bITS 'N CHUNKS
Ghostland by Colin Dickey is a fantastic book for those of you that like your skepticism neat and your sociology weird. It's not about anything occult, but like James Randi's Flim-Flam! it is a good guide on looking at superstition and religion objectively and asking for evidence of Things Unknown. Ghostland isn't malicious and doesn't really seek to discredit anything, but rather explain why we create ghost stories and hauntings and what those stories tend to mean from a cultural and regional basis. It reminds me a lot of Cassell's Dictionary of Superstitions, another neat text that I think everyone interested in the supernatural should read.
Curiously enough, there is also another Ghostland. Or rather, Ghost Land (PDF) as written by Emma Hardinge Britten. Britten was a prominent member of the Spiritualist movement as we'd recognize it today. Like Manly P Hall, Britten is an interesting figure and very influential, but a lot of her life is shadowed in mystery and much of what we know about her stems from her work. What's best to note about Britten is the company she kept (notable women of various occult groups like Helen Blavatsky) and not only was she a prominent member of Modern Spiritualism, but she help lay the ground work for its current principles.
So Britten's Ghost Land actually deals with her research into the occult centering around one Chevalier Louis de B, an eccentric nobleman that comes off a little St. Germaine. I'm pretty sure he's a composite figure. She details his initiation into occult mysteries, séances, mysticism, all that…like, you know, a documentarian. How much of it is true and factual? Who knows. I trust Britten, but she has a much different focus with her information. An agenda, if you will!
But in any case, both books do some pretty good things like identifying primary sources, build upon information, and don't expect you to just take their word for it just because they said so. They also aid in deciphering information by providing commentary backed up with knowledge. Any good investigative text should give you that much. And quips! Oh, the quips.
Just when I thought I'd listened to Kids Food with Jane and Jeff until I was sick then (spoiler: I'm not), Jowin has graced us with a season two.
I say season two as opposed to follow up or sequel not only to keep up with the idea of a short, perfectly structured OVA, but this new collection of songs sounds like a straightforward growth of the previous project. I told you Jowin does structure like few other artists I know of as demonstrated on Kids Food, and his latest EP Great Guy DX cements this without rehashing old steps. Please check it out here.
Is it a super upgrade? Yes and no. It feels very familiar. Musically, it gives me the chill vibes of Hyaline firmly mashed with only the finest of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-grade New Jack Swing. The songs are connected but by emotions instead of a solid storyline. Rather than an opening/ending surrounded by plot, I would say it feels more in media res. But in many ways it's certainly different. The music is still bright and layered but thematically moodier. I think most important to note is that the songs are longer here and hold themselves confidently. Jowin pushes the '90s New Jack sounds of Kids Food even more here, creating a very romantic clash of dreamy video game levels with swirls of smooth RnB vocals filtered through vulnerability and searching. I enjoyed hearing the extent of Jowin's voice, there are times when he sounds like the entire damn boy band. I mean there's rapping too, but damn.
Up for interpretation, but I like the subtle deconstruction of the archetype of the Good Guy. Jowin is still grounded in optimism but the optimism is borne of pragmatism as opposed to youthful naiveté. There is love, longing, deep sighs at life, and at the end acceptance. The theme of picking yourself up from life's bullshit is still heavily present here but it's tempered by age and maturity. It's easy to see the growth from young man to young adult. You don't have to lose your values but your priorities certainly change. From beginning to end Jowin dissects every side of this and still manages to wrap up on a good note. I reflect about things like this in my own life quite a bit. How do you grow without losing sight of yourself? What is truly selling out? How do you open yourself up to another person and what do you expect in return? The truth is, there are no real answers and we can't even pretend to have any. The solution is to move on.
The peak for me was definitely the hypnotically cool "Coco Karaoke" with a vibe so powerful it will slap you into an oversized white suit complete with sunglasses in the daytime.
Great Guy DX is a more than worthy successor to Kids Food and I'm so excited to see Jowin's development as an artist with no end in sight and lives to spare.
As we roll up on the end of this year and carefully decide whether we want to conk it on the head and throw it in a ditch or nah, things are going to get a bit more…musical, I suppose.
My end of the year event calendar is filling up and some of it is just neat enough to write about, so I will. Consider it a documentation of my escapes from the house. Likewise, there's some music old and new I feel like talking about. Movies and television? I'm still at GlobalComment for that. Personal vendettas? They are everywhere. And of course, a new flash fiction playlist soon-ish.
I have a few concerts coming up, perhaps some more wrestling, a few more thoughts on where I want to take this blog space from now on, and a few more book club stops. At the beginning of the year I'm going to have a little shut down time to revamp the visuals of this space and do a little more work with the layout. I'm trying to get myself on a schedule but I don't know if I'm ever going to make it.
So from here on out, I wish you all happy holidays, happy headbanging, and good lord let's make 2018 a smidge better than 2017.
I love Eliphas Levi as if he were still with us and not dead for hundreds of years.
I have a necklace with his Baphomet imagery. I have his circle of demons on my work desk. He was a pretty big & pretty popular figure back in his day, and especially if you're interested in ceremonial magic you have either read or should read all of his works.
Besides Crowley, I would say Levi is the name in occultism and magick. Levi tried to merge European socialism with an occult bent and he came out successful. You'll recognize that in a lot of modern Wicca. He developed the grounds of ritual and ceremonial magic as we know it (then, you know, Crowley) and to be honest a lot of his disciples really can't touch how mystical and open his language was.
In short, reading Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie will make you feel like you're really getting into some deep shit, and I like that.
It's also a lot more accessible than later texts on ceremonial magic, which assume you're already initiated most of the time. Here, the art is still new and Levi is grappling with separating the magician from quackery (something he's very aware of). It's not for everyone but I still find it very enlightening when I'm in the mood to feel like a grand high priestess.
I think it's because of his political bent but I often find Levi the least condescending so I often relate to his writings. I'm not terribly interested in the tarot but I like watching the metamorphosis of it from parlor card game to divination tool. It kind of…makes sense even if it doesn't. But this book is definitely not for you if you're already swatting your hands at the thought.
So if you think you're not interested, does Levi give any reason to take him seriously? Oh, yes. His passion bleeds from every word and his prose is enchanting. Reading Dogme et Rituel, even the English translations, feels empowering. Levi sets himself up as an authority but doesn't try to convince the reader that he's about to approach this rationally. No, he's here to tell you what he's seen and how you can get there too! So it's a very deeply mystical book that reads like an incantation. Who knows what the hell you'll conjure up by the time you're done.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...