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Jul 29 2012

From Psychedelic Magazine With A Tech Gloss To Tech Magazine With A Psychedelic Gloss (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #23)

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Another segment from the rough draft of Use Your Hallucinations: Mondo 2000 in the 20th Century Cyberculture.  Note that “the total fucking transmutation of everything” is established as a conceit early in the narrative, thus its use here reflects on a major theme.

…Meanwhile, we made a rash decision.  Despite High Frontiers relatively successful rise within the ‘zine scene (where 15,000 in sales was a pretty big deal), we decided to change the name of the magazine itself to Reality Hackers. 

It was my idea.

We’d been hipped to cyberpunk SF and I’d read Gibson’s Neuromancer and Sterling’s Mirrorshades collection.  His famous introduction for that book, describing what cyberpunk was doing in fiction — seemed to express precisely what a truly contemporary transmutational magazine should be about. Here are some parts of it:

The term, (cyberpunk) captures something crucial to the work of these writers, something crucial to the decade as a whole: a new kind of integration. The overlapping of worlds that were formerly separate: the realm of high tech, and the modern pop underground.

This integration has become our decade’s crucial source of cultural energy. The work of the cyberpunks is paralleled throughout the Eighties pop culture: in rock video; in the hacker underground; in the jarring street tech of hip hop and scratch music; in the synthesizer rock of London and Tokyo. This phenomenon, this dynamic, has a global range; cyberpunk is its literary incarnation… 

An unholy alliance of the technical world and the world of organized dissent — the underground world of pop culture, visionary fluidity, and street-level anarchy… 

For the cyberpunks… technology is visceral. It is not the bottled genie of remote Big Science boffins; it is pervasive, utterly intimate. Not outside us, but next to us. Under our skin; often, inside our minds.

Certain central themes spring up repeatedly in cyberpunk. The theme of body invasion: prosthetic limbs, implanted circuitry, cosmetic surgery, genetic alteration. The even more powerful theme of mind invasion: brain-computer interfaces, artificial intelligence, neurochemistry — techniques radically redefining — the nature of humanity, the nature of the self.

The Eighties are an era of reassessment, of integration, of hybridized influences, of old notions shaken loose and reinterpreted with a new sophistication 

Cyberpunk favors “crammed” loose: rapid, dizzying bursts of novel information, sensory overIoad that submerges the reader in the literary equivalent of the hard-rock “wall of sound.”  

Well, then…

Also, Jaron Lanier was hanging around some, sharing his lofty goals for virtual reality; and Eric Gullichsen, who was teaming up to do some writing with Timothy Leary — with whom he shared a mutual fascination with drugs, extreme technology and Aleister Crowley — was already even a bit deeper in the mix, while dreaming his own VR schemes.  Various hackers like Bill Me Later and John Draper (Captain Crunch) were popping up with increasing frequency.  Hanging in hacker circles, we were also befriended by John Morgenthaler, who was getting very serious about the exploration of smart drugs.  Something was starting to surface.  Several small subcultures were drifting together, and some of these, at times, esoteric groupings included men (yes, men) who were creating the next economy.  Clearly, we were positioned to become the magazine of a slow baking gestalt.

Other factors played into this change.  While a strutting, pop-intellectual, irreverent psychedelic magazine (in other words, High Frontiers) could surely build an audience somewhat larger than 15,000, we probably weren’t all that far from our optimum, unless we wanted to stifle our Gonzo-meets-Camp writerly excesses and dumb ourselves down to something more like a High Times for psychedelic drugs.  Also, acid dealers didn’t advertise.  The number of potential advertisers for a magazine that revolved primarily around psychedelics was limited, particularly in this “just say no” period. Hell, dope friendly humor was even voluntarily eliminated by Saturday Night Live, the once-hip show inspired by a Lorne Michaels mescaline trip.    And then, admittedly, by emphasizing technology, we could, in theory, put a bit of a buffer zone between ourselves and “the man” — throw him off our druggy tracks while sneaking sideways into the center of the oncoming digital establishment, all the better to affect the total fucking transmutation of everything (bwahaha)… or maybe even make a livelihood!

Lastly, it had really been my intention from the start to create a magazine that (to slightly detourne the original subhead of High Frontiers) was balanced between psychedelics, science, technology, outrageousness and postmodern pop culture.  The psychedelic impulse had gloriously taken center stage for the first four years.  Now it was time to push into new territory.

To consolidate my thoughts about the Reality Hackers, I wrote a small manifesto (a list, really) titled:

What Are The Reality Hackers Doing

1: Using high technology for a life beyond limits

2: Expanding the effectiveness and enjoyment of the human brain, mind, nervous system and senses

3: Blurring the distinction between science fiction and reality

4: Making big bureaucracy impossible

5: Entertaining any notion — using what works

6: Infusing new energy into postmodern culture

7: Using hardcore anthropology to understand human evolution

8: Using media to send out mutational memes (thought viruses)

9: Blurring the distinctions between high technology and magic

10: Replacing nerd mythology with sexy, healthy, aesthetic, & artful techno-magicians of both genders.

With this, I was also aligning the magazine ideologically with a transhumanist agenda.  I’d attended meetings of a nanotechnology interest group hosted by Christine Peterson and, sometimes, Eric Drexler.  I started to see the actual dim outlines of a plausible “total fucking transmutation of everything;” with molecular technology giving us total productive control over matter for unlimited wealth; biotechnology giving us the potential for positive mutations in the human organism; and neurotechnology theoretically allowing us to maximize our intelligence — not too mention cleaner, better highs with no downside.

Of course, we were maybe throwing away four years building a brand but, if we were anything, we were impulsive.

Ken Jopp: Reality Hackers was, to me, inelegantly titled. Still, the cyberpunk thing was revving up.  The weekly tabloid in my town ran a cover story on hackers: teenagers who lugged computers into phone booths, and then, when nobody was looking, they made long-distance calls for free! This was subversive stuff. Off the Establishment! I bought the issue of Reality Hackers and adopted it and its kin as a cultural security blanket.  These proto-Mondo publications, arriving during the Dark Ages of President Ronald Wilson Reagan (666), were a source of what later would become hollowed out to form a tinhorn. I mean, Hope and Change?

