saints, healers and beasts

I have written on this subject before, as well as about my limited experience of contributing to a certain kind of art.

I have great respect for porn, and for sex work, and sex workers. I view the latter as having a sacred function in a world that has trouble according Nature its due, and the former (potentially) as art that exists below as well as above the belt. And that’s probably why it is taboo, because we are all both vulnerable and blissful below the belt, and our society has a long standing stake in dividing our natures against themselves. That may be religious in origin, though its puritanism has been vigorously taken up by identity politics, or it may be an underpinning element of a wider authoritarian mind-set.

So I am very interested in the overlap between “pornography”, art and artistic creativity, and magick. I consider this to be a sacred form of art, one which certainly may not be achieved (or aimed for) in all porn, but it is implicit in the territory, just as a form of sacred service is implicit in the field of sex work.

We have a long way to go in living free lives as the human beings we are, though many people are bravely attempting to do so in their personal and private lives, while others are hoodwinked by politics into propping up more forms of division and fabrication. I thank anyone for honestly trying to be themselves at this deeper level of sexuality, being and relationship. Pornography and sex work are not ends in themselves (anymore than other forms of art or vocation are), but services towards the wholeness of life. Extrapolated to magickal spirituality this area has many resonances in our lives, beyond pornography, sex work, or indeed literal sex. This is some of what I was alluding to in my post on Babalon* also.

The real work is our being human.

painting2

landscape, person or art?

This post is dedicated to Freya, Babalon and Set.

* indeed Babalon might be one of the “saints” of the title of this post.

29th October 2016: post edited

the end of gay and straight

I have really got to the end of this whole sexual identity thing. I no longer see what it has to do with humanity, love or human reality, emotional or sexual.

I think it’s very true that most people have a marked need for partners of one sex or the other, and that need means that many people, as a generality in their life, will be overwhelmingly heterosexual or homosexual as a rule. But people can have exceptions too, and I have come to believe that Tammo de Jongh was right when he said that people are essentially bisexual. Except that we don’t yet have an understanding of that, because we think in categories, not real descriptions, so we imagine “bisexual” is a box someone ticks, and you then put them in that box, but that’s not how anyone is. If everyone is bisexual, it includes all the people we think of as gay and straight as well. But this is not a statistical, demographic, outward reality, it is an inward, implicit condition of being human.

Moreover of course, it does not mean that everyone is adaptable, malleable or available. Everyone is human and individual. It means everyone is just who they are, and the categories we have don’t constrain love and desire.

I’ve had enough of being “gay”. Not of being homosexual in relationship orientation, which despite the unpleasantly clinical nature of the term, at least describes something. No, I was made for loving a few men utterly and completely, every fibre of my being says so, but I’m not “gay”.

We need to stop judging, and start listening, if we are interested in people, rather than ulterior motives, or the demands of intellect and politics and conformism. We need to look to the inward, and stop listing the outward. We need to respect the deeply personal, life and death nature of real, deep love, from the body through to the soul. You only have so many chances in your life for this kind of happiness, and you need to take them. And I still think that Tammo’s understanding of this is a key.

***

I knew I was deeply attracted to men and maleness since I was about 11. Between 11 and 16 I came to terms with being “gay”, despite finding nothing I could relate to in what I saw of the “gay world”. I got my inspiration from Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter. I’ve thought of myself as gay ever since, despite finding inexplicable antipathy or incomprehension from a great deal of the gay mainstream when I came into contact with it. I was always the one that got told I “wasn’t really gay”, or “gay enough yet”, or that I was “bisexual” (really, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that, but I’ve never been interested in sex with women). I looked on camp and drag with tolerant disinterest. I found terms like “butch” and “femme” described nothing of real masculinity or femininity, rather they seemed to elevate fabrication and artifice over essential nature. The “gay world” I all too often met seemed to have a revenge against depth and innocence lodged within it. A revenge against human nature. A bitter disbelief in love.

