Monday, January 23, 2023

Interview with Layman Pascal for his Integral Stage Author Series

 

My YouTube interview with Layman Pascal for his Integral Stage Author Series just went up. The podcast was prompted by the publication of Masks of Origin, my first book of essays, but the conversation ranges broadly over issues related to creative process, spiritual exploration, other-dimensional guidance, the relationship of speech to silence, and the paradoxical nature of time. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyWzWn_99aA

My recently published book of essays, Masks of Origin: Regression in the Service of Omnipotence, is available through Untimely Books: 

https://untimelybooks.com/book/masks-of-origin/

 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Art of Deep-Sea Fishing

 


C.J. Moore wrote,

 It was as if the poem came to life, and it was now reading itself from the great poem of the cosmos. This was happening on so many levels that I was just a twig in a maelstrom. I danced with the experience, but it was like dancing with a shark. I would find myself sitting in the university library, with my eyes buried in corridors of Egyptian temples that wound their sentences through languages that have long since vanished in the sands of time, and I would suddenly wake up with a start and I would be reading Aurelia by Nerval, and I would see myself walking through the streets of Paris, following Nerval's footsteps. I was seeing the hallucinations he saw, seeing where he was going in dark rooms when the vision stood before his astonished gaze. Then I would suddenly wake hours later walking down the hill from the university, not knowing how I got there, and I would stop and feel the last light filtering through the trees and wonder “Who are you?”

 I responded: When I taught junior high art, I developed a strategy that I referred to as “creative disorientation.” Many students could not remember that, from the ages of three to seven, they were once in love with art, and most had come to believe they did not have any talent. ‘Show; don’t tell,” was the operative principle. It was not that I did not have any clear-cut goals in mind. A goal would be clear to me, but not to them, and, by a process of “reverse engineering,” I would lead students into an almost unbearable state of disorientation, which would swell into a kind of cognitive crisis. I was familiar with this mini-version of the abyss. I had stared into it. It had spoken back. While the experience of disorientation would be particular to each, I knew the general habits that were preventing these students from gaining access to their talents. Reactions would be supervised. Adjustments would be made. A nudge here. A show of support there. At some point, almost inevitably, a student’s cognitive crisis would flip over into a breakthrough, and it would open up a space in which real learning could occur.

 In situations such as the one that you describe, in which a hair’s breadth separates a breakthrough from a breakdown, I sometimes wonder if this is what is going on. With a goal that is clear to them, but not to us, perhaps our other-dimensional teachers have reverse engineered a confrontation with the abyss. To this end, no academic knowledge would be adequate, and no human teacher could see far enough ahead. Then too, such teachers know that ecstasy is our primal out-of-body state, and they do not lose any sleep if the student must be tortured. Some degree of disorientation is a small enough price to pay to learn to what extent our vision has been compromised. We tend to see what we expect to see. We fail to grasp the thread that would lead us through the labyrinth.

 It is tempting to theorize that other methods could have been used, that a different path would have led to the same end. Could our teachers not have given us a true and false questionnaire? “When I was a boy of fourteen,” Mark Twain writes, “my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” So too, it can be difficult for us to see that our teachers know much of anything, until, turning back, we note that the Earth has become a small speck in the distance, and we then exclaim, “Aha!”

 A straight line is not always the shortest distance between two points, and certainly not in the education of a poet. If we had learned more about French Symbolism and Surrealism in school, it would have made it much more difficult for us to discover these things for ourselves and would have removed much of the fun and mystery from the process. Lautreamont would have become an eccentric version of Longfellow. The quiz on Les Fleurs du Mal would have been as subversive as the one on Hiawatha. Revolutionary fervor would have been graded on a curve, and school policy would have demanded that each essay should be taken back whole from a dream. If, with a wink, a cuneiform chanteuse were to wave to us from a street corner—too hot, too avant-garde to be true!—school policy would encourage us to make love to her in class. Upon climax, she would turn back into clay. Verese’s Arcana would be the school’s atonal fight-song, and Picasso’s “I do not seek; I find” the motto.

