Photo by Fenris23 .
This weekend all the freaks, witches, hippies and just plain ol' free spirits from throughout the Northwest are going to be making our weird Portland a little bit stranger than it already is. That's because it's time for the second annual Esozone festival
. This year's theme: “The Other Tomorrow.”
“It all started when a bunch of occultists who communicated through various blogs and web forums decided we wanted to have some sort of gathering,” said Klint Finley, one of the event's organizers as well as a founder of the website technoccult.com
, a sort of World Wide Web crossroads for the Philip K. Dick-like merger of the magical, the mystical and the technological.
“I've always been fascinated with weird stuff,” he said. “As a kid I was really interested in Bigfoot and the paranormal. While other kids were playing sports I was reading comic books… I've always wanted to share all that strange stuff with other people. I started the web site when I was 18 to do just that.”
Esozone will feature of host of artists, musicians and scholars of everything from spiritual forces to psychedelic plants. Among the performers will be electronic musician Nolon Ashley, who goes by the name “Cult of Zir.”
Along with being a nice place to perform, he said the event also dovetails nicely with his personal quest.
Ashley emphasized that “occult” means “hidden.” “I seek the deepest understanding possible of myself and the world I find myself in,” he said. “This can only be found by engaging and exploring the parts of myself which I normally don't use, the subconscious mind, the latent residual emotions and psychological patterns that would otherwise go unchecked.” Viewing the mainstream of culture as a shiny mask that covers more than it reveals, he said the occult and his art are the best ways he's found to do that.
One of the keynote speakers will be the botanist Dennis McKenna
, brother of the late Terrence McKenna. Go the “New Age” section of your local bookstore; if you see a book with “2012” on the cover, it's likely borrowing a concept from Terrence, namely that the end of time as we know it
will arrive December 21, 2012.
Neither Dennis nor the event organizers necessarily agree with that eschatological assessment, but they do agree that with the explosion of computational and biological technology, the rise in religious fundamentalism and the breakdowns of institutions worldwide do suggest that something is happening and we don't know what it is. Hell, there's no guarantee that our planet isn't about to be destroyed by a man-made black hole
. Hence the event's subtitle, “The Other Tomorrow.”
Finley's main concern at this point is the way certain institutions
are trying to consolidate all the power into a few hands. While he said he doesn't think the populace can be totally controlled, that doesn't mean there aren't people out there trying the damndest to do so.
So how do we stop it? By fighting back. “In a very fundamental way, that's what Esozone is about,” he said, “individual empowerment. Esozone itself is sort of a proof-of-concept: if a bunch of 20-something weirdos can figure out a way to pull this event off, what are you capable of doing?”
Ashley puts it even more succinctly. The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, and “my hope is that our species embraces a new mode of operating on this planet, and elsewhere, and stops being a bunch of big fat fucking thumbsucking cowards,” he said. “My fear is that everything blows up as a result of humankind's wasteful and careless disrespect for itself and its surroundings, and intelligent life as we know it is back to ground zero.”
Well, when you put it that way, I guess we'd better start partying now, before the shit hits the fan.
Esozone: A Weekend Event of Fringe Science and Magick. The Watershed Building. 5040 SE Milwaukie Ave. Friday 6 pm to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 2 am. Tickets Friday are $10 before Midnight, $5 after. Tickets Saturday and Sunday are $25 before 10:30 pm, $5 after. Get a weekend pass for $50. http://esozone.com/