Thursday, March 24, 2011

II. In Brief

(Elongated, edited & hopefully more coherent, potentially less geeky, & hopefully less rambling version to come for the other blog.)

Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been, a Member of the Holy Discordian Inquisition?

Every system has flaws. I don't say this with a reference to magical systems of thought – at least not yet. I mean this in a technical sense: think of the computer you're using to read this blog with. Is it behind a firewall? Does it have perpetually open virtual ports which another user could theoretically simply 'step in' and make use of? Does it have anti-spyware and antivirus-ware installed?

These are basic questions. Answering yes or no to them may lead to vulnerabilities in your computer system. These vulnerabilities could be exploited at any time. And then there are code-based vulnerabilities: shittily written code for various programs that allows for even more ease of exploitation. It's a crazy world out there, on that new-fangled 'net-thing. Best be prepared, right?

Well, it isn't much different with the practice of magick. [Pointless derailment: There was previously a page-long story about how one time, I visited Valentine and got cursed. Not on purpose, and not by him. The trip home sucked. He owes me $5 for that shit. Why? Because clearly he was responsible! See. I'm busy blaming him for all my ills. Actually, I was just visiting him. That was his total involvement. The event sucked. It's way more fun for you to imagine. At one point I even shoved a thoughtform in a bus and made it start up. You know what would have been better? Not getting cursed. 'Nuff said.]

Again: Every system – from monetary to computerized to magical – has flaws. We need to recognize this as a constant feature in our estimation of things. You get right down to it: just about everything man-made can be hacked. We prefer not to because, well, actually – most of the time you don't even think about it. Why bother trying anything new if you're busy with the tried and true? Why even consider it? (“I have a Smart Phone. Clearly Capitalism must be working! Wait, they're going to charge me how much for what? FUCK THAT SHIT!”) And so we don't really consider what might be wrong unless it hits us in the face: like an angry-ass Goet unleashed at full batshit by a pissed off sorceress from about two hundred miles away from you. Fwack! And then we start asking questions about how to do things better: because they've suddenly become very, very relevant to us.

Keeping that in mind and sticking to the computer metaphor: let us imagine you're the computer. And, in the course of your studies, the magical system you're going to study is the operating system. In fact, we can keep to this metaphor quite easily without insulting too many people, and that's why I'm going to use it. And also because I like technology... If that wasn't readily apparent by now. Without chronology, let's compare some systems to operating systems in a very general way.

  • The Golden Dawn System is Windows 7.
Sure, it's Windows. But it could be much, much worse. The good news is that's it's everywhere (or will be, or could be) and made simpler to use all the time! Large chunks of people (ceremonial magicians, at least) make use of it and can readily discuss how to fix problematic areas. Of course the fact that it's also wide-spread means that plenty of folks loathe it. And they will spend vast amounts of time explaining to you every, single, painful and intricate way in which it has vulnerabilities until you're a bit afraid to look at the thing. Of course: ignoring those little painful factoids isn't exactly bliss, either, when Malware hijacks your box and you start spamming everyone you know and love with Viagra ads.

  • Variations on Traditional Wicca (and some eclectic styles/systems/what-have-you) are newer versions of MacOS.
Its also wide-spread. The good bits are that you can also make it so you can boot up newer Windows systems on it. There's an easily accessible base of people to chat up about it. Occult malware isn't really designed to interface with it. Of course: not all programs (read: rituals/operations) can be run on the box. And its fanbase can be rather obnoxious, too. And its getting more and more isolated – and yet not – all the time. Many hardcore geeks occult nerds will mock that shit unless you have a true Dream Box that even they must admit is somewhat cool.

Yes, you can run just about fucking anything on it. Yes, just about any hardware will work with it. It will power through errors that would Blue Screen other boxes like fucking nothing. (“What? Fuck you. That shit doesn't matter.”) But: the hardware may not have working drivers. You can look forward to learning to code that shit on your own, or hope that someone else has done it for you. You'll probably want a good group of fellow geeks to hang with, because otherwise you'll probably get lost trying to reinvent the bloody wheel. But, sometimes, when you plug other shit into it – things people didn't anticipate to be plugged into it – something goes pop and it works, even though it shouldn't. This perplexes people, who will tell you “that can't work!” Fuck those people. If they find out it works, they'll probably sue you for infringement of some sort or another. Actually, guys. Tell them nothing. Get a cabal, get you some skype, and tell all of occulture to fuck off and you'll be doing it right. Until you break your box. (And you probably will at some point.)

  • Agrippa and Grimoire-esque style approaches are Unix.
The godfather. Upon installing Agrippa, you will immediately be beset by Windows Users who will ask: “fuck, R.O., why are you installing that cranky-ass code on such a sweet machine?” And you will smile and then laugh at them. Hardcore fetish-y occult nerds will, however, marvel over the tidbits and most will be at least semi-familiar with the bare basics of such systems of thought. Those who view this path as the epitome of awesome can look forward to assloads of arcane thought, archaic English prose, and finding out what hash functions are. Or their broad equivalent.

  • Some Llewellyn authors are handing out Windows 3.X
Except that they charge for it. Fuck, even Microsoft doesn't do that. Almost 20 years out of date, and you don't have drivers to run SHIT. But you might be able to get access to old-school ICQ. Which was cool as fuck before AOL bought it... They'll be upgrading to Vista shortly.