Lord Nose: I think it kept getting more and more mainstream in hopes of getting on to the newsstand and getting advertisers. It was being slowly made more palatable — or seemingly palatable — for the corporate interests that had no taste. I mean, it was so different. High Frontiers had a very different thrust.

Jeff Mark: Those of us serious about psychedelic exploration continued. Indeed, there was considerable activity, particularly around Tim Leary and Terence McKenna, but the momentum was spent. People started worrying about making a living.  High Frontiers/Reality Hackers had to get their shit together. 

 

Previous MONDO History Entries

Psychedelic Transpersonal Photography, High Frontiers & MONDO 2000: an Interview with Marc Franklin

Gibson & Leary Audio (MONDO 2000 History Project)

Pariahs Made Me Do It: The Leary-Wilson-Warhol-Dali Influence (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #3)

Robert Anton Wilson Talks To Reality Hackers Forum (1988 — Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #4)

Smart Drugs & Nutrients In 1991 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #5)

LSD, The CIA, & The Counterculture Of The 1960s: Martin Lee (1986, Audio. Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #6)

William Burroughs For R.U. Sirius’ New World Disorder (1990, Mondo 2000 History Project Entry # 7)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 1 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 2 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

The Glorious Cyberpunk Handbook Tour (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #9)

Did The CIA Kill JFK Over LSD?, Reproduced Authentic, & Two Heads Talking: David Byrne In Conversation With Timothy Leary (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #10)

Memory & Identity In Relentlessly Fast Forward & Memetically Crowded Times (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #11)

The First Virtual War & Other Smart Bombshells (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #12)

Swashbuckling Around The World With Marvin Minsky In How To Mutate & Take Over The World (MONDO 2000 History Project #13)

FAIL! Debbie Does MONDO (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #14)

Paradise Is Santa Cruz: First Ecstasy (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #15)

William Gibson On MONDO 2000 & 90s Cyberculture (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #16)

Ted Nelson & John Perry Barlow For MONDO 2000 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #17)

R.U. A Cyberpunk? Well, Punk? R.U.? (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry # 18

The New Edge At The New Age Convention (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #19)

The Belladonna Shaman (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #20)

NeoPsychedelia & High Frontiers: Memes Leading To MONDO 2000 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #21)

“I’d Never Met A Libertarian Before” (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #22)

 

Jun 27 2012

My Life As An Ambien Zombie

 

One scribe’s misadventures with Ambien, the world’s freakiest sleep medication.  

Drawings and paintings copyrighted Damon Orion, based on his Ambien Visions. Use prohibited without permission.

All my life. Right from the word go. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing exactly what I’m doing right now — lying on my back, staring into the darkness as my mind chases its tail, feeling like everyone in this time zone is asleep but me.

Ah, verily does it suck. Hour after hour, I fight the urge to look at the clock, knowing that it would only bring tidings of sorrow …

… until finally, sunlight rapes my eyeballs, and the birds begin celebrating my defeat with their taunting song of joy.

Yes, I was born this way: an insomniac, a sleep idiot, doomed to spend a quarter of my life praying for dreams that never come, and many, many of my remaining hours dragging my numb bones around in deflated, life-hating exhaustion.

Sleeping is one of the most basic things a living being can do. Even friggin’ turkeys have it down, and we’re talking about creatures that will flee in terror from a windblown scrap of paper here. How the hell can I be so bad at it?

Not long ago, I thought I’d found the solution. With the aid of Ambien, the world’s freakiest prescription sleep medication, I was able to temporarily bribe the Sandman … until the cure started looking worse than the problem. Here, if my sleep-needy memory serves, is how it all went down.

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

My prescription for Ambien has come with a handful of warnings from my doctor: It can be addictive; it can lose effect over time; it’s recommended for short-term use only. I figure if it loses efficacy, I’ll be no worse off than when I started. What I’ve seen of drug addiction didn’t really look like a whole bucket of awesome, though, so as a safeguard, I’ve resolved to take Ambien only twice per week.

Somewhere around a half-hour after taking the drug for the first time, I learn something the doctor forgot to mention: This stuff is SpongeBob freaking SquarePants in a pill. As I lie there, skeptically waiting for sleep, an absurd, goofy-happy feeling seeps into me, and suddenly I want to put on a bunny costume and bounce around the house on a pogo stick.

The dopey feeling gets stronger … and without warning, I find myself experiencing the mind-blowingly bizarre reality of being wide-awake while, with shut eyes, I watch what I would be dreaming if I were asleep.

I’m not making this up: The face of Emmanuel Lewis, cuddly child star of the ’80s sitcom Webster, appears out of nowhere surrounded by several brightly colored concentric rings. Smiling, he pulls back a rubber band, using it to shoot a burning Satanic pentagram at me.

The pentagram expands several times in size as it travels toward me — by the time it reaches me, it’s larger than I am. There is no pain, only awe, as the flames envelop me, scorching my everyday consciousness and taking me fully into Ambien Land. All this happens within the space of a few seconds.

Now the flames melt away, giving way to an aerial view of an absolutely gigantic birthday cake. This thing is at least the size of a swimming pool, and it’s bubbling and warping like a slab of cheese on a hot stove burner.

And then … a miracle happens: I fall asleep. Just as the doctor told me I would, I sleep exactly six hours. Eight would’ve been better, but when you’ve got insomnia like mine, that’s like Danny DeVito complaining that he placed only fifth in People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People list.

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

 

Hoping that the birthday cake was some kind of symbol of a rebirth into a new life of well-rested bliss, I cheerfully take Ambien again the following night, curious to find out if last night’s loopy feeling and wacky visuals were some kind of fluke.

In wordless answer, The Cupcake People appear before my closed eyes. That probably needs some explanation: The Cupcake People are four living, breathing cupcakes—a mom, a dad and their two adorable cupcake children—who are riding a roller coaster together. With their pink frosting, strawberry mouths and bright, rosy smiles, they’re the very picture of wholesome family fun except for the fact that they’re … you know … human cupcakes.

