Saturday, March 6, 2010

Genius Loci Field Report #2

(The following is to be added as an appendix to the essay. I produced this and quietly distributed it to my friends as I began to have doubts recently and went back over my journal entries and experiences, counter-balancing what I had left to say with what was. I've decided to finish my essay: not because half of the techniques are not dangerous - they remain so for the unprepared - but because I am still unaware of anyone trying to chart their city in any similar manner. When I've discuss what I'm doing to others, I often just get blank stares. Which is fine, I suppose. But who knows? My city has problems of its own, as I plan to explore and detail out further, and these problems reach into the very heart of that daemonic reality I've spent six to seven months struggling to tap. Comments in brackets are made by Mr. VI. Everything else is my own.)

[Following receipt of this, I've spent a few days ruminating on my response. Initially I had decided against writing what follows, on the grounds it might seem condescending to my dear brother Jack. Further musing has however convinced me to acknowledge the starkness of his realization and, at the risk of contributing to the grim bite of the icy winds of indifference, possibly push things even further. For the purposes of email, my comments are hence in these square brackets, though should this ever see the light of day outside of our triad, some other method of differentiation will have to be found.]

Genius Loci Field Report #2

“If there is hope... it lies with the Proles.”
- George Orwell, 1984

[“I say I am a man, but who is the other who hides in me?”
- Arthur Machen]

What I am about to write, is in its own way, the most depressing thing I've had to say thus far in my “career,” if it can be called that, as a sorcerer. And it is this: most of what I have left to say may well be utterly worthless. There is a factor I've conveniently left out thus far, but was prepared to warn about at the end of my experiments, which unfortunately overshadows everything else I have to say. And it is this: huge chunks of space are utterly hostile toward us. This factor was at first counter-balanced by finding space after space that was mostly harmonious and open to the psychic probings of a sorcerer seeking the 'daemonaic' level of reality.

[Like any ecosystem, the first shock a human experiences in its first contact is the fact that this reality is not in fact anthropocentric. This goes beyond the simple notion that the human cannot claim primacy here, stretching into realms of horror whose echoes can be found in the work of Ligotti, Lovecraft and Machen. The human movement towards contouring and control is the infantile grasping for the nipple. It is the urge to make the world serve its own ends, enabling it to wax and garner even more sustenance; this is not to necessarily denigrate the necessity of such a reflex - and reflex it is - merely to acknowledge it as basic automatism.

Humanity is a vanishingly tiny percentage of the forms of life present on this planet, regardless of the existence of other realms or their lack. It is only the amount of seeming affect it has on its environment that induces the notion of control and hence its child, safety. To expect the acknowledgement of human authority by beings alien to us, whether they be animals, trees, daemons, or space itself is tantamount to suicide. Would we bow to the whims of the sea, with its immeasurable power to destroy, yet bounteous gifts of food?

This, of course, is answered by human history - propitiation of ambivalent forces runs through most cultures. Even the grandfather of Monotheism, Judaism, burned offerings to YHVH to keep on his good side! One might even argue that the daemoniac view of reality is
precisely an attempt to 'make safe' the alien.]

However, as I have widened my search further into the city the locations that continue to pile up are largely just plain hostile. Big, black, bleak dead zones that want nothing to do with us. They do not care about trades, they do not care about gaining further influence, they do not care period. This disturbed me at first; after all, if you were going to find a harmonious level of spirit influence in the world that worked beside humans, wouldn't you look at cities first?

But this doesn't seem to be the case. Of 26 Genius Loci that I have personally found, 12 of which have sigils and two of which have names, 16 are completely hostile. One of them happens to be a thing that feeds on the paranoia of the homeless. After meeting his “Agent,” (a term I shall explain in a bit), I was completely convinced I wanted nothing more to do with it. What it sent to chat with me was a completely batshit paranoid schizophrenic, who not only noticed Glass (my familiar), but also couldn't tell dream from reality as it was. And she lived in a world of nightmare. I offered to do nothing for her. I wouldn't bother with that thing even if I could help out. It's quite frankly bigger and meaner than I am. And it has more eyes than I have. As such I simply requested it leave me alone, and we've entered into a neutrality agreement of sorts. I don't mess with what it has, and it doesn't mess with me. This bothers me for obvious reasons. On the other hand: it feeds, but does not cause, the paranoia.

