By Sam Basu
The universe groans into being. During its tiny beginnings as quark- gluon plasma, it emits an almost imperceptible sound as it grows and cools, discharging a prolonged, bubbling fart. If you were able to lean in very close through the incomprehensible nothing of non-space you would hear that this guff sounded remarkably like someone burping the word “Abracadabra”. Immediately after this windy pronunciation is uttered, Universal forces start to separate, cosmic viscosity shears me-space into planes that will never become whole again and the great annihilation of matter and antimatter begins to thunder.
Language is inhuman power and yet it feels the closest, most human thing to us. It is a communication system; it is technology whose physics appear natural, and its prosthetic suture invisible. With the greatest prejudice, we conspire to prove to ourselves our special place in the universe because of the faculty that language grants us. Even when we concede that humanity might not be the final meaning of the universe, our thoughts continue to betray our false modesty. We hesitate to reflect on how thoughts appear in our heads or develop as we speak, or how another’s words appear in our minds as we read or listen. We are hollowed out by words and into this hollow all things are free to enter and depart. We dare not consider that this most cherished beacon of humanity is a tool that was not made for you or I. Language is the tool of another entity more monstrous, divine and empty than we can ever imagine.
This beast resides in the empty disinterest of the universe; it is the foundation of all chaos. The beast is in the workings of chaos as it creeps in under cover of each passing moment bringing new creatures, unheard-of seismic effects and novel particles. This chaos is without allies, order, friendship or hope; it is immune to all being. It is this chaos that brings us endless new predicaments and smuggles away unimagined beings under a shroud of forgetting. The beast has awesome and unimaginable strength that will one day destroy every law and produce the end of everything. In the insignificant me that Reasoning will exist in the cosmos our most beautiful aim would be to get to know this inhuman beast.
What grants humans magical powers is not, as one would expect, knowing the True Name, or mastering the Enochian language of angels; it lies in an empathy with the inhuman reality of humans. This inhuman reality is what detonates the insignificant illusions of the individual, preferring instead the plurality of the social body or the complex capacities of a city. What we seek in locating access to our magical being is an intimacy and communion with our inanimate reality such as exists in the organisation of a coven.
A coven seeks access to elemental forces and has the intermittent powers of human agency. It is the coven and not its witches that produce magic. The coven resides in the momentary powers conceded by giant beings that emerge at the juncture of geological, socio-urban and biotechnological events; giant machines of heterogeneous parts, which we can only observe through changes in behaviour of the things around us. Behaviours that operate in us through our hollowed-out bodies, that calculate the ow of history regardless of the efforts of history’s heroic, thinking actors and participants. The universe groans purposeless magic.
“This is the predicament; any en ty that seeks refuge in another is betrayed in the exchange.” “What is betrayed?”
“That there is no private interior space.”
How to write a spell: Art-working
You can think of a spell as a virus that is ambivalent to whatever host it works through; it could transfer through ideas without thinking them, mountains without moving them. They are structures that repeat and get repeated; spreading and deforming the spaces they enter. They start to alter the way groups of people do things (“don’t go into the forest”). But these behaviours start to connect to the cosmic scales of the universe and you begin to intuit the power of the stars or a passing planet. Sometimes, momentarily, gravity and me-space might be significantly locked together with the uttering of a curtain.
Spells are produced by the coven. They are a form of collective writing and collective art-working. They are research and intuition, experiment and hoax. The coven builds its Book of Shadows, compiling and recording and archiving the spells and ac ons that shape the coven. The coven-book thinks its inanimate thoughts, producing its own illogical systems of Art. You cannot remain separate from the spells that write themselves from you. You are joined. Making spells is the making of cyborgs. You join together technologies with their ecologies and fuse them with living beings in an Art without spectators. This art does not work by being encountered or through its audiences; it works by affecting the world at the level of the behaviour of things, from photons or markets to murders.
You will never see the results of your magic; magic works on measures of me, and through scales of object, outside human comprehension. The work of the coven is secret from its members who have only their art-working and their book.
First cyborg: [mineral-rumour-morgue]
Coldly the crystals take hold of the immersed body, joining with it powers of preservation and perseverance. The process takes several months as the slowly cooling solution builds its geometric prisms while the colour drains from the flesh and pierces it with a million shards. All is executed without the slightest theatre of ritual or ceremony yet the scientific accuracy of the process does give an air of solemn propriety to all. The corpse is left on the corner of James Street and Elkington Park some me in the small hours and is discovered with a scream as the first rays of sunlight unlock the fissured depths of the beautiful sleeper’s carriage.
