I have just been interviewed by Ethan Doyle White for his blog, about magic and academic research, a long read, but it was a lot of fun to do
jeepers. when a scholar as good as Dan Harms calls something i have a part in, a “landmark” that makes me happy. a good day gets better.
Tags: belief, Chris Morris, fil, religion, review, satire
Slightly tangential to the areas of what you might perceive I will be covering here. A review of a dark comedy about belief, behaviour and religious fundamentalism. Contains spoilers
I had been meaning to watch this film for several years- it was released in late 2009, and having worked in a fundamentalist country recently it was all the more pressing a need
Chris Morris might be known to some readers as the brains behind (and often the front man) of some scathing satire in the 90s and early 2000s. Brass Eye and The Day Today for example. This is not gentle stuff, this is the kind of comedy that grabs you by the neck and screams in your face until you get it.Be warned.
This film project bears his name and has many of the same targets he was railing about back then
This film highlights the dichotomy between ‘the western consumerist model’ and fundamentalist Islam. or at least the kind of fundamentalist Islam that might breed where scholarship is not permitted. Exactly the same kind of Sun-reader tabloid stereotype mentality that Morris lashed in The Day Today. Blow up a chemist shop? Why? Because it sells condoms, and that makes you want to have sex with white girls, so it is haram. Ok, i can see the (twisted) logic there…..
The film is beset with internal and external contradictions, and just one is that one of the fundamentalists (the one with a brain) also has a wife, who works. Whoops.
Just because there have been real bombings by fundamentalists should not stop material like this being made and shown. It is set in London, which was been the subject of attacks by many groups over the decades, and films have been made about all the rest of those. In some ways the sheer stupidity of the bombers reminded me of the kind of stories that used to be circulated about IRA members, who fired rocket launchers the wrong way around and blew up everything behind them (that happens in this film too).
Not easy to watch. A dark comedy. Dark, very dark, more black than comic.The final scenes when the suicide bombers exit this world in sundry unglorious ways is quite tragically wasteful.
And this film is not anti- any religion. This film rails against STUPIDITY of any kind, and it rails against stupid fundamentalists of any kind, be they Muslim, Christian or working for MI5, and that is a good thing. We need less stupid.
His first film? Wow. Mr Morris, I salute you.
About 4 years ago ago we wrote a piece about why as magicians we felt the need to send healing energy to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.As she ages, we need to do that more and more. To find out why, read the text below, which is from our book Toastar, which you can buy in Britain, America and everywhere else : )
Send Healing Energy to Margaret Thatcher
This is not so much a ritual as an earnest appeal.
I know that some of those who read my books have great skills at magical healing, and I would ask that you all direct some immense healing energy towards Mrs. Thatcher on a very regular basis. She is alive at the time of writing and I hope she is still around when we are published.
This seemingly heretical notion has a serious purpose. She is already old and infirm, but it is my earnest hope that she lives to a huge age, and thus has ample time left to suffer, while learning to live with her own increasing handicaps and dreadful ongoing debilitation, as a metaphor for what she did to Britain during her premiership.
The motive here is revenge, my friends…
Very many folk will have their own reasons to hate her, especially the Miners. I worked for the Health Service at the time when she started to destroy it for profit, and that huge damage done will affect the health of an entire country for generations to come (and some will never be repaired), let alone the careers of people like me that she destroyed.
Long may she accidentally piss her pants and have to sit around in it stinking wetly until it cools and crystallises. It would be heart-warmingly great to think of her actually living so long that her private health insurance expires and she has to finally turn to the very public hospital system that she all but destroyed.
I just hope one of my mates is on duty the day they finally bring her in… they will be an impeccable nurse and Thatcher will get the same level of care anyone else would, of course, but my mates will talk to her, oh yes they will have words…. Lots of words. Then with any luck she’ll end up stuck in a bed next to an ex-miner’s daughter and she would then probably yearn to be in an oubliette instead.
