Page 1

1


Shamanic Geometries + Synthetic Cosmology Constructing an Alternative Narrative of the City Duane McLemore 18 / 06 / 2010 Tutor: Shaun Murray email: duanemclemore@gmail.com course blog: duanemclemore.wordpress.com references blog: archiviva.wordpress.com word count:4460 body only, 6800 with appendix

3


Contents: 01.

Title Page

04. 08. 18. 26. 38. 46. 52.

Introduction City Scale System Scale Local Scale Symbolic Scale Ritual Scale Conclusion

61. 63.

Bibliography Appendix

5


Altar: ”a table or flat-topped block on which religious offerings are made” and “the table in a Christian church at which the bread and wine are consecrated in communion services.” (Compact OED. 2010h.) Ritual: “a religious or solemn ceremony involving a series of actions performed according to a set order“ (ibid. 2010j.)


Network of Locations - Relationship of Key Points in Bold

7


Process Map to Determine Sites - Significan Ley Lines in Gold Ink


This project is the creation of an altar. This will be a portable artefact which, through ritual use at selected locations, will engage them in a critical dialogue. Through the process of constructing the altar and ritual performed there, the practitioner also creates “shamanic” identity. Upon the altar, drawings will be produced as a response to the specific context in relation to the system. The process followed to construct these is synthetic (and syncretic), and operates on fives scales: the citywide, the systemwide, the local, the symbolic, and the ritual scales. The levels are concerned with either quantitative and qualitative conditions. Each consists of a primary technique of operation: in descending order these are surveying, quantifying, psychogeography, symbolizing, and manipulation. By working through each method, the practitioner engages that specific level of inquiry. The transformation of the information via each mode is evidenced by the drawings and artefacts produced. In this way, conditions and effects from all scales are brought into dialogue. Using a subjective map to create a personal narrative of the city is practised every day by (arguably) all individuals, but typically within logics defined by society. This aggregation of “objective” criteria is simple, requiring no thought or logic other than bricolage. Rather than a questionable assemblage of socially accepted values, this project separates itself from the everyday city by employing values deemed suspect (if not spurious) under conventional logic. These values are however coded within locations deemed by society to be of high importance such as churches, tourist and recreation destinations, and landmark buildings.

9


City Scale shaman /shaymn, shammn/ • noun (especially among some peoples of northern Asia and North America) a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits. — DERIVATIVES shamanic /shmannik/ adjective shamanism noun shamanistic adjective. — ORIGIN Tungus (a language of Siberia). (Compact OED. 2010k.) geometry /jiommitri/ • noun (pl. geometries) 1. the branch of mathematics concerned with the properties and relations of points, lines, surfaces, and solids. 2. the shape and relative arrangement of the parts of something. — DERIVATIVES geometrician noun.— ORIGIN Greek, from ge ‘earth’ + -metres ‘measurer’. (Compact OED. 2010m.)


Network of Locations Highlighted Out From Ley Finding Map

11


The City scale takes as its input the city of everyday experience and establishes an alternative system.1 London provides a rich field of symbols and urban conditions whose meanings can be reconfigured at will. In order to limit this large set, the initial operation is to define a narrow system for action. The graphic novel From Hell and the redesign of Rome by Sixtus the Fifth employ geometric overlay to define an urban system, and their models are useful here. In his landmark graphic novel From Hell, Alan Moore employs a plot device wherein the primary character, Dr. Gull “constructs” a pentagram across the city of London by visiting its points. The points defined by the locations of various landmarks - most notably, Nicholas Hawksmoor’s churches.2 Gull says this is a coded symbol from Freemasonry hidden by Hawksmoor. This symbol invokes a spell intended to bind the power of sacred sites of ancient “Diana worship.” These matriarchal sects he says have battled for spiritual power with Apollonian patriarchal sects for millennia.3 Gull frames Freemasonry as an Apollonian sect. He believes that through his actions he is enacting the Masonic “Great Work,” spiritual transformation through the process of alchemical refinement. (Wikipedia. 2010b.) By imposing the rigidity of euclidean geometry over the otherwise chaotic city, Gull is attempting to lay down a closed system.4 In writing the plot, using spatial navigation to “decode” meaning provides a strong narrative and context. The author admits that it is a fictitious construction, (Moore. 2006. Appendix 1. p. 9) but by mapping a spiritual battle across a landscape filled with strange locations and phenomena, Moore uses the potential of traversing space to construct a narrative.

