The official Vertigo blog reports that Flex Mentallo by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly will return to print in a collected volume this fall, along with some unspecified bonus material.
Update: You can buy it here.
(via Jess Nevins
Above: a still from Serial Experiments Lain
There were a ton of parallels between that show and my life, especially now, where my online presence affects offline interactions. 
My online presence actually creates who I am. It’s a machine that produces my identity and exists outside of me. 
That reminded me of hypersigils. Morrison explained hypersigils thusly:
The “hypersigil” or “supersigil” develops the sigil concept beyond the static image and incorporates elements such as characterization, drama, and plot. The hypersigil is a sigil extended through the fourth dimension. My own comic book series The Invisibles was a six-year long sigil in the form of an occult adventure story which consumed and recreated my life during the period of its composition and execution. The hypersigil is an immensely powerful and sometimes dangerous method for actually altering reality in accordance with intent. Results can be remarkable and shocking.
After becoming familiar with the traditional sigil method, see if you can create your own hypersigil. The hypersigil can take the form of a poem, a story, a song, a dance, or any other extended artistic activity you wish to try. This is a newly developed technology so the parameters remain to be explored. It is important to become utterly absorbed in the hypersigil as it unfolds; this requires a high degree of absorption and concentration (which can lead to obsession but so what? You can always banish at the end) like most works of art. The hypersigil is a dynamic miniature model of the magician’s universe, a hologram, microcosm, or “voodoo doll” which can be manipulated in real time to produce changes in the macrocosmic environment of “real” life.
Above: an image from The Invisibles. The character in the center wearing a suit is King Mob, the character from Invisibles that Morrison identified himself with. Below: a photograph of Grant Morrison from his web site.
There has been extended internet-drama on occult sites regarding what does and does not count as a hypersigil. I think Morrison is clear that the hypersigil takes the form of a serial narrative – whether that be a comic series, a movie trilogy, a series of songs or albums, or what have you. But others have made a compelling argument that the definition needn’t be so limited. Nick Pell, in his essay “Beyond the Sigil: Creating YR own Mind Viruses” in Magic on the Edge, makes a compelling case for this, using Shepard Fairley‘s “Andre the Giant has a Posse” and “Obey Giant” campaigns as examples of other types of extended, non-static sigils.
However, for purposes of this essay, I’m only going to consider “hypersigils” as narrative works- but I do want to consider narrative beyond strictly fictional narratives. For example, one can create a narrative in a personal blog or Live Journal or their Twitter or Facebook updates.
After suggesting a connection between hypersigils and cybernetics, Nabil replied:
The number of ways that hypersigilism applies to the internet/cybernetics is kind of staggering when you think on it. 
The things we choose to place on the internet reflect and magnify the awareness of self to ourselves and those around us. 
Above: a diagram I made illustrating feedback loops of perception in hypersigils
The way I see it, the online persona, fictional self, or avatar one creates can create feedback loops to reinforce behaviors and perceptions and have a create significant “real world” changes in a person’s life over time. In the case of Grant Morrison, he was also shaping his persona in the letters column of The Invisibles, in interviews he gave, and his public persona at comic conventions.
Nabil says: “I know of one person who used net-anonymity to explore gender before pursuing changing gender IRL.” . I suspect that’s rather common. Also, to go back to my interview with Amber from last week, in which she gives advice to liberal arts majors looking to establish a career outside academia:
Create an online presence that is ubiquitous and enjoyable to interface with. Let it be known who you want to be. Put that on your business card and on your social profiles.
Which, of course, is exactly how she came to be a “cyborg anthropologist.”
So I find myself wondering: what is and isn’t hypersigilic activity online (and off?) Is creating an avatar on an MMORG? If so, what about playing a character in a pen and paper role playing game?
I think it depends on the role of online and offline feedback involved – if playing a character (online or off) changes the way you think of yourself and *especially* if changes the way OTHER people think about you, then yes – I think it does.
