Archive for the The Arts Category

Open heart forgery

Posted in Fighting, martial arts, meditation, Mysticism, Philosophy, Powermongers, propaganda, Reality Bites, self-help, The Arts, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2009 by wizardsmoke

I am a fan of Hatsumi’s books. He is a good writer — an artist; he is able to make you think existence has a purpose. Cool stuff, I admire his work.

I remember I showed his books to a friend and then took him to a Bujinkan class, to which he responded like a real wise-ass: the Bujinkan that can be spoken is not the true Bujinkan. Hatsumi writes beautifully and shares his dream narrative with you; he can make himself desirable to others; he is an artist. But the budo he teaches does not bestowe the same skills as his ability to appeal to you, or yours to accept him.

In social status, and especially in business, much of what makes a person successful is their self-presentation. The rock star’s charisma is what makes them a success, not the music. The music is the background canvas that works once people are receptive to the personal spectacle. In society, talent alone does not create status or ensure survival. What is more useful is ambition, energy, the ability to make people comfortable and laugh, and to speak to their heart.

The bodily arts are interesting, for they take root in the heart immediately. They quickly effect our social presentation.
Martial arts is a discipline which, like dance, is kinesthetic. And the kinesthetic learner is the genius of the arts. And martial arts have mostly become arts, rather than trades, in danger of dying out for lack of necessity.

And so I have seen tons of great artists (martial and otherwise) without the clever endearing qualities in which they can sell themselves to the masses. How strange, that the ability to successful endear oneself to others is an artistic quality, and has no bearing on one’s actual talent or skill in the field being extrapolated. But people without a desire to sell themselves are less likely to seek financial gain from your interaction.

The entertainer does not merely entertain, but rather creates an illusory personality for the world to desire. And like in the world of business, where a compromised upbeat persona is created to angle profitable transactions, the conjured entertainer becomes a necessary function of the art, and soon one loses track of where their own identity lies.

But, whateva.

Headaches 4 Free!

Posted in academia, Film, Storytelling, Technology, The Arts, The Media, Wizard Quotes with tags , on May 24, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Sorry if folks have been checking up on this blog and are disappointed (yeah right!) by the lack of frequent updates. Busy, blah blah, etc. I’m not abandoning this magical space yet, no sirree. But then again, would it hurt you guys so much to write once in a while? Axe me how I’m doing? Geez… what a guy got to do to get some internet love…

Ah-ha! But I conveniently have had time to post a few pseudo-theory heavy posts on this movie blog here. So why don’t you mosey on over and have a look-see? I’m sure the theory part will pique your fancy if you like any of the narcissistic jibberish I put up here…

Movies change our perceptions of life, by increasing our tendency to romanticize and idealize our lives, whether in the past, present or future. This is not new, or anything specific to movies, but we can be fairly certain that in recent decades industrial civilization has exposed its populace — through movies — to far more romantic narratives on a daily basis than any other group in history. The romantic depiction of a specific narrative leads the film to storytelling. Storytelling is literally a romantic narrative; it is an experience of individuality, projected upon others. As a result, everywhere one looks, one perceives an idealized narrative — a falsehood, created to sustain the illusion of a pristine, pleasurable or controllable existence — a fate with purpose — a destiny of sorts.

MM Film Theory

Yoshitoshi’s Personal Encounters with the Supernatural

Posted in academia, Occult, Storytelling, The Arts with tags , , , , , , , on March 18, 2009 by wizardsmoke

One of the most interesting (and last) ukiyo-e artists from the Edo period (1600-1867) of Japanese history, is Yoshitoshi. He’s actually pretty famous for his gory pictures (some of which are featured in recent books by Hatsumi) but these represent only a small fraction of his large, diverse catalog of paintings and prints.

