TagOccult

Technoccult Interview: Zero and Suicide Squad Writer Ales Kot

Ales Kot

Ales Kot writes comics, amongst other things. His first graphic novel, Wild Children with Riley Rossmo, was published by Image Comics last year. He quickly followed this with Change with Morgan Jeske, also at Image. The collected edition was just released by Image last week.

Now he’s writing the superhero series Suicide Squad for DC and his creator owned espionage comic Zero for Image.

We put on the new Zomby album With Love and had a chat about how to entered the comic industry, the philosophy behind his work, and more.

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New Alan Moore Interview in The Believer

alan_moore_believer

Too Much To Dream author Peter Bebergal interviews Alan Moore for The Believer:

BLVR: So in writing, whether you’re trying to inhabit a metaphysical being or trying to inhabit someone living in a poor neighborhood, unless you can inhabit them with compassion, and inhabit them with understanding, they’ll never be a believable character otherwise.

AM: Right, the character will be limited, and so will you. When I was doing V for Vendetta years ago, and I started to introduce the Nazi heads of this totalitarian state in the far-flung future of 1997, I’d been marching against the National Front and taking part in the Rock Against Racism marches, and I realized that I can’t just portray Nazis as bad guys, because everybody knows that, and you’re not saying anything. You’re contributing to the myth that they were somehow separate from the rest of humanity, which they weren’t. The Nazis were just ordinary human beings who got caught up in something very bad and, at the time, rather unprecedented. This is not to excuse their behavior, obviously, it’s simply to point out that it doesn’t do you any service to demonize any group of people. It’s much better to try and understand from the inside.

There was a scene in Promethea where the character is confronted by a horde of demons, and the way that she decides to deal with them is by owning them, by identifying each demon’s qualities and saying, “Yes, I’ve done that; yes, I accept responsibility for that,” at which point she actually physically eats the demon that she’s referring to. What a lot of magic is about is coming to your own individual terms with the universe, which is to say yourself, given that the entirety of the universe that is observable to you or me is that which actually exists inside our heads. And coming to an understanding of those things made me a little bit bigger because I had a part of my mind that could look with compassion at a class of people that I had never been able to do that with before. Not to like them any more, but to understand them.

Full Story: The Believer: Alan Moore

Psychopomp Now Available On Amazon Kindle (And You Can Still Read Our Excerpt)

Cover of Psychopomp by Amanda Sledz

Psychopomp Volume One: Cracked Plate, the literary dark fiction novel by Amanda Sledz, is now available on the Amazon Kindle.

You can still read my interview with Amanda here and read an excerpt from the novel here.

You can also buy it in print from Amanda, Powells or Amazon.

The Strange Discordian Journey of the KLF


Above: The KLF’s The White Room movie

J.M.R. Higgs writes:

Drummond and Cauty claimed that their solicitor was sent…

…a contract with an organization or individual calling themselves ‘Eternity’. The wording of this contract was that of standard music business legal speak, but the terms discussed and the rights required and granted were of a far stranger kind.

“Whether The Contract was a very clever and intricate prank by a legal minded JAMS fan was of little concern to Drummond and Cauty,” Information Sheet 8 continues.…

For them it was as good a marker as anything as to what direction their free style career should take next.… In the first term of The Contract they, Drummond and Cauty, were required to make an artistic representation of themselves on a journey to a place called THE WHITE ROOM. The medium they chose to make this representation was up to them. Where or what THE WHITE ROOM was, was never clearly defined. Interpretation was left to their own creativity. The remuneration they are to receive on completion of this work of art was supposed to be access to THE “real” WHITE ROOM.

The pair claim that they went on to sign this contract, despite the advice of their solicitor to have nothing to do with it. It is worth noting at this juncture that Cauty and Drummond were ignorant of Operation Mindf**k. Their sole knowledge of Discordianism came from Illuminatus!, which Cauty had never read and which Drummond had not, at that time, ever finished. By signing any such contract they were not simply ‘playing along’, for they would have had no context for what the contract was, or where it had come from.

In this reading of events, Drummond and Cauty appear to have taken a Discordian Operation Mindf**k prank letter at face value, and spent hundreds of thousands of pounds making a piece of work that would fulfil their part of a hoax contract that they chose to sign.

As to what the ‘real’ White Room which the contract alluded to was, Drummond and Cauty were typically candid: “Your guess is as good as anybody’s.” In Discordian terms, however, the meaning is relatively clear. The White Room refers to illumination, or enlightenment. The word ‘room,’ however, is interesting. The use of a spatial metaphor defines enlightenment as a place that can be travelled to, or sought in a quest. The search for the White Room becomes a pilgrimage, with the White Room itself taking on the character of the Holy Grail. Drummond and Cauty’s film, when seen in this light, becomes a means to an end. The White Room was not intended as a film that would make money or enhance their careers. It was, instead, a step along the path in a search for enlightenment.

