Wraith: The Oblivion. (DO NOT try Wraith: The Oblivion unless you want to be-haunt your own house. That game might be the actual Necronomicon. One in three times it would trigger poltergeist effects.)

    Due perhaps in no small part to the collapse of the economics of content, I’m not convinced there is an ‘inspirational fringe of the fringe’ for the earnest Seeker anymore. And I’m not even sure that it matters at this stage of the game. It’s rather like asking the flight attendant if you can change your order from fish to chicken while the plane is crashing.

    And that brings us to the second current in need of some higher ground… magic and the occult.

    Musical ‘artists’ using alleged Illuminati symbolism, Peaches Geldof joining the OTO (actually, that one doesn’t bother me), the rise of appalling, occultish TV programming and… GASP… hipsters now practicing magic.

    Leave it to the artisanal crowd to gentrify even that part of American life.

    As Newsweek reports, the occult is now very much a thing for the kind of people who have also ruined popular music, home cooking, farming, and recreational drugs:

    “Upwardly mobile millennials are often accused of being self-obsessed and afflicted with “special snowflake” syndrome, but that’s not the only reason more and more smart, savvy and usually cynical 18-to-30-year-olds are dabbling in the occult, from astrological natal charts and tarot to séances and full-moon ceremonies.”

    Oh, boy.

    Young hipsters are paying their rent by helping businesses “brainstorm” with tarot cards; buying $14 prayer candles from Urban Outfitters (Dios Mio! Don’t you people know where the botanicas are?); and clogging their tumblr dashes and Pinterest boards with pictures of seances and alchemical symbols. [More. Found via Lunar Barbecue.]

    Magiiiiiiiic!!11!!

    Contemporary magic. You still want ‘the veil’ to be ‘thin’?

    There may well be a temptation to look back into recent and less-recent history for examples of when mysticism was on trend. You had The Craft and Charmed in the nineties. You had Castaneda and channelling in the sixties and seventies, you had The Beatles and TM, you could make the case that the post-WWI fad for spiritualism was in a similar vein.

    Yeah, that’s part of it. We’re definitely in a magic/psychedelic/AAT/Gnostic cycle not seen since the late nineties (and the late seventies/very early eighties before that). But actually, the precedent you should look for is Hoodoo. Stay with me on this.

    A few years ago, I asked what magic comes from this unrest? In the Newsweek article referenced in the above quote, we read:

    We’re currently in the middle of an occult revival, says Jesse Bransford, a New York University art professor who co-organized an occult humanities conference earlier this month. He sees a connection between increasing interest in the occult and postrecession anxiety. Magic “has always been a technique of the disenfranchised,” he says. “It’s something you do when the tools you have available don’t seem like they’re enough.”

    Tarot is “super useful for clarifying my own confused feelings about where I’m headed or what I’m doing,” says Allison Chomet, a 23-year-old digital archivist in Philadelphia. Martha Windhal, a 30-year-old tarot reader in Los Angeles, says she’s always turned to tarot and astrology when things were difficult in her personal life; she started reading professionally after she graduated from college and couldn’t find a job. “They’re untapped resources when you feel like you have a loss of power,” she says. Business is so good that Windhal can pay her rent by booking private appointments and packed events—she recently did 40 consecutive readings one day at the New York Art Book Fair.

    Occult revivals happen regularly throughout history and are often “intensely marginalized,” the Occult Humanities Conference’s website explains. But this time, the revival seems to be a crossover hit, going mainstream, as evidenced on screen—Witches of East End, Beautiful Creatures and American Horror Story: Coven are just a few of the witchy films and TV shows that debuted this year – and even on the fashion runways[.]

    Is the revival going mainstream or is it that absolutely everyone is fucked? Magic flourishes in communities that have no other options, communities that are fucked. And today’s twentysomethings are fucked. We know this because we fucked them. They are in the first stages of separating the rescue mission from the salvage mission.

    Blaming hipsters for ‘special snowflake’ syndrome is egregiously unfair as we are the snowclouds.

