Sunday, August 29, 2021

Ishtar Rising Week Ten: (vernacular for intercourse)

 

Cardinal Spellman (1946) and Lana Turner (1955): Which would you rather get stuck in an elevator with? 

It's been a long week everyone, first week back in the classroom amidst the continuing COVID chaos. All sorts of contradictory directions and goals- it's good to be back. 

Ishtar Rising Chapter 6: The Breast Expressed and the Breast Possessed 

This is an interesting chapter with a few eyebrow raising ideas; while for the most part I generally find Wilson's anthropological theories in Ishtar Rising compelling, I find myself questioning many of his biological propositions. From the perspective of 2021 it is hard to imagine that there is any weight to the idea that breastfeeding "even helps the vagina return to natural size after childbirth" or that is is statistically likely that there is a real correlation between conventional attractiveness/unattractiveness and intelligence/lack thereof. 

Moreover, this chapter is all about contradictions (as indicated by the chapter's title). The contradictory adulation of female archetypes in patriarchal institutions, the role of sexuality in public and the clash of cultural attitudes are laid out by Wilson as a spin-cycle view of the world. We read about Origen who derided women as "sacks of dung," and who castrated himself, but that mad fool was much gentler in his theology than Augustine or that maniac Clement. Wilson explains how the Athenians, progenitors of democracy, were the first society to make insane sexism a social norm and shows how a few centuries later prudery was alive and well in the satirical poetry of Juvenal- Wilson later portrays the "cheerful Greeks and sentimental Romans" favorably in comparison with Christian societies. We read about how Catholicism kept the Cult of Mary, and therefore the mother-goddess, alive while the Protestants violently rejected her, and yet the Catholic Church is the great malefactor throughout this narrative. 

Furthermore, Blake's philosophy, which Wilson cheekily endorses at the beginning of the chapter, could be accurately described as ultra-Protestantism. I have encountered this paradox before as having grown up primarily with Protestants, and "non-denominational" ultra-Protestants at that, and as a child I developed a hearty distaste for Luther's spawn. And yet I agree with many of the early Protestants in their critiques of the church and even their draconian theology. While I loathe Calvin and believe he cast a black shadow over humanity that is still unassuaged, I find myself implicitly agreeing with predestination. I do believe that if either "God" is omnipotent and omniscient or if Einsteinian space-time is in fact a different dimension than the one we perceive, it is a given that our ends are writ. I adore the fiery visions of Bunyan but disagree with his Christian bigotry; I adore the idea of a Nation of Saints and shudder when I read about Cromwell. But I digress... 

Wilson's musings on Lazarus' poem and his addendum "And we'll send them right back where they came from" is especially timely as we are faced with yet another refugee crises of our own making. The United States is founded on such lofty ideals and we fail them so very often. Reading Wilson agonize over the, at the time of publication, still-fresh Vietnam war while watching in horror at the immediate legacy of our occupation of Afghanistan is all the more poignant. We really don't learn much and we ping-pong our cultural consciousness between a childish desire to be admirable (our "City on a Hill") and our natural selfish, small-minded true selves. Looking again at Afghanistan, where we should never have been in the first place, and the reimplementation of oppression by the Taliban we can see yet another form of godawful patriarchy reasserting itself with a fury that Jack the Ripper could only envy. What little good we've done, unraveled in days. 

Cycles. Having gone to brunch earlier today I was able to make some contemporary observations. (My observations were helped by a new found inability to not look around at other people while dining. I hate it but it seems to have developed over the pandemic.) I saw very little repression in anyone's state of dress, male or female. People's dress ranged from looking as if they had rolled out of bed to looking ready for a day about town. There was plenty of skin, which makes sense considering the ninety-degree weather. Our society is as contradictory as ever--witness the recent OnlyFans debacle--but clothing freedom seems to continue apace. 

So I end this chapter with a lot of questions. What are we to make of cultural breast modifications? Is it a good thing or merely another way women's bodies are controlled by societal pressures? Should breasts be exposed to venom and stinging nettles? How conscious was Eleanor of Aquitaine of the symbolic significance of her ride through Jerusalem? How consciously has any of this shadow war been fought through the ages? Are we marionettes controlled by our own preconceptions, conditions and unconsciousness? Whose doing what? Was Ovid kicked out of Rome for vegetarianism? Was the heart chakra truly repressed? Are women with breast-implants "plasticized" and unnatural? 

At certain points Wilson seems to be just as confused as I was- his discussion of discrimination and sexism seems like it wouldn't be out of place in a contemporary "intersectional" model until he throws up his hands in frustration with the Woman's Liberationists. The colors are beginning to run together. 

