Tuesday, July 22, 2014

PRAYER


For the love of Norway. For the love of my white hair in the photographs I take of myself. For the love of asking myself, ‘what's up?’ And in that love, for the love of the most intimate distance that a photograph creates. For the love of posing that a mirror asks me not. For the love of my own theater. And in that love, for the love of capturing my deepest desire. For the love of my fear whose force I awesomize. For the love of the Druid’s prayer, and in that prayer for the love of the White Witch. For the love of the reason that I have not, to hate. Because I love. And in that love of love, for the love of the sober task of walking the path. And in that walk, for the love of sensing another’s soul. And in that soul, for the love of finding myself. For the love of devotion, and in that devotion for the love of the longest infinity that does not end. For the love of numbers, and in those numbers, for the love of words that seal. And in that seal, for the love of magic. For the love of the dreadful spell that binds. And in that bind, for the love of afterlife where black is black and white is white. For the love of saying, ‘I’m here now.’ And in that love, for the love of what IS.




Friday, July 18, 2014

INFINITE GAME

Sonnet 116
by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

§

“I've been in love for five hundred million years…”
― Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

RAIN

I got caught in the rain and sought shelter under the tree I call Drop. If you stand under it, drops of rain will wash your face, but no more. It protects you from the torrent. Then there's Vinculum. This tree is linked with Drop, and together they form a portal. But the pièce-de-resistance is Absalon, the largest tree in this grove. No one knows where this place is. I put a spell on it so no one can find it. People pass it by all the time, and no one ever stops. No one sees anything. No one ever walks through the line of 11 trees hiding Absalon and the others. I go there every day. As no one owns this place - located exactly one minute from my apartment - I claimed it as my own. But I do have to seek permission from the municipality - the presumed owner - if I want to plant more trees. Which I do. A sacred grove with its sacred trees, Absalon, Vinculum, and Drop, performing magic the invisible way.












On to my annual Norway devotion · Hit in the heart.







Sunday, June 15, 2014

NEMESIS

‘The Magician is my father’, the High Priestess says while buckling up her white pompons. ‘Oh, Erebus, you who left this earth before Nemesis could figure out what she was.’ ‘But she always knew’, you whisper, and then go: ‘That’s the nature of magic, to cut with your sword through what needs imparted. Dip your finger in some plum brandy, let some smoke come out of your Orlik pipe, and deliberate. Let your ‘But’ be but the action of your shadow. Pay a visit to the underworld and leave a trail of blood. I shall know you by your smell and the whiteness of your robe. And you will choose.’



Thursday, May 29, 2014

GUIDES



'You don't write on Frag/ments as much as you used to', people say. I point to having 'transitioned'. I write more on Taroflexions these days. This more focused website allows me to be all three at once without a particular involvement: a storyteller, a teacher, and an enchanter. These are Vladimir Nabokov's categories, by the way, for the good writer. I don't presume anything where writing is concerned, but occasionally people do tell me that what I have to say is helpful. That's good, as being helpful is actually aligned with my intention. A friend has recently written these lines below on Facebook, which reminded me of a certain practice of 'meeting' people, a practice which I have already written about as being a form of testing one's hyper-soul.

"If you ever meet someone brave and powerful enough to walk with you directly through your most unconscious wounds and shadow caves – someone with the stupefying courage to see through the chinks of your armor and then help you take it off – love them. Because they have done something for you which is impossible to do alone. They will show you the treasure you've been seeking all your life, and they can do this because they aren't afraid of your fear." (Jacob Nordby)

It's good to know that there are more of us like this out there, acting as guides, as psychopomps, or simply as enablers, helping others to breathe into their own souls, and live a life of excitement in complete harmony with one's self. We've had our own guides in turn. My mother was one who would never talk to people unless she was allowed to look into their naked souls. Always a disturbing demand for most. But so rewarding for all involved, when such gazing was allowed. 

The other day my sister and I discovered that we were both blues singers in our past lives, according to the venerable source of: "Google this: died on (your birthday) and the first wiki article to pop is who your were in your previous life." Such fun. She got Lucille Hegamin and I got Rosa Lee Hill. She made a collage of herself and me alongside these singers, though for some reason she inserted the picture of another, that of Alberta Hunter, next to hers. Sometimes internet bibliomancy can be very funny. It can also be quite revealing. As far as I'm concerned, I say, hooray, for all forms of divination. So liberating to be free of our calculated selves.

So, yes, if I have a  calling, then it's for that form of establishing an encounter that gets me to the end of the world and beyond. Be with people that allow me to look into their souls, and through that act travel with them to their most hidden treasures.





