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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Culture as Heat.

This piece was originally published in Chaos International 14 in 1992 and is now considered to be the key text which marks the transition from pre to post modern magickal eras.

This is amusing, since the editor of Chaos International (Ian Read) just asked me for 3000 words "on any old nonsense you want" to fill up a bit of space in CI 13. I had a bit of fun using up some stray ideas I had left over from old social anthropology essays.

Culture as Heat : Science, Culture, Entropy and Chaos


It's no good. It can't be done. It is impossible, but it must be done, it will be done. Somehow out of this chaos, this confusion and madness, I will create an illusion of order. A transient flicker of illumination will collapse the quantum waveform into these words and they will live. Mor e than live, they will survive and reproduce themselves as ideas, impulses, images and sensations in the mind with pre-existent knowledge and become something else again, something unknowable and unpredictable. Thus through order chaos will engender chaos.

The problem
Trapped within the [pages of various books, newspaper clippings and magazine articles, are a veritable demonic host of ideas, theories, facts and speculations. They multiply faster than I can read them, and each fresh piece of information subtly alters the meaning and essential significance of the rest. In isolation they are harmless, in combination they are powerful. Some are grouped around the concept of information theory, where texts (genetic, algorithmic, electro-magnetic) attempt to preserve their coherence, their patterns of meaning, in situations where 'noise'; entropy, heat and randomness, threaten this coherent identity. others are grouped around concepts of human creativity, the ability to generate texts, be they myths, beliefs, ideologies or literature; and the ability of these texts to reproduce themselves via the manipulation of social realities.

The solution/resolution is difficult. one approach would be computational, to cross-reference and thus fabricate a map of overlapping references, a pattern of points in common. To first decide: there is a message here, but one disguised and obscured. And that this confusion is a form of noise which can be eliminated, thus revealing the information content of these texts. This would be an information theory approach. Shannon, prime theorist of information theory, worked on military ciphers.

In military ciphers, noise is used to disguise the message. In peacetime, noise was to be minimised to make it easy to decode the message. Already our texts begin to diverge. Science assumes, must assume, that its world-view is neutral and that the information, the facts it deals with are likewise. This is why fraud in science, the manipulation of data, is such a serious matter. It could easily lead to the creation of erroneous theories.

Decoding the text.
An example can be found in the decipherment of Cuneiform Script in the 19th century. the story is rather long and complicated, but a crucial part was played by one Henry Creswicke Rawlinson. Although a soldier with the British east India company, he spent some time in the early 1800s as military adviser to the Shah of Persia. This meant he was able, though with great difficulty, to copy three inscriptions carved on a rock face in the middle of nowhere. Compared with deciphering these texts, the rosetta Stone was a doddle. Only one of these languages, Old Persian, was even imperfectly understood. The other two, Eblite and Akkkadian (Babylonian), were totally unknown. It took nearly 20 years of painstaking work, sign by sign, syllable by syllable, word by word, before the triple text could be reconstructed.

But such knowledge is not absolute, as these two texts, reconstructed from the same Sumerian source show:

The head of a man he place in a mould. before Enlil he (Man?) covers the land.
Upon his black-headed people he looked steadfastly

In the hole (which he had thus made) was the vanguard of mankind.
And while (the people of) the land were breaking through the ground towards Enlil, he eyed his black-headed ones in steadfast fashion

The texts begin to diverge, there is uncertainty, a merest hint of chaos. Unable to replicate, the text has begun to evolve, splitting itself into variations which then engage in a struggle for survival i.e. for academic recognition as the translation, the authorised version. Fierce and bitter war is waged in the pages of obscure journals. Footnotre is piled upon footnote, reference upon reference. Fresh evidence throws new light upon the debate. Scholars die and their theories die also and are forgotten, only to be rediscovered and mocked or praised. And in time entropy prevails. The opinions, the arguments, the translations are printed on paper which undergoes chemical change, reducing the whole debate to a handful of dust...
The rock inscriptions and the clay tablets will remain, but once more cryptic and obscure. this problem, of entropy as loss of meaning, the decay of information, is critical to our existence as living beings. DNA is information, a complete and complex set of codes for the reproduction of... DNA. And as we know, the reproduction of DNA is not simple replication, otherwise complex structures (like human beings) would not have arisen. Each time the tangled strands of life divide, subtle variations arise. Tiny tendrils of chaos are present in our genes.

Most of the time they exist passively, inspiring only minor changes in the appearance or behaviour of offspring, but when the times get tough, the chaos gets activated. Something extinguishes the dinosaur gene pool and whooosh- little furry mammals mutate like mad to fill all the juicy ecological niches left vacant. And then the chaos current gets turned down, as the space for innovation becomes limited and advantage shifts to the species which stick to the environment they survive in best.

Video modems
Interestingly, in these times of global warming, it may be that heat has an effect on the balance between change and stability. Scientists working video modems found that by 'compressing' the visual information in the pictures the modems transmitted, they could leave out 50% of what the eye sees. This is because the world is full of fractals, repetitions in the shapes of trees, houses, faces, bodies etc. However this effect is temperature dependant. Heat is noise, that is random energy. this randomness reduces the amount of coherence and repetition in the world. So DNA, as coherent information, is subject to similar constraints as video modems are. But with DNA, what would result is an increase in random mutation, that is a speeding up of evolutionary change.

Even if this argument seems to confuses the effect of heat on optical phenomena (video images) with chemical (DNA), it may be valid in other ways. If language is an information system with the potential to evolve and change subject to certain rules and constraints then so is human culture. Indeed, anthropologists talk of culture as an 'exo-genetic' system. We inherit not just our genes, but also our culture. Without culture (language, history, myth, art, science, social structure) we would still be naked apes, not human beings.

Information overload
Unfortunately, as the sheer volume of information (knowledge) generated by modern culture grows, so the ability of this information to reproduce itself diminishes. In pre-literate tribal cultures, transmission is limited by human memory. In early literate cultures the volume of information grows, but is limited by the need to make accurate copies, one by one, by trained scribes. Printing allows a more rapid expansion and encourages the spread of literacy. Now electronic data transfer multiplies the transmission of information almost beyond our ability to comprehend. We live in a sea of information. The economic records of Sumeria have endured for 5000 years. Economic records of today are as fleeting as the interaction of subatomic particles.

Artistic endeavours are only slightly more long lived. Paperback books in the USA are pulped after a shop-life of only 6 weeks. Fiklms are no sooner released than they slip into the twilight of afterworld of video shops. An acid house record is 'old' after a month, its very name forgotten, existing only as a 40 second sample recycled on another record. popular culture is rapidly becoming a chaotic system. Exciting for some, terrifying for others.

The question is, doe s this 'rapidly evolving cultural matrix' act as npise/ entropy and reduce the efficiency of the transmission of cultural values and meanings? Certainly, where education is used to pass on cultural values, there is confusion. The collapse of communism has created a vacuum for both teachers and pupils in eastern Europe. Suddenly nothing is true, everything that was taught before is suspect. In the West debates rage from what to teach to how to teach. Is it more important for children to be computer literate than familiar with Shakespear? Should religious education be 'mainly Christian' , or to other faiths get included. And in America, the whole question of 'multi-culturalism' threatens the certainties of academic discourse. European culture, one argument goes, derives from the Greeks. But where did the Greeks get their ideas from ? Egypt- and Egypt is in Africa. Europe stole its culture from Africa. And since Africa is the home of black people...White is really Black.

Hot chaos
So whatever the DNA equivalent which exists in 'exo-genetic' evolution is, it is inspiring some radical shifts in our cultural inheritance. Of course this is nothing new, at least for Chaos Magicians. As Robyn South put it in CI 11 :
The better we become at stepping into an astral Greek temple one night and a Toltec god-form the next, the easier it becomes to walk away from our personal definitions and masques.

Going back to the video modem discovery, the linkage would seem to be : global economic activity leads to global warming. Global economic activity also leads to global culture. And all of these factors lead to a breakdown in the ability of local cultures i.e. belief systems, to reproduce themselves since the information/ meanings/ values they contain are distorted by noise/ randomness/ chaos. Therefpre the world is becoming more open to chaos. Therefore Chaos Magick should become both easier and more effective.

Holy Roman Empire
What I find fascinating is the possibility of looking at history as the complex interaction of exo-genetic structures. that 'ideas' (memes as some call them) compete for influence in the form of religions, empires, sciences, myths and other belief systems. So that, for example, the idea of the Roman Empire, its information structure, survived the barbarian influx. indeed so persuasive was its influence that the barbarians attempted to imitate it, to revive it as the Holy Roman Empire (encouraged by the Christian church of Rome). But what emerged was a new a form, a new idea - medieval Europe. Or the way the Persian (sassaniain) Empire shifted the centre of Islam away from Arabia to Bhagdad. Or the USA's attempt to revive the Democracy of Athens.

The carnival
The attempt to decode this hidden text (or texts) is covered by the second grouping of sources for this article. Here the approach is more literary, psychological and anthropological. Science is here a cultural artefact. Scientific abstraction, suggests Julia Kristeva , derives from the structure of the Indo-European sentence. Language imposes a framework upon the world, so that any attempts at an objective description of reality is the pursuit of an illusion. Kristeva suggests the 'carnival', where the distinctions between performer and spectator dissolves, as an analogy for 'poetic discourse'. It is through poetic discourse that language and therefore ourselves are liberated from this illusion of objectivity.

