Projecting - Alchemy
essay by Al Razutis, 2011
- 'let light be made', 'let there be light', and metaphorically to 'dispell ignorance'
And with light, let there be life. For without light there is no DNA, no life; and without light-energy and its EM pulses there is only a dead universe of zeros. But 'let' or 'made' by whom? God? Or by the 'godless'? And is there only one kind of 'light'?
For the alchemist, who does not not pretend to 'universal creation', or 'technology' (as a goal), but commits to a labor ('the work') of transmutation (change beyond form) as a necessary function of creation, for this 'heretic' refusing to give 'God' the monopoly on creation, and for the 'unbelievers' who created all forms of modern medicine and science and arts, it is to those that this essay is written.
The arts of creation, the alchemies, magic, arts, and sciences, unlock the undersding that 'creation' itself, in all its forms, is fair game, if not life (worth living) itself. And rather than being 'in the service of' (religion, politics, ideology, or superstition and blind faith), achemy utilizes the misunderstood term 'magic' and encourages individuated self expressing 'life' without 'permissions'. Alchemy does not pretend to be science, even if its language of procedures was was incorporated into 'chemistry'; it is an art and awakening of creativities, whatever form they may take.
No inscrutable hermetic symbolic diagrams are posted here, except as rare examples. There is no reason to embrace past symbols; the present is an assimilation of the old that we know, and in itself is important enough. And whether the images come from personal or web archives, the process is 'transferable', and 'contageous', like inspiration and enchantment is meant to be across all the arts. These words and visual essays are suggestions, not formulaic prescriptions. There is no hubris or omniscience here. A laboratory which reveals the workings of imagination is far more interesting than a 'cook book' of recipes for the unimaginative psyche. Doctrines (and there are many) which feature secret languages, hieroglyphics or priesthoods, rituals of initiation, and pompous conceits invoking 'secret mastery' are of a by-gone era full of boogey men and punishment parks. Their hieroglyphics retain the memories of their distant time and place; their artifacts sit in glass cases of the mind or museum. There is no 'golden age' to return to.
Magic differs from science, in that while science studies, decomposes, theorizes, and experiments with the physics of the visible and measurable, magic creates and manifests works through the alchemies of the relationships of meanings. These relationships are perceived by the practitioner (of magic, alchemy, art, and even science) as something 'meaningful' without a readily apparent 'use value' (and its exploitations in commerce). Magic encourages irrational thoughts and experiences to connect to 'impossible' relationships of meanings and the enchantments and desires that these thoughts might reveal through experience. Sure, there are charlatans that peddle 'solar wave' ointments (as in 2008), making outrageous claims on behalf of their 'magic' about 'what's to come' (but never did). But we can set aside those examples, for our focus is elsewhere.
Thought manifests reality (which is a creative process, not a 'found object'); thought does not 'mirror' reality by noting down measurements of observable phenomenon. It thought were purely a'scientific process of quantized brain patterns across a neural network, then thought would be a machine, cranking out replicas of a pre-existing universe (coded in DNA) and harken back to the days of religion and studies of 'god's plan' and our 'fate' within that plan. Today a peaceful coexistence between alchemical arts and sciences exists now that the Church or Communism no longer run the state, and imagination of the 'self' and 'world' is freed to imagine. Until the next disasters produce the next authoriitarian 'state', that is, and superstition (and its 'Book') replaces intelligent inquiry and conclusion and 'conspiracy' and 'faith' suppresses individuation and creative thinking, now that that internet and world media can service a new world order 'hive' mentality and technocratic 'suppremacists'.
The alchemy referenced in these pages does not derive from a Pythagorean world view of 'golden chords', 'music of the spheres', the monochord of god, macrocosm and microcosm and symmetries of good and evil. We will not revisit antiquity (and its inverted pyramids) except to remember and respect its visions. Old symbols are not a guiding part of our course of study. Old symbols belong with the old in this era of the Wiki and web archives.
Our alchemy, in these introductory lessons, is filled with images from the web as well as images and forms created by the individuated self, you and I. Our expresses can take any form, and music is not a required ideal form, as in the Pythagoreans. Our alchemy will contain a 'theory of attractions' (perhaps related to the theory of 'attractors' in fractal geometry) which will be initially based on a theory and practice of sexual attractions as a useful and anthropomorphic subject for our lessons in the projections of alchemy.
We will avoid the simpleton's ideal forms, circles, triangles, mystical mumbo jumbo. We can appreciate the pythagorean triangles, the golden mean, fibbonaci series, Fludd's macrocosm and microcosm, and fifths of golden chords. But that was before fractals, holograms, and black holes arrived on the scene, and we are in the now, looking towards the future, not dreaming of a golden past.
And if this is a 'seriously wasteful' excercise, as most materialists would argue, then this is all for the better. For desire itself cannot be quantified, without obliterating its power, into 'useful' and 'useless' labors, unless punching in one's ('professional') time card is the singular intent. 'Work will set you free?' Only in the imaginarium of a 'labor camp' where 'work' is measured only as a function of state goals. . The alchemies of surrealism, the surrealisms of alchemy are attained through desire. Heron of Alexandria's 'theater of illusions', like the Disney 'haunted house illusions' of nowadays amusement parks, continue the strange dance of invoking 'mystery', by witholding the 'mechanism' (of illusions). In this process of constructing a theater, we will employ chance and the 'automatic writing' (which is no simple task and certainly not of machine) of time present, past and future.
