Lepidopterism

The Wanderings of a Butterfly Collector

The Venereal Christian

I’ve published this zine in an effort to expand the theological imagination because, right now, the popular conception of “God” is rather shallow, boring, and authoritarian. I’m tired of racist Imperialists having a monopoly on the imaginings of the Divine – “God” is only a jealous totalitarian because Fundamentalists crave a jealous totalitarian regime.

I say, Fuck that! The Great Mystery is so much more nuanced and expansive than a predicate for war and greed.

So here is a zine for the mystical renegade, the anarchic queer, the trouble-making feminist, the sex-positive, anti-consumerist, dissenting Christian (and non-Christian folk alike).

It is called the “The Venereal Christian”. If you enjoy it and would like to contribute for the second issue, please let me know. All topics welcome, from esoterica to witchcraft to radical theologies to Jesus to Venus and Beyond.

The Venereal Christian 1

EPSON MFP image

 

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Poetry Unfurled into Swathes of Sequins

You are a stool pidgeon and
A slanderer, a pimp and
A cheat, a pederast and
A troublemaker. I can’t
Understand, Vacerra, why
You don’t have more money.
_

That poem was written in the first century A.D. by Latin poet, Marcus Valerius Martialis (translated by Kenneth Rexroth)

And here is another poem, sexy and eloquent, found in the collection of King Hala of the Indian continent also of the first century (translated by David Ray);

The newly wed girl, pregnant already,
asked what she liked about the honeymoon,
cast a glance at her husband,
but not at his face.
_

The beauty of poetry dawned upon me just two weeks ago. With an anthology of world poetry in my lap I sifted through the cultures and ages of brilliant thoughts and songs. Each piece had a poignant twist or turn –  It seemed the poets in the anthology were master riddlemakers, mixing old words into new contexts, creating invisible music boxes to be unlocked. Aha!

_
INSOMNIA

When the bird of sleep
thought to nest
in my eye

It saw the eyelashes
and flew away
for fear of nets

-Abu Amir ibn al-Hammarah of the 12th century, from Arabic translated by Cola Franzen

Here is Su Tung-p’o of 11th century China, contemplating the birth of his son:

Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent
I, through intelligence,

Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.
_

Sometimes the riddle doesn’t surprise with a quick turn of metaphor; sometimes the riddle unfurls slowly and lush – a gentle dawning of an affirmation, such as this short gloss of an anonymous Celt of the 9th century:

A wall of woodland overlooks me.
A blackbird sings me a song (no lie!).

Above my book, with its lines laid out;
the birds in their music sing to me.

The cuckoo sings clear in a lovely voice
in his grey cloak from a bushy fort.
I swear it now, God is good!
It is lovely writing out in the wood.

__

I hope one day to write poems as beautiful as these~

Here is a poem I translated from Nahuatl, from a 13th century Aztec king, Cuacuauhtzin of Tepechpan:

My dear, sweet mother
when I die bury me under your oven
so when you go there to make bread,
there, you will cry for me.

And if someone were to ask you;
“My dear, sweet mother, why do you cry?”
You will tell them that the firewood is still green
and the smoke makes you cry.

In this poem of lament, the mother is instructed to hide her grief by blaming the fresh, smokey firewood. However, we know that she is crying because lost her son. In this instance, the poet has woven the son into the symbol of fresh green firewood – he is the heat that bakes the bread which nourishes his mother.
104_06_2

The Grand Cosmic Fuck, or, The Secret Art of Reading Tarot Cards

You don’t need superconductors, financial advisers, or tarot cards to discover the secret to Life.

The Keys to “Why?” and “How?” can be found in the song of the yellow birds, dust lofting through the afternoon light of your window, rainbow radiating from an oil slick, color of your mom’s hat, pinstripe suit, bloody lip, dew in the grass, throb of a black eye, child digging through trash, smell of seagulls, waxing moon, the time of death of your cousin George, shape of the staircase you ascended when you finally realized the inferences of Schrödinger’s equation.

