For contemporary magicians, the sense of being on the leading edge of cultural transition tends to be encapsulated in the concept of a new Aeon. Thus the profusion of 'new aeons' projected by various magical paradigms. So as not to be seen to be missing an essential item in their magical script, some Chaos Magicians have begun to project the glamour of the Fifth Aeon - the Pandemonaeon.
The concept of a new aeon has several magical functions:
Unlike many of the prevailing new aeons, the Pandemonaeon is envisaged as being different for each individual who projects themselves within its frame. Just as Chaos Magick emerges from the diversity and transience of modern culture, so does the Pandemonaeon typify the trend towards individualism becoming separate from any totalizing belief or narrative, be it metaphysical or scientific. So far, it has not been projected as an overall epoch that all will participate in, but an experience of culture which embraces, rather than attempting to resist the modern condition. Thus it is likely that this aeon is merely a transitory stage itself, and what lies beyond it, none can, with any certainty, say. Some Chaos Magicians are finding that this Fifth Aeon projection is useful for going beyond current definitions and limitations concerning what is accepted as magical. The next generation of magi might well discard the concept, in favour of a meta-projection which balances their experience of culture, with what possibilities are round the corner. The absence of inevitable future projections leaves only uncertainties, where nothing is true, and everything is permitted.
Projections of possible futures are hampered by existing cognitive habits, which tend to define the limits to which information can be used. For example, a dominant pattern used in the conceptualization of future progression is the idea of evolution. Evolution is sequential, collective, and seems to be a result of mutual decision-making. Evolutionary projections are locked into considering history as the prime source of useful data. Thus many people spend more time looking backwards, in order to try and theorize about the future. In contrast to the evolutionary paradigm, there is the design paradigm. Design breaks with the tradition of slowly working towards a goal and instead, examines a situation from its current status, and how that situation can be changed. Traditional cognitive habits tend to look backwards, whereas the design stance moves forward from what is current in the present. The aim of design is to move the boundary of Achievable Reality forwards. To design effectively requires a vision, or end-state.
Chaos Magick can be understood as the discovery and application of effective techniques and scripts to maximize human design for living.
The Ideosphere is a non-local space entered by the magician in order to explore possible models & paradigms which may be of use in configuring the Pandemonaeon. The Ideosphere is more of an attitude; a stance from which the magician can seek inspiration from any incoming information, be it newspaper articles, cartoons, flickering media images, scientific jargon, random acronyms, or half-heard phrases from another's conversation. An idea flashes into the Ideosphere; the magician may grasp it immediately or store it for later work. The main attitude to foster is that nothing, no matter how ridiculous, bizarre or unworkable should be rejected. Working from the Ideosphere, the magician allows himself to bathe in the emanations of the mass media until, sated and bloated, he withdraws into silence to digest, regurgitate, and create new forms.
Latching onto new ideas brings forth new perspectives on existing models and techniques. It brings forth new paradigms for structuring magical processes which in turn, may yield new techniques and applications. Here are a few ideas which magicians have appropriated from other sources, and made their own.
A powerful source of inspiration is the understanding of, and fascination with Virus Behaviour, whether it be the computer viruses which have revealed themselves to be the gremlins of the information age, or the biological viruses such as H.I.V, which is promoting vast amounts of research into how viruses behave. A third type of virus which has caught the imagination is the word-virus, or meme.
A virus is a set of instructions which invades larger systems, and induces them to carry out a complex sequence of replications which bring new copies of the virus into existence, and, during this process, the host system is altered in some way. This is true for computer viruses, biological viruses, and word-viruses. The emerging magical use of virus systems opens up new forms of understanding and applications alike.
