Data Hacks, Conventions, and Occultists. Oh, My!

Chinese data hacking via newly revealed microchips and other various (and nefarious) forms of corporate espionage (I used to work at a place where attempts happened, folks – every single day) aren’t the only things that scare me. Lots of stuff does…

  • Flying
  • International travel (I’m just a homebody, folks – don’t like to be out of my zone)
  • Wasps
  • Snakes
  • Being seen dancing on an elevator via a well-hidden security camera

Notice that “sharks” didn’t make the cut. I’m not afraid of sharks. That’s largely because I’m never going to put myself into a situation in which I am exposed to one. Therefore, no reason to be afraid.

But back to the Chinese. I’m afraid that the old curse*, “May you live in interesting times” has come to pass. I spent the last weekend at the Imaginarium convention in Louisville, Kentucky. It was the fifth Imaginarium con, and the third that I attended. I was one of many author guests and found myself, just as last year when I was a guest as well, in very good company. Con guests do not always get to pick the panels to which they are assigned by the organizers, and it never occurred to me to ask. Not that I would, mind you. I’m completely happy to sit on any panel to discuss any topic. I’ve been around the block several times and there’s no topic too jinky** for me to go into.

One of the panels I was on for this last go-round, was “Occult in Literature”. Oh, awesome! This is bound to be interesting! We’ll talk about witches, and spells, demons, etc., and how they’ve been used in literature over the years (particularly in the 60’s and 70’s, or at least I hoped). It certainly seemed like a panel topic that could be interesting, and considering I’ve written stories that have included occult things (demons, witches, and spells), I figured I would have something to add to the conversation.

There were four of us on the panel and we had a small, but engaged audience. We also had at least one panelist who indicated that they were in the habit of practicing in occult arts, such as casting spells of protection, and that they would never write out the “recipe” for a spell in a book because it could be dangerous should the reader attempt to cast the said spell. This is where the eye rolling came in. Not from the attendees so much as from me. The panel had moved away from “occult in literature” and into the territory of “occult in the real world”. Yes, I am biased against this type of stuff. I grew up in a home that wasn’t into any of the traditionally American Judeo-Christian kind of thing, but rather into the occult and new-age scene. I won’t bore you with the details, but maybe in a few hundred years when we meet in another life, we can have a laugh about this blog post. There was discussion of wicca, spells, herbs and plants, as well as energies (both healing and harming). But my biases aside, the problem was that none of the discussion was about these items in the abstract. It was assumed that everyone was on board with the witches and what-nots being real***.

By the end of the panel’s allotted time, it had gotten interesting. I had made it clear that I’m an atheist, and maybe (meaning I definitely did) dropped an “F” bomb on the room****. I’m not saying I’m proud of it, by the way, because the last thing I want to do is offend anyone, whether on the panel or attending it. I tried to make it clear that, just like religion, belief in “real occult” stuff just isn’t my thing, but it’s totally cool if others are into it as long as they aren’t hurting themselves of others. But the bottom line is that I just can’t sit silently while superstition and fantasy are being sold as objective reality.

Imaginarium holds a special place in my heart, and I have really enjoyed every year that I have been able to attend (as a guest or otherwise). I really look forward to being a guest of Imaginarium again some year and that I get to sit on another equally interesting panel or two.

Now I’m off to bed to curl up with a book I picked up at Imaginarium, “Jack the Ripper Live and Uncut” by a new acquaintance Matt Leyshon. Super nice guy and I can’t wait to get into this book.

Laters.

* To be clear, I’m not 100% sure about the authenticity of the quote or its national origin. Yes, I could have researched it, but it’s after 9:00PM on a Monday, I’m tired, and this blog is free, so back off.

** Yes, I did just use (likely incorrectly) a word from Scooby Doo. As someone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, I’m likely to do it again. I’m groovy like that.

*** Yes, there are “real” witchy folk who believe they are doing witchy things, but not really doing anything other than just hanging out with like-minded folks and dancing naked in the woods or some shit. I don’t know what they do and again, it’s late and I don’t feel like doing any research.

**** Someone on the panel mentioned mediumship as being a real phenomenon, to which I piped up and said, “If someone walks up to me and says they’re a medium, I’ll tell them ‘fuck you, no you’re not’ because that’s all pretend!”