29 June 2006

You heard it here first: DiCaprio is the new cool

I admit that if I were to immediately rove into making fun of DiCaprio, I'd be doing so out of a conditioned response. And that would make me +lame. But thinking back, he's held some pretty fucking wicked company and in all respect, he's done well for himself in his chosen profession. (Acting being one of the more spiritual crafts, imho.) I've seen reference to him in occult texts, as a friend to artists and other more underground figures and filmmakers you wouldn't expect him to.

DiCaprio has chosen to portray characters from life, from the living myth of the U.S., such as Frank Abagnale Jr (Catch Me If You Can), Howard Hughes (The Aviator), and Jim Carroll (The Basketball Diaries), and the film Gangs of New York. Today, I came across a link on Tales from the Bookcase Forest about Dicaprio's involvement in telling Timothy Leary's story:
DiCaprio to take trip for Leary biopic

Leonardo DiCaprio is set to turn on, tune in and drop out for his next project. The actor's Appian Way shingle has tapped Obie-winning playwright Craig Lucas and Timothy Leary archivist Michael Horowitz to develop a biopic on the counterculture icon as a possible starring vehicle.

DiCaprio, who knew Leary before his death in 1996, has been looking to develop a film on the LSD advocate for several years. The film will focus on Leary's life between his enrollment at West Point in the early 1940s and his escape from prison in 1970.

Lucas, who in recent years has worked outside the Hollywood mainstream, once worked as a frustrated studio scribe. The unconventional writer-director, who made his helming debut last year with the critically acclaimed indie "The Dying Gaul," penned such films as "The Secret Lives of Dentists" and "Prelude to a Kiss," which was adapted from a play of his.

The untitled Timothy Leary project is being produced by DiCaprio, George DiCaprio and Brad Simpson of Appian Way under their first-look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, and Hillard Elkins of Elkins Entertainment.

This comes on the heels of the news that DiCaprio and writer/director Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) are to take on Malcolm Gladwell's popular book, Blink:
How do we make decisions — good and bad — and why are some people so much better at it than others? That's the question Malcolm Gladwell asks and answers in the follow-up to his huge bestseller, The Tipping Point. Utilizing case studies as diverse as speed dating, pop music, and the shooting of Amadou Diallo, Gladwell reveals that what we think of as decisions made in the blink of an eye are much more complicated than assumed. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, he shows how the difference between good decision-making and bad has nothing to do with how much information we can process quickly, but on the few particular details on which we focus. Leaping boldly from example to example, displaying all of the brilliance that made The Tipping Point a classic, Gladwell reveals how we can become better decision makers — in our homes, our offices, and in everyday life. The result is a book that is surprising and transforming. Never again will you think about thinking the same way.

Read more on Blink in this Fast Company article.

26 June 2006

The Hierarchy of Customer Experience

Since business seems to be an interesting topic on so many's minds, I thought I'd post this illustration by Karl Long of ExperienceCurve (or via Flickr). I posted it elsewhere in response to a comment Klint made, but here it is for all.

Anyone wanna make occult analogies, please feel free. I try to blend all my thinking over the past years. But now, I am back to work…

24 June 2006

Again back to the occult, branding, and ad sales

Hmm, so I pop over to Fantastic Planet today and this, literally, is the first page I go to. Any search will load, in time, the entry page or the archive for the month, and this seems to a larger initiative in the online occult community as of recent: the need to make money to sustain oneself.

I'm not directly picking on FP, it's is a good and often popular resource for Gnostic thought, but it's made me think. The only time I see this many ads is on porn sites. But that is just it, the brand and consequent relation I make mentally from ads to porn, to irrelevant or wishy-washy. Not that FP's content is, but in an age of .3-second site interpretation from new readers, how many click-throughs is FP losing because of his presentation. And no, it's never the fault of the user. Everything that happens in life, particularly in magical circles, is the responsibility of the individual interpreting the events. Always.