13


The Boulevards of Sixtus the Fifth - Map after Bacon

80 Four-Point “Ley Lines” from 137 Random Points


In the 16th century, Pope Sixtus the Fifth massively altered the future development of Rome by proposing straight boulevards as a route for ceremonial procession to St. Peter’s Cathedral. Now complete, this enables easier transit of pilgrims to the cathedral and creates dramatic tension in approach, as the cathedral is the ultimate goal of their course, spiritually and spatially. (Bacon. p. 130155) But the concept of these lines possessing innate mystical significance would have to wait until the 20th century. Albert Watkins published The Old Straight Track in 1925, publicizing the idea that many of the sacred and historical sites of England were sited along possibly deliberate straight-line paths known as “Ley Lines.” Watkins implied no mystical connotations, but some time after the publication of the book this term was applied to the concept of a spiritual connection existing between these sites; and further that the entire system is indicative of the flows of “earth energies” and other ideas of “new-age spirituality.”5 In his book London’s Ley Lines: Paths to Enlightenment, author Christopher Street expands the scope of work on the four lines Watkins initially identified within London, finding that they intersect more spiritual sites than Watkins realized. He continues by suggesting other leys, and he explains in depth the mystical significance and healing powers of walking these lines.6 (Street. 197.) Although Hawksmoor’s fictitious use of mystical operations between holy sites across London would predate The Old Straight Track by two hundred years, the idea was heavily influential upon the formation of this conspiracy theory.7

15


Diagram of Key Locations Encountered by Constructing Leys


Even in The Old Straight Track, Watkins points out (Wikipedia. 2010c.) the fact that “leys” can be found within any random distribution of points, and to statistically limit their occurrence to those of possible significance, only lines which intersected four or more points should be considered valid. The lines can in fact be used to connect any two points desired and extended, adding to the list of significant points at will as new ones are encountered. This provides an appearance of rigour in their selection. Choosing points to incorporate based upon fairly narrow criteria, for example connecting only sites of cultural significance or ceremonial use, gives this method an appearance of rigour that obscures the artifice of a charlatan - or prankster. When applied to a map, these straight tracks mark ideal figures laid across the form of the city regardless of traditional routes such as “streets.” In this way, they can be used to form an alternative network seemingly unencumbered by the demands of such conditions. Ley Lines are the features used to narrow the scope of operation and define this system. See the included illustration (see Appendix 8 for description of the leys) for the rubric of selection. These identify key points within the system. See Appendix 9 for a survey of one circuit. The practitioner is to confine themselves to this zone as completely as possible for the duration of study. Geometric layouts of the ley lines and diagrams of the points and lines of the system are output by this level. The diagrams allow study as a discrete object, and the maps allow study as an overlay of the existing city.10 This is a re-imagining of the lines of force in the city, along routes possibly mystical in nature. This mapping forms a limited system from them. Spurious as its origins are, the system has an internal consistency that allows coherent study at the System Scale. 17


Diagram of Original Network Based Upon Hawksmoor Sites

Diagram of Original Network as Baroque Decoration - The System and Symbolic Scales United


Ley Finding Map for New Network

Ley Finding Map with New Network

19


System Scale synthetic /sinthettik/ • adjective 1 made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product. 2 not genuine. • noun a synthetic substance, especially a textile fibre. — DERIVATIVES synthetically adverb. (Compact OED. 2010n.)

cosmology • noun (pl. cosmologies) 1 the science of the origin and development of the universe. 2 an account or theory of the origin of the universe. — DERIVATIVES cosmological adjective cosmologist noun. (ibid. 2010.p)


Chronology from Next Page Rendered as Duchampian “Stoppage”

21


Chronology of Route from Tufnell Park to Primrose Hill at One Minute Intervals


Next is an operation crucial to the entire proposition – exploration of the spaces encountered at the points defined by the ley lines to be of greater importance – intermediate crossings and nodes; junctions of “mystical” power. Walks are executed intently in order to chart measurable quantitative conditions. The key mode of practice is charting the convergences and divergences between the local geographies and urban geometries. Using photography, measurement, plotting, and similar techniques, empirical understanding of these conditions is built. Applying this rigour to constructing the system; synthetic or not, avoids the influence of the pseudo-objective criteria of the everyday city and frees it to be probed, measured, and recorded as desired. As well as generating plans for use in studying the locales of the system, the divergences between the idealized geometries and the empirical city creates figures which capture the tension between them. On one edge, the abstract system is registered, and on the other, the actual circuit of streets is poised against it. This is an operation similar to Marcel Duchamp’s Stoppages which use objective criteria to subvert rationality.11 These forms will be output at scale as map and model information; and as drafting tools for further operations. The differences between standard or ideal measures of time and the time scales required by navigation of the actual city are also registered. These generate form and choreography at the ritual scale by shaping its time-based characteristics. These include choreography, staging, and performance.

23


Marcel Duchamp. Three Standard Stoppages. Mixed Media.

Buddhist Sand Mandala. 2008.


In constructing sand mandalas, Buddhist monks study the content of the ritual in the meditative repetition of the act of its representation. Due to the situation of the practitioner within the mandala, a time-basis in the design has long been a feature of doing the work, and of understanding the work. Repetition connects each instance to its previous performances and creates a consecrated cycle.12 Central to understanding the work is the idea of the impermanence of the mandala. The act of constructing this complex artwork which will be erased soon after completion is an essential part of understanding its message of impermanence to the monk.13 The Navajo Indian mandala, like the Buddhist mandala, employs a set language of symbols, and is marked by its impermanence. This is due not to a lesson being conveyed to observers or practitoners, but to the disposal of the mandala as part of the healing ritual.14 C.G. Jung was an obsessive draughtsman of mandalas, and encouraged his patients to do the same. He considered them a direct product of the subconscious, opposed to speech or text which could not be. As such, their execution was a form of psychotherapy. (Jung. p.242.) These are useful models of the mandala as gestalt practice. The system constitutes a “mandala” - a closed system within which the practitioner acts. Wallace’s “separation” segment of ritual learning is invoked. (Wallace. p.239) The practitioner ignores the outside world and concentrates their attention on the ritual, using exercise to ritually reinforce this separation. (Wallace. p.55.)

