MonthSeptember 2006

Object Larger than Pluto Named Eris

Yeah, I’m a little late to the punch with this one, but I’ve been busy. Hail Eris!

A distant, icy rock whose discovery shook up the solar system and led to Pluto’s planetary demise has been given a name: Eris.

The christening of Eris, named after the Greek goddess of chaos and strife, was announced by the International Astronomical Union on Wednesday. Weeks earlier, the professional astronomers’ group stripped Pluto of its planethood under new controversial guidelines.

Since its discovery last year, Eris, which had been known as 2003 UB313, ignited a debate about what constitutes a planet.

Associated Press: Dwarf Planet Named After Greek Goddess

Hip hop as a source of esoteric reference

Aside from icons such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and, more recently, Tool, not many bands are well-known for being spiritually radical or esoteric. (Marilyn Manson aside, as I believe his theatrics outweigh his message. Plus, I think he’s been going downhill since Antichrist Superstar.)

The occult isn’t well known for its association to hip hop. And as this site has a large American audience, I wanted to point out that I’ve been noticing more esoteric references in Canadian hip hop than other artists I’ve heard. I’ve been culling a lot of MP3s – both pop and underground – over the years that use themes of revolt (‘Something to Believe In,’ by The Offspring), introspective awareness (‘Right Where It Belongs,’ by NIN), and spiritual themes in general. But today I wanna share some new music with Technoccult’s audience that they may not be aware of:

Swollen Members

A few tracks from the new album by Swollen Members, Black Magic. Sometimes a tricky band to take, especially in light of the mockery that is popular gangster rap in the States, Swollen Members doesn’t take itself too seriously. They’re the genuine article when it comes to the gangster thing, though: bikers and drug runners. (Canada is run by the Hells Angels.) Yet, their lyrics more than often refer to Marvel comics, Dungeons & Dragons, and other silliness. Their tracks are not the most esoteric, but the references paint a picture happily open to interpretation.

k-os, an Ontario b-boy who grew up a Mormon and has apparently been on a spiritual journey since. Jazzy hip hop with great beats and personal, introspective lyrics.

And Sweatshop Union members Kyprios and Innocent Bystanders. Kyprios turned a lot of heads with this spoken word piece on the topic of hatred. Innocent Bystanders wove this New Age rebellion sort of piece that I always like to listen to and have noticed others enjoying, too. Both are signed to Swollen Members’ Battle Axe Records.

MP3s available for download here (compressed to RAR): Part 1, Part 2.

Fell back for now, part-time on Technoccult

Klint has been nice enough to allow me to continue posting bits of occult novelty to his wonderful site here, as I’ve since discontinued Occult Design in favour of pursuing business endeavours here in Edmonton and my work in the field of visual communication design.

But a happy hello to everyone and for today, I just wanted to drop these tidbits I came across this morning via Boing Boing, in case anyone here missed it:

Can hearing voices in your head be a good thing?

Psychologists have launched a study to find out why some people who hear voices in their head consider it a positive experience while others find it distressing.

The University of Manchester investigation – announced on World Hearing Voices Day (Thursday, 14th September) – comes after Dutch researchers found that many healthy members of the population there regularly hear voices.

Although hearing voices has traditionally been viewed as ‘abnormal’ and a symptom of mental illness, the Dutch findings suggest it is more widespread than previously thought, estimating that about 4% of the population could be affected.

continued via EurekAlert

As well as:

Google Books promotes banned books for Banned Books Week

Google Book Search and the American Library Association have teamed up to offer searchable indices and library links to banned books, in celebration of Banned Books Week (Sept 23-30). Included in the catalog are 1984, Lolita, Lord of the Flies, the Great Gatsby, The Color Purple, Brave New World, Naked Lunch, Invisible Man, Cats Cradle, and many other titles that made me a better person for having read them.

Link

And this little graphical gem: the Major Arcana of the tarot as interpreted by John Coulthart… like traffic signs to the oracular road of life.

Non primitivist anti-civilization thinkers?

Can anyone recommend any anti-civilization thinkers, other than primitivists, “back to the land”-types, and Terrance McKenna? I guess what I’m looking for is post-civilization thinking that doesn’t demonize the progress made during civilization. McKenna’s Archiac Revival concept seems the closest, but it’s too techno-utopian:

The future is going to be much more like the extremely distant past. It’s not that technology is going to disappear. It’s that technology is going to be much less obtrusive. I can imagine a future where the entire culture has been shrunk down and downloaded onto a pair of black contact lenses that you implant behind your eyelids. And you’re naked, tattooed, scarified, and wearing your penis sheath and so on. But when you close your eyes, there are menus dangling in mental space. You go into that and have the complete database of the Western Mind.