As a very clear example, let’s take the Codex Seraphinianus, an absurdist encyclopedia by Luigi Serafini:

Screen shot 2016-07-27 at 2.42.36 PM

This illustration, the very first illustration in the tome, depicts the beginning of Existence. The essence of creation is succinctly captured in what appears to be a Eukaryote cell bird thing. I’d also argue that it symbolically captures the nature of a Fractal. If you cannot see the subliminal reference, allow me to show another picture:

 

 

reproductive-anatomy-adult-male-female-physiology-sexual-intercourse-all-layers-named-easy-editing-44834385

Coitus, Intercourse, Sex ~ Yes, the “Immaculate Conception”. Nothing can be born without the coming together of entities. Put more poetically:

The Universe is one big bang; for
what is sex but bodies in collision?
Planets, atoms, humans, birds and worms
feed and birth, expand, become
the electrical charge of tactile ecstasy.

Whether flowers, moss, fish, fungus – it is the intermingling of cells which form new bodies. One could argue that the subliminal bird/coitus image only depicts one type of procreation – mating among sexual dimorphs – and thus cannot be considered a key for all types of life. I’d counter argue with a reminder that our organs are colonies of creatures evolved over eons to symbiotically co-habitate. Yes, you, a walking sack of blood cells, are a squirming tower of molecular animals randomly generated by the quirks of perpetual chemical reactions. Brain cells, liver cells, skin cells, sperm cells, mammary gland cells, are living and breathing and have their own processes of reproduction.

With all this in mind, it brings us to the fractal nature of the illustration:

Screen shot 2016-07-27 at 4.53.48 PM

It can be interpreted as: a bird consisting of cells (macro) and eukaryotic cells consisting of organelles (micro), it is sex between creatures and it is sex with itself, it has lines that imply motion yet it is static, it is a fantasy of the mind yet it exists as a drawing, etc.

Of course, all these things I pointed out are binaries (a.k.a sexual dimorphs), but the closer we look at a binary the more we see the complex interplay of multiple entities (male and female, or colonies and colonies of cells? Sun and moon, or conglomeration of elements and gravity?).

As a refresher, a fractal is an infinitely repeating pattern. No matter how close you “zoom” in, it will always yield the same form.

As notable Discordian, Professor Calamus, explains;

“The closer you observe something, the more complex it becomes. Try to measure the length of a coastline. The more accurate ruler you use, the more detail is revealed, and the longer the coastline will become. When we talk about complex things, like economy, we are only capable of describing it by generalizing and observing recurring patterns. Yet, even economists do not have an exact understanding of economy”

Speaking of the fractal nature of the universe, Calamus also stated;

“The universe is infinitely complex but graspable because it contains recurring patterns. Every bit of the big picture is present in the most minute detail.”

Essentially, the shape and depth of the universe is the eternal shape and depth of itself – we exist in a tautology!

****

I’ve used Serafini’s abstract bird/coitus illustration as an example of how we can find, imbue, and discover meaning in all things (I, obviously, have sex and biology on the brain). This delightful drawing has become a mirror into a truth of reality. Additionally, the closer we look at an object or event, the more nuanced and encompassing it becomes.

Even beyond symbolisms and metaphors, there are physical connections: How many of us are distant cousins of Serafini, sharing grandparents along the ancestral family tree?  Speaking of trees, don’t our bodies share the same molecular material as the paper on which he drew, and the inks with which he colored? Wasn’t the illustrator affected by social, ecological, and political events that continue to affect us today? Did the drawing not sprout from the same type of consciousness we have?

As I said before, the more we zoom into the crevices of these questions, the harder it is for us to distinguish metaphor from actuality and fantasy from science. It becomes blurred and indistinguishable – a nausea as described by Antoine Roquentin in Sartre’s novel, Le Nausée.

