Who is number two?
..and who does he work for?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2000: An Inner Space Odyssey by R.odebrecht A.n-Ton W.ilyson

 - A hyno-tape used by Dr. John Lilly to prepare experimental subjects to transcend their previous possibilities, as quoted in The Center of the Cyclone

Jane had heard exaggerated reports of the successes achieved by the English psychiatrists Ling and Buckman in curing frigidity with LSD. It seems that, in her case, what was believed to be true came true. This "Christian Science" aspect of self-programming with LSD is often reported in underground lore and need not overly amaze us. After all, Jane was born, like all females, with a capacity for orgasm, and the blocks against it, whatever muscles may have been involved, resided primarily in her mind. When LSD temporarily broke down the historically given structure of her mind, her faith was that the "miracle" of orgasm would be included when the mind came back together again. Her faith obviously made this possible.

The religious aspects of the Drug Revolution & the earlier Drug Revolution (circa 15,000 BC) laid the visionary groundwork within a shamanistic context for the later religious history of our species. It seems evident that, as Weston LaBarre, Ph.D, argues in his monumental study The Ghost Dance: Origins of Religion, the religious ideas common to Greeks, Jews, Hindus, Romans and Christians (among others) would not be quite what they are without the influence of several thousand years of drug tripping by our Stone Age ancestors, in which they discovered the internal world of psychic processes that they classified in such categories as supernatural energies (mana, prana, Kundalini, wakan, etc.) and as supernatural places (heaven,hell, etc.) and as supernatural beings (the father-god, mother-goddess, etc.). It remains to be explained why the modern drug trippers often find themselves confronting the same archetypal internal powers, places and beings.

As Dr. LaBarre also points out, there are chronic and seemingly inescapable revivals of this "vision quest" whenever society undergoes prolong stress in ways that the cultural traditions cannot explain. Ordinary stress will not trigger this response; Dr. LaBarre chronicles calamities that give birth to no religious upheaval. But when the agony is such that it conflicts with cultural beliefs concerning those events that the god should not and could not allow, bewilderment sets in. Many are driven to the vision quest, to direct experience of the "supernatural" or psychic world, as they attempt to find out what the gods really want and why previous revelations cannot account for current sufferings. This happened to the Plains Indians in the late 19th Century when constant betrayals by the white man, constant defeats by the white cavalry, the vanishing of the buffalo herds, and the presence of Christian missionaries belittling their ancient religion combined to destroy their faith in everything that had once given life meaning and promise. Not unexpectedly, the vision quest appeared in dozens of forms among them, most notably in the famous ghost dance (which promised that if all tribes united to perform this rite, the buffalo would reappear and the hated whites would go back to Europe) and in the cult of psychedelic cactus-peyote-which became the Native American Church.

Entirely similar religious upheavals occur in all conquered peoples. Two well-known examples are the Cargo cults in the South Pacific-which worship airplanes-and the Johnson Cult in the same area-which involved the belief, by thousands of natives, that Lyndon Baines Johnson, whom they had seen in the newsreels, was the promised Messiah. More bizarre is a sect mentioned by Dr. LaBarre, which worshiped a photograph of King George V of England, which their prophet ( who had once attended Christian missionary classes, but evidently hadn't listened too closely) told them was "Jehovah, son of Jesus."

Christian culture appeared after several centuries of such social chaos and religious upheaval, beginning when the Dionysian and similar cults in Greece brought amanita muscaria mushrooms and solanaceae  to Athens, and introduced to Greece the myths of the mother goddess, her dying-and-resurrected divine son, and the drug experience in which the cult member underwent "death" and "rebirth" and learned that he, too, was a God and would never truly die. John Allegro, the English philologist, attempts to show, in his The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, that the similarity of these cults to Christianity is more than a shared heritage of religious symbols (mother and son) or of ideas (resurrection) but was actually chemical. The early Christians, he claims, also used the hallucinogenic mushroom.

Whether of not this is true, Christianity is certainly a cult of the crisis-oriented variety we have been discussing, and one of the most bizarre of them. An American Indian messiah, mentioned by LaBarre, told his followers to destroy all livestock and burn their property; many Christian saints gave the same odd advice, and Christ himself urged taking no though of the morrow. One Polynesian messiah told his followers that the gods were angry because they had sex in the dark, and that the time of troubles would end if they would have sex in the daytime instead; Christ and his follower Pual had even more peculiar sexual ideas and many of their followers gave up sex entirely. (In this they were probably influenced by the earlier cult of Attis, whose priests castrated themselves and wore women's clothing. To this day, Catholic priests psychologically castrate themselves by vowing perpetual celibacy and, in some countries, wear feminized gowns.)