If she lives to, oh, let’s say 110 years of age before finally expiring in a pool of her own stale urine, while encrusted with faeces and dripping with vomit, in extremes of pain that no drug can ease, then I’ll be fairly content. That’s at least another 25 years.
It’s good to have targets…
Note that this plea I’m making here does not preclude people performing rituals to, for example, make her unpredictably and irregularly unable to walk at all, or cause sporadic and incredibly sharp stabbing pains in her face whenever she tries to sleep, or cover her with suppurating boils every Wednesday, or make her completely lose bowel control in a public place. Nor does it prevent anyone casting spells to give her excruciating arthritis of the fingers so that she cannot pick up a fork to feed herself **
If you do perform any stuff like that, then please do make sure you don’t actually kill her, yeah? Not yet. And it is important that she can see and perceive the hideous decline she undergoes, so no blinding/deafening or mental destruction spells, either, please.
The effort to keep her alive will be a fabulous test of expertise and technique among magicians, also. Let’s face it, pretty much anyone can heal a child with a headache or mend an otherwise fit and healthy 35-year-old with a broken heart or a broken hand…. so let’s see what we can do with a really hard task!
It is a challenge…
Readers outside the UK can join in here (the more the merrier), or choose one of their own despised national figures to treat in the same way, as you wish. If she’s dead by the time we are published (NOTE in 2012- she wasn’t) then I entreat you all to think of another British figure to transfer the work to…
** footnote: We have heard of several of these rites being enacted of late…
thanks to Jack Barrow for the link, this is someone else who has been tagged in the Next Big Thing meme, Jaq Hawkins, whose work writing magical books I have a lot of time for. Enjoy!
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
The Next Big Thing
Posted on a Tuesday as I’m crazy busy tomorrow.
This is usually a Wednesday thing, I’ve no idea why
Last Wednesday the very erudite and witty Jack Barrow posted his responses to these questions.
The idea is to answer these 10 questions about writing then pass the same questions on to at least 5 more authors the next week, so it spreads/expands/evolves, a bit like a fractal, and people who would not normally read about your material have a chance to see it. That’s the theory, anyway
What is the working title of your book?
I’m currently working on something called Entheostar (n-Theostar). It’s a probably far-too clever ‘play on words’ title, to do both with different numbers of gods (n-theology) and the (sometimes chemical) experiences that some people think are to do with religious beliefs (entheogenics). Sounds heavy-duty, but it has laughs, too.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Life. Some weird experiences, some possibly even stranger ideas, and the quite preposterous idea that some people enjoy reading what I write, and will buy another instalment. It is not so much a sequel as a follow-on but standalone book that goes with two others (both with something–star as the title) that I’ve written in the last 7 or so years.
“But they are both by some dude called Francis Breakspear…” you may remark, observantly….
Yup. The pseudonym was necessary at that time of writing as there was still a slight danger then that I might get an academic job, and being seen to be a published practitioner as well as a scholarly researcher of such things was a bit of a non-no in some quarters (and completely fine in others, your mileage may vary in that respect). There is now so little chance of a job like that ever falling on me again (due to the economic Armageddon of western civilization since about 2009) that it is not an issue, but I’m keeping the Francis Breakspear name going as it has some ‘brand identity’ if you want to put it in marketing terms. “He” has some fans, in fact probably way more that I (Dave) do as an academic writer on the same subject area, so he continues to live. Really, he has been sent fanmail, which is very touching. We ‘came out’ a while ago in a fabulous and lovely book of collected essays called XVI published on Scarlet Imprint, but it was not at that stage on a huge print run, so the identity thing may be less than common knowledge. It doesn’t matter in any case, I could be publishing as Saddam Hussein, Ed the Talking Horse, Ming the Merciless, Spot the Dog or Mother Theresa (or all of them together)… if people are getting something useful from the words inside the book then that is what counts.
What genre does your book fall under?
