30 May 2006

Help me find Frater Achad in Vancouver

As some of you know, I will be arriving in Vancouver tomorrow. If anyone reading this knows or knows someone that knows the location of any of Charles Stansfeld Jones's (aka Frater Achad) artefact locales in the Vancouver area, I would love to hear about them. Some time ago I lost myself to some of his writings and the man was a freaking genius.

From Wikipedia:
In late 1917 Jones was arrested in a Vancouver hotel, where he had been behaving erratically. He was imprisoned on suspicion of being a draft dodger who was pretending to be insane. He was released after three days.

Kenneth Grant, writing in The Magical Revival, claims that on Jones' return to Vancouver circa 1930, he was wearing only a raincoat, which he proceeded to throw off, and then circumambulated the center of the city as a magical operation of some sort, earning himself criminal arrest and a stay in a mental institution. This story, which Grant may have had directly from Crowley, is in all likelihood a confusion of the 1917 incident with the "insanity" of Jones' 1928 baptism and 1929 confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church.

Too bad he lost his footing and went mad. I guess that's the risk we take with the nonsense that is magic.

Speaking of which, that has been on my mind lately. After speaking to some designer acquaintances with backgrounds in esoteric theology, and being aware of the history of Achad and the Qabalah, I've come to realise that much of the talk about defining oneself is about defining one's own path through the chaos that is the potentiality of the human transcendence, which is really a developing ontology of symbolic interpretations of one's existence. Anyone with any experience in numerology, gematria, the Arabic abjad, I Ching, or any similar sorts of systems will know that everything is interrelated. No big whoop-dee-doo once your used to the notion and have experienced its beauty. To be honest, I'm reduced to tears when faced with it. (Tears of joy, so shut up.)

But for some that lose themselves to the patterns, the connections, all that which might seem all-important, they seem to be missing one important element of their own development: none of it is important. And as Stanley Kubrick said:
The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent, but if we can come to terms with this indifference, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning. […] However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

That "light" is the power we have to define our own path towards the next level of personal development. A passion, a dream, a goal, something to fight for. But the trick is, that development can only come out of the chaos of metaphorically destroying whatever came before it. That means you (or me). Getting too caught up in the wonders of the now — the you of any moment or time — can only get you so far.

We must always be willing to destroy ourselves in order to see what it was that held us together in the first place. And to end on one more quote, by Mamoru Oshii, the writer & director of Ghost in the Shell: Innocence:
Humans can only confirm that they are humans by reconstructing themselves into something else.


kylark said...

I have yet to find a good definition of madness. Why is walking around downtown naked considered "mad?"

I mean, I know why. It's a gross violation of social norms. But why is that a criterion for what madness is?

Fell said...

Wandering into ontologies which we've not yet properly established a symbolic structure for habitations. We "see" the world, but have no way of ascertaining any sort of order by which to navigate it, let alone co-existing with the other inhabitants.

Again, it comes to power. Over oneself, and over the interpretation of the world around us. Symbols are tools for that.

channel null said...

That "light" is the power we have to define our own path towards the next level of personal development.

I concur with this, and suspect that there's more than just "personal development." Personal development seems like the effect, and possible even a doorway into the cause, but remains one facet of the causal origin, if you will. And much the same way that you're indifferent to a cell in your kidney, you still need enough of them performing their proper function (the elimination of nitrogenous waste and ammonia, which seems fitting for us goddamn monkeys on a galatic scale).

I wish I had known that Kubrick quote when I was younger.

I don't know much about Achad, but I believe he coined the term "Aeon of Ma'at," maybe, and that when Crowley met Achad, Crowley gave Achad the advice to continue a simple path of meditation etc. until he learned which god-form he was a manifestation of, as it baffled Uncle Al. But that might be a case of mistaken identity; pardon me, I have been drinking and get too flaky to fact-check.

Fell said...

I was reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T. E. Lawrence, this afternoon and this passage reminds me of a lot of what has been discussed elsewhere on Occult Design. Here, Lawrence speaks of seeing himself through a different set of eyes as he's involved with the Arabs, but not being an Arab himself, he is lost in a limbo lacking definition:

In my case, the efforts for these years to live in the dress of Arabs, and to imitate their mental foundation, quitted me of my English self, and let me look at the West and its conventions with new eyes: they destroyed it all for me. At the same time I could not sincerely take on the Arab skin: it was an affectation only. Easily was a man made an infidel, but hardly might he be converted to another faith. I had dropped one form and not taken on the other, and was become like Mohammed's coffin in our legend, with a resultant feeling of intense loneliness in life, and a contempt, not for other men, but for all they do. Such detachment came at times to a man exhausted by prolonged physical effort and isolation. His body plodded on mechanically, while his reasonable mind left him, and from without looked down critically on him, wondering what that futile lumber did and why. Sometimes these selves would converse in the void; and then madness was very near, as I believe it would be near the man who could see things through the veils at once of two customs, two educations, two environments.

channel null said...

From a " ' "marketing" ' 'experience' " perspective, how do we go about generating a catastrophic change in an individual w/out classic coercive "brainwashing" techniques? Serious question despite the triple-layer'd quote marks and I have no answer.

Fell said...

I have been working on that problem for the past months. I will be posting on that in the Alchemy & Design group soon enough. Probably when I return from Vancouver next week. We shall discuss it further next week, I'm sure.

Good question, though. I'm glad you're on the same page as me.

Frater MP said...

