Nothing else like it, almost time to show what it can do.
Tag Archives: Magick
One of the single greatest treats of my life was delivered to our door exactly one month ago today. Three drawings created by my brilliant wife Nina were published in my favorite author’s new book. It was a hallowed evening that will last the rest of my life.
I share these treats with you today, on the day of all days. If you would like to taste more of Antero Alli’s thought candy, he did a delicious interview with New Paradigm that you can chew on for a good long while. Here is my favorite flavor:
My sense of this moment in history is one of suspense and accelerating uncertainty, and since these comprise two primary catalysts for any truly creative state, I sense this moment in history carrying great potential for optimal creativity. Admittedly, this perception is biased by a deep optimism informed by decades of writing and producing original work for theatre and film. My optimism for modern culture at large and for society, however, has vanquished into a misanthropic horror.
As I see it, society as an entity has gone stark raving mad. The lowest common denominator of society — the consumerist culture — has succumbed to a mass hallucination of entitlement, fed and maintained by excessive materialism and soul-deadening greed, archaic religious beliefs and toxic guilt, government deceptions and immobilizing fear. I see modern culture as a cul-de-sac, a dead end. The problems of society cannot be solved by the same mindset that created them in the first place. I see a sick society in desperate need of healing yet I do not see how society is set up to heal itself. To begin this healing, a radical transformation of the mind — at the level of the individual — must occur.
I admit to having zero ambitions to change or save the world. I am also not here to contribute to society. In fact, I no longer care what happens to society. However, I do care deeply about the individual. I am here to support the individual in restoring the lost capacity for direct firsthand experience as a primary source of integrity, autonomy, and authority. I view anything less as walking backwards into the nightmare of history from which we all struggle to awaken. If there is to be any real transformation, I think it must happen within the individual first and then, through clusters of such self-governing entities — evolutionary agents — discovering and designing new models of intimacy, collaboration, and collective life that honors the integrity of the individual. Since I have no political agendas, beyond the body politic of each person to define themselves, I suppose I am suggesting a kind of spiritual anarchy. Define yourself or be defined, I say.
Music unlocks the human spirit. Leonard Cohen is a keymaster. We finally had the pleasure of seeing the man perform live in concert on October 17th, 2009. It was a metaphysical jailbreak.
When the spark inside the body is released by music, it flows toward the highest common denominator. Freedom seeks love. With Leonard Cohen guiding the dance, a beacon of exquisite bliss ignited the arena and called all beings to fellowship. Our party quickly included the whole universe.
Non-physical intelligence appreciates excellence and gravitates toward penultimate performance. Dino Soldo played the best harmonica I have ever heard, and soon we were surrounded by aliens and angels. Javier Mas taught long lost demons to speak Spanish. Roscoe Beck boomed the thunderstick deep until the lava gnomes bubbled forth. Neil Larsen brought shimmering chimera into being, often in the form of legendary lounge lizards. Bob Metzger tickled tingly tarantula up and down the spine. Rafael Gayol made sure that each vertebrae in the room was on point. Sharon Robinson twisted a tempered twin tower taking Leonard deep into her heart and out into ours. Charley and Hattie Webb sweetly soothed the Seraphim within, and all were ecstatically enlarged.
These people understand the process. The music itself is the Goddess. The players are her conduits. The audience is the fuel. The theater grounds the charge and places it for reference. All segments synchronize in sublime communion, and the winged serpent takes flight. On October 17th, 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it was lifted higher than ever before.
We were treated to a whole set of new arrangements in the first half of the show, then settled back into our seats by traditional favorites in the second. Three encores sent us off into the evening for the first night of the rest of our lives. Each human body that entered the building was changed forever.
Thank you Leonard Cohen. We will never be the same.
All photographs by hassan, from the actual show.
You can click here for video of the performance.
Do not miss Leonard Cohen on tour. That video shows him kicking it off here in South Florida last night. It was the best musical performance I have ever seen in my life. I still have tears in my eyes. I especially loved the drastic shift from the first set to the second. The first was driving bubbling lava, the second soothing soul syrup.
Click right here for our full review of the show with fabulous photographs.
Here’s the set list, thanks to JSA!
• Dance Me To The End Of Love
• The Future
• Ain’t No Cure For Love
• Bird On The Wire
• Everybody Knows
• In My Secret Life
• Who By Fire (with long Spanish(?) guitar intro)
• Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
• Waiting For The Miracle
• Anthem (with introductions of band members)
• Tower Of Song
• Sisters Of Mercy
• The Gypsy’s Wife
• The Partisan
• Boogie Street
• I’m Your Man
• A Thousand Kisses Deep (spoken)
• Take This Waltz
• So Long, Marianne
• First We Take Manhattan
• Famous Blue Raincoat
• If It Be Your Will (Leonard spoken verses, Webb sisters sung)
• Closing Time
• I Tried To Leave You
• Whither Thou Goest (tutti a cappella)
We are two weeks away from something really big when it comes to Self.