Naturally, I begin to look forward to the two nights a week when more gloriously idiotic short films will be projected onto my inner eyelids as I wait to fall asleep on Ambien: a ram with horns made of candy cane; Gene Shalit grinning obnoxiously as a Frisbee spins on his upraised middle finger; a huge, stupid seaweed monster stumbling blindly through an airport wrecking everything in his path as a tiny human family tries to guide his way; the Trix rabbit using a giant tobacco pipe as a golf club; a view through the eyes of a spider that a Mexican family is trying to crush; a buffalo dressed up as a superhero, looking incredibly pissed off about the whole affair; a black elephant with bat wings for ears, wearing diapers as he flies through the clouds; a statue of Boba Fett in the pose of Rodin’s “The Thinker” and many, many others, some of them too complex to explain in words. There are even visual puns, like a hippopotamus/platypus hybrid that is obviously named a “hippoplatypus,” or a large door with two knockers—and a plaque above them that looks like a female face.

It doesn’t stop with visuals, though. On Ambien, your head becomes a late-night surrealist radio station, broadcasting little snippets of songs, quick phrases (“rent-a-rhino”), poems (“And so I find the rodent signs that splitter-splat a kitty cat”) and just plain whacked-out noises. One evening, I am treated to a piece of an epic Wagnerian opera in which a male tenor sternly commands his buddy to buy him a beer. In the disoriented state that the drug brings on, it’s hard to discern that these sounds aren’t coming from outside sources; at times I think I’m inside some kind of chat room where people communicate in song and poetry.

One night, for reasons unknown, the Ambien hits much faster than usual, and as I lie there reading, I can’t help noticing that the tapestry on my wall is breathing. Mind you, I’ve only taken the recommended dose of Ambien: one pill.

As I continue to study the tapestry, I notice the moving face of a dejected-looking monster in a spot on the lower right. He has the sullen, ashamed look of a child who’s just lost the game for his baseball team. My attempts to cheer him up by making funny faces at him don’t seem to help. At this point, it occurs to me that my sanity is riding a giant kite to the lollipop factory, and I should probably hit the hay before I start trying to stick my toes up my nostrils.

GABA? GABA?? Hey…

The following day, my tapestry is back to normal, but my doubts about Ambien’s safety are at an all-time high. Google reveals that “Ambien” is a brand name for a hypnotic called zolpidem, which is in the same chemical family as Valium and Xanax. It works by potentiating gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. (Rumor has it that the name Ambien is a cute way of saying “good morning”: a.m. bien.)

On the plus side, it seems that some recent medical reports have stated that zolpidem has been helpful in waking people in persistent vegetative state (PVS) as well as dramatically counteracting the effects of brain injuries. On the other hand, hallucinations (which, it turns out, are very common, and for some people, horrifying) aren’t the only weird side effects of the drug. Apparently it’s not unusual for people on Ambien to go on eating binges in their sleep. Raunchy junk food seems to be the snack of choice, but in extreme cases, Ambien takers have supposedly eaten stuff like buttered cigarettes, salt sandwiches and raw bacon. One woman recounts having gotten up at around 4 a.m. and fixed up a tempting mix of ranch dressing, milk, an entire tub of butter, some ham and cheese shreds and a full jar of mayonnaise. None of these people have any recollection of their eating binges the following day. An evil hypnotist couldn’t have devised a better prank … and again, Ambien is a hypnotic.

Mulling this over, it occurs to me that a number of my Ambien visions have involved food, some of it sugary (a skull with maraschino cherries sticking out of its eye sockets, a magic mushroom disguised as an ice cream cone, birthday cake, candy canes, cupcakes) and some not (a dragon made of lasagna, a dude with peas protruding from his flesh, a mask of the pagan icon The Green Man made of broccoli). Yeesh. How long till I wake up with a half-eaten shoelace quesadilla at my bedside?

More Internet entries tell of Ambien takers doing other unsafe and/or intensely weird stuff in their sleep: showering, having sex, making crazed phone calls in the middle of the night, walking almost nude into 20-degree weather, whizzing in public, whizzing into the oven, writing on apartment walls with nail polish, cutting themselves up, trying to jump out the window … one person claims to have been on Ambien when he tore off his shirt and threatened the passengers on a plane to England. Another says that the morning after taking Ambien, she woke up at the bottom of the stairs with head injuries that required 18 staples. Once again, none of these people have any recollection of their actions the following day.

Perhaps the scariest accounts, though, are those of people driving in their sleep on Ambien. As you can imagine, these tales don’t all end with “… and then the wise and compassionate Ambien Bumblebee appeared, using giant dandelions to point the beautiful dreamer to safety.” A driver on Ambien is considered to be many times more dangerous than a drunk driver, and after spending part of last night trying my damnedest to get a monster in my tapestry to look on the bright side of life, I’m gonna go ahead and give that assertion a double thumbs-up.

This is starting to look like grade-A horror movie material: Zolpidem Zombies terrorize the town, attacking bystanders, crashing cars, devouring pets, proposing to fire hydrants. And speaking of brain-eaters, what’s most troublesome is the thought that this stuff might be screwing with my brain chemistry… which, believe it, is not exactly a specimen of normalcy to begin with. It’s possible that all the images of brains that have shown up in my Ambien visions were distress signals, like when your car flashes an image of a battery to tell you that its battery is in trouble. (These images included a bald head with a tattoo of brains; the top of someone’s head opening like a lid, revealing a record being played on a turntable; a brain floating in the sky, letting out rain as if it were a storm cloud and, in a tidy union of the brain imagery and the candy motif, a brain made of swirling colors like the ones you’d find in a Gobstopper. One night I also saw a wicked-looking chef with a twisted green face stirring something very nasty in a pot, which, in retrospect, strikes me as dream language for, “Dude, this chemical: not good.”)

Besides, as the doctor warned, the drug is getting less reliable. More and more, I find myself waking up after two or three hours, and sometimes the stuff doesn’t knock me out at all. Potential addiction + lack of dependability + fear of waking up with peanut butter stripes where my eyebrows used to be = so long, Zombien.