It's your psychedelic experiences which led to your disinterest in magic that are nonsense. You should stop reitterating your lack of belief in magic and do some real magic work, including but not limited to: joining a real respectable order, performing daily rituals appropriate to your "rank" (level of understanding) and continue dutifully to read whatever interests you, especially the syllabus provided by the lodge you join.

Otherwise, just shut the fuck up already.

Fell said...


See, Frater MP's comments are part of a good marketing campaign. In order to demand the emotional investment of this magnitude, clients would need to be willing to place their faith and belief wholeheartedly into a service. If they're willing to expend their own energy — on their own time, their own accord — then it appears as though it's important, legitimate, and worthy of taking notice in others' eyes.

Now, though I am quite familiar with the image that most have of the occult and of Wiccans and all such nonsense, Frater MP above is a good example of a brand willing to be redefined. Much like Tylenol re-positioned aspirin. If the market exists, do better than the competition and place them into another silly little box in the minds of your tentative clientele. In this case, we eschew Latin blog names and pretentious titles in favour of creating more popular modes of discussion (i.e., Tim's Pop Occulture workings) and remove grandiose preconceptions. This way everyone can relate to the tutelage of the service and we take a very much chaos magic-approach ("Web 2.0") to mysticism and spirituality.

Nothing can be shared unless it can be communicated. It just takes a remodelling of semantics and implementation of popular analogy.

Karl Long has a good little diagram which attempts to create a useful model for building "deeper, more valuable relationships with customers": The Customer Experience Hierarchy.

Under Trust, as Frater MP demonstrates in his post, the design of the occult scene MP has bought into seems to have adequately procured his trust. His interaction, I presume, with "respectable orders," has sustained and justified the entirety of what I will call the antiquated occultism.

Under Indicators, he makes it quite clear that his Visual Look (in this case, his Latin moniker and self-assumed title of Frater), his Behaviour (defense of his traditional understanding of magic), and his Reputation are at stake here. Unfortunately, his Behaviour eschews any sort of sound reasoning and is a blasé outburst which we all got enough of in high school. It has no point aside from self-gratification.

As such, I think the antiquated occult has been reduced to something akin to the more orthodox religions in this way: MY WAY RIGHT, YOUR WAY WRONG. BANG! BANG!

So word-of-mouth suffers in this case. If we take a look again at Karl Long's diagram, Competence, Skill, and especially Autonomy are lacking. The antiquated occultism lacks any sort of empirical customer/audience analysis, and DEFINITELY lacks any sort of basic usibility (which also bolsters a false sense of élitism). And without a basic level of usibility, there is definitely going to be very little high-level usibility, let alone pragmatic ways of sharing processes.

Lack of Autonomy and Co-Creativity orders such as the remnants of the Golden Dawn (anything past Regardie), or the Gnostic sects and Hermetic costumed hippies out there, has crippled the esoteric understanding of living life as a magical creation in favour of dogma.

Under Autonomy, we wee an indicator as Usefulness, and thus far I have seen very few useful magicians or occultists. I try to help my community, and use my knowledge to do that. Though, to do so, I often have to utilise another set of semantics. But at the end of the day, it's always spiritual and embodies self-fulfillment.

Loyalty to any of these orders? I don't count on it. If anything, I can't stop laughing at them. Their branding is non-existent, desire to work with them, let alone associate with them, is sketchy at best, and they are very well known for childish in-fighting.

Which paints an easy picture of a target market to re-position through marketing.

Because, till recently and not since the esoteric orders of UR and the Golden Dawn a century ago, the occult has generally attracted what I consider to be those in no position to help others, let alone themselves. Alienated from their communities, they seek out whatever is left in the dregs, and some occult leftovers just happened to be heaped up there.

But really, Julius Evola would be turning in his grave.

I like that illustration: Autonomy and Co-Creativity… spells out both Web 2.0 and chaos magic to me. Just gotta infuse it with a modicum of popular culture, and design a hierarchy of educational incentives to drive clients to want to empower themselves to become further autonomous, but at the same time through prior successes at autonomy I guarantee a more diligent affiliation and participation in the services, and loyalty to the brand and that Co-Creativity will become apparent.

It's very much a reflection of the Zen archon that I was blabbing about on Pop Occulture last year.

Okay, back to work!

Fell said...

A bit more detail, actually, from Chris Lawer @ Customer Innovation Blog:—

Using the example of Second Life, the online multi-player gaming environment, Karl [Long] is doing a good job dissecting the components and catalysts of successful co-creation. These include:

* Developing a foundation of Trust

* Motivating and Educating the Customer to become more active participants

* Extending the emphasis on lean consumption-style, functional usability

* Providing access to peer group knowledge and skill

* Facilitating Individual freedom and control - or autonomy as Karl describes
* …leading to emotional/aspirational co-creativity and participation

What is interesting is Karl's use of "De-Motivators" and "Motivators" to identify both tablestake elements — those critical foundations upon which co-creative interaction can build — and motivators — those which speed the rate, frequency and learning intensity of customer co-creation.

channel null said...

I realize part of the reason I"m adverse to "marketing" is simply I don't get the jargon, and it's too fucking close to the "professional" world for me; I feel like how a jamaican english speaker might feel around australian english speakers. I have to go over this later, it's bedtime.

Hey, MP, I do practice daily, thanks for the tip. I'll work on joining a respectable order as soon as the next renaissance fair is in town.

Mystikos Praktoras said...

Haha, renaissance fair. I also like the big dumb essay from Fell.