Wishcraft, Stagecraft, and Pepper’s Ghost

The following entry may contain triggering material.

Wishcraft looks like it goes: believe in something and it will happen—maybe do something to express that belief, like a lot of wishing superstitions. Maybe that’s enough.

I examine my belief system, though, to make sure it’s still working (and I wonder with what I’m examining it, which keeps me paralyzed in a philosophical paradox until something sudden distracts me.) I’ve found two separate processes in action: 1.) making sense out of nonsense, and 2.) making more sense out of something that makes sense.

This comes up when I cast Ogdoad glyphs based on chess pieces. I’m casting them onto whatever poetic metaphysical equivalent of a chess board there is, and I have a specific idea of their nature and purpose—but not always the rules of the game, or that this vocabulary has the correct Glamour, or that who or whatever I address would listen and understand enough to join in on reinforcing this belief system by effective response. (Linguist Ferdinand de Saussure made a better connection between speaking or parole as the chess pieces, and language or langue as whatever it takes to make those chess pieces more than decorative.)

Fairy Chess changes the rules: that the pawns can now move like kings without having the value of a king, or that every move transports a piece to a corresponding square on a parallel board, or that there’s one extra piece on nobody’s side whose move is determined by the roll of an eight-sided die and so help your pieces who can’t get out of the way fast enough.

In a way, I’ve come to recognize these more as Proscenium stuff. A chess game can be theatrical, full of errant knights, flying castles, bishops moonlighting as assassins, and pawns that can rise to power as royalty. It’s not a frequent courtesy of the game I’ve seen, that players ever give one another the satisfaction of striking down the king. When such is a mathematical certainty, there’s no point in acting it out. The loser tumbles the king, and the players shake hands on it. Of course, the loser can flip the table over in a snit, instead, but that very real act somehow cannot undo the loss never enacted: “offstage” as it is, in the rules of the game, somehow less real. (If a player flipped the table over when so many other possibilities in-game remained, that would have a different effect.)

So, I’ve come to another distinction. The one is Conjecture Proscenium, which claims all those mathematical certainties of the downfall of chess kings, and the maths, and whys, and hows, of symbolic meanings, and all in a space where it really is just a game. The other is Conjure Proscenium, which I’d touched on when defining a deliberately created Scape (although I called both concepts Proscenium, then.)

I see the same process in the way I cast glyphs in the Otherreal, which is really very much like projecting a Pepper’s Ghost.

In the sidereal or otherreal, I sometimes feel qualities of otherwise undetectable billows in the air. They don’t change meaning or quality according to what shape I’ve put them in by waving my hands about, though—I’ve tried, and maybe that way simply doesn’t work for me. I build glyphs below the stage, the back of my mind or the bottom of my heart, and then play them out on the plane I perceive. I still wonder how it works, how it doesn’t, what is it about the world that has metaphorically conducive properties? But that’s applauding the scenery. Belief moves somewhere between the players and the props.

Ogdoad2016

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The Proscenium

The proscenium is a category I gave to a Scape in the Surreal, also to the process of creating it. It’s one of the turnkey concept-methods between the receptive liminal activity—receptivity?—and active liminal…activity. The preceding sentence is why I don’t like dualism, by the way, it gets everywhere into everything when the concept I’m trying to get at is really just one (third?) thing with differing things in the thing.

The library I call my “third chamber” originated as a visualization exercise called the Memory Palace, or the method of loci. As I recall, it’s ancient Roman, but I can’t recall when it became a thing and who authored what specific information about it. As I understand, concepts should become easier to remember if symbolized by an object that occupies spacetime, in the imaginary sense. While I could imagine this place that I’ve never been to, I couldn’t attach specific ideas. I ought to have been able to attach a grocery list to the banister, for instance. Instead, while I could see the banister clearly, I couldn’t help but think there was—because my mind’s eye could see, because my fetch-heart knew—this hoary old man with an eyepatch named Odin (the man’s name, not the eyepatch’s) rattling his cane impatiently against the bars and referring to me as ‘sonny’.