After their vision quests have been successful, most messiahs come back and announce that part of the old tribal tradition was true and should be maintained in spite of the contempt of the conquerors. (This is especially notable in American Indian crisis cults, which always stress certain archaic values, especially ecological ones.) So, too, Christ tried to preserve much of the Jewish tradition that was crumbling in his time under the yoke of Roman conquest. But the messiah is always responding, consciously or unconsciously, to some form of calamity, and he argues that if the old tradition had been entirely valid, the gods would not have sent such sufferings; therefore, every messiah offers new revelations and abrogates part of the old law. Christ did this and so has every Indian, Aboriginal, African, Polynesian or Micronesian messiah that Dr. LaBarre studied. The Native American Church, for instance, together with its Aboriginal elements (Peyote Woman herself, Road Chief, the midcien bundles) introduced the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament and Jesus Christ as a god equally strong as Peyote Woman.

It seems plausible that the new Drug Revolution of our time is part of this age-old religious pattern. But there are two important differences. The first and most important concerns the strange sexual context provided by Christian society that will be discussed below. The second is that we are living in an age of science. Many of the most experienced trippers and vision questers were men of science who began with a thoroughly scientific and skeptical orientation.  When they saw gods and heavens and experienced "occult" energies, they did not take these dramatic events at face value. They sought a scientific explanation. Thus, Dr. Leary talked originally of sets, settings, games, role playing; Dr. Osmund, of Jung's collective unconscious and its archetypes; Dr. Lilly, of programming the human biocomputer with new information; others of the Freudian id and the return of the repressed.

This scientific skepticism did not last long when the drugs moved out of the laboratories and into the streets. (Even in the labs, some researchers could be caught barefacedly using the noun "God" or at least the adjective "divine", although they would usually protect themselves from professional ridicule by placing them in dubious quotation marks, as I have done. Leary, typically, was the first to take off the quotes and set up shop frankly as a new messiah.) In the streets, there were no such hesitations. The average acidhead, and quite a few pot smokers, were not shy at all about telling you they had found "some kind of truth" in all that religion stuff. Even so, the failure of the old tradition and the typical crisis cult pattern was visible: Few accepted traditional Christianity. Almost all added new elements- at first, from Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and the Orient in general. Later, elements were taken from the Western occult tradition and Crowley's sexual magic. (IN some circles, this sex-occult aspect of the new Drug Revolution appeared as early as 1962.)

This tend was fated inevitably to conflict with the values of our still largely Christian culture. Too much in the new drug mystique was like the old solanceae cults of Greece and Rome that the fathers of Christianity had hated bitterly and much of the drug kulch even repeated; and sometimes revived, parts of these cults which the church had condemned as witchcraft and persecuted with fanatic cruelty for eight long centuries. It is not surprising that some who had gone far down this "verboten" path eventually became frightened and retreated into the most pig-headed variety of Christian fundamentalism. You will find a lot of former hippies in the "Jesus Freak" cadres.

There is something profoundly frightening to the orthodoxies of higher civilization about the shamistically originated vision quest with drugs. The shaman assumes, and even transmits, certain values that are tribal and ecological, and are tinged, almost inevitably, with anarchy. (Hasan i Sabbah's "Nothing is True / Everything is Permitted", Crowley's notorious "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law / Love is the Law, Love under Will", Abbie Hoffman's "You can't do good unless you feel good" etc.) The tribe is decentralized and radically individualistic (cf., the Cherokee Indian maxim, "no man should be compelled to do that which goes against his heart"). Civilization is centralized and, even in alleged democracies, radically authoritarian. It assumes that every man, every day, should do which goes against his heart, for the benefit of the harmony of the whole. In civilized religions, a confused man goes to a priest for religious advice; what he gets, always, is a messages telling him, one way or another, to conform, to sacrifice his own longings, to be "mature", to adjust. In the tribe, a confused man goes alone to the woods and suffers "sensory deprivation" to induce a peak experience, or just takes a drug, and has his own encounter with the gods, who often tell him the tribal ways have to be changed.

No; we cannot tolerate that. The individualist shaman or vision-quester has no place in a civilized state or a civilized church. The Catholic Church, shrewder than most, handles this potential troublemaker by guiding him to a monastery where his weird notions will not infect the rest of the faithful. The state has its own monasteries, called jails (or mental institutions, rehabilitation centres etc.) and this is where the messiah usually lands, if he isn't killed outright. Dr. LaBarre's book is full of cases of messiahs who were jailed by the state even though they used no drugs and their doctrines, on the surface, posed no direct threat. it won't do to have new revelations upsetting the equilibrium. For instance, some Polynesians began to believe that hey wouldn't have to work if they became more like Englishmen (who, in their experience, never worked). Logically, then, they acquired some chairs and held afternoon teas. When the English learned about this cult, they suppressed it. Similarly, the American Indian Ghost Dance posed no direct insurrectionary threat, but when the whites learned of it, they destroyed it in a fashion so bloody that even today the name of Wounded Knee, where the last massacre occurred, is still the most bitter phrase in the Indian vocabulary.

