Thursday, April 23, 2020

1965 Dylan Lyrics Po Corona Pandemic

Po is a word that precedes and signals a provocation.  A provocation is an idea which moves thinking forward to a new place from where new ideas or solutions may be found.  The term was created by Edward De Bono as part of a lateral thinking technique to suggest forward movement, that is, making a statement and seeing where it leads.  It is an extraction from words such as hypothesis, suppose, possible, and poetry al of which indicate forward movement and contain the syllable "po."  Po can be taken to mean Provoking Operation. - Wikipedia, slightly modified.

The push to open the US economy against the advice of health experts and before adequate testing is in place to determine who is sick and who is not, seems another example of the schizophrenic side of Capitalism.  The probability seems high that another surge in covid 19 illness would further cripple the economy, not to mention kill off consumers.  I prefer this model as an explanation, the schizo proclivity of Capitalism, to the darker one that population control, i.e intentionally allowing people to get killed, motivates the rush to open the economy.

I was inspired by a Facebook game to listen to Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited while driving into town to pick up some Iris cuttings for our garden.  It struck me that some of the lyrics, when isolated, written circa 1965, resonate with current times.  Of course, many of his poetic lyrics sound timeless, but I found fresh significance particular to this time  in some of the imagery.

For instance, from Tombstone Blues - the song's title alone reflects the current atmosphere of death:

The ghost of Belle Starr she hands down her wits
To Jezebel the nun who violently knits
A bald wig for Jack the Ripper who sits
At the head of the Chamber of Commerce.

Belle Starr was a 19th Century American outlaw.  Her name also alludes to a Tarot card image, the woman pouring forth celestial sustenance on the Star card.  Dylan studied the Tarot at some point, probably somewhere between Rimbaud, Kerouac, & Ginsberg, and Jesus Christ and The Talmud.

Jezebel the nun refers to the wife of the Biblical ruler of North Israel instrumental in steering her kingdom away from Judaism.  She wasn't a nun, the first nuns appeared in the middle ages, however nun suggests nihilism.

The third and fourth lines of this stanza indicate Trump and Capitalism.  Trump's overly aggressive, combative inclination to attack anything that challenges, criticizes or opposes him resonates with Jack the Ripper.  Advocating to open the economy at the expense of people's health and lives also recalls Mr. Ripper's aesthetic.  Like Capitalism, Trump displays schizophrenic reactions, he can and does abruptly reverse or change course depending upon his mood and contingencies.  He's not Jack the Ripper all the time, but that character comes through enough to make him appear extremely, existentially dangerous when large amounts of human life sit in the balance.

Then we go to the chorus:

"Mama's in the factory she ain't got no shoes"
- Health-care workers in the front line lacking sufficient Personal Protective Equipment.  Hopefully that's changing, yet we hear talk of a possible second wave, more likely sooner rather than later if social distancing lets up too soon, and we could be scrambling for more PPE again.

"Daddy's in the alley, he's looking for food."
- More people than ever are lining up at food banks, most for the first time in their life.

" I'm in the kitchen with the tombstone blues." - In esoteric, or occult fashion this line actually signals the redemptive power of the song.

Dylan has received criticism over the years about being excessively cyncical.  In my view, he states and confronts problems, but then always, often mysteriously and cryptically, points to a solution.  Whether this comes from "Bob Dylan" or the Intelligence invoked into the song, I do not know, it seems to always appear, just not as obvious as the problem.

"I" - the source of active redemptive force, the presence of that kind of attention, love under will,
"am in the kitchen," - the place where you make food.  In certain esoteric communities, the kitchen is known as the heart of the community.  In this way, kitchen connects with Belle Starr.
"with the tombstone blues.  The blues inevitably feels redemptive to me, even blues chord progressions and rhythm without lyrics - the SOUND of the blues always lifts me up when it's right.  That's why you sing the blues, to change the mood of the current situation, to reterritorialize tragedy into something that feels better, something that can even feel good.

The other song that caught my attention on the drive was Highway 61 Revisited.  Highway 61 is kind of legendary for what has happened along it:  Bessie Smith was murdered on Highway 61, Elvis Presley lived and died very near there, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated right by it,  Bob Dylan was born close to Highway 61 and grew up near a different part of it.  In the song, it sounds like a place for the con games of Religion and Capitalism that inevitably lead to war.  We find an obvious redemptive stanza to the situation.

