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 archive.org version contains the original comments, which are also worth reading.
From hypersigils to hyperstition or even Michael Mooreâ€™s claim that weâ€™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 â€œPop Magic!â€ chapter of the Disinfo Book of Lies, he writes â€œThe hypersigil can take the form of a poem, a story, a dance or any other extended artistic activity you wish to try.â€ His own famous hypersigil, the Invisibles, came in the form of a comic book serialized over six years. Heâ€™s been inconsistent about the intent and the effects of this hypersigil, but I think he sums it up when he says it â€œenveloped me in a shiny, global sci-fi lifestyle I was really only dreaming of when I started writing the book in 1994â€ (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 â€œâ€¦ if youâ€™re going to be a magician at all itâ€™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 peopleâ€ [Disinfo interview]).
R.U. Sirius describes a rather easier method of achieving a â€œnarrative lifestyleâ€:
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 knowâ€¦ ( Better Propaganda interview)
And, actually, Morrison sort of backs this up:
Iâ€™d say to myself or whoever I was with, â€˜Itâ€™ll look good in the biography.â€™ and then Iâ€™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 â€™scaredâ€™ of mostly, or fancied doing, or never dared before, Iâ€™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 â€œfictions that make themselves realâ€ 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, Iâ€™ve had more luck with R.U.â€™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 Iâ€™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 lifeâ€™s been a bit more exciting. Among other things Iâ€™ve traveled across Europe, taken up rock climbing, and joined this elite band of occulture thinkers.
Iâ€™m curious to hear personal experiences of hypersigilization, hyperstition creation, and fiction as life, as well as ideas for furthering the process.
Reza Negarestani was kind enough to send some more info about Ad’ieh, an ancient Arabic hypersigil system (most commonly practiced now in the form of chain letters, but also the key to the plot of the film Ringu).
I was skimming through technoccult archive and read your post on Ad ieh; here is the Farsi / Arabic word if you are interested:
In Farsi the practice is called Ad?ieh Nevisi (Nevisi: writing)
Sometimes, Ad?ieh is called Khabnameh.
I guess my English spelling of the word is not correct; but maybe you can find it in Arabic / Farsi sites if you have got Arabic font installed on your machine.
There is also another brief reference to Ad?ieh / Khabnameh on my friend?s blog (Esmail Yazdanpour) but the text is in Farsi … you can read his comment under my post at hyperstition; he thinks certain types of commercial spams follow the same hyperstitional pattern of Ad?ieh Nevisi (read the examples in English):
There is a chapter on Ad?ieh in Ibn Asir?s History of Islam.
Thanks for the info. For the record, I wasn’t trying to call you a
liar or anything, but I try to take everything I read on Hyperstition
with some… unbelief.
Thank you … lol … no, i just thought you might be interested in more info (in connection with Hypersigil); i’ll try to find if there is an english text out there on the subject because there should be some books. btw, the unbelief-based reading is the apex of hyperstition. Hope you are doing fine.
Hyperstition is a new blog by Reza Negarestani, K-Punk, and a bunch of other people (and hosted by William Blaze) that merits a little more introduction. Hyperstitions are, in short, “fictions that make themselves real.”
K-Punk recommends Lemurian Time War and this article as an introduction to Hyperstion:
The situation is closer to the modern phenomenon of hype than to religious belief as we’d ordinarily think about it. Hype actually makes things happen, and uses belief as a positive power. Just because it’s not “real” now, doesn’t mean it won’t be real at some point in the future. And once it’s real, in a sense, it’s always been.”
Sounds very much like Grant Morrison’s idea of the hypersigil, especially when he talks about emergence.
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