[And here, Mr. Faust hits on the primary rationale for much of religious and magical praxis through the ages. 'It's quite frankly bigger and meaner than I am'. Most living things do not want to die, and so try to avoid it for as long as possible. Thus we have the covenant of Judaism, the promise of eternal life of Christianity. To keep living, avoidance of that which can cause a human to cease existing is a very good idea.

This is all very well, except our dear sorcerer has realized something rather horrible; that everything is actually bigger and meaner than he. The universe could squash him like a bug, the inexorable wheel of time rolling ever-onward. Cities, bastions of humanity, heaving masses of streetlight and concrete; colonies of gridded structure and enclosure; these sprawling palaces of safety against the wild, inhabited by highly evolved apes of limitless potential(!); these themselves do not care for him, or humankind. They have turned traitor to what they were supposed to be - out of control.

Except, maybe they were never under human control, and even if they were, we see how easily they slipped the bonds of their makers, yes?]

Only one, who inhabits the same domicile as I, has proved helpful and has done multiple tasks for ridiculous trades. (I have increased my case-load, and thus money, by almost double.) What did he want for what he's done? Half a bottle of beer dedicated to him. He may not be smart, but Eroclis has proven nonetheless helpful. And quite lively. I'm still not sure if he is a psuedo-elemental King, or just thinks he is. I suppose it doesn't really matter, either.

That is the only good thing I have to say about the project at this point. And when you start weighing the potential danger of the techniques I have left to discuss, along with the fact that space in this city hates us, it makes me wonder why I'm opening my mouth at all.

We are at war with our past. And the things who's very sentience depends on history, well, they don't necessarily like us when we come looking. Because humanity has done nothing but rebrand the past, or tear it down wholesale, for the last century. Of this I am convinced.

[In this, I disagree. It is no war, rather a childish smashing of toys - each rebrand a vain attempt to bend countless centuries of experience to justify the present. A desperate fortification against the knowledge that even the idea of control is wrong. History is a narrative; humanity thrashing about in its dreams, struggling against the walls of its phylogeny. If the desire for life is a primal reflex as I believe, then one must examine all of human behaviour and history in terms of automatism and reflex.

The pacts and deals made with the daemonic are nothing so much as acts of self-preservation against the subconscious awareness of the precariousness of existence, creations of potential exits from an inescapable situation - one which is presented to us in stark reality upon our expulsion from the womb. We are alone in the world. All society and social interaction is reaction to this stark fact.

Of the locations I've encountered that are not hostile, almost all of them exist downtown or where the impoverished have made a lasting impression. What could this mean? I have no idea. But I have a far better idea as to why Spare claimed you had to live amongst the poor to get anywhere with sorcery. It is odd that within 10 miles, the entire landscape and sentience of it suddenly seems to change. It becomes more aware and more aggressive. I have no idea why.

[Spare left the rich and the upper-class for various reasons, but his remarks on sorcery hold true. The poor and the destitute, the crippled and the insane - all these are aware of the precariousness of life. As such, the distinction between reflex and actuality is less clear. We have all heard the phrase 'Living hand to mouth' - in terms of reflex this is one of the first things that babies do - explore the world through their mouths. Freud termed the first 21 months the oral stage also. For those on the margins, the processes of life are far more immediate, their urge towards existence less concerned with form than function. It matters not how existence continues, only that it does.

This is an asocial movement - a connection to the same urge which spawns the illusion of control, that of survivalism. It bypasses consciousness in terms of thought. The formulae of sorcery which mandates an act without 'lust of result' is somewhat misused; an act of true sorcery, if such exists, is an act without result, by which I mean the
act is enough. It is the stretching out of the hand and bringing it to the mouth.

A glacier moves inexorably, ice crystals form a diamond chain. Result is an irrelevancy;the past becomes not a collection of objects to be rearranged into a pleasing configuration on the table of the mind. Rather, it is a crushing mass, a rime-thurs with a crystal grip. Is it any wonder Spare spoke of resurgent atavisms? That we, as would-be sorcerers, see the darkness and know that there are things hiding amidst the bright streetlight?

Is it any wonder that humanity is desperately ignoring the fact of the monstrous within its own creation? That so many who walk on two legs are pale, attenuated things, only sustained by fragile structures that could be destroyed in an instant; that the subconscious knowledge of this makes them sick and feverish with existential dread?

The last thing I want to mention is just so I can at least fake a smile: nothing is greater than teaching a 15 year old how to make sigils, and have his first two work. And see the mind-blown look of: “Holy shit! This is cool!” appear on his face.