25


Composite Site Plan / Site Section of Primrose Hill - Originally 1/1000


In creating the system, locations for performance of the ritual are explored via mapping the factors that influence each location. For example, sections can be cut precisely along the lines generated by the system, with plans, elevations, and diagrams describing the process of information gathering and of construction of the section line.15 Crucial are enlargements of the nodes and crossings of the leys, along with drawings quantifying their spatial and environmental relationships. These drawings are to then be used for overlay of psychogeographic information at the local scale. Construction of this belief system reinforced by spatial practice is a modern and synthetic version of the praxis achieved by Buddhist monks in the execution of sand mandalas. Through direct action upon the system scale, the practitioner not only observes the system quantitatively and maps the values found, but uses the results to construct the tools for representing it. These forms of practice are necessary in forming the Local Scale of intervention.

Rendered Site Model of Primrose Hill - Under Construction 27


Local Scale “The place activates the poet; the poet is drawn to a specific location, to activate a monologue that is already available there.� Iain Sinclair. (Radio Interview.)


Hawksmoor’s Looming Christ Church Spitalfields

Primrose Hill 10am January, 2010.

Primrose Hill. Sunset, April 2010. 29


Dialogue with Specific Local Conditions via Isolation of Sensing Mechanisms - Lavender Hill


Through walking the system again, the practitioner exposes its qualities through physical exercise.16 Although identical in size and physical execution to the mandala scale, this operation is wholly different: equipped with the information from the system scale, the practitioner exposes the psychogeography of the system. A model here is Iain Sinclair’s Lights Out for the Territory. In which the author walks a “V” through the city. He uses the graffiti tags encountered as basis for unfolding a narrative of the territory of his operation. (Sinclair. p.5. 1997.) Using this detritus, rather than qualities of generally assumed value is an act of détournement, and letting the context directly suggest the creation of the artistic work is psychogeography. Psychogeography is defined as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals” (Debord. 1955.) As in Sinclair’s example, these effects cannot be postulated: they must be experienced. Psychogeography is powerful because it operates on the scale of the practitioner and within a localized space or zone. The psychogeographic properties found at and between each node will shape the ritual, in both formation and performance. Psychogeography was popularized by artist Guy Debord, the art and polemics of his Situationist International attempted to literally transform the city based on “détournement” - misappropriation and diversion of the accepted narratives of use and meaning. The influence of Situationism culminated in the use of their slogans and ideas by the student insurgents of the 1968 riots and general strike in Paris. (Wikipedia. 2010d.) The dialogue between détournement and is inverse, recuperation, is a useful tactic for examining the history of significant sites in London. 31


Guy Debord. The Naked City.


Many Christian churches in London are reputed to have been founded upon pre-Christian (Druid or Roman) sites of worship, often sites dedicated to Apollo. Though blissfully unaware of Situationism, part of medieval Christianity’s goal was recuperating druid sites in the same way that the mainstream recuperates the ideas of fringe groups such as the Situationists. One very prominent location which has thus far escaped Christian recuperation - via church building, at least - is Primrose Hill. Directly to the north of what is now Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill is apocryphally said to be an ancient site of sun worship.17 William Blake saw the “Spiritual Apollo, his name is Satan” over it. (Damon. p.26) This shows Blake’s knowledge of its pagan significance. But he chose Primrose Hill as one of the sites of the columns upon which the new Jerusalem (from the biblical Book of Revelations) would be built. (Blake. p.470) Blake probably not only knew of this, but could have chosen Primrose Hill as a symbol for this reason.18 As a follower of Jakob Böhme, Blake believed that the world was propelled by the reconciliation of contraries. (Ackroyd. 151.) Without the biblical “fall of man” there was no chance for the salvation of Christ. To bring about heaven on earth, New Jerusalem, the evil of Armageddon was necessary.19 Since Primrose Hill was a site of pagan ritual, and unoccupied by a religious institution, it was an ideal setting to be recuperated by a dialectic with Christian redemption. Through reconciliation of countervailing forces such as good and evil, Blake believed that transcendence of both would be achieved, and heaven could be established on earth. Blake saw the whole of London dually as “Golgonooza.”20 This is a city allegorical for all of man’s creative and destructive efforts through which the new Jerusalem would be built. 33


Mandala - Constructed of Found Objects and Information from Site (Lavender Hill)


The invention of this ritual system unmasks these psychogeographic tensions. The project uses the ritual as a method not for recuperation, but of détournement of the culturally accepted meanings of the contexts. The ritual is a tactical intervention to draw forth these ambiguities between the contrary forces at work in the system and sites. A series of drawings will be produced focusing on the relationship of the practitioner to the locales, which will be overlaid with information at the ritual scale. From the system described at the system scale, the network of points has been established,21 and the practitioner is to confine themselves to this zone as completely as possible for the duration of study. The intent is to build knowledge of the system by direct experience rather than abstract analysis and to gain insider’s knowledge of the key areas.22 Similar to Sinclair’s model, “close reading” of the context will suggest meanings and symbols to be used in the Symbolic Scale. Since psychogeography is a poetic and qualitative undertaking, the only ways of gathering information which are wrong are those do not result in new and interesting information or decodings of the city.

