Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Objectifing the subjective

Went to a talk on Magick and Psychogeography at Treadwells the other Friday and as usual a lot on interesting stuff was brought up which left me much to mull over. The speaker, Julian Vayne a Chaos Magician and member of the I.O.T, outlined how he used Psychogeographical techniques as a way of expanding his magickal practice into his surrounding environment. He gave accounts of several rituals he'd engaged in that used the landscape as an active participant in both a structured and freeform manner.

In one instance he gave an account of a group working that involved taking a 20/30 people on a guided tour of Bath following a specific route and intent. This mobile ritual involved performing certain actions at designated stations (for instance speaking glossolia into mobile phones) and culminated in the whole group running back to the starting point of the tour singing 'row, row, row your boat' as a mantra. As a contrast he explained of another working which involved an ambling walk along a path performing whatever ritual, exercise or invocation felt right at that time and location.

His ideas struck me as very similar to the Shamanic workshop I'd attended a few weeks previous where we were encouraged to form a dialogue with aspects of the environment (in this case trees). These ways of working both seem to encourage the intermingling our subjective and objective experiences into a personal narrative structure, one that's ripe with symbolic meaning but anchored in the physical plane.

The other thing that seems common here is that both view our interaction with the world as two way conversation. We write meaning into our surroundings (many have written of how our world is perceived through a veil of own our preconceptions and maps) but our surroundings also write back to us. Whether this be the position of heavenly bodies for navigation, droppings indicating the location of the hunted or the overt manipulation of advertising symbols. The world is always talking to us and we are always listening, it's just most of the time the conversation takes place below the level of conscious thought. However by beginning to pay attention to this subtle interplay between us and our environment I think it's possible to make process overt, if we cut our internalized mental chatter and turn our consciousness outwards, we can become more aware of the messages we are receiving and use them to develop our own methods for communication.

This idea of layers of meaning in our surroundings, subtle architecture of imagination, appears to be especially poignant in the man made structure of cities. Think about it, cities are the product of our hands and minds, the subjective made objective. They are human imagination ossified into brick, stone, concrete and glass. Walking through a city (especially one as ancient as London) is like walking through the collective unconsciousness of the culture that created it.

It reminds me again of Susan Greenwood's explanation of the 'Web of Wyrd' in her book 'The Nature of Magic' we are each part of an interconnected whole, a matrix of overlapping stories each making up a grand narrative. Normally we're so caught up in our own little soap opera's we don't notice our interaction with the wider story of existence, the act of magic then could be seen as recognizing our part in the story and becoming an active in it's creation as opposed to just a mere jobbing actor, tiredly repeating someone else's lines.


Anonymous paul said...

Sounds like there's some quite interesting stuff going on at Treadwells. Let me know when you're going there again & what the subject is and I might tag along...

1:37 am, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Erik Mann said...

another great blog from you guys. i'd point you to mine but it isn't yet the way I'd like it. i do have a website that I think is cool, kind of almost about art colorado lesson martial

10:23 pm, August 02, 2006  

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