Friday, 13 December 2013

The materialities of digital poetics - an old essay from the MA days...

I haven't written an academic essay for a few years now, and writing a lot of Young Adult fiction kind of rewires your brain in completely another way. In 2008 this is what I was thinking about. Quite frankly, I am both impressed at my own academic loquaciousness and utterly confused about what it all means.

Using a detailed range of examples, discuss the relationship between the materialities of digital poetics and that of the book and / or recent and current writing practice. Try to refer to how your own practice and practical interests relate to these issues.

Like any medium, the realm of digital poetics houses and implicates its own particular structures and requirements for writing. As Loss Glazier discusses in Digital Poetics, from this point of view, the internet and/or the digital forum is no different to the “new” development of the medium of film or that of the novel in its time; we are, therefore, tasked with finding ways to critique and understand the way writing, specifically poetry, works in this new form.

In this essay I will look at the following issues engendered by a study of digital poetics and how they relate to the materiality of poetry: the notion of materiality being the physical, and the relationship between the body and the text as a body; the philosophy of the link; dynamism; the role of the author and the philosophical issues of cyberspace and the infinite. I will also look at my own work in relation to these issues.

Using digital poetry as a medium consists of a wealth of considerations. Instead of putting pen to paper and making a permanent mark, one is manipulating identical and standardised magnetic marks on a screen. What consequences does this have? It makes the text potentially interactive and constantly changeable. It means there is no “original” version – every version of the work is in a sense the original, as the work is re-imaged and reactivated every time by a different user at a different time. If published online on the internet, it means millions of people have instant access to it and it can be written online – writing while your audience watches. It is dynamic in the sense it can be animated to move, change colour and link to sound and image.

Glazier considers poetry to be a particularly suitable form for modern, innovative poetry because of poetry’s avoidance of the traditional omnipotent “I” of narrative. Rather, its concern with the multiple in discourse connects with the “polysemous, constantly changing multiple-author text known as the web,” (Digital Poetics, p22). In discussing the character constructs of William Gibson’s Neuromancer where at least one character has a cyberspace existence rather than one of “form”, N Katherine Hayles also refers to the ability of digital text to foreground the medium and the fictionality of traditional forms:

“The displacement of presence by pattern thins the tissue of textuality, making it a semi-permeable membrane that allows awareness of the text as an informational pattern to infuse into the space of representation,” (How We Became Posthuman, p40)

Glazier also notes that Jerome McGann considers poetry to be particularly conversant with the digital form because:

“The object of poetry is to display the textual position. Poetry is language that calls attention to itself, that takes its own textual activities as its ground subject,” (Jerome McGann quoted in Digital Poetics, p21). Similarly, Glazier notes that “language is a procedure to reveal the working of writing,” (p32).

As Marshall McLuhan said in Understanding Media – The Extensions of Man, “the medium is the message”. This has a strong relevance to the understanding of digital poetry, as McLuhan considered the medium of a message more important than its perceived “meaning”. For instance, that what is shown on television is unimportant; it is television’s impact on our lives as a medium that is profound. He also thought that the particular medium that an individual experienced a particular content through would inevitably influence the understanding of that content. Modern poetic practice has a strong emphasis on form and the relevance of materiality on the content of the poem – so much so that, at best, the poem is its process and vice versa, and to ignore the aspects that engineer the poem is to wilfully suspend oneself in the erroneous sense of belief.

Modern poetry prefers to be explicit about its terms and conditions, and does not expect these to be subsumed seamlessly by the reader in an attempt to verify the godlike status of the author and the “essential truth” of the work. Additionally, as Glazier points out, multimedia does not simply provide an opportunity for convenient juxtaposition of sources, but for the interweaving of media to create a harmonious and (somewhat) holistic whole.

The weaving of multimedia sources in digital poetics is an important aspect of creating a multitudinous text with a nonlinear narrative. By linking to other sources from your original starting point, and sometimes by following a seemingly eternal sequence of “doors” in a labyrinthine journey, the ability of the internet to link from one place to another is an essential part of the idea that the medium affects the message. This can be seen in Diane Slattery’s Alphaweb, where the reader can link from one poem to the next from a series of multiple choices. Hence, the use of linking presents the reader with a non-predetermined outcome to their reading experience. As Glazier says, “electronic poems are not tied to the linearity of the page; this is not an end of linearity but an emergence of multiple linearities,” (Digital Poetics, p35).

Glazier also considers the ability to link to other sources as similar to Freudian parapraxis – when the mind shifts into an associative disposition and “links” apparently disparate images/sounds/words together (this could be described as the ultimate aim for a poet whose goal is to make eternally new associations between sources for the reader, and express the energy of the work via new expressions and imagery that have a strong, if unconscious, impact on the reader).

This idea, particularly closely associated with synaesthesia (a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway – definition on Wikipedia), is something that has inspired another of my own projects, the Flash Colour Spectrum project. Briefly, this is a series of 8 panels that follow the human-perceived colour spectrum (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, White) that individually contain 8 synaesthetic associations/links per page. My aim is to be able to animate these pages to be able to blend in and out of each other, both to imitate the spectrum, to question the notion of the spectrum as a continuum and where one colour starts and another finishes; also to pay a small homage to Charles Olson’s ideas about energy in a text. This work is literally about energy – colour is by definition energy vibrating at differing levels. Overall, again, the medium is the message – associative linking of “object” and “subject” – the colour and my synaesthetic response to it – and the eternal circle of the spectrum, which confers a nonlinear text (although not totally random either).

Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Sand is one text that philosophically suggests the infinite sense of the internet, and also explores the threatening notion of a book without end where each page is always different and where the reader can never reassure themselves by returning to the beginning or any familiar previous page. In the story, the protagonist becomes so afraid of the book that he hides it away from another discovery. The multiplicity it contains is disturbing to him, and the threat of an eternally nonlinear “narrative” haunts Borges. This, it can be said, describes somewhat the cognitive dissonance that the reader of contemporary experimental poetry experiences, if accustomed to a beginning, middle and end and a recognisable structure when reading.

Aside from the interesting reflection that The Book of Sand precipitated the internet, an infinite and boundless source of linked pages, the book itself is the medium of infinity, as it has an infinite number of pages that can never be returned to. The book is also the message, and the message is the uncertainty and discomfort of the reader in the face of a lack of conclusion.
The Book of Sand is also a fictional book, a book within a book, which itself is a fascinating paradox that foregrounds the essential falsity of the book as a “realistic” structure.

The materiality of (traditional) books and bodies is something that N Katherine Hayles discusses in How We Became Posthuman. Both are forms of information transmission and storage, incorporate encoding in a material substrate (the body is material and is “programmed” by DNA; the book is a physical object and its information is encoded in written form on pages and bound) and cannot easily be changed/amended/destroyed. Both body and book are a physical object, and both are a space of representation, or message. Therefore, Hayles makes the organic link between the body and the message – and present the realisation that to change one changes the other. Therefore, again, the medium is the message and vice-versa, because they are linked so inextricably.

I have tried to address this idea of body/text and message in a new piece of work on DNA. As DNA is the programming code of the body and computer code, be it HTML or ASCII, is the programming code of digital poetics, I am interested in how they correlate. My first action was to look at the existing programming code that lay “under” an entry about DNA on Wikipedia. I then copied this into a Word document and looked through it at text that might seem interesting and potentially for use in poetics.

After finding the following list of commands I thought they might be interesting to use to create a new “poem”, so I took a 4-line excerpt and used it as a repeating “verse” in a DNA-shaped image created in Photoshop. The “verse” is the horizontal text; the twisting vertical text was the following text also taken from the original programming code.

Vertical text (can be imaged as the verses of the piece):

var stylepath = "/skins-1.5";

var wgArticlePath = "/wiki/$1";

var wgScriptPath = "/w";

var wgScript = "/w/index.php";

var wgServer = "";

var wgCanonicalNamespace = "";

var wgCanonicalSpecialPageName = false;

var wgNamespaceNumber = 0;

var wgPageName = "DNA";

var wgTitle = "DNA";

var wgAction = "view";

var wgRestrictionEdit = ["autoconfirmed"];

var wgRestrictionMove = ["sysop"];

var wgArticleId = "7955";

var wgIsArticle = true;

var wgUserName = null;

var wgUserGroups = null;

var wgUserLanguage = "en";

var wgContentLanguage = "en";

var wgBreakFrames = false;

var wgCurRevisionId = "169270727";

var stylepath = "/skins-1.5";

var wgArticlePath = "/wiki/$1";

var wgScriptPath = "/w";

var wgScript = "/w/index.php";

var wgServer = "";

var wgCanonicalNamespace = "";

var wgCanonicalSpecialPageName = false;

var wgNamespaceNumber = 0;

var wgPageName = "DNA";

var wgTitle = "DNA";

var wgAction = "view";

var wgRestrictionEdit = ["autoconfirmed"];

var wgRestrictionMove = ["sysop"];

var wgArticleId = "7955";

var wgIsArticle = true;

var wgUserName = null;

var wgUserGroups = null;

var wgUserLanguage = "en";

var wgContentLanguage = "en";

var wgBreakFrames = false;

var wgCurRevisionId = "169270727";

Horizontal text (can be imagined as the chorus of the piece):

<li class="toclevel-2"><a href="#Major_and_minor_grooves"><span class="tocnumber">1.1</span> <span class="toctext">Major and minor grooves</span></a></li>

<li class="toclevel-2"><a href="#Base_pairing"><span class="tocnumber">1.2</span> <span class="toctext">Base pairing</span></a></li>

<li class="toclevel-2"><a href="#Sense_and_antisense"><span class="tocnumber">1.3</span> <span class="toctext">Sense and antisense</span></a></li>

<li class="toclevel-2"><a href="#Supercoiling"><span class="tocnumber">1.4</span> <span

I liked the repetition of these intriguing terms, which although generated from code, present a massive arena of interpretation, onomatopoeic dynamism (“coiling” “pairing”) and even self-referential irony, (“sense and antisense”). They have poetic qualities because of their use of repetition of words, each time slightly customised for the purpose of the particular line. Additionally, using this kind of data-as-poetic-text opens up the potential to use the programming code’s use of special characters as a dynamic form of punctuation, guidance for reading and for breath (i.e., >< could be interpreted by a reader as a pause)– as in Charles Olson’s famous essay, Projective Verse. You can see the finished result on my attached image.

