Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Black Magic, Art and Symbolism: Icons of the Predator-Class

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”  
           --The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake

Child, those imperial, disimpassion'd eyes
Awed even me at first, thy mother -- eyes
That oft had seen the serpent-wanded power
Draw downward into Hades with his drift
Of fickering spectres, lighted from below
By the red race of fiery Phlegethon;
But when before have Gods or men beheld
The Life that had descended re-arise,
And lighted from above him by the Sun?
So mighty was the mother's childless cry,
A cry that ran thro' Hades, Earth, and Heaven!

          --'Demeter and Persephone', Alfred Tennyson

We have got to imagine some stupendous whole wherein all that has ever come into being or will come co-exists, which, passing slowly on, leaves in this flickering consciousness of ours, limited to a narrow space and a single moment, a tumultuous record of changes and vicissitudes that are but to us.
         --White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings, Iain Sinclair


What is a predator, in a magical, artistic or symbolic context?  For the purposes of this essay I will define a predator as a consciousness that not only views others as disposable sources of energy – thereby feeding on them physically, spiritually or politically – but also a consciousness that exalts desecration, defilement and corruption in mythic, aesthetic terms; perceiving such appetites and actions as the ultimate spiritual truth.  This is a very dark notion, that there are such individuals and entities in our world who view abuse in sacred terms.  Such predators, in this definition, are the most deviant, hateful and isolated beings imaginable; completely cut off from nurturing, meaningful and healthy human connections.  Theirs is the baroque and byzantine mind of the degenerate sociopath.  Such people are always dangerous, but exponentially so when they have access to money, resources and power.  Many, many individuals among the global elites are predators in the vein I have described.  They are the inner circles within the elites – those who believe they deal only in Truth while others invest themselves in dark fairytales to furnish their pathology and prop up their ruined psyches.  But for the true predators, all is pathology, all is appetite. They have no interest or desire in feeling even remotely human.  Any interest they take in art, mythology or the occult is always in service to further transgression – the exalting of the most vicious, sinister proclivities.  Blood-cults and entire religions have been built around the pursuits of such predators.  But the most intellectual among them (for none of them are wise) understand that all psyche is magick.  When combined with art, symbol and intention such psyche begins to have real-world effects. 


In essence, those predators who are genuinely cognizant of magick have found a way to stage-manage, shape and mobilize their own devastating mental illness – directing and manifesting it into the material realm in various ways.  This is the largest part of what true black magic is.  It is not all ancient grimoires and chanting and hooded black robes.  The modern myth of an Illuminati-style global occult conspiracy is largely a fallacy; a misrepresentation of the mythic imagination.  Such images are potent indeed, but by and large they dwell in the Undeworld; the sunken realm of the unconscious.  Such imagery is often appropriated by men with too much money and power, but often they lack any spiritual seriousness – flirting haphazardly with forces that they can barely comprehend – occultism as lifestyle accessory.  But all magick is the weave and turn of the imagination, whether that imagining faculty is healthy or unhealthy.  Unfortunately, the truly dangerous predators among the elites of our world do understand this generating principle.  They don’t care about art and symbolism in the same way we do, because it ameliorates our lives, brings us closer together, helps us make sense of the chaos.  No, the predators of our world are interested in art and symbolism for one simple reason – because they have grasped that Art is the Oldest Magick.  Considered, creative perception IS the act of transforming material reality, often in ways that are not immediately obvious.


When a man dies, that’s the end of his power. A monster is different. When a monster dies, its power is just beginning.
          --‘Ripperology’, Orin Grey

The human race is the age-old prey of this predator-class I’ve been discussing, and they don’t want us to possess a sophisticated, nuanced comprehension of what art or magick truly is, and what it’s truly capable of achieving.  Because if enough of us understood it, we would become capable of being sovereign, and we would find ways to liberate ourselves.  Revolution would find its way to our realm.  The predators would no longer be able to do what they do, or eat what they eat.  And that terrifies them.  For the monsters and vampires of our world appetite is everything.

