Re-writing the Future: 100 years of Esoteric Modernism & Psychoanalysis
In recent times, it has come to light that many revered artists, writers, poets, philosophers and performers have held esoteric world views or underpinnings. Several recent art exhibitions worldwide have highlighted this: Black Light in Barcelona, retrospectives of Leonor Fini and Leonora Carrington in New York and Mexico City, respectively, Mystical Symbolism and the visionary works of Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim, all in just the past year.
The field of psychoanalysis itself first began as an esoteric discipline – exploring previously uncharted territory with relatively few individuals meeting weekly at the home of Sigmund Freud. Some of Freud’s occult explorations were quite overt, as he conducted thought experiments with his daughter Anna Freud and close colleague Sandor Ferenczi late into his life. Though Freud intentionally steered the public persona of psychoanalysis away from any occult leanings, his personal work with the esoteric went on well into his twilight years. Carl Jung also explored his own psyche in secret for decades as he created his masterpiece The Red Book, which was only discovered after his death and released publicly in recent years.
The Zeitgeist of the time is reflected in a myriad of ways: the innovative writing of T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway; poetry of H.D.; automatic drawings of Austin Osman Spare; spirit drawings of Georgiana Houghton; accidental poems of Tristan Tzara; noise concerts of Luigi Russolo; collages of Hannah Höch; montages of Man Ray; the expressionism of Wassily Kandinsky; and early experimentation with film and photography. W.B. Yeats taught a young Ezra Pound theosophy. Piet Mondrian studied theosophy as well. The surrealists touted the theories of psychoanalysis, exploring dreamwork, automatic writing, synchronicity and chance.
It is notable that so many cultural heavyweights, who are held in such high regard, deemed it necessary to keep their esoteric views and occult explorations hidden from the world. Clearly they felt these ideas would not be acceptable at that time. And they were probably right, as many of those figures who were more open about their views, were often shunned, denied or had aspects of their work ignored outright. It begs the question: why does society accept some aspects of the mind, but not others?
At our current moment of cultural crisis, it makes sense to look back over the past 100 years; to reflect on the cultural Zeitgeist before the First World War – the very same time period and cultural and intellectual epicentres that birthed the field of psychoanalysis, the Dada movement and Der Blaue Reiter. Much like our times, upheaval and change were in the air. The arts and sciences were booming, as was philosophy, media and technology. Interest in theosophy, Eastern philosophies, occult and esoteric belief systems was on the rise. Society’s accepted values and consensus worldview were put into question; the status-quo challenged, refined and reformulated for a modern era.
Keynote speaker: Siegfried de Rachewiltz, grandson of Ezra Pound and Director of Schloss Brunnenburg.
Schedule as follows:
Re-writing the Future: 100 Years of Esoteric Modernism & Psychoanalysis
May 30 – June 1, 2019, Brunnenburg Castle & Schloß Pienzenau, Merano, Italy
- Thursday, May 30 – Schloß Pienzenau
- 9-9:45 – Arrive, coffee
- 9:45-10 – Carl Abrahamsson & Vanessa Sinclair – Welcome to Re-writing the Future!
- 10-12 – Panel I
- Kadmus – True to the Earth and a Pagan Conception of the Self
- Charlotte Rodgers – Spiritual Evolution: For the Masses or for the Few?
- Kasper Opstrup – Myths of the Near Future: Radicalising Body and Mind
- Group discussion, audience Q&A – Moderator: Langston Kahn
- 12-14 – Lunch
- 14-15:30 – Panel II
- Elisabeth Punzi & Per Magnus Johansson – Psychoanalysis and the Freedom of Thought; Hilda Doolittle (H.D.)
