Ö

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Pleasure, as they say, is its own reward;

for those of us who barter and haggle,

dreaming of more. To die wet. To die hard.

To die loved. To be more than a wastrel.

He’s at work,” you say. “They’re outside playing.

Wish it was your cock and not” [here you shake,

drawing your phat butt-plug from your gaping

Ö] “This. Look!” [on your webcam you ache, quake

and crack.] “Guess it can’t be helped, fu-fu-fu.”

They’re not lost years, frenzied at my computer;

we’re the tribe that does what it must for lust,

without apology. “Play Siouxsie Sioux

and cum for me.” I stand: drunk, hornier

than the gods and start with, “Cities in Dust.”

how would you interpret the tarot’s chariot romantically?

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“Wuv, twue wuv.” [Princess Bride, 1987]

Focus, confidence and determination are all good things, in theory. From them we get that rugged individualism (with a dimple in the chin) that my therapist keeps going on about as being so important for a healthy Ego and sense of self.

Personally, I feel that the Ego in all its forms is highly overrated, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. It takes us into the realm of psychology and science is some of the least sexy and romantic aspects of being human that I can imagine. It’s great for analyzing and cataloging behavior … less so as dating advice.

Be bold, we’re told, when taking actions on love. Take control of your love life. Go get what you want. We’ve all heard these words in one form or another. Just feed that inner Don Juan (or Donna Juanna, if you’re Brigitte Bardot) and that wretched misery in your soul might finally be silenced (key word: might). Curiously, that advice seldom works … unless your idea of a happy life is living out the plot points of most pornos.

I can only offer my own experiences, but people who advocate that this is a positive card (at least in the Rider-Waite world) are one sort, lovers who burn, as Rumi reminds us, are another.

In this case a structured and ordered approach when it comes to love is not the best path forward since love is neither structured, ordered nor something that you can control through willpower. Love is chaos. Love is madness. Love is what keeps the poets writing late at night and laughs at rules and the way “things are suppose to be.” In short, I question anyone who champions this card as someone who has spent far too much time thinking about love and far little actually experiencing its messy glory.

This is why, for my deck at least, I changed the Chariot to a Palanquin because you can’t make a palanquin go simply by willing it. You need others to literally do all the heavy lifting, you need to act together to make anything happen. Love is, by its very nature, communal. The Rider-Waite deck seems to have forgotten that and assumes that boldness (that great Victorian virtue) will achieve your goals. Again, love has no agenda, no secret code that you can break and “make it happen.” To hammer the point in a little further, up and beyond the fact that this litter has no bearers, the woman in it wants to smoke her hashish but has no flame to light it. Perfect control and confidence have yet to start a fire (unless its a metaphoric one) since she needs to take the match Syssk (the xenomorph seated next to her) offers.

That’s the love lesson that I take away from here: forcefulness in love is called rape. It’s why “Love magic” has nothing to do with love and everything with exercising your control over another. Do not follow that path, it never ends well. Only by working together can we make love bloom and, of course, the Ego of the Chariot has very little to do with that.

JUSTICE [XI] sisters of yeht-gav’s reflection

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I don’t know who he is but I know where he is … the Other side. The Spirit world, man! You see, it’s always the same. There’s no stoppin’ what can’t be stopped. No killin’ what can’t be killed. I feel him all around! You can’t see the eyes of the demon ’till he comes a’ calli-n’. This is dread, man, truly dread. [King Willie]

Perhaps it’s a bit obvious to say that justice starts and ends in the mirror, but before a person can understand others they must understand themselves. ¡Ay!” as Hamlet once put it, “there’s the rub.”

Science and religion are what most folks turn to for explanations; by adopting other people’s ideas of how the universe works perhaps it will bring some peace to a soul full of uncertainty? Most often it doesn’t since man-made languages do not have the capacity to express metaphysical concepts in any way that could be deemed satisfactory, but I can certainly recognize that feeling of doubt when facing Mysteries beyond my own ability to explain. It’s all about cosmic Horrors, after all.

Life,” Groucho Marx once said, “is a whim of several billion cells just being you for a while.”

It’s the spaces between those cells that I find curious. “A breath of air,” Jean-Paul Sartre said. All the formless and unmanifested energy that we so blithely call the soul. A rainbow in a land that only dreams in black and white. Theseus’ “airy nothing.” The forms of things unknown. Chaos manifested. The formless form that defies definition.