For the purposes of this essay there is one icon of this vampiric predator-class that concerns us foremost; that of the legendary Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper.  It is a name that is known the world over, immortalized in countless movies, novels and short stories. For the uninitiated, there exists an entire cottage industry of ‘Ripperology’ – researchers and authors who have taken it upon themselves to attempt to unravel the Ripper mystery and do what Scotland Yard was unable to do over a century ago – identify and ‘catch’ the killer. Ripperology is a complex, labyrinthine subject filled with an assortment of claims and counter-claims, denials and counter-denials, by individuals ranging from wild-eyed amateurs to noted scholars to former police officers. We might ask ourselves why such a vast and potent mythology developed around the ugly and brutal murders of five women in the notorious Whitechapel district of Victorian London - women who were forced to earn a pittance through street prostitution.  If one is not familiar with the realities of Victorian life for London’s ‘Unfortunates’ – especially those of the East End, the sheer squalor and inequalities in living standards will be lost on you.  Like the title of Jack London’s first-hand account of life in the slums of the East End, the lowest strata of British Society were referred to as the ‘People of the Abyss’ – the Abyss being a synonym for Hell itself.  Destitute women were frequently murdered and raped in London’s slums, before and after the five murders that are commonly accepted as ‘Ripper’ murders.  These specific murders displayed a level of mutilation and savagery that seemed to terrify and thrill the public imagination.  That terror, thrill and fascination has not abated 125 years later.  We must ask ourselves ‘Why?’  Why did these particular acts of violence against five women somehow spin themselves into elaborate, almost self-sustaining narratives?  To answer this question we must turn our focus away from ‘facts’ and the so-called reality of the case, and engage instead with a realm of myth, magic, legend and rumor.  It is here, in the contexts, fictions, half-truths and ephemera of the Ripper legend that we discover the source of its power.

Jack the Ripper is a symbolic icon of a very real predator-class that existed in British Victorian society, and still exists today in another form.  There have been rumours and theories that Jack was a man of ‘culture’ all the way back to the time of the killings themselves, as well as odd facts and mysterious happenings that personally don’t seem to add up, but these are often ‘debunked’ by ‘serious’ researchers.  But this essay’s focus is not my own personal interest or knowledge of the case itself.  Its focus is the Ripper legend.  Most mainstream scholars assume that the popular image of the Ripper – a well-dressed Gentleman in a black opera cape, top-hat and white gloves, carrying a Gladstone bag, owes its longevity to the 1959 film directed by Monty Berman and Robert S. Baker, in which the Ripper is depicted as an avenging  surgeon.  It is noted by film historians that Berman and Baker borrowed much of the Ripper’s look from the 1931 version of Dracula, staring Bela Lugosi.  The infamous Count is depicted in a top-hat, opera cape and white gloves, passing himself off as a fashionable London gentleman of the late nineteenth century. Both are vampires of a kind, but whereas Dracula is an openly supernatural fiction, the almost identical icon of Jack the Ripper is a far more uncomfortable symbol of a predatory Victorian society that was all too real. That is how rich Gentlemen of the time often dressed in the evenings, men who often saw the working-classes as somehow subhuman; as either a plague or a disposable resource.  This was especially true of the hordes of ‘unfortunate’ women who society offered little legal avenues to support themselves.  Many of the women working as street whores in the East End were alcoholics – cheap gin being the only thing that made their brutish lives tolerable.  Of course, I believe this was largely by design.  A predator-class always desires an underclass; a resource that can be bought for virtually nil, and they are always willing to provide a narcotic.  Today in third-world countries little has changed.  The poorest women and children still suffer unimaginable abuse and poverty, and the men fare little better.  So, regardless of the truth behind the actual Ripper killings, the icon of Jack himself – a faceless but well-dressed Victorian Gentleman, bloody knife in hand as he moves through the darkness and preys on the poorest and most vulnerable – this image is so powerful because it is true.  It is a pop-culture vessel encapsulating a symbolic truth about a very important period of history.  And while Jack is a distinctly British kind of human vampire, in fiction Jack is also often revealed to be American or European. In fiction Jack the Ripper is rarely portrayed as a working-class murderer, as this is to diffuse the power and ‘truth’ of the myth itself.  By making Jack one of ‘us’ we no longer have any need for the legend, and it stops being useful as a historical/political/economic shorthand.

Jack is not simply a Gothic fiction, a boogieman we have invented to scare ourselves about times long since past.  No, Jack is also a dark truth that we have recognized concerning the nature of our reality.  The icon still lives because he is still relevant today.  He is still stalking the darkened alleyways of our subconscious, reminding us that those who live in the ivory towers still see us as little more than fun or food.                     


