Please Do Not Join My Cult

March 28, 2011

A few words are written and they have perhaps a single, perhaps a few, meanings. Others are added and a text begins to develop an elaborate and ever-growing cumulative significance, each part interacting with each other part in a myriad of subtle and powerful ways which seem beyond the scope of our comprehension to really isolate or define. They demand ceaseless refinement on the part of the writer. They want to say something, and it is an anguish for that thing to go unsaid or to be imperfectly spoken, just as a seed suffers that longs for the sun but can not break free from the frigid soil, or whose tender flesh is torn and blemished on its course upward by sharp rocks and therefore greets the benevolent sun with a malformed body.

This is all to say that the writing, which I think is becoming more effective, is also taking on a correspondingly greater subjective element of struggle for me. Two pieces hang in various states of limbo, one simply unfinished, as the breadth and depth of the research for it continues to grow in a seemingly exponential fashion, the other as I wait for correspondence. An 11,000 word third piece I have finished, after great toil, for some reason leaves me breathless, experiencing difficulty contemplating publication. I feel like I gave birth to it out of my body with all the attendant pain one would expect; various sharp implements pressed into various parts of me, constituent words slowly and carefully incised and extracted with exquisite, meticulously calculated suffering. Although I have not been performing since the end of last year, I can think of no more suitable physical analogy than the prolonged agonies one might witness in the course of a butoh dance.

I know this is all quite ridiculous, but for me, it feels entirely inevitable. I am perfectly aware there are certain conspicuous elements of a stereotype here, but, to use Yahweh’s somewhat glib phrasing from Exodus, when Moses inquired as to the identity of the voice speaking to him from a burning bush, I am that which I am. I can’t help it. I freely and graciously take my place within the constellation of stereotypical elements of our culture. Along with the guy who lives in the trailer with an enormous family and an uncountable preponderance of dogs, both of whom he ceaselessly yells at, along with the guy who has a nice career and an overzealous love of espresso drinks and is sympathetic toward the socioeconomically marginal but terrified to run into them on the street, place me, the artist, or thinker, or whatever, who feels it incumbent upon himself to inform people that it causes him pain to write, but that he must do it anyway.

The actual sense, though, is that I am creating something over time that is effective in the most literal sense. I can not evade the persistent feeling that, in the crafting and careful rearranging and interweaving of words, that I am creating a weapon, and that the more I require of myself in its construction, the more fiercely potent it will be when it is deployed. Each phrase is like one of the myriad components of a bomb, lovingly crafted and carefully arranged with all the other parts. I imagine buildings crumbling to the ground when the words are spoken. I imagine the bodies of my enemies, who are destroying the earth, succumbing to the force of the words as to blows inflicted on them with a bludgeon.

This persistent sense once led me to create a series of writings that were overtly oriented toward this theme, rather than it just being a subjective experience I have in the process of writing, centered around an entity called Do Not Seek the Light. Do Not Seek the Light was never entirely clear about what it was up to, but in its coarse outlines it seemed to be conveying that it was a sort of fanatically anti-modern sect that was going to destroy the dominant order by sheer force of will alone; perhaps someone with a slightly different orientation would simply say with magic.

I had been doing this sort of thing – creating fictional realities and presenting them as fact – for some time in more or less utter obscurity. As best I can remember, it started with a piece titled The Marginal and the Magical: On the Margins of Society and the Thresholds of the World, which was my attempt to make sense of the phenomenon of modern ritual performance, which is deeply integrated into various experimental music and performance art scenes. The basic argument therein was that social deviation was also a classic element of the lives of magicians, ritualists, ecstatics, whoever, from more archaic cultures, and that the same basic antagonisms with society could be observed in the cross-dressing of a shaman and the subcultural status of modern performance artists. In the course of that writing, I inserted a series of images showing structural similarities between various artifacts produced in both modern and archaic cultures. At some point, I went ahead and made an artifact of my own, placing it next to images of mythological fathers devouring their children. It seemed like an innocuous joke at the time, but it planted the extremely fertile seed within me of creating documentation for nonexistent religious movements, and writing their secret histories.

The next project I undertook along these lines was centered around my obsession with Jorge Luis Borges. I have always harbored the suspicion that he must have left some manner of encrypted messages in at least some of his fiction. The man was simply too obsessed with unseen, implicit meanings in things, hidden references in obscure documents, and secret identities to have not done that. It seems like all his fiction is telling us that if we look deeper into his fiction we’ll find out what he’s really saying. After awhile, rather than decode his work, which seemed like a guaranteed journey into a lifetime of fruitless madness, I decided it would be far better homage to the man to simply invent my own secret meanings in his published work, and to demonstrate these meanings through the meticulous documentation of the references his work makes to obscure elements of history, literature, and mystical thought that I would myself invent and insert into larger bodies of legitimate work. For various reasons, and I suspect one of them may have simply been the mercy of a universe that is secretly more benevolent than it appears, this project never went anywhere.

Do Not Seek the Light was the third such project, and by far the coolest. Unlike the first two, it seemed to actually be successful in spreading somewhat, and gaining some validity in people’s minds. This fact should largely be attributed to my friend Ogo Eion, who publishes the print version of Spring Speaks Truth with his Autonomy Press. He is a brilliant graphic designer, event organizer, and general sort of leviathan of the west coast underground, and together we created a series of documents that, while they didn’t succeed insofar as I know in destroying any buildings or killing anyone, certainly managed to freak a number of people out. I understand this may not seem like the most laudable of objectives, and, after awhile, it did indeed become necessary to ask ourselves what exactly our objective was. In the end, the thing I think that would be truest to say is that, for me anyway, it was done out of simple compulsion to do it. Is there a better reason? I don’t really know why I like to dance, either, but I most assuredly don’t plan on stopping.

So just to be perfectly clear, should any ambiguity at all remain; I do not have a cult, or more to the point, I never did. There are, no doubt, quite legitimate elements of how I and others might feel about the world in the material we produced, and we were most certainly motivated by a shared love of seeing how certain symbols, aesthetics, and formulae would be received by people, and affect their discourse. But we don’t actually want you to sign up with us because we’ve never exactly been real in that way. I couldn’t try to convince you to share an orthodoxy with me because, honestly, I believe ideology is a poison that diminishes one’s ability to simply perceive the world according to the uncertain and multifarious dynamics of pure existence. This type of perception of pure being should be able to translate into action – for instance, the defense of the earth – but I see no good reason that meaningful action should have to be defined or circumscribed by definite and static systems of belief.

In any case, and this can probably help you imagine why writing is such a demanding task at times, all of this foregoing text has really only had the purpose of providing you, my friends, with a link. As these numerous current projects wait to emerge into the public eye, here is a document of an effort past:

Do Not Seek the Light

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