Review: Generation Hex

Review: Generation Hex.

A fascinating collection of essays and curiosities from magicians under the age of thirty, it certainly clocks up it’s counterculture cool points from the Paul Laffoley cover through to the glowing anointations from Grant Morrison, Genesis P-Orridge and Phil Hine on the back.

And it kind of delivers on the hype. Kind of. There’s certainly nothing else like it. A bit of a flaw is that not that many of the essays would be much use for anyone just beginning to look at this area. It seems very much reaching out to an active community, or even trying to create one.

What I like is its function as conscious branding. An attempt at creating an identity, albeit heterogenous, out of the disparate freaks who have been picking up on the confluence of the world’s occult and mystical practices made readily available in this connected age.

An identity particularly defined by the sense of taking this stuff and using it. It’s one thing to read freaky shit, smoke dope and giggle to yourself, and swan about in black velvet claiming to be a magician to help you get laid. It’s something else, and something much more relevant, to reclaim the role that people with these inclinations have to play (and have played) in their societies and in the lives of their communities. To that extent, Steven Grasso’s eloquent Dreams of a Midwich Planet would be my pick for keynote of the pack.

It’s the role of magicians to get their hands dirty in places other people are afraid to go, to speak to the universe and try to understand its nature, to traffic with invisible intelligences on behalf of the wider community, and seek to create meaning for the species we belong to. … We must become the most potent and effective generation of magicians that this world has ever seen, because when evolution comes, it takes no prisoners. Those are the stakes.

In an information age where we are all on the battleground of ideology, subect to a corporate media invasion of our minds and lives, in a social, political, ecological and technological environment on the cusp of massive change, we need people who get it engaged on the frontline (which is everywhere) of reality, fearless people willing to embody freedom and love and take responsibility for their lives.

We need people willing to go first in creating a new, better world.

When you accept that the authorities are lying (or do not know), and start questioning everything, it is really a matter of taste where one stops in the quest for truth. But since your beliefs are your problem, you only have to satisfy your self.

Also heartening were the signs from some authors – editor Jason Louv and Grasso notably – of getting into the straight mystical core behind the means of getting there, engaging with the divine energy unclothed by words.

James Curcio’s piece, Living the Myth: Creating Meaning in a Cultural Vacuum, is superb. (Although, personally, I don’t think I learned anything from it… I feel like I have read the same freaky stuff he has, had some weird experiences, and figured out much the same stuff. How does one get to write for things like this? That’s what I want to know. 🙂 I keep muttering about writing a book on consciousness/language/reality/belief, which quickly overlaps with stuff deemed ‘occult’.)

A variety of perspectives, generally always interesting, of which your mileage will most certainly vary, are on offer; a healthy diversity. From the fun, visceral and autobiographical (Sedman, Treleaven, Frente), to the intersection of psychedelics and magic (Pellerano, Forrester), to the high on attitude if not content (Haywire), or the deeply entrenched in their own subset of magick and not seemingly interested in expressing themselves coherently for anyone else (Elijah).

The stuff I found valuable was the practical autobiographical bits, the way people integrate this stuff into their lives as a means of making sense and making change. However, this sort of thing was often scattered through as incidental material rather than the focus of essays (excepting Arkenburg’s amusingly warped LoveWar with Fox News).

Does Generation Hex represent a warning shot across the bows of the future from the beautiful freaks? Maybe. I kind of hope so, cos looking at the world we need something to get people moving. I link to Ultraculture on my sidebar because I’m curious to see what will come of it. The time feels right for something like this, whether it folds or flies.

Is it a good read that will tell you something new? Certainly.

Worth tracking down.

i have no words

i have no words

Hit'n'Miss Aotearoa #3: The Dukes of Leisure


Undulating Ungulate proudly presents Hit’n’Miss Aotearoa #3

The Dukes of Leisure live at Indigo, 14-7-06

Sprawling post rock soundscapey goodness from the multi-talented Wellington based sextet.