It’s here that this essay takes a perhaps unexpected turn.  I want to devote the second half of this essay to an analysis of a particular film - James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster Titanic.   This essay is concerned with the ways art and symbolism can act as a form of magic, influencing and shaping the consciousness of its recipients.  With this in mind, I think it will be useful to explore the idea that the film Titanic is in fact an encoded retelling of aspects of the Jack the Ripper mythology.  This might seem bizarre or unlikely at first glance, but I will endeavor to present enough evidence to suggest that James Cameron was knowingly exploring elements of the Ripper mythology within the subtext of his screenplay. To the discerning viewer Cameron presents the film as a symbolic meditation on the slaughter of an enchained goddess – a kind of pagan ritual-sacrifice, with the famous ill-fated ship and the lead female character having blurred, interlinked identities.  The movie is filled with symbolic names and events, all alluding to the Ripper killings and the larger mythology of the ‘Gentleman Psychopath.’  Cameron seems to suggest in his film that the greater a gentleman’s intellect, refinement and social standing the greater his perversity.  He also uses the Ripper motif in the same way as the author Alan Moore does – as a kind of Antichrist, a harbinger of a symbolic Apocalypse.  In an interview with Rick Schultz Cameron states, “If Titanic is powerful as a metaphor, as a microcosm, for the end of the world in a sense, then that world must be self-contained.”

The story could not have been written better...The juxtaposition of rich and poor, the gender roles played out unto death (women first), the stoicism and   nobility of a bygone age, the magnificence of the great ship matched in scale only by the folly of the men who drove her hell-bent through the darkness. And above all the lesson: that life is uncertain, the future unknowable...the unthinkable possible."
— James Cameron

First and foremost, like many parabolic narratives, there is a level of storytelling in Titanic in which there seems to be only two real characters – the lead male and the lead female, or the God and the Goddess.  They represent the entire society in the sense that all the other characters in the film are splinters and fragments and aspects of their basic identities. Cameron lets the discerning viewer know right off the bat that he is going to be symbolically exploring Ripper mythology by naming his lead protagonist Jack.  Jack Dawson, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a homeless but talented artist travelling wherever inspiration and adventure takes him, who along with his best friend manages to win a ticket on Titanic’s maiden voyage. The character’s surname is Dawson, meaning Son of David.  In biblical tradition David was a young shepherd who became the King of Israel, and a direct descendant of the Davidic line is said to become the future messiah.  This is interesting in that one of the film’s most famous lines of dialogue is Jack on the prow of the ship, in a vaguely Christlike pose, declaring himself “the King of the World.”  When Jack and his best friend are first racing to board Titanic, Jack tells his friend that they’re “practically goddamn royalty now”. His friend is Fabrizio De Rossi, a name that translates as ‘craftsman of the red’, or ‘works with his hands red’, which is exactly what the Ripper became known for.  Remember, there is a level of the story in which all the characters are aspects or fragments of the male and female lead couple, so in this sense Fabrizio is an aspect of Jack himself.  The lead female protagonist is Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by Kate Winslet, a seventeen year old first-class passenger aboard Titanic. She is an intelligent, melancholy girl who has been forced into an engagement to an older man in order to protect her mother’s high-status after her father’s death left them both debt-ridden.

In the film’s present-day opening beneath the Atlantic ocean the character of Brock Lovett, played by Bill Paxton, refers to the ship as a She.  He alludes to a fall from above – evoking the idea that Titanic is a fallen woman entombed in a ghostly underworld.  Later, above the water and back on the deck of the Keldysh, Brock’s second-in-command Lewis Bodine refers to Rose DeWitt Bukater twice as a ‘goddamned liar’ – a subtle connection between Rose and the Titanic that was dammed on its maiden voyage.   Old Rose also says something similar when she sees Jack’s drawing of her on television.  She says, “I’ll be goddamned.” Lewis doesn’t believe Rose’s story that she was aboard Titanic and survived the sinking.  He then goes on to state that Rose was working as an actress in the 1920s: “…when she was working as an actress.  An actress!  There’s your first clue, Sherlock.”  The mention of Sherlock Holmes is another subtle evocation by James Cameron.  Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes are perhaps the two most famous names of the Victorian period, and are often pitted against each other in Victorian-themed modern fiction.  If you doubt that any salient connection between James Cameron’s film and Ripper lore exists, please bear with me.  There are a number of allusions that may seem slight on their own but when taken together are far more persuasive.

In the opening scenes the character of Lewis Bodine is wearing a t-shirt that is an obvious homage to Alan Moore’s Watchmen comic; a bloodstained smiley face.  Unlike the comic, Titanic’s costume department makes the smiley’s blood-splatter reminiscent of a bullet wound to the forehead, or, more pointedly, a bloody Third Eye.  This is a subtle implication that the narrative is concerned with some kind of occult or psychic vision, connected to blood and death.  But why this curious Alan Moore reference?  Because Moore also wrote From Hell, a graphic novel all about the intricacies and metaphysics of the Jack the Ripper mythology.  It is lauded as one of the best and most sophisticated graphic novels of all time.  If James Cameron had an interest in the Ripper legend, as I believe he did, he would have been familiar with From Hell.  In fact, Lewis Bodine not only sports a Watchmen-inspired bloody smiley, he also sports long hair and a big bushy beard much like Alan Moore himself.   


Once old Rose begins telling her story and the film starts its series of extended flashbacks, we are reintroduced to young Rose aboard Titanic in her fiancé’s private quarters.  There is an opening shot of red roses in a vase as the camera pans over and Rose states portentously “We need some colour in this room”, while holding up Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to the camera; a painting of five prostitutes, echoing the five canonical  Ripper murders.  Of all the works of art that Rose could be admiring, it’s a painting of five working-class prostitutes.  

It’s interesting that James Cameron decided to use this painting.  It’s the most famous of Picasso’s African period, but still owes much to what art historians call his ‘rose period’ from the previous year.  Even the phrase ‘rose period’ evokes the idea of menstrual blood and the fact that Rose herself is no longer a child, but is not quite a grown woman yet either.  Her thirty year old fiancé Cal Hockley refers to the artwork as ‘finger paintings’. A finger-painting is where liquid is applied directly onto the hands and then onto the canvas; a subtle evocation of the idea of drawing in blood.  Rose tells Cal that the paintings are fascinating, “like being inside a dream or something.  There’s truth but no logic.”  This is a highly resonant line of dialogue.

In this scene we are also introduced to the symbolically-named character of Spicer Lovejoy, Cal’s manservant, played by David Warner.  Lovejoy is a former pinkerton constable, linking him to Fred Abberline in Alan Moore’s From Hell - who also becomes a pinkerton constable after leaving Scotland Yard.  But the truly interesting thing is that David Warner actually plays Jack the Ripper in the 1979 sci-fi drama Time After Time.  The movie is a cult-favourite and features Warner as Dr John Leslie Stevenson, a murderous surgeon known to the world as Jack the Ripper.  Using a time machine engineered by H.G. Wells, played by Malcolm McDowell, Jack the Ripper is able to escape Victorian London and transport himself to modern-day San Fransisco to continue his killing.  But Wells follows him into the future and attempts to put an end to the doctor’s rampage.  So, not only is Titanic a film replete with subtle Ripper references, we also have an actor famous for playing the Ripper himself. 

And in case discerning viewers don’t follow, Cameron makes it clear that the character of Spicer Lovejoy is a sour, humourless man and quite possibly a highly-disturbed sadist.  Cal Hockley may be a petty lunatic who ultimately tries to murder Jack and Rose, but it is David Warner’s Lovejoy who is the muscle in terms of villainy.  Warner also played Lysander in the 1968 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Shakespeare’s play is famous for its depiction of the King and Queen of the fairies Oberon and Titania; a name that’s obviously resonant with Titanic itself, often spoken of as a goddess or queen by the first-class passengers in the film.  Oddly enough, the 1968 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream also featured Ian Holm as Puck – an actor who would later also be cast as Jack the Ripper in the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s From Hell

