25th / 26th May

Is it possible I’ve inhaled you in to me? Isn’t that you hiding behind my eyes? I can feel you in my blood, flowing, an impossible heat…

Beside the river bank, jeweled weeds: stinging nettles with translucent stems like human bones in miniature and cow parsley and foxgloves with warm, moist interiors like glowing uteruses.

Hot, sultry weather. At dawn the light seeped like a sigh into the night. Here, in the middle of nowhere, time ceases – or rather, ceases to have meaning. And my thoughts slip into lost infinities –

I hear your laughter, like co-conspirators, the pair of you: children spontaneously giggling. Last night we three drowned in dreams together, and came to realise the distances between stars is vast and lonely. Night remained framed in the bedroom window, while a solitary flickering candle reflected in the glass blotted out those stars and the monstrosities living between them.

I felt your hands running slowly across my memories –

#

Zentai, so I understand, is a term for skin-tight garments that cover the entire body. A second skin, so to speak. I think of those men and women with a latex fetish, smooth as polished black glass, but with access of some sort at the crotch –

#

It is easy to imagine Beauvoir on top of Sartre until she gives that one loud, feminine shriek of pleasure realised. Sartre, of course, is all about suppressed desires, wet dreams, and –

Beauvoir would have hated having him on top of her, stabbing her over and over, until every nerve felt split and bruised. Her pale silver body forced open by him. She would have thought of a new born desperately trying to scramble back inside its mother. She’d have hated that, but would have faked an orgasm anyway. Sartre, of course, wouldn’t have been fooled by her deception –

But he would have remained reasoned, affectionate and polite –

While I would have purchased her a dress of words; she had the most beautiful hands, you know? The slender, flexible fingers of the most lewd fricatrice imaginable. Oh, how I would have loved her to rub me in that special way –

#

Love can be such a fatal disease; kisses infect; kisses kill – like a freakin’ apocalypse of infected lips and words, drowning us all in my disjecta membra.

#

Writing is a battle between laziness and lies which, if you’re lucky, exposes truth.

#

Beside the river in such dreamy weather it is easy to image that ‘golden afternoon’ in 1862 when Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) with his friend the reverend Robinson Duckworth took the three Liddell sisters rowing on the Thames. Lorina Charlotte was the eldest sister, aged thirteen, Alice Pleasance was ten and Edith at age eight, the youngest. They had tea together on the riverbank near Godstow, and Dodgson told them “the fairy-tale of Alice’s adventures underground”. Dodgson who had many ‘child-friends’ and liked to photograph ‘naked little girls’, had a great fondness for writing ‘nonsense’, playing with mathematics, logic and words, and, welding them together, he created on that sun-filled day an immortal children’s fantasy –

Here, today, the hedgerows are a tangled mass of colour: valerian, red campion, common mallow, field ‘forget-me-nots’, and of course blue bells and daffodils grow all around. Nearby woods offer dappled shade and ‘secret places’ where blue bells run wild – as if on steroids! Often we have picnicked here or made love or just sat and contemplated our wild surroundings –

‘For I think it is Love,
For I feel it is Love,
For I’m sure it is nothing but Love!’

If ever you feel oppressed by the ‘monstrous mindlessness’ of the cosmos, walk here in the woods beside the river, and that oppression will soon fade away.

malign female demons

May 23, 2017

The Descent of Inanna

The suppression and control of female sexuality is not a new phenomena. Some of our the earliest extant writings, texts from Mesopotamia going back to the third millennium BCE, such as Inanna and the Huluppu Tree and The Descent of Inanna, offer evidence that woman’s body was subject to extreme ambivalence, non-procreative sex in particular being regarded with suspicion and fear.