*There was some discussions on cybernetics and complex adaptive systems and the occult at Esozone: The Other Tomorrow lead by Joseph Thiebes, deadletter b, Wes Unruh, and Edward Wilson but I missed them. I suspect the overlaps have been discussed elsewhere, if the curious reader wishes to look.
Lost and the Supercontext
by Edward Wilson
There does seem to be different rules involved when it comes to death and the island. It reminds me of both Donnie Darko and The Invisibles. In Donnie Darko dying in the time loop allowed someone to step out of regular time as Frank the Bunny does. From this new position he is able to effect events. Similar effects are in play in The Invisibles comic series by Grant Morrison.
Many characters in Lost seem to stick around and influence events even after death. For the most part they are not shown as physically interacting with the world but guiding people’s actions and it is
implied there is manipulation of probability.
Christian Sheppard, Jack’s father, is the clearest example of afterlife hijinks. He was dead when he arrived on the island but has been influencing events ever since. He was the first mysterious apparition and lead Jack to the fresh water source. He’s never been shown physically interacting with anyone or directly effecting the environment. It is implied that Christian also has a probability
manipulation ability that was being used to Keep Michael alive until he completed his usefulness to the island.
There is also the tendency of the smoke monster to appear to people in the forms of, and with the knowledge of, people who are deceased, such as Eko’s brother or Ben’s daughter Alex. Whether these are truly examples of people existing past their death or just trickery on the part of the smoke monster needs further examples to determine.
Then there are the various deceased characters who interact with Hurley. While the show leaves us the option of believing that his just crazy I think that these apparitions are more like the various forms the smoke monster takes or Christian’s on going actions. Hurley is just more sensitive than normal, this is why he was able to see Jacob’s cabin. The island itself seems to be outside of normal time, as evidenced by the time differential involved in traveling to the boat.
This is to say nothing of John Locke’s return from the dead, which may be a completely different matter. Suffice to say Ben is a little mistaken when he says “Dead is dead.”
Perhaps anyone encountering the island imprints their awareness and form on it along the lines of a back-up drive. That the island functions as a kind of afterlife computer and the smoke monster
screens the bad souls out? An ancient egyptian virus scanner.
The thing that stuck out from last night’s episode for me was the opening sequence: it reminds me of the time machine project from the Invisibles. For the unfamiliar: in the Invisibles, there was an occult corporate conspiracy (headed up by an Asian scientist, natch) building a time machine with, IIRC, help from information being received from the future.
I’ve mentioned the consciousness time travel bit from The Invisibles before
To be honest, I never quite figured out the narrative of the Invisibles there at the end, but I get the impression it’s supposed to be a game of some sort. Ben and Widmore are apparently playing some sort of game. Hmm.
This is an old article I wrote for the now defunct Key 23/Key 64 web site. It’s old piece of writing that I don’t stand by any more, but it does provide some background for the concepts I’ll be exploring here. The archive.org version contains the original comments, which are also worth reading.
From hypersigils to hyperstition or even Michael Mooreâ€™s claim that weâ€™re living in fictitious times, the life as fiction meme seems stronger than ever.
Grant Morrison often talks about hypersigils, which to him seem to represent one of the highest workings of magic. In his â€œPop Magic!â€ chapter of the Disinfo Book of Lies, he writes â€œThe hypersigil can take the form of a poem, a story, a dance or any other extended artistic activity you wish to try.â€ His own famous hypersigil, the Invisibles, came in the form of a comic book serialized over six years. Heâ€™s been inconsistent about the intent and the effects of this hypersigil, but I think he sums it up when he says it â€œenveloped me in a shiny, global sci-fi lifestyle I was really only dreaming of when I started writing the book in 1994â€ (CBR interview).
In other words, it made his life more exciting. For Morrison this is one of the most important aspects of magic (though he also says â€œâ€¦ if youâ€™re going to be a magician at all itâ€™s not about wanting to be scary and wearing a robe or something, what you have to do is you have to do things for peopleâ€ [Disinfo interview]).
