erynn: Gaelic merman image (Schroedinger kills you maybe)
Today was my group day at the VA. I left at the usual time and saw on one of the reader boards above I5 that there was a major accident on the highway through downtown Seattle. It advised taking 405 to bypass the area but, sadly, I was in the far left lane, and the reader board is right on top of the 405 exit, so there was no way to actually take its advice. Traffic was okay until we got to the 71st/65th St exit, where it came to a near standstill. Things crawled along for a very very long time and I finally got off the freeway on the left side exit for the 520 bridge, where I could take the one exit before the bridge out to the Montlake Cut. This ran me up over Capitol Hill and I got myself down onto the bypass to I90 and I5 south toward the Columbian Way/West Seattle Bridge exit. It was still snarled and miserable, and I could see that a semi and at least one car had been involved in something very messy right at the I90 ramp. The cops and semi trucks backing up to put them onto the bypass.

It took me 2 hours to make what is usually about a 45 minute trip, and that was taking the roundabout way that should have got me past most of it. I hesitate to think how long it would have taken if I'd stayed on I5. I probably should have just gone up MLK and around the back way entirely, but I was sure the road would have been clear by the time I got to the I90 ramp.

I made it in to my group five minutes before the group ended, but at least I got marked as present, so I'll be compensated for the travel funds next week when I go in.

On the way home tonight, I drove past a car with its engine on fire just north of the 164th exit. There were two other cars stopped to help, so I didn't bother -- I do carry a fire extinguisher in my trunk. It's the first time I've ever actually seen a car on fire outside of a movie. Very weird experience.

Anyway, it was a really awful day for driving. I'm glad I got to Seattle and back safely.

Last week at the queer Pagan meetup, [ profile] circularruins gave me a postcard for The Occultural Film Series: Magick in Cinema With Brian Butler. That was this evening at 7pm at the Northwest Film Forum on 12th. I spent a little time at Travelers after I got out of the VA, then wandered up to catch the series with him. The series was sponsored in part by the Esoteric Book Conference. I was rather looking forward to seeing some of this, as I'd seen parts of one of the films this past year at the Conference as part of a documentary on Cameron; the film excerpted was called Wormwood Star. I'd been intrigued enough by the excerpts to want to see the whole thing (10 minutes).

The program was three films by Brian Butler, Death Posture, Night of Pan, and Union of Opposites, Curtis Harrington's previously mentioned Wormwood Star, Mirror Animations by Harry Smith, Kenneth Anger's Brush of Baphomet, and the 1968 The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda by Ira Cohen.

Of the first three, I thought Night of Pan (7 minutes) was probably the most interesting, though some of it struck me as more unintentionally humorous than anything. There were some interesting visuals, fascinating props, and some really amazing and striking makeup on a couple of the actors, but I was left with the impression that part of the impetus for these three films was boobies. Part of Night of Pan was shot on location at Boleskine House at Loch Ness in Scotland, which had been a residence of Aleister Crowley for a while.

Of the other films, I think Wormwood Star appealed to me the most, giving us a look at Cameron's artwork, almost all of which she burned after its magical purpose had been served. Part of the soundtrack of the film is her reading from her poetry.

Harry Smith's Mirror Animations (10 mins) was interesting but amusing in a rather Terry Gilliam kind of way. Given that it was produced in 1979, I'm not sure this was unintentional. It's entirely possible that Gilliam's work on Monty Python's Flying Circus might have been an influence. It was saturated with qabalistic imagery and hands in different Buddhist mudras. I found it fascinating and relatively enjoyable.

Brush of Baphomet was interesting really only because of its subject being an exhibition of Aleister Crowley's paintings from the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. These paintings had apparently been undiscovered in a private collection until very recently. The focus of the film dwelt on the intense colors and textures of the paintings. The 4 minute film was produced in 2008.