 Hey, those ideas could work! A Man Ray photo could be used for the cover of the High Modernism textbook, perhaps the famous one of Meret Oppenheim standing nude in front of a printing press, smeared in ink, with one hand lifted in an ambiguous gesture against her forehead. Our project would of course be subject to approval by the Texas State Board of Education.

   Continue reading in Scene4: International Magazine of Arts and Culture:

https://www.scene4.com/archivesqv6/2021/aug-2021/0821/briangeorge0821.html

My recently published book of essays, Masks of Origin: Regression in the Service of Omnipotence, is available through Untimely Books:

https://untimelybooks.com/book/masks-of-origin/

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Entering the Tunnel of Time in Cappadocia

 

Solon, you Hellenes are but children, and there is never an old man who is an Hellene…The human race is always increasing at times, and at other times diminishing in numbers. And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed—if any action which is noble or great, or in any other way remarkable has taken place, all that has been written down of old, and is preserved in our temples; whereas you and other nations are just being provided with letters and the other things which States require; and then, at the usual period, the stream from heaven descends like a pestilence, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and thus you have to begin all over again as children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves.—Egyptian priest to Solon, Plato, Timaeus

__

The year was 1973. I was 19. Most of my friends had left for college. After working all day in maintenance at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, I was free to spend six hours in the stacks of the Clark University Library. Later, after pouring a large glass of milk, I would then often stay up until 2:00 AM or so, listening to the crickets, watching the ghosts of sunken empires throw shadows across my ceiling. I would fill notebook after notebook with just barely legible writing, trying to translate my intuitions into some sort of linear form. On the plus side, this way of life created a single-pointed monastic focus. On the down side, I feared for my sanity. Over the preceding three years, I had experienced some violent surges of energy and involuntary vision states, and there did not seem much to block my being swallowed by the depths. 

I had no idea to what extent I could trust my internal guidance. At certain moments, I would feel that I was being, almost physically, swept off by an ocean. I would then be overcome by two contradictory types of nostalgia: the first, for the solid earth of my childhood, and the second, for this ocean’s other shore. Growing wider by the day, a hole had opened in my solar plexus, through which currents would pour, taking billions of my atoms with them. There did not seem to be any top part to my head. There were days when I didn’t dare to look at the horizon. I feared that it would eat me. As a practical matter, this was trickier than it sounds.

I should probably have searched for a spiritual teacher. I had no interest in cults, though, and I tended to associate the one with the other. If I ever did manage to locate such a creature, would they see me as more than another ghost, and how would I manage to test them? There were other, more important, reasons that I didn’t bother to search. I wasn’t good at following orders. If I was newly aware of the limits of my knowledge, I was still self-protectively arrogant. I did not mind making mistakes, and I had a strong desire to begin from where I was.

The key issue, though, is that I already had a teacher, of a kind, although it would probably be more accurate to refer to this shadowy presence as a catalyst. In dreams and out of body experiences, he was less of a calming, parental figure than a threat, just as much of a trickster as a guide. In one dream, for example, I was nailed to a cross and left to hang for several hours. “See, that was not so bad,” he said. In another, I plummeted like a comet from the sky and hit the ground. Contrary to what some researchers claim, it is quite possible to feel pain in a dream. “Am I dead?” I asked this guide. “That is a matter of opinion,” he said.

Then, in 1973, at the age of 19, I had the first and longest of a series of dreams that would stealthily reshape my relationship to time, that would lead me to see our theories of history as absurd, defensive structures. In this “dream,” which lasted for five hours or six hours, off and on—I woke up for a few minutes every hour or so—my guide and I had rolled aside a large stone in what seemed to be the Cappadocia region of Turkey to then enter a winding tunnel. This tunnel led to what would be the uppermost of a long series of collapsing cultures.

