Words become affirmations become magical symbols become art in Joey Holder’s occultist response to ‘Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied’. Holder has been reading ‘The Book of Pleasure: Psychology of Ecstasy’ (1913) by Austin Osman Spare, who’s commonly regarded as the first “chaos magician”, and in this film she takes his century-old technique of sigil-making and puts it to use. To begin, Holder broke the song down into eight verses and, using Spare’s words and methods, abstracted positive affirmations from them which she scattered throughout the film:
“Life is a search for your truth,
Returns and unites,
Free at any time,
Revealed by all systems,
What you wish to believe can be true.”
Next, Holder turned these eight lines into eight symbols using Spare’s sigil-making technique. Again, these symbols are scattered throughout the film, often layered over footage of sacred diagrams and twisting, squirming snakes, eels and nematodes that seem to be forming the shapes of the writhing symbols themselves. Her interest in nematodes, which can survive nearly anywhere in the world, eels, whose breeding habits have never been witnessed, snakes and more comes from a fascination with nature and how little of it we truly understand.
She’s also added a moon to the composition, referencing the eight phases of the moon and the lunar cycle that’s so important for chaos magic and the timing of spells.
Her film reminds us of the central role music played in old pagan ceremonies and rituals, while also showing us the way forwards to new kinds of pleasure.
Spare’s ‘Book of Pleasure’ insists that everyone is able to create their own magical system to enact change, and this is also what The 1975 want to do: to change themselves, and us, and the world with their music. Ultimately, Holder’s piece shows us that music is a kind of magic itself; and that, to quote her eighth affirmation, “What you wish to believe can be true.”
Joey Holder responds to ‘Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied’