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A New Era for Technoccult

As technology embeds itself ever deeper into our lives, the strange relationship between magic and technology is finally gaining widespread attention.

There was the Magick Codes conference late last year, then the Haunted Machines event in Manchester earlier this year, and most recently a panel dedicated to magic and tech at Theorizing the Web in New York last April. Warren Ellis just published a book of talks, and they’re shot through with thinking about magic and myth and their role in technology.

We’re only at the beginning of a series of new conversations about all of this, and Technoccult should be at the forefront of these discussions. I mean, it’s right there in the name. It’s as if finally, after all these years, the site’s moment has finally come. But I’m not the right person to lead the site into these conversations.

That’s why Damien Williams, known to many of you as Wolven, is taking over Technoccult, effective immediately. This will be my last post as editor of the site.

Damien has been writing and speaking about the intersection of magic and technology for years. There are other big names in the current conversation, but few people — if any — have Damien’s track record for covering this topic. And what’s more, he’s a good friend. I can’t wait to see what he does with the site.

Why the change?

Short explanation: As I’ve gotten busier with other work and lost interest in the occult, I’ve been thinking for a while about either shuttering Technoccult or going on some sort of extended hiatus. But after our Mindful Cyborgs interview, I realized it would make more sense to hand it off to Damien. We talked it over at Theorizing the Web in April and agreed that it makes sense for both of us, and for readers. I think of this as a continuation of the spirit of Technoccult rather than an end or shift in direction.

Long version:

I started Technoccult over 15 years ago with the idea of doing a site in the same vein as Disinfo, but with more of a focus on arts and culture than politics and conspiracy theory. Obviously I’ve drifted considerably from those original intentions.

To be honest, I wasn’t even all that interested in the occult when I started the site. It seemed like a cool “cybergoth” sounding name. I had’t read The Invisibles. It was, in fact, learning that the name turned up in The Invisibles that made me read the comic, and start exploring the materials linked in Disinfo’s chaos magic dossier.

Discovering chaos magic and the works of Grant Morrison set me on a course that shaped my life for years to come. Key 23. PDX Occulture. EsoZone. It was through these channels that I met my wife. It was blogging on Technoccult that gave me the clips and confidence to land my first journalism job.

But it’s not my passion anymore. Partially that’s because my journalism career has left me with less time and energy to write here. And partially it’s because my interest in the occult and the constellation of other themes around it has waned. When I do write, it’s often about largely unrelated topics, like the environmental impact of almonds, the state of journalism, or why like to call my neighborhood “Columbia Ridge.” It’s as if Sports Illustrated stopped covering sports and decided to basically cover every other conceivable topic instead. Of course I’ll always maintain some interest in the occult and fringe topics, and I might even feel a calling to write about magic again in the near future. But it’s just not my main focus.

Yet I didn’t want to just let Technoccult die either. It’s outlived dozens of similarly themed sites over the years. Strangers have told me it’s their favorite site. I’ve tried to “rebrand” the site before and it hasn’t really worked out. It feels like it has a life of its own now.

So when I interviewed Damien a few months ago, something clicked. He writes about the intersection magic and technology, transhumanism, and the evolution of human consciousness. All the things that Technoccult readers keep telling me they want to read more about. I thought “why isn’t HE writing the site?” Then I realized: I should just let him take it over. It would give him a broader reach for his writing, give Technoccult readers more of what they’re looking for, and let me resign knowing the site is in good hands. Win-win-win.

Plus, his interest in pop culture analysis brings things full-circle back to the original idea behind Technoccult. Oh, and the first time I met Damien, he was wearing a Luxt shirt. I had Luxt on heavy rotation while I was cobbling together the original Technoccult site all those years ago.

I’m aware that although I’ve brought in other writers in the past, my voice has been the one consistent thing on the site, and that some of you might be happy to have me keep writing here, regardless of what I write about. Some of you might even prefer it. But overall I think Damien’s voice will be more of a continuation of the spirit of the site than mine at this point. And while he’ll surely bring a different perspective on a wide range of topics, I think we have compatible world views.