The longest of the films, and the final one of the evening, was The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda. Some of its imagery was interesting, but a lot of it was wildly experimental and seemed more intended to replicate the effects of a bad acid trip. I found the soundtrack particularly grating, out of an entire series of films with bad soundtracks designed to encourage migraines. Some of the costuming was quite interesting, and apparently parts of the film were done with heavy use of mylar for reflective surfaces. It was very kaleidoscopic, and I was fairly certain that something like mylar was being used, as the reflections were too fluid in motion to be foil. Technically speaking, some of it was really interesting, but mostly it just seemed overly chaotic to me. I don't mind surrealist stuff, but I prefer it not be tracked with loud, screechy noise.

All the films had a fairly surrealist feel to them. Almost all the soundtracks were discordant and irritating to my ears. Brian Butler was, himself, on hand for the screening and did a short Q&A afterwards, where he talked a little about the films, and about the process of making his own. His process seemed rather haphazard, in that he intended things to go in one direction and found himself ending up somewhere entirely else.

The film program descriptions are as follows:

Death Posture (4 mins, 2011) Originally inspired by the Hanged Man card in the Tarot, this film explores the parallels of death and contact with alien intelligence in an abstract manner.

Night of Pan (7 mins, 2009) This film illustrates a specific spiritual experience. A magician encounters the void that separates the human mind from divine consciousness and in turn faces the mad god. Shot on location in Los Angeles and Loch Ness, Scotland.

Union of Opposites (14 mins, 2012) A personal journey through the unconscious. Shot in January 2012 on location in Malibu.

Wormwood Star (Curtis Harrington, 10 mins, 1955) Curtis Harrington's portrait of Cameron, the widow of JPL scientist and magician Jack Parsons. A rare documentation of Cameron's artwork, most of which was later destroyed.

Mirror Animations (Harry Smith, 10 mins, 1979) "You shouldn't be looking at this as a continuity. Film Frames are hieroglyphs, even when they look like actuality. You should think of the individual frame, always, as a glyph, then you'll understand what cinema is about." - Harry Smith

Brush of Baphomet (Kenneth Anger, 4 mins, 2008) A short film documenting the paintings of Aleister Crowley at the Palais de Tokyo exhibition in Paris.

The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda (Ira Cohen, 22 mins, 1968) Intensely psychedelic film shot in Ira Cohen's famous studio with Mylar walls. "It's like going on an ecstatic journey to another planet, full of magical beings, animals, and plants." - Ira Cohen

After the program, [ profile] circularruins and I went over to the Odd Fellows restaurant, situated in an old Odd Fellows Lodge building. The food there is good and the atmosphere loud and bustling but quite convivial. We had a good conversation about divination methods, app development, the films, and the suggested potential for a second series of short films specifically focused on women in magic, brought up by the woman who hosted the program.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (totem orca)
I was able to reschedule shrinkage until the 14th, which was the first opening Tracy had. She was very understanding about my needing to cancel for the day. I was glad for a little breathing space, honestly. I didn't stay home all day, as I had to deal with Things, but I'll get to that in a bit.

I'm having a hard time finding someone to take my Medieval Women's Choir concert ticket. I know it's short notice, but I had no idea it would be this much of a challenge. I wish I could go, but that's just not going to happen.

Progress was made on Ireland pilgrimage stuff today. I put together a tentative 3-book reading list for the folks going along, and have sent it off to [ profile] vyviane and the others to see if that's what they were thinking of for this sort of thing. I also made a short list of things to start looking for and putting together, in concert with the To Do list they posted elsenet for reference.

Got word from my editor that he would likely be done with the layout for Circle of Stones today and send it off. We're definitely on track for May.

I went out and picked up cheap (like on sale at Freddie's) hiking boots, so that they'll be reasonably broken in by the time I have to actually go hiking in them. I got a new belt so that I could toss the old, falling apart ones. Generally that's about the only time I actually shop for clothes, when my old ones are falling apart. I really do hate to shop, unless it's for books.

Cut for clothes TMI, body stuff, gender stuff. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (GIR likes FOOD!)
The DoDC+3 woke me again today, for which I was in equal measures annoyed and grateful. Annoyed because I was still tired, grateful because I'd been having a really nasty dream about a tv station on a military base running advertisements for Rohypnol, encouraging men to drug women's drinks so they'd be more pliable. Just what I needed, date-rape drug dreams. Lots of nasty complex awful things there.

Thankfully, the day itself was pretty good. I got down to Seattle and spent the afternoon with [ profile] gra_is_stor, her roommate, his boyfriend, a mutual friend of ours and, later, the roommate's dad. There was good food and good conversation and good company, so I was down with that. Traffic wasn't too bad at all, but the rain did make visibility problematic, particularly on the way down into Seattle.

I helped out with kitchen stuff and moving things around and hauling a table and chairs. We watched an absolutely hilarious parody Lord of the Rings set as a 40's noir film with Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, and Marlene Dietrich. I'm embedding it here, as it was pretty damned funny and if you haven't seen it yet, you might want to. It's about 9 minutes long.

Now, you must laugh.

I got home about 8:30 or so. I would have stayed later but I haven't been feeling well a lot lately and was pretty creaky by 7:30. I caught up with email and stuff and have put together things for turkey stock. I'll be making soup tomorrow and have the mixed legumes soaking. I'm sipping at a cup of decaf Ceylon tea and enjoying the wonderful smell of the turkey stock cooking.

I'm hoping that tonight I won't have dreams quite as surreally awful as last night's.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Brighid's cross)
My essay for Mandragora, "Burying the Poet: Brigid, Poetry and the Visionary in Gaelic Poetic Traditions," is finished at 3156 words and has been sent off to [ profile] finnchuill and [ profile] alfrecht for their comments and suggestions. Finally! I think I've done pretty well with it, and now I can turn my attentions to finishing up details for the Samhain ritual that I have to deal with. Tomorrow is the CR schmooze business meeting, my VA yoga group, and picking up [ profile] gra_is_stor before we deal with Steamcon this weekend.

I was just glad to get the writing for this one out of the way. I still have an article to do for Phosphorus, but I may not get that finished before the end of the month (I'm thinking probably not, in fact). I have no idea if I'm going to be able to get that one together in that short a time. I've hardly got more than a paragraph or two in it at the moment. It's such a huge and messy topic that it can be hard to tackle, even if I do have one particular example I'm working from.

I went over to the AFK tonight to have dinner with Herb and one of his spawn. We had a pretty good time, and some yummy foods. I won't be there tomorrow for the weekly steampunk social, obviously.

Politics make me crazy. Topeka, Kansas has repealed its domestic violence laws to try to save money. Screw saving people's lives.

Mississipi has proposed a measure that will make fertilized ova "persons" under the law and may well criminalize miscarriage.

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with people? Get the hell out of my fucking uterus, damn it! For a bunch of people who claim they want government out of their lives, they sure love to jam it up women's vaginas.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (not my problem weirded out)
This was one of those days that just kept giving. About 45 minutes ago, one of the neighbors, a bus driver, brought another neighbor to my door. She'd been lying in the parking lot, hallucinating, when he found her but he had to go to work and couldn't do much for her, so he looked for the nearest light and rang my doorbell.

I called 911 and we had the response people, a sheriff, and an ambulance crew here trying to figure out what was going on.

The poor woman was disoriented and freezing cold, dressed in just her nightgown. I might not be an EMT, but we carried her to the couch, wrapped her in blankets, and got some water and then a little bit of hot tea (plain, decaf) into her before the aid people arrived. The ambulance just left with her; I hope she'll be okay. I'm just glad I could help out a little bit.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (gir explode)
When I got out today to drop by the store, I found that I had accidentally left my bank card at the AFK last night. It was an accident -- there was some confusion about the bill and the card got forgotten in the shuffle. I picked it up this afternoon without any trouble. It was behind the bar. I don't think anyone messed with it but I'll keep an eye on my account regardless.

I had been going to head down to Seattle to see Caera, but she had been dealing with some health issues and when I texted her to let her know I was going to be late, she said she'd spaced it entirely, so I ended up not having to drive south today. I'll just see her on Monday to pick up the books from her.

