I've recently picked up some books on pop culture studies, to supplement the existing ones I had, and to help me with the research aspect of Pop Culture Magic 2.0. While I've written the first chapter of the book, I've felt the need to temporarily focus more on research and experimentation, and this has proven to be a wise idea. One of the books I'm reading is Textual Poachers by Henry Jenkins. I wish I'd read it back when I was writing Pop Culture Magick, because it would've supported a lot of the arguments I made about pop culture, but better later than never. What's most fascinating about the book thus far, is the focus on how fans have made their own interpretations of pop culture, and in a sense created their own identities around pop culture.
Textual Poachers was written over twenty years ago, but I see the same trends in pop culture now, and if anything they are much more significant. Cosplay, for example, speaks to how fans become characters they like, and in turn have their own identities shaped by that interaction. I've written about this topic in Multi-Media Magic, but what fascinates about it now, even more than before, is how identity pops up as an element of pop culture. I feel that the evolution of pop culture magic involves the integration of identity as an essential part of making pop culture a viable medium of magic.
When I examine pop culture now, as opposed to ten years ago, what stands out is how much pop culture seems to involve integrating the people into it. Cosplay is one example, but video games are another, and social media is yet another. There's this creation of multiple identities all linked together, sharing the identity of a person, but also changing that identity via the mediums being utilized. My own experiments with different forms of media as part of the formation of identity has shown me how much those mediums can help you experiment with your identity and map new behaviors and habits onto it as a result of describing the role those behavior/s habits have on you. It indicates to me just how much the identity of a person goes beyond a person's physical expression of that identity (i.e. body) and shows up in the person's life through their art, pictures, textual interactions. At the same time, I think the body is being integrated even more into explorations of identity and pop culture certainly plays a role in that exploration.
I feel that an evolution of pop culture magic will more than ever necessitate the participation of the magician in pop culture, not merely as a replicator of a given pop culture, but a creator of pop culture content that also is an expression of his/her identity and magical work (whether overtly or subtly). The magician mediates pop culture, becomes pop culture, is an expression of pop culture, and brings all of that back into his/her own sense of identity. There's a cycle there and it's one I'm hoping to explore more thoroughly as I continue to research, experiment, and write the book.
Book Review: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that shape our Decisions by Dan Ariely
In this book, Dan Ariely shares the irrational aspects of our behavior and shows just how much sway and influence those aspects have in our decision making processes. We are far from being rational and logical about our choices, but fool ourselves into believing we're rational (which is irrational in and of itself). Through a variety of case studies, Ariely demonstrates how irrational we are, as well as showing how different environmental influences effect us. He explores the relationship we have with social and business behaviors, money, as well as stealing, dishonesty, and a variety of other behaviors that are all part of our irrational makeup. This is a must read book if you want to understand your own decision making process better and if you are fascinated with human behavior.