It is at this time we first discover the lilitu, malign female demons who controlled the ‘stormy (disease-bearing) winds’ and who flew like birds. They were defined by negative sexual characteristics: they are unmarried and thus not under the dominion of a male; they are seducers, actively seeking men to satisfy them; and they are child-killers. Not only do they solicit and engage in ‘unnatural’ sex, that is, non-procreative sex, the lilitu steal and kill children, emasculate men, and cause miscarriage and death in mothers. They are, whilst seemingly exiled to the wilderness, to outside, able to transgress and penetrate human habitations and domesticity. We see them leaning out of windows and doorways, the standard iconographic motif of the prostitute, and slipping into houses uninvited. They are the thieves and whores that prey on civilised and law-abiding people, and they are at the very heart of the city.

This same iconography is used for the goddess herself: Inanna-Ishtar. She stands at the window looking for a man in order to seduce him, love him and kill him. Inanna displayed herself provocatively in windows and doors, she initiates sexual contact and was called sahiratu, the one who roams about. In hymns she is described going from house to house and street to street, a phrasing later used to describe demons and repeated in the Song of Songs, which despite being attributed to Solomon is a cut and paste of these earlier hymns to the goddess.

The lilitu are the inspiration for Lilith, dislodged from the Huluppu tree and flown into Jewish consciousness as the archetype of insubordinate and dangerous female sexuality. In Jewish myth, Lilith was the first wife of Adam, who refused to lie beneath him and wanted to take the mother superior rather than the missionary position. This is the genealogy of the witch, whose family tree profoundly roots her in the conflicted dna of our earliest civilisations.

The disconnect from the shamanic consciousness of our ancestors was accomplished by building walled cities, stepped pyramids imitating the emergence of a hierarchical order and patrilineal organisation; the sacred mountain and cave now made of burned brick, the priestess who gives the king his right to rule now a state function rather than a wild woman, a shaman. The stories and myths of Mesopotamia are already ancient when they are pressed into clay tablets, and we can intuit layers of earlier shamanic material in them.

It is worth plunging into the myth of the descent of Inanna-Ishtar. A description of the initiation of goddess and priestess, a mystery play, and a coming of age drama of reaching sexual maturity. It can also be read as a shamanic descent and ordeal, in which Inanna is forced at each of the seven gates of the underworld to surrender one of the seven tokens of her earthly power with which she has prepared herself, as she is brought, bent low and naked, to the throne room of her sister Ereshkigal. Ereshkigal is the goddess of the underworld, the Great Below. She is, in one sense, the chthonic mind, pre-conscious and unillumined darkness, absolute hunger and appetite. A devourer. Inanna, from her domain in the Great Above, has heard her sister Ereshkigal – ostensibly grieving for her husband – though the description is clearly playing on her suffering menstrual pains, or being in the pangs of labour, or in heat. All these explanations I believe are plausible and intended.

At the seven concentric gates of the underworld, Inanna is compelled to give up all her worldly attributes of power and femininity. She is stripped for the final confrontation with her sister. Witchcraft and shamanic initiations are always an ordeal. The text reads:

Naked and bowed low, Inanna entered the throne room.
Ereshkigal rose from her throne.
Inanna started toward the throne.
The Annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her.
They passed judgement against her.

Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.
Then spoke against her the word of wrath.
She uttered against her the cry of guilt.

She struck her.

Inanna was turned into a corpse,
A piece of rotting meat,
And was hung from a hook on the wall.

Inanna is hung up to season like meat in a butchers. The image of Inanna hung from a hook brings to mind suspension rituals, but in close analysis we become aware that this act of initiation is an inversion. When meat is hung it is from the hind legs, the feet, so that the blood can be drained from the throat. So here we have a chthonic sacrifice, and simultaneously an image of menstruation. One could also conjecture a connection to the head down position of a baby in the birth canal). A possible earlier version of the myth would have Inanna consumed (as sacrifice) by her sister and then birthed by her. This cannot be dismissed as primitive physiological (mis)understanding, similar acts of the ‘Mothers’ and female Seizers are detailed in the Tantras. See The Kiss of the Yogini by David Gordon White – a controversial work but one we highly recommend studying – for many interesting parallels and insights in this regard.