Last Dance with Zolpidem

My decision to stop taking Ambien just so happens to coincide with the fact that I’m down to my last pill. I won’t be getting a refill, but for the sake of journalistic intrepidness, I pop my final tablet and jot down a few notes before bed as the drug hits (spelling errors included):

My perception is off—the back of my hand looks like the front of my hand facing the wrong way. The tapestry on my wall seems to billow and breath. Clarity oth thought is still with mu … or so I thought until writing that. Previously flat objects appear 3D. There is a sense of soothing friendliness, as if honey is being poured through my nervous system. Colors are exaggerated and translucent. Utterly indescribable sounds pass through my mind—whisked by pharmaceutical winds, flypapers of melody flap through my brain, picking up bits of mental grunge and emotional residue. Safe, happy feeling of child at play. Thought becomes music. D’naoajamasjamas. Pattern in wood seem to rise up out of wood. Level of movement in tapestry is now absurd—it’s like boa constrictors are playind underneath. It is my psychotropic toy, the puppet of my altered brain. I know these snakelike downward melting motions aren’t really happening—but is this tapestry a mirror for what the drug is doing to my brain?

Setting down the notebook, I take a quick look at a drawing I’ve recently made of my very first Ambien vision: Emmanuel Lewis and the pentagram. Seen through Ambien goggles, Emmanuel’s face appears to be moving—it contorts and sneers in a way that can only be taken as sinister. I’m aware that it’s a hallucination, but the movement sure as hell looks real. I can honestly say I never thought I’d see Emmanuel Lewis looking threatening, but his hardened gangbanger snarl warns that anyone can be threatening on the wrong chemicals.

And all at once, this image, which I once savored as the ultimate in random, is revealed for what it truly is: an impressionist portrait of Ambien itself—a devil in the disguise of a goofy, harmless little buddy; Emmanuel, false savior of the restless, smiling gently as he burns his followers alive with hellish fire.

Many of the other Ambien visions that I’d thought were so deliciously meaningless are now unmasked as the Demon Zolpidem himself, shape-shifting into his manifold manifestations: a leering death-skull hiding behind maraschino-cherry-red eyes; a dangerous hallucinogen costumed in ice cream sweetness.

Where Gene Shalit fits into all this, I’m not sure yet.

After the Fire

Hey, I know better than to push my luck with Emmanuel Lewis.

It’s now been a few months since I last took Ambien. Sometimes I miss the way the stuff turned my head into a boatful of mutant minstrels, but you know what’s even more fun than that? Knowing that I won’t be waking up nude at the top of the clock tower wearing ketchup as makeup.

And so the search continues for an insomnia cure. I’ve just started taking Lunesta. It’s supposedly non-addictive, and it doesn’t have that whole Oompa-Loompas-from-Hell thing to it that Ambien does, though I’m told that horrible nightmares can be a danger. So far no problem there, but I did have a dream that as a reporter, I was trying to get some dirt on Britney Spears by tracking down one of her ex-boyfriends, which I suppose qualifies as a bad dream.

If this were a horror movie, this would be the part where the container of Lunesta on my desk starts to glow deep red, and suddenly I realize that I’m trapped in a dream. Smoke creeps out from under the lid of the container, through which throbs the fiery outline of a pentagram.

BOOM! The lid flies off, spraying flames, and with an abruptness that makes the whole audience jump, the towering specter of Emmanuel Lewis appears in the cloud of fog billowing from the container.

“You think you’ve escaped me, boy?” he bellows in a guttural, demonic voice. “Dream on, schmuck! The nightmare is just beginning!! Hahahahaaaaaaa!!!!”

Roll the credits.

Jun 22 2012

The Belladonna Shaman (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #20)

 

“I vomited some of it, but still managed to keep most of it down. After watching me, the rest of the gang decided to take only half a tablespoon. I learned an invaluable lesson in drug experimentation that would stay with me for life: never go first.”

 

A segment from the MONDO 2000 prehistory part of the upcoming MONDO 2000 History Project Book, Use Your Hallucinations: MONDO 2000 and the Cyberculture of the Late 2oth Century

I consider my second qualification as World Mutant #1 to be my death at 15 from the witchy deliriant Belladonna.

It was early in the summer of 1968. Myself and my friends had heard stories about people taking this drug, Asthamador, that you could buy in the drug store that contained belladonna. Someone described spending the entire night picking bugs off of his skin. Nothing speaks to the weird reality of being fifteen than this fact – we all agreed that this sounded really cool! We decided to get some of this belladonna and take it that Saturday night for the Ronnie Dio (yes, that Ronnie Dio) and the Electric Elves show in downtown Binghamton, New York. Dio was our biggest local star.

The day of the show, bottle of asthmador in my hand, we walked down to the neighborhood store and bought drinks to wash down the medicine. I bought a Coke, and I can’t remember what the other guys bought, but the Coke would turn out to be important. We went into the alley behind the small grocery store where teens sometimes would hang out and smoke cigarettes. Finding it empty, we prepared to take our medicine. None of us really knew anything about dosage, so we just went with what we had, a tablespoon that my friend and upstairs neighbor Dave Waffle had grabbed out of his kitchen. I went first. I gulped down the tablespoon of asthmador, washing it down with the Coke. You do not know the meaning of the word bitter unless you’ve done this. It was like swallowing Satan’s fetid bowels, which should have given me a clue as to the kind of experience that was to follow. I vomited some of it, but still managed to keep most of it down. After watching me, the rest of the gang decided to take only half a tablespoon. I learned an invaluable lesson in drug experimentation that would stay with me for life: never go first.

Once we’d swallowed our poison, we decided to go into the store for some snacks to wash away the taste.  Things seemed pretty normal and I picked out a package of chocolate Hostess cupcakes that used to be so popular – the ones with the white squiggles down the middle. I reached out to grab it off the shelf, but the cupcakes jumped away, eluding my grasp. The little white squiggles had turned into eyes, nose and mouth. The cupcakes laughed at me.

