or A Brief Return to the Shores of Fitzrovia
A.O. Spare. I am just going to come right out and say it, I think this dude is a bit over-rated. Not in a dismissive sort of way, just that we don’t really examine his work with a critical eye. Given the last hundred years or so of Eclectic, Discordian and Chaos magic we can say with some authority that the whole alphabet of desire thing only kind of works if it is isolated from the rest of Spare’s praxis. In reality Spare spent a lot more time on his theory of Atavistic Resurgence, which was the product of his automatic drawing and writing. Essentially, a sort of spiritual reduction of Darwinian Evolution in which all stages of the evolution of the human animal found some hidden expression within the unconscious. Originally, Spare claimed he developed the alphabet of desire as a result of studying hieroglyphics in Egypt during his war service but no one mentions that anymore because it was in reality a big fucking lie, no one is perfect right. He most likely didn’t refuse Hitler a portrait either. It was the Second World War, peeps be crazy.
I like Spare, don’t get me wrong but there is a sort of depressing linearity to Darwinian models. It’s never a this and that scenario, it’s always either/or. To Spare the unconscious was moar primal moar sexual moar powerz, it was the phenomenon of animal consciousness always fully utilizing its physical form. This was the popular conception at the time, that the ego was some sort of wizard-retarding engram that had to be permanently excised so that you could release the true potential of your inner Thetan. This whole period in British occulture owes Nietzsche and his pet ubermensche a great deal. Spare was highly critical of emerging psychological models that invalidated the static system of consciousness that gave rise to Nietzsche and his supermen, like those of Freud and Jung, which cast his perception of himself as the Steppenwolf as a bit of childish whimsy.
Still, there is the implication of the Consciousness Pidgin Gordon and I have been pontificating around. He has his little pseudo-hieroglyphs which he meditated (read: jizzed) on and a regular praxis of engaging with automatic functions of consciousness through art.
Enter King Mob. “The “hypersigil” or “supersigil” develops the sigil concept beyond the static image and incorporates elements such as characterization, drama, and plot. The hypersigil is a sigil extended through the fourth dimension. My own comic book series The Invisibles was a six-year long sigil in the form of an occult adventure story which consumed and recreated my life during the period of its composition and execution. The hypersigil is an immensely powerful and sometimes dangerous method for actually altering reality in accordance with intent.” (Grant Morrison, Pop Magic, The Book Of Lies.) Let it be known that I am quoting Morrison not because he is the preeminent voice on the subject but rather because he is the loudest. I think statements like ‘extended through the fourth dimension’ sound like a lot of cock-talk. Essentially, the elements of psycho-drama usually expressed through the vehicle of ceremonial ritual are re-introduced.
We can reinforce this understanding by travelling a bit farther back than the comicbook sorcerors of the 80’s to William Burroughs and Brion Gyson and the ‘Cut-Up’ technique. The Cut-Up first appears as a bit of Dadaist method. Gyson ‘rediscovered’ the technique after laying out newspaper on a tabletop to protect it while he used a razor to cutup lines of text for a collage he was working on. As he worked away he noticed that the new juxtapositions created between the now highly randomized lines and layers of text began to emerge as lucid, meaningful prose, he and Burroughs found great meaning in this. The result of that first collaborative exploration was the book Minutes to Go. You can read an essay by Burroughs on the concept here.
Stay with me here. Gordon is doing this as well. Social media as it currently works over the internet functions along those lines we have just illuminated. It is a seemingly random stream of personally relevant information that reveals the narrative or your life without your intending it to. You cut it up, that photo is flattering, you feel sad and want arbitrary well wishes from strangers, dick pics, twitter links to the contemporary events in which you see your own world view reflected back at you. It is a meta-narrative that you generate out of seeming errata.
When that cloud of sigils on the bizarro mirror anchors itself into that meta-narrative, that pretty thoroughly fits our classic definition of a hypersigil and perhaps effectuates the whole thing more gracefully than old King Mob ever could have. Gordon is not a fiction, he is not using a fiction to facilitate his schooling desire and so his hypersigil is never derailed by that air of fabrication that haunts both Mob and Morrison. Burroughs and Gyson believed that the narrative was innate, that we as a species imply it even when it isn’t there, that ‘narrative’ was one of those automatic functions of consciousness. The bizarro Gordon that looks out from that bizarro mirror all ensconced in sorcerous doodles is the wizard of Runesoup who exists solely on Royal flotillas, or drinking in ancient Fitzrovia. When the British drought of 2012 was broken we were left with only two possible explanations. I know because I read them on Runesoup, firstly that Gordon the wizard of Runesoup was the greatest western wizard in ages (that was the first possibility and frankly the most obvious) and second was the fact that everyone was wrong and there was never in fact going to be a drought (all of western science was wrong [EDIT:
@spidercircus "All of western science" is an ambitious description for 3 chicken littles in the MetOffice. ] ). Gordon goes on to argue a retrocausal action
based on the second explanation but none of us are convinced are we, even that
makes so much sense it accidentally reinforces the first explanation. Even the science done by the wizard of Runesoup
is more sensible and pragmatic than everyone else’s.
“The hypersigil is a dynamic miniature model of the magician’s universe, a hologram, microcosm, or “voodoo doll” which can be manipulated in real time to produce changes in the macrocosmic environment of “real” life.” That’s our benevolent King Mob from Pop Magic again. I am finishing on that quote because I like how “real” life is in quotations. I am real, so are you. When Gordon posted his drought-breaking enchantment the sorcerous potential of that work was no longer limited to what he himself could envision but rather it found a new horizon in what we collectively envisioned or most reasonably some interplay between the two. The world as it exists perceived by me (or you) is just as ‘real’ as the one you perceive and the dialogue between the two is an arbitrary cut-up upon which we impose narrative significance.
I think the pitfalls of obsession and delusion like those which plagued Morrison at times regarding his self-association to an overly simplified cartoon or Spare’s Atavistic Resurgence (which would be better known as ‘Anthropomorphize All Da Tings’) can be readily circumvented by just not imposing a fabricated narrative on the hypersigil, by not insisting on an unreality. I think Gordon did in fact break the drought (as crusty hillbilly this kind of juju is par for the course and I don’t personally find it difficult to conceive of the wizard of Runesoup changing the weather,) because he imposed no ‘unreality’ on his hypersigil. There was no disconnect between what I thought Gordon capable of and those ritual actions he intended to take all along.
That’s my theory anyway.