Energised between


this subject

this energised between subject, between this subject. 

Now start again.




Energised                                                                                         between this sibling. 


Start 

again. This subjectiveness destroys.

This destrupping subjict nrging like gurning smackmi chin and shove in anntother in front of the PA with head in cone, 

with this protesting dust marching down across back and 

escaping away…

And away

between the coming to be a knowing, between things as well. Perhaps more so than things, we consider this.

Perhaps we are more than things

still coming to know. 

I am still coming to know.

And in the unmoving perhaps we are so more 
even more than the energised between
and so to be more

the gaze alone can never contain this, and so the solution is never. 

The gaze can never be the solution, and what is contained is full of the in between.

On the between there rolls an energy, this discreetly controlled solution between the grasp and the graspable.

So I wait.

Between grasp and graspable, between the steps of the grasping, the grasping between which produces the interstice and the immensity of this 

alI wait now. All wait with the things.
Get down on the floor and wait 
like things
for things who do not wait.

I wait with the between and the event of this is within the “perhaps” of an energised.

An energised perhaps

not thing-not-between-not the wait.

My great array is a spectrum of a not

this is

an energised between of collated materials.

EvilEyElivE

Ornament as detritus.

She got her TV Eye on me, 
She got her TV Eye… 


Two cartoon figures raise the “mano cortuna” and headbang. 

Across the window sill are arranged a series of scale models, although what scale is surely a moot point for these are imaginary creatures. A disembodied eyeball that walks on legs; a demon with phallic head and claws, toothed penis ‘Alien’; a disc stuck over a cruciform arrangement which is understood to be a spaceship ‘Enterprise’. 


Parents shouts turn it down, child pouts, doors slam, walls rattle and downstairs the crossed claymores, welded to a shield that bears a Medusa head, swing dangerously on its nail.  An iron nail. 


Next door a slip cast dog, a fairy holding aloft a crescent moon, an owl with a somewhat startled look in its round, yellow eyes, and the clown all take a sideways jump on the mantelpiece. Sometimes when the neighbours fight and things are thrown the reproduction print of a doe eyed, tear jewelled urchin will fall from its hook. The much suffering eye. 


The clown in its abject, theatrical misery reminds of us of hunchbacks, favoured suspects for casting a jealous eye over all that is upright and beautiful and yet special, also, in their ability to bestow luck and divert the evil eye. In this latter capacity they are still to be found represented on key rings and as ‘lucky charms’.



Walls like bloody cardboard, the husband will say, hush now, his wife will say, they’ll hear us. She turns up the telly. On the outside wall a cartwheel is pinned to their false stone cladding. Next door a satellite dish is screwed onto the red brick. 

It has been suggested that the evil eye complex is a set of prudent rules developed by those of limited means who by necessity live in small communities. Villages that are by their very nature isolated and, in some cases, may be entirely cut off from the outside world for much of the year. In such places the pecking order will be experienced with an alarming immediacy. Especially so between individuals of the same or similar social standing. (The Evil Eye – Envy and Greed Among the Patidar of Central Gujerat. D.F. Pocock, 1973.) Distant social standings will appear fixed, God given perhaps, while the flux and fairness – or otherwise – of the immediate surroundings are felt acutely. 

Every salesperson knows that if you can get one household at either end of the street to put up a dish then soon enough those in between will subscribe.

A popular amulet [in 1999] is a miniature mobile telephone, made of gold. It can be seen hanging around people’s necks next to a gold ‘horn of plenty’, Cornuta, which funnily enough I often thought to represent a sperm and so it always took me back, confused me a little, the bravado with which they were worn. Job done. The sperm and the phone are hung over an ankh, next to a Horus eye, perhaps across a disc in which a hologram of an eye is set. A clown, a dog, a mermaid, a bear; all these in gold or silver can be see hung around necks. 



Elworthy reminds us of how, judging by the archaeological record, amulets were cheaply and quickly produced in vast quantities; the most popular form of body decoration. Perhaps the only form of decoration that made sense, the image that also functioned, that stood as a marker between your-self and the jealousy of a hostile outside. 

