Mystic Rhythms: Music, Magic & History (Part I)

Mystic Rhythms: Music, Magic & History (Part I)

The first sounds a child hears are the rhythms of his mother’s heart. At birth, he breathes deep and cries loud. To the child, all things are musical… and as we grow older, music often helps us return to that childlike fascination. It’s primal, elemental, something beyond words even when it employs them. Music invokes a transcendental state – literally “crossing up and across” from one state to another. Is it any wonder, then, that faeries adored Thomas the Rhymer, or that aliens spoke to humanity through song in Close Encounter of the Third Kind? The harmonies, vibrations, beats and intervals of music guide the waves of Read more »

Mystic Rhythms: Symphonie Fantastique (Music, Magic & History, Part II)

Mystic Rhythms: Symphonie Fantastique (Music, Magic & History, Part II)

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. Johann Sebastian Bach Civilizations grow to empires, and empires spread. Musical traditions blend with one another, sharing modes, instruments and inspirations. Notation, style, instruction and instrumentation attain a dazzling complexity, striving to capture – in rigid forms of wood, metal and ink – an art too fluid to hold on to. Although some cultures keep “common” forms of music that anyone could share, most develop elite refinements that only specially-trained people can perform. Three distinct modes evolve: courtly Read more »

Mystic Rhythms: Ride the Lightning (Music, Magic & History, Part III)

Mystic Rhythms: Ride the Lightning (Music, Magic & History, Part III)

Now we can hear the voices of the dead. Remark overheard at the premiere of Thomas Edison’s phonograph The spark bursting from electrical energy in the late 1800s ignites an explosion of technology. Innovations of sound recording – first on rolls, then on discs, record albums, magnetic tapes, CDs, and eventually bytes of information – allow music to transcend the moment of performance and become what Led Zeppelin would later call “physical graffiti.” Thomas Edison unveils the phonograph in 1878 – a practical refinement of Lèon Scott’s phonoautograph, which appears first in 1857. Bulky and fragile, these hand-cranked instruments literally Read more »

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE ANDROGYNE (Part I)

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE ANDROGYNE (Part I)

See these eyes so red Red like jungle burning bright Those who feel me near Pull their blinds and change their minds –          David Bowie, “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” Who else could portray the Goblin King? David Bowie’s status as the High Avatar of 20th-Century Genderfuck made him the natural choice to personify Jareth, the sinister lord of Labyrinth. It’s a fitting role for an artist who’s been a vampire, a shape-changer and various forms of alien. Regardless of Labyrinth’s kid-friendly tone, Bowie’s seductive presence lends the film a sinister allure. Literally glamour-us, he struts the haunted landscape of the Androgyne… and, as always, Read more »

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE ANDROGYNE (Part II)

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE ANDROGYNE (Part II)

It is clear that I must find my other half. But is it a he or a she? What does this person look like? Identical to me? Or somehow complimentary? Does my other half have what I don’t? Did he get the looks? The luck? The love? Were we really separated forcibly or did he just run off with the good stuff? Or did I? Will this person embarrass me? What about sex? Is that how we put ourselves back together again? Or can two people actually become one again? –          Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell), Hedwig and the Angry Inch It’s no Read more »

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE ANDROGYNE (Part III)

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE ANDROGYNE (Part III)

Don’t dream it Be it… –          Frank N. Furter, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Torrey Stenmark rocking Bowie’s Goblin King – complete with trouser bulge.)  Hidden beauty seems forbidden as well. And because our Androgyne exists beyond conventional gender limitations, s/he appears beyond morality as well. Common folklore presents androgyny as a netherworld where any vice or sin is possible, and while that impression is inaccurate as hell, the image endures. That wolf in Grandma’s clothing offers up a wide array of damnations, especially if – as in Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves” – s/he wants more than just a quick Read more »

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE TEMPTRESS (Part I)

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE TEMPTRESS (Part I)

Everything that reminds me of her goes through me like a spear. — John Keats Some days, it must suck to be Angelina Jolie. To embody an archetype everybody wants but few people respect. To have photographic parasites crouched around each corner waiting to add the newest chapter to a very old drama: The Innocent, Prince Charming, and the Temptress who stole him away. It doesn’t matter what the human beings inhabiting the lives of Jennifer Anniston, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do; it doesn’t matter what deeds good, bad or indifferent they perform, or how they get along when Read more »

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE TEMPTRESS (Part II)

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE TEMPTRESS (Part II)

She bedecks herself with all kinds of jewelry Like an abhorrent prostitute posing on the corner to seduce men. The fool who approaches her, She grabs him and kisses him, Pours him wine from the dregs, from the venom of vipers — Zohar Sitrei Torah 1:147 The fearsome powers women hold over life and desire seem to have captivated yet terrified men since the earliest days of recorded history. Although speculative anthropologists like Merlin Stone and Margaret Murray proposed a golden age of Goddess-worship in books like When God Was a Woman and The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, the earliest folklore we possess contains brutal Read more »

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE TEMPTRESS (Part III)

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE TEMPTRESS (Part III)

You’re not too smart. I like that in a man. — Matty Walker, Body Heat Far beyond the Fertile Crescent, the Temptress and her kin bedeviled frail humanity. The Greek hills, forests and seas teemed with seductive nymphs, bloodthirsty maenads, voracious sirens and savage Amazons. Norsemen spoke in hushed tones of gold-hoarding Rhine Maidens, slaughter-loving Valkyries and the icy halls of Hel. Camelot shuddered under the carnal treacheries of Guinevere, Viviane and Morgan le Fay, while vain Queen Maeve washed Connaught in blood and sent black ravens to bring down Cuchulain. Romanian peasants feared the capriciously vampiric ielles and their mistress Aripa Satanei, Read more »

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE DEMON LOVER (Part I)

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS: THE DEMON LOVER (Part I)

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover! A savage place! as holy and enchanted As e’er beneath a waning moon has haunted By woman wailing for her demon-lover! — Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan “I don’t get this Twilight thing” my friend complained. “That’s not vampires!” She went on to lament the lack of true bloodsucker lore in Stephanie Meyer’s Cullen clan cash cow. “Why,” she groused, “are they so popular?” Why, indeed? As of this writing, the sanguinary Mormon’s sparklepire chronicles remain staggeringly lucrative. According to Locus Magazine, Meyer’s Twilight tales accounted for almost 16% of all books sold in Read more »