- Hans-Peter Söder – True Lies: Towards a Renewal of Mythic Thinking
- Group discussion, audience Q&A – Moderator: Alexander Cummins
- 15:30-16 – Break, coffee
- 16-18 – Panel III
- Haukur Jónasson – On Magic and Freeing of the Human Spirit
- Tom Banger & Koshka – Investigating Initiation: Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY)
- Carlos Abler – The Questions We Ask our Bodies are Answered by the Gods: Mimetic Techniques & Existential Alchemies in Performance & Therapies
- Group discussion, audience Q&A . Moderator: Katy Bohinc
- 18 – Break for dinner, evening free
- Friday, May 31 – Schloß Pienzenau
- 9-9:45 – Arrive, coffee
- 9:45-10 – Vanessa Sinclair & Carl Abrahamsson – Welcome back
- 10-12 – Panel IV
- Alexander Cummins – Dirt Astrology: Geomancy and the Earthly Zeitgeist
- Anna Sebastian – Mantic Staining: the Divinatory Paintings of Ithell Colquhoun
- Katy Bohinc – Poetry as Magic
- Group discussion, audience Q&A – Moderator: Charlotte Rodgers
- 12-14 – Lunch
- 14-15:30 – Panel V
- Langston Kahn – Shades and Shadows: How Our Unresolved Ancestors and Denied Selves Hold the Keys to Our Collective Liberation
- Jesse Hathaway Diaz – Apocalypti/c/orazon
- Group discussion, audience Q&A -Moderator: Katrina Makkouk
- 15:30-16 – Break, coffee
- 16-18 – Panel VI
- Simon Magus – The Fin-de-Siècle Magical Aesthetic of Austin Osman Spare: Siderealism, Atavism, Automatism, Occultism
- Ugo Dossi – Oracles in Automatic Drawing
- Group discussion, audience Q&A – Moderator: Carl Abrahamsson
- 18 – Break for dinner, evening free
- Saturday, June 1 – Brunnenburg Castle
- 9:00-9:45 – Arrive, coffee
- 9:45-10 – Carl Abrahamsson & Vanessa Sinclair – Welcome back
- 10-12 – Panel VII
- Siegfried de Rachewiltz – Welcome to the Brunnenburg + Ezra Pound, Joseph Ennemoser and “Animal Magnetism”
- Katrina Makkouk – Pound’s Occultism: the Development of Automatic Writing and Occult Philosophy in the Pisan Cantos
- Group discussion, audience Q&A – Moderator: Kadmus
- 12-14 – Lunch
- 14-15:30 – Panel VIII
- Vanessa Sinclair – The Crusade against Magical Thinking
- Blanche Barton – The Roots of Modern Satanism, Profane, Profound and Sundry: from John Milton to Mickey Katz
- Group discussion, audience Q&A – Moderator: Kasper Opstrup
- 15:30-16 – Break, coffee
- 16-17:30 – Panel IX
- Ethan Clarke – Futurism and Techno-Spirituality
- Carl Abrahamsson – Literchoor, Kulchur and a Damned Fine Friendship: on the Symbiosis of Ezra Pound and James Laughlin
- Group discussion, audience Q&A – Moderator: Vanessa Sinclair
- 17:30-17:45 Break
- 17:45-19 – Poetry reading, close of conference
- 19 – Break for dinner, evening free
Carlos Abler is an artist, researcher, and digital media expert. His career includes dance and physical theater, puppetry, mask work, spoken word, and digital media. He has performed and taught internationally. As a lifelong researcher into the history of religions, cultural theory, and how humans work and make meaning in general, his craft and workshops manifests as an alchemy of global anthropological and cross-disciplinary approaches. He draws from multiple performative traditions such as modern mime, Butoh, and Noh theater; from physically based psycho-therapeutic interventions, such as yogic techniques, Reichian influenced approaches, hypno-mimetic trance-logics; and a highly synthetic and paralogical approach to a hermeneutics of the cosmos that continuously questions the boundaries of where the human individual begins and the universe ends. As a digital strategy and media practitioner Carlos specializes in content-driven applications and experiences that deliver both societal and business impact, and works with businesses, non-profits, and NGOs in support of digital transformation and to make the most of the Internet. His favorite digital work has a cultural and human empowerment emphasis, clients for which include The Smithsonian, and History Channel. Carlos enjoys helping radical culture creators become more business-savvy so as to help them have a stronger hand in shaping the world, as well as in helping giant corporations become more socially sustainable so as to help them not destroy it.