Occult, magic, freaky philosophy, drugs; some or all of those I guess. In the 1970s (or in a proper library Dewey system) it would have been filed under Practical Occultism (Western), or Shamanism, or Counterculture, or several other possible headings.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
This is a book which is a part explorer’s travelogue/part allegorical fable about how trance, drugs, dreaming, sex, magic and several other common activities are ways to experience those altered states of consciousness which some cultures call divine, or see as paths to god(s). Ow, helluva long sentence, sorry.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
That’s still to be confirmed- the previous several books by Francis were on the wonderful Hidden Publishing imprint, but their super CEO/multimedia star Katherine is spending pretty much every waking hour making some spectacularly good films at present, so the publishing arm is dormant. Hopefully not dead, but just dreaming. If Hidden are still sleeping by the time Entheostar is finished (hopefully by early 2013) and ready to roll onto paper then I will maybe create a spuriously silly name for a publishing house and put it out myself. It may arise purely as an ebook, as it seems print sales are generally in terminal decline nowadays. It is hard to sign an ebook though.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
This one is not finished, so I can’t say yet. The first book (Kaostar) took about two years to write, on and off, and it was mostly done to stop me going even more insane while I was writing-up my PhD; which was far heavier duty stuff. I’d previously been invited to produce a regular stream of online articles on magic for occultebooks and the response from readers there was encouraging, so it became a sensible move to mix some of those seed pieces up with other ideas and thread it all into a hopefully coherent book. People liked it, so another one came out. People still liked it, so we did some more.
Working with Hidden has been a delight because of the quick production speed- some other publishers (no names, but you know who you are….) take a year discussing the nuances of the Oxford comma with you, and then forget to do the simple and far more important stuff (like actually publish a book) for a further six months. And then still screw it up. It is a wonder some publishers ever produce anything. Hidden turn things around fast, and to a very high standard. I’ve never had to wait long for something to come out in physical form on that imprint.
This one is much slower going on the writing front, it has taken about 3 ½ years of admittedly non-continuous effort, often interrupted, as I have changed jobs repeatedly, moved house umpteen times, killed two computers, had major surgery on my hand, plus sold everything I own and changed my country of employment no less than 3 times during the writing process, and been in 15 different countries in total during that time. That possibly makes me sound like a wonderful globetrotting executive with a fabulously luxurious life, but it’s mostly been chasing any kind of work, rather than accumulating huge riches. The travel makes getting back in the writing flow a tad tricky sometimes, but some of the motion and massive change has been quite inspiring.
What other books would you compare this to within your genre?
The –star books tend to be a mix of episodic stories or anecdotes, with some magical practice and some kind of theory blended in. Definitely with non-linear narratives. In some respects that is in the same general districts as some of the work of Julian Vayne, Ramsey Dukes and a few others of their ilk, with touches of Robert Anton Wilson and Terrence McKenna. I hope it is recognisably “me” however. The dark and often acerbic sense of humour is definitely mine.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Shit, that’s difficult…. Er, it maybe would not be renderable into film, so much as being more like one of those hypnotic machines that flashes lights at you through goggles and makes rhythmic sounds through headphones, like having your own personal psytrance festival. If any faces appear they will be swirling and ephemeral. I’d love Beth Orton singing in it, simply because I think she’s a star, and the redoubtable band Hawkwind would be easily able to provide some of the soundtrack for the more interstellar sequences. In the absence of actors’ faces there would be scope for voiceovers, and for those I would like Stephen Fry and Brian Blessed to do them, for the quite wonderful English enunciation they produce, with a Stephen Hawking-style mechanical voice synthesizer added to the final words spoken over the closing titles, for extra effect.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Many conversations with interesting and inspiring people in the magical and academic world. A large number of very unusual and surprising experiences with trance states (I’ve been doing this stuff for a long time…..) The holy trinity of Leary McKenna Hicks and Wilson (ok, so that’s a quaternary). The encouragement of Lionel Snell (aka Ramsey Dukes) and Katherine helped me to believe I could write in the first place, and Julian Vayne’s book Pharmakon was a material informant for Entheostar, as is the guy himself. Numerous un-nameable folk who would mostly fall under the generic terms of chaos magicians and-or psychonauts. Both being terms which don’t do the people concerned justice, but we do love our lazy pigeonholes, don’t we? As I have here with Wikipedia links (for intro purposes only- read beyond them please!) The older I get the more I realise that the late Kenneth Grant has been a regular inspiration, and not just the occasional one that I always knew he was. Those are the who as for the what, well…. after Kaostar and Toastar there was an obvious third leg to the tripod, and this is it. Not to say there may not be several more books in the series yet- it seems to be an organic process, an effusion or a coming forth of solid matter from some messy and amorphous green goo rather than anything hugely pre-planned, so it may be a seven or eight-legged tripod. Which is a contradiction in terms, but still quite possible. And that, I like a lot.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It will be a thought-provoking book that will address some of those nagging questions you maybe didn’t even know you had- about life, the universe and everything. It should make you laugh. It may make you wince, or be open-mouthed. I’m here to wave a big question mark at the overbearing edifice of “certainty” – or at least to repeatedly bash at the corners of the foundation with a blunt object, usually while laughing. If anything that I write ever makes you wonder, about anything that you thought was a certainty, then I have achieved my purpose.
