Sarah and I listened to Ought’s “Beautiful Blue Sky” off their album Sun Coming Down while driving to see Godspeed You Black Emperor the other night, the last moments of sunlight shining through the rear window, warming the backs of our necks. Standing at the show afterwards, I wondered: “Who today are my countrymen? Who today stand opposed both to machines and to those who make them?” Recalling these thoughts now, I wonder: is the true power of witchcraft and sorcery their ability to provoke consciousness-alteration in oneself and in others? Those affected vape and dance despite their dehumanizing professions, as nonhuman nature finds its springtime groove. A television in the corner of a Chinese takeout disturbs my peace of mind with an infomercial hawking beauty products: some sort of ‘Cindy Crawford’-sponsored age-defying skin treatment super-serum. The ex-‘global supermodel’ collects a tax, even if just as burdensome interruption of one’s soundscape and field of vision. I’d rather lie around all day in a state of jouissance. Kicking up dust, reading old reports, watching The Godz, a short work by psychedelic filmmaker Jud Yalkut.
I busy myself with psychedelic reassembly of cultural memory. Reshuffle the game-pieces and remember differently. The Rajneesh community, occluded for so long, re-enters political consciousness. Our society, drenched in capitalist realism, has no way to conceive utopian aspirations these days beyond “getting from day job to dream job,” as reads the text on a billboard in my neighborhood. This is the great virtue of the Netflix series Wild Wild Country: it reminds us not just to dream big again, but to demand everything.
A singsong routine occurs, a beckoning. Guided by voices, I advance, dreaming up games to be played, video-streaming services stocked with programs. Netflix takes the chill out of my basement with its new series Wild Wild Country, about the Rajneesh movement and its leader, the Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later known as Osho. With crowns come guillotines, says a woman onscreen. Seek instead gentle, meditative gardens, oases amid seas of people. Unless those people are white christian practitioners of settler colonialism, who “settle” with bombs and guns and then defend their stolen land with same, heaven forbid others achieve ecstatic union with other deities. The conservative christians are the life-haters, the pleasure-deniers of history. The ultimate invasive species — over the planet they lay their rule.
A character on a TV show speaks to me. “They have forgotten who and what we are,” she explains. “Make them remember. Absorb without preconception or distortion. Finish the mission. Unlock the box that needs unlocking.” A cartoon squirrel attempting to crack a safe eyes me over its shoulder and says, “Tell me you have some experience with this sort of thing. Tell me you’ve done this before.” After several false starts—car horns, permutations of notes plucked casually from the strings of a banjo, the vibrations of a bouncing spring—I swell, I advance, I invent for myself the finale to Rossini’s William Tell Overture.
I stomp through the streets after work muttering to myself, “I hate this fucking society.” I return home and sit in a room. Neurodiversity battles species-being. After a scuffle in the dark, the allegorical pair reenters the light in a new guise: snake-allied Gnostics who wish to inherit the garden versus ICE-wielding careerists. Such are the terms of the political mapping performed by Season 3 of The Path, a show that assembles itself around the creative reimagining of today’s anticapitalist left as a New Age separatist cult and thus, a largely religious rather than a largely secular political formation. Episode 2 ends with the “Eddie” persona punching a Nazi. Time appears to the allegorical mind as a vast tableau spread across a full field of vision. This channel and all of the others show us our mirror image catching sight of itself in another mirror. When we stare at books, I’m told, the sages of old live again in us.
I practice silently the names of plants in my neighborhood. Star magnolia, tulip magnolia, hyacinth. Rows upon rows of daffodils. A massive weeping cherry tree atop a hill. The first-person perspective shots in Maryam Goormaghtigh’s Before Summer Ends fuse me in an unprecedented way to a trio of Iranian male protagonists, vacationing on the coast of France. By these ways, we forge new ties, bonds, interests, empathetic capacities, across and despite traditional national-linguistic boundaries. Alas, life runs through our fingers; let us make haste in our imagining a beyond. Screw in the corners of a hammock. Relax, lie back, light up, read a book. Lincoln in the Bardo comes to mind. It and High Maintenance present themselves as clue-bearing reference points within a secret network, a kind of “Head Underground.” The joint effort of assembling art from jointly sent and jointly received sets of signs.
Electrified guitar strings reverberate in concert with windblown grass. I cross my arms, jut out my chest and lean back into a park-bench. When the sun appears from behind a patch of clouds, I raise my face to greet it. When others walk past on a sidewalk, I pick up my phone and make myself look normal. Nothing here, folks. Continue with your day. BTW, thanks, all of you anti-humanities STEM folks. This is a really great world you’ve created for us. Compulsory labor in support of nominally profit-driven capture of tuition dollars by layers of administrative bloat. They house us in square-plot rent-extraction prisons. Students, when asked about culture, know only the debased form it takes in lousily-acted young adult TV dystopia snoozefests like The 100. Better, thus, to withdraw and to agitate. Inhale while listening to Lea Bertucci’s “Patterns for Alto.”
As the 23rd hour of the 23rd day approached, shit got witchy. Additional synchronicities involving the number “23” cropped up, as did stories of witches. Let us conjure, let us legislate. Adjust the speed of the present with ADT’s “Unlimited Self-Service.”
Fearsome cat god mask lifts from the face of a female figure skater. To her side, applying commentary, sits the critic: the alien with the pulsing brain.