THE CONSTELLATION INTERVIEW
Sherene Schostak Speaks with Antero Alli
for Constellation Magazine, NYC. APRIL 2010
1) A typical (or not so typical) day in the life of AA:
This is impossible to describe in words. I live as if there is only one very long day broken up by the shadows of sleep and dream. Since I have owned my own time for several decades, my daily life exists outside of the punch-clock 9-5 rhythms of mainstream society. If, during my waking hours, I am not involved in a film or theatre project I prefer to live an uneventful life. At 57, I like my drama either onstage or onscreen. I also love doing next to nothing. My lifelong thirst for mayhem and adventure has been quenched by realizing my dreams and fulfilling my ambitions. Passion spent has become compassion earned. There is no typical day in the life of A.A. and every day in the life of A.A. is typical.
2) Your biggest muses of the moment:
In the eternal moment, the muses of poetic insurrection continue guiding me in the creation of my films, my books, and the imagination infusing my astrological practice. I am also currently engaged in a paratheatrical project involving the creation of ritual forms for summoning the numen of the Muse archetype. Let me explain. I have been developing this medium of paratheatre since 1977 that combines elements of theatre, dance, and Zazen in an asocial group ritual dynamic for accessing the internal landscape. Our aim is gnosis, the direct experience of the archetypes and the Muse has emerged as our theme and focus for 2010. Since we view the Muse as an autonomous presence of great power, it is not something we own or control. It is not "my Muse" or "our Muse" but the Muse that interests us now. And we pray the Muse shows equal interest with us.
3) What do you think/how do you feel about Facebook and Twitter?:
I don't twitter. Twitter is a symptom of a new mental illness stemming from the impersonal plague of cultural narcissism and the society of surveillance. I have also seen how Twitter has served more important needs than self-interest, such as reporting political events before mass media mangles the story. I view Facebook with equal parts amusement and annoyance. On the plus side, it has proven useful as a publicity cog for alerting people to the screenings of my films and to the recent events surrounding the release of my new book, "THE EIGHT-CIRCUIT BRAIN: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body" (Vertical Pool, 2009). On the minus side, it fosters a bogus sense of assumed familiarity that trivializes an important word: friend. Between Facebook and television, my daily quota for distraction is satiated.
3a) Last status update:
"We forget that the soul has its own ancestors." - James Hillman
4) Any insights/speculations/musings on the upcoming Uranus entering Aries:
Generally speaking, I see the timing of Uranus transits coinciding with wake-up calls to an area that has been subject to oppression for many years, whether that's in our person lives and/or the collective at large. Once we wake up to our sleeping condition, we have a choice to rebel and liberate ourselves. In Aries, Uranus marks an era of awakening to the will to action. Aries is all about action and the collective will to action has been oppressed and immobilized by decades of apathy and passivity. Recently this collective will to action went underground through a plethora of passive escapist activities such as internet addiction, hi-rez video gaming, and other physically sedentary virtual sports fixating collective consciousness in nonlocal, out-of body realms. I think Uranus entering Aries is about getting back into the body again and kicking our own asses into action. It's a time period where the collective rears up its head screaming, "I am!", and maybe sparking an era of collective revolt. The voice of the people will be heard.
5) Your writing on the magician vs. the mystic is so intriguing. If one is trapped in the magician mentality, but with the intent to honor and serve the Crowley maxim of Love under Will—can you explain the pitfalls of getting stuck in the power/control trap? And how do we tap into our inner mystic when the magician tricks us at every turn?
I don't see these two orientations, as symbolized in the archetypes of the Mystic and Magus, necessarily in conflict with each other. They can be but it doesn't have to be that way. Both types represent opposite ends of a larger spectrum of how we interact with the life force; both bring their own unique values and talents. In an overly simplified way, we can say the mystical tendencies within us approach the life force in a devotional way towards serving the energies and following their guidance. This is where the life force becomes the boss. The magickal tendencies within us approach the life force through the will to power as a process of managing and directing energy according to a predetermined vision or goal. This is where the empowered ego becomes the boss. Again, one is no better than the other; both exist in each of us at differing degrees of expression and latency.
The magus is in love with power, the mystic is empowered by love. Both orientations also carry their own distinct traps and perils. Too much into the Mystic and our will dissipates, along with out power to manifest ourselves in the world. Too much into the Magus and we lose heart, along with the love that bonds us with others. Some of us are more naturally predisposed towards one or the other, while others seem to embody their balance better. These ideas around magick and mysticism are extrapolated in my new book, "THE EIGHT-CIRCUIT BRAIN: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body"
5a) How did you discover you were a closet mystic?
Around the age of fifteen I decided that I didn't want to become anybody or anything when I grew up. I just wanted to be myself, as in, become nobody but myself. I don't know where this notion came from but there it was. It wasn't until much later, after reading many metaphysical books, that I saw the links between my earlier naive wisdom and what Kabbalah calls "Ayn Sof", what Buddhism labels "Illuminated Gate of the Void", what Zen refers to as "Fertile Void as True Nature", and what the Book of Tarot names, "The Fool".
Ten years later, like so many young men in their twenties, I became obsessed with power and asserting my will onto the world. I wanted to make an impact. This push of ego initiated an era of the magickal tendencies rapidly dominating my personality. I began identifying myself with the Magus archetype while stuffing my deeper mystical yearnings inside the depository of my subconscious. In my early thirties, I encountered Dr. Christopher S. Hyatt, a real hardcore magus who was also the publisher of my first book, "Angel Tech". Through a series of heavy in-person, psychological face-offs with Doc Hyatt, I was unmasked as a false magus. Though painful, this exposure also restored my more innate mystical sensibilities and got me back on track by showing me the rightful place and balance of magick in my life. (I divulge more about the psychological transference I shared with Hyatt in THE EIGHT-CIRCUIT BRAIN)
"Orphans of Delirium" a paratheatrical performance ritual
6) How have your paratheatrical rituals developed? Experimentation throughout the years--or do they come to you in meditation, dreams or via some other higher circuit?
