Over a decade ago, the blog I’d been keeping blossomed into a print project, Dreamflesh Journal. In the editorial I wrote:
Dreamflesh was conceived in despair and hope. Its roots are nurtured by these entwined opposites that characterise our ‘interesting times’. Either may lead to action: grasping at straws or at carrots dangled on sticks. Either may lead to inaction: why act when ‘all is doomed’ or ‘everything will work out in the end’? When both play their part, when their hidden bond is quietly accepted, wholeness may flower.
The balance between despair and hope has become a lot more volatile since then. Wholeness is in tatters. Where to now?
In 2006 it seemed as if the looming issues of energy sustainability and climate change were finally gaining traction in the public sphere, and there was a window of opportunity for real change. That window has now narrowed to a chink. Light is being crowded out by understandable but misdirected, incoherent anger at establishment complacency, by establishment in-fighting between complacent liberals and emboldened traditionalists and crypto-fascists, and by what Terence McKenna called ‘the balkanisation of epistemology’. That is, the leaking of radical post-modern doubt, out from the privileged spheres where questioning everything can be a useful tool or a silly indulgence, out into the wider world where people are being worked too hard to thoroughly question anything, where they are accumulating resentments and fears that are easily manipulated by black media magic, where they brush off evidence that challenges their views with a terminal dismissal: ‘Well nobody really knows anything.’
When I look further back, to when I started out writing and publishing in the mid-nineties, the contrast in the status of information, media and writing is stark. Back then, the birth of the web seemed like a thrilling answer to Throbbing Gristle’s late-’70s pronouncement that ‘information exchange is the only way to ever get real change.’ My early publications were addressed to an audience hungry to seek out and use information. Of course, the simple accumulation of experience and information through my own lifetime leaves me less hungry in that sense now. But alongside personal ageing, something cultural has also clearly happened. We’re drowning in information, and more than ever need help filtering and digesting it. As we daily battle to channel this unstoppable flood, we grow weary of the struggle, and little by little allow pre-digested stances to absorb some of the effort. Or on the other hand, really thinking reality through leaves you mentally paralysed. Confusion is the dubious reward for those really paying attention.
It’s hard to know how to pitch an effort to start throwing more ideas, more information, more thinking into this turbulent ocean. Bold declarations and manifestos will ring hollow, but no more than shirking the sense of responsibility that the world increasingly demands.
As ever, Dreamflesh will try to find a balance—but always wary of balance as a false resolution, when it smothers inequalities that demand exposure, and when it avoids the hard work of weighing things up by pretending the field is level.
As ever, the remit is wide. The title ‘Dreamflesh’ captures much of the flavour here, fusing the imagination with active embodiment, always questioning the hold that binaries and polarised thinking have over us. You’ll hear a lot about magic, myth, anthropology, ecology, depth psychology, psychedelic consciousness, metaphor and literalism, healing and narrative. You’ll also hear a lot of other things.
This website re-launch is overdue, but it also happens in the wake of a stalled attempt to resurrect the print journal. The journal may or may not happen; for now, it seems most urgent to do something. So the blog will be the main focus. Hopefully in time there’ll be some guest posts, and perhaps other regular contributors—watch this space.
There’ll also be reviews, probably books for the most part. Old or new, as much launching pads for thinking issues through as recommendations for your shopping list. Longer or less casual writing will emerge in the essays section. And last but not least, I’m hoping to grow the interviews section with juicy in-depth conversations.
Links that don’t make the blog will be shared on Facebook and Twitter, alongside highlighted treasures from the archives—so follow us there if you’re so inclined. For now comments are closed on the blog, which may change soon—but you can respond on social media the meantime.
Here we are, living in interesting times. Let’s stay interested, and live well.
Leaf photo (c) Ohlsson / Dit-Cilinn