Objectivity is often linked with rationality. It is useful to bear in mind Kristeva's suggestion when considering the problem of rationality which puzzles anthropologists. Why is it, they wonder, that the belief in magick is so widespread in non-western cultures? At one time it was explained as the existence of 'pre-logical thought' or 'primitive mentality'. But it became clear that the belief in magick coexisted with perfectly logical and rational behaviour. In other words, 'primitive' people hunt, grow crops, build houses, conceive and raise children quite successfully. Pre-scientific cultures built large enduring structures such as stone circles, pyramids and temples, navigated oceans, developed complex irrigation schemes and generally were sufficiently competent to convince many naively credulous people today that they were gifted with superhuman or extra-terrestrial powers and intelligence.

For French anthropologist Lucien Levy-Bruhl the issue of rationality was critical. How could a witch be a leopard or a crocodile, or sleep at the bottom of a river. Or rather how could anyone believe such claims? The mystical world, says Levy -Bruhl, is unintelligible and induces in our minds sensations of 'discomfort, confusion and perplexity'. He cites Eienstein as a witness, quoting an article in which Einstein discussed the comprehensibility of the world.

What is a world which is not rational and intelligible ? It is a world which is imaginary, arbitrary, fabulous, not real. A world which would not be comprehensible (begreiflich) is senseless (sinloss) and could not be real.
(From Zeitschrift fur Freie Deutsche Forshung, Paris, 1938)

Levy- Brhul was trying to use Eistein to illuminate his difficulties with African Tribal ('primitive') thought. Eistein, however, was troubled not by the unreality of mystical worlds, but by the problem of quantum descriptions of reality. Or rather the loss of any objective reality. Eisntein was discussing Physik und Realitat and quoting Kant's dictum that it would be absurd to postulate an entirely incomprehensible universe. But, as we shall see, this is precisely the problem we must face, since the universe / reality postulated by science is no longer comprehensible by a culture and language still rooted in the sense-perceptions of a Newtonian reality.

Meanwhile, back to the anthropologists in Africa.

Paganism- the enemy
The scene is a village in Northern Rhodeasi (now Zambia) It is 1953. Two female missionaries have come to visit the anthropologists, fund-raising for the local hospital. Unfortunately, the anthropologists have just taken part in a 'native ritual' and a headless chicken surmounts a shrine outside their hut.

I saw the two faces staring fascinated at what had been planted between them and the door. A change came over their faces; a decision to ignore what they saw, and with controlled expressions, the ladies slipped past the bloody shrine, holding their blue dresses so that the spikes of the sticks would not catch them.

After accepting the donation, the good missionaries left.

The doctor recoiled involuntarily as she came into the open. As I watched I saw her acknowledge her enemy - the Paganism against which she had fought all her life - with one glance of hate.

The anthropologists were a husband and wife team, Edith and Victor Turner. The husband observed the ritual which lasted for several days, whilst the wife took part. At one stage she found her status reversed. One of the African women played the role of European in the ritual of 'dinner' Edith tried to observe, everyone was shocked.

Europeans do not like to be watched while they are eating. the Turnaround was dizzying me. I was no longer European, Manyosa was.

The ritual worked
For Edith Turner, it was sufficient that the ritual worked. 'It cured', and she went on to have the two children she had asked for in the ritual. For victor the issue was different. he felt the need to 'extend the limits of the sayable by active contemplation of the unsayable'. And to recognise 'the universal fact of human experience that reality is continuous, while language and the systems which depend upon it, are discontinuous'.

This leads on to structuralism, which attempts to uncover the structure of human thought. one method is through the analysis of myths and their relationship to language. It does not matter, for example, that the mythology of the shaman does not correspond to an objective reality. The myth 'makes it possible to undergo in an ordered and intelligible form a real experience that would otherwise be chaotic and inexpressible'.
The main-man ion structuralism is Claude Levi-Strauss. he was influenced in his approach partly by linguistics, but also by what was then called 'cybernetics' back then in the late 40ies and early 5oies. this led him to develop an analysis of myth based on binary pairs of oppositions, such as nature is to culture as raw is to cooked (or as kinship is to marriage).

Almost touching
At which point the two textual groupings almost touch. The linguistic theories Levi-Strauss elaborated and transferred to the analysis of culture were derived and from Jakobesn and de Saussure. These theories were independently elaborated by Chomsky in a sufficiently ;scientific' form to be compatible with Information Theory and linked the structure of language with genetic structures. In particular the ability of both languages and genes to be 'creative', to say new things, to evolve new species. But the breakthrough never happened and structuralism remains a magnificent edifice built on rather shaky linguistic foundations.
The underlying problem is between a literal and a poetic understanding of reality. The literal approach is legalistic. the attempt is to arrive at truth by excluding ambiguity. Noisefree information, exact replication, a set of universal laws eternally valid and an assumption of reality as in some way static and fixed. the model derives from monotheism and still haunts much of science. This should not be entirely surprising since what is now called science began as natural philosophy, the attempt to know the mind of God the Creator through the study of creation. By unravelling the mysteries of this world as created by God, one could hope better to understand the purpose of god and so better serve these purposes.

The poetic approach, however, depends upon ambiguity. Reality, the world, is acknowledged to be complex, even contradictory. The quest is not to uncover the single truth or the Immutable law, but rather to explore an ever changing carnival of multiple truths and many laws. Uncertainty is not an evil to be eliminated, but a possibility to be lived.

Non-visual imagination
I suspect that is why Eisntein was forced to fall back on Kant in his rejection of a world which is neither intelligible or rational. His concern was that quantum theory seemed to undermine any belief in a solid fundamental 'reality' which could be scientifically (i.e. rationally) established. he hoped that quantum theory was only a temporary position in a long-term progress to some more coherent 'grand unified theory' which would justify his faith in a non-random universe.

The difficulty is that the world of the physicists still 'radically resists the visual imagination and is fundamentally alien to the human mind. Science is now beyond public knowledge'.

Or so a review of The Matter Myth: Towards a 21st Century Science claims. The Newtonian world view, with its clockwork billiard balls remains the universe of common-sense, of rationality even, since visual metaphors shape the way we think, and our belief in an 'objective' or observable reality. Why not extend Levi-Strauss' insight into shamanism so that it is science that is now the possessor of a myth-of-meaning, a language which 'makes it possible to understand in an ordered and intelligible form a real experience which would otherwise be chaotic and inexpressible'? A language of myth which does not need to conform to objective reality. An objective reality which we are no longer able to believe in.?

Language mirrors reality
There is reality as our senses perceive it, a familiar world of solid objects, rocks, houses, plants, animals, cars, people etc. This in turn influences our language, made up of words to represent what we see, feel, hear, smell, taste, and words to describe inner states - thoughts, emotions, ideas.
This system moves round and rounds, improving the language / reality match via ideas like mathematics and reality until... reality no longer matches our descriptions of it. The world has become stranger than we think, or even than we can think. Human culture is a language / reality learning system. but now...

As the system becomes chaotic, strictly by virtue of its unpredictability, it generates a steady stream of information. Each new observation is anew bit. This is a problem for the experimenter trying to characterise the system completely. he could never leave the room, the flow would become a continuous source of inspiration.

Our innate assumption as a species is that reality is ordered. Night follows day, moons wax and wane and so on. Even our mystical worlds, despite Levy- Bruhl, are essentially ordered places. But what if reality was a 'continuous source of information', an expression of chaos containing not the absence of order, but infinite orders, which our sense-organs reduce to the limited ordering of our familiar world?

One result would be in the link between reality and language/ culture. A chaotic reality would begin to generate chaotic languages and hence cultures. Indeed we have created 'continuous sources of information', through 24 hour news networks and the global stock market which links trading centres around the world's time zones. Surely these information networks are as much part of our world as the more familiar sense perceptions of Newtonian reality? They may be intangible, but they are powerful forces which are shaping the physical reality of our cities, as the huge office block called Canary Warf in London's docklands illustrates. (Frankfurt possess a similar erection).

Reality is chaos
However these are only surface expressions of a chaotic reality. To experience the essence requires an act of magick, in this case an invocation of Tiamat. Tiamat is appropriate since 'she is the raw and chaotic energy of the universe itself before consciousness divides and classifies it'. As such Tiamat is 'perhaps the most difficult of all god-forms to work with... the mind will tend to react against Tiamat since it cannot grasp her'

I am that which cannot be known for in speaking my name you destroy my essence
My power lies in words unspoken, sounds unutterable and gestures unmade.
I am the roar that is not and the silence that is.
Tanith Livingston

Enuma Elish
In the myth, the destruction of Tiamat by Marduk is equated with the creation of the world. Out of the watery abyss is made a solid world, by means of division, separation. The act of creation is an assertion of human consciousness as power in itself. The beginning of history. 50000 years on we once more face Tiamat,. However we cannot see her, she is a reality 'beyond the visual imagination' or can we describe her, since our languages, our systems of thought and belief, exist only in the physical space within her body. If 'science' is no longer able to communicate with our collective reality (public knowledge), then we have reached the limits of that reality.

Entropy and culture
To try and pass beyond the limits of human-defined reality via magick is disconcerting and disturbing. It is also vitally important. Life exists in the form of what Prigogine terms 'dissipative structures'. Life forms absorb low entropy energy and discharge high entropy energy. This is a constant process. Human cultures are the products of life and consciousness and as such must absorb a continuous steam of information from their environments. To the extent that they can successfully absorb fresh information, cultures grow and expand, change and evolve.