However, this is the first part of my considerations of DNA, and in particular I became interested with the potentially generative aspects of working with this embodied code. In genetics and when creating a new gene, a new DNA code made of two “ladders” of protein code is “zipped” up together to make a complete gene. This thought gave me my first idea of being able to animate a DNA poem in Flash, so that two “ladders” of randomly generated words from computer code, a little like the above vertical text example, could be zipped up on-screen and generate a poem.

From this desire to make generative work based on the idea of DNA and code (on which premise a very interesting work by Andreas Muller-Pohle is based, Blind Genes (2002), cited in Digital Art by Christiane Paul), I progressed onto an idea inspired by genetic engineering. In the process of making a new gene, half a new gene (one “ladder”, if you like) is dipped into a bowl containing a “soup” of proteins – always C, G, A and T (Cytozine, Guanine, Adenine and Thymine, respectively). The molecules bond to the existing structure and a new gene is made. Additionally, Adenine and Thymine always bond together, as do Cytozine and Guanine. So, from a poetic mindset, you can see that C and G together and A and T together make a subset of potential poetry code.

From a generative point of view and using the image of the bowl of protein (word) soup, I next imaged a stage of the project where, rather like William Burroughs’ cutup method (, I could place 20 random words beginning with C and 20 random words beginning with G in a bowl and pull them out, ordering them into a randomised “zip”, according to which words came out in what order, only making sure that each line had a linked C and G. This process also has the potential to be animated, both in the zipping up and in the random generation.

In this work and in the work of genetics, to change the message is to change the medium (to link back to Hayles), especially if the change in the “message” (encoding) refuses to make the usual links between C and G, A and T. The medium (gene) will become mutated if a different encoding process is followed. Hayles discusses the notion of mutation as something that distorts a pattern in information, after the theory of informatics: that information is identified with choices that reduce uncertainty. Where mutation occurs, there is also a jump-off point for text to go in a new direction. In the arena of modern poetics, this supports the aims of making-strange and unfamiliarity in avant-garde processes used to create and present poetry. Mutation makes something new:

“The catastrophe in the pattern/randomness dialectic… a rupture of pattern so extreme that the expectation of continuous replication can no longer be sustained,” (Posthuman, p33)

Loss Glazier discusses the notion of “seams” he found in the world of the digital through its being of one language being combined with another – computer code mixed with “recognised” language. Marjorie Perloff decribed Charles Bernstein’s work as:

“..playfully exploits pun, anaphora, epiphora, metathesis, epigram, anagram and neologism to create a seamless web of reconstituted words” (Digital Poetics, p36)

It is not too much of a leap to consider a zip a seam – a thing that joins – and Glazier confirms that poetic language “is a seam through which seep multiple parts of language” (p38). Hence the materiality of this work directly reflects its message, and vice-versa: the concept of the code-forming structure of DNA is described through the action of its generation. The message is how the body (text) is formed; the medium shows it being formed. The final “content”, in terms of the actual line-up of the C and G words, in line with McLuhan, is almost irrelevant (it would be different every time if accessed via a (reasonably) random online word-generator). All that is important is that poetic language has been created via the seam that joins multiple parts of language.


Where the poem on the page written by hand could be said to contain an idiosyncratic “essence” of the writer, when the work produced is channelled through the ownership vector (reference: Wark, The Hacker Manifesto) of the publication process, the reader is dissociated from the author and the author is removed from the production process. Not so with the digital realm for the poet, as this is somewhere she can produce and publish instantly online for immediate consumption. Immediacy, a multitextual approach and use of multiple linearities are some of the methods that characterise the energy that animates digital poetry and helps return poetry to its original reason for being, like all art – to challenge and develop existing modes of expression. Recognition of the material structures that “meaning” rests on – or recognising that meaning is articulated by those structures – seems essential for the development of poetry as a form, and by wider implication, serves the study of social structures and an understanding of the (frustratingly) complex sense that there are no definitives and no full stops in our daily, fractured experience.

Anna McKerrow

2592 words

De Giovanni, Norman Thomas (trans) and Clarke, Maximus, The Book of Sand: A Hypertext Puzzle

Glazier, Loss Pequeno, Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries, The University of Alabama Press, (Tuscaloosa and London, 2002)

“William Burroughs and the Composite Text”, Oliver Harris (2007) on,

Hayles, N Katherine, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics, University of Chicago Press, (London 1999)

Olson, Charles, “Projective Verse” in Selected Writings of Charles Olson, eds Robert Creeley (1950, New York)

Paul, Christiane, Digital Art, Thames & Hudson World of Art. (London, 2003)

Slattery, Diana Reed, Alphaweb,

Wark, Mackenzie, The Hacker Manifesto

Friday, 26 July 2013

If I was going to be Dr McKerrow, this is how I would have got it

Here is/was the PhD outline I submitted in 2008, when I thought that was what I was going to be doing. I'd be Dr McKerrow by now (maybe), but instead I'm a wannabe teen author. How did that happen?

