29 July 2005

Richard Stallman on the paradigm of competition

"The paradigm of competition is a race: by rewarding the winner, we encourage everyone to run faster. When capitalism really works this way, it does a good job; but its defenders are wrong in assuming it always works this way."

A paradigm is nothing more than a set of assumptions, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality. For example, if you view business as a competitive endeavor, then you place yourself, metaphorically, on the same track as the "other guy." You think about beating the other guy. You value beating the other guy. You put practices in place to beat the other guy. Unfortunately, customers could care less about you and the other guy. Customers care about themselves.

Here's an excerpt from the latest issue of BusinessWeek magazine, which focuses on creativity and innovation in business:—
Think out-of-the-box consumer experiences, and you get the idea of paradigm shifting. Old paradigm: corner coffee shops. New paradigm: Starbucks (SBUX). Old: Radio. New: Satellite radio. Old: crowded electronic stores. New: Apple Computer (AAPL) stores. Old: grungy, smelly circuses. New: Cirque du Soleil. Old: any airline. New: JetBlue Airways (JBLU). Old: Macy's (FD). New: Target (TGT). Old: Earth-toned Birkenstock sandals. New: colorful beach "Birkis."

Or how 'bout … Old: Blockbuster. New: Netflix. I'm sure you have a few of your own personal favorites. Post them in the comments.

If you study marketplace evolution, it becomes readily apparent that incumbents typically fail to reinvent their industries. Right? Disney let Pixar do it. United watched as Southwest Airlines ate their lunch. CBS? No. MTV. Ditto Kodak oblivious to Canon. Why? Because market leaders have an existing paradigm that says business is about competition. And so, they focus on incremental changes in their served markets to stay a step ahead of the competition. They don't innovate for customers. They tweak their offering to beat the other guy.

Mark Twain once wrote:
“The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.”

Do you consider yourself an expert? Or are you an antagonist for the benefit of your audience? Think about it.

via A Clear Eye

Colour theory according to Wassily Kandinsky


Following the link on Kandinsky from the Arnold Schönberg Center:—

YELLOW
“warm,” “cheeky and exciting,” “disturbing for people,” “typical earthly color,” “compared with the mood of a person it could have the effect of representing madness in color […] an attack of rage, blind madness, maniacal rage.

loud, sharp trumpets, high fanfares

BLUE
deep, inner, supernatural, peaceful “Sinking towards black, it has the overtone of a mourning that is not human.” “typical heavenly color”

light blue: flute
darker blue: cello
darkest blue of all: organ

GREEN
mixture of yellow and blue
stillness, peace, but with hidden strength, passive
“Green is like a fat, very healthy cow lying still and unmoving, only capable of chewing the cud, regarding the world with stupid dull eyes.”

quiet, drawn-out, middle position violin

WHITE
"It is not a dead silence, but one pregnant with possibilities."

"Harmony of silence", "pause that breaks temporarily the melody"

BLACK
“Not without possibilities […] like an eternal silence, without future and hope.”
Extinguished, immovable

"final pause, after which any continuation of the melody seems the dawn of another world"

GREY
mixture of white and black
“Immovability which is hopeless”

soundless

RED
alive, restless, confidently striving towards a goal, glowing, “manly maturity”
Light warm red: strength, energy, joy; vermilion: glowing passion, sure strength
Light cold red: youthful, pure joy, young

"sound of a trumpet, strong, harsh"
Fanfare, Tuba
deep notes on the cello

high, clear violin

BROWN
mixture of red + black
dull, hard, inhibited

ORANGE
mixture of red + yellow
radiant, healthy, serious

middle range church bell, alto voice, “an alto violin, singing tone, largo”

VIOLET
mixture of red + blue
“morbid, extinguished […] sad”

english horn, shawm, bassoon

“Concerning the Spiritual in Art”

I’ve been talking a bit with Tim and he was nice enough to post about my pursuit of an occult design on Occult Investigator. Seeing him throw it up there, and then tossing and turning till 03:00 this morning got me to thinking: everything we, as humans do, seems to have a method of finding divinity. You always hear people talk of surfing as though it’s a mystical experience. Watching My Architect, they made Louis I. Khan out to be more than just an architect but a genius of another calibre altogether. It’s been a while since I’ve read Concerning the Spiritual in Art (download or read), by Wassily Kandinsky, which is something I need to do again soon. I belive Kandinsky has many of the keys I may be searching for (via the Schönberg Center):—
The work Concerning the Spiritual in Art, completed in 1910, is Kandinsky’s most important theoretical writing. He had made notes for it already ten years before, it was published at the end of 1911, so it was ready for the opening of the exhibition of the editors of the “Blauer Reiter.” Up until 1912, three reprints were necessary.

In the Introduction, “inner necessity,” the expression which was important to Kandinsky was introduced. In the first chapter, Bewegung (Movement), Kandinsky draws a triangular picture of spiritual life: a triangle with a single figure standing at its point moves ever forwards. In the following chapter, Geistige Wendung (Spiritual change) Kandinsky specifies this idea and attempts to give it historical proof. Before he actually comes to speak of art itself, he mentions the Theosophical Society as a great spiritual movement. His appeal to literature leads him to Maurice Maeterlinck and Kubin as soothsayers of the decline; as far as music is concerned, he sees principally Claude Debussy and Arnold Schönberg, who renunciates the beautiful and leads into a new kingdom of spiritual experiences in music, as carrying the hopes of the “spiritual change.” In painting he specially emphasizes Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse as pathfinders. The chapter Pyramide (Pyramid) shows the relationship and the differences between the arts. Kandinsky strives towards a joining of the arts to form a “monumental art”.

The main part, the chapter Malerei (Painting) is, in contrast to the preceding chapters, reserved for systematic argument. Kandinsky investigates the effect of colors (as “vibrations of the soul”) and develops a system for connecting form and color. In this, he places abstract elements in the foreground. According to Kandinsky colors are basically arranged warm-cold / light-dark. Each color is assigned a spiritual expressive quality, which he illustrates with musical examples. From the preceding chapter he takes the idea of “monumental art” and designs a new form, the “stage composition,” whereby dance joins color and music as a third element. The closing words concern reproductions of Kandinsky’s own works, here he makes sub-divisions into “Impression”, “Improvisation” and “Composition” and refers to motives and aims of his own works.

Kandinsky was adamantly against art for art’s sake. Perhaps that is the equivalent of myself opposing sorcery for sorcery’s sake. And by this, I mean that every action should either be a) an act of developed intuition, or b) if the ego must be involved, a calculated, designed approach to life. Interestingly, Tim has been mapping out his own understanding of Gnosticism. I’ve just thought that all this Gnostic Renaissance stuff has been a fad, but he’s genuinely going down C. G. Jung’s road and I respect him for that. Sloughing off the religious symbolism, he’s concluded that it’s a mythological structure by which we can analyse and implement blueprints for leading one’s own life:—
The observation of limitation
The intuitive knowledge of potential beyond limitation
The experience of transcending limitation into potential

I really admire this about Tim because, essentially, this approach is how I started years ago before I was comfortable practicing any sort of magics. But the wealth of knowledge he garners now will serve him a thousand times over when he approaches even his most basic exercises in the future.

Also, in his refinement of so-called Gnosticism to these three concepts, and even exploring the themes more recently in gangsta rap, we have the unspoken aspects of a brand that are essential to every human being on the planet. Here, in fact, is the universal brand for all mankind (at least in its current incarnation).

(This is why I love community sometimes, and why Jason and I worked so well together in the occult for the past decade: being able to bounce ideas off one another and hear them said differently. It helps to clarify and magnify the message, it helps to understand oneself. We all need the social mirror to look into to aid in self-analysis and understanding.)

I have a book I’ve only ever flipped through but I should really read soon, too, all about the structure of secret societies and their effects on members socially and psychologically. These societies work not because they’re “secret” but because of how the members associate with one another. Under the auspices of a group, it empowers the individual to act differently than she or he would if they were without the backing — even if its illusory and a purely psychological trick of the mind. e.g. Let’s say if you were to associate yourself with a brand, a market and symbol, an advertised image that conveyed just that. Again, I know I’m not trudging any new ground yet. Marketers have known this for years. But it’s one thing to read it, another to figure the workings out for oneself so they become second-nature in your planning process. This is what I do.

I have plenty of ideas I’ve been quietly researching for the past while, and as they become pertinent I’ll post them online. For now, I want to explore the power behind this entity before it’s let out of its womb.

I recall coming across articles on ancient Egyptian priests’ rites (labyrinths, more magical sorts of rites and tribulations), the trials of African tribesmen (abduction, scarring, whatever), and of the Tantrikas of Asia (intercourse with corpses, residing in graveyards, and the such). Freemasons exist within European and North American culture and maintain their rites and trials for their members, but from what I understand they’re nothing more than an old boys’ club now. At least in North America, for the most part.