35


Capturing Fragments via Clay Casting at Primrose Hill

Qualities Rendered Portable via Clay Casting


The artefacts are portable fragments of the mandala and when used in constructing the altar, they bring its meanings and implications into the sphere of the ritual. As such, they are chosen by their resonance or opposition with each other. Methods for capturing these fragments are: plaster casting, clay site-cast artifacts, site constructed models, tracings or rubbings, site drawings, and LiDar mapping. Key to the operation is selection of fragments based upon specificity of locale, strong emotional response or affect, and the evocation of changes in physiological state of the practitioner. Enlarged drawings of spaces within the system that will be used in the ritual will be required. These spaces also can only be found by experience. The quantitative drawings from the system scale are used to overlay details and particularities of the locales and psychogeographies. Uniting the two views of the territory, this operation readies the system for the Symbolic Scale.

Fragment Used in Controlled Setting - Engaged with Other Information to Construct “Meaning.�

37


Chronology (see p.19) as Multiple Exposure, Rather Than Sequence

Multiple Exposure of Fragment from Primrose Hill


Dialogue with Specific Local Conditions via Isolation of Sensing Mechanisms - Air Street

39


Symbolic Scale “When I do something shamanistic, I make use of the shamanistic element--admittedly an element of the past--in order to express something about a future possibility.� Joseph Beuys


Original Network (see p.16) as Rococo Decoration - The System and Symbolic Scales United

41


William Blake. Jerusalem. Plate 100. Coded with Many Symbols Important to His Cosmology.

Fortescue. Notation of Incensing. p.113

Fortescue. Plan of Cathedral. p.5


The symbolic scale23 is the most difficult phase of the operation, and possibly the most important. Through symbolism, the system is tied together as a coherent whole. By representation of ideas which recur, and those which distinguish each point, symbology unifies the mandala while preserving the distinctiveness of its locales. The gathered fragments become a language which become the content and regalia of the ritual. Prior to discovery of other sources, there are two useful references for symbolism: the Freemasons and the Church. Both have rich histories, direct involvement with the contexts, and already-significant ritual systems from which to synthesize new ideas. Hawksmoor is also germane at the symbolic scale. His churches are supposedly filled with coded symbolism referring to the imagery and ritual of the Freemasons; of which Hawksmoor was a devoted member. (Moore. ch. 4 p. 16) The spirit of Blake’s work has so permeated the formulation of this framework that some symbols and ideas are indispensable,24 and his narrative will be helpful in reading the psychogeographic context for symbolic content. We may not walk around London experiencing literal visions as he did, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring the same intensity and sensitivity to affect and context to engaging a dialogue with the city.25

43


Capturing Fragments via Clay Casting at Primrose Hill

Scanning Fragment


Key theoretical concepts in the symbolic operation are “sympathetic magic” and “participation mystique.” Sympathetic magic is an act of symbolic representation where the represented – often the object of a desire – through its construction creates a correspondence between the symbol and the initial object. Through its representation, the constructor is given power over it. This is traditionally thought to be the motive for Palaeolithic cave painting. The anthropologist Frobenius posits that the magical operation was not on the object depicted, but rather the object was depicted to prepare the mind for interaction with it. This is one aspect of the physiological self-imprinting practised by a shaman. (Wikipedia. 2010g.) Joseph Campbell identifies within this the action of Jung’s concept of participation mystique: (Samuels. 1986.) wherein the representation creates a “mystical”26 bond where the subject partially identifies with the object of representation. This also echoes the operation of a shaman. Beginning with Renaissance attempts to decode classical Greek and Roman architecture to capture the power of its “pure” forms and ideas, architects have long pursued inspiration from precedents. This is now practised visually through photography. But prior to mechanical recording techniques, this was often done by designers on the “Grand Tour” via the on-site construction of models, often made of cork. An interesting effect of this is that through their status as “models,” they capture three dimensional spatial and tectonic characteristics that two dimensional photos and sketches cannot.

Fragment Used in Controlled Setting - Engaged with Other Information to Construct “Meaning.”

45


Capturing Fragments via Clay Casting at Primrose Hill

Qualities Rendered Portable via Clay Casting

Constructing Digital Fragments via Laser Scan


This is not to say that models aren’t abstractions, symbolic, or beyond falsification; but their extra dimension embodies an additional order of information unavailable in image capture. The model is then capable of making certain qualities portable that the image cannot. Their construction is an act of both sympathetic magic and participation mystique. A process of capturing both specific architectural features through on-site modelling, and those features’ contextual responses via image-based recording will be used to yield a richness of qualitative information unavailable to either method separately. Through close reading of the psychogeographic effects of the system, the artefacts are determined based on resonance with the precedents of symbolism. Through two and three dimensional representation of the context and its quantitative and qualitative natures, a set of symbolic representations are generated, and these will be used in both the construction of the altar and the design and execution of the ritual.