Like organisms, memes replicate to perpetuate themselves; like organisms they are capable of fusion, recombination and mutation. They propagate themselves by leaping between nervous systems, growing in power and infecting further host vehicles through any communications channel that can be utilised to secure them a niche. Memes compete ruthlessly with each other, for the command of the perceptual field and transmission time. The success of a meme to occupy a prominent position in the host environment is dependent on its Performance Value (Pv) and its Propagation Quotient (Pq). Performance Value relates to the degree of change a meme brings to an individual or group. If the presence of a meme brings about increased cohesiveness, ambition and confidence, then the individual or group is more likely to promote the meme. The most successful memes are those which reduce anxiety in their hosts by providing a purpose or a stable location within a space-time projection. Some memes survive by reinforcing each other, supporting each other's message; reinforcing the overall impact. Other memes survive by discouraging rational analysis upon their content.
An obvious example of memes in action is religion. 'God' is a meme, 'Heaven' is a meme, and the punishment of 'eternal damnation' is a meme. A complex web of memes is known as a Scheme, which are comprehensive meshes of memes that propagate themselves through any available communications channel. The religious schemes which have almost totally infected the human environment are successful as they offer varying degrees of stability, participation, and can become tacitly self-evident to the level that they become not merely the host's worldview, but the world itself. The infected hosts live entirely within the parameters of the scheme, perhaps only vaguely aware of other worlds which exist beyond the scheme. Worlds which threaten the stable order of the invading scheme must be ignored, forced back, fought, or destroyed.
Of course the spread of a meme is dependent upon the reaction of the potential host. A sense of being a unique individual with a clear purpose in life is a strong human requirement in the current age, as the sense of being an individual distinct from any cultural attachments becomes progressively stronger. The deeply-felt alienation felt by many in these first stirrings of the Pandemonaeon makes them ripe hosts for infection by memes, locking individuals into safe spaces from which they can push back the buzzing, booming confusion of the everyday world.
Understanding the spread of memes leads the magician into the area of Control Commands - autonomic responses locked into language and patterns of thought. A growing concern for Pandemonaeonic magicians is the design of new approaches to conceptualizing, with attendant meta-languages for escaping the old habits of thinking. William Burroughs targets particular semantic traps which lock the human host into a narrow range of thinking: the definite article 'THE', the 'IS' of identity that does not allow for wider possibilities and assigns permanent status to verbal labels, the 'EITHER/OR' that only allows being wrong or being right. Crowley was on the right track when he urged his students to delete 'I' from their language. With no dominant 'I' there can appear a legion of selves: loose the daemons. Delete 'EITHER/OR' and open up a myriad of possibilities, none of which need to be wrong or right.
One of the simplest manifestations of viral text is the chain-letter, which uses the simple, yet effective 'carrot & stick' hook to propagate itself. A more insidious form of viral text shows up in thought and behaviour patterns. Consider the statement:
THE ILLUMINATI [x]
ARE TAKING OVER [y]
THE WORLD [z]
The explicit message of this statement is not important. The implied message is that group 'x' is attempting to do something 'y' to group 'z'. It is also implied that the recipient of the message should be (a) concerned, and (b) do something about it, lest they be perceived by the sender as siding with 'x' - the enemy. Beware of anyone who in all seriousness acts using viral messages, which have been one of the standby props of orthodoxy, be it political, religious, or magical. To propagate effectively, viral texts require potential hosts to be susceptible to the idea of an enemy group, action against which coheres their own sense of identity. Once a viral message is allowed to take root, then the host is open to invasion by other supportive memes - BEING RIGHT, and GETTING EVEN. Sources of much trouble and stupid, destructive behaviour.
In orthodox magick, great store is set upon a magical object being special or unique. There are the instructions to create unique talismans, buy virgin parchment, and to create objects for a specific purpose. There is said to be power in a unique object, particularly in these times or mass production and marketing.
But wait, there is power in mass production too. Consider the chaosphere, the central logo or glyph of Chaos Magick. It appears on books, magazines, letterheads, toy soldiers, jewellery and tattoos. It is used on rave posters and on the back of leather jackets. It has become itself a viral image. All that is required is a shift in perception and those thousands of chaospheres, wherever they are, become gateways for the ingress and egress of magical power.