Sex & Sin

If the Drug Revolution has one strike against it in its implicit, and then explicit, tribal nature in the highly civilized and centralized American state, it has a second strike against it in that there seems no plausible way of reconciling it with Christianity. Even if Martin Luther can be considered, in a sense, a tribal shaman, recreating the tradition in modified form through vehement personal vision quest (Professer LaBarre considers him as such), Christianity and even Protestant Christianity has remained, willy-nilly, the most authoritarian and bigoted of all world religions.

(editors note: this was written before much of the rise of the current repressive Muslim regimes, which, in this humble editors opinion, sits on the same level if not a little bit more strict & brutal (Orthodox Monotheism breeds Authoritarianism just look at Israel) ....still we are watching the modern Crusades go on right now....but you must understand that those movements were fostered by very Orthodox Christians in NATO countries who thought that those movements would stifle the Soviet Union....well they certainly succeeded but when they realized they were merely being used..... well you get the big picture....on with the program)

 He who attempts to question or modify any of its dogmas quickly gets into very hot water in any Christian country. There has been one "revelation" and it is enough. He who has new ideas is probably inspired by the Devil, or has been out in the woods taking strange drugs with the witch women.

if such a heretic admits that he has, indeed, been taking strange drugs, the Christian response is even more vehement, quick and hostile. And, of course, if his teaching involves sexual liberty at all, the historical pattern is reactivated at once, and a new witch hunt is sure to follow.

This is a peculiarly Christian reaction. The Hindus, the Muslims, the Buddhists, the Taoists, all the major religions have had their sexual mystics and have honored them. Every Hindu knows that the Tantrists achieve their mystical visions through sexual intercourse with a beloved partner; the Buddhists, Muslims and Taoists all have similar sects. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans had highly developed cults of hierogamy: ritualized sex magic. Christianity is alone (ed:again i would more accurately say The Orthodox Monotheistic Abrahamic Sects) in thinking that sex is entirely the Devil's business and an offense to God.

This is a strange doctrine, and almost implies that God and the Devil must have collaborated on the creation of humanity, God working above the belly button and the Devil below. The consequences of the doctrine are even more bizarre than the belief itself. If a man writes a poem to his beloved in a Christian nation, and is too frank about expressing that love, he is in danger of being called "obscene"; throughout most of Christian history, he could be jailed, tortured or even killed. As William Blake wrote in horror:

Children of the future age
Reading this indignant page
Know that in a former time
Love, sweet love, was called a crime

One hundred and fifty years later, in the democratic, allegedly secular, United States of America, Stanley Kubrick's movie A Clockwork Orange has its X-rating (adults only) removed after 30 seconds of nudity are cut out. All the brutalities remain in gory detail. Hating, kicking, stabbing, and all manner of sadism are allowed in movies for Christian (ed: remember use Orthodox Monotheistic Abrahamic Religious Sects/Cults....it's the difference between using the terms global warming or global climate de-stabilization in debate) Only love is vile . It can hardly be a coincidence that such a nation has the odd distinction of being the only country to have dropped atomic bombs on civilian populations, twice, and has surpassed all others in the use of napalm, which reaches 1000 Degrees centigrade on contact with human skin (ed: We can even talk about Radiation Tips & Drones.....among other things....look it up!). Only love is vile. Anything else can be justified by finding a purpose (justice, national honor, the greater good of the greater number), since, evidently, like the Marxists, we now believe that "the end justifies the means". But sex, whatever its purpose, even if used in a religious visionary quest, can ever be justified. Only love is vile- only love is too "obscene" to be treated as an art by people who have turned even Scrabble and crossword puzzles, not to mention skiing or surfing, (ed. see what others you can think of) into arts so complex as to border on religious rites. Only sex remains so dark a matter as to be rushed and fumbled (Kinsey discovered, a generation ago (ed. i guess two or three now), that the average American male reaches orgasm one and one-half minutes after intromission in the vagina) and usually performed in a dark room, so that i can be finished furtively before the sex-hating Jehovah has time to notice what's going on.

In such a context, psychedelic drugs that slow and magnify the sex act are not going to be greeted with the fervor that Arabs have long had for their beloved hashish. Hardly. The reaction is directly opposite; the users are thrown in jail on the thin pretext that they pose some metaphysical threat to the community, or that they might become so charged up some night that they will charge out of the boudoirs and commit rape on a mass scale. It doesn't matter that such crimes by users of these drugs are virtually impossible to document from police records. (When cases are alleged, as Dr. Fort shows in his book, The Pleasure Seekers, it almost turns out that the perpetrators were not on these drugs but, rather, on cocaine or amphetamines.)