Making the Fragment Lie with Scanner, Mirror, and Camera

47


Ritual Scale “Ritualization produces this ritualized body through the interaction of the body with a structured and structuring environment.” Catherine Bell p.98 “...ritual is the means by which collective beliefs and ideals are simutaneously generated, experienced, and affirmed as real by the community. Hence, ritual is the means by which individual perceptions and behaviour are socially appropriated or conditioned.” Emile Durkheim. p. 463.


Sequence of Movements in First Ritual

49


Multiple Exposure of First Ritual Sequence


A single ritual ceremony27 is formulated via the symbolic scale. This creates stability in the relationship between practitioner, the artefacts, and the ritual. The locale is the differential factor, and it is the performance of the ritual which generates the critical discourse between the practitioner and the space. In this way, new information is generated via performance. The ritual28 is the outcome of following the process of the levels above. Wallace defines the function of a ritual to be as a single symbol whose enactment carries no information. Specifically: when performed properly the ritual is the communication of a specific and unmistakable meaning. (Wallace. p. 236.) Any other information conveyed is outside the practice of the ritual. It is in this tension between idealized ritual and unintended information that the critical response to context arises. This new and unexpected information is gathered through mechanical recording, diagrams of chronography and choreography, and drawings of two types. These are: drawings describing the information abstractly, and “shamanic” drawings performed as ritual expression of the practitioner’s experience. The descriptive drawings are built upon the constancy of the relationship between the artefact and the embedded practitioner. This creates an axis of representation in each drawing. This relationship is reiterated in each operation at each site. The shamanic drawings are sitespecific reactions to the ritual which subjectively express the poetic and qualitative aspects of the ritual encounters with the sites. A third phase is the documentation of the performance, where additional information can be imbued.

51


Multiple Exposure of First Ritual Sequence


Performance of the ritual engenders sanctioned dualidentity (Wallace. p. 145.) while simultaneously constructing a belief system (Bell. p.19.). This dual action culminates in the practice of modern shamanism, the manipulation of specific qualities imparting the message. This is practise as a ritual intended to cause friction with the locations of its performance. Symbolically and mythically, the sun rising behind the priest during a Christian morning service empowers the ritual with solar energy, as the priest could be said to “bring the light.”29 Christ worship, in a very primal form, is descendant from sects venerating the sun bringer, such as the Greek and Roman Apollo; and Christianity was conflated with these for some time.30 Through association with sun ceremonies, ritual operations in Christian religions can be said to share this mechanism with paganism. This is an ambiguity ripe for détournement. William Blake is germane here: his representations of human form are based on a precise knowledge of human musculature, and the recurring motifs of human posture will form the movements of the ritual. Through contact with the site, the object becomes a vessel for its essence. Similarly, through employing “mana,” similar to the Navajo shaman, non-practitoners could be are brought in contact with the powers symbolically inherent in the vessels, although only the role of practitioner is inherent in the ritual.

53


Conclusion “I labour upward into futurity.” William Blake


Objects Used Ceremonially - Constructing Meaning Prior to Belief or Symbolism

55


Objects Used Ceremonially - Constructing Meaning Prior to Belief or Symbolism


In Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell cites Edward Shils in stating that belief precedes the formation and operation of ritual; (Bell. p.19.) but she continues by quoting Durkheim in stating that rituals ultimately affirm the original beliefs. (Bell. p. 20.)31 This project extends this to constructing even from these suspect values a belief system that forms rituals and an altar as an architectural response in dialogue with these institutions, the accepted values, and thus with the city. These operations intend to create not a static edifice, but a critical position on the territory of study. Rather than simply analysing the city, or constructing visionary subjective responses, the invention and working of a process by a practitioner can state a critical position on the territory without necessarily altering it physically. Rewriting the narrative of the city by subjective means is practised by every individual every day. By inventing a system, the practitioner avoids naively repeating culturally assumed meanings and values of a specific world view. The new system is then explored both qualitatively and quantitatively, and those characteristics abstracted to a synthetic “belief system” composed of symbols. Through use of those symbols in a Blake-influenced ritual, the role of the shaman; with roots in rural “primitive” societies, can be modernized to transform the meaning of the modern city.

57


Initial Plan of the Altar (Dark Line) and Charnel Ground (Lighter Area) From the System Scale


An essential feature of this project is its transitory nature. Similar to the monk, the practitioner works knowing that ultimately the product of their effort too shall pass. This is in opposition to the product-driven nature of modern society and architectural production. This is why the altar is portable and used at multiple sites. This project is based on the possibilities of architecture to be a tactical intervention and to subvert the traditional narrative. In the end the contexts bear no physical remainders, but their meaning has been altered. Through embodying the ritual process, the altar becomes an charged with “magical� significance. Similar to a shaman, the practitioner is also redefined by working through the process. Ritual, even synthetically derived, has the power to redefine the space of its contexts and the nature of the practitioner by bringing them into dialogue.