Anyway, when I look at it now it seems limited in terms of artistic references - there are so many more people working around these subject now - but still, it's interesting, and may help those of you who actually ARE doing a PhD in a similar thoughtwave, or, if not - it still has a pretty interesting bibliography.

Avant-garde poets and live artists using spiritual practices as processes / the relationship between spiritual and avant-garde artistic/poetic discourses and practice

Jackson MacLow: “Remember that the main motivation for using procedures of any kind is the Buddhist one of loosening and lessening the domination - in effect, the hegemony – of the artist’s ego,” – in Digital Poetics, the Making of E-Poetries, Loss Pequeno Glazier, p49

"...people inhabiting all frequencies of the socioeconomic spectrum are intentionally reaching for some of the oldest navigational tools known to humankind: sacred ritual and metaphysical speculation, spiritual regimen and natural spell." Erik Davis, Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, (London: Serpent's Tail, 1999)

I am interested in avant-garde poets and artists using spiritual practice as artistic processes, and the under-explored relationship between spiritual and avant-garde artistic discourses, with additional reference to digital poetics and cybertheory. I aim to structure the work chronologically from 1960 onwards.

I intend to highlight a similarity between the marginality of the avant-garde in live art and poetry and the marginality of spirituality in the postmodern society. I will suggest that both modes of attempting to access transcendence via alternative methods are/have been marginalised in society but now may be entering the mainstream, thus citing my study in a historical continuum of the development of received modes of spirituality and artistic expression.

Chapter Outlines:

1.       Clarification of terms, outline of main questions to be addressed in the work

-          What do the use of particular spiritual processes by artists (meditation; ritual; clairvoyance; chanting; visualisation) lend to poetic language and live art?
-          How do these processes transcend, or aim to transcend, the ego of the artist/writer?
-          How does artistic/poetic practice correspond with magical (i.e practical spiritual) practice?
-          How does the avant-garde engage with spirituality? What are their dis/similar aims and values? E.g. the holistic versus the fragmented?
-          How are post-1950 avant-garde poetics informed by or have reference to traditional (ie Judeao-Christian, Buddhist etc) or non-traditional (mystical; qabalistic; angelic) spiritual discourses?
-          Definition of terms – ritual, shamanism, meditation, Zen, clairvoyance, divination, chanting, avant-garde, magical, astral, trance.

2.       1960 to 1970 – Shamanism and the Counterculture Appeal of Zen

-          Joseph Beuys and shamanism – “the healing power of art and the power of universal human creativity” - How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare and Eurasia

-          Jerome Rothenberg and the retrieval of existing/historical cultures’ shamanistic writing; interest in the power of religious/spiritual writing as poetry in Technicians of the Sacred

-          Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble and Iovis – Anne Waldman’s Buddhist poetry and the philosophy of the Buddhist Naropa School of Disembodied Poetics; William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg; the New York School’s relationship to Buddhism.

-          “Being in the moment” – poetry trying to capture the Zen sense of presence – Leslie Scalapino, Tim Atkins, Peter Jaeger.

3.       1970 to 1980 – Ritualistic Personal Journeys and Experiences

-          Growing popularity of Goddess spirituality inspired by works such as Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance reflected in live art using text and poetic work. Joan La Barbara and vocal modulation – sound poems – speaking in tongues.
-          Linda Montano – Chakraphonics, Seven Spiritual Lives of Linda Montano and Mitchell’s Death – use of sound, colour, energy centres, ritual and a personal spiritual journey
-          Faith Wilding – Imago Femina - spiritual qualities of female existence
-          Clairvoyance and the fragmentation of the “I” in poetic language - Hannah Weiner’s Astral Visions, Clairvoyant Journal and The Fast
-          Susan Hiller and automatic writing – Sisters of Menon
-          Carolee Schneeman’s Interior Scroll – Goddess worship, ritual, the unity of spirit and flesh.

4.       1980 to 1990 – Ritual and Transcendence; The Body and the Mind

-          The rite of divination - Susan Hiller – Belshazzar’s Feast
-          Ritualistic use of pain/meditation methods to transcend the body - Marina Abramovic, Gina Pane
-          Hermann Nitsch and the Orgies Mystery Theater – cathartic Dionysian use of ritual; Diamanda Galas’ Plague Mass as a reaction to AIDS and the function of language in ritualistic live art; the function of language in magical ritual with reference to the qabalah.

5.       1990 to present – The Astral and Cyberspace; The Body and Energy

-          Stelarc’s ideal cybernetic body versus the theory and practice of a holistic energy body; explorations of dis/embodiment in digital/page-based poetics and live art with reference to the work of Barbara Brennan, Reiki and Energy Healing.
-          The connections between the philosophy and practical existence of cyberspace and the characteristics of the astral in spiritual philosophy, and the practical experience of astral projection.