Saturday, May 24, 2014

SMOKING LOT

One of the best things about going to certain conferences is meeting special friends. This time around friend and famed historian Elliott Gorn asked me: 'How is your lot?' We share a bit of Romanian history, and I always get to hear how, when Elliott went to Moldova to search for his Jewish roots, he got to hear from the villagers that 'the Gorns were not nice people'. Right. So I told him a story. My grandmother on my father's side smoked lots of heavy pipes, wore coloful layered skirts, and liked to go out and pee while standing. 'Whoa,' Elliott, said, 'that's more information than I'm ready for.' 'Really?', I asked him, and then we stuffed ourselves some with Finnish delights, while drinking ourselves under the table, laughing.

But my grandmother could also do more things than just provoke the establishment. She was a master weaver - I still have some of her loom pieces - and she would make my mother order my father around when she was visiting, claiming that she didn't raise all those boys (some 4 of them) to just sit around. She taught them to cook and be decent, and go for it. Well, they did. My father was a mathematician, one of his brothers a dentist, another became a general in the army, and the fourth I can't remember. He was handsome, though. That I remember. And they could all cook. I would have loved more of that lot's company, if it weren't for the distance between us. We lived miles apart from my father's family, which is why I never got to see them very often. Alas.



I smoke pipes. For ritual purpose. I inherited a few Orliks and some other special ones. I call on those who smoked these pipes before me. This is something that Elliott gets. The spirit work. We get together for the Maple Leaf and Eagle conference every other year, organized by our common friend, Markku Henrikkson. Markku also knows about spirits, as he has been hanging out with all the Native Americans you can think of.



But now Markku has just had announced that he was going to retire - before his time. 'Why?', we were all gaping? 'Because I'm tired of bullshit', he said. In his farewell speech he made me cry so hard like I'v never done it before. In plenum. He was articulating what most of us academics are thinking, but do nothing about: 'Surely I can't buy this crap rhetoric about points and global visibility and marketing and ranking and competing with ghosts and pretending and selling and selling and selling and selling again, selling all we've got and according to the best cliches developed by the phoniest consultant-like idiots who can claim to teach us something about intellectual value and relevance.' He pretty much told the Finnish posh university chancellors to go screw themselves. In plenum. Oy vey. So it goes. The rest of us say nothing against all the crap university reforms and politics that we're confronted with daily, because we are ever so grateful for the fact that we have a job to begin with. We all tremble in our pants from fear. 'What if I'm next, when they'll decide to shut a program?' Besides, we think, and as they say, 'surely giving Cesar what Cesar wants is part of a higher wisdom, no?' Right.



I'm thinking of my grandmother and wonder why it was only her sons that got something out of it, culturally speaking. Why wasn't SHE a general? She died before I could ask her about her secret magic. But I fancy that the smoke I send up in the air brings me a hint of that now and then.

So, here's to all women who know things, and who also dare to live according to their knowledge. May their secret lot increase.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

BENT

My depth is like a magician’s hat. Out of it comes a spell against stupidity, a banishing of greed, and a question for the ecology of vanity. We laugh at the world’s pretending to put community first when all it does is dig the void. ‘It’s exciting to live with you’, you say, even as I thunder against lies. ‘It’s exciting to live with you too’, I say, ‘because you know the meaning of waiting.’ Today we pick nettles, to prick our tongues with. And tomorrow we learn why there’s magic in the world. So we can see through the fools who never have anything original to say but are good at selling. ‘Is this a new game?,’ you ask, and I say ‘no.’ ‘Speaking against fools is like an act of disemboweling yourself.’ ‘Today we fill ourselves with starlight, and tomorrow we work with the elements.’ ‘It’s exciting to watch you,’ you say, ‘because every tomorrow we find a new grail together’. ‘It’s exciting to watch you too,’ I say, ‘because every tomorrow is holy, and your Viking full-blood recognizes resurrections. ’ ‘Holy, holy, we are good at living the magical life, and today is your birthday. Our theories are called to prove themselves. We say what we mean and do what we say. Self-delusion gets the axe, and we let the crows attend the funeral of idiots. Come wind, come water, come fire, come earth, come furry animals and pale skins, come sun, come moon, come belly of the earth, mother of all, come logic of the wild life, come breath, come birthday, come.’


 §

Happy birthday, my friend. Your gift is one of metamorphoses. If you wait long enough, until I get famous, there’ll be a collector out there who will be willing to pay a lot of money for a deconstructed Lossow and my enchanted spells on the back of each of his plates.