Take two: A sorcerer acquires for himself a suitable receptacle for an act of magick. A three-inch high pink, plastic creature with a mane of fibrous hair, sometimes known as a 'Gonk'. There are thousands, perhaps even millions of Gonks in existence. All with a similar structure. So the sorcerer enchants upon his Gonk, and by the principle of Structural-Similarity, transmits that information to all the others. What he has here is the creation of a powerful Gonk-spirit, its qualities and attributions an encapsulation of the associations which are marketed as the 'image' of the Gonk. He has empowered the Gonks with spirit, and his own Gonk becomes the controller. In times of need, he can draw through his Gonk, the power of the others.
Take three: A young man is desirous of a lover. He sigilises his desire and likes the image so much that instead of destroying it, he photocopies it and disperses the images randomly. Lovers appear from all directions.
Objects need not be particularly striking or special to be magically useful. All that need happen is that the magician defines that object as magical - combining image, associations, and will. Rather than resisting mass replication, the magician turns it to his advantage.
A further application of virus systems emerging in Chaos Magick is the creation & application of Servitors which have the capacity to replicate, mutate, and recombine into new forms. Viral servitors, behaving in a similar manner to biological or computer viruses, are now beginning to propagate in virtual space, performing functions such as healing, protection, and seeding ideas into the general meme-pool. (Note: Viral Servitors are discussed further in my book Condensed Chaos, New Falcon Publications, 1995).
THE C.H.A.O.S VIRUS
In order to infuse humanity with the Pandemonaeonic currents, one must look to very basic restrictions, from which more complex bindings depend. The C.H.A.O.S Virus recovers the chaosphere both as icon of infectivity and a magical gateway for the transmission of Fifth Aeon emanations. The virus acts to bring about change, but at a microscopic level of processing. The intrusion of the virus into a human self-complex acts to stimulate those selves which desire CHANGE - in terms of new ideas, pleasure, intelligence, adaptability, and FUN.
Each time a self within an individual stirs towards CHANGE, then the virus copies itself. Note that much of these stirrings are likely to take place at a latent, unintentional level of information- processing. Acting over time, the virus acts to weaken ego-resistance to CHANGE, new ideas, new learning, and fun. As the virus cells propagate, they combine in groups of eight, to become the virtual shadows of new selves - potential desires, growing within the web of selves, stirring impulses from beyond the confines of the ego.
From the moment that the C.H.A.O.S Virus is projected, every chaosphere in existence on the planet, be it an astral form, image, or object - and any new ones which come into existence - becomes a transmission site for the virus.
The virus also prepares the host for further reinforcement which may take the form of seeded memes, enchantments, image projections, or sonic sorceries. The virus transmits itself using the principle of Structural-Similarity, so that anything resembling a sphere or circle intersected by eight vertices, will transmit the virus.
(Note: The Consciousness Heuristic Analogue Optimising System Virus was released at the Winter Solstice, 1992)
Strange languages are very much part of the overall glamour of magick, from Barbaric names of invocation to the use of foreign languages such as Hebrew or Sanskrit. All magical systems tend to generate their own technical language for describing magical experiences and techniques within a common framework. Like the technical terms used by scientists and specialists, terminology can act as a barrier for the uninitiated, if the use of special language causes description to become so opaque that no one outside the specialist group understands what is being said.
Magicians create meta-languages not only as magical tools for acts of magick, but to open up shades of experience which are difficult to describe clearly, given the current restrictions of language. The aim here is greater precision in communication. Wordless communications can be developed for experimental work in telepathy and virtual (astral) magick. Experiments in these areas suggest that visual images, colours, & pictographs are easier to transmit between individuals in dream or virtual space, than words alone. So attempts have been made to create communications systems based on the use of colour, scents, spatial perspectives, and contextual imagery & settings, in attempting to establish communications in shared dreaming or attempts to link awareness in virtual (i.e. astral) space.
From the juxtaposition of word and image, meaning is glimpsed. From the Chaos of the normal is woven apparent simplicity. All the secrets of magick are on open display. That which is truly hidden is our own resistance to this realisation. To live within the confines of Consensus Reality is to remain locked in Time; Past - Present - Future. In this sense, all magical acts are scripts for momentary slips through the fabric. Magick takes place outside of Time.
Through the simple technique of Cut-Up, pioneered by Brion Gysin as a literary technique, the magician can collapse sequential experience into syncretic Gnosis. The basic technique is simple enough when applied to text: Take a page of text, cut into 4 sections and re-paste. New word lines & messages appear. This disruption of the sequence of language creates Tangential Deliriums - new messages arising from the juxtapositions of words and the derangement of the associations this provokes. Cut up texts on magick to discover new magicks. Cut up the Book of The Law and discover any amount of new chapters.
There are parallels with this method and the more obvious tools of magick; sigils as cut-ups of desire, for example. Divination systems that cut-up a subject into image blocks, throwing up insights, new images, gestalts. Reshuffle beliefs by deliberately holding two contradictory belief systems - make meaning from nonsensical beliefs. Cut-Up belief to understand its dynamics.
Record two different conversations. Then record them onto the same tape. Intercut with street noises, television fragments, readings from texts and newspapers. Record, replay, and intercut. Result - a Third Mind. The 'absent' source of information which slides in to the listeners' awareness, arising from the Time Disorientation induced by listening to the tape.
Why Time Disorientation? All routes to Gnosis act to temporarily dislocate the Ego. The Ego requires Time (sequence) to maintain the fiction of single identity. Text and logical thinking are sequential. One step at a time, one unit following another. While attention is selective, the creative spark is associative and syncretic. A great deal of magical practice rests on the ability of the mind to make associative connections. Any stimulus which is strong enough to evoke emotion and memory throws awareness out of sequential Time. Smell particularly, is a hotline to memory. Instant access.
Word juxtapositions throw up new messages. Image juxtapositions open new worlds. Modern media presentations particularly in the visual arts, are increasingly utilising the Cut-Up technique: the layering of images & associations serving to collapse Time-sense. Elements of Past, Present & possible Futures may be evoked simultaneously in a single visual image. The news media works to change the context of a message to create new hidden meanings, acting under the illusion of 'objectivity.
Create a montage of sounds, images, associations for a particular day of the week. For example, 'capture' Monday onto tape. Intercut with verbal messages which you associate with Monday; add street noises, random conversations. Intercut and playback. You have created a platform for voyages into Oracular space. Sounds, images, associations arise from the assembly. The tape can be used as a background for dream control or scrying. Stranger still, you may hear sounds on the tape that you were not aware of recording. A truck passes. Days later, you hear the sound of the truck in the street, and you are jerked sideways into oracular time.
Enchantment may be considered an act of collage. Assemble the elements you desire to affect and re-arrange. It is already done with objects and images, so why not sounds too? Assemble a soundscape as in the example above, which relates to the object of the enchantment. Recording captures the target space in the same way that a bottle traps a spirit. A recording can be taken away and altered, and then returned to the original location and replayed.
Emotions can be deconstructed into three elements: physiological arousal, cognitive association and behaviour patterns. Each of these are separate tracks on a mixing desk, capable of being remixed in new arrangements. When in a state of extreme arousal (anger, sorrow, tension) the first step is to experience the physiological track apart from behaviour and cognition. Remove the identification with the source of the emotion. Still all internal dialogues, inner conversations, mental fantasies. Experience sensation without words or images. Here the magician is dislocated in Time; pure sensation without identification. In this state, any act of magick may be performed. To re-engineer emotions, experience the arousal as ecstasy. Dispassionately run the word/image track and adjust accordingly. Identify behavioral patterns and remodel them. Name the selves, capture their inner dialogues, intercut and playback.
The use of Cut-Up is naturally enhanced by keeping diaries, scrapbooks, recordings, and most importantly, being aware of what is happening outside one's immediate field of attention.
This essay is extracted and adapted from Prime Chaos by Phil Hine, available from Chaos International Press, BM Sorcery, London WC1N 3XX. ISBN 0-9521320-0-1