Seeing and believing is more than looking through windows
Much has been written about the 'Virtual Window', the 'frame', optics of seeing, linear perspective, the primitive 'Camera Obscura" imaging system (from the Middle Ages, if not from the Greeks, and other antiquities), and its 'upside down' ideologies (Marx), and its subjectivities (Lacan). Always, the students of the arts, the philosophers and historians of arts and culture, the painters, media artists, curators are told that the evolution of imaging systems are derived from such 'camera obscuras', that Rennaisance perspective was 'all about this', that 'windows', 'virtual reality' and all forms of networked projection systems are beholden to this camera obscura and that we all should 'know' this, reference this, or be excluded from 'modernity' and its arts and cultures. And always it is wrong.
As Timothy Druckrey (Foreword to 'Deep Time of the Media'), comments: "An anemic and evolutionary model has come to dominate many studies in the so-called media. Trapped in progressive trajectories, their evidence so often retrieves a technological past already incorporated into the staging of the contemporary as the mere outcome of history."By getting back to some of the 'basics' we understand that imaging 'history' is no simple, linear, evolutionary, 'progress-oriented', freedom-seeking process at all. Yes, the images with historical references, diagrams of the physiology and psychology of 'seeing' and 'historical inventions' will not get you there.
One step back...and forth
The quest for answers and to some 'revelations' about 'how it all works' may invoke 'God', 'Magic', 'Alchemy', 'Physics', 'Empiricism', 'Relativity', 'Unified Field Theory', and so on. We who are open to 'amazement', the 'marvelous', 'enchantment', 'awe', 'love at first sight' will understand that the act of seeing is all of the above. The diagrams, historical footnotes and references that follow are the imprints of our knowledge through time and space.
It is not a linear history of orderly developments of 'technology', 'science', 'knowledge', philosophy and curiosity. There are connections everywhere to be seen that cross over time and space in extraordinary flashes and emanations. The moment of 'awe' can also be a moment of 'deja vu'.
Virtual and projected realities are a good beginning
The Camera Obscura, of Descartes versus the magicians, and the virtual realities enjoyed therein find a counterpart, as 'inversion', with the medieval projections ('projectors') of Anthasius Kircher and others. If 'reality' is represented as a 'inversion' in virtual reality, then by re-projecting the virtual reality one arrives at 'reality'? Not even close, since mere inversions serve little purpose. The re-projection of virtual realities can result in something approaching the marvelous, to a surrealist, and the visual alchemists.
Two eyes, not one, deliver immersion in space
The human, and that is what we are dealing with here, typically sees with horizontally displaced two eyes ('binocular vision') which send their primitive inverted camera images to the brain which 'sees' a three-dimensional scene by way of 'stereopsis'. These processes are well known and endlessly recirculated in 3D chat rooms on the internet and referenced in many web publications. If you want to see 'three-dee' you need horizontal parallax information for our brain's stereopsis to work. Nothing complicated or profound about that, except to the pinhole 'theoretically informed' artists of po-mo critical theories (spectatorship, voyeurism to the foreground, and cyclopean view).
So how does the 'non human' or 'meta-human' or god-like 'avatar' or transcendental being see? Of course, that has been part of the question since 'cave theory' was introduced way back when.
Three eyes, not two, deliver time in space
And the third eye which captures 'time', even if fleeting, momentary,
but calls up imagination, insight, inspiration, enchantment, love
at first sight.,
Projected in the Middle Ages as 'Jezebel', 'Satan', 'Serpent', 'Satan', 'Whore of Babylon', this womankind is neither 'shade', 'double', or 'mother'. It is for all three eyes the riddle of sexuality and androdgeny, as to the questions of 'homunculus', proceeding into existence, or not.
And broken into 'toys', 'ghosts', 'apparitions', 'faeries', 'elementals', 'spirits' and nightmares, for those who like it dark and damp, or 'objectified'.
Sexuality, eros, love and enchantment are part of the visual alchemies of our world. Whether expressed in the 'virtual' or 'real', whether invoking allegory or pure lust, it's basic resonance are the frequencies of life.
Projections - then and now, and then some
These readings are optional. Opt in or out. If sexual subjects makes you uncomfortable, you've come to the wrong place. If men looking at women's nude bodies make you angry, you should leave for sure. If you're just passing by, or voyeristic for the sake of hiding out in anonymous places and personas, while still having an opinion on what everyone 'should do', this is not for you.
If sexuality threatens your sense of 'god' and 'good', if it is something that frightens you, retreat to the houses of the 'word' for tales of the boogie man, and puritan paradise, all fundamentalists included. If your religion or ideology forbid the 'looking at' or enjoying the 'to be looked-atness' of human or female forms which might arouse 'erotic' pleasures or antipathies forbidden by god or 'feminist theory', then please get lost. The inquisitions of yesteryear need not re-appear with new inquisitors of red or black book and their 'theoretically informed' mentors all murmuring of their empowerments and 'justice' (for them).
Sex is part of alchemy, and part of everything else.
Also re-visit surrealist and platonic