I need to tell you a personal story.
After the German start-up I was working for was acquired by Yelp, I had a year that I describe as my year in an airport prison. The money was good, the people were good, the food was free, there was a beer tap controlled by an iPad but it was so boring. I had onboarded all the skills into my new company within the first couple of months and they were really just keeping me around in case anything went wrong, in case they needed to ask someone where any of the bodies were buried. (There are always bodies in start-ups.)
I have no ill will about this. It's what retention bonuses and retention pay-outs are for. For my new employers it was honestly worth the money to keep me around just to make sure their expensive acquisition was embedded correctly. My own feelings on the matter were irrelevant. But, nevertheless, mine was a head office strategy role and, after the acquisition, I found myself not in a head office. So goes business.
Anyway, so after six months of lining things up so I could exit appropriately, the day finally arrived. And that day was flanked on either side by two separate invitations to write books... which became the Star.Ships: A Prehistory of the Spirits and The Chaos Protocols. The thing about magic is when you receive a large sack with a dollar sign on it that could confidently give you a year off and two separate book-writing invitations you can't really look a gift universe in the mouth.
So that's why I had to tell you the Yelp story. Because within seventy hours I was happily and successfully exiting a business and looking at a whole year of writing two books which would have come out at very different times had the plan unfolded as it was devised. But three months later I was offered an absolute dream job at double the (already good) money I had been on, working with people I loved and respected, travelling the globe and enjoying booze and flirtations with enticing strangers. Couldn't look that universe in the mouth, either. The thing about destiny is that, unlike the postman, it only rings once. That's a lesson for you.
Those three intermediary months were perhaps the most enjoyable of my professional life. I spent them in the British Library and sometimes when I was photocopying old archaeological field reports I would look out over whichever Humanities Reading Room I was in and think to myself I can't believe this is actually my life. Yes, I worked like a fucker but I also have a lot of gratitude for how... whatever this is... is emerging.
Anyway so neither of the first two books were supposed to overlap. And they don't, really. They are sovereign entities with beginnings and ends. But -and it has been one of the great joys of my life to see some of you recognise this- the context for parts of The Chaos Protocols are found in Star.Ships. And the purpose behind some of the quickly-explained rites in The Chaos Protocols is found in Star.Ships. I have been so happy to see some of the online comments that really grok not only where these notions overlap but why they had to be delivered in separate books. I had something to say about my twenty years of research into the anthropological origins of western magic and its implications for modern practice and I had something to say about how those implications play out in our late-stage capitalist milieu. Squid and ice cream are both delicious... but they don't go together in your mouth.
More experienced writers than me will tell you that even if you have plans for your book, your book also has plans for you. That is what happened to me and it caught me entirely unawares: Working on both books simultaneously appears to have summoned my next book from the ether.
And so I would like to announce that Pieces of Eight will be available early next month.
Book publishing is a funny old business. Doubly so when you are talking about magic books. Firstly, it's probably stretching the use of the word 'business' near to breaking point. Secondly, the two books of mine that have been published this year were actually completed last year. Nine or so months ago. So that turned out to be enough time to write the next one. The pace of production is less frenetic than the release schedule implies. (Apparently Neil Gaiman has six books coming out this year. I'm sure he's feeling me.)
As you may have guessed, this is that actual chaos magic book some of you have been asking for and/or expecting. But it is also probably my most personal of the three and will therefore be self-published. Some things to know:
- Each book is a sovereign publication that lives and dies by its own content. You really can just read one or two of them.
- BUT... If you read all three then you will unlock the book that cannot be written, the book I was referring to when I said, all those years ago, that I didn't have anything to say that was 'book-shaped'.
Read all three and you will have actually read four books, the last one being the book I cannot write and the answer to the regular question: 'Gordon, I like what you got going on. What should I read to further explore chaos magic of the Rune Soup variety?' Now I can say The Unlocked Book. If you get to the end of all three, the topic area vectors between them all will constitute the book that is not book-shaped.
The after-the-fact realisation that this is what was going on reminds me of nothing quite so much as this scene from Angel.
Pieces of Eight stands on its own as a chaos magic book - my only chaos magic book. You can read it as that. However, without any extra effort on your behalf, reading it will also cohere the rest of the material together and plug it all into the mains power.
The book itself follows my favourite occult book format: a collection of little essays and observations on chaos magic followed by a personal collection of enchantments that start at 201 level and move up.
Here are the contents:
Introduction - Does Chaos Magic Still Exist?
Part 1 - Chaos Magic Apologetics
Owning our story
Wizard, Heal Thyself
The Best Wizards are Dead Wizards
The Secret Commonwealth of Spaceships
Reality of the Rulers
Mother of the Gods
On Mythology (and Appropriation)
On Practical Enchantment
Part 2 - The Londonomicon
The Spells Particular
The Black Library
Part 3 - Campfire’s Edge: the Impact of the Spirit World on the Development of Human Culture
As for part three, this is the monograph that accompanies the talk I am giving at the London Occult Conference this weekend.
Campfire's Edge is a further exploration of some of the key concepts and data points presented in the last couple of chapters of Star.Ships: A Prehistory of the Spirits.
As such it is quite important from a Rune Soup exegesis perspective. So I shall be preparing a video version of it for subscribers who won't be making it to London this weekend. (And the ones that do, obviously.) Sign-up/Login to the Members Area now and you will find the Campfire's Edge page.
The accompanying monograph was going to be released as a separate publication before the realisation dawned on me it belongs in Pieces of Eight as the essential interface between contemporary practice and my Ancient Animism research. (Note to self: Idea for a TV show.)
So that's my news. Sign up so you don't miss out. Pieces of Eight won't go into pre-order. It will just launch.
See some of you this weekend. See the rest of you down the Line.