In our second A House with Many Rooms interview, we discuss the intersections between AI and magic with machine learning engineer Karin Valis. Come for the divination, ensouled statues, golems, homonculi, and alphanumeric cosmology, stay for the techno-magical intervention at the end.
Oddcast Episodes Themed "Interview"
We discuss arguably the greatest magical book of the Islamicate tradition, the Shams al-maʿārif al-kubrā or Great Sun of Knowledge. Turns out it isn't by al-Būnī as everyone thought, though there is some Būnī in there; but it has so much to tell us about Islamicate culture, Sufism, and the ‘project of forgetting’ of esoteric Islām among both Muslims and scholars.
We introduce Aḥmad al-Būnī, master sūfī and alphanumeric speculator, but most famous in the Islamicate world as an authority on magic. We sift the wheat from the chaff and get to the bottom of who al-Būnī was, what he really wrote, and what kind of reception he has had, both within and outside of Islam.
We continue our conversation with J.Ā.J. Storm, talking science, magic, religion, and the interrelations between the three of them, the question of assessing advancement in a given context (technological, epistemological, or whatever), and whether modern applied science is really natural magic with a new label (spoiler alert: it is).
We discuss Philippe-Jacques (or ‘Philip James’) de Loutherbourgh, accomplished eighteenth-century painter, polyglot socialite, alchemist, Occultist, healer, and inventor of the cinema.
We speak about illusion, magic, and reality with magical experience designer Ferdinando Buscema. He can make stuff disappear, find your card anywhere in the deck, and read your mind. He is, in short, a magician. But he is also, like Apuleius, Iamblichus, Ficino, and Crowley before him, a philosopher of magic.
We discuss the extraordinary reception-history of the extraordinary text known as Sefer Yetsirah, the ‘Book of Formation‘. The Sefer Yetsirah would eventually become a foundational text for the Kabbalist movements of the high middle ages, but it was (and is) much more than that. Professor Langermann lays out the evolutions in reading this text from Sa‘adia Gaon to Aryeh Kaplan.
One of the most fundamental and intriguing questions in the philosophy of language is that of the relation between signs and the realities they signify. But what if the signs are letters and numbers simultaneously? And what if these are in fact the constitutive elements of reality itself? Juan Acevedo is our guide in an overview of the history and dynamics of alphanumeric cosmology in the western tradition.
We continue our interview with Gyrus, starting from Copernicus' demolition of the polar cosmos and exploring the aftermath of this radical decentering of the cosmic structure of the west.
Further discussion with Peter Grey, looking at aspects of the Crowley/Parsons/Hubbard story from magickal and scholarly perspectives.
We continue our conversation with Dr Hallum, exploring some fascinating manuscript detective work revealing some unsolved mysteries of transmission, the Jewish and East Roman medieval magic-square traditions, early-modern translations and adaptations of the material, and much more.
We discuss those ‘magic squares’ that we find in esoteric texts from Indonesia to London, curious grids of numbers often used as astral-magical talismans with integrated alphanumeric mysteries. Bink Hallum has done the research, and lays out the story of the magic square from China to Agrippa.
We continue our interview with Michael Noble, exploring magical, exegetical, soteriological, prophetological, and other aspects of Rāzī's thought. Things get seriously esoteric, and you know that we do not say things like that lightly.
Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī was a Persian universal scholar and theologian, particularly well-known for his tafsīr or work of Qur'ānic interpretation, a mainstay of Sunni Islam to this day. Less well-known is his work of addressative, astral, talismanic ritual, The Hidden Secret. Michael Noble has published a study of this work in the context of Rāzī's thought and of the larger intellectual currents in which he swam. Come for the enduring legacy of staunch, but philosophically-rich, Sunni theology, stay for the orgies and severed heads.
We continue our discussion of the Sâr Merodac, speaking of his influence, his sympathy for the Devil, his place in esoteric thought, and more.
We discuss the life and work of Joséphin Péladan (1858-1918), art-critic, Occultist, playwright, and generally creative freak. Dr Sasha Chaitow is our guide to the fascinating life of nineteenth-century Paris' most prominent avant-garde Rosicrucian trend-setter. Welcome to the salon rosicrucien.
In this continuing conversation with Dr Davis we explore conspiracy (as a state of mind, religious practice, and self-fulfilling quasi-reality), the current state of ‘the archons’ (and why q-anon may be a helpful model for thinking through late-antique ‘Gnosticism’), and Philip K. Dick's work in light of the cultural moment underway in America and beyond.
Allegra Baggio-Corradi of the Warburg Institute guides us through the life and thought of a leading figure of the forgotten esoteric Renaissance, the Paduan Niccolo Toméo. Come for the pagan-Christian metaphysics, stay for the oracular pelican.
Emily Selove shares her current work on the fascinating Sirāj al-Dīn al-Sakkākī, well-known Arabic grammarian and little-known sorcerer. We discuss Sakkākī's extraordinary grimoire, the quest for the universal Perfect Man, a theory of language which might unite grammar and magic, and the identity of the mysterious ‘Peacock the Greek’.
We speak with Amy Hale, anthropologist, folklorist, and writer of weird and wonderful pieces, on the life, art, and legacy of Ithell Colquhoun, one of the 20th century's most important (if widely overlooked) esoteric artists.