Functioning in this manner it destroys its decorative status. – But we forget. – Now the clowns, dogs, eyes, moons, cats, tokens of life, tokens of death, the anti-ocular, the clash with the panoptic gaze, the defiant flash of plenitude, the weeping urchin children – defence against weeping urchinism – the voluptuous goddesses, a reproduction of Arcadia both lost and promised, convolutions of labyrinth, horseshoe: now none of this can be seen. It is tat, the useless object barely acceptable to taste, too banal to notice and yet here all around us. “Home just would not be home without them…” That is to say, even as Modernism was moved toward a resolute sensibility of denial wherein form and function must be one – must be beauty – so decoration was denied a function. Yet functions for the useless persist. 


Modernism implicitly claimed on behalf of Rationalism an ability to conquer terror, an extension of Enlightenment. But we forget. Forget that most of those who proposed, described, expounded the Enlightenment were deeply implicated in Masonic lore, in alchemic processes, in pouring bucket loads of symbolic marble – Athenian, African; stolen or mock – into the capital cities of Europe. A conscientious proponent of rationalism and progress may have worn an amulet, a watch fob he would call it, a set square and compass to dazzle, order, and rectify any malevolent gaze that may have brought chaos into his life. Decoration has persisted and yet been forgotten because although it is periodically decried as decadent, still, weakly perhaps, it operates as an apotropaic. Its form is base but perhaps it was always intended to be. Perhaps it needs to be decadent, priapic, lewd, – Grylli and Chimerae – so to cling to its function. An injection of horror to inoculate against the greater horror. “I don’t give a fig”, it says, denying the demonic envy that will suck life dry. The mantelpiece ornament is a forgotten echo of the household god, the bowls of potpourri emulate Demon-Traps. Junk jewellery, deeply implicated in a symbolic order; an order at once intuitive and yet forgotten. The lost that persists. A cartwheel partakes of Arcadia, it is a shield device to divert an attacking eye. A labyrinth of sorts, it is the wheel of fortune which (while fixed) will turn and toss the Fates down below, will haul Fortune up to its pinnacle, given time, and throw the lot down again because Pride transforms Fortune into a Fate. Stoic, fixed, it might be suggested that the cartwheel was an Ur-Soap Opera. A simple story with endless permutations. Next door the cartwheel has mutated into the satellite dish. Still the neighbours have discretely placed an ornamental horseshoe above the door, but we wonder of the forgetting. In all these amulets the eye is meant to turn outwards, to face the incoming eye. Does close circuit television balance out this Overlooking?


This stripping of the body so that it is naked before a foreign gaze, a gaze that supplants the apotropaic form. The Other gaze dares to outbid the hearth, its envy would render senseless that intimacy of nurturing. But we forget. And as the evil eye is brought in, so its elements are turned around. On the child’s bedroom door there is a staring red eyed beast-man; an image from ‘The Terminator’, an over muscled cyborg who is surely related to the wild bestiary of the Grylli in which insect, animal, and human commingle to make creatures of ridicule. Gnostic imperfections, a ludicrous body to dispel the evil eye. Or there is a ‘Teletubbie’ which, like the ‘Terminator’, is by no means a simple apotropaic. Like an eye, both figures are deeply ambiguous, could be claimed to assimilate the deadly gaze into their very being. 


Alienated and fragmented and scattered, the child has all the more reason to set up markers that will control the terror, calm the vortex, ward off the evil eye. But we forget. And the parents promise to eject the child from their house if it does not at once remove the ring from the piercing in their eyebrow. All the time we scrape at the surface of significance, dig little furrows of meaning. We wish to tunnel underneath evil to live: Help us see through this morass of seeing.



Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.3 No.2 1999.

evilEYElive


Horseshoe.

Spiral form, labyrinth, mano cornuta, horseshoe. The horseshoe too is a trap. Some say it traps the good luck and should never be hung horns inverted because this would let the good luck escape. Yet this is more superstition, habit, and rather less than wonderment.
An older version of the horseshoe was, and in all likelihood still is, nailed on stable doors and hung above the animals themselves in order to repel the spirits who ride the horses at night. If unprotected;
“Very often in the mornin’, there they be all a-brokt out in sweat, the very same’s ‘off they’d a-bin hard to work.” 
Elworthy further comments how “The same thing is done by hanging up scythes or sharp instruments to the stable rafters, by which the pixies will be cut if they ride the horses.” 