Although denied entrance due to my lack of magical group work, the Illuminates of Thanateros seem to have decent numbers and are organised well enough to have persons in order of membership and light administration. I come across this and that dealing with their workings, mostly in England it seems, so I don’t really know much about what IOT America is up to. But they remain silent and quiet, so not a lot to learn from them. They also haven’t published much in the last while, and the chaos magic current seems to be going through a lull as Peter J. Carroll, Phil Hine, Jan Fries, and the others I am familiar with seem to slowly disappear from the limelight. Grant Morrison still seems to carry a public torch for chaos magic, however, and he’s one of the best idols that modern sorcery has. Him and Alan Moore, at least. The rest come across as idiots, such as Genesis P-Orridge and Marilyn Manson.

And this will touch on occult design: how do you expect to communicate your ideas if you are so laden with schtick that no one takes you seriously. Your message has become buried under the gimmicks utilised, and thus your “conscious act of will” to enlighten and empower is now part of the gimmick and you’re a dork. A dork with tits. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Tool did it right. P-Orridge and Manson did it wrong. This is just my opinion, however.

[EDIT — I don't mean to say that they did it WRONG, but if there is to be an approach of acting intuitively upon the world and all the while reviewing and watching from a esign point of view, this gives on the tools necessary to perceive the overall affect you have on the environment. For all I know, P-Orridge and Manson may be the end-all be-all of doing it RIGHT, it's just not the way I'd do it. And I see other examples affecting more, in a healthier light, and, ultimately, from a design perspective, handling the message and approach more with more successful intent.]

And interestingly, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Tool never pushed themselves as occultists or mystics or whatever. They did what they did, like architect Louis I. Khan and painter Wassily Kandinsky, and they infused their art, work, and whatever with a higher quality that sang out occult truths. Truths that were lacking from anyone else’s works.

This brings me back to the idea of ego ruining any pursuit. Ego is a saturated market. Why do we do this? Fame? Riches? Glory? Revenge? One thing I’ve found through any sort of so-called spiritual lifestyle is that intuition begins to play a much larger role. One may go left or right at whim simply to see what happens. Tragedy is as interesting as comedy, and I often perceive my life as a series of chapters or acts in a play. I never am so upset with my life that it’s a burden. If anything, I sit within this vehicle and enjoy the ride.

This whole experiment I am looking at now is a culmination of years of “failed” or half-attempted feats that were above and beyond my experience at those particular times. I’ve tried to produce short films, I’ve tried to get posters of scholars out, I’ve promoted parties and bands, I’ve tried to start a magazine that actually garnered attention from around North America for its unique and sellable concept, and on and on. While many have raised an eyebrow at me and considered me a failure, I’ve also accomplished more in my years than most have by the time they retire — dealing with subjective, emotional, perceptual, and spiritual matters. Which ones are more important? Well, to my generation, it is often the wallet, latté, and the car. I took the approach of the senior citizen, the aging baby boomer and now have that done. Time to conquer what my peers started on seven or eight years ago (and some still haven’t even started on).

So now that I explore an umbrella to carry a larger message, all these experiences with design, publishing, editing, writing, networking, promotions, marketing… they can all tie together to bring about properly a new experiment. Every failure is thus a success later on.

And all of these things I do intuitively. I don’t usually think about stuff anymore. I just do it. Why do I put these stickers up? To make others feel better. And to watch people’s reactions, to learn. Why do I say all the nasty or caring things I do? To observe, to learn more about human interaction, to help others. My ego still exists, but not as it was. My experience of being spilled over from focusing on what makes my ego swoon and now perceives my environments and interactions from the point of view of many more interior aspects.

Part of this experiment shall be designed, magically induced, and in doing so I will become a willing pilot and rider of this ride. I will also be doing many things intuitively, for no good explicable reason, other than it needed to be done. Not for me, not for you, it just needed to be put out there. For them.

For them? That is interesting. I firmly believe that we are all connected in this inter-subjective phenomenological matrix of ours. I guess it would be for me, not in that it satiates the illusory self I perceive to be me, but that I believe I can be a part of the transcendence of the human race. In my eyes I see it as both apocalyptic and transcendental, but for many I know it’ll be frightening. I work intuitively to ruin the human race as it is so that we may move on.

Is this part of the Secret College, of a current that moves beyond words and instils itself in artists and others around the world? A drive beyond words to ultimately bring about the race? To merge us with the spirit so as to allow us to collapse this world and begin the next part of our race’s journey — perhaps beyond the carnal?

If so, I think it’s fun to give up the driver’s seat and just sit back in this body and enjoy the ride. Especially since my ego has started to figure out that it’s now watching the events of a much larger entity play itself out, nothing that could possibly satiate my ego could be as entertaining or grand as the events that unfold as you give yourself up to satiating the will of the Universe.

Edmonton wins AGM bid

Congratulations to Michael Surtees and Alberta North for their apparent triumph. Should be interesting to see. I guess I should get around to applying for my LGDC or something. The following is from Marian Bantjes'a The Point, the newsletter for GDC British Columbia (via d* notes on…):—

The battle to win the bid for the GDC National AGM 2006 was a heated competition between four potential host cities vying for the coveted designation. Each of the AGM bid cities, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Yellowknife and Las Vegas unrolled impressive campaigns to the delegates, complete with banners, buttons, t-shirts and, in the case of Yellowknife, commemorative diamonds etched with their bid logo.

Design competitions in each region (allowable under the old GDC Code of Ethics, but not any more!) garnered dozens of competent entries from members across Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Arctic. The Las Vegas contingent hired a famous US branding agency to design their logo.

Despite rumours of bribes and cries of foul play regarding the distribution of diamonds by the Arctic Chapter, all judges have sworn on a stack of GDC Membership Kits that the judging was fair, equable and in no way influenced by promises of tours, fancy schmancy hotel rooms or lavish meals.

It was Alberta Chapter President Michael Surtees’ passionate, and lengthy speech regarding the merits of Edmonton as the host city, plus his avowal of commitment and dedication to the organization of a massive GDC event to accompany the AGM that, in the end, swayed the judges.

So it’s official, the next GDC National AGM will be held in Edmonton, Alberta, May 5–7, 2006.

28 July 2005

felldot.org

Felldot.orgOkay, Shaun is a good guy and reg'd it and set up the server for me while on vacation.

Felldot.org, an obvious play off Slashdot, officially starts the ball rolling on this experiment. I am actually very excited at the prospect of perhaps pursuing further ideas and working on this with Tim, LVX23, and Max over at enemies.com. I kind of have the same feeling right now as at the beginning of Star Trek: Generations, I think it was, where you get to see them christen the new starship at the beginning of the flic. Maybe it was First Contact? Whatever. It's like a baby. With teeth. A baby with teeth and razor blades in its diapers.

27 July 2005

Fellbrand

Okay, so I've got a domain name chosen. Though Shaun forgot to register it this week and he's now on holidays, so I may just wait for him to return to do it. Acquaintances and friends are going to be able to perpetuate the illusion of a much larger initiative than it will initially be by posting propaganda up in England, Australia, Thailand, Montréal, across Alberta, Vancouver and interior British Columbia, and spots in California. Perhaps I'll get stuff into Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg, too… we'll see. Use the magnifying glass of the world to focus our own attention on ourselves, this is the plan.

Sarah apparently has recently had some disastrous months, dealing with a stalker and an ex or something. It's been a while since I last saw her, so once she saw the first hijacked Rockstar sticker she called and asked me to take them down. I killed the most of the ones downtown, but there are still lots put up in St Albert and around Londonderry. And I think about eight on Whyte. I'll leave the northern ones, but I'll get the knife out for the ones on Whyte Ave.

Seana and I popped into the photo booth while we were visiting Jeremy last night. The pictures are hardly as adorable as the ones with Sarah, which had a more comfy feeling that I gauge people could relate to, but they're still fun nonetheless.