Inanna is rescued from the underworld by the intercession of another shaman, Enki, who sends two golems (a galatur and akurgarra) fashioned from spit and fingernail dirt. These comfort Ereshkigal in her pain, by repeating her cries, in the manner of professional mourners. We could even see them as dildos, as arousal and sex can be harnessed by women to alleviate menstrual cramps. It is worth reading The Wise Wound by Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove for more insights. That work, and Redgrove’s Black Goddess and the Sixth Sense, should be on any witchcraft reading list.

To return to our narrative: soothed, Ereshkigal grants the galatur and kurgarra a wish and they ask for the corpse of Inanna which they bring back to life with the food and water of life. She returns to the earth with a retinue of demons who drag off her husband Tammuz in her stead. What, besides a life for a life and life for death, has been exchanged? In being stripped of all that identified her as a woman, a priestess and a queen, in this absolute self-effacement before her sister, Inanna gains self-knowledge. She has confronted the dark, unknown recesses of the world that lies outside her domain (life, light, love) and in this process of acknowledging the other, this sacrifice of herself, has won carnal knowledge from the darkness of Ereshkigal. Sexuality becomes not a blind force that controls you, but a power that can be exercised knowingly. In psychological terms we would call this integration: the goddess who descends is not the goddess who returns. Ereshkigal has gifted Inanna the raw power of her sexuality. As the story ends: All praise to Ereshkigal!

The self-conscious use of sexuality is traditionally the domain of the prostitute, and Inanna was the goddess of sex and of prostitutes, whose repertory of techniques included how to void or avoid pregnancy, the arts of evoking and invoking pleasure, and the arts of disguise, transformation and illusion. These are gained through uninhibited knowledge of the self. Though we do not wish to glamorise the life of the ancient or modern prostitute, she remains a symbol of independent female sexuality in a human history of carnal repression. Confidence, strength, awareness: these are rarely gifts we are born with, but are wrested from the dark mirror to the underworld.

Witchcraft, like the ordeal of Inanna, is a matter of carnal knowledge, it is a question of gnosis in and through the body. We use the mythic structure of the descent in our own work, returning to the Great Below every year in our rites at Samhain. Without the descent to the underworld, there can be no flight to the sabbat. Incubation, the dark, the cave, the deep dreaming mind, are where we discover and bring back power to transform both our world and our selves. Sexuality and creativity are inexorably linked, but to access these most potent and primordial depths we need to strip our civilised selves naked and emptied of words.

As we have seen, the demonic feminine of Lilith migrates into Judaism, as too does a guilty and demonised Eve. Inanna-Ishtar becomes Astarte who, with her consort Baal, is denounced in the Old Testament before St John gives a final twist to the tale, and with the trappings of the Roman Empire, names her after the old enemy, Babylon. Revelation, like that other hymn to the love goddess, the Song of Songs, carried the old religion into a new post pagan age. It has been misread and misinterpreted ever since, but remains one of the core myths upon which our modern world revolves.

Alkistis Dimech and Peter Grey
2010 Presentation: Raw Power: Witchcraft, Babalon and Female Sexuality

23rd May

Hot day yesterday full of sun. Shopping and chores. Rain forecast for today, but clear weather and lots of sunshine for the rest of the week.

#

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law…”

Aleister Crowley’s famous (infamous) mantra. Risqué, even shocking in its time, today it is the prevalent belief system of the “ME” generation. Look at the way large corporations behave. They frequently display the moral and ethical codes of goose-stepping storm troopers. Banks and the financial crisis, you’ll recall, is a case in point: it was the tax payer rather than the banking industry that absorbed all the pain. Quite remarkable. Then we have scandals, such as Libor rigging, VW illegally cheating emissions tests, Enron, WorldCom, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and Bernie Madoff. I could go on and on, but won’t. I’m sure you get where I’m coming from here. Market forces rule. Do what thou wilt

Drug addled Crowley claimed his law of Thelema was dictated to him by an entity named Aiwass. If true, Aiwass was very well read and borrowed indiscriminately from all the works he’d read. For example: “Fait ce que vouldras,” François Rabelais describing the rule of his Abbey of Thélème in Gargantua and Pantagruel.