59


Recording a Fragment


Objects Used Ceremonially - Meaning Prior to Belief or Symbolism

61


Fragment Casting Shadow


Bibliography Ackroyd, Peter. (1995) BLAKE. London: Vintage Books. Bell, Catherine. (1992) Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. London: Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Blake, William (1796-1820) William Blake’s Writings. Bentley, G.E. ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. 1978 Bacon, Edmund. The Design of Cities. (1976.) London: Penguin. Compact Oxford English Dictionary. (2010h). “altar n.1, n.2”. [Online]. 2010. Available from: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/ altar?view=uk [Accessed: 13th June, 2010] Compact Oxford English Dictionary. (2010p). “cosmology”. [Online]. 2010. Available from: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/ cosmology?view=uk [Accessed: 13th June, 2010] Compact Oxford English Dictionary. (2010m). “geometry, n.2”. [Online]. 2010. Available from: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/ geometry?view=uk [Accessed: 13th June, 2010] Compact Oxford English Dictionary. (2010j). “ritual n.1”. [Online]. 2010. Available from: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/ritual?view=uk [Accessed: 13th June, 2010] Compact Oxford English Dictionary. (2010k). “shaman”. [Online]. 2010. Available from: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/shaman?view=uk [Accessed: 13th June, 2010] Compact Oxford English Dictionary. (2010p). “synthetic, n.2”. [Online]. 2010. Available from: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/ synthetic?view=uk [Accessed: 13th June, 2010] Damon, S.F. A Blake Dictionary: The Ideas and Symbols of William Blake. (1988). Hanover, NH, USA. University Press of New England. Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. (1915). New York: Free Press. 1965. Quoted by Bell p. 20. Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. (1957). London: Harvest / HBJ. 1987 Fortescue, Adrian. The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described. (1948). London: Burns Oates + Washbourne. 1917 Frye, Nothrop. Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake. (1947) Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press. 1969. DeBord, Guy-Ernest. (1955). Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography. Available from: http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/display/2 Evans, Robin. (1995). The Projective Cast: Architecture and its Three Geometries. Boston: MIT Press. Jung, C.G. (1998) The Essential Jung: Selected Writings. ed. Storr, Anthony. London: Fontana Press. Moore, Alan. From Hell. (1999). London: Knockabout Comics. 2006. NASA (date unknown) Apollo 11 vs. Football Pitch. [Online] Avaliable from: http://history.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/A11vsFootball.gif Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). (1999.) MoMA Highlights. New York: The Museum of Modern Art. Samuels, Andrew. (1986). A critical dictionary of Jungian analysis. London: Routledge. Sinclair, Iain. Lud Heat: A Book of the Dead Hamlets. (1975). London: Albion Village Press. Sinclair, Iain. Lights Out for the Territory. (1997). London: Granta Press. Sinclair, Iain. The Lud Heat Documentary, (1979) [Online]. Available From: http://bit.ly/cxIUzi [Accessed: 13 June, 2010] Street, Christopher. (2010) London’s Ley Lines: Pathways to Enlightenment. London: Earthstars Publishing. Wallace, Anthony F.C. (1966) Religion: An Anthropological View. New York: Random House. Wikipedia. (2010a). “Boudica”. [Online]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica. [Accessed: 13th June, 2010] Wikipedia. (2010b). “Great Work”. [Online]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Work. [Accessed: 13th June, 2010]. Wikipedia. (2010c). “Ley Lines”. [Online]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ley_lines. [Accessed: 13th June, 2010] Wikipedia. (2010d) “May 1968 in France”. [Online] Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1968_in_France [Accessed 13 June, 2010]. Wikipedia. (2010e). “Native American Sand Painting.” [Online]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandpainting#Native_American_ sandpainting [Accessed: 13 June, 2010]. Wikipedia. (2010f). “St. Pancras Old Church”.[Online]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Pancras_Old_Church [Accessed: 13 June, 2010]. Wikipedia. (2010g). “Sympathetic Magic”. [Online]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sympathetic_Magic.[Accessed: 13th June, 2010].

63


New Objects Ceremony - Constructing Meaning Through Overlay of Symbolism


Appendix

1.

This scale corresponds to Wallace’s “pre-learning” segment of ritual learning, (Wallace. p.239) and employs “inspiration” from his thirteen elements of a religion. (Wallace. p.65)

2.

In Lud Heat, Iain Sinclair points out in the narrative that one church that does not fit the locational criteria, but Hawksmoor himself lobbied extensively for the purchase of the nearby site that would have preserved the geometry. (Sinclair. 1975. p. 20.)

3.

Warrior queen Boudica and her tribe, the Iceni, defeated the Romans and sacked London. The place of her final loss (and suicide) is apocryphally recorded as Battlebridge near modern Kings Cross station. While the historical character is real, the actual location of this battle is lost to history. (Wikipedia. 2010a.)

4.

Wallace would consider this Gull’s pre-learning phase. Connecting his actions with his belief in “the great work,” Gull is preparing himself to enact the ritual he is about to undertake.

5.