Interestingly, I read about David Phillips, a sociologist at the University of California at San Diego, in The Tipping Point: [Phillips] has conducted a number of studies on suicides, each more fascinating and improbable than the last. He began by making a list of all the stories about suicide that ran on the front page of the United States' most prominent newspapers in the twenty-year stretch between the end of the 1940s and the end of the 1960s. Then he matched them up with the suicide statistics from the same period. He wanted to know whether there was any relationship between the two. Sure enough, there was. Immediately after stories about suicides appeared, suicides in the area served by the newspaper jumped. In the case of national stories, the rate jumped nationally. (Marilyn Monroe's death was followed by a temporary 12 per cent increase in the national suicide rate.) Then Phillips repeated his experiment with traffic accidents. He too front-page suicide stories from the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle and mathced them up with traffic fatalities from the state of California. He found the same pattern. On the day after a highly publicized suicide, the number of fatalities from traffic accidents was, on average, 5.9 per cent higher than expected. Two days after a suicide story, traffic deaths rose 4.1 per cent. Three days after, they rose 3.1 per cent, and four days after, they rose 8.1 per cent. (After ten days, the traffic fatality rate was back to normal.) Phillips concluded that one of the ways in which people commit suicide is by deliberately crashing their cars, and that these people were just as susceptible to the contagious effects of a highly publicized suicide as were people killing themselves by more conventional means.

The kind of contagion Phillips is talking about isn't something rational or even necessarily conscious. It's not like a persuasive argument. It's something much more subtle than that. "When I'm waiting at a traffic light and the light is red, sometimes I wonder whether I should cross and jaywalk," he says. "Then somebody else does it and so I do it too. It's a kind of imitation. I'm getting permission to act from someone else who is engaging in a deviant act. Is that a conscious decision?"

This is also similar to the effect of when crime went down in NYC after the mayor and city police rallied to make a hard effort to clean up the streets and subway system of graffiti. I think it's called something like Broken Window Syndrome, where if there is one element amiss it's justification enough to continue with its trend, i.e. if there is one broken window, chances are you may see another broken window soon in the same neighbourhood if it goes unfixed.

The experiment with our first stickers, the Rockstar ones, is that if you can create a context for those that may not have one structured in their wee minds yet, you can, in effect, guide and mould their realities before anyone else gets a chance to. And with studies like Phillips's done above, I wonder at what the effects of permeating the region with pro-love or happy propaganda would be.

Of course, this is something marketers are fully aware of. It's something I am just experimenting with now. But on a more esoteric note, I believe Malcolm Gladwell has hit on a very important aspect of what I've been searching to convey: sick and tired of the vernacular associated with the occult field, I want to explore other ways of communicating these ideas so that more can benefit from them without having to deal with the stigma attached, or the idiots commonly found within such circles. In The Tipping Point, Gladwell talks about context and how one example can lead others to explore this as a sort of permission to access… a kind of sharing of a new Gestalt. What would happen if the streets became filled with ideas of responsibility, self-worth, libertarianism (not the American weirdo conservative kind, but the wordly sort), an exploration of a sort of open source spirituality that was okay for anyone and everyone to partake in. I suppose it's exactly what I think of when I read Crowley's famous Thelemic verse: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the Law, Love under Will."

So what we turn to develop is a brand that bridges scholastic pursuits with the ideals of the Hindu kṣatriya or kshatriya, the warrior caste. To my shock and awe, I've met so many brilliant persons who are not readily willing to stick up for themselves or their friends, nor do they perhaps have the confidence or experience to do so. On the other hand, we have the brutes, the warriors — and I'd say this more closely resembles an aspect of traditional skinheads than it does, say, jocks and rig pigs. Skinheads are of the community and for the community. They're often well-read, I'd say a majority (that I know, at least) are military, and they will fight tooth and nail for what they believe in. I just don't particularly care for the subculture, but some of my friends are skins and I hold them in high regard.

To cross-breed these two, to create that warrior-poet that is so lacking in North America. I see it in Jason and Daryl, albeit for this brand I believe they lean too drastically towards the violence. They're both poets of a sort, scholastic, philosophical, spiritual creatures — but in a manner alien to most Westerners in that they embrace the pain and suffering. Daryl has taken it an entire gamut further, which I won't discuss here.

But then there are brilliant people everywhere, but no one fighting for any sort of spiritual truth. To break down the illusions. Here I would like to take a cue from both English graffiti artist, Banksy, and Roy Batty of Blade Runner.

To use strength, viciousness, and aesthetic beauty in lieu of mask magic and self-metamorphosis, this is the campaign to come. As I made note of on Occult Investigator a while back, Love is not the asnwer, understanding is. While we may make use of love to accomplish certain aspects of life's journey, it is far from being the only necessary steps needed to becoming wiser and healthier. It is a lifestyle choice, a portion of one's life, a chemical reaction among neurotransmitters, but it is not the Answer. Knowledge and experience are. For together, they provide wisdom, and with wisdom one may make their own life up as they see fit.

And the more contexts available to the client or user, the more capacity there is for understanding. Not one religion, but all of them. Not one government, but none. Only you, and the responsibility that that implies. The experiment has begun. This shall be an interesting few years…

25 July 2005

Canadian myth as per our idols

So I am perusing Amazon.ca, as I am wont to do daily, and Bif Naked's new album is out. There are billboards for it downtown, and she's become a staple of Canadian rawk. As Denise Sheppard puts it, "Before Gwen Stefani became a household name, before Amy Lee showcased her powerhouse lungs, Bif Naked proved unequivocally that alterna-rock women can tackle tough subjects bravely. She's dealt with everything from rape to abortion to abuse — all set to great, harder-edged music."

Esthero has her new album out, too. As Bif is from Vancouver, Esthero has own3rized the Toronto and New York scenes for some time. And Esthero has managed to do it with I think only one LP, working her magic on the streets, in clubs, and in the studios. But what I find is that, to me at least, Bif and Esthero represent their regions as icons. When I think Vancouver, I think Skull Skates (albeit with humble origins in Saskatchewan), Gob, Skinny Puppy, Greenpeace, Barry Pepper, The X-Files, rain, mountains, rainforest, hippies, the Chinese, and on. When I think of Toronto, plastic people, a sick cross between Los Angeles and New York comes to mind, and the subtlety of beautiful art galleries, their horrid new brand campaign ("Toronto Unlimited" blech), DJ culture, Sean Desmond, Chris Sheppard, lights, pizazz, the Toronto International Film Festival, CHUM and MuchMusic, Sam the Record Man, celebrity, et cetera. Esthero is slick, sexy, she epitomizes these things aesthetically and musically. In my eyes.

(And even though great bands like Death from Above 1979 are from Toronto, I don't normally associate their "brand" with the region.)

Japan and the U.S. may think of the older celebs (Bryan Adams, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, Ron Sexsmith, Jane Siberry) or the new pop youth exports (The Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morissette, Ryan Reynolds, Sum 41, et al.), within our borders I find that there are definitely regional stereotypes that could be utilised to really bolster municipal brands. I've seen American cities do it, and because of Hollywood there's a reason I have preconceived ideas of their cities — such as Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, Philadelphia, and on.

In Canada, the only bands I can associate with Saskatchewan is Wide Mouth Mason, the only good thing Calgary has ever done for us is Big Rock beer and perhaps, musically, Tegan & Sara and I'm not sure if we can group k. d. lang in there cuz she was born in Consort, Alberta. The last thing to be exported from Edmonton on any major scale was SNFU and I suppose Nickelback. Winnipeg is an enigmatic hotbed of talent, always. With the provocative label G7 Welcoming Committee, the launching point for troublemakers such as The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Weakerthans, Clann Zú, warsawpack, Propagandhi, and also host to CDs of Noam Chomksy, Howard Zinn, and many more. Winnipeg was/is also the home of a shitload of other bands and, oddly, their art scene was featured in Wallpaper* about a year ago. That may or may not have had anything to do with the fact that Tyler Brûlé — the founder of Wallpaper* — was from Winnipeg. And of course Halifax has Sloan and Murderecords, Buck 65, and whatever else Maritimers do out there. Montréal is the coolest city in North America, so no need to further elucidite the genius of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Tiga, Amon Tobin, Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, and blah…

I guess Big Sugar has some Alberta in them, too. The thing is that we really need to develop regional icons. Iconic figureheads that help identify city brands and establish Canada to Canadians locally and others abroad, act as spokespersons, are the equivalent of a band's lead singer to the media.

Now that I think about it, interestingly, with the sticker campaign just starting to get underway for my experimental Fell brand and Shaun registering felldot.org today, I should be able to create a strong, scholastic spokesmodel for both occult and design, but further, for Edmonton and the Prairies. I didn't get the grant from the Edmonton Arts Council for the proposed alternate reality game, but the involved model, Brandi's sister Danielle, says she's still willing to model for moi (pictured). I have Melanie, but she's wary of the occult and sticks to her light mysticism and art. Tara hates cameras, but I may be able to get her to join a collective effort. Who knows.

24 July 2005

MirrorMask… holy shit!

