Geometrically Ordered Design: Modern Magick
By Dustin Pike
This is my eleventh article pertaining to the design field and its relationship with mathematics and geometry. In order to understand design language at its core, the viewer must understand the acoustics of perception on multiple levels. These articles are my attempt to demonstrate how all art-forms derive from a single source, and are but many shades of the same color. Through the understanding and awareness of this knowledge, mankind and his creations can be viewed as an essential, and even sacramental, portion of the one whole idea of Nature.
Let us assume for this article that we must wipe clean the Hollywood images and ideas pertaining to ‘magick’ and ‘sorcery’. No longer can we envision the blonde-haired, blue-eyed prince being cursed in the distance by a hermit of a witch, whose deeds are dark and maniacal. As difficult as this may be, it is essential to eliminating any prejudices that may have rooted themselves a bit too deep in our consciousness through the guise of mainstream media. After achieving this we are confronted by two basic questions:
1. How can we define magick?
2. What does this have to do with art and design?
First we shall attempt to grasp the elusive idea of magick in the traditional sense. Personally I think that Aleister Crowley, of the early 20th century, described it best: “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” For most people, including myself, this statement is extremely broad and yet at the same time, eye-opening. Never had it occurred to me that by simply doing something so simple as taking a shower, I was inadvertently practicing a type of mundane magick ritual. Crowley goes even further when he exclaimed that, “it is theoretically possible to cause in any object any change of which that object is capable by nature.” Now this is indeed quite a heavy subject to burden ourselves with in such a short article, but it is imperative to touch on it briefly in order to understand the one basic principle which underlies all design systems: intention.
To the occult practitioner of the past, and the present, intention alone stems from the ‘causeless cause of all’ and all else is ‘effect’. In fact there are thought to be two types of magick: White and Black. White magick is said to be brought about by ‘creative’ intention, while Black magick is of course guided by ‘destructive’ intention. A common misunderstanding usually arises when dissecting magick in this manner due to the idea that destruction can be viewed as an act of creation, and vise-versa. For example, a building cannot be constructed without first destroying portions of the natural landscape. In essence we are simply viewing two sides of the same coin, which only appear as dual to the senses. This brings us to our next question…
Our magician at this point can be identified with ease as any practicing designer (or more rightly as any person of any type, doing anything). With even the slightest amount of control or organization the designer’s touch is guided towards a certain end, and his ‘message’ is likewise conveyed in a more or less precise manner. Like the magician, designers are armed and willing combatants in their craft and use certain ‘weapons’ to aid them in reaching their goals. Mathematics and geometric relationships are at the forefront of their arsenal, in that they have been identified since ancient times in one way or another as the four basic ‘weapons’ or, more commonly, ‘elements’ of the magician/designer:
Elemental symbol of fire. Often symbolized in art as a staff, torch, snake, mountain, and is the father figure of the elements. In practice, this is the inspired ‘will’ of a thing. A certain pure form of desire is implied, but it is utterly blind of its purpose. The thirst for any result is absent here, and all that matters is the pursuit. It is a call to action. One should recall the serpent of ‘knowledge’ descending upon Eve and thus inspiring her (See Eve and the Serpent Images). In art-making it is the original idea responsible for creating work in the first place. It is also to be noticed that to suggest a willingness to be something is to also admit that you are not that thing. Duality is birthed, and their is an expulsion from paradise.
Elemental symbol of water. What is meant here is the pure idea of ‘reception’. The will of fire unknowingly pursues purpose and understanding, which only the ‘Grail’ can provide (See Holy Grail image). In this way it is seen as the grand totality of all experience. Popular graphic symbolism includes lakes, oceans, lotuses, the harp, the Moon, and represents the mother of the elements. In certain Hindu symbolism, the Amrita or ‘dew of immortality’ drips constantly upon man but is burnt up by the gross appetite of his desires. From an artistic standpoint it implies an audience in need. Likewise, puddles of stagnant water appear to be absorbed by the fiery rays of the sun.
Elemental symbol of air. Analysis through dissection is meant, and with this comes the idea of synthesis, which inevitably follows. It is said in the Bible that “The word of the Lord is quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword.” Symbols include the dagger, clouds, storms, scales, and the son of the elemental family (birthed of the father and mother or, fire and water). From the union of the will and understanding, the ego emerges and personal thought is born (See Airy Personality image). An original idea mixes itself up with an audience, and a reaction in produced. There is complete freedom of choice, but one quickly learns that in design simplicity is king. Superfluous addition or subtraction is the sure sign of a weak minded artisan, and as such the sword maintains this balance by sharp-minded decision making.
Elemental symbol of earth. Historical symbology includes soil, bread, the wheel, a sphere, coins, and represents the daughter within the family. It is to be noted that the Hebrews describe only three ‘mother elements’ (fire, water, and air), and the fourth is the mere ‘mask’ or ‘shell’ of these. The main idea implied by this is the final crystallization of the will given by the father, or fire. A certain materialization has taken place, and there is a call for re-absorption. From a designer’s perspective, this is the product of his creation in its final and completed form. It is ready for consumption, and ultimately is broken down in order that it should repeat the process.
The very same knowledge employed to construct the holiest of holy temples long ago for ritualistic practice, is ironically used today to convince a certain consumer they should, for whatever reason, purchase a certain product (See Golden Proportion Image). Whether righteous or not, Priests and marketing executives alike are seeking something more than just a passing trend. They are after something universal which, if possible, will endure forever; a spiritual and economic gold-mine.
All this seems, so far, quite sinister but again the intention of the designer is two-fold. A well thought-out plan of a man in love attempting to enchant the woman of his dreams appears much different than a man attempting to attract consumers towards his product of invention. Our senses again have utterly failed to grasp the truth of these situations, as both are merely the instinctual survival techniques of a mammalian. Both seek their desires with the aid of intent. The one truth resting in the center of their division is elusive and forever escapes them. All too often the modern designer is merely the serf of the employer and his ‘weapons’ become either dull and useless or, reckless and blood-thirsty. I challenge the artists and designers reading this to be clear and conscious with their intent in their work. Sharpen your weapons, but use them wisely, and stray not from your true path as a human being.