Stray Thoughts 

To answer Wilson's question: Blake's trees, in comparison to Van Gogh's, would have been populated by choirs of angels if his childhood vision at Peckham Rye is anything to go by. 

While I think I somewhat understand what Wilson was hitting at at the lack of accurate terminology for describing breasts, I'm not sure how much actual use Max Bartels' 48 types would actually be. Considering my wife's response was "Jesus Christ" when I read the classification system to her, I'm not sure she sees any point to it either. 

After I read the quote by Lord McCauley, I am now certain there will be a gravity denialism movement soon. We don't seem to even need a financial interest to discredit reality today.  

I agree with Wilson and have always insisted that the aphorism "in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" to be incredibly fatuous. The one-eyed man is going slowly insane. The one-eyed monster reigns supreme. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Ishtar Rising Week Nine: In Defense of Melting Pearls

from Robert Crumb's The Book of Genesis (2009) A true masterpiece. Recommended. 

 Ishtar Rising Chapter Five: The Return of the Repressed

My reading experience of this chapter was mostly Wilson preaching to the Choir. Even Wilson's specifically anti-Catholic stance echoed my current concerns about papist morality in what-should-be a secular society. 

Do you want to know why I have such an animus against Christians? 

The reasons are far too numerous and subjective to go into at any length. Suffice to say, for now, that it's Christians' attitudes towards sex and the fact that they are incredibly, bafflingly bad at reading. When I was a child I was embarrassed and irritated by the "waiting for marriage" crowd, even as a virgin. When I started having sex, and realized that, to me, it was a profound, lovely and intoxicating mode of existence, I grew to hate the minions of the pulpit even more. While many people find it funny, I would be driven into a rage anytime I heard a Christian friend or acquaintance argue that mutual masturbation, oral or anal sex didn't break "God's" commandments. Foul and ridiculously silly hypocrisy. I was disgusted when I found out a Christian friend tortured himself for months trying not to masturbate (but he still found time to talk about it incessantly). I wanted to vomit every time I heard someone who was obviously gay preach the foul drivel they'd been taught. I didn't feel pity. I felt revulsion. 

That isn't very compassionate. And in my more sentimental, calm or enlightened states of mind I can feel empathy for the psycho-sexual torture these people have experienced or continue to subject themselves to- so why the anger? Christians are fucking stupid. Jesus Christ, they are dumb. 

Wilson talks at length about the late-nineteenth and twentieth century obsession with masturbation as if was something new. While many people years before didn't go so far as to produce male chastity belts...oh wait, they mutilated their genitals to reduce sexual pleasure so they could think about "God" more a thousand-or-so years before that. The Abrahamic dislike of one of the few, almost-entirely-pleasurable bodily functions is derived from the story of Onan in Genesis. While I'm not going to go into the details at the moment (you're more than welcome to consult your Gideon's Bible) it is a hyper-specific story about God wanting a guy (ole' Onan) to father a child with his brother's widow. He pulls out and "spills his seed." God waxes sorely pissed and kills him. 

And somehow that means that touching yourself is evil and that every sperm is sacred. Now, I'll confess that I've only read a little bit of the theological justifications for this leap pole-vault of logic but they were as, if not more, empty than I expected. The gullibility and the idiocy have never ceased to astound. 

While I dislike Christianity, I do love the dubious collection of late-antiquarian myths dubbed The Holy Bible. I think it is brilliant, disturbing and fulfilling in a way that at least justifies its popularity. And so as I was nodding along with Wilson I was jarred and annoyed to find myself disagreeing strongly with him. 

It's a small passage, but since this post has already become a rant, I'll persist. Wilson claims that adultery can be "beneficial" in some circumstances. I'm willing to say: this is untrue. In a speech from the last ten years, the poet and farmer Wendell Berry discussed his belief that, as a Christian, homosexuality was a non-issue. As an almost passing remark, Berry makes the observation that if Christianity should be obsessed with any sexual behavior, the one most reviled in their holy book, adultery should always take center stage. This is correct from a reading comprehension point of view. (I will grant the only translation of the Bible I've read continually has been the King James.) In this case, I agree strongly with the Bible. As someone who has cheated and been cheated on, only poison fruits come from roots fed on betrayal. (Please understand that I'm not advocating stoning, and I do believe that the bibble also says something about revenge belonging to the Lord anyways, and I admire many people who had their foibles. I am not perfect, by any stretch.) 

Anyhow, the point of all this is to say I like tits and touching myself and it's my hot body I do what I want, except cheat. 

Perhaps the Matter Above Should Be the Stray Thoughts

I have always been baffled at the idea that there is such a thing as "breast fetishism." I personally agree with Wilson and Brown that the biological-evolutionary evidence points towards the homo sapiens' breasts as being erogenous zones. I've always been of the opinion that I am not a legs, tits or ass "man," I truly hate those terms, but rather, if I have to play the shitty game I'm a "face" man. I have to think someone is pretty to find them attractive. We all have our switches. 

The Hayes Code was a bit of historical madness of which I wish I had a better grasp. In The Celluloid Closet, Gore Vidal states that Will Hayes' most distinguished achievement aside from the Motion Picture Production Code was looking strikingly like Mickey Mouse

(Typing this next sentence felt like a MadLibs.) I guess Larry David got into a pissing match with Alan Dershowitz in Martha's Vineyard. Here's a scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry's natural response to Sophia Loren turns tragic: 


I really love Lenny Bruce. However, aside from passages in books and listening to his albums on YouTube, I have very few resources to engage with someone who might have been one of the greatest comedians of all time. If anyone has any biographical recommendations or other resources, I'd be most grateful. 







Monday, August 16, 2021

Ishtar Rising Week Nine

 Apologies for taking the past week off. Its the end of Summer and everyone is miserable around our house fighting allergies and getting ready for the year. We'll be back on Thursday.


 

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Ishtar Rising Week Eight: I Think I See God

 

Hilariously, one of the precepts of courtly love, taken from Ovid, is simply: "not forgetting her birthday." 

Ishtar Rising Chapter Four Part II: "Mammary Metaphysics" (Hilaritas Press edition pg. 118-138) 

My tone so far has been too cynical concerning this chapter. My dislike of a certain strain of historical revisionism blinded me to the rosy-fingered dawn of Wilson's writing. I forgot this was the chapter where he won my heart. At least, when I've read Ishtar Rising, this is where I am caught hook-line-sinkerI am grateful for our slow pace, and even for my indolence and equivocating before publishing these posts, they have given me time to digest what I once devoured. Soon, on Rawillumination, we will discuss the chapters concerning the Fifth Circuit in Prometheus Rising, and in a footnote to this chapter Wilson hints at his chapter on Marijuana from the similarly Playboy-published Sex, Drugs and Magick: there is no coincidence, only synchronicity. All of these texts echo a purer strain of delusion than the rest of our beloved author's oeuvre; all of this is the wild and raw bog of Magic we find ourselves stepping through. Wilson the Magician has drawn us into his web of gorgeous sophistries and the shadow of doubt, he has begun to cast his golden spell.  

Beginning with his discussion of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the development of Romantic Love, Wilson provides us with a secret history of oralist values in Western Civilization. Naturally, Wilson connects the European strains of this oral esotericism with Sufism, Tantra and Daoism of the East. This is the generally accepted historiography of the what some call the Western Esoteric Tradition writ small and Wilson seems to hint that all of magic, my preferred term, is connected to the oral-sexual-gentle tradition(s). Given the key appearances of occult darlings such as Giordano Bruno, Shakespeare's magicians and Thomas Vaughan, it is easy to see that there is very little difference between the oral underground and the general history of happy heretics. While uniquely European magical traditions survived through Gnostic fragments and herblore, much of what makes up the Western Tradition is based on migrations of Eastern thought. Given that most late antiquarian magical sources came from the cultural crossroads of the Mediterranean, making a distinction is all the more difficult. 

The Albigensian Crusade, along with the Battle of White Mountain that kickstarted the Thirty Year's War, stands out as an abject atrocity that is rarely acknowledged. The black marks against the Catholic Church in history are manifold. It is easy for me to be discomforted while reading and thinking about this chapter but instead I find myself admiring the tenacity and ingenuity of the troubadours and alchemists. Heresy seems to be stronger than dogma, considering the latter's fantastically obsessive and cruel attempts to destroy the latter. I think that is a heartening note and leads us into the next chapter and "The Return of the Repressed." 

Stray Thoughts 

Dante, like most authors, has a contradicting legacy in the oral/anal model; while he obviously adored Beatrice and had a strong bent for self-examination (a quality I'm claiming for the oralists), our modern conception of Hell, that most anal of ideas, is derived primarily upon his Inferno. (And some wildly ridiculous interpretations of passages from John of Patmos' dizzy little book when you're talking with fundamentalist Christians.)

