5 October 2017

Discordian Vodun Online

Excuse my concerns all leaking together, but my post about the difficulty of making a connection to vodun for someone born and raised in the UK took a little more time than I had anticipated. Even so, this would seem like as fine a time as any to mention that I am writing a good deal about vodun at present as it forms the centre of my upcoming novel.

As it happens putting the book out there now, instead of racing to get it published when it was mostly done a few years ago seems to have been a wise choice. The experience is opening up my experience in ways both Discordian and in a broader spirituality.

If anyone was in doubt that Eris created the internet then the concept that it is a technology that it puts a white mostly-Welsh guy who rarely leaves the UK in direct contact with an authentic Louisiana houngan and you have to admit that the chaos is strong with this tech.

Okay, but as we have to disbelieve everything we read how do I KNOW he's an authentic houngan? Well, how does he know I'm an authentic pope? Here's the thing, I know that vodun is deep and serious because it is dangerous. Not just dangerous in an Angel Heart, bite off a chicken head way but in a sanity bending, perception altering way.

This is the problem the multiple-Pope doctrine of Discordianism is all about. Spirituality should be like knife-juggling or sword swallowing. Before you go to a party and offer to share with everyone your really sweet party trick where you escape from an airtight safe in under two minutes with your hands cuffed you better be pretty sure you're an escapologist. It is evident Houdini was taking more risks than any given vicar.

In Discordianism the whole Pope thing is an illustration that many religions attach very little weight to the assumption of a place high on the spiritual food chain. This is probably an extended hangover from the times when church and state ran in parallel power structures and any corrupt rich asshole could be a power player in the church wielding dogma as a blunt instrument.

In reality you don't want to represent as something you aren't when it comes to spiritual matters. As vodun represents an apparent spiritual tradition that treats the world of spirit with the respect it deserves. From what I know you wouldn't want to represent as a houngan if you actually weren't.

Hell, I don't go to dinner parties and shoot my mouth off about being a pope, for a start everyone is. Deeper, though, my serious consideration of all things Discordian has only begun very recently. I'm not ready to wear the hot dog belt bucket and golden apple lapel badge just yet*.

There are too many people claiming to be the spiritual hotline at the present time. I do think that the original wave of Discordianism fell at the start of this wave. Marshall McLuhan identified the potential in the mass-media and electronic expansion of communications. But any time before about 1998 was too soon to call the potential power of the internet, which is like the power of the mass media on steroids.

I think that poets and artists have taken a massive beating in terms of their relevance and purpose these days, a time when people can attain some sort of notoriety by doing something vaguely interesting on YouTube. When you consider that Andy Warhol couldn't possibly have known the scope of his assertion about everyone being famous for 15 minutes you begin to appreciate what that purpose is.

Warhol's art attracted attention, that attention gave him a platform. If he'd been doing what he was doing now his soup cans would have been on DeviantArt and his aphorisms would have been mashed up with satirical photo juxtapositions and shared on instagram. The tools to be a prophet have been democratised to the point that they have experienced a severe devaluation.

As anyone can claim to be anything they want when you can only talk to them on social media so the currency of making those claims has taken a hit given all the counterfeit claims. All that's really happened though is a raising of the bar. If you want a platform now building it isn't the problem, the problem is using it amongst the forest of competing platforms that exist.

The current environment of people screaming in echo chambers doesn't nullify the one whispered thread of actual wisdom. A mass of people listening to white noise does not mean that the message has been compromised. All that's happened is that the terrain has changed. Now the whispered message can be delivered to active recipients, listening itself was passive when the availability of platforms was scarce. Rapidly the business of listening has become active and personal, Discordianism has been right there waiting because Discordianism admits we're all popes and that you have to disbelieve everything you read. These are not just idle statements, they are the pronouncements of a prophet who didn't even know what he was seeing and attained his insight through his own spiritual process of chewing on paradoxes and shifting his own perspective.

If we are all popes we all have to do that. Active listening is contemplation of the bigger picture. Learning to separate out the wisdom from the white noise is everybody's job. And then Discordianism reminds us "The white noise is wisdom, and the wisdom is white noise, now what you gonna do?"

From this perspective vodun is another way to approach perception, and as it's pretty unique it's a valuable one at that. I have found my own vodun experiences so far to remind me how little I know and how daunting the change in thought can prove to be. I am grateful. For these are things we should never forget.

* There is no official formal attire that marks one out as a Discordian**, but if I were to set a precedent it would definitely be the belt buckle and lapel badge.
** And if anyone claimed there was it would be the job of all Discordians to refute it.

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