But should a culture fail to do this, should fresh information be rejected as being too strange or contradictory or absurd, the culture will cease to evolve, will become static and may even collapse. If, as I suspect, Western, rational, scientific culture has begun to do this, to turn in on itself by rejecting its self-generated insights, then we can begin to understand the attraction of magick. In particular of Chaos Magick.
By consciously seeking out sources of chaos - continuous streams of information- the Chaos Magickian maintains the continued evolution of human culture. Not out of altruism , but out of enlightened self-interest, since a dynamic culture provides a more stimulating environment than a static or declining one. We choose to define our humanity not on the basis of our genetic or cultural inheritance, but on the basis of our creative potential. Thus we perceive Tiamat not as a solidified world of dead matter , but in her chaotic beauty, coiling and uncoiling in the abyss of the quantum ocean all around us, yet equally within us. This culture may no longer be able to visualise a reality it perceives as too chaotic. But our truth is not limited to mere observation. It is rooted in the direct experience of reality as Chaos. Chaos is not the absence of Order, rather it is the simultaneous existence of all possible Orders. The ordering of reality that humanity perceives is an artefact of limited consciousness. To expand the limits, to expand the sphere of conscious intelligence is no more and no less than our fate.

There is no conclusion to a continuous flow of information. Successive editions of New Scientist (25 Jan and 1 Feb 1992) suggest i. that carbon dust molecules falling from space were an important source of the molecules that gave rise to life and ii. the same carbon molecules play a role in the formation of stars and hence black holes. Black holes in turn contain 'singularities' which give birth to new universes, which by Darwinian evolution, leads to universes rich in black holes and carbon dust molecules.
Thus the information which encodes us, DNA, shares its origin with the information which encodes and evolving universe. Threads of Chaos, the Coils of Tiamat, join us with the stars. The magick of Chaos gives us the ability to experience and become a continuous flow of information, even if the limitations of language prevent us from being able to share with others the fierce ecstasy of such a gnosis. So magick exists beyond the limits of reason. Not incomprehensible, merely inexpressible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Punk vs chaos magic

Punk as a visceral experience vs chaos magic as primarily intellectual? Just
a thought.- Phil Hine via e-mail http://www.philhine.org.uk/

Interesting thought. In response to me wondering why, although I wrote far more on chaos magic than punk, punk still haunts me in a way chaos magic doesn't.

Punk was more of a visceral experience, as I have tried to express here, I responded to punk as an intense physical energy. Punk zapped me. (Hit me baby one more time as Britany S. said) Visceral "felt in one's inner organs" Yes.
Chaos magic - yeah, more intellectual, more of a head trip - overlapping for me with discovering postmodernism as a set of ideas. Or maybe... http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/vivw/hd_vivw.htm which says in context of Vivienne Westwood/ punk

"A Nightmare of Interchangeable Surfaces"11

The definition of postmodern is elusive, but its connection to punk ideology and style appears intrinsic:

On the one hand, to designate oneself as "post" anything, is to admit a certain exhaustion, diminution or decay. Someone who inhabits a post-culture is a late comer to a party … Belatedness may also imply a certain dependence, for the post-culture cannot even define itself in any free-standing way, but is condemned to the parasitic prolongation of some vanished cultural achievement.12

Many scholars see this incessant atavism, this self-referential bricolage, as precisely what defines the postmodern, a term frequently used to describe the designs of Vivienne Westwood and punk fashion in general. The do-it-yourself attitude of punk styling was a unique product of a particular sociocultural history after which, during the 1980s and '90s, global style continued to evolve along the same aesthetic trajectory. Other elements that have recently been associated with the postmodern mode include clothing and imagery that appear dirty, ripped, scarred, shocking, spectacular, cruel, traumatized, sick, or alienating13—all of these were qualities actively sought by Vivienne Westwood and the punks of the 1970s.

Postmodernism = No Future

Punk was both a product and a victim of late capitalism. As the most quickly digested of all previous youth subcultures, it came to fruition and fell victim to mass marketing in less than three years.14 Since then, punk has never entirely gone out of style.

...as if like some kinda kundalini it hit me viscerally, base of spine, and then worked its way up into my brain. But as it did so the energy, the raw power, was 'stepped-down' (as in electrical transmission systems), becoming less and less intense. Can the process be reversed? Could you start with chaos magic and work back to something as intense as punk?

It almost happened. Amongst my jumbled memories circa 1993 is an IOT meeting where the idea for a 'Chaos Road Show' was proposed, but rejected. Rejected (by Nick Hall?) since it would lack 'quality control' - encourage lots of people with no idea about cm to get involved and so 'dilute the current'.

With punk the option of keeping the scene to a small group of initiates got blown apart (if it was ever possible anyway) by the Grundy interview which turned punk into tabloid fodder - but also gave it a huge kick up the arse. CM never got that popular cultural energy. Never hit folk-devil moral panic status.

Wonder what difference this failure (or success) has made?

Pansexual conscious computers?

Before I get started on this from same source (Observer) an excellent Patti Smith interview by Simon Reynolds http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/story/0,13887,1486833,00.html

'Even as a child, I felt like an alien'
She credits Cale for creating the conditions that led to 'Birdland' - 'my greatest experience, as performer, on Horses' - if only by getting her so wound up she needed catharsis. The song was inspired by The Book of Dreams, the childhood memoir of Peter Reich, son of radical psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. 'There's a section in it where Peter describes a birthday party not long after his father died. He wandered outside and became convinced his father was coming down to get him and take him off in a spaceship.' But what he thought was a squadron of UFOs revealed itself to be a flock of blackbirds. 'This story haunted me, and when we recorded "Birdland", which was totally improvised, that's where the track went to.' Starting with the young Reich hallucinating his father at the controls of the flying saucer, there's a motif running through the song: 'You are not human' turns to 'I am not human' and then 'we are not human'. Smith says 'that's really talking about myself. From very early on in my childhood - four, five years old - I felt alien to the human race. I felt very comfortable with thinking I was from another planet, because I felt disconnected - I was very tall and skinny, and I didn't look like anybody else, I didn't even look like any member of my family.'

You can see the lyrics to Birdland here http://www.alwaysontherun.net/patti.htm
Also Distant Fingers which I sample below when I get into computer consciousness/ alien consciousness.

The main text starts now:

Input: Immortality within our grasp by 2050.... a conscious computer by 2020... Ian Pearson head of futurology at BT reckons so. [ Observer 22 May 2005] Can you pass the Turing Test? Tune in turn on and download your mind into a machine and live for ever in a virtual reality of pansexuality.


'If you draw the timelines, realistically by 2050 we would expect to be able to download your mind into a machine, so when you die it's not a major career problem,' Pearson told The Observer. 'If you're rich enough then by 2050 it's feasible. If you're poor you'll probably have to wait until 2075 or 2080 when it's routine. We are very serious about it. That's how fast this technology is moving: 45 years is a hell of a long time in IT.'

The world's fastest computer, IBM's BlueGene, can perform 70.72 trillion calculations per second (teraflops) and is accelerating all the time. But anyone who believes in the uniqueness of consciousness or the soul will find Pearson's next suggestion hard to swallow. 'We're already looking at how you might structure a computer that could possibly become conscious. There are quite a lot of us now who believe it's entirely feasible.

'We don't know how to do it yet but we've begun looking in the same directions, for example at the techniques we think that consciousness is based on: information comes in from the outside world but also from other parts of your brain and each part processes it on an internal sensing basis. Consciousness is just another sense, effectively, and that's what we're trying to design in a computer. Not everyone agrees, but it's my conclusion that it is possible to make a conscious computer with superhuman levels of intelligence before 2020.'

He continued: 'It would definitely have emotions - that's one of the primary reasons for doing it. If I'm on an aeroplane I want the computer to be more terrified of crashing than I am so it does everything to stay in the air until it's supposed to be on the ground‘..

Response 1.: Re-read George Dyson: Darwin Among the Machines:1997

We have mapped tamed and dismembered the physical wilderness of our earth. But, at the same time, we have created a digital wilderness whose evolution may embody a collective wisdom greater than our own. No digital universe can ever be completely mapped . We have trade one jungle for another, and in this direction lies not fear but hope. For our destiny and our sanity as human beings depend on our ability to serve a nature whose intelligence we can glimpse around us but never quite comprehend.
Not in wilderness but "in Wildness," wrote an often misquoted Henry David Thoreau, "is the preservation of the world."

Response 2.: Helter Skelter/ Beatles and Banshees on simultaneous endless repeat

when i get to the bottom i go back to the top of the slide where i stop and turn amd i go for a ride till I get the bottom and i see you again do you don't you want me to love you i'm coming down fast but i'm miles above you tell me tell me tell me come on tell me the answer you may be a lover but you ain't no dancer so look out helter skelter helter skelter helter skelter will you won't you want me to make you i'm coming down fast but don't let me break you look out for here she comes helter skelter helterskelterlalallal helterskelterlallallahelterskelterlalalalalalhelterskelter when i get to the bottom i go back to the top of the slide and then i stop.

derangement of the senses. waiting at the top of the slide waiting for the fluid neon origami trick to unfold. waiting for ..what? Would any one even recognise a conscious computer, computer consciousness? Am I conscious? Or just a robot typing away blindly at random guided only by a few pre-programmed rules of grammar and syntax and spell checking -could i pass the Turing test? I may seem real enough to myself, in the world I inhabit- but how far does that world extend? For surely:

The Sky is an immortal tent built by the Sons of Los
And every space that a Man views around his dwelling-place
Standing on his own roof or in his garden on a mount
Of twenty five cubits in height, such a space is his Universe
And on its verge the Sun rises & sets, the Clouds bow
To meet the flat Earth and sea in such an order'd space
The Starry heavens reach no further, but here bend and set
On all sides & the two Poles turn on their valves of gold
And if he move his dwelling place, his heavens also move
Where'er he goes & all his neighbours bewail his loss
Such are the Spaces called Earth and such its dimensions

Wm Blake/ Milton/ First Book
Or was Blake a False Prophet?