Conclusion and summary of research

Basic bibliography

Preciptations: Contemporary American Poetry as Occult Practice, Devin Johnston
Modernist Alchemy: Poetry and the Occult, Timothy Materer
Literary Modernism and the Occult Tradition, Surette and Tryphonopoulos
Imaginary Language, eds. Rasula and McCaffery
Life Through the Screen, Sherry Turkle
How We Became Posthuman, N Katherine Hayles
“Blood and Beauty” in But Is It Art?, Cynthia A Freeland
Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, Jerome Rothenberg
Concerning the Spiritual in Art – Wassily Kandinsky
The Celestial Tradition: A Study of Ezra Pound’s The Cantos, Demetres P Tryphonopoulos
Telling it Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics of the 1990s
“Rethinking Hierarchy: Buddhist Tenets in the Work of Anne Waldman” – Laura Bardwell
Earth Air Fire and Water, Coward-McCann;
Rising Tides, Simon & Schuster;
Joan La Barbara – vocal artist
Shaman Woman, Mainline Lady, William Morrow
Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble – Anne Waldman
Erik Davis, Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, (London: Serpent's Tale, 1999)
Esotericism, Art and Imagination - Edited by Arthur Versluis, Lee Irwin, John Richards, and Melinda Weinstein -
Interactive realism – the poetics of cyberspace – Daniel Downes

The Parallels Almanac - – Nicholas Taylor: 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Spoila Magazine

Serious treatments of the interactions between the arts and the occult / magic / spirituality are cropping up everywhere - once again, I'm ahead of the curve :). The second magazine of note is Jessa Crispin (of Bookslut)'s Spoila Magazine. I've just purchased the PDF copy for $5, that is, about £3.50, which seems eminently affordable. I've ordered Issue 2: The Black Magic Issue (wooooohhh!) which I haven't read yet (glass of wine, bath, Kindle, LATER) but it looks great. Contents include an interview with poet Jeannine Hall Gailey, who I haven't heard of, but whose work deals with fairy tale and mythology. A shame we're not still running New Fairy Tales otherwise we could have nagged her to submit.

I don't know for sure, but I sense that the material in Spoila will be about magic as subject rather than spiritual practice - which isn't a bad thing, just a less unusual thing. There is, after all, a proliferation of artistic work about witches/fairies/wizards/magic/magick/gnomes/elves/mermaids etc etc. I'm glad there is, obviously (not least because I'm hoping my teen novel about witches will be successful with a publisher) - it's good for people to explore the hidden and mysterious, even just in fictive forms, even if they never progress past fantasy - I'm just more interested in artistic work that investigates spiritual practices.

However, I think Spoila is good because it has an intelligent editorial policy. The more intelligent attention magic and the occult gets, the better; it's as interesting at the level of literary and cultural criticism as it is for the spiritual wayfarer or mystic.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Abraxas Journal

You know when you’re peripherally aware of something for ages, and then all of a sudden, things make themselves known? I’ve had that kind of week with the discovery of three websites/journals of brilliance that have crept into awareness. I only have space to talk about one of them today.

The first is Abraxas, a journal. Abraxas is run by Christina Oakley-Harrington, owner of Treadwell’s bookshop, who is, as well as bookshop owner and magic aficionado, is also passionate about links between magic/the occult and art. Abraxas is a very high spec journal that:

.. aims to represent the best of the international esoteric scene in a high quality printed format. As a bi-annual journal, it seeks to offer relevant and thought-provoking features: ranging from essays that are scholarly and engaging, to images and sounds that challenge and inspire. Our print run is limited, and every issue employs lavish colour and exotic papers – providing for the reader a rare sensory sorcery. Indeed, it is our intent that Abraxas should embody that magical, creative nexus which feeds both mind and soul.

As this suggests, the journal covers a variety of magic-type subjects and articles, in a refreshingly academic context, but there is a strong involvement in artistic practices too.

The current issue 3 of Abraxas has an amazing contributors list, which I am so excited about, I am reproducing in full here:

Talon Abraxas was born in South London, England in 1980. A self-taught artist, he is known for works that consist of a combination of traditional and digital images, creating surreal landscapes that have a believable dream-like quality. Inspiration is drawn from mystical artists and thinkers such as Austin Osman Spare, Jean Delville, Hieronymus Bosch, HR Giger, Beksinski, and Aleister Crowley. He considers himself a symbolist, painter, writer and occultist committed to spiritual esotericism. His vision is of the artist as a spontaneously developed initiate whose mission is to send light, spirituality and mysticism into the world.

Marcelo Bordese lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His images explore themes involving the flesh, sex, religion and despair. His style is reminscent of Bosch and Breughel, but Marcelo paints with acrylic, which he affirms ‘…like blood, dries quickly.’ He has exhibited extensively since 1996, most recently at Owners of the Crossroad: Aesthetics of Exú and Pomba Gira in Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires, 2009 and Grito Íntimo: con sexo, corrupción y juegos, Instituto Cervantes de Tokio, Tokyo, 2010.

John Clowder is an artist working primarily in the collage medium. His history would be familiar to anyone living in the average suburban town. Luckily, a devious and unstructured childhood prompted him towards imaginative play, an activity that brought experiments with artistic creativity. At a receptive age he chanced upon Max Ernst’s oneiric collage novels and absorbed by their imagery, sought to replicate their effect. He lives in the American Midwest, but Surrealism is his chosen means of escape.

Ira Cohen (1935-2011) was an American poet, publisher, photographer and filmmaker. He travelled widely, most notably to Morocco where he published GNAOUA, a magazine devoted to exorcism, and later to Kathmandu, where he founded his Bardo Matrix imprint, issuing limited edition books printed on rice paper. His later years in NYC consolidated his role as one of the most important voices of American counter-culture. His contribution was unique and he will be greatly missed.