Of course, the Christian sexual lunacy is not unique. all crisis cults, without exception, contain bizarre elements, the reflection of the time of stress and calamity in which they were born. Consider the South Pacific imitation English tea ceremony mentioned earlier, or the prayer wheels of the Tibetans, or the snake-handling cults in the American South; man  is a strange animal when he seeks to attract the attention of his gods, and has tried every eccentricity (except possibly, praying in pig-Latin while standing on his head (ed. tis been done)) to convince them that his plight is terrible and merits their urgent attention. The early Christian denial of sexual needs was such a heroic attempt to find a gimmick that would bemuse or bamboozle the deity, and its closest parallel, probably, is the Plains Indian habit of cutting off a finger when a beloved person dies. Little children do equally peculiar things to attract their earthly father's attention for a while.

The Heart of the Matter

But let us, as the Chinese say, draw our chairs closer to the fire and examine what we've been talking about.

Man needs dreams, as recent sleep research has well-documented. If you wake people up each time they start to dream (which is revealed by their rapid eye movements, which has led scientists to speak of REM sleep, meaning sleep with rapid eye movements and dreams) they will, within a few nights, become neurotic, irritable and slightly paranoid. No reputable researcher has continued this experiment for more than a few nights, because the evidence indicates real risk that the subjects might actually go totally mad. It doesn't matter how much sleep they have had; if they aren't able to dream, the same neurotic and near-psychotic behavior will appear.

By the same token, it is reasonable to suggest that perhaps people really do need religious/spiritual experiences, whatever such experiences consist of. It is well-established, in LaBarre's Ghost Dance, that a large number of people think they need such experiences, and actively seek after them, whenever society faces a crisis that it cannot rationally understand. An earthquake alone will not necessarily trigger such a response, because an earthquake can be explained, more or less, within some traditional framework of ideas. But when the gods are mocked by missionaries of false and foreign gods, and take no revenge; when the sacred taboos are violated on all sides, and the gods still do not respond; when military defeats and other disasters occur in this perplexing context; when a man's children are sold into slavery or his wife forcibly enwhored by the conquerors- then, some extraordinary explanation is needed, and it is at this point in time that the vision quest begins.

Whether induced by drugs or by fasting, by sensory deprivation or by self-torture, by yoga or by ritual dancing. A marvelous energy is tapped-the Mana of the Polynesians, Wakan of the Aboriginals, Prana of the Hindus, Kundalini of the Tantrists, Lung of the Tibetans,  Ch'i of the Daoists (Aristotle's "Energia"?, Ibn Sina's "Anima Mundi"? Galvani's " Life Force"?Goethe's "Gestaltung"? Von Reichenbach's "Odic Force"? Steiner's "Aetheric Force"? McDougall's "Hormic Energy"? Bergson's "Elan Vital"? Gurtwitsch's "Mitogenetic Ray"?  Mesmer's "animal magnetism"? Freud's "libido"? Reich's "orgone"? Grischenko's "Bioplasma"? Margenau's "Quasi-Electrostatic Field"? Sheldrake's "Morphic Resonance"?  Puharich's "Psi Plasma"? Muses' "Noetic Energy"? Bio-Electricity? The Force?) The tribal spirits appear- sometimes the Father God, sometimes the Mother Goddess. And in the majority of cases, the subject undergoes a strange experience of death/rebirth in which he discovers that he is not only himself but also God (or, in the Hindu-Buddhist tradition, that he is the whole universe). Finally, and most distressingly, some verbal formulas are communicated to him, and he brings these back- to start a new cult, to become enshrined as dogma, to blind and cripple the minds of generations to come. Fortunately, this last and most negative result is conspicuously missing in a few religions, such as Zen Buddhism; and many of the heretics within our own religions, such as Sufis within the Muslim tradition, The Kabbalists within the Jewish tradition and figures like Boehme and Blake in the Christian world, also lack this characteristic. Such men, mercifully, did not establish new dogmas and even actively encouraged others to seek their own visions and find their own truths.

What is going on in such highly unusual "unification experiences"? Is it all a mental spasm, a kind of temporary lunacy? This is a tempting answer, and it is what most people assume about all messiahs.....except the one that they themselves worship. It is hardly the whole answer, however. As R.M. Bucke documents in his Cosmic Consciousness, many of the visionaries were not insane; some even managed to look at the experience with scientific skepticism, while admitting that it had altered and enlarged their consciousness. (Conspicuous modern examples of a rationalistic attitude preserved even after such a mystic experience are Bucke himself and Dr. John Lilly.)