Toward the end of his life, Kuniyoshi (Yoshitoshi’s teacher) was commissioned by the Okomoto family to paint a votive picture for the Sensou Temple in Edo. As his subject he chose the Hag of Adachigahara, an old woman who murdered her visitors to her lonely house on the moors. (Both Kuniyoshi and Yoshitoshi produced several designs of this memorably cruel figure.) A few weeks after the painting was dedicated, Kuniyoshi was persuaded to attend a play about the Hag, but became sick and turned back. Before he could reach home an earthquake struck Edo (the catastrophic Ansei earthquake of 1855), causing great damage and loss of life. Kuniyoshi was unhurt but badly shaken, and when he finally arrived home his household had given him up for lost. The Okomoto family were all killed in their house. Kuniyoshi was profoundly disturbed by the Okomotos’ fate and blamed it on bad luck associated with the Adachigahara story. Presumably the event reinforced any superstitious inclinations among the students living with Kuniyoshi, including Yoshitoshi, then an impressionable sixteen-year-old.

In 1871, Yoshitoshi traveled to Oiso, south of Tokyo, on a sketching trip with some of his students. On the way home they decided to spend the night at one of their favorite haunts in the lower-class pleasure quarters of Shinagawa. Yoshitoshi’s room was on the second floor; outside his door was a narrow staircase leading down to the main hall. When everyone had settled down for the night and the household was beginning to sleep, slow footsteps were heard climbing the ladder. One of the little kamurou, child attendants of the prostitutes, screamed. Yoshitoshi rushed to the head of the ladder and saw the figure of a pitifully thin woman. He backed away; she disappeared. The next day he learned that some years earlier a woman, trapped in her bitter life, had committed suicide in the room where he had stayed, and that many people who slept there saw her ghost. He later painted an image on silk of the apparition, who beckons to a customer in a parody of the agaru gesture of invitation (agaru means literally to ascend, and by extension to sleep with a prostitute). Less than fourty paintings by Yoshitoshi have survived, along with many forgeries; that three paintings, illustrated here, are of ghosts suggest the importance of the subject to Yoshitoshi. The incident in the brothel unsettled him and may have pushed him toward his temporary breakdown soon after.

–Stevenson, John. Yoshitoshi’s Strange Tales. Amsterdam: Hotei, 2005; (pp. 11-12).

Wizard’s Blues

Posted in Future World, Political Science, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, The Arts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Mammalian birth is a very strange act. As you become more aware of your body and organs, you realize that you were actually nurtured and born from a womb. All these organs were once physically attached to a mammalian mother. And those were attached to a mother as well, and so forth back into the earth itself.

Then when we’re born, we naturally attach to the attitudes and habits thrust upon us within our first environment. So, naturally, a child thinks everything a parent does is wise or worth following. But then you age and realize your parents are just people too. And then people you know start having kids and you realize that it doesn’t take any special qualifications to be a parent. The worst authority figures in the world, the most irresponsible people ever, will often become parents and have children who thusly admire them.

I guess that’s why child abuse is so disturbing, because children have such one-pointed needs to look up to someone. Strangely, there are different strands of child abuse. I sometimes think giving birth is an abusive act in general, especially considering the overpopulation issue these days, but hey — what can you do? Be a despot? Nah — too much competition in that field!

What shocks me is when people who have no curiosity about the world or anything at all. They grow up, get married young, never read many books, never pursue any personal interest, watch shitty movies, have kids and live off of their parents’ money or stay within some religious cult or group. For all purposes, they are completely isolated — like medieval villagers in the cyber-age. It doesn’t really matter to my life, so you’re probably wondering why I care about anyone else’s prerogatives, so long as they don’t directly effect me.

The truth is that eventually, when it all falls apart, will I have to step on other people? Will I have to be nice and let people walk all over me? It’s all fine when the economy is okay and there’s not that big of a problem when the economy is good. In fact, you could say economic output represents a nation’s self-esteem, well-being, directly tied to their “spiritual” concerns. I mean, who is generally into taking Yoga and martial arts super seriously? Upper-middle class people, for the most part (a generalization, and generalizations are bullshit, but hey). But when the money goes away, who really cares about lofty spiritual ideas and democracy?

There’s no need to worry about me, though. I don’t plan on being an evil jerk. And you know why: it’s because I’d rather die than live in a sick world, where there aren’t any tigers or bears but it’s overpopulated by people who use crappy computer stalking applications like Facebook.

