bITS 'N CHUNKS
Welcome to Halloween everyone!
Now, somewhat ironically I can't stand fall -- I hate being cold, I'm sleepy all the time because DST has me fucked up, the trees and most of the flowers are dead, and I live in an area that doesn't even get snow so there's really nothing worth my while until spring gets here. Ahh, spring...
Well, anyway, for the upcoming spooky months I figured it was time to finally get back to what this site's all about -- writing! Yes, I've been posting about writing and some clips of projects in the works or dead things I'm tryna necromance, but it's time to but the "author" back in author. I'm not saying these are good stories or anything I'm just saying there will be some.
In addition to my regular degular posts, by the time you read this I will hopefully be done with my self imposed 12 Day flash fiction challenge. I'll talk more about my struggles with that as they go up. Oh! And Halloween themed DIYs. Make skull bows with me! Ooh-ooh, and more lifestyle blogging as I attempt to get out of the house and do things like a normal peoples do. And at some point I'll be discussing influential occult/mystic/esoteric literature! Some of those may be NSFW/NSFL but I'll warn y'all ahead of time.
I think that's about it for now...anything else will be a surprise!
This is something I haven't researched a lot beyond my own relationships with people, but I would like more representation of people of color interacting with the occult. The thought was originally triggered by movies like Sugar Hill, but I remember around Halloween time a couple years ago seeing a horror anthology focused on black women (think it was on Centric). Sadly I can't think of the name for the life of me and my searches are proving futile. The final story in the anthology was about this woman who was an actual goddamned Satanist that sold her soul for petty revenge and I was just like "yoooo!"
Thanks to all the punk and metal (and goth) music I listened to as a youth, I had a strong distaste for authority figures and doubly so for religions. I was exposed to all manners of esoteric thought and grew to hate religion. All religions. I don't participate in anything organized or non-organized, but I have friends that are varying levels of "pagan". I learn from them and I like hearing about their beliefs and practices.
A few years ago, though, I mellowed out on my own anti-religious stances and I got pretty bored with paganism. Most of my pagan friends are not white, but of course the reigning face of paganism is the white Crystal Kween with good bone structure. Over time I began wondering whether people were turning to occultism as simply a shock tactic. That disgusted me but more importantly really, really bored me.
I started wondering due in part to my own interest in the broad range of occult topics, were there any other black or brown folks interacting with this material? I wouldn't throw, for example, witchcraft under that label because there's a lot of implications there…plus, witchcraft as we know it often involves indigenous religions. Like, technically vodou is an occult practice but I think slapping that label on it creates a stigma that leads to all vodou practitioners raising zombies. Seriously, words mean things. I don't claim to know everything about it, I just think it's good when marginalized groups reclaim from their cultural heritage even if the mainstream society deems it inappropriate.
No, for my purposes I'm thinking more the tradition of European arcane knowledge. Something you'd probably read about and think, "oh that's neat". But are there people who put it into practice? Are there other black and brown folks that use sigils to summon or retain demons for their purposes or talk to angels? At one point, I thought offhandedly to myself are there any black members of the Church of Satan (there totally are)?
It turns out that's a very loaded question because often what we think of as occult is just really bad pseudoscience or basically non-European systems like yoga. Or things we've ganked from H.P. Lovecraft. More on that later. But I've read at least one book with an African character doing accurate medieval alchemy and no matter the circumstance I just thought it was so cool. I wanted to write black characters interacting with the occult and living their dark, hidden lives but I thought I was aiming for accuracy. Then I thought I was aiming for representation, now I'm just kind of wondering what I'm aiming for. My own enjoyment? Exposure? It's possible it stems from the sense of feeling lonely in my chosen subcultures and I just want to let others you're totally not alone with your Baphomet sigils. I do that too! All writing is just a way of saying, hey yo, I'm here too.
Or maybe I want to treat it like listening to Black Sabbath: just gonna drop this reference here and you gotta Google it and corrupt your own mind on your own time.
In the fall of 2015 (I'm convinced this was the last true Autumn that Nashville has had), I went to The End for a show. I like The End, it has that air of mystery, grime, and mild danger that I like on the weekends. I like small shows, I like small bands, I like local groups. Sadly, I don't really like taking photos. That night, I was there to see Coliseum with Child Bite and I believe Sheep Shifter? And the tickets were a little higher than The End's normal fair so I felt like this was pretty big.