So, that’s one possible example of how something mundanely imaginary can overlap with spiritual significance. I could understand, at least I anxiously anticipate, the embarrassment of interacting with a symbol of my oedipal issues as though they were a cosmic power personified. I could also understand the frustration of hearing something, “Oh, you’re Jung’s Wise Old Man archetype!” over and over again by mortals who want to claim so much is just in their heads that it almost becomes a humblebrag—having so much more in yer noggin’ than most other people, eh?

However an individual decides—or feels is the best way—to interpret it, though, is probably the right way. Even if that inclination towards the psychic-like-psyche or psychic-like-psi-phenomena changes during the process, as the individual gains experience.

I liked that it was a round room. Sometimes, it would develop corners. Rather than wonder what the change in architecture symbolized, what self-work I ought to do so that my imaginary room would be round again the next time I glimpse it…I would make an effortful visualization of the room being round again. That would work well enough. It wasn’t so effortful to get it there in the first place, though, so I wouldn’t say that the mental effort alone makes it -real in the Surreal.

My Proscenium appears to operate on the wishcraft of a fiction. Once, two regular residents of that room vanished with all the furnishings. I re-established the third chamber as it used to be, but I still believe that happened. Am I deluding myself that the third chamber is still fully furnished? It feels awkward, but it doesn’t feel wrong.

I have never attempted to domesticate the landscape of Erstvale like this. I control my fetch when I quest. I wield Eidems like Heartwrench and the something Of Doom (with the pointy bit). We all have stories, and inaudible names I know, and some kind of vibrance. That’s what I experience, and whether I decide it’s in my head or some otherworldly journey, it helps to keep that possible.

~

It would feel wrong for me to summon those two residents back to the third chamber. I thought I could deliberately visualize a ghost-guardian person in Erstvale, the same way I rounded the walls of the third chamber…and, she simply wouldn’t take. I decided not to make the effort anymore, and a year or so later had an unsettling dream about her being melted (something alive or at least moving within the slurry of what used to be form.)

I write stories. I shape my mind for them: plot, aesthetic, voice and style. I let images form in my mind, emotional beats, manifesting potentials like a lucid dream (or, when writer’s block comes around, like a nonlucid dream or dreamless sleep. Is it a mineral deficiency, or do the muses leave me? Whatever.) It’s so common to speculate on the psychology of creators—while that is not the only literary analysis approach that exists, I took for granted that that would keep them safely contained.

But then Captain Marigold fired the cannons through the walls of our realities, so if I thought I made her up (which I shouldn’t have been able to—poor ghost-guardian of Erstvale,) she’s fairly self-made now.

That’s part of the Proscenium process, too: metaphorical thespians, characters, scripts and improvisation, rehearsal and orchestra, backdrops and backstage, costumes and makeup and lighting and masks. None of it strictly real; some level of it always true. Detached, we know it for what it is. Immersed, we know it for what it is.

Aristotle’s Poetics and Finally Some Structure to Wishcraft

Tune in for Aristotle being such a sexist!

Lately, I’ve been thinking of Poetics. The word reminded me that I never got around to reading Aristotle’s lecture notes on Greek theatre, The Poetics, so I finally got around to reading it.

It didn’t have much to do with my Poetics, or my ideas of what it would be as these ideas form, but it was an interesting read.