Meanwhile, enjoy, and let us drink a glass of champagne, read fortunes and praise our luck. 
No conventions are ours, but flow, freedom, and finesse.








Monday, April 14, 2014

CLAVIS


As papers are being written, deconstructions are being remembered. While laughing at the poor plastic disposable camera, Lock and Derrida wanted to know the word of the prophet. I said: 'the prophet wants more puns.' That was exactly 13 years ago. Some things never change. We still want more puns, and to unlock derisions.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

BLUE STAR

While walking the dog to pick some violets, I also go through a few ritual steps. For instance, every time I get to a crossroad, I stop and watch. Usually there’s always something there that makes me think. But this is not the kind of thinking that I associate with being an intellectual – Lord only knows, I get enough of that already on the job that pays for my bills – but the kind of thinking that has my head completely in the service of my senses.



Being quite tired of the lying industry that the academia has become, with academics thinking and writing for big publishers whose voice of commonsense equals that of sales, I have to admit that I like to give myself the opportunity to eat my own head, as it were, and feel what it’s like to have it as part of my gut. In other words, the more of my senses that I can activate, the better. Usually this takes care of my frustration with seeing how little I enjoy writing anything on dictation and thus doing good business for the university. You know, the kind of academic business as usual, where the only question that we ever pose as thinkers is this one, also business as usual: ‘What’s in it for me?’ ‘How about living the moronic life,’ I always want to retort, but I keep such opinions to myself.

So, yes, the crossroads. Today a blue thing was lying in the grass, on top of the mound around which cars usually swing. I go to the top, while becoming invisible – I can spare myself the speculations from the drivers – and have a closer look. A glove. A blue glove. A rubber glove. I get even closer and read the writing on it. Blue Star, it says. Oh, how appropriate. Cosmic brightness – I have to admit that I love everything that counters the moronic life, especially the one that has us all talk the so-called rational talk, or the talk that then transforms into moronic books that other morons can endorse.



So here’s the connection I made. The Blue Star is that thing in the universe that the astronomers identify with the giant star. The Blue Giant Star often turns into a supernova. There’s a beautiful Blue Star right in the constellation of Orion, and flanking what the astronomers also call the Witch Head, which is a reflection nebula. What bliss to be able to turn your head and actually spot it. The Rigel Star area, formally known as the IC 2118, has enough light in it to illuminate the best of magic there is. A sorcerous encounter between a glove and a dog-walk at the crossroads. I have to admit that I love my life and some knowledge that’s in it.


Back home, I asked the cards about it – and for whatever reason, I thought I’d ask the cards I made myself in the image of the Lenormand Oracle. The cards I call A Helium Poet – must be all that cosmic gas and dust that’s in my eye. The eye in the belly, as my head was deliberately placed there for the purpose of the walk, for the purpose of the shamanic experience: To be out in nature and pay attention. Listen and watch.



Says the Helium Poet: ‘Ask the Moon about climbing to the Star to touch it.’

‘How difficult is the Mountain?’ I furthermore asked.

‘As difficult as your ability to surrender your Heart. Take a dive with the Fish,’ the Helium Poet intimates, ‘and you’ll find your Heart right there where it actually is. In the love of this: the earth and its sky.’

May you all shine brightly.

§

Note on the deck: A Helium Poet, Lenormand Cards, Camelia Elias (30 cards) and Witta Kiessling Jensen (6 cards), 2013.

§ Via Taroflexions 

Friday, March 21, 2014

STONED

It's Bach's birthday. I always celebrate the master. But today it occurs to me that the very time I ever got really stoned on hashish, the only thing I wanted was to listen to Bach. I did. I dissolved into the oneness of all things. I heard every single note. I like to get stoned, but not without formulating an intent for it. So, tonight. Yes. I'm ready. My sister dearest is here too. She's one hell of a cognitive psychologist, and, as it happens, also a terrific necromancer. We'll get down some roots. Ask the plant to ally itself with our tones and tunes. Show us the sound. The extinct instrument, the cello da spalla, the one that scholars and musicologists speculate Bach used for his compositions, will lead the way to the underworld. It's a good place to be, also right now as we're under the influence of the vernal equinox. Here we come then. Let us hear the voice of the ancestors and Bach's. The sun in the anchor. The thought in the heart.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

BEAUTY


Here’s a story. For once the Danish postal service is behaving decently – usually they mess things up all the time. No one would admit this, as this is Denmark, right? The milk and honey land? Right. Everyone is perfect here. And most happy, they say.