Carl Abrahamsson (b 1966) is a Swedish writer and film-maker who’s also worked with photography and music as artistic expressions. He edits and publishes the annual occultural journal The Fenris Wolf, which collects material from the colourful grey area between art and esotericism.
Tom Banger – In 1986, punk promoter Tom Headbanger confounded the Denver scene by founding the Temple ov Psychick Youth North America. Over the next four odd years, he wrote numerous texts on contemporary magick and shamanism under the name Coyote *2 and helped facilitate the coming together of an unprecedented collaborative network of artists, magicians, shamans, and charlatans. During this time, TOPYUS published more than a thousand pages of original occult research, including Television Magick and the first two editions of EsoTerrorist by Genesis P-Orridge. Banger stopped coordinating TOPYUS in 1990 in order to focus on his interest in engineering and technology. He is now a full-time cybersecurity expert and father, and has decided it is time to come out of the shadows and share some stories and perspective.
Blanche Barton‘s first words were “Hermes Trismegistus,” which certainly perplexed her parents. She was born in San Diego, California, where she loved to explore old missions and commune with Leviathan at the beach, drawn inexorably to all things arcane and sinister. She received her B.A. from Johnston (a hippie college on the campus of the University of Redlands) emphasizing writing and literature. In 1984, she relocated to San Francisco to work directly with Anton LaVey, remaining with him as demonic cohort and lover until his death. Barton has been a leader and representative of the Church of Satan for most of her life, serving as High Priestess for 12 years and now as the Magistra Templi Rex. She wrote the biography of Anton LaVey and will release We Are Satanists: The History and Future of the Church of Satan late this year.
Katy Bohinc grew up in the outskirts of Cleveland and graduated from Georgetown with degrees in Pure Mathematics and Comparative Literature, leaving her studies for a time to work in Beijing with the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, a human rights organization. Now living in New York City, she works as a data scientist and marketer. Since 2013 she has collaborated with Lee Ann Brown in directing Tender Buttons Press, a distinguished publisher of experimental women’s poetry for which she edited Tender Omnibus: The First Twenty-Five Years of Tender Buttons Press (2015) and Please Add To This List: A Guide To Teaching Bernadette Mayer’s Sonnets and Experiments (2014). Bohinc is the author of Dear Alain (Tender Buttons, 2014), letters to the French philosopher Alain Badiou about poetry, philosophy, and love, and a book of poems about the divine feminine, Trinity Star Trinity (Scarlet Imprint, 2017). Publisher’s Weekly describes her most recent title, Scorpio (Miami University Press, 2018) as “an astute, witty, feminist collection.”
Ethan Clarke is an anthropologist who earned his degree from UC Santa Cruz, graduating summa cum laude. His primary areas of study are war and conflict, art and visual culture, technology, and evolutionary biology.
Dr Alexander Cummins is a professional diviner, historian of magic, and consultant sorcerer. His work focuses on geomancy, cunning-craft, grimoires, and folk necromancy. He makes the podcast Radio Free Golgotha with his co-host with the co-most, Jesse Hathaway Diaz; is an editor on the Folk Necromancy in Transmission series for Revelore Press; and collaborates with many excellent colleagues on a range of audio, textual, and sorcerous projects. Dr Cummins can be found and booked for consults at: www.alexandercummins.com
Ugo Dossi, “Art is a tool of telepathy and drawings can be magical objects. Just the fact that a few lines on any surface have the power to bring memories, emotions and inner attitudes to life in the viewer, is magic” (2002). The art of Ugo Dossi revolves around the creativity of the unconscious; the sensual and the supersensual. It plays with archetypal and collective images, with automatic drawings, with topological models, and with paranormal phenomena. Typical of his work is his handling of forms that represent the boundless; which lead into the perception of the infinite and incomprehensible behind everything. His installations have been shown twice at Documenta (Documenta 6 and Documenta 8), at the Venice Biennial (1986 and 2011), Paris Biennal (1975), and Buenos Aires Biennal (2000), as well as in numerous solo exhibitions in international museums and art institutes.www.ugodossi.com
Jesse Hathaway Diaz is a folklorist, diviner, artist and performer living in New York City. With initiations in several forms of witchcraft from both Europe and the Americas, he is also a lifelong student of Mexican Curanderismo, a priest of Obatalá in the Lucumí orisha tradition, and a Tatá Quimbanda. He is also a member of the experimental theatre group Dzieci, based in New York City. He is the goat-half of www.wolf-and-goat.com, a store specializing in occult art, esoterica and materia magica from many traditions including Traditional Craft and Quimbanda. His blog can be found at www.serpentshod.com His writings have been published by Scarlet Imprint and by Revelore Press, where he also co-edits the Folk Necromancy in Transmission Series. Along with Dr. Al Cummins, he is a co-host of the Radio Free Golgotha podcast.
