I think the art path poetry path, probably demands a meta level above even these huge and potent structures
Sure. I think I got an understanding of duality, really. How insisting on one side of a binary creates its opposite. That's really evident in his stuff I think. Writing that makes me think I should go back to it, and start doing it over again as I'm still in need of it. And how belief, often just out of consciousness can make and shape situations for us. And the idea of freeing belief by calling up the opposites of what you think, contemplating them, and opposing them to what you think and hold dear. It can make you see how contingent and arbitrary things are, and also understand how much drama you create and craft unthinkingly for yourself. I recall once, years ago, thinking about Spare's techniques when miserable (about women, inevitably) and making myself cry once when I realised how much I'd created and woven the entire situation I was engrossed in. There's a great drawing in I think The Book of Satyrs which has the caption "oh come with me, the Kia and Zos, to witness this extravagance" and a guy drawing back a curtain on all this blind figures colliding, groping, fighting each other. That just really spoke to me as a true statement about life and consciousness. His writing and art is a pointer out of that, if only for a moment.danny if you could, what are some of the things you got out of the writings? people are understandably always reticent to talk about their own magic but i couldn't get into his prose at all, i dont know anything about crowley or the context but it felt off putting
thinking of getting a copy of that phil baker book as well. does it have illustrations of his artwork in it as well?A copy of the Phil Baker bio from Strange Attractor press has fallen into my hands.
Just read a bit of the intro from Alan Moore who compares him to Blake.
It seems like a lot of people here will know something or other about him, there's mentions here and there but no dedicated thread.
Im primarily interested in his automatic drawing and other art but only recently found out about his work on sigils.
Maybe we could understand this as a bit of a reaction to Kenneth Grant? Grant's wife, Steffi, met AOS in the 50s and they ended up becoming good friends with KG taking on a bit of an acolyte role. Grant was later responsible for popularising AOS but his works are notorious for presenting as "factual" while being anything but. There's a magical technique at work here, reading Grant is a bit like being overloaded with insane ideas and concepts. He used Spare's life in this way. Mrs Patterson becomes someone that Spare may have known, graudally getting more and more alien and weird throughout the books. I think Baker discusses this.I'm on about page 40 of the baker book now and it's good, but his tone is a bit weird, very dismissive of the general spiritualist/occult element as Danny was saying, which seems odd if you decide to write a book on Austin osman spare, but maybe he got sick of it?
Whats also noticeable is that there's really very little primary source material with which to construct the bio, so any characterisation of spare (so far) feels quite guesswork and thin.
I'm getting to the really meaty bit now, when AOS has got married and is living in Golders Green and decides to write the Book of Pleasure. Baker is quoting some nice big chunks which are worth posting in full.
For example, here's a bit from his takedown of the Crowley figures he has been involved with (he joined AA but left), the ones doing the complex and very showy rituals.
Spare rejects all that:
"I know them well and their creed of learning that teaches the fear of their own light. Vampires, they are as the very lice in attraction. Their practices prove their incapacity, they have no magic to intensify the normal, thd joy of a child or a healthy person... "
His approach is more Freudian (although as Baker points out, he's writing before Freud).
He advocates thinking less about visible issues to do with ritual and action, more about tapping into the unconscious, bypassing conscious thought as its so limited.
And to link with conversations in other threads, perhaps a bit of a hyperstition approach? Eg he used this metaphor of how bats started flying to explain it...
"A bat first grew wings and of the proper kind, by its desire being organic enough to reach the sub-consciousness. If its desire to fly had been conscious, it would have had to wait till it could have done so by the same means as ourselves i.e. by machinery. "
So actually maybe not like hyperstition at all, cos the whole point is that it's not a conscious willing. The severing of that link seems crucial to him, you need to put your desire out of conscious thought in order to achieve it. It does also remind me about conversations we've had here with regard to the psychedelic, and how the true 'new' never arrives as a planned thing, its always a mistake when it first turns up, you are never into it, never think it's right.
Must say, I do find that conscious/unconscious duality immediately a bit problematic, in that it sounds already like the apotheosis of high Victorian/Enlightenment thinking, and therefore not really something that can tell us much about our new 'now'.
But Baker has dropped a few hints about his other concepts, the 'neither-neither' and 'inbetweeneness', as Danny also alluded to above, so looking forward to finding out more about that.