The Ghost-Trap

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The Ghost-Trap is the definition and the limit of meaning

The Ghost-Trap is the place wherein we haunt ourselves

The Ghost-Trap is remembering to forget

The Ghost-Trap is a container for our fears

The Ghost-Trap is the echoing of unfulfilled Desire

The Ghost-Trap is made up of the very substance of absence

The Ghost-Trap is the incubator of the Babe of the Abyss

The Ghost-Trap is a cancelled index of possibilities

The Ghost-Trap is a Stone Tape being erased, slowly

The Ghost-Trap is the irritation that forms an imperfect black pearl that no-one wants, not at any price…

The Ghost-Trap is the very essence of The Stumbling Block

The Ghost-Trap is the shadow that remains after the heat, the flash, and the blast

The Ghost-Trap is drawing a line, and then erasing it

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The Ghost-Trap is the calm at the eye of the Storm

The Ghost-Trap is Beyond Good and Evil

The Ghost-Trap is The Space Between

The Ghost-Trap is never the same twice

The Ghost-Trap is a hole in the soul

The Ghost-Trap is decadent and symmetrical

The Ghost-Trap is how you disappear out between Midnight

The Ghost-Trap is Not True, and must never be Permitted

The Ghost-Trap is the emerald Beginning and End of Word

The Ghost-Trap is infinitely hot and infinitely dense

The Ghost-Trap is what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object

The Ghost-Trap is a Black Mirror within the Triangle of the Art

The Ghost-Trap is a circle of fire, lit against the Night

. .  .    .        .

Image: Emma Doeve + Words: Matthew Levi Stevens

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The Curvature of Time

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‘The Book of Dark Things should not then be read primarily as an account of actual rituals performed & travels undertaken, but as an exploration of the role of the imagination and the power of dreams to transmute the familiar nature of our surroundings into something strange and wonderful.’

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‘The Curvature of Time’ – Preparatory Sketches:

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The Curvature of Time

wraps threads and tatters of memory

around you like a winding-sheet…

Each night that you sleep, and set sail upon Other currents,

Other tides – go down into the Darkness

as if your body had been lowered into the grave,

dark Mother Earth from whence you came

The Curvature of Time

will steer the course of your life

on mingled black currents of memory & forgetting…

“Life is a shadow with violence before and after

It is spirits, fighting”

You who were once ridden, are you now ready to ride?

Take leave of your shell – sit up, I tell you! Sit up and make ready I say!

(He folds the paper, with her name on it – he folds the paper and he draws the signs, traces the lines and makes the anointing)

The World Turned Upside Down!

The boat is coming

to carry your soul to the Other Lands,

beyond the Far Horizon,

over the Edge of the World

and along

The Curvature of Time

Like a bride called to your wedding, like a guest to the feast, raise yourself up and be ready I say!

(He draws the lines – he makes the sign – he calls and chants, starts his dance)

The portal is open and the way is clear –

And the drumming, and the rattle,

and the scourging and the song

spirit-vessel here to carry us on

The Curvature of Time

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‘She Travels’ – Study:

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‘In such moments of exhaustion & surrender, the sensible spirits are drawn in great commotion as if to quit the body corporeal for some other vessel that will carry them Up & Out & On across the Curvature of Time, White Darkness shadowed by the light of a Black Sun, strange absences made solid in unknown Spaces Between, as to make all our questing metaphysic seem but tracing childish patterns in the familiar sands of our nearest shore.’

. .  .    .        .

Images: Emma Doeve + Words: Matthew Levi Stevens

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Notes on Ballard

In Memory of J G Ballard, who died three years ago today, on 19th April 2009

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
J. G. Ballard

James Graham “J. G.” Ballard (15 November 1930 – 19 April 2009) was an English novelist, short story writer, and prominent member of the New Wave movement in science fiction. His best-known books are Crash (1973), adapted into a film by David Cronenberg, and the semi-autobiographical Empire of the Sun (1984), made into a film by Steven Spielberg, based on Ballard’s boyhood in the Shanghai International Settlement and internment by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War.