Police investigators are baffled by the find and move the body to the morgue. They endeavour not to dislodge any of the crystals while they transport the corpse, which takes some me. Back at the morgue they are further perplexed when they discover that the corpse has some powers of animation. The morgue is soon under siege from press and crackpots who have somehow been alerted to the curious case. The unknown victim of the murder, if that is what it is, is being called Lazarus, and has sparked the imagination of the city. It is clear that everyone is a little unnerved. A rumour is haunting the assembled crowd. “The corpse got up and tried to speak.” “What did it say?” They all want to ask.
Second Cyborg: [event-video-history]
A family of cats; some sweet kittens, a male and female adult pair, have been mummified. The whole process filmed ― mewing play, death, then embalming ― and uploaded onto Internet sites. Outrage and huge viewing figures reflect the intrigue in this cold cruelty and the curious historical accuracy of the portrayed Egyptian necro-tradition. At intervals through the videos a symbol is flashed up. A little research reveals that its source is a Sigil from a depression-era grimoire. This secret sign calls upon X, a chaos daemon, to make himself known, but there have been some alterations to the sigil sign. Instead of asking X to appear in the flesh, it asks X to be revealed in all flesh.
The coven meets weekly in its researches, discussing anthropology, or neuroscience, ecology or geology. There is much to worry about as they consider the world they are part of, and there is little to warm the atmosphere of the meetings. They have decided to compile a book of their wide-ranging discussions and readings, notes and quota ons. They assemble the whole arc of their thoughts together with diagrams and sketches. Chapters are added about writing, about spells written on Silver Birch bark and blood signatures and sigil. Footnotes are added recording the passing seasons, the phases of the moon, falling stars and bad weather.
One autumn morning, misty and so intensely coloured that it is enough to make you wonder if you have ever really seen autumn leaves before today and not simply heard tell of them. On this day four members of the coven have made their way, separately and without knowing that the others had the same idea, to a remote railway bridge in the country. They are surprised to meet each other there but continue without speaking. They head to the bridge railings where a large concrete post lies. This they all take hold of, heaving it over the railing and throw it down onto the rail tracks below.
Cy4: [infinity loop]
Jason has taken a tab of acid in order to write a manifesto to his new Lysergic Critical Method. Needless to say he has spent the last two hours transfixed by the so grey light that is glowing from his Bic biro.
High on medical hallucinogens manufactured by an Indian pharmaceutical company experimenting with trans-species viral vaccines, two teenagers decide to murder their conservative parents after an argument about vegetarian meals. The press seize on a wide range of features of the case and soon it is difficult to know which player in the tale is victim and which monster.
As you you tumble down through your life, experiencing the illusion of free will, one day you will witness the birth of God. You will witness the birth of God and God will be a rock. Not in the form of a rock, or personified in a rock or any other sort of mystical transformation; God will be a rock. It will be a pebble god, one of a host of pebbles in a fist full of gravel or a stone god, under your foot on an ugly beach. And, in the moment you behold this divine manifestation, you will be fatally struck down; you will be the host to a realisation that between this impenetrable and impotent piece of inconsequent mineral and the magnificent marvels of the living, thinking being that is beholding the inconsequent mineral, there is no difference. There is no huge divide of hierarchical space separating the thinker from the thought things that a end it; there is only the effect of complexity. There is simply the layering of pattern over pattern, of emerging function appearing from emerging function; Life, Thought, God. And in that realisation you come to know that there is no essen al divide between you and a rock because everything in existence made as it is from the ma er created in the very first moments of the universe, billions of years old, (and as you nervously begin to comprehend the situation and gnaw at your finger nail, you ingest atoms that knew the stars and you understand that you yourself were at the beginning of the universe, exploding), and then in the quietest moment, as the future leans in and presses its finger nail into the wax tablet of your life, you see that we have never been alive. There is no such special thing as life, only behaviours and processes and a deadly accident that brought you to God and destroyed you.
“Elizabeth, I have not been myself and feel powerfully saddened. I am soaked through with passions and am too empathetic. I have been thinking long upon the world that is seeping from us, and what geomancy we can employ to tie ourselves securely to it. I have become convinced that this is a type of dying away. It is joyful letting go.”
“Quietly, John. You know the coven will soon erode us. We decided to write the spell in the form of a story, and you are already slipping into the plot. Do not fret, soon the changes will start to take hold in the world as well.”
“Elizabeth, I do not want us to ever end.” “Oh gently, John, soon we will be gone.”