Interestingly, in a deleted scene the character of Lewis Bodine is seen eating from a yellow bag of ripple cut potato chips.  Not only is this an intentional play on the words ‘ripper cut’, but the words ‘ripple cut’ are printed in cursive script so they almost appear to read ‘nipple cut’.  In no way is this unintentional.  I’m not sure if this is a real brand of chips or if, more likely, it’s something dreamt up by Cameron’s art department.  This happens just after Cal gives Rose the Heart of the Ocean and asks her to open up her heart to him.  Old Rose then describes how she could still feel the necklace “closing around my throat.”  As noted previously, Jack famously refers to himself as “the king of the world!”  It is interesting to know that to the Cathars the king of the world is Rex Mundi - the false god, the demiurge and embodiment of evil.  Of further interest is the fact that the Cathars also refute the concept of baptism, believing that water, like all materiality, is tainted and therefore domain of the false god.

While telling her story to the modern-day occupants of the Keldysh, old Rose refers to Titanic as ‘the ship of dreams’, but also states that for her it was a ‘slave ship taking her back to America in chains.’ In the flashback Cal Hockley sits with other passengers as they discuss the ship as though it is akin to a majestic goddess “willed into solid reality”.  The camera lingers on Rose in this scene, further blurring the identity between her and the ship itself.  Cal then orders dinner from a waiter, telling him that he and Rose will both have the lamb, rare, with very little mint sauce.  The character of Molly Brown, played by Kathy Bates, remarks symbolically, “You gonna cut her meat for her too?”  This is a highly symbolic line of dialogue and is deeply evocative of the mutilations performed on the Ripper’s victims.  The overt meaning of the line is Molly asking Cal if he is going to pre-ready Rose’s meal for her as though she were a child, but the covert meaning is the implication that Rose herself is meat – a lamb for the slaughter, and symbolically at least this is true. We later learn that Rose and Cal have not yet slept together and Cal is becoming agitated by her constant denials.  She is merely an object to Cal, something to be penetrated and deflowered – a pretty wife who will obey him and know her place in a sexist, elitist world.  Molly Brown’s character is somewhat resonant with Molly Bloom from James Joyce’s Ulysses.  The film refers to her as the Unsinkable Molly Brown.  The film therefore conflates Molly with the ship itself – Titanic, or Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Molly is a compassionate maternal figure to Rose, strengthening her symbolic connection to Stella Maris – the Star of the Sea.  Or, more pointedly, the Heart of the Ocean; the cruel necklace given to Rose by Cal Hockley, that is later transformed into something more positive by Jack’s love.

A little later during the dinner Rose mentions the work of Sigmund Freud and alludes to Beyond the Pleasure Principle, to male anxiety over penis size, even though Freud’s thesis was published much later than the year the film is set.  Cameron doesn’t care if this is historically inaccurate.  He uses the allusion to highlight Rose’s intelligence and perceptiveness, and to illustrate the idea that male ego and distorted sexuality are all fundamentally connected to what eventually occurs aboard Titanic.


When Rose has finally had enough and attempts suicide at the rear of the ship, Jack tries to lure her away from the railing.  He attempts to frighten her out of the idea of suicide by describing the cold water as "a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body."  Again, this is a highly resonant piece of dialogue.  A thousand knives suggests a thousand murders, or a thousand murderers.  If Rose is symbolically an imprisoned goddess who shares a partial or blurred identity with Titanic itself, then Jack’s line about her being stabbed with a thousand knives evokes the idea of a ritual-sacrifice – a thousand Rippers all wanting a piece of her.  Molly has already asked Cal if he is going to cut Rose’s meat for her.  This attempted suicide scene, within the surface level of the film, is about Rose no longer being able to deal with her objectification by Cal and the first-class passengers of Titanic; and the society they represent.  It is about her body and her presence being little more than a commodity to others.  Cal makes it clear he wishes to penetrate her sexually, but also to own her psychologically.  The encoded Ripper references simply add to and strengthen these meanings by making them that much darker.  To drive the point home, as it were, Cameron has Rose wearing a dress in this scene that is the color of blood. 

The character of J. Bruce Ismay tells Captain Smith that they should push the ship’s engine and “retire with a bang” – an obvious sexual/death innuendo.  Similarly, Molly Brown later refers to Jack as a “good man to have around in a sticky spot.”  It’s an awkward phrasing and is there in the film to create another sex/murder innuendo.  It is also interesting that James Cameron makes the character of Jack Dawson an artist and painter.  Although Cameron himself was a former draughtsman I suspect this is also a nod to two particular theories concerning the Ripper’s true identity.  The late author Stephen Knight, in his book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, is responsible for popularizing what has come to be known as the ‘Royal Masonic Conspiracy Theory’ in the field of Ripperology – the idea that the Whitechapel murders of 1888 was the work of a cabal of men, one of them a royal surgeon. So the theory goes, the murders were committed to cover up the secret birth of a royal child to an East End woman of low standing. Most mainstream researchers see this theory as a completely discredited nonsense with virtually no basis in fact. But Alan Moore found it resonant enough for it to form the basis of his From Hell masterpiece.  In my personal opinion, Stephen Knight’s theory, while containing numerous errors, suppositions and leaps in logic – cannot be entirely dismissed.  As Alan Moore had no doubt come to intuit as a psychic and budding ritual-magician, the truth behind the Ripper murders is far more complex and dangerous than mainstream researchers are able to recognise. The second theory of note in this context is connected to Stephen Knight’s and forms the basis of Jean Overton Fuller’s book Sickert & The Ripper Crimes: An investigation into the relationship between the Whitechapel murders of 1888 and the English tonal painter Walter Richard Sickert. Both theories are interconnected and involve Sickert and members of the Royal family.  

La Hollandaise, Walter Sickert

But with regards to Titanic, I think that James Cameron is paying homage to these two particular theories by making his lead protagonist a painter.  Walter Sickert was known to use prostitutes as models in some of his paintings.  He had a love of France and spent a lot of time in a small northern town there called Dieppe.  The character of Jack Dawson has been living in Paris and has been filling his sketchbook with drawings of French prostitutes.  In a strange way this connects Rose more intimately to Jack, for as I mentioned earlier she also has an artistic interest in prostitutes – having a copy of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon, formerly titled The Brothel of Avignon) aboard the ship.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Pablo Piccaso

Rose asks Jack to draw her “like one of your French girls”, and the viewers are treated to an innocent but erotically-charged scene where Jack draws Rose naked whilst wearing the Heart of the Ocean.  Later they are chased by Spicer Lovejoy and find themselves in the cargo hold.  The last thing Rose says before they make love is “Put your hands on me, Jack.”  A short time later a steward for the first-class passengers tells Cal Hockley, once the ship has hit the iceberg and begun to sink, “Dress warmly, it’s quite cold out tonight.  May I suggest topcoats and hats.”  Again, this is an allusion by Cameron to the iconic image of Jack the Ripper as a well-dressed top-hatted Gentleman, as discussed earlier in this essay. Nearing the climax of the film Cal asks Rose if she is unwilling to get into the lifeboats because of Jack’s presence aboard the doomed ship, if she is in fact choosing to be “a whore to a gutter-rat”.  Rose responds with this highly symbolic and telling line of dialogue: “I’d rather be his whore than your wife.”  Rose is explicitly describing herself in this scene as one of ‘Jack’s’ whores.  This is a deliberate resonance on Cameron’s part.  Remember, the film is an exploration of the two leads as a kind of holy union – a parabolic God and Goddess.  So, in this sense, Cameron plays around with blurred and fragmented identities in his film, leaving a certain ambiguity as to the intentions behind his frequent allusions.   


We the human race are so much more than we think we are.  We are a continuum of Key-Keepers and Sign-makers, sculpted from divine fire and willed into existence by the Creator.  It is my belief that once upon a timeless the marks we made were capable of birthing entire sentient worlds – a fabled timeless when the interrelationships between literality and metaphor were far more keenly understood.  I believe we were once stewards and warrior-priests, protectors of a form of art-physics currently unimaginable in our modern materialist/reductionist paradigm.  The Lucid among you will understand that none of this has to be true for it to be real, and neither does it have to be real for it to be true.  We have been gifted with cognition. When truly understood, cognition necessitates the presence of magick and art. You cannot consciously perceive except within a shifting context, you cannot think without associating.  If you find yourself alive, in whatever form, it’s because everywhere within and around you art is happening.  You are a creature of art and symbols, not merely psychologically, but materially as well.  Your biology is not simply inert, dead matter; you are a cathedral and a city and a universe of complex interconnecting systems.  We are all Keys of the Sign.