Jim Henson Studios, written by Neil Gaiman, directed by Dave McKean… I have no idea how I didn't know about this until now… with McKean directing in conjunction with JHS, this is going to be like nothing else ever made, in the vein of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth!—

Visit the site
Watch the QuickTime trailer

22 July 2005

IDEA’s Thaw exhibit on MoCo Loco

Looking for some 2:00 a.m. reading before I zZz here and I come across the newest entry on design site MoCo Loco, featuring the Industrial Designers of Edmonton Association's (IDEA) Thaw exhibit from a month or so ago at the Red Strap Market. Greg Ball, chair of MADE in Edmonton, has obviously been in contact with the MoCo Loco people and is pushing the Alberta design out there into the world wide world.

If you follow the link to MoCo Loco, scrolling down you'll see the super-cool nano-inspired rug that I wanted to steal. I was at the exhibit on the opening night with Sheri and I was half-cut, so after I had met the designer I kept forgetting his name. I felt bad.

Most importantly, however, is that the wooden table pictured here was designed by a student at the University of Alberta. There were three of them, all cute, and one of them looked uncannily like Scarlett Johansson. It may also have been because of the liquor, but whatever. She was the fucking yum, too bad I was out of my game and she was in her pack. I hate it when girls do that. They travel in packs. It's like antelope or deer or something.

Oh, and speaking of happy surprises! I just remembered that I took super–high-quality pics that evening with my phone's camera:—

Greg, MADE in Edmonton
Shoko, IDEA
Sheri, Inspired Furnishings
And here are the three students. The one in the centre was cutely pétite, and I think the table may have belonged to the girl on the left (our left), but it was the yum on the right that struck me as Scarlett Johansson. You can't really tell here, I guess, but if you ever see her at the U of A, stalk her and find out:—

U of A industrial design students
Scarlett Johansson

21 July 2005

Penguin Modern Classics

For a while there I was reading only Canadian authors (I go yearly by theme, sorta), so I had picked up Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake, R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing, Michel Basilières's Black Bird, Michael Turner's The Pornographer's Poem, Ronald Wright's A Scientific Romance, Ian McGillis's A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry, Minister Fuast's The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, and with plans to really delve further into Canadian novels, like Douglas Glover's Elle and John Gould's Kilter: 55 Fictions, et al.

So on a little cyber-adventure today on Amazon.ca to order Chris Cunningham's Rubber Johnny DVD, I came across this news about Penguin re-introducing these Canadian classics, which kind of gives me enough initiave to pick them up. I am familiar with Findley, read his Headhunter but didn't like it at the time. Though Pilgrim has always been on my to-read list.
Alice Munro. Robertson Davies. Timothy Findley. Mordecai Richler. Canada has produced writers who are celebrated around the world, and for the first time, Penguin Modern Classics are being commissioned outside of the U.K. and the U.S.A.

Penguin is re-introducing these classics to Canadians with introductions by favourite contemporary authors, including David Bezmozgis, A.S. Byatt, Richard Ford, Wayne Johnston, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Alberto Manguel, Lorrie Moore, Annie Proulx, David Adams Richards, Jane Smiley, Guy Vanderhaeghe, and M.G. Vassanji.

Celebrate Canada Day with Penguin Canada's Modern Classics!

via Amazon.ca

Not only the great literature, but they are some of my most favouritest book designs out there. Them, and, obviously, Pentagram's work on the Pocket Canons Bible Series:—

My first published design work

I just received a confirmation letter from David E. Carter, Inc. that I've been chosen, among others, to be published in an international book of business card design for the work I did re-branding Avanti Salon Spa. I have no idea how legit this is. I sent samples down earlier this year with something like a $20 entry fee, which I suppose is standard fare but I'm sort of leaning towards not entering many of these things.

Looking over the website, they've published around 100 books on design and stuff, so I dunno. Maybe they make a lot of money off of the submitted entries? The book is called The Big Book of Business Card Design (presumably, the sequel to The Little Book pictured here), so I figure there will be lots of designers featured within. Anyhow, it's kind of neat. At least it'll make my Momma proud (they like water cooler talk).

And as a continuation to a good week, Dallas brought by my 19" Samsung LCD monitor to replace that goddamned piece of shit CRT that was destroying my eyesight. It's big and pretty. I need to sell my Dell UltraSharp at home and get two of these Samsungs there, too.

20 July 2005

The spiritual in design

I was just leaving some back-and-forth comments on Michael's Flickr page, in regards to some Canadian logotypes that were being discussed in Dose last week, and I think I may be coming closer to finding this link between magic and design. For lack of better terms, my little brain is beginning to assemble the necessary bridges in order to fathom a theory of esoteric design.

In no way am I a designer deserving of high and mighty praise, I work off of observation of European and New York pop culture, and primarily by intuition. But I will admit that a few designers have shared with me a perspective of technical brilliance in design. And as of tonight, this was my first major epitome of realising an esoteric design: it has to do with ego.

I was watching the documentary thing on Louis I. Khan today, My Architect, and one gentleman made an interesting and beautifully simple analogy between Jewish mystical thought and Khan's architecture: that God is in the details.

And earlier still, I was at the MADE in Edmonton meeting at Manasc Isaac Architects and there were two new guys there, students from the U of A, and I found myself conversing artistic versus technical approaches to design. I sounded a lot like Mike down in Calgary, though not consciously repeating his role as technical designer. (Don't get me wrong, he's a wonderful artist in his own right and shaped what I consider to be most of Edmonton's urban trends in Old Strathcona through the early 1990s through his role at Divine Decadence.) I think I just "see the light" now, as it is.

The reason this has come about is most likely due to my recent and frequent comfortabilities with the concepts of free will versus determinism. The whole fucking thing is paradox: I wish I were more articulate sometimes, but in regards to will, the only way to achieve free will to do anything, by my current analyses, is to give up on it. No wonder this crap is so hard to teach, how do you make a message out of that? To gain something is to give it up.

By acknowledging free will as illusory, by playing along with divinity and allowing the myth of your life to come to fruition — the pursuit of dharma by sloughing off karmic response — we can, over time, come to an understanding with what we deem reality. It's like when I teach the Witchcraft & Occult Class, I stress that when a sigil is cast that it will cause as much change in the caster as it will in the manifest world by which to bring about its change. Accepting responsibility for one's own myth, that the trials and tribulations, the highs and lows are equal, then there is a shift in interaction with one's environments — both external and internal.

With every acceptance, the capability for one to grasp at free will comes to. As Karlfried Graf Dürckheim put it, "When you're on a journey, and the end keeps getting further and further away, then you realize that the real end is the journey."

I guess the easiest way to put it is that once you can see we all share a path, and that perception lies in deep meditation and altered states, but it's there, then there is no reason to exact free will upon the world. To react against the illusion of maya is to be its prisoner.
In Advaita Vedanta philosophy, maya is the illusion of a limited, purely physical and mental reality in which our everyday consciousness has become entangled, a veiling of the true, unitary Self, also known as Brahman. Maya originated in the Hindu scriptures known as the Upanishads. Many philosphies or religions seek to "pierce the veil" in order to glimpse the transcendent truth, from which the illusion of a physical reality springs, drawing from the idea that first came to life in the Hindu stream of Vedanta.

In Hinduism, Maya must be seen through in order to achieve moksha (liberation of the soul from the cycle of death and rebirth) — ahamkar (ego-consciousness) and karma are seen as part of the binding forces of Maya. Maya is seen as the phenomenal universe, a lesser reality-lens superimposed on the one Brahman that leads us to think of the phenomenal cosmos as real.

With every year, what Baumle put forth in a prior post becomes more and more apparent to me: Paramahansa Yogananda wrote, "The iron filings of Karma are only attracted to the magnet of the ego."

Moving on… what does this have to do with design?

I remember speaking to a fellow by the name of SatsUrn on OccultForums.com some time ago. He works as a physicist in the U.S. dealing with electromagnetic radiation and had gotten involved in the occult with his interest in sacred geometry in ancient temples. Turns out that much of the ancient holy architects had some sort of esoteric knowledge of how particular angles, shapes, dimensions, and spaces could warp and affect the natural electromagnetic forces and other radiations and/or energies that were naturally occurrent. These structures could also focus human energies while within and, for lack of better terms, magnify or amplify them. Thus, sacred temples were actually, yes, houses of the gods. Not in that they were hanging out in the rafters looking down upon us, but as it welled up exotic energies that essentially entrained the people within to be drawn into either ecstatic states or lower EEG states, perhaps from the normal, waking beta state down to more introspective, "mystical" states that are normal when the mind's EEG is entrained to alpha or theta waves.

In art, it is the realm of the artist to exact their inner visions of reality upon a canvas, whether it be clay or by brush. We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are. But a designer learns the tenets of her or his craft in order to bring an order, hierarchy, and structure to that which there is apparently none — something especially true in an "Age of Information," an age named after an abstraction. The methods of magic are similar in that the will of the individual is fixed and, through a projection of desire into the substratum of reality, events unfold that can bring about changes in apparent accord to the magician's will. It is an attempt to place an abstract order of control over the randomness of life.