    Do I personally wish this occult revival looked different? Yeah, obviously. The idea that there is a frikking waiting list for prayer candles at Urban Outfitters is just… so… ugh. But I choose to see this jam jar of microbrewed nettle ale as half full.

    What did we expect the re-enchantment of modern culture to look like? Christianity began as a wacko mystery cult for freaks… and there was an inevitable signal loss as it scaled up into a mechanism of imperial control. That’s exactly what we are seeing here. But, in Christianity’s case, the common people still left offerings at wells and mystics still managed to have misinterpreted Magonian experiences.

    Wherefore the Seeker?

    Seeking will get harder. Get over it. We had a brief, postwar flowering of a culture that provided a comparatively unimpeded route to personal gnosis, but the empire struck back. (“Do you know what happens to a toad that gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else.”) Did you honestly expect the Quest for your own Source would be like ordering a pizza on your iPhone?

    Renaissance rules now apply. American protestantism has influenced popular magic to such an extent that ‘do the work’, in a very Calvinist sense, is the unthinking, unsophisticated response to everyone and every situation. It has escaped most discussions, however, that ‘do the work’ also applies to the armchair… now more than ever. So get better sources.

    There is still Wyrd in the world. (source: http://korintic.deviantart.com)

    There is still Wyrd in the world. (source: http://korintic.deviantart.com)

    Next, I would suggest remembering Jonah and the whale. Think about it… Go ahead, archonic culture. Eat Batman, eat The Invisibles, eat Star Trek, eat Thor, eat Tolkien, eat Thelema. Go back for seconds. Be my guest. Sooner or later, it will find something that it can’t digest, and that thing will burst from its stomach, holding The Grail.

    Following on, in an era of cultural bankruptcy, there is nothing for it but to give yourself a classical education. I don’t mean Aristotle, I mean They Live and The Earthsea Quartet. Perhaps ironically -which is only appropriate- the cure for the hipsterisation of magic is to go vintage.

    Finally, be platform agnostic. Not only has the internet turned out to be a dubious saviour of inspiration and mystery, its existence as a unified space is coming to an end. Frankly, I don’t know where to look next, only that we know that we don’t know where to look next.

    Which brings us back to the beach with the missing ocean. If you ever find yourself physically in such a situation, as my mother the psychonaut did in Tonga a few years ago before a tsunami, make for the hills. Oceans don’t stay missing for long.

    I don’t know what’s up there, and you’re welcome to wait it out on the beach, but I’m going to seek the higher ground. What fish that remain aren’t worth the risk.

    About

    London-based occultist and pseudo-pseudohistorian. Messes about with sigils. Travels a lot but is otherwise extremely lazy.

    http://runesoup.com

    31 Responses to Seek The Higher Ground

    1. Johnny
      October 27, 2013 at 7:43 pm

      As my friend said recently, nothing is “hipster” anymore because the things that separated it (whatever it is) got diluted in general culture. Even in my backwards part of the planet you can see people decked out in clothes that are stereotyped as hipster attire, so I think it’s a very apt statement.

      Anyway, I don’t think anyone should be worried by this. I bet old timer occultists were tsk-tsk-ing at long haired, tripped out hippies in 60′s and metalheads in the 70′s and 80′s. 90′s and 00′s saw a generation of goth girls dabbling in witchcraft more than in makeup, and at the same time black and death metal brought in a lot of satanist. Occult subculture survived them all, and thrived for it. Dabblers drop off in a few years, while those who can contribute, will.

    2. Dylan Goodluck
      October 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      It’s like this whole post was written just for me!

      … But seriously, this has been a topic I’ve been mulling over in my head for a while. That tidal wave of information that we’ve received has been half a blessing, and a whole lot of curse. There’s a little something I’ve named on the topic called “The Quandary of the Initiated/Uninitiated”. Once you know something, the deep, golden secrets dredged from the stygian abyss, you can see it everywhere in culture, science, life. The problem is, once you start to tell everyone “This book holds the secrets of reality”, or “I can see eternity in an unlit wick”, anyone unfamiliar, initiated if you will, starts taking it literally, and falls short of what we expect of them. To them, they’re glaring at a (analogue) television with bad reception and seeing nothing but static. We magicians though, are the kid from “Poltergeist” in this analogy though.

      We can tell people all the short-cuts we’ve taken to get where we are and gnash our teeth when they don’t, but we’ve got to remember, the Path is different for all of us. All I can do is spout my weird quotes, doodle my strange symbols, and namedrop a piece of art I love, and hope someone follows it all a little deeper.

      Maybe Gaga IS enlightened, I’ve heard strange rumours that one of her film clips (don’t ask me which one) is meant to evoke Amdusias from the Goetia ( “…he is accompanied by the sound of trumpets when he comes and will give concerts if commanded, but while all his types of musical instruments can be heard they cannot be seen. He is regarded as being the demon in charge of the cacophonous music that is played in Hell” indeed).

    3. October 27, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Gordon, this is me wanting to throw roses at your feet. Brilliant post, and I especially love it when you sharpen your knives and go all cultural critique.

      I suspect the things you’re talking about are why we’re seeing so much “gatekeeping” in geek culture, as with beardy guys grilling female cosplayers about their character knowledge. On the one hand, it’s misogyny in action, but on another, is it an effort on the part of the beardy to protect their hobbies from further commodification? (Their refrain always seems to be “these cosplayers can’t be _real_ geeks!”) In my book it’s a misapplied effort, if that’s what’s going on, but still.

      I kind of think we may be at high tide on the visibility of the occult in Western culture, by the way. We’re so saturated with it on a media level (comparatively speaking), that my instinct is that there’s going to be something of a backlash in the next couple of years. I like your point that this is what the re-enchantment of everyday life looks like . . . and I think the powers that be are going to notice that and then shove some “WWII-everybody-pull-together-now!” or other wholesome teamwork crap down our collective throats.

      I could be wrong. We’ll see.

      In the meantime . . . hmm, be fabulous out in the open, or keep one’s Tarot cards close to one’s chest until after the tsunami breaks? Choices for interesting times.
      Stacey´s last blog post ..L is for Love

    4. VI
      October 27, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      the old WOD werewolves were cool, but the spirit world of the nuWOD in Werewolf the Forsaken? Infinitely up your alley guv. Obtain a PDF and take a look. I write this while hanging out in a windowless basement hotel room in Kings Cross. The etheric weather feels like it matches the potential Weather we are supposed to be due. Just saying.
      VI´s last blog post ..Drinking from a Deeper Well: The Perennial Weird

    5. Raj
      October 27, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      Renaissance Rules now apply. Fuck yeah they do. Bring. That. Shit.
      Raj´s last blog post ..Midnight Mystery Cult: BEHIND THE FIRE

    6. HP
      October 28, 2013 at 12:01 am

      Maybe the elves moved into pop culture and it’s their spell everybody is captivated in. They where allways tricky folks with the special gift to project promising scenes or pictures that look a little plastic. Consider the loss of sense of reality.

    7. October 28, 2013 at 1:06 am

      I’ll just leave this here…

      “Magic is the defence of the self against the malevolence of society.” -John O’Keefe
      Cat Vincent´s last blog post ..Killing Slenderman, in Darklore 7: with footnotes!

    8. Josh
      October 28, 2013 at 5:00 am

      I just wanted to point out that in Lady Gaga’s Poker Face music video a lot of the imagery is taken straight out of the The Moon tarot card.

      Excellent post.

    9. October 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      I think we are seeing the inevitable attempt (and at least partial success) to sell absolutely everything to absolutely anyone that one would expect at this point of the collapse. All the branded cultures are pure marketing, and pure marketing exists to sell distraction. Distraction is the new black. And critically important. Because, well, there’s a gnarly bunch of crap rolling downhill on all of use, with no end in sight. Might as well get people into literally ANYTHING, since as the Bevis Frond sang:

      there are no options
      no alternative choice
      and the revolution
      is just background noise

      …background noise that keeps them from trying to figure out what Fukushima actually should mean to them.