Full Story: The Daily Grail: The Strange Journey of the KLF

I bought Higgs’ e-book KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money but haven’t read it yet.

See Also: The KLF: Genius or Gibberish? (from 1991)

Trailer for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s New Film Danza De La Realidad

Danza De La Realidad (“The Dance of Reality”) is an autobiographical film that Jodorowsky crowdsourced. It should debut today at the Cannes film festival (or perhaps already did), along with Jodorowsky’s Dune, a documentary about the director’s cancelled attempt to adapt the book.

The LA Times has more:

Born to Russian Jewish émigrés in 1929, Jodorowsky studied theater and worked as a circus clown and puppeteer in Santiago. In postwar Paris he performed mime with Marcel Marceau and fell in with the surrealists. He then moved to Mexico, where he mounted dozens of plays inspired by Antonin Artaud’s theater of cruelty. Back in Paris, where he has lived since the 1980s, he cultivated multiple sidelines: writing comic books, studying the tarot and developing a therapeutic method known as psychomagic, rooted in both psychoanalysis and shamanism.

Psychomagic is the guiding philosophy of “The Dance of Reality,” a kind of home movie writ large. Jodorowsky’s wife, Pascale Montandon, was the costume designer, and three of his sons appear in it, including Brontis (who in “El Topo” portrayed the son of the title character, a gunslinger known as “the mole” and played by Alejandro Jodorowsky). In the new film, Brontis, now 50, plays Jodorowsky’s Stalin-lookalike father, whom the director described as “a very terrible father, a very hard man, but he had his reasons.”

“Before we started, I said to the crew, ‘I am trying to heal my soul,'” Jodorowsky said. “But it’s not an egocentric, narcissistic picture. Poetry doesn’t speak about history. It speaks about interior life, universal problems.”

Full Story: The LA Times: Chile’s onetime cult king still the wizard of weird

And from The Guardian’s review:

Of course, the entire story is swathed in surreal mythology, dream logic and instant day-glo legend, resmembling Fellini, Tod Browning, Emir Kusturica, and many more. You can’t be sure how to extract conventional autobiography from this. Despite the title, there is more “dance” than “reality” — and that is the point. Or part of the point. For the first time, Jodorowsky is coming close to telling us how personal evasiveness has governed his film-making style; his flights of fancy are flights of pain, flights from childhood and flights from reality. And now he is using his transformative style to come to terms with and change the past and to confer on his father some of the heroism that he never attained in real life.

For more on Jodorowsky, see our Alejandro Jodorowsky dossier.

Did Aleister Crowley Communicate With Grey Aliens?

lam

Well maybe, but he never seemed to have thought so:

The idea that Crowley believed Aiwass and Lam to be the same entity, or that either were extraterrestrials from Sirius, is only the speculation of Kenneth Grant and those who have based their research on source material written by Grant. Additionally, very little can be said about the inspiration for the Lam portrait or what Aleister Crowley thought about it. […]

At least to the present author, this description of a kingly, tall, dark man in his thirties does not fit the Lam drawing. More importantly in relation to the subject of this post, the description does not match up at all with that of a “grey alien,” which many people relate to Lam.

The next important piece of information to take from Crowley’s depiction of Aiwass is that he never actually saw Aiwass at all. He only heard the voice of Aiwass from over his left shoulder, and from the furthest corner of the room. Not once did he actually look at Aiwass. His physical descriptions are only impressions.

So here we have a character description based only on non-visual impressions, and which doesn’t seem to correspond with the pictured Lam or grey aliens at all. This is the only known written description of Aiwass by Aleister Crowley.

Crowley himself never wrote much of anything at all about Lam, where the figure came from, or his ideas/thoughts about the subject in the drawing. What he did write was limited to a short, two sentence commentary in The Voice Of The Silence, which will be discussed later in this article.

Full Story: Blasted Tower: misconceptions about aleister crowley, lam, aiwass and alien contact

(via Brainsturbator)

See also: A Media History of Gray Aliens

This illustration of HG Wells’ tale of human evolution, “The Man of the Year Million,” is one of the oldest depictions of the “big headed genius” trope:

The concept is based on Lamarckian evolution, specifically the idea that body parts we use frequently will grow larger but parts we use less frequently will atrophy. Wells took this to the logical extreme, postulating (with tongue in cheek) that we would eventually grow gigantic brains and hands but tiny legs and torsos.