Another use of the horseshoe is recounted by R. C. Maclagan:
“”Mattie Lavarty used to be going about the country here makin’ eolas I mind yince a coo belongin’ tae yin Neil R. took ill before calfing, an’ they sent for Mattie Lavarty. She worked aboot the coo wi’ water, an’ said her paternoster or somethin’ else o’er’t an left a horseshoe in front o’t. But the next mornin’ whan Neil gaed intae the byre the calf was lyin’ deed in the greep. That pit Neil frae gaun near Mattie or the like o’ her ever after.”
“Our business here,” Maclagan continues, “is not with Mattie’s success or failure, but with the subject matter used in her attempted cure. The illness of the cow was probably a protracted labour, and Mattie put before it what was symbolical of a free passage for the expected calf. It was no mere placing of something for luck, but a use of the symbol of reproduction on an appropriate occasion.” (Evil Eye in the Western Highlands. R. C. Malagan. London, David Nutt, 1902.)
The horseshoe, then, functions as a useful object. The use is in a consecrated relationship between shoe and uterus. Also I duly note that the fluidity of this nexus of function and meaning surrounding the evil eye has again slipped so that indeed, this horseshoe is not a trap. It is an aide-memoire, influence at a distance. A spell cast to unlock the cow’s bewitchment – and as such, true, the horseshoe should trap and divert the negative fascination or flow that is knotting up the birth of its calf. Perhaps Mattie was unsuccessful here precisely on this count? Even within the other logic of magic an object or invocation has a job to do and like anything or anyone else it can best do that job when not trying to do several other things at once. A nick in the dam’s ear or a red rag or water in which silver had soaked or water in which red hot coals had been dunked, depending on your tradition, anyone of these methods may have countered the Eye. Let the horseshoe concentrate solely on the struggling unborn – or vice versa – however these things work.
The amulet, the protective gesture or sign, holds sway against the evil eye by operating along two main frequencies. The first is the labyrinth, the trap, diversion – so this can be the ridiculous or the complex, for the gaze to get lost in. The second is a more direct countering; for the threat of an eye there is no more sure repellent than an image of an eye. That is, fear to fear, fight fire with fire. So if an evil eye pulls up sharp when met by itself, one wonders how it is that across the literature it is taken as given that iron is repugnant to faery folk, the spirits, and so base, so foul a metal is this that it is best to construct entire temples, furniture and frame alike, without the use of nails. 

But what of iron? It visibly rots and it is red. Red rags abound in this swathe of connection. One is reminded of the smell of menstruation. Could a formative matriarchal society have used the power of this cyclical presence? Taboo forming from a rich, mineral odour, from a genuinely awed set of linkages; crescent and moon, night and sex, blood and tides. Initially the connections are actual, barely metaphorical at all, but then they become veiled, are presented as mystery, are covered and uncovered in rites and rituals. Notably Isis wears a crescent on her brow. This is both poetry and subterfuge, revelation and repression. Eventually political repression, barely metaphorical but actual; the taboo on menses is turned around in the patriarchal and becomes a method of policing ‘woman’.


A horse being shod is as vulnerable as a young couple might be at their wedding to malocchia. The smithy stood close to the centre of those societies in which the horse dominated. Thoroughly routed by the petrol engine, even over so short a span of time it seems necessary to re-imagine for oneself just what the importance of the horse must have been. We forget, yet the horse was not only transport but a symbol of well being, not only an individual’s livelihood but their liberty; destroyers of horizons, vital to food, wealth, order, communication. No surprise then, that the blacksmith would seek to prevent the workings of invidia slipping in between the exposed hoof and his ironwork. For example, although iron and the shoe itself were apotropaic it was nonetheless deemed necessary to hang above the forge a phallic amulet. This should perhaps be seen as something other than ‘merely’ buying into the dominant ‘archy’. Indeed, the phallus rather than properly patriarchal was the property of Priapus. That is to say, the Green Man, Pan, Bacchus. This gorged and thrusting member – hung above a place for pounding metal – is a vegetative godhead, mushroom cock, delirious fermentation. Phallus proper is a penis fitting for a goddess, otherwise it is the sterile and frozen self regard of skyscraper, sports car, and gun.

Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.3 No.2 1999.

EvileyelivE


Labyrinth.