      It’s a interesting time, indeed!
      Aidan Wachter´s last blog post ..Seven Pointed Star

    10. October 28, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Not only has this happened before, but this *always* happens. It’s possible to make a coherent argument that all of human culture is nothing but fossilized occultism. You look at the artists and scientists who have made the most lasting contributions and half of them were working out of an explicitly occult basis, while the other half were elaborating on some free-floating occult memes that had already escaped into popular culture.

      Right now, we’re seeing the mainstreaming of that great wave of occult creativity that swept over the Western world between about 1880 and the early 1930′s and gave birth to all the contemporary forms of occultism, modern science fiction and fantasy, and geek culture. (Not to mention quantum physics, modern art, and hipsterism.) I don’t believe there’s anything particularly deplorable about this, and it might perform a useful function in shaking up our present train wreck of a stultified and over-rational society. But the problem now for serious seekers is, indeed, one of finding higher ground — the stuff that isn’t nearly as visible and obvious because it’s still ineffable and almost formless. That flickers around the corners of your vision when you’re looking at something else. That you wouldn’t even necessarily call occultism or science fiction or fantasy because it’s far stranger than that and doesn’t fall into any of the familiar categories.

      Or to invert the metaphor, it isn’t so much a matter of fleeing an imminent tsunami as it is one of detecting the tsunami that’s still out in mid-ocean and is barely perceptible except as the slightest rise and fall of the surface — and riding it long before it reaches the shore.
      Cory Panshin´s last blog post ..Upgrading the Narrative

    11. JP
      October 28, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      1) First thought: I think “the fringe” is constantly moving. The occult scene, for better or worse, is occult because it’s typically “hidden.” Once it becomes subsumed by popular culture, it doesn’t lose its power– its power shifts into popular culture. Take, for instance, the obvious occult influence on the popular drama of the Elizabethan Age, or the vagaries of Theosophy. When these ideas were still on the fringe and in the borderlands, they had real power for those involved. When, however, they shifted into popular awareness and could be discussed in parlors and tea-houses, their foci moved outward. Any “occult revival” is like a pebble thrown into a pond. The wider the circle, the shorter the wave (but it can be dangerous to stand directly under the pebble!).

      Magic works differently when it’s strange.

      It’s not that the concepts or ideas expressed in occultism are any less powerful if they’re de rigour. They’re just less *weird.* That’s fine for some people. I wholeheartedly support the idea of young urbanites using egg cleansing rituals and tarot cards. It’s fantastic that people are thinking of these things. However, it shows me that these ideas aren’t all that weird any longer, so they have a different kind of meaning. It’s folk magic now. It’s like the difference between a magician casting a circle of protection and a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer installing a ‘hex sign’ over the barn door.

      What that means for a particular brand of seeker (myself included) is that traditional modes of occult practice just don’t do the trick any longer. Grant Morrison/Alan Moore may still be awesome magicians, but their work isn’t strange any more. Even weirdos like Michael Bertiaux and T Allen Greenfield? Relics of the 19th Century Occult Revival, IMHO– a festival of stodginess, gilding a sideways understanding of boring ol’ sex magic under a thin veneer of “thee-and-thouisms.” (JMHO, of course– not to impugn those who still find value in those traditions– just not for me). Then again, I’d rather face down a night-gaunt than sit through another ritual full of high-minded frou frou and diddely doidely mush performed by a couple of neck-beards in a basement, or a “moon ceremony” sponsored by the local Coven and Baking Club.

      So, let ‘em have it. Instead, let’s seek out the truly weird, or create it!

      2. Second thought: Jesus *did* ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, after all. PKD always said God appears in the trash stratum. Doesn’t get much trashier than Ke$ha.
      JP´s last blog post ..The Black Squirrel’s Conjure 2: The Little Gillie Symbols

    12. October 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      How did you manage to actually get people to play Wraith?

