A History of Western Mystery


3rd Wednesdays, beginning Jan 15th, 2014 at 7pm Azoth Temple, Portland, OR
Contact michael@universalilluminism.org for details.

We embark on the study of Europe’s wisdom tradition, from the initiation of the ancient Greeks by the Persians and the shamans of central Asia, to how this knowledge ferments, persists, perishes, and is resurrected as kabbalah, esoteric Islam, alchemy, medieval Gnostic movements like the Albigensians, the Hermetic revival of the renaissance, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, the Theosophical Society, the New Age, percolating even into the contemporary commonplace of the “spiritual but not religious.” The monthly classes will be a combination of lecture and discussion, the proportions depending on the interest of the group. Join us and renew the story of how consciousness comes to the recognition of its own depths and the ways in which that recognition has manifested itself in Western culture.

Getting more discrete with age

On my way back from the store, a lady asked me from her car whether this was 27th Avenue. “Yes,” I said.

She went on, “I’m trying to get to Holman’s Funeral Home.”

I pointed and said, “I think that’s it right over there.”

She looked and scowled. “Ooh, how do I get in?”

“Well, you could die, to start with,” is what I didn’t say. Instead I just replied, “Hmm, I’m not sure.”

She drove on with a determined look on her face, while I congratulated myself on exercising that tiny bit of impulse control, just this once.

Notes from a contraction

For the past six weeks or so, I’ve been in a period of higher-than-usual gumption, or “proactivity” if that’s not too psychobabble for you. Starting, strangely enough, with the passing of my mother and holding steady through this weekend. But now I seem to be fading, or contracting perhaps. I’m off my exercise regimen (but not my diet, at least), can’t seem to bring myself to study my tech books, am practicing ukulele less, and haven’t been able to bring myself to blog until now. In short, almost all the things I’ve been proud of keeping up recently seem to be falling by the wayside.

On the one hand, maybe this is a sign that there’s a part of me that has been feeling the need to relax, and that this is something I need to accommodate. On the other hand, I don’t want this slackness to go on for too long, as it has often done in the past. Most especially, I don’t want my gains in muscle training (meager though they may be at this point) to fall away to nothing. Maybe I can get back on track Saturday and train straght through to Friday.

Ooh, Saturday — when I have my next appointment with my productivity coach, oh god. When I will abase myself at her feet and cry out, “I have fallen! I have turned away from all your wise guidance and allowed myself to lie fallow and idle! Forgive this unworthy wretch and lead me back to the ways of rectitude!” To which she will undoubtedly think to herself “WTF?!?” But maybe she’ll have some constructive suggestions. I think that part of my motivation for hiring a coach was to experience exactly this discomfort when I stray from the program. So be it.

Sandman Slim (and I) went shopping


I just finished reading Kill City Blues, the latest in the Sandman Slip series of novels by Richard Kadrey. There’s something so compelling about these damned-sorcerer-as-noir-detective stories that I have to snatch up every one as soon as they come out. Think Raymond Chandler meets H.R. Giger meets Charles Bukowski. Not everyone’s cup of tea, clearly. But I can’t get enough of it.

This particular volume concerns Sandman Slim’s journey into the haunted bowels of a ruined shopping mall in search of a weapon that can counter the (nearly) all-powerful alien gods who threaten to annihilate our universe. As it happens, I went shopping at the mall today as well. Both the book and my purchasing concluded satisfactorily.

Back in the proverbial saddle

Starting to get settled in at home; sleeping schedule starting to normalize. Had a nice time at the Kava House last night. Judd’s trying a different kava preparation method (in the Samoan style, I think I recall him saying, rather than their usual style from Vanuatu) that is delightfully ass-kicking. Two shells of that stuff might be all I can handle, if indeed you can call what I was doing handling it.

Re-strung my Fluke today, probably for the first time ever. While I’m at it, I think I’ll look into having my newest ukulele (a Cordoba Acoustic-Electric) worked on so I can put a low 4th string on it. I’m told that works better for jazz chords.

I’ve installed a plugin for this blog that will supposedly syndicate my posts to my Facebook account in the POSSE manner. We’ll see. If it works, I’ll have to start getting my Facebook house in order, which is no small thing. But not tonight—I’m on my way to Chris and Kim’s for True Blood!

Balisage: final thoughts

So that happened.

This was my second Balisage, and this time I got a whole lot more out of it. I suppose, like most things, it gets better with practice. I found most of the sessions to be more dramatic and memorable. More of the material seemed relevant to my own work, at least in potential. I also, eventually, felt more of a connection to the community, which I could see from the beginning was an important dimension to the event, but which I couldn’t bring myself to engage with right away. Still, ultimately it clicked, and I’m very glad of it.

Tribe. It’s a good thing, and I’ve missed it.

Climbing the hill

C. M. Sperberg-McQueen

Syd in the introduction cites Annie Haslam!

AI problem, find the highest point in a landscape, say you’re blindfolded. Most technology users never want to accept any pain, so wind up on the closest hill, not the highest. If you want to find the highest peak, you have to cross some valleys. Matt Patterson pointed out that web developers want quick payoff, which frustrates us, but we are sometimes are the same way. Kleinfeld spoke of a new place (HTMLBook) . The literate programming talk. Change tracking. Ari did semantic profiling with indirection… Liam spoke of community building in publishing. Important to gather facts, like json vs XML fatness, XQuery introspection. Change our ways, like Simon’s call for variation. Or build more. XForms adds something new, many examples. Layering, like authoring UI in Oxygen, RSDL, indexing in XQuery, XSLT in JavaScript, recursive functions in XPath 3.0. Or new foundations, like architectural forms in XML, or DITA in RelaxNG. Or non-tree markup. Or parallel parsing, or FtanML, or the XML Info-Space. Invisible XML as XML injection, echo with Cowan’s Examplotron work. Balisage as the hilltop.