[Such is the sudden awareness of potential. But this is no control, rather awareness of the faculty of might within oneself. For a mighty man is a man who achieves what is necessary regardless of circumstance. Thus, it is in myth that giants were not always seen in terms of size, but ability. So, let us ask - what monsters lurk in your blood, that are bigger and meaner than you are?]

Faust [and Mr. VI.]


Frater POS said...

How positively cheery. May I have another cup of dread please? Perhaps with a smattering of terror for flavor?


Magick is a mirror, he who sees muck is muck.


You're right of course, in a way.

Jack Faust said...

Actually, this entry is being edited shortly with additional commentary by Ryan Valentine. So, more dread to come! (Along with him mocking me, of course!)

What does it mean if I mostly see muck, but even beauty in muck? Am I enlightened, or just a kid willing to get dirty in the sandlot?!

Frater POS said...

what is the difference?

Rufus Opus said...

Awesome Work!

For Chaos Magicians. (Note that you at least rate Proper Noun status. That's me overcoming prejudices.)

The Genius Loci is the hardest thing to write about. They are places, not people, and it's weird. You capture that well.

VI, everything may be bigger and meaner than you, but magic works anyway. If you or Faust put your minds and hearts into it, clearing out the biggest and meanest wouldn't be beyond the scope of your abilities. It's just... work.

And why bother, really? I mean, don't they have as much right to exist as the schizophrenics they feed off of? Were the schizophrenics simply manifested so these guys had something to eat in the first place?

"Meat" isn't a bad reason to exist, I suppose.

Lance Michael Foster said...

I have long been interested in the impact of Place on magic and magic on Place. Any recommendations on things to read?

Jack Faust said...

@Lance: As odd as this might sound: have you tried reading the works of Iain Sinclair, or the other psychogeographic writers of the last 30 years? Their techniques and thoughts have been immensely helpful to me thus far.

Hell. Maybe it's time to post some of Sinclair's interviews to this blog.

Lance Michael Foster said...

No, Jack, thanks, I hadn't but I will now. I just found a nice interview at Fortean Times:

I am slowly going through your blog, which I just discovered this week. I am familiar with the geomantic and earth mysteries materials of John Michell, Nigel Pennick, Paul Devereux, Tom Graves, the Findhorn originals, and others. The Seattle mapping project is a very cool one: . The book by Chuck Pettis also talks about the daemons that they encountered in this work. And of course Chinese feng shui has a lot on "killing chi", hungry ghosts, etc.

The fiction of MR James, Blackwood's "The Willows" Machen, Lovecraft, etc. and weird personal experiences since childhood connected with genius loci in buildings and in wild places inspired this lifelong interest.

I know I've come across various anecdotes on the internet about the effects of evocation and other magical acts as imprints in motel rooms, barns, wild places, etc. In fact the original case behind the novel/movie "The Exorcist" talked about effects on the place where the boy (not girl) was originally afflicted, the hospital room where the exorcism took place, and more. Hauntings as they focus on the site/land rather than a building are also an interest.

As I said, I am reading through your posts specifically with a focus on Place and Space, Landscape and Paths of Movement. Part of my own interest, besides being a landscape historian and archaeologist, come from my childhood Catholicism and the fact I am also part Native American raised in some of our traditional ways.

I just wanted to say I am enjoying your blog and to let you know some of my own interests/background in case you can think of other directions. Again, thanks for the Sinclair/psychogeography direction. I had seen some churches are preforming spiritual warfare on places as well, marching around locations while praying, etc.

Lance Foster said...

I have given an offering to one of these disturbed places/genius loci in the form of a mural that marks its history:
and there was also a celebration. It does seem to have helped somewhat.
Previously people have noted a coldness and something often knocked at the service entrance in the middle of the night.

There is another place/genius loci I have worked with for 5 years now. It is the center of a graveyard where the bodies remain but the headstones were removed and all that remains is the core, which is a park. Under surrounding houses are many graves. I bring my drawing classes there to draw trees, views, details, without telling them at first what the park really is. Then after they draw for a while, I take them over to the interpretive sign that tells the story of the park and the graves there. Then I have them reflect on this, and draw more. The place seems better after many years of doing this.

Art dedicated to a place, that honors it and tells its story seems to be a very good offering.

Anonymous said...

PS. There is a project in Seattle you might find interesting:

Pettis noted that when he was dowsing the leys, there were even some hostile entities that came at him. He talks about it in his book.

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