Somehow I made it out of the store. I can remember walking for maybe two blocks, carrying my hippie mocassins. At some point I just winked out. Even today, I still have some sense, or recollection, of what my hallucinations were like – I experienced a flash of recognition a couple of years later. When I saw Munch’s The Scream, it resonated – not just the face and the distortion but the sense that one is surrounded by some unfathomably horrific presence that probably hides an infinity of other unfathomably horrific presences both within and beyond it, endlessly layered. I also remember seeing my father sitting in a chair and smoking his pipe, disappearing slowly from his feet to his head while asking me what was wrong. Two cops found me staggering down Main Street, eyes without irises – just big pools of black. I writhed and struggled and screamed and vomited as the officers tried to restrain me. One cop wanted to take me to jail, but the other one recognized the need to rush me to the hospital and he prevailed.

I entered Our Lady of Lords Hospital wrapped up in a straightjacket and was immediately given a shot of morphine.  Once they got me to stop flailing, they were able to find my wallet. They pulled it out to see who I was.  In those far less paranoid times, teenagers didn’t necessarily carry ID cards. But my friend Vinnie had found these sort-of IDs that had a space on them to write your name and address and phone number and we’d had some fun one night writing the names of our heroes, or of odd characters, onto the cards and sticking them in our wallets.  I had two cards on which I had written two different names.  Since the admission authorities knew I wasn’t Ho Chi Minh, they figured the other ID must be the correct one. I was admitted as Frank Zappa.

It took a few hours for the doctors to make their diagnosis – atropine poisoning potentiated by Coca Cola (which apparently potentiates the atropine several times over). Meanwhile, the rest of the gang made it to the Ronnie Dio show, but Dave Waffle never got to see the big finale.  At some point in the show, he hallucinated that he was back home but that the song on the radio really sucked.  Irritated, he walked to the radio and started twisting the dial which, unfortunately, was some girl’s knee (okay, it could have been worse.)  He was dragged out of the hall and thrown into the street.

Fortunately, a friend of his older brother saw that Waffle was out of control and decided to drive him home.  Once home, Waffle managed to make it up to his own house, but he went into his mother Gloria’s bedroom and started taking off his clothes.  She screamed at him but he thought it was another friend, Rob, yelling at him to open up the window to talk.  Waffle leaned out the window holding a conversation with the imaginary Rob while his mom called an ambulance.

The arrival of the ambulance got the attention of my parents. Gloria shouted something about an LSD overdose and as Waffle was rushed to the emergency room, my father thought to call and check regarding any other LSD overdoses. “No. No LSD overdoses,” a nurse reported. A few hours later, when it was well past curfew and I still hadn’t returned home, my father called again and the dots were connected.  Frank Zappa, who was in the emergency room after having his stomach pumped, had little chance of survival.

I woke up 36 hours later, looked up at the ceiling, noticed the blurry versions of my older brothers who were standing by the side of the bed. I asked them why they’d taken down the poster of Stokely Carmichael that I kept on my ceiling.   A cheer went up and one of them rushed into the waiting room to tell my mom and dad that I was still alive.

I remained in the hospital for about a week. (Those were the days, huh?) And while my first hallucinatory trip had not produced much insight, I learned that, throughout my coma, I had been waited on and mourned by crowds of crying teenage girls, some of whom had to be forced out of the waiting room when visiting hours were over. So I did learn that girls liked me – although I was still too goofy to take full advantage of the situation.

And was I full of contrition?  Were we contrite?  No, we were incorrigible.  Vinnie showed up at the hospital and left behind a cake that had some weak and improperly prepared marijuana baked into it. It was inactive, but hey, it’s the thought that counts. And when Mark Perone, my 14-year-old hoodlum rock guitarist neighbor left me a pack of firecrackers, I got a hold of some matches, opened the bathroom window and, lighting them one at a time, tossed them outside, until a nurse finally came running in.  Exasperated, she asked me why I wanted to make more trouble.  I didn’t, I told her.  I just didn’t want the firecrackers to go to waste.  All American teen logic at its finest.

When I’m feeling mystical, I start to think that I journeyed to a rare underworld and it was some sort of shamanic initiation. I emerged as a zeitgeist savant with a few neural circuits directly hooked into the dark matter of the universe. I’m intimate with emptiness in a very profound and scary sense — I’ll say that. But I have the decency not to impose it on anyone else.  Still, I’ll claim this as an initiatory rite qualifying me as the man who will bring about der final solution to der  human banality problem…

 

Previous MONDO History Entries

Psychedelic Transpersonal Photography, High Frontiers & MONDO 2000: an Interview with Marc Franklin

Gibson & Leary Audio (MONDO 2000 History Project)

Pariahs Made Me Do It: The Leary-Wilson-Warhol-Dali Influence (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #3)

Robert Anton Wilson Talks To Reality Hackers Forum (1988 — Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #4)

Smart Drugs & Nutrients In 1991 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #5)

LSD, The CIA, & The Counterculture Of The 1960s: Martin Lee (1986, Audio. Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #6)

William Burroughs For R.U. Sirius’ New World Disorder (1990, Mondo 2000 History Project Entry # 7)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 1 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 2 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

The Glorious Cyberpunk Handbook Tour (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #9)

Did The CIA Kill JFK Over LSD?, Reproduced Authentic, & Two Heads Talking: David Byrne In Conversation With Timothy Leary (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #10)

Memory & Identity In Relentlessly Fast Forward & Memetically Crowded Times (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #11)

The First Virtual War & Other Smart Bombshells (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #12)

Swashbuckling Around The World With Marvin Minsky In How To Mutate & Take Over The World (MONDO 2000 History Project #13)

FAIL! Debbie Does MONDO (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #14)

Paradise Is Santa Cruz: First Ecstasy (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #15)

William Gibson On MONDO 2000 & 90s Cyberculture (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #16)

Ted Nelson & John Perry Barlow For MONDO 2000 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #17)

R.U. A Cyberpunk? Well, Punk? R.U.? (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry # 18

The New Edge At The New Age Convention (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #19)

 

 


May 03 2012

Memory & Identity In Relentlessly Fast Forward & Memetically Crowded Times (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #11)

For me, the Mondo 2000 History Project is this weird process of exploring my own history — among others — in the context of that magazine and scene.  In an introduction for the book (expect it to be completed around the end of the year), someone who shall remain nameless for now quotes from my original proposal for a book that would have been similar to this one but even more complicated and extensive.  It stands alone as a sort of reflection on memory and identity in relentlessly fast forward and memetically crowded times…  and, of course, it peters out at the end with a note to self, which makes a sort of sense in context.

