[NB] What I’m Thinking About Going into the New Year

When I have sat down the last few days to start drafting a post, I find that there is a lot going on in my head at the moment. I will start writing a post about one thing, only to discover it morphing into a discussion of yet another thing. I’m not exactly complaining as it is a little refreshing to have the ideas flowing, but it’s going to take some discipline and work to extract cogent posts from that flow.

In the meantime, here are some of the things that have been setting my thoughts in motion.

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Language and Magic

I am a little excited to see discussions undercutting notions of a language instinct a la Chomsky seeping out into semi-popular culture. In part, because if we ought to jettison the language instinct, we ought also to jettison ideas like the collective unconscious formulated by C. G. Jung. What makes one untenable makes the other untenable, too.

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The Naming of Kinds

Categories are dangerous things. The separation of one kind of thing from another at the conceptual level leads us toward deeper knowledge and deeper ignorance simultaneously. Once we separate one kind from another at the level of concept, we prepare the way for forms of action that treat them as separate in actuality.

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[NB] Assyria, Derrida, and a Language of the Earth

O radiance of the great gods, light of the earth
Illuminator of the world regions
Lofty judge, creator of heaven and earth
O Shamash, by your light you scan the totality of lands as if they were cuneiform signs
You never weary of divination.
—hymn from the reign of Ashurbanipal, qtd. by Derrida in of Grammatology, qtd. by Zainab Bahrani in Rituals of War (61)

I take an especial pleasure in this citation, the way this text joins other texts, like a needle and thread cinching together fabrics.

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“The Mind of the Worker”

Note this prayer may be altered to the mind of the worker, for it is here set for [to serve as] an Example &c c c. (from the Ars Paulina of the Lemegeton)

This strikes me as an unusual quote in the context of grimoires. The Lemegeton is, like many of its contemporaries, full of careful strictures regarding the manufacture of ritual items and the proper way to present them to spirits in order to accomplish magical goals. Yet here is a prayer that may be modified to the temper of the magician. I want to poke at it a little, see what turns up.

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