*****

Let me tie it all together with sex again:

My limbs fondle the sky
as the sky penetrates my lungs –
Oxygen seeding blood,
sliding through my flesh
igniting organs in a fantastically smutty fuck;
bacteria, mitochondria, synapses, muscles, sugars, fats, melanin, memories, visions, carbon dioxide
pulsing, throbbing, uniting, rotting –
the ceaseless shag of transubstantiation.

I am a walking bacchanalia
coursing through the celestial orgy
a divine masturbation,
an Immaculate Conception,

What is an ouroboros but the pleasure of receiving oneself?

Ouroboros

 

 

Letter to the Park Church

Dear Park Church

I seek God uncharted. It is not a God conceived by prior people nor one decreed by institutional doctrine – It is a living God, as unique as it is limitless.

It is the fragrance of myrtle and it is the sun on my flesh. But It is more than a passive spirit – It is a mysterious essence which moves, lifts, and brings abundance; It is more real than the earth we stand on.

When you realize God, Life becomes everlasting and you become a seeker of Life, fearless of “consequences” and indifferent to conventional wisdom, because you know, deep down, that Christ is with you and within you.

If you are curious to taste the Mystical Body, plunge into your fears. Walk into the void and you’ll discover that the angels walk with you.

The difficult part is trying to explain this sensation which cannot be rationalized by human means. It is beyond science and beyond logic. Paul, too, couldn’t rationalize it; “We walk by faith, not by sight. ”  

 Park Church~! Blossom your mustard seed. You will bear fruit! You are a body of many faiths and practices and diverse goals and hopes. Hold strong and step into the unknown with hearts open.

Christianity is the togetherness of your many faiths. It is not Jesus versus Krishna; it is Jesus and Krishna.

Christianity is the height of your best hospitality. It is not requiring your guest to follow your customs; it is letting your guest perform their customs in your home.

Christianity is the refusal to accept injustice. It is not passively subordinating yourself to a corrupt system; it is actively liberating yourself and others from that system. You will break the law because you know it is corrupt – it is called Civil Disobedience and it is a Christian act.

Christianity is self-sacrifice for the sake of those who have less. It is not “I need to help myself first in order to help you”; it is “I will help you before I worry about me”.

Park Church, it has been an honor and a blessing to be part of your communion. In contributing to you, I have discovered myself. Let others play with you, let others beat you up, let others take from you and give you back, let others sing praise for you and others burn you out and build you up. Let others nourish you and others be fed by you. Let others misplace you and others find you again.

***

I leave you with an excerpt from Life’s most sacred sermon:

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer them your other cheek as well. If anyone steals your coat, do not even withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who begs and ask for nothing in return.  

If you love those who love you, what credit is that for you? If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you?

 Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; Forgive and you will be forgiven; Give and it shall be given to you.

Where exactly is “Heaven”?

“The Kingdom of Heaven is upon you”
-Gospel of Luke 11:20

 

“His disciples said to him, ‘When will the rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?’ Jesus said to them, ‘What you look for has come, but you do not know it’.”
-Gospel of Thomas 51

 

“Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
-Gospel of Luke 17:20-21

 

“His disciples said to him, ‘When will the kingdom come?’. He answered, ‘It will not be said ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘Look, there it is.’ Rather, the Father’s kingdom is spread out upon the earth and people do not see it’.”
-Gospel of Thomas 113

 

“Jesus said, ‘If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside you and it is outside you”
-Gospel of Thomas 3

 

“And then if any person shall say to you, ‘Lo, here is Christ’; or, ‘lo, he is there’; believe him not.”
– Gospel of Mark 13:21

 

“Be on your guard so that no one deceives you by saying, ‘Look over here!’ or ‘Look over there!’ For the Child of True Humanity exists within you. Follow it! Those who search for it will find it.”
-Gospel of Mary 4:3-7

Ascete

Mendicant: a beggar

From the latin root “Mendus” –> Fault

Amend –> without fault

Amend   –> Truth, certainty (From Greek “Amen” from Hebrew “Aman”)

The english “D” descends from Greek “Δ” (Delta), which came from Hebrew “ד” (Dalet –> Door*)

…i (the self) Sing (chant –> Chanter [French] –> Cantare [Latin])!