In honor of that thing that is about to drop, we are featuring the incomparable self-portrait of Ka-Lai Chan.
Pretty soon your Self will be able to sit with our Self in a whole new place. Stay tuned.
It is the news we have all been waiting for, and it is official. Upper Deck will continue to produce the highest quality trading card games in the world using the most spectacular characters in the universe. The first new product will be called Marvel Superstars, and it will debut at GenCon Indianapolis on August 13th, 2009.
“We are extremely excited about the possibilities that this newest partnership opens up for us,” said Scott Gaeta, director of new business development at Upper Deck. “Gamers and trading card enthusiasts alike will benefit greatly as a result of the collaborative efforts by both companies.”
Paul Gitter, president of consumer products, North America at Marvel, added: “The Marvel Universe and Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate of feature films are ideally suited for trading cards and trading card games that will appeal to a wide audience.”
At this particular moment in time, on Sunday July 26th, 2009, at 2:12 pm Eastern, the googling of “Marvel Superstars” only turns up only one specific match. It is a gorgeous fan-based painting by Deputee on deviantart.com. Feast your eyes.
That is just a taste of what we have in store. Spider-Man, Captain America, and Nightcrawler against Magneto and Juggernaut, captured on cardboard. Here is another quote from Scott Gaeta to help us frame the future.
Vs. System was a great game but the general consensus in our discussions both internally and with Marvel is that we want to broaden the accessibility. Our target is still core gamers but the real growth potential is reaching the tens of millions of fans who have been exposed to all the great Marvel characters in recent years. Our goal is to bring new players in to our category and to do that we feel we need a new game. As we get closer to launch we’ll share more details but I can say that we are going to do something very fresh with our new Marvel TCG.
Very fresh indeed. Starting with the name. Marvel Superstars, here we go!
Stay tuned to this station for more, and bookmark our new blog which will be dedicated totally to the new game.
(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)
If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times. Promethea is the best comic book ever made. Alan Moore, JH Williams III, Mick Gray, Jeremy Cox, and Todd Klein created a transcendant testament that tickles while it teaches. There is, perhaps, no greater source for learning about magical and spiritual traditions while being totally entertained. If you have never read the 32 issue series, please do it as soon as you can.
Our personal connection to Promethea is pretty intense. We jumped in at issue 12 and it became the only book we ever wrote letters for. Yes, the early issues had a published letter section just like the glory days. The book was highly irregular when it came to schedule, and I will never forget the months it was late. Such delicious agony. Then the ecstasy.
The page above shows the moment that Sophie finally came face to face with God. Did she say just any old words? Of course not. She was Promethea. She was the invisible embrace of the collective imagination that joins us all. She said our prayer.
We have three children. They are magical adults now, but every night when I tucked them in we said a prayer. It goes like this.
Dear God, I love you.
Help me to be what you want me to be, and thank you for everything.
When I saw that Alan Moore had written the same words for Sophie to say when she finally got a chance to speak to The Universe, I was speechless.
There were many, many moments like that from 1999-2004 while the new issues were still flowing. Issue #32 was the end of the line, in keeping with the Kabbalistic tradition. Promethea, however, lives on.
Surfing the interwebs keeps everything going nowadays. Yesterday something jumped from its grave and pulled my eyes out of their sockets. I was toying with bing instead of the google, and their image search returned a synchronicitizer stronger than any other.
The best interview I ever found involving Promethea contained two pics that blew my mind, since the original art hangs on our wall. They were nestled comfortably alongside Mick Gray, the World’s Greatest Inker. We will start with the interview highlights, then I will explain the connection.
(Mick Gray and his wife Holly.)
Working on Promethea is much more challenging than any other job I have ever had. J.H. is always pushing me to the next level and it has been very rewarding. I am not looking forward to its end. It is just so inspiring to work on this book.
Alan Moore is well known for the notoriously long and detailed scripts that he provides for his illustrators that still give leeway for their input into the finished product. Do you get to read much of Alan’s scripts yourself or do you just concentrate on finishing the art that JH Williams provides for you?
I have a copy of the script for issue #1 and it is huge. But my job is to work close with J.H. to try and capture the vision. I have only talked to Alan once over the phone (After we won the Eisner award!) but J.H. talks with him quite often. There is a lot of communication between everybody who works on this book, this is why the quality is so high.
When Promethea finishes with Issue #32 you will have been working on it for about 5 years (1999-2004). Is this the longest you have worked on a single title?
Yes this is the longest run we both have on a book.
