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Oct 05 2012

Your Friday MONDO – Pull Quotes (Nuggets) From High Frontiers #1 1984 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #32)

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Here are some pull quotes from the first ever 1984 issue of High Frontiers — predecessor to MONDO 2000  — for you to chew over.

The taboo against the intelligent, purposeful use of psychedelics is beginning to lift.  R.U. Sirius

 

I believe that the human biocomputer occassionally wants a big… carnival blast. Precisely controlled excess is absolutely necessary for sanity.  Timothy Leary

 

(Discovering LSD) was serendipity. I was looking for something. I did not find what I was looking for. I found something else.  Albert Hofmann

 

That’s the basic message of my future machine; that we can travel throughout space and time. And it’s testable!   Jack Sarfatti

 

This is the chaos at the end of history  Terence McKenna

 

…why should plants produce chemicals that mimic the effects of substances made by the human brain?  Andrew Weil

 

Burroughs opens the doors to the craphouse, invites you in, and then leaves you there to clean up the mess.  Somerset Mau Mau

 

Through electronic circuitry and the building of a global information system, we are essentially exteriorizing our nervous system.  Terence McKenna

 

We wish we could say that we were thrilled by contributions from… Ferlinghetti, but apparently the Beat’s been going on a little bit too long.  Malcolm McCluhan and Marshall McClaren

 

A cornucopia of new substances with effects more specific, more sensual, more powerful, and more in-just-about-every-way than the old reliables has reshaped the psychedelic landscape.   Peter Stafford and Bruce Eisner

 

Perfect Nothing is unstable. It’s so unstable it has to do Something. So it BIFURCATES. It splits in two. It splits into ME and NOTME. Lorenzo Kristov

 

Flashbacks was censored. [It} involved information about the mysterious death of Mary Pinchot Meyer, J.F.K. consort, who tried to turn on the political power elite…   High Frontiers

 

Aug 17 2012

Segment From 1st Pre-MONDO 2000 High Frontiers Editiorial (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #25)


It’s naive.  It’s overoptimistic.  It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s the first segment of the first High Frontiers editorial!  High Frontiers, if you haven’t been paying attention to earlier posts here, was the grandfather of Mondo 2000, which was only slightly less naive and overoptimistic, before becoming mostly skeptical and not a little bit paranoid.   I’m most of all proud of my attempts to turn white hippies on to the funk.  Anyway, here it is…

Wake Up, It’s 1984!   

People like to tell me that these are conservative times. After all, it is 1984, the far right has the White House, and the dollar is tighter than a cat’s asshole. On the other hand, people like to tell me that the rate of change is accelerating. In the last few years, for instance, we’ve changed from an industrial-based society, with the majority of people employed in industry, to an information-based society, with the majority of people employed in the information and service fields. Some forty years after its discovery and abuse, we’re beginning to come to grips with the meaning of atomic energy, in all its forms. Physics is exploding with new information and ideas about the nature of life, the universe, and everything, and the role which humanity and consciousness play in it. This “new” physics is emerging now largely as a result of physicists coming to grips with observations made by Einstein and Neils Bohr some sixty years ago. Computers, robotics, and other manifestations of accelerating technology are propelling us, kicking and screaming, into a leisure-based society. Hundreds of licensed therapies which have more to do with Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Abraham Maslow, mysticism and gnosticism than with Freud or behaviorism, have taken over the psychology field en masse in California.

Kids whiz by on skateboards and rollerskates wearing purple mohawks and bizarre clothes brandishing anarchistic and nihilistic slogans… ho hum. MTV assaults American living rooms with extreme, alien, and surrealistic images twenty-four hours a day. All of it comes to us by bouncing signals off of a satellite in space… yawn. Gays, third world people, and feminists are accepted and established as powerful political forces…  wasn’t it always thus? The largest peace demonstration in American history takes place in 1980… no big fuss. Black funk music explodes with eccentricity and experimentation, creating a challenging, brash, and optimistic space-age party music… oh? I hadn’t noticed. Manned space stations and consumer space-shutt1es? Coming right up. An understanding of the genetic code; how the brain works, how the immune system works; how the universe started? Oh, sure. We’re going over the data right now. New methods of birthing and child rearing? You bet. Open discussions of sexuality? For sure. Go for it. Coming to grips with the implications and possibilities of experiences induced by mind-manifesting psychedelic substances? Uh oh!  