Yes, I could have just asked him to join the site as an additional contributor. But frankly my attempts at managing other writers have not gone well (and that’s completely my fault). Plus I can’t pay him, and it felt wrong to ask him to work for free on something that has sort of become my personal brand. The only thing that really made sense was to hand it off entirely.

I don’t know where exactly he’ll be taking the site. That’s up to him. I’ll be around in the background for the next few months trying to clean up the technical mess I’ve left. But editorially, it’s in his hands now.

What’s Next for Me

For now my focus will be my journalism work, co-hosting the Mindful Cyborgs podcast and researching the code literacy book I’ve thinking about writing, depending on how the research goes.

I’ve got tons of other ideas as well. Someday I’d like to do a print magazine, or maybe a zine hand printed by mimeograph. I’d love to start an old school dial-up BBS. I’ve still got a good start on a FATE-based pen-and-paper role playing game to finish, and that mutant history book I started researching ages ago. I have fiction ideas running out of my ears. I’ve been learning to draw and want to make a comic, and I’ve been learning to program and would love to make a video game. I have more Psychetect albums in me as well.

If you want to receive sporadic updates on what I’m up to, I’ve started a new newsletter that you can sign-up for here.

So long and thanks for all the Fnords!

Writing Batteries

I’ve long hoped that writing worked like a muscle, and that by writing long and hard enough, I could develop that muscle. That much like a runner can run both faster and longer after training, I would be able to sit at the computer and pound out intelligible prose faster and for longer stretches of time.

I don’t think that’s the case, though. I now think writing is more like a battery than a muscle. You can draw on the writing battery, but eventually it runs out and needs to be recharged. If you don’t use it enough it will become corroded and stop working.

But the thing about batteries is that they don’t hold more of a charge the more times you run them down. Nor do they acquire a higher voltage the more you use them. If anything, they become weaker and shorter lived over time. And that’s fine, I suppose, so long as you get good use out of the battery while it lasts.

Infocidal Maniacs

It’s been five years since _why a lucky stiff committed “infocide,” deleting his Twitter account, all of his websites, and his GitHub account containing all of his code projects.

There have been countless debates about the relative ethics of infocide, and I don’t have anything to add. But can I ever relate. There are days that I want to delete my Twitter accounts, my Tumblr accounts, yank my noise albums off the web and, of course nuke this very blog. There’s over 14 years of material here, dating back to when I was 18 years old. Much of it is merely embarrassing, some of it is out right shameful. It would be nice to flush it all down the memory hole and, like the band said, rip it up and start again. Create a new persona, a new blog, a new Twitter account.

Or not. Really, what I fantasize about most is just unplugging entirely. Many people thoughts, good and bad, about this whole unplugging thing. And again, I have nothing to add except: geez whiz it sounds like it would be nice not just to unplug for a day or a month or, like that lucky bastard Paul Miller, an entire year, but to be done with this whole internet thing once and for all. To get a newspaper subscription, dig my library card out of whatever creased recess of my wallet it’s been banished to and just get on with life and pretend that the web was just weird dream that spanned nearly two decades of my life.

Of course, it’s not so simple. I have a job to do, and it requires the web. There’s not many living jobs out there any more, and there are even fewer that I’m qualified for. Most of them require using the internet. And the internet is where my friends are. And I know the newspapers would pile up, the library books would slip go overdue before I read ’em, and any new blog or Twitter account I created would become just unwieldy as the last.

So I’ll stick around. But a fellow can dream, can’t he? Well, here’s to you, _why. Hope you’re making the best of it.

KZSU Interview with Klintron, Recording and Transcript

If you missed me on 90.1 KZSU Stanford ThermoNuclear Bar last week you can now check it out on SoundCloud, or read the transcript below. We talked about the occult, conspiracy theory, EsoZone, Portland, Psychetect, Mindful Cyborgs, the Indie Web.