Cut for local drahmah. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
My friend [ profile] purple_mark, an unmistakable Seattle original:

I love my friends. :D
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Bowie's disappointed in you)
I'd wanted to go down and pick up my pocket watch today, but woke about 3:30 this afternoon with another brewing migraine, this one worse than yesterday's. For a while, it was at the mild spike in the head stage, but slathering my head with some migraine-combatting essential oils (peppermint, eucalyptus, cajeput, lavender & vetiver) kicked it back enough to at least tolerate. I wasn't up for leaving the house except for doggly necessities, though. For a while, it was an open question as to whether I'd be able to put anything in the tum beyond some tea, but by early evening I felt well enough to have some of yesterday's cauliflower curry.

Tomorrow is that talk on mysticism and Italian poetry, and I'm hoping to be up to leaving the house, though I'm not certain this particular migraine cycle isn't related to the cold front that's been here for the past few days, coinciding with evil hormones. Anyway, I'm hoping I'll be doing better tomorrow and can both pick up my watch and pop down to the UW to drop off some books and catch the lecture.

The annual amulet burning ceremony is out at the Shinto shrine this Sunday. With any luck, I'll be well enough to get out there, too. If I do manage to, I might be able to catch some lunch at the Greek place in Granite Falls with [ profile] mimerki and [ profile] varina8, pending an answer back from [ profile] varina8. I last saw them when [ profile] thewronghands was in town and would love to see them again.

In the realm of serious WTFery, some fundie fruitcake has decided that the mysterious deaths of all those red-winged blackbirds was caused by the repeal of DADT.

Yeah. I know. That's about what I thought, too. *headdesk* The stupidity of human beings never ceases to amaze me. Do all those horrifying, deadly storms that whip through the Bible belt mean that God hates Southern Baptists?
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Orpheus I see...)
I canceled my dental appointment today. I wasn't in any shape to be dealing with an early afternoon appointment. I'll have to call and reschedule, but at least I could get a little sleep.

This evening I did go down to Seattle for the Dark Side of Oz. I'd heard about the concept years ago but wasn't entirely sure how it would work in practice, given that the album is a lot shorter than the film. What it turned out they did was play the album through three times, and it was precisely long enough to open with the start of the opening credits and end just as the final frame faded out to black. There were in fact a lot of really interesting and fun coincidences in how the music synched up with the film, but I'm pretty much convinced that, as Pink Floyd themselves said, they didn't do it on purpose. Still, on the awesome scale, it was above average-awesome.

I hadn't seen Wizard of Oz in probably 20 years, I'm guessing, and I had forgotten just how eyeball-burning those technicolor costumes were, and how deeply creepy some of the makeup effects were. With the Dark Side of the Moon album playing, of course, we didn't get any of the actual soundtrack of the film, so the whole thing felt extremely surreal throughout. I had a pretty good time with it, and picked up a flyer with the upcoming SIFF programs. They've got a SF series coming up in February that will be running some of my favorite classics, but I probably won't go, given that February is also PantheaCon, and I'll have to be saving all my pennies for that. They're going to be playing everything with BluRay technology, so it should be worth it to see both classics like Forbidden Planet and newer fun things like Galaxy Quest in that format on the big screen. Science Fiction Double Features include Dark City and Escape from New York, Serenity with Starship Troopers, and Time Bandits with Galaxy Quest.

I was exceedingly amused coming into the Seattle Center this evening when a really conservative-looking middle aged guy with his wife, both obviously dressed for the ballet, passed me in the parking structure. The guy looks over, sees my metallic lizard green docs, and says "nice boots!" Definitely a Seattle moment.

Anyway, that was my day. Not an immensely active one, but fun nonetheless. [ profile] varushka, were you coming by Sunday? I can't remember. I'll go look for the comment thread where we talked about it, but if you do remember, please let me know. Thanks!
erynn: Gaelic merman image (writy steampunk)
Online edition of Seattle Times has a brief article about SteamCon here.