Much of it pertained to the technicalities of Greek theater, specific meters, how the Chorus should be treated, dramatic beats defined as Reversal of the Situation (Peripeteia) and Recognition and the necessary setups for that (I’m guessing that’s now like the chase scene as a narrative convention that Charlie Chaplin rebelled against in his time, which is not to say that narrative conventions such as “chase scene” or a “main character” aren’t worth exploring the significance of in its context or even today), but a lot of it could be applied to any narrative. It’s definitely dated, although interesting that Aristotle made the distinction between that which was virtuous, that which was appropriate, and that which was “ennobled”: so, characters in a play must be good and even a woman who is also a slave and doubly lowly can technically be so; but must also be appropriate, and valor and cleverness in a woman was inappropriate to show to audiences onstage (while learning something new would be a big draw, on some levels individual audience members do expect some validation of some of their worldview as-is); and yet, every defect of character preserved and presented onstage is necessarily ennobled by a poet. There were also some recommendations for information that must be left offstage, even as it affects the story shown onstage. The definitions and history of comedy versus tragedy were also interesting, with the comedy having no history according to Aristotle because it wasn’t taken as seriously (ba-dum-bam) as epics and tragedies.

The Poetics proposed that the stageplay was an imitation of life, and there was a whole chapter on how to address critics of a play on the basis of how the imitation went. To me it spoke of how artistic license and the tumultuous relationship between the work and the audience have been issues for a very long time.

*

Six parts of a drama that determine the quality according to Aristotle (translated by S.H. Butcher here): Plot, Character, Thought, Spectacle, Diction, and Song. I conjecture that they go in order, when Aristotle continued that two constitute the medium of imitation (so, I’ll guess that’s Plot and Character), one constitutes the manner (Thought, or perhaps theme as the political and rhetoric), and three constitute the object (Spectacle, Diction, and Song.)

I think of it more like the story as medium versus the story at large and at small. If we start small, a story is primarily description, dialogue, and narrative (or spectacle, diction, and song.) As a medium, audiences infer characterization and plot development or plot twists from the primary. I sometimes think of narrative as broader than plot, so they should switch places in size rankings, but I’ll position Song in a special way in my own system later. Thought, or what I could call Theme, positions the work in the context of society, which is the larger view of storytelling.

I recognized notions as both the basis of a belief system and generated or synthesized by the same. Beginning to think in ritual structure, now, the qualities in parts of a drama can serve as placeholders of a structure that can synthesize notions, the filler of the structure being the Ogdoad (and the application in Ways, that I haven’t yet written about.)

(Developments in Ogdoad can be followed here, although I recently decided to just do away with affricates and plosives already and just make a language with what’s left.)

I have thought about some significant differences between the Animist approach to mystic elements (that treated these powers as animate) and the Ceremonial (that tended to treat these powers as inanimate or resonant worldly extensions of the elements within oneself). Ogdoad would be neither, rather themselves being a perception filter construct, strengthened by recognition of how these notions (or elements) invite or apply to the greater world.

A one-to-one correspondence of narrative parts to Ogdoad definitely made it simpler, but I guess if intuition moved for a ritual that was all Pawn, or all Castles (even in the song, plot, and character positions) then that’s how it would go.

At first, I figured that the Pawn would always be in the position of Song, if I think of Song more as the connections that make the whole more than the sum of its parts. Depending on the notion to be synthesized, (which would only be complicated if one thinks in categories that would then fracture the notion rather than activating a whole that can then only be described in what would once have fractured it) the “plot” of the spell can either be imbued Kingly, Queenly, or Pawnly; same as the “character”. And the final three qualities would be imbued with the remaining pieces, for balance of the spell, and compatibility with that which the spell applies to.

Outside of this, where most modern spellcasters would put a circle, I’d put a triangle instead: sea, sand, and sky; the pledge, the turn, the prestige; or craven’s, maven’s, and haven’s ways. Craven’s Way applies more to personal development, Maven’s Way applies more to external entities on the same wavelength, and Haven’s Way applies to external forces and entities not on the same wavelength.

On Poetics

The French philosopher Gaston Bachelard once wrote an analysis of what he called the poetics of space. The inside of a house, he said, acquires a sense of intimacy, secrecy, security, real or imagined, because of the experiences that come to seem appropriate for it. The objective space of a house—its corners, corridors, cellar, rooms—is far less important than what poetically it is endowed with, which is usually a quality with an imaginative or figurative value we can name and feel: this a house may be haunted, or homelike, or prisonlike…The same process occurs when we deal with time. Much of what we associate with or even now about such periods as “long ago” or “the beginning” or “at the end of time” is poetic…

— Edward Said, “Orientalism”

By the same rule, there would be poetics of the body: gender, ethnicity, ability, sexuality, kinship, therianthropy; under an ability to see light, there would be poetics of color, and poetics of a specific body part such as an eye. There can be poetics of relationships, kinships too, kithships (maybe if that’s a word), acquaintances and romances.

