Neuro-Apocalypse,  by Danny Nemu – A Review

This work by the Reverend Nemu is a heady brew that plunges us into a world of deep Kabbalah. In this second part of a planned trilogy, he leaps headlong into the realm of neuroscience and the way in which language development shapes consciousness and human evolution. Like I said, it’s deep!

neuro-apocalypse

Danny’s writing is lucid and engaging and he cuts between personal travel log, biblical exegesis and riffing about the joys of neuroplasticity. It made me think that if Robert Anton Wilson knew his Bible better he’d probably have written like the good Reverend. Nemu admits that his textual interpretations are unorthodox, but he is a serious exegete who while paying close attention to cultural context also engages in creative use of rich mythic concepts.

As much as Danny clearly enjoys playfully interacting with how language has shaped him both personally and spirituality, he has a more far-reaching exploration in mind. Not only does our learning of new languages shape us as individuals, but the incoming of the logos into the grand narrative of human evolution is central to differentiating us from other primates. Danny transports us into the deep time of Eden’s Garden and treats us to a director’s cut of what was really going on with that wiley serpent of consciousness.

While some might find the radical juxtaposition of material disorientating, personally I felt that it induced a psychedelic state of awareness that felt resonant with the type of conscious brain-change that he was seeking to describe. Yes this work is at times dense and demanding of concentration, but the author does well to intersperse his theory with some entertaining experiential vignettes.  Danny provides us with some vivid personal biography regarding his experience of the ayahuasca community and then builds upon this in seeking to draw parallels with other forms of ecstatic and contemplative spiritual practice.

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Serious exegete

I especially enjoyed his examination of what we might learn from the experiences of folks who are more atypical in their neurology (people on the autistic spectrum or who voice-hear) and what these lessons might mean more widely for human potential. While understandably speculative in places I enjoyed the positivity of this as a re-frame for mental health experiences that are so frequently problematised.

In many ways I experienced Neuro-Apocalypse as a deeply Gnostic work, as the Rev. Nemu allows us to accompany him on a roller-coaster ride through his rich personal mythology. While such journeys can be fraught with either narcissism or excessive eccentricity, I felt that Danny did a great job in remaining true to his personal vision while ensuring that we, as his readers, can glean riches that are applicable to our own paths.

Rev. SD

What Time is Love? A review of The KLF by John Higgs

The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds

Our engineers of culture and technicians of the sacred come in many forms. Two such individuals are Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty; better known as the K Foundation, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu or simply The KLF. Back in the liminal void between aeons (the late 80’s and early 90’s) the KLF were a band with a project far beyond being Number One selling artists (which they were). This volume by John Higgs traces the emergence of that great collaboration and the vast web of synchronicities which attended their oeuvre. 

When discussing the cultural influence of particular bands, especially ones from one’s youth, one should remain mindful of the words of Scroobius Pip and indeed it is true that the KLF are ‘just a band’. Yet there is undoubtedly magic at work here. Those who know the tale with appreciate the fact that (in some versions) the story of the KLF ends with the ceremonial burning of a million pounds in cash on a remote Scottish island. This act, like much of the action in the story, can, and indeed should. be read in multiple ways. It’s simultaneously a finely honed spell against the hegemony of  the late 20th century music industry, a Dadaist art action, a carefully orchestrated Discordian deployment of Operation Mindfuck, and also exactly what two attention seeking arseholes like Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty would think was a good idea.

As well as our dymanic duo of pop, this expertly crafted biography includes a giant invisible rabbit spirit, a 1968 Ford Galaxie American police car (that can speak), Dr Who, The Goddess Eris and, as they say, a cast of thousands (mostly with eyes like saucers, and their hands in the air).


KLF book

While the title of this book puts a comma between the words ‘chaos’ and ‘magic’ I’d beg to differ. Both in style and content this is a great ‘chaos magic’ book, ideal reading when your waiting for that last train to transcentral. It shows how magical acts emerge from the web of Wyrd, come into being, and how their effects can be traced outward into the universe at large. It describes this process in a way that remains true to the spirit of Robert Anton Wilson et al; so while founded on solid research, this biography refuses to limit itself to one true interpretation of what the KLF were really about. It’s also a great book for those who dig the suggestion (quoted in this volume) from Alan ‘The Grey’ Moore (Peace Be Upon Him), namely that ‘art is magic’. This book may well be proof of that position.

And on a final note my copy is now somewhat battered (which I guess is appropriate) because I simply couldn’t put it down; a serious page-turner and highly recommended.

JV

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Magical Words – a review of Visions of Enchantment and The Occult Conference

The Esoteric (which is a polite way of saying ‘the occult’ or ‘magick’) is now a subject which Academia is prepared to address. Sure it’s many years since ethnographic works such as Persuasions of the Witches Craft, but it’s taken a long time for the cultural influence of magick to be acknowledged by polite society. The excellent academic conference in Cambridge recently, Visions of Enchantment marks the latest step-change in the ability of scholars to successfuly engage with occultism. At this conference papers ranged widely around the relationship between mysticism, magick and the visual arts. There were presentations exploring the role of Theosophical artists in anti-colonial politics, occult symbolism in the work of Lady Gaga, through to a close analysis of gender symbolism in medieval alchemical illustrations. A heady brew indeed, and while a very few ingredients were a little tricky to chew on (especially to deligates who were magical practitioners) the overall blend was nourishing and delightful.

Know thyself

Know thyself

This was explicitly not a conference for practitioners of magic and so the insights gained through academic study sometimes seemed to go little further than the stuff that we all (ie the tiny number of occultists in the western world) know. However there was plenty of occulture here, and much penetrating analysis, which I’d never encountered before. My overall impression was a very valuable and entertaining event. Topped off with some excellent touches, such as the lecture by Prof. Antoine Faivre  (one of the founding fathers of modern esoteric studies), through to the fabulous dinner after the first day in the Great Hall of Hogwarts.

Visions of Enchantment was also the launch pad for the Black Mirror Research Network which looks set to do some great things in years to come, bringing a world-class academic discourse to bear on esoteric arts. I’m also hopeful, especially since Black Mirror research will be published through Fulgar Press, that space will remain for the practitioner voice in this new-found relationship with the Academy.

By the weekend Nikki and I were at The Occult Conference in Glastonbury. An excellent chance to meet magical siblings of all stripes; Druids, Hermeticists, Oriental Templars, Wiccans and the rest. Well managed and prepared, the venue was full,  for a day which included lectures, workshops, the formal launch of The Epoch, an evening ball and, of course, a raffle.

Organ bank

Organ bank

As part of the total experience we were fortunate enough to stay at The Covenstead which is, in so many ways, the most wonderful place from which to soak up the magic of an event like this. I seriously cannot recommend it highly enough. Imagine somewhere that is both homely and utterly impressive, a kind of total esoteric environment turned up to 11, hosted by a charming and formidably intelligent landlady. Perfect!

What did I learn? Well once again I learnt that it’s the people not the style of magick that matters. Some are fabulous, many are fine, a few are right twats. But by and large, successful magicians tend to be relaxed, intelligent, compassionate, take-no-shit sort of people and that’s all right with me.

A very fine week of watching the connections between things grow, as spring spreads into the land. May all these new shoots grow strong and true.

JV