Not Dead, But Dreaming
I hear I've been missing for a few years.
Allow me to reintroduce myself.
Over the last two years, I've largely been absent from the Internet (outside of instant-gratification Facebook ranting to blow off steam) while I've been wrapping up a new, substantial book. It's bold new territory for me, and beyond that I will say no more... stay tuned.
That's largely meant I've been absent from writing for the Web, either for Ultraculture (including podcasts), Boing Boing, Vice or the various other outlets I've written for in the past. But rest assured, between the book and some other clandestine projects, I've been working harder in the last few years than I may ever have in my life... just not on ephemeral Web content.
As is inevitable with such a long period of heavy intellectual work (as well as the passage of time), my outlook on life has altered quite a bit. Of course, reality itself has changed significantly, too—when I began working on the new book, we were still in the tail end of the Obama years. Now we live in a fresh hellscape crafted by Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Vladimir Putin, Aleksandr Dugin, 4chan and 8chan's /pol/ boards and, it seems, the ghost of Julius Evola, whose long talons have stretched from the grave to drag the 21st century into his perverse and warped version of Hermeticism, Hinduism and mostly imaginal "traditionalism." Great Caesar's Ghost! Well, the books of Revelation and Daniel do identify the force of the Antichrist with an attempt to restore the Roman Empire, after all, and if you're going to have an apocalypse you have to do it by the book...
It's a strange new world we live in, where 18-year-olds read Ride the Tiger and sling "meme magic" into the greater Internet, and a new feminist witchcraft movement grows daily to challenge this information infection. Jeez, kids, I know I said I wanted an occult revolution in Generation Hex, but I didn't expect it to, you know, escalate that quickly...! Occult revolution, occult counter-revolution... get ready for years of entrenched and bloody metapolitical warfare over reality itself as traditional media continues to crumble in the face of new media, and the conglomerates face their total inability to control the narrative. It seems that all the prophets of this new world that I was reading in the late 90s—Doug Rushkoff, Tim Leary, Grant Morrison—were, if anything, far understated in their future predictions. I think only William Burroughs, the commissioner of sewers, got close to touching on not only the corruption of the "Ugly American Deathsucker" that would one day manifest as Trump, but the magical war that was to come, that had to come, as electronic media further mutated human consciousness!
Well! What to do?? In many ways, Ultraculture—which I ran out of a backpack and off of Monster energy drinks with every waking second from 2012 to 2016, and which I will forever be grateful for as it liberated me from a stint in corporate America—was wholly a product of the Obama era. My calling with that blog was to bash against the sociopathic undercurrent of the Democrats' vision of a globalized sweatshop world, railing against how the media had essentially become the human resources department of the corporate-controlled executive branch, and point out the horrors of drone warfare, police militarization, private prisons, the NSA surveillance state, Keystone XL, the TPP and all the other hits.
How quickly things changed. Like everyone else, I watched with increasing disgust as both the virulent new Alt-Right movement and the unhinged "accelerationist" far left decided to back Trump (overtly or covertly) as a Molotov unwisely thrown at the progress of globalization. Of course, Trump will only make things far, far worse. But the pyromaniac style of politics is impossible to argue with, as it is driven by fear, desperation, ignorance or even willful evil. Seeing my own anarchist impulses reflected in the madness of the mob gave me pause. It made me rethink everything—suddenly conspiracy theories and even anti-establishmentarianism were looking kind of awkward, embarrassing, and maybe flat-out irresponsible. The new populist climate in America made me long, more than anything, for a sane center, a basic common sense and decency that Americans can be very good at maintaining... when times are good, I suppose. I don't know what I think of America and Americans now, when so many of them chose to do the wrong thing, even if they faced a tough double-bind.
Understanding the role of magic in the coming years will be tricky. Pushing back against the expansion of the European hard right into America—that shitty Neoreactionary, wanking-to-Death-in-June occult current (which has always been there, albeit dormant)—will be of obvious importance. Creating positive communities, and restoring a sense of commonality, trust and purpose in the face of the Thresher will be, as well. Magic has long been the province of people with their back against the wall, a wartime pursuit, which manifests in times of crisis. (Back in the 90s, we even used to poke fun at "crisis magicians" who always had to have their lives in a state of catastrophe in order to do magic... I lived that way myself for many years.)
And here's a crisis all right.
I've been reorienting to this new reality for a while. I'm mostly there. Expect some very different approaches from me going forward—because we evolve with the times, or we die in the dust because we're still working off the data points of the past. It's 2017 now, not 2015... and the Hills Have Eyes.
Stay tuned here as I continue to update with new content. In the meantime, here's two recent podcast interviews with me: One with Zach Leary, the day after the election, in which I break down and analyze the Alt-Right, and one with Duncan Trussell, where we discuss John Dee, magic and the nature of reality.
Stay strong, and burn bright... well, reasonably bright enough to stay burning for a long time yet.
It's All Happening With Zach Leary #66 with Jason Louv