Autumnal greetings as we converge for Season 10, Episode 7 of Thoth-Hermes Podcast. Today, Rudolf is joined by Jon E. Graham, of Inner Traditions Bear and Company, to explore the current state of occult publishing. Jon joins us from the northeastern United States, in historic Vermont. Jon is a translator, author, and acquisitions editor at Inner Traditions.
Jon relates his longstanding interest in initiatory synthesis between Surrealism and Occultism, the path which brought him into esoteric publishing. Jon recommends The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism as a prompt for curious listeners. A second set of parallels that run in the conversation are the creative processes of a publishing house (Jon’s temple) and that of an opera house (Rudolf’s lineage). Together, they explore the balance of “profitable” and “important”, as well as inclusion of new and established authors.
Several times, Jon emphasizes the influence occult practice (as simple as sincere meditation) can have in counterbalancing the online “noise machine” and superficiality of cultural dialogue. He is refreshingly blunt in his rejection of social media, specifically its influence against the clear depth of thought sought by true initiates. With reference to “occult activism”, Jon and Rudolf converge over the need for an attitude of contribution and compassion, based in rational assessment over denial, ideology and Jon’s term: “unicorn fantasy”.
Steadfast to his bricks-and-mortar preference, Jon asks the question held by more than one listener: will the Mortlake Books Colloquium, Texts and Traditions, return to Seattle? Enquiring minds need to know.
Jon names a variety of publishing trends, celebrating the movement from “101” titles into substantive material, also noting the nascence of translated European texts. Authors named in this Deep Dive renaissance include previous Thoth-Hermes guests, Sasha Chaitow, Marlene Seven-Bremner, and Shani Oates. Jon calls out the need to avoid the mainline tendency to “karaoke publishing” (our second Harry Potter reference, two interviews in a row!)
Rudolf asks specifically regarding the vibrant trend of small, independent artisanal occult publishing houses, and the “book-objects” they create. Jon responds with respect and enthusiasm for all involved. Closing with intrigue, Jon references an upcoming creative focus: Odin and the Surrealist process. As Odin undertakes to “sacrifice myself to myself” to receive the rune-mysteries, Jon suggests that Surrealism has parallel in “the psychic realm that is made available through automatist practices”. May more be revealed.
Jon Graham is a writer, artist, and a translator specializing in works on surrealism , the occult, and folklore. Among the books he has translated are L’Immaculée Conception by André Breton and Paul Eluard, Du Trop du Réalité by Annie Le Brun, La petite anatomie de l’image by Hans Bellmer, and La maison et ses génies by Claude Lecouteux. He was active with Group Hydra in New York City during the 1980s, a group working from surrealist principles. He lives in Vermont, in the United States where he has been working as the Acquisitions Editor for Inner Traditions, Bear and Company for twenty-seven years.
THIS IS JON’S SPECIAL BOOK LIST ABOUT SURREALISM AND ESOTERICISM
(click on the title to buy one of those titles)
Patrick Lepetit: The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism
André Breton: Three Manifestos of Surrealism
André Breton: Free Rein
Nadia Choucha: Surrealism and the Occult
Grazina Subelyte and Daniel Zamani: Enchanted Modernity: Surrealism and Magic (exhibition catalogue)
The Tarot of Leonora Carrington (as well as the books by this artist)