Imagine A Quote From ‘Phonogram’ or ‘Soul Music’ Here

[Editor’s Note: This blog entry is an edited and modified version of a portion of this week’s newsletter, so if you received that, feel free to skip this.]

Coheed & Cambria – [The Velourium Camper III: Al the Killer]— We’ll be doing a thing, this week, that I used to do in the old days, back when LiveJournal was a thing. I took the “Current Music” tag pretty seriously, back then, you see, and I would pretty much always be listening to a rather large playlist on random/shuffle, and whenever the song changed I would. (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – [I Put a Spell on You]). Note it. Voilà.

So we’re going to do that, this time around.

I also bought myself a copy of Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine, for my birthday. That’ll become pertinent, later, but for now it’s just coincident that there have been a great many articles and thinkpieces about machine intelligence, this week, including some more fun pronouncements about “killer robots” from Hawking, Musk, and now Steve Wozniak. (Nine Inch Nails – 3 Ghosts I). It’s difficult, at times like these, to not just print out things I’ve said on a sandwich board and wander around with a megaphone, screaming like some kind of prophet of not-doom.



That kind of thing.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – [What a Wonderful World]— I think what makes this all the worse is that I’m really stoked about this “Teaching-Robots-Jazz” idea, and that makes the glaring failures of imagination in re: change and adaptation all the worse, in the end.

Likely none of this is helped by the fact that I finally saw Ex Machina (Kirsten got me a copy for my birthday; coinciding), and it was almost exactly the film I would have made. Almost.

Weezer – [The World Has Turned and Left Me Here]— One thing about doing the music notation is, you can see how often I pause to do something else while I’m writing these.

So let’s cut to it and, talk about Divination.

Radiohead – [Backdrifts (Honeymoon Is Over)]— Divination is best understood as a process of gaining information from the conjunction of symbolically meaningful signs, omens, or portents. The flight of birds, the coil and overlap and colour of intestines of certain animals at particular times of day, the way three coins or sticks or leaves fall, in relation to each other. Divinatory practices are languages with grammars, and those languages have dialects and those dialects have slang, and each one means something in its larger context, yes, but also has something very specific to say about the kind of thing it is and what it can do. Dr Karen Gregory has some really interesting and useful thoughts on divination and its place in sociological history.

Divination can be used to talk about the future, or the past, or the present. Carl Jung believed that all we were doing in divination was using a psychologically potent symbol system to tell us things we already knew, in a method that we’d actually listen to and understand. Or at least that’s what he most often claimed in public.

Patsy Cline – [Sweet Dreams]— Jung was a Tarot and I Ching kind of guy. Liked the cards and coins and sticks, and thought that the more resonant and primal the better for the purpose of understanding what the unconscious knew but couldn’t directly say. (Aesop Rock – [Coffee] Good idea…). So we’re talking about resonance. Emotional resonance, mental resonance, things that hit you right in your gut, things that engage intellectuality, sure, but aim for your feels. So let’s talk about music.

The hidden track on this song, for instance, makes me think about things going on this week (month, year, century, epoch) that I don’t want to raise my blood pressure about, right now, so we’re skipping it and going to…

Avenue Q Original Cast – [Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist]— …Be confronted with the exact same thing, in a tauntingly humourous context. Hm.

Welp. Still, I wanted to make a point so here it is: Divination, scrying, applied synchronicity, pronoia, directed apophenia, it all comes down to the determination of patterns from seemingly unconnected instances. Drawing pictures in clouds, and then living your life by what they have to say. Like that one episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Childish Gambino – Unnecessary (ft. Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul) {prod. Childish Gambino}— Put it down to confirmation bias if it fits, but the longer you live your life in this way, the more things start to take on that kind of “Fertility of Meaning.” Our experiences conform to our expectations, regardless of the sources of either.

The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets – [Shoggoths Away]—Now Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie introduced the word “Phonomancy,” to the wider world in their groundbreaking Phonogram series, but if you’re still unfamiliar, just know that it’s a word that means what it says on the label: Magick via sound. (Mike Geier – [12oz Mouse Jazz Theme]). It’s most often specifically used to mean magick via music, and this is where the whole thing comes together.

Electric Hellfire Club – [Whores of Babylon]— The basic idea behind Phonomantic Divination is really pretty simple: Open the music player of your preference, load all of your music into it, repeatedly click Shuffle/Random while thinking of a question, then listen to whatever songs play, relating them to you and each other. I do mine in the style of a tarot Celtic Cross, which requires 10 Songs, and I tend to listen to each song all the way through, before moving on.

