CategoryHatch 23

TV Ate Itself


More background reading, an article I wrote for Alterati last year:

“The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena: the Videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.” -Brian O’blivion, Videodrome.

Full Story: Alterati

Interesting living as magic

This is an old article I wrote for the now defunct Key 23/Key 64 web site. It’s old piece of writing that I don’t stand by any more, but it does provide some background for the concepts I’ll be exploring here. The version contains the original comments, which are also worth reading.

From hypersigils to hyperstition or even Michael Moore’s claim that we’re living in fictitious times, the life as fiction meme seems stronger than ever.

Grant Morrison often talks about hypersigils, which to him seem to represent one of the highest workings of magic. In his “Pop Magic!” chapter of the Disinfo Book of Lies, he writes “The hypersigil can take the form of a poem, a story, a dance or any other extended artistic activity you wish to try.” His own famous hypersigil, the Invisibles, came in the form of a comic book serialized over six years. He’s been inconsistent about the intent and the effects of this hypersigil, but I think he sums it up when he says it “enveloped me in a shiny, global sci-fi lifestyle I was really only dreaming of when I started writing the book in 1994” (CBR interview).

In other words, it made his life more exciting. For Morrison this is one of the most important aspects of magic (though he also says “… if you’re going to be a magician at all it’s not about wanting to be scary and wearing a robe or something, what you have to do is you have to do things for people” [Disinfo interview]).

R.U. Sirius describes a rather easier method of achieving a “narrative lifestyle”:

In terms of social engineering, I think that, you know, you think of yourself as being in a story, and life will start to have the kind of dynamics that you would have if you were in a story, rather than if you were part of some dire laborious mechanism, you know… ( Better Propaganda interview)

And, actually, Morrison sort of backs this up:

I’d say to myself or whoever I was with, ‘It’ll look good in the biography.’ and then I’d go ahead and do whatever daft thing it was – like taking acid on the sacred mesa or doing the bungee-jump, getting the haircut, dancing with the stranger, talking to the crowd – whatever I was ’scared’ of mostly, or fancied doing, or never dared before, I’d try it on the basis that it would make for a more interesting read one day. (Pop Image interview)

At the other extreme, hyperstition, a confusing theory getting a thorough discussion on the Hyperstition blog, is more work than hypersigilization. Although loosely defined as “fictions that make themselves real” hyperstitions have more complex characteristics than hypersigils. Anna Greenspan elucidates this in several posts on the blog, but a good starting point is here.

As a completely lazy writer, I’ve had more luck with R.U.’s method. There was a thread on Barbelith a while back asking if your life was written and drawn by comics creators, who would do it? I determined that my life was currently being written and drawn by Peter Bagge, but that I’d like it to be written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Philip Bond, and have a soundtrack by Gold Chains. But I never did any ritual to invoke a creative change in my life. But I did eventually write a statement of intent on my blog, and it seems to have worked. Since then my life’s been a bit more exciting. Among other things I’ve traveled across Europe, taken up rock climbing, and joined this elite band of occulture thinkers.

I’m curious to hear personal experiences of hypersigilization, hyperstition creation, and fiction as life, as well as ideas for furthering the process.

What’s next for Hatch 23?

Hatch 23 began as 1) a collaborative attempt to explore the “occult” themes in the television series Lost and 2) a promotional tool for Esozone, an occult themed conference/festival in Portland, OR.

Since 1) Danny never really got into the Hatch 23 project 2) Neither Danny nor I is still involved in Esozone and 3) I’m no longer particularly interested in the occult as such, it makes little to since to continue on “as is.”

So what now? I accidentally hit upon it with that last post: the TV/reality bleed-through.

Cobalt covered here how Lost encourages apophenia. And of course the Lost Experience staff deliberately bringing the show from the television into the real world. So we shouldn’t be surprised when elements of the Lost world show up in our world, Tlon style.

What does the Island have in store for us? Stay tuned, dear reader. I have the feeling it’s going to get weird.

23 days until Lost returns

goat born with the number 10 written in its fur

In the meantime, here’s something weird: a goat was born with the number 10 written in its fur. Television/reality bleed through?

Popular Mechanics on the science of Lost

Large Hadron Collider compared to dharma initiative logo

Above right: Large Hadron Collider Left: a Dharma Initiative logo

This Popular Mechanics article on “debunking” the science of Lost does little debunking and much fawning and speculating.

Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Impossible, thinks the Lost creators are using cutting-edge science to lay the groundwork for a transversible wormhole to another point in space and time—a trip foreshadowed in an off-season video about the so-called Orchid station, which Lindelhof and Cuse promised would be a key to the next few episodes. “They’re amping up the energy to the point where space and time begin to tear, and the fabric begins to rip,” Kaku tells PM. “When the fabric of space and time begin to rip, things that we consider impossible become possible again.”

Full Story: Popular Mechanics (via Daily Grail)

See also: More LOST physics in Popular Mechanics.

Alternative 3 and Lost

alternative 3

What was Alternative 3?

Alternative 3 is a television programme, broadcast in the UK in 1977 as a fictional hoax, an heir to Orson Welles’ radio production of The War of the Worlds. Purporting to be an investigation into Britain’s contemporary “brain drain,” Alternative 3 uncovered a plan to make the moon and Mars habitable in the event of a terminal environmental catastrophe on Earth.

The programme was originally meant to be broadcast on April Fools Day, 1977. While its broadcast was delayed until June by industrial action, the credits explicitly date the film to April 1st. Alternative 3 ended with credits for the actors involved in the production and featured interviews with a fictitious American astronaut. However, some conspiracy theory supporters have argued Alternative 3 is at least partly true.

Full Story: Wikipedia

Black Belt Jones writes:

Chances are if we’ve been to the pub together over the last 15 years, I will have mentioned Alternative-3, amongst the canon of great media proto-ARGs that include Orson Welles’ War Of The Worlds, Ghostwatch, etc.

I re-watched it on the plane over to the USA, and my addled-brain couldn’t help but retcon the whole thing into the LOST universe.

It was made of course, when the DHARMA initiative is intended to have made their orientation movies, which helps.

But the plot within it is worthy of Abrams, Lindelhof, et al.

Full Story: Black Belt Jones.

Ben’s secret door

ben’s secret occult doorfrom lost

Above is a screencap of Ben’s secret door from last night’s episode. Here’s some information about what the symbols mean.

More to come…

Lost and apophenia

“Everywhere I see them there, I stop and stare at patterns… ”

A big part of what makes Lost so successful (and at the same time so hit-and-miss) is the way it doles out mysteries and secrets. Hidden clues and cryptic statements are the bread and butter of the show, leading some to frustration at never getting answers, while others dig deeper and deeper into the material to find the truth. The writers and producers of the show have gone out of their way to encourage theorizing, pattern recognition, clue-spotting, and solving the puzzles constantly thrown to the audience. Why does this show fire people up so much; capable of turning the most mundane conversation into wide-eyed frantic speculation on who Jacob is, or what the deal is with that Black Smoke Monster? It’s because Lost is one gigantic apophenia machine.

Apophenia is a fancy psychological term that refers to finding patterns in seemingly meaningless or unrelated data. There is a great deal of this going on in Lost, the Numbers being only one of the most obvious examples. Deliberate connections were made between the different castaways in flashbacks, such as Locke and Sawyer’s shared history with the same man. The production team intentionally adding in patterns leads to the hunt for more and more patterns, going deeper and deeper into minutia. Therein lies the danger of finding too much order: connecting things that are completely unconnected, or only incidentally related.

There seems to be a fine spectrum of pattern-recognition, where apophenia is classed as a disorder (or a Type I Error) and can lead to psychosis, and the other side of the spectrum leading to invention, creativity, and discovery. On the one hand, the Skeptic’s Dictionary goes so far as to define all paranormal and supernatural events as apophenia. Another skeptic’s analysis presents many examples of apophenia sliding into madness. Familiar stories can be found among many conspiracy theorists, especially when the one proposing the theory happens to be at the center of it as well. The visual subset of apophenia, called pareidolia, is often the true cause of religious visions, Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches, and other equally bizarre sightings. In Lost, the producers seem to encourage this, putting clues in quick flashes that can’t quite be seen but for the pause button on a TiVo (Christian Shepard’s eye in the cabin window, for example), but it has led to fans finding meaningful connections and images even in accidental prop goofs, cloud patterns, even letters in the waves on the ocean. This is sometimes known as the Confirmation Bias, or as Robert Anton Wilson put it in Prometheus Rising, “What the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves.” In other words, whatever you believe, or whatever pattern it is you are searching for, you’ll find it.

