Okay, so I have a few things that I keep thinking about or which are being put forward for me to think about, things that will probably make their way into posts of their own, but right now I want to see what I can do to just get them out of my head and put them in front of my face, see what other connections might arise thereby. Notebooking, so caveat lector.
Go big or go home, right? I’ve been having a useful discussion with Iago over on this post from a few days back and it’s getting complex enough that I want to start talking about some of the issues being raised as independent posts, some of them a bit long.
“‘But are you writing something serious?’ Note the word.
Fuck. If they couldn’t get us to write serious things, they solved the problem by decreeing that what we were writing was serious. Taking a pop form as “serious” is what you do if it won’t go away. It’s a clever tactic. They welcome you in….Next thing, they get you to submit your S-F writing to them to criticize. ‘Structural criticism’ to edit out the ‘trash elements’—and you wind up with what Ursula writes.”—Philip K. Dick, Exegesis (347)
Do you get the feeling that PKD never really got over Le Guin talking about him “slowly going crazy in Santa Ana, California”? He could accept her calling him sexist, but to be called crazy cut just a little too close to the bone. What Dick is talking about goes well beyond his grudge with Le Guin, though. Dick is talking about what we nowadays call respectability politics.
So far, the new year shift seems to be toward less frequent posting. Partly, that is because I am thinking about some different sorts of things and thinking a little differently all around. That shift hasn’t quite congealed into a pattern that I can sit down and just write about. But I write to think, too, so I want to keep up the habit of posting.
This weekend I’ve been reading Alfredo López Austin’s Tamoanchan, Tlalocan: Places of Mist in a way that I haven’t read anything in a while. He’s an exceptionally good comparative thinker, triangulating from several contemporary Mesoamerican religious practices to better pin down a model of pre-Columbian Nahua thought. It’s funny, every time I find myself working through an account of Mesoamerican or Caribbean or Amazonian philosophy, I can just feel all the little gray cells standing up in recognition of their insight.
Lately, the basic nature of our perceptual apparatus as been on my mind. I keep thinking about how, generally, we see very little of what is actually in front of us, relying instead on our sophisticated sensory apparatus to fill in all the details we are not in fact attending to. I want to focus on the eyes for a moment.
A blog post really won’t cover this, but I hope to lay out a rough set of orientations, a framework for exploration that might help orient us in the great wide world of spirit work. I don’t think deconstruction and witchcraft are such odd bedfellows, though I suspect few would agree with me. Still, consider the degree to which the sort of structuralism popularized by Claude Levi-Strauss began as an exploration of cognitive foundations of a cosmology. Those cosmologies have a deep tie to myth and rite. Derrida’s deconstruction, responding to this, is also, therefore, responding to a way of approaching myth and rite.
(Oh, and yes, I am using deconstruction to refer mostly to the Derrida-inspired variety, with its decidedly philosophical rather than literary or linguistic bent. Folks like Guyatri Spivak and Rudolph Gasche, yes. Folks like Paul De Man, not so much; though there is surely some overlap. I’m a sucker for the 1960s Derrida, so essays like “Force and Signification” and Of Grammatology loom large–those who know, will see why as I get going.)
This post has been kicking around my drafts folder for a little bit. It doesn’t seem mediocre enough to trash, so I’ll share for the heck of it; it kind of fits with the lunar kick that I have been on for a few.
Lately I have had faeries on the brain. I have been curious after the sluagh, looking a little into their mythology. R. J. Stewart has found his way back into the house thanks to my partner. In a Stewart-ian vein, I also stumbled across this interesting piece by his friend, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki (she gives Stewart a well-deserved shout out within it). What follows is very notebooky.
Looking at the last post, I realize there is a fairly substantial element of the discussion missing. Part of my enthusiasm for the Yeatsian phases of the moon has to do with part of my peculiar take on geomancy. Since it is peculiar, it probably won’t make sense to someone living outside of my head. So, let me share some of my thoughts on the matter to fill in that gap.
When we use the term ‘faerie’ (or ‘fairie’ or ‘fae’), we bring a lot of treacly associations with it. One of the first things that you see folks who talk about faeries do is combat these images, noting that faeries have a wide range of forms and expressions, and very few of them are particularly sweet in the Tinkerbell sense. R. J. Stewart, in his Living World of Faery, jars the reader’s Romantic expectations and suggests that the legends of Bigfoot likely have their roots in faery encounters, for example.
These same people often undermine this by making use of a style of illustration and design that has its roots in the same Neo-Romantic Celt-wash that gives birth to Tinkerbell. The cover to Stewart’s aforementioned book or its illustrations? Almost exclusively suggest a rural and British pastoral-pagan scene. To the extent that faerie acquires any aesthetic bite, it tends to be a simple variation on this theme, limning it with gothic or, occasionally, punk elements (I’m looking at you, Changeling). This strips away the alien of faeirie and, at best, makes it the human weird.
I don’t know if this is just a quality of spiritualist work or of the spiritual world more generally, but every time I discover a set of domains into which spirits may be organized and understood, those domains multiply by a process of reflection and internalization. I can, for example, sort spirits according to their affinity for certain sefirotic patterns, but then I find within each of those sefirotic patterns the entire sefirotic pattern replicated. I have glimpsed a parallel pattern in the Enochian material, but I can’t speak too deeply on that and, well, I wonder how much of the Enochian material might fall into the spiritualist framework.