µ-Ziq – Gruber’s Mandolin—If you’re unfamiliar with the tarot, the Celtic cross looks like this:

And I tend to think of each position as:

1) Me As I See Myself:

2) Immediate Influence:

3) Goal:

4) Recent Past:

5) Further Past:

6) Near Future:

7) Me As Others See Me:

8) Further Future:

9) Emotional/Mental State:

10) Ultimate Outcome:

The Chemical Brothers – [Block Rockin’ Beats]— I like this format because it more easily puts everything in an individual and intercontextual significance, but you should use whatever feels most comfortable to you.

You could throw shuffles on three open instances of your music player six times and do an I Ching thing. You could assign each song a value and then do complicated math to get rune values. You could write down lyrics on paper, burn that paper, and read the smoke. Whatever. After all, this is about finding a symbolic system with emotional resonance to you and using it to probe the depths of your psyche.

Flogging Molly – [May the Living Be Dead (In Our Wake)]— Or it’s about using ancient mystical secrets and new technologies to tell you about the shape of the future. Whichever.

All I know is, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to map divinatory practices onto my DVD collection, for years, and I still haven’t sorted it out. Honestly, it’s a large portion of why I want Netflix to institute a feature where they give you a (pseudo)randomly selected episode or movie from your lists and preferences and maybe even its algorithmic discernments about your tastes. I also think it could really be the last nail in the Traditional-TV-vs-Netflix/Hulu/Etc competition, because it’d effectively replicate channel surfing.

That’d be really nice.

Brianna Olson uses Twitter for what looks like a kind of divination, very often. She’ll get a word or phrase or concept in her head, and plug it into the search function, and retweet what comes out. Fascinating process.

Nine Inch Nails – [Closer]— Final thoughts: Kirsten bought me Ex Machina for my birthday, I bought myself a copy of Extraordinary Machine, and I still think Carl Jung would’ve really loved Twitter.

Until next time.

I’ll be giving a presentation on the Tarot at the Weird Shift gallery on Saturday

I probably should have mentioned this before, but I’ll be giving a “microtalk” on the Tarot this Saturday at the Weird Shift Storefront.” More specifically, I’ll be talking about the possible origins of the Tarot and the sources of the imagery from the earliest decks. No one knows for sure, but most scholars dismiss the idea that the cards were originally used for divination and doubt that it contained deliberately kabbalistic symbolism. But the alternate theories I’ll present are just as interesting.

The event will start at 7:30pm, but I don’t know when I’ll be speaking.

Technoccult Interview: Psychopomp Author Amanda Sledz

Cover of Psychopomp by Amanda Sledz

Amanda Sledz

In her series Psychopomp, author Amanda Sledz takes a literary approach to writing about urban shamanism, magical thinking, tarot, telepathy and other themes usually reserved for the fantasy genre. The series follows four characters: Meena, a woman who has experienced a break with reality; her parents, Frank and Esther; and Lola, a teenager who is becoming a shaman whether she wants to or not.

The first book in the series, Psychopomp Volume One: Cracked Plate, explores mental illness, empathy, our differing experiences of place, immigration and cultural identity, and the way our experience of family shapes our identity — without resorting to the cliches of genre fiction or descending into boring academic prose.

Amanda was raised in Cleveland and now lives in Portland, OR. She is self-publishing Psychopomp, but her work has appeared eFiction Horror and various small literary magazines. You can also check out some of Amanda’s works in progress on her site.

An excerpt from the first installment is here. You can buy the book from Amanda here, from Powells Books or from Amazon here.

I recently caught-up with her to talk about Psychopomp, self-publishing and more.

Klint Finley: I understand you wrote a first draft of the first book in college — can you walk us through how the book evolved?

Amanda Sledz: I started working on it during my last semester of graduate school. I’d finished the entirety of an MFA in nonfiction writing, and thought I’d try my hand at fiction before escaping the clutches of academentia. There were a lot of subjects that I wrote about in my master’s thesis that were perceived as being unbelievable, because magical thinking as a means of interacting with hardship was described as a natural way of operating. The tone of the thesis (which was a memoir) became very self-conscious, with the over-awareness of the audience that’s required for decent nonfiction writing. I found myself longing to write something uncorked that still utilized the same themes.