-Terrence McKenna, Mondo 2000 vol. 1, issue 10, 1993

I think I’m looking for something a little more political (materialist? Marxist?).

Drifting with Deleuze

The Situationist Drift is an example of a program that creates a Body without Organs and circulates charge across it.

By disengaging with the striated purpose of the city and the streets the drifter creates or allows a null to exist. This smooth space forms the body without organs. The organs of the city cut themselves loose from the organized system that makes a city an organism.

Full Story: Isle of Lyngvi.

See also: NLP Parts as Desiring-Machines or Metaprograms.

Lonelygirl15: The End (Or the Beginning?)

ARG Net has an update about lonelygirl15 (Previously on Technoccult).

The letter from “the creators” is incredibly lame. To quote New York Times blogger Virginia Heffernan:

I don’t know what to add, except UGH at the “it’s not lies or a coherent mystery; it’s all a fascinating artistic jeu d’esprit” idea. I think Jayson Blair might even have tried that one.

In fact, I’d rather that The Creators were more serious–more mysterious–more even, hm, Thelemic about it all. I mean that, whatever their ideology or frame of mind, I wish they showed more heart for the actual stuff of the videos; I don’t quite see, for example, how sloughing off Bree as the “magical faerie spirit in all of us” (or whatever that was) is going to win them any allegiance over here, where Bree–the character AND the live being playing her–were what originally excited us.

In other words, I didn’t set out to see a big art experiment. I set out to get to know Bree. And it’s not fair to make it sound as if that’s an infantile motivation for looking at the vids, or as if higher minds would understand that the lofty call of filmmaking qua filmmaking supersedes the draw of a fictional character.

Dickens was careful not to tell his crazed, besotted fans: “Little Nell’s not important! She’s just everygirl! It’s me! I’m a WRITER! And the novel is a NEW FORM!”

Semantic memory pinpointed in the brain

The part of the brain responsible for the way we understand words, meanings and concepts has been revealed as the anterior temporal lobe – a region just in front of the ears.

In a novel experiment, neuroscientists pinpointed the exact region of the brain that is responsible for encoding semantic memory, which is disrupted in certain forms of dementia.

Semantic dementia is the second most common form of dementia in under-65s and is associated with significant loss of brain tissue in the temporal lobe. Patients are able to generate speech fluently but lose their knowledge of objects, people and abstract concepts.

Full Story: New Scientist.

(via Great News Network)

Erik Davis on Deleuze and Guattari

I’ll just stick to my own work, since I really haven’t tracked the Deleuzian scene in a while. “Back in the day” I was a total maniac for the stuff, and moderated a fascinating listserv devoted to D&G. I think I was attracted to their work because, of all the French poststructuralist thinkers I felt compelled to “master” during college, D&G were by far the trippiest-and the funniest. But I think my own take is rather different from the perspective of many, uh, “orthodox” Deleuzians. I believe Mille Plateaux is a psychedelic text. I think they were trying to write and think a sort of perception, where every aspect of mind and culture are seen as expressions of a mutant probing Tao that is constantly congealing and liquefying as it moves along. Delanda, one of D&G’s most interesting interpreters, is occasionally explicit about their psychedelic dimension, though I interpret this dimension in a more explicitly spiritual/Dionysian/Taoist manner that Delanda or most Deleuzian thinkers. The spiritual key to their work is in the chapter “How do you make yourself a Body without Organs”? It is all about Tantra, although they do not use the term.

Full Story: markdery.com.

Bacteria provide horsepower for tiny motor

For millennia, people have hitched beasts to plows to exploit the animals’ strength and energy. In a modern variant of that practice, scientists have chemically harnessed bacteria to a micromotor so that they can make the device’s rotor slowly turn.

Full Story: Science News.

Then the whole game changed. (MySpace to sell music online)

I’ve been saying for a while that when MySpace starts letting unsigned musicians sell their MP3s through MySpace, the whole game will change. Usually people just look at me and said “You mean if MySpace…” Well, they’re doing it, and they’re doing it right (no DRM). No word on whether they’re letting the big labels play too, but I’m sure they’ll follow suit. More at TechCrunch.

I feel bad for the MPERIA guys right now. But I hope that, inspite of sketchy nature of MySpace that this is good for musicians and for fans.

Something I’ve been saying lately, considering how much money the Pirate Bay is making ($84,000 in ads per month, plus T-Shirt sales), big record companies and movie studios should build their own torrent trackers and give their stuff away free online. Sell merchandise and DVDs and CDs along side the free downloads. Sell ad space to Coke and Pepsi and Ford and GM and all the usual suspects. Hell, sell the products that are placed in movies.

Universal is taking the first step in this direction, but they’re crippling their downloads with DRM and the need to “re-up” your music files by looking at more ads.

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