So the mailman wakes me up very early morning. A package. I’ve been waiting for this one for a few weeks now. Now it’s here. My own, rather ad hoc, logo design for my cartomantic website, Taroflexions, has been immortalized in the form of a pendant. Handcrafted and hand hammered in the woods of Tennessee by magical silversmith Aidan of Tveir Hrafnar, specializing in talismanic jewellery.



This piece is simply beautiful, like all true labors of love. It came out of a whisper that was then heard by someone out in the sticks. This is what I call touching true inspiration. Taroflexions hanging on my bosom feels like butter. I’m with Empedocles on this one. The four elements stylized as diamonds, clubs, hearts and spades make me think of what is truly important, namely, being hopelessly in love. Such a state is always beyond duty and obligation. Beyond good an evil. Beyond humanity. Nature never judges, but it avenges herself when insulted. I like wearing the earth around my neck. The telluric forces ignite my passions, and I burn in deep waters without thinking.

I drew three cards for it. ‘What do you come to me with?,’ I asked.


Ace of Diamonds, 5 of Clubs, and 4 of Hearts. A message of craftsmanship and dedication, indeed, landing in the heart of emotional stability. The silversmith has not left the woods in three years, he told me, and I’m jealous. I hold Taroflexions in my palm and make a wish for a wooden house surrounded by trees. ‘There was a cut piece that I dropped in my workshop, and that I was unable to find again.’ It looks like the monogram, my initials, the CE, the semiluna with a dash, didn’t want to leave that place. I told the silversmith that I like the idea of bits of my soul scattered in certain places. I think of such places as a refuge. I need those for magical purpose.

4 hearts for the 4 suits. Counting my blessings can start at number 4. I can plant my stang in the North. That’ll make 5. Divining for the letter can make you hear the winds. Nature’s breath. With it we can do magic of the highest.

May you all be blessed with understanding, and beautiful things.



§

Note on the deck: Otto Tragy, Stralsunder, 1910.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WISDOM

Frigg's wisdom: the ultimate oracle is to have the sun on your tongue.


Monday, March 10, 2014

VORTEX


People often ask me: why the Arctic? – my favorite place. While I know exactly what to answer, at the same time I don’t. Perhaps this has to do with how I see the Arctic as my home. A home with no boundaries, no black and white aesthetics – mind you, I already wrote about this – no square rooms, no chickens in the yard, no statements.



What then, if not all these things, all some fine signs of civilization? Round huts, colorful silks, wolfs that are not wolfs, and weird museum objects bought on ebay and coming god only knows where from? Well, yes. That’s it. I surround myself with things that have a value beyond that which I myself can participate in inscribing. The culture way.

Sometimes I laugh at myself for the reason I often invoke when I have to explain why I’m against marriage: so that I wouldn’t be caught dead with owning a single photograph of myself wearing a fancy dress and being captured in a setting that all too well screams: ‘mine.’ Family pictures tend to have borders. When people pose for a family picture there’s often lines in it that delimit some borders: ‘This is mine, and that is mine, and she is mine, and the house is mine, and the dog is mine’. You get the picture. Mind you, I’ve also written about this before. But it seems that it makes a good subject every time. It’s as eternal as the phony image that we all buy about how good life has been to us. How lucky we all are. We are now with just the person we’ve been dreaming of. So we hurry to inscribe ourselves in some picture. That’ll do it. Hold it. The marriage, that is.

Of course, deep down we all know that the more the status quo images scream status quo, the more they are just that, status quo. Symbols of desires that are not even our own. Nothing more. There’s no substance in a house of squares, a family of squares, a dream of the other as a square that we’ve made to fit the image that we want to promote of ourselves. As settled people. Now we’re serious. Important. Now we have something to say.

So, yes, the Arctic. The good news is that you don’t have to show off any settlement. Up there. In the Arctic you’re not settled and realized. You don’t have a life purpose. You don’t act as an inspiration to all those who can become better at taking risks. In becoming good entrepreneurs. The more money kids of 12 can make, the more spiritual they can get. About materialism. We hear. There’s solid logic in that. No doubt.

Oops, the wolf that’s not a wolf is making sounds of restlessness. ‘You’re not writing about your regrets again, are you?’ Wagging her tail. ‘Look at the statement I’m making to the moon? What do you think of it?’ ‘Oh, I like it,’ I say. ‘Come here and give me a kiss.’ Wolfie complies on the spot. Smootch. Hmm. The taste of wisdom. I’ll write about that. If I have it. If I’m in doubt as to whether I have it, I know what I’ll think off. The Arctic. Living the life with snow and cards. Lots of cards. The Popess flanked by the Hanged Man and struggling with Spirit, or La Force. The Spirit will come through, if conflict is resolved. ‘Don’t inscribe yourself in any dumb pictures, you hear?’ ‘I hear you.’ I say this with conviction. The kind that’s cold and hot at the same time. The kind that makes others mad. The boxes. The hollow men. I hear a howl and slip through a vortex. I call it mine.



