08 September 2005

Towards a pragmatic occultism

I am working on a project in which I want to explore repeatable, pragmatic approaches to teaching people occultism. Firstly, it would need to be marketed in order to define the semantic of the "occult" as something easily digestable by the public. I'm not going to get into details, but it's been a lot of research and work, of which ideas dribble out onto this blog. In the meantime, I've come across some elements that will aid in this task. Unfortunately, I am not the best person at organising thoughts so, in time, I should possibly hire some engineers (Maria, you out there?), or possibly build an alliance with the genetic engineers at IlliGAL. I can trade them children I've kidnapped from the suburbs in exchange for their organisational thinking processes. Oh, how I adore order. I think I spend so much time swimming from one stream of thought to another, I forget how wonderful just streamlining is.

First off, via the always informative Putting people first, Hamburg, Germany is playing host to the newly founded Launch Institute's conference on empathic market sensing this 20–21 September:—
Launch Institute applies focused methodology and techniques that tap into the latent innovation potential of your organization to launch new products, services and business models that achieve measurable business growth. […]

Increasingly, innovative companies go beyond conventional market research to use Empathic Sensing techniques; thereby building upon voice-of-the-customer and observational “applied ethnography” techniques to dive deeply into how market place agents think and act.

Empathic Market Sensing helps companies to redefine their products, to discover new applications and businesses and to extend into services: (a) By innovative techniques for market understanding. (b) By participatory design and alignment processes that are well integrated into the overall innovation approach.


In case anyone is unsure, the great Wikipedia explains empathy thusly: the recognition and understanding of the states of mind, including beliefs, desires and particularly emotions of others without injecting your own. This concept is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes."

I was about to type, "If only those in power could apply this regularly to their policy-making." Then I thought, wait-a-freakin'-minute, What if the middle class could regularly be updated on the stresses and shit that people "of power" have to put up with — from CEOs to politicians to archbishops (both honest and crappy)? It's so easy to criticise, especially those we have little understanding of. It's like when everyone says how shitty a movie is, then you finally see it and think it's awesome and wonder how that makes you different than your friends. Or a case in point, how much crappy the new Star Wars prequels are.

We have serious issues about eschewing empathy in favour of mass stereotypes. I also believe this is a major contributor to conspiracy theory. Those lacking a perceived aspect of control over their own lives begin to fabricate symbolic control mechanisms into aspects of life outside of themselves. (I don't totally dismiss all of it, however, as I guarantee you there are conspirators the world over. We all do it. But to what extent can an organisation contend with the spiritual fulfilment of the individual, that is where, I believe, grand conspiracies falter. No conspiracy is 100% perfect. In that, it just makes the Game of Life that much more exciting because it allows us all an opportunity to play. There is no winner, unless you turn inward.)

Anyhow, I digress as usual. Onto the magical sigil. Sociologist James Bowie has written a piece called "Logos by the Numbers," exploring the trends in adopting logomarks. He also looks at how the artistic and creative processes involved in designing a logo reconciled with the bureaucratic organisational context in which trademark-adoption takes place.

A logo is not dissimilar to a sigil in that they both convey subconscious elements to the viewer. A sigil is charged by an individual or small group of persons, empowering it on a more subconscious plane in which all humans are interconnected. In contrast, a company bombards the populace with a logomark until it's embedded itself (almost unnaturally) unto the group consciousness.

Through a clearly defined intent, the magician can construct sigila to represent particular desires or commands to be fulfilled. Starting with written intent, the sigil is then reduced through artistic method to something much more abstract and emotional. It is then charged using emotion and visualisation, then "cast" or projected into the sybolic abyss that exists at the edge of the the human ego. There, it retains a semiotic semblance of its initial purpose and, if made analogous to an algorithm, it spreads it subtle vibrations through the intersubjective matrix of our observer-created reality. Any oddities that arise in the completion of the sigil are artefacts waiting to be triggered attached to the ego of either the caster or the individual(s) which the sigil happens to affect.

A logomark, on the other hand, is carefully designed by what we can only hope are professional designers. It will embody and translate the poetics of a brand's message and the illusory façade that the corporate entity or individual would like to convey in order to inhabit particular characteristics relative to people. Certain cultures interpret colours to represent different thing over continued use in particular ways. (i.e. That we use red for "stop" is odd because the colour has always illicited a subconscious reaction in people to become active.) It is an attempt at breathing life into something lifeless. And, for some of the more intelligent designs and groups, the logomark is successful. People do lend them life, in relation to their own. They define themselves using brands. They feel secure using brands. And some people will kill over brands.

