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9 responses to “Uses

  1. Stephanie Dickinson

    Hi freefreeschool,

    After reading through the whole blog I’ve decided that I would like to propose an idea… Someone that I met once at an exhibition has said that I can put on an educational art theory discussion group in his new squat garden in Hackney. I’ll probably use this sooner rather than later, since I don’t think he’s sure how long they’ll have the space.

    I thought it might be something the freefreeschool would like to get involved with. I’d like to put on a discussion/research group on how magic can contribute to the revolution. I’ve got some great plans for this communist project…

    (Enthusiastic trainee art teacher, politician, time traveller, witch and space philosopher)

    • hi stephanie – only just saw you’re comment. have you got any further in your plans? it sounds like something that would be interesting to several people within free school, let us know how it develops and we will spread the word. i guess i look on magic as a historical phenomena; as a materialist philosophy that operated as a foil to organised religious practice and that was concerned with cause and effect within the natural world. i would be interested to see how you would link that within a post-industial revolutionary programme…

  2. Hi Jon,

    I’ve tested out my lesson in some teacher training with my class of trainee teachers and it worked well. Good discussions.. I’m going to make it a lesson for teenagers as well this week but simplified and made more theatrical with pop culture references because I’ve been sitting in on their contextual studies and that’s how to get their attention!

    This is something I think about all the time really, a constant project, and I’m happy you mentioned materialism because studying that probably helped me to distinguish fact and fiction and thus put on this creative way of speaking about physical results from signs and words, as well as what happens when substances are put together, etc. I like the idea of it being in opposition to organised religious practice, that’s not something I had previously looked into.

    I am unsure how long the person will have the squat and whether I could organise something before it gets disintegrated.. so I’m also considering asking a friend of mine if she’d like an art discussion group in her living room because she’s hinted that she wants to have exhibitions in her flat… Since I don’t live in London anymore it is difficult! But I really think this is a project worth doing, and I’d like to have discussions on the subject with people who are working on similar things.

    P.S. we know each other, I was one of the students in the first year of DBs class at Chelsea when you were tutoring, who dressed as a Sun Ra disciple for his exhibition at Zoo Art Fair…

  3. ah, i knew i knew the name but couldn’t place it, of course i remember!

    quite a bit of my thinking on the social function of magic (especially witchcraft in england) comes from religion and the decline of magic by keith thomas. he talks a lot about the function of magic in an agrarian society: in subsistence agriculture you are heavily dependent upon elements that you cannot control (the weather, disease) and magic becomes a psychological mechanism to assure the user that he/she has done everything they can to ensure a good harvest. this also connects to human fertility and child birth, with its very real possibility of death, in which case magic (and the power of life and death) is in the hands of the midwife, a fact that the patriarchal church did not appreciate.

    this (like so many things) came to a crisis point in the late middle ages with the reformation removing all of the little saints (gods) and superstitions (magic) from the catholic church and not did create anything to fill the void for the peasant farmer.

    come along to the communist gallery in kingston next week if you are able, meet some of the others and we can talk more.

    • Just checked out the online version of the book you mentioned – Religion and the Decline of Magic – and the text in it is very nice to read, as well as being a good introduction to the people of that time and the kind of intellectual enquiry going on..

      I have a book called The Language of Science and the Language of Literature 1700 – 1740 by Donald Davie, which I saw glowing in the shelf of a second hand book shop. It talks a lot about spirits and the physical properties of substances linking into the characters of them. I like that era’s logic.

      Heard someone the other day describe firing a sigil to be ‎”thought plus action in a given context” which I thought was quite fitting..

      I’ll go to the discussion on Saturday, can’t make the performance night on Wednesday though. Four-day extravaganza, sounds exciting. Is Wednesday the only time when there will be performances?

  4. yes, though there might be other things happening during the day on thurs and fri, i am not sure.

    the whole science/magic thing is interesting; if you take a materialist view of magic then it follows that science is as much a child of that as it is of any rationalist process – as both attempt to explain and manipulate the material world without recourse to external devices (in magical thought the gods are as bound to follow the rules as we are – there is no deus ex machina). in that sense the mystical processes of astrology and alchemy are the forerunners of the modern physical sciences.

    • I am studying at Camberwell on Friday (the PTLLS course)… May or may not be free in the afternoon. Always up for talking with alcohol (someone once told me the Greek translation of seminar was this, but I can’t find any evidence of it) so I’m hoping that Saturday will bring that! I’ll bring my “homework” of notes & diagrams on magic and the questions on the flyer for the exhibition.

      Very much agree with you on what you’re saying. I think materialism as a way of perceiving reality leads to conclusions that upset a lot… I heard that materialist art reviews are not allowed in many art magazines!

  5. I was reading some rather dogmatic texts about magic in relation to the police and whatever, last night, and thought that the problem with them is they were too flowery in their wording, a bit too scandalous, and could do with a response, of materialistic analysis. Or at least, we need more materialism (everywhere!), to address the issue of paranoia-inducing conspiracy works. It might be damaging to people who’ve not had the education in order to deal with linguistics and fiction.

    • i think that this is a large part of the problem when you start discussing ideas that might be termed metaphysical – you enter the realm of the believers in the healing power of crystals and other such shite. the gaia concept is a fine example of this, it works brilliantly as a metaphor but then someone comes along and takes it literally.

      your previous post got lost in the spam filter, dunno why, it is symposium (not seminar) that means ‘philosophical piss-up’ in ancient greek

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