§

Note on the cards: Tarot de Marseille, Edition Millenium, as reconstructed by Wilfried Houdoin, 2011.

§

Post via my cartomantic website, Taroflexions.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

WOMEN'S NO

Today I wrote the following lines on my public media ‘wall’:

The thing about women’s day is that it makes you think of your losses, and the reasons why you haven’t become what you really wanted to become, in my case, a forest ranger. On women’s day, and as an academic in the academic world, I think of my specialty, namely, lying for the patriarchy so the patriarchy can keep happy. On women’s day I always say to myself: shame on you. Off to the forest to shed some tears by a tree, and cry me a river.

These lines sparked some wonder and amazement. Women around the globe are still dreaming of becoming ‘independent.’ One of them, a good friend, told me that she still plans on being whitewater raft guide. I replied in turn that I would follow such ladies.



Of course, regrets of this kind are often the result of the realization that we all have very limited options to choose between, and which culture endorses. When I grew up the dominant discourse dictated that unless you were a doctor or a lawyer you were nobody – Forestry, you say. Ha. So, just about everyone I went to school with tried their luck at getting accepted at the university in these very programs, the medical or law school. No one in my high school made it. After failed attempts, 3 or 4 times were not unusual, some went for what else was there, almost nothing. One or two actually got to finally graduate from an academic institution, but not in what they wanted. Hence, today none are terribly happy with their lot, myself included.

All things considered, I think I have a good job at the university, but I work under men and they don’t quite get what I’m up to. More often than not they put it on account of my having a dubious ethnicity. Hence my dubious interests, however ‘academic’, mind you, are not to be reckoned with. I suppose that this makes the men in question happy that they don’t have to dismiss me entirely on account of my gender – which they almost always do. If confronted they would deny it, as it’s not in line with the party politics these days to say that you don’t like women. But we women know all about it. We know what’s what. And yet we can’t do much about it. Things don’t change. Mostly because most men don’t like conflicts. Hence they lie a lot. And then make war. Especially at work. Everywhere. So it goes.

Another friend from Romania posted today, on women’s day, a video. I instantly got tears in my eyes – like I didn’t cry enough for all women’s lot and losses. It was the old recording of Maya Plisetskaya dancing to Ravel’s Bolero. This recording was my mother’s favorite. I saw it many times, yet something struck me today. I always thought that the reason why mother liked this sublime dance so much was because she was a lover of the Russian language, which she saw manifested in aesthetic forms that appealed to her. But today I saw something else in it. I saw the power of the ritual dance. The return of the Goddess. Men are there to serve her, creating her circle, but they are not above her. And nor is she above them. But she is still the Goddess. I suppose Maurice Béjart’s genius, when he choreographed this piece, consisted of this acknowledgement, namely, that the woman is not someone one merely needs to reckon with, but dance with. Ah, well, some would say Béjart was smarter than most men because he was gay. Could be. I’d like to work under gay men for a change, if keep working for men I must, and test that hypothesis.


With my dead mother in mind, a woman who had the great fortune of becoming economically independent at the age of 40, I asked another working council to tell me what I might consider doing, as a woman, for myself, in the name of all women who have to put up with the ways of culture, dictating which professions are better than others, and making us all, women, believe that as long as these dictations come from men, they are safe. Says the council of 13:





Break it off with them men, the rich ones and the bossy ones. The ones that keep you forgetful of what your shackles sound like when you don’t move. Rock the boat of all the official men in your life. There will be rumors, but you can start those yourself, for a change. Avoid the wrong crowds of men who say one thing and mean another, and stop giving chances. Leave things behind. The world of the 3 kings is not your world. Lose some more. These losses will be your conscious losses, not the dictated ones. Enter your own religion, and see the darkness within for all it is.

Happy women’s day, or perhaps I should say, have a good one, have yourself, serve yourself to yourself, and forget all about what’s proper according to laws that are not your own. Write your own laws. Heal yourself. Go to the forest and ask a tree to assist you. It will not judge you. Breathe in its power, and let that breath go through your legs and into the ground. Feel the lushness of the earth. It’s where all the vitality and life comes from. Men can’t give you that. They may say humiliating things to you in order to convince themselves that they can control you, but you can ignore them. Leave their lies behind you. It isn’t men that give you power. It’s a fallacy to think that if you can get the man you get the power. Go to the earth instead. Acknowledge it, and thank it. Dance on it. Dance with it, and with each beat make sure you go faster, firmer, and freer. Let the love of yourself flow, and with it, with this love, fly away. May you all be blessed with the power of saying NO to all that which does not serve you.