We would wander, unseen by the local populations, through marketplaces and theaters and academies and governmental buildings and cult centers and sonically-attuned circles, observing with wide eyes, only to have to escape, at the last minute, when these strata were destroyed by meteors, floods, fires, earthquakes, and invading armies. A crack in a wall would open, or we would jump into a well, or a stairway would lead down. On certain strata, the chaos was there from the beginning, with the swirling of crowds, the storming of encampments, the burning of gardens, the random smashing of works of art, the extermination of tribes, the massing of unknown forces in the distance, and always, we would, at the last minute, just barely manage to escape, going down, then further down.

So, this dream, if you could call it that, planted the seed of my later orientation towards deep time. In 1995, when Klaus Schmidt began his excavation of Gobekli Tepe—a vast temple complex dating to at least 10,000 BC and then deliberately buried circa 8000 BC—I was not in the least surprised. That is, I was not surprised that the site was there. What was surprising was that it had taken so long for an archeologist to take an interest. As I found out later, the site had actually been discovered in 1963, by University of Chicago and University of Istanbul archeologists, and then promptly written off. Were those the tips of 14-20-foot Paleolithic t-stones? No, probably just some Medieval rubble. Why would anyone think otherwise?

Continue reading at Dark Mountain:

https://dark-mountain.net/entering-the-tunnel-of-time-in-cappadocia/

My book Masks of Origin: Regression in the Service of Omnipotence is available through Untimely Books.

https://untimelybooks.com/book/masks-of-origin/ 


Black Gold: Pluto's Helmet of Invisibility, Excerpt

Although I came of age physically during the later days of the counterculture, my first period of creative maturity—in the late 1970s—coincided with the death knell of the counterculture and the birth of punk. In Boston, the transition from one to the other was more natural than one might guess. A lot of countercultural energy had already turned dark by the beginning of the decade. We had stamped our collective foot against the shadow of the empire, and still that shadow grew. We could not stop Agent Orange from destroying 18,000 square miles of forest. We could not prevent dioxin from disfiguring the limbs of the not yet born. We could not stop napalm from burning at 2200 degrees, or Dow Chemical from making billions. For evil to triumph, it was only necessary for good men to believe in their own virtue, to assume that their good intentions were enough. Our chanting had purged only two percent of the demons from the ocean. The rest were perhaps annoyed.

 Cults had vacuumed up the survivors of entheogenic breakthroughs, the wide-eyed, the fearless, the utterly unprepared. Did the “shattering of the ego” always lead to greater peace of mind? Without an ego, it was difficult to tell. It had just come out that the FBI had sent agents to teach bomb-building skills to the Weathermen, or so the rumor went. Taste in music was no guarantee that a radical could be trusted. The most violent of subversives could be agent-provocateurs. The Lords of Deep Time had appointed Altamont to be the Mother of All Battles. She had, quite unexpectedly, announced the end of an era. She buzzed like angry wasps. Rolling thunder was her jewelry. She set the tone for the next decade, but she only hinted at the disillusionments to come. The Age of Aquarius had lasted for five years or so. Seeds planted on February 18th, 3102 B.C., were only just then coming to fruition. Having skipped a beat, the Kali Yuga had returned.

 There was, in fact, no shelter to be had. There was no deferment for the bourgeois psyche, no evolutionary saferoom at Big Sur. With breathtaking stealth, in a triumph of the behaviorist black arts, the Revolution had been corporatized. Many objects only looked like objects; they had morphed into commodities. The orgone would continue to darken until there was no way to distinguish a real vision from its logo. Mescaline was out; speed was in. It would soon be replaced by cocaine. Free love back-to-the-land communes had gone the way of Atlantis. The free love, in some approximate form, survived. By the mid-1970s, STDs had staged a full-frontal assault on the dream that sex led to liberation. AIDS—then working undercover in the Belgian Congo—would soon make its debut. Antibiotics would begin to lose their alchemical cure-all status. Already, having whet its teeth in the Golden Triangle, the CIA was testing its joint-venture model with South and Central American drug gangs. The scent of paranoia was as common as the scent of marijuana. A knock on the door meant that it was necessary to escape onto the roof.