And as for business models, there's witchy self-help publisher Llewellyn at the forefront of the business (imagine Oprah and your local Native American shaman make a baby that is raised by Wiccan hippies and starts a company), and others like Disinformation (the equivalent of a gay pride parade for the counterculture), New Falcon (whose lack of spell-check makes me question the care they put into their own work, however the books are often fabulous and some of my favourites), and now the online movement. Pop Occulture is doing a remarkable job organising efforts to communicate the message of the occult to the masses, and I've read numerous comments from fans of Tim's that have thanked him for helping them find him. (Oh, and congratulations to Tim on joining the 9rules Network!) There is a market of people looking to be exposed to a message that will helm them answer their questions. That is how any market works today. Key 23, too, brings about articles and essays, which are about a third of the time relevant and not too stereotypical of what I've come to expect from a fringe counterculture. But they've got the good will and brains to bring all the particulars of proper essays to one location to make for an easy find for n00bs.

Further, the geek I am, I'm reading Pursuasive Business Proposals, by Tom Sant, and in it he points something out:
What are "professionals," anyway? Are they merely people who do for money what amateurs do for fun? That may be true to sports and romance, but not in the business world. No, being a professional means something more, something rooted in the origins of the word. […]

A professional is someone who has mastered a complex body of knowledge and who can therefore guide, advise, and tutor others in that area. A professional is somebody who can and does profess.

In as such, I do give kudos to those at Key 23, Pop Occulture, and Disinfo.com, as well as the host of other bloggers out there doing their bit. The effort seems to be in re-interpretation of the esoteric into analogies and parables understanding by a contemporary audience. This is really all the occult is, and the hardest part about it: sharing information that, until now, was really fucking hard to communicate to others. Perhaps all occultists should be putting down their books and checking out information architecture, semiotics, and the study of ontology instead. It's the same thing, but people are actually making a living in those fields. But to profess, in today's age, communication must be precise, it really has to be concise and to the point. Of course, me being me, I am not the best example of this on this site. However, this site is just my mental diarrhea outlet and I have some other stuff in the works.

It's really not so different from the modern business world, particularly a business world readily rooting itself in communications. The new focus is on innovation, better business models, and, ultimately, in providing the best service possible for one's market. The power really does lie with the people now. Like many occultists, businesses seek to iterate new labels, new interpretations, in order to survive. Often, those drawn to the occult fall into it in the first place because the current system of labels aren't currently floating their boat to begin with. So, to survive (spiritually? intellectually? fashionably?) people turn to alternative viewpoints. Dogmatic vehemence in any practise will result in spiritual suicide, but the business world is not so different and with the way things are going, I'd be surprised if the business world didn't begin to find use in occult ideas sooner than later.

But will they find innovators, designers, and artists to create and utilise these methods and insights, rendering the current occult community someewhat moot in the social order of things. Or will occultists say Fuck that and, like the shaman, put their feet back into society and immerse… to emerge as the new innovators? To help others? To help themselves?

As Ramsey Dukes posits in Thundersqueak, what is everyone so afraid of? If you don't try out the enemy it's either your afraid that they're right and you're wrong, or if you're right all along you can learn their spirit and perspectives and bring it back with you to where you started: stronger and wiser because of such.

I just watched this presentation on entrepreneurship by Guy Kawasaki, any occultists out there may want to do the same. In comparison, if you're letting the money soak through the presentation of what it is we all enjoy, it'll tarnish the whole kit-n-kaboodle. But if you set out to change the world, as Kawasaki proclaims good start-ups should focus on, we might learn a thing or two.

Because, really, all the counterculture and occultism is, is simply another approach to trying to understand the world. Whether it's the best one is very much debateable in my opinion, but at the end of the day there are a lot of people that want to be successful, make enough to get by, and help others. While occultists may be focusing on problems too deep to be adequately acted upon by their current capacity for social interaction, many brilliant thinkers out there are innovating new ways (thinking magically and manifesting intent) and aiding their communities.

And if there's one thing I was told as a malevolent youth, it was that you can't help anyone else until you've helped yourself. Ponder this, and it might show us a side of occult spirituality that many aren't willing to acknowledge. I'm not saying everyone, but I'm throwing it out there from personal observation…

Watch the Guy Kawasaki video.

20 June 2006


Thanks to Geoff for forwarding me this gem!

17 June 2006

Steven Spielberg to explore gravity fields

via I Watch Stuff!
Though an exact plot has not yet been worked out, Steven Spielberg has announced that he will direct a film based on Caltech physicist Kip Thorne's theories of gravity fields:
Based on real science, the film will explore the mind-bending territory of black holes and gravity waves and touch on some of the hypotheses that Albert Einstein chased but never could prove.