"Now the rovin' gambler he was very bored
He was tryin' to create the next world war
He found a promoter who nearly fell off the floor
He said I never engaed in this kind of thing before
But yes I think it could be very easily done
we'll just put some bleachers out in the sun
And have it on Highway 61"

Bleaching, cleaning, out in the sun suggests a solution, but the most obvious occult counterforce to the challenges or tragedy on Highway 61 - which can also be considered as Chapel Perilous or the Bardo, comes in the stanza before:

"Now the fifth daughter on the twelfth night
Told the first father that things weren't right
My complexion she said is much too white
He said come her and step into the light he says hmmm you're right
Let me tell the second mother this has been done
But the second mother was with the seventh son
And they were both out on Highway 61."

The second mother expresses as Babalon (also the second He in Yod He Vau He) in Thelemic terminology, the human manifestation of the archetype of the first mother. 7 = Venus.  This line could represent the ON formula, the combining of male and female energies to produce some kind of love under will.

The are other lines on the album, even whole songs such as Like A Rolling Stone, or maybe ALL of them it seems now that I think of it, that easily fit the context of the moment.  It makes me wonder about music and its ability to jump over time - be just as relevant in multiple, different moments of time.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Bill Laswell AGAINST EMPIRE New Album Release

The future of music arrived yesterday when Against Empire, the new Bill Laswell solo album, got its worldwide release.  I'm only making my second playback journey through it — far from full comprehension, about as far as a native Borneo tribesperson from understanding quantum physics.  This album seems both a postgraduate course in music exploration and a transdimensional travelogue into new, formerly unknown spaces, territories and landscapes carved out of sound.

The track list:

1. Golden Spiral
2. Tabu
3. Shadowline
4. Seven Holy Mountains

The running time is slightly longer than 60 minutes, conventionally speaking.  It can seem both much longer and much shorter, or timeless when external clocks are removed and the full immersion of presence and attention is engaged with the music.  You can ENTER HERE.

Speaking of linear and nonlinear time, it also seems that the end of Seven Holy Mountains connects with the beginning of Golden Spiral.  The former suggests Alejandro Jodorowsky's iconoclastic film, The Holy Mountain known to be an allegory on the art of Alchemical transformation.  Mount Analogue, a Gurdjieff influenced book by Rene Damaul is another Holy Mountain allegory of personal transformation.  For instance:

"One finds here, very rarely in the low lying areas, more frequently as one goes farther up, a clear and extremely hard stone that is spherical and varies in size—a kind of crystal, but a curved crystal, something extraordinary and unknown on the rest of the planet. Among the French of Port-des-Singes, it is called peradam. Ivan Lapse remains puzzled by the formation and root meaning of this word. It may mean, according to him, "harder than diamond," and it is; or "father of the diamond," and they say that the diamond is in fact the product of the degeneration of the peradam by a sort of quartering of the circle or, more precisely, cubing of the sphere. Or again, the word may mean "Adam's stone," having some secret and profound connection to the original nature of man. The clarity of this stone is so great and its index of refraction so close to that of air that, despite the crystal's great density, the unaccustomed eye hardly perceives it. But to anyone who seeks it with sincere desire and true need, it reveals itself by its sudden sparkle, like that of dewdrops. The peradam is the only substance, the only material object whose value is recognized by the guides of Mount Analogue. Therefore, it is the standard of all currency, as gold is for us."

Mount Analogue was one source for Jodorowsky's film.  Seven Holy Mountains sounds like the alchemical journey, climbing the mountain, expressed and translated as music.  One can mine the peradem, the imperishable stone of Self, there.  Feels even more effective when followed by Golden Spiral and another cycle through.  The music and sound design of Against Empire repeats cycles within cycles differently each time.

The idea of connecting the ending to the beginning to create an endless cycle or an M.C. Escher-like effect famously began in contemporary times with Finnegans Wake by James Joyce which ends in the middle of a sentence, yet continues with the beginning of the book.  Other writers have played around with this technique, most notably Vladimir Nabokov and Thomas Pynchon.  Laswell applies it to music extremely effectively.