 It was said at the time, “All politics is personal,” which led us to assume that each small act was being scrutinized. It was also true that global forces were in motion, and we would learn that our anxieties did not go deep enough. There was no way to put a face on the decentralized plutocracy. It was everywhere. It was nowhere. Hundreds of thousands of jobs per year were already being outsourced, and once middle-class workers were beginning to suspect that they had been repurposed as serfs. Factories had turned into bird houses. There were no trains in the freight yards. Many sensed that there was something wrong. What is was, who knew?

Continue reading at Dark Mountain:

https://dark-mountain.net/black-gold-plutos-helmet-of-invisibility/

My book Masks of Origin: Regression in the Service of Omnipotence is available through Untimely Books.

https://untimelybooks.com/book/masks-of-origin/

 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

 


A few weeks back, I thought I would glance at my blog. My book Masks of Origin: Regression in the Service of Omnipotence had just come out, and I thought I might post a link if I could still gain access. Since I haven’t posted anything since 2017, I was quite surprised to find that the blog was still receiving 450-500 pageviews per month. For anyone who might be interested, this is just to let you know that will be posting some excerpts from the book, along with excerpts from and links to recent publications in online magazines and journals. (I guess I should probably also take a lot of the older material down, most of which has been either scrapped or revised a dozen times over.) Masks of Origin: Regression in the Service of Omnipotence is the first in a series of six books that Untimely Books is planning to publish, at a rate of probably one per year. Here is a link to the order page for the book.

https://untimelybooks.com/book/masks-of-origin/

Comments on Masks of Origin

Blending fantasy and history, fiction and myth, the essays of Brian George read like scripture from a lost civilization or the dream journal of a buried god. Intimate yet strangely universal, this is prose that touches on the very essence of poetry. It wipes away boundaries and liberates forces in the reader and in language itself. Masks of Origin is perhaps best described as a history of our collective soul, as seen through the prism of a singular mind. Surely, George is one of the rare living writers who truly deserve to be called visionary.

J.F. Martel, author of Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action and co-host of the Weird Studies podcast

The demand for things to simply “be what they are”—no symbols, no masks, just fungible commodities that are forgotten almost as soon as they are consumed to make way for the next meal—seems to be a hallmark of this age. If that is so, some might consider this book a sort of anachronism. But it’s the opposite: a glimpse both of what has been forgotten, and is yet to be. It contains a world of puzzles and ciphers laid out upon the meandering labyrinth path of life. It won’t get you rich, or laid, or cure your bunions. But for those who are still seeking the ineffable, (likely because they have no other choice), it is a pitcher of cool water in the desert, so that you might continue the journey, wherever it leads.

James Curcio, author of Narrative Machines: Modern Myth, Revolution, & Propaganda and Tales From When I Had A Face

In Masks of Origin, Brian George will blow your mind and make you see everything—time, space, life, death—in radically new ways. This is a delightful combination of memoir and philosophical journey. The ideas are complex, but the language is easy to follow, creating an experience that is both profound and accessible. The book is filled with personal stories that touch universal truths. I love hearing about mystical experiences and have heard many amazing stories, but Brian’s stand out for their vividness, depth, and engaging, lucid description. If you’re in the mood for a fun and mind-expanding ride, read this book!

