Jason Louv

by Michael Szul on 2006-06-13 14:23:15 tags: jason louv, ultraculture

[Editor’s note: This interview with Jason Louv was done by Dan Keene, and graciously donated by Jason.]

In September 2005, a book called Generation Hex hit the bookshelves. Within its pages are the experiences of modern practicing magicians and shamans among the world’s youth, as the book’s editor Jason Louv has coined this movement, “Ultraculture”. Generation Hex gives the reader more than just a peek into the magickal realm of Ultraculture, as documented by several diverse authors such as Scott Treleaven, Stephen Grasso, Rachel Haywire, and Jason Louv. Generation Hex editor Jason Louv gladly agreed to the following interview with the Finger, conducted via the internet…

When people see my copy of GENERATION HEX, the first thing they usually say is “Cool cover, what’s it about?” It feels like oversimplifying when I tell them it’s about magic. How would you describe GENERATION HEX to those who are unfamiliar with magical concepts and why should it interest them?

That’s actually a tough one as you can tell by my total lack of ability to come up with a pithy description of the book to throw on the back. The book’s certainly about “magick” in the sense of the set of psychic techniques and occult meaning systems that have traditionally fallen under that blanket term; it’s also about “magic” in the sense of trying to re-open and re-enchant the fairly insane world we’re currently living in. Personally, it’s my attempt to make something meaningful and livable out of a lot of the fairly disjointed occult and countercultural ideas that have been floating around for the last century and a half. It’s a manual and a toolkit for constructing a more meaningful and creative version of yourself, and exploring “other places,” the first of many to be conducted across multiple mediums and timescales.

What is the function of your term “Ultraculture” as represented by the diverse writers in GENERATION HEX, and could it be an answer for those who are disillusioned with the usual rhetoric the “new age” and “drug culture”?

The word “Ultraculture” was meant to provoke people out of thinking in the oppositional and self-limiting ways that the word “counterculture” suggests. Those with the will and imagination to do magic certainly shouldn’t be limited by reacting to an assumed oppressor, the focus should be totally on creativity and making something new.

So then rather than standing on a soap box with a megaphone to make positive changes within the political realm, would you suggest magic as a means to make positive changes in consensus reality itself?

Well I’m not suggesting magic replace anything, it’s a bit more accurate to say that it’s a tool which can help augment whatever you happen to be doing and give you more control and authorship over your life. Certainly magic can be used to affect massive change but don’t forget that it has to be backed up in the physical realm to have any validity.

As far as politics go, we’ve had the biggest protests in history in the last couple of years and they haven’t changed anything. So certainly we’ve got to change the approach somehow, or augment what we’re doing somehow, because we’re not getting the desired response.

Since the year 2012 is fast approaching, you may have noticed the increased talk and hype about a global paradigm shift. What are your thoughts on this, from an Ultracultural standpoint?

I love Terence McKenna’s books but what makes me wary about the whole 2012 thing is that it’s essentially a Christian viewpoint (Second Coming or God as the endpoint of history) and, more importantly, it’s a worldview that supposes that the world’s going to change of its own accord and become happy-fluffy-Candyland. Certainly the West has been going through some major and very rapid changes, becoming more connected, more open to traditionally “occult” ideas, etc., but we also took a huge backslide post-9/11, so we’ll see what happens. Magick, or spirituality, or whatever – the real process of self-analysis, setting goals, building a life, building a soul through trial and error and struggle – that’s hard work and it’s a day-to-day, moment-to-moment process. It always needs to be taken care of in the now instead of hanging your hopes on the day after tomorrow or some big apocalypse or paradigm shift or somebody else coming to sort out your problems. So we’ll see about 2012, hopefully it’ll be interesting, but in the meantime I’m much more concerned about the day-to-day and don’t really expect much to change that.

Even though many are becoming more open to the ideas of occult and spirituality, many others tend to shy away from the idea of actually practicing magic, often because of the common “holy inquisitional” stereotype that magic is used for evil or manipulative purposes. Was it your intention to clarify any misconceptions about the modern practicing magician when making GENERATION HEX?

Absolutely, although I’m not going to play apologist for magic either. The best I could do is report my own experiences and give as many other people as I could a forum to report theirs. Each person makes their own model and experience of magic and if you go in trying to use it as a weapon or for manipulation than you certainly can. Luckily magic seems to have its own agenda, though, which is not for “evil” or “darkness” (or whatever other aspect of self most people would prefer to pretend isn’t part of them and use as a scapegoat), but for overall evolution in all aspects of the human experience. So as Crowley would have said, even somebody who gets into magic for the “wrong” reasons will probably find themselves doing the “Great Work” of building their soul sooner or later.

I’m not going to sit here and claim that magic is some kind of lovely “spiritual path” of uberlight, it’s very often a communication with extremely dark forces and a coming to terms with the worst parts of being alive. Of course, basements are dark and dusty and cobwebby places full of spiders and rats and all kinds of nastiness and nobody wants to clean them, but think how much happier and more grounded you are after you do it! So there is darkness and “evil” or whatever in magic, but it’s certainly not there to be worshipped or bargained with, it’s there to be mastered, and I think that’s the distinction that people often miss that leads them to demonizing, for lack of a better word, people who engage in these kinds of systems.

You mention in GENERATION HEX that we are living in a time were it is much easier to connect with like-minded individuals, or as you call them, “the others”. What is the current status of Ultraculture’s network, and where would you like to see it go?

It certainly is (although I didn’t coin the phrase “find the others,” that was Timothy Leary and it’s been a standard in the “counterculture” ever since). As far as Ultraculture goes, we have a page up at Ultraculture.org where people can connect. There’ll be a lot more resources there in the coming months but I’m looking to people who are into the idea to come add their effort in building it. We’ve been coordinating a lot of community action in several cities over the last year, which I’m not really supposed to talk much about, but we’re linking people up and getting people doing magic to affect positive change. I don’t know if Ultraculture is really going to have a huge web presence because I think that the web is kind of past its sell-by date and the last thing it needs is another forum to yabber on about magic without actually doing anything, but I hope that we can continue to form a network of people actually going out and doing magic in their communities and linking up and being creative and hopeful in the face of the Horrible Period of History We Live In™.

And for those who have been curious about magick but not quite sure of where to start, would you like to provide any useful leads or advice?

Wow… OK, well it’s a huge topic of study and practice, and it WILL infiltrate all areas of your life, but that’s a great thing. Be prepared for it to work is all I really have to say, and have a sense of humor about it at all times; never take anything as objectively real. As far as leads on getting started, I think chaos magic is a great place to get yourself oriented and your attitude properly adjusted. Phil Hine is a great author on the topic. But don’t be afraid to do your research and do your best to take on the subject of magic in all its forms and permutations, its history and the different forms it takes across cultures. Learn your roots. Don’t be afraid of Crowley; don’t be afraid of working in groups (as long as you find people you can trust); hell, don’t be afraid of magic! It won’t hurt you! You may well put yourself through the depths of Darkest Heck itself in the name of magic at times, but you always come out bigger on the other end. Have fun with it always – magic is, to my mind, the greatest show on earth.

If by my undeniable charm and good looks I have somehow managed to convince you and you want to become a magician this instant, then start by getting your basic skills sorted – write down your dreams every night, adopt a daily meditation practice, learn or create a banishing ritual to perform daily and learn how to do sigils. Endeavor to master yourself and your reality. Get that going on a regular basis and you’ll be well on your way; those are the basic rules of the game, the rest, as they say, is in how you play it…