Posts tagged magic

nobody has ever been animist because one is never animist “in general,” always in the terms of an assemblage that produces or…

animism, stengers, magic

“nobody has ever been animist because one is never animist “in general,” always in the terms of an assemblage that produces or enhances metamorphic (magic) transformation in our capacity to affect and be affected – that is also to feel, think, and imagine. Animism may, however, be a name for reclaiming these assemblages because it lures us into feeling that their efficacy is not ours to claim. Against the insistent poisoned passion of dismembering and demystifying, it affirms what it is they all require in order not to devour us – that we are not alone in the world.”

Isabelle Stengers. Reclaiming Animism.

This Man Wants Magic to Be a Branch of Psychology

Gustav-Kuhn, Nautilus, magic, psychology, technique, performance, suggestion

In one of these studies, two of Kuhn’s colleagues at Goldsmiths, Krissy Wilson and Christopher C. French, investigated how encountering magic can influence beliefs about the nature of reality. They had an alleged psychic—really, a magician—bend a key in his hand by pretending to use telekinesis. His apparent power over the key was effected, of course, through sleight-of-hand. But for one group of spectating subjects, the psychic attempts something more daring: He places the key on a table and vocally claims that he’s still bending it from afar. Of course, the key did not continue to bend on the table. Still, 33 percent of the subjects who heard the psychic’s suggestion reported that the key did continue to bend, compared to none in the control group who did not hear the suggestion. This percentage of credulous spectators almost doubled when the psychic’s confederate, posing as a spectator, validated the psychic’s suggestion by falsely claiming to see the key bending.


On WEIRD Cultural Beliefs, Anthropologists’ Wizard-envy and the Skeptical Native"

anthropology, ontology, magic, skepticism, culture, reality, David-Graeber, RAW, OT

Graeber concludes his piece by explaining that his saying as an anthropologist – like his informants themselves said – that certain spirit-charms probably didn’t work, actually allows for the possibility that other charms might do so. Skepticism about magic is thus a necessary part of its possibility, and we actually take the ‘radically other’ possibilities of our research participants’ worlds more seriously when we recognize that they are often just as hard-to-swallow, inconclusive, weird or paradoxical for our research participants themselves.


In the forthcoming Moon & Serpent Bumper Book of Magic we argue that consciousness, preceded by language, preceded by…

magic, Alan Moore, consciousness

In the forthcoming Moon& Serpent Bumper Book of Magic we argue that consciousness, preceded by language, preceded by representation (and thus art) were all phenomena arising at around the same momentous juncture of human development and that all of these would be perceived as magic, an umbrella term encompassing the radical new concepts born of our discovery of our new, inner world.

This allows us to offer a definition of magic as a ‘purposeful engagement with the phenomena and possibilities of consciousness’. We then go on to argue that originally, all of human thought and culture was subsumed within the magic worldview, with the advent of urban society and the rise of specialised professionals gradually stripping magic of its social functions.

Organised religions first removed its spiritual capacity, while an attendant rise of authors, artisans and artists would remove its role as the dispensing source of vision. Viziers usurped the shaman’s tribal role as a political consultant. This left the still-vital functions of alchemical research, healing and the investigation of the inner world as fruitful areas of magical endeavour until the Renaissance and the advent of the Age of Reason delegated the first two of these to the emerging fields of science and medicine, and around 1910 the third was rendered obsolete by Freud and Jung’s new ‘science’ of psychiatry.

We suggest that the entirety of the culture in which we currently reside is no less than the dismembered corpse of magic (although somehow still with a seeming capacity for speech) and that this no-doubt necessary process is exemplified by the alchemic principle of Solvé, or analysis.

Our thesis is that what is now required is a complementary process of Coagula, or synthesis, in order to complete this all-important formula. To this end, we propose that art and magic should be more closely connected to the massive benefit of both endeavours, as argued in my essay Fossil Angels, and that the next step should be to enhance the existing bond between the arts and sciences, including psychiatry, which I have elsewhere characterised, not disrespectfully, as ‘occultism in a lab coat’.

The final, most important and most problematic step would be to foster a connection between science and politics, ensuring that political decisions are made in the light of current scientific understanding, utilising the advances science has made in, for example, conflict resolution, to the betterment of humankind in general.

To finally answer your question, one of the many things that magic offers is a plausible and, I believe, rational worldview in which science, psychology and all the other fields mentioned above are joined up and connected meaningfully into the all-embracing, one-stop science of existence they first emerged from. (Paracelsus, pretty much the father of most modern medical procedure, was also the first person to employ the term ‘unconscious’, some four hundred years before its subsequent appropriation by psychoanalysis.)