Ithell Colquhoun (1906-1988) was a British Surrealist painter and author. Her membership of the O.T.O. in the early 1950s presaged involvements with numerous esoteric groups throughout her life. A move to Cornwall inspired her book The Living Stones: Cornwall (1957), a pioneering study of Earth-energies, although she is best remembered for her biography of MacGregor Mathers, The Sword of Wisdom (1975).

T. Thorn Coyle is an internationally respected visionary and teacher of the magical and esoteric arts. The author of Kissing the Limitless (2009) and Evolutionary Witchcraft(2004), she is also featured in many anthologies, hosts the Elemental Castings podcast series, writes a popular weblog, Know Thyself, and has produced several CDs of sacred music. Pagan, mystic, and activist, she is founder and head of Solar Cross Temple and Morningstar Mystery School and lives by the glorious San Francisco Bay.

Jon Crabb is a young art historian and writer who developed a mild obsession with the Beat writers in his teens, then graduated from the enthusiasm of Kerouac to the cynicism of Burroughs in his twenties. Having heard that William Burroughs once declared Brion Gysin ‘the only man I have ever respected,’ he was added to the personal syllabus and quickly became a chief fascination. His background is in 20th century art although his current research interests include book design, illustration and the juncture of word and image. He is also interested in the fin-de-siècle period, the cross-over between science and art, and the larger influence of the occult on Western art as a whole.

Peter Dubé is a novelist, short story writer, essayist and cultural critic. He is the author of the chapbook Vortex Faction Manifesto (2001), the novel Hovering World (2002), At the Bottom of the Sky (2007) a collection of linked short stories, and most recently, the novella Subtle Bodies: a Fantasia on Voice, History and René Crevel (2010). He is also the editor of the anthology Madder Love: Queer Men and The Precincts of Surrealism (2008).

Robert Fitzgerald is a long-time practitioner of the angelic evocation of John Dee and Edward Kelley, and is an initiate of Cultus Sabbati, a magical order of traditional witchcraft in Britain and North America. His written contributions have appeared in the British journal of folklore The Cauldron.

Edward Gauntlett is lifelong student of magic, and holds an MA in Literature, Religion and Philosophy. Currently he is working on a study of the Secret Tradition in late 19th and early 20th century supernatural horror fiction. He is editor of the Charles Williams Society.

Christopher Greenchild is a composer, musician, poet, writer, artist, designer and philosopher from Seattle. He is presently preparing the first releases from his archives and their parallel performance concepts. His music centres around an imaginal consciousness of memory and mystery that incorporates field recordings and electronic sound with classical, folk, alternative instrumentations, and vivid rhapsodic lyrics. He is also at work completing a three-part book series on his visionary account of dream awareness as a parallel mystical continuum in humanity and nature. His contribution to this journal was written in the spring of 2005.

Allan Graubard lives in New York, with previous lives in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, London, Washington DC, and other places lost to time and water – turns in the dance that sustains him. Through it all, body to body, shadow to shadow, he has sought and sometimes found the warm, transparent breadth of living completely. Recent works include ROMA AMOR (2010), Revolting Women/Woman Bomb-Sade (Theater Row, 42nd Street), and And tell, tulip, the summer (forthcoming). Happily, 2011 also saw the publication of Invisible Heads: Surrealists in North America – An Untold Story, which he edited with his friend, Thom Burns.

Amy Hale is an anthropologist and Chaote whose academic interests are primarily focused on modern Cornwall and British esoteric culture. She is the co-editor of New Directions in Celtic Studies, Inside Merlin’s Cave: A Cornish Arthurian Reader and Journal of the Academic Study of Magic 5 in addition to over 30 articles ranging from Druidry to Celtic cultural tourism. She is currently working on a series of projects and publications concerning the British Surrealist and occultist Ithell Colquhoun. She lives in San Francisco.

Dan Harms is a librarian and author whose interests include Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos, grimoires, the history of magic, and rôleplaying games. His books include The Necronomicon Files (1998, with John Wisdom Gonce III) and The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia (2008). His articles have appeared in Fortean Times, The Journal for the Academic Study of Magic, The Journal of Scholarly Publishing, Paranoia, Imelod, Le Bulletin de l’Université de Miskatonic, Worlds of Cthulhu, Cthuloide Welten, and The Unspeakable Oath. His work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Japanese. He is currently preparing an annotated edition of The Long-Lost Friend for publication. He lives in upstate New York with his ball python, Yig.

Desirée Isphording is a 25 year old artist living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Her work has been featured in the magazines Pentacle and SageWoman, and has also graced the covers of If…A Journal of Spiritual Exploration, PaganNet News and Harp, Pipe, and Symphony(2006), a book by Paul DiFilippo. In addition, she has material included in Gothic Art Now, a compilation of darkly elegant artwork.