The modern “Neo-Pagan” movement has embraced these ideas wholly. Neo-Pagans claim a straight-line descent from the indigenous folk beliefs of the British Isles, commonly called Druidism. William Blake referred to these sorts of traditions as “Natural Religion.”

6.

See the introduction to The Projective Cast by Robin Evans for a discussion of the useful folly of the architect’s faith in geometry.

7.

Iain Sinclair, from whom Moore borrowed the idea discusses Watkins’ Ley Lines in his book of poetry and prose, Lud Heat. Sinclair used his specific knowledge of the Hawksmoor churches from his time working for the parks and recreation department to formulate a theory inherent to the content of the book. In turn, his theory is based on the conspiracy theory about Hawksmoor put forward by Stephen Knight in 1976 in the inaccurately named Jack The Ripper: The Final Solution.

8.

Beginning with two of Watkins’s initial four London ley lines: the “Coronation Line” and the “Strand Line,” a third is added which begins at Primrose Hill, (see illustration for list of intersected points - runs south-eastward through the British Museum, Nicholas Hawksmoor’s church St. George’s Bloomsbury, the site of William Blake’s apprenticeship at 31 Great Queen Street, the Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street) and intersects the Strand Line at St. Mary-le-Strand. Another runs from the ancient St. Dunstan’s Stepney, through Hawksmoor’s church St. Luke’s Old Street and on to Primrose

Hill. While Battlebridge and St. Pancras Old Church do not fall on the line, it passes near enough that in the understanding of

psychogeographies, their influence must be considered. See Appendix note #3 for an explanation of the significance of Battlebridge. St. Pancras Old Church is one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England. (Wikipedia. 2010f.) Another line which originates at St. Dunstan’s runs through the modern Swiss Re tower, Soane’s Bank of England, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Church of the Temple, of occult interest due to the conspiracy theories surrounding its founding order, the Knights Templar. While St. Dunstan’s is a focal point of multiple lines, and the it is excluded from the system of study due to in favour of Christ Church Spitalfields, in order to tie in the locale of the Jack the Ripper murders so influential upon Lud Heat and From Hell.

9.

Starting at Primrose Hill (+51° 32’ 22.1958”, -0° 09’ 38.6244”), head southeast to St. Luke’s Church Old Street (+51° 31’ 30.504”, -0° 05’ 38.8062”) is encountered. Then, travel southeastward to Christ Church Spitalfields (+51° 31’ 08.7522”, -0° 04’ 27.159”). Travel southwesterly to the Swiss Re tower (+51° 30’ 51.7608”, -0° 04’ 49.1766”). Then, travel southwestward to St. Paul’s Cathedral (+51° 30’ 49.5966”, -0° 05’ 53.8722”). Travel southwestward to The London Eye (+51° 30’ 11.952”, -0° 07’ 11.5818”) is reached. From the London Eye, returning to Primrose Hill is one circuit of the mandala.

65


William Blake. The Ancient of Days. 1828.

William Blake. Jerusalem. Plate 25. 1804

William Blake. Newton.


10.

“Geometry, considered thus as an overlay rather than an underlay to reality, was in the odd position of gaining descriptive power as it relinquished its direct hold over the form of what it described.” (Evans. 45.)

11.

“It is “a joke about the meter,” Duchamp glibly noted about this piece, but his premise for it reads like a theorem: “If a straight horizontal thread one meter long falls from a height of one meter onto a horizontal plane twisting as it pleases[it] creates a new image of the unit of length.” Duchamp dropped three threads one meter long from the height of one meter onto three stretched canvases. The threads were then adhered to the canvases to preserve the random curves they assumed upon landing. The canvases were cut along the threads’ profiles, creating a template of their curves creating new units of measure that retain the length of the meter but undermine its rational basis.” (MOMA. p. 91)

12.

See Eliade p. 80 for a discussion of “Regeneration through return to the time of origins.” also, p. 87 for the importance of this ritual time in shaping time outside the sacred.

13.

Buddhism states that all material things are impermanent, and by accelerating the passage of this subject of dozens of hours of their work, the psyche of the Buddhist monk is reconstructed to peacefully accept this and find joy in the moment being lived.

14.

Navajo Sand Mandalas are constructed as a spell to draw ailments out of the body of the afflicted. After the patient has been brought in contact with the mandala and the shaman’s ritual is has completed, the mandala is seen as having trapped the ailment/s, and through its the destruction the ailment is also destroyed. (Wikipedia. 2010e.)

15.

This information expands upon the previous charting of the deviations

16.

One of the “elements of a religion.” - physiological exercise. (Wallace. 55.)

17.

Primrose Hill is a site of Summer Solstice sun ceremonies even to the present day.

18.

Blake lived at 28 Poland Street from 1785 to 1790. His tenure commenced four years after the “neo-pagan” Ancient Order of Druids were founded at The King’s Arms Tavern at 21 Poland Street: which remained through Blake’s life a center of neo druid meetings. (Ackroyd. 98). The Druids, questionably also claim he was a Grand Master.

19.