The article also notes the other projects Spielberg has offered as possibilities for his next film, including Indiana Jones IV and an untitled Abraham Lincoln biopic. I'm hoping this means that we have at least a fifty-fifty shot of seeing a time-traveling Lincoln zipping through wormholes to free the slaves and stop Booth from shooting him. Either that, or Indiana Jones and the Proposed Theory of Gravity Fields.

13 June 2006

Stuff you don’t see in high school bio

via Cliff Pickover's RealityCarnival
Maybe it's because I am a visual person, but wow these are worth taking a look at. More following the link:


12 June 2006

‘SLC Punk!’

Some more Fell goodness for you today, in relation to the previous post, You are the only enemy you will ever have. In further retrospect, one of the best films I had the pleasure of seeing over the past few months was recommended to me by Kevin at The Lobby on Whyte Avenue (for Edmontonians reading this into eclectic cinema, check it out).

The film is called SLC Punk! (trailer here) and I was surprised I'd not seen it earlier. But for anyone who grew up part of a subculture, or who still clings on to the whatever vestiges they have left, this movie is worth seeing. The end was particularly good, imho. It touches on the community felt and perpetuated by subcultures in a sardonic and light-hearted fashion. Director James Merendino fuses elements similar to David Fincher's Fight Club, making for a pleasurable viewing experience (see: above clip). But mostly, it's a good coming-of-age tale… for ex-punks… is there such a thing?

In contrast, I went to see the French film Caché last week with a friend of mine. Now, I'm not one to prevent anyone from doing anything, but let me leave you with a friendly suggestion: use those two hours of your life doing something — anything — else. Masturbation would have been considerably more worthwhile (I was with good company, however).

You are the only enemy you will ever have

In a post entitled "Pavlov's Gods," Rev Max talks a bit about how Gnostics were persecuted and the small sects of previously persecuted Christians grew together and then, in time, ended up further persecuting and pretty much wiping out Gnostics altogether. Sorta like that awesome line in Munich where Jew Steve (Daniel Craig) and company are dancing and drinking wine at that outdoor café, and he blurts out in defense of their assassinations: 'Cause no one fucks with Jews! or something like that. But it was sweet. Now little does Steve remember, but Germany fucked with Jews. So have everyone else, pretty much. Except maybe the Inuit. (However, they're busy enough arguing with the Canadian government about being forced to teach Inuit children the theory of evolution in their schools. And personally, I prefer both the Jewish and Inuit versions better.)

Anyhow, let's take a little look-see at the Gnostics in light of their abstinence from partaking in the violence that is persecution:
Two millennia ago, Christians were routinely set on fire and put to the sword as casually as you and I might light a cigarette.

[…] a Christian faction called the "Orthodox" movement not only survived but flourished under persecution, eventually merging with the Holy Roman Empire and turning the apparatus of the imperial military against rival Christian groups.

Chief among the targets of the ascendant Orthodox faction were the Gnostic Christians, secretive mystics who had stridently opposed persecution and martyrdom all along. In short, the Gnostics refused to play the political power game and were rewarded with extermination.

Fast-forward 16 centuries. Most Christians today attribute the sudden disappearance of the Gnostic schools to flaws inherent in the Gnostic worldview. We are told that the Gnostics were privy to forbidden mysteries; that they "deserved to lose" because their teachings were "exclusive, elitist" and (worst of all) "esoteric."

Read between the lines of the Gnostic scriptures, however, and an amazing, alternate history stands revealed.

The Gnostics stood aloof from history because not because they were cowards but because they were wise. Even though they knew that they would lose their chance to gain power in the short run, they got to keep something even more important — their souls.

