I left Bruges at 5:58. After some waiting in Brussels, the Eurostar left packed with people (and gave me the impression these trains were build for pygmies or people without legs). Arrived in London St. Pancras at 9ish local time and walked further towards Holborn to meet up with Tons. From there we went to grab a bite near the British Museum, where Nonprophet joined us. The Atlantis bookshop was still closed, so NP took us to see the John Dee display in the British Museum. Apparently NP had a bit of an argument with mr. Dee in his previous incarnation as a professional deceiver. Counterfeiting letters, lawsuit and all that. No surprise then that mr. Dee tried to hide his treasures for us. To no avail: NP's detecting skills soon showed us one of the most ancient magickal artefacts: the mysterious obsidian scrying mirror used for divination by John Dee and his medium Edward Kelly. Actually obsidian looks a lot like bachelite. And that's what it was, an antecolumbian telephone with the Otherworld.
"John Dee’s mirror originated in Mexico and was brought to Europe between 1527 and 1530 during the time of the conquest of Mexico by Cortés. Mirrors of this type were used by Mexican priests for divination. Tezcatlipoca the Mexica god of rulers, warriors and sorcerers, was connected to this practice. The Aztec Tezcatlipoca figure can be found in former Mesoamerican cultures as divine beings worshipped by the Olmec and Maya. The name Tezcatlipoca translates to mean Smoking Mirror. Tezcatlipoca is depicted with a mirror either as his right foot or on his chest, the mirror is named Itlachiayauhque which translates as the place from which he watches."
From Scrying, catoptromancy & John Dee's mirror
As a sidenote, Edward Kelly was killed in 1595 while trying to escape from a prison in Prague. Which might be the place for the meeting next year…
After the museum we were warmly welcomed by Geraldine, the owner of the Atlantis bookshop, who had graced us with a memorable hermetic tour of London during the RAW Memeorial in 2007.
We left London and caught the Oxford coach at noon, and we arrived in Oxford High Street at about 1:45 PM, passing by Bogus, Chris, the Purple Gooroo and Fuzzbuddy on the sidewalk and just in time to catch the rain, probably a result of some dark ritual involving burning dolls by Chris.
We arrived at the hostel and were able to leave our bags and started to explore Oxford under the expert guidance of The Purple Gooroo. Who has been living in Oxford since six years.
Psychogeographical map of Oxford
View Oxford MLA meeting 2010 in a larger map
I started to grow a pinhead when we finally ended in the Turf tavern for a nice evening beer, a pub where we would end up daily sooner or later. And where we finally met up with Diclonius and Fly.
Together we went past Trinity College to visit the Pitt Rivers Museum, in front of which was a massive display of dead trees.
Inside the museum we were welcomed by some fabled creatures inside the Museum of National History.
From left to right: the bloodthirsty rabbit from the Aaaaaaargh cavern, the dodo which inspired Carrolls 'Through the looking glass' and one of our demonic ancestors, the Beelzebuth monkey.
One of my favourite displays in the Pitt concerned Netsuke, an ancient Japanese miniature artform. The result seemed often surreal, even of a Lovecraftian intensity.
After a walk through a scenery reminiscent of Venice, we ended up taking the secret passageway to the Turf Tavern. The talks went on and kept on in the hostel until one by one we finally got to sleep. To sleep, perchance to snore.
After being reminded by Chris that we'd never manage to take over the world, getting up at about Elevenish and after having lunch we went to visit the Bodleian library. Somehow in metaphysical limbo we seemed to have lost Nonprophet, while actually it was HP who had lost us, and had returned safely to the hostel.
And then they were eight. We had no idea the Agatha Christie reference would turn up to be predominant that day, and we decided to go punting at the Magdalen Bridge.
Two teams tried to move forward. I must admit my catastrophic punting got us left behind by Tons, Diclonius, Fly and The Purple Gooroo, so Chris had to save the day.
Turning a curb and seeing the others moving on, we were suddenly stopped by a guy with a microphone who claimed they were filming a German Miss Marple , and so we had to wait for about 5 minutes. 5 minutes later he repeated the same thing to boats that followed us, and so 5 minutes ended up becoming 30. He did change his story however, ending up telling the last of the row that a fruity person had jumped in the water. We never knew whether this last claim was true, but were able to get past the curb at last and returned to our starting point.