Most people think of justice in lawyer terms of fairness, cause + effect and accountability; in other words, concrete ideas that arise from needing to live together and function as a society. The more theoretical one gets, the harder it is to apply these concepts to anyone else, let alone yourself. Without some random hierarchical system to wrap our heads around the chaos of not knowing torments us and we are a species infatuated with hierarchy.

In Buddhist philosophy the voidless Void constitutes supreme actuality, “Sunyata is not a negation of existence but rather the cosmic undifferentiation out of which all souls, discrimination and dualities arise.” Perhaps that is the burden of being homosapiens driven by insatiable curiosity coupled with the futility of trying to define the undefinable? If you can define it then it isn’t undefinable. Can the same be said about knowing oneself? Is there some sort of due process that the soul must pass through? Unsurprisingly, I do not have the words for that.

Fucking voodoo magic [*], man! You know what? I’ll tell you what I believe: shit happens.”

[*] There is voodoo and there is magic and put together there is redundancy. The fact that they’re spoken in the same breath in Predator 2 (1990) was due to the producers worrying that the audience wouldn’t know what Rastafarians were and for reasons not even the Tao can explain decided to keep King Willie and company Jamaican instead of, say, Haitian, where being a follower of Baron Samedi would make far more sense.

Notes on Notes:

It’s been pointed out to me that my hand-writing is barely readable so here are what the notes say:

Hiding, secrets and not being able to be yourself is one of the worst things ever for a person. It gives you low self-esteem. You never get to reach that peak in your life. You should always be able to be yourself and be proud of yourself. [Grace Jones]

Everyone loves justice in the affairs of another but never in ourselves.

Augustine’s theory of the transmission of original sin by way of the sexual urge which is the typical form of ‘concupiscence’, the lusting of flesh against spirit, has had a most disastrous influence upon much of traditional Christian ethics. [J. Burnaby]

Humanity, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, we are the worst of all. [Aristotle]

I have a fifteen year old daughter who thinks that I always had this self confidence that I have now at the age of sixty. I always tell her that what she is going through, the low self-esteem as a teenager, that is a right of passage. [Iman]

So long as there stands yet in the way any wrong so cankerous as reprisal for our own destinies, so long must the women skald of the future cry unwelcome truth in the market-place. [Elizabeth Robbins]

Altarwise by owl-light in the half-way house/ the gentleman lay graveward with his furies;/ abandoned in the hangnail cracked by Adam,/ and, from his fork, a dog among the fairies,/ the atlas-eater with a jaw for news,/ bit out the mandrake with to-morrow’s scream./ Then, penny-eyed, that gentleman of wounds,/ old cock from nowheres and the heaven’s egg,/ with bones unbuttoned to the half-way winds,/ hatched from the windy salvage on one leg,/ scraped at my cradle in a walking word/ that night of time under the Christward shelter:/ I am the long world’s gentleman, he said,/ and share my bed with Capricorn and Cancer. [Dylan Thomas]

EMPRESS [III] ko-eik-te’krusu of the fertility

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From my notebook. I found an old Japanese woodblock print concerning childbirth, which I found fascinating since it is difficult for me to find any reference to midwifery or the ritual of giving birth from ages gone by.

One of the functions Syssk performs is that of court musician and there are several cards in this deck (5 of Cups, Dynamo of Wands) where her song illustrates the lessons that the Tarot is trying to teach. Syssk identifies as female, though no one else on Earth might agree. This is her struggle while marooned on this tiny rock, so much of humanity’s sense of self is based on biological reductionism that it makes anyone trying to redefine their own boundaries as revolutionary.

The revolution will not be televised, we are told. Nor will it be gendered.

Notes on Notes:

It’s been pointed out to me that my hand-writing is barely readable so here are what the notes say:

Syssk can sing?

