“The business of stories is not enchantment. The business of stories is not escape. The business of stories is waking up.” -Martin Shaw
Greetings dear reader. I am writing to you from the clouds, in the belly of a steel dragon soaring from the golden desert to the concrete jungle of New York City. Flying allows for peaceful moments of calm thought, a phenomenon that has a uniquely inverted relationship. As the altitude increases, concentration itself becomes deeper….
Yesterday I was introduced to the term psychotechnology by the artist Christopher Remmers. He was gracious enough to offer his humble yet poetic perspective on an Instagram live feed as well as a Farbeyond podcast interview. We planned to talk about mythology, and I was surprised by the direction in which this rather impromptu conversation shaped itself. With a topic so broad, the pathway we followed centered around how stories have shaped the evolution of humanity. I've boiled down the essence of our conversation into three main points as a way of clearing a walkable path for readers and listeners to traverse within this dense forest of interwoven story and biology.
A Map to this Blog
1. Who is the mysterious Christopher?
(you can view his art here)
CHAPTER 1: A bit about Christopher
Like many artists, Christopher spent his twenties following the winding trail of exploration, trying on many different hats until the right one of a fantastical style landed atop his head. He started his training in the realm of the atelier fashion, focusing on the technique of high realism within traditional oil painting methods. Christopher discovered these ateliers through the Art Renewal Center a non-profit organization with the goal of bringing classical realism back into the forefront of art and culture in the contemporary world.
He spent these years of self-directed education attending workshops and reading, with one book taking on a particular note of interest called Traditional Oil Painting by Virgil Elliot. After studying this book and the classical paintings techniques within it for years, Christopher began researching its author. Upon a Google search, Christopher discovered that this enigmatic Elliot fellow lived a mere five minutes away from him in Sonoma County California. They then became friends, in the way apprentices and masters often do.
He then packed his paints away and traveled north in a continuation of his personal quest to the Georgetown Atelier in Seattle Washington. This particular atelier focuses on academic training with a spin on specifically teaching magical realism within the context of classical methodology. The perfect fit for Christopher’s interests in universal myth and the academic painting traditions. This exciting series of events serve as examples of the unlikely impossibly of cosmic destiny that plays a prominent role in Christopher’s strangely wonderful life.
Christopher continued to learn more about the dreamy techniques of French Academic style of painting from the mid to late 19th century. His inspirations from this period include William Bouguereau, Lawrence Tadema, and Jean-Léon Gérôme.
When looking at the composition, layering, and movement within Christopher’s own paintings, the romantic influence of these savants becomes apparent. His large-scale paintings in particular have a portal-like presence that beg the gazer to step through their frames. To perhaps dance with the cosmic characters as they plunge and twirl through galaxies of internal infinites. With depths of dark shadow reminiscent of the Baroque master Carravagio, a mystery inherent within the sublime beckons from each piece.
These grand yet welcoming narratives tie into Christopher’s current passion project that synthesis external paintings with internal journeys. This new project is called Evolving the Myth- an immersive 4D experience that will allow participants to walk into Christopher’s larger than life paintings, to step into the mythical in order to discover the truth. This project is currently in development, and has a lovely website that explains its goals far more eloquently than I ever could. Here is a link to that project.
CHAPTER 2: What is psychotechnology?
On the podcast, we were able to discuss the concept of psychotechnology. If you are already familair with this topic, feel free to skip this level and advance to the next round (but beware of the dragons).
The prefix of this word is easy enough to grasp, as the Greek word psykho translates to mental. Technology is more dependent upon context, as when it most commonly conjures images of phones, toasters, robots, etc. In this conversation's perspective, we will use Cognitive Science’s definition of technology which is our mental toolkit or processes of thinking.
Psychotechnology therefore is our mental arsenal. It’s how we conceptualize the world, the very dance-steps of consciousness themselves! Very broad strokes here, I know. So let’s identify the three types of psychotechnologies as to better digest what this term actually means. This breakdown of the forms comes from an article in Medium by John Perez which is available to read here.
The Three Types of Psychotechnology:
1.) Mental psychotech includes speech, literacy, numeracy, metaphor, meditation, and spiritual practices.
2.) Embodied psychotech includes fasting, sensory isolation, sleep deprivation, binaural beats, accupressure, breathing techniques, yoga, martial arts, and other forms of exercise.
3.) Pharmacological psychotech are compounds that modify cognition, from nootropics like L-theanine and gingko biloba, to caffeine, cannabis, psilocybin, LSD, DMT, and many others.
Psychotechnologies allow people to manifest their own destinies. It is the science version of magical thinking. Christopher was able to explain the role this term has had through the development of human consciousness. He references a talk series made by Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Toronto John Vervaeke called Awakening from the Meaning Crises.
In this series Vervaeke argues that myth and metaphor were the first technologies developed out of human consciousness to create meaning in our lives. Proposing that mythologies are the potential of human fulfillment- they are our imaginings of what we can be. As such we create stories that allow us to project ourselves into the future. We create fantastical representations in our minds that give us a goal to focus on and work towards. From an evolutionary perspective this shift from thought to modern society can be summarized as follows.
Early people imbued flowers, trees, wind and rocks with metaphorical significance. I see therefore I am. These personifications turned into stories, which then morphed into myths and religions that shaped the world as we know it today. All because someone way back decided they saw themselves reflected in the reflective waters of an emerald pool...
CHAPTER 3: How do you live your own myth?
Here are two mundane illustrations of a "thoughts magical birth into reality":
I want ice cream (subject). I shop for ice cream (verb). I eat ice scream (complete sentence).
Bam! The thought (subject) + action (verb) = the realization of thought (complete sentence).
I want to be an artist. I love dragons. I wish they were real. I want to create dragons so as to make them real. I painted a dragon so now its real.
Magical thinking, manifestation, psychotechnology, or simply living life are all different words for the same concept. The physical world is intrinsically linked to thought patterns, like the warp and weft of a glimmering medieval tapestry. This is an incredibly simple yet achingly difficult reality in which to exist. So my dear friends, look to myth for meaning, come to it for guidance and courage. Be wary of the time spent within its waters, as loosing track of purpose within this new world of social media and streaming is easier than ever before. It is a Web 3 wonderland indeed, but as the Lewis Lewis Carroll so wisely wrote;
"Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to. Alice: I don't much care where. The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go."
So if our intention draws us towards destiny, we must ask ourselves what we value. What is the difficulty we face within in ourselves. Let's ask where and why we want to go somewhere, so as not to get caught up in the wrong currents. We must care where we go!
This blog is available as a podcast as well and can be played on Spotify and Apple Podcasts:
Much love and gratitude as always dear readers, my plane is landing now dear friend, so I must say farewell.
I’ll catch ya’ll on the other side.