Due to the timing of its release, I consider Against Empire as another occult response to the current crisis whether intended or not.  Its magical function was demonstrated to me pretty quickly via synchronicity.  After listening to the complete album for the first time yesterday, I picked up my book, Within A Budding Grove by Marcel Proust and saw this:

Convinced that the music to which I had been listening contained the loftiest of truths, I was trying to elevate myself as far as I could, so as to attain a comprehension of them, and was attributing to them, all that was best and most profound in my own nature at that time.

Against Empire sounds amazing!  I'm listening on my new Neumann KH 120 studio monitors which are very transparent, analytical and not at all flattering.  They let you know exactly what is there, a rich palette of multitimbral instrumentation and processing.  Expertly engineered by James Dellatacoma, the sound design by the production team employs extremely tasteful, varied and dynamic use of effects.  They architecturally design music environments that expand the known universe of sound.  The  mood created by the sound at the drum entry of Golden Spiral recalls Fourth World Volume 1: Possible Musics by Brian Eno and Jon Hassel if they had continued in that direction.
Highly recommended for anyone who wants to know what good production sounds like.

The remainder of this post gives a more detailed description of what you're in for should you accept this mission.  I copied and pasted it from the bandcamp page:

Over the course of three decades, visionary bassist/producer Bill Laswell has been one of the most prolific and restlessly creative forces in contemporary music, always a few steps ahead of the curve, EVOLUTION/REVOLUTION.

AGAINST EMPIRE, a new category of magical, electro/acoustic technology. Further research may shed a most revealing light on the development of sound storage in material culture.

AGAINST EMPIRE projects a hybrid activity, constantly evolving texture crashes against smooth, unfolding rhythms built around the solid and elastic drum foundations of four iconic drummers - Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Hideo Yamaki (Japan's top dummer) and Satoyasu Shomura (Japanese pop phenomenon). The legendary saxophoniost Pharoah Sanders, especially known for his radical collaborations with John Coltrane, versatile multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, minimal contributions from the great Herbie Hancock on electric piano and the unmistakable touch of master percussionist Adam Rudolph.

AGAINST EMPIRE, an iconoclast offering of multi-directional movements .... avant-jazz, rock, dub, experimental, ambient, sub-bass and on and on .... a dream colonization, a bizarre image of paradise, an imagined quality of elsewhere, constructs of the imagination, essence of difference.

Nothing is True, Everything Is Permitted







Bill Laswell: bass, effects
Pharoah Sanders: saxophone
Peter Apfelbaum: saxophone, flute, keyboards
Herbie Hancock: electric piano
Jerry Marotta: drums
Chad Smith: drums
Hideo Yamaki: drums
Satoyasu Shomura: drums
Adam Rudolph: percussion

Created at Orange Music, West Orange, NJ
Engineering: James Dellatacoma
Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at TurtleTone Studio, NYC
Photo by Toshiya Suzuki
Artwork by Yoko Yamabe @ Randesign
M.O.D. Reloaded: Dave Brunelle, Yoko Yamabe


Monday, April 6, 2020

An Occult Response to Crisis Part II

This is a response from Erica M Cornelius to the last post.  Erica is a writer and editor among other things.  She helped produce the recent book, Crossing the Abyss, written by her husband Jerry Cornelius. 

Oz 93

I love what Jodorowsky had to say and I love your post.

In confronting death on the horizontal plane right now, we are collectively invited to learn the lesson of Death.  "Death" is the ongoing culmination of the alchemical Quest.  That full engagement of the great Quest is called the reddening (rubedo).

As I see it, that lesson for each one of us is to realize our authentic, individual form as the Holy Grail, as the Form of all form, Prakriti.  Each one of us is already eternal – in our specificity as well as in our universal essence! – if only it is realized.

How do we realize what seems to be our separateness and our vulnerability as the Holy Grail itself?  There's no easy answer, but there is a simple one.  Each one of us must Balance the prevailing attention toward the multiplicity outward with a corresponding and equal attention to the unity within.  That solution includes knowing Self, and it is a lifelong quest.  The present pandemic poses an invitation to deepen that balancing act, or to get started.