There was something formlessly fashioned, that existed before heaven and earth; without sound, without substance, dependent on nothing, unchanging, all-pervading, unfailing. One may think of it as the mother of all things under heaven. [Tao Te Ching]

It is quite true that there are no limits to masculine egotism in ordinary life. In order to change the conditions of life we must learn to see through the eye’s of a woman. [Leon Trotsky]

You never get nothing by bein’ an angel child. You’d better change your ways and get real wild. I’m gonna tell you something, I wouldn’t tell you a lie, Wild women are the only kind that really get by ‘Cause wild women don’t worry, wild women don’t have the blues. [Ida Cox]

We are the stars that sing. We sing with our light. We are the birds born from fire. We fly over the heavens. Our light. Our voice. We cut a road for the soul for its journey through Death. For the three of us are hunters. For we face the hills with disdain. [Passamquoddy]

Life on the planet is born of woman. [Adrienne Rich]

The deepest experience of the creator is feminine, for it is experience of receiving and bearing. [Rainer Maria Rilke]

In the great night my heart will go out; while toward me the darkness comes rattling. In the great night my heart will go out. [Juana Manwell]

THE FOOL [0] Soul of the Stukhtra

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Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy. And so the problem remained; lots of people were mean and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches. ~ Douglas Adams

All stories must start somewhere.

In your grandmother’s Tarot deck the Fool is the ultimate free spirit, that proto-Flower Child who is the embodiment of beginnings, innocence and spontaneity. It is the first and last card since Zero is liminal, being both everything and nothing. We like to remind ourselves that, “We are stardust, we are golden/ We are billion-year-old carbon.” All this is true, and yet the gendered essentialism found in so much of that Tarot deck will only take us so far. Perhaps to the cliff for you, but certainly not over it for me. For that we need to find something else. As Nancy Baker puts it:

There’s a strong streak of anti-essentialism in Feminism, just as there is in Buddhism. It is the understanding that something like gender is not fixed or absolute, that not all women or men have some masculine or feminine essence that defines them. To put it in Buddhist terms, gender has no “self-nature.”

Western Pop Culture likes to claim that Buddhism is logical, agnostic and liberal in matters of gender and sexuality, conveniently overlooking all the misogynist views that the Buddha himself had about women, “of all the scents that can enslave a man none is more lethal than that of a woman.” For those of us who refuse or attempt to transcend such man-made concepts this critique is important because what we are searching for is liberation. There is nothing “enlightened” in any social structure that clings to ideas of rigid sexual morality and assigns half the world a secondary role simply by existing.

Do not go where the path may lead,” Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us, “go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

How Syssk found herself marooned in ancient Japan, surrounded by folks who consider her unenlightened simply by existing is unimportant. The question isn’t whether she is capable of spiritual growth, we are all capable of that, the question is what are the forces attempting to block her and you from that growth? Discard everything that gets in your way and The Way (The Tao) opens before you.

This is Syssk’s path and so it will be ours as well.

[an earlier version of the fool; the design of the xenomorph was much closer to h.r. giger’s original vision, though the blue figure was taken directly from robbie morrison’s shakara (2012) … always cite the sources that you purloin]

NOTES ON NOTES:

I have been told that my handwriting is almost illegible, so I will reproduce my notes here:

Sibylline Xenomorphia

In almost all the riddle-like koan the striking characteristic is the illogical or absurd act or word. A monk once asked, “What is Buddha?” The master replied, “Three pounds of flax.” Or a Zen master remarked, “When both hands are clapped a sound is produced; listen to the sound of one hand.” ~ Heinrich Dumoulin

I alone seem to have lost everything. Mine is indeed the mind of a very idiot. So dull am I. The world is full of people that shine; I alone am dark. ~ Tao Te Ching

Chaos is the Formless Void but the Void is not Chaotic.

My soul is a black maelstrom, a great madness spinning about a vacuum, the swirling of a vast ocean around a hole in the void, and in the waters, more like whirlwinds than waters, float images of all I ever saw or heard in the world: houses, faces, books, boxes, snatches of music and fragments of voices, all caught up in a sinister, bottomless whirlpool. ~ Fernando Pessoa

Giving birth to nothingness/ Giving birth to death/ Such terrible words/ I heard on the border/ Between dream and reality ~ Yosano Akiko

because I don’t have spit/ because I don’t have rubbish/ because I don’t have dust/ because I don’t have that which is in air/ because I am air/ let me try you with my magic power ~ Anne Waldman

the witch: onibaba [update]

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“Chaos that/ takes I from/ I” ~ Note written for the Fool.