I finished the first draft, which consisted of a shorter version of each section, very quickly. The editing and perfecting and development of repetition took a long, long time.

I abandoned it after wrangling it and getting sections of it published in small literary magazines. Then just over a year ago I was cleaning off my hard drive and thought doing nothing with it would be a waste.

And, in a way, as Grant Morrison might say I had myself locked in a hypersigil. I’m fairly certain my writing career would be permanently stalled if I didn’t let it escape.

Continue reading

Science Tarot

Science Tarot: 7 of Wands - Expansion

Science Tarot: 2 of Swords - Action

Science Tarot

Unlike so many of the cool tarot decks I’ve seen online, you can actually buy this as a full, printed deck.

(via Boing Boing thanks to Chris)

Cards of Wu

The Ambassador

“A series of woodcuts in the form of divination cards. Click on thumbnails to enlarge.”

Cards of Wu

(via Aeris Morpheme.com)

LOST tarot cards

the Believer

the devoted

i09: LOST tarot cards

One project from my occult days that I’ve actually hoped to one day finish is a tarot deck using understandable modern archetypes – “The Engingeer,” “The Teacher,” “The Athlete,” “The Cop,” etc. But even if you don’t watch the show LOST, you can understand and appreciate the archetypes here. (Reminds me of Jorn Barger’s ideas about the need for an archetypal family such as the Earwickers or the Simpsons in artificial intelligence.)

(via Catvincent)

LOST tarot

the Believer

the devoted

i09: LOST tarot cards

(via Catvincent)

Alexandro Jodorowsky interview from 2004


Arthur Magazine editor Jay Babcock has re-published his 2004 interview with Alexandro Jodorowsky from LA Weekly:

I don’t suffer to write it. But when I need to write a new series, a new album, for three days I do nothing. The only thing I can do is to see movies, see television, read . . . Because I am as if paralyzed! Suddenly, [with relief] the idea comes. I say thank you, because I am grateful. I am really grateful because I received the idea. But I don’t construct the idea. I am not a constructor. I receive the idea.

Q: Where do you think it comes from?

The unconscious. It comes directly from the unconscious. I think the unconscious is a very, very enormous universe, no? And when you open the doors to the unconscious, you start to receive. Sometimes you see a terrible vision of yourself: desires you don’t want to have, ideas you detest, feelings that hurt you. When you open the door, you can see yourself in a very weird way, like a bad trip on LSD. You can have that. You have all the hell, and paradise, no? You need to have the courage to open the doors.

Arthur: In the Heart of the Universe

Free Evolver teleseminars for Mutate readers

Update: we’ve got our responders. Thanks everyone!

Evolver has a special offer for Mutate readers:

Throughout human history, people have looked to the natural world for patterns to provide insight into their lives, and what might await them in the future. This is the origin of oracles and divination: the systematic approach to the deeper patterns of cosmos, mind, and nature. Over two weeks in November, you can join four of the world’s most sought-after divinatory teachers in a series of intimate conversations exploring the ways that these ancient traditions can transform your life. The Evolver Intensives tele-seminar series “Divination: How to Read the Future Now” is a unique opportunity to engage in discussions with four leaders at the vanguard of an archaic revival: celebrated spiritualist and Tarot expert Rachel Pollack; archetypal astrologer VerDarLuz; initiated diviner and I Ching scholar Stephen Karcher; and John Michael Greer, geomancer and Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America. Hosted by acclaimed author Erik Davis, take part in a life-changing journey through the deeper flows of reality.

More info

It costs $50, but the first 2 people to e-mail me at redacted will get it for free.
Offer is over, we’ve got our 2 people.

(I don’t have any relationship with Evolver, they’re making this offer so I thought I’d share it)

Alejandro Jodorowsky – Tarot of Marseilles

Alejandro jodorowsky – Tarot of marseilles
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Alejandro Jodorowsky talks about his fascination with the Tarot and how he helped recreate what the Tarot of Marseilles looked like 1400 years ago. He also goes into what the different Tarot cards mean. This video is an extra from the 2007 restored DVD of The Holy Mountain (1973 film).

(via Arthur)

Here are two lengthy videos in Spanish with Jodorowsky on the Tarot:

Alejandro Jodorowsky: El Tarot, El Mundo (pt 1/6)

Alejandro Jodorowsky: Especial Tarot (pt 1/6)

You can buy Jodorowsky’s book on the Tarot of Marseilles from Amazon.com.

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