And I say this because I have seen so many deeply unhappy, dysfunctional and destructive people in the “gay community”, who appear to be trapped in the socialization they have undergone within that ghetto. I can’t say they have been served well by the constraints of the category of “gay”. Any human being deserves better than that.

I still can’t stand it when people see a straight man or woman have a relationship (or just sex) with someone of the same-sex, and immediately they’re seen as “bisexual”, or “gay but can’t decide”, or “bi-curious”, anything other than the human being they are. What box can we put them in? Where can we put them in our world? How can we use them to back up our world view? Truthfully, if anyone has that reaction, they didn’t deserve the privilege of knowing. Not one bit.

An end to this. We are human, and we need to show some humility and respect in the face of the possibility of love and life.

Gay is over.

And just think on this: if you are gay as the world says it is, then you make up a maximum of 1 in 10 of the population (probably less). There are only so many people you can have a deep relationship with, because indiscriminate, or just conveniently available sex is not a source of deep fulfilment, and neither is convenient relationship. It is something else that makes it real. So if you are 1 in 10, then out of all the people you could find fulfilment with, 9 out of 10 won’t want you if it works like people say. Add to that the constraints of dogmatic monogamy and, well we’re not talking about a recipe for fulfilment.

I don’t believe it works like that though. Because it is actually about a profound experience of energy that flows through our relationships, where we become our true selves and also help to transform one another and our shared lives. It is something deep, personal, but also bigger than us in a sense. And people will surprise you, because that is what love does. We need to dissolve the taboos and condemnations of same-sex relationships so that love can find its way, and we need to also become open to the real nature of love for everyone, and things like real polyamory  (not indiscriminate open relationships), for us to find the honest way of allowing people to have fulfilled lives.

But we don’t need the prison of categorised sexual identity. We’d do better to understand our energy and what fulfils it in our case, and really believe in love.

magic circle

photo of design from “The Future Will Be Green” by Anelog and Brother Sebastien https://www.amazon.co.uk/Future-Will-Green-Guidelines-New/dp/0952912007/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463670064&sr=8-1&keywords=the+future+will+be+green – electronically decorated

11th June 2016: very minor edit to 8th paragraph to clarify meaning.

words, politics and lost meanings

For whatever reason, I’ve always cared about the people we used to call “transsexuals”, as in those who deeply feel they are not in the right body, and in contrast need to live as the sex they identify with. Contrary to the ridicule that these people often faced, I felt they exemplified a personal courage and dignity that was really noteworthy.

10 – 15 years ago, on an internet LGBT group that I belonged to, we had a few discussions with one of the transwomen on the group, about how she felt ambivalent about the term “transsexual”, as it could lead to the misunderstanding that it was all about sexuality rather than gender identity. But she was also really ambivalent about the rise of the umbrella term “transgender”, as it included so many different kinds of people, and might suggest they had more in common than they actually did. That seemed quite a valid concern to me, as the issues of someone living 24/7 as the “opposite sex” could be quite different to those of a transvestite, or people who are physically intersex, or feel they are neither exactly men nor women inwardly. A sense of gender is a personal thing that goes very deep, but it makes complete sense to me that a transitioned transwoman would have a lot more in common with other women than with say a transvestite man, or a drag queen. A transwoman or transman could have a quite traditional sense of gender, it just wouldn’t fit their body of birth. Another kind of transgender person might be a living abolition of traditional gender. If the term was meant to be about gender, why does it group diametrically opposite people together? Words are funny things.

We used to think it was important to try and understand the differences between people, especially in this kind of area which was so open to misunderstanding and misrepresentation, that even as a youngster it would have seemed crass to not know that a transvestite was different to a transsexual (as they were called then). But in the meantime it seemed like politics had decided otherwise. For all the people that the term “transgender” is meant to serve, it would be up to them to say if it has worked for them, but I suspect there wouldn’t be just one answer to that.

