Showing posts from February, 2013

The Lost Delights of Hitchhiking

I saw a poster the other day advertising hitchhiking. It was in Leeds University, where I was spending a day for the Viking Society Student conference. It was the first reference I've seen to hitching in many a year. Hitching was one of the mainstays of my life for years. It got me around the UK, and to a lesser extent, France. It enabled me to have a lifestyle split between three cities for a few years. One of my best hitches was from Sheffield in Yorkshire to Redruth in Cornwall in seven hours. Admittedly, I didn't do that all on my own; my companion was my girlfriend, who sported beautiful, long red hair. Sometimes, people went out of their way to give me a better lift, miles out of their way. Other times, magic happened. The first time I went to Oxford was on impulse, to visit a friend who'd recently moved there, whose address I didn't even possess, though I did know the name of the road. The final lift actually dropped me off on that road. I knocked on a door o

Surely Tesco is not like a tumour?

At various times in my life, I have taught biology. This is something of how growth happens: Cells grow and reproduce to form tissues. Then, surrounded by other cells, they stop reproducing. This is called contact inhibition. They have reproduced exactly as much as is necessary for the health of the overall body. Unless they're cancer cells. The latter have no contact inhibition, and so they go on a reproductive spree which may kill the organism. Briefly, let us pursue an analogy. A large group of people - say a 'society' or a 'nation' is the body. A company is a cell or group of cells. Wouldn't it be good if companies had contact inhibition, if they stopped growing when they'd reached optimum size for the overall system? Maybe some do. Some certainly don't. One that comes to mind is the gigantic UK grocery chain Tesco. In most parts of this country, unless you live at the bottom of a deep valley you can probably look out of your window right now and see

William S. Burroughs exhibition: All out of time and into space.

William S. Burroughs exhibition: All out of time and into space. At the October Gallery, Bloomsbury. The first time I spoke with William Burroughs was in 1994, the year after he'd announced his IOT membership. It was a phone introduction. Bob Williams called him and handed me to the phone. At some point, I asked him what he was working on. 'Painting,' he said. 'I paint with a toilet plunger. It saves time.' Two years later, I met William Burroughs, at his home in Lawrence, Kansas. By then, Bob Williams had gone into space for the last time, and his widow Stephanie and their close friend Douglas took me there. So I finally got to see the paintings. Toilet plungers was only one part of it; he was painting and collaging with a vast range of objects. He was seeking allies, life-forms, in the aleatoric bumps and pits and scrolls of squashed ink, gunshot holes, burn marks. He found them; his artwork is alive with non-human sentiences, some of

Review of IMAGINAL REALITY by Aaron B. Daniels

IMAGINAL REALITY (Volume One: Journey to the Voids. Volume Two: Voidcraft) by Aaron B. Daniels, Ph.D. with Laura M. Daniels, M.Ac. I have taken my time to review this book because it has given me so much to think about. Jaded habitué of the magical scene that I am, I am seldom impressed by anything I read these days, but this did it. There are three main ideas that stand out for me: The Eight Voids that surround our experience of selfhood; the centrality of the structure of moment to moment experience - the 'structure of the now'; and the idea that magic is something much more universal than magicians normally give it credit for. The declared philosophical attitude of the book is described as existentialist, nihilist and mystical. This sounds like a funny mixture, but it works very well in discussing the limits of what we actually know. The starting point of what we know is what the author refers to as the