Set list:

And the truth faded into dust
Science
Ghandhii
Maudlin
The respite
Marama
Time must have a stop
Sic et non

poll#2: feedback loops

We live in a complex world of interacting parts, which can rapidly form feedback loops which create change. New technologies add unpredicability to the mix. Which of these loops surprises you the most?

a) Amazon one more year of drought away from catastrophic tipping point;
b) More and more Americans are too fat to fit into X-ray and other health scanning machines, or the scans are unable to penetrate the fat, so they are building bigger machines;
c) Beijing-Tibet railway opens, for tourism and to ferry tonnes of raw materials out of previously unreachable Tibet, but may have to close in less than 50 years due to damage to permafrost beneath rails from global warming;
d) “As the costs of 3D printing technology continues to plummet, and the capabilities of fabber systems continue to improve, we’re heading into a world in which 4th Generation Warfare groups don’t have to rely on shipments of weapons such as attack UAVs, but can simply print up a batch themselves”;
e) insert your own

much better films i watched lately

I went to the local video store a week ago. Amazing how decadent it felt. Don’t recall the last time I got a DVD from anywhere other than the library where they feel a social obligation to stock foreign films and a Community Services Card gets you half price off their already cheap rate. For whatever reason they don’t have Mirrormask, which I wanted to see and was annoyed it never got a big screen release here.

Anyway.

Immortal.

Enki Bilal made a movie! Holy shit! Bilal is mostly known as a French comics genius on the Humanoids imprint with Jodorowsky and the other freaks. The movie took three years to make and is a heady mix of CGI and live action. It looks basically incredible – this is the best use I’ve seen of CGI to create and enhance a world.

The setting is New York somewhere in the future where humans and modified humans live together in an uneasy apartheid. A giant pyramid has appeared in the sky and part of Central Park has succumbed to an intrusion which defies the laws of physics and kills anyone who enters. The God Horus is released for seven days before being imprisoned for eternity, and he’s got a plan…

A hell of a lot happens. We follow several storylines and characters. There is no pandering to morons as you piece together the plot. Bilal’s transition from comic to film pacing is at times uneasy but always interesting. This is in no way a standard story, either.

The look and design is incredible. It packs in the weird and wonderful in a way that defies easy description without spoiling far too much – it has cool monsters, cute helpful technology, very mysterious characters, metal legs, levitating corpses, love and Egyptian gods killing time playing Monopoly – and this is well worth tracking down. A lush gem. (Ignore the cover, which, if it was a Hollywood movie, would spell b-grade SF crap.)

Sin City

As an exercise in style and attitude it’s hugely enjoyable. Succeeds because it goes balls out the entire time. Over the top uber noir. Frank Miller must have been pretty damn happy; previously I’d only read the Marv storyline, but this all felt really true to the material. Clive Owen was cool, as was that whole storyline. On the whole felt a little long by the end.

Would be really interesting to be 16 and experience something like that. It would take your head off.

Mirrormask

Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean deliver exactly what they deliver. Very kidult, Labyrinth-y vibe, which keeps it from getting too dark. But basically once they hit the dream stuff, it’s like a giant Dave McKean painting come to life, which is all you can really ask for, with Gaiman’s cutesy dream logic in full sway. A range of quietly talented actors give good performances. Solid, but doesn’t break any new ground in content for long term fans, I reckon, just takes it to a different medium.

One thing of interest is that these three films are all incredibly heavily reliant on CGI. Like vast majorities shot on green stages. And they all do it well, and differently, to create worlds impossible without it. As something of a fantasist at heart, this is really heartening. The ability to bring to life a vision previously impossible is really tempting. Maybe there’s something in film worth doing after all. Immortal is most successful in creating a believeable fusion world, despite occasional lapses into Playstation cut scene levels of CGI (their gear improved drastically over the course of the making, however, and bodes really well.)

Primer

Clever, no budget sci fi movie that leaves you thinking you only got about 85% of what was happening and that a rewatch is probably in order once time gets itself in a right tangle. Not sure why, but I kept expecting it to get really nasty and it never did. Possibly frustrating, but well worth a look.

