Intuiting the Swedenborgian UFO
Swedenborgian Church and grounds, London
A site-specific and performative workshop exploring methods of collaborative ‘reading’, ‘writing’, time and intuition through exercises drawing on polymath and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg’s extensive knowledge productions.
Activities included after-service tea, biscuits, conversation and singing with members of the Swedenborgian Church congregation; and outdoor group exercises drawing from techniques in psychometry, flash-fiction writing, meditation practices and chaos magic.
On the day, Lisa took us to attend a service at the Swedenborgian New Church in London. After the Sunday service, we were welcomed by the other churchgoers (some of whose families had been involved with the New Church in England and North America since its inception) and invited for tea, brownies & chat in the church hall. She then brought us outside to a green space where she read a correspondence addressed to both the mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, as well as to the group, in which she explored the diagrammatic function and forms of Swedenborg’s thought. At the end of the letter, Lisa invited Swedenborg to join us for some exercises in ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ playfully inspired by one of her ongoing projects Love and the Diagrammatic.
In the first exercise, a reading-writing circle, Flash Correspondences or Psychometry and Flash Fiction, we used the objects that we brought with us that resonated with our personal conception/perceptions of time as entry-points of a fiction.
Lisa then shared a flash correspondence that she had written with an object from the Swedenborg Society in Bloomsbury:
My starting point for this correspondence comes from a vision of one of your Secrets of Heaven sitting out of sequence and, without the aid of a ladder, beyond my reach on a lone library shelf, or rather, a coarsely assisted wooden plinth – like gallows masthead – the figurehead of your spacetime ship with its sparse living quarters and quiet captain.
I am love, but it’s spontaneous combustion. I wonder now if it’s more a compulsive beauty. Arranged and rearranged, I don’t think that she would have sensed my presence. You see, up until now, you could say that the conversation had been forced through a narrow corridor of his enthusiasm and she hadn’t had any effect on de-pedestalizing his, or come to think of it, my church-like demeanor. Unnaturally positioned for flight, the shadow of a blank wall, my chapters feel more like tombstones.
Group UFO or Love in the Diagrammatic, was an exercise for the group related to the upcoming time of our silent retreat and to our collective output.
We began with the sentences that we had each brought with us which expressed what we would like to find through our collective work bearing in mind one of Swedenborg’s messages that in life you discover what you love while in the afterlife you become what you love.
Through a process of glyph condensation and expansion (adapted from Austin Osman Spare’s process of sigilization) we created, together, a group diagram of forces. The first manifestation of diagrammatic form was through collective drawing. We then conducted a process of object activation. Attempting to internalize the collective object into the group unconscious by embodying it through wild public dancing and sonification, we simultaneously, manifested a sonic sigil reverberating through the cosmic field.
Listen to the Sonic Sigil here