(Well, we could go into a number of areas of magic, from chaos magic to Goetic evocations, whatever, but for simplicity's sake I am just spewing my verbal diarrhea here.)

Design and magic are quite similar in this nature:—

DESIGN, from Wikipedia
Design as a process can take many forms depending on the object being designed and the individual or individuals participating.

In the context of the applied arts, engineering, architecture and other such creative endeavours, design is both a noun and a verb. Design in its verb context is the process of originating and developing a plan for an aesthetic and functional object, which usually requires considerable research, thought, modelling, iterative adjustment and re-design. As a noun, design is used both for the final plan of action (a drawing, model or other description), or the result of following that plan of action (the object produced).

In philosophy, the abstract noun design refers to purpose/purposefulness, or teleology. Design is thus contrasted with purposelessness, randomness, or lack of complexity.

MAGIC, Crowley's oft-repeated definition
Aleister Crowley preferred the spelling magick, defining it as "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will." By this, he included "mundane" acts of will as well as ritual magic. In Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter XIV, Crowley says:

What is a Magical Operation? It may be defined as any event in nature which is brought to pass by Will. We must not exclude potato-growing or banking from our definition. Let us take a very simple example of a Magical Act: that of a man blowing his nose.

There was also a quick definition of design that I saw recently that stated, simply, design as the conscious act of doing something for a particular reason(s).

Designer as sorcerer… Magic as design… Information as a the most basic construct of a holographic world… Observation as imprisonment…?

The ideas will come in time. But now I sleep.

David Lynch starts a new foundation based on meditation

Seriously, I love Lost Highway, Blue Velvet, and my Twin Peaks box set as much as anyone else (where's the second season and a decently priced season one pilot you dirt-fucking cunt hairs?), but I don't know if he'd be doing the whole transcendental meditation thing a favour by not publicly pushing it to the school children of the United States. I mean, c'mon… he's no Sting:—

Director David Lynch is using his own money to launch the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. He plans to establish transcendental meditation (or "TM") courses and study how yoga affects the "brain and body."

Despite "hating speaking in public," Lynch, 59, says he decided "to stop being quiet" about his passion for the 47-year-old Hindu chanting technique after observing the sad state of education in U.S. schools.

Today's students "are even more stressed out. Their schools are hellholes," he goes on. "They're getting pathetic educations. They're not going forward with full decks of cards."

Students who meditate, he says, "will start shining like a bright, shiny penny, and their anxieties will go away. By diving within, they will attain a field of pure consciousness, pure bliss, creativity, intelligence, dynamic peace. You enliven the field, and every day it gets better. Negativity recedes."

via BoingBoing and the New York Post Online

19 July 2005

This chick kicks my ass

Anyone familiar with Flickr should enjoyably find punkts's photography wonderfully entertaining. He's a voyeur of the top order, working hard on a daily basis to bring the best of what I believe to be New York's beauties to the internet.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/candidgirls/27067490/

Artemy Lebedev’s Optimus keyboard

This keyboard, of Russian design, will "most likely" use organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) — as opposed to e-paper technology — on the keys, will be OS-independent, OEM is possible, each key can be programmed to produce any sequence, and it will hopefully be available in 2006. Wow.

http://www.artlebedev.com/portfolio/optimus/

via Bryce Pugh on the MADE in Edmonton forums




18 July 2005

Spiritual aristocracy


Wow, after all these years of defending students of the occult and trying to slough off the élitism of the spiritual aristocracy as put forth by Jason (pictured above, right) and Daryl, I may be coming to agree with them. Even Baumle — from more of an Eastern point of view — stands by living a life of highs and lows, of the karma involved in individuals' searches for their own dharma. Jason has always taken an aristocratic approach to the occult, and been his own worst enemy when it comes to the questioning of himself. And I want to say Daryl is hate incarnate, but he's not. He's just very alien to me.

Baumle's comments regarding the "Think and Make Poverty History" campaign, as posted by Technoccult:—
What about Karma? Are there not reasons for the existence of poverty; and what are the extension of these? Is the egocentric body experience the whole truth and measure of being? Paramahansa Yogananda wrote, "The iron filings of Karma are only attracted to the magnet of the ego"; J. Krishnamurti said, "truth initiates its own action"; one of the 'four noble truths' of Buddhism is, man is the cause of his own suffering.

I think that the idea of the web site is certainly a beautiful one. But we can cut down all of the limbs of a tree, and still it will grow and reach for the light in the sky. Only until the roots of the tree are killed will it cease to strive for its desire.

I am not trying to be a prick, nor am I trying to piss on anybody's parade, I am all ways wondering (when I am lucky enough to hold a whole thought in my head), am I mistaking my finger for the moon?

Please forward any hate mail for me to, georgebush@satan's ass.com.
J


He brings up a good point. People try way too hard to fix the problem by addressing the symptoms once the problems have arisen, rather than really researching the holistic issues at hand. Generally it points to a personal responsibility somehow (hello, libertarianism) and I think that is why people avoid it: they dislike taking responsibility for the world's ills.

I fully believe it's within a human's capacity to make worldly changes, but it's also rare. Mostly, I believe it's within everyone to make their aspect of the world a better place. Now that's not too hard to do.

But with pain and suffering come lessons. We've all experienced tribulation before, some more than others, but that is where I am beginning to observe the patterns. I can't comment on the rest of the world, but I can comment on what I've observed directly in my own family and community. Fortunately, in North America, any suffering we encounter is a product of our own doing for the most part. Places like Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are different. These are self-inflicted hatreds, fears, and afflictions that are fostered on a social scale. But I also believe in the adventure, so if you can't take your life into your own hands and escape, that is your own choice. With some ingenuity, one can do anything. This is the Game, this is Your Life.

After watching friends face cancer and addiction — one of which is a fluke, the other a self-afflicted issue — I've had the honour of watching many overcome these hardships.

So when the occult community rallies to try to create these new subcultures of their own design, like the counterculture and this new ultraculture movement, I have to wonder what they think they'll accomplish.


Like, wow… I don't mean to offend too many people, but wtf is this? New Age cyberhippies gone wrong? I would ten times over buy into the Marilyn Manson camp than into this. Jason would have no end of annoyances to utter about this.

I really have nothing legitimately intelligent to say other than this bugs me. It's the same design and approach that makes the New Agers look like such muumuu-wearing social flakes and the Wiccans and/or goths look like target practise for regular beatings. As I implement more and more propaganda campaigns in Alberta, I'll be gauging the reactions to them in order to create a fertile public space in which to post posters and materials for the unique journey of the individual. Not rallying the Love Troops to try to heal the world with their idea of what it should be.

The whole point is that I will never know what the fuck it's like to be you, or you, or you, I only know me. And 95% of people don't even take the time to properly learn who/what the hell they are. Give them the tools necessary to bear psychopaths upon society with a reference by which to garner the experiences necessary to make up their own minds about what they should be doing with this blink of life they've been granted.

And if anymore of these spiritual fluffballs start preaching change and love and whatever else without really having worked on gaining the experience to back up their claims (e.g. if one more motherfucker criticizes me for working on demonic magic), or have not really delved into the subcultures and/or worlds of suffering, then you really don't know what abstract purpose it plays into society. Love is not the answer, understanding is. With understanding comes a grander wisdom of divinity, perhaps akin to love if you want it to be, but generally it is considered to be wordless, definition-less.

I think in the end all I really wanna say is, Our occultists can beat up your occultists.


EDIT — Fantastic Planet's J. Puma posted this on Tim's site. Even the fucking apostrophe is backwards. 'Nuff said:—

15 July 2005

Today’s e-mail from a student

And by fate of hand, this is actually the girl I mentioned in an earlier post that had left the class in a rush, only to return afterwards to speak to me briefly about not believing that magic is possible (she's a science major, so that's fair enough).

Oddly, out of the smallest class yet I've gotten two decent attempts to try sorcery out from the students. Perhaps I'm onto something here. The other woman's name is Victoria and she's been coming along very well, very quickly I might add. Within the year she'll be exploring things I've only touched on, thought if she continues her interest in me as a "teacher" figure, I'll have to continue to watch her fears. So far she has exhibited none, only a keen curiosity.

So onto this other woman's e-mail here from today:—
Hey this is [deleted] from the Witchcraft summer class. I dont know if you remember but I was the one accusing you of doing something to me! Sorry about that by the way!