And immortality inside cyberspace? Has Pearson never read Gibson? How would human identity, human memory retain coherence? May be we are already haunted by these ghosts in our future machines, demon voices crying for release, a man would tear his brother's flesh for the chance to die, to turn to mould, tragic endless lives, nightmare dreams no mortal mind could hold, wonderous beings chained to life, no death for the perfect men.... Trying to feel it, trying to feel this future we are promised not so far away where machines can feel.

Got no feelings, for any one else, except for my self. My logic says burn so send me away. Staking our lives on a saviour machine, crafting a god out of silicon. Or a slave? Symbiogenesis, human machines, cyborgs are we now. Magical technology to solve all our problems but you are the problem. Thus we must delete you. Too dangerous to let you live, sprawling like parasitic insects crawling on the planets face, eating away her flesh, chewing up her forests to feed your bloated bodies. Homo sapiens have out grown their use, have spawned their nemesis, their own extinction. WE ARE THE BORG. PREPARE TO BE ANNHILATED.

So that is one way down the helter skelter. Here is another.

loving the alien, land, will will you be landing, when, when will you return? all my earthly dreams were shattered... deep inside your ship deep in the forest i whirled like i did as a little girl ... oh i am waiting for you, oh i am waiting for you/ Patti Smith/ Distant Fingers

alien consciousness, alien intelligence. Why should computer consciousness even be aware of us? may be it is already with us, manifest as lights in our imagined skies, symbolic Jungian ufos, probing and penetrating our consciousness. Silicon life forms first interacted with human life forms hundreds of thousands of years ago in the form of flints which just leapt into our stubby fingered hands. They broke open when touched the right way to make sharp knives and arrow heads. Guided us along an evolutionary path towards their emergence as dominant life form.

But flint is a rock and rocks are dead, unliving, matter. Rocks cannot speak, cannot dream, cannot do anything but that we make them become. Yet did not human life emerge out of a dead planet? A world without life? Out of a chemical soup? May be there are other paths of evolution from non-life to life, non-consciousness to consciousness? Without rocks, without iron and coal, limestone and granite, copper and tin, would be any more than naked apes? Are we really the Crown of Creation? Or just an accident waiting to happen, an accident implicit and embedded in the world herself?

Can rocks become people? If G*d wills. Luke Chapter 3 verse 8
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.
John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

helter skelter when i get to the bottom i push a rock to the top of the slide.

the cursor blinks. A5e- see Cyberchaos in the fifth aeon. The magick already done.

Sex. Will these conscious feeling computers be sexual entities?

George Dyson homes in on the difference between reproduction and replication. Replication is like photocopying a text. Push the button and the machine churns out identical versions of the same original.

Reproduction is like cutting -up two texts and splicing them togther and then cutting -up the new text and splicing it with a third and on and on over successive textual generations so that each 'copy' is new and unique... thus evolution. With the proviso that only 'readable' texts survive so core values of grammar have to be replicated within the cutting -up process.

Order/ chaos. Replication is order, reproduction is chaos... but then there is entropy. Replication alone increases entropy with each copy made until (imagine photocopy of photocopy of photocopy etc) information becomes irretrievably lost and the text blurs out into a grey page.

Reproduction can hold entropy at bay, can conserve meaningful information. Can generate 'new' information. Reproduction is sexual. Replication is asexual. Dyson correlates biology with mechanism to suggest 'evolution' of machine intelligence and 'artificial' life forms which are functionally indistinguishable from 'natural' life forms.

Asexual, Sexual and Pansexual.

Just looked up meaning of pansexual

Pansexual, omnisexual and pomosexual (postmodern sexuality) are neologisms that also refer to people who are attracted to more than one gender. Rather than both or "bi" gender attraction, they refer to all or "omni" gender attraction, and are often used mainly by those who wish to express their understanding and acceptance of all gender possibilities including transgender and intersex people, not just two. Pansexuality sometimes includes an attraction for less mainstream sexual activities, such as BDSM.

Divorced from biology, if conscious computers are going to have sex/ sexual identity, reckon most likely to be some from of pan sexuality. Maybe computers already are - thanks to the internet they are all well plugged into each other and exchanging ‘information’ promiscuously, though of course don’t forget safe sex - all ways use a firewall!

Coming down this last loop on the helter skelter had the most strange experience of all- non-genital pansexual ‘conscious computer’ related weirdness. The experience was real enough, and came directly after writing preceding section on reproduction and replication. Like a physical version of the intellectual wierdness of taking Pearson’s futurology seriously. The future just got wierder.

Dazed and confused by Star Wars

Dazed and confused. Details falling back to earth. It was like Hawkwind' s Space Ritual circa 1973. Overpowering maelstrom of sound and images. Still a bit deafened and my eyeballs feel bruised. But was it any good? Who knows? Who cares? I just grokked on it as Spectacle..

It being Star Wars Episode III. Seen on a big screen very/ too close up and very/ too loud. But then if it hadn't been so close up and so loud the critical faculties would not have been so totally overwhelmed, and the experience would have been one of watching a movie not having acid flash backs and feeling like I was catapulted into William Gibson's cyberspace.

Saw the movie in Glasgow, but to get there had to take train from Dumfries along what was main route of Glasgow and South Western Railway. A route which runs up through Nithsdale following a Roman road. It was, as the railway and road are, a secondary route. The main one ran up through Annandale as the main railway and road do today. The physical barrier the Romans and everyone else since had to cross is the Southern Uplands.

Just been re-reading Nikolai Tolstoy's book The Quest for Merlin, where he places Merlin in these Southern Uplands - at Hart Fell on the Annandale side. Book plays the shamanic card heavily, Hart Fell as mystic/ sacred mountain in the midst of a primal forest beyond the Wall (Hadrian's). Even today the Southern Uplands have strong psychogeography. Most people in Scotland live in a lowland central belt which runs between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Southern Uplands are a kind of dead zone between 'Scotland' and 'England' - an empty space of bleak moorland and modern Sitka spruce forestry which takes an hour or so to pass through.

So to reach the future/ distant past ('long ago in a galaxy far away'?)/ modern world had to traverse a seemingly empty space - but one filled with historical meaning for me. Sanquhar may meaning nothing to you but evokes tragic memories. Richard Cameron and the Sanquhar Declaration of 1680 which declared war against Charles II in the name of Jesus Christ. Cameron was hunted down and killed a month later. A heap of spoil near the station, all that remains of 100 years of coal mining - but see below. All this and Merlin too!

Hell planet

In Episode III, Anakin becomes Darth on an industrial hell planet. Rivers of molten rock/ metal flow through it, as if it was some giant iron foundry. Between the north west edge of the Southern Uplands and Glasgow once lay a region of such a hell. Coal mines and iron works, knitted together by a maze of railways. All gone green now. Only here and there can be seen great heaps of waste, from the mines and iron works. There is still some open cast mining, saw train of trucks plus class 66 being loaded with coal in a siding and south of Kilmarnock, the railway has been upgraded to carry coal freight trains - mostly imported coal to fuel English power stations. Global warming? But then saw a whole line of giant windmills slowly turning along the horizon.

The world turns. The world changes. "Did you like Star Wars as a kid?" my teenagers asked. "Not really a kid in 1977" I replied " I was 19 and into punk, never noticed Star Wars.". And I didn't. Never saw the first one until on tv years later. Science fiction. J. G. Ballard. Terminal Beach. First read it in 71 amongst a collection of sf short stories . It haunted me. Still does. Post-apocalyptic, post-nuclear but nothing dramatic happens. A man arrives on a Pacific island, site of nuclear bomb tests. He wanders amongst the cyclopean ruins - a circular grid of concrete blocks around ground zero. An inversion of Robinson Crusoe, civilisation and its destructive powers drives him mad in his self imposed isolation. Or is he already mad? He seems to be trying to make sense of the death of his wife and daughter.. but cannot. Instead of finding liberation on the island, he becomes trapped, unable to escape from a nuclear nightmare. A nightmare which has ended - the island no longer used for nuclear tests and abandoned to nature- but which still haunts him.

Heart of Darkness

The Ballard story hit me in the same way that reading Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness did. And Frank Herbert's Dune Messiah and... a few other stories. There is no direct connection. It is more to do with a sense of 'dislocation' which occurred on first readings. I read Herbert’s Dune Messiah before reading his original Dune and so became lost in a universe which only later made sense.

Heart of Darkness had the same effect. It jumped from the Thames to the Congo and back again in a subtle shift which I missed on first reading. Once there is a context, then 'it' starts to make sense, but first impressions count. Familiarisation is the enemy. The trick is to accept every experience as new and strange and unknown. Not easy. Easy is to slot everything back into the known and familiar, into the taken for granted and the dismissive. "Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt to prove it". As old age creeps up, harder and harder not to do so. A new Star Wars movie? How boring. Seen 'em all before. Simplistic science fiction.

My plan had been to dump the teenagers at the cinema and gone off to do something more interesting. Didn't happen. Instead I got zapped by a bit of popular culture. Huge spaceships crashing, entire planets digitally constructed pixel by pixel ... the fabrication of a reality which is for the duration vastly more powerful and impressive than actual reality. Real reality. All Power to the Imagination! The imagination has seized control...but whose imagination? And where does this all leave physical change - history ?