§

Note on the deck: Cartes Patientes, Mesmaeker, Belgium, 1930.

§

Post via my cartomantic website: Taroflexions.

.

Monday, February 17, 2014

PURPOSE

Asking people about their passion is one thing. Asking them about their purpose is another. The first presupposes ‘now’, the latter an illusion. While the purpose in life has always been physical – 'be fertile,' they all say, of the earth and women – passion is of another dimension. We can passionately declare that the purpose in life is to do the best we can right now. Try not to kill anybody, be too angry with idiots, leave grand legacies to your kids, or think that just because things happen to you they are significant. If we all relaxed about our purpose in life, we might discover that we can be at peace with each other and with this planet we’re on.

Enjoy your passions. (Parenthetically speaking, I must say that I prefer passion to purpose, as I have this nagging suspicion that a lot of what we call 'purpose' has more to do with our concern with what others think of us, or even worse, our anxiety that we might not live up to the neighbours' expectations, than with our knowledge of what we're really good at. But let that be the topic of another fragment. Right now, I'm not sure I want to waste my time commenting on self-delusions.)



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

THE UNIVERSITY

Samfundskritik, or reflections over lunch at the university. Reading study curricula. Pages and pages and pages and pages and pages and pages and pages and pages of rules and regulations and competencies and skills, and I scroll, and I scroll, and I scroll, and I scroll, and I scroll, and I do't find any knowledge, and I scroll, and I scroll, and it's rhetoric, and rhetoric, and rhetoric, and rhetoric, and concurrence and concurrence and concurrence and concurrence, and more concurrence as competition with invisible enemies and better universities whose study curricula are probably even worse, as they are also addressed to their worst enemies, and it's ranking, and ranking, and ranking, and ranking, and it's vacuous, and vacuous, and vacuous, and vacuous, and vacuous, and it's knowledge, they say, and it's interesting, they say, it was in the media just yesterday, and it's soundbites and soundbites and soundbites and soundbites, and it's in the media, it has just been made popular, and popular, and popular, and popular, and it's knowledge they say, because it was in the media, and the big professors are in the media every day every day every day, and it's vacuous and vacuous and vacuous and vacuous, and they all start believing it and I'm thinking that at the next big meeting on reforms and reforms and reforms and reforms I'll propose that we study the wisdom of students, for it's there it's there it's there it's there it's there, I'm sure of it, it's not popular, and it's not competitive, and it's not about being successful, and relevant, relevant, relevant, relevant, of course the wisdom of students is not relevant in a university that aims to be number one number one number one number one, even though it will never be number one, Oxford and Harvard are number one, even if that is a contradiction in terms as you can't have two universities that are number one, but then hey, we live in the age of Wittgenstein, and quantum physics, where all these things are possible, and not to forget the power of the media endorsing vacuous professors, and educated lawyers from Yale who have just turned creative writers and got their books on the bestseller list, with New York Times or something, there are many number one bestseller lists but it's no different than having Oxford and Harvard as number one universities, well, maybe not factually, but what's in a name, what's in a name what's in a name, a name is a name is a name is a name, well, the lawyer turned creative writer got the creative baby ranked number 15, but hey, it's the bestseller list, what do you know, that's something, you know, and the vacuous journalist asks, so, what's your advice to creative writers who may also experience 49 rejections like you did before they have their books ranked number 15 on New York Times number one bestseller list, well, they have to keep the dream alive, oh, wow, that's so deep, and the journalist doesn't say, could you please be more specific, and perhaps give me something other than a vacuous cliche, but there are no critical journalists out there any more, only gate keepers and gate keepers and gate keepers, oh, the ministeries of education around the world, we do live in a globalized world after all, all want gate keepers, and nobody asks bullshit what it is all about, but hey, the vacuous professors have just been in the media again alongside the creative lawyers who think that we need to keep the dream alive, so we do. Amen. It's nothing personal, just business as usual.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

AOS IN SEVEN

For Austin Osman Spare

If I raise my pen and write, ‘Behold’, the next thing that I do is draw circles on your belly with black ink. I draw ritualistic blood from your passion. With it I close the gate of senses behind me. I throw you on the bed – my bed – and with my black hair turned white I tingle your nostrils. The art of memory is no game for you. Your love is more profound in your tears not your plans. ‘Behold,’ I say, the heat from my palm turns redundant knowledge into ubiquitous urge, and you find your affinities change. I serve the logomachy of Zos and you just follow like a Zombie.