What are some of your favorite images from Promethea so far?
The “Mobius Strip” page from issue #15 (this is most definitively the most asked about page), the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” from issue #5 and the whole issue #12!
From an artists point of view what were some of the hardest images you have had to produce for Promethea. Which images do you think most closely approximated what you imagined they would turn out like?
The “Four Horseman” page was a lot of work, it just took a lot of time! And issue #12 was pretty tough because of the deal with all the pages put end to end make one long piece of art. That took extra time in making sure all the pages butted up to each other just right. Wow, that was some issue.
Do you have a favorite character that you enjoy producing an image of more than any of the others?
I have a soft spot for the original costume of Sophie’s. I miss it! Even thought it took longer to pencil and ink, it was just so cool.
Both Alan and JH Williams have said in interviews that while they were working on the Daath Issue “The Stars are But Thistles (#20) they were taken quite ill as if someone or something didn’t want them to be doing it. Did you have a similar experience yourself when you worked on it and have you received any interesting feedback from readers about this particular issue?
Hmmm… I had a really bad hemorrhoid during that issue… just kidding. I have never heard about this from Alan or J.H., sorry.
Has working on Promethea spurred any interest in finding out more about Magick, The Kabbalah, Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, John Dee or any other figures of real people who have appeared in Promethea?
I am very interested in the Kabbalah and I have been on a spiritual journey of my own for many years. Working on this book has just made me more interested in these subjects.
Issue #26 which just came out looks and feels almost like a Tom Strong comic rather than the usual Promethea one (if there is such a thing as a usual Promethea Issue). Did you enjoy your change of style on this one. Are there any other comic such as Ghostworld which inspired this style?
I just love all the different styles J.H. has used on Promethea. It just makes it so much fun when you don’t know what is coming next.
How many awards have you won for your work on Promethea. Was the Eisner a single statue that you had to share with JHW or did you each get a statue?
We have been nominated many times (including this year!) for different awards but the only one we have actually won is for “Best Single Issue” for Promethea # 10 in 2001. We each got a nice plaque for our walls!
Is there a question about your work on Promethea that no one has ever asked you but you wish they would so you could answer it?
If you could work on any book, with any team, and do it forever, what would it be? Promethea.
Endless love to eroomnala for that magnificent interview. Now the freaky part. Mick Gray supplied a before-and-after set of drawings to illustrate the state of the page when it was given to him by JH Williams III. It just so happened to be the exact page we own, thanks to ebay. Spooky conicidence? Divine intervention? Either way, what bliss.
That is the drawing from JH Williams III. Promethea #7, pages 6-7.
That is the finished inking by Mick Gray. The planets and eyes are actually collaged onto the ink surface.
That is a photograph of the pages, hanging in our bedroom .
So, you see, Promethea lives! Synchronicity is her standard time zone, and she set the alarm for this very moment. Thank you Alan Moore. Thank you JH Williams III. Thank you Mick Gray. Thank you Todd Klein. Thank you everyone at DC who allowed something this real to be published.
We will glow in gratitude forever.
(Alphabets of Desire copyright Todd Klein and Alan Moore.)
Today’s nugget of wisdom from Alphabets of Desire is solid alchemical gold. Whether you study Kabballah or tune your Chakras or practice the Karma Mechanics of the Eight-Circuit model, you can create your own reality.
Here is the next serving of Alan Moore’s actual words, as lettered by Todd Klein:
A is derived from the Greek alpha, with the modern capital adapted from the earlier North Semitic aleph, said to have been winged in its initial form. A is for Alexandria where at the hinges of the first millennium were Hebrew scholars blowing dust from brittle scrolls, Phythagorean parchments that described creation in ten spheres which corresponded with their base-ten system of arithmetic. By adding twenty-two lines to connect the numbered globes with one another, one line for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet, they could combine all the components of their world, its numbers and its letters, in a single memorable symbol called the Tree of Life that would provide a basis for all the all-inclusive knowledge system known as the Kabbalah. Centuries thereafter, in Prague, lived two fabled rabbis who maintained that by manipulation of the kabbalistic lexicon they’d conjured a lamb dinner with full trimmings, every night for many years.
Arranging letters in a certain order they’d evoked the minted sizzle of the tender flesh, a slight resistance in the roasted skin of vegetables that yields to a serrated edge, exposes steaming fluff within. A slippery marbling on the meniscus of the gravy and the scent of hot bread rolls cracked open. Every forkful of the lean and flaking meat glazes the lips with grease and next a warming slither in the gullet that’s suffused throughout our grateful centre. Recombining letters, they had entered the pure magic of creation. Spelling, they had cast a savoury and aromatic spell in words so delicately seasoned they were edible.
