Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fascanatasizing Fascanatasynthesis

A slew of powerful synchronicities and converging interests have conspired to inspire me. I've been working on a non-fiction book called Suicide Kings: Ator Rota Orat Tora Taro. To put it simply: it's about synchronicity, time cycles and repeating archetypes--with a focus on the KingKill and Catherine Wheel. As part of that research, I've been getting into heavy I Ching and Tarot studies.

Somewhere in a random tangent, I discovered and fell in love with the artwork of Aubrey Beardsley. In trying to get my eyes on everything he illustrated, I learned that he had made his bones on a book called Le Morte d'Arthur (which syncs so neatly with the KingKill).

Then I had a few people point out the similarities between the graphic novel I've been developing, called Squares that Touch, with Fox's new TV show Touch. I wasn't sure if it was a sync or if I should feel robbed, but either way I was unsure how to progress with the book. Wondering what to do about that, and a slew of other existential questions flying about me, the answer has always been the same: keep making art.

That's when this idea was born. I could suddenly see a weird little book (that might very well excite no one but myself). And, in my mind's eye, I saw it as an alchemical combination of two artists I've had the pleasure of meeting in the last year--Teylor Smirl and Mark Golding--creating something like a mix of Beardsley's illustrated texts and the abecedaries of Edward Gorey that have been a favorite of mine for years.

Teylor and Mark's art combined (left). Aubrey Beardsley's art for Le Morte d'Arthur (right).
 I love the idea of juxtaposing these two artists. Their styles are so different and yet so complimentary. Their personalities too seem to be like that. A part of me feels like both of them would love the opposite 50% of what I am envisioning, and hate the other 50% of the idea.

Mark makes beautiful mandalas, each based on a different esoteric meditation.
Mark Golding's FaceBook page.

Teylor draws comics, many with a darkly ironic twist that serve to only slightly mask their soulful nature.  

Teylor Smirl's Tumblr.

As I tried to get some of these ideas down in the midst of writing Suicide Kings, the concept became clearer. In my research, I had learned that Philip K. Dick used the "random" choices of the I Ching to plot the story of his novel, The Man in the High Castle. I decided this project would do something similar, using the Tarot. The story will be told over 78 illustrations with accompanying text. Each of these will correspond to one of the 78 Tarot cards, picked at random and then removed from the deck (so each card is used only once). It's kinda like the cut-up technique, but written as to be a linear story. It's also a way for me to get a better feel for working with the Tarot, which can only add value to my non-fiction writing on the subject.

It was another day after deciding on creating this through the Tarot experiment that I realized 78 divides evenly by 26--meaning I could do this as an abecedary and cycle through the alphabet 3 times.

Giving myself these parameters is somewhat limiting, but also an exciting challenge. The Tarot aspect makes things random, but it also makes me feel as though I need to be true to the archetypal nature of the cards and therefore write the characters and their actions without judgement (which is a crucial lesson for any fiction writer). The story is about an Arthurian grail quest that leads the seekers into surreal Lynchian mindscapes. Most of you know that I am no fan of royalty or hegemony or any douchebag that thinks they have a right to rule over others, but I didn't want to just make the king and his knights two-dimensional villains--they had to embody the archetypes of whatever cards were drawn. This, along with the abecedary element, has forced me to choose my words extremely carefully.

Each sentence has at least a double or triple entendre in it, as well as encoding the Tarot card and its esoteric meaning--plus, it has to advance the story AND be in alphabetical order.

So far, I've scripted the first 26-letter cycle and in a moment you're going to get to take a look. But, let me explain one more thing:

I have worked very carefully on the text (though some of it may still be rewritten). However, the images I have put in this sample are just SUPER ROUGH placeholders meant to convey a suggestion to the artists. My plan would be to have Teylor draw a scene based on the text and my visual suggestions (along with whatever inspiration she extracts from the card's meaning). Then I would have Mark create adorning imagery based on his meditations of the card and its meaning (regardless of the scene or my text), sort of like a more meaningful version of the borders in Beardsley's work.
Teylor and Mark's art combined (left). Aubrey Beardsley's art for Le Morte d'Arthur (right).

After you've read the rough sample, I'd love any and all input you're inspired to add in the comments section...


