Tumblr is such a temple of imagery. The social media platform collects images that are significant for any number of reasons. Along with our self-portraits and our pornography, are consecrated, shrined, and honored images of our spirituality. The idea of our religious icons showing up among images that get us off may sound uncomfortably profane, but this is the way it works now. We find, we connect, and we re-blog. Christopher Partridge’s “occulture” could not have a better illustration. Occult images are posted, channeled, and spread throughout the networks according to their ability to trigger a response in those who do the channeling. Where else would we expect that people would find their occult knowledge these days? Platforms like Tumblr are combination libraries, study groups, and prayer circles—we should hardly be surprised that they become temples for those who have rejected the idea of church hierarchy.
For our obsolete understanding—still thinking of temples as abstract religious places that have no other purpose—it may be uncomfortable that temples like Tumblr have multiple functions. As if commerce, sex, and self-promotion had never been related to religious structures in the past. Now the flows are simply more tangled. It is more difficult to understand the differences between them. Is an image of a pretty young person half-nude with a sigil drawn on their skin asking you to support their crowd-funding project an image about sex, ego, religion, or commerce? No longer is the thought of double and triple-coded images simply anathema. The question is now about how filter out the overlapping meaning to make it understandable.Read more