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And the Desert Shall Bloom

The latest thoughts from Stella!

By Stella Maris, Columnist     February 02, 2008


A Hermetic Rose (Rosa Hermetica)
© MemoryMap, with fairy dust by Schirtz

The first important lesson that any serious collector of enigmatic curiosities learns is that nothing is true. The second thing we learn is that it's completely irrelevant whether anything is actually true or not.

Once the collector stops trying to make sense, we begin to perceive information firstly as random synchronicities, then maybe as patterns, then eventually as archetypal symbols or even "characters", which can take on a life of their own.

At this point, seemingly mystifying references become cues, or encoded signals, to "pay attention". Sometimes a convenient reference will become so accepted among connoisseurs, that it becomes adopted as standard vocabulary to indicate the presence of a kind of subconscious process which is being triggered.

This, in turn, leads to the development of a kind of a "language", which isn't actually real, but becomes a useful device for communicating nevertheless. This language can then be deployed in music, books, comics, movies, television, art, architecture, even in video games, eventually becoming integrated into everyday popular culture.

It's hard to predict exactly how long it will take to seed these hermetic triggers into the public mindset.

For instance, master prankster Robert Anton Wilson seeded the 23 Enigma (which he, in turn, had received from William S Burroughs, but that's another story) into his book Cosmic Trigger in 1977, but it took a full thirty years to integrate via the movie The Number 23 in 2007. Another example of a typically meaningless numerical reference, that is currently working its way into pop culture, is the 11:11 glyph.

One of the most prominent examples of hermetic triggering taking on a life if its own is the success of The Da Vinci Code and all of its spiraling spinoffs. After its inception in 1956, the concept of a powerful underground secret society called the Priory of Sion percolated through various permutations for a good 26 years before emerging in the internationally best-selling book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln in 1982.

However, in true prankster style, Baigent and Leigh added their own mischievous twist to the Priory of Sion saga in the form of the "bloodline" of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, which then simmered for another twenty years, resurfacing in a flurry of artforms ignited by the internet during the mid-90s, before finally bursting into full-blown popular culture in the form of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown in 2003. 

But sometimes, once a trailblazing foundation has already been laid, the process can become accelerated, as in the case of Bob Brewer's work in Shadow of the Sentinel (published in paperback as Rebel Gold) in 2003, which rapidly transmuted into the National Treasure films. On the other hand, if we consider that Bob was writing about trails which had been laid as far back as the late 1800s, then the process could actually be estimated to have taken a frustrating 150 years...

It's inevitable that Hollywood would become fertile ground for the dissemination of prankster performance art, even developing the technique itself into an artform via vehicles such as Twin Peaks and Lost.

Or, sometimes, unnoticed fragments of sublime flotsam and jetsam flicker across our screens under the radar, such as Ugly Betty wearing Anne Boleyn's necklace or Loch Maree making a guest appearance as a location in the movie Stardust

Unsurprisingly, a popular pastime among connoisseurs is predicting which pre-seeded triggers are "ripe" and just about to blossom into the public realm.

There are currently several dynamic layers of enigmatic seedlings which are poised to sprout, but our own wager is on the successful transplanting of the entire garden onto US soil in locations such as Washington DC and eventually even Los Angeles itself.

But, for us, the most unexpected harvest will culminate in the imminent flowering of the San Francisco triggers, consisting of some of the first hermetic horticultural experiments we seeded ourselves well over ten years ago... all of which will be revealed as our chronicle progresses.

Newton Coordinate:- The Feast Day of Candlemas, February 2nd, on the Greenwich Meridian.

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