Friday, January 10, 2014

BRINGING DOWN THE BOWL

Lately I’ve have been inspired to reassess some of my thinking around what I’m doing where magic is concerned. I’ve been exchanging recently some fascinating ideas with three of my favorite people in the business of performing magic: card reader extraordinaire Joeanne A. Mitchell, psychologist, anthropologist, occultist, and Obeah man Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, and philosopher, writer, and adventurer, Drew Jacob. A few personal stories were recounted between us, on the basis of which I have come to formulate more concisely what magic is for me (a few other ideas on this can be found here).

Magic for me is an appreciation of a specific mood that is either induced by ritual or ceremony, or that arises by itself when prompted through the activation of a heightened awareness about a certain event. This latter situation can manifest in very simple terms. Yet, as with all things magical, it proves nothing. What it does, however, and which I value the most, is take care of my experience of being astonished on a daily basis. And I have to admit that I’m addicted to being astonished. Everyday I look for something that will astonish me. Perhaps that’s why I work with poetry, both in terms of producing it and in terms of studying it in the scholarly fashion.

To give an example: Since the famous occultist and rocket scientist, Jack Parsons, reminds me of my father who died in 1976, I tend to think of him on his birthday and of what it is that he shares with my father. They were both rocket scientists - my father worked for the military in Ineu, Romania, where they built missiles, Parsons for Caltech, in the Jet Propulsion Lab – they both died in their 30s, and they were both magicians.

EGGS

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So, on October 2 last year, I take my dog out for a walk, and while thinking of the two in tandem, two crows start following me on the road. I greet them properly, as I decide that it’s the two I’ve been thinking of, the two Jacks – incidentally my father’s nickname was also Jack (in Romanian, Gicå). They say something, and I say something, and it’s all very good. On the way back, I am intent on honoring them with cooking lunch for myself in the form of scrambled eggs and bone marrow (my father’s favorite). I’m very excited about this project, and I can see that the crows are too. They follow me almost to the entrance to my block. I go upstairs, open the fridge, and… the horror. There are no eggs in the fridge. What to do?

 parsons

I can’t let the two down, so I go out again, and hit the local supermarket. I get two dozens of eggs. That’s 24 eggs in two egg cartons. I open the first one and I gape: 10 eggs are brown and 2 are white. ‘No way,’ I said. At this point I’m beginning to get a very clear sense of why I bought the second egg carton. For proof. For you see, what would give me better proof of the two rocket-scientists having turned into crows than seeing that they have now also turned into eggs? Logically speaking, I figured that if the second egg carton will feature all the eggs brown, then that will be my proof. You can imagine my excitement. I open the carton, and voilà: all the eggs are brown. So, out of 24 eggs bought on Jack Parsons’s birthday, when I asked him specifically to hang out with my father and have a chat with him, two eggs turned out WHITE. Does magic exist? Obviously it does. Incidentally, Jack Parsons’s name was John Whiteside Parsons (born Marvel Whiteside Parsons). White marvel indeed. He is my man (most occultists express reservation towards Jack, but I care little for others’ opinions).

THE BOWL

Now, let me tell you another story.

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Some 4 years ago, after a conference here, I invited some friends from the US over to dinner. We've been known each other for ages, and we always meet regularly at the Maple and Eagle conference in Helsinki. So, the couple comes over, and I try to explain to them something about my Jugendstil old clock on the wall, which to me resonates like the biggest cathedral in Denmark. They concur that it’s special. After a lovely evening, and getting ready to leave, the woman tells me at the door that she wants to send me a gift from the US once she's back. She doesn’t say what it is. Two years pass. I get nothing from the woman, and I don’t think too much of it. People are busy all the time. Then one day I find myself in an occult shop in Oslo, and I try many Tibetan bowls on display. I don't buy any, as these things have an exorbitant price in Norway. But I'm intent on going home and on line immediately, and finding some on the internet.

Back in Roskilde I end up spending a whole night, at least until 4 am, searching for Tibetan bowls and listening to various sound samples around the globe. I decide to buy three. Just before I hit the ‘buy it now’ button, my partner asks me: ‘Where do those bowls ship from?' I say: ‘The US.’ ‘Bad idea,’ he says, ‘you're going to pay custom and the price will amount to the same as you would have paid for in Oslo.’ Then he says: ‘Wait until the morning, and we can both zip into town and visit a new age place.’ I listened to him reluctantly. My finger was still burning with the desire to hit the button.

