temporarily autonomous pleasure domes
Well, Saturday evening turned out to be pretty cool. The (drum roll) Live Thelemic Ritual with Kyron and Koyote turned out to be definitely worth the price of admission (what was the price of admission, by the way?). Koyote, enveloped by a long cloak/robe, administered an ecstatic ritual very vaguely suggestive of a Gnostic Mass to a mostly bewildered, but eventually surprisingly responsive crowd.
The whole thing was complete with candles, incense and holy wafers (soy crackers); red ceremonial wine and... well, and "manna from the gods", in the form of little colored candies, each of which resembled a tiny phallus — yeah, a phallus, OK? Don't ask.
They had me distributing paper cups to people before the ritual, so that — ideally — everybody could participate by drinking wine when the time came. I was surprised (not really, but a bit) by the resistance I encountered. Everybody was so fucking dubious over whether they should accept an empty paper cup, I felt like I was handing out Communist Party membership forms outside an elementary school in the 1950's. Oh wait... maybe I was.
Anyway. To be fair, some people (like 2 or 3) actually got up and walked across the room to get their very own Thelemic-ritual-booze-drinking-device(tm). Thanks, folks! When you don't have a rod up your ass, it really does help. Keep it up! You have nothing to lose but your chains — it was, after all, free wine.
Eventually, Kenneth Anger's Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome — with its riveting, lavishly voyeuristic aesthetics — made its entrance, and the chamber was immediately dressed in an otherworldly mood. Behind a line of electronic instruments, Kyron was playing some of his best stuff to date (it was a rare lone appearance, I should say... which might have had something to do with it). Meanwhile, the ritual was starting to groove, and — having already dealt with the requisite Banishments — the wafers were now being offered to select members of the audience; and wine was being poured for all those that had been reckless enough to (gasp!) accept an empty paper cup from a stranger.
Koyote, while vibrating some arcane babblings — immediately echoed throughout the room via the magic of concealed wireless mics — was working on getting the crowd worked up, with some success. But it was Arlequin, after entering the room with her two-faced mask, who truly reached the objective: through gentle coaxing, she induced several people to get up and start dancing to Kyron's music and around Koyote, enacting a spontaneous ritual right under and alongside the one in Anger's movie. Later, Craig Baldwin was shocked to find out that we had never seen most of those people before. He was convinced they were our friends.
Often, the borders between what was happening on screen and in the room with us were blurred; sometimes they disappeared completely. As I was trying to shoot the event with Kyron's camera — under prohibitive low-light conditions — I did my best to capture both sides of the reality we were experiencing... Art and Life going on at the same time, and often it was hard to tell which was on screen and which enveloped us like context around a sentence.
It was all wonderful to witness, though I was so busy scrambling to get a shred of good footage in almost total darkness (at least, from the camera's point of view) that I was unable to join the dancers and wine-drinkers. Not that there would have been enough wine for me, so probably my staying out was a good thing for everybody else. Amongst the whole mess, Inauguration's images seemed perfectly at ease, in resonance; almost fulfilling some unique sub-destiny of being used themselves as a ritual tool. Adam from Initiations was there, absorbed by unbridled paratheatrical processes till the very end of the ritual. It seemed that several individuals were able to explore interesting inner spaces — judging by the outside manifestations, at least. Others abandoned themselves to the Dance, partaking of the ecstatic energies that were being raised and shared.
I was left with a warm afterglow, something hard to define, but like an "inner smirk". I anticipate the next occasion to cause something similar to happen, hopefully maintaining it for longer than just the duration of a movie. The evening was crowned by locking ATA's doors after cleaning up and walking across the street with the others to join Craig for margaritas. That was a whole experience in itself, but the story is for another time. Maybe over some more margaritas...