SLAPSTICK SCHAMANISMUS    release of theoral no. 14

Saturday, December 1st

Steinergasse 8
17th district

7.30   Katharina Klement : solo for zither and electronis

&   R. F. Culbertson III : medium of the Medium

&   Joel Grip, bass, and Tristan Honsinger, cello : Slapstick Shamanism

Light : Komplizin Kács

Food : One Night in Bangkok with the Siamese Twins : Shefu Kira & Alina (red curries)

Aperitivo : 6pm

€ntry : 10

Third chapter of

On Being A Medium.

Bright gatekeeping in a dark era

III – Gatekeeping

The gatekeeper, in the media and in mythology (as well as on the passages between strata in society), is operating in this dark territory mentioned above. His techniques and practices can be neither seen in every-day-life, nor can they be understood by those who are affected by the gatekeeper’s decisions. He is guarding (watching and protecting) something that is not accessible, he neither lets anybody in nor anybody out.

Cerberus was a monstrous, many-headed dog (the number of heads varied from three to one hundred), with a dragon’s tail and a back bristling with serpents’ heads. He barred the way to the Underworld to the living and prevented the dead from escaping it.1

In the mass media, the gatekeepers (editors) decide what is going to be published, and what is not. These presumably pluricephal characters sort out and adapt information from the massive and endless stream of information that is produced by private individuals, journalists, news-agencies, algorithms, etc. The decisions about which information can pass in what way are made in the dark territory between reception and emission and are guided by considerations that serve the advancement of the publisher.

The medium has no gatekeeper, it is the gatekeeper, but one that opens the gates and does not process and bias the information that springs from the well, it solely serves as a channel. The medium may be also called a bright gatekeeper. A bright gatekeeper is operating in the Visible, in contrast to the dark gatekeeping that, like Cerberus, operates in the Invisible serving the interests of a few – or, if one looks at the mythological definition below, the forces of evil.

Following mythology, the evil is invisible and very powerful. It cannot be destroyed but it can be suppressed –temporarily– by strength (Herakles, for example) and by the spiritual forces of art, embodied by Orpheus.

It should be observed that it was with no weapon other than his own strength that Herakles succeeded temporarily in taming him [Cerberus; the character of Herakles unfortunately won’t play a role in this essay] and that it was by the spiritual effect of his music that Orpheus calmed him, again temporarily. These two instances strongly support the neo-Platonic interpretation of Cerberus as an in-dwelling daemon, the spirit of evil. This spirit can only be tamed above ground [ie in the Visible], that is to say by a sudden – and ascensional – change of environment and by the individuals spiritual strength. To conquer, one has to rely upon oneself.2

It is the artist who relies on herself and has the strength or the urgency and commitment to look at the Invisible, like Orpheus did:

Through the magic of his music he succeeded in persuading the gods of the Underworld to set free his wife Eurydice who
had died from snake-bite when fleeing the advances of Aristaeus. But one condition was laid down – Orpheus was not to look at her until she had returned to the light of day. Half-way there, in a fit of anxiety, he looked back and Eurydice vanished forever. … Jean Servier compares the ban laid upon Orpheus and Eurydice in the Underworld with certain taboos … in the eastern Mediterranean. ‘[M]embers of a funeral procession are not allowed to look back. Invisible powers are there who could be insulted by an inadvertent word or annoyed at being seen by a sideways look or glance over the shoulder’. Orpheus is the man who broke the taboo and dared to gaze at the Invisible.

The Invisible, the dark gatekeepers, are not looked at, they operate in what is hidden and they pass unseen. What mythology tells us is that in order to tame the evil powers, one has to journey to where they reside and gaze at them. Being seen and having their practices revealed annoys the dark gatekeepers, disturbs them, jeopardizes them. It is the uncynical4 artist with exceptional abilities who is assigned to execute this task because only she can gain power over the dark forces, even though only temporarily.

Although they share an uncynical attitude, the medium should not be confused with the artist. In Rashomon, she is in contact with the Invisible, the realm of the dead, but not in order to interfere with it. The medium does not take sides, it conveys testimonies of individuals who are caught up in the Sturms and Drangs of human life.

1  Chevalier, Jean & Gheerbrant, Alain (1996). Dictionary of Symbols. London: Penguin Books. p. 175

2  ibid. p. 175

3  ibid. p. 725-6

4  The idea of the uncynical versus the cynical comes from the fact that individuals are forced to be cynical in every-day-life in order to stay a part of society and/or or “succeed” in it. The uncynical is the non-accumulating, the sincere, the fragile, the fearless, the ephemeral, the non-perfect, the poetic. The cynical fears its finitude, its dissolution and the loss of property. This thought is elaborated by the author somewhere else: Linernotes to Katharina Klement, Drift. Chmafu Nocords.

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