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Date:2012-06-08 12:06
Subject:this I like

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Date:2012-05-29 18:58
Subject:Book Review: The Cosmic Serpent

I read Jeremy Narby's The Cosmic Serpent in a sequence that I began with Bateson's Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity and continued with Koestler's The Ghost in the Machine. All of these books are generalist studies that apply the latest (1960s for the earlier ones, and 1990s for Narby) scientific information about biology and evolution to problems that include the nature of consciousness and the alienation of humanity. Narby, like Bateson, is an anthropologist by primary academic training. Like Koestler in The Ghost in the Machine, he turns vigorously against the intellectual status quo, challenging the implicit doctrines of anthropology in the way that Koestler does for psychology. All three authors ultimately reject to varying degrees the mechanistic materialism that is the principal intellectual heritage of the 19th and 20th centuries.

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Date:2012-05-29 14:32
Subject:Actual signage noted on UK visit

If you make a trip to Hastings, you might stay at the ASTRAL LODGE. And if you need repairs, you could call up ADEPT CONSTRUCTION.

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Date:2012-04-25 10:39
Subject:Iä fhtagn!

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Date:2012-03-26 17:35
Subject:The Feast of Alex Comfort (celebrated with a book review)

Tetrarch is a very interesting novel deserving addition to my Gnostic Catholic "Section 2" reading list ("Other books, principally fiction, of a generally suggestive and helpful kind"). It is a slightly didactic through-the-magic-door fantasy, like C.S. Lewis' Narnia, but definitely for adults. Instead of hokey Christian allegory, it offers reifications of William Blake's prophecies, Bohmian quantum mechanics, systems theory, transpersonal psychology, imaginary language, and encounters with historical personalities. The whole stew is pretty heady, and some prior familiarity with the prophetic works of Blake will help to avoid getting disoriented: the protagonists are supposed to be versed in them already, and the reader is given many allusions to them without further exposition.

Author Alex Comfort is, of course, best known for his book The Joy of Sex, and there is plenty of sex happening in Tetrarch, where the customary greeting is, "Have you loved well?" Narrator Edward and his partner Rosanna are preposterously enlightened in their sexuality: quite free of jealousy and compassionate about others' hang-ups. It's not porn; there's none of the sort of graphic detail that makes porn work, but the sexual vision--utopian and otherwise--is rather inspiring. Read more...Collapse )

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Date:2012-03-20 12:39
Subject:Happy New Year

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

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Date:2012-03-10 15:32
Subject:The Feast of T.H.T.I.T.I. Brother Israel Regardie

He said, as interviewed by Alan Miller (1985):

I don't consider myself a Master, in no way. [Crowley] may be a Master. I'm not. The less gab they have, the less emphasis on I love you, you love me, God loves us, and I love God, the more emphasis on the facts. Look, you're a human being, and you've got a certain amount of guts -- use it as a means of scaling the ladders of achieving the heights. Love and God will take care of themselves. First, be yourself, damn it, and stop talking about things you have no understanding of. This is my attitude.

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Date:2012-02-23 08:47
Subject:Louie Lingam, Part II

I am not an Agnostic in your sense of the word: your god-idea is too vacuous for any theologian to lie about it.
I am not an Agnostic in your sense of the word: fancy such ignorance held up as prudence!
As long as there are metaphysical cobwebs passed off as luxurious silks, I am against Agnosticism, and for the Gnosis.
The "wisdom" of any suspended judgment is less estimable than the folly of experience.

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Date:2012-02-10 09:48
Subject:guillo-tingly all over

Rick Santorum is the national front-runner for the Republican Presidential nomination.

And he says that President Obama is the Antichrist.

Good times, good times: "For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?"

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Date:2012-02-06 11:59
Subject:all aboard

"The most ungrateful of all voices surely is the voice of asses" (Koran xxxl. 18); and hence the "braying of hell" (Koran lxvii. 7). The vulgar still believe that the donkey brays when seeing the Devil. "The last animal which entered the Ark with Noah was the Ass to whose tail Iblis was clinging. At the threshold the ass seemed troubled and could enter no further when Noah said to him:--Fie upon thee! come in. But as the ass was still troubled and did not advance Noah cried:--Come in, though the Devil be with thee!; so the ass entered and with him Iblis. Thereupon Noah asked:--O enemy of Allah who brought thee into the Ark?; and Iblis answered:--Thou art the man, for thou saidest to the ass, come in though the Devil be with thee!" (Kitab al-Unwan fi Makaid al-Niswan quoted by Lane ii.45, per Burton's Alf Laylah wa Laylah III.117 n.2)
I snagged this admirable reference as a happy byproduct of reading Declare by Tim Powers.

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Date:2011-12-15 14:51
Subject:The Feast of Arthur Machen

Weird fictioneer and Golden Dawn initiate Arthur Machen is sixty-four years gone today.

I recently read the The Three Imposters and Other Stories (the first of Chaosium's three-volume Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen compendium), and had the following thoughts about it:

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My plan is to read Volume 2: The White People and Other Stories this month, and I suppose I should kick it off on this auspicious date!

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Date:2011-12-08 09:47

This game looks like great fun. Tarot cards and pyramids; what's not to like?

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Date:2011-12-02 11:13
Subject:The Feast of the Marquis de Sade

"Happiness lies neither in vice nor in virtue; but in the manner we appreciate the one and the other, and the choice we make pursuant to our individual organization."

