Archive for November, 2010

Academia Materialistic?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 by Patrick

I don’t want to get in a fight with someone whose work I respect, but there’s been a bit of anti-intellectual bubbling in various astrological corners of the blogosphere lately. One person, an extremely educated and intelligent person with a tremendously respectable body of work behind him, suggests that academia is inherently materialistic and therefore it is pointless and silly to imagine a course in astrology at any sort of accredited university.

While material reductionism is indeed a common philosophy in certain departments, it’s hardly the norm throughout all departments. Religion, philosophy, the humanities — many of them sport professors whose theoretical approach is deeply anti-materialistic. Deconstruction, until recently the sine qua non of literature departments, calls into question the very possibility of an objective materialist world by deconstructing the binaries upon which such assumptions rest. I know philosophers who argue for platonic idealism, and one of my good friends and a professor in a social science argues persuasively against reductive materialism. These are not just examples of a few people who are like government officials against the war in Afghanistan: these are people who argue these positions in their field.

There are quite a lot of departments who study things that are not material or objective. There’s no particular reason why astrology could not be among them (and no particular reason why, necessarily, it should be among them, either).


Stick Figure Hermeticism

Posted in Language, Magical Systems, Music, Writing on November 21, 2010 by Patrick

Driving around the suburbs, I see more and more cars with little stick figure families. If you don’t know what I mean, these are decals on the back window that depict the dynamic of the family: usually a father, a mother, two kids, a soccer ball, and a dog. Or some combination thereof. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a site that sells them. I am not endorsing this site in any way, and I give you fair warning: it’s in comic sans.

I kind of want to make a line of Hermetic stick figure families. I’d have two men, two (three, soon, hopefully) books, two manuscripts, an easel and some paintings . . .

It is right and fitting from a hermetic perspective that people affirm their identity by means of their children. It is even right and fitting that they advertise such things in glyphs on their vehicles. After all, our children make hieroglyphs on our bodies and souls: why not on our cars? But the magician recognizes that there are children and there are children. To create flesh-and-blood children is wonderful, but it’s also wonderful to create other children: a unique arrangement of words, a painting, a language, a new way of cooking fish, a song. We create our soul by the children we have. It doesn’t matter if anyone else likes them (no one is ever going to pay to hear the songs I write, I suspect, and certainly no one is interested in artificial languages). What matters is that before me, there were not these things in the world. After me, there is.

The only real difference between the magician and the artist, I suspect, is that the hermetic magician never puts down his or her brushes and pallet, and regards the whole world as an easel.

I Got a Chick Tract

Posted in Weird on November 20, 2010 by Patrick

I totally win. I was at a coffee shop the other day getting some writing done, and I noticed that the guy hogging the comfy chair left, so I moved my stuff over, but he left a little tract sitting ever-so-neatly on the table. I think these things are hilariously ineffectual rhetorically, and I’m shocked to discover that people really do use them.

There was also one balanced precariously on the urinal. That one I picked up with a paper towel and threw away, ’cause . . . ew.

The one I got was this one, if you’re curious and don’t mind giving Jack Chick the hits. Essentially, it’s warning me against suicide and letting me know that hell is, indeed, a fairly unpleasant place, all in all. It’s notable for its odd emotional tone. The preacher rushes home from the funeral of the poor kid who is now in hell among the world’s least scary demons, to prevent the suicide of the kid’s girlfriend. At the end, she’s so very happy to have accepted Jesus that she decides that she will remember this day as the day she received eternal life, while she cries tears of joy. Meanwhile, presumably, all forgotten, they’re shoveling dirt on the coffin of her boyfriend. The preacher is positively beaming at his great good deed. Meanwhile, presumably, the kid’s family has gone on to numbly eat cold cuts at the post funeral reception, wondering where the guy who was to bury their son has gone. Where has he gone? To explain to dear Dolly that her boyfriend is burning eternally in hell. Whew, though, ’cause she’s okay. And that seems to be all that matters.

Unsolicited Advice

Posted in Language on November 19, 2010 by Patrick

I know I haven’t blogged in a while; please attach the usual apologies and expressions of guilt.

What drove me back to the blog is a need to express some unsolicited advice. I get emails, from time to time, from various occult groups in the area. A particular one (the denomination and name of which I’ll keep to myself) just sent out a mailing asking for sincere seekers. They made it quite clear that they are Serious and Mean Business. They are not a Game and they don’t Want people with Agendas. And so on.

Probably they are serious; they probably even have the lineage they claim. But let me say as a teacher of English and a curmudgeon:

If you are serious and want people to take you seriously (a) do not capitalize according to the conventions of English printing circa 1750 and (b) do not spell words with extra silent e’s that are not necessary. It is not “arte” or “crafte” or “magiciane.” Some of these words have never been spelled that way.

Violating these rules of grammar is not wrong because they are rules of grammar. Language is a tool to play with, and you have every right to play with it.

Instead, you should avoid this practice because it undermines your stated purpose. If all you’re selling is the image of Olde Timey Mysterious Magicke, then you’re selling people a crock. For one thing, this particular tradition of magic dates back to the Ancient and Mysticke days of the 1960s. For another, magic is about more than image. The Wilde and Magickial Adeptes of this Ordere jump in their Hondas when the ceremony is done and go have Moons over My Hammy before going home and watching TV. Why do we have to pretend that we don’t to feel special?