Personally, I believe that Prospero was obviously based on Dr. John Dee, whose life story would have been known to Shakespeare, at least through rumor. Alan Moore makes an excellent case for this interpretation in "Between the Angels and the Apes" from Strange Attractor Journal No. 4. I believe Frances Yates also discusses this possible inspiration for the Duke of Milan, along with Bruno, and Harold Bloom mentions Dee in passing in his Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. Dee's magical experiments with Edward Kelley occasionally had a strong sexual flavor with the angels famously telling the men to share their wives between them- either that or Kelley was putting his own sexual peccadillos into the angels' mouths. Dee, a devout man despite his scientific and magical proclivities, did not benefit from these developments. 

According to a recent article from Vice, always a reliable journalistic source, sperm retention is alive and well on Reddit. I can still remember reading Eliphas Levi or Crowley, I forget which, and first running across the notion of "gymnosophists" being able to siphon their sperm back into their urethra. As an adolescent, this was a hilarious notion and I still can't take it seriously. And while I'm skeptical of the benefits of sperm retention, Vaughan's point stands and sex magic doesn't occur in three minutes. 

(A translation of Vidal's poem can be found here.) 



Monday, August 2, 2021

Ishtar Rising Week Seven: ! : Really love your peaches wanna shake your tree

Editorial Note: One thing about my writing process is that I am conscious of a desire to be able to look back and be proud of my work. This causes an amount of perfectionism, dallying and rejection of what seems to me to be slapdash attempts. This is a long excuse for not having the post up until today. I eventually figured out that I was trying to take to large a bite at the apple and needed to divide the chapter into two parts. (This post will cover material from the beginning of the chapter until the top of page 118 where a new paragraph begins.) Happy belated Lammas everyone! 

It was upon a Lammas Night when corn rigs were bonnie...

"Eve tempted by the Serpent" William Blake c.1796

Ishtar Rising Chapter Four Part I: Mammary Metaphysics (Hilaritas Press edition pg.95-118) 

I believe the telegram quoted from the beginning of the chapter was the first bit of Discordianism I ever encountered in the wild. I was immediately attached to the message and the cheekiness, it wouldn't be long until I found the Principia online, but I'll admit it wasn't until reading Illuminatus! that I truly appreciated the holy book. 

I think it is a sign of WoMankind's recognition of our own sticky, drippy biological process that fruit plays such an important part in our symbolism. As someone who was blessed to live on a farm with an orchard, there was always something delightfully heady about the blooms turning into hard knobs and then plumping up into crisp-yet-bursting apples and chin-coating peaches. I hope that the smell of the blossoms in the spring and the soft stink of rot and fermentation as fruit drops to the ground overripe will stay with me my entire span. Like the Mellisai attending the Delian hive, the constant buzzing of bees was a hallmark of trips through the orchard. While the end result was less-than-perfect, my first wedding took place under what remains of the apple boughs and the ceremony, which I penned, mostly contained liturgy from the Canticle of Canticles... 

Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.

As a child, I was troubled by the story of Eden. (I spent a lot of my childhood troubled by stories.) It always seemed like a stacked game and I didn't understand the arbitrary nature of fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. I didn't understand that God would love us and condemn our race for such a simple mistake. Why did you put the Tree there in the first place, asshole? It wasn't until later, when I read about the Rape of Persephone that I began to feel that the fruit in the garden functioned much like the pomegranate seeds offered to Demeter's daughter; a deliberate, shitty trap. I eventually began to see the plight of humanity after Eden as something akin to Persephone's- trapped in a loveless marriage with God. Considering Wilson brings up the theory that at first Eve would have been Mother to Adam and a consort of God, the bad marriage analogy might hold some metaphorical water. 

It wasn't until I read the Ophidian Gnostic interpretation of the Eden myth that it made true sense to me: Eden was a trap, designed to keep mankind in thrall to the Demiurge/Jehovah and the Tree was the way out. The Serpent was Christ, emanation of the Pleroma, and Eve was an agent moved by the Shekinah/Sophia to free mankind from the Edenic illusion. Thus we became as gods, knowing good and evil. 

As I've mentioned before, I was enchanted with Graves' The White Goddess when I read it before discovering it was mostly a product of Graves' imagination. At the time I still cared about such distinctions. I was enthusiastic about the idea of a Goddess-based religion but I found the Wiccan-inspired books and the revisionist myths of Women's Liberationist scholars charmless and obviously full of shit. My prior knowledge of mythology assured me that these stories were incomplete and left out a lot of detail. Considering that I had expanded beyond Edith Hamilton and Scholastic books on Myth, I felt that I had some basis for this suspicion. I still stand by it and am relieved that Wilson points out that the idyllic yarns about a pre-historical matriarchal golden age are mostly conflation and exaggeration. 

