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Jason Horsley (born 1967), also known as Jake Horsley, Aeolus Kephas, Jason Kephas, and Jasun Horsley, is an English author, cultural commentator, and podcaster.
Jason Horsley is the youngest child of Valerie Walmsley-Hunter and Nicholas Horsley, chairman of Northern Foods (the company founded by Nicholas's father, Alec Horsley). His siblings are Ashley Horsley, a therapist, and the artist Sebastian Horsley (now deceased).
After disinheriting his family inheritance, Horsley wrote The Blood Poets: A Cinema of Savagery 1958–1999, published in 1999 by the academic publishers, Scarecrow Press. The book author blurb described Horsley as "an independent scholar and world traveler" due to Horsley's eschewing of a conventional education and his penchant for changing countries every few years. While he was living in Guatemala, he corresponded with the retired The New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, who praised the work (something Horsley wrote about in a long piece on Kael in his most recent book, Seen & Not Seen.) Like Kael, Horsley placed violence, and the appeal of violence, at the heart of what movies are all about; the book was described as "the first full-length attempt by a critic not only to justify but to celebrate the legacy of violence in movies."
In June 2002, having moved to London, Horsley wrote Matrix Warrior in two weeks and signed a contract with Orion Publishing Group the following week. Published in May 2003, the book combined the plot of the 1999 movie The Matrix with the teachings of Carlos Castaneda, and argued (possibly satirically) that reality is an illusory construct designed to enslave humans and drain their life-force as food for "inorganic beings". According to the Fortean Times, Horsley publicly played the role of "the One" for a period during and after the release of the book, giving interviews in character. When asked by Elizabeth Wu how he would know if he was really the One, however, he replied, "Book sales." Matrix Warrior was also published in the US by St. Martin's Press. It is now out of print.
In 2004, under the name of Aeolus Kephas, Horsley published The Lucid View: Investigations into Occultism, Ufology, and Paranoid Awareness through Adventures Unlimited Press. Lionel Snell described it as "an initiation into the processes whereby Meaning can be invoked to bring the world to life around us." The movie The Matrix remained the intersection between Horsley's twin interests of film and occultism, and Horsley's most widely read and reprinted piece during this period was "Gnosticism Reborn: The Matrix As Shamanic Journey," which was taken from the final chapter of The Blood Poets, and was also published in New Dawn magazine. In 2004 he worked as a contributing editor and film reviewer for Oaxaca Times in Oaxaca, Mexico, and in 2005, he published Dogville Vs. Hollywood: the War Between Mainstream Movies and Independent Cinema from Marion Boyars, UK, which begins with the line “Talking of creative integrity in Hollywood is akin to preaching chastity in a whorehouse” and which Publishers Weekly called "a rollicking evisceration of Hollywood." Curiously the review also mentioned Woody Allen as one of Horsley's "sacred cows," but in 2006 Horsley eviscerated Allen in a piece for Bright Lights Film Journal, in which he wrote that "bad movies seem to be what Woody does best these days." In 2008 he interviewed Guy Maddin for Cineaste and briefly wrote film reviews for The List, an Edinburgh-based publication.
In 2009, Horsley's follow up to The Blood Poets, The Secret Life of Movies: Shamanic and Schizophrenic Journeys in American Movies, was published by McFarland & Company. In the book's preface he described how, while writing The Blood Poets he realized "it was like movies themselves had an unconscious [and] was drawn then to look at movies not only that had hidden texts (all movies do), but that dealt with the unconscious in an overt fashion, and with the conflict between the conscious and unconscious mind of the protagonist. . . . I realized that [the schizophrenic] state paralleled the act of watching a movie itself." The book was not widely reviewed but was recommended "as a supplementary text for film and cultural studies classes or courses in film history and film criticism" by Robert N. Matuozzi, at Washington State University.
The same year, Horsley's literary alter ego, Aeolus Kephas, published Homo Serpiens: An Occult History of DNA from Eden to Armageddon with Adventures Unlimited Press, described in the author's note as "a mythic narrative about mythic narratives, a meta-myth of metanoia, and a work of 'gonzo occultism'" and as the "memoirs of a local DNA complex." Other work of gonzo occultism (under the name Aeolus Kephas) that appeared subsequently were an article on Whitley Strieber which appeared in Alien Worlds Magazine and Paranoia in 2008 called "Through a Fractured Glass Glass Darkly," "The Perils of the Literary Shaman," which appeared in The Anomalist 2010 issue, "Electricity of the Mind," pieces on Carlos Castaneda and the pitfalls of Entheogen use, and a revised and expanded article on Strieber, all at the website Reality Sandwich in 2012. Horsley's literary excavations of Strieber's work gave rise to a blog titled, ironically, "KEPHAS AND STRIEBER: A Love Affair" as well as some highly critical essays and audios at a strange sister site, apparently inspired by the criticism "The Kephas-Strieber-Mother-Strangled Inner-Outer Connections." Horsley (no longer using the Aeolus Kephas nomme du plume) mounted an elaborate multimedia exploration of the work of alien abductee author Whitley Strieber, in 2013, called A Prisoner of Infinity (Crucial Fictions). In a series of essays and audios, Horsley alleged that Strieber suffers from a form of Dissociative identity disorder (DID), that Strieber has on several occasions admitted to having Central Intelligence Agency affiliations, and that he was involved in some unknown way with The Process Church of The Final Judgment and other shadowy figures, in the late 1960s London scene. According to Horsley, Strieber's alien abduction experiences relate more to psychological trauma, government mind control, and social engineering than to any actual extraterrestrial intervention. Horsley also argued that this may be true of all alien abduction experiences. Horsley's "Crucial Fictions" thesis draws heavily on the psychological model for trauma and dissociation described by Jungian psychologist Donald Kalsched in The Inner World of Trauma, as well as on the work of Sigmund Freud, Norman O. Brown, and Greg Mogenson. Since then, Horsley's work has become increasingly focused on the subject of trauma and that of sexual abuse.