The explanation- or an explanation- probably lie in cybernetics.

Life is one, but consciousness is divided. That is, all of our unconscious bodily functions, such as breathing, digestion, the beating of our hearts, the biochemistry of our metabolism, and so on, are part of a seamless web that does, indeed, include the whole universe. More locally, we are celles in an explosion of protoplasm on this planet that began 3 billion years ago. (this is the key to Dr. Leary's cryptic epigram, "Your body is 3 billion years old.") The "body of Buddha", as Buddhists call it, is, at any moment, in cybernetic contact with each of it parts. This does not involve anything spooky or metaphysical; what I have in mind can be illustrated by the experience of Dr. William Ross Ashby, who tried to build an analog computer that would be a model of a generalized animal organism. Dr. Ashby found that such a machine could no more be designed than one could divide by zero in mathematics. it cannot be designed because the feedbacks, the information flow channels, are not all inside the animal; many are in "the environment". Dr. Ashby ended by designing his "homeostat", widely used in biology and cybernetics classes. This is not a model of an animal; it is a model of an-animal-in-an-environment.

It seems that there is no unit-animal-which can be scientifically used to account for the facts known to modern cyberneticists. The only unit that can be used is animal-in-environment. (This is entirely parallel to Einstein's discovery that there is no "time" or "space" that physicist can measure, but only a "space-time event" which is the unit in modern physics.)

What I am suggesting is that the mystics got there before Dr. Ashby, that the "unification" with God or the universe mentioned in all religious literature and in reports of acid trippers and some pot or hashish smokers, is precisely the shift of attention from the conscious ego to the previously unconscious organism-environment feedback network. Does this seem an extravagant thought? All mystics have talked about the "unreality" of the ego; are they not trying to say exactly what Dr. Ashby has said? Many speak also, for that matter, of the unreality of space and time, and Einstein was modest enough to acknowledge that they seemed to be talking about the same facts he had noted mathematically. You are part of something larger than yourself, something which space and time do not restrict is what every mystic, in essence, tries to tell us, and this is just what Dr. Ashby's homeostat illustrates.

Why should this discovery be made by men under stress? The answer is obvious. Life is one, but consciousness is divided. It is the stress of the divided consciousness that every visionary is seeking to heal; what bothers him is not an individual earthquake or plague but a failure of traditional ideas, held by his conscious mind, to account for his tragic experience and observations. If the answer existed within the conscious ego, the quest would never have begun. The answer is found in those areas that were previously unconscious, those areas where the body links and joins other bodies and the total energy continuum of life and ecology.

In this connection, the singular drug experience of the Russian mystic Ouspensky is interesting. Aware that William James and others who had explored the mystic trance through nitrous oxide could not find words for their trip when they go back, Ouspensky kept a pencil and pad with him as he sniffed the gas. In ecstasy, as he whirled through the cosmos of his inner space, he scribbled desperately on the paper, trying to tie down what he was learning. When he came back to normal, the paper said, "Think in other categories". The experience of beyond ego was still unspeakable, but he at least had the key to why it is unspeakable. Our usual categories of thought- animal separate from environment, space separate from time, etc.- keep us from being able to talk about the unification experience in which all are "one".(0?=2!)

This is not a reification of the "one": I do not dare assert that the "one" is actually a conscious mind in the same way that each of us is a conscious mind. It is found through the unconscious, and unconscious it probably is in essence. I can understand why many, bowled over by this experience, call it "God", but I still feel that all ideas of God are only symbols of the experience itself. Certainly, this is true in the more anthropomorphic and less transcendental visions, when a very man-like god or woman-like goddess appears.

Since the crisis in Christian (ed. go back & say it with me, Orthodox Monotheistic Abrahamic Sects/Cults) culture is mainly sexual, we should not be surprised that sexual elements are very prominent in the unconscious channels opened by the Drug Revolution. These channels are a traditional part of religion outside Christianity*, anyways; but inside Christianity they were inevitable fissures, fated to erupt whenever the taboos of ego and superego became sufficiently weakened to allow unconscious material to flow into consciousness.