Here then…

From Introduction to Use Your Hallucinations: The MONDO 2000 History Project 

Consider first of all the disconnect that all of us feel from ourselves in the past.  A few decades back, neurology imagined memory as a sort of computer file from which we could search and call up precise replicas of our experiences if only we had sufficient abilities to remember.  These days, it’s understood that memories are fluid, composed of the detritus of actual observed occurrences; impressions that may have been inaccurate in the first place and may have mutated over time; temporally scrambled memories (events that are conflated); and, for many, false memories (more frequent with women than men).  At the extreme of memories’ malleability, there are even people who intentionally or unintentionally implant memories in others with measurable success — an alien abductions (and, yes, perhaps an autopsy) is recollected under “hypnosis” or guided visualizations, etc.

And in fact, neurological evidence now suggests that childhood trauma may have less to do with who we are than last month’s ill treatment at the hands of a bank, law enforcement or abusive relative.  In fact, given the recent evidence, it has been conjectured by longevity nuts that humans who live 400-600 years will likely not remember there childhoods at all.

If memory, by nature, is so vague that one needs to act as one’s own detective to gather up the bits of one’s biographical life, the situation is rendered even more dire when living in mediated, populated times.  To wit: we might see more people in an afternoon on a city street than were alive on planet earth at the start of agriculture.  If you’d lived through the Civil War in 1861-‘65, your memories would probably have been more intense than those of a boomer hipster who avoided Vietnam to hang out in the counterculture, but they would likely be far fewer.  Your human interactions would probably have taken place in your hometown involving a few thousand people, and out on the battlefield with a few thousand more. If you were literate, you may have filled your mind up with ideas and characters from books – still, this leaves you with the possibility of an uncluttered and leisurely stroll down memory lane compared to what we contemporaries have experienced.

The modern – or if you prefer postmodern memory – is, by comparison, an assault victim, if not an amputee.  We have been filled up by a thousandfold more interactions and a millionfold more observations of fabricated, mediated realities — the memories of thousands of television shows and films, probably hundreds of thousands of songs, and the nearly infinite variations of content and interaction that have passed before our seemingly conscious minds online.  Our memories are filled largely with the trivial — discards that don’t get discarded, but fade and are swallowed into the mashup that constructs our alleged selves.  And none of this matters much.  There is no absolute necessity for most of us to make a connection to a personal biographical narrative.   There is, in fact, as postmodernists and neurologists have told us, no central self, no little homunculus sitting at the seat of the nervous system or soul making the movie of our selves 24/7.

The sense of self, in fact, seems to be an epiphenomenon that arises out of distributed, disconnected thoughts and experiences that are only nominally and occasionally integrated and variously recombined dependent on the circumstance and the kind of effort it does or does not require.  A different self then occurs every moment, albeit it’s a self with habits and attitudes very much like the one from the moment previous.

So it may be the better part of wisdom not to locate one’s life story, but rather – like the ancient Chinese Taoists, to go with the flow…  in this time, the flow being entirely forwards, a flow of acceptance of speed and distraction, of involvements – frequently mediated — with the present and future, with past memories only valued in accordance with the statute of limitations and if under indictment.

Humor me though if I take my personal case a bit further still.  While I identify all of us with these conditions of memory, I launch this investigation into my biographical narrative with at least the illusion that my sense of being in the world – and perhaps therefore my sense of the distance between self and memory — may be more pronounced than most, and that my process of rummaging around amidst the evidence of a life lived weirdly might illuminate something about human consciousness.  (note to self: mild autism?, family vagueness, lack of continuity with friends, drugs).

Previous MONDO History Entries

Psychedelic Transpersonal Photography, High Frontiers & MONDO 2000: an Interview with Marc Franklin

Gibson & Leary Audio (MONDO 2000 History Project)

Pariahs Made Me Do It: The Leary-Wilson-Warhol-Dali Influence (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #3)

Robert Anton Wilson Talks To Reality Hackers Forum (1988 — Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #4)

Smart Drugs & Nutrients In 1991 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #5)

LSD, The CIA, & The Counterculture Of The 1960s: Martin Lee (1986, Audio. Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #6)

William Burroughs For R.U. Sirius’ New World Disorder (1990, Mondo 2000 History Project Entry # 7)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 1 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 2 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

The Glorious Cyberpunk Handbook Tour (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #9)

Did The CIA Kill JFK Over LSD?, Reproduced Authentic, & Two Heads Talking: David Byrne In Conversation With Timothy Leary (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #10)

Feb 26 2012

Rub Out The Words: The Letters Of William S. Burroughs (1959 – 1974)

Edited and Introduced by Bill Morgan

Dear Brion,

Enclosed please find money I don’t necessarily need to be bequeathing other nabors but anyway human philanthropy is illusion or so says the Artificial Organism Society.  Erections stimulated when electroencephalography waves aimed directly at the hypothalamus are apparently lesser productions than those in your pants fun and games what.

Speaking of, some young thing I paid for sex recently asked if I were schizophrenic to which I countered who Nellie the Disconnecter or Lady Sutton Smith?  Was My Creative Energy Really Abducted For Years By Methods Of Cutting Up? In Which Event Let’s Make Paper Money Collages Where Queens And Presidents Are Replaced By Hassan-i Sabbah Slaying All The Bad Book Editors (Maurice Girodias?) With E-Meters Shooting Sperm And The Slogan “The Human Body Is But A Gimmick Out Of Date”

Still I wish myself above taking censorship personally, particularly in regard to Scientologists:: in seeking that second religiousness as the colonial liver Keroauc called it:: my mother that hideous rank of matriach Inc. could certainly benefit from a good audit of the rusty dusty:: Whole areas of neurosis mapped and eradicated in mass therapy, hallucinations removed by direct brain intervention … the addicts vs. the viruses and the time machines …  then to all out war between officers of poetry and the perfect curse ie women:: infra sound social structures molded by guerilla tactics:: revolutionaries the most pigheaded people on earth.

