Motown 25: Return of the Jedi

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Philip Comment

Michael Jackson was the pop music equivalent of Star Wars in the early 80s. His performance of “Billie Jean” on the Motown 25 TV special, in which he debuted the Moonwalk, was broadcast on May 16, 1983. Return of the Jedi was released a little over a week later on May 25, 1983.


Notes on Philosophy, Performance Art and Rock

Posted on November 10, 2015 by Philip Comment

The Dionysian strain

Performance art is philosophy dramatized. Or ritualized.

Performance artists of the 60s and 70s were as Dionysus obsessed as the rockstars of the period. Hermann Nitsch’s Orgies, Mysteries, Theater literally enacted Dionysian rituals, replete with the blood and organs of freshly slaughtered animals and live orgies. Jim Morrison was occasionally referred to as Dionysus by his bandmates, and he got himself into ecstatic, some might say possessed, states during his concerts. We see the invocation of Dionysus throughout the performance art and rock of the 60s & 70s.

Nietzsche famously declared God dead, but more deeply the poet-philosopher shattered the Platonic foundations of Christianity and Western thought. He cast beloved Socrates as a villain whose rationalism brought about the decline of Greek culture. He reinvigorated his own ailing culture, which had been sapped of its vitality by Christianity, through an exploration of the Pre-Socratics. The Pre-Socratic philosophers were also a very important element in Heidegger’s investigation of being

Performance art was modern shamanism.

Dada, Surrealism and Chaos Magick

Posted on November 9, 2015 by Philip Comment

Chaos magick is as much a reworking of Dada and Surrealism as occult tradition. Chaos Magick is inextricably linked with art. Austin Osman Spare, Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs and Genesis P-Orridge made great contributions to the study and practice of magick, and they were all artists with a Dada/Surrealist aesthetic.

Warhol and Glamour

Posted on November 8, 2015 by Philip Comment

The appeal of Warhol is his restoration of Hollywood glamor. Giving it an edge. Making it aesthetically relevant, while retaining its dreaminess. Warhol had a slightly deluded quality about him. He’s like someone who’s watched too many movies and drifted off on a silvery cloud. The true cinephile is living in a world of apparitions. Warhol speaks in the dreamy, enchanted tones of Marilyn Monroe and asks childlike questions. His voice sensually tinkers with reality. His films teach us to dissolve in the moment.

What sort of spell is Warhol casting? Is he glamorizing in the sense of “magical-occult spell that was cast on somebody to make them see something the spell-caster wished them to see, when in fact it was not what it seemed to be.” Did Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans cast a spell on us? Maybe in the sense that he got us to see art where we formerly saw mundane objects. He united the sacred and the profane, art and the commonplace. He infused life with art. That’s a sort of spell.

Band of Outsiders

Posted on November 6, 2015 by Philip Comment

How can a film be good if it isn’t an amusement park ride? In what other way can a movie be good or fulfilling? What did we learn from early 90s cinema?

The early 90s film directors looped back into the French New Wave. Tarantino’s company is named A Band Apart after Godard’s Band of Outsiders.

The FNW treated the cinema like an art, not an amusement park ride. The cinema is like a painting or a literary text, rather than a roller coaster.

Tarantino achieved the peak of mainstream popularity in the mid-90s and ushered in a new approach to the cinema. Or an old approach that had been marginalized.

A painter couldn’t give a shit if someone else is painting vases, flowers, pears, violins what have you. It’s the way you paint it, more than what you paint. It’s your style, your aesthetic, that matters.

Cubism helped people to see the modern world, or maybe it was merely an articulation of the modern world. The point is, the way the vase is painted is telling you something about the world. It’s not just creating the illusion of a vase. In fact, it’s doing the opposite of that. It’s a reaction to photography, so it’s going in the opposite direction of realism into a realm of ideas. It’s a work of visual philosophy.

Ritual and Illusion

Posted on November 5, 2015 by Philip Comment

There’s a big difference in the way we’re approaching books, movies and music. So many of us are disillusioned by the entertainment industry today, because we have a different way of thinking about and experiencing art. For most people, this stuff is pure entertainment, a diversion. It exists on the periphery of life.

It’s a little like the difference between magick with a “k” and magic. Magic, as in stage magic or illusion. The movies have primarily been connected to this latter form of magic. After all, film was based upon an optical illusion, the persistence of vision. Orson Welles, the preeminent 20th century auteur, was famously into stage magic. Film was a technologically advanced magic lantern show or campfire.

Contemporary films are made by people who understand magic, but have no clue about magick.

We’re striving to make movies on the basis of another type of magick.

Those of us who approach the movies as magick don’t really care for CGI. CGI is important to people who experience the movies as magic. In fact, we prefer to use simple effects that call attention to themselves as effects. The transformation of everyday objects into art. Again Warhol is a huge inspiration. Warhol was a magician.

Illusion can call attention to itself as illusion. We can recognize it as such and still be stimulated by it. We don’t need to be fooled by it. We enjoy the pageantry.

How is acting magickal? The actor is the basis of all magick, as I see it. First and foremost, to be a magician, or an artist of any kind, one must first be an actor. Orson Welles talks about this.

One of the first magickal lessons is the concept of reality tunnels, as presented by Robert Anton Wilson in Prometheus Rising. He gives the reader exercises to illustrate the concept. Spend the next 3 weeks thinking like a right-wing militia man, consume only right-wing newspapers, magazines, TV. Spend the following three weeks thinking like an ultra left-wing hippie. The point is you have to become this sort of person to really experience it. It’s not just research. It’s also role play. One must sincerely adopt the point of view to the point of almost being blinded by it. One learns that each world view has its bias. And many other things. This is the basis of magick. These are acting exercises.