To be fair, I was largely there to see Child Bite as they were on my radar for being brash and in your face, harsh, metal-punk-yikes. I did a little research on Coliseum as the headliners and figured I'd like them
So, we're here today because I left that fog- and crystal-lodged show a swift fan of Coliseum and in dire need of a copy of Anxiety's Kiss.
As I pined away in Tennessee for another chance to see Coliseum's heady, imposing, pink-shifted black magic stage show so I can appreciate it better, as my luck would have it I found out through pure fluke that not too long after the tour for Anxiety's Kiss, Coliseum had very quietly broken up.
Well, goddamnit! But all was not lost as singer/guitarist Ryan Patterson (for this project,
now R/Pattern) had quickly gotten another project started, Fotocrime.
Quick disclaimer but I know Paul Ravenwood, I'm lucky to know him, and I get all the deets and inside information to -- no I don't, I'm just a fan and I follow all his Facebooks. Please check out his Bandcamp.
That being said, listening to the latest TF release The Year the Stars Fell made me think of a few things. It made me think of active writing versus passive writing, but not in the sense that you learn in school.
(Active writing being the active voice i.e. the subject is performing the action and passive being the passive voice, in which the subject is having something done to it.)
No, I thought about setting up atmosphere. I thought about where my focus lies and when I change attentions. I thought about what inspires me directly versus just music in the background.
In my quest to talk more often about music, I made myself think about my intentions with music…when I choose to listen to it and when I choose not to. Occasionally, depression deprives me of the ability to handle external sensory information so I shut down. Like smelling salts I have to lure myself out with little drops of mindless pop. Sometimes I crank up the tunes to drown out unwanted conversation or hide the sound of my own typing.
But sometimes I listen for story. I'm a prog fanatic and with that comes the territory of the concept album, the task of creating an elaborate story through song. You are probably most familiar with In the Court of the Crimson King or 2112 or even Operation: Mindcrime, or you probably hear any of those and think "ohhh, that thing." Year the Stars Fell is more conceptual than concept in that it is emotive and tells a story about those emotions and events through a variety of techniques. In this case, it required active listening on my part to learn.
TF often meditates on personal issues no matter how dark and the often complicated, sometimes political identity of Appalachia. Across albums, EPs, and splits I appreciate how TF has set up a consistent atmosphere and identity and often I wish to do the same. I realized I was taking direct inspiration from the way the music moved me and made me felt, envision things, rather than just listening to the noisiest noise I possibly could under the threat (to myself) of writing and churning something out real quick for its own sake. It, or I myself, gave me pause and I wondered what exactly I was doing. What am I telling or showing, and what is the information that is left behind?
This is especially relevant to my preferred genres of writing, when I attempt to go for anything suspenseful or a thriller, or horror (more on that later) where interaction with the setting is pretty much 90% for the experience. I can tell you we're in a field but what kind? A field of guttural screams and tortured, conflicted emotions. Where men and women handle rattlesnakes with no fear and you drop your preconceived notions by the crackling fireside because you are here to learn. Using a variety of techniques like a good author for the intended effect whether it be to invite, to disarm, or to mourn, like a quilt, like a palimpsest.
Nothing can save us!
Hi folks! Taking a break from my regularly scheduled blog posts to let you all know I'm going to be at Global Comment a couple times of month talking about television and film. It'll be exciting! I said I was trying to get away from movies but movies won't get away from me. I'm very excited to be hounded once again! I will do my best to refrain from wrestling posts. Like I said on Instagram, man is it surreal to be up there with all these writers I've interacted with, read, respected, and commented on for years. I feel like I've broken into the Greek pantheon! It also hit me on a persona level as opposed to the Rolling Stone piece (which don't get me wrong was awesome as all hell but the emotional gravity was on a whole nother level there).
My first post is up already and I had a lot of feelings on IT (2017) and the love triangle between Bev, Billy, and Ben. There's a review in there somewhere too! We're all gonna float on the good ship Benverly! Get on board!
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...