Monday, December 23, 2013

Dedicated to a Dead Dog - Further thoughts on the Kali Yuga

Sharp crack in the distance, a man shooting a dog for no other reason than the fact that he'd bred too many.

Earlier in the evening he asked me if I wanted a dog for Christmas. Knowing I couldn't responsibly afford to take care of one I declined. Untrained, but raised unleashed, the dogs he had with him were good dogs, they listened to commands and were well socialized.

When I heard the gun shot I knew that the dog I turned down was dead.

I sat there for a long time, unmoved and unmoving. Up in North Georgia where I often spend time in the woods, I don't even kill scorpions when they come around, I let the spiders build webs where they will, and don't worry too much about what the forest brings forward no matter how inconvenient it is to my sense of security. Facing the death of an intelligent, lively dog that I could have saved by simply opening my door put me face to face with the visceral realities of life and death and the meaning of suffering.

To get angry or sad, would be to forget that every moment there are uncountable deaths from the dissolution of atoms to stars exploding in unseen galaxies. In between there is the insurmountable amount of suffering as conscious beings are torn apart by the ebb and flow of phenomenal existence.

Here in the Georgia night, there was a gun shot in the distance and a dead dog. A man shooting a dog for no other reason than the fact that he'd bred too many.

I just wrote a piece over on Reality Sandwich asking the question, who mourns the coming of the Kali Yuga? Thinking now on that dog, I have tears in my eyes, but I sit above the sense of pain at the pointlessness of it. It's Saturnalia after all, there used to be sacrifices of a much more direct kind, there's official and unofficial wars ripping apart the world right now, and there's a dog on some guy's compost heap...and I mean that literally, one of the folks who has lived in the area for a long time said that the compost heap in a place like that is essentially where everything ends up that doesn't need to go to the dump, dead dogs included.

In writing that Kali Yuga piece Camron Wiltshire, of Sacred Geometry International, asked me what the astrological components of the age are, to tell whether or not this is actually the Kali Yuga. I have no idea. Jeremy Johnson, a Contributing Editor at Reality Sandwich, said that he felt we're already in the Kali Yuga in relation to the title referencing 'the coming' of that age. He pointed out a post on his Tumblr feed with a quote from Mircea Eliade's book, Images and Symbols:
“The syndrome of kali yuga is marked by the fact that it is the only age in which property alone confers social rank; wealth becomes the only motive of virtues, passion and lust the only bonds between the married, falsehood and deception the first condition of success in life, sexuality the sole means of enjoyment, while external, merely ritualstic religion is confused with spirituality. For several thousand years, be it understood, we have been living in kali yuga.”

This is the same sense that Mark Stavish, Director of the Institute for Hermetic Studies, said he references the term to mark the material excess of our age. Stavish pointed out that he has "used the notion of the Kali Yuga as a wake-up call or contrast to the wonderfully seductive ideas of a technological paradise. As for astrology, there are several ideas floating around, and each needs to be addressed in their context. I think one of the easiest and most obvious contradictions is that of the Age of Aquarius being bliss and freedom when it is ruled by Saturn is one of those areas of inconsistency that I try to point people towards. Also the possibility that the world is really turned on its head in terms of values."  Wiltshire, Johnson, Stavish and some others provided conceptual addendums to the piece. Another fellow, Daniel Gill, offered up some sources on a Vietnamese sorcerer whose work he is interested in, and whose philosophies have helped Gill conceptualize his own experiences. A few of the comments the piece received bore a randomness that made them koan like in trying to relate them to what was written, but that's fairly common in digital media.

In all that though, I'm still stuck on the startling crack of a gun shot in the distance, and the memory of a trusting, sweet dog running up to me that's probably now rotting on a heap of garbage waiting for the crows, maggots, ants and vultures to get the hint and strip it down to bone. This world is a complete trap my friends, a complete and utter trap. It's amazing, every second another distraction from the source of all being, even when we try to think about avoiding those distractions we distract ourselves defining the distraction. No avoidance of the 'world' is necessary, I'm not saying stick your head in a hole, but a proper view/practice is. Without it, the subtle seduction of false self and false goals is supremely elusive.

This time of fire and isolation is a beautiful opportunity, the deepest sense of loneliness if used properly is the poison that kills the root of illusion. There's a dead dog on a compost heap slowly moldering to bone and then dust, and that is the best mantra I can think of to meditate on if I want to get to the core of being. Somewhere in the truth of that, much deeper than I know, is the practice of Tantra. It also gives a sense of the alchemical art, that's why all those alchemical recipes have ingredients that are extremely deadly if used improperly.

As an anonymous Italian alchemist pointed out to me once, “people love to forget that Nature does not need us, that she is without space and time, and that her teachings are always actual and a mystery to us.” He also mentioned a very useful point, and he was very kind in how direct he was in providing this clue:
"The Dragon will not easily give access to the entrance of the Palace: it’s guarding a Princess and a Treasure. To be the Knight who may kill the Dragon does not mean to be simply a good man: you must be a real Knight, and a long and appropriate training, a veil, and a vow, should be performed as it was once upon a time.

That’s a real thing. The combat is real. Mother Nature enters your Laboratory, and that’s not to play around with good manners and wordly, nice, New Age mantras. You may risk your real life. Remember that Alchemy is an Art done with your hands, with minerals, in a small Laboratory. Forget those who speak of Self, Enlightenment, Spiritual bodies, Angels in the bedroom, Mystical Visions and so on. These things do of course exists, but not in the form we may think of; they will come in light with time, but after when they will sense that the student is currently walking on the ancient paths. And this may happen only after at least two or three decades of continuous studying, learning how to switch off Ratio and to live life with simplicity, silence, Love and compassion."
As I said in the article on Reality Sandwich, there is no fraud in this if you are truly looking to discover what is hidden in plain sight, if you seek to cheat the ferryman's fee you're still heading straight into the gates of death. Two or three decades of continuous study and practice, and there are no guarantees, yet we want a quick answer, or some conceptual solution that will give us entry to the palace of being. I've been chewing on that alchemists words for nearly 3 years now, and as simple, somewhat silly and obvious as they seem, it may take me a life time more to even begin to enter into what he really means.

Now, however, I have a Christmas gift that I didn't even realize I'd accepted, and I'm dedicated to a dead dog shot by a guy for no other reason than that he bred too many, and that sweet, trusting dog can show me things about nature that I might not have otherwise accepted if I'd tried to conceptualize the pathless path.


David Metcalfe is a researcher, writer and multimedia artist focusing on the interstices of art, culture, and consciousness. He is a contributing editor for Reality Sandwich, The Revealer, the online journal of NYU’s Center for Religion and Media, and The Daily Grail. He writes regularly for Evolutionary Landscapes, Alarm Magazine, Modern Mythology,, The Teeming Brain and his own blog The Eyeless Owl. His writing has been featured in The Immanence of Myth (Weaponized 2011), Chromatic: The Crossroads of Color & Music (Alarm Press, 2011) and Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness (North Atlantic/Evolver Editions 2012). Metcalfe is an Associate with Phoenix Rising Digital Academy, and is currently co-hosting The Art of Transformations study group with support from the International Alchemy Guild.

In collaboration with Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut, Chair of Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and Liminal Analytics, Metcalfe's most recent efforts have been focused on studying the growing devotional tradition associated with Santa Muerte (Saint Death) in the Americas.


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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Myths of the Holidays: Who Makes The Krampus Seem Jovial By Comparison?

Krampus by Alexey Andreev
for Nyssa Part 1:
Love Notes To A Stranger
Have you noticed you can’t go far this Christmas season without seeing the krampus, a devil-like consort to Saint Nicholas? All of the sudden, the devilish fellow seems to be everywhere.

But it is far less likely that you have encountered another Christmas-time mythic character, that of Frau Perchta. She makes the Krampus seem amiable to boot.

Perchta asks,"have you been weaving your flax little girl? Have you been good? Are you eating the awful gruel and fish that are to be consumed on my holiday?" If the answer is no, the poor children are disemboweled, and their insides are stuffed with straw and stones. So, you know. Don't mess up. By comparison to the two of them, Saint Nicholas' 'present' of coal seems benign.

We may wonder what the sense is in these dark figures, during a time that we mistakenly assume should be lighthearted and merry. All three of them are the same in this one way: All of them represent the darkest time of the year, a time when the fields lie fallow, when the unconscious gestates. Sounds pretty abstract, what it means is that there’s a part of our conscious mind that wonders “What have I done well this past year? What can I do better in the future?”

There is also something to be said for the fact that in the parts of the world these myths came from, it is bitter, bleak and awful cold.

The solstice is a passage from darkness back to light. And out of that can spring guilt. The Germanic psyche demanded something else, a force both benevolent and terrible, to keep them in line. Krampus charges out of the frigid night, howling, beating the christ out of women and children with sticks, and carrying the especially bad ones away.

If we are in doubt of the sacred origins of holidays, we might consider some of the ideas put forth in Eliade’s The Sacred and the Profane,
(photographer site)
The New Year coincides with the first day of Creation. The year is the temporal dimension of the cosmos. ‘The world has passed!’ expresses that a year has run its course. At each New Year the cosmogony is reiterated, the world re-created, and to do this is also to create time - that is, to regenerate it by beginning it anew. This is why the cosmogony myth serves as paradigmatic model for every creation or construction; it is even used as a ritual means of healing.
Thus, the role served by this entity which rewards and punishes, is to cut what we might call the karmic ties with the previous year. This seems an unusual attribution for the seemingly benevolent Santa Claus, but this is only because the holiday has become so desacralized that he has merely become a stand-in, a cardboard cutout, signifying nothing. This connection between karma and the eternal return of the holiday cycle is not without precedent.

Again we can turn to The Sacred and the Profane, “ Indian thought, this eternal return implied eternal return to existence by force of karma, the law of universal causality. Then, too, time was homologized to the cosmic illusion (Maya), and the eternal return to existence signified indefinite prolongation of suffering and slavery.”

These karmic ties don’t require an actual belief in karma within the Buddhist or Hindu framework of reincarnation. What it refers to is an element of our memory. Consider something that you own that has a great deal of “sentimental value.” Pick it up. Hold it in your hand. Think about the people you associate with it. Grab hold of those emotions, and travel back to the time that the object brings you to. That’s your karmic tie. You are bound to those things.

The same is true of the memories and emotions we hold onto of those we love, who are now gone, and of the life we lived which is also gone. Of course, outside a framework that espouses transcendence, these are neither positive nor negative in themselves, but they are attachments. From this, we can see that a mythic symbol serving some kind of ethical function would arise, when it comes to recapitulation and renewing. To renew, the soil must be tilled. Some attachments can be maintained but others must be severed.

The winter solstice is a passage from darkness back to light, and out of that can spring guilt, no pun intended. It is the negredo process, the fallow soil, frosted over; petrifaction. We need something that comes from outside, a bestial or demonic Other, a force both benevolent and terrible, to keep our sorry asses in line.

The joyous, peaceful facade of the deritualized festival, stripped of any reference to a surrogate victim and its unifying powers, rests on this basis of sacrificial crisis attended by reciprocal violence. That is why genuine artists can still sense that tragedy lurks somewhere behind the bland festivals, the tawdry utopianism of the “leisure society.” The more trivial, vulgar, and banal holidays become, the more acutely one senses the approach of something uncanny and terrifying. The theme of holiday-gone-wrong dominates Fellini's films and has recently surfaced in various different forms in the work of many other artists.

Maybe something could be drawn from the relation between the much the kinder, gentler Coke-a-Cola Santa, Saint Nick, Christ and his misattributed birthday (if “he” had one at all), and these Pagan throwbacks from the Swiss Alps. It's late and I don't care enough at the moment.

This much I know: Krampus and Frau Perschta would totally kick both Santa and Jesus' ass. That's for damned sure.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Doll-house Narratives

gordie grant
The recent "Married To A Doll" piece on the Atlantic highlights a story that has been going around for years, about "iDollators," those that take on dolls as love partners.
Rather than do the usual gawking and commenting about how "weird" it all is, I'd rather comment on something that occurred to me as I was reading the interview: when the other person is removed from a relationship, and their shell remains, you get a clear view of just how much projection is involved in all so-called "normal" relationships. So many of us are taught to make a possession of our lovers or mates, to evaluate ourselves, even our value, based on their perceived value.

This is something less than hyperbole. A December 2013 "Psychology Today" article asks, "Is Your Partner Good Enough?", going on to explain,
In the book Passions Within Reason, Robert Frank writes about a woman who asked her friend the following questions: Why do I fall in love with people that are not interested in me? And why don't I care about those that fall in love with me? Her collegue replied, "you're an 8 chasing after 10's and being chased by 6's." How could this woman know she is an 8 and not a 7 or 9? And should she stop dreaming about 10's?

Once you evaluate your partner is inferior to you, you are faced with making a romantic compromise. The concession here does not refer to whether the person loves you or is a suitable partner but whether -- in your opinion -- he or she is above, below, or equal to you or to the other partners available to you.
We act as if this behavior is somehow normal, and Davecat's is abnormal, but both of them show the exact same kind of thinking. He has merely applied those needs and the narratives that feed them to a synthetic proxy. And moreover, as dolls don't have agency, what he is doing isn't reducing a person to the status of possession in the process.

The narratives that we tell ourselves about our partners are in many ways realer to us than they are. What if they are so satisfying that we in fact live within a relationship to those narratives, rather than to the people themselves?
Both Sidore and Elena have two backstories. One in which Sidore is the daughter of a Japanese father and an English mother, and was born in Japan and raised in Manchester, England. Elena's is similar; she grew up in Vladivostok, Russia. The other backstory they have is that they're Dolls. Self-aware Dolls, but Dolls nonetheless. In one backstory they have favorite foods; in the other, they don't eat, becaus they don't have digestive tracts... because they're Dolls. You get the idea.
I've had that dichotomy for as long as I've had Shi-chan and Lenka, and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. As I write their characters, they each express themselves through the Internet; they both have their own Twitterfeeds, and Shi-chan has a Tumblr. Playing up the Doll aspect allows me to get comedy from the situation, such as when Sidore wonders why I don't just remove my sinuses when my allergies flare up, but writing detailed histories for them exercises my creative writing skills, and makes them more 'human'. Like I said, the dichotomy probably won't be solved any time soon.
Isn't the goal of a relationship to take, accept and love them as they are? Certainly not to evaluate their value as a commodity... except of course that the entire history of marriage is based on property and ownership. Perhaps it is little surprise that we should still be carrying around that cultural baggage.

To let a relation be what it is, enrich and challenge our lives, and pass on when it is their time. These are a few the assumptions that let me to polyamory, because I noticed a trend in myself when I was in monogamous relationships that I tried to change the people I was with, tried to make them "the one," because, after all, if you only have one partner they had best satisfy those needs. But other people don't exist to satisfy our needs.

Dolls, perhaps, can do that. But not human beings.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

American as Fuck - What Had Happened Was Ep. 38 - a grumpyhawk collective production

What Had Happened Was Logo
by Susan M Omand, Omand Original, All Rights Reserved

  GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective. 

Hey everyone, today grumpyhawk and Benjamin Combs discuss being American as Fuck, legally killing bald eagles, how dumb XboxOne owners are bricking their devices, Santa getting a Fighter Jet escort from NORAD this year, getting kids high, and Crazy ants invading the US. Also we spend some time with Salomé Jones and talk about her new book "Red Phone Box".  

Show Notes:
  1. Updated US policy permits accidental bald eagle death via wind turbine
  2. Bricking your XboxOne (thanks 4Chan!)
  3. Father duped on Ebay after he ordered £450 XBox One for his son for Christmas... but received a PICTURE of a console instead
  4. Defense Officials Defend Santa’s Fighter Jet Escort
  5. 8 year-old gets higher than you do
  6. Crazy Ants Invading US Soil

Where to find Salomé on the interwebs:

TwitterSalomé Jones [dot] com, & Ghostwoods Books

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick by R. Crumb from Weirdo #17

“I saw God,” Fat states, and Kevin and I and Sherri state, “No, you just saw something like God, exactly like God.” And having spoke, we do not stay to hear the answer, like jesting Pilate, upon his asking, “What is truth?”

–Philip K. Dick, VALIS

In the months of February and March, 1974, Philip K. Dick met God, or something like God, or what he thought was God, at least, in a hallucinatory experience he chronicled in several obsessively dense diaries that recently saw publication as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, a work of deeply personal theo-philosophical reflection akin to Carl Jung’s The Red Book. Whatever it was he encountered—Dick was never too dogmatic about it—he ended up referring to it as Zebra, or by the acronym VALIS, Vast Active Living Intelligence System, also the title of a novel detailing the experiences of one very PKD-like character with the improbable name of “Horselover Fat.”

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History

If you haven't read this book already -- read it. It will likely take a while. I had to look up a great number of terms and details... in the process you will learn a lot about systems theory. But it is well worth the effort.

Pick up the book if this format is too hard to read. 

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Restored Faith in Humanity - What Had Happened Was Ep. 37 - a grumpyhawk collective production

What Had Happened Was Logo
by Susan M Omand, Omand Original, All Rights Reserved

GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, strange, or pop culture sort of angle. Visit to read and hear more from the collective. 

This week grumpyhawk and Benjamin Combs talk about Batkid and the City of San Francisco, the World's Coolest Dad, DRM'd cars, a product that makes no sense, and the RIAA is now trying to brainwash children. All in this weeks episode Restored Faith in Humanity.

Show Notes:

  1. Batkid Saves San Francisco
  2. Dad makes Prosthetic Hand using 3D Printer - Thanks Wolven!
  3. Renault creates a car that has a battery with DRM
  4. Coin
  5. Fuck you RIAA

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Thor and More (*rimshot*) - What Had Happened Was #36 - a grumpyhawk collective production

What Had Happened Was Logo
by Susan M Omand, Omand Original, All Rights Reserved

GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective. 

On today's episode of What Had Happened Was, grumpyhawk and Benjamin Combs discuss the Marvel Universe, Thor, Captain America, and the new Marvel Netflix joint venture, Xbox One needing a day one patch, War of the Worlds wasn't quite the pandemic it has been trumped up to be, a House Intelligence Chair who lacks intelligence, and Blockbuster es no más. All on today's episode "Thor and More."

Show Notes:

  1. Marvel creating four superhero shows exclusively for Netflix, premiering in 2015
  2. Xbox One won’t play games out of the box, requires day-one patch
  3. The Myth of the War of the Worlds Panic
  4. "You Can't Have Your Privacy Violated if You Don't Know Your Privacy Is Violated"
  5. Blockbuster ending all in-store movie rentals on Saturday, November 9th

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Friday, November 08, 2013

Condiments and Corporations - What Had Happened Was Ep. 35 - A grumpyhawk collective production

What Had Happened Was Logo
by Susan M Omand, Omand Original, All Rights Reserved

GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective. 

On today's episode of What Had Happened Was, Benjamin and grumpyhawk discuss how McDonald's will no longer serve Heinz Ketchup because they hired an executive from Burger King, Sriracha might have to shut down one of its plants, Time Warner Cable loses clients during recent CBS spat, ISOhunt is already resurrected, and a fast food worker tries to stab a customer. All of this and more on today's episode "Condiments and Corporations."

Show Notes:

  1. McDonald's squeezing out Heinz ketchup
  2. Sriracha hot sauce factory's smell makes tempers flare in small town
  3. Time Warner Cable lost record 306,000 subscribers amid CBS blackout
  4. Beloved torrent site Isohunt resurrected by outside group
  5. Overland Park Burger King worker fired for allegedly trying to stab customer

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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Post Hoc Consciousness

Subjective experience, in the theory, is something like a myth that the brain tells itself. The brain insists that it has subjective experience because, when it accesses its inner data, it finds that information.
Quite so. Read about it here.

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Happy Halloween - What Had Happened Was Ep. 34 - A grumpyhawk collective production

What Had Happened Was Logo
by Susan M Omand, Omand Original, All Rights Reserved

GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective. 

Happy Halloween friends and random interneters, on today's episode of What Had Happened Was we're discussing the OUYA going to Target, a literal killer clown, a story that makes you ask "What the fuck, LinkedIn?", Toyota is recalling cars because of spiders, and A. Lee Martinez makes an appearance to talk to us about Star Trek - The Original Series. All of this on today's episode, Happy Halloween.

Show Notes:

 And as always we want to thank A. Lee Martinez for coming on and talking to us today about Star Trek: The Original Series, it's always good to hear his opinions about relevant pop culture. You can find more about A. Lee Martinez on his website, his twitter, or get his books from Amazon.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We Are Narrative Machines

As I begin the Storytelling MOOC, I thought we might also return to the most frequent topic raised on this site: storytelling, and its role in our lives. I would also like to give you a sort of top-down picture of what we've been doing here and on Mythos Media, as it is an ending for me but maybe also a new beginning. One can only hope.

Nick Brandt. Check out his work.
To begin with, if you haven't already I suggest you read the article "What Is A Modern Myth?" as it covers a lot that there's no sense in repeating. I'll wait.

Let's start with what may seem an odd tangent. But it is the event that got me started about all of this again, so it seems the logical place to begin.

In the 2nd installment of the Lord of the Rings movies, while gallivanting across the plains in hunt of two errant hobbits, Legolas says, "blood has been spilt on this night," referring to the red sky.

My wife and I watch these movies fairly frequently. At this point it is more about the act of watching rather than what the movies are. Even the stories are so familiar that they are not so much told or presented as just something we are being casually reminded about. When Legolas said that this time, my partner offhandedly said in reply, "no, stupid elf... it's just a result of atmospheric effects." But of course the red sky at morning myth has a long history, regardless of what it is interpreted as.

In a sense this story may also be true, and we like to think it is a more truthful one, but it too is a story. Which is more truthful, and what stories are we using to assess or compare those truths? As we investigated in The Immanence of Myth and the followup Apocalyptic Imaginary, without an understanding of the role that narrative plays in our understanding of the world, truth will remain forever elusive. The world of 500 word soundbytes shies away from subtleties, but myth and stories remain a realm of gray (with more than 50 Shades, one can only hope) and we are more than anything else narrative machines.

That is the primary difference between humans and some apes, and other mammals. We are narrative-minded monkeys. (See also: Mirror Neurons.)

In fact, it is this narrative-making quality that allows us to develop an understanding of ourselves, at all. 
"... I also speculated that these neurons can not only help simulate other people's behavior but can be turned 'inward'—as it were—to create second-order representations or meta-representations of your own earlier brain processes. This could be the neural basis of introspection, and of the reciprocity of self awareness and other awareness. There is obviously a chicken-or-egg question here as to which evolved first, but... The main point is that the two co-evolved, mutually enriching each other to create the mature representation of self that characterizes modern humans"

The Future of Storytelling Class

Are you interested in the mechanics of current fiction formats? Do you want to know how stories are told? Do you want to analyze, understand, contextualize and create stories and narratives? Then join our MOOC and share our passion for storytelling!
I'm presently taking this course -- sign up through this link if you'd like to join as well! (It's free.)

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Huffington Post Polyamory

Wed night, 11pm.
Co-wrote an article for Huffington Post UK: 
All of a sudden, polyamory is everywhere.
Articles flood the internet, many of them opinion pieces written by people who (so far) identify as monogamous. One of the reasons this is happening is to keep the news cycle churning now that gay marriage seems to be approaching normalcy. The clue is in the name; news is characterized by an obsession with the "new".
But in the process of giving polyamory a make-over that everyone can identify with, the only truly radical thing about the ideology is completely lost. To sugar-coat an unspoken truth: polyamory seeks to upend a many thousand-year-old narrative about ownership. We don't own our daughter's virginity. Husbands don't own their wives. Wives don't own their husbands. We may seek to avoid hurting those we love -- any healthy person (poly or otherwise) with a conscience does - but we do not own one another, and at the end of the day, our decisions, and our lives, are our own.
The prevalent made-over polyamory picture for the mainstream is of a hetero-normative couple that likes to swing on the weekends as shown in US Showtime series "Polyamory: Married and Dating". This is arguably one version of poly depending on your definition of 'love'. But so are many other versions. So much so that there is no true picture of polyamory because every instance is as unique as we are, and unique as our most intimate relations can be. We are no longer mere commodities.
In recognizing that we cannot own others, we give up our claim on other's bodies, but at the same time gain a new claim on our own freedom. The radical potential of polyamory is actually that might shift our entire societal structure. 
Full article. 

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Late One - What Had Happened Was Ep. 31

What Had Happened Was Logo
by Susan M Omand, Omand Original, All Rights Reserved

GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective. 

Hello listeners and fans. I apologize for the late release. grumpyhawk and Benjamin have been adjusting to their recent life changes, and it's delayed the release of this episode. But onto the goodness. This week we're discussing how the oversight committee for the NSA has been deemed extraneous, yet the spying program itself isn't, Twitter rolling out Neilsen ratings for tweets, an MIT inventor and his swarmbots, and designer babies (yes like Gattaca). All on today's episode "The Late One"

Show Notes:

  1. Obama administration decides NSA spying is ‘essential,’ but oversight of NSA is not
  2. MIT inventor unleashes hundreds of self-assembling cube swarmbots
  3. Twitter rolls out Nielsen rating to track TV tweets
  4. 23andMe receives patent to create designer babies, but denies plans to do so

[Take a Trip with us... Mythos Media.]

Friday, October 11, 2013

Existential Depression in Gifted Children and Adults

Some food for thought for all those that have felt like "abandoned aliens" most of their lives. (I know I have...)
When people undergo a great trauma or other unsettling event—they have lost a job or a loved one dies, for example—their understanding of themselves or of their place in the world often disintegrates, and they temporarily "fall apart," experiencing a type of depression referred to as existential depression. Their ordeal highlights for them the transient nature of life and the lack of control that we have over so many events, and it raises questions about the meaning of our lives and our behaviors. For other people, the experience of existential depression seemingly arises spontaneously; it stems from their own perception of life, their thoughts about the world and their place in it, as well as the meaning of their life. While not universal, the experience of existential depression can challenge an individual’s very survival and represents both a great challenge and at the same time an opportunity—an opportunity to seize control over one's life and turn the experience into a positive life lesson—an experience leading to personality growth. 
It has been my experience that gifted and talented persons are more likely than those who are less gifted to experience spontaneous existential depression as an outgrowth of their mental and emotional abilities and interactions with others. People who are bright are usually more intense, sensitive, and idealistic, and they can see the inconsistencies and absurdities in the values and behaviors of others (Webb, Gore, Amend, & DeVries, 2007). This kind of sensitive awareness and idealism makes them more likely to ask themselves difficult questions about the nature and purpose of their lives and the lives of those around them. They become keenly aware of their smallness in the larger picture of existence, and they feel helpless to fix the many problems that trouble them. As a result, they become depressed. Full Article.  
Some thoughts:

I think there is definitely something to many of the premises put forward in this essay, although it contains many specific details that seem unhelpful toward establishing that point, such as this reoccurring idea of "higher levels" that individuals may establish through "integration."

Stepping past a great deal of uncertainty in such vague terminology, "higher" or "lower" relative to what? (See also: spatial metaphors.)

It's also neither here nor there, but the example provided of Polonius' speech in Hamlet, "to thine own self be true," completely misses the context and literary intention of that section of the play. But toward the greater point, that's nitpicking.

There are some much larger issues regarding depression, will, and neurology I want to explore here but that is going to take considerable thought, research, and writing. I will run it as soon as it's finished.

So... What do you think?

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

What Will The Mainstream Make of Polyamory

Keeping with our recent topic of sex and sexuality... 

Perhaps thanks in part to the Showtime series "Polyamory: Married and Dating," it seems yet another subaltern is coming out of the closet (or bedroom) and into the mainstream.
This season takes viewers on an intense emotional journey as we follow two families as they navigate the ins and outs of polyamory.
It is predictable enough that it would be presented on SHO in a way that is easiest to digest for the American mainstream -- although I am now I suppose a part of this 'common poly' myself, being white, married, and still available to other relationships, I would prefer the actual gamut of possibilities be presented. So, what are White American suburbanites (or urbanites) to make of this new "fad"?

One of the challenges presented by this desire, (as was discussed in an earlier tongue-in-cheek article, "Postmodernogamy"): at its core polyamory presents not an alternate model to monogamy so much as a revolution against all formal and static cultural mores which say "this way and no other."

Now that gay marriage seems to be approaching normalcy, new labels are needed to keep the relationship news cycle churning, all the while missing the only radical point presented by what is otherwise nothing more than the simple result of modernization on outdated cultural edifices: There is no model of "typical" polyamory, as it is and should be specific to every unique individual and their unique interactions.

The central goal is the basis of all koans: that there is no goal. But then how to proceed? We are challenged to let every thing be exactly what it is and nothing else, to eschew labels altogether.

For this reason, the term "polyamory" itself presents a problem. Perhaps it would be best if the label could cannibalize itself, providing only introductory training wheels for people to look again at one another as unique instances, universes with a population of 1, to which no map or guide will provide an altogether satisfactory definition or safe trajectory for discourse (let alone intercourse.)

This is a surprising and terrifying challenge for us, especially for a culture that demands a label so as to make things safe -- after all, "the gays" were made "safe" only when a narrative was provided that contextualized how the mainstream could perceive them (more or less as ideal choices for interior decorators and hair stylists.) This is what is potentially radical about polyamory. Otherwise, it is simply a revision to the old dating guidebook, for those that are at least progressive enough to recognize that serial monogamy is no solution, and that it is perverse -- but in all the wrong ways -- for Atheists to build their morals atop Christian bedrock.

In practice, the primary problem with polyamory, you will quickly discover if you explore it, is precisely the same problem that presents itself in monogamy, just in a different form: people. Other people will forever remain a problem when it comes to them doing what we want them to, or being who we want them to be, and only when we let go of all those expectations, and do our best to simply love them as they are...

But I imagine that is asking altogether too much.

Some past Modern Mythology articles on the topic that you may find interesting, useful, or absolutely annoying, depending on our outlook:

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Sex and the Lustful Animal

Following up on yesterday's post, here's another you may want to look over,

Most of us are convinced that we excel at being clearheaded, humane thinkers when it comes to sex. We appeal, and admirably so, to notions such as harm and consent. But since most of us aren’t anthropologists, we W.E.I.R.D. people (the anthropologist Joe Henrich’s apt acronym for “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic”) often assume a false obviousness along these lines of harm and consent that, interestingly enough, simply isn’t there. Scientists have found that since we would be harmed by a certain sex act,we presume others would be harmed as well. 
In fact, cultural relativism is the most glaring sign that the lion’s share of our sexual ethics is arbitrary, given that our intuitive feeling of what’s “normal” and “deviant” hinges largely on our cultural indoctrination. In the past, for instance, a proper Crow gentleman wasn’t expected to simply woo the object of his desire over a slice of homemade juneberry pie. Instead, the tradition for a man so smitten involved his crawling up to the woman’s tent in the middle of the night and fishing around with his hand under the flaps for her body. And female Crow informants explained to the anthropologists inquiring about the tradition that this manual search in the dark for her orifices was an especially romantic first move. “If he is successful,” wrote the researchers Clellan Ford and Frank Beach, “a man may by this device persuade the woman to have intercourse with him later on.” If he were successful in our society, he’d be signing his name to the sex offender registry before dawn, if he still had a hand. But in the cultural context of these Native Americans, most women, presumably, favored this custom. (Scientific American.)

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Monday, October 07, 2013

Subjectivity and Sadism

There's a paragraph in what is an otherwise mostly remedial article on the subject that I think bears inspection, as it's a sentiment that needs to be repeated more often,
Sadism isn’t the only paraphilic category for which the question of harm can get murky for psychiatrists as well as for anyone who has ever contemplated another person’s unusual sex life. As the lovely Kate Upton reminded us earlier, a universally objective reality simply doesn’t exist in the present domain; what’s harmful to me isn’t necessarily harmful to you, and vice versa. It will change as soon as I put this comma right here, but as of this very moment there are exactly 7,088,343,858 people on the planet. If all but one of these individuals were to experience harm in exactly the same way from a certain sex act, that solitary person is nevertheless just as right (or just as wrong) as all the others combined. This is because there’s no “correct” way to experience a sex act, only individual differences in subjective realities. It may be a moot point, since it’s not logic that guides culture but instead sheer social mass shouldering into it with brute force, but nonetheless 7,088,343,85shared subjective realities do not add up to a single objective fact. What was harmful to them was not harmful to him, and that, as they say, is that. Or to rephrase: one person’s horror story is another’s erotica. And I’m quite sure our vorarephile Bernd Jürgen Brandes would tell you so too, if only he were still around.

[Take a Trip with us... Mythos Media.]

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Big 3-0 - What Had Happened Was Ep. 30

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by Susan M Omand, Omand Original, All Rights Reserved

GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective. 

Hello everyone and thank you for listening to another episode of What Had Happened Was. Sorry it's been a few weeks; grumpyhawk was MIA with back surgery and Benjamin just got a new job and kinda got distracted and had a loss of time and that's our excuse. So, this week we talk about the FAA allowing electronic devices (finally) during takeoff and landing, krokodil, the most disgusting thing to come out of Russia, the NSA illegally storing metadata on people for up to a year, and we discuss the fact that water has been found on Mars. All of this and more on today's episode, the big 3-0.  

Show Notes:

  1. Aircraft can handle electronic device usage during takeoff and landing
  2. The flesh eating drug Krokodil has been discovered in Memphis
  3. Krokodil also discovered in Phoenix
  4. Secret file shows NSA stores metadata on millions of web users for up to a year
  5. Water discovered on Mars
Theme music is Quadra IV, provided by the Makeup and Vanity Set.

[Take a Trip with us... Mythos Media.]

Monday, September 30, 2013

Reality (the short and simple version)

However, many other things exist outside it, as well. Unfortunately, we don't know anything about them without the intermediary of our mind.

Thus, we have model-dependent realism as a candidate for understanding 'reality' models, rather than the Idealist-Materialist muddle of the 18th-early 20th centuries. 

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Monday, September 23, 2013

The Drawings of Laurie Lipton now available

The Drawings of Laurie Lipton is a comprehensive survey of Lipton’s fantastical, meticulously detailed, hand-drawn images. 

Featuring more than 70 works, this is the most conclusive and ambitious publication about the artist to date. A conversation between Lipton and Begovich Gallery Director Mike McGee offers insights into her personal history, motivations and creative process. Lipton’s brief notes about several specific artworks offer further anecdotes and context.

Inspired by the religious paintings of the Flemish School, Laurie Lipton tried to teach herself how to paint in the style of the 16th century Dutch Masters and failed.

When traveling around Europe as a student, she began developing her very own peculiar drawing technique building up tone with thousands of fine cross-hatching lines like an egg tempera painting.

“It’s an insane way to draw,” she says, “but the resulting detail and luminosity is worth the amount of effort. My drawings take longer to create than a painting of equal size and detail.” “It was all abstract and conceptual art when I attended university. My teachers told me that figurative art went ‘out’ in the Middle Ages and that I should express myself using form and shapes, but splashes on canvas and rocks on the floor bored me. I knew what I wanted: to create something no one had ever seen before, something that was brewing in the back of my brain. What I wanted fell between ‘isms.’ It wasn’t ‘surreal,’ it wasn’t ‘real’... it was lurking between the two.”

“I used to sit for hours in the library copying Durer, Memling, Van Eyck, Goya and Rembrandt. The photographer, Diane Arbus, was another of my inspirations. Her use of black and white hit me at the core of my Being. Black and white is the color of ancient photographs and old TV shows... it is the color of ghosts, longing, time passing, memory, and madness. Black and white ached. I realized that it was perfect for the imagery in my work.”

Also catch some of Laurie Lipton's work in The Immanence of Myth and Words of Traitors: 7 Lives in Transition.

[Take a Trip with us... Mythos Media.]

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spies, Lies, and Cones of Shame - What Had Happened Was Ep. 29

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by Susan M Omand, Omand Original, All Rights Reserved

GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective. 

Grumpyhawk and Benjamin Combs discuss (mostly) new topics for their weekly podcast. In today's episode they discuss how Verizon wants to censor the internet by claiming free speech, Google encrypting data from data center to data center, contrary to the lies we're being told, Americans are going out of their way to encrypt their Web usage, California (among other states) is considering using Electronic License Plates, Senator McCain plays online poker on his phone while colleagues discuss going to war, and a Florida Teacher uses a cone of shame on students and tries to play it off as a joke. All on today's episode, "Spies, Lies, and Cones of Shame."

Show Notes:

  1. Verizon claims first amendment rights in a bid to kill network neutrality law 
  2. Google encrypts data amid backlash against NSA spying
  3. Americans Go to Great Lengths to Mask Web Travels, Survey Finds
  4. California poised to implement first electronic license plates
  5. Sen. John McCain played 'VIP Poker' on his iPhone as colleagues debate bombing Syria
  6. Florida teacher faces firing for placing ‘cone of shame’ on students

[Take a Trip with us... Mythos Media.]

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bethany Shorb: Painting Machines: Klangfiguren (Sound Figures)

OPENING: Opens at Devotion Gallery, Friday September 13, 2013
LOCATION: 54 Maujer St at Lorimer. L to Lorimer, G to Metropolitan

(You can also see some of Bethany's visual work reproduced in Words of Traitors: 7 Lives In Transition.)
Viewers may be familiar with the seminal physics class demonstration in which square steel plates are sprinkled with salt or sand, an electronic musical tone is applied, and through the resultant flexural vibration, a visual representation of the plate's resonant frequency is depicted.
These, "Chladni Figures," are named for musician and physicist Ernst Chladni who in 1787, first ran a violin bow across a brass plate lightly covered in sand and pictorially recorded the waveforms that appeared.

These visual representations of sound are the foundation for Shorb's high-gloss perversion of the ephemeral impermanence that defines traditional sandpainting. In an unlikely crossing of sacred geometry and car culture, rather than brushed away and destroyed after the meditative act or scientific experiment, these granular patterns are instead baked into an impenetrable, industrial polymer on aluminum, kaleidoscopically tessellated and contradictorily blasted with both a diabetic shock of
candy colored hot-rod surface finish and cold, Detroit acerbity.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Syria Versus The God of Guns

    So on Wednesday, Congress decides whether to bomb Syria. Why, though? Is there just some rule
somewhere that says the US has to throw explosives every time shit gets crazy in the Middle East?

    Kind of, actually, yeah.

    The stated purpose of these proposed missile strikes is to enforce the UN's convention against chemical weapons. Chemical weapons aren't really good for winning wars. They're only really good for killing tons of civilians in horrifying ways. Nobody really likes them except for terrible, terrible people. But if your opponent might be using chemical weapons, you've got a lot of incentive to start using them too. So a while ago, the UN was like "hey guys, let's all agree not to shoot each other with toxic clouds of death. Sound cool?"

    And the world was like "Sure, UN. Whatever."

    Because the problem with the UN is that it's an earthly authority. Lightning doesn't strike you if you break the rules. That's where the US comes in. We HAVE orbital lightning in this country. We spend most of our money on the stuff. The interesting question to me is how we ended up cast as the Old Testament God.


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