*(Ed. Aside: This was written in the early 70's (although tis quite surprising how relevant it still is).....& of course as we will see in the text there is a certain naivete in regards to the Future which happens when you read any Optimistic Futurist from previous bygone eras so be prepared for some insight & a chuckle......but before that I must make another pertinent point. Of course we still see much of this stigma against Sex in our era but with the passing of a generation, we now see the general loosening up & relaxation of these taboos in the Western World.....However the Sexual Revolution has hit another snag.....The commodification of Sex itself into another Consumerist function of our modern State Capitalism. Not that sex hasn't been used for advertising titillation for quite some time, in at least some form or another; it's now become an end in & of itself, a commodity to be bought & sold (quantity over quality), or even an addictive drug based solely on the Physical aspect (Am I fuckable? Are my Cock/Tits/Ass proper? How do I work it? etc.) & Culture Status orientated Shlock Romantics. These high unreasonable expectations start imposing idealized images/roles onto oneself & others totally disrupting the spontaneity which leads to whole new Inhibitions (& neurosis) of the Sexual Instinct focused primarily on these very Fundamental Materialist goals, typically void of any substantial meaning. Instead one should make it one of the most beautiful magical art forms that it really IS. Sex should be one of the most essential tools for rapture (stop waiting for the damn thing, it's right in front of you, just reach out & grab it!) on the integrative path to making closer richer connections & seeking greater realizations for the highest individuation & liberation .....Not that this critique applies across the board. But eh, with every revolution, you gotta expect some snags & counter revolutions.....nothing ever ends.... still put down the porn (or find some fucking good pornography (remember it is an artform)....not that by the numbers revamped stereotype bullshit) loosen up, drop the forced  awkward "ethics", open up &explore this wide world of individuals with yr. heart open (& some head smarts) & truly.... GO FORTH & FIND LOVE (you might be surprised who or what you find.......love is the law, love under will....don't lust for results......don't forget to have fun....time to play)

The Last Straw

None of these paradoxes and perplexities are going to go away. The Drug Revolution is still escalating and accelerating; the future will be much wilder and hairier than in the immediate past.

In the Evans-Kline anthology of scientific papers, Psychotropic Drugs in the Year 2000, Nathan S. Kline, M.D., proposes that within 30 years we will almost certainly have drugs that will:
  1. Prolong childhood and shorten adolescence
  2. Reduce the need for sleep
  3. Provide safe, short acting intoxicants
  4. Regulate sexual responses
  5. Control aggression
  6. Mediate nutrition, metabolism and physical growth
  7. Increase or decrease alertness or relaxation
  8. Prolong or shorten memory
  9. Induce or prevent learning
  10. Produce or discontinue transference (the patient's emotional involvement with the therapist in psychiatry)
  11. Provoke or relieve guilt
  12. Foster or terminate mothering behavior 
  13. Shorten or extend experienced time
  14. Create conditions novelty or familiarity
  15. Deepen our awareness of beauty and our sense of awe
None of these predictions are irresponsible moonshine. Today's researchers have sufficient knowledge about the physiology of each of these responses to understand what sort o chemical changes in the brain will cause these changes in behavior. Some responses-for instance, fear and orgasm- have already been created in animals by electrical stimulation of the brain.

In the same book, Wayne O. Evans indicates that real aphrodisiacs will probably be available by the year 2000, also. That is, it will not only be possible to enhance a sexual experience, but to provoke one (as many already claim is sometimes done by cannabis or LSD). It finally appeared by 1998 and was called Viagra.

How  will these drugs be handled when they appear? Recent history gives us little cause to hope that our society will treat them rationally. The sex drugs, almost certainly, will be declared illegal after a few years of research (like LSD) and reappear immediately in diluted and unsafe form on the black market. I cannot conceive of a time within 30 years when Americans will be allowed to buy sexually stimulating drugs legally, which means that I can only conceive of them appearing in the underground, with every user wondering if he or she is getting the product advertised or just the reject from some entrepreneur's bathtub mescaline distillery. There probably will be some memorably bad trips in those years.

And what of the drugs that "foster or terminate mothering behavior"? We can imagine how the Reverend Jerry Falwell would like to see them used, and the far different ways that the Radical Feminist movement would prefer to use them; can we imagine a reasonable compromise that would reconcile this conflict? Or do we have to admit that one drug (fostering maternal impulses) would be legal and the other, again, would be on the black market, like the abortifacient of yore?

The drugs that provoke guilt....will the police in some countries slip them to suspects, as they have already done with scopolamine? If, perchance, such drugs turn out to be, like LSD, tasteless, colorless, and odorless. will any suspect in custody ever dare to eat a meal? (This is not science fiction; these are very real possibilities.)

And what government office do we trust enough to give sole custody of drugs that control aggression, decrease alertness, prevent learning or prolong childhood?

Dr. Timothy Leary made the second most important scientific-political decision of the 20th century  (the first was Einstein's decision to help the United States acquire an atomic bomb) (the third, arguably, was the making the World Wide Web Public). Whether Leary's decision was right or wrong (it can be debated as endlessly as Einstein's), it has markedly changed the emotional and intellectual climate of our time. he decided that LSD was too important to be monopolized by any government, or any scientific committee, or any other elite; that it should be available to all. Ten years later, we all know the risks involved in that libertarian choice (and Leary also undoubtedly knows the personal risk to himself better than he did when he started). With some of the desiderata of a showman, and some of a shaman, with great good humor and occasional flares of grandiosity, Leary set out to guarantee that, whatever action the government took, a black market would be created where acid would be available to all. (The same underworld or underground networks later helped him get out of the country when he broke jail.)