Suppose one could call me a transhumanist.  Sex boxes that cure cancer Wilhelm Reich?  Augmented realities by docu-photographing every which way beneath programmed soundtracks streaming on an ecological consciousness, cityscapes looped for all the family beside the simultaneous absorption of reading arguments and counter arguments like a newspaper that keeps you locked in time and word?  Art as nonstatistical quality material and a way out to Space?  Regrets not to have shared a multilingual intersection with Arthur C. Clarke?  WRITE.  SHOCK.  EMBARRASS.  BUSY STAYS THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WOES.  EFFICIENCY.  DUPING?  BUT NO WRITER CAN BE MEMBER TO AN ORGANIZATION… 1965 STILL A DEPENDENT BUT LOOK MA.  SORRY MA.  HOW’S THE GRANDSON.  WRITE.  SHOCK.  OPEN FIRE.  BAD NEWS.  DEFENESTRATION, TRICHINOSIS, CRIPPLED DOW JONES, METAL SICKNESS.  And oh the wretched idiot inhabitants of our benighted planet and criminal politics and at least I try to encourage my progeny though equally blighted by literary calling.  Word for stupid ugly word.

Dream machine’s been fed new pet monkeys called APOMORPHINE .  Did I mention it’s previous employment for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and homosexuality?  Hummmmmmmmmm Well scripts tend to write themselves.  Ask Terry Southern.  Despite disappointing Turkish bath dreams in alien landscapes I find I like storyboarding gay porn, only mushrooms don’t compare to mescaline and mon dieu Tim Leary’s fat family and I want to write a children’s book.  See if you can tell how I employ iteration in letters to alternate recipients.  So much quicker to read colors than words.

Oh, and after 25 uh years of playing the uh spurned nomad outerspace citizen, I seem to have found myself uh famous in America. Even the interior manufacturing, distributing, and collecting on a book prior to advent of skype and other e-dig about as fun as lips on a female soft machine. I think I’d have liked to Tweet, on the first few trips anyway.  Underground methods better press.  Then look at Libya.  But when tape recorders occupy slithers of humanic brain (per Gerald Heard) can I still lay Jeff Hawkes in 2D?  Are 2D lunches at all fabulous postulates Izzy?

Remember both homo and heterorealities are illusion.  All alpha waves and reactive minds and contradictory commands.  Although I find I prefer straight narrative now, as straight as a tea and critic hazzled fag can expunge.  Find out who your friends are (Allen Ginsberg) and who they aren’t (Mickey/Michael/Darling Portman at least in a few incarnations) though he never claimed my parasitic hypothalamus as you do Mr. Gysin. Brion Burroughs.  Baby Daddy.

Etranger qui JAMAIS passait,

William S. Burroughs (s.m.)


Jan 24 2012

Pariahs Made Me Do It: The Leary-Wilson-Warhol-Dali Influence (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #3)

 As I close in on the evolution of Mondo 2000 History Project book content to the point where I have to consider what the final thing will be — it becomes clear that it will be about 1/3 collective memoir; 1/3 my memoir and 1/3 scrapbook.  The challenge is to have all of it somehow fitting into my grand (or perhaps grandiose… apparently candidate Gingrich now think grandiosity is something to brag about politically and who am I to argue.  Well, actually, I would argue were I to take the time… but grandiosity in art/artifice can on occasion strike paydirt) scheme to have it all somehow fit together and read like a very dense and complex novel (but who would believe in these characters?)

In this context, some of the work involves me retrieving origin stories from my past to illuminate the influences that brought me to High Frontiers and eventually to Mondo 2000 and the cyber counterculture.

Recently, Boing Boing had me contribute to their marvelous weeklong tribute to Robert Anton Wilson — and only as I sat down to write something for them, I remembered that “The Timothy Leary/Robert Anton Wilson trip” was at the unfinished top of my outline of things I need to write for the book. I had put it off as a big challenge and had moved on to other stories and observations.

I originally imagined that this entry for the book would be largely about the philosophy or Reality Tunnel that some call the “Leary-Wilson Paradigm.”  I would — of necessity — interrupt a narrative flow that leans towards storytelling to explain ideas, since the “Leary-Wilson Paradigm,” more than anything else influenced the magazine I wanted to create.

But as my story about discovering the Illuminatus Trilogy emerged for the Boing Boing contribution, it became clear to me that I needed to explain my fascination with Leary in a somewhat similar style — ultimately merging the two stores into one short section of the Mondo book.

And it was while thinking about my initial fascination with Leary that this entry took a dangerous turn towards “confessing” my mid-70s fascination with famous pariahs…  outcasts from outcast culture. I have a touch of trepidation about presenting these thoughts in these knee jerk times… that people will think I’m speaking to today’s politics rather than the complicated and sometimes contradictory impulses that motivate activity  — and also wonder, often, if I’m going to be telling the MONDOids the stories they want to hear — or if I should care about it.

As to the stuff about Leary maybe being “a fink,” yes… I leave it hanging, as it will always be hanging.  I would say, though, that one of my favorite moments in Mondo history was when I began editing the conversation Leary had taped with William Gibson  (not knowing it would ultimately be transcribed for print) and came across Tim casually talking about being thrown into “the hole” in a Minnesota Prison because the feds were dissatisfied with his testimony about the Weather Underground. (You won’t find it in the linked segment, but you will find it in the magazine… if you have a copy.)

Anyway, for your reading pleasure… a possible fragment from the Mondo 2000 History Project book, tentatively titled “Use Your Hallucinations: A History of Mondo 2000 and the Cyber Counterculture.”

Pariahs Made Me Do It: The Leary-Wilson-Warhol-Dali Influence

As you already have surmised, I came up through the New Left Revolution years.  From 1968 – 1971 — during and just after high school, I knew that the revolution had come.   Some as yet inchoate mix of left anarchist radicalism and newly psychedelicized youth mutation was simply taking over the world by storm.  As Hunter Thompson famously rhapsodized, “There was madness in any direction, at any hour… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.… Our energy would simply prevail…We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.”  Right (or left) or wrong, it was exciting and energizing to be a part of it.

But by the mid-70s, people on the left radical countercultural scene had become — at best, mopey and quarrelsome — and, at worst, either criminally insane or very tightly wound politically correct environmentalist/feminist/health-food scolds.  People were either bitchy; or in retreat — smoking pot and listening to the mellow sounds of James Taylor and Carole King.