Interesting. And I agree. This non-partisan element also runs parallel to my piece on Japanese design practise, in regards to sloughing off elements of self-definition in favour of being "of the moment." And further yet: I am re-reading Thundersqueak, by Ramsey Dukes (writing as Angerford & Lea), and in it he speaks of a children's book called The Wishing Well, by Gerald Heard:
It was a parable about evolution, and began with a group of fish in prehistoric time being visited by an angel who gave them one, and only one, wish: that they could become whatever they chose. Over the aeons these fish evolved: first into land creatures, then mammals, and finally towards man. But the point was that this evolution was a gradual adaptation towards greater flexibility, it involved no specialising or extremes of function. However, at various points in time, these creatures used up their wish and became something else. Some, while still fish, chose to be fierce and voracious — to become sharks. At a later reptilian stage some of the creatures became snakes, others became birds. Later ones chose to be fierce as tigers, big as elephants, or to move in herds as buffalo, and so on. The final division before the present age was that some of the creatures, now hominid, opted to swing in trees and become apes. Those who had retained their wish, who still had the choice over their destiny, had evolved into men. All others had become specialists. […]

The same is true on the local scale of one lifetime. Anyone who specialises and becomes expert in some field, whilst a shining example in the eyes of the popular opinion, is in fact an evolutionary drop-out, a falling star.

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols:—
A new creation in particular, the new Reich for instance, has more need of enemies than friends: only in opposition does it feel itself necessary, only in opposition does it become necessary… We adopt the same attitude towards the "enemy within."

Aleister Crowley, The Book of Lies:—
Resemble all that surroundeth thee; yet be thyself and take thy pleasure among the living.

This is that which is written — Lurk! — in the Book of the Law.

So ambiguity and "uselessness" become ideal traits, in a sense. Again, following a train of thought I was having with Georgina in this post, it brings up the power of being undefined. The hard part is the journey from social animal to that of a self-aware entity, and a major part of that is an acknowledgement that you are just a host for a greater experience being had through you. Dukes continues:
You dream of killing me? No, as George Orwell revealed in 1984, that is not enough. You wish to torture and brainwash me until I love you, until the rebel has become a supporter. For you recognise that the enemy is not in my body, but in my mind. But if the enemy is in my mind what happens when I am brainwashed and tortured? When my body's behaviour changes to please you, how can you be sure that it was the enemy that has suffered or been destroyed; how can you be sure that it is not merely a spirit that has been driven out? You have not hurt the rebel, you have merely caused it to vacate my body. The bird has flown; but at least you used to know, or believed that you knew, where the bird was. Now it is beyond your grasp. The bird has flown.

Now I can tell you one place where that bird is secure. It is secure in your own mind. […]

As a tyrant you will spend your life pursuing potential enemies. But it will all be in vain. For the enemies that haunt you, and the only ones you will ever recognise or comprehend, are those enemeies that already exist in your mind. Destroy the whole world and they will live on within you. Reduce me to an empty body and what will you have but an empty body? The bird will have flown back to its nest in your own mind. You are the only rebel there ever was.

This is applicable to all aspects of life; every part of life is a form of projection. You are the only enemy you will ever have.

11 June 2006

CGI meteorite collision simulation

The diameter of the meteorite is slightly bigger than the breadth of Honshu Japan. The collision point is located at the 3,000 km south from Japan in the ocean. The velocity of the meteorite is 70,000 km/h. Enjoy.

Thoughts of angles and angels

Aside from just absolutely adoring this band, The Knife, I got to thinking about my own actual process of thinking the other day. I was sitting over dinner with my friend, Steph, putzing over an idea I've been working on for many years, but just beginning to formulate a process by which to introduce it into the world. I've briefly spoken about it with Channel Null and Rev Max, but it seems more in order to flesh out the thoughts to the words. Steph was quick to point out the question of How, which is obviously one of the most important for any good design to work.

The video here, for their single "Silent Shout," was directed by Andreas Nilsson and drew on the work of 1930s German animator Oscar Fischinger and on Charles Burns's graphic novel, Black Hole.

What I find particularly interesting is the analogy I can make between my process of thinking — sorta what is going on my head — and the visuals of this video. Now, I would figure that magic and design have more than a few things in common, which I've touched on elsewhere, but I've always pondered how others form thoughts, how familiar they are with the process itself, and just how far from the resultant thought can they deduce the root effects. Through the years of my lazy meditations, I've become very familiar with the reduction of my analogies, in my mind, at least, to basic geometries.

Where I lack, however, and which I am again beginning to relive, is my attachment to emotions. A bit. It's not like I am a emotionally devoid husk, but I tend to not meddle in the everyday emotions of experience. But I can always seem to make geometric analogies to the events occurring in my life. The video above makes the association between the music and the movement of geometry, not unlike my process of thinking and ultimately visualising connections between phenomenon. It makes it usually easy to find kinks in ideas, and to draw sometimes sweeping observations. Sometimes I am wrong, but often it is that I lack the capacity to translate from my own thoughts to plain language for conversation.