It is doubtful that Leary will be the only scientist to make such a decision and take the consequences. his famous Two Commandments apply to virtually all the new drugs we are discussing

  1. Thou shalt not force thy neighbor to alter his consciousness
  2. Thou shalt not prevent thy neighbor from altering his consciousness
The government, which violates the second of these commandments every day, is now beginning to violate the first, forcing students in some grammar schools to take Ritalin (among other things....), an amphetamine-like drug that quiets unruly children but may have side effects not yet known. It is likely, given the general character of governments, that similar violations will multiply beyond all our guesses when bureaucrats discover that they have such delightful new toys as drugs that will reduce whole populations to perpetual childhood, decrease their aggressive rebelliousness, stunt their alertness and generally turn them into the drones described by Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World. The heretic of the 21st Century might be, not a man who takes a drug the government forbids, but a man who refuses a drug the government commands. 

Robert Anton Wilson - 1973
Edited by Moo'Ahh'Doo

Friday, April 6, 2012

Digital Artist - Chris Jordan

 Cell phone chargers, Atlanta 2004 / Circuit boards, Atlanta 2004

Midway: Message from the Gyre (2009 - Current) 

I recently stumbled across digital artist Chris Jordan. Using mass amounts consumer "e-waste" he's making it clear that someones garbage is another persons treasure.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Death Posture: A Definitive Instruction by Alan Chapman of the Baptist's Head

Austin Osman Spare’s Death Posture is the most misunderstood magical technique in the world.


The technique is outlined in The Book of Pleasure, and so I completely sympathise with any initial confusion readers may have concerning the posture; after all, Spare’s writing is demented.

However, a simple re-read of the page in question should be enough to dispel that confusion. I can only surmise from the guff presented in many books, magazines and websites as the death posture is due to the fact that most people just cannot be bothered.

The Ritual and Doctrine

The instruction is given in three paragraphs. I will give them in the order they are presented in the book:

Lying on your back lazily, the body expressing the condition of yawning, suspiring while conceiving by smiling, that is the idea of the posture. Forgetting time with those things which were essential- reflecting their meaninglessness, the moment is beyond time and its virtue has happened.

Standing on tip-toe, with the arms rigid, bound behind by the hands, clasped and straning the utmost, the neck stretched- breathing deeply and spasmodically, till giddy and sensation comes in gusts, gives exhaustion and capacity for the former.

Gazing at your reflection till it is blurred and you know not the gazer, close your eyes (this usually happens involuntarily) and visualize. The light (always an X in curious evolutions) that is seen should be held on to, never letting go, till the effort is forgotten, this gives a feeling of immensity (which sees a small form), whose limit you cannot reach. This should be practised before experiencing the foregoing. The emotion that is felt is the knowledge which tells you why.

It’s obvious then: the death posture itself is completely open to interpretation (there is no ‘one’ posture) ranging from holding your breath until you pass out to staring at yourself in the mirror.

Oh yeah – and it’s used to ‘charge’ sigils.

What big fat hairy bollocks.

If we re-read those three paragraphs, we can see that paragraph two (Standing on tip-toe…):

….gives exhaustion and capacity for the former.

In other words, it is a preliminary exercise for the instruction given in paragraph one (Lying on your back…).

As for the exercise given in paragraph three (Gazing at your reflection…), we are told:

This should be practised before experiencing the foregoing. The emotion that is felt is the knowledge which tells you why.

Paragraph three is therefore a preliminary exercise to be practiced before the instructions given in paragraph one and two.

The death posture proper is therefore given in paragraph one:

Lying on your back lazily, the body expressing the condition of yawning, suspiring while conceiving by smiling, that is the idea of the posture. Forgetting time with those things which were essential- reflecting their meaninglessness, the moment is beyond time and its virtue has happened.

So, to clarify:

1). Practice staring at your eyes in the mirror, until your reflection looks bizarre. Granted, it doesn’t help at this point when Spare tells you to close your eyes and visualise, and then goes on to describe something you should see (an x in curious evolutions, which I propose is the image left on the retina – indeed, there is very similar to a Buddhist exercise), but the point is: you concentrate on something, never letting go, until:

…this gives a feeling of immensity (which sees a small form), whose limit you cannot reach.

Spare is quite explicit when he says this must be experienced before practicing the death posture proper.

In other words, you must have a degree of proficiency in concentration. Knowing Spare’s magical background, I do believe he is here describing Dhyana.