 

Aug 05 2012

How I Learned About the DMT Entities

Of all the weird jobs I’ve had in my life, the most entertaining was probably a floor managing gig I took in the early 2000s at a metaphysical shop called Gateways Books. In a town known for its high WTF factor — Santa Cruz, CA — this place was quite possibly WTF Headquarters. Gateways was a magnet for a vast panoply of enlightenment seekers, occultists and countercultural characters of all strains: Buddhist monks, cult escapees, Shiva worshippers, black magicians, clairvoyants, pagan priestesses,  psychedelic trippers, channelers, Tantrists, breatharians, Silence of the Lambs-style cross-dressers in smeared black makeup, etc., etc.

Ah, how I loved all these Star Wars cantina creatures and their endlessly unpredictable antics. I routinely feasted on wildly original ideas from some of the most unique characters on the planet, such as the shaven-headed fellow who vigorously explained that to be 5150 (police code for crazy) was to be greater than 100% ( i.e., greater than 50/50), or the numerologist/rune expert who pontificated at length about the metaphysical links between the faerie archetype and the actress Fay Wray (fay-ray: get it?) and between comedienne Minnie Pearl and the New Testament’s “Pearl of Great Price.” (“You see, Minnie Pearl came from Memphis, and the rune for ‘Mem’ has a numerical value of 14, which, when divided by the numerical value of the rune for ‘Phis’ and then multiplied by the number of the Goddess, comes out to Minnie Pearl’s street address, which also happens to be the last three digits of my phone number.” That kind of thing.)

To me, the customers who didn’t fit the profile of the calm, soft-spoken “spiritual” type often came off as more legitimately mystical than the ones who did. Many of the by-the-book types (in honor of whom I sometimes called the store Getwise Books in secret) appeared to be wearing spirituality like a temporary tattoo, whereas the rowdies and crackpots seemed more like thrill seekers who had accidentally crashed their hang gliders into realms of higher consciousness.

On any given day at Gateways, you might witness a disheveled store patron sending himself into orgasmic ecstasy by pressing an AA battery against his teeth, or you might hear a self-professed UFO abductee impassionedly extolling the virtues of hooking a crystal up to a car battery and then placing it to your forehead. One regular customer, a secret societies aficionado who used an expensive array of radionic devices to achieve spiritual contact with the ’80s pop singer Tiffany, was interesting enough to earn a starring role in the stunningly strange documentary film I Think We’re Alone Now, which can and should be watched streaming via Netflix or here. And trust me: when two or more of these characters interacted with one another, it was epic viewing on par with Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein or Godzilla vs. Mothra.

The job perks weren’t bad, either: on one occasion, a Hindu man in a saffron robe gave me a dried pineapple ring that left me feeling oddly elated, and on another, a friendly Buddhist raver kid handed me a freshly picked mushroom that gave me an almost religious appreciation for the magnificent precision instrument known as the human eye.

One afternoon, a tall, frighteningly animated guy from L.A. burst through the front door, startling the entire shop—and quite possibly a few wild beasts of the Serengeti—with his overpoweringly loud voice. “HEY, BRO!” he shouted. “DO YOU HAVE A BOOK CALLED ‘PLANTS OF THE GODS’?”

After taking a moment to peruse our computer records, I responded affirmatively. The customer—let’s call him Taz—assimilated this information by jumping around as if he had a spider in his sock. “NO FUCKING WAY!” he bellowed. “ARE YOU SERIOUS? NO, MAN, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND—I’VE BEEN LOOKING ALL OVER THE COUNTRY FOR THIS BOOK! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’VE GOT IT!”

Speaking in the most soothing tones I could find in my voice box, I led him to the Psychedelics section, where the book in question lay in wait. Letting out a victory yelp, he seized his prize and feverishly thumbed through its pages. Within seconds, he zeroed in on a colorful painting of a bulls-eye pattern with a flower petal-like border. “YOU SEE THIS RIGHT HERE?” he demanded, seemingly on the verge of gouging out his own eyes with excitement. “I SAW THIS! I SAW THIS!!”

Now, it so happened that the man standing to our immediate right was dressed as a druid. Not a cheap, Halloween-style facsimile, mind you—this guy was a real-deal, straight-outta-Rivendell, fireball-hurling badass, complete with staff, white beard, black cloak and hand-crafted metal bracelets. (We’ll call him Draco.) With the calm, knowing air of a learned magus, he turned toward us and intoned, “I’ve seen it, too. But not just those circles.” He waved the extremely long nail of his index finger toward a gaggle of animals and spirits surrounding the bulls-eye pattern. “All this as well.” With an extra measure of wizardly self-assurance, he added, “Did you know you can go inside those circles you saw?”

Taz completely lost his shit. “I DID!! And then I heard this SOUND…”

“Stop right there,” Draco cut in. “It was one of two sounds.” He emitted a low, metallic rumble that sounded something like a robot playing a didjeridoo. This didn’t seem to ring a bell with Taz. But when he switched to a high-pitched space probe whir, he hit pay dirt. “THAT!!” Taz screamed.

Unsurprised by his success, Draco pressed on: “And did you meet… Them?” He leaned forward slightly, smiling conspiratorially. “Do you know what I mean by ‘Them’?”

Ohhhhhhhhh, yeah! Ohhhhhhh, yes I do, bro!” The assurance in Taz’s tone left no question that he knew exactly what Draco meant, and that he had, in fact, encountered “Them.” Fighting the urge to raise my hand and say, “Huh?”, I listened raptly as the two trippers journeyed into conversational terrain where I could no longer follow.

Waaaaiiiiitttt a second, bro,” Taz interjected. “Did we have the same catalyst for this?”

“Probably,” Draco replied. There was a momentary pause, and then, with an uncanny similitude of timing, pitch and inflection that had to be heard to be believed, they both blurted out, “DMT.”

It was a magical moment. Everyone within earshot of the conversation, including Taz and Draco, burst into laughter at the perfection of the synchrony. Eccentricity aside, there was something undeniably powerful going on here.

The conversation lingered on my mind for days afterward. Could DMT be a guest pass to hidden dimensions with an objective existence? And what, exactly, had Draco meant by “Them”?

Only much later, after skimming Rick Strassman’s DMT: The Spirit Molecule and listening to some rants by Terence McKenna, would I learn the answer to the latter question. “They,” as many readers already know, are the otherworldly beings that an astounding number of experimenters claim to have encountered while under the influence of DMT. Most such claimants are convinced that the DMT entities are not aspects of their own psyches, but are in fact independently existing denizens of a domain completely alien to our understanding. One popular theory is that DMT is a portal to the afterworld, and the entities are none other than spirits of those who have crossed over.

From an outsider’s perspective, there is, of course, a much simpler explanation: we have here a situation where the question “What have you been smoking?” doesn’t even need to be asked. This would be an easy position to take were it not for the astonishing consistency with which certain archetypes show up in different people’s DMT visions. Among the most common of these figures are insectoid aliens that perform some sort of surgery and/or testing on the tripper, and playful, self-transforming “elves” or “gnomes,” many of which offer the DMT voyager inscrutable objects that they’ve created by way of some kind of visible language. I personally have talked with folks whose descriptions of their own experiences of entity contact perfectly matched the stories I’ve read, in spite of the fact that some of these people had never heard of “Them” before smoking DMT.

Former Trip Magazine publisher James Kent has proposed that the entities are the product of DMT’s disruption of our visual processing: being anthropomorphically oriented by nature, the brain tries to find order in the chaos by sculpting the neural static into humanoid figures. Seems reasonable enough, though it doesn’t explain the regularity with which incredibly specific visions occur (surgical scenes, for example), nor does it account for all the highly intelligent DMT users who have undoubtedly entertained this hypothesis, yet who still insist that there’s something more going on here.

If you went back to the 15th century with a microscope and told folks that this piece of plastic and glass was a gateway to some kind of secret domain where various odd-shaped critters were moving around, they’d have called you crazy. Similarly, the very idea that you and someone in another country can see these words at the same time probably would have seemed insane, impossible or magical to pre-electronic civilizations. Perhaps DMT is a kind of “technology” that provides access to data that our primitive 21st century minds just aren’t capable of comprehending.

Getting back to the shop: Gateways is no more; in 2011, the recession forced the place to shut its doors after 32 years of service to the AA battery-munching community. I can’t imagine where I’ll ever find another gathering place for such a colorful assembly of otherworldly beings.

Oh, wait a second — yes, I can…

Jul 20 2012

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

 

Another outtake from the upcoming MONDO 2000 History Project book: Use Your Hallucinations:  MONDO 2000 in the Late 20th Century Cyberculture

R.U. Sirius:  One evening not long after the move to Berkeley, we went to see a Terence McKenna talk at the local new age venue, Shared Visions.  Terence was still relatively unknown and he would sit there talking for hours about aliens and mushrooms and eschatology and shamanism and philosophy with such gorgeously poetic language — and with then-trendy philosophic references like Foucault and Derrida and semiotics (and with a serious Wittgenstein fetish tossed in for classical cred) — that one didn’t care that his overall weltanschung was ultimately based on hallucinatory channelings and unprovable assertions. It would just carry one away.

An attractive couple, seemingly in their 30s, stood out during the q&a session that evening by matching Terence’s eloquence, albeit in a more down-to-earth fashion, with references that probably went over just about everybody’s heads, mine included.

Afterwards, a group — this hypersmart, attractive couple among them — gathered to chat, and Nose and I suggested that everyone might like to come back to our place for some light psychedelic dosing.   This would be, in some sense, the first small glimmer of a Berkeley-based