Here’s a sample:

S1: Where do you see then your variety of your projects going? I mean we have talked about this earlier. I had said that Technoccult was one sphere, and Psychetect was another, Mindful Cyborgs was another. If you saw any relation between the three other than just you happen to be in the middle or do you see any sort of end-goal coming up for you?

KF: In terms of an end-goal, I think the purpose of all of these has always been to find some way to engage with other people in a way that’s meaningful for both of us. I guess, it’s kind of an abstract way of talking about it, but something like Psychetect is just a different way of expressing myself and hopefully of communicating with people. Things like Technoccult and Mindful Cyborgs are more directly communicative projects. I think the only thing that they all have in common is a general interest in thoughts and thinking and consciousness. I guess, the overriding idea of Psychetect is to kind of create audio representations of thoughts or of sort of mental spaces that I don’t feel like I can describe with words. There’s I guess an overlap with something like Mindful Cyborgs where a big part of what we’re talking about is what it feels like to think in a world where you’re always connected to the rest of the world via the Internet and everything you do is being measured by somebody.

Full transcript

(Previously: G-Spot interview with me about Psychetect)

I should also mention that PDX Occulture is still sort of around, and that though EsoZone is gone, Weird Shift Con has emerged to fill that void (though I don’t have anything to do with organizing it).

Continue reading

Klintron Talks Psychetect, EsoZone and More on KZSU 90.1 On Wednesday

I’ll be on the ThermoNuclear Bar on on KZSU 90.1 on Wednesday 9/11 at 4:40 PM to talk about my noise project Psychetect, the old EsoZone event, the new Mindful Cyborgs podcast, and whatever else comes up. A brand new Psychetect track should debut on air during the show.

KZSU 90.1 is Stanford University’s radio station and can be heard in “just about the whole [San Francisco] Bay Area.”

For those outside of the Bay Area, you can stream it live online here.

Any Technoccult Readers In Barcelona? I’ll Be There Next Week

I’m speaking about “Big Data in the Age of Knowledge Work” at the BDigital Global Congress next week in Barcelona. I’ll be pretty busy, but I’ll be there all week. If there are any readers in the area who want to get together, let me know.

Klintron In New Orleans Next Week — Places To Go, People To See?

My wife and I are going to New Orleans next week to visit family. We’ll probably be pretty busy, but I wanted to see if any Technoccult readers want to meetup while we’re there, or if anyone can recommend anything to do/see while we’re there.

2010: My Year in Review

On a personal note, here are the three most important things that happened in my life this year.

In chronological order, not order of importance:

Psychetect: Return to the Wasteland Album Release


Album art by Ian McEwan and Danny Chaoflux

I released my first full length album, Return to the Wasteland and performed live several times. I talked to Joseph Matheny about it on GPOD. I have another album in the works, but I’m insanely busy lately so I’ve been having a hard time getting it finished.

Started Working for ReadWriteWeb

ReadWriteWeb logo

In June I started writing for ReadWriteWeb part-time, initially just for the ReadWriteEnterprise channel. In November, I joined full-time. I now write for ReadWriteCloud and ReadWriteHack as well as Enterprise.

This is the primary reason I’ve been so busy. I initially thought that I’d be less busy once I was working full-time for RWW instead of juggling a full-time IT job with part-time writing duties. Instead, I’ve only become more busy. But it’s the best job I’ve ever had and I’m proud to be a part of the ReadWriteWeb team.

None the less, I’ve got plans for the site. My biggest goal for 2011 is to the dossiers flowing again. Changes and new stuff will roll-out as time permits.

Marrying Jillian

wedding photo
Photo courtesy of Courtney

Although we had our legal wedding in 2009, my wife and I had our full ceremony this year. We had a crazy Bollywood/Steampunk mashup wedding on the Oregon Coast.

2011?

Thanks for reading everyone, and have a great 2011!

What is your mutant power?

Communist Mutants From Space

What is your mutant power?