I share a birthday with him, so the anniversary of his death inspires me to reflect on my own, like Donne's tolling bell.

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Date:2011-11-04 08:43
Subject:Book Review: Pure War

"I am the warrior Lord of the Forties: the Eighties cower before me, & are abased." CCXX III:46

Pure War is a book-length interview -- arbitrarily broken into chapters -- of Paul Virilio by Sylvère Lotringer. Urbanist intellectual Virilio is a theorist of the mechanisms by which war drives technology (and vice versa), and the inventor of dromology as the study of how "speed" transforms social relations. His authorities on military theory include J.F.C. Fuller (57, 69). Virilio posits an essential conflict between military and civil society, or more hypostatically, between war and politics. Although the Pure War interview took place in 1983, during what the participants did not know was the twilight of the Cold War, the trends which Virilio describes have only intensified in the following decades. He sees war with the upper hand, and politics teetering on the edge of an exterminating abyss.

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Date:2011-11-03 12:13
Subject:Book Review: The Complete Magick Curriculum of the G.'.B.'.G.'. Edited, Revised, and Expanded

This text (the "Edited, Revised, and Expanded" second edition of The Complete Magick Curriculum of the G.'.B.'.G.'.) is the work of three men distributed over about eight decades.

At the root is the actual curriculum in the form of rituals and "directives from Headquarters" written by C.F. Russell to instruct the adherents of his Thelemic magical order G.'.B.'.G.'., which boasted "A Short-cut to Initiation." This material was put into practice by an organization which achieved total membership in the triple digits during its operation in various US metropolitan areas in the 1930s. It is quite interesting in being a fully-realized Thelemic system of magical training and organizing that appears to have made no reference to the person of Aleister Crowley. It did, however, operate under the authority granted by him to Russell, and it did promote Crowley's Liber Legis and his cardinal doctrine of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. The system is deliberately minimalist in design, and the ceremonial liturgies hardly measure up to Crowley's ritual texts, but I'm sure they were effective. Another notable feature was its deployment of a sex-magical program stemming from the writings of Ida Craddock.

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Date:2011-10-31 14:50

Shocking story of Texas sacrilege.

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Date:2011-10-19 10:45
Subject:Albuquerque Airport

Wow. All this probably happened just before I got to the Albuquerque airport Monday. I went quietly through the TSA checkpoint, being slowed only to discuss the harmless "industrial prototype" ("can't describe it further because of my nondisclosure agreement") that was in my bag.

Now I feel like a (prudent) coward.

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Date:2011-10-04 09:43

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Date:2011-09-28 14:15
Subject:peak fnord


I wouldn't have guessed that maximum fnordage was in early 2002, but that's what google says. Rather than the point at which everybody could see the fnords (since the pentagrammatic "fnord" is only an index of the actual subliminal irritant), that would be the point where people gave up looking for them.

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Date:2011-09-15 09:01
Subject:Book Review: The Gift of Death

The principal text of reference for Jacques Derrida's Gift of Death is the piece "Is Technological Civilization a Civilization in Decline, and If So Why?" from Jan Patočka's Heretical Essays on the Philosophy of History, a text concerned to establish a European sense of "responsibility" dependent on Christianity and imperiled in the alleged contemporary Western return to an orgiastic operation of mystery. Derrida highlights the role of the "concern for death" (or "practice of death": Plato's melete thanatou) as a linchpin of the individual awareness of responsibility.

Not overtly siding with Patočka's diagnosis of modern malaise, Derrida is very attentive to the sort of dialectic genealogy in Patočka's essay. He particularly focuses on the ways in which the development of this sense of responsibility is also a maintenance and iterative encryption of a secret, through its orgiastic/daemonic, Platonic, and Christian stages. "Because of this incorporation that envelops demonic or orgiastic mystery, philosophy remains a sort of thaumaturgy even as it accedes to responsibility" (15).

The second chapter has Derrida turning more often directly to Heidegger as an immediate influence on Patočka, as well as to Levinas as a critic in the same tradition. In its third chapter, The Gift of Death spends a great deal of attention on Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling and sacrificial responsibilty in the context of Patočka's essay. Derrida comes closer, I think, than Kierkegaard does to the real mystery of "the sacrifice of Abraham," as a failed transmission of the initiation of Isaac. But he uses Kierkegaard's language to bootstrap into the fourth and final chapter.

Derrida drives toward his conclusion with a set of reflections on the nature and significance of invisibility--the same invisibility of the Greek lord of the dead (aides-Haides), the unspeakable issuer of commands to Abraham, and the "Father" of Jesus "who sees in secret." Attentive Thelemites may glean some important perspective here on the doctrine of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel in the place of "the heart." And there is also, here and earlier, worthwhile integration of the concepts of sacrifice, secrecy, and the sacred.

At various points in the book, Derrida seems temporarily to accept some sort of theological claims, but he is careful to allow not to demand such acceptance from the reader (e.g., 69). And at the very end he invokes Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals (which was always behind Patočka's genealogy of responsibility) as a background for observations about "the reversal and infinitization" that exalts the other ("God," if you must) into mystery (115). There is, after all, no law beyond Do what thou wilt. The Christian God sacrifices himself "from love (can you believe it?)" taunts Nietzsche. And Derrida drops the mocking tone to ask whether one truly can, leaving me to wonder what such a possibility of dis/belief can portend if love is the law.

"What does it mean to share a secret?" Derrida asks more than once. Only those who know how to die could tell, and they won't say.

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