Aiwass the spirit-plagiarist…

#

Thinking of you. Seeing you undressing slowly in the half-light, and exposing what normally lies hidden beneath skirt and panties. Seeing you finally naked in front of me – this starts the all too familiar ache inside my own flesh, the need to seek release with you…

Of all mortal things none has birth, nor any end in accursed death, but only mingling and interchange of what is mingled – birth is the name given to these by men…Fools, since they think that what they did before did not exist comes into being, or that a thing dies and is completely destroyed…For it is impossible for anything to come to be from what is not, and it cannot be brought about or heard of that what is should be utterly destroyed; for wherever one may ever set it, there indeed it will always be.

Empodocles of Acragas

a fascinating paradox

May 15, 2017

Ballardian: (adj) 1. of James Graham Ballard (born 1930), the British novelist, or his works (2) resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels and stories, esp. dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.

“J.G Ballard is a great writer who has never written a great novel.” So observed Germaine Greer, making a criticism that even some of Ballard’s die-hard admirers have on occasion conceded. Her charge draws focus upon a fascinating paradox that flows through the main artery of Ballard’s career, namely that his greatness hinges less on his talent as a stylist, more upon the potency of his ideas. Too often the prose feels clunky, the novels weighed down by 2D characterisations, their plotting reminiscent of the Boy’s Own comics he devoured as a child. Yet across eighteen novels, 95+ short stories and numerous essays, the visions continued to manifest themselves, eventually earning him the moniker ‘the seer of Shepperton’. Martin Amis nailed the contradictions in Ballard’s work in his review of The Day Of Creation(1987), observing that the text was ‘occasionally boring and frequently ridiculous’ and yet it would ‘still come and haunt you’. Amis concluded ‘Ballard’s novels go to work on you after you’ve finished.’ And go to work they did. Ballard’s influence remains inescapable, energising the post-war imagination in a way few of his contemporaries can claim. Beginning with the explosion of creativity he experienced in the late-1960s (The Atrocity Exhibition, Crash, High Rise, Concrete Island) Ballard established a sphere of influence that has impacted upon culture enormously, be it music (Punk, New Wave, Dubstep) literature (Will Self, Martin Amis, John Gray), filmmaking (David Cronenberg, Brad Anderson), as well as reframing how the 21st Century media landscape is latterly understood. In 2005 he was finally admitted into that exclusive group of artists whose surnames enter the language as adjectives, ‘Ballardian’ now taking its place in the Collin’s Dictionary alongside ‘Kafkaesque’, ‘Pinteresque’ and ‘Lynchian’.

Richard Kovitch
Millennium Man

Finished

April 3, 2017

Bare interior.

Grey Light.

Left and right back, high up, two small windows, curtains drawn.

Front right, a door. Hanging near door, its face to wall, a picture.

Front left, touching each other, covered with an old sheet, two ashbins.

Center, in an armchair on castors, covered with an old sheet, Hamm.

Motionless by the door, his eyes fixed on Hamm, Clov. Very red face.

Brief tableau.

Clov goes and stands under window left. Stiff, staggering walk. He looks up at window left. He turns and looks at window right. He goes and stands under window right. He looks up at window right. He turns and looks at window left. He goes out, comes back immediately with a small step-ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window left, gets up on it, draws back curtain. He gets down, takes six steps (for example) towards window right, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window right, gets up on it, draws back curtain. He gets down, takes three steps towards window left, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window left, gets up on it, looks out of window. Brief laugh. He gets down, takes one step towards window right, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window right, gets up on it, looks out of window. Brief laugh. He gets down, goes with ladder towards ashbins, halts, turns, carries back ladder and sets it down under window right, goes to ashbins, removes sheet covering them, folds it over his arm. He raises one lid, stoops and looks into bin. Brief laugh. He closes lid. Same with other bin. He goes to Hamm, removes sheet covering him, folds it over his arm. In a dressing-gown, a stiff toque on his head, a large blood-stained handkerchief over his face, a whistle hanging from his neck, a rug over his knees, thick socks on his feet, Hamm seems to be asleep. Clov looks him over. Brief laugh. He goes to door, halts, turns towards auditorium.