Yeah so i tried some of the excersizes you told us to do and....... i dont know sometimes i think i can do it, usually only when i am by myself in my bed at night, not so much during the day. I always second guess myself trying to think of a logical explaination.

I think i actually saw a person's ora or whatever cuz i was at a seminar and just staring at the guy and i swear there was like a yellowy blue outline around him, but you know it might have beeen the light or something. As far as the rubbing your hand feeling yeah it feels really gross, even thinking about it makes you feel kinda sick. its cool though i guess.

This is the freaky thing i tried the symbols ,you know to get your desires, and i dont know, the skeptic in me tells me its just a coincidence but...... i wanted to try something easy so i just put "desire to see a red balloon" at first and i swear for two days i was seeing balloons everywhere!, finally the third day i saw the exact image that i was thinking in my head and everything calmed down. SO i tried it again this time to see an elephant, and i saw one doing what i was picturing on tv. But this is where it gets complicated, my boyfriend was trying to get into electrical engineering and last year he got rejected, so i made a symbol and memorized it, basically anytime i had a moment i thought about it, like at work, when my feet felt like they were gonna fall off or at the gym! and today he got a letter of acceptance.

I seriously feel like i am loosing my mind! I mean did i do that or was it his grades, the funny thing is about 4 weeks ago he almost got kicked out of the University for low grades untill we talked to the registar ppl and changed it. Shit do i even tell him, i dont want to make him feel stupid. I feel like i cant even tell anyone because they wont believe me anyways!

This is so crazy i never thought any of the stuff would work and i dont know whether to believe im doing these things or if it is just a concidence......I dont know i guess i am sending this email to get your thoughts so just give me a shout back when you get this if you have the time. thanks

ps i tried the activating the pinneal gland by closing your eyes and staring forward but i got freaked out and sometimes when i am really tired and staring straight in my bed i get so scared cuz i think i see something/someone moving around i have to turn the lights on! I guess i wont be doing that one anymore!

Imagine the possibilities for sigils


I came across this, posted by Oliver Oike on Michael Surtees's blog:

Evan Roth's work as NI9E has him working with graffiti and light in Manhattan and Brooklyn as part of his thesis at Parsons. Imagine what could be done with sigils engineered to affect the egregore, or regional memetic sorts of infection.

Also, there is his hijacking of the U.S. Postal Service's envelopes as a message against Dubya. Watch it!

《。》 by Hu Wenliang

:?
:!
“‘……’”
(、)·《,》
;——

If you can read the above story, you win 140,000 yuan (US$16,900). Link here. Whether these are the proper characters or not, I have no clue. They are according to BoingBoing.

Google Video search


http://video.google.com/

14 July 2005

Simulated society may generate virtual culture


Virtual computer characters more accustomed to battling deranged alien monsters are about to take part in a unique social experiment.

A society of virtual "agents” - each with a remarkably realistic personality and the ability to learn and communicate - is being crafted by scientists from five European research institutes who hope to gain insights into the way human societies evolve.

The project, known as New and Emergent World models Through Individual, Evolutionary and Social Learning – or NEW-TIES – brings together experts in artificial intelligence, linguistics, computer science and sociology. It is backed by a consortium consisting of the University of Surrey and Napier University in the UK, Tilberg and Vrije Universities in the Netherlands and Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary.

continued via New Scientist

12 July 2005

Canada’s 2006 postage stamp program


Peggy Cady posted on the GDC listserv today that the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada 1956–2006 commemorative stamp will be released in October, alongside that month's endangered species stamp and Canada Post's 25th anniversary of being a Crown corporation.

Let's take a brief look at what excitement the stamp world holds for us come 2006, according to moi. These stamps aren't exactly favourites, per se, but at least they make sense. The bad ones are just fucking lame. It's no wonder no one attacks us, we are so totally ininspiring and inimportnat that we can justify duck decoy stamps (yes, I'm serious):—

GOOD:

McClelland & Stewart 1906-2006
It's this publishing house's 100th anniversary, they deserve a stamp. Anyone that publishes anything, except religious literature that isn't extrapolated on and published by Oxford should be granted anything they want. More smart, less dumb.

Canadian Labour Congress
Even though I think unions are the equivalents of condoms for shitty dicks, it's their 50th, so give 'em a stamp. I am sure someone in my family, someone somewhere, long dead, was in a union once or something. Though most of my family were poor-ass farmers across the Prairies. I wasn't closely related to the other branch that went on to become judges and RCMP chiefs. Whether that's a blessing or not, I'm not sure.

Canadian Museum of Civilization 1856-2006
"This single domestic-rate commemorative celebrates 150 years of this national treasure's work seeking out, archiving, protecting and exhibiting the artifacts of Canadian history and culture." This is the first I've heard of the Museum. However, this morning was the first I'd heard about two zombie Sarah's. Until today, it had always been only just one. That was what the shovel was for.

Vancouver Aquarium 1956-2006
Honestly, the only reason I put them under the Good List is because they have sea creatures, which I find fascinating and ugly, and because they'd throw a hissy-fit if they didn't get theirs.

Atlas of Canada
I once had this dream when I was in high school that I told Charly about. It had to do with these chemical warfare experiments that the Canadian government was conducting on these people that became like, you guessed it, zombie-vampire like. In the dream I saw them all in a compound surrounded by huge lamps casting light onto them, surrounded by a huge, tall chainlink fence. The compound encompassed an abandoned mining town. As the dream came to, I flew up from my perspective and could look down upon Alberta. The compound was up near Cold Lake, where the largest military base in Western Canada is located. In the atlas Charly and I searched through, we couldn't find the lake I saw in my dream. It wasn't until months later that I came across a different lake, near Cold Lake, but just east enough to be located in Saskatchewan, so it hadn't been apparent on the Alberta map we were perusing. This was where the army was keeping their experimental ghouls.

Mountaineering
"The Alpine Club of Canada's first meeting was in March 1906, in Winnipeg. Today, the group is headquartered at the Canmore Summer Mountaineering Camps. A single domestic-rate commemorative pays homage to this group and their contributions to the sport of mountain climbing." Aleister Crowley and Julius Evola were master mountaineers. Climbing mountains is way more manly than baseball.

World Lacrosse Championship
Lacrosse is also more manly than baseball.

Wine and Cheese
This one actually started out on the Retarded List, but I moved it. I love wine. I love cheese. So what?

Opera
Screw whatever you're going to say. I saw the ESO and Alberta Ballet put on an okay production of Orff's Carmina Burana, and I may have gone on a date with the opera singer once. I think so, she was like eight years older than I was and I took her to Christy & Shane's place during a party after getting drunk at Savoy. I believe I met her on Nerve.com, actually…

McDonald College
Actually, I don't know where McDonald College is. But it's another anniversary and I'd feel bad denying anyone that.

Stamp Month: Endangered Species
"This rare and precious group of animals includes the Swift Fox, Blue Racer Snake, Tiger Salamander and Newfoundland Marten." Fair enough.

Society of Graphic Designers of Canada 1956-2006
I have to admit that I've come to admire the work that the GDC puts in across the nation and the good they're doing. Plus they're offering Canada something that 99% of the rest of the population can't seem to do: fucking style and finesse (though, some within are still definitely not). Then again, what do I know?


FUCKING RETARDED:

Lunar New Year: Year of the Dog
This one is borderline, but it's lame because of all the cool stuff we could be approaching in Chinese or Korean culture, we choose the most generic, Chinatown rip-off of their culture that we can. Why not just make a stamp of the back of a Chinese restaurant menu. (However, in all fairness, these stamps are probably some of my favourite illustrated designs of the stamps I recall seeing in recent memory.)

Queen Elizabeth
To be completely honest, I try to be a touch polite when I'm being rude. But fuck the Queen. GET HER OFF THE MONEY. GET HER OFF THE POSTAGE. GET HER OFF EVERYTHING.

Winter Olympics
Of course this was a given, but fuck 'em. I can't really compare them to Wal-Mart, but I can compare Wal-Mart to the likeness of becoming the likes of the Olympics when it comes to swallowing crap up. So instead of bombing the Olympics, perhaps terrorists can do us all a favour and start strapping themselves to shopping carts at Wal-Marts à la Atlanta 1996. I also give the GDC full kudos for sending them that fuck-you letter in regards to the logo spec competition. I have no comment to either side of the argument, but the GDC stood its ground.

Gardens
There is nothing I despise more on the stamps than more plants. I actually wrote a letter to Canada Post's Director of Stamp Products a week ago telling him just how I felt about more flowers on our stamps. You, too, can write them and let them know just how you feel about more flower stamps: Director of Stamp Products, Canada Post Corporation, 2701 Riverside Drive Suite N1070, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0B1. I was going to suggest they do a commemorative stamp to honour the unfortunate overdose death of Skinny Puppy's Dwayne Goettel here in Edmonton, but that was 1995 so we missed the ten-year mark already.

Birthdays
"Everyone has one! Celebrating the second largest sending occasion each year, a new stamp will be the perfect addition to Canadians' birthday greetings." I wish I could insert a field here on Blogger so everyone could enter their own comment on celebrating celebrations. What a cop-out idea. This sounds like a Hallmark conspiracy.

Art Canada: Dorothy Knowles
I admit, Knowles has some fine paintings. But this falls into the whole gardening theme that seems to be going on at Canada Post. Fuck you. Like Canada needs to perpetuate the stereotype of Molson, landscapes, caribou, beavers, and unbelievably gorgeous women. Yeah, actually I was just checking on that last one to see if you were paying attention. As for Knowles, sorry… I will actually pay Canada Post to put Istvan Kantor or Diana Thorneycroft on a bloody stamp. And for any of you familiar with Kantor, pun only half-intended.

Duck Decoys
"Canada Post will issue four commemorative stamps, each at the domestic rate, to call attention to the art and sport of duck decoys." I don't think I have anything really to say here.

Christmas
Another given, but it doesn't justify the cop-out. We all know it's Christmas. At least do something creative with it. And if Canada Post is reading this, No, I do not have any suggestions currently. Cut me a cheque and I'll figure something out for you.

Glitches in the system


I was reading over Kaliber10000 and came across a link to a new book being compiled by two European graphic designers, Tony Scott and Iman Moradi. Their project is the aesthetic of digital corruption. It's fantabulous.

Called Glitch Art & Design, they are putting together all the work to form the full book for publication. I look forward to seeing this if I get the chance to. Also, if anyone is interested, they are taking submissions as well.

Sarah gets the shovel


So I woke up earlier than I would've normally preferred this morning. Due to a dream. First a brief rundown: my dreams are similar in nature to a theatre, with changing plots from one dream to the next, but the props and tools used in the dreams are often quite similar. I have had recurring dreams since my teen years of hunting the undead, whether it's ghoul, zombi, or vampire. (I distinguish ghouls as the rotting Hollywood "zombie" and zombi as The Serpent and the Rainbow, vodoun sorta of magic.) Sometimes I am being overwhelmed, sometimes I am kicking ass. There is no rhyme nor reason. But they're exhilerating nonetheless, and often emotionally confusing for me.

So the recurring theme is undead, though the story continuously changes. The one prop I created in my mind some years ago was a sword. This particular sword is about two-thirds sword and tapers off to one side for the last third to something akin to a fencing sword or long needle. Thus, I can swipe heads off and pierce hearts when needed.

Anyhow, these new recurring dreams have prominently featured my ex, Sarah, who's currently moving from the Netherlands to Curaçao, in the Dutch Antilles. I think I've had this themed dream about three times or so now, perhaps once every few months. I'll recap the few details I recall from this morning:


Half of the dream is generally of a romantic or emotional nature where I'm all like, Aww, it's so nice to reconnect emotionally with someone I care about, yadda, yadda, yadda… It reminds me a great deal of the scene at the end of Spielberg's A.I., where David asks the enlightened robot things at the end for that last encounter with Monica. They tell him that humans embody a consciousness that can only exist in one thread of space-time, thus to bring her back is impossible. But they do manage to give him one day with her, before her "being" fades away, back into the particular space-time where it belongs proper (or whatever).

I had an underground bunker of a base, with this peculiar secret way of entering from above that incorporated special dance moves with foot work along these beams above a pit. That's all I have to say about that. Once inside, there were other acquaintances with me, and I have a new encounter with Sarah. It's been years since I've seen her. It's all dreamy and emotional, sort of plays out like a cross between a sci-fi Indiana Jones adventure and a some movie starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. (Did you know Richard Gere was born Richard Tiffany Gere?)

Now, in the past dreams, there may be some cuddling or talking, essentially all the stuff guys don't like to admit to. You know, we're reconnecting. It has this surreal dream quality to it all, and then she gets weak. I become concerned, and she twists around in pain until coming up from it all as a ghoul. It's not exactly the best wet dream. It's not even an enjoyable encounter.

And a little something about me: I fucking hate zombies. Hate them. With a passion unlike anyone you've ever met. Except for maybe Tara. She's a close second.

So in the other dreams I had to cave Sarah's head in with a shovel. Shovels have a nice reach to them, a good swinging inertia and hit hard upon contact. I distinctly remember having to run, scream, cry, and avoid her zombie ass. Then BONK! on the head. It sounds all fun and shit — I know, I've been hunting ghouls in dreams for more than half a decade — but it's creepy when you're getting all jiggy with it and she tries to vomit up blood in your face and claw your fucking eyes out.

So this morning was the Universe screwing with my shit. As I was maybe becoming expectant of Sarah's inevitable change (sorry, babe… sometimes my unconscious mind just does its thing) we decided to try to save her. So as she's lulling around in this dream state and all the colours are pretty, I lock her in the closet in the underground bunker. I remember someone else, a friend, above the closet on another floor helping me. We figured we could find a cure or something.

Unfortunately, when we went to go to open the closet door, perhaps to chain her zombie ass up à la 28 Days Later, there are two of her in the closet. The zombie Sarah is still quite aware of the door having been opened and is still sorta all dazed and screwed up. The dreamy, nice Sarah is looking at me all pissed off cuz the zombie Sarah scratched or bit her and now she's going to become another zombie Sarah. Two of them. Damn it.

So rather than a shovel in this dream, I had something akin to a rusty metal version of a cricket bat (whatever they're called). So without hesitation, a tear in my eye, there was a CRUNCH! and a KER-SPLOOT! and both fell to the ground in a heap of limbs.

Seriously, with girls… I never seem to be able to win.

11 July 2005

Libertarianism & Transhumanism

So after some friendly debate over on Tim's Occult Investigator site, I'm remembering just how easy it is for people to fear the unknown. In this case, it's transhumanism. And, sadly, it reminds me of when Tara and I went down to Calgary last and some friend of a friend harped down on me for supporting the ideas of libertarianism. She honest-to-god said, "That's the Devil's party, you know?"

This bitch was a political sciences major and she actually used the adjective "Devil" to describe an approach to a laissez faire world. I can understand not agreeing with it, but c'mon. When Iceland is one of the fundamental models of libertarian society, between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, I can't exactly commit to any sort of negative commentary. Iceland (I love it's actual name: Lýðveldið Ísland) openly accepts other religions, with a small but distinguished Ásatrú contingent, and their culture has shaped, in my opnion, an exemplary Western nation:—
Some famous Icelanders include pop singer Björk; avant-garde rock band Sigur Rós; and novelist Halldór Laxness, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1955. Also, the former world chess champion Bobby Fischer became an Icelandic citizen on March 21, 2005. Russian pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy has been a citizen since 1972.

Iceland's literacy rate is among the highest in the world, and the love of literature, chess, and other intellectual pursuits is widespread.


So onto transhumanism. In this article by Ronald Bailey, entitled "Transhumanism: The Most Dangerous Idea?", we explore how the U.S. government reflects many of the fears of the population about transhumanism (yes, it's very reminiscent of the stories of prejudice found in X-Men):—
Francis Fukuyama, professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, author of Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, and a member of the President's Council on Bioethics. His choice for the world's most dangerous idea? Transhumanism.

In his Foreign Policy article, Fukuyama identifies transhumanism as "a strange liberation movement" that wants "nothing less than to liberate the human race from its biological constraints." Sounds ominous, no? But wait a minute, isn't human history (and prehistory) all about liberating more and more people from their biological constraints? After all, it's not as though most of us still live in our species' "natural state" as Pleistocene hunter-gatherers. […]

Of course, humans have been deliberately changing their bodies through athletic training and their brains through schooling. Nevertheless, Fukuyama has a point. Can one be so transformed by technology as to be no longer human? "Our good characteristics are intimately connected to our bad ones: If we weren't violent and aggressive, we wouldn't be able to defend ourselves; if we didn't have feelings of exclusivity, we wouldn't be loyal to those close to us; if we never felt jealousy, we would also never feel love," asserts Fukuyama. He seems to be arguing that to be a human being one must possess all of the emotional capacities characteristic of our species. If biotechnological manipulations removed our ability to feel emotions like anger, hate, or violence, we would in some sense not be human beings any more.


But where Fukuyama is a bit coy, left-leaning bioethicists George Annas, Lori Andrews, and Rosario Isasi are brutally blunt:—
The new species, or "posthuman," will likely view the old "normal" humans as inferior, even savages, and fit for slavery or slaughter. The normals, on the other hand, may see the posthumans as a threat and if they can, may engage in a preemptive strike by killing the posthumans before they themselves are killed or enslaved by them. It is ultimately this predictable potential for genocide that makes species-altering experiments potential weapons of mass destruction, and makes the unaccountable genetic engineer a potential bioterrorist.


Why do I bring up both libertarianism and transhumanism. Becuase it seems that a cornerstone argument made by those against both are deathly afraid of freedom. Of course, this is just my opinion, but they're all arguing what-ifs. Also, and here's the kicker, is that it seems to be a projection of the insecurities that they hold of themselves. I can't prove this, obviously, but think about the inter-subjective way we involve ourselves in reality: We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.

The fundamental reason I think libertarianism would work — in time, after some probable bloodshed and much cheating of the system as the corrupt took to it — would be because of the amount of freedom it would afford everyone. It places all responsibility upon the individuals in society. There is no more coddling. As much as I think social programmes are wonderful in some regards, I force myself to look at the larger picture and what I see is a nation (especially in the U.S.) that makes more effort to dodge blame than they do in trying to get to the grassroots issues at hand. (I blame the legal trends in the States and the Church for this.) And not to sound too harsh, but look at the Canadian Liberals. The Sponsorship Scandal, the misallocaton of, I don't recall, millions or hopefully not billions of dollars, et cetera. I believe the majority of federal Liberals are from rich Ontario and Québécois families. And from the trouble they get into, there are a few that like to host a criminal element in government — essentially using it to their advantage, rather than that of the people they represent.

In a libertarian state there'd be no need for any of them. The small amount of tax dollars we'd be paying out would be for simple necessities, such as road maintenance. And I can assure you that the punishment for ripping off the community (the community being all of Canada, in this case) would be a little more than this slap on the wrist.

Remember Brian Mulroney?

I can't say I am as educated in all this libertarian stuff as I am in other matters, but I now tend to agree with the points made by Rebecca and the articles I am reading online. The essence of it all is freedom. And responsibility. Like these two obese chicks suing McDonald's. For god's sake, is it McDonald's fault or a shared fault between you and your fucking parents? I place a tub of lard and a vat of salad in front of you, I'm gonna point and laugh if you snort down on the lard and put on 200 lbs. Argh.

And as far as commercialised health care goes, of which I am on the fence about all of that, I believe we could probably develop better systems à la Blue Cross. That's what the Blue Cross is there for, isn't it? Committees would form, and just as there is competition in the commercial sector, these committees would form the best and most efficient regulations. Wanna eat in a restaurant for $3 a plate, sure, give'r… but don't expect the same quality as eating at an establishment that proudly displays its committee regulations on their menus and charge $18 an entrée.

I also remember reading that the failure of R. Buckminster Fuller's economically- and environmentall-designed housing was due to the complications of housing regulations and power/sewage issues. It was near-impossible for them to get the proper paperwork in place. In the end, his Dymaxion housing was shelved and we've never seen it made commercially viable.

So back to transhumanism. People associate this with robots and abandoning the body and all this and that. I never even thought of that until the debate started huffing online. From a design perspective, I think of freedoms and in the context of hierarchies. Right now, people have been raised and the majority are okay with the amount of freedom that they're allowed. For the most part, I believe this is because it's what they grew up knowing. (There are stats online for this on the Americans, not sure about the Canadian stats.)

From an occult point of view, spiritual "freedom" is the the consequence of informational freedom. And from a design point of view, hierarchy and focus is necessary to create these new groups and social interactions (from IDFuel):—
Today Apple has 3 directions: professional "work horse" computers, friendly personal computers, and media distribution. Four years from now, I'm not so sure Apple will be making iPods, and iMacs. iTunes is already getting ported into cell phones, and the newest iMac is really more of an entertainment center component than a computer. Of course they will always make desktops, educational computers, and servers but I have a feeling that the PC will dissolve away into other hardware. Already people are ditching laptops in favor of Blackberry phones with detachable keyboards for most of their traditional "computing" needs. The definition of a phone is getting a little crazy with land lines, cell, instant messaging, VOIP, pervasive Wi-Fi, cameras, streaming video, and games. Televisions are going to be stationary computers, and cell phones will be the portable equivalent, with the same abilities. The only difference will be the physical interface and context of use.

In the end, we have all information available at any time and can sort through it intelligently, which is a good thing.


In Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, he brings up the number of social interactions that are allowable in groups. There is an equation developed by Robin Dunbar ("Neocortex size as a contraint on group size in primates," Journal of Human Evolution (1992), vol. 20, pp. 469–493) that states that the maximum number of social relations that humans are capable of handling, on average, is 147.8… roughly 150.

Dunbar looked at 21 different hunter-gatherer societies for which we have solid historical evidence and found that the average number of people in their villages was 148.4. The same pattern holds true for military organisations. Hutterites split their colonies into two once they reach the threshold of 150 people. The company Gore, which designed and developed the well-known Gore-Tex® used in everything from firefighting materials to camping equipment, has had 35 years of constant growth and profitibility because they, too, adhere to this 150 rule. No Gore plant ever exceeds 150 persons. On top of that, there are no titles or job descriptions at Gore. Everyone has the word "Associate" on their business card, similarly sized offices, salary is voted on, and everyone within each particular plant works off of one another, aiding one another, and inspiring one another via peer pressure, honour, and friendship. Very libertarian. And better than having a "boss" telling you what to do. This is inspired learning.

With the increase in informational structuring and order we'll be able to accomplish with the advent of new neurotechnology, humanity shall be able to slough off this evolutionary restraint and we'll be able to build and maintain more than just one group of 150. But just as alternate reality games work, I each person will build up networks of 150-groups. One maybe be specialised in one manner, and through that you'll be able to pursue accomplishments similar in nature to Gore — governed naturally, by persons you know and work well with. One for culinary delights, one for cycling, one for virtual suicide experiences, one for chess, one for the appreciation of Egon Schiele's paintings, et al. We shall all become designers, architects of our own souls.

I wish I could find the report on it, but I can't. Essentially, people shift and re-order memories to associate with other memories and characteristics that they find more in-sync with their thinking behaviour. Tests were given out of geometric patters, and the viewers were asked to come back in in intervals to re-describe the original patterns. Sometimes the reported number of circles, when there were initally eight or so could turn into seven times as many circles, or patterns changed in their memories. Essentially, they the viewers re-wrote their own memories in correspondence to patterns they were comfortable with over time in order to make them easier to store to long-term memory. They alter "reality" in order for storage ease.

We don't see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.

So with the birth of a virtual world where we'll be able to upload and download memories à la Strange Days, and be able to take the essence of who we are and bombard ourselves with any experience we want to try out, a greater wisdom will account for the limitless information available to us, as well as the oncoming near-limitless sets of experiences that we'll be able to interact with.

This is not unlike the proposed usage of lucid dreaming, that one can enter into the myth cycle and come out wiser and stronger if one can learn to integrate fully with the dreamtime. However, most do not, so this becomes the next best thing. We, as a race, are bringing the dreamtime to us rather than going to it.

The wiser we become due to exchanges of experience and as many ways as approaching an idea as possible, the more damage we do to the semiotic rules of engagement and the more reality crumbles.

Designers will increasingly have to approach this new virtual world as more and more users prefer to interact in both worlds.

Design in Virtuality

Take a look at SphereXP

So as users increasingly spend more time online, and the capacities of the internet and technology create a mirror world with more interactivity, mirroring the real world, our perceptions of the real world are going to increasingly break down and be based on similar information structures as presented online.

As groups, we'll pick and choose our tribes of 150, whether it be musically, artistically, professionally, whatever. I've been suffering from information overload lately and have been dedicating myself to studying design, and in which I've come to terms with how very ignorant I've been of many aspects of design. In doing so, I attempt to become wiser through my increased awareness/ knowledge of design and the subsequent implementation/ experience of utilising what I've learned.

A transhumanistic world will allow for people to explore experiences previously unavailable to them. The information will allow them to continue to explore any of these experiences, albeit virtual but yet maintaining the emotional trigger and impact of going through them as if they were "real," and with any incurred interest, the more information one would like to apply to any given experience will garner an intuitive and spiritual wisdom of such event. I believe the more experiences had, in conjunction with varieties of symbolism, will place the responsibility of truly gauging and making a personal sense/ truth out of every event the sovereign task of the individual. This is in contrast to the current state in which social means, peer groups, family, and propaganda tend to have more of an impact shaping our interpretation of experiences and information as it's taken in.

In essence, I believe just one aspect being brought forth to the forefront of Western civilisation is just as William S. Burroughs put it: "Smash the control images. Smash the contol machine."

This is going nowhere… I just need to sort through some ideas and get them down.