The concert tonight thoroughly rocked. Bakelite 78, Ghoultown, and Abney Park. Ghoultown is a Texas band that can best be described as scowling zombie cowboy goth rock. They were fucking awesome with extra heaping helpings of doomsauce and doom sprinkles.

I'm tired and aching and will probably barely be able to walk tomorrow so I won't be heading down to the con despite the temptation of the Steampunk crossdressing panel. It's at 11am and it's 5am right now, so just no. I love the idea and was doing it myself Friday, but I can't stagger out of bed and down to SeaTac for the con tomorrow. I still have to rescue the DoDC+3 from the kennel tomorrow by 5pm.

My other awesomely epic part of the day was the Space 1889 game, wherein I played a big game hunter who was a member of a group of people attempting to make it to the Martian north pole before the Belgians did. Almost everybody died and it was fabulous and spiffing and just wonderful fun. There were many large explosions. In fact, we blew up a Belgian airship and destroyed their coal mining base, so although we hadn't intended to, we did in fact do immense service to Queen and Country, as it were. Huzzah. (kaboom)

Sadly, however, there was no one left to record our feat of heroism, so our names will not be preserved in the annals of history, but hey, we went out in a blaze of glory. Glorious glory. (doomsauce)

And now I really should attempt to get some sleep. I've been running on far too little of it recently. Don't expect any coherence from me for the next couple of days, okay?
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Northwest forest)
I my day today doing errands. I sent out the phone to [ profile] qorinda and a couple of things to [ profile] lwood as I'd promised. I stopped for some teriyaki on my way to deal with grocery shopping. I stopped at three places, including a walk down to Safeway later this evening for a few things I couldn't get where I'd stopped previously.

After reading about one woman's being essentially sexually assaulted (he groped her crotch and her breasts) in front of a line of people by a male TSA agent for refusing a body scan with new equipment that produces hazardous levels of radiation and shows you to the "security" officers naked, my dislike for flying has pretty much solidified. I tend to prefer driving because it gives me a lot more control, I can take what I want without worrying about some security person thinking it's "dangerous" and taking it away, and I don't have to subject myself to the general misery that air travel has become. If I go overseas, I'll obviously have to fly, but I may just drive to Vancouver and fly out from there, as I don't think they're quite so fucked up about the whole thing yet.

With this in mind, I've emailed the folks at the Desert Magic festival and asked if they are willing to just pay me for gas and a few nights in a cheap motel for my way down and back next spring. It'll cost me about the same monetarily as flying and I'll feel immensely better about it. Yes, it takes a lot longer, but my peace of mind is worth the time, and I'm fortunate enough to have the option. It does mean getting a dog sitter for a longer period of time, but something can probably be worked out by early May, when the festival takes place.

I was pleased when I got a pretty much immediate response saying yes, they'd be fine with doing that. I just want to thank them for being considerate and flexible about this whole thing. Having a history of abuse and sexual assault, I really don't want somebody's hand in my crotch unless I've specifically invited them to put it there. I especially don't want it there when the TSA admits that these "enhanced patdowns" are specifically intended to humiliate and intimidate anyone who doesn't want to be bombarded with dangerous levels of radiation.

Considering the fact that some smugglers transport things in their bodies, does this mean that mandatory x-rays and body cavity searches are next? Where is this fucked up stupidity going to stop?
erynn: Gaelic merman image (extra meds)
Yesterday in the mail I got the every-couple-of-years SSDI paperwork to fill in the tickyboxes so I will remain on disability. (This is independent of the VA, though if I'm still on VA disability they really can't take me off SSDI.) One of the questions was whether I had talked to my doctor recently about whether I was still unable to work. Since I had shrinkage today, I talked with Tracy about the whole thing (as I usually do) and said "so tell me I can't work."

