OCT 21 1967: APPROACHING THE PENTAGON TO CONDUCT EXORCISM

14,000-word oral history of the Oct 21, 1967 exorcism/levitation of the Pentagon, originally published in Arthur’s Novemeber 2004 issue: “Out, Demons, Out!”

All above images from The Sixth Side of the Pentagon, directed by Chris Marker and François Reichenbach.

"FOR LEONORA CARRINGTON" BY PETER LAMBORN WILSON (Arthur No. 31, Oct. 2008)

This poem by Peter Lamborn Wilson was published as a letter to the editor in the final issue of Arthur, No. 31 (Oct 2008). It was in response to the piece by Alejandro Jodorowsky in the previous issue, an excerpt from his newly translated memoirs, The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky, detailing his informal apprenticeship to Leonora Carrington in Mexico City in the late ’50s…

FOR LEONORA CARRINGTON

# 1
Mexico City is absolutely.
Or was.
With a claridad that would’ve seemed
glossy as bone except for the fecality
of its plutonian fruit. Especially
Leonora Carrington – the secret hardness
of colonial baroque – its refusal to be
reasonable – its crown of owls

#2
Chocolate is Mexico’s great
contribution to Surrealism.
With unbroken incantations in the
voice of a lion prepare (on wild rocks)
a soup made of half a pink onion, a bit of
perfumed wood, some grains of myrrh, a
large branch of green mint, 3 belladonna pills
covered with white swiss chocolate, a
huge compass rose (plunge in soup for one minute)
Just before serving add Chines “cloud” mushroom
which has snail-like antennae &
grown on owl dung

#3
As modern Hermeticist she ranks with Fulcanelli
a Madame Paracelsa who tells yr
fortune in the sense of buried treasure.
It seems you yourself have psychic gifts
which are only exacerbated by her soups.
Molé as Dalí realized surrealizes all
dishes via its resemblance to excrement
e. g. over boiled lobsters (serve
with pink champagne). Shit you can sculpt.

#4
Like gunpowder which was invented solely
to exorcize demons – a secret passed
along the Silk Road to Roger Bacon
who unfortunately leaked the recipe
to the uninitiated – Carrington
embodies both the siesta & the
anti-siesta. A Madam Adam
with a handcranked gramophone with a horn
lacquered black with gold pinstriping that
plays only beeswax cylinders of Erik Satie
or Gesualdo. Here alone exile
attains an elegance & impassibility known
only to stoned Rosicrucians.

#5
To live absolutely. A tricky trajectory between
clinical dementia & the sloppy lace
curtain Irish kitchen gemütlichkeit that
usually passes (present company excepted
of course) for life outside literature &
even for true love. Or else it’s
the altitude — mushrooms & chocolate — under the
asphalt the bloodsoaked landfill —
cactus cowskulls &
drunken fusillades of flowers.

(NOTE: Soup recipe by L. Carrington; see The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky.)

Peter Lamborn Wilson
New Paltz, New York

THE JUDAS OF THE WESTERN HIGHLANDS

Encounter With Maximon
While investigating Guatemala’s folk-magic patron saint of thieves and whores, James Marriott made a serious mistake. Illustration by John Coulthart.

Originally published in Arthur No. 8 (Jan 2004)

The first children I asked to show me the way to the house of Maximon, Guatemala’s ‘evil saint’, turned tail and fled. The next boy I approached was unable to escape, hobbled by a pair of oversized rubber boots, and pointed me in the right direction. The building wasn’t much to look out—unpainted concrete blocks with a corrugated iron roof—but once I was in I knew I’d come to the right place.

Maximon sat at one end of a dark room, the life-sized dummy of a moustachioed white man wearing a suit, sunglasses, a felt hat and a silk scarf, with a garish handkerchief over his mouth. Candles were arrayed before him, and towards the entrance, at the opposite end of the room, tarot and palm readings were taking place. Another doorway led through to a courtyard, beyond which was a shop selling cigars, magical potions, herbs, candles and anything else the devotee might need.

There was a fire in the courtyard, around which a Mayan woman with gold teeth, a ladino woman and two boys of around six hyperventilated on huge cigars, working themselves into a sweat. The Mayan woman offered to read my palm. When I foolishly declined, she shrieked with laughter and returned to the serious business of her cigar. The ladino woman didn’t even look at me—Maximon is the patron saint of thieves and prostitutes, but I couldn’t very well ask her if either of these applied—and when the nicotine-crazed boys started to run around my legs, I went back into the main room to take a seat at the back and make myself as inconspicuous as possible.

New arrivals would walk straight past the tarot readers and into the courtyard, where they consulted with the Mayan woman before puffing on cigars and preparing themselves for a consultation with the saint. They would then approach the impassive figure and speak to him, stroking his arms and laying money and other offerings in a bowl in his lap. A smartly dressed man standing by the saint appeared to be his keeper, putting offerings of cigars in his mouth and tipping aguardiente, a fiery local spirit, down his wooden throat, or gently lashing the devotees with a bundle of herbs during a limpia, or soul cleansing.

The children came in, one looking demonic as he threatened the other with a bottle, then tied his feet together with a length of twine. The keening victim tried to hide behind me, crawling into a safe position sheltered by the gringo as the increasingly demented bully giggled and made throat-slitting gestures, the pain and anguish in his victim’s face only spurring him on to greater fury. For a terrible moment I thought that I was mistaken—they weren’t children at all, but rather stunted adults, their growth arrested by heavy nicotine use—but the pitch of the victim’s whine reassured me. As the bullying grew nastier in tone, I wondered if I should intervene, but it seemed patronizing to do anything— the only attention the other adults paid was to motion to the weaker child to be quiet. Eventually the bully left the room, and his charge fled. It seemed a fitting introduction to the world of the Judas of the Western Highlands.
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"Preserve That Beauty": talking with CHRIS GOSS of MASTERS OF REALITY

Two endangered species, photographed by Stephanie Smith

A MAGICAL SKILL
Chris Goss, a godfather of desert rock, on the return of Masters of Reality
By Jay Babcock

Originally published November 11, 2010 in LAWeekly

Chris Goss, the 52-year-old leader of Masters of Reality, is near tears. A mountain of a baldheaded man, part Aleister Crowley, part Admiral Kurtz, Goss has been involved in some of the most vital rock ‘n’ roll music made in the last two and a half decades. Masters of Reality’s 1988 debut, a masterwork of concise songwriting and classic rock riffage, was produced by Rick Rubin; their second, the lovely Sunrise on the Sufferbus, featured an actual classic rocker, the formidable Cream drummer/crankyman Ginger Baker.

Around that time, Goss discovered a group of teenagers from the California Low Desert called Kyuss, who played a heavy, trippy mix of Black Sabbath and the Misfits. Goss produced Kyuss’ best work, inaugurating a relationship with guitarist Joshua Homme that would continue into the latter’s subsequent Desert Sessions and Queens of the Stone Age projects.

And while there would be other Masters of Reality albums, other production gigs of varying profile and quality — my favorite is Mark Lanegan’s Bubblegum — and an album-and-a-half as Goon Moon, a bizarro-rock collaboration with Marilyn Manson guitarist Twiggy Ramirez (and, on the first EP, underground free-rock drummer Zach Hill), generally speaking, Goss has slipped into legend: one of those musician’s musicians, a guy who knows the occult secrets of the creative process and can get a great drum sound, who somehow, in this devolved age, still feels it.

Which, I think, is why he’s near tears, as we sit on a patio outside his Joshua Tree home. Masters of Reality have a new album out — a beautiful, musically adventurous, warm affair with double-name Pine/Cross Dover — and are about to play a set of West Coast dates. It’s the first time in years that Goss has been able to line everything up: a great album, a happening band, U.S. gigs. But who is there to hear anymore?

“Hard time for art right now,” he says. “Socially, politically, economically — this is awful right now for everyone, this confusion. We’re in the new Dark Ages. It’s very hard and depressing, and you get angry because just so much attention is paid to so much shit. It’s a shit storm. But there’s no reason to stop making music. The market is down? Fuck the market. If you love what you’re doing, you gotta keep doing it.”

Even making record albums, when record stores are going out of business and everything is available for free on the Internet? Isn’t that tactile experience over?

“I love the album format. I’ll never lose that. Never. I don’t want to lose it. I mean, why can’t we keep experiencing it? It’s easy, it’s palatable. I’m so used to buying music in my hand and I can’t get over it. Packaging matters. The visual album-cover connection to the music matters. Remember the gatefolds with the storybooks in them and the pop-up photos and stuff? This kind of thing is a boutique, elitist origami item now, but when I was a kid it was a five-and-dime item. I remember how it felt when I had Jethro Tull’s Passion Play in my hands as a kid, from a poncy Shakespearean Renaissance Faire English hippie guy, knowing that, like, another million kids also were reading this storybook. There was this feeling that so many other people were experiencing what I was experiencing, at the same time. It was like combining that Harry Potter intrigue with the music for the kid of the time. That’s empowering. Those records connected us. …”

The music experience is more than what meets the ear — is it about actual physical contact?

“This is about warmth, and beauty,” Goss says. “Now vocal tuning is everywhere. What a horrid tone. The chipmunk-robot people are here! Great. Lovely. Did you see Shania Twain live at the CMAs this year, maybe last year, with a vocal tuner on her voice when she was singing live? “And! I! Love! YouuuuUUUU!” It puts that thing on the tone at the end, an artificial lengthening of when you land on the note. So the person’s natural phrasing is gone. Why? When Lennon was flat, it was wonderful. When Keith Richards is flat, it’s wonderful. Because it sounds like the guy is sitting right next to you. He hasn’t been chopped to spam before he gets to you.”

People don’t even know what they’re missing.

“I remember going to see Yes in the ’70s, back when people knew the lost art of properly mic-ing an acoustic guitar live. It has to have a low end, so that if you bump the guitar with an elbow, the PA goes boomf. You need that full spectrum of sound — you gotta feel the chest, and the belly, that part of the sound spectrum. Music should come through your chest, your eyes, your belly, that part of the sound spectrum. I think that’s my favorite part.

“There’s some great Israel Regardie Golden Dawn meditation tapes,” he says, describing one of Crowley’s disciples and his mystical society, “where he talks about getting into a state where your body is made out of spiderweb, like mesh. Continue reading