I remember as a teenager, believing that stupid nonsense about ignorance being bliss, about intelligence alienating people, and so on. But now I think a lot of mental suffering is a choice (as opposed to physical/environmental suffering). I wouldn’t say people necessarily like suffering, because that implies that all of our behaviors are based on positive or negative choices in the psyche. Not true. People simply become obsessed with ideas to greater and lesser degrees (or not at all). That’s why when your friend is continually obsessed with the statistics and stories of serial killers, it’s a little creepy. It’s not like serial killers just decided to do bad things — they generally became obsessed with desires or exploring dangerous ideas that eventually possessed them to act it out.

So more and more I think that morals are naturally arising internal laws of group survival, whereas all obsessions are pretty equal of being just those: obsessions which lead to more of the same. In any case, I am worried because “democratic art” (capitalist media + culture) often ends up betraying a “weak spirit” — and what is art but the most direct reflection of cultural health?

Magical Musical Miasma

Posted in Mysticism, Occult, Philosophy, Poetry, Tantra, The Arts, Ultimate Reality, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2008 by wizardsmoke

As a serious initiate on the musical path, I use music to illustrate a lot of mystical/creative/magickal ideas analogously. You know, stuff they don’t teach you in music theory.

In a great Leonard Bernstein concert series back in the day, one he held for children in New York City (Radio City?) in the 1960s, the conductor demonstrated how the pop hooks of the Beatles song “Help!” were actually the same simplified chord progressions behind a small segment of an orchestral piece by Brahms. Not that I remember the name of the video or the Brahms piece, oh no! But Bernstein got his one moment of applause from the young audience when he transitioned into “Help!” on the piano.

But Bernstein was pointing out that what pop songs do (as opposed to orchestral pieces or other kinds of music) is drill a simple pop hook or melody into your head until it is jammed in there. A good pop song gets stuck in a person’s head, like a commercial slogan. Pop music is like good propaganda and is often utilized as such by businesses (and very poorly by political campaigns, har har).

Okay, that’s nice and obvious. What interests me, though, is how the energy or inspiration behind the original compositional idea is communicated when one repeats the melodic idea or “hook” in one’s own conscious mind. That is to say, the spirit of the song-writer can be moderately transmitted to the listener, particularly as one repeats the work or continuously surrounds oneself with the music. Angry music will transmit an angry flavor, sad music a melancholy sentiment, etc. It also comes down to the integrity and ability of the composer and performer, but the spirit of the original moment is captured in the music — like in any other thing they produce (writing, film, art, whatever). In fact, if I had one criticism of classical music, it is that sometimes the energy of the composer is hidden by the fact that they are not often performing the music!

So, the reason a pop hook is more “malicious” (or functions like brainwashing sorcery) is ‘coz when a person consciously retraces the steps of another individual’s spiritual or creative output, the listener/viewer begins to recreate that energy within their own mind. This is why religious mantras are useful — they function as ways of influencing the mind to take on a certain disposition. The more one repeats something, until it is second nature, it seeps into one’s psyche.

This seems to be how spells and magic work with verse and such things. By creating a poem that both appeals to the subconscious with veiled intentions and yet is simultaneously is “catchy” at face value, sticking in the mind for its clever phrasing, alliteration, or whatever. I feel like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Doors and a bunch of other hippies were trying to play with this stuff (musically, visually, lyrically) when they were young (and overrated — ahahaha!) but I don’t think this method can really do much for you unless you’re a real big deal in the underworld.

Furthermore, I think most people seem to not consciously be aware of why they like or dislike things, why they are attracted to some flavors of experience or energy, why some music is good or bad (there are 5 factors that make up musical potential in my system of reasoning), and so forth. But even if you can find the most profound, blissful music in all the cosmos, people still like the same things for different reasons. And have I not repeatedly said that all people have the same emotions and poetic sensibilities, but with different capacities? Weaker music can still evoke deep emotions from someone with a lower capacity for musical depth.

That’s enough for now. I was going to discuss hand seals, mudras and so forth but more pressing business awaits! Stay tuned.