She laughed and said I worked a lot, but it wasn't the supporting yourself kind of work that SSDI means. She then took a deep breath and said "if civilization collapsed and you no longer had a pension to live on, you would probably be able to do something to feed yourself, but your physical and mental health would suffer pretty severely." So, word. I can probably work for a living if civilization collapses, but not so much otherwise, and I'd be in crappy shape while doing it. This is civilization's warning. Don't collapse.

I do as well as I do mostly because I insulate myself pretty thoroughly from the mainstream world. No television, no radio, no newspapers, no regular mainstream magazines. I visit a limited number of websites for my information. I manage to stay informed without traumatizing myself too much. I rather like it that way.

After shrinkage, I headed over to Travelers, where I had chai with [ profile] varina8, and then we went to Ballet for dinner. It's a little Vietnamese/Chinese/Thai place a few blocks up from Travelers. Nice stuff, good variety, decent prices. I'd go there again, definitely. I had the lemongrass chicken on cold vermicelli noodles, which was very good, and a fresh squeezed limeade. Then we headed back to Travelers for one more chai before I had to head over to [ profile] mintofthewater and [ profile] anthea7's place for the schmooze business meeting.

I have some stuff I need to toss together and present to the list before Samhain so that I can get it approved and possibly sent off to the SeaPagan list before the next schmooze about the whole study program thing we'll be working on. Both [ profile] joyful_storm and Patrick were in attendance. We covered a fair bit of ground regarding the upcoming Samhain ritual (most of which was dealt with at the previous ritual meeting) and our plans for the upcoming year. Things are getting easier as we go along, largely due to finally having some standardized ways of dealing with things so that we don't have to recreate the wheel every time we walk in the door.

[ profile] lwood and [ profile] dpaxson will be here tomorrow -- I need to be at the airport at 1:30 to pick them up, then we'll be heading over to Ballard for a bit. I need to check in at La Tienda to see if they still have molds for sugar skulls so that I can bring some to Samhain for us to play with. I also have to remember to haul out the books with the Samhain readings we'll be doing. I have most of them, if not all of them, so that means [ profile] alfrecht won't have to haul anything extra down with him for the weekend.

Speaking of the weekend, [ profile] ogam, if you see this, let me know about your airport schedule and all that jazz. And, did you ever decide who you're staying with while you're here?

And on that note, I bid you all a fair, fine night!

Home early

Sep. 18th, 2010 06:17 pm
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
We got poured down on last night. It was rainy when I got in, but only a light drizzle. I set up the tent in a spot with reasonably high ground and fairly flat, under a cedar tree, so I was actually pretty well positioned for what followed.

I collected a huge bunch of blue huckleberries, along with some reds and a few salal berries. We ultimately had 8 people for the retreat; I did my workshop early today and headed home.

The rain was so hard that one of the locals was saying "I haven't seen it rain this hard here EVER." Most of the tents were soaked through or flooded, though mine was in a good place and didn't suffer either fate. It is, however, sopping wet and I'll have to pop it up in the garage in order for it to dry. My personal issue was with my cooler, which is one of the small, soft-sided zippered sort. The zipper was slightly open and so it ended up with about three inches of water in it in the morning.

Given that most of my food was in waterproof containers, not much actually got ruined, but it was still rather discouraging. My little maglite flashlight was in there and I expected that to have been ruined, but the little o-ring seal on the battery compartment worked perfectly and the flashlight still works just fine!

I got a chance to hang out with Dana and Daryll for a couple of hours before I headed home, and I had a nice hot shower at their place. The campground on the island is lovely, and privately owned by the residents, so they acted as our sponsors for the event. Despite the soaking rain, I had a good time. We actually had sun for most of the time while I was packing up, but rain was predicted again for tonight, and nobody really wanted to deal with it after last night.

I had the DoDC+3 along and he tolerated the whole thing pretty well. He was quite mellow for the most part, and snuggled into the sleeping bag with me for the night, so I was nice and warm as well. Temps were in the 60s, so even with the rain it was actually pretty comfortable. Had the temps been down in the 50s, it would have been pretty miserable.

