An Economy of Gnosticism in Los Angeles — Contemporary religion in historical perspective

In case you missed it, here’s a piece about my recent trip to Los Angeles to do fieldwork with various Gnostic groups, which was published on the Open University’s Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective blog a couple of months ago.

If I were a certain kind of scholar, I might speculate that there is so much gnosticism in LA because Hollywood is the symbolic centre of the archonic media matrix where the illusory world of the demiurge is created. More prosaically, LA has long been a centre for religious innovation due to being multicultural, liberal and relatively cheap. People were going West in search of new ways of life long before the Hippies emerged from Haight-Ashbury to catalyse the spiritual revolution of the New Age movement. Moreover, contemporary gnostics mix esoteric ideas with Christianity, and so appeal much more to American Baby Boomers than to their relatively secularised European counterparts.

Being back at davidgrobertson for the first time in months, I see an update / refresh is in order…

Real People, on the Ground | Studying Religion in Culture

A blog post for the University of Alabama about how critical studies in religion need to do more to demonstrate their practical utility, and how my editorship of Implicit Religion aims to help in doing that.

https://religion.ua.edu/blog/2019/03/27/real-people-on-the-ground/


The fact is that what gets counted as religion in specific contexts is perhaps the most impactful question we can ask as social scientists. Far from being merely discourse-about-discourse in some Ivory Tower, the critical approach shows what the category is actually doing in the real world – both to those whom it constrains, and those for whom it is useful.

The Claypool Lennon Delirium – ‘Blood And Rockets’

This combines many of my deepest passions – prog rock, the Beatles, and 20th century Magic(k). Hearing Les Claypool sing “Do What Thy Will” in 5/4 rings a lot of bells for me.

Sean Lennon is obviously interested in Magick – he talked about it in an interview with Billboard recently – but it sounds like a passing interest rather than something he is actively engaged with. I also would quibble with “he belonged to a magical cult”. The interview is pretty light but I enjoyed the brief description of how he and Les Claypool work together. The album’s up on Spotify now and I like it. I’ll buy it if I see it on vinyl.

New film from Richard D. Hall, ‘Kill Jill’

Richard D Hall of RichPlanet fame has a new film out, Kill Jill: The Dando Assassination Explained. It’s the follow-up to his I think 10 hours of investigation into the Madeline McCann case. Again, it’s an in-depth investigative piece featuring a fair bit of speculation, but like his other work, it does have original research, and it is definitely at the saner end of the conspiracy spectrum. While I don’t think he has anything like enough evidence to back up his conclusion, there could well be some truth in the collusion between the security forces and the media, particularly the BBC, in the case of the Brixton nail-bomber. And as he says, his work is more about analyzing how the media manufactures consent, although he pushes that further than Chomsky will, publicly at least.

That is the YouTube link. I wanted to link to the original video on richplanet.net, only to see this:

Suspended

Coincidence? I don’t know. (Update: it’s back now. Maybe it was just a bandwidth issue.)

I once referred to Richard Hall as “the Vic Reeves of conspiracy theorists”, because he’s from the North and is genuinely funny (see if you can find his statement about the People’s Voice). But there’s also a transparency and self-awareness that you don’t often see in this sort of milieu, and I have to respect him for that. In a milieu that is increasingly mainstream and commercialised, his dedication to a DIY challenge to hegemony is pretty punk rock.