Monday, November 07, 2005

Chaos Magick = Cultural Imperialism?

There've been some interesting discussions going on as to whether chaos magick is a form of cultural imperialism at Key23 and Barbelith. I think it probably is, but that cultural imperialism isn't always a bad thing. Chaos magick essentially says to use whatever parts of other religions and mystical or magical traditions you see fit. It is cultural imperialism in the way that non-Rastafarians sporting dredlocks or rock stars claiming to be Kabbalists are cultural imperialists. On the one hand, there's something vaguely offensive about it, but I'm not sure if finding this offensive is just my "liberal white guilt" talking. I'm culturally and religiously agnostic. I've no icons or anything that I identify as sacred that, if someone else started adopting it as a fashion statement I'd really care about. How would it be to be Jewish and suddenly find everyone wearing yarmalukes because they were fashionable? Would it devalue your own experience of wearing the yarmaluke? Chaos magick is a little different from appropriating other's religious attributes for mere fashion statements. A chaos magician might appropriate the Rastafarian's dredlocks and the faith behind them, and use them to worship Eris instead of Ja.

I can see this as imperialism. I can also see it as remix culture taken a step further. We're all cultural imperialists at some level, appropriating the creations of those before us to serve our current beliefs. Maybe it isn't imperialism at all, just culture.

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