Now though this use of language affects a small series of minorities primarily, in another sense it involves everyone, because language is how we communicate, and a good deal of how we understand each other. When you are a minority you have to work on language consistently and ultimately consensually, even if with a degree of assertiveness at times. It’s fine to say “the real word for me is ‘gay’, not ‘faggot’ or ‘pervert'”, but it’s up to society at large to make sense of that and accept it. Because, contrary to pseudo-Marxist swagger, minorities don’t “seize power” from majorities, they persuade them, enter dialogue, or take advantage of social shifts and changes that are occurring anyway. Sorry Stonewall Riots, but if American society hadn’t been ready for it, you’d be a stain on the pavement. That’s how life actually is.

gender versus sex

For years we have been trying to clarify a distinction between physical sex and gender,  and this makes a lot of sense to me. Physical sex is a biological quality that your body has. It is overwhelmingly binary, male or female, though there are exceptions, more than we generally imagine, and people with these intersex physical characteristics need representation, acceptance and rights like anybody else. But physical sex, male, female and intersex, are biological characteristics, not matters of identification. No one gets any choice on it, any more than you do on being born with legs or not.

Gender on the other hand is very much a psychological thing (at least this is what we have been saying). Gender is our psychological sense of being a man or a woman (and some would say all manner of other categories)¹. Gender is a matter of identification, because it is a matter of consciousness and self-recognition*, not of physical organs and biology. In the vast majority of cases it overlaps with biological sex, and so in a sense is invisible. We have gained our awareness of gender from the exceptions to this rule, because that is where it become visible, no longer camouflaged by the overlap. It’s a way of looking at sex and gender which takes into account both the general rule and the exceptions, and so has a cognitive elegance and functionality to it, quite aside from issues of compassion and empathy.

This doesn’t mean that all men (by both gender and male sex) are masculine, or happy with being men, or fit the social role of men, or never wanted to dress up as the princess as a kid (or as an adult). When we are talking about gender we are not talking about how masculine or feminine you are, or what clothes you’d like to wear, or how you want to have your hair, or if you want to wear make up or not, or if you are happy with the role society has assigned your physical sex. We are talking about whether you basically feel you are a man or a woman, girl or boy, or (according to some) something else entirely. There are men and women who are really not happy being men or women, because life is pretty shit when it comes down to it, but they are still men and women. They do not have gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a real thing, and only some people who aren’t happy being a man or a woman have it. It’s much, much deeper, and by all accounts more distressing,  than not liking being a boy. I hated being a boy as a child. I really would have rather been a girl. I resented and was disheartened by just about everything associated with being a boy and becoming a man. I was a very shy, dysfunctional sissie that identified with the girls, absolutely no question, but not as a girl. There was never any question that I was a boy, I just didn’t like the fact that I was a boy. I was not transgender. I was just an atypical boy. So you see what I mean, when I say psychological gender is not the same as all those things we associate with boys and girls? It’s an underlying reality for a person, and they don’t have to like it for it to be so. Being transgender isn’t about not liking stuff, or being “masculine” or “feminine”.

the dreaded binary

I personally have little doubt that there are more than two genders in this psychological sense, but to claim that gender is somehow “beyond the binary” of male and female (or men and women) is I think fudging the issue. It’s not for nothing that gender and sex are associated so closely in our language (indeed, they have been historically equated). All of our language around this area is suffused with reference to maleness and femaleness, maybe further abstracted to “masculinity” and “femininity”, but how ever you slice it, the elephant in the room is binary, and it holds with varying degrees of divergence for the majority of human beings, across all cultures. As I heard Christina Hoff Sommers say: if you look at a sample of men and women, probably everyone diverges in this or that way from the stereotype of men and women, and a significant minority diverge to a major extent (she suggested 20%), but the generalized trend holds. And from what I remember of reading of cultures that accepted and valued gender variance (such as some Native American tribes), the terms for 3rd and 4th genders tended to come down to things like “man-woman”. The modern umbrella term of “two spirit”, while it refers to something beyond the binary, itself references the binary of men and women – Two Spirit. Our understanding of gender is founded upon men and women. It might fly far, but its feet are always going to be of clay. Rooted in flesh, one way or another. Why else would people go through such trials to transition physically?

non-binary, and the loss of distinctions

Recently there have been some things in the news about non-binary gender identification. One young person came out as non-binary to President Obama on his latest visit to the UK. There have been a few articles on the subject such as the BBC website’s “I’m non-binary. This is how I feel“. I don’t honestly feel any more enlightened though.