After speaking to a designer friend of mine in Vancouver while I was there, I got the feeling that there are those that can see the designs, think in design, and then there is a large contingent that cannot. I am not claiming to be an astonishing designer, far from it, I have lots to learn yet, but I believe there is an upper-hand in being able to reduce analogies to their base forms. This resultant geometries should define the parametre by which the entire design process should flow. Colour, emotion, shape, tone, attitude… can all be deduced metaphorically to base geometries. (See: Colour theory according to Wassily Kandinsky.)

This should really lead to a deeper understanding not only of clients' needs, it defines that parametre by which all design for any particular project should proceed. And further, it introduces us to a more base understanding of the intelligence and realm by which preternatural entities, such as angels and demons, exist (whatever that means). (See: Who peers back at us from beyond.)

And on another note, I am truly curious about the etymology of the words "angle" and "angel," as most evocations of angels and demons are rooted in sigils crafted from particular angles that have subtler, esoteric connotations. The last trip we took out to the Rocky Mountains last year left me with some very intense experiences. Mark and I played with coloured rods for what seemed like hours, rearranging them into abstractions of image and shape, and while under the influence of psilocybin we continued a full on dialogue through the positioning of these rods.

I am sure I could make this process of thinking out onto a particular level of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, but what I am more concerned with is how to create a process of translation. Unfortunately, now that I think about it, this seems to be, by and large, the occult's largest issue it must overcome: creating pragmatic analogies that allow one to share esoteric knowledge with others.

Which ultimately reduces me to admitting I hate having to explain myself. Fortunately, sometimes, some people are worth it and drive me to figure out ways.

If you dig "Silent Shout," the video for their most recent single, "We Share Our Mothers' Health," may be seen via the link.

06 June 2006

High Priest of the Church of Satan on the CBC tonight

If you're visiting Occult Design from the CBC website, please feel free to peruse the rest of this blog or review some of the more pertinent material posted here, which is actually great food for thought (and not "Satanic"):

Worthwhile Posts Reviewed


Okay, to celebrate 6/6/06, George Stroumboulopoulos has a Satan-themed episode of The Hour on CBC Newsworld tonight, airing, as always, at 8:00 and 11:00 PM EST.

As an aside, I saw George posted this on The Hour website:
Zombie Slaves
Unbelievable. The story of a man turned zombie, turned zombie slave, turned man: The story begins in 1962, in Haiti. A man called Clairvius Narcisse was sold to a zombie master by his brothers, because Clairvius refused to sell his share of the family land. Soon after Clairvius "officially" died, and was buried. However, he had been later secretly unburied, and was actually working as a zombie slave on a sugar plantation with many other zombies. In 1964, his zombie master died, and he wandered across the island in a psychotic daze for the next 16 years. The drugs that made him psychotic were gradually wearing off. In 1980, he accidentally stumbled across his long-lost sister in a market place, and recognized her. She didn’t recognise him, but he identified himself to her by telling her early childhood experiences that only he could possibly know.

Happy 6/6/06

For those of you that know me personally — or care — there are more pics on Flickr there of my trip here to Vancouver. I'll be back in Edmonton later today and am looking forward to returning to Alberta. (Yes, Van is fantastic, but it's not home. Yet.) And speaking of which, I have to thank Mal & Age for taking me into their home and providing the most wonderful red carpet treatment; I had an awesome time. Thank you, both! xo

Malania & Age
Occult Design will soon return to its regularly scheduled programming.

02 June 2006

Petition to Support the Arts

Shafraaz forwarded this to me, worthwhile for any Canadians perusing this:
The Harper government's giveaway of $500 per child to support sports activities is glaringly unfair. Why sports and not the arts? Are those who spend a small fortune on giving their children music lessons, visual art,youth writing programs, dance, film & video-production (etc.), less worthy of support than hockey, soccer or other sports parents?

Children will benefit throughout their whole lives, as will the various arts organizations, by investing in the arts.

From the note I received:
"…arts organizations, by the way, do not pay salaries measured in millions of dollars as do the sports teams."

Please sign this petition at

Note: Don't forget to add your postal code in the required address field.