With magic, at least as we define it, the chief benefit in terms of relating to the world is that it offers us a coherent and sensibly integrated world with which to relate. Also, unlike the other fields of enterprise mentioned above, excepting only art and creativity, magic is centred wholly on the principles of ecstasy and transformation, things we believe to be the pivot of human experience and therefore sorely lacking in contemporary society.

Alan Moore: The Art of Magic

5 Magical Beasts And How To Replace Them With A Shell Script

occultism, history, culture, magic, daemonology, alchemy, AI, computing, automation, bots

It was the ultimate goal of many schools of occultism to create life. In Muslim alchemy, it was called Takwin. In modern literature, Frankenstein is obviously a story of abiogenesis, and not only does the main character explicitly reference alchemy as his inspiration but it’s partially credited for sparking the Victorian craze for occultism. Both the Golem and the Homunculus are different traditions’ alchemical paths to abiogenesis, in both cases partially as a way of getting closer to the Divine by imitating its power. And abiogenesis has also been the fascinated object of a great deal of AI research. Sure, in recent times we might have started to become excited by its power to create a tireless servant who can schedule meetings, manage your Twitter account, spam forums, or just order you a pizza, but the historical context is driven by the same goal as the alchemists - create artificial life. Or more accurately, to create an artificial human. Will we get there? Is it even a good idea? One of the talks at a recent chatbot convention in London was entitled “Don’t Be Human” . Meanwhile, possibly the largest test of an intended-to-be-humanlike - and friendlike - bot is going on via the Chinese chat service WeChat.


The Rabbits Have Fallen To Pieces

Warren Ellis, technology, magic, illusion, delusion, democracy, internet, intent, IoT, enchantment

We were sold magic as the affordance of technology, from the term “automagic” on down, and we were sold this magic as the provision of personal agency – fifteen years ago I couldn’t move on the web for people talking about the internet as channel for emergent democracy, five years ago everyone couldn’t shut up about smartphones as the new computing paradigm that put the world in our hands.  And now we’re at the end of the current cycle and the five dark towers of big digital technology are reduced to bullshit squabbles.  I mean, sure, large ones, rolling across the world and throwing their shadows over us all.  But the sleight of hand is all over.  There’s a bit at the end of the tv series THE THICK OF IT, where spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, frequently self-described as “a practitioner of the dark arts,” says, in his final extremity, “Look at me.  I’m not pulling anything out of my magic hat.  The rabbits have fallen to pieces.  Their fucking heads are coming off and frightening the kids.”

The Magic Bishop- Hugo Ball

dada, hugo ball, cabaret voltaire, art, alchemy, evil, magic, play

Dada was an attempt to return ‘through the innermost alchemy of the word’ to a more magical, playful reality through overturning of all the conventions associated with civilized adult society- drawing on African, Nordic and Sanskrit traditions, the Cabaret Voltaire was a riot of nonsense, play, colour, and noise- a giant, noisy incantation against all the ills of the world. Dada was ‘the heart of words’. It was a fight. It was a magical battle.

Little Printer: A portrait in the nude

domus, BERG, little printer, object, mary poppins, magic, design, UI, UX

Little Printer is a product of now. It is a product, a tangible thing, but is also a product, in the sense of a consequence, of contemporary culture. It humbly and accessibly exemplifies how physical and digital have merged to become one, to become hybrid objects, to demonstrate how objects might become networked, and how domestic objects might behave.


review, russel davies, objects, magic, play, book

“The meditations on objects I offer here will indeed often suggest that they can be seen as what in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Europe would have been called ‘emblems’, allegories of human life, implying pocket homilies on love, time, hope, error, striving and death. As such, they give us work to do as well as being merely available for us to work on. And yet, their power comes entirely from us.”

The Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins, Pickpocket

magic, adam green, Apollo Robbins, pickpocket, theatre, improv, entertainment, theft, perception

Robbins, who is thirty-eight and lives in Las Vegas, is a peculiar variety-arts hybrid, known in the trade as a theatrical pickpocket. Among his peers, he is widely considered the best in the world at what he does, which is taking things from people’s jackets, pants, purses, wrists, fingers, and necks, then returning them in amusing and mind-boggling ways. Robbins works smoothly and invisibly, with a diffident charm that belies his talent for larceny.