We might have known from our rather dodgy pedalo ride in Milton Keynes a few years ago and with the exception of Fly (whose algae regime helped develop gills) that we're not the floating kind.
After meeting up with Nonprophet we ended up in the Lebanese restaurant not far from the hostel.From left to right: Tons, Bogus, Fly, Nonprophet, Borsky, Fuzzbuddy, Diclonius, Chris Matthias and The Purple Gooroo.
That night and in order not to wake our sleeping friends, we hadn't turned on the light but used tea candles to be able to see what we were saying.
At about 2 in the morning the fire alarm went off, waking everybody. Of course we hid the evidence. But we weren't to blame: apparently some fruity person had hit the alarm just for fun.
After a slow start (again) we visited the Ashmolean museum, bizarrely renamed 'Asmodeus' by Tons' dark side. Quite a big collection, so we skipped some floors. Below a laughing sarcofagus, some Horii with a hermetic gesture and a large statue of the ithyphallic god Min (whose wooden phallus fell off aeons ago).
At 6:30 we went to the Oxford castle where for the Bill Spectre (whom we ended up renaming Phil Spectre and who according to Bogus looked like Kryten from Red Dwarf) ghost tour. Our host erroneously claimed a ciseled door inspired CS Lewis 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' while it actually is a gorgeous Green Man. En passant he did mention a 'Brazenose Hellfire Club' .
Below are my last pics of the trip (Fly made us realize a real ghost must be the life of the party at the Oxford church meetings). We gathered for the final online meetup that evening in the hostel.
NP had downloaded recording software beforehand so we could archive this meeting for the generations to come.
We managed to have first a video meeting with B.Kane, which was truly great. The reception at our end wasn't very good though, so I apologize for totally misunderstanding what Errol Flynn collectible it was he was so proud to show us. Result of long days in booze and smoke, and a twisted sense of humour. It felt rather surreal sitting there, while Chris and TPG were gone for a pizza, talking to B.Kane and expecting Chris to suddenly pop up behind him. Finally all 9 of us gathered in the microscopic room facing the webcam, B.Kane showing us some of the treasures from his library. After a while we had to put him on hold (sadly skype doesn't permit more than two video chats) when Bobby Campbell entered the virtual room. Strangely the image and audio were much better. Cool to meet for the first time, Bobby. We switched to audio so we could all chat together. Fuzz asked me whether the recorder was on, after which I switched it on… Then everybody started talking at the same time, all I recall is Diclonius' great idea to start a pope group on Facebook.
After the meeting Fly, Fuzz, Bogus and I went to the club for an absinthe (they should really tell the people behind the bar that they should add water!) and for a nightly walk in the park. Slowly turning into a zombie I tried to write down in the fading moonlight some of what then appeared like a bright discussion, but all I can read today looks like a lot of gibberish.
"Gilligan is Terry Gilliam" (Fly)
something about a gig with multiple stages and people wearing headphones (Fly)
"I heard one of your friend's connections cut the hair of Harry Potter" (Fuzz)
something about the movie 'Harvey' with James Steward (Bogus)
"Locker- BP" (Fly)
something about Lady gaga's cock (a running gag for the last couple of days)
and my favourite Fly quote:
"You might feel you're in the crowd, man, but really… you're it!"
Which imho resumes the way we felt during these three wonderful days, a crowd of very different people feeling united by Maybe Logic.
All we did on Sunday were goodbyes. We were all fairly tired, I left Oxford with Tons and Nonprophet at noonish, and after a little visit to speaker's corner in London we begged each other farewell. Hopefully we'll find a way to organise video meetings every 23rd, until we meet again IRL maybe next year in Prague, or Stockholm, or Capitola…
Some of us have big projects going on. Tons, I hope somehow I'll be able to read your book once it's published (even if I have to learn German); Fuzz, Fly and Nonprophet, I won't divulge your respective projects but I hope we'll hear more of you soon!