Mano fica is a common apotropaic gesture. It consists of the clenched fist with thumb stuck between first and forefinger. The literal allusion is to the fig, whence “I couldn’t give a fig!”, but this is of course a migration of references both to the genitalia of either sex individually and co-joined in copulation.


(Generally, the allusion has nowadays been eroded to the rather more blunt; “I couldn’t give a fuck.” While we might mourn this loss of metaphorical richness, the biodiversity of language if you will, still we must note that ‘fuck’ remains migratory by nature – and nurture. In fact ‘fuck’ is a very slippery character.)

The gesture now associated with the phrase “Sit and swivel”, the erect forefinger, this too is magic against the evil eye. Also the mano cornuta with little finger and forefinger raised while the remaining fingers and thumb are tucked into the palm. Up-raised this can possess the same phallic aggression as ‘giving the finger’, it is a goat sign, horned, horny, capricious. Demoted by some to the devil but originally a sign of virility, life, and therefore excellent protection against wizened envy, the wasting effects, dry hacking cough, and general irritation one will suffer if Overlooked.
Erect, the mano cornuta is sign of the delinquent, the ridiculous. It is a protective gesture that utilizes bombast; two penises counteract one penis – the one being the invasive stare.

When fingers are pointed downwards this gesture is rather more subtle, not least of all for to ward of evil now it is best that the gesture be kept to oneself. It is a private reassurance, a sign made but not shown. It is “a Stone age woman-image, two legs and a vulva — so potency against the evil eye comes from the “horns” which are stabbed down, the virile element — but within that symbol is embedded the power of the goddess.(Hakim Bey.)

The use value of the sign in both orientations leads us into the notion of copulation: what might this play, this coming together, this fusing of differences, this infinity and fall back to the finite, this collapse into difference  which might nonetheless create a unity, a third, the egg, the child – what might this possess that could both incite an envious evil eye and yet, simultaneously, by its own fecundity, form the very first defence against the evil eye? The answer of course is life pure and simple (in all its complexity). 

Hakim Bey suggests how “The apotropaic complex is thus to be seen as neither male nor female nor even, properly speaking, androgynous. The symbols revolve not around gender but engendering, around life or energy itself as a value opposed to the negativity, the vacuum, the deathly cold of envy.” 
From the rites of copulation there comes defence. To protect the offspring of miscegenation (and that is any act not explicitly ordained by the king) a labyrinth must be built. To celebrate spring, death and rebirth – first copulation – teenagers are linked by strips of fine cloth, they hold hands and, with the new vegetation entwined in their hair, they dance along this complicated pathway – into the centre – and then out again. It is exhilarating, confusing; it brings you to death but then it brings you to the sun.
This is not a village fete however. Certainly not a village as refracted through the neutralizing prism of broadcast bucolic careerism. It must be remembered that almost every aspect of our life can barely be reached by any means other than fiction. Countryside, no less than city, is a landscape of permission; even the wild parts are allowed. Having being ruthlessly appropriated and re-appropriated by successive landowners, by agri-businesses and army, even by the Freedom To Roam lobby, most of us are now convinced that this small island is no longer feasible without land management. Land management is a rapid alteration between exclusion and permission. There is a real danger that the few remaining village communities will come to resemble supermarkets of the bucolic simply in order to remain accessible. 

Or perhaps the countryside near you, once you find it, will look different? You will scream paganism and horror and be sacrificed to an Otherness which you steadfastly refuse to understand.
Or is it, perhaps, that whatever sense of older and less banal fictions are still to be found, you will miss? They are the private business of a small place just off the motorway heading North or heading West. A tiny place and you do not bother to stop, you probably did not even notice it. And perhaps this is for the best because Arcadia has a rotten core. Those who partake of its being must dance around and dance into death. The labyrinth is dizzying, your mind can gain no hold on itself. This dance is a sick making rush. It is dark in here. And it stinks. 

Minotaur, demon, or evil eye; these forces will find solace in some poisonous twist of the bowel. They will feed on decay rather than hunger for the sun and this is why for such creatures and their curses the labyrinth is not dance nor progression but a trap. And it is for this reason that one will find labyrinths inscribed above doorways, pinned on lintels, or hung around an individual’s neck.
A maze is not a labyrinth. In a labyrinth there are no tricks, dead ends, or rest points, with perhaps the exception of the centre; and one will not find mazes hung from lintels or worn as amulets.