The possibility of discovering patterns that don’t exist should not, however, dissuade anyone from looking for the patterns to begin with. It can be useful to see how history connects to itself, despite being a collection of unrelated people and events, as in James Burke’s television series called Connections. In the search for connections, the universe starts to take on a certain kind of structure of its own. The notion that the world is a
complex and deeply interconnected mind is found behind nearly all
mystical practices. In Hermeticism, it is called The All; in Hinduism the piece of god within everyone is the atman; in Buddhism the doctrine is of Interpenetration. One of the more useful metaphorical illustrations of interpenetration in particular is Indra’s Net, which then bleeds over into physics in the holographic universe theory. In such a reality, everything actually is connected to everything else, something also hinted at in Bell’s Theorem of non-locality. This makes finding patterns in random noise much easier, which is what divination is for. The methods of divination are nearly endless, all of them taking input from random phenomena of the world and interpreting meaningful results. One of the better-known ancient divinatory practices is the I-Ching, which decorates the outer edge of the DHARMA logo. Of course, there’s an extreme to this end of the spectrum as well, where one falls into the belief that imposing a pattern on the universe is just as easy as finding one; or even that one creates one’s own universe.

In another view entirely, both sides are equally illusory. Finding order where there’s only chaos, or finding chaos where there’s only order; neither one is the full truth. “Reality is the original Rorschach.” Profound stuff? Actually it’s Discordianism. Really, I agree with this comment that what really counts is the meaning you assign to any given perceived structure. There’s room for both sides of the coin, both on the psychological level and the practical magic level.

As a mystery show that seems to include references to practically everything everywhere, Lost is highly susceptible to false-pattern recognition. This is, however, part of the narrative structure, to give hints and red herrings at every turn. So many narrative themes, leading to so many theories. What to do, but connect everything to everything! We’ll know the truth by the end of Season Six–or at least, we can hope.

The Occult Origins of Lost

I wrote an article on Lost and the occult for Key 64. Probably nothing new for readers of this blog.

ABC’s Lost isn’t the first pop culture phenomena to crib from occultism – movies, television shows, and video games have integrated occult themes and rituals for years. But one thing that sets Lost apart from the crowd is the apparent sincere interest on the part of executive producer and co-creator Damon Lindelof. While most pop cultural attempts at integrating magic and the occult are done merely to add atmosphere to the story, Lindelof has a deeper interest in the material. And rather than beating the viewer over the head with “authentic” occult rituals, Lindelof is more content to pepper the series with references and concepts, leaving the the viewer to decipher their significance.

Full Story: Key 64.

Consciousness time travel: Paul Laffoley, the Invisibles, and the Voudon Gnostic Workbook

“paul laffoley The Time Machine : GEOCHRONMECHANE : From The Earth

Apparently, the way time travel works on Lost is movement of consciousness through time and space to experience “retrocognition of the past and occasions of precognition of the future.” The breathtaking occult art of Paul Laffoley has dealt with this subject for years, most notably in his painting The Time Machine : GEOCHRONMECHANE : From The Earth – the plans to build a working time machine. More info can be found on Paul Laffoley here. He can also be heard explaining his time travel plans in his lecture at Esozone 2007.

I’m also reminded of the occult action comic The Invisibles, which I reviewed here. Characters in the Invisibles use a consciousness projection technique to travel through space and time. The source for the time travel techniques of the Invisibles is the book The Voudon Gnostic Workbook, a collection of materials Michael Bertiaux used to instruct his cult in Chicago.

However, Michael Szul of Key 64 points out that the Invisibles can travel to places in time that they haven’t been and don’t need a “host body.” He suggests that the time travel in this episode is more reminiscent of Slaughterhouse Five. Lostpedia has this to say on the subject:

Desmond, during one of his flashbacks/time travels, speaks to someone else in the military with him. His friend’s name is Billy. Billy Pilgrim is the main character in Slaughterhouse Five. The narration of the story of Billy Pilgrim begins: “Listen. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time.” When Desmond is with Daniel in 1996 and Daniel is about to experiment on Eloise, he says that he is going to unstick her in time. Also, the narrator of Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut, says that he likes to call old girlfriends late at night. Desmond calls Penelope at night. When Desmond spoke with Mrs. Hawking, she said that events are structured and that the universe will course correct. In Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim explains that , according to the Tralfamadorians, aliens who can see the fourth dimension, time is structured and events cannot be changed (we are like bugs in amber). When asked about the end of the universe, the Tralfamadorians explain that one of their test pilots presses a button that destroys the universe. Billy asks why they cannot stop the pilot from pressing the button, and they reply that the pilot always has and always will press the button. The moment is structured that way. Desmond’s purpose, according to Mrs. Hawking, is to turn the key and he cannot avoid it. The moment is structured that way. Billy Pilgrim sees the future, and even predicts his own death. Desmond predicted Charlie’s death and other events on the island.

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