Unlike the golem of Polish folklore, however, it has not been imbued with the divine spark. A sigil is a sliver of the caster's will cast into the group mind. From there it creates its effect which is noticed as it manifests as, say, a streak of luck, synchronicity, or phenomenon. A logo, too, has no divine spark. It is lent the power it maintains by its users and viewers. Reminds me of that Nine Inch Nails song, "Happiness in Slavery," in that we are only prisoners if we believe it to be true. (Speakf of which, the Chinese, during WWII, found that only 1 in 20 people had the disposition of a natural born leader. These were the ones who would inspire others to revolt in POW camps. So they isolated them, put them in these neato boxes for days on end, and effectively turned them into vegetables, tabula rasa.) So, most people are self-imposed prisoners à la Philip K. Dick's "black iron prison."

William S. Burroughs said, "Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it 'creative observation.' Creative viewing."

This brings up the interesting notion of what happens when one grants a spark of divine light to a logomark? In the case of a sigil, one can "evolve" it into a semi-seperate entity from the caster, commonly known as a servitor in chaos magic. It is free of the basic commands or desires cast via a sigil, or the cybernetic mechanisms that I've read about being "programmed" into more complex sigila. It can make basic decisions and react creatively, from what I know. (Alas, my personal experience with servitors is very limited.) I have a copy of The Power of the Word, by Donald Tyson, but have yet to read through it. I've briefly perused it, and I believe within there is a chapter dealing with the aforementioned magic used in the creation of the golem, also known as a homunculus, as put forth by the alchemist Paracelsus. Also, I must more intimately familiarise myself with the Austin Osman Spare's The Book of Pleasure in order to work on proper understanding of the "alphabet of desire." In it, one is guided in the ways to develop a personal language akin to a magical language like Hebrew or Sanskrit (as in a previous post). This is an alphabet where each letter has true meaning, to you, and tied in to the fundamental vibratory nature of the universe.

Back to Bowie's article on "Logos by the Numbers":—
I discovered that the United States Patent and Trademark Office held a treasure trove of data about logos. In 1983, in order to allow for easier trademark searching, the USPTO created a coding system for trademarks in its records. Using this system, six-digit codes are assigned to trademarks in order to represent their graphical content. The first two digits of each code represent one of 29 general categories, including “Human beings,” “Scenery,” and “Geometric figures and solids.” The second two digits represent a division, or subset of a category. Each category contains its own specific divisions. For example, Category 06 (Scenery) contains five divisions, including 06.01 (Mountains, rocks, caves) and 06.03 (Scenery with water, rivers or streams). The last two digits of a code represent a section, with each division containing its own specific sections. For example, Division 06.01 (Mountains, rocks, caves) has four sections, including 06.01.01 (Cliffs, rocks, walls of rock) and 06.01.02 (Volcanoes). In all, there are 1,304 unique codes in the system.

If we could perform the necessary tests, using persons taught to develop their own alphabets of desire, could we not track and make further sense of such alphabets. Perhaps this is similar to a dream dictionary, but of a more refined and lucid methodology. Interestingly, Bowie also notes that the logos maintain strong similarities throughout the decades or corporate eras, embracing certain shapes and symbolism, and sloughing it off as industries evolve and the language of commerce further develops.
After accessing the records of the USPTO, I assembled a database of over 750,000 trademarks registered in the United States from 1884 to 2003. Using this database, innovations and trends in the design of trademarks can be tracked and dissected. For example, the rise of the swoosh element, concentrated among internet and telecommunications firms in particular, can be seen developing in the mid-1990s. Similarly, the trends toward the use of striped logos in the 1980s and elements such as globes and arrows in the 1960s become apparent.

I also recall from my ventures into the occult that what we know of as archons and gods can be seen through the semiotic nature of languages and how they evolve. Again back to Burroughs, he claimed language was a virus from outer space. If it is, in fact, a mechanism in which personal, relative realities can be controlled by placing the same limitations that words have on our own perspectives, then it is indeed a tool of creating prisons. (It can also be a tool for constructing order out of chaos, mind you.)

And now switching over to Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher best known for founding Anthroposophy, Wikipedia claims Steiner characterised history as essentially shaped by changes formed through a progressive development of human consciousness. The activity of individualised human thinking was seen as a relatively recent advance which led to the dramatic developments of the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. In his epistemological works, he advocated the Goethean view that thinking itself is a perceptive instrument for ideas, just as the eye is a perceptive instrument for light.

I begin to see a myth of fractal proportions being played out as we are ever-evolving. But back to the task at hand: towards a pragmatic occultism. I am done with this for now. I will continue to collect references in order to build a structure in the coming months (years?).

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