And here is the explanation:
Magical systems such as Kabbalah distill the creative potential of life into its basic structures. The tower of human potential can be built all the way up. Alan Moore’s incomparable riff goes way beyond any ability I have to explain these powers. He condensed two centuries into two paragraphs while making the reader’s mouth water for emphasis. I am humbled.
(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)
Welcome to the third portion of the extended study of Alphabets of Desire by Todd Klein and Alan Moore, who also happen to be two of Promethea’s real parents. Our introduction has the full image and ordering information, this section has a knife.
These are Alan Moore’s next six sentences:
We are living in a code. We feel the apple resting in our palm, its weight, the waxen texture of its skin. We see the highlights rolling on its dimpled contours and the point at which leaf-green becomes lustrous red. Lifting it to our lips we catch its perfume, redolent of rural mornings, urban dinnertimes, our mother’s pastry and the way she had her hair. Our bite is audible, the crunch of tooth enamel in the crisp wet flesh, cell splitting violently from cell and a sweet aerosol of juice sprayed from the fissure as microscopic dew upon our taste buds. The familiar flavor is infused in our saliva, its initial sharpness rounding to a sumptuous curve there in the mouth’s dark privacy and rivulets of juice uncurl in sticky ribbons on our chins, but our experience of the apple can be only an experience of those words used to contain the raw phenomenon: red, green, sweet, crisp, round, and the way she had her hair.
Do you remember the last time something felt really good? Well, while you were actually experiencing it you weren’t putting it into words. Direct connections don’t have soundtracks. Or narration. Or storyboards.
The human brain gets trained to explain. That sack of meat in the skull is ideally suited to specific translation and categorization. Once it is schooled, it is too late.
The exquisite apple eating doesn’t happen to you. It just happens. In order for you to know what you went through, you need to use code. Identifying yourself with the bliss is a separation process. The words get in the way.
What a fanglorious Sunday morning this is. Basking in the glow of one human masterpiece reinterpreted by another artist. If you open your ears all the way, you can hear countless cover versions and re-mixes of Michael Jackson’s exquisite catalog coating the entire surface of the Earth. Inevitable synchronicity dragged my eyes across the sizzle of the googlesphere toward a blinking bauble by Alex Duplation Mediation for breakfast. It is a New Day Rising.
You see, today’s mandala is an interpretation of Julie Dillon’s champagne bottle crashing with a splash against the flying angel pointed toward the horizon that launched this ship. I started the Sunday Mandala feature twelve weeks ago with her work. Today that image has been spectacularized into a morffledelic chakrabbalah map to the center of infinity equals one equals zero.
What a fanglorious Sunday morning this is.
(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)
Welcome to the first installment of our extended analysis of Alphabets of Desire. Yesterday we broke ground with a thorough introduction, which includes the full glory of the piece. Today we take on the first chunk of text. The illustration above is a page from another Todd Klein collaboration with Alan Moore. Promethea is so good that I will never get enough, and that particular page leads into the concept we will be exploring. Hang on to your hat, your head is going to be in question.
A is for apple, first fruit from the Tree of Knowledge whereby we discover that we cannot know the apple. We cannot perceive reality directly, are aware of nothing save our own awareness, an unending storm of information roaring in the ganglia, the retina and the tympanum, washed across the cobbles of the tongue and gusting in the cilia. Attempting to construe a habitable cosmos from this chaos of sensation we evolve some form of language, words that will define distinct, recurring elements in the surrounding landscape and will separate one concept from another.
When Todd Klein asked Alan Moore to write something suitable for exquisite lettering, language was an obviously perfect choice. The result is a rambling romp through a wordsmith’s wallowing in what words really are. It starts at the top, with the letter “A”. Then it starts twisting. Why cannot we know the apple?
The Tree of Knowledge is a metaphor for the roving mind that each of us pilots through life. That slippery little self is rather clever, and it will not stop until it is convinced. There is one big problem with that. Pretty soon the mind knows that there are many things that it will never really know. Science knows how to prove, and in the case of the behavior and characteristics of subatomic particles it has already proven itself completely inadequate to explain the reality of the situation.
Don’t even get me started on the big questions. We cannot prove that we are not brains in a jar on the table of some mad doctor. We cannot prove how this all started. We cannot even begin to think about how to prove why things are.
As Alan Moore points out, the only thing we ever experience directly is our own personal array of sensory information. He uses technically poetic terms for thinking, seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling. We feel the world. That’s all we ever do for sure.
As social animals, we then look to share our sensations with each other. Before I could explain Alan Moore’s first three sentences to you, I first needed to understand them for myself. That demands categories. Sorting the swirling input calms things down. Dividing the raw feed into boxes of thought is something that uses words as tools. We build a house of flashcards to soothe the roving mind, and then we take pictures to show our friends.