The Magic Circle

The Traveler claims to have departed the space-time of the dinner party by boarding a vehicle he built in his laboratory. The machine resembles a bicycle. By sitting upon it and manipulating a pair of levers, the Traveler observes his life-world transforming rapidly all around him, the whole flashing as in a sequence of motion studies projected onto a kind of spherical surround. It’s as if the Traveler has drawn around himself a magic circle, like the kind described by Johan Huizinga in Homo Ludens and Mircea Eliade in The Sacred and the Profane. He sees land transformed over hundreds of thousands of years, while he himself sits safely (albeit uncomfortably), within the circle drawn by his machine, occupying a sphere of local, personal, existential time, divorced from the duration of the years passing around him.

Thursday June 10, 2021

Having completed several books that I’d been reading of late, I hear Frankie’s friend Rachel asking, “What do we do?” Rachel is a YouTuber who makes educational content for toddlers. Upbeat sing-a-longs; skits; introductions to letters, shapes, and colors. Her question resonates. Ever since waking to this morning’s solar eclipse, sun and moon conjuncted in Gemini, I’ve felt the approach of a new pattern. As if to confirm the morning’s feelings of apprehension and foreboding, the air unit kicks out — a problem we determine come evening. But no bother. Lightning bugs greet me as I sit for the first time in our new glider bench on the front porch. Breathing deeply, I contemplate the cosmos. Others are doing what I’d hoped to do: researching green gnosis, practicing re-paganization, hosting conferences on acid communism. Time for something new.

Tuesday January 26, 2021

The “altered state” presumes variance from a norm: or at the very least, contrast between varying states. Modulation among intensities of experience. Sleeping and waking states. Dream states, drug states, trance states. States of hyper-absorption: flow-states, runners highs, fever-induced deleria. All of our texts this semester assume some ordinary, everyday waking state, as well as an alternative to that state. And in fact, we’ve all experienced “altered states” of one kind or another. Moments of intense concentration, moments of absorption or immersion.

Wednesday January 20, 2021

Celebrants gather! Party here today outdoors beside a fire.

(Glasses raised): “To the end of Trump, and to the work ahead, we cheer!”

There is food, there is drink; Sarah cooks vegetarian chili and cornbread muffins. Spring semester approaches, but not for another week. Let us embrace it: this hopeful openness, the sense of the path ahead.

Thursday June 25, 2020

What will come of this summer of black lives mattering? Black reading lists are making the rounds, black-led movements are marching and protesting and rioting in the streets; money has been gathered in impressive amounts for black organizations and black-owned businesses. Consider now what comes after. What have we joined? Where are we headed? What comes next? Reality is a bath, a soup shaped by the tug and pull of bodies and forces, large and small. Worlds arise and transform the same way caterpillars transform into butterflies.

Thursday June 4, 2020

Strong is the power of ideology — but we’re changing, we’re slipping out from under the latter’s grip. Dancing in the streets. The tasks ahead seem massive but thrilling. Time to learn how to make of the lawn a garden. Purchase the tools one needs and get to it. Convert this place into a permaculture Oikos, a multiplayer bower of bliss.

Sunday May 10, 2020

As parents, we become, undergo metamorphosis, transform into the worlds of our children. Through our actions, we model better natures, better worlds. Hopes manifest, consciousness redoubles upon species-being — and upon waking, sees before its very eyes a better state. We change by projecting upon the mind’s eye dreams other than those programmed into us by History.

Saturday May 4, 2019

Evening fireworks as the city celebrates the approach of summer. Nineties hip-hop artists intervene like the members of a chorus of those who know. Wise Angelenos. The rebel, they say, is the hero in history. But me, I’m just flexing, wondering, longing to do the right thing. Without reinforcement, however, it feels like I’m grasping at straws. Cheer up, I tell myself. Overcome the fear response. Learn to play the game.