“I was reading an article by [the actor] Richard O’Brien and he spoke about how he identified with both feminine and masculine things. He said it was about 70/30 in his head and that was the first time I’d come across someone identifying as outside of a binary gender term”

Please no. Please don’t tell me that young people imagine that identifying with both masculine and feminine things makes you anything other than an ordinary human being? Is this what gender has come down to now? Has post-modern queer theory finally bamboozled people into imagining that gender is stuff you like and don’t like, girl and boy things you “identify with”, a matter of how you feel? People who just don’t relate to being men or women? The list given on this website isn’t exactly encouraging. It’s as if all pretense at anything that would be rationally and collectively understandable has been foregone in favour of infinite personal reality. This is a child’s idea of sexual politics. I wish these people well, but what is it they want from the world? It already doesn’t really care.

In all honesty, if you’re under 35 and you haven’t had an unusually hard life, you likely don’t yet know what being a man or a woman really means. None of us did, whatever we told ourselves. And no, people don’t relate, they don’t like it, they don’t have any choice. Gender isn’t a matter of choice or preference, and it doesn’t give a shit about how you feel about it. And that is so whether your gender fits your body or not, both situations equally real and unavoidable for the person. Life is fucking hard. I’m just starting to worry that some of these kids are mistaking gender issues for ambivalence at the unpleasant prospect of growing up. Because it really is fine being anything you want to be, providing you take responsibility for yourself, but if it isn’t serious, and it isn’t on for the long haul, then don’t call it a gender identity. That shit is way too serious and weighty, and it does not go away.

What worries me is that in the age of Tumblr and SJW slogans, gender issues are being trivialized, turned into teens and twenty somethings realizing that they aren’t comfortable with being girls or boys, that they’d rather be called “they” or “ze”, a kind of boycott of traditional gender roles, which however understandable, is not even really touching on serious gender identity and gender dysphoria, which is a condition which really does affect people seriously², sometimes with fatal consequences. We went through years of effort to try and make a distinction between gender and physical sex, which would facilitate some understanding of these issues by the public. Just that small thing, to give transfolk  a window into our shared life as a society, from which discriminatory laws could be changed, and needed services provided. And it just feels to me like it’s being undermined, as gender gets collapsed back into masculinity and femininity, stereotypical behaviours and roles, and whatever you feel it is today. Even the person who came out to Obama said she identified “between male and female”. But male and female are conditions of bodies, so unless they meant they should have been born a hermaphrodite, it doesn’t even make any sense. Unless that person really believes that males and females are meant to exemplify traditional “masculine” and “feminine” characteristics, and to be otherwise is to not be a male or female. What would that be saying?

It sometimes seems like the most conformist attitudes are putting themselves forwards again, as progress, deserving of a special hearing, oblivious to the consequences, immune to examination. It’s how they feel. It’s like a vanguard of infants. And meanwhile real life really isn’t changing.

I guess we’ll see, with time.

non-binary1

screen capture of tumblr search on “non-binary gender” – electronically altered to blur out user names etc

 

¹  I strongly suspect that the individual sense of gender varies in strength though, so some people have a lot of sense of identification, and others have relatively little, whether or not it harmonises or conflicts with their body. I experienced this as changing over the course of my life.

* if we stuck to the assertion that gender and sex are the same, then we would just have to come up with another term for the purely psychological aspect of identifying as a gender.