Painkillers (+ Love)

Posted in Beauty, Drug Abuse, Happiness, love, Mysticism, The Arts, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I am routinely amazed by the utter incompetence with which people recognize artistic and emotional depth. My guess — no! intuitive reasoning, is that all people feel the same emotional sensibilities but have different poetic capacities for experiencing them. So a person with lousy taste in music does not need particularly good music to satisfy their emotional needs (or maybe they don’t care about music, but whatever — adding that variable to the discussion just makes things complicated).

For me, the best music that I have found makes me feel like I’m on some opiate-type painkiller. You know the drill — total basking in the emotional depths of ecstasy and melancholy simultaneously, with complete tolerance and compassion for all creatures and situations in existence. Everyone, absolutely anyone, who takes painkillers will feel this way under their influence… and yet when the same emotions are evoked by music, art, literature, social interactions, etc. many people will either consciously attempt to suppress them or dismiss them as completely cheesy, saccharine, trite and so forth. Whyyyy is that?!?!?!

As soon as I perceive a piece of art, a person, a location, a picture, anything, I’ll sense the energy coming from it. It’s the most basic thing a human being does. I guess the ecstasy I describe as emanating from some really great, “virtuous” music is similar to the cliche description that most people adhere to when they mention that they get a “natural high” from meditative practices. That natural high is pretty good: a cross between psychedelics and opiates. Absolutely fantastic. But it takes so much work to maintain! Not that I mind, but…

I once read a Kurt Vonnegut interview where he points out that Freud’s famous comment about how religion is “the opiate of the masses” would be better translated as “the aspirin of the masses”. I agree with that general notion, that religions are just medicines for headaches. It just makes the headaches tolerable, it doesn’t necessarily delude the person. But then again, what if religious practices bring the opiate-induced pleasure I was describing? Then maybe Freud was right. But I wouldn’t have expected him to have any understanding of that…

Merchant-minded Diligence

Posted in genius, Philosophy, Reality Bites, The Arts, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , , , , , on October 21, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Visits from the muse, constant haranguing by creative forces beyond the senses — these can drive a man to madness as much as toward any heavenly pleasure. Did I not quote Socrates before?

If anyone comes to the gates of poetry and expects to become an adequate poet by acquiring expert knowledge of the subject without the Muses’ madness, he will fail, and his self-controlled verses will be eclipsed by the poetry of men who have been driven out of their minds.

Over the years I’ve had a wide variety of friends. I’ve found as I age (and I’m not old) that friendships based purely on social chemistry no longer are the name of the game. While those are the most exciting, they’re rarely the most convenient. And so camaraderie seems more likely — friendships based on mutual activities and obligations. It brings to mind the importance of religious groups as a social atmosphere for the elderly.

Most people are creative in some way or another. Most people have some level of cleverness or natural artistic ability, and sometimes more strongly in one region of experience than another. Genius is rare, but almost all people fit somewhere on a scale/spectrum of artistic talent. It seems most often to be a catalyst for personal fulfillment.

But then one thing I’ve noticed amongst a few friends is a total lack of artistic integrity; individuals whose talents seem to lie utterly outside the creative sphere. And I do not mean this in any sort of condescending manner, for they have interesting skills and talents in their own right. I mean to say that I have friends who are incredibly smart, focused and logically minded but have limited creative abilities — much less taste — in regards to music, art, literature and so forth. They might be a brilliant mind at running a business or finances or calculating material gains, but they absolutely cannot distinguish the difference between a schlocky vulgar comedy and a brilliant satire; between folk genius and typical indie-rock schmaltz.

But such people are possibly well-poised to succeed financially. Not because artistically creative individuals are doomed to poverty or any such nonsense, but because a logically thinking person — an individual uninterrupted by creative forces of the imagination, is in a good position to address daily needs or financial concerns. The merchant class will always succeed because it is naturally driven by idleness and a naturally deep calculation of (a desire for?) the materialistic world.

But not me. No, I am cursed to wonder eternally, impotent of all merchant-minded diligence. Oh well, I’ll get by somehow. Donations accepted! Haha…