The Pond: April 16, 2021

Five strange reflections for your Friday: "Alchemy is about the constant state of flux at the core of molecular reality."

1. “The deeper work of the soul is a lifelong conversation with the nature of reality itself.”

THIS IS FROM BETT WILLIAMS’ interview with Book Forum (fabulously titled Mushroom With a View) about her new book The Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Odyssey. As a writer, this comment grabbed me:

“On every mushroom trip, I am scanning where language lives in an experience. I’m taking notes. Stanislav Grof describes the psychedelic as an ‘unspecific amplifier.’ Suddenly everything has resonance without the perceptual hierarchy we put on things—ultimately a poet’s view of the world.”

And about her podcast No Cures, Only Alchemy:

We are constantly being sold remedies, everything from the benefits of turmeric to microdosing to worldviews built upon self-care and the healing of trauma. This commerce is dependent on our being always in a state of sickness and imbalance. It’s been my observation that everything works for a while until it doesn’t. It’s a concept embraced by Alcoholics Anonymous that leads to an understanding that God, the great mystery, whatever you want to call it, is the only thing that really works in the end. Alchemy is about the constant state of flux at the core of molecular reality. Every outcome is dependent on relationships and timing. I’m as susceptible to hopping on the latest cure-all fad as anyone, but I’ve watched my own cycles of success dissolving back into the same old baseline, regroup and repeat, too many times not to be onto my own bullshit.

2. Latest additions to my Moods for Moderns playlist

Bill Evans Trio, Iklahx, Carole King, Jose Feliciano, 1000 Beasts, Eleanor Friedberger, Busta Rhymes & Mariah Carey, Romare, Valerie Szervanszky, Jayda G, Pink $ock, Dam Swindle, Kalus Johann Grobe, Saint Etienne, Bibio, Chris Brown & Young Thug, Jack Harlow, Nicki Minaj & Foxy Brown, Mosss, Ellen Foley, Deee-Lite, Sylo Nozra, Donovan, Nadia Reid, Conrad Schnitzler, Maria Callas, Laura Nyro


3. Why straight women watch gay porn

AS MUCH AS I LIKE NAKED MEN I can’t stand watching contemporary het porn. I don’t understand the allure of rage-filled sex. It certainly doesn’t bode well for the imagination of the straight guys that stream this shit all of the time. I’m all for fantasy, but not at the expense of the women’s psyche who ‘star’ in most of those gonzo productions. Apparently, het women who watch porn feel the same way too. Take away quote:

“I like gay male porn because women in porn are often over-sexualized, demonized, unappreciated, abused, and you can’t really tell if they’re faking an orgasm. I also really love penises and male bodies. I feel like when men have sex together it’s pure fun.”

4. Tarot faces rendered by an AI device

C IN LONDON (FEATURED IN PART TWO of my Waite-Smith Tarot essay) wondered what Pamela Colman Smith’s Major Arcana figures’ faces would look like in ‘real life’. He used an AI drawing website called DeepFaceDrawing. Check out his discoveries.

(To-do list item: Order a copy of C’s lovely 1909 Art Restoration Deck for yourself. See Pam and Art’s creation as it was meant to be experienced.)



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• MY NEW PRIVATE REPORT: Nonsense and Mailase: Mercurial Shields for Social Media Sojourns. Each time you visit Facebook or Twitter you're exposed to the hive mind's roiling moods and disruptive energetic field—a potentially toxic arrangement. Shield yourself with astrology (and your natal Mercury). This article explains logistics and tactics, and, if you must engage with social media the best ways to optimize your time there.

HOROSCOPES FOR MODERNS: May 2021 edition. Saturn in Aquarius turns retrograde in May and moves into an exciting two-phase aspect with a square to Uranus in Taurus. Here comes progressive practicality. Do you grind your teeth at night? Is your creativity trapped in a weird masochistic cycle? What about therapeutic text messaging? This update’s for you.


SEASONAL TAROT DRAWS a favorite esoteric edge for WOODRUFF’s paid subscribers. Concise koans provide a theme (or essential flavor) for your upcoming summer. Did you miss your springtime reading? Damn it! Don’t do it again!

MY NEW PRIVATE REPORT: In June I will publish WHY YOU’LL WANT TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN SUBSTACK AND HOW TO DO IT: A lot of folks emailed me and asked me why I’d shifted to publishing on Substack. They also wanted to know what’s good about it. And what needs improvement. I explained: Substack is the future of the internet. As a Cancer, I have a weird ability to suss out cultural shifts years before they’re anchored in the public’s imagination. True—there are other newsletter platforms, some that are free or with a lower processing fee. But they aren’t Substack.

Substack is designed to be a calm space that encourages reflection. You read Substack posts in your inbox or on a web page that is free of advertising or any other distraction. There are no addiction-maximizing feeds, autoplaying videos, or retweetable quote-retweets to suck you into a psychological space you never asked to be in. You make decisions about which information to put into your brain based on how well certain writers reward your trust, not based on a dopamine hit gained by refreshing a feed packed with performative posturing. 

Hamish McKenzie, Substack Co-Founder


PS: THIS FREE UPDATE FROM WOODRUFF is made possible by the support of my paying subscribers. Take advantage of this weekend’s 20% discount and join us!

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“FREDERICK WOODRUFF is like a four-dimensional eyeball capable of not just understanding and interpreting bodies in space, but translating their movements into the entire socio-political, psychological zeitgeist.”Cintra Wilson, author of Fear and Clothing, Unbuckling American Style

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