My work in group paratheatrical processes developed through consistent experimentation since 1977 in private "ritual labs" and rare public lecture-demos and performances. The private labs run 6-12 weeks at a stretch, twice a week in three very intensive hours per session in a dance studio. Within the actual scope of the work itself, the states and forces innate to meditation, dreams, and higher circuits avail themselves to us as movement resources that animate physical movements, actions, gestures, sounds, and an asocial type of group interaction. It's asocial when it's not driven by preordained social considerations, obligations and needs for approval or support to be liked or made to feel secure.
Asocial interactions can be made possible after each individual establishes a strong commitment to their own safety and to their internal sources of energy before interacting with others. With practice, this internal dependence can result in a unique interactive climate, a kind of miraculous interaction of self-governing bodies, simultaneously unpredictable and wild while leaving everybody's integrity intact. An initiatory training process is required before anyone can actually engage at this level of what we call vertical integrity. Entry into these labs is by interview and/or invitation only.
7) Recent books or films that have inspired you and/or old books or films that have inspired you recently?
I am currently reading "Heart of Practice" by Thomas Richards, the progenitor of the late Jerzy Grotowski who first coined the term "paratheatre" back in the seventies when working his paratheatrical group experiments in the forests of Poland. Paratheatre is my yoga.
After the age of forty, I stopped reading books unless they supported the research for my film and theatre projects. My earlier author influences include Antonin Artaud, J. Krishnamurti, Herman Hesse, Thomas Mann, Carl Jung, Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, Rajneesh (Osho), Jerzy Grotowski, Hakim Bey, and Noam Chomsky. Since turning forty, I have been reading more and more poetry, especially Rainer Maria Rilke, Pablo Neruda, Arthur Rimbaud, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), William Blake, e.e. cummings, and Charles Hank Bukowski.
As an underground filmmaker and a cinephile of visionaries, I am inspired by the works of Andrei Tarkovsky ("Stalker", "The Sacrifice", "The Mirror"), Lars von Trier ("The Element of Crime","Antichrist", "Dogville"), Alejandro Jodorowsky ("El Topo", "Holy Mountain"), Werner Herzog ("Kaspar Hauser", "Aquirre, Wrath of God") and David Lynch ("Blue Velvet", "Lost Highway", "Inland Empire"). I am also quite fond of Canadian experimentalist Guy Maddin ("Dracula: Pages of a Virgin's Diary", "Brand Upon the Brain") and of Terry Gilliam's under-appreciated masterpieces ("The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus", "Tideland")
8) What has been your deepest psychological/spiritual struggle up to this point?
Compassion. How to live with more truth about myself, about others, and about the world? Truth without compassion feels the same as cruelty to me and cruelty is always a double-edged battle axe. Cruelty unleashed on others is cruelty unleashed on yourself. Cultivating compassion remains my deepest psychological/spiritual struggle in a world gone mad on a blue planet that has incarnated as the embodiment of a vastly compassionate, intelligent entity some call Gaia.
9) How is your second Saturn Return going? Any insights about the second return for those also entering or about to enter this crucial phase?
The last time I looked, it's not happening for me yet. For me it hits twice. The first time will be October/November of 2011 and then, once more for good measure in the summer of 2012. As for advice, I don't have any yet beyond what we have, or have not, learned from our first Saturn return. You know what they say...what goes around, comes around.
10) You have so many wonderfully inspiring exercises in your “8 Circuit” book—would you say that you have found any of them on the whole more powerful for transformation than others?
All the rituals, tasks, meditations, and exercises in that book really work together as a dynamic web of influences towards enhancing the direct experience of the energetic body that the eight circuits symbolize and provide a map for. Some may be more powerfully transformative than others, depending on who you are. For example, the simple exercise of covering your mirrors for one week can be quite profound to anyone addicted to their reflection as a primary source of self-definition. But to someone like me who rarely uses a mirror for anything, it would not make any difference at all. Some of the rituals demand far more commitment and work, such as The Dreaming Ritual or The Anima/Animus Shrine, but judging from the reports of those who actually did them, these rituals have proven to be amongst the more transformative. Again, it depends on the levels of personal commitment - like life itself, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.
11) What music/musicians inspire you?
A lot. It really runs across the board...from punk rock to classical to experimental. For starters....Nirvana, Toru Takemitsu, Armenian chorals, Arvo Part, Queens of the Stone Age, Sylvi Alli, Mahler, Antony and the Johnsons, Tom Waits, The Mermen, Philip Glass , Glenn Branca, Scriabin, Brahms, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy...
12) Any words of wisdom for navigating the next six months of shifts?
Haha! Get offline and walk outdoors a lot more. Learn to permit more uncertainty in your daily life. Down-size to what is most essential and necessary to you and your family. If you can, start growing your own herbs and vegetables. Pay attention to your night dreams and work at maintaining your dream recall; there may be revealing messages arriving from the zeitgeist. Know who your friends are. Make peace with yourself and your maker. The world is not coming to an end. Society, as we have known it, is coming to an end.
MORE INTERVIEWS WITH ANTERO and LINKS TO HIS WORK
Interviews on Paratheatre
Interviews on The Eight-Circuit Brain