Now, all of these vary in what they can do on your own. What's more important is that regardless of the operating system, they can all connect to something bigger. In the case of computers, it's the internet. With magick we get the astral. And just about every system (except for the last reference) will work with it. Again: once you get there, what you could do or what you've oriented yourself to do will differ. But that's a rather huge step all by itself.

And once we get to the 'net/astral, we're also talking a much bigger ballgame: along with PCs there's also homegrown servers (thoughtforms of various kinds), servers of varying degrees (elementals, angels, whatever), mainframes (egregores), and finally Supercomputers (Big Ideas, Archetypes, Gods, Planetary intelligences). Within these ranges there's also a range of capacity within the machines, as with their analogues. Some may argue that the super-super-supercomputers (All Powerful, All Knowing, All Benevolent Creator Gods of Awesome) don't exist, and that's a fair and fine point. But it doesn't really matter anyway unless for some reason you encounter it somehow. I find any discussion on the Absolute to by fucking pointless beyond the very basic ideas contained in it. These ideas are potentially useful, but don't overdo it.

Also, just because you primarily use one computer doesn't mean you can't use another with another operating system: you can learn more than one. You might want to get the basics on the first one you're using down before you step on to another, though.

Now: obviously these comparisons are only meant to serve as a way to glance at the subject. Historically things may have worked very, very differently than my examples. And we could argue which ones would work better for others if you really want to geek out, but that's not my point. My point is that they all plug into something ('net/astral), and that as long as that plugin capability works that is all that fucking matters. Likewise, when preparing to plugin to that bigger thing you may encounter technical difficulties of different kinds.

I could make these same comparisons about “models,” or “paradigms”... Please stop using that word. Actually, I'mma derail again for a moment. There's a difference between models and paradigms and concepts. A very big difference. Concepts are employed within a given framework. That does not make them a framework, in and of themselves. What you have is still a concept. Fuck, that article looks like it may be loaded with asinine bullshit. I haven't read it. Lemme know if it is, or you have a better overlook link. Anyway. Concept: big thing happens, and then everything changes. Concept. Not paradigm.

I'm using this as an example because I used to know Chaos Magicians that would try and invent “paradigms” out of nothing. It always looked, smelled, and felt like loads of ass. I hated every fucking moment of it. I wanted to find them, and take away every pomo book they owned and then follow it up with breaking their computer with a baseball bat.


Anonymous said...


I'm so glad you wrote this for geek-friendly armchair magicians like me, now it' easier to understand the different styles of magic! I'll use this as reference. Hehe.

Miss Sugar said...

Love this.

The Scribbler said...

Strategic Sorcery is the iPad of magic. ;-)

Shining Lakes said...

Re the Llewellyn books analogy, I'm on 56k dialup and Facebook actually works pretty well on it.

Jack Faust said...

@Shining: Well, hell. I suppose that bit failed pretty hard then. I'll have to think of something else to edit in later. *chuckle*

@Anon: No problem. It's largely been written just for kicks in this format. Hopefully you'll like the full entry more!

@Scrib: I'll let AIT tell you why he hates that idea. Because I'm sure as soon as he sees it, he'll hate it. (Given our recent discussions on Apple elsewhere, anyhow.) But... His teaching system does come across as sleek and potentially shiny as the iPad. That much I can agree with.

@Miss Sugar: I love to serve! Two days a week, for two hours (on those two days)...

Jack Faust said...

Actually. Come to think of it, I doubt you'd be able to plug into Facebook on Win 3.X, but more for software reasons. 'Eh. Whatever.

I need sustenance... Time to fix this.

Frater A.I.T. said...

Hahaha....this is excellent. I wouldn't compare Strategic Sorcery to the IPad, because Strategic Sorcery doesn't lock you into a hellishly limited environment while playing morality police with you. ;-)

The Scribbler said...

Sheesh, guys! I put a little "wink" emoticon at the end of that remark. I was being a smart ass and stretching Jack's analogy to the point of absurdity. Though Jason's stuff is slick. And shiny.

So, AIT. Not an iPad fanboy, eh? When's Gordon going to weigh in on this?

Gordon said...

I'm with AIT.

Strategic Sorcery is a high-end netbook. Or possibly the new Galaxy Tab with whatever version of Android is the most stable.

Simon Tomasi said...

I'd say that Chaos Magic is more like Ubuntu, a distro that tries to appeal to the larger market.

For me Linux feels like trying to build a kit car and requires quite a lot of knowledge and expertise. I've yet to be convinced that it is easy to switch paradigms and have your kit car become a transformer.

Naya Aerodiode said...

This article makes my little geek heart so very happy.

Pallas Renatus said...

For some reason, putting R.O. and UNIX together in my head reminded me of this story.

R.O. would probably be the (awesome) asshat who wired the thing up. said...

The comparison to operating systems was both amusing and thought-provoking. The VirtualWare double OS potential is probably the most "spiritually profitable" at the current time.

Alex Ku said...

I'm reading this post on my recently fixed netbook, this is the second day in my life i've ever had linux on a pc of my own, and yesterday i had thought on the analogy between linux and chaos magick. I love the land of synchronicity!

Also, the golden dawn / windows and wicca / mac comparisons cracked me up xD

I'm left thinking on what magical system would be the most suitable to be compared to the Backtrack distribution... :)