  1. You, Magus Green, well gno that I'm an artist of the Art, so, yeah, me likes … BUT … Your abecedarian RE-positioning of ROTA TARO ORAT TORA ATOR … meaning The Wheel of the Tarot Speaketh the Law of Goddess Hathor … into, instead … Suicide Kings: Ator Rota Orat Tora Taro … meaning, interpretively. The Kings Who Killed Themsleves: The Goddess Hathor's Wheel Speaketh the Law of the Tarot … places an entirely different spin, or revolution, if you will, on an approach to that ancient divinatory system of synchronicity. See Italian (and hence Renaissance Man) Ciro (pronounced, as well you must gno, cheer-ro) Marchetti's third designed deck's 8 minute (no vocals) promotional feed, The Legacy of the Divine Tarot.

    Alan, please, I don't want you doing something SO innovative that it besmirches the intent of the device itself, thus drawing the ire of certain forces. Are you an artisan of something, I mean, like woodworking, carving, sculpting, shaping? In a sense, as a publisher/writer/editor/graphic artist, you are that already, a sculptor sculpting, shaping, carving … the minds of Man … this, too, is an art. What I'm getting at, though, is that one of my living mentors, the writer, miracle-worker, father, husband, lover, musician, artist, Faery Seer (again, one to whom They reveal Themselves to, not one who is ONE of Them), and Magus, Robert John Stewart, emphasised to me how important it is to hone one's skills at being an artisan of some kind. It'll help to keep you rooted here in the corporeal plane, as opposed to drifting ever further away from it because of your sojourns off of this plane & to somewhere else, whether that 'bee' the offworld planetscapes of outer space, or the lush, pastoral, undulating mindscapes of inner space.

    So, there are so many ways to go with this, young mage. as I had also raised before, RAWilson's & Dr Leary's The Game of Life, chock-full of many a cartoony & comic strip approach diagram & illustration, claims that the Major Arcana are an eight circuit manifest that traces the evolution of the human species. Of course, as intellectuals & psychonauts themselves, they, too, altered it a tad. But the intonation was/is there. Our consciousness is accelerating & becoming something that it has never been before, cosmic & hence, interplanetary.

    I'm not too sure about that praxis & outlook, though. I think it's the other way 'round. I feel that we were far greater beings that have progressively devolved, not evolved, into something far more inferior to our original selves. Was it because we came from afar, á là AAT, and had to conform to this nascent gravity well, the Earth? Or, is it merely the shift in the corporeal universe itself that has changed us from god-like beings to (seemingly) cousins of primates? Or, even different, have we been coming through stargates for untold millennia & liking it so much here that we've become … in a sense … cosmic slackers … and hence … soft? Or, have we, per the Anthroposophic viewpoint, solidified from an ethereal state, with our former memories of our earlier grandeur still intake & visiting us through dreams & our imaginations?

    I speak from my heart, as most Eldalië are prone to do. Hey, we can't help it; truth is far more valuable than gold. Why? It lasts longer … Peace …

    Live & in full affect from a newly lush Apple Mountain,
    Anadae Quenyan Effro
    Artist of the Art

  2. This is definitely 'the Wyrd' when we find patterns as synchronicities. Lots of people say "everything has been said before" but that's maybe not the best way to look at it. My teacher in a class called African Storyteller at the UW said it best, "No story is made of whole cloth."

    Religion existed before the age of copyrights. Not that copyrights are bad, but I think we all constantly feel like we are robbing others' ideas. I think you should follow your Alchemy. If there is an energy that needs liberating by you creating something new based off something old, then that's probably the best energy to generate.

    Every day I try to pick a tarot card and I see patterns from it projecting into the day in the world. The US Project Remote Viewing discovered psychics could pick up similar forms but not always exactly the same. It is a meshwork. It is the same thing with our favorite artists and these unique symbols that mirror similar ways we want to express our consciousness. We find them for a reason. When we find somebody has done something we've wanted to do, it can be inspiration.

  3. Brothers of Love! To venture forth on a journey of discovery ennobles the search.

    Maybe my naievete is manifest, as I am not to familiar with the Tarot, but fearlessness is the soul of the pure, and the Bodhisattva knows no enemy

    I will travel with you both - along the Middle Way, and as we traverse the imaginings of time.

    There are no rules and anything is possible...


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