Grevel Lindop lives in Manchester, where he was formerly a Professor of English at the University and is now a freelance writer. He worked with the late Kathleen Raine as deputy editor of the journal Temenos and now chairs the academic board of the Temenos Academy. His edition of Robert Graves’s The White Goddess (1997) is now the standard text. He has published six collections of poems, most recently Playing With Fire (2006), and Selected Poems (2001). His book exploring music and dance in Latin America, Travels on the Dance Floor, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and was short listed for Authors’ Club Dolman Best Travel Book, 2009. He is currently working on the first full biography of the poet, novelist, theologian and occultist Charles Williams. He teaches Buddhist meditation under the auspices of the Samatha Trust, and has a wide range of esoteric interests.

Ian MacFadyen is an independent scholar and writer, based in London. He co-edited with Oliver Harris the book NakedLunch@50: Anniversary Essays (2009), to which he contributed six Dossiers. His libretto Point of No Return, on the life and death of Joan Burroughs, was performed at the University of London Institute in Paris in 2009 in collaboration with Radio Joy. His essay ‘Machine Dreams: Optical Toys and Mechanical Boys’ was published in the collection Flickers of the Dreamachine (1996) and his essay ‘Ira Cohen: A Living Theatre’ appeared in Licking the Skull (2000, republished 2006). He has written about the work of many writers and artists including Vladimir Nabokov, Georges Perec, and Yoko Ono. His articles and fictions have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Shamanic Warriors Now Poets (2003).

Malgorzata Maj (Sarachmet) was born in 1980 and currently lives in Gliwice, Poland. In 2004 she graduated from Warmia-Masuria University in Olsztyn with an MA, specializing in traditional techniques including painting on silk. Since 2005 she has been an illustrator and photographer who fell in love with 19th century painting colours and themes, ghostly moods & dreamy visions. In March 2010 she contributed to the exhibition ‘Phantasms’ at Cabinet des Curieux, Paris, France.

Misior was born in 1976 in Poland and is a graphic designer, an illustrator and a surrealist painter. He regards art as a unique tool of cognition, limited neither by logic, nor the limits of consciousness. By sacralization of eroticism, he tries to overcome the Western dichotomy of the spiritual and corporeal nature of man. His artistic style has been influenced by the Renaissance, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, symbolists such as Gustave Moreau and Fernand Khnopff, Austin Spare, the surrealism of Max Ernst and Remedios Varo, the colors of Balthus and Hopper, along with Moebius and Manary’s comic strips. He also records music under the pseudonym of Kriccagiya.

Alan Moore, writer, anarchist and magician. Living legend.

Shani Oates lives in Derbyshire where she is a devoted practitioner of the true esoteric art. A mystic and pilgrim, she finds expression through her writing, visionary sketches, photography and therapeutic holism. Her essays and articles are included within: Hecate: Her Sacred Fires (2010) and various popular pagan, folklore and occult publications such asThe Cauldron, Pendragon, The White Dragon, Pentacle, The Goddess, The Hedge Wytch andThe Wytch’s Standard. Her debut book, Tubelo’s Green Fire, was released in 2010 and two more titles are due for release in 2011. She is current Maid of the people of Goda, of Clan of Tubal Cain.

Edwin Pouncey was born in Leeds in 1951 and now lives in south London. Under the nom de plume ‘Savage Pencil’ his art has mauled and entertained a generation with a ‘stinking psychedelic cesspit of corpse cluttered comix.’ As a music journalist, his writings and Trip Or Squeek cartoon strip are featured regularly in The Wire. He is currently working on a series of paintings, performances and other artworks with Chris Long (aka Eyeball) under the moniker Battle Of The Eyes.

Peter Redgrove (1932-2003) was a prolific and widely respected British poet whose contribution spanned more than 40 years. His interest in mysticism and magic led was further inspired by a move to Cornwall towards the end of his life. His published work includes The Black Goddess and the Sixth Sense (1987) and The Wise Wound(1978), the first dedicated exploration of the mysteries of menstration, co-written with his second wife Penelope Shuttle.

Residue was born in 1964 in Halifax. He lives out his magical existance in Yorkshire. He is not part of any magical lineage, though is influenced by Kenneth Grant, Austin Spare and philosophical writings of Deleuze. He often dwells on magical mechanisms, machine.nature combinations, by creating magical si-fi maps or rituals. He also often makes parodies of ‘awareness zones’ or develop pastiches of the illusion of seperateness. These manifest through squiggles and robotic images, fetish voodoo rituals, pods, gadgets and shrines.

Jack Sargeant is the author of numerous books, essays and articles on underground film, outsider art and the more unusual aspects of culture, his books include Deathtripping: The Extreme Underground (2007) and Naked Lens: Beat Cinema (2009). He has contributed to numerous collections of essays, most recently From The Arthouse To The Grindhouse (2010) and The End: An Electric Sheep Anthology (2011). His writings have appeared in Fortean Times, FilmInk, Real Time, The Wire and many others. Since 2008 he has been the program director for the Revelation Perth International Film Festival. In 2010 he co-curated the Sydney Biennale film program, presenting film and video works themed around visionary magus Harry Smith, these included works exploring indigenous Australian spiritual beliefs, outsider art and music, and culminated in a performance by Noko.

