After a recent investigation into the public presentation of anomalistic science (as detailed at The Teeming Brain,) it’s fairly clear to me (if it wasn’t painfully so already) that much of the information being fed into the popular consciousness is nothing more than hyped up fantasy fixed and formatted for mass mediated consumption. With Dean Radin’s new book, Supernormal, reaching the top if it’s sales categories on Amazon, and ranking high in the Nielsen ratings, there is an obvious desire for more detailed investigations of these areas that go beyond the paranormalist freak show and the skeptical sub-culture’s deflated debunking.
The binary argument of real vs. fake, of truth vs. fraud, or any such division, is merely a set up to market to one side or the other, and both proponents and defamers alike rely on each other to stoke the fires of contention so that an audience lulled by the rhythms of the work place will feel called to seek some solace in the untenable possibilities of the unknown, or the thin empowerment of a pseudo-scientific righteousness found in the knowledge that all their dreams and fears from childhood have been firmly put to bed by the cold light of rational, technological progress.
“Might we contrive one of those opportune falsehoods … so as by one noble lie to persuade if possible the rulers themselves, but failing that the rest of the city.”
- Plato in The Republic
“If you read it, you will be infected. If you are infected you will be InFicted. If you are InFicted, you will get UnFucted. “
- Joseph Matheny
Those who entered the digital world in the late 80’s and early 90’s were introduced to a nearly unfathomable host of possibilities for media and creativity. DVD’s offered the potential for integrative experiences that tracked user preferences and allowed for multiple story formats which changed with each viewing based on previous use, virtual reality models held the possibility for turning these experiences fully immersive, cell phones and wireless technology promised an unthought of openness to it all, and the internet allowed everyone to dream of a fully connected, creative global conversation that synchronized each aspect into a beautifully coordinated whole. Looking back on those dreams in light of growing concerns over surveillance, advertising, neuromarketing and the like one might wonder what happened to turn the dream into a lousy cold war sitcom.
It was a recent note from my friend Joseph Matheny that shuffled the dust around in my memory and made me realize that my current experience with technology isn’t quite as conducive to creativity as promised. Matheny is about to begin a series of classes for University of California – Santa Barbara (Click Here for More Information) that will cover the basics of multimedia and transmedia production, and I was glad to hear that his insights were going to be available to creatives coming into the field at a serious level. Hopefully it will bring some focus back to what these tools were intended for originally in the minds of their creators.
As one of the early pioneers in multimedia, his alternate reality game Ong’s Hat has become a reminder of what is possible with today’s technology, and a kick in the ass to today’s creatives that are allowing this potential to be misused, abused and denigrated by marketers and media corporations. Matheny’s vision of transmedia production doesn’t end with a shiny bit of intellectual property, it ends with reformatting the mytho-poetic infrastructure of consensus reality.
An experiment in digital tractology with inspiration from Deonna Kelli Sayed, author of Paranormal Obsession: America’s Fascination with Ghosts & Hauntings, Spooks & Spirits(Llewellyn, September 2011) and So You Want to Hunt Ghosts: A Down-To-Earth Guide (Llewellyn, October 2012).
Sayed’s article Why Ghost Hunter’s are Culturally Cool brings a sharp focus on community storytelling, cultural responsibility and collective memory to the field of paranormal investigation. This digital tract attempts to condense some of these ideas into a cohesive vision through the use of digital bibliomancy, cut-up technique and collage.
Note: Use of the ‘Pause’ button on the slide show is recommended for maximum comprehension and readability.
Shannon Taggart and Liminal Analytics: Applied Research Collaborative recently hosted George Hansen, author of the seminal Trickster and the Paranormal, for a series of talks at the Observatory in Brooklyn, NY. For those who were unable to attend in person, the talks are now available on Youtube!
A History of Parapsychology and Psychical Research
Whatever Happened to Parapsychology?
George Hansen was professionally employed in parapsychology laboratories for eight years—three at the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, and five at Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey. His experiments included remote viewing, card guessing, ganzfeld, electronic random number generators, séance phenomena, and ghosts. His papers in scientific journals cover mathematical statistics, fraud and deception, the skeptics movement, conjurors in parapsychology, and exposés of hoaxes. He has been active in a number of psychic, UFO, and New Age organizations, and he helped found a skeptics group. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
(For the second installment of this series please see: Entering the Theatre of Manifestation – The Art of Possession)
It’s a fool’s quest to go seeking strange angels and emergent archetypes in the muddled minds of the contemporary world. What more to seek to manifest them, confront them, engage with them in the hopes of giving some sense of trans-spiritual renewal to the blighted urbanism and abandoned traditions of today. So it is that the FoolishPeople step forward to take a task that few would be willing to see through, they have sought entry into the Theatre of Manifestation, and the gifts that they return with are pregnant with the possibilities of art and magic.
It is my pleasure to announce an ongoing project documenting these FoolishPeople and their living legacy, to share their tale of travel from avant-garde theatre, if one must fall into transient terminology, to manifesting Strange Factories, a cinematic spell that takes their tradition of magic and ritual into the digital age. With Theatre of Manifestation Unveiled we are invited to join them on a jocund journey, a rare opportunity for exploring a contemporary artistic tradition that remains well tried in the mysteries.
“What Flowers Indicate:
I have always noticed that wherever you find flowers, no matter whether in a garret or in a palace, it is a pretty sure sign that there is an inner refinement of which the world is not cognizant. I have seen flowers cultivated and cherished by some of the lowest and poorest of our people. Where these emblems of purity are found, you may rest assured that they represent a hope, and speak of a goodness of heart not to be found where they are absent.”
- from My Prayer Book – Happiness in Goodness: Reflections, Counsels, Prayers and Devotions by Rev. F.E. Lasance (Benzinger Brothers, INc. Printers to the Holy Apostolic See, 1944)
Tracking the flowering of the Santa Muerte tradition is a fascinating way to study the development of an “official” religion from the seeds of folk practice. In the United States alarmist media has spurred the interest of popular kitsch, and the images of La Madre Poderosa that have become part of the commercial aspect of Her cultus are an interesting way to engage in the changes that occur when a tradition begins to develop enough efficacy in the social domain to elicit commodification.
What do you do with a technologically aided telepathic connection to a rat’s tail?
Odd questions like this become more relevant as developments in cybernetics and communication technology allow for strange interactions with the world around us. Without the aid of creative imagination you get a bizarre bit of cultural kitsch, delving deeper you can encounter profound questions that crack into the mystery of mind and body, and the synaptic symetry defining so much of our self perception. If you tread carefully you enter the realm of Sacred Geometry, encountering applications of mathematics and ratio that bridge the gap between material science and the more aetheral realms of human existence.