R.U. Sirius describes a rather easier method of achieving a â€œnarrative lifestyleâ€:
In terms of social engineering, I think that, you know, you think of yourself as being in a story, and life will start to have the kind of dynamics that you would have if you were in a story, rather than if you were part of some dire laborious mechanism, you knowâ€¦ ( Better Propaganda interview)
And, actually, Morrison sort of backs this up:
Iâ€™d say to myself or whoever I was with, â€˜Itâ€™ll look good in the biography.â€™ and then Iâ€™d go ahead and do whatever daft thing it was – like taking acid on the sacred mesa or doing the bungee-jump, getting the haircut, dancing with the stranger, talking to the crowd – whatever I was â€™scaredâ€™ of mostly, or fancied doing, or never dared before, Iâ€™d try it on the basis that it would make for a more interesting read one day. (Pop Image interview)
At the other extreme, hyperstition, a confusing theory getting a thorough discussion on the Hyperstition blog, is more work than hypersigilization. Although loosely defined as â€œfictions that make themselves realâ€ hyperstitions have more complex characteristics than hypersigils. Anna Greenspan elucidates this in several posts on the blog, but a good starting point is here.
As a completely lazy writer, Iâ€™ve had more luck with R.U.â€™s method. There was a thread on Barbelith a while back asking if your life was written and drawn by comics creators, who would do it? I determined that my life was currently being written and drawn by Peter Bagge, but that Iâ€™d like it to be written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Philip Bond, and have a soundtrack by Gold Chains. But I never did any ritual to invoke a creative change in my life. But I did eventually write a statement of intent on my blog, and it seems to have worked. Since then my lifeâ€™s been a bit more exciting. Among other things Iâ€™ve traveled across Europe, taken up rock climbing, and joined this elite band of occulture thinkers.
Iâ€™m curious to hear personal experiences of hypersigilization, hyperstition creation, and fiction as life, as well as ideas for furthering the process.
Apparently, the way time travel works on Lost is movement of consciousness through time and space to experience “retrocognition of the past and occasions of precognition of the future.” The breathtaking occult art of Paul Laffoley has dealt with this subject for years, most notably in his painting The Time Machine : GEOCHRONMECHANE : From The Earth – the plans to build a working time machine. More info can be found on Paul Laffoley here. He can also be heard explaining his time travel plans in his lecture at Esozone 2007.
I’m also reminded of the occult action comic The Invisibles, which I reviewed here. Characters in the Invisibles use a consciousness projection technique to travel through space and time. The source for the time travel techniques of the Invisibles is the book The Voudon Gnostic Workbook, a collection of materials Michael Bertiaux used to instruct his cult in Chicago.
However, Michael Szul of Key 64 points out that the Invisibles can travel to places in time that they haven’t been and don’t need a “host body.” He suggests that the time travel in this episode is more reminiscent of Slaughterhouse Five. Lostpedia has this to say on the subject:
Desmond, during one of his flashbacks/time travels, speaks to someone else in the military with him. His friend’s name is Billy. Billy Pilgrim is the main character in Slaughterhouse Five. The narration of the story of Billy Pilgrim begins: “Listen. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time.” When Desmond is with Daniel in 1996 and Daniel is about to experiment on Eloise, he says that he is going to unstick her in time. Also, the narrator of Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut, says that he likes to call old girlfriends late at night. Desmond calls Penelope at night. When Desmond spoke with Mrs. Hawking, she said that events are structured and that the universe will course correct. In Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim explains that , according to the Tralfamadorians, aliens who can see the fourth dimension, time is structured and events cannot be changed (we are like bugs in amber). When asked about the end of the universe, the Tralfamadorians explain that one of their test pilots presses a button that destroys the universe. Billy asks why they cannot stop the pilot from pressing the button, and they reply that the pilot always has and always will press the button. The moment is structured that way. Desmond’s purpose, according to Mrs. Hawking, is to turn the key and he cannot avoid it. The moment is structured that way. Billy Pilgrim sees the future, and even predicts his own death. Desmond predicted Charlie’s death and other events on the island.