Follow up from Last Post: eBay and the Occult

I have had more time to read about the whole eBay banning occult things, and I may have been mistaken. In my rage, which probably hade nothing to do with the occult items, I got carried away and did not do much research. eBay will continue to sell magic items (tarot cards, occult books), but actual services (tarot readings, psychic attacks on rival businessmen, fertility spells for the barren). There are still problems with this ban, which is dealt with in the Wild Hunt article below. I just felt it was best to alert you all to the current events.

Rune Soup – “Mere Words, No Matter From the Heart” – Also talks about the use of the word “witchcraft”

The Wild Hunt – eBay’s Magical Ban: The Problem With Selling Speech

Things that Piss Me the F#%& Off: eBay Dosen’t Care About Occult People, and The Media Dosen’t Care About Mexico’s Protests

Well, fuck me. Here I was, preparing to post a message on some stuff that was really toasting my onions when I lose the entire thing. I’m sorry if I sound rude, but my anger is starting to boil over and I need to express my rage with the, what, five people subscribed to my blog? I don’t know how to check.

Anyways, the first thing is that eBay will not be selling occult materials. This bothers me as an armchair occultist, which I admit is rather hypocritical considering I only buy occult stuff and don’t do much actual work, but this still falls into oppressing religion. I may be overreacting to the entire thing, but the fact is that banning this means it’s being pushed out of the cultural dialogue. Also, take a look at this little newsclipping

Indeed, the company knows not what it does, unaware that the hour of the dragons grows near. Not only has eBay banned the sale of spells, but it has also prohibited the sale of potions. Yes, that even includes the +2 Potion of Dragonslaying — the fools! Psychic readings are similarly forbidden. Your knights will no longer have the confidence of entering into battle with their victory guaranteed by a seer, nor will your anteater be able to tell you the outcomeof the NBA finals for a price.

The dismissive way this guy talks about the news really gets to me. It feeds into the fact that occult ideas are outside the cultural dialogue. Anyways, this just bothers me.

Along with this, there is the situation I just learned about in Mexico. It all started with a picture on Facebook, which had a huge sky-view picture of a million people in the streets of what I am lead to believe is Mexico City. It said that a huge protest against media control and that the mainstream media is ignoring it. This got me really angry, but also curious. Personally, I have not had many problems finding information about it, but I am a bit unsure about what constitutes “mainstream media,” as I have never really put my feet in that particular body of water in so much as it comes to news. Once for the election of Obama, but not really in any other situation.

As near as I can figure the problem is this. A guy called Enrique Pena Nieto bought the Presidency of Mexico because he had enough money and traction with one of Mexico’s two television companies (his wife’s a soap star). There has been talk that one of these channels, Televisia, has put out Pro-Nieto propaganda as news. He also belongs to the PRI, which is a conservative party that was kept in power for 71 years through corruption, patronage and vote fraud. Basically, it’s like Republicans and Fox, but with free grocery store vouchers if you vote for Mitt Romney.

In retaliation, a group called Soy132 has been launching protests against Televisia and the PRI and the whole sorry state which is the Mexican political system. The combined group of people has created the biggest protest the world has ever seen, and in retaliation the world media has apparently decided not to pay attention to this. A picture of the protest will be pictured, but even know I don’t know if I can take this seriously. When I look at the picture, I can see little squares, like the pattern of those papers you used in math class was overlayed. I don’t know if the picture is fake or it’s just some effect with the camera that makes it look like that. Either way, I am fairly certain that there is a protest going on in Mexico, and it is likely that it is the world’s largest, if only that Mexico City has a pretty large population.

I have had time to ruminate on these two stories, and as I type this up on my WordPress Dashboard I am not as angry as I once was. This gives me the chance to look over the affairs. The thing that comes up to me is that while these two stories don’t have much on the surface to begin with, there is a connection. Both involve a stronger discourse preventing a discussion of a discourse with less influence. In the case of eBay it was the elimination of “occult” matters, which reflects a wider cultural narrative that says the occult is either a) dangerous and satanic, or b) a joke for the gullible. The situation in Mexico, particularly with these PRI types, involves eliminating the voices of those who would disagree with the power structure. Ultimately, both of these topics come down to a matter of dialogue.

FOR DETAILS ON EBAY’S OCCULT BAN

Technoccult – eBay Bans The Selling of Magical Items and Psychic Services – has link to a Warren Ellis post on similar situations. Very good points about the ambiguity of what the word “occult” means.

FOR DETAILS ON MEXICO’S PROTESTS

Global Post – Mexico’s revolution will not be televised

The Pros and Cons of the Spoken Word

I have recently read this article on SubTERRAIN’s website.