As I'm guessing you already know, Death is the name of the Tarot path corresponding to the Hebrew letter Nun 50.  Nun connects Netzach-Venus—Love—with Tiphareth-Sun-Beauty.  Death is intimately connected to the Heart.

Love in Venus is Bhakti.  It is the fervent dedication of all one is to the Whole.

Beauty in the Sun is Harmony‚—the balanced engagement of all of the various components of one's incarnation this time around.

Nun-Death is the path of the Woman in alchemy.  Females approach it differently than males, but, regardless, to tread it requires that we embrace our physical and psychological embodiment, our separateness.  To embrace it requires courage.  I'm glad you used that word. 

Why courage?  Because it is not enough anymore to wallow in our egoic pursuits.  Also because it is not enough anymore to run away from our animal form and from our supposed imperfections toward the admittedly glorious Christ aspect.  The feminine (specific form) can no longer remain regarded as evil and pestilent.  Balance is now required between the form and the essence below the Abyss even as IT is unified eternally Above.

So on the one hand the pandemic invites us to face our egoic illusions and phantoms—our Bullshit—when it comes to every last thing we ever felt, thought or done.  If we were to die today, those illusions would be shown to us as empty fantasies.  If you've ever been with someone who is dying, you know this.  

Yet on the other hand, the pandemic also calls us to loosen our egoic attachment to what we really are!  It invites us to see who and what we are for its crystalline structure, for its potential.  It invites us to live who we really are and who we must be for the sake of All Beings Everywhere.  Our curse is our gift if we courageously live it as such.  

We need courage because we must not be afraid to die.  To be afraid to die is to cling to our illusions, when in fact what is real about us can never die.  Death is only a change of form.  The Source of Form and the Source of Life are eternally unified in a state of pure potential.  Manifestations change to protect the innocent as well as to satisfy those who know.

Death requires the magical link to be made securely.  To die properly, one must have rapture, and that rapture must be devoted exclusively to one's own Divinity.  A great deal of rubbish clearing has to happen in order to have the courage to "follow one's bliss" to quote Joseph Campbell.  This pandemic invites us to see what automatically stokes our passion and to follow it.

This pandemic invites us to appreciate the impermanence and rarity of any given form. Cherish it.  Cherish it.

It says, "Be who you are.  Make the most of your life.  You shall never pass this way again.

93 93/93 Erica M. Cornelius

Friday, April 3, 2020

An Occult Response to Crisis

Two days ago Bill Laswell & Yoko Yamabe broadcast a response from Alejandro Jodorowsky to the current pandemic situation containing crucial information for psychological and psychic survival.

Jodorowsky is most well known in occult circles for his experimental films, The Holy Mountain, an abstract alchemical allegory, and El Topo, a journey through the desert of the Abyss.  He is also considered a Master of the Tarot.

He is calling for strength:

STRENGTH voluntarily faces suffering to progress and fulfill the great work.

This recalls and resonates with what Aleister Crowley called for during the height of Nazi dominance in World War II.  He wrote a one page document outlining the Rights of Man and called it Liber Oz.  Oz is an ancient Hebrew word that means both STRENGTH and COURAGE.  Immediately upon publication, Crowley mailed it to all the prominent people he had addresses for, his version of Facebook friends.  The liber was not only a call for strength and courage during the height of crisis, it also served as a Magical Act for Crowley.  He intended for change to occur.  Ten days after its publication, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor brining the Americans into the global conflict eventually changing the course of the war.

We may thus infer some probability that Jodorowsky's statement also intends to serve as a Magical Act, to cause change to occur.  We know his capability to express himself that way,

The second half of the message begins with JOIN.  It may be hard to see on my blog so I'll type the words below it.  First, Jodorowsky is a Tarot master so it seems likely to find correspondences in his communication.  JOIN = 140 = 14 x 10 = Venus x Malkuth, or love in the material world.

Joining reality is letting go of what you think you own.  You tie yourself to inaccessible objects, awaken your inner wealth.
JOIN: leaving aside differences and paddling for the same side, otherwise, drags us the stream of discouragement and loneliness.  Everyone must join or walk away, walk away or join.  Only a giant can unite without sticking.  Everything that ascends ends up uniting.  
This indicates that those who develop their conscience end up joining  the other conscious beings.