The record we receive of the labyrinth commissioned by Minos, designed by Daedalus, is ambiguous. Although the presence of ‘Death’ at its centre and the sacrificial nature of a seasonal requirement for seven youths and seven maidens is surely linked to the labyrinthine associations of death/rebirth, youth/adulthood, winter/spring – first copulation – and the passage of the sun during the night is said to be through an underworld just such as this  still one is made wary by the claims of how no one could ever find their way out of Daedalus’s creation. (Architecture, Mysticism and Myth, W.R. Lethaby. London; Architectural Press, 1974.) 

String is entirely surplus to need in a true labyrinth. String may be used as a confidence building measure when an assassin chooses to inch into the darkness rather than, as a child, make a headlong dash. So if the impossibility of exit was actually a matter of bombast then do we likewise scale down Theseus’s status as Hero? Was he scared of the dark? Reassurance against the night, that is the significance of string. Yet the labyrinth in form is in and of itself the reassurance of night. This is the womb, here the sun is born and reborn. Or rather, the Earth the womb while the labyrinth is an umbilical cord. Wearing your own dried navel cord beneath your cap will protect you from cursing.
String is used as an amulet when it is red string, or a red rag. These are commonly tied to cows around their tails or horns and around a horse’s harness and around a child’s wrist or ankle. 

“A red cloth is tied in a mare’s mane to ward off the chance of miscarriage during eclipses.”


To tie a knot in string in order to remember is also to recall the knotty path, a mnemonic of sacrifice, the child killed to become adult, sun murdered to be reborn. Knot as blood complex, an irruption of sacred into terrestrial, mundane into divine.

Marriage is reckoned to be a most vulnerable time and especially so if the gathered cannot but help to remark on how beautiful the bride looks. In the complications of the gaze and heart this praise will surely embitter the relationship and scour loins so that they produce only weak, poisonous fluids. There will be no children. In the newly wed’s yard the chickens will cannibalize their eggs. Eventually the bridegroom will sling his shotgun over one shoulder, march into the hills and never be seen again. This is why a bride wears a veil, so the astonishment of kinsfolk is not diverted into envy. In many places the veil was red. Blood red. In some places it still is. The groom will discretely touch his balls to secure the appropriate protection.
At most every threshold, psychic or physical, an apotropaic gesture or sign can be found. E. A. Wallis Budge, for example, cites the Babylonian Terracotta Devil-Traps; inverted bowls inscribed with magical texts. These were buried under the four corners of a building, especially beneath the foundations of a house. Interestingly the text always follows a spiral, the most simple or Ur-labyrinth form. But this is a strictly functional pottery, no musing on first copulation: 


“O Thou eternal Good God, crush the power of the Devils and the spirits of the Fiends, the great power of Lilith… I drive you away from the neighbourhood of Bahran’s house, and from the house of Bathnium, and from all the regions round about them. As the devils write bill of divorce and cast away their women who never again approach them, so do ye accept [this] your bill of divorce, and receive your dowry which is [here] written, and get ye gone, betake yourselves to flight, make haste to depart, and forsake the house of Bahran and Bathnium in the Name of the Eternal God. Get ye forth into the darkness, away from the man of power, and sealed with his ring, in such wise that every man may know that ye are no longer there. And then shall be there a good light. Amen. Amen. Amen. Selah.” 


Powerful language to make one’s head spin! Powerful language placed in a powerful form at a vulnerable point. As an individual is endangered during liminal experiences, so a building’s portals are the crossover points at which a certain care and attention is required if that building is to remain healthy. As the building, so the body; references, metaphors, and correspondences move up and down, twine in and out of each other. The body as temple has become cliché but one must remind oneself that this is so simply because of the force of the image, that it must be held in the ever present; like ‘worry beads’, the image becomes smooth, well worn, habitual. “My body is a temple” means that this temple, this dwelling, this body houses the divine. Fear of the evil eye is not, or is not always, a simple reaction against the invasion of the other. It is not simply pitting one’s own food, children, property and sexual well-being against every outsider’s unquestioning, rapacious, and immediate desire for possession. Of course it can be this, it can be many things, but an amulet, a gesture, a mark is also a token of care that signs humility. As opposed to a pitiless technocratic curiosity – which anthropological practices may aspire to under the name of objectivity – to guard against an evil eye is to admit to awe, wonderment, and it is this aspect of a near religious observance (reverence rather than worship) which reminds us of the temple-body linkage.
Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.3 No.2 1999.
evilEYElive



The much suffering eye.