Haukur Ingi Jónasson (b. 1966) is an assistant professor in leadership, management and organization behavior in the School of Technology and Engineering at Reykjavik University. He is the director of the Masters in Project Management (MPM) of the university. He holds a Theology degree from the University of Iceland, and a PhD in Psychiatry and Religion from Union Theological Seminary in New York and has clinical certifications in pastoral counseling from The HealthCare Chaplaincy Inc. and in psychoanalysis from the Harlem Family Institute in New York. He has also pursued business education at the Indiana University School of Business and the Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh Business School. He is the co-founder of the Nordica Consulting Group and a research affiliate at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of the Sciences and the Arts. He is the co-author of five books on management in Icelandic and book titled Project Ethics published by Gower/Ashgate (now Routledge) in the UK.
Kadmus is a published academic with a Ph.D. in philosophy teaching at the college level. He is also a practicing ceremonial magician with a long-standing relationship to the ancient Celtic deities. He has published extensively on the Gods and Radicals website as well as in The Fenris Wolf. He recently published True to the Earth: Pagan Political Theology through Gods and Radicals Press.
Langston Kahn is a New York City based shamanic practitioner specializing in emotional healing and radical transformation. He stands firmly at the crossroads, his practice informed by Inner Relationship Focusing, initiations into traditions of the African Diaspora, the contemporary shamanic tradition of The Last Mask Community and the guidance of his helping spirits and ancestors weaving it all together.
Koshka is a fifty year old Colorado native. She was active in the Denver punk scene in the mid to late eighties and began collaboration with Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth in 1988. She helped with answering mail, printing and distributing books and essays as well as coordinating campouts. In 1990 she moved to Texas and helped run the T.O.P.Y. access point there until 1992. She completed her degree in Anthropology after an archaeology field school in Belize focussing on Mayan studies. She went on to do several tours with the band Crash Worship in the U.S. and Europe. Her extensive collection of personal journals and photographs, along with the bulk of surviving T.O.P.Y. documents are among her archives. She currently resides in Denver, Colorado and travels to Belize whenever possible.
Dr Simon Magus BSc (Hons) MB BS MA PhD is a psychiatrist with a special interest in Early Intervention Psychosis. He studied medicine in London at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, now part of the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. After qualifying, he taught Anatomy as the Royal College Prosector to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and as an associate lecturer in Anatomy and Embryology at the University of Glasgow. After initially following a surgical path, he changed to psychiatry in 1996. Simon’s interest in esotericism predates his medical studies by a number of years. He completed an MA in Western Esotericism at EXESESO (The Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism), The University of Exeter in 2008/9. His thesis was entitled Austin Osman Spare and the Conquest of the Imaginal: Paranoia, Metanoia and Phronesis of the Magical Mind. He is interested in the interplay of descriptive psychopathology and the phenomenology of magical praxis, and spirituality and psychosis. During his MA studies he developed broad perspectives in esotericism on subjects including alchemy and its transmission to the Latin West, Alexandrian Hermetism and Renaissance Kabbalah. His specialist field of enquiry currently centres on Victorian and Edwardian literary expressions of occultism, having completed a PhD at Exeter with the thesis Rider Haggard and the Imperial Occult: Hermetic Discourse and Romantic Contiguity. He is a member of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism.
Katrina Makkouk is a graduate of Clemson University where she earned her Master’s degree in English. She moved from South Carolina to the West Coast in 2010 where she still pursues her love of literature through poetry and writing. Her primary research interests are modernism and how occult philosophy and methodology are applied in literature. She published her study on the occultist elements seen within the works of Ezra Pound—most notably focusing on The Pisan Cantos.
Kasper Opstrup is a writer and researcher based in Copenhagen. He is the Danish translator of, among others, Alexander Trocchi and William Burroughs and is currently finishing a monograph with the tentative title An Imaginary Kingdom in the Wastelands of the Real: On Art, Esotericism and the Politics of Hope. His most recent book is The Way Out: Invisible Insurrections and Radical Imaginaries in the UK Underground from 1961 to 1991 (Minor Compositions, 2017).
Elisabeth Punzi is a licensed psychologist, PhD and a lecturer at the Department of Psychology at Gothenburg University (GU). She leads a project concerning heritage and health at the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies, GU and teaches psychoanalytic theory, psychology of religion and qualitative research methods, and many other topics. Her research concerns clinical practice, critical psychology/psychiatry, the importance of expressive arts for health and recovery as well as Jewish identity, heritage and congregational life.
Siegfried de Rachewiltz is an ethnologist, anthropologist, curator and Director of Schloss Brunnenburg, Südtirol.
Charlotte Rodgers is an animist and magickian who lives in Somerset, England. Author of various books including ‘P is for Prostitution’ and ‘The Sky is a Gateway Not a Ceiling’, Charlotte has also contributed to many magazines and anthologies. She is also an artist who creates sculptures from remnants of death and discarded objects. Her art has been exhibited widely and she has spoken about various aspects her work at Edinburgh and Leicester University, numerous conferences, and the Museum of Morbid Anatomy in New York.
Anna Sebastian is an artist exploring the intersection of occultism, art and psychoanalysis. She is interested in the utilisation of symbols by painters and how, in image making, networks forgotten, unseen, or unspoken might be revealed. Her artistic research examines how images made can become a key to the collective unconscious and the sacred, and their capacity to reveal the destructive and banal relationships modern cultures have with objects and images. Sebastian has a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London, and exhibits in London and internationally. Recent exhibitions include the Ghetto Biennale, Port au prince, and DOX Gallery, Prague. She is currently involved in a project at the Philadelphia Association, London, investigating the nine mystical gates through a series of themed lectures.
Vanessa Sinclair, Psy.D. is a psychoanalyst from New York City, who is now based in Stockholm and sees clients internationally. She is the editor of Rendering Unconscious: Psychoanalytic Perspectives, Politics & Poetry (Trapart Books, 2019), co-editor of On Psychoanalysis and Violence: Contemporary Laconian Perspectives (Routledge, 2018) with Dr. Manya Steinkoler, and author of Switching Mirrors (Trapart Books, 2016). Dr. Sinclair hosts the Rendering Unconscious podcast, addressing the state of psychoanalysis and mental health care, politics, the arts, culture and current events. She is a founding member of Das Unbehagen: A Free Association for Psychoanalysis, and arranges psychoanalytic conferences internationally.
Hans-Peter Söder is an intellectual historian at the department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Wayne State University (Detroit, USA). He has a joint appointment as the resident director of the Junior Year in Munich at the University of Munich. He is member of the executive board of The International Society for the Study of European Ideas (ISSEI) and an advisory editor of The European Legacy. Editor of the cultural journal Wendepunk.t he has elsewhere published widely in the area of technology, philosophy, and culture. His most recent monograph Metalogicon: Eine Liebeserklärung an die Philosophie appeared in 2016 and his most current publication “Pain is Good: Warburg`s and Heidegger`s Iconological Struggle Against Technological Modernity” will appear in IKON in 2019.