The poetics of space can be national, architectural, or directional. The directional can be south, or left, with levity and gravity, or dorsal and ventral. With the latter, and in other cases, poetics of space can overlap with poetics of the body.

There are poetics of words and language, poetics of concepts and notions, poetics of mathematics.

But if I say that there are poetics of category…that’s just too meta, gone too far! (Technically, it had already gone that way in the poetics of concepts and notions.)

I wonder what makes the poetics incomplete as a concept that it must be anchored or expressed in ritual, or must be reflected back somehow by the world for the poetic to be complete and validated? On the other side of it, what poetics makes a ritual empty?

The Three Gates

 

The main reason I think up of why I’m a Faelatrist (of a sort) is that fairy tales provide the best language by which I can express my numinous experiences. At least, the fairy tales I’ve read.

Despite being the best symbolic-spiritual “language” though, I’ve still had to wrangle with the language as in…the words.

And I still have trouble anchoring some prominent concepts in available symbolic metaphors: metals, music, monarchy, and many other objects or practices that actually don’t begin with the letter M.

This one is the latest.

~

I cannot explain the architecture of the gates yet, because even just calling them gates makes an image out of them that they are not. It’s a shift into a new state of mind, and it opens up to a different space. There is no movement, and there is no space.

The first is Craven’s Gate, which is ironically named because it takes a lot of courage to approach it. It also takes honesty to enter, and love to survive a questant’s stay there. Within the gate is, mostly, suffering: the truths that hurt, but are no less true; the debts unpaid, the pains unhealed. The gate alone sets these notions apart, but there is never room to contain them, and yet it is never empty. You can keep this gate shut, if you must, and many do; but it is an injury to conscience and it will make itself manifest.

The second is Maven’s Gate, by which willpower aligns with effective action and is therefore aptly named. I’ve only just been edging into this, myself. Perhaps this gate represents the notion that we must own our biases, as nobody is an objective observer, and is a call to (borrowing from Joseph Campbell) follow our bliss. This is not only what we are, but what we make.

The third is Haven’s Gate, which is only theoretical to me. It opens upon the alignment of the other two gates, the inner world, the shared world, and the world beyond that. It is everything that exists and is “meant to” be, although I wonder if it’s exactly the same as Craven’s Gate reframed by the consideration that there is no inner world except that which we grant because it’s a natural concept to form in the mind, immutable, but still only a concept. Whether it’s the unknown and unknowable chaos of the inner or outer world, Haven’s is the gate of Fate, or it would be.

~

At first, I thought that Craven’s Gate had to be the first stop. Without confronting the contents of that, any approach to Maven’s Gate would be shallow delusion, self-defeating, repressive and oppressive. It might even be that Maven’s Gate is the philosophical enemy to Craven’s Gate because it’s for the sake of approaching Maven’s Gate that anything craven (that would make a craven out of us, anything unwanted but real and right in its place in our lives) is shed.

But the courage and compassion required to approach Craven’s Gate is a manufactured truth, not one discovered. Of the three gates, Maven’s is most purposeful a boundary-setter, and boundaries are healthy. But perhaps what grants people everything needed to approach Craven’s gate is Haven’s doing, as the provider of every notion and thing that is.

Or perhaps I’m wrong because I make of all this up.

Glamour Gate

The following entry may contain triggering material.
 

I began to learn about systemic imbalances of power in society when I was browsing the TV Tropes website for The Legend of Aang, which led to an episode-by-episode review through a feminist lens over at the Shakesville advanced feminism website.

Allow me to introduce Cecilia: one of Miasma’s dormitory roommates back when my mother was between jobs and had to resort to throwing me in with them, a fan of the show, and a fan of TV Tropes. Naturally, I suggested she look it up in hopes that the very humane paradigm and commentary that intersectional feminism provided would articulate for Cecilia as much that had been bothering her about life and the world as it articulated for me.

Apparently it did, because the next time we met, there was a definite spike in the specialized vocabulary that comes with entering this paradigm, which of course makes many of the integral concepts easier to talk about. Allow me to introduce Anjie was well: Cecilia’s childhood friend, and another one of Miasma’s dormitory roommates. Anjie admits that she just doesn’t do other people’s negative emotions, so I shift from Craven’s to Maven’s mode when I’m around her: recent events and immediate emotional reactions that leave off the extensive societal and philosophical analysis, entertainment media that’s actually entertaining, and together we sustain what I’ve come to call the Wandering Library which is paperback books that we’ve read and liked enough to lend to one another.

I met up with both of them (and Cecilia’s boyfriend, who’s been psychic since his near-death experience—his first near-death experience; he’s had two) for brunch.

So, I came to them in a situation that has changed in many ways: my mother got a job and then a side job, Miasma graduated and moved out of the dorm, but I just didn’t have the stamina or clarity to continue my education or else I didn’t have the funds. Depression is a drain on stamina and a cloud on clarity. From the outside, of course, it looks more like a very quiet tantrum that I could immediately get over if people stopped enabling my “depression”. From the inside, to “stop enabling ‘depression'” feels more like somebody chopped off my feet and lips and imprisoned me at the bottom of a well…and then promised me freedom if I could run a full circle while playing the tuba.

At one of my jobs, I’d had the good fortune to listen in on a history of feminism as applies to Stateside legalities, and, being excited about it, I brought up what I’d learned.

But first I’d asked if any of them had already covered this in university, because I didn’t want to bore accomplished scholars with the epiphany of a drop-out.

“Not unless you actually take up Women’s Studies,” Anjie replied.

I was surprised. Not only was this an excellent model for unpacking personal baggage and bettering relationships, I considered it an excellent way to relate to the world. Besides, one major change that I saw from Miasma returning from university was that she seemed to have a better grasp of the imbalance of powers in society as applies to nationalism versus cultural imperialism. Same system, same game, different focus being ethnicity rather than gender.

“Well,” Anjie said, “I wasn’t taking Literature.” She’d pursued a degree in a social science.

“Besides,” Cecilia added, and Cecilia had taken Literature, “In Literature, it was more about celebrating local artists.”

So, I presented my notes on the feminism in juris prudence lecture as well as my thoughts and feelings about it.

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The Animus Effect

 

So, I met Captain Foxglove on a quest that I didn’t even know was a quest, because it was more like an admirer’s romantic fantasy than a transcendental meditation or something where you sit in your meadow and find your spirit animal or whatever.

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Some time in late November, I think it was, I was taking a shower (in the corporeal world) when the Surreal pulled me into the poop cabin of Foxglove’s ship. The sun streamed in through the windows and Foxglove was loudly declaring that it was time to fight.

For a few nights after that (because waiting for sleep is usually the time that I do my quests rather than the Surreal interrupting my waking thought process while I’m in the shower) I would dream that he and I were on deck and he was training me in swordfighting, although he used a cutlass and I a broadsword and this was all imaginary which I didn’t consider entirely conducive to learning how to do anything. I’d wake up feeling slightly anxious, which, despite the relatively mild depression that I’d fallen into hadn’t factored in months.

As the lessons went on, however, my depression had cleared up enough that I was washing dishes with some regularity, which the extended family had requested I do when they first took me in. My uncle suggested to me that I not live in the past, which before then would have genuinely enraged me because by the nature of trauma and unresolved issues, the past would be the present; but under Foxglove’s unrelated imaginary lessons, somehow, my attitude had shifted closer to, “Can do.”