Gestures and prayers, magic words and waters drunk and symbolic objects placed around a space; these things – where they exist – have always existed and continue to exist. They may warp or mutate with the weight of passing time but there is a persistence of need. A continuing necessity to touch wood, to keep terror in abeyance. A need – beyond mere want – for reassurance of any shade. To do, say, or pray; to make a gesture, however small, which ensures that the flux of life will not entirely overwhelm your loved ones, your livelihood, yourself. Children, cattle, milk, youth and beauty: always these have been under threat from the evil eye and so they are surrounded by safety devices, be it gesture, word, object. This, ironically perhaps, means that if an item or person is vulnerable to the evil eye so too that item or person will be under constant scrutiny.
Much has been made of the gender of evil eye. Maternal instincts might use this threat to control and corral their charges. It is the phallic eye we are particularly to guard against, so much so that some recount how fathers would be banned from seeing their newborn, touching doubly taboo. Likewise, it has elsewhere been noted how able women were at casting an evil eye. Although the widow of renown ability might receive gifts to pacify her fearsome glance (which in an economic sense will bring the community in to act as a support when that woman has no family to fulfil this role), so too could a woman’s Overlooking be policed against by the concerned community, male or female. What better way than to control the unsettling presence of an independent woman than to ambush her and to deeply score across her forehead with a blade or nail, these implements to be made of iron by preference? Yet too, instances have been noted of men in possession of a powerful eye. So in dread of their ability were they that they would endeavour all their days to avoid looking directly upon an object or meeting another’s gaze. On receiving their glance buses would stall and vases tumble, if perchance they looked at a half constructed building then that building was doomed to remain incomplete; bricks would fall, scaffolding crumble. This tragedy is concluded by the afflicted catching a glimpse of themselves in a mirror or plate glass. Thereafter some dropped dead instantly while others wasted away by means of a long, agonizing disease. Which recalls ‘Film’, for instance, by Samuel Beckett: “In order to be figured in this situation the protagonist is sundered into object (O) and eye (E), the former in flight, the latter in pursuit.” (1963. Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett. Faber and Faber.)
It should also be mentioned that in order to divert the evil eye builders hang teddy bears by ropes from their scaffolding. They sometimes crucify them, torture them to shock, to stop the malignancy at that point. You will see the martyred teddy bear still on heavy goods vehicles. Likewise, in some regions it is thought best to leave some imperfection about a building as there is nothing that so inspires Mal’uocchiu as perfection. If gender specific notions can at times be as cutting as the eye itself, overall the phenomena still remains ambiguous. That is, it maintains a right to switch polarities at will. Dundes states: “The equivalence of eye and phallus may be suggested in ancient Egyptian mythology when Horus battles Set. Set tears out one of Horus’s eyes and Horus counters by tearing off one of Set’s testicles.” While from near contemporary USA there comes the “well-known pretend obscene riddle” in which eye and vulva are given an equivalence: “‘What’s round and hair all round it and nothin’ but water comes out?'” (Wet and Dry, the Evil Eye. Alan Dundes, 1981. The Evil Eye, A  Casebook. Ed. Alan Dundes. The University of Wisconsin Press, 1992.)

An evil eye is no more or less complex than an eye. Eyes and genitals, we all suffer and pleasure in the complicated reactions that go on between these distinct and yet intimate regions. Both may be associated with aggression and yet both are sensitive, vulnerable organs. How, then, to protect?

To protect is also to camouflage – whence eyes tattooed on an arse  are exactly like a butterfly. This artifice defuses sexual aggression. In a volatile atmosphere the boundaries are stated without necessarily having to be tested. Elworthy describes an attitude of contempt and notes it as a powerful prophylactic. He outlines a repertoire of gesture and image that operate via a magical logic of like to like, as above below, or, influence at a distance. Here it is typified in a marble relief: “The centre is a large human eye […] the left, which may be considered a special feature of its sinister intention, and moreover the pupil is strongly marked. Over it is a very prominent eyelid and arched brow. Above this is seated a beardless man in a Phrygian cap, with his back towards the spectator […] He is squatted down with both hands on his knees, has his shirt pulled up, and strikingly…” Arse! “[…] the common typical expression of the utmost contempt.”