When Does a Religion Become a Cult?

Occult America author Mitch Horowitz writes:

Many academics and observers of cult phenomena, such as psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo of Stanford, agree on four criteria to define a cult. The first is behavior control, i.e., monitoring of where you go and what you do. The second is information control, such as discouraging members from reading criticism of the group. The third is thought control, placing sharp limits on doctrinal questioning. The fourth is emotional control—using humiliation or guilt. Yet at times these traits can also be detected within mainstream faiths. So I would add two more categories: financial control and extreme leadership.

Full Story: Wall Street Journal: When Does a Religion Become a Cult?

Horowitz also recently delivered the State of the Occult Address with Richard Smoley. I haven’t read it, but thought some of you might be interested.

Cold Reading: How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them

Palm reader turned cognitive scientist Ray Hyman wrote:

As we have seen, clients will readily accept stock spiels such as those I have presented as unique descriptions of themselves. Many laboratory experiments have demonstrated this effect. Forer (1948) called the tendency to accept as valid a personality sketch on the basis of the client’s willingness to accept it ‘the fallacy of personal validation.” The early studies on personal validation were simply demonstrations to show that students, personnel directors, and others can readily be persuaded to accept a fake sketch as a valid description of themselves. A few studies tried to go beyond the demonstration and tease out factors that influence the acceptability of the fake sketch. Sundberg (1955), for example, gave the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (known as the MMPI) to 44 students. The MMPI is the most carefully standardized personality inventory in the psychologist’s tool kit. Two psychologists, highly experienced in interpreting the outcome of the MMPI, wrote a personality sketch for each student on the basis of his or her test results. Each student then received two personality sketches– the one actually written for him or her– and a fake sketch. When asked to pick which sketch described him or her better, 26 of the 44 students (59 percent) picked the fake sketch!

Sundberg’s study highlights one of the difficulties in this area. A fake, universal sketch can be seen as a better description of oneself than can a uniquely tailored description by trained psychologists based upon one of the best assessment devices we have. This makes personal validation a completely useless procedure. But it makes the life of the character reader and the pseudo psychologist all the easier. His general and universal statements have more persuasive appeal than do the best and most appropriate descriptions that the trained psychologist can come up with.

Full Story: Skeptical Inquirer: Cold Reading: How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them

See also: The Forer Effect

An open source personality testing system

Portlanders: Esoteric Book Club Will Discuss Illuminatus

I don’t know this group — Trevor Blake found the postcard downtown and sent me the scans. I don’t plan on going, but I thought I’d pass this along for anyone interested:

esoteric-book-club1

esoteric-book-club2

Critique of The Invisibles

Philip Sandifer wrote a sharp critique of The Invisibles. Here’s a bit about the role of chaos magic in the book and how it, although as he notes it has been around since the 70s, rose to prominence in the 90s:

Chaos magic is magic for libertarians. It sprung up, unsurprisingly, in the late nineties because it was a flavor particularly suitable for the techno-libertarians who disproportionately dominated the early Internet. And it was, in hindsight, a complete and utter bust. It’s just another flavor of the Heinlein-style science fiction that animated Babylon 5 and space opera in general. It amounts to Robert Heinlein in fetish gear, which is mostly just redundant.

Full Story: TARDIS Eruditorum: Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 52 (The Invisibles)

I’m not sure if he’s referring to chaos magic or The Invisibles as “Robert Heinlein in fetish gear,” but either one seems appropriate. It hits on one of the paradox’s of Morrison’s work, which is that on the one hand he dismisses the idea of individuality as silly Western Thoughts, but simultaneously spouts individualist and libertarian rhetoric.

He adds in the comments:

I thought about dealing with Lord Fanny. But that involves getting into Grant Morrison’s frankly shameful engagement with transgender issues, and that’s really far afield. And just makes me angry. […]

It’s not even that Fanny herself is bad. It’s that she fits into a larger and virulently transphobic context on Morrison’s part in which he casually deploys offensive slurs and appropriates trans experiences. It’s really astonishingly vile, and gets at the almost sociopathic narcissism that I find so infuriating about him. I think it’s very rare that Morrison manages an ounce of humanity in his work.

Sandifer wrote more on what was good and bad about The Invisibles in his piece on Lawrence Miles’ Dead Romance. He also wrote about Grant Morrison’s Doctor Who comics, which also touches on the rivalry between Morrison and Alan Moore.

All of this is part of Sandifer’s massive ongoing critique of Doctor Who, which he promises to follow in a few years with an in-depth look at the Morrison/Moore.

See also: Invisible Sexuality: Lord Fanny and the Gender Question

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