² including very young people and children – this is a matter of clinical judgement, but I do feel that there is a condition which can be identified very early on with some people. I don’t share the view that all of these children are deluded, or being railroaded by their parents. [Note added 29th April 2016]

red crosses and imaginary peoples

Yesterday was St George’s Day which, while it has little official recognition, is a kind of “celebrate England Day”, in that St George is the patron saint of England.

England is in a funny position in the UK as it isn’t “Britain”, yet Britain’s rulers have been centralized here for centuries, so in a way it has become eclipsed. In folk terms “England” becomes the demon child of Britain and you still, hilariously, hear people verbally shaking their fist at “the English”.  It probably goes down well with the crowd somewhere, calling upon a mythic enemy from a mythic past. It’s so much more romantic than shaking your fist at a government, at least if you find ethnic identification romantic. Because the English really don’t exist, except as people who happen to live permanently, or be born on this piece of land.

From my experience, for “English people”, there is little sense of ethnic identification (as opposed to plain local identification, where I live, where I’m from etc). It’s not that they don’t have ethnic roots, everyone has of one sort or another, but it’s not a strong issue generally, and a lot of people have mixed ancestries. Is it different for populations elsewhere in the UK? Well maybe, though I can’t be sure. What is verifiable is that not only does England contain the great majority of the UK population (84% in 2011), but it also contains the greatest numbers from ethnic minorities. So England has a concentration of both the population and the diversity of the UK. Which means that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland between them had only 16% of the population in 2011, and that population was relatively homogenous as compared to England.

The strange thing, given this, is that when “English sentiment”, or calls for “English pride” are raised at all, they are generally characterised as “racist”. Yet when the ethnically far less diverse countries of the UK express nationalistic sentiments, these are seen as quite immune to ethnic chauvinism. But as I heard one Welshman say with undisguised contempt: “the English are a mongrel people”*. Quite so. But when did ethnic purity become a virtue? Who’s the racist?

I think all parts of the UK must be heading in the same direction ultimately, and England’s greatest concentrations of both population and ethnic diversity lie within its cities, but then the fact remains, that England looks more like the probable future.

English people in general are not exactly overwhelmed at the sight of nationalism, and if they have a sense of pride in history or culture, it tends to be on the quiet side. There are exceptions, but they are small and tend to be maladjusted, and unpopular. We don’t even have our own regional parliament(s), unlike every other part of the UK.

England is just the most invaded, colonized and serially ruled part of the British Isles, probably because we are so relatively flat. People will never get England if they don’t realize that, and that England is a subsisting place, not a convenient tribal stencil to be used for or against the many people who find themselves living here. It’s a landscape overgrown with ghosts and foreign imagination.

Sorry if I’m not honouring anybodies ancestral grievances, but I really don’t care. My dad was a Serb, I know about ancestral grievances, and they are a pile of shit. His best friend was an Irish Catholic from Northern Ireland. They understood each other well, and I think quite deeply.

Sorry to burst the tribal bubble, but it’s just not there. We are an imaginary people.

Alice (as in Wonderland) should be our real patron saint. Though I do like blokes in beards dressing up.

ay_108480589

(left to right) Glen Wright, Jeff Edwards and Ray Horn enjoy a pint during St George’s Day celebrations in Leadenhall Market, in the City financial district of London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 23, 2013. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire via http://metro.co.uk/

* I don’t take the attitude to be characteristic of anyone other than this individual, but the attribution of mixed ethnicity to England is correct.

old school art

It’s another beautiful day here, such that we can keep the back door open, which is always a good feeling. I’ve put out the rubbish, and started shifting house plants into the garden for Summer. Good!

I also realized, with a “duh!”, that I need to get back to drawing and writing, as in on paper and canvas, and scribbling in little note books with ink or pencil. Then maybe more painting. That is old, dirty magic, and nothing is like it.