It should be noted that there is nothing special about this concentration exercise, as Spare explains a little later on:

There are many preliminary exercises, as innumerable as sins, futile of themselves but designative of the ultimate means.

Once Dhyana is achieved, we can move on to the death posture itself.

2). The death posture requires a degree of relaxation, and to obtain this, you may first strain the whole body and hyperventilate.

Of course, you could also go for a run or lift some weights – the aim is to be relaxed for the practice of the posture proper.

Just to be explicit: holding your breath until you pass out is NOT the death posture.

3). So, once a degree of competence in concentration is achieved (i.e. you can enter a state of Dhyana, or trance), you can practice the posture proper.

I believe the biggest difficulty with understanding the death posture lies with the fact that Spare appears to be telling us to lie down, yawn, smile and ‘let go’ of all of our worries. That can’t be right, can it?

Fuck that, I’m holding my breath until I pass out…

Paragraph 4

The posture is indeed lying on your back, relaxed, without a care in the world. However, if you think he is advocating relaxation for its own sake, you’re missing the point.

If we take a look at the next paragraph on page 18 of The Book of Pleasure, Spare has this to say about the death posture:

…know this as the negation of all faith by living it, the end of the duality of consciousness.


Know the death posture and its reality in annihilation of law – the ascension from duality.

The aim of the death posture is not to achieve ‘gnosis’ to ‘charge’ a sigil, but to experience the non-dual. Spare is talking about Samadhi, or the experience of what he called Kia.

Spare elaborates on the practice:

The primordial vacuity (or belief) is not by the exercise of focussing the mind on a negation of all conceivable things, the identity of unity and duality, chaos and uniformity, etc., etc., but by doing it now, not eventually. Perceive, and feel without the necessity of an opposite, but by its relative. Perceive light without shadow by its own colour as contrast, through evoking the emotion of laughter at the time of ecstasy in union, and by practice till that emotion is untiring and subtle. The law or reaction is defeated by inclusion…Let him practise it daily, accordingly, till he arrives at the centre of desire. He has imitated the great purpose…Thus by hindering belief and semen from conception, they become simple and cosmic.

The ‘primordial vacuity’, or Kia, is achieved by cultivating an awareness of immediate sensation. For example, instead of experiencing a sensation and knowing it as ‘light’, simply experience the sensation. The correct mental attitude is that which is experienced when you laugh; you accept all experience and sensation (including the sensation of thoughts) without resistance.

If this attitude of inclusive awareness is cultivated by daily practice, you will eventually experience a state of non-duality and bliss.

The parallels between Spare’s instructions and those of the Buddha are quite striking. The Death Posture facilitates the same awareness as Insight practice or Vipassana, which can only really be practiced competently once a degree of proficiency in concentration is achieved.

A Practical Summary

1). Practice concentration exercises until you experience Dhyana;

2). Practice being aware of all sensations and experiences as they arise without fixing your attention on or identifying with any one thing (the correct attitude can be engendered by smiling or laughing). This is easiest to do when relaxed, so practicing after physical exercise is ideal.

Alternatively, taking up Insight practice, Vipassana or Taoist meditation will have the same result.

Core teaching

Out of the 16 chapters of The Book of Pleasure, 8 deal exclusively with the non-dual or Kia, either expounding the virtues of the pursuit of the non-dual, providing instructions for achieving the non-dual or detailing the resulting state once the non-dual is achieved and becomes habitual (which he calls Self-Love).

Spare is essentially concerned with hedonism (I think the title of the book gives that away). If you want the most ecstasy and pleasure possible, if you want the greatest degree of satisfaction, then you must concern yourself with the non-dual:

The wise pleasure seeker, having realised they are “different degrees of desire” and never desirable, gives up both Virtue and Vice and becomes a Kiaist. Riding the Shark of his desire he crosses the ocean of the dual principle and engages himself in self-love.

Self-love is the state that results from the habitual experience of the non-dual, obtained through practicing the death posture everyday. It is freedom from desire.

Tell me, which brings the greatest pleasure: using sigils to acquire a magical effect, or the transcendence of all desires?

For a long time, Spare has been feted as the father of ‘Chaos Magick’ and the inventor of Sigil magick. Yet, what I believe is his greatest magical achievement - the central teaching of his book, has either been misunderstood as an arbitrary component of sigil magick or completely ignored as the ramblings of a mystic.

With his Death Posture, Spare managed to boil down the essence of all meditative practice to a very simple, easy and enjoyable method of genuine magical attainment; not for any lofty, spiritual purpose, but simply for the sake of pleasure.

If you still think magick has nothing to do with mysticism, or is concerned solely with the manifestation of material results, consider the title of the book responsible for ‘starting it all’:

The Book of Pleasure (Self-Love), The Psychology of Ecstasy

Does not matter-Need not be
Please Yourself

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