In a recent article in Calgary’s FastForward weekly, the empress of Canadian spoken word, Sheri-D Wilson, said that spoken word is the new small press. Actually here’s exactly what she was quoted as saying: “Our small presses are being diminished because of funding, and also because there’s nowhere to sell the books, because independent bookstores are being crucified by the big-box chains. Spoken word is the small press voice in Canada. It is the alternative voice.”

The idea that spoken word is the new small press is absurd in so many ways. As is the idea that small press is being diminished “because of funding” (what does that mean? because it’s funded? or because funding is shrinking? is funding shrinking?) and because indie bookstores are falling like bad rhymes at a slam. And as is the idea that spoken word isn’t about pandering to the audience.

As someone who has been involved in the Spoken Word, I have to agree with this guy’s statement. There are definite advantages to the Spoken Word environment, such as the fact they are usually pretty cheap in comparison to publishing, and they are also a bit more approachable. My main problem with Spoken Word is that they do have the element of pandering. My experience with the poetry slam has been one of people who talk about radical politics, or at least left-wing politics that likes to hang out a bit farther from the moderate porch, but largely speaking it to a group of people who are around the same area you are currently in. There is nothing radical about saying “Gay marriage should be legal,” to a group of people who agree that gay marriage should be legal.

Again, I only have my own experiences to go off of, but the article does mesh with my experiences. If people like the kind of stuff you see at a poetry slam that’s great, but I personally find it boring. I’m not interested in simple polemicism, I want poetry that reaches behind the nutshell of the everyday, the nutshell in this case being stuff like pop art with its indifference to the current world and polemic goals of the local poetry slam, to the rich, meaty filling. (Yes, this is a nut with a meaty filling, like a steak. I want to have a giant nut that opens up into a well-cooked steak.)

Unfortunately for me, I am not in contact with any of these independent publishers that I have heard talk off. This may be that despite the fact the town I am is bigger then the one I grew up in (which beyond a dash of that brand of high culture that makes the middle class feel better about itself was basically inhabited by Canadian rednecks), it is still not a major city, like Toronto or Montreal or Calgary. If there is a small press here, I am unaware of it. Writing this, I do recall a small publishing house but I also know they don’t publish poetry. So again, there are no small presses here for me to express my odd ball poems about summer animals and winter animals and unorthodox reinterpretations of Shakespeare characters.

SubTERRAIN – The Panderingosity of Spoken Word

Great Wizard Battles in History: Alan Moore vs Grant Morrison on the battleground of my adolescence

WIZARD BATTUL! GUHH!

In High School I read comics, I wouldn’t say a lot but I started picking up all this stuff by Vertigo. I read most of Alan Moore’s stuff, no Swamp Thing, but I did read “V for Vendetta,” and wanted to become an anarchist after that. I also got into Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles and I will say this right up front, that book has probably messed with my head more than anything else. While I didn’t really get far on the anarchist thing, I may give it a go after reading stuff on anarchism that isn’t a comic book (No offense to Alan Moore, but V for Vendetta is much better then just simple anarchist propaganda), I did get something else. The idea to become a magician.

Both Alan Moore and Grant Morrison wrote stuff on magick and the occult, Alan Moore wrote Promethea and Grant Morrison wrote The Invisibles. They were pretty different approaches to the subject. Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, is a soup of conspiracy theory, chaos magic and his own coolness wishes, while Alan Moore’s Promethea is a look through Western Occultism with Alan Moore’s theories and possibly a bit of wanking. Both of these impressed the shit out of me, and got me the idea that being an occultist would be really cool. Not a lot of people I know are occultists, and I could be that one guy who knows all the magic.

And in that I was pretty Grant Morrison, because Grant Morrison is very much into the hip. Grant Morrison is a hipster, and he has some preoccupations with being considered hip. Hence his whole rock star persona, and starting a comic convention in the Nevada desert, which is called MorrisonCon for fucks sake. To be honest, I wasn’t really bothered with Morrison’s ego at first, but what really got me on was the whole superhero thing. Sure, he wrote superhero stuff before, like Animal Man and Doom Patrol, but I liked him for stuff like The Invisibles, which I did not view as superheroes. You could make that argument, but that wasn’t how I saw it. I was a bit disappointed when I heard that it started from a thing called The Boy Commandos, which was essentially a child soldier thing done in the 1940s when it didn’t have unfortunate implications. He still had the whole vision experience in Kathmandu, but something about redoing the Boy Commandos as Burroughsian subversives doesn’t sit right with me. Of course, William S. Burroughs probably did the same thing, setting up a Boy Scout alternative for the angry young homosexual and then aiming them at the government sounds like the idea behind “The Wild Boys,” but I haven’t read that to make that specific call.