The literary distinctiveness of his work has given rise to the adjective “Ballardian“, defined by theCollins English Dictionary as “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.”

Ballard was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2006, from which he died in London in April 2009.

In 2008, The Times included Ballard on its list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″.

Below: J G Ballard at home in Shepperton, in front of Paul Delvaux’s ‘The Mirror’ (as reproduced by Brigid Marlin) – Ballard commissioned Brigid to recreate two of Paul Delvaux’s paintings that were destroyed during World War II – to the viewer’s left can also be seen the 1971 screenprint ‘B.A.S.H.’ by his friend Eduardo Paolozzi

“I don’t think you can go through the experience of war without one’s perceptions of the world being forever changed. The reassuring stage set that everyday reality in the suburban west presents to us is torn down; you see the ragged scaffolding, and then you see the truth beyond that, and it can be a frightening experience.”

“I would guess that a large part of the furniture of my fiction was provided ready-made from that landscape: all those barren hotels and deserted beaches, empty apartment blocks… the whole reality of a kind of stage set from which the cast has exited, leaving one with very little idea of what the actual play is about. All of that comes straight from the landscape of wartime Shanghai…”

“I have people coming here expecting the air to be heavy with the fumes of illicit substances, a miasma of child molesting, degradations… and in fact they find, I hope, a perfectly straightforward man who’s brought up three children who are happy, successful adults. I think there is a complete separation between what one writes and imagines, and what one is.”

“At the age of 16 I discovered Freud and the Surrealists, a stick of bombs that fell in front of me and destroyed all the bridges I was hesitating to cross…”

“Sadly, the only surrealists around these days are psychopaths. But we all need to fight off the growing suburbanization of the soul. I want the sane to become surrealists.”

“Everything happened during the sixties. The Kennedy assassination was the key event, the catalyst that got it all moving. Thanks to TV, mass communications, and all the rest, you got strange overlaps between the assassinations and Vietnam and the space race and the youth pop explosion and psychedelia and the drug culture. It was like a huge amusement park going out of control. And I thought, well, there’s no point in writing about the future. The future’s here. The present has annexed the future onto itself.”

Ballard signalled his allegiance to Surrealism in his novels, and in his essay ‘The Coming of the Unconscious’ published in New Worlds in 1966, he goes so far as to specify six key Surrealist paintings with a “direct bearing on the speculative fiction of the immediate future” by Giorgio De Chirico, Salvador Dalí, Rene Magritte, Oscar Dominguez and Max Ernst, listed twice for ‘The Elephant of Celebes’ (1921) and ‘The Eye of Silence’ (1943-44). In 1966 he insisted that his publisher use Ernst’s ‘The Eye of Silence’ as the cover image for the hardback edition of his novel ‘The Crystal World’

In 1966 Ballard wrote ‘Terminal Documents’ for Ambit #27, a Review of the Works of William S Burroughs, in which he nails his colours to the mast by describing him as “The first mythographer of the mid-20th century, and the lineal successor to James Joyce…”

The full text can be found on Rick McGrath’s excellent online encyclopaedia of all-things Ballard:

http://www.jgballard.ca/non_fiction/jgb_reviews_burroughs.html

As late as The Paris Review of 1984 he said “I admire Burroughs more than any other living writer, and most of those who are dead.”

The complete Interview can be read online here:

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/2929/the-art-of-fiction-no-85-j-g-ballard

There is an in-depth examination of the association between the two men and their attitudes towards each other’s work on Reality Studio here:

http://realitystudio.org/scholarship/william-s-burroughs-and-j-g-ballard/

In an email exchange with Reality Studio, Our Reporter Matthew Levi Stevens told critic and cult author Keith Seward of his Contact with the ‘Oracle of Shepperton’:

‘I interviewed J G Ballard over the phone once for a fanzine, and he was really very amusing and an absolute gent – even though I was only about 15-16 at the time, he was perfectly happy to talk to me. Once we got on to Burroughs and Surrealism he really warmed up, so it was a great conversation. I met him once-or-twice in later years, and he was always very polite, friendly – referred to me once as “the schoolboy reporter” (even though I was about 18-19 by then!) Even though he seemed quite comfortable with the attentions of Graeme Revell and the SPK people – also the ‘grindcore’ band ‘God’, who gave him a demo-tape at one of his book-signings – he didn’t seem to have much time for Genesis P-Orridge. At WSB’s launch @ The October Gallery, the three of us intersected in our circulating – Gen was crowing about having signed some book deal or other (I think for “a book on Sex & Power”, to be written with Kathy Acker? They were involved at the time…), and at one point he turned, drink in hand, and confided “Of course, a publisher’s advance isn’t real money”, to which Mr Ballard replied “Oh, it can be Genesis, it certainly can be…”, and shot me an amused look.’

Later, in the Margin Notes for the new edition of ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’ published by Re/Search in 1990, Ballard wrote:

“There is a British pop group called God. At a recent book signing the lead singer introduced himself and gave me a cassette. I have heard the voice of God.”

The ultimate online resource for ‘All-Things-Ballardian’ has to be the excellent ‘Ballardian: The World of J G Ballard’, which can be found here:

 http://www.ballardian.com/

“There’s no music in my work,” states J. G. Ballard. He smiles, quoting the Futurist manifesto, “The most beautiful music in the world is the sound of machine guns.”

So let us give you a song to end on:

In 1977, a young Daniel Miller had just split up with his girlfriend and read ‘Crash’. He felt that Ballard’s writing “took him five minutes into the future”; it would be a major influence in the music he would produce as The Normal – his debut single (with which he incidentally founded Mute Records) citing Ballard as a major inspiration to the chilly, minimal electro-pop of ‘T.V.O.D.’ & ‘Warm Leatherette’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5QErPDNcj4

‘Sex times Technology equals The Future’ – J G Ballard, at the time of writing ‘Crash’ (1972)

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Women Artists, Surrealism & The Occult: Ithell Colquhoun

Ithell Colquhoun (9th October 1906 – 11th April 1988)

She was expelled from the English Surrealist Movement for her passionate interest in the Arcane and the Occult. She was artist, poet and novelist. In addition, she was a practicing magician. She did not compartmentalize because for her these activities were intimately related, different facets of her quest to comprehend nature and the myths and traditions of Cornwall where she spent most of her adult working life.

In pursuit of her Initiation, Ithell applied for membership of an offshoot of the Golden Dawn (but was turned down!), entered into Correspondence with Dion Fortune’s Society of Inner Light, and was a member of the New Isis Lodge of Kenneth Grant’s Typhonian O.T.O.  In addition, she was a member of W B Crow’s Order of the Keltic Cross, had an active involvement in Co-Masonry (at one time alongside Lady Frieda Harris), was associated with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, and was ordained as a Priestess of the Fellowship of Isis.

As well as over 80 contributions to various Magical, New Age and Occult journals, Ithell was also a published poet, had written two psychogeographical accounts of travels in her beloved Cornwall and rural Ireland, an Alchemical Surrealist novel ‘The Goose of Hermogenes’, and a study of the life of Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and his work with the Golden Dawn, ‘The Sword of Wisdom’

An excellent overview of her Life & Work, with many descriptions and detailed discussions of the whole range of her Writings, can be found here:

http://www.ithellcolquhoun.co.uk/

Green Figure with Wings – watercolour – 1971

Scylla

“Gouffres Amers” 1939

Nude and Orange Sky

Alchemical Mandala


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Friday the 13th – Reading the Cards

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The Bull of Ombos

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A Snapshot from the Apocalypse

…Snapshots from The Apocalypse, or an apocalypse, at least: rather than being an image of an actual place or event – like getting a postcard from the End-of-the-World, cheerily captioned “wish you were here”, or something like that – this is more of a reflection, or meditation, on a state of mind, a state of Being… and it is fitting to recall that the original meaning behind the idea of ‘apocalypse’ is simply a time when masks are discarded, pretence laid aside; one cannot help but wonder how this dread sense of it denoting “The End of the World” came into being…

…A thumbnail meditation, by light of the Fool Moon, brings on a strange reverie: a domed bastion of male spiritual authority – itself built to usurp and contain energies of the divine feminine previously honoured at the same locus – now under threat of obliteration from agents of Death From Above: darkness, and light, and a different kind of darkness, follow each other as do day and night – like the alternating pages of the Book of History, turned so fast that it inevitably becomes a blur of grey…

“There is no black or white, only shades of grey. That’s why they call it gris-gris

…Lit by the blue-grey cathode glow the image slips in and out of itself, pre-birth visions projected onto a uterine screen. Dreams come slow & heavy, to a blind-eye of the night-sky looking through oceans of time, turned on tides of blood…

…The image is reversed, inverted: sucked up into a funnel in the sky that is itself the bottom of a pooling of process – the protoplasmic factory in which building blocks of life are both built up and broken down: a cellular Mother-Ship from another dimension, a metamorphic maelstrom on the move – drawing the eye towards it as a focal point, the Strange Attractor of history towards which events are inexorably drawn and driven; whilst at the same time being the Point of Singularity from which shockwaves of potential uncoil like dread Apophis – serpent of Might-have-beens and Never-weres, they say he is made up of broken kas – sending ripples through the fragile membranes of the Multiverse, ectoplasmic emanations spreading out from this Ground Zero in every conceivable direction, all at once…

…The cellular eye is binary, both hole and point at the same time: the eye-in-the-sky of God or Goddess – a Black Hole wormhole whirling-down-the-plughole, puckering in the fabric of worm-eaten TimeSpace, drawing All in at the same time as everything spills out of it – both omphalos and entry-wound, psychic puncture and nucleus of new growth: meiosis and mitosis of a Mothership gone in search of Conquest & Exploration of Inner Space…

…The Hand of Fate reaches in to try and intervene but its presence is ghostly, multiple yet intangible – implying and suggesting, but not really directing or shaping: is this too subtle an influence at work? The Ghost in the Machine… and yet still it tries: it reaches, and flexes – almost bending back on itself to indicate patterns & possibilities – weaving subtle mudras of meaning and metaphor, like the bodies of giant spectres about their love-play, the erogenous emanations of their desiring shadow forth on these levels of what we like to call ‘Reality’…

…And what of the Dreamer? Or is She the Dream: pilot of this very vessel – the body a vehicle for exploration, to be explored in turn; shifting levels at Will we become Cosmonauts of Inner Space – becoming both Mother to and Object of our Desires (“All is Maya”) – a Nun enrapt in contemplation her Vision turned inward, the Damsel sequestered powerless until she is rescued, eyes reflecting the ivory of her Tower – or a Priestess who only has eyes for the marble image of the Divine Principle she serves…  Like a hood or cowl that has slipped – or as if the face has broken through a caul that protected it among the depths of the uterine ocean – the mould has come apart as the visage is made anew, with each new Dream, each new Awakening – revealing eyes as-yet unseeing (still turned to worlds of Inner Vision?), before they blink away the last of the Milk of the Moon to surface through the Sea of Blood to the light of a Black Sun At the Heart of it All…

By the bright white light of the Full Moon a pool of red blood becomes a black mirror.

…Point-of-view shifts: from the awful & awesome cellular eye at the calm-of-a-storm of its own proliferating of the Mothership – alien cell-factory, all-begetting and all-devouring (…the greatest monsters of all are those within…) – through the blind implacable gaze of the cataract moon over a forgotten dream – we now find ourselves looking out from a craft in orbit: a shift in scale, the angles tilt – and we are looking across a plain of blood-red mist that stretches out in front of us, shading into the nebulous black of Endless Night in the distance; and at the same time a spaceship eye-view of the terrain below – a rugged coastline where barren ash-grey rock & sand meets a sea of burning blood…

…This is what we are born from, and it is to this landscape that we return if ever we close our eyes-fall asleep-turn inward, or Other Wise seek Visions – and yet we carry it always with us, for it is in our blood… and, ultimately, this is the Sea which we must learn to sail if we are to voyage to Unknown Interiors of True Discovery.

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