Mendicant: one who is without yet has everything.

 

_____________
*opened or closed?

 

 

 

 

 

Alphbts ≈ Hrglyphs

As these years pass and digital technology further implants itself into our skin (we are moving from smartphones to smartwatches : computers in our pockets to computers attached to our bodies), English writing is evolving away from phonetic spelling and assuming more logographic spelling.

The casual observer already notices and experiences this with various textisms (omg, ttyl, lol, brb), emoticons, and the l33tsp33k of several internet subcultures. I would like to demonstrate this orthographic evolution with formal linguistic examples. Additionally, I argue that the English spelling system is already heavily logographic. What is written below are just some musings and beginnings of potential explorations.

**

There are four main types of writing: Asemic, Semasiographic, Logographic, and Phonographic.

Asemic writing is wordless writing without semantic content. Not specific to any language, asemic writing is free abstraction that suggests the possibility of semantic content. Styles range from scrawl to calligraphy and beyond.

(more examples of Asemic writing can be found here: http://thenewpostliterate.blogspot.com/)

Semasiographic writing uses glyphs to signify general ideas. These symbols are not dependent to any specific language. Road signs, emojis, and hobo signs are a few examples of semasiographic writing.

Catalog of Hobo Signs

from a flight safety card

Glottographic writing uses glyphs to represent specific language structures. There are two branches of writing under the glottographic umbrella: logographic writing and phonographic writing.

Logographic writing uses glyphs to represent specific ideas (such as “love”) and grammar morphemes (like the subfix –ing in “loving”). Cuniform and Chinese writing are examples of logographic writing. The ampersand (&) is a formal logographic example in English writing.

Babylonian Cuniform

Phonographic writing uses glyphs to represent the sounds of a language. Germanic languages, Romance languages, Semitic languages, languages of India, etc. use phonetic systems. Phonographic writing has further classifications (Syllabic, Segmental, and Featural, but we won’t get into those specifics).

Sample of Lepcha writing from Northern India. Used by Buddhist Missionaries

Sample of Lepcha writing from Northern India. Used by Buddhist Missionaries

Sample of Coptic writing of Egypt. A close relative of the Greek Alphabet.

Sample of Coptic writing of Egypt. A close relative of the Greek Alphabet.

A sample of traditional Mongolian script. A phonetic alphabet written from top to bottom.

A sample of traditional Mongolian script. A phonetic alphabet written from top to bottom.

Egyptian hieroglyphs, Maya script and the Japanese writing system are examples that mix logographic and phonographic writing. Sometimes the glyphs are specific ideas and sometimes the glyphs represent sounds to utter.

m34-37a

Sample of Maya script from the “Madrid Codex”

**

English writing is not as phonetic as we pretend it is. It seems to be moving towards something akin to hieroglyphs.

Example: The word “Right” is a homophone to “Rite”. But, a few centuries ago, “Right” wasn’t a homophone to anything. It was pronounced ReeHt (hard “h” [or rixt in IPA]). Yet we keep the Middle English spelling despite no longer being phonetically similar. A fascination with classical Greek and Roman culture in the 15th and 16th centuries altered the spelling of words to better reflect their etymological roots. “Debt” used to be spelled as “Det”, but a silent “b” was added to reflect that it came from the latin “debitum”.

The centuries that have passed produced a rich vocabulary with countless peculiar quirks in spelling (I before E except after C unless it’s “Weird Science” lol), but this isn’t to say that our spelling system is ridiculous and without reason. English orthography is unique because it showcases etymological elaborations and language cross-pollination (The long E in “Thief” “Pier” and “Achieve” reveal French roots, while “Deer”, “Keep”, and “Tree” reveal Germanic roots). Other European languages, such as Spanish, use strict phonetic writing; a Spanish word is pronounced as it is written, thus it is hard to sink into that words developmental history.

“What irregular spellings tend to do is increase the general visual distinctiveness of words, whether they are homophones or not,” writes Geoffrey Sampson, a scholar in writing systems. A general visual distinctiveness, Sampson argues, renders words quickly and easily recognizable. In terms of reading, we become less dependent on sounding out words in order to understand them and more savvy on recognizing how the words look to determine what it is.

Thus, English writing’s irregular spelling and wide array of possible letter sequences points towards a logographic script. If I spelled a series of words without any vowels after the first letter, you will still be able to read (or, at least, correctly determine) what was written: Ardvrk, Brght, Wtrmln, Flxbl, Knf, Nght. The visual distinctiveness of these words helps us determine what they signify. Of course, there are still many words that depend on the phonographs of vowels: Dp = deep, dip, dope, dupe? Frg = frog, forge?

There have been only a handful of studies examining the relationship between reading and writing cognitive development. English speaking children are more likely to read visually distinct words successfully (such as school, night, brain) but are more likely to misspell them. Likewise, words which are phonologically regular but offer less visual distinction (mat, bat, pin, dip) are more likely to be spelled correctly but read incorrectly. Uta Frith, a psychololinguist, has argued that, for writing systems in general, “the ideal orthography is incompatible with the ideal for reading”.

**

I have barely looked at the implications and functions of English writing in the context of digital technology. There, a harder push towards logographic script is being made with emails, texting, emojis, and hashtags. I was recommended a book regarding the development of writing in the English digital world called “Digital Shift” by Jeff Scheible, so I’m gonna be looking into that next.

These are merely preliminary observations on what I’ve noticed in English writing. I plan on experimenting more with English as a logographic script and play with its possibilities via poetry, (in)formal research, and cataloging anarchist and exploratory abecedariums of children.

There are other perspectives to ponder in the world of writing systems, such as geopolitics and alphabets (The Development of Korean Hangul), the evolution of spiritual thought and alphabets (Hieroglyphs, Alchemy, and Kabbalah), social conditioning and alphabets (spelling bees?), among other weird entry points.

Floating Among Object Oriented Ontology and Moral Relativism is Nihilistic Biology

 

Ouroboros

 

The ouroboros, a snake engulfing its own tale, is symbol of the universe and of the universal manner: We are the cause, the process, and the end. The image itself is circular, cyclical, like a mandala, evoking the infinite ratio of Pi. The shape is akin to the zero, the arabic numeral for nothing – it is a hole / it is whole. As the old hermetic idiom goes, “What is above is below”.  It is the ultimate symbol of the spiritual path in the Western mystical tradition.

 

But how does my inner pessimist see the ouroboros?

 

The snake depends on itself for its own nurturance. It is a self-legitimating, self-causal loop unable to free itself from its own solipsistic paradigm.

***

When you interact with an object, a person, a space, et cetera, you are viewing it through the window of your ego, your memories, your expectations. You cannot separate your self as you interact with an object.

 

Yes, you can try to look at whatever thing as objectively as possible (Photosynthesis, the process of evolution, the chemical composition of wood), but all things we observe are still held through the eyes and minds of humans. Meaning and purpose is given to all objects. Even things which are considered “meaningless” are relegated the categories of “useless”, “insignificant”, “absurd”, and are approached as such. It is impossible to see objects as they are, free from all personal projections. Throughout our lifespan, we nurture feedback loops of meaning, purpose, and function. Aesthetics, morals, toasters, tables, democrats, music, spirituality and the rest are all pretty arbitrary in a world of pure biology.

 

I’m not saying it’s bad – I’m just noting what I see 😛

 

Ancient Melodies Reimagined

Ahh, please listen to my latest compositional work and tell me what you think ~ It is a 4 movement string quartet 😀

It utilizes gregorian melodies, fragmenting them like stained glass windows, letting them slowly billow in the air like incense rising to heaven.

Featuring Lavinia Pavlish and Marina Kifferstein on violin, Kallie Ciechomski on viola, and Marial Roberts on cello.

***

It is available to download from Soundcloud.

If you like the music, please visit this website and donatezyxonian.com
This project was a pretty penny from my shallow pocket, so now I’m trying to recoup my losses

If you have questions, comments, ideas, please shoot me a line ~ I’ve been feeling very adventurous lately.
Thanks a lot ^_^

Self-Flagellation and Other Sexy Ways to Bake Bread

I’m an organist for a Lutheran church, so every Sunday I watch the few attendees scramble up to the altar for their favorite ceremony; devouring the flesh and imbibing the blood of their deity. They call it “Communion” or “Eucharist”, but the practice of eating a deity is formally known as deiphagy and was a common ritual among antique religions and cults of Mediterranean. Apparently, eating the transubstantiated wafer is a moment of remembrance of the covenant and salvation of Jesus Christ. Not surprisingly, no matter how many salvation wafers I’ve seen them eat, these same church-goers continue to express the love of hoarding money, the fear of non-Christians, the resentment of the Christians who worship across the street, and the idolatry of their own fancy building (just to name a few of the luscious cognitive dissonances I witness).

I can guarantee you this is not particular to my church. This willful ignorance, paranoia, and pursuit for comfort penetrates many churches – It pierces other religious practices – It pervades our politics and economies, saturating governments and societies. We justify it as the human condition. In a world ravaged by the insatiable hunger for comfort and ease, no wonder Christians find peace in thoughtlessly consuming the body and drinking the blood of Christ; eating that little wafer is the most painless action to achieve “Everlasting Life” (even the phrase “Everlasting Life” circumvents that uncomfortable notion of dying). When those church-goers eat their Lord, do they not see him hanging on the wall, bloodied, emaciated, naked, humiliated, and crucified?

When you partake in Christ’s body, it should be a gentle reminder to self-flagellate. As you chew, let it be a moment of meditation; “How do I destroy myself for the sake of those less fortunate? How do I wound myself, gore myself, whip myself, sacrifice my comforts and my body for the well-being of others?”

On his journey to the Golgotha, Jesus was publicly shamed and humiliated with 40 lashes. How can we publicly humiliate ourselves? How can we make ourselves vulnerable daily? We must let go of “personal reputation”. We must let go of social magnetism and privileged charisma. Humiliation is the sacred baptismal font that cleanses the ego from its dirty selfishness.

Execution by crucifixion was a special custom for those who committed treason against the Roman Empire. Jesus was executed because he was seen as treasonous. When sacrificing oneself for the sake of others, one should ask, “How should I commit treason?” We shall commit treason by any means necessary and we shall be caught and hung naked for the world to see our emaciated bodies, starved and gored for the sake of those oppressed. We shall not limit ourselves to treason against the government; We shall commit treason against societal expectations of being, treason against normalcies, treason against cultural values and aspirations, and treason against our own personal ideas and philosophies.

When Jesus hung on the cross, he cried out “Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani?” (My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?). But Jesus really knew that God did not forsook him. It was just an elaborate role-play ~ God is a Dominatrix. And God is Love. Love will whip us, and spit on us, ride us like a pony, laugh at our stripped bodies and humiliate us until we are broken. Only when we are laid bare, frightened and smashed can we glimpse the erotically divine ecstasy of total passion.[1] As Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran, eloquently expresses:

 

 

For even as Love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

 

 

Which brings us back to eating Jesus’ body. In my radical Christian theology, eating Jesus should not be a remembrance of an unconditional promise of everlasting life. Instead, eating Jesus should be a reminder of how we can become bread for others. When our bodies have become nothing but food for those who have nothing, only then can we consider ourselves saved.

[1] from Late Latin passionem (nominative passio) “suffering, enduring,” from past participle stem of Latin pati “to suffer, endure”.