Many thanks to the following authors for allowing me to tag them in this exercise. Do go read their blogs and their books too. If you want to tag me retrospectively please add a comment and I will add your link in return
I tagged a lot of other folk, but ‘the next big thing’ as part of an email header might have fallen into their Spam folders, whoops…..
Dave Evans (aka Francis H Breakspear)
some interesting stuff in the latest news from David Tibet of Current 93 here
Tags: ebook, publishing
yes, we ARE looking at the possibilities of doing ebook versions of our existing output, and for new titles by Francis, watch this space please, and thankyou for your patience
Tags: chaos, dreams, symbolism, writings
As a flavour of some of the kind of thing you will find in here, this is a dream from my diary, in spring 2006:
I was encamped on the boundaries of a dense tropical forest, fringed with a sandy beach on the edge of a deep green sea, below a huge azure sky, which had large birds circling silently in it… (Albatrosses?) … There were eight of us camped… as dusk started to fall we processed in silence for a considerable distance along the beach towards a large bonfire, and as we drew near we saw that on and around the fire were placed a variety of bubbling pots and pans… An old and wrinkled brown man (very old indeed, at least 90) sat attending to the pots, stirring, adding pinches of various substances, grinding herbs and barks, mixing coloured liquids, tapping the pots in a rhythmic, musical way and quietly singing a chant in a language that I did not know, … but I understood the intent of every single word . We all sat around the fire, the man looked up and smiled quietly, a toothy grin, acknowledging our presence, and we held hands, joining in the chanting, which ebbed and flowed like the sea behind us…
This went on for some time, as the bubbling potions were continually mixed, shuffled, eased around to keep the optimum heat, then combined, drummed on, stirred and eventually all were poured into one pot… the sun finally set and all became dark, save for the glowing embers and the stars above us.. The surf phosphoresced in a hallucinatory fashion in the moonlight, a whale breached far out to sea and the chant increased in volume and intensity as the remaining liquid on the fire reduced to almost nothing… Finally the dregs of the one remaining pot boiled away to leave a dark, metallic-shimmering lump, looking like a rough piece of magnetite….the stuff they make compass needles from. Which direction was it going to take us, I wondered? This lump was tipped from the pot and then painstakingly ground to a fine powder between two ancient and time-worn flat stones… the shimmering powder was then spread on a large flat rock and divided into heaps, one for each person present. Each of us took a turn to snort the powder up the nose, using a rolled-up leaf, while the others continued the chant…. it came to my turn, I snuffed the stuff up and immediately noticed that the group’s baritone chant immediately changed to a high-pitched keening “whee-o, whee-o” noise and ….
that is the noise my alarm clock made to wake me up… so……
Was this just a dream? Was it inspired in many ways by my upcoming travels?
Or is today the trip?
Or is today the dream and last night’s event the reality?
(C) Francis Breakspear 2012 all rights reserved