And the Desert Shall Bloom -

23.5 Degrees

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And the Desert Shall Bloom

The latest thoughts from Stella!

By Stella Maris, Columnist     February 02, 2008

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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experiMENTAL 2/1/2008 11:34:02 PM
Hey Mania, I wanna write a column about utter nonsense also!! Using big words and phrases to express your cloudy thoughts in an attempt to sound intelligent does not a good writer make.
Hobbs 2/2/2008 12:10:49 AM
Before I even read your comment I was thinking while I was reading it...must be the weekend because that's when we get this stupid shit.
DIIDDIID 2/2/2008 5:07:41 AM
Dear Maniacs: Please consider the following: Everyone looking at this website is "into" mass media. Art in general, whether it is traditional in form (books, plays, paintings, etc.) or electronic (TV, movies, video games, etc.) is always about the difference between appearance and reality. You are immersed in this difference. Stella is only telling you that there is more than meets the eye in these cultural “events”. She is suggesting that you think about what is going on in the subtext of the mass media that you consume. Otherwise, you are simply being manipulated.
westend 2/2/2008 7:15:11 AM
I fully understand what she is talking about, but WHAT was the point of the article?
experiMENTAL 2/2/2008 9:40:30 AM
Westend, my thoughts exactly. This was more of an article for Oxygen maybe.. or AICN. LOL
pelona 2/2/2008 9:44:56 AM
Patience, as irrelevant as this all seems now I believe we are taking a journey, somewhat convoluted but a journey.
buzzkill 2/2/2008 10:16:22 AM
Westend, the problem is that you DON'T fully understand what she's talking about, therefore you don't see the point. experiMENTAL, when you tune in to a TV documentary that goes way over your head, how long does it usually take before you change the channel? Or do you just sit in front of the toob and make derisive comments until it's over?
SlamShut 2/2/2008 2:33:10 PM
The first important lesson that any serious writer learns is to write in the simplest terms possible; to eliminate all unnecessary words, and to state your hypothesis in the clearest, simplest way possible. This "article" reads as if a thesaurus puked all over it. Not only does it lack a clear hypothesis, purpose or subject, but it is afloat with so many undefined terms that it becomes immediately inaccessible to the average reader. Buzzkill, you make the point that someone who doesn't "fully understand what she's talking about" will have a hard time with this piece of writing-- and that's exactly the problem here. If the only readers who will gain anything from slogging through these paragraphs are those who already know what she's writing about, then the essay defeats its own purpose, and eliminates any reason for it to exist in the first place. This piece reads like the introductory paragraph and the conclusion have been chopped off-- what we're left with is just a puddle of ideas with lots of colorful multi-syllabic words wiggling around in it. Or to put it more simply: why the sweet green motherfuck is this on the site in the first place? If the writer isn't going to take a moment or a few words to explain what the hell she's talking about, then it's just a bunch of esoteric garbage. Putting this on the front page of the site is going to drive away more readers than it's going to pull in. I understand that Mania is trying to court a lot of different audiences these days, and they should; and I understand that one of those audiences being courted is the paranormal/conspiracy/Coast-to-Coast AM type crowd, but badly-written, rambling prose poems with no clear subject or purpose aren't going to do the trick. Write simply, or don't write at all.
joeybaloney 2/2/2008 3:52:25 PM
A-Frickin’- Men, SlamShut. It’s the pretentiousness of it all Buzzkill. While, thankfully, these 23.5 Degrees ‘articles’ weren’t just a continuation of the pointless story regarding Stella and her safely tampered with brakes, what’s come since has done nothing to actually engage the members of this community. The subtext of what Stella is writing about is interesting and deserves some dialogue. Unfortunately, instead of encouraging any dialogue all these pieces are doing are alienating the folk who frequent this site. Clearly this is not aimed at the average Maniac. Stop complaining when the average Maniac complains. Instead of wrapping this up in pretentious artsy drivel write an article clearly expressing your thoughts and ideas. While I’m sure you and Stella have a blast drinking manhattans in your loft congratulating yourselves over the latest clever way you’ve come up with for confusing the sheeple while enlightening them maybe a more simple and inviting approach is called for on this site. The, once again, pretentiousness of these articles and the disingenuous bangs they receive to keep them on the front page annoys the hell out of 99.9% of the people that come here. Submit it to Juxtapose, or maybe you and Stella should just exchange emails. But hey, once again, I’m no smarter than a stupid asshole. Keep on posting this drivel as is. Just keep expecting people to rip into them and shut the funk up about what we do and do not understand.
experiMENTAL 2/2/2008 6:57:53 PM
I do my own share of writing, so I know how to engage an audience. This drivel is not engaging in any way, shape, or form. Buzzkill, you can't honestly say you enjoyed reading this exercise in tediousness. You obviously commented with no other intention but to be the polar opposite of the majority and be an ass. Which is fine, unto itself, because if you've seen my other recent posts, I enjoy being an ass too. I just don't pretend to be something I am not. You're either a plant, or the biggest idiot among us.
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