The internet, and digital technology, is great. It lets us see stuff we wouldn’t otherwise. It helps us make contact, find each other (I think that is honestly the biggest thing about the internet), and that is tremendous. It transcends space, but it also transcends physical substance. It transcends a certain kind of work. It’s a very Geminian medium astrologically. Fleet, quick footed, eclectic, various, ephemeral, everyday. But just as it transcends space, it sucks away time. It makes some of the hard work seem unnecessary, but that’s actually a lie. So Mercurial – communication, commerce and theft, but also insight potentially. It could be deskilling a generation at coping with physical reality (though some of us were never that good at that anyway!), though I think that is only temporary at worst. The internet had its radical social heyday during the Neptune in Aquarius years (1998 – 2011 basically), the glamour of technology, when it seemed to be a mind expanding drug. But that time has run out, and the internet has just become a substandard replacement of libraries and newspapers and books (it’s Geminian, not Sagittarian), and largely a kind of organ of gossip with a skewed sense of globalisation, plus a fantastic shopping opportunity. Social media are so successful because they correctly divined the internet’s inherent nature. Pictures of my breakfast and my pets are just what the internet lends itself to, as does chatting with my friends, and posting extended open letters, finding porn and shopping. It’s also why blogs have become a big thing. Web log. Dear diary. Today I ……. That is basically what every blog is, even when it pretends to be a news site. That’s the medium, even if it sells itself as a different message.

And what it basically is, is all fine, but it’s all it is. Enjoy it, gain from it, but don’t expect too much from it, because it isn’t real life. It transcends physical substance in order to transcend space, and life without physical substance is not the same.

Which brings me back to the subject of this post, which is art. The other day I started writing a poem in my head while I was on the computer, and rather than open up a text program, I looked around and found an old notebook I had bought years ago and never used. Just the act of opening up the notebook and writing in it, the committing of ink to paper in the private little book, the need to cross out if I wanted to change it, to write in my own handwriting, in a book I could take anywhere, transmitted back to me the magic of doing stuff for real. It doesn’t matter if it’s crap, it’s your fucking art. It’s messy, unresolved, alive. Every revision you see, like a scar on skin. It is art without plastic surgery. And this is how you do stuff, intimately, for real, throwing yourself at it, with a real, uneditable trail. Like life.

And then I got out my sketch book and started on a new picture of an old demon. Let’s just see. Let’s just try. Let’s open up the wound.

You can find the grimoire of desire and fulfilment, as Austin Osman Spare used to indicate, between the hand and the eye.

Just not online.

It’s dirty.

Old.

Magick.

notebook

 

 

Easter weekend

It is the long bank holiday here in the UK, the Easter one, which goes from “Good Friday” through to the Monday. It was always quite a thing when I was younger, as it is the longest holiday you automatically get (generally), aside maybe from Christmas when “Boxing Day” falls on a Saturday, but at Christmas everything was closed down, so it didn’t really count. Today is Sunday, and it is quite nice and sunny.

I’ve been celebrating Easter by working my way through the Alien quadrilogy of films, seeing the directors’ cuts. Well, there is a theme of eggs and “new life”, even if it’s not exactly fluffy. I’m just about to start on Alien 3. I really like Sigourney weaver in these films, and I think Ripley may be my favourite female lead character of all time.

ripley2

still from screen test for Alien – video at https://youtu.be/pj6P9qZIwbM

I noticed when watching Aliens that the sound track in some of the space sections used a classical style of music with a sad, poignant, elegiac feel, which gives a whole, unstated tone to the framing of the story, and also seems to invoke the ground breaking 2001: A Space Odyssey, with its haunting use of classical music. It turns out that James Horner references Gayane‘s Adagio here, which was actually used by Kubrick in 2001. So the mystical, psychedelic 2001 is faintly called upon, a memory of almost twenty years past, in the grimey, dystopian Aliens of the mid 80s.

Another thing I saw this weekend was a short video about Viva, an 82 year old punk, who joined a punk band as a 45 year old divorcee. as she says: “in my head I never think that I’m 82, I’m just Viva”.

