Spring Cleaning Tarot Spread by adrienne maree brown
Feb 24, 2021
- Card one: On a spectrum from smoldering ash to orange wildfire, what is your current relationship to fire? Draw card one to learn about your hearth.
- Card two: On a spectrum from doldrum to hurricane, what is your relationship to air? Draw card two to learn about your weather.
- Card three: On a spectrum from drought to tsunami, what is your relationship to water? Draw card three to learn about your flow.
- Card four: On a spectrum from cemented lot to composting riches, what is your relationship to earth? Draw card four to learn about your ground.
- Card five: What do you need to destroy?
- Card six: What do you need to clear?
- Card seven: What do you need to immerse yourself in?
- Card eight: What do you need to seed?
Mind Reading List
Feb 11, 2021
To mark the US publication of Atlas of Anomalous AI later this month, we are offering eight essential reads about minds in all its forms. What do we know about intelligence? How did it come into being? What forms does it take, human and non-human? How might it change and develop in the future?
by Catherine Malabou
Malabou traces the modern metamorphoses of intelligence, seeking to understand how neurobiological and neuro-technological advances have transformed our view. She considers three crucial developments: the notion of intelligence as an empirical, genetically based quality measurable by standardised tests; the shift to the epigenetic paradigm, with its emphasis on neural plasticity; and the dawn of artificial intelligence, with its potential to simulate, replicate, and ultimately surpass the workings of the brain. Malabou's approach to intelligence emphasises the intertwined, networked relationships among the biological, the technological, and the symbolic.
Steps to an Ecology of Mind
by Gregory Bateson
Bateson was a twentieth-century philosopher, anthropologist, photographer, naturalist, and poet. During his significant and long-spanning career Bateson contributed to the social sciences, linguistics, visual anthropology, semiotics and cybernetics, and his work intersected that of many other fields. This classic anthology of his major work covers his life’s interest in psychiatry, genetics, and communication theory, and the nature of the mind.
‘The Circular Ruins’
by Jorge Luis Borges
In this short story Borges tells of a man, sometimes called a wizard, who dreams up his son. The story contains many themes and elements of magical realism that are characteristic of Borges, and is an allegory for the creative process and the mind itself.
by Peter Godfrey-Smith
Although mammals and birds are widely regarded as the smartest creatures on earth, it has lately become clear that a very distant branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. In captivity, octopuses have been known to identify individual human keepers, raid neighboring tanks for food, turn off lightbulbs by spouting jets of water, plug drains, and make daring escapes. How is it that a creature with such gifts evolved through an evolutionary lineage so radically distant from our own? In Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith tells how subjective experience crept into being—how nature became aware of itself. Tracking the mind’s fitful development, Godfrey-Smith shows how unruly clumps of seaborne cells began living together and became capable of sensing, acting, and signaling, and eventually grew more complicated as they became entangled with others.
At the heart of this book is the revolutionary idea that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but is a learned process brought into being out of an earlier hallucinatory mentality by cataclysm and catastrophe only 3,000 years ago and still developing. The implications of this new scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychologies, our histories and cultures, our religions – and indeed, our future. In the words of one reviewer, it is “a humbling text, the kind that reminds most of us who make our livings through thinking, how much thinking there is left to do.”
The Master and His Emissary
by Iain McGilchrist
This pioneering account sets out to understand the structure of the human brain—the place where mind meets matter. Until recently, the left hemisphere of our brain has been seen as the ‘rational’ side, the superior partner to the right. But is this distinction true? Drawing on a vast body of experimental research, Iain McGilchrist argues while our left brain makes for a wonderful servant, it is a very poor master. As he shows, it is the right side which is the more reliable and insightful. Without it, our world would be mechanistic – stripped of depth, colour and value.
by Benny Shannon
This is a pioneering cognitive psychological study of Ayahuasca, a plant-based Amazonian psychotropic brew. Benny Shanon charts various facets of the special state of mind induced by Ayahuasca, and analyses them from a cognitive psychological perspective. He also presents some philosophical reflections. Empirically, the research presented in this book is based on the systematic recording of the author's extensive experiences with the brew and on the interviewing of a large number of informants: Indigenous people, shamans, members of different religious sects using Ayahuasca, and travellers. In addition to its being the most thorough study of the Ayahuasca experience to date, the book lays the theoretical foundations for the psychological study of non-ordinary states of consciousness in general.