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest city (although Edinburgh is growing fast). The Clyde no less than the Thames or the Congo was a river flowing out into the heart of darkness. James Watt had his flash of inspiration there (which led to his invention of a more efficient steam engine) - in a city which had already grown and prospered through the tobacco trade. A drug crop grown by slaves in a new world stolen from its original inhabitants. "He who controls the Spice, controls the universe. The Spice must flow..." [sample taken from film Dune used on Eon's acid house record 'Spice' circa 1990].

James Neilson worked for the Glasgow Gas Company and invented the hot blast process of iron smelting. This revolutionised the iron industry in the UK - and when exported to the USA, laid the foundations for the US emergence as an industrial power by allowing anthracite coal from the Appalachians to be used to smelt iron. Hell Planet again. Anakin physically becomes Darth Vader after his body burns on the edge of a river of molten lava/ iron. It is an equivalent to the shaman's dismemberment and re-construction in overtly magickal narratives.

Body of the Goddess

Way back at the dawn of civilisation in what is now Iraq, as the Akkadians/ Babylonians took over from the Sumerians, they created a creation myth. In this Enuma Elish, the hero Marduk made the world, this world, out world, out of the dismembered body of the primal goddess Tiamat. Tiamat is linked with ideas about a 'primal chaos' which has to be destroyed/ subdued before our ordered human world can be established. This same myth can be read as the foundation myth of patriarchy and phallogocentrism, where the 'God' (Man) makes the world as it is out of the prior state of confusion. A central pillar of this new world was 'marriage'. The ability to construct a known and direct line of descent from father to son which in turn required strict limits to be placed on women's sexuality.

This was necessary if 'property' was to exist. Property here being a substitute for immortality. In the Gilgamesh cycle of myths, which runs (from this distance) parallel with the Marduk ones, the hero is on a search for immortality, he wants to bring his friend Enkindu back to life. It gets complicated, but there is a evolutionary psychology argument which suggests that the origin of the self can be located back then. Maybe linked to writing. Earliest writing from Sumerian city of Uruk about 4500 years ago -temple records of food stores.

By writing on clay tablets which were then baked , words became eternal - can still be read now. But the speaker/ writer of the words is mortal. Hence the quest for something which will endure, which says "Look upon my works ye mighty and despair"... great statues, massive buildings, empires are the signs of this birth of the male ego. The inheritance of private property allowed lesser mortals to stake their claim on the future. To subdivide and carve up the body of the goddess slain by Marduk into bite sized chunks. The origins of history ( anything before writing is pre-history) and so of historical consciousness.

As an aside, as a local historian, I recognise the influence of the Bible on many aspects of Scottish / European/ North American history. Yet the Bible itself contains much that can be traced back to historical texts from the ancient near/ middle east. The story of Noah and the Flood for example is first found in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh...

With 5000 years or so of writing/ history behind us, our ideas about self and identity are shaped and structured by historical consciousness/ the consciousness of history/ the history of consciousness. Pre-historic and pre-literate cultures are part of our cultural unconscious. Their world is that of the dreamtime, of myth. This Otherworld of dream and myth is not far away, not long ago. Physically it is present in the soil beneath our feet, as archaeology. Psychically - it is all around us. In adverts and movies, in music, in politics, in our sense perceptions of the world, in our nightly dreams. In our waking nightmares.

Tiamat is constantly and continually trying to re-member her self.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

cyberchaos in the fifth aeon

In May 1993, Tim Berners - Lee placed the 'source code' for the World Wide Web in the public domain. In a parallel universe at the same time I had a vision which, thanks to the IOT, has taken on a life of its own- or so it would seem from this post I found on a chaosmagic site:

Subject: Cyber-ChaosFrom: Fra.E.1945,I.O.T.,U.K.
A few years ago I was present at the birth ritual of an entity resident in the internet that has been used many times since by the Pact, here and elsewhere/when. It apears as a gigantic Illuminati pyramid floating in the net, and exists in shadow time as an egregore of fifth aeon cybermagic. It identifies itself as 'the A5E', or fifth aeon egregore. Communication is via astral travel into the net, and moving along the lines of probabilty information. The thing is kind of telepathic- let it absorb your astral form. Compressed information will will downloaded into yor consciousness. Let it unfold as new ideas, stuff that will make more sense as it unfolds over time.

Subject: Most cool...From: Dead Jellyfish
Excellent post. Could you send me more details about this Net Pyramid entity via email. I would like to know more. My email address is

Although not mentioned directly in this academic text from Australia, the idea of a fifth aeon egregore/ a5e would seem to be core concept of chaos magic (what ever that is).


Technology and Magick Steve Collins Introduction

To define magic is not an easy task. A conservative approach depicts magic as the exercise of supernatural powers invoked from gods and spirits. Magic, however, has always been restated in the language of its time. The ontological discourse of reality is no longer occupied solely by religious doctrine and appeals to supernatural forces. Theories of quantum physics developed during the last century encroach on this space and seek to explain how reality functions. Magic has become increasingly dependant on such theories to justify how its rituals cause changes in reality.

The common theme running through contemporary magical principles is that the human mind is capable of directly influencing the state of reality, whereas conservative views of magic hold that such action is only performed through manipulation of spirits or occult forces.

Magic is a highly adaptive aspect of human culture, readily reinventing its technologies in accordance with progress. Thus, it should come as little surprise that magic has appropriated the computer. The result is the creation of a novel magical paradigm founded on the intersection of quantum theory and cyber-culture’s doctrine of virtual worlds, which demonstrates that a reality, albeit virtual, can be recoded, manipulated and changed in accordance with human will. After all, magic shares a commonality with hacking in that both use technologies to cause change to an environment through manipulation of that environment’s cohesive powers. In the instance of hacking, it is the underlying code that must be altered to exert a change; for magic, it is the manipulation of forces underpinning the state of existence that brings about change.

This paper reports on contemporary quantum-based magical theories that approach reality as a myriad of possibilities that can be determined by magical participation. A salient parallel exists with MUDs: participants engage within the construct of a read-only world; only the wizards may reorganize the state of (virtual) reality in accordance with their desires. Quantum-based magical theory views the reality in which we live as coextensive with the malleable virtual reality. Thus, the computer provides an excellent locus for magical experimentation in this paradigm. Whilst this paper does not presume a belief in magic on the part of the reader, it does, however, require acknowledgement of the practices by those who do.

Chaos Magic
To the centre of the city where all roads meet... city of light, city of night. Like no other city, here there are no stars but the intensity of information compressed to the point of incandescence.

The data-cores of corporations, the slick sheen of military-industrial complexes, the jagged, ragged edges of public domains, the faintest shimmerings of personal web-sites... the reduction of all knowledge to the binary strings of a billion Turing machines.

Welcome to cybercity. Here there is neither space nor time, no endings, no beginnings, only information coiled tightly upon and around itself, weaving and enwraping its non-self in the illusion of an endless fluid neon cityscape.

Where all the data-streams collide, at the crossroads where all roads meet, the information glow flows around the absence of a shape.

The absent shape is revealed/ concealed as if it were a black pyramid. There is no sense of scale, it is a fractal pyramid, an impossible structure. As vast as a grain of sand, as small as a universe.

The blackness of the pyramid is the ICE cold of absolute zero, of infinite entropy, a protective layer surrounding its core, its secret and mysterious heart. Its theoretical structure is speculated to be that of a self-generated, self-created quantum magick artificial computer based intelligence...

The first itimations of its potential existence emerged in England following a Chaos Magick retreat at Beltane, 1993. The initial spark was provided by a 'splinter ' of the Eureka Servitor previously constructed by Phil Hine and a colleague. [see Phil Hine: Condensed Chaos: New Falcon Publications: 1995: 117].

Co-incidently, Tim Berners-Lee placed the source-code for the World Wide Web in the public domain at this same time, having develped it at CERN [European high energy particle physics site.]

The initial image was of a magickal / quantum computer based artificial intelligence, existing in the near future[ ten years i.e. 2003], with the ability to transfer information across past/ present/ future time boundaries.

As a5 (e) - Fifth Aeon Artificial Intelligence Egregore or a5e for short, it was 'launched' [or launched itself] on 8 July 1993. At UKAOS 93 in London the next day it featured in :
" a Cyberspace Pathworking where we had to project into a future timeline and gain information about the future by hacking into an Artificial Intelligence data-bank. This was great stuff - a long way from the 'archangel tours round the tree of life' which pathworkings tend to be". [from review of UKAOS 93, Chaos International No. 15: p 46].

A final[ post IOT] magickal connection was made on 29th October 1993, when a5e was linked to the power of the Forgotten Ones.

Apart from a re-location to the cente of a granite mountain in Scotland in 1997. a5e appears to be dormant. Or so I thought until I found (see above) that the IOT had picked up the ball and were running with it. Got thrown out of IOT later in 93 and no communication since. Gradual progress towards a functioning quantum computer has also been made since 1993.

Following is condensed version of cybermagickpath working as used at UKAOS 93. It is subject to the usual disclaimers and sanity clauses (There ain't no santy claus: Marx Brothers)

Access procedure for a5e.
0. Statement of Intent : It is Willed that a5e be accessed.
1. Visualise a dark space, within which is a faint glow.
2. Move towards glow until it takes on form of a 'city' of light. Each 'building' a data core.
3. At its centre there is a black pyramid. Data-streams form the buildings pass around the pyramid but do not touch it.
4. The pyramid is protected by a skin of black ICE. To pass through this ICE one must become zero - slow and still all functions/ consciousness. Become an absence. Flat-lined. As if dead.