Stephanie Wellen Levine, author of Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey among Hasidic Girls; Columnist at Hevria and The Wisdom Daily

George’s work is precisely its own thing: an archaic genre the western world has long forgotten it possessed, a genre I suspect was already defunct to the Western imagination even at the time of Homer. George is a phenomenal pagan, thrown forwards or backwards in time to this era. I will hesitate to call his work poetry, not that it does not more than serve the function of poetry, but his method is one that predates the definitions we have given poetry in modern literary theory. It is primal incantation, a spell, dreaming as vital action. In Yorubaland, the part of Nigeria where I grew up, one of the praise epithets of Aziza (a supernatural being who travels in a tornado) is, ‘He is the one for whom thought and action are one and the same.’

I read recently that in Holland they have perfected a method that enables their asphalt roads to automatically discover their potholes and repair themselves. I believe the incantation genre, as explored by George in Masks of Origin, is a technology that assists the earth in her attempts to heal herself, after centuries of our having feasted recklessly on her flesh. George’s work harks back to a moment in time or dreamtime memory in which to speak is to act, powerfully, with cosmic stealth, and at times with purgative violence. Its aim is less to inform—though it informs aplenty—than to widen the reader’s gaze in a fundamental way, almost akin to giving the reader the gift of a new tongue.

Olujide Adebayo-Begun, author of The Book of Supreme Happiness

The universe had no beginning. Reality always existed. The earliest tradition of poetry, carried from Sun to Sun, is carried by Brian George.

Don Burgy, artist, writer, teacher

Brian George steps over voids with legs that are rainbows, which snap like bands back into his body, catapulting him into the abyss. He free-falls, unwinding from the eye of Providence and plummeting down the spine of Babel.   Leaving more than just a smoking crater, he penetrates to the earth’s molten core, absorbing the shock of earthquakes and storing the energy in his bones, tracing what lay scattered, no matter how disparate and disjointed, back to primal source. He plunges all back in the fire and melts it down to extract what will endure.

Cooling after his incredible creative and alchemical process of solitary determination, Brian George emerges on the other side of earth with an ice-cap on his head, with new tools crafted, new weapons forged, and a new voice and new language even, both intimate and epic, manifold and polyphonic, in his Masks of Origin.

John Dockus, artist

 Steeped in myth while staying grounded in day-to-day reality, George ushers forth a contemplative surreality. His writing takes you on a journey through a labyrinth, revealing cryptic truths and exposing the long and treacherous shadow of history. Round and round the labyrinth you go, George’s words leading you like Theseus in search of the Minotaur. And when you have reached the center of the labyrinth, you find God as a detonating atomic bomb—truth as monstrosity, a darkness that illuminates.

Brandan Styles, artist and weirdo spirit

The writing of Brian George is built upon personal experience, which he translates into a universal algorithm. Each verse reads as geometrical sequence, keys that unlock pieces of consciousness. This is where poetry becomes music. The poet lives in the center of the vortex, memories flooding his vision, being assigned symbols in the matrix. Brian weaves his way through a hall of mirrors, travelling to emptiness, where the faceted diamond of knowledge is forged and brought to the surface in his writing. His words are clues; one’s understanding shifts and expands the more one reads. There are lingering questions, and passages that come into clarity over time. This only serves to enhance for the reader the incredible fortune of not-knowing, and thus, discovery.

Marjorie Kaye, artist and art reviewer

 Over a dozen or so years of experiencing George’s writing, I have developed my perception and understanding of it. The cosmology George paints is vast, complete with montages of events and characters. The painting emerges from direct yet oddly juxtaposed language. I savor each sentence until its imagery alights within my mind and then progresses to the next, flowing across dimensions of space and spans of time. The overall effect is of an open field of consciousness. And though the ideas and events may, at times, seem alien on the surface, the writing evokes an evanescent sense of recognition. Somehow, I participated. How do I return? George’s writing creates a bridge into that liminal space.