    13. October 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      I paid for the marijuana, that’s how. ;)

    14. Dan
      October 28, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      Brings to mind an REM lyric from 1987;

      “Uh-oh, this means no fear cavalier.
      Renegade steer clear!
      A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies.
      Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.”

      Perhaps the world is always ending “as we know it,” but the impending shit avalanche is more than a little concerning; my anxiety is not helped by the massive crap that is popular culture and no one seems to notice that there are no sub-cultures (to speak to your post), and “high” culture has been subsumed and diluted at the same time (not to overlook that high culture is, at least in part, class warfare with a polished vocabulary). Time for a classical education – indeed. Hipster farmers – make me want to puke. Living off the land isn’t a TV show picnic. There are reasons that most real farmers are cranky, pessimistic, suspicious bastards.

      “Oceans don’t stay missing for long.”
      Nice line. Unnerving.

    15. Br.Christopher
      October 28, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      You mentioned Tsunami, but it triggered thoughts and discussions of the Midwest flood plains around the Missouri and Mississippi rivers (and probably the Ohio too as the other tributary of the Mississippi). My mom grew up near the Missouri in ND, and remember it flooding every year. Her family never believed the USACE when they built the dam and said “it will never flood again.” Haw. So they just bought on the high ground and built there.
      Post Katrina is another excellent (if unfortunate example) of the same lesson. People built on the high ground away from the seasonal flooding for a reason.

    16. HP
      October 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      Hey, the elves are in my spelling! To the fertility of a culture: Things need a hidden/covered breeding zone. And there are no such zones left; the population of (human and artificial) eyes is to dense. And everything that in the slightest resembles something new is instantly thrown in the captalist exploitation chain. Exceptions are where the money already is. Where people can afford invisibility. And what they grow there is not necessarily related to culture, except that it stimulates our fantasy. – Well, the higher grounds might require some isolation.

    17. Joseph Jerome
      October 28, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      I don’t know if this is pertinent – but I remember feelings of my “things” being appropriated and changed by mainstream culture, when I was a bit younger. It seems to me that this is a kind of spell of its own, that takes the tools of the fringe and changes them into something useful for the mainstream – “ruined” as you put it. I think that ruination is real – and of course appropriation is an issue you’ve addressed on here before.

      But I think appropriation works in part by demanding a “response.” Either to accept the changed definition, or to abandon the artifact or tool or idea and make something new. But there is a third option, though it is difficult, and becomes more difficult the louder the monoculture that has taken your stuff – which is to carry on with what you are doing as if they did not exist. Do not respond – pretend not to hear them. I think this is difficult, because it is worse to be misunderstood than to be not understood, and feedback from the cultural environment will start to respond to the appropriated idea or artifact, rather than the way you might be intending it. I think one also needs to have some way of reminding yourself, from time to time, how you imagined or meant or used the things that have been taken up by popular culture. But I think (hope?) it is possible to stand one’s ground.

    18. October 28, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      So while I’ve been completely… divorced… from LCD pop cultcha the past few years (except for Honey Boo Boo.. Who will form The Order prophesied by Matt Fraction, and save us all) I do still watch RAGE most every Saturday morning.

      This clip kinda leapt out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdbrQYER1fI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      The mid 2010s is the mid 1990s is the mid 1960s is…
      m1k3y´s last blog post ..Program Update

    19. October 29, 2013 at 1:47 am

      Perhaps I began my travels towards the higher ground at just the right time. Once there, I’ll find me a nicely hidden rabbit hole to escape through again. Yes, that’s the ticket…
      Rose´s last blog post ..Essence

    20. Jeff
      October 29, 2013 at 5:25 am

      internet is for porn.

      Well, porn and runesoup.com.

      Took me ten minutes to type that.
      the terrorists have won.