Since I got home early, this means I'll be heading down to Seattle tomorrow for the last day of the Esoteric Book Conference. I can't really afford to go to the sessions ($50 for the day), but Dale Pendell is speaking and I have four of his books, so I want to at least go to the open book sales and art show and see if I can get him to sign my books. And I'll also get to see quite a few folks who are there at the conference that I wouldn't have otherwise.

Can't wait for tomorrow!
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
harriet the spy

*weeps while laughing hysterically*


Aug. 30th, 2007 09:53 am
erynn: Gaelic merman image (mysticmirth's foggy coast)
Yesterday and today we've had clouds in the sky here. There was rain in the mountains surrounding us, but thankfully none on the playa. When water hits this stuff it turns into sticky, silty clay that clings to everything like a monkey with a panic attack. The bottoms of your shoes develop "playa stilts" -- several inches of mud clay that keeps building up the longer you try to walk in it. The place is pretty much impassable in the wet from what I've been told.

I've been busy and tired and hot but still having fun. More of the art projects are being completed every day and since [ profile] garzan and I are taking a day off together today, we'll probably do an art tour at some point. I'm thinking after dark, as most of the art really is meant to be seen at night -- lights and flame are a big part of the gestalt here. I've been watching a steampunk treehouse take shape and yesterday it was finally open to the public, though I didn't go up inside it. I did walk around the base.

When I wandered the day before yesterday, I didn't take a camera with me. As I become more immersed in it, I realize more and more how little of this whole thing can be captured visually. Some things, certainly, you can photograph in interesting and dynamic ways, but other things are never going to appear properly in stills. Light is constantly in motion in most of the art cars and the art installations. Sound is a part of many of the installations as well. In the dust it's like walking through a world of ghosts and mist, otherworldly and on the shimmering edge of insanity. It seems simultaneously beautiful and awe-ful.

The folks who volunteer here work incredibly hard under astonishingly bad conditions -- too much heat, too much dust, too much sun. Yet things get done with remarkable efficiency and good humor. You have to have a sense of humor to be here or the environment would just kill you. With an anticipated peak population of about 45,000 people in this kind of heat and harshness, there is no other way.

At night the Mad Max carnival vibe gets even stranger than in the day. It's a post-apocalyptic anarchy of desire and I mean that in both the best and the worst possible ways. I can see why so many people regard this as the home of their hearts and wish they could be a part of Black Rock City on a permanent basis, and yet I think it's the going home to consensus reality that makes that desire the poigniant thing that it is. Living in the world makes being here a carnal-spiritual ideal for them. And yet in so many ways, BRC is an exercise in illusion. It is the perfect Buddhist expression of impermanence, our own American Brigadoon in both its excess and its temporality. In some ways it is the floating world of the Japanese Ukiyo-e paintings -- ephemeral, beautiful, urban, illusory, and yet intended for the masses.

There are temples here everywhere, whether to spirituality or to excess. There is a Zendo made of cardboard boxes, a Tibetan-style meditation temple and art installation, and the David Best Temple of Forgiveness. There are roadside shrines of all kinds, made with tapestries and found objects. And then there is the desert itself, stark and brilliant under the mountains that surround it. The environment is so alien to me, and yet at the same time the people here are the kind I enjoy being around. They're colorful and creative and interesting. They're psychonauts and philosophers and weirdos, and the down to earth types who are letting their hair down once a year to let out the inner freak. There are families with very young children and there are the elderly and the folks in wheelchairs. And everywhere, all around us and getting itself into our lungs and our eyes and our skin is the dust.

BRC is noise and light and explosions and neon. It's fire and dirt and altered states of consciousness. It's the sound of generators and the spinning lights in spokes of bicycle wheels. It's sun and wind and motion. It is the unexpected and delightful and surreal. I love it and hate it at the same time. This isn't a place or a scene you can be indifferent to -- you can be jaded about it or wide-eyed or engaged or overwhelmed, but you cannot be indifferent.