And I don’t mean that in some corny self-help “everyone has a super power, like being really good customer service” sort of way.

I mean it literally – what is your mutant power?

I’ll go first:

I make it rain.

It all started at Burning Man 2003 – the night I got there it rained at Burning Man for the first time in years. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it was memorable.

In spring of 2004, I went to Europe. It rained everywhere I went. This wasn’t necessarily notable – it was spring time. But a weird thing in particular happened – at one my point my traveling companions and I split up. I went to Copenhagen to check out Christiania. They went to Paris. I spent a few days in Denmark then headed south to meet up with them. The day before I left Copenhagen, my friend Mark told me that Paris was beautiful – it had been sunny the entire time they were there.

They day I got there, it rained.

So after the trip to Europe, I moved back to Wyoming. I spent some time saying fairwells to friends in Seattle and Olympia before heading back, and called my dad before I left. He said something to the effect of “Bring some of that Seattle rain with you, we need it here!”

I told him it rained wherever I went. He told me that was depressing. “No, no it’s literally true!” I said.

The night I got home to Sheridan, WY it rained. And it turned into one of the rainiest summers in years.

A year and half later, in January of 2006, I moved from Laramie, WY to Portland, OR. Of course it was raining. But it was raining hard and mean. I found myself wondering if it had always been like that in the northwest and I’d just forgotten what is was like. Nope. I found out around the time I got there torrential downpours started – Portland was experiencing record rain falls.

rainy city

Since then I’ve just sort of assumed it would rain wherever I go. A couple examples – thunderstorms in Casper, WY the night I got into town from Portland last summer. Rain in the desert around Riverside, CA last November while my wife and I were visiting.

I don’t know if they is a particular useful mutant power. I could try to capitalize on it by getting hired by places with droughts to visit for a while. But I don’t have that much faith in my abilities. And there do seem to be some limitations – if I travel only a short distance, for instance, it doesn’t necessarily rain.

And really, I feel silly even talking about it. Mutant powers. Seriously?

But I know there are others. My college roommate Mark (mentioned above) has a really weird one: he opens doors just as people are arriving, without knowing someone is about to arrive, before they knock or anything – sometimes just as they are pulling up in their car. He just gets some sense that he should go open the door. And someone will be just getting there, or the cat will be there wanting in or something. I’ve seen it happen many times, on both sides of the door. He doesn’t hear anything or see anything, he just somehow knows it’s time to open the door.

My wife has a power that she says is dissipating, but I’ve seen this happen several times: cats just walk up to her. We can be walking down the street and a cat will just come out from under a car or something and run right up to her and meow like it wants her to pet it.

So. What’s YOUR power? (Useful or not).

(Communist Mutants From Space image via Danny Chaoflux, city photo by Burning Image / CC)

RIP Mac Tonnies

I was just catching up on tweets and learned, via Captain Marrrk, that Mac Tonnies has passed away. I’m in shock. This is just so sad:

Nick just called to tell me that our friend and colleague Mac Tonnies was found in his apartment this (Thursday) afternoon, apparently dead of natural causes. There was no evidence of foul play or suicide according to a close friend.

It is hard to find the right words to describe my feelings at this moment.

The last time we talked was just after his appearance on Coast To Coast on September 28th. He asked if I thought he had done a good job. I said he hit one over the fence. Tentatively, I asked if he would consider collaborating on a fiction project, and he liked the idea. Now, I don’t really know what to do or say.

The manuscript of Mac’s last book was apparently complete and ready to be delivered to the publisher.

Nick will have his feelings and more details to follow, but Mac’s family have been informed, and we wanted to get the news out to people who either knew Mac, or were inspired by his original and highly intelligent contributions to the study of UFOs and other anomalies, as well as many aspects of leading-edge science and technology.

Just an indescribable loss. In the next day or so, perhaps I’ll have more to say.

From: UFO Mystic: Mac Tonnies Gone

Update: Some info about Mac’s heart problems

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