      Keep up the thought provoking thoughts fair Gordon, and I will keep commenting.. when time permits.

    21. Alexandra
      October 29, 2013 at 8:29 am

      Contra the claim made in the Newsweek article, I would argue that part of the reason the occult has remained hidden is not (only) because occultists are marginalized but because it takes effort, commitment, and risk (anathema to hipsterism) to make a magical life. Anyone can take Magic 101, not everyone gets a Ph.D. Magic IS used by people who feel disempowered or on the fringe, but it’s also used by those in power. It’s used by everybody. So in a sense it is already mainstream, even if it’s mostly kept in the broom closet (hence “occult”).

      However, I agree that the hipsterization of magic–or indeed anything–is its ruination (way to set a scary mood for Halloween, Gordon). So I’m prepared for them to tart up the occult, to use it as costume and decoration, to appropriate rites in incredibly offensive and embarassing ways, and then in a little while to be filled with white man’s sadness about how none of it is “authentic” anymore. I’m prepared to throw up in my mouth (A LOT) at the thought of Urban Outfitters prayer candles. I am curious though what magical messes the superficial occultists may make. I don’t know whether they would really be interested in anything more hard core than tarot reading but I doubt if their other cultural appropriations are so potentially fraught. Yeah, I’m running for the hills.

    22. jeff
      October 29, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      .“Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes”

    23. October 29, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Ouch. I did not know about Peaches Geldof. But the comments at the bottom of that Daily Mail article are worth the shame of admission – all pro-OTO, complaining about the inaccuracies of the article.

      “Teh internet’s existence as a unified space is coming to an end.”

      Yeah, not sure where we can go from there. CB radio?

      Maybe it’s a case of “if we get split up, meet back here” – putting down some markers now that will serve as rallying points for the futants…
      steelweaver´s last blog post ..I think I want all music to sound like this. Another point in…

    24. October 30, 2013 at 3:04 am

      The ceremonial magicians in Seattle have been hipsters, comic-con neckbeards and aging Goths for at least the last ten years. If they resent being pushed out of their smug niche infestation by Lady Gaga and friends, that makes the aging into irrelevance of Generation X even funnier. I hope frat boys take up Palo Mayombe and post vids of their ceremonies on FB complete with duckfaced teenage girls trying to photobomb. Cuz you know why? That’s exactly what Boomers thought of you guys and your chaos magic when you were coming up. Being old and disgruntled with kids these days, start getting used to it.

    25. October 30, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      Ah, yes… Wraith. It was a troublesome child.

    26. October 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      I believe I was grappling with this idea a few years ago when I wrote this. It’s not as completely thought out as I’d like, but I knew as soon as I started reading this article that this is what I was working with.

      “We’ve all but used up the last remnants of what can make a man great. Individuality and uniqueness are slowly being replaced by homogeniality and the convergence of diversity. Greatness, in the form of a single person and the story they leave behind, has been oversampled and rehashed to the point where there is no longer room for anyone to live up to the level of wonder we’ve seen from past leaders, musicians and some of the greatest thinkers that have lived before us. The last of them are old and trepid, wallowing in their disdain for a youth that shows no signs of hope. Greatness has been trivialized, documented, recorded and reproduced until it has been stretched so thin, once retracted, it can never attain the same elasticity again. It only falls to the floor in a limp and flaccid mess, with only stretch marks to tell the tale of what once was.

      Anyone can turn on the television or watch a movie and see what true greatness is now, whether fiction or non, but we don’t want anything to do with it. We can imitate it in our minds and share in the feeling of what it must be like to be great, but as is only natural, the path easiest traveled is paved in bright epileptic imagery and painted cinder block classrooms. Most of us are familiar with that little feeling we get when we see a movie that inspires us, or at least entertains us intellectually. That feeling of unlimited possibilities, potential and inspiration that is short lived once you’re distracted by your busy little life clawing at you to come back to bed. Bed is where we put our minds to sleep, where we dream of greatness but wake up the next day to a staggered, broken string of memories with no action to be taken.