Howl’s Moving Castle

Miyazaki makes exactly a Miyazaki movie out of Western source material. Young girl heroines, weird flying machines, magicky stuff, an oddball cast of cute characters, a certain amount of goo. Fine and enjoyable but inessential.

The other one was The Island, about which far too much has already been said below, and which probably suffered greatly in the above company.

Rather savage review: The Island

Doubtless there will be spoilers in what follows. However, they are irrelevant since my overwhelming advice is to never see this movie, instead taking two and a quarter irreplaceable hours of your life and doing anything else. Been meaning to try crack? Curious about heroin addiction? What the hell. Give it a go.

I didn’t realise this was a Michael Bay movie before his name came up in the opening credits. Usually I don’t pay much attention to directors of mainstream movies, but Bay has taken every opportunity to distinguish himself with stupendous awfulness.

I’ve figured out his problem. He has no visual storytelling ability whatsoever. And he directs films. You know. A visual medium. Now, he can get a shot that looks okay and string a few together in a way that looks flashy. But he has no fricking idea whatsoever that the images could tell the story. Or, rather, when he does attempt to use some visual elements, they are so stunningly hamfisted it hurts.

A couple of minor examples, while it festers afresh in the mind.

The scene where Ewan McGregor’s real world human counterpart comes downstairs and lies to the clones with a big smile on his face. (The audience already knows he is lying as he has just made a phone call upstairs to the bad guys.) Earlier, we were told Scarlett Johansson clone can tell he is lying by this visual cue. And lo, we see her react to this. And turn to McGregor’s clone, and say “He’s lying.” Fine up till this point, really. And then she says out loud that she knows because she has just seen the visual cue that we all saw and knew what it meant. Instead of just communicating she is sure with a look to back up the original statement.

Or the bit where the black mercenary, against his character the entire movie (really, would it have hurt to develop this dude at all?) gives a spiel about his brand in response to seeing the clone’s brand, essentially justifying his sudden rebellion with some broad swathes of emotional manipulation. I cannot be arsed listing the number of ways this could have been done better, visually, and with his character actually being satisfying delivered instead of suddenly being elevated from function to content.

I mean, maybe all this “here come the indians” shite is what happens when you get given hundreds of millions of dollars to build huge sets and blow shit up. The producers want to be sure every asshat who likes explosions will understand it.

See, this all hurts more than usual because it could have been so much better. The premise is fine (despite it meaning we will probably never see a film adaptation of Michael Marshall Smith’s excellent Spares), the sets are fine, the cast is tolerable (and, actually, credit where it’s due, Sean Bean was solid; at least, the movie would have suffered with a lesser performance in his role as main bad guy; Steve Buscemi gets to play a relatively upstanding citizen, with recognisably human levels of sleaze, instead of his usual classy fish eyed gutter crawling filth (That’s a compliment. We like Steve B.) before dying as he must to advance the story. Oh well. Scarlett J and Ewan M are quite good at playing adults with the minds of children, and look pretty most of the time), the sheer amount of money they had to play with… it all should have come to something more.

For the first half hour, there was hope. So much interesting stuff could have been done. Unfortunately, as soon as we leave the clones little institution, we are thrust into a meaningless chase scene lasting most of the rest of the movie, in some respects. But particularly the one that goes on for ages as they run down corridors, through rooms, around places we have never seen and don’t know anything about, being chased while having no sense of tension because we don’t know where they are or their pursuers in relation, (No. Visual. Storytelling. Ability.) And once again proving my theorem that any movie where someone yells “Go go go go!” is almost certainly going to be shit. (Okay, excepting Aliens, just in case that slipped in there, though I don’t recall it.) It’s like the script said “They Run” and the monkey went, right. Film them running around. Make it energetic. Later, there’s the standard meaningless gun battle where we don’t know where anyone is in relation to anyone else or really who anyone shooting is but boy, lots of stuff is getting blown up, ain’t it neat?

Normally, I can suspend disbelief really well. Sink right in and let the story be delivered without picking holes in it or spotting for twists. Because I’ve always felt that if you’re doing that in a story or movie, you’ve missed the damn point; that the people telling it are pacing it and delivering it the way they are for a reason, and you should trust them to guide the experience.

But anyway, here’s a question for you. Say you’re driving a really huge futuristic Mack Truck along a freeway, carrying a ginormous dual levelled trailer load of giant metal hand weight shaped barbell things, and, unbeknownst to you, two stowaways. And the giant metal barbell things start rolling off the back of your truck, destroying cars and trucks.

Do you:
a) think, “Oh, shit!” and pull over, or
b) ignore it and keep driving for several minutes while dozens more of the giant metal barbells fall off and destroy more cars and trucks, only stopping when a helicopter gunship shoots out your tyres?

See, little stuff like that is what writers are for. Internal consistency. If we were making ships, we would be the guys who make sure it’s seaworthy and not FULL OF GIANT STUPID FRICKING HOLES.

GIANT STUPID HOLES MEAN STUPID SHIP SINKS, STUPID.

Stupid Michael Bay.

meta: comments

Have done some tinkering with the comment filters, which should hopefully sort out the flood of spam we’ve had lately. However, this means there’s a very small chance that people’s comments may not appear or be slightly delayed in appearing. If you think this has happened to you, email the site.

realignment

Blog has been seeming to veer a little towards the reactive (I’m not sure that’s at all the right word, and there is a lot I’m liking)… lately. At least, more so than my original intention. So here’s something different.

It’s been a good few days. Life in general got better a little while back when I changed the way I was looking at things. But anyway. Friday was hermit mode with DVD’s. My social contact consisted of hours long chats with people in other countries, which was somehow pretty cool, cos I don’t do that often, and in some ways the written word comes easier, and long pauses for consideration are more acceptable.

Saturday unexpectedly ended up at the rugby, the All Blacks closing out the Springboks in a dry sort of affair. The stadium is a decent venue, but I still prefer Athletic Park. For all its flaws, it inspired better culture and interaction among the crowd. You weren’t coralled into a stall and forcefed shite music at every pause in the action with nothing but shoddy overpriced fried crap and lame beers. And the big one, games were played in the afternoon, not on a freezing fucking night. Rugby makes sense in the sunshine.

From there wandered back along the concourse to town and a kebab, then to the Adelaide of all places for No San Pedro’s final ever gig (:(), which was ruling (and may well appear as a podcast very soon). The Adelaide is a weird venue, with no PA of their own and an old Bodega local dive bar feel. The horde of Palmy connections descending added to that. Many surreal encounters with people I hadn’t seen in years. Good night.

Home and wrote. The new book’s flowing pretty well at the moment, sloping towards the end of part one, with the high octane craziness of part two shaping up in ideaspace. Darker and more depraved than I expected; maybe it’s the winter and my brother’s illness, maybe it’s the subject matter, maybe it’s the Sunn O))) soundtrack. Slept then up to boot it to town for an epic session mixing the new EP, the awesomeness of which steadily increases. \m/ Rock! Punctuated by food and mental movies.

Tonight I’m going to Thomas Koner’s live performance to accompany his film at the festival. Choice. And from there probably to The Cross to see whatever free documentary about the Illuminati some freaks have been slapping up posters for around town, and quite possibly some dilletantery and debauchery on a Monday, just cos we can.

Burn the Beehive day

Cancelled?

Gyp!

Oh how long must we wait to toast marshmallows for the children in the embers of our seat of government (which, curiously, is in the form of the Merovingian bloodline’s symbol)?

SPIN

“Footage you were never supposed to see

Artist Brian Springer spent a year scouring the airwaves with a satellite dish grabbing back channel news feeds not intended for public consumption. The result of his research is SPIN, one of the most insightful films ever made about the mechanics of how television is used as a tool of social control to distort and limit the American public’s perception of reality.”

Watch it here.

(via disinformation (link in sidebar))

[Dammit. Wasn’t the Telecom stink supposed to give us better broadband already? Although the pauses add a neat surrealist touch for me, Larry King’s slow motion scowling…]

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