So matter-of-fact was his belief in the constructive power of the dialogue between “good” and “evil” that in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake included a list of aphorisms entitled The Proverbs of Hell. He also wrote the visionary poetry of Songs of Experience as an antithetical response to his earlier Songs of Innocence) (Ackroyd. 143.) His world was not composed just of contraries in the empirical world, but of dialectical relationships of the physical and spiritual, the soul and body, good and evil: thesis and antithesis. Further, Blake believed that the world was “non-dualistic” (in the sense of eastern philosophy) and that people were of multiple nature: all dimensions of spirit and matter coexisting at once in dialogue. In case it wasn’t too confusing already, these compound characters were often simultaneously allegorical of places, abstract concepts, and artistic endeavors in addition to just roles in a narrative. For an interesting discussion of the complex metaphysics in Blake’s work, see Blake’s Nostos: Fragmentation and Nondualism in The Four Zoas – Kathryn S. Freeman. SUNY Press 1997. Blake’s later “prophetic books” were populated by compounds of persons and their souls “emanations” which were of the opposite sex - prefiguring Jung’s concept of the anima/animus in the psyche. (Jung. p.89.)

20.

“All imaginative and creative acts, being eternal, go to build up a permanent structure, which Blake calls Golgonooza, above time, and when this structure is finished, nature, its scaffolding, will be knocked away and man will live in it. Golgonooza will then be the city of God, the New Jerusalem which is the total form of all human culture and civilisation...” (Frye. p.176.)

21.

Starting at Primrose Hill, move along the Ancient Sites line, passing St. Pancras Old Church and Battlebridge. Consulting a map, the walker should pay special attention to the area near Arnold Circus, where the Ancient Sites Line passes over the extensions of the Coronation line and the Strand line in quick succession. Reach St. Luke’s Church Old Street and its obelisk 67


Al Farrow. Trigger Finger of San Guerro. 2008. Mixed Media

NASA - Apollo 11 vs. Football Pitch. Date Unknown.


in lieu of a spire. Then, detour through Ripper Tour territory, arrive at Christ Church Spitalfields. From there, travel southwesterly through the terrain vague between East London and the City to the modern obelisk Swiss Re tower. Passing the Bank of England and the Cannon Street home of the London Stone, walk through the financial navel of the world to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Mind the tourists. Crossing the river, travel southwestward through the old liberty of the Clink and the rest of the Bishop of Westminster’s holdings until the The London Eye and the Coronation line are reached. From the Eye, a final crossing of the Thames readies for the maneuvers taken to return to Primrose Hill. The route will lead through Trafalgar Square, past St. Martin’s In The Fields (and the Strand Line) and St Mary’s Marleybone. This is one psychogeographic circuit of the mandala.

22.

This scale enacts the “suggestion” segment of ritual learning (Wallace. p.239).

23.

As the name implies, this scale employs “Symbolism: manufacture and use of symbolic objects” from Wallaces 13 elements of a religion. (Wallace. p. 66)

24.

There are interesting and specific symbols and motifs that Blake uses; such as dividers, solar symbols, hammer, etc that will inevitably find their way into symbolic representation. Additionally, refer to the ritual scale for more regarding Blake’s human figures.

25.

Being drawn primarily from a personal opinion of the Bible and his own literal visions, the art and poetry of William Blake is of limited application when trying to form critical commentary on the city – unless you are Blake himself. Blake is cited an example not just of specific schema, but of the potential for the artist’s vision to rewrite the past and future of the city as an alternative narrative. His cosmology is incredibly complex and requires serious study of his artistic and poetic oeuvre to navigate with certainty. Blake’s London is allegorical and highly subjective, derived from events in his own life as well as his literal mental visions situated throughout and across the fabric of the city.

26.

More rationally, this can be seen as a deeply affecting projection of the desirer’s psyche.

27.

Rather than the free-form of the ceremony performed in first term, (see images attached.) this will be constructed in line with Eliade’s concept of “sacralisation.” (Eliade. p.80)

28.

The ritual scale is based upon Wallace’s categories of the “touching of things,” (“mana”) and the use of symbolic objects (Wallace. p.60)

29.

Uniting psychogeography and ritual, in facing the nave eastward, the architect of a Christian church locates the sun rising during a morning service behind the back of the priest, and the congregation looks into light. This is said to excite centres of emotion in the human brain, and thus imbue the ritual with power to imprint ideas on the congregation. I was unable to find a specific scientific reference of this, so it is not be purported to be fact. But the project continues with this as a poetic trope taken from the form of the Christian church.

30.

...It was Constantine who raised centralized domed buildings over the holy sites of Jerusalem, and it was he who, in the words of Walter Lowrie, seemed to confuse Christianity with sun worship. Afterward, his nephew, Julian the Apostate, distinguishing between them, reinstated solar paganism in opposition to Christianity. (Evans. p. 26. 1995.)

31.

“...ritual is the means by which collective beliefs and ideals are simutaneously generated, experienced, and affirmed as real by the community. Hence, ritual is the means by which individual perceptions and behaviour are socially appropriated or conditioned.” (Durkheim. p. 463.)

69


Shamanic Geometries + Synthetic Cosmology  

Project Report for the MArch AD program at the Bartlett School of Architecture