Jason Strobus White, Shamanic Practitioner and Technologist

 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Long Curve of Descent: Excerpts from Forum

Brian George

In the forum for “The Long Curve of  Descent,” my new piece on Metapsychosis, John Dockus commented on the final paragraph, which reads as follows: “All periods cohere in the one moment of my Memory. With a shock, one notes that the old becomes new. By the power of my austerities I have vacuumed up all of the water from the ocean. Cities shine there. I am Death—the Shatterer of Worlds. My weapon liberates multitudes.”

Among other things, John wrote, “That ending is extraordinary, with not just the appearance of Death, but the audacious embodying of it by the poet, who perhaps intoxicated by its power dares to proclaim, “I am Death--the Shatterer of Worlds.” Looking beyond Death and its ominous shadow, and suddenly seeing cities shining is startling, which seems to signal that Death is all-leveling and all-consuming but still finite and limited, and possesses a double movement, not only toppling and killing, bringing to an end, but also clearing and preparing the way for new beginnings.

I responded:

That leap into an archetypal voice at the end of the piece took me by surprise as well. Since it is a bit grandiose, perhaps, I wondered for a moment if I should keep it. I felt right, though, and I do my best to give full attention and respect to statements that come by themselves. Such statements can, of course, just as easily be gibberish or self-delusion as revelation. A big part of my education as a writer has had to do with learning to decipher who or what is speaking and where an image or intuition comes from. This can take a while, although I am much quicker at such things than I used to be. In the early 1990s, under the influence of a dramatic influx of spiritual energy, I wrote a book called “The Preexistent Race Descends”—about 60 pages or so—that seemed to be dictated by a kind of omniscient voice. This voice turned out to be anything but omniscient, at least in terms of its ability to sense whether or not its statements had any literary value at all.

Once the spell that I was under broke, I looked at what I had done in horror. Out of the whole book, there was barely a line worth saving. I kept the title and very little else. In retrospect, I have come to believe, somewhat paradoxically, that the voice that I heard during the writing of this book was, in fact, the voice of an authentic guide. The problem was that I had no way of knowing that its strategy was that of a trickster, and its goal was to thoroughly embarrass me. To gain the knowledge for which I had asked, it was indeed necessary that I open myself, injudiciously, even recklessly; at the same time, I was being pushed to perfect a kind of interdimensional bullshit detector. When I was studying to be an art teacher at the Massachusetts College of Art, I had a course in which we had to stand in front of the class and make an idiot of ourselves for ten minutes, with the idea of pushing through anxiety and self-consciousness to some sort of an open space beyond. This harsh and quite time-consuming lesson by whatever guide it was also helped to transpose my vantage point, so that, even as I was writing from direct personal experience, I was able to turn this experience to examine it from a multitude of angles.
 

Continute reading at
 
Image: Brian George, Hawk Mummy Floating on Ocean,
 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Long Curve of Descent (Excerpt)


Brian George

I have a new piece up in Metapsychosis called "The Long Curve of Descent." In it, I ask whether humans have been evolving or devolving over the past 12,000 years. I also compare and contrast the roles of the "healer" and the "catalyst." Take a look if you have a chance. Excerpt:

One morning, when I was four years old, I was sitting on the third-floor back porch of my family’s three-decker. It was 1958, and Worcester, Massachusetts, was still regarded as the industrial heart of New England. Looking out, I could see smoke puffing from tall smokestacks, a freight-yard and a railroad bridge, hills with houses perched on them that rolled into the distance, and, a few miles off, on one of the highest hills, the gothic architecture of Holy Cross College. How wonderful the day was! I could not have asked for a more perfect moment. My grandmother had given me a large chunk of clay. And then, I was no longer looking out over Worcester; no, I was hovering above the Amazon, making snakes, canoes, and villagers out of the substance in my hands.

As I worked, however, I became frustrated. It occurred to me that I had succumbed to a creative block. I grew angry. I could not believe what I was seeing. My hands were small. My mind just barely worked. My imagination seemed like a blunt instrument. As absurd as it sounds, I remembered what it was like to create real snakes and villagers.
 
Continue reading at