Chimeras and Consciousness elucidates the astounding collective sensory capacity of Earth and its evolution through time. In this book, scientist-scholars from a range of fields—including biochemistry, cell biology, history of science, family therapy, genetics, microbial ecology, and primatology—trace the emergence and evolution of consciousness.
Understanding Our Mind
by Thich Nhat Hanh
This book looks at Buddhist psychology with insights into how these ancient teachings apply to the modern world. Based on the fifty verses on the nature of consciousness taken from the great fifth-century Buddhist master Vasubandhu and the teachings of the Avatamsaka Sutra, Thich Nhat Hanh focuses on the direct experience of recognising, embracing, and looking deeply into the nature of our feelings and perceptions.
Five Influences on Unknown Language by Huw Lemmey
Feb 11, 2021
Huw Lemmey offers insights into five of his influences during the writing of Unknown Language, a mutant fiction of speculative mysticism that follows the journey of visionary healer Hildegard of Bingen following a great cataclysm. Unknown Language been longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2021, which rewards the best fiction published by small presses every year.
In the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya are a series of romanesque murals painted around the time at which Hildegard lived, although in a very different cultural and political context, taken from churches and monasteries in the Catalan Counties, at the time a borderland of Christendom. I visited the murals frequently while writing the book; their depictions of biblical and allegorical figures, and their bestiary of animals and depictions of nature, helped me visual a modern-mediaeval world for the book to sit in.
The Bloody Chamber
by Angela Carter
I found the work of Carter, and especially her short story collection The Bloody Chamber, very useful in rethinking about the retelling of stories. In the collection Carter uses traditional folk stories and fairy tales, not as direct ‘updated ’ versions but as source materials from which to extract new possibilities. As such, the stories are both a rich source of commentary on stories themselves (and how and why we tell them) and also work to create new worlds.
Every summer (except the last) in Barcelona each neighbourhood hosts a weeklong festival, the festa major. As part of the festivities a neighbourhood association is charged with organising a correfoc, a fire run, where, dressed as devils, the group run through the neighbourhood with fireworks attached to staves or pitchforks, creating a roving, explosive parade under which people run and dance. Mascots such as satanic cats or dragons are also strapped with fireworks and worn by dancers. The popularity of the correfoc and the similarly fire-oriented festival of Sant Joan suggests the persistence of folk religions in a city that has long since beaten off the yoke of the clerics.
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
Mausoleum is a misnomer; the Roman empress Galla Placidia was not buried there. Instead the building is a chapel attached to the Church of the Holy Cross in Ravenna. It is small, discreet, and one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. It is decorated with rich mosaics depicting animals and birds, while the roof is a blue firmament picked out with magnificent golden stars. It's a depiction of the divine which makes no attempt to know, but simply to be.
Death in Spring
by Mercè Rodereda
It isn't her most famous book, but Rodereda's novella Death in Spring is a magnificent book which helped me think through some ideas around the depiction of authoritarianism and the violence of belief that I tried to pick up in Unknown Language. I always conceived of Hildegard as a deeply isolated figure in her sickness, despite the importance of collaboration to her life, and someone who felt it more important to navigate complicity than embrace martyrdom. Death in Spring, dense, poetic, terrifying, was an important book for me in examining that, as well as the way it treats the terror of being trapped on the wrong side of superstition, of rurality, as a coming-of-age story.
