Off an overgrown path towards the back of a Hampstead churchyard lies a stone slab decorated with a large nine-fold geometric symbol, the enneagram, and a statement that ends:
"...we ever cease to be hereafter
The unreal has no being
The real never ceases to be”
The grave belongs to AR Orage, a pioneering populariser of the early 20th century mystics George Guirdjieff and Peter Ouspensky, and editor from 1907 to 1924 of the weekly progressive journal, The New Age.
At the dawn of the modernist era, Orage's journal both defined and named a burgeoning global movement that, over the next century, sought to expand minds and change the world via a potent combination of mysticism, self-discovery, humanitarian politics, environmental concerns, and the embrace of technology.
Ideas that flourished in fin de siècle and early 20th Europe gained a new potency in postwar America, particularly on its coasts, where cutting edge science and ancient mystical ideas effortlessly overlapped, in political and military circles as much as in creative cultural salons.
The themes and ideas emerging from this foment, including mind-to-mind and mind-to-machine communication, the exploration of inner and outer space by human and non-human intelligences, an increasing awareness of the Earth's fragile ecosystems, and our relationship to the animal and plant kingdoms, also inspired, and continue to inspire, legions of musicians, from John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Alvin Lucier and David Tudor to Barry Manilow, The Carpenters and Stevie Wonder.
For this edition of The Wire Salon author and Strange Attractor founder Mark Pilkington presents an illustrated history of the key themes, ideas and influences that have shaped New Age music, from George Gurdjieff to James Ferraro, AR Orage to Genesis P Orridge.
Along the way we'll meet Ascended Masters on Himalayan peaks, vibrate to the sounds of the universe within, dive ketamine oceans with cetacean choirs, tune in to the Harmonic Convergence, communicate with Higher Intelligences across Time and Space, and all the while experience the unboundaried bliss of the infinite YOU.
The talk will be accompanied by a special New Age audio-visual mix by The Wire's Nathan Budzinski.
To get ready for Mark's New Age history, click here to watch a cosmos of New Age music playlist.
London Cafe Oto, 6 December 2012, 8pm, £4 on the door only.