I don't know what it says about me that I prefer my Goddesses from the lens of historical esoteric tradition rather than that of twentieth century feminist theory. Does it mean that I am unwilling to accept women on their own terms? Am I still a slave to outdated Apollonian academic authority? Or do I prefer an older style of writing? 

Take, for instance, the lovely speech of the Goddess that Wilson heard while attending a coven meeting in Minneapolis. That is from Gerald Gardner's "Prose Charge" which I am almost certain was written by Crowley in his dying days. It was Crowley's genius that seeded Wicca, although modern neopagans tend to despise the man. At the time Gardener was lurking around Hastings trying to pump the Grand Man for ideas, Kenneth Grant was also a member of the milieu. Both Grant and Gardner competed for the attention and affirmation of not only Crowley but Austin Osman Spare in the twilight years of both men. It is from Grant that Wilson received the fallacious information about an all-encompassing pre-historic Cult of Isis. According to the Pyramid Texts and the records of Heliopolis, the first venerated God of Egypt would have been Atum and later Ptah. This quickly evolved into the cult of many gods before the ascension of Osiris. While Grant's theories are entertaining in the extreme and Crowley himself spoke of a pre-historical Isian Age, there's no historical evidence for these ideas. (Grant is one of my favorite magicians, if only for the fact that he was so very, very mad and brilliant in that order. If we are able to complete our upcoming Louis T. Culling series, we'll have to go spelunking in the Tunnels of Set with Mr. Grant.) 

I also have to disagree that Homer had any especial dislike or misunderstanding of Achilles in The Iliad. We have to remember that one of the stories surrounding Achilles is that he hated the idea of warfare, although he was made for it, and tried to hide as a maiden when Agamemnon called the Kings of Greece to sail upon Ilium. In fact, Agamemnon sent wily Odysseus to suss out Achilles and remind him of the Oath of Tyndareus. Pity Achilles reader, his doom was sealed by his love of Briseis and Patroclus. Later, of Briseis, a Byzantine would write: 

tall and white, her hair was black and curly;
she had beautiful breasts and cheeks and nose; she was, also, well -behaved;
her smile was bright, her eyebrows big

As Wilson begins to discuss the shift in attitudes towards women and sex with the rise of Christianity, I can feel my blood pressure rising. I will say that Origen is a complicated mess of a human being who seemed blessed with mystical insight that was marred by his own mental deficiency to overcome the cancer of the early Church. I don't think we can rely on assessments of women by someone who castrated themselves. Augustine is an ass and a poison. It's funny how the position of Orthodoxy hasn't changed that much since that nasty-little man did as much as he could to aid the ruination of civilization. 

We'll continue with Wilson's Magical Maliciousness Tour next week as we continue to examine how it all kept going wrong. 

Stray Thoughts

I appreciated the inclusion of dialogue from Faust. I've always found the plot point that when given immense magical powers, Faust used them to sleep with Helen of Troy extremely relatable. 

Considering the vocal number of TERFS (Trans-exclusive radical feminists), I'm not sure that "its (Women's Liberationism) shell of dogma [has] been softened by the noisy splashing of all the other odd and colorful fish swimming about in the free waters of Consciousness III."
I'll probably need to read The Greening of America. Perhaps we are simply in a liminal period between major change in sexual expression, after all many on the left have embraced gender identity, and eventually people will be amused or unconcerned about the "noisy splashing" of other people's expression. 

Just as Augustine believed that Adam and Eve were perfect because of their lack of feelings before the fall, the credo of the anal personality today is "facts don't care about your feelings" which was made famous by the ultra-orthodox Ben Shapiro and the whole Daily Wire crew of ghouls. In fact I saw coverage this past weekend of the arch-analist, integrationalist and non-ironic theocrat Matt Walsh had taken some time off from insulting Simone Biles to start some dumb controversy about how men shouldn't cry.  

While reading about Augustine's theory about Adam and Eve having sex through pure will, I was immediately reminded of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And now I have to wonder if Dennis Reynolds would be Augustine's perfect man: 

This week's music selection is not only inspired by Lammas Night, but the whole idea of The Wicker Man in light of the oncoming narrative which, as far as I remember, I've always considered a film with a happy ending. One of my all-time favorites! 



Ishtar Rising Week Eleven: The Spirit of '73 or- Not Impossible, Only Improbable

 If we are to end on a number, I would like this to be Ishtar Rising Week Eleven . Although, due to delays, this group has lasted longer tha...