Lauren Simonutti lives in Baltimore. Her images are born entirely from traditional photographic techniques. Her work is represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC. Since 1998, Lauren has produced a series of books in very limited editions exploring specific themes through her photographic work. She has exhibited extensively since 2001, and her work has been featured in Silvershotz, Catchlight Magazine, Eyemazing, Descry Magazine, Soura, and La Négatif. In early 2010 she had a solo exhibition at the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, who currently represent her.

Mark Titchner was born in Luton in 1973. He graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, in 1995. In 2006 he was nominated for the Turner Prize for a solo show at the Arnolfini, Bristol. In 2007 he was included in the 52nd Venice Biennale, exhibiting in the Ukraine Pavilion. His work is held in the permanent collections of the South London Gallery, the United Kingdom Government Art Collection and the Tate. He is represented by the Vilma Gold Gallery,

Heather Tracy has been an actor and singer for twenty-seven years, working across a diverse range of genres and media from unrehearsed Shakespeare to comedy cabaret. She has had a long association with the Lions part, an eclectic company of professional performers who collaborate to create seasonal festivals incorporating stories, playtexts, music and folklore. She is currently forging a deeper understanding of theatre’s ritual and shamanic legacy through experiential exploration of paradox, humour, neurological shock and the emotional interplay between voice, word and flesh. This work also informs her solitary magical practice and writing.

Arktau Eos is a sentient frame capable of capturing fleeting moments of oneiric activity, where essential gnosis manifests itself in blazing hieroglyphs… It is a ghastly and wondrous parade of cryptic images and sounds, which a given recording is a reflection of, thus becoming a new gateway for the perceptive listener. Equal parts stellar and serene, subterranean and disturbing, ARKTAU EOS remains in constant evolution, paying attention only to the cues of the spirits and maintaining the integrity of the dream-continuum of which our ‘consciousness’ is but a mere drop in the ocean.

John Contreras is an American cellist, best known for his work with Current 93 and Baby Dee. He has also performed with Marc Almond, Fovea Hex and Nurse With Wound. In addition to the cello, he also performs with the Buchla 200e. His work is released on the Durtro label.

Cyclobe are a music duo based in London, formed by Stephen Thrower and Ossian Brown. They make hallucinatory electronic soundscapes by mixing sampled and heavily synthesized sounds with acoustic arrangements for strings and woodwind. Their approach draws upon diverse forms, including acousmatic, drone music, dark ambient, noise and sound collage. Thrower is also a film journalist and author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci. Ossian Brown worked with Coil from 1999 until the band’s cessation on the death of John Balance in 2004.

English Heretic seek ostensibly to maintain, nurture and care for the psychohistorical environment of England. Availed of the services of some of the country’s very finest occult archaeologists, astral geographers and mystical toponymists, we aim to help people decode and realise the alchemical ciphers and conspiratorial interplay of the buildings and landscapes around them.

High Mountain Tempel consists of Eric Nielsen (of both Maquiladora and Buzz or Howl) and Keith Boyd. Eric has played with members of such highly respected avant garde groups as Acid Mothers Temple, High Rise, White Heaven, Mainliner, Mus, The Black Heart Procession, etc. Creating dense soundscapes and sonic stories, their music touches on elements of Krautrock and such musicians as Lustmord, Harry Partch, Coil and Zombi. Along with these spacier elements, there is a free-form and hybrid spirituality to this music that is of a particular West Coast and Pacific variety.

Kallee is a musickal lunar sound project founded in 15.05.10 e.v. Tantrick and magick transformation for musickal paintings…

Philip Legard has travelled to various locations throughout Britain to record his music, letting himself be inspired by the spirit of the surroundings. Phil also releases most of his own music through his label Larkfall. A new edition of his esteemed Psychogeographia Ruralis is due for release in 2011.

Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule is a prolific visual and sonic artist who finds drawing, painting, sculpture, theatre, photography, animation, verse, video, violin and voice effective ways of earthing magickal currents. His recent book Coagula (Fulgur, 2011) is the latest in his Tela Quadrivium series.

Noko: Order 41 is Barry Hale, Scott Barnes and Michael Strumm, a performance collaborative. Re-presenting various lines of esoteric research, NOKO erupt into the traditional fine arts arena, merging magical ritual work with contemporary experimental sound and visual forms, producing highly original assemblages in a live multi-media format.

Okok Research Bureau are sometimes described as a “transgressional freethinking experiment,” or “an interdimensional action theatre whose players juggled a curious amalgam of art and magic.” Mark Reeve and Liam Olan are the movers behind this, and ORB Editions.

The Psychogeographical Commission was formed at the start of 2008 to explore the many interfaces between the built environment and the people who inhabit it through dérive, magick and sonic experimentation.

Raagnagrok sound like a free-psych gnosis-musick invoking previous transmissions from satellite residents Cluster, Heldon, Jan Hammer, Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. After over forty live performances in basements, galleries, bunkers, pubs, theatres and more ordinary music venues around Europe Raagnagrok plan to release an album in the near future; just don’t ask whose future…

T.A.G.C. are a side project of Clock DVA. Formed in the early 1980s by Adi Newton (although the idea existed as early as 1978), T.A.G.C. (originally The Anti-Group) was conceived as an open-membership experimental multimedia collective, focused on audio, visual, and textual research and production, as well as performance art and installations.