If Alan Moore has anything up on Grant Morrison, I think it’s that Alan Moore is a bit smarter. Grant Morrison is clever, or at least has the kind of clever that works well in the pseudo-fame he has in the comics world, but Alan Moore is intelligent, a bit wiser than Grant Morrison, and probably a bit more sure of himself. Alan Moore doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks of him, which is why he spends all his time in Northampton. The problem I have with Alan Moore is that he can sometimes disappear up his own ass. This can be seen in his latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which does concentrate a lot on the “how-many-sixties-fiction-refrences-can-we-fit-into-a-single-issue,” thing. This even extends to his magic, as some have accused Alan Moore of being distant from actual magic, preferring the whole “It’s all in your mind,” school. Despite this, Promethea had as much an effect on my developing wizard-brain as The Invisibles. More in that the heroine Sophie Bangs is a bit more relatable then Dane McGowan from The Invisibles, who alternates between little shit and buddha. Sophie is human, with human flaws and generally human goals, and we are given a much more straight-forward look into the magick of this world than in The Invisibles. At the very least, I had a better idea of where Moore was coming from. I don’t think it’s fair to say Promethea is basically Harry Potter, if only because Harry Potter never had a Sex Magick Ed class, but I think it is a pretty good piece of work and that Alan Moore shouldn’t be dismissed. Whether the points that were brought up are legitimate are something I’ll save for another post.

For most of my adult and adolescent life, I have had both of these guys hovering around in the back of my worldview and the sometimes serious, sometimes half-hearted idea “I should totally become a wizard.” These days, I’m a bit concerned as to why I should become a wizard? I’m not even sure how magic is supposed to work these days? Do I concentrate on the fulfillment of my True Will? Make deals with the loa? Both? I don’t know. Still, why become a wizard? Because it’s cool? I don’t think doing something as serious as becoming a magician really rests on being cool. And what does this have to do with being a writer anyways?

Harold Bloom talks about the anxiety of influence, and I think this is happening to me right now with Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. I’m not a comic book author, nor do I have any interest in writing about super heroes, but there is a general interest in the occult that I have picked up from both Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. At this point, I am getting the idea that I am going to need to learn to become my own magician, and more importantly my own kind of writer.

 

For Further Reading

Less is Moore, a rant about Alan Moore’s approach to magic from a practicing magician

Grant Morrison is Wrong About Alan Moore, an article on the hypothetical feud between Grant Morrison and Alan Moore

The Story of Erotic Artist Gerda Wegener and Gender Pioneer Lili Elbe


Gerda, left. Lili, right.

I have a thing for Paris in the 1920s and a fascination with the concept of the grey areas between male and female. As such, when I found this article about early 20th century painters Gerda and Einar Wegener to be very fascinating.

The story begins one hundred years ago. In 1912, artist couple Gerda and Einar Wegener arrived in Paris, hoping for greater prosperity and freedom than their conservative hometown of Copengahen would allow. They checked into the Hôtel d’Alsace, where – they were shocked to learn – they had been placed into the very same room where Oscar Wilde had once died twelve years earlier. The couple spent the next few days reading Wilde’s works out loud to each other. The forbidden sexuality, transformation, beauty and tragedy in Wilde’s work was reflected in the couple’s following years together.

In Paris, Gerda quickly became well-known for her sensual, free-spirited illustrations. Her work often featured a mysterious beauty with a stylish short bob, full lips, and beguiling brown eyes. In 1913, the public was shocked to learn the identity of the mystery model: Gerda’s husband, Einar. Einar was transitioning to living life openly as woman named Lili Elbe.

The article goes on to describe their relationship, Einar’s transformation into Lile Elbe, which culminated in the world’s first sex change operation, and Lili’s eventual death due to a botched operation to implant a uterus. There is a great amount of courage in what she did, considering both the social ostracism she experienced and the fact that this kind of operation was totally unheard of at the time. I don’t know how much Lile Elbe is known within the trans community, which I am not a member of, but this is certainly a story that more people should know about. It would seem a bit pointless to rewrite the entire story, because Nadya Lev over at Coilhouse has already done a really great job at that. The link is at the end of this article, and it is something you should all read.

I also need to give Gerda here due, she is a pretty good artist herself. Her work has a very soft, fleshy quality that works well for art deco erotica and has nice colours and round shapes. Her work was largely lost after her death, but rediscovered and is starting to get some attention. I really don’t know what else to say except look at her work in the link below. I’m not yet ballsy enough to put erotic art on my blog, so link. Below. Look at it. There are lesbians.

Coilhouse: The Incredibly True Adventures of Gerda Wegener and Lili Elbe