   * * * * * *    

The highway is for gamblers better use your sense, 
take what you have gathered from coincidence.

- Bob Dylan, It's All Over Now Baby Blue

Coincidentally, shortly before the pandemic took off in the U.S. an international group of readers finished an examination of The Widow's Son by Robert Anton Wilson at the end of which he gives tips for pain management: good music, humor, and keeping a cheerful attitude despite the pain.

Inside this novel we find many confrontations with death.  Several times coincident with death I noted imagery connected to Tiphareth, the Grand Central Station on the Tree of Life and home of the heart chakra.  In esoteric research I have frequently seen this connection between death and the heart as if the latter solved the problem of the former.  The Egyptian Book of the Dead gives a notable example of this with instructions for the departing soul to unite with Osiris whose home is in Tiphareth.

Our society is currently confronting an atmosphere of death, literal in the prognostication of pandemic deaths and those who have already died.  Death, and the possibility of death blankets the mainstream media.  Also a figurative or metaphorical death that completely changes our life creating an unknown future.  All that death naturally opens the heart if it can get past fear to some degree.

Two very recent artistic releases seem an occult response to the current death crisis.  One, a new song by Bob Dylan,  Murder Most Foul, seems intentionally timed.  The other one, a release of a new edition of Ishtar Rising by Robert Anton Wilson seems coincidental, unintentionally very well timed.  This book offers many solutions to psychological and psychic survival in an atmosphere of fear and death.  These two artistic releases have connections beyond appearing at the same time.  Both communicate magic.

The magic appears quite obvious in Ishtar Rising.  I don't have the new edition, just ordered it, but do have the first edition of it from 1974 and believe the text is the same.  It was originally called The Book of the Breast and was published by Playboy Press.  Tom Jackson wrote a review outlining the differences here ,you can also order the new edition from a link there.  Breast connects with Tiphareth due to proximity with the heart chakra.

I haven't read it in a long time, but skimming through it, it obviously contains magic allusions and techniques.  The first words in the book are: "The words of magic, O my brothers: ..."  At the end of the first paragraph he quotes the final four lines from Ulysses by James Joyce, a very powerful incantation, it makes the connection between breasts and the heart evident and ends with "yes I said yes I will Yes."

The penultimate sentence in Ishtar Rising conjures the Golden Dawn.  The title of Chapter 1: "It Began with an Erection" clearly alludes to Kether on the Tree of Life.  The title of Chapter 6: The Breast Expressed and the Breast Possessed seems right for Tipharteh-6 and we're back to talking about solutions again.

Dylan's Murder Most Foul, obviously conjuring death into the conversationis a historical prose/poem with a soundscape centered around the Kennedy assassination.  He regards the death of JFK as the sacrifice of the Divine King in much the same way that Robert Anton Wilson does in Cosmic Trigger I leading me to wonder if the well-read Dylan read Wilson?

Like many historical pieces, this song reflects and responds to conditions of the current time.  The solutions it offer appear mostly musical and magical.

What's new pussycat
What did I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it's beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it's 36 hours past Judgement Day

Wolfman Jack, he's speaking in tongues
He's going on and on at the top of his lungs

Play me a song Mr. Wolfman Jack

Every line after that begins with the word "play."  Play = 121 = 11 x 11 = magick, energy tending to change, multiplied by itself.

Wolf corresponds with Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child.  Speaking in tongues suggests multiple layers of information.
"He's going on and on at the top of his lungs" produces the Thelemic formula ON.

Like Ishtar Rising, Dylan invokes the Goddess:

Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe
Play Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstoood
Play it for the First Lady
She ain't feeling any good

A few lines later we find the band Queen with the lines:

Play Another One Bites the Dust
Play The Old Rugged Cross
and In God We Trust

The last two lines recall to me the Rosy Cross formula, yet another solution.

Continuing to (qabalistically) speak in tongues through his Wolfman Jack character, Dylan writes:

Play number nine 
Play number six
Play it for Lindsay 
and Stevie Nicks. 

Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were a couple who enjoyed tremendous success in Fleetwood Mac when the two of them were romantically involved.  This represents alchemy, the blending of disparate elements to synergestically produce something greater - thus giving another approach to a solution to the crisis.  The alchemy connection is shown in the previous two lines.  The path that connects the ninth Sephira Yesod to the sixth Sephira Tiphareth, the path of Samech, corresponds with the Temperance or Art (in the Thoth deck) card in the Tarot.

In his commentary in The Book of Thoth Crowley writes:

" ... and the card is (in its most simple and primitive form) a picture of Diana the Huntress.  Diana is primarily one of the lunar goddesses ... who is also the Great Mother of Fertility, Diana of the Epheseans, Many-Breasted. ( A form of Isis ...)

Many-Breasted connects with RAW's Ishtar Rising (Book of the Breast).  Stevie Nicks often appeared to embody the goddess archetype.

This path leads from the Moon of Yesod to the Sun of Tiphareth.  Crowley speaks of the alchemical mixture in symbolic terms: The Red Lion has become white, and increased in size and importance, while the White Eagle, similarly expanded has become red.  I mention this because a few lines earlier in Murder Most Foul Dylan alludes to the Eagles band and quotes their song title and lyric: Take it to the limit and let it go by.

Later in the commentary Crowley suggests a solution to a problem.  He puts a Latin inscription in the card that translates as "'Visit the interior parts of the earth; by rectification thou shalt find the hidden stone.' ... This 'hidden stone' is also called the Universal Medicine"   The whole commentary on this card in The Book of Thoth can be read for a better understanding of this.

As Jerry Cornelius points out, the path of Samech also signifies the Magical Link.  In a highly recommended piece appearing in ESSAYS Volume 8, On the Magical Link: On Art he employs the same alchemical metaphor Jodorowsky used:

"Once we have entered the Rainbow, our goal is to achieve the path of Art which is the next and most important stage to climb the Holy Mountain.  This is because it creates a Magical Link between you and your inner Star." - ESSAYS Volume 8, p. 16

Play it for Lindsay - Lindsay = 165 = "To make them know" and "An assembly."
I worked with Lindsay Buckingham very briefly, 2 days.  He's a tasteful guitar player.

The end of this song shows connections between love and death.

Play Merchants of Venice
Play Merchants of Death
Play Stella by Starlight
for Lady Macbeth

Some of these read a little like Nostradamus' quatrains, don't they? The above alludes to the Star Tarot card.

At one point we are told:

Don't worry Mr. President
Help's on the way

The whole song is worth hearing and interpreting this way.  Dylan provides multiple levels of sense but I'll close it with this apt quatrain for the current predicament:

Wake up little Suzy
Let's go for a drive
Across the trinity river
Let's keep hope alive.

* * * * * * 

On Monday of the second week of social distancing I received the new book from Jerry and Erica Cornelius, CROSSING THE ABYSS and into the Aeon of the Daughter.  How perfectly timed, I thought, to see this title at this moment.  Society really seems to be crossing an abyss, definitely not the same one the book is about, but nonetheless a dissolution of society's collective ego - the way things normally are, and a journey through treacherous territory full of fear and illusion into the unknown getting stripped of everything you think you have or are in the process.

The subtitle tells what it's about: The magical story of Aleister Crowley and Charles Stanfeld Jones.  It's an extremely interesting and excellent book for those so inclined.  I will provide a lengthier review after I finish reading it. 

I've come across a couple of things that align with this blog, An Occult Response to Crisis.  The first is a quote from Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on The Book of the Law found on page 75 in Crossing the Abyss:

To us the essence of Love is that it is a sacrament unto Nuith, a gate of grace and a road of righteousness to Her High Palace, the abode of peerless purity whose lamps are the Stars.

And this from Liber A'ASH vel Capricorni Pneumatici quoted on page 86 in Crossing the Abyss:

37. But the progress is progress, and progress is rapture, constant dazzling, showers of light, waves of dew, flames of the hair of the Great Goddess, flowers of the roses that are about her neck, Amen!

Jodorowsky calls for STRENGTH and says that it comes from an invincible will.  I am calling for COURAGE, something I need for myself to cheerfully navigate these days.