Andy Warhol & Chaos Magick

Posted on November 4, 2015 by Philip Comment

Turquoise Marilyn (1964)

I think of groups like The Partridge Family Temple or the Church of the SubGenius as representatives of Chaos Magick. They form a personal, idiosyncratic religious pantheon out of pop culture refuse that unites the profane and the sacred. This practice reminds me of Warhol. He took mass produced, disposable images and gave them the religious treatment. Warhol created pop Byzantine icons. They presented an unapologetically 2-dimensional space. The Byzantine icon doesn’t exist in earthly time. It depicts a timeless realm. The background is not terrestrial, but a golden eternal space not of this world. Warhol took the most debased, almost tabloid images and treated them as something sacred. Applying religious techniques, this kind of votive art, to pop garbage. You might call it post-modern in its break down of the distinction between high and low culture. We call it alchemy. We must remember that the gap between high and low culture was much greater in the early 60s. So to do this sort of thing was controversial – blasphemous, even. It was the kind of irreverent maneuver that called into question the very nature of art and wound up expanding our definition of it. So we can point to Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe as an example of Chaos Magick…

William S. Burroughs

Posted on September 30, 2015 by Philip Comment

The other day I thought of Burroughs as a rogue blue-blood who transformed the ruling class’s techniques for manipulating public perception into surrealist performance art. His peculiar, DIY form of magick – cutting up, rearranging and splicing reality – was typically reserved for large institutions, like TV networks and newspapers, whose montages shaped public perception and controlled consensus reality. Just as magick is a rebellion against an institutional monopoly on spirituality, so Burroughs’ magical techniques are a rebellion against the institutional monopoly on consensus reality.


Damen, Anthony Haden-Guest and Phil Weaver

Posted on June 21, 2015 by Philip Comment

Περί φύσεως (Παρμενίδης)

Posted on March 20, 2015 by Philip 1 Comment


Ἵπποι ταί με φέρουσιν, ὅσον τ΄ ἐπὶ θυμὸς ἱκάνοι,

πέμπον, ἐπεί μ΄ ἐς ὁδὸν βῆσαν πολύφημον ἄγουσαι

δαίμονες, ἣ κατὰ πάντ΄ ἄστη φέρει εἰδότα φῶτα·

τῇ φερόμην· τῇ γάρ με πολύφραστοι φέρον ἵπποι


[5] ἅρμα τιταίνουσαι, κοῦραι δ΄ ὁδὸν ἡγεμόνευον.

Ἄξων δ΄ ἐν χνοίῃσιν ἵει σύριγγος ἀυτήν

αἰθόμενος – δοιοῖς γὰρ ἐπείγετο δινωτοῖσιν

κύκλοις ἀμφοτέρωθεν -, ὅτε σπερχοίατο πέμπειν

Ἡλιάδες κοῦραι, προλιποῦσαι δώματα Νυκτός,


[10] εἰς φάος, ὠσάμεναι κράτων ἄπο χερσὶ καλύπτρας.

Ἔνθα πύλαι Νυκτός τε καὶ Ἤματός εἰσι κελεύθων,

καί σφας ὑπέρθυρον ἀμφὶς ἔχει καὶ λάινος οὐδός·

αὐταὶ δ΄ αἰθέριαι πλῆνται μεγάλοισι θυρέτροις·

τῶν δὲ Δίκη πολύποινος ἔχει κληῖδας ἀμοιβούς.


[15] Τὴν δὴ παρφάμεναι κοῦραι μαλακοῖσι λόγοισιν

πεῖσαν ἐπιφράδέως, ὥς σφιν βαλανωτὸν ὀχῆα

ἀπτερέως ὤσειε πυλέων ἄπο· ταὶ δὲ θυρέτρων

χάσμ΄ ἀχανὲς ποίησαν ἀναπτάμεναι πολυχάλκους

ἄξονας ἐν σύριγξιν ἀμοιβαδὸν εἰλίξασαι


[20] γόμφοις καὶ περόνῃσιν ἀρηρότε· τῇ ῥα δι΄ αὐτέων

ἰθὺς ἔχον κοῦραι κατ΄ ἀμαξιτὸν ἅρμα καὶ ἵππους.

Καί με θεὰ πρόφρων ὑπεδέξατο, χεῖρα δὲ χειρί

δεξιτερὴν ἕλεν, ὧδε δ΄ ἔτος φάτο καί με προσηύδα·

ὦ κοῦρ΄ ἀθανάτοισι συνάορος ἡνιόχοισιν,


[25] ἵπποις ταί σε φέρουσιν ἱκάνων ἡμέτερον δῶ,

χαῖρ΄, ἐπεὶ οὔτι σε μοῖρα κακὴ προὔπεμπε νέεσθαι

τήνδ΄ ὁδόν – ἦ γὰρ ἀπ΄ ἀνθρώπων ἐκτὸς πάτου ἐστίν-,

ἀλλὰ θέμις τε δίκη τε. Χρεὼ δέ σε πάντα πυθέσθαι

ἠμέν Ἀληθείης εὐκυκλέος ἀτρεμὲς ἦτορ


[30] ἠδὲ βροτῶν δόξας, ταῖς οὐκ ἔνι πίστις ἀληθής.

Ἀλλ΄ ἔμπης καὶ ταῦτα μαθήσεαι, ὡς τὰ δοκοῦντα

χρῆν δοκίμως εἶναι διὰ παντὸς πάντα περῶντα.

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