This eye is simultaneously attacked by a lion, snake, scorpion, stork, crow and an armed gladiator. All harm that this eye might emit is returned sevenfold. If the marble does not operate in the exact fashion of the above mentioned glass or mirror on the unfortunate possessor of an evil eye, still it acts as a powerful warning: a powerful warning is a distraction. Distraction is all that is needed because the evil of an evil eye is delivered by the first, the direct, and true gaze. Otherwise the effect is lost in amongst pattern, symbol, or glitter. The amulet’s counter magic; an emotional circuit breaker.
Plutarch, states Elworthy, explains that: “the objects that are fixed up to ward off witchcraft or fascination derive their efficiency from the fact that they act through the strangeness and ridiculousness of their forms, which fix the mischief working eye upon themselves.” (The Evil Eye, An Account of this Ancient & Widespread Superstition. Frederick Thomas Elworthy, 1895. London, John Murray, 1895.)
Fascination.
“There be none of the affections which have been noted to fascinate or to bewitch, but love and envy; they both have vehement wishes, they frame themselves readily into imaginations and suggestions, and they come easily into the eye, especially upon the presence of the objects which are the points that conduce to fascination…” (Of Envy. Francis Bacon, 1625. Quoted by Elworthy, op. cit.)

The egg, of course, is a particularly powerful object. It operates as a transformational object, a migratory metaphor. It can be the Universe, a womb, a testicle, an eye. Or like any good cigar, it is sometimes just an egg. Yet as any good cigar is also a combustive event, so an egg is also meat, is also a child. Eggs are commonly used in the divination and cure of the evil eye: “A positive diagnosis is made when the egg appears cooked, or the yolk appears to have the image of an eye. The most effective remedy is to have the perpetrator touch the patient as soon as possible. [Otherwise…]
1. a fresh egg is passed over the patient’s body;
2. it is broken into a bowl of water and covered by a cross of palm or straw; and
3. put under the head of the patient’s bed.
4. The patient is then put to bed for the night and in the morning the egg is examined; if it curdles then that indicates that the Ojo is cured and the egg is then disposed of.” (Ojo meaning “strong glance”, or evil eye in Hispanic folk tradition. http://www.rice.edu/projects/HispanicHealth/Courses/mod7/ojo.html)
The fan as fattucchieri with a malignant touch. Always trying to touch the object of adoration; perhaps the fan more than anyone else would be surprised to learn that the true intent of this touch was destructive? Love whose consummation is impossible creates a loved object whose possession is infinitely delayed, permanently incomplete. The subject of praise becomes the object of envy. If the passion is intense enough and the delay of the passion protracted enough then, imagine, what dread malignancy might arc across any contact should it arise! Only occasionally does the latent became manifest in the suicide or celebrity skewed killing spree…

And as for every physical or emotive aggression arriving from outside so we must presume at least double that in destructiveness welling up from an artists’ own being, the infamous drink/drugs/creativity co-ordinates; so we might pause to consider the multifarious ways of the gaze in the ‘star system’. An object of admiration microwaved by the attentive, by attention, admiration, lacerated by their adoration. Although one must remember that Narcissus – more than likely – cursed himself, his own envious eye turned upon his self regard, still presume that for each defacement of a poster or curse ejaculated before the TV there is an equivalence in psychic trauma. All of which would cause the ‘star system’ to implode overnight if it were not for the concerted apotropaic actions of veneer, gloss, spin.
And still the evil eye is more complicated for if the fan is implicated in their invidia, their quietly nurtured resentment of the shining object, what then of the iconic beams that radiate comic book style from out the eyes of countless reproductions? The pop, film, sport ‘star’; the multifarious ‘characters’ or ‘personalities’ (even if ridiculously typecast) endlessly issuing the command: ‘Love me, love me’ which is underwritten by; ‘Be like me, be me.’ Which is to say; ‘You cannot be like me so I shall shine gloriously for you’, or rather; ‘at your expense’. All to conclude: ‘Envy me. Buy me’. Is it not the fan’s very being that this ‘star system’ has its envious gaze fixed upon? Maybe system has become pattern. An intrinsically chaotic rather than controlled pattern: same, different, endless.


Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.3 No.2 1999.
EvileyelivE

Arse; a startling display.
A busy high street bar. Not just busy, heaving. The bouncer, one of several, looked the camera crew over with an air of… One could only call it pity. He said – You’re not going in there with that thing are you? But it was too late, the video was running and, anyway we were booked to do a job. Yes; the camera nods up and down, we are going in there. The presenter turns to camera and smiles, straightens his tie, turns, he opens the door onto a nicotine fog: we move in.
This is perhaps one of the most pointless drinks promotions ever. Here everyone, but everyone, is blathered, incoherent, – Would you like to try the taste of… Is it booze? Is it free? Are we on telly? The camera is spotted and barely two steps into the bar a man shouts –
Film this!
He turns and drops his pants. On either cheek there is a tattoo, symmetrical images of a propeller with three blades. We film it. Customers snatch and screech, screech and point while the camera whirls around as if in shock.
A reek of sweat and perfume and booze rotted carpets. The bar resembles a reinforced prison serving hatch, a familiar structure for many in here if one is to judge by the numerous borstal spots: a blurry blue dot found below the eye, on the cheekbone, an atrophied tear. And the promotion? Two women move before the camera and presenter in electric blue bomber jackets, smiling, handing out vouchers like their life depends on it. The presenter is panicking, using his microphone as a lance, thinking he will not get out of here alive. And all of a sudden, somehow communicating through the thudding happy house dumbbell, the promotion crew agree that it is time to leave.
Hey! Film this ya buggers!
A man drops his pants and bares his rear for the camera, helpfully spreading his cheeks with sovereign bedecked fingers so that a hairy arsehole stares up at us. Tattooed on either buttock there is an eye. Protective Horus eye, right mirroring left. Two eyes staring from either side of a third, the cracked Smarty, bung hole. Arse.
We exit at a light jog and the evil eye of this promotion, envious eye, an eye with jealous ambitions for the habits of those it stare falls upon; this eye has been turned. Defeated. Countered by a magic too powerful for its own insidious means.

How fitting, to be reminded that the delinquent semi-heroes of ‘Grease’ choose exactly the spot-lit, televisual highlight of their prom night to moony. And although the soundtrack, ‘Blue Moon’, is corny, no less so is it delightfully rich, oozing with lunatic symbolism. A moon’s milky cornea to counter the glare of a patronizing, false sun. No wonder the Governess is required, next day, to threaten this act of usurpation with the FBI, super ego to counter id, and again no surprise that our darling delinquents will seek to protect themselves by donning dark sunglasses.
Propeller.

As a sign it shows a reliance on the Trinity, stability, and a certain trust to undermine an oft unknowable threat. That is to say, in the syncretic faith of body ornamentation Father, Son and Holy Spirit are often embraced and if not overtly then we may commonly presume a sublimated presence.
A propeller is also a screw. Defiant arse, it says – Screw You. Also, to stick out your tongue or spit or, better still, to spit three times on your own breast will immediately repel creeping invidia, the poisonous intrusion of a hypocrite who publicly praises or admires while in their heart of hearts wishes only for possession or, if they cannot gain possession, to destroy what cannot be possessed.
At once we acknowledge that the evil eye may not be a conscious attribute. We can all possess it while we all might be damaged by it. In other words, you and I will be that hypocrite – though of course we make every effort for this not to be so. We all might cudgycoo a new born child and yet fear and hate it for the power it possesses. Innocently, it is more powerful than you. Innocently, this is resented.
If the long history of the evil eye, if, more properly perhaps, the long presence of the evil eye to one side of history has taught us anything it is this; innocence is always duplicitous. Whole civilizations have developed with an ongoing suspicion that one gesture, one expression, one stare, one eye may indeed represent more than one intent. And again, this may be an intent with or without a conscious will. Which is to say, some may be witches and some may cast the eye unknowingly. How are we to know from whence the greatest threat?
Best to always be on guard against the eye. If you praise a child make sure to add how this is the will of God, make sure to conclude with an assurance that your heart is not brewing the ill will of envy. To be honest, it is better to call the child Ugly or Dirty Thing; at least its parents will be put at ease.


“the big symbol that protected sailors from drowning were twin propellers (one tattooed on each buttock) meant to symbolically propel you to the shore.”
Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.3 No.2 1999