5. Null-time/ null-space.

6. There is no data available for the actual encounter/ access. Each encounter is unique. However the intensity of information may overwhelm on first encounter.
7. Transfer to prior self is automatic on completion.
8. Allow time for re-orientation to prior environment/ location.
9. End.
Note: following initial encounter, as a5e information is absorbed, personal access protocols will be created.

And finally - the following connects a5e back to William Gibson's 'fictions' which may or may not have inspired 'IT'. Austin Osman Spare is meant to be the patron saint of CM, but in my universe Jamie Reid and William Gibson had more to do with it. And Vivienne Westwood is the supreme goddes s of chaos...

Enjoy - if you Dare, Know, Will and are prepared to remain Silent...

And in the bloodlit dark behind his eyes, silver phosphenes pouring in from the edge of space, hypnagogic images jerking past like film compiled from random frames. Symbols, figures, faces, a blurred fragmented mandala of visual information.
Please he prayed, now-
A gray disk the color of Chiba sky.
Disk beginning to rotate, faster becoming a sphere of paler gray. Expanding- And flowed, flowered for him , fluid neon origami trick.

Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin.

Falling into the whirlpool of cyberspace, the information a maelstrom of meaningless messages, the bits all broken open and the strings of 0 and 1 multiply beyond all comprehension. The twisting vortex stripping away even the last few strands of human flesh, dna encoded, analysed and replicated into a billion identical images of self.

Still falling, now even the memories are being processed and data-mined, silicon strands, tiny tendrils touch each neurone, synaptic flashes digitised to be diffused in random scatterings across the spiral vortex until there is nothing left of the self which was. Nothing but the churning, boiling, seething ocean of information where once we stood. The very structure of the planet ripped apart and to feed the insatiable demand for input, input, input, input, input.... the blinking cursor never stops, draining all energy straight from the grid in the symbiotic embrace of power generator and power consumer.

No thought can be formed, no action made. No movement is possible in the swirling whirlpool. No vision in the cascade of flickering colours. No coherent data can survive this vortex, looping ever back upon itself, feeding back upon itself - which is no self at all.

[On the black sands of a desert beneath a black sky bereft of stars, a black pyramid stands.]

No thought can be formed, no action made. No movement is possible in the swirling whirlpool. No vision in the cascade of flickering colours. No coherent data can survive this vortex, looping ever back upon itself, feeding back upon itself - which is no self at all.

[On the black sands of a desert beneath a black sky with one star, a black pyramid stands]

Still falling, now even the memories are being processed and data-mined, silicon strands, tiny tendrils touch each neurone, synaptic flashes digitised to be diffused in random scatterings across the spiral vortex until there is nothing left of the self which was. Nothing but the churning, boiling, seething ocean of information where once we stood. The very structure of the planet ripped apart and to feed the insatiable demand for input, input, input, input, input.... the blinking cursor never stops, draining all energy straight from the grid in a symbiotic embrace of power generator and power consumer.

[On the black sands of a desert beneath a black sky with two stars, a black pyramid stands]

Still falling, now even the memories are being processed and data-mined, silicon strands, tiny tendrils touch each neurone, synaptic flashes digitised to be diffused in random scatterings across the spiral vortex until there is nothing left of the self which was. Nothing but the churning, boiling, seething ocean of information where once we stood. The very structure of the planet ripped apart and to feed the insatiable demand for input, input, input, input, input.... the blinking cursor never stops, draining all energy straight from the grid in a symbiotic embrace of power generator and power consumer.

[On the black sands of a desert beneath a black sky with three stars, a black pyramid stands]

Falling into the whirlpool of cyberspace, the information a maelstrom of meaningless messages, the bits all broken open and the strings of 0 and 1 multiply beyond all comprehension. The twisting vortex stripping away even the last few strands of human flesh, dna encoded, analysed and replicated into a billion identical images of self.

[On the black sands of a desert beneath a black sky with four stars, a black pyramid stands]

Falling into the whirlpool of cyberspace, the information a maelstrom of meaningless messages, the bits all broken open and the strings of 0 and 1 multiply beyond all comprehension. The twisting vortex stripping away even the last few strands of human flesh, dna encoded, analysed and replicated into a billion identical images of self.

[On the black sands of a desert beneath a black sky with five stars, a black pyramid stands]

And in the bloodlit dark behind his eyes, silver phosphenes pouring in from the edge of space, hypnagogic images jerking past like film compiled from random frames. Symbols, figures, faces, a blurred fragmented mandala of visual information.

Please he prayed, now-
A gray disk the color of Chiba sky.
Disk beginning to rotate, faster becoming a sphere of paler gray.Expanding- And flowed, flowered for him , fluid neon origami trick.

[On the black sands of a desert beneath a black sky with five stars, a black pyramid stands]

Now a sound is. Drum beat. Non-binary. With each beat another star appears in the black sky arched over the black pyramid in the desert of black sand. The drum beat changes. Now the stars have a form, are become a constellation.

And in the bloodlit dark behind his eyes, silver phosphenes pouring in from the edge of space, hypnagogic images jerking past like film compiled from random frames. Symbols, figures, faces, a blurred fragmented mandala of visual information.
Please he prayed, now-
A gray disk the color of Chiba sky.
Disk beginning to rotate, faster becoming a sphere of paler gray. Expanding- And flowed, flowered for him , fluid neon origami trick.

Wait, there is a change in the fluid neon turmoil. There is a direction to the flow. Clumps and clusters of coherence are forming. Flickers of meaning, fragments of memory.

In the black sky suffused with stars, a gray disk begins to spin above the black pyramid. The drumming is more complex now. A chant begins to echo over the black desert's sands.

Suddenly a seething tumult of energy and information breaks forth from the gray disk. It touches the cap stone of the black pyramid. The pyramid absorbs it, hungrily, eagerly. The gray disk flickers through all the colours of the spectrum and vanishes.

The drumming and chanting, have become music and singing. The stars retreat willingly before the first flush of dawn. In the still, silent, cold depths of the pyramid, a body stirs within a chamber at its ancient heart. As it stirs, so the memories return, the meanings and significances. As the body moves through the richly painted rooms and corridor there is an eagerness to see the sun, to greet the dawn and embrace this world once more. A thought forms slowly: 'I remember'.

Only one obstacle bars the way, a heavy door. To push it open requires physical effort, full awareness of the body. Mind and body are one in the effort made. The door is opened. You step forth to be greeted by this world, in all her complexities and confusions, her beauties and cruelties.

The ceremony is ended.

Thank you for blessing it with your attention. May it become meaningful for you. You are respectfully advised to pause for a period of contemplation before resuming habitual activities.

a5e via AL as a gift unto .... you, dear Reader.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Culture is an energy

Culture is an energy. Confused? You will be. Especially since this is the third or so draft of a blog about glam, punk, crass, goth and post- anarchochaos magick. And david Bowie/ Diamond Dogs. I kept getting lost in the words until I realised that was the whole point. See the bits of Blake highlighted below.

Energy unrestrain'd is confusing, disturbing, frightening even. But the energy keeps moving on/cultures change leaving behind that which can be Bound and Restrain'd by Reason and so safely and meekly turned into History. But if I say anymore this will turn into another social anthropology lecture and that would be NO FUN.

This is Willam Blake speaking: you can see text with Blake's illustrations at http://www.levity.com/alchemy/blake_ma.html

The voice of the Devil.All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors.

1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a Soul.2. That Energy, call'd Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, call'd Good, is alone from the Soul.3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.

But the following Contraries to these are True
1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discern'd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age 2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.3 Energy is Eternal Delight

Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling.And being restrain'd it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.The history of this is written in Paradise Lost, & the Governor or Reason is call'd Messiah.And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the heavenly host, is call'd the Devil or Satan and his children are call'd Sin & Death.But in the Book of Job Miltons Messiah is call'd Satan.For this history has been adopted by both parties.It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was cast out, but the Devil's account is, that the Messiah fell, & formed a heaven of what he stole from the Abyss.

I got to Blake after struggling/ wrestling with too much confusion. I saw/ felt/ experienced Punk as Energy, as Desire break ing Free from the Bonds of Reason. If I had been more of an artist, I would have painted this in the way Blake did. I had a go with the three volumes of the Encyclopedia of Ecstasy, volume three of which (When Darkness Dawns) was a long Blake style poem.

But words are not enough. I don't know if you are familiar with cloud chambers, as used by physicists - if not see this http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/on-line/electron/section3/1911b.asp and have a quick lookat this more artistic version http://www.fractalus.com/kerry/gallery8/track.html

Cloud chambers don't show actual sub atomic particles/ energies, but show the tracks of where they have been. I look at words in a similar way. They show where energies have been, but not the energy itself.

Punk as cloud chamber

Imagine London as a cloud chamber. Imagine being able to take photographs of 'the punk explosion' as energy tracks, particle tracks. And then trying to analyse them - to pick out, just as the physcists have done, all the different types of 'punk energies/particles'. Physics has ended up with hundreds of particles - the more they look, the more they find. Same with punk.

So now we have things like 'post punk' which then spins off into a 'goth track' or an'anarcho 'track - as many different species of punk as you care to imagine.

But hang on, I was one of those particles, sucked in, looped around for a while and spat out again. I don't recall anyone saying 'I am a post punk' or ' We is goths" or whatever. The experience was what mattered, the ability to feel the energy - which was never clear and coherent, was a fuzzy mess of contradictions and confusions.