And the more I talk to people and look around me, the more I realize that what's happening here is carrying out into the world in activism and politics and the avant garde. It's more than just talk, and more than just a bunch of stoners baking themselves. Certainly there's a lot of that, but the people who come to work, the ones who come and make art rather than wandering the streets of lost innocents as their sole participation, they're the ones pulling together the projects that may spark change in the world. They're the ones who engage outside of the borders of BRC and after the burn. It's more than consciousness expansion, it's societal expansion. The volunteers are people who are working hard doing what they love, whether it's keeping the vehicles running, building shelters, greeting the participants at the gate, cooking in the commissary or running the border. The sense of love for the whole damned mess is what makes it so profound. This is not a place you come to if you don't love what you're doing and what happens here. It's not a place for tourists and observers -- it's too harsh for more than a couple of hours of that at best.

The heat is taking its toll on me, but I'm staying hydrated and fed. I'm looking forward to getting home to my moderate climate and my trees and water, but I'm enjoying my time and my experiences out here. It's giving me a lot to think about.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (linen_tartaruga's tree of life)
I stayed up last night until totality. I didn't go out to the ritual as I actually spent much of the evening and into the night walking and I hurt too much to walk out to the temple for the ritual. I watched and attempted to photograph from the Black Hole, though I haven't looked at any of the pics yet -- I have no idea if even one of them turned out.

Walking the esplanade last night was surreal. So many of the mutant cars had the phosphorescent colors of deep-sea fish. It seemed a lot like a Tim Burton movie on acid at some points. I think I got some decent photos of fire spinners though I'll check that out later. I wish I was a better photographer, but I learn as I go along.

I went out to the pavillion under the Man last night and sat for a little while. The huge timbers that support him were visible -- Oregon doug firs. There are masks on most of the support posts, but I wasn't sure about the best way to attempt photos of them last night and I didn't want to use flash. They had environmental sounds going on, and people were leaning up against the central support post to meditate or sitting quietly on benches surrounding the support structure. Haiku, one of the guys from our camp, said this was the best one yet, and he loved the atmosphere under the Man. I feel so fortunate to be able to see something like this -- to participate not just in the festival atmosphere but in the social structure surrounding it. Seeing the workings of the festival from the inside and not just as someone with a ticket who wanders the area absorbing the atmosphere is similar to how I participate in most Pagan festivals. I think I may have been to a total of three or four festivals since 1984 where I didn't either volunteer or teach on some level, and usually both.

At the same time, I often find myself in the headspace of a distant observer. I sit on the sidelines and watch. I choose a cushion on the edge of the room. I don't talk a lot unless others speak to me. I feel a little more detached than I'd sometimes like and am not always sure how to surmount that and feel more immersed. I certainly do talk to people and have met many wonderful folks here, but my personal style tends not to engage unless approached and a people here tend to respect your space if you're being quiet.

In a little while I'll be going out to walk the esplanade and look at some of the art in the daylight. [ profile] garzan said his walking stick has an attachment for camera or binocs on it so I will probably go grab that before I leave, to use as a monopod and I'm hoping that will improve my shaky hand issues.

I know that I haven't really talked a lot yet about individual art pieces or camps. I may or may not do so, but I'll try to get interesting pictures.

I just got told by someone that the Man was burned last night just as the eclipse hit its peak. It was arson, but the regularly scheduled burn will take place Saturday. Firefighters put the fire out and the pavillion under the Man is currently closed until it's determined to be safe, but wow. Several papers have photos up of the Man aflame. This means though that the green neon won't be lit this week during the night and the pics I got will be some of the few available. I know I heard a huge shout going up from the esplanade as I was going to bed, but I thought it was about the eclipse and so I didn't go out to see. Here's the report from Laughing Squid. Apparently the Man will be rebuilt during the week and the neon replaced. I'll be going out to get some pics of the burnt Man in a little bit, as I took the day off today because of the eclipse last night.

It sounds like they're about to have a news conference in the commissary on the other side of the canvas here in just a moment. I may be able to get y'all some on the spot reportage about the official statement about what happened.


erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)

September 2013



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