MUSIC, MOVIES AND BOOKS – THE PRIMORDIAL SHAMANIC TRADITION OF ART AND SCIENCE
Do you remember being asked to list your favourite music, movies and books, in order to connect with other people? I remember being like that in primary school, all of us with our individual questionnaires (for some reason, we called them “oracles”), but it no longer applies as an adult. There is a bigger picture here: the emotions, thoughts and lived experience of the individual, through such cultural experiences. Likewise, this list is always growing, so it doesn’t show you how I contextualize information for myself. That’s why I decided to write a more in-depth essay about what I get from music, movies and books – not least because of my current project to study library courses and information science in the contemporary world.
My perennial cultural project has ever been to find the connection between “embodied” stories like fairy tales and the idea of a universal science still to be grasped by Mankind. This is a simplified account of how it all played out.
Some of my all-time favourite books are children’s books I read, which taught me about respecting animals as sentient beings.
During my early school years I was captivated by everything adventure, mythology, fairy tales, Native Americans, the Holy Grail, male brotherhoods and Atlantis. Specifically I was interested in the transition from “bromance” to romance between males, that I first intuited in fictional insect characters appearing in a book I decided to borrow from the school library (I ran around the classroom, book in hand, forcing my peers to read that paragraph and “feel these amazing feels”!) and that later got me to meet a few of the surprisingly numerous people (tomboys like me, most of them) sensitive to this form of fantasy. When I use the word fantasy, I do not mean something unreal, but rather a form of science through which you approach someone else’s reality with a genuine wish to learn about it, allowing it “to appear” to you without imposing your everyday trouble onto it. Insects have been found to display same-sex attraction (a proportion of 85 per cent), so their image is a good go-to, because to use human characters would have introduced socially imposed negativity to children, instead of genuine discovery. I am grateful for those genuine discoveries, that always seemed to happen in forgotten pockets of time and space which lined my childhood ever so curiously. But rather than the book being a naturalistic study, it became my introduction to the Heroic Tradition of the great sagas where, due to certain self-imposed restrictions, one of the two “friends” dies, thus activating the psychic link I recognized the “insects” as having (my peers were merely taken aback by the mention of death). Back home from school, I would perform psychic experiments pretending to be Queen Cleopatra of Egypt (from the film starring Elizabeth Taylor) in order to project myself “on the other side” – mimicking death – and thus experience the same feelings again.
I’d also been fascinated by Freddie Mercury and Queen since childhood, so in school their music got me into illustration as a form of escape. This way I found that it is an “introduction to the primordial metaphysics” as Mircea Eliade would call it. In those days, I began searching for someone who had lived through and could explain whether the Glam Rock era had been, in essence, real or fantasy (at this point my definition of fantasy had shifted somewhat, due to negative social experiences). This person, as I saw the desired future play out in my mind, would appear in a very Velvet Goldmine (1998) inspired setting, even as those times were no longer in fashion, somehow.
Again for the “feels,” I enjoy Persian poetry known as Sufi (of Zoroastrian origins) and Scandinavian music equally. That would explain who the “Viking Madjus” were… intriguing! This type of poetry, much like “the true story of the novel” – that is, seen from a feminine perspective (novel writing was born as a personal stand against the abuses from dominant cultures which interpreted freedom as being only a privilege system) – stems from the individual’s quest (often termed “flight”) to commune with the ideal lover, who is both earthly and angelic. Thus it reads universal without bypassing the personal, without making the spiritual into an impartial parent charged with babysitting believers. Instead, it leads to individual empowerment, which in turn may have an effect on social dynamics. (The Vikings bring me back to the concept of the male brotherhoods, which was to encourage men in expressing their emotions – including, where applicable, an attraction to the same sex.)
Since discovering them in 2001, I’ve obsessed quite a bit over the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, because he used his Dreams to access information of the past (beyond his religious beliefs, he had a natural ability for shamanic travel, hence being recognized by many different religions including the Druids… except his own!). The movies based on his books promote a total misunderstanding there… which seems rooted in Tolkien’s own approach to High Elves as ultimate ideals. Yet his vision of the True Elves’ nature is unique and groundbreaking, and it often pulled him in much more interestingly.
I recommend reading Gary Osborn’s Axis of God to gain adjacent insight into the Elvish stuff, which appears equally distorted by our own history and by certain illusions of the Fairies themselves. The debate must go on. (Osborn’s research suggests that a vanished culture is not the only focus of the clues left behind in art, there is also a grand search for a special representative of that vanished culture who can reveal the science of the ancients to us. Yet such a person appears to be their greatest fear, by representing the misunderstood Void. So let me join in the search, though perhaps I have already met with the Simurgh!)
Though there are some exceptions, I don’t like Hollywood movies anymore, because they reverse what was supposed to be cinematic alchemy – but let’s say Legend (1985) was a timely puzzle piece, a purely positive memory that helped me get through the onset of changes in my body. Sadly, most Hollywood films have an anti-knowledge perspective, twisting the gnosis into something that is exclusively outside material life and therefore justifying violent games as the supposed path to its attainment. The only current I still relate to is the tomboy idealism of the 1980s (part of the adventure genre), it seems it cannot be replicated today (someone must explain the spirit, I guess?). I also like catching reruns of older movies with spiritual topics, because the context has changed so much since then – it’s hilarious how scared we used to be, of what’s inside.
Japanese animé and Cartoon Network were a big part of my life after 1989, when the fall of Communism made for an abundance of new-old shows being broadcast in Romania, in several languages. This makes me happy because unlike most of my compatriots I never fell for the transfer of power to the Church, and instead I connected with the Pagan substrate of my own culture, teaching me about integrity and self-worth. You can find Romanian equivalents for every superhero and for every concept of there being a wider spectrum of existence masked by the everyday.
Speaking of which, I am fascinated by how the fantasy series American Gods defines the core notion of God, as it is that original concept of God derived from shamanism: your love, your man, your jinn (the daimonic).
In conclusion, I grew up being constantly disappointed by book-to-screen adaptations as they never seemed to get that inner Fire (the true Void) I would experience via my imagination, and which I drew as a circumpunct when I was four years old. This circumpunct turned into a rainbow vibration on paper, and from there my entire artistic universe was formed, while still remaining the original dot (I would try to explain this to those who asked what those drawings meant). And such disappointment can be compared to feeling that, as Romantic poet Mihai Eminescu put it, the outer world will never contain your ideal love. But that is merely your illusion, the veil you hold around yourself. Having met those who have lifted theirs or even just thinned this veil slightly, and having seen what it takes to finally mirror that inner world of ideas on the outside, I could definitely connect with an incarnated version of the cosmic. So I don’t believe in “loving everybody,” whether romantically, religiously or otherwise – but I do believe in the very real possibility of true friendship with everybody, once you have communed with your jinn in love, as this influences your whole reality and your interactions in this Wild Playground.