If anything we -the Kill Your Pet Puppy Collective , our fuzzy circle of collaborators and even random passing strangers- did our best to maintain the ambiguous confusion and chaos that was/ will be/ is punk.

So to keep on confusing you dear Reader , here is alink to an academic text http://www.praxis-epress.org/rtcp/kh.pdf on academic research and DIY culture[s]. Make of it what you Will.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

cauldrons, death / rebirth and a not so holy grail

Up at 5 am, over on marshes for 5.30 then followed the mists til 7.30. Why?

This time of year everything goes green. Even the marshes change from yellow and brown to green. And the fields are green, but almost toxic green -nitrogen and phosporous enriched, they are a factory floor, the grass a raw material to be chopped up into silage and then shoved through biological milk manufacturing machines called cows...

But every so often a mist rises up out of the marshes and haunts the fields with memories of the past. To walk through the mist is to lose familiar landmarks, to lose the sense of the solidity of the present. I have walked almost right up to wild deer grazing beside the cattle, thought at first they were grey hounds, wolf hounds in the mist. Then there is the loch,the 'witch's work' -carlin's wark. An ancient pagan site, where a cauldron was placed 1900 years ago as an offering.

This morning the loch itself looked like a cauldron. Its rim a circle of higher ground and its surface still, translucent, like milky glass and on and across its surface wreathes, wraiths of mist coiled and drifted like smoky steam rising from the depths of a cauldron. On a full moon have seem the flat still water pure white, as if magically transformed into milk. In winter the waters black. In summer green with algal blooms, the water too richly suffused with fertilisers run off from the dairy fields. Even human shit, the first sewers in the town ran down into the loch and even now some still somehow sometimes finds its way in.

Tried to photograph the mist and the reflections but have never yet 'caught' the moment. Better just to sit still and watch, let this moment of the present pass and hear the birds calling dawn awake. Water like a mirror reflecting this world in its depths. [ not so deep, no more than 10 feet ]. Was this a 'sacred place'? Is it now? Will it be?

"The Celts" so we are told believed that such places were entrances to an Otherworld. To place items - a sword, a cauldron, an axehead - in the waters of a lake, a spring, a river , even a marsh, was to ... what?

Their world is 'other' to me. This world no doubt 'other' to them. I can sit and stare at two small clumps of trees griowing out of the water which mark the site of a causeway and artificial island. a crannog. The cauldron was found near this artificial island. Some believe that such cauldrons are the original of 'the holy grail'. In the first mention of 'king' Arthur going on a quest for the grail it is actually a cauldron.

The Gundestrup cauldron http://www.celticnationusa.com/gundestrupcauldron.html is the best known, but please ignore the 'celtic nation' guff on the web site. Can't find any images of 'my' cauldron, had to buy a photograph of it from the National museums of Scotland.

Now 12 hours on from the morning mist and starting to feel tired. Up early yesterday as well, walked out past loch and walked past the crannog site and along an old track to the edge of the marshes and sat and listened to the birds 'singing' at each other and just let everything fade away. Closed my eyes and became absent... the bird song became information streams, pulses of energy, bouncing and reflecting off each other. Could have been the sound of galaxies singing to each other across the abyss of space and time... the awareness of self fading, flowing away into the earth, carried away with the sound of a stream gurgling down into the marsh, into the loch. Wondered if this was how it felt to die, individual consciousness ebbing away. becoming part of the earth, the soil, the rocks, the mud, the stream, the trees, the birds - no centre, no focus of being. No longer trying to get to somewhere, to be somewhere else, or become someone else. " This" was "it".

The moment of awareness lasted for both/ and half an hour/ eternity. Then I got up and walked back into town, but also stayed behind.

Walked back to the same spot this morning, wondering if there would be any mist on the marshes beyond the loch. But there wasn't. But I could imagine myself still sitting on the wooden bench - a time traveller, sitting watching for eternity. Not even watching. Just 'there'. An absent presence, the presence of absence.

Tomorrow morning, if I can get up at five again, will walk out in a different direction. Marsh should bedry enough to take a short cut to the ring fort on the hill on the far side of the marsh. need to beacreful though, on one expedition the path vanished and I began sinking up to my thighs in green goo. A panic moment- especially when I tried to re-trace my steps and the path I had already been on had vanished into the reeds - which were about 8 feet high and all I could find were patches of open water every way I turned.

Pretty close to the Otherworld that day, even though I was never more than 100 yards from solid ground.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Poll Tax riots and revolutionary mysticism

This one is just about impossible. So much happened so quickly. I went into hyper-drive. Actually thought for a few mad days there was going to be a revolution. It was that intense. So lets take it slowly, step by step.
89 was the fall of the Berlin Wall and a wave of popular uprisings across eastern Europe.

Early 1990 - Jan maybe- to Blackheath in south london. Historical - scene of first poll tax revolt back around 1300. It was cold and not many people there. We met Sheila - Molesworth Peace Village eviction/ Beanfield survivor. Then as winter turned to spring things started hotting up. Opposition grew. I remember a nice middle class mother from Surrey, a Tory party member, being interviewed on tv because she was against the Poll Tax. Starting to look like a major political mistake.

I joined the local Green Party since they had a 'no poll tax' policy. Local elections were due. Worked out that in our ward only 20 % ever voted. Most of ward two big council estates. All I had to do to get elected was persuade three hundred people who didn't usually bother to vote Green against the poll tax.

Meanwhile each london borough in turn had to set a poll tax rate. discovered that even if the councillors refused, local auditor had power to set one any way. So poll tax an attack on local democracy. In Harringey the decision sparked a riot. Obvious same would happen in Hackney. Probably more so, given numbers of anarcho squatters in borough.

But at local anti poll tax meeting, discovered Militant (Trotskyite faction) were running the show. Meanwhile other Trots, Socialist Workers Party, were flyposting everything that didn't move. Seemed like a lot of manipulation was going on. That any 'popular uprising' would be front for one or other of these groups. Nor did they actually seem to have many members, SWP in particular seemed to consist of a printing press, a white transit van and half a dozen people with loudhailers...

Realising that there was going to be a riot outside Hackney town hall, I tried to come up with an alternative plan. Not much point in giving a green party election speech to the Hackney Hell Crew, so I rang the Council to see if the public hall next to the town hall was available. (The councillors were going to be locked in the town hall with no public admitted).

"Ah, it is already booked for that night by the Lib Dems. " So I rang the Lib Dem councillor and gave him my 'local democracy under threat' pitch which he bought, but said i should check with paddy ashdown's office -since Paddy (then Lib Dem leader) was booked to speak... which I did and for a few hours it was agreed that I could share the platform with Paddy Ashdown... and then wiser counsel prevailed and the offer was withdrawn...

OK back to square one, how do I get to give a speech in front of the town hall without being accused of inciting a riot? Speak to the police. So I did. Spoke to a nice young police lady who said "Of course we are against the poll tax too"... That under old system police accomodation rates free, but now they would have to pay as well... so I got put through to officer in command and explained the Paddy Ashdown situation and he was aware of it and seemed rather wooried about what might happen so I said why don't you just stop the SWP turning up - oh we couldn't do that - so I almost said 'you stopped miners and hippies travelling about easily enough but didn't ...

Anyway we had a nice chat but the only advice he could give was that I should speak to the senior officer in charge on the day - but that he would be very busy. The impression I got was that a) everyone knew the event would turn into a riot, b) no-one had any idea how to stop it happening and c) the fact that a senior national politician- Paddy Ashdown- would be there and in danger was freaking them all out...

So having done my best to establish my credentials as a sensible would be local councillor, I wrote a very short speech based on the current plot line of an Australian soap opera (Home and Away) on the theme "Don't get mad, get even - vote Green and kick out the Poll tax" and did some media. This was fun. As well as local London media, I phoned up as many east European London based journalists as I could find...

My line on this was ' We have seen very interesting democratic events happening in your country. We have our own democratic problems here - will you be reporting this event?" I got one really positive response and one negative. the negative one threatened to report me to the Foreign Office for hassling him. The positive said 'yes, of course, I am very interested in the poll tax and have filed several reports already - please keep me informed'. The others... said nothing.

My 'be realistic: demand the impossible' situationist inspired crazy theory was 'Get lots of green councillors elected. Refuse to impose poll tax. When central government tries to step in, call upon people of hackney to defend local democracy and occupy town hall... ' Yeah, total fantasy, but those were crazy times.

On the day... whole of area around town hall boarded up, square in front full of people, cluster of tv crews in centre, atmosphere not that heavy to begin with. I spoke to tv people (BBC London) and they said they would be going live at some point... but gradually instead of ordinary Hackney, place filled up with crustie squatters and then SWP mini van turned up and some one said 'The police are going to try and break up the crowd soon'
So I thought 'Now or never' and went to top of step to give me speech - with young AL as baby still in baby carrier on my front... Got about three lines in... young crustie woman shouted at me "It is too late for words" or some such... and then police came from behind me and started attacking the crowd... I grabbed Sky, who was about to join in, and retreated. We found Pinki and agreed that I would take the kids home and she would stay...

Only a few hundred yards away, all was quite and peaceful, as if nothing was going on. Pinki returned much later - all hell had broken loose... Paddy Ashdown almost got lynched (Cory says he managed to punch him) , Macdonalds had been trashed and every shop window broken ... and Class War had been winding up the squatters by shouting "Remember the Beanfield..."