Pilgrimage to the Fountain of San Isidro
by Francisco Goya
Like many of these influence, this painting by Goya, along with his other Black Paintings, helped me try and navigate my own complicated feelings around belief, rationality, collectivity and absurdity. I struggle with the violence engendered by religious belief, yet I cannot abide the lightness with which it can be discarded as ‘just superstition’. If it is human, it is all the more important to reckon with its depths and darknessess, something Goya faced in his final fearful days. Pilgrimage is one such painting that faces down the human instinct at the root of ritual procession, and the urge for salvation through journeying.
WATCH: Unknown Language book launch 🌱
Feb 09, 2021
🌱 On the Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen on 17 September, Huw Lemmey, Bhanu Kapil and Alice Spawls, with Elvia Wilk in the chair, launched Unknown Language.
Celebrating the launch of Unknown Language by Hildegard of Bingen and Huw Lemmey, with an introductory story by Bhanu Kapil and an afterword by Alice Spawls, this online event featured readings and a discussion about the life and work of the polymath, healer, composer, scientist and visionary Hildegard of Bingen, speculative mysticism, queer pilgrimage and apocalyptic visions 💫.
Long before the collapse of the Information Age, in the twelfth century since the appearance of the prophet Christ, young Hildegard finds grace.
In this story of survival and miracles, Hildegard encounters love, both queer and divine, and great peril. As the visionary healer travels through the unfamiliar landscape following a great cataclysm, she discovers the mythic quantum energy of viriditas in the natural world around her. Her journey becomes one of return, to the sacred truth of her own being.
Hildegard’s tale is received in the plague year of 2020 by Alice Spawls, and then in the next century, in a sea cave with cracked amethyst walls. On planet Avaaz, once known as Earth, Bhanu Kapil’s Pinky Agarwalia finds fragments of a beautiful codex. Lingua Ignota, Hildegard's unknown language, bears seeds of renewal for a world in flux.
The polymath Hildegard of Bingen (1098-17 September 1179) was a mystic, scientist, composer, herbalist and inventor of one of the earliest known constructed languages by a woman. Born in the Rhineland, Hildegard was educated from the age of eight at the Benedictine monastery at Mount St Disibode, later becoming an Abbess. She experienced prophetic visions since childhood and spent many years writing the visionary works Scivias, Liber Vitae Meritorum and Liber Divinorum Operum. Unusually for her time, she travelled and preached throughout southern Germany, Switzerland and as far as Paris. She died on 17 September 1179. She was formally canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Huw Lemmey is a novelist, artist and critic living in Barcelona. He is the author of three novels: Unknown Language, Red Tory: My Corbyn Chemsex Hell (Montez Press, 2019), and Chubz: The Demonization of my Working Arse (Montez Press, 2016). He writes on culture, sexuality and cities for the Guardian, Frieze, Flash Art, Tribune, TANK, The Architectural Review, Art Monthly, New Humanist, Rhizome, The White Review, and L’Uomo Vogue, amongst others. He writes the weekly essay series utopian drivel and is the co-host of Bad Gays.
Bhanu Kapil is a poet and an artist by-fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. Her most recent books are How To Wash A Heart (Pavillion Poetry, 2020) and a new edition of Incubation: A Space for Monsters (Kelsey Street Press, 2020). She is also the author of Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat Books, 2016), Schizophrene (Nightboat Books, 2011), humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), and The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001). In 2020, Kapil received the Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry from Yale University and the Cholmondeley Award for Poetry from the Society of Authors.
Alice Spawls is a writer and editor at the London Review of Books. She is a co-founder of Silver Press, the feminist publisher.
Elvia Wilk is a writer and editor living in New York and Berlin. She writes about art, architecture, and technology for several publications, including frieze, Artforum, e-flux, Metropolis, Mousse, Flash Art, Art in America, and Zeit Online. Her first novel, Oval, was published by Soft Skull in June 2019.
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