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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Be Post Modern

So yesterday I got to thinking about the idea of the new generation of magicians who have focused on exploring the grimoires, and ancient magical systems, actual tantra and Buddhism as opposed to Western appropriations, and actual Afro-Caribbean systems as a means of getting back to authentic vibrant living magic as opposed to magic as a psychological or social endeavor as being more authentically Post Modern than Chaos Magic.

I wrote down my thoughts and posted them to the Book of Faces and it occurred to me that this particular FB note was really basically just a blog post, and I should probably just start a we are.

Anyway, it could easily be interpreted that I am intending to insult the groups and movements which I suggest to fall into the "Modern" period of magic. I am not. I'm part of at least two organizations that fall within what I'm referring to as Modern. I think there is a lot of benefit to material from the Late Pre-Modern, Early Modern, and Modern phases of magic, but I don't think that it's an example of Post-Modernism, and I think the ideologies and approaches which I'm viewing as Post-Modern have a significant benefit.

Anyway, I don't really go much into what is Post Modern, but here are my thoughts on what's not.

Chaos Magic attempted to position itself within the realm of the Post-Modern as a way of suggesting that it is a sleek cutting edge reality bending meta-modality. It has elements associated with the post modern in its attempts at pastiche and satirical aesthetics. I would posit however that Chaos Magic is part of the subcultural development of Modernism within magic.

The transition to Modernism is characterized by a dialectic relationship between the traditional and the new which culturally represented in questions regarding the family, urbanization and industrialization, morality, the community as an organism, and other related topics. In magic we can see this development but several decades later than in cultural studies examining more general western culture. The advent of orders like the Golden Dawn, the OTO, the various Theosophical groups, and the other masonry and Rosicrucian based orders of the time were largely a continuation of the traditions stemming out of the Enlightenment era. Nothing about these organization represented a particular modernizing current in the magical community. Temple magic was still largely for the educated and leisure classes and it was largely a fraternal and social endeavor. Views or ideas about the workings of magic or its place in society were not experiencing dramatic upheaval, although there were changes in the terminology used, and publication increased largely because of changes in society at large. 

We begin to see a shift more like that of Modernism with the rebirth of these organizations after their stagnation. A more commercial approach to occult publication tied to city centers, and mass market exposure develops, and the rebirth of both the Golden Dawn and the OTO were connected to these shifts in publication. Magic expands to embrace a less class conscious approach as it seeks to pick up young people looking to explore their minds. The shift towards a discussion of psychology that was beginning to the end of the Late Pre-Modern incarnation of magic in the writings of Fortune and Regardie now dominates magical thinking and discourse regarding the exact interrelation of the mind and external phenomena becomes central with the embrace of the more modern psychological model holding sway.

The development of Chaos Magic and the IOT occurs within this phase. The appearance of cultural rebellion didn't rebel against the rest of the magical community of its time; it was generally coherent with society at that time. The metamodel approach, while novel, seemed focused on psychological underpinnings which were part of the general modern proposition of magic and were being largely accepted even outside of Chaos magic. The discourse that birthed Chaos Magic was the same discourse that shaped the modern incarnations of the turn of the century magical movement.

To put it more simply, Tradition poses a statement, Modernism recognizes that statement and realizes that it poses the question, “can tradition survive in a more technologically advanced world?” and it provides an answer that embraces technological advancement, (the survival of tradition is less relevant to this relationship, but Modernity asserts the subversion of surviving elements of tradition relative to the primacy of the Modern context).

Post-Modernism sees the answer provided by Modernism and determines that it was a failure. Modernity is rejected and the structure is broken. There is no dialectic discourse. Post Modernism embraces the schizophrenic pastiche of hyper-existence, or the inter-textuality of ideas and phenomena as expressed by the structure presented in hypermedia. The result of this rather than dialectic should be synthesis. The answer in a Post Modern world is that the summation of phenomena and information while apparently discordant clearly coexist, subverting the concept that the cacophony of existence is fundamentally discordant and implying that the summation while experienced as a constant stream of pieces creates an expression in which the juxtapositions inform one another. In such a model the traditional and the technological modalities exist as a shifting dynamism as opposed to a one sided solution to a dialectic problem.