Much of his later work has been translated into Spanish at the Mexico-based website Pijama Surf, and he appeared as a keynote speaker at a Pijama Surf/Bonus event in Mexico in 2013, taking part in a round table discussion with Douglas Rushkoff, Daniel Pinchbeck, and Erik Davis.
In 2014, Horsley, who self-identifies as being on the autism spectrum, looked at the work and life of Philip K. Dick through the lens of neurodiversity and claimed in a piece featured at Omni that Dick was the first fiction writer to explore the overlap between autism and extrasensory perception. Horsley posited something called "extra-consensual perception", or ECP, as an alternate model to ESP, arguing that we are only capable of perceiving what we are socially conditioned to believe is real, and/or what we have the language to talk about, but that all such seemingly "psychic" phenomena is perceived through the bodily senses. In a similar way, Horsley also argued (in 2015) that mirror neurons allow for the communication of brain states through writing, making writing akin to a form of telepathy.
In late 2014, as a result of his essay on Philip K. Dick, Horsley began a correspondence with the author Jonathan Lethem. Their correspondence partially inspired Horsley's Seen and Not Seen: Confessions of a Movie Autist (published by Zer0 Books in 2015), for which Lethem provided an afterword. Also in late 2014, following a conversation with Zer0 Books publisher Douglas Lain, Horsley claimed to have discovered a hidden agenda behind the works of the filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (whose films Horsley says he dislikes) and began a series of essays, comic strips, and interviews, as well as starting a forum, to explore the subject. Also in 2015, Horsley began to explore liminality as it relates to religion, society, politics, and psychology. He has proposed a form of creative expression, which he has termed "liminalism."
In 2008, under the name of Aeolus Kephas, Horsley began a series of weekly podcasts called "Stormy Weather: News from the Front Line in the End Times"; the podcast focused on fringe subject matter such as occultism, UFOs, and what Horsley called "paranoid awareness," featuring guests such as Peter Levenda and Christopher Knowles, and lasted for thirty episodes. In August 2009, he began a second series of podcasts, "Warty Theorems: Identity Deconstruction & Pattern Recognition in the End Times," which was a collaboration with members of SWEDA, the "Stormy Weather Existential Detective Agency," a private, paid subscriber area of Horsley's forum. SWEDA ended in late 2010. Not counting a brief run of audio conversations for Crucial Fictions, it was five years before Horsley took up podcasting again, in February 2015, with "The Liminalist: The Podcast/Between." The podcast eschews the interview format, as well as formal introductions, in favor of loose or "liminal" conversations with a wide array of cultural figures, including writers such as Jonathan Lethem, Peter Watts, John Michael Greer, James Howard Kunstler, Temple Grandin, Michael Parenti, and Joseph Chilton Pearce, researcher Sheldon Solomon, filmmakers Rodney Ascher and Alex Cox, marginal musicians such as French Radio Constellation, Big Blood, and Gary Heidt, activist comedian Barry Crimmins, and Horsley's own readers, listeners, and friends. In various dialogues, Horsley has described liminalism as employing spoken (and written) language as means to tap into the personal unconscious and discover a deeper "transmission," or "soul eruption." Apparently this requires a form of speaking without knowing in advance what one wishes to say. As a result, the podcasts have a conversational intimacy.
In 2010, Horsley self-published a short illustrated book called Paper Tiger: A Mythic Narrative under the name of Jason Kephas. The book recounts Horsley's experiences of growing up with his brother, Sebastian Horsley, the effects of his brother's tell-all autobiography Dandy in the Underworld, and suggests that both may have suffered some form of sexual abuse as children. The work appears almost entire in Mythosmedia's anthology Immanence of Myth which was published in 2011 by Weaponized Press. Horsley continued his analysis of his relationship to his brother in the final chapters of Seen & Not Seen: Confessions of a Movie Autist, in which he looked at his family's involvement with gangster-turned-artist Jimmy Boyle and began to explore his family history on his father's side, including Alec Horsley's involvement in the Hull Fabian Society, and in leftist reform movements such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Common Wealth Party and Committee of 100. In late 2015 he began serializing his findings at his blog, as well as at the alternate media site, Disinfo.
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