I’ve been trying to keep a notebook in English regarding what Syssk’s tarot cards mean. In the Rider-Waite deck the Magician is the conduit between Heaven and Earth. Here, though, there is no Heaven or Earth, only the formless Void, only Chaos personified. This is what fascinates me. The Tao Te Ching states:

There was something formlessly fashioned, that existed before Heaven and Earth; without sound, without substance, dependent on nothing, unchanging, all-pervading, unfailing. One may think of it as the Mother of all Things Under Heaven.

That “ something formlessly fashioned.” That is the conduit that I’m looking for. Neither masculine nor feminine, neither black nor white, neither solid nor liquid: Chaos, the primal substance that holds the universe together. As a result I must discard any philosophy that can only function on planet Earth for being too limiting. Humans tend to be oppressively myopic when it comes to their desires. As the Chinese feminist and revolutionary, Qiu Jin, put it, “Now that things have gotten so dangerous,/ please change your girl’s garments for a Wu sword.”

That is the teacher. Discard your “I” ~ Chaos awaits.

Notes on Notes:

It’s been pointed out to me that my hand-writing is barely readable so here are what the notes say:

Don’t tell me women are not the stuff of heroes, I alone rode over the East Sea’s winds for ten thousand leagues. My poetic thoughts ever expand, like a sail between ocean and heaven. I dreamed of your three islands, all gems, all dazzling with moonlight. I grieve to think of the bronze camels, guardians of China, lost in thorns. Ashamed, I have done nothing; not one victory to my name. I simply make my war horse sweat. Grieving over my native land hurts my heart. So tell me; how can I spend these days here? A guest enjoying your spring winds? [Qiu Jin]

Je est une autre. I is another. [Rimbaud]

I from I

Thus to name it is to raise stones, to wound the bark with stones, to batter it with stones, the stones to cut the bark, to fester in the bark.

In everything natural there is something mysterious. [Aristotle]

Qiu Jin’s carved seal: Read books/ Practice sword.

Earlier design for the Magician, from a science fiction themed tarot based on astronauts and aliens.

lurid

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You know, in films, when a Twist-jane lounges

by a flophouse window, in crepe mousseline

drawers, that she must be glum; crooning, “Diva’s

Cathouse,” and, “Heartbreak Hotel,” and, “Virgin

Funk.” It’s always ten past midnight; next door

your love-worn gunsel answers on his horn …

keeping it low. The sad are always poor

in films. We slouch since love makes us forlorn

and lean and use words like, “hooch,” and, “barfly,”

and, “skint.” Twist-jane, you say? What lurid slang.

Lurid? No, tragic. Like ten past doomsday,

crooning, “I’ll be so lonely,/ I could die;”

like in films where your gunsel blows hard pang

and grief and the only colors are gray.

][][

Notes:

In the noir thriller, The Maltese Falcon (1941), Sam Spade uses the Yiddish term, gunsel (“little goose”), several times to describe Wilmer, Kasper Gutman’s highly problematic “associate.” According to Hollywood lore, the term got by the censors because they thought that Bogart said, “gunman,” though in reality it’s a slur for pretty boys kept for sexual purposes by older men. This being 1940s Hollywood, Wilmer is all that, plus every other gay stereotype the producers could think of: effeminate, soft-spoken and, of course, a psychotic killer.

onesie

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Suckle me,” you said, unzipping the front

of your snow suit. “These are all my hungers;

feed me.” First snow of the year and your cunt

is a damp hint under all these layers.

Under this snow the gods sleep. Passions creep

about in queer forms. Wreaths of fog circle

your head as I wriggle two fingers deep

inside. “So cold,” you groan. “Yes, be brutal,

make my sweet heat come.” Something is coming,

with my hand down your onesie and your face

pressed to my neck … perhaps something wicked?

Perhaps even now the gods are dreaming

about your heat and how my fingers trace

runes in your cum, raw and sacred like blood.

and now …

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Tarot deck based on the fine art of, “Sibylline Xenomorphia;” featuring Syssk, an Alien marooned in Japan’s Warring States era; mapping out her attempts to pass in the bewildering and often contrary world of strife, chaos and fabulous kimonos.

Syssk Online Shop Space.

A free guide book written in Armenian and Galactic Basic (Syssk’s native tongue) for the deck, translated by Lilit “Baba” Yagian, can be found here at my favorite Internet lending library:

TAROT of SYSSK [4th edition] : Lilit “Baba” Yagian : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

A translation in English is in the works. The colorized editions (at this point just curiosities) date back to earlier versions of the deck which were never published.