Talks and talking

I did a podcast a couple of days with my friend and fellow Grinder Mikey Pirate (who is totally not the leader of an Asteroid Death Cult): we talked about the usual stuff – hyperreal religion, metafiction, Trickster Gods, Slenderman, Babylon 5‘s Rangers and why those who cosplay the Engineers from Prometheus might not be the nicest people to have over for a cup of tea.

Here it is:

 

Next week, I’m giving two different talks in London on two consecutive days:

22nd April, I’m speaking at the Royal College of Art’s Battersea campus (RCA students only, sadly) on neopaganism, the hyperreal (again), authenticity and Midsummer.     Details here.

On the 23rd, appropriately enough, I’m giving a talk on ‘Robert Anton Wilson – Gnostic Agnostic’ at the University of London’s Senate House Library’s ‘Marginal Presences’ Symposium – there should still be tickets available for this, and you can learn more here.

One of *those* dreams…

I’ve been a lucid dreamer ever since I was a kid. Things can get… intense in there. Also, having ruined upgraded my mind with extensive pop culture magical workings, a lot of that sort of thing turns up in my dreamscapes.

Even by my standards, the dream I had Sunday/Monday this week was a doozy.

I was investigating a haunted/cursed English Stately Home with an unidentified female companion. (She didn’t say much, looked maybe a bit like Clara in Doctor Who – which would explain why I didn’t talk to her much, ‘cos I can’t stand Clara). Not unlike my old Athanor Consulting tradecraft – a careful walk through and scan of the place, assuming combat conditions. Found what looked a lot like a grimoire which, when picked up and opened by Not-Clara (typical!), annoyed the local entity I’d been sent to deal with.

Said entity was a bit tasty, to put it mildly. It immediately possessed the entire building and began to form the stones into a giant humanoid shape. In the middle of doing this, John Constantine stepped out of the shadows… just in time for me, he and Not-Clara to grab the stonework and be pulled up onto the giant golem’s shoulder. The monster strode across the night-time English countryside, clearly with some awful purpose in mind.

While clinging on, I got the sense that the thing wanted to ‘meet’ the Queen. As in, kill her. For some reason, this bothered me (dreams can be weird like that), so I got out my phone.

“Who the bloody hell do you think you’re calling?”, John asked.

“Who do you think?” I replied – and dialed 999.

When the operator answered, I said “This is a Cobra 666 alert, repeat Cobra 666”, and got put through to, basically, the Ministry Of Magic, Covert Ops Division. I identified myself, noting that I was with ‘Designation Conjob’, told them what was happening, and told them to have the Queen immediately helicoptered to (my birthplace of) Gravesend, Kent.

I had, it seems, a plan.

It was apparent that the stately home (before going all Transformers) was somewhere in Essex, because we were approaching the river Thames from the North. This formed the basis of my plan. As the Stately Golem started to wade across the Thames to reach the Queen, I gave John a nod and we shouted together these magic and holy words…

“OI! CHUMMY! SOUTH OF THE RIVER, THIS TIME OF NIGHT??”

This distracted Stately Golem just enough for me to blind it in one eye (with the laser pointer/wand I always carry), which in turn gave me a few seconds to cast a spell: using the motto of the City of London (in a riff off Kate Griffin’s magical system in her urban fantasies) Domine Dirige Nos (‘Lord, Protect Us’), I called on Old Father Thames. Two huge hands made of water appeared and pulled the golem apart… throwing Constantine, Not-Clara & I into the water.

Not-Clara and I swam to the Gravesend side of the river, climbed out up some old stone steps. Standing waiting for us on the bank in the fog, bone-dry and smoking a cigarette, was Constantine. He smiled, nodded, walked off saying “Nice one. See you later, mate.”

I yelled after him (very sensibly) “I’m not your friend, John! I’m just a colleague!”

Not-Clara and I walked into the fog and, I swear, as I started to wake up, theme music started playing.

The music was this:

(the middle-to-end section with the Beatles-like orchestral crescendo).

That was a good’un. Never had theme music in a dream before, and the South Of The River gag was marvellous. That’ll do, subconscious – that’ll do.

Knowledge makes the brain grow better

I’m lucky to live with people who not only have good brains and use them well, but are also tolerant enough to both provide me with thoughts I wouldn’t otherwise have and to listen to the mad ideas that pop in my transom.

Case in point:

Seeing the recent study on the change in brain wiring of London cab drivers gave me an idea. The study showed that cabbies brains showed strong development changes in the hippocampus region – it got bigger.

Long ago, I learned from Malabar that one of the most noteable neurological changes in adults who are survivors of childhood physical and sexual abuse is atrophy of the hippocampus, which is hard to correct in adults.

So… abuse survivors could train in The Knowledge. The process of learning the thousands of possible routes through London (usually done on bicycle/moped) seems to provide a specific stimulus to hippocampal growth. (Maybe this is due to the vast amount of visio-spacial processing required to gain The Knowledge, possible helped by the other senses – the smell of the brewery round the corner and the chippy near the roundabout, the sound of Speaker’s Corner…)

Hippocampus is stimulated, grows. Helps heal the damage. Once qualified, they could volunteer to drive for women-safe cab services.

Just an idea…