      Inconsideration for each other and the lie we’re told when we are young that we are unique and special must be replaced by compassion and humility. Every statue of greatness that is left standing in the museum of literature, music, speech and free thinking is crumbling away while we stand in awe. The more it crumbles away, the more we stand in appreciation and mystification. We hold those memories in such high regard only for them to be given a dollar value to be sold and traded by only those who can even afford to behold it. Somewhere along the line, we forgot that there really is no such thing as greatness. Only a bold statue carved out of will and determination that leaves it’s viewers humbled and disenlightened, knowing that they themselves could never achieve the same mastery. And that, itself, is the problem.” – Louis Finazzo

    27. October 31, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Brilliant post, as usual. Life’s been busy, and I haven’t had much to add to the discussion of late, but I thought this merited a return comment.

      I’ve ceased holding regular semi-open gatherings at the Eight Greats — a lot of the attendees who were my friends came once then never returned. Some came, though, and invited along people for the next meeting that would describe as “incoming waves” — certain kinds of people look hungry, you know? for more than food?

      There was a preponderance of pre-made masks in our school’s Halloween parade, and pre-made costumes, and pre-made candy, and pre-made… well. Pre-made. Ruined. connected to the cultural wasteland. I take pride in the fact that four of the costumes were the work of my students, and hand-made, and home-made (or at least Design Lab-made). It’s higher ground, of a sort, in that it’s based on knowledge of how, rather than of what.

      But I read other magical blogs, and I wonder how many magicians and would-be’s understand the difference between how and what? It’s one thing to know what the pentacle of Mars is, quite another to know how to use it to call upon Martial forces, one to know whatthe three of swords means, another to figure out how to apply it to one’s life. In mundane life, as in magical, I meet far too many who operate under a state of learned helplessness, or a perfect willingness to let others carry them up into the hills while doing nothing to run there themselves. Hmm.

      Much to think about here.
      Andrew B. Watt´s last blog post ..Tai chi Y2D230: sometimes done is enough

    28. HP
      November 3, 2013 at 12:12 am

      Is magic for the weak?
      Or is it for the strong?
      Or is magic for everyone?

      Power produces its own vulnerabilities. All to lose, nothing to gain.
      Powerlessness can turn into strenght. Nothing to lose, all to gain.
      And nobody can avoid to be magical.
      :)

    29. Jeff
      November 3, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      Out of curiosity, Gordon, what would be some of the other cornerstones and components of a “classical education” beside They Live and The Earthsea Quartet?

    30. November 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      I wandered over to Rune Soup today from a conversation I had with two Paleros of my acquaintance, which touched on the issues of this post. One Tata was talking about the popularity of shows like Walking Dead and American Horror Story: Coven with initiates . . . saying it was interesting how many priests and wizards watched stuff like this uncritically. Whereas the tv was more of a vititi mensu or shewstone if you looked at it correctly — with your “wizard eyes” as Gordon likes to say. And that maybe shows like Coven were reflecting reality back at their viewers, but twisted: promoting the idea that y’all can’t be *real* witches and brujos, because *you can’t replicate the fake FX magic* you see on the screen.

      Obviously there are many ways you can read a show like Coven, but this gave me food for thought, and I thought I’d put it up here to share with the class.
      Stacey Lawless´s last blog post ..“I do not like the way they treat the stuffed animals”

    31. Jack
      December 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      I was reading this poem, and it made me think of your “Seek the Higher Ground” post:

      As once the winged energy of delight
      carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,
      now beyond your own life build the great
      arch of unimagined bridges.

      Wonders happen if we can succeed
      in passing through the harshest danger;
      but only in a bright and purely granted
      achievement can we realize the wonder.

      To work with Things in the indescribable
      relationship is not too hard for us;
      the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
      and being swept along is not enough.

      Take your practiced powers and stretch them out until they span the chasm between two
      contradictions…For the god
      wants to know himself in you.

      Rainer Maria Rilke

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