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We finally go to bed. My finger has not cooled off. Eight o'clock in the morning the postman rings on the door. I'm sleepy as I only had 4 hours in bed. I go to the door moaning. I don’t expect any packages. I’m trying to remember what books I’ve just ordered from amazon. Pestering habit. I open the door and sure enough, a package. My partner asks from the bedroom, also in an irritated tone, ‘Who's it from?’ I’m astonished: ‘Christ almighty, Tina sent her package. After two years!' I then muttered something, ‘how nice that she remembered’ while unwrapping the package. ‘What’s in it,’ the man wants to know. I read the label: 'Bowl' it says, and then I shout out more convincingly: ‘it's a bowl' - while thinking, ‘probably ceramics.’ Then he says, being more perceptive: ‘Please don't tell me it's a Tibetan bowl.’ ‘No way,' I’m thinking. I open the box, and voilà, a Tibetan bowl. My partner fainted on the way to the bathroom. Absolutely perfect. Perfectissimo. Does magic exist? It goes to show. Does it have a name? No, it doesn't. It’s a sinking into heavens. Tina saw my love of vibrations, but then she just had to wait two years to send her gift exactly at the right moment. When I pointed my finger at it. Adamantly. And that’s all there is to it. How nice that I didn’t have to go anywhere. The Tibetan bowl was delivered to my doorstep when I wished for it the most. So it goes.

THE BELL

Now, almost in the same vein as above, let me tell you a third story.

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A week later, after the above incident, I was organizing a conference at my home university. The participants were about to arrive, and some did arrive a day earlier. I invited a couple of friends into town and to have dinner. Over food and drinks, my partner, who was also the co-organizer, expressed concern with the coffee breaks that always drag too long, and the impossibility to get people back to the lecture rooms on time for the next panels. I said to him, ‘you need a bell’. After dinner, we were strolling in the streets, and we passed a Tibetan place with lots of bells in the window. I said, ‘oh, let's just enter and get you a bell, so you can gather the sheep.’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘I don't want to waste these peoples' time with your bells.’ ‘Ok,’ I said. ‘It’s your hassle.’ The next morning, the first to arrive at the conference was a woman from Japan. She gave us a present: A bell. Whoa, astonishment again. What magic! Needless to say, the bell was used throughout the entire conference to great effect. My partner didn't have to turn into a Lutheran fascist.

DOES MAGIC EXIST?

Now, as I started out saying, do these stories prove anything: the existence of magic, God, or some other such things that the incredulous are not so sure about? They prove nothing. But what they do is tell us what we can make out of the way in which we interact with the world. By letting ourselves be enchanted with how things come to us, or with what happens when we point our index finger at someone or something, we get a sense of what it means to be alive beyond our pulsing blood through our veins.

I like to think of old bones, dead people, and their breaths populating the atmosphere. If I believe in anything I believe in this fact: The fact that we all live on top of one big cemetery. For all we know, those we bury don’t go anywhere. They share their last breaths with all of us. There’s gravity here. Even if ashes are spread they still fall somewhere on the ground. Everything dies and everything gets re-circulated. I believe in the magic of the bells ringing. For the dead and for myself. Perhaps it's this sound that makes our wishes find embodiment. When I ended up cooking Parsons and my Father with a splash of bone-marrow on my frying-pan, I sure had a good day. A totally magical day. Now, if a crow approaches me, I ask it: which Jack are you? It usually answers. I value the experience of magic above proof and rationality.

On a more mundane level, let’s just say that the stories about the clock ringing, the bell ringing, and the bowl singing, offer me the following moral story: I never have or enter a Tibetan place. All I need to do is wish for something from there, and I get it instantly. I like that. So magic for me is a mood enhancer. It is beyond proof and beyond dismissal. Magic, if we go with it, empowers us, and makes us think that if we can think it, we can have it, even when we don’t get it. I have hundreds of magical stories to tell, and so does everyone else who is interested in being astonished. That's all it takes.

Good luck with your magical moments and don’t forget to tune in to what else is there beyond the measuring of how far our mental elastic stretches. As for rationality: Oh, I leave that to whose who don’t have anything better do to, than to sit around and call others crazy.

§

A note of thanks:

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A few of Frisvold's books in my collection. 
Tina Parke Sutherland, for the bowl and the vibrating thought. It found me.

Reiko Nita, for the chicken bell. It still pecks.

My father, for saving my life once through a cunning folk magical intervention (I'll tell that story some other time).

Jack, for all that sublime nonsense on Babalon and other such creatures.

The three occultist musketeers, Joeanne, Nick, and Drew, may you be blessed.