“I had a very ordinary life ….  punk had a great freedom with no rules. I couldn’t sing, but I got up there and sung. And it didn’t matter. You had to have the spirit and the energy…… The punk obviously opened up a door that I did not know was inside me. Something came out I did not know I had. I certainly haven’t got any regrets. Obviously you do things wrong but I haven’t had any regrets about how my life has gone. I don’t think I’ve ever lost that drive of what I found when I moved down here. Viva is the Latin verb “to live” and that’s what I’ve got to do, because I’ve got the name Viva!” 

She is awesome, and she got punk 100%. I don’t know exactly how, but punk opened things up for people, made it ok to find the creativity and spirit inside them. It tore up the rules and declared a democratized form of being and expression. No bullshit, glamorized “meritocracy” of art, but spirit, desire, content, just for anyone who wanted to try. Everyone a king and a queen.

fantasy, sanctuary and self-worth

I got a small but unpleasant reminder recently of how people consider some lives more valuable than others, as in arguments as to who doesn’t deserve medical drug funding, versus traditionally valued groups. There are all kinds of instances where people will be more affected by the proximity of suffering to their own lives, but that tends to be genuine ignorance of what is more distant. Consciously seeing whole groups as second class or disposable, and effectively arguing for it though, that seems a bit more “advanced”. I’d understand it more if it was a “no lives matter” approach that treated all groups and all people equally, but that isn’t the deal. The deal is “my life is worth more, no comment needed”*, even when it is said to your face. But hey, group identification is always a smelly business.

Such things bring back a lot of sense of how hopeless human life seems to some people though, because honestly, it stinks. I very much understand people feeling that some things will just never change, when you see the density of the consciousness involved. It is always interesting to see who we protect, and who we ignore and sacrifice, as a society. It is generally hidden from examination, under the cloak of “virtue” or “necessity”. And people wonder why I’m a Satanist?

Of course things can change with respect to this or that, and I advise people to think as individuals and try to ignore the unpleasantness of politics and group identification, and there is always magick. But following this I got to thinking on the value of fantasy to people.

Fantasy is a great relief from life, and both in literature and film is very popular, but also tends to be much derided as “serious” art. Science fiction would be a good example, but so would vampire stories, horror and supernatural fiction, and genres that contain alternative mythological worlds (I would guess the world of gaming might overlap here, though I don’t know a lot about it). Contrast this with the world of the respectable novel, which reflects the “real” world of the present. Fantasy literature potentially provides a kind of deliverance from “the world” and its norms.

Similarly in music, while hordes will follow the boy-meets-girl, I love you baby, ooh yeah girl, hey boy (the sexuality of the singer can never be left in doubt, even for the space of an absent word in romantic genres generally), it’s people with different sensibilities, who maybe don’t fit the great tribal family based society, who will go for things like metal say.

With quite a lot of these forms of art, they get criticized for being emotionally undeveloped in terms of relationships and romance, for being kinda “autistic” (there could be more than one post just on the misuse of that word), but for a good section of people, it is the conformism, the unspoken inflicting of value and erasure, the extraction of an arbitrary and undiscussed price, which conventional relationships in society cement. Not that fantasy doesn’t include relationship, it clearly does, and sometimes romantically, but fantasy itself involves a great act of imaginative negation, which is one of our major, uncorrupted human capacities. It is a world undone, and then reimagined. The same capacity gives us just about everything new and helpful, usually with a mob in opposition, either with pitchforks and Bibles, or ridiculing put downs.

People wonder why kids, and people of all ages, immerse themselves in fantasy, geek out on sci-fi or games, think they have the souls of animals or dragons, or go crazy on Harry Potter or vampires or Lord of the Rings. I say fucking well good for you. And if you find fellowship with others in the process, even better.

Don’t let the tribalists and family values creeps get you down. It may take more than imagination, but it’s a damn good start.

By Mike Wutzler AKA Darth Mike (Own work) [GFDL Replica of the One ring from The Hobbit and The Lord of the rings trilogy(http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

* as in the life of someone like me, the group I identify with, not just personal survival.