I didn’t know it consciously at the time, but I needed to create a space within my psyche that liberated me from the constancy of moral judgment and eco-apocalypse mongering — and one that also didn’t represent a retreat into the mediocrity of middle class liberalism.

Thus, I was attracted to flamboyant “hip pariahs” who were very un-left, politically incorrect… even, in some cases, right wing.

There was the glam rock rebellion against blue denim hippie populism. These performers insulted egalitarianism by dressing and performing in ways that set them apart from their generation’s rock audiences . (Naturally, good old Mick Jagger was the major rock god who didn’t need to change to be a part of it.)  David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed all nipped — in interviews and lyrics and musical styles — at assumed countercultural values while also mocking, at least, cultural conservatism by their very androgynous existences.

I gobbled up materials on, or by, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali — each, in their way, pariah outcasts from political decency — particularly Dali.

By being an unsane solipsistic monarchist, loving money, supporting the fascist Francisco Franco, Dali seemed to me to be the purest of surrealists, running with his subconscious atavistic impulses against the earlier sympathies of the surrealists with the left and developing an utterly inexcusable (sometimes when I say — as I do at the opening of this book — that aspects of my story and my mind are inexcusable, I’m not just using colorful language. I mean it literally) but original persona.  His autobiographical and philosophic texts defied logic in ways that seemed to me to be more genuinely playful and funny than his former fellow travels in 20th Century Surrealism who had long since denounced him.

Warhol played an even more important role in liberating my soul and psyche from the depths of resentment and rational piety since his very role in art and culture was to create a space free from judgment.  While Andy was nominally a liberal, his deadpan consumerist art and aphorisms had a Zen quality — it could, paradoxically, cause you to embrace the flow of frozen moments and artifice for artifice’s sake by inducing silence in the chattering, protesting, judging brain.  To properly experience Warhol was to almost stop thinking… in the best possible way… while still hanging on by a thread to a sense of humorous irony.

And then there was Dr. Timothy Leary. There was the legendary Leary…  all that stuff about turning on tuning in dropping out the 1960s.  I had read and enjoyed his book High Priest, but actually thought of him as something of an old guy who seemed to be trying too hard to fit into the youth culture.  It was the Leary of the ‘70s that fascinated me.  During the height of my own romantic infatuation with “The Revolution,” Leary had made a heroic prison escape. He had been spirited away by the guerrilla warriors of the Weather Underground and had shown up in Algeria with Eldridge Cleaver’s exiled Black Panther chapter, pronouncing unity between the psychedelic and leftist and black revolutions and promising to help Cleaver form a revolutionary US government in exile.  At that time, all of these people — Weather Underground leader Bernadine Dohrn, Eldridge Cleaver, Timothy Leary, Stew Albert — who led a contingent of Yippies over there to cement the alliance — were icons to me, more or less on a par with The Beatles and The Stones (or at least, the Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix).

Then, after conflicts with Cleaver — and just as the buzz of the revolution was souring, he had disappeared, showing up only in a few gossipy pieces that portrayed him hanging out with fellow exile Keith Richards and issuing bon mots that were more of the flavor of Oscar Wilde than Che Guevara.

Then, he was caught in Afghanistan and shipped back in chains to the USA facing a lifetime in prison.  And not long after that, rumors circulated that he was ratting out the radical movement.   This was very depressing.  But at the same time, occasional interesting signals emerged — usually published in the underground press — from Folsom Prison where he was being held.  Strange little quotes about being an intelligence agent for the future; about “offering the only hopeful eschatology around today;” about dna being a seed from outer space; about “going home” to galaxy central and human destiny being in the stars; about how he was writing a  “science faction” book.  Odd signals not fully formed — nevertheless somehow intriguingly differing from the dour vibe emitted by the rest of those publications at that particular time. I couldn’t help myself.  My mutant brain was already starting to find the apostate Leary’s signals refreshing.  I was doomed to become a “science faction” mutant.

[ insert Robert Anton Wilson section here ]

It was several years later, in 1976, that I came across an edition of Crawdaddy, a very cool rock magazine with regular columns by William Burroughs and Paul Krassner that contained an article about the recently released Dr. Tim.  The writer hung out with Tim as he wandered around NYC rattling off his ideas about SMI2LE — Space Migration Intelligence Increase Life Extension — sending up the first coherent transhumanist flare of the 20th Century. There was a picture of Leary in a business suit standing between the newly built twin towers wearing a smile that laughed out loud and pointing, almost violently, with his right forefinger upward to outer space. This was something new.  The picture took its place on my wall in between the cover of the first Ramones album and the picture of Squeeky Fromme being arrested after her attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford.

My final “conversion” to Learyesque proto-transhumanism came in 1977.  It was summer and my mother had the intuitive sense to hustle me away from Binghamton, where my friends were becoming junkies, and moved me early to the college town of Brockport New York where I would start school that fall. The town was empty and there was nothing to do. But the town’s bookstore was open.  I walked in and there — on prominent display — were two books by Timothy Leary, Exo-Psychology and Neuropolitics. The latter also credited Robert Anton Wilson.

I read those books frontways and back and inside out.  And then I read them again. It all resonated.  It all made sense to me.  It was a way of interpreting the world that respected my psychedelic experiences and my times within the counterculture and gave them a new context — one that hadn’t yet failed!  These were now the evolutionary experiences of a premature mutant breaking at least partly free of the programming of an unhappy, repressive civilization so that I could move it towards a bright and expansive future.  The expansiveness that had so energized and delighted me during the late 1960s and early ‘70s would now be — at least partially — a science project to literally expand our space and time and minds perhaps unto infinity.

I was excited, but I was also tentative. I paced around my small one room apartment.  Was I crazy?  Was I wrong?  By now, self identifying as a 1977 spikey-haired hipster who liked to put his cheap punk nihilism unapologetically front and center (yes, trendiness haunts all my days), could I tell anybody about my philosophic attraction to the upbeat pariah and possible fink Dr. Leary?   Actually, that’s something I still ask myself today, although it is clearly too late.