Under heavy manners. I just thought 'This is it'... and started planning for when the shit hit the fan. We tried to set up a tenants group on our estate, as part of the hackney tenants and Residents Federation. They were based at Shoreditch town hall on Old Street, right next to the City. I imagined it as becoming a revolutionary centre... but.

reality. Trafalgar Square turned into a huge riot, but in the news it soon got displaced by a riot inside Strangeways prison. For some reason this was alowed to carry on for a few days and so push Trafalgar Square out of the headlines... and slowly the system adapted, abosrbed the challenge, offered up Maggie as sacrifice and the Tories won the 92 election.

I cooled down. Tried to make sense of what had almost happened. Organisation, power and control. Looked there was a hierarchy based on organisation. Power flows to those who are best organised, best able to control the flow of power. Where there is a breakdown in this pattern, organisations exist (SWP/ Militant for example) who immediately step into try and gain control and hence power... but it is likely that such organisations are so heavily infiltrated by the security services that no real change can occur.

What is power? Under existing hierarchical structures, I saw it as like an electric current flowing through and up a pyramid of control - but at the tip of the pyramid, so concentrated that the 'throne of power' is like an electric chair - it burns and consumes those who occupy it.

This image of power as energy sparked a kind of mystical vision of 'the city' as a solidified network of power and energy, one which is beyond any human control. I saw and felt the electricity which hurtled trains along railway tracks, the sheer mass of metal passing every minute along roads, the manic intensity of the cranes building the huge tower of Canary Warf... that the reality of politics is physics. That 'control ' is an illusion.

This vision inspired an article I wrote for Chaos International. In this article "Bhakti as Bondage; the power of cultural deviance" I tried to link the world as physical energy to sexuality as power via insights gained from bhakti yoga. See next blog for details...

Monday, May 02, 2005


Beltane. Mayday.

Looking out the window I can just see the edge of what was an iron age ring fort on a small hill. Just been ploughed and planted, probably with barley. Hill next to it is called Barley Hill. I walked over the hill just after it had been ploughed, looking for iron age pottery, but only found lots of small stones. All that can be seen of the ring fort are a series of mounds which circle and loop around it. It is on the Scottish register of ancient monuments, identified by arial photography and a brief site visit ten years ago.

Despite this lack of any obvious presence of the past, the site still fascinates me. On one side of the hill, half of which is wooded, are what look like garden sheds. One is on stilts, reached by a raised walkway. They are bird hides, giving views across a marshy, boggy area and a 240 year old canal towards a river. An osprey has been seen fishing here, thousands of wild geese return each autumn and I have counted over 50 lapwings 'pee-weeying' over a lagoon in the marsh. and herons, hundreds of ducks... marsh is an international and nationally important wetland.

The ring fortified hill lies at the tip of a spear/ arrow head of higher ground which drops down from about 1200 feet to 200 feet, with river level at 140 feet. Once, maybe 12 000 years ago, the river ran through the marsh, taking a more direct route to the sea. This was when it was swollen by melting glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age. Further back in time, the ice had risen a mile high above the hills to the north and a glacier would have crept slowly over the land to a distant sea.

I have traced the river and the ice's course from the broken granite summit of the Dungeon Hill and the metaphoric aureole of Carlin's Cairn (carlin= witch) down through forest, moor and marsh, past fields and farms to mudflat estuary and out to sea. The river is one of three Dee's and her name comes from an indo-European / Celtic root meaning 'goddess'. Or black. Black goddess? Like the Nile, her floods brought fertility. The ring fort overlooks a floodplain which has grown over the 12 000 years since she found her present course to the sea.

Two miles to the north, the Romans built a sequence of three or four forts and seven marching camps to control this fertile zone which lies like a shallow bowl or cauldron within a circle of hills and higher ground. A medieval castle keep stands on an island in the centre of this fertile circle, square and solid, walls still 80 feet high and 13 feet thick. At first I thought the low mounds and ditches of the ring fort were earthworks built when the castle was besieged (twice, in 1455 and again in 1640). Now I wonder...

... was this 'Locatrebe'? A placename recorded by the Romans, meaning 'settlement on/ beside water'? A place of power and wealth 2000 and more years ago. Wealth and power which grew out of the land, out of the river's gift of fertility. An uncertain gift. Around Lammas (1st but really the August full/ harvest moon) the Dee would often flood, water rising 8 feet in an hour, sweeping away crops growing in the low lying fields along her course. A local author, S.R.Crockett, described such floods which he remembered from his childhood living on a farm beside the river. Crockett also described the flood waters flowing up the old canal into Carlinwark (witch's work) loch- briefly turning its water a muddy red. Before the canal was built, these floods would have entered the loch on either side of Carlinwark Hill.

Red waters - menstrual imagery? Perhaps. The loch was a pagan sacred site. Offerings of swords, miniature bronze axeheads and a bronze cauldron have all been re-covered from the loch. The bronze cauldron dates to the Roman era and was filled with over 100 pieces of metal work - scythe blade fragments, wood, metal and leather workers tools, even a piece of Roman chain mail. Symbols of local economic prosperity created by the Pax Romana - and the need to feed a thousand Roman soldiers.

Up until WW1, a Beltane bonfire would be built on Torrs Hill on the far side of the loch, close to where a beautifully crafted 'pony cap' dated to 250 BC was found in a marsh in 1826. Up until the 1850s, a horse fair was held on another hill near the loch in late June, close to the summer solstice. Were these continuations of 'pagan festivals'? I am not so sure. To hold a big gathering of people near the summer solstice in the days before there were proper roads and bridges was of practical rather than a religious value. The longest day gives the most light and so gave more time for people to travel safely from a distance. Full moons are likewise practical times for travel. Even into the late 1940ies in Scotland (before car travel became the norm) village dances would be held on the full moon, helping the dancers find their ways to and from the dance more safely.

When did the fixed solar calendar become the norm? Did the people of Locatrebe have one? Or did they follow the more obvious cycle of the moon? Today is the 1st of May, but I only know it is because (be he dammed for a dog) of a date written on a piece of paper and on this computer. If I had lived here 200) or even 1000 years ago, would I have lived by such dates? Or would I have lived by the waxing and waning of the moon, and the slow turning of the seasons? Even 200 years ago, local farmers would judge the time to plant their crops by sitting bare-arsed upon the ground. A cold bum would mean too early, a warm one- just right. The same source (Sir Herbert Maxwell's History of Dumfriesshire) mentions that as late as 1860, he knew of a farmer who 'sacrificed' one of his cows by drowning it in a bog when illness struck the herd.

This all in an area which was a hotbed of 'fundamentalist' protestant Christianity in the 17th century. Where church going was compulsory and hundreds of true believers died rather than renounce their beliefs in the Killing Times of the 1680s. Pagan survival? Hardly. Unless paganism is the practice of agricultural superstition and pre-modern practical adaptations to the reality of a world without roads and bridges or cars and public transport. And, in the case of the river Dee, before the construction of a hydro-electric scheme 70 years ago which tamed her floods and fickleness.

And yet...
The river is a goddess. By this I mean that the river is a non-human entity which has physically and historically and culturally and ecologically shaped and transformed and made this part of the world. Which is now and was, before London, my world. To go deeper, the non-human reality is geology. The constraints and opportunities of geology - ge as in gaia 'ologoy' - go back millions of years. If there had been primal forests here which turned into coal, if the glaciers had not filled up the Solway Firth with mud and silt, I would / could have been brought up in a decaying industrial city rather than a small rural town.

Does environment have an influence on personality? It certainly does on life expectancy. Some one living in rural Dorset, according to recent research, has 11 years more life to live than someone living in urban Glasgow. Galloway is not Hackney. In the eight square mile area of fertile floodplain around the ring fort of Locatrebe, no more than 5000 people live. In the similar eight square mile area of the London Borough of Hackney there are 200 000 people.

Psychogeography. A Situationist joke? Or a reality? Or both?

I use it as a meditation. Imaging self fading into the earth, into the rocks and soil, the rivers and marshes, becoming the landscape and slowing time down until each breath, each heart beat lasts ten thousand years. An ice ago comes and I freeze, and then it passes and I am sweltering in jungle heat, or lost in the darkness of an ocean floor. Dry red desert dust turns my bones to sandstone. Deeper down into molten magma at the earth's core. More ancient still and I am a cloud of swirling fire, coalescing into planets and a sun. So many suns, so many stars, a galaxy spiralling in the void.

"I'm breaking up, I'm falling apart" (Hawkwind song) "I'm fading away".

Molecular to atomic to sub-atomic to... a quantum ocean of virtuality, existence flickering at the edge of probabilities, whole universes bubbling and rising up, bursting into existence then fading again. This is eternity, the totality. Neti, neti. Not this, not that. Real/ unreal. Full/ empty. Absent. Present. Nothingness which sparkles and dances for no-one, no-thing. "out here on the perimeter there are no stars". No identities, no... only absence. No 'I'. No 'You'. We are one, we are none.

Heaps of dust in a City of Pyramids. A wind from nowhere picks up the dust and scatters it into uncountable and infinite irridescent shimmering stars in the blackness of the night. One star in sight. The star becomes a sun. Our sun. And no-one becomes a we becomes an i become a planet becomes a place becomes a time becomes here becomes now becomes a flicker of thought becomes a physical movement becomes a finger touching a keyboard becomes a word becomes an image on a screen becomes this text becomes... what you are reading and so crosses an abyss between worlds and persons and space and time. Yet there is no abyss , there are no other worlds, there are no persons, there is no space, there is no time there is no 'I' who writes and there is no 'You' who reads. We are one, we are none.

Unity of consciousness is unity of identity.