CLOV (fixed gaze, tonelessly):
Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished.
(Pause.)
Grain upon grain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there’s a heap, a little heap, the impossible heap.
(Pause.)
I can’t be punished any more.
(Pause.)
I’ll go now to my kitchen, ten feet by ten feet by ten feet, and wait for him to whistle me.
(Pause.)
Nice dimensions, nice proportions, I’ll lean on the table, and look at the wall, and wait for him to whistle me.

(He remains a moment motionless, then goes out. He comes back immediately, goes to window right, takes up the ladder and carries it out. Pause. Hamm stirs. He yawns under the handkerchief. He removes the handkerchief from his face. Very red face. Glasses with black lenses.)

HAMM:
Me –
(he yawns)
– to play.
(He takes off his glasses, wipes his eyes, his face, the glasses, puts them on again, folds the handkerchief and puts it back neatly in the breast pocket of his dressing gown. He clears his throat, joins the tips of his fingers.)
Can there be misery –
(he yawns)
– loftier than mine? No doubt. Formerly. But now?
(Pause.)
My father?
(Pause.)
My mother?
(Pause.)
My… dog?
(Pause.)
Oh I am willing to believe they suffer as much as such creatures can suffer. But does that mean their sufferings equal mine? No doubt.
(Pause.)
No, all is a –
(he yawns)
– bsolute,
(proudly)
the bigger a man is the fuller he is.
(Pause. Gloomily.)
And the emptier.
(He sniffs.)
Clov!
(Pause.)
No, alone.
(Pause.)
What dreams! Those forests!
(Pause.)
Enough, it’s time it ended, in the shelter, too.
(Pause.)
And yet I hesitate, I hesitate to… to end. Yes, there it is, it’s time it ended and yet I hesitate to –
(He yawns.)
– to end.
(Yawns.)
God, I’m tired, I’d be better off in bed.
(He whistles. Enter Clov immediately. He halts beside the chair.)
You pollute the air!
(Pause.)
Get me ready, I’m going to bed.

Endgame
Samuel Beckett

your own real feelings

March 20, 2017

“Do you love me?”

“Yes,” said Boris, making a face.

“Why do you make a face like that?”

“Because – oh, you annoy me.”

“Why? It isn’t true that you love me?”

“Yes it is.”

“Why don’t you ever tell me so yourself? I always have to ask you.”

“Because I don’t feel like it. It’s all rot; it’s the sort of thing that people don’t say.”

“Does it annoy you when I say I love you?”

“No, you can say it if you like, but you oughtn’t to ask me if I love you.”

“It’s very seldom I ask you anything, darling. It’s usually enough for me to look at you and feel I love you. But there are moments when I wish I could get at your own real feelings.”

“I understand,” said Boris seriously, “but you ought to wait till I feel like it. If it doesn’t come naturally, there’s no sense in it.”

“But, you little fool, you yourself say you never do feel that way unless somebody asks you.”
Boris began to laugh.

“It’s true,” he said, “you put me off. But one can feel affection for somebody and not want to say so.”

Jean-Paul Sartre
The Age of Reason

the womb of the millennia

December 2, 2016

solitude

If you comprehend the darkness, it seizes you. It comes over you like the night with black shadows and countless shimmering stars. Silence and peace come over you if you begin to comprehend the darkness. Only he who does not comprehend the darkness fears the night.

Through comprehending the dark, the nocturnal, the abyssal in you, you become utterly simple. And you prepare to sleep through the millennia like everyone else, and you slip down into the womb of the millennia, and your walls resound with ancient temple chants. Since the simple is what always was. Peace and blue night spread over you while you dream in the grave of the millennia.

Carl Gustav Jung
The Red Book

Tears and night

December 1, 2016

on-the-stairs

December. This heart full of tears and of night.

Albert Camus
Notebooks

sharp boundaries

November 21, 2016

book2

Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. Philosophy does not result in ‘philosophical propositions’, but rather in the clarification of propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus