Anthony Alvarado’s D.I.Y. MAGIC going to 2nd Edition in 2015 from Perigee

Anthony Alvarado‘s “D.I.Y. Magic” ran as a column for this website in 2010-11. In 2011, it was collected and expanded into book form through Floating World Comics, with 40 illustrations (curated by FWC’s Jason Leivian) and a cover designed by Lord Whimsy…

With that initial edition of 1,000 copies now sold out, Anthony has signed a deal with Perigee Books, an imprint of Penguin, to bring a revised, second edition of D.I.Y. Magic to the public in Spring 2015. This new edition will have about 50 pages of new material, with accompanying artwork again curated by Jason Leivian.

Congratulations, Mr. Alvarado!

D.I.Y. Magic is the third book to see publication in recent years after debuting in some form in Arthur. The others are 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom (Abrams, 2009), a social history/polemic by Alan Moore based on his article “Bog Venus vs. Nazi Cock-Ring: Some Thoughts Concerning Pornography” from Arthur No. 25 (Dec. 2006); and the novel Zazen by Vanessa Veselka (Red Lemonade, 2011), which was serialized on this website in 2009-10. Zazen won Veselka the 2012 PEN/Robert W. Bingham prize.

D.I.Y. MAGIC book by Anthony Alvarado

D.I.Y. MAGIC by Anthony Alvarado
40 b&w illustrations, cover design by Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy
First edition letterpress silver foil cover limited to 1000 copies, 176 pages, 5″ x 8″, $13.95
Shipping $5.30 US, $11 INTL, $8 CANADA
Now available to order

What is magic? It is the fine and subtle art of driving yourself insane! No really, it is just that. It is a con game you play on your own brain. It is the trick of letting yourself go crazy, and when it’s done right, the magus treads the same sacred and profane ground where walks the madman…

We can read descriptions of myths, of the practices of shamans, but the descriptions we might read by a Pentecostal believer, or a voodoo practitioner ridden by the loa, will be meaningless to us unless we have already been in the state they describe. These are wholly subjective experiences.

If you take these many practices, from across countless fields, cultures, religions, modes of being and systems of ritual (hypnosis, song and dance, duende, speaking in tongues, enchantment, faith healing, divination, out of body experience, sweat lodges, drumming, yoga, drugs, fever and on and on), we find that we are really talking about the same thing: a state where the mind lets go of the normal way of being and is opened up to an experience of existence as a whole that is bigger and without time. These states are all really different forms of the same thing, or if not the precisely the same thing, then near and adjacent territories in a realm that lies parallel to this one, reachable by many means.

In short, rather than advertise this as a book of magick, it could just as well have been labeled a book of psychology hacking. Or a cookbook. Think of it as jail-breaking the iPhone of your mind. Teaching it to do things that its basic programming was never set up for. Advanced self-psychology.

Featuring over 40 b&w illustrations by: Lala Albert, Farel Dalrymple, Ines Estrada, Maureen Gubia, Kevin Hooyman, Dunja Jankovic, Aidan Koch, Jesse Moynihan, Luke Ramsey, Ron Rege Jr. & more!

“What makes this book vastly different from many other books on magic is that there’s no doubt in my mind that the author has actually done the things that he says he has. What’s more is that he has derived a great deal of pleasure and meaningful experience from the doing. And, so will you.” – Aaron Gach, Center For Tactical Magic

“Anthony Alvarado has concocted a cookbook for vivid living: poetry that’s lived rather than written. His “spells” are actually practical suggestions by which the reader may coax the extraordinary from the everyday—and from themselves.” – Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy, author of The Affected Provincial’s Companion

“Few books are as immediately useful as this delightful, inspirational tips ‘n’ tricks tome. I’m having a backyard betel nut party in five minutes and everyone’s invited!” -Jay Babcock, editor of Arthur Magazine

Read some of the original articles on Arthur Magazine that inspired this book: http://www.arthurmag.com/contributors/diy-magic-by-anthony-alvarado/

Obviously the answer is: get rid of industrialism!

A Conversation with John Zerzan

I recently spoke with John Zerzan, the leading voice in the Anarcho-primitivist movement, at his home in Eugene, Oregon. He is the author of several renowned books on green anarchy including Elements of Refusal and Future Primitive. Zerzan is well known for his association with the Unabomber but I wanted to hear what he had to say about the current state of primitivism and where it is headed.

(This interview has been shortened for brevity. Particularly a long discussion on the Paleolithic age has been cut from the transcript.)

In a nutshell, what do you believe in? I associate you with anarchy and primitivism. How do you define those?

Well, the stuff is called by those terms. Green anarchy and Anarcho-primitivism.  Some native friends of ours call it neo-primitivism, or anti-civilization, and there are some differences but roughly there is one common current there. And speaking of the anarchist part there’s a big split and it’s not just here it’s all over the map, between the more classical, traditional left, red anarchist . . . one of the most fundamental things is their approach is self managed production, self manage the factories – well our approach is against industrial life, against factories qua factories for several reasons: one is the suicidal course of things – we can’t just keep industrializing, so that’s obviously where the green part comes in. There is a big split. Like say Noam Chomsky is on that leftist side.

He’s an anarchist?

Well perhaps, he’s . . . I don’t know exactly what he is. He froths at the mouth when people bring this stuff up in an interview, and they do all the time now because it’s spreading I think. He just really, doesn’t get it, doesn’t like it, he won’t have any discussion about it. In other words it’s not just some sectarian squabbling it’s a very fundamental difference.

What criticism does Chomsky have as an anarchist towards green anarchy and primitivism?

Well one of the things he always brings up – and I use Chomsky as a kind of foil or reference point because so many people know who he is, and they think – well they’re all Anarchists it’s cool and so forth– he comes up with the 7 billion people thing and that’s a reality obviously. He says we are genocidists, he really get’s kind of  hysterical about it.

He’s saying “Well you guys have a plan to kill 6 billion people.” ?

Exactly! And consciously not just – that would happen as a result if you went that way but , I mean it’s quite amazing!  The way I would put it though, I mean I’ve been around, I’ve even been in India a couple of times in the last few years, when I look at those tower apartment block things where people have been forced off the land into cities and if and when this crashes they’re gonna be dead in a few days. They have no land. They have no . . .when the power goes off, the food spoils, they have no water . . . we’re concerned about that. If you ask me the genocidist thing is just ignoring that and plunging on as the crisis deepens in every single sphere.

So this idea of returning to a society based on primitivism, based on sustainability, critics would say well there is no way we could do this without these cataclysmic violent changes – do think that there are alternative ways of getting there from here?

It couldn’t happen overnight. And nobody’s saying that. And Chomsky knows that. Yeah, it would be a process of re-skilling people and seeing some kind of autonomy instead of just the hopelessness that we have now where everybody is dependant on systems of technology that are quite vulnerable but we just keep blindly going along. Continue reading

Ecstasy

The Baal Shem Tov was the founder of Hasidic Judaism

The Dance of the Hasidim

At the festival of Simhat Torah, the day of rejoicing in the law, the Baal Shem’s disciples made merry in his house. They danced and drank and had more and more wine brought up from the cellar. After some hours, the Baal Shem’s wife went to his room and said:”If they don’t stop drinking, we soon won’t have any wine left for the rites of the sabbath, for Kiddush and Havdalah.”

He laughed and replied: “You’re right. So go and tell them to stop.”

When she opened the door to the big room, this is what she saw: The disciples were dancing around in a circle, and around the dancing circle twined a blazing ring of blue fire. Then she herself took a jug in her right hand and a jug in her left and – motioning the servant away – went into the cellar. Soon after she returned with the vessels full to the brim.

It is said the Sufi Muslim poet Jalaludin Rumi invented the whirling dance of the dervish when he was walking past a the sound of a goldsmith at work with his hammers. In the rhythm of the hammering he heard ecstatic music and he began to turn and to turn . . .

Dance, when you’re broken open.

Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.

Dance in the middle of the fighting.

Dance in your blood.

Dance, when you’re perfectly free.

– Rumi


DIY : Dance, dance dance!

Four Changes by Gary Snyder

Here is a fantastic essay by Gary Snyder that resonates with a lot of what this column is about. Considering this essay was penned in 1970 it now seems a strange combination of prophetic, slightly naive, and yet still challenging.  I recommend checking out more of Snyder’s non-fiction in his book A Place in Space.

Gary Snyder – Four Changes

I. POPULATION

Humanity is but a part of the fabric of life — dependent on the whole fabric for our very existence. As the most highly developed tool-using animal, we must recognize that the unknown evolutionary destinies of other life forms are to be respected, and act as gentle steward of the earth’s community of being.

There are now too many human beings, and the problem is growing rapidly worse. It is potentially disastrous not only for the human race but for most other life forms.

ACTION:

First, a massive effort to convince the governments and leaders of the world that the problem is severe. And that all talk about raising food-production — well intentioned as it is — simply puts off the only real solution: reduce population. Try to correct traditional cultural attitudes that tend to force women into childbearing — remove income tax deductions for more than two children above a specified income level, and scale it so that lower income families are forced to be careful too — or pay families to limit their number. Take a vigorous stand against the policy of the right-wing in the Catholic hierarchy and any other institutions that exercise an irresponsible social force in regard to this question; oppose and correct simple-minded boosterism that equates population growth with continuing prosperity. Work ceaselessly to have all political questions be seen in the light of this prime problem.

Share the pleasure of raising children widely, so that all need not directly reproduce to enter into this basic human experience. Adopt children. Let reverence for life and reverence for the feminine mean also a reverence for other species, and future human lives, most of which are threatened.

II. POLLUTION

Pollution is of two types. One sort results from an excess of some fairly ordinary substance — smoke, or solid waste — which cannot be absorbed or transmuted rapidly enough to offset its introduction into the environment, thus causing changes the great cycle is not prepared for. (All organisms have wastes and by-products, and these are indeed part of the total biosphere: energy is passed along the line and refracted in various ways. This is cycling, not pollution.) The other sort is powerful modern chemicals and poisons, products of recent technology, which the biosphere is totally unprepared for. Such is DDT and similar chlorinated hydrocarbons — nuclear testing fallout and nuclear waste — poison gas, germ and virus storage and leakage by the military; and chemicals which are put into food, whose long-range effects on human beings have not been properly tested.

The human race in the last century has allowed its production and scattering of wastes, by-products, and various chemicals to become excessive. Pollution is directly harming life on the planet: which is to say, ruining the environment for humanity itself. We are fouling our air and water, and living in noise and filth that no “animal” would tolerate, while advertising and politicians try to tell us “we’ve never had it so good.”

ACTION:

Effective international legislation banning DDT and related poisons — with no fooling around. The collusion of certain scientists with the pesticide industry and agribusiness in trying to block this legislation must be brought out in the open. Strong penalties for water and air pollution by industries. Phase out the internal combustion engine and fossil fuel use in general — more research into non-polluting energy sources; solar energy; the tides. No more kidding the public about atomic waste disposal: it’s impossible to do it safely, and nuclear-power generated electricity cannot be seriously planned for as it stands now.

Stop all germ and chemical warfare research and experimentation; work toward a hopefully safe disposal of the present staggering and stupid stockpiles of H-Bombs, cobalt gunk, germ and poison tanks and cans. Laws and sanctions against wasteful use of paper etc. which adds to the solid waste of cities. Develop methods of recycling solid urban waste. Recycling should be the basic principle behind all waste-disposal thinking. Thus, all bottles should be re-usable; old cans should make more cans; old newspapers back into newsprint again. Stronger controls and research on chemicals in foods. A shift toward a more varied and sensitive type of agriculture (more small scale and subsistence farming) would eliminate much of the call for blanket use of pesticides.

Use fewer cars. Cars pollute the air, and one or two people riding lonely in a huge car is an insult to intelligence and the Earth. Share rides, legalize hitch-hiking, and build hitch-hiker waiting stations along the highways. Also — a step toward the new world — walk more. Boycott bulky wasteful Sunday papers which use up trees. It’s all just advertising anyway, which is artificially inducing more mindless consumption.

Refuse paper bags at the store. Organize Park and Street clean-up festivals. Don’t work in any way for or with an industry which pollutes, and don’t be drafted into the military

III. CONSUMPTION

Everything that lives eats food, and is food in turn. This complicated animal, homo sapiens, rests on a vast and delicate pyramid of energy-transformations. To grossly use more than you need to destroy is biologically unsound. Most of the production and consumption of modern societies is not necessary or conducive to spiritual and cultural growth, let alone survival — and is behind much greed and envy, age old causes of social and international discord.

Humanity’s careless use of “resources” and our total dependence on certain substances such as fossil fuels (which are being exhausted, slowly but certainly), are having harmful effects on all the other members of the life-network. The complexity of modern technology renders whole populations vulnerable to the deadly consequences of the loss of any one key resource. Instead of independence we have over-dependence on life-giving substances such as water, which we squander. Many species of animals and birds have become extinct in the service of fashion fads — or fertilizer, or industrial oil. The soil is being used up; in fact humankind has become a locust-like blight on the planet that will leave a bare cupboard for its own children — all the while in a kind of Addict’s Dream of affluence, comfort, eternal progress — using the great achievements of science to produce software and swill.

Goals: Balance, harmony, humility — growth which is a mutual growth with Redwood and Quail (would you want your child to grow up without ever hearing a wild bird?) — to be a good member of the great community of living creatures.

ACTION:

It must be demonstrated ceaselessly that a continually “growing economy” is no longer healthy, but a Cancer. And that the criminal waste which is allowed in the name of competition must be halted totally with ferocious energy and decision. Economics must be seen as a small sub-branch of Ecology, and production/distribution/consumption handled by companies or unions with the same elegance and spareness one sees in nature. Soil banks; open space; phase out logging in most areas.

Plan consumer boycotts in response to dishonest and unnecessary products. Politically, blast both “Communist” and “Capitalist” myths of progress, and all crude notions of conquering or controlling nature.

The inherent aptness of communal life: where large tools are owned jointly and used efficiently. The power of renunciation: If enough Americans refused to buy a new car for one given year it would permanently alter the American economy. Recycle clothes and equipment. Support handicrafts — gardening, home skills, midwifery, herbs — all the things that can make us independent, beautiful and whole. Learn to break the habit of unnecessary possessions — a monkey on everybody’s back — but avoid a self-abnegating, anti-joyous self-righteousness. Simplicity is light, carefree, neat, and loving — not a self-punishing ascetic trip.

It is hard to even begin to gauge how much a complication of possessions, the notions of “my and mine,” stand between us and a true, clear, liberated way of seeing the world. To live lightly on the earth, to be aware and alive, to be free of egotism, to be in contact with plants and animals, starts with simple concrete acts. Simplicity and mindfulness in diet is a starting point for many people.

IV. TRANSFORMATION

We have it within our deepest powers not only to change ourselves but to change our culture. If we are to survive on earth we must transform the five-millennia-long urbanizing civilization tradition into a new ecologically-sensitive, harmony-oriented, wild-minded scientific/spiritual culture.

Goal: Nothing short of total transformation will do much good. What we envision is a planet on which the human population lives harmoniously and dynamically by employing a sophisticated and unobtrusive technology — in a world environment which is “left natural.”

Specific points in this vision:

  • A healthy and spare population of all races, much less in number than today.
  • Cultural and individual diversity, unified by a type of world tribal council. Division by natural and cultural boundaries rather than arbitrary political boundaries.
  • A technology of communication, education, and quiet transportation, land-use being sensitive to the properties of each region.
  • A basic cultural outlook and social organization that inhibits power and property-seeking, while encouraging exploration and challenge in things like music, meditation, mathematics, mountaineering, magic, and all other ways of authentic being-in-the-world. Women totally free and equal. A new kind of family — responsible, but more festive and relaxed — is implicit.

ACTION:

Since it doesn’t seem practical or even desirable to think that direct bloody force will achieve much, it would be best to consider this a continuing “revolution of consciousness” which will be won not by guns but by seizing the key images, myths, archetypes, eschatologies, and ecstasies so that life won’t seem worth living unless one is on the transforming energy’s side.

New schools, new classes, walking in the woods and cleaning up the streets. Create an awareness of “self” which includes the social and natural environment. Consider what specific language forms, symbolic systems, and social institutions constitute obstacles to ecological awareness. Let no one be ignorant of the facts of biology and related disciplines; bring up our children as part of the wild-life. Some communities can establish themselves in backwater rural areas and flourish — others maintain themselves in urban centers — and the two types work together, a two-way flow of experience, people, money, and home-grown vegetables.

Investigate new lifestyles. Work with political-minded people where it helps, hoping to enlarge their vision, and with people of all varieties of politics or thought at whatever point they become aware of environmental urgencies. Master the archaic and the primitive as models of basic nature-related cultures — as well as the most imaginative extensions of science — and build a community where these two vectors cross.

We are the first human beings in history to have all of humanity’s culture and previous experience available to our study — the first members of a civilized society since the early Neolithic to wish to look clearly into the eyes of the wild and see our selfhood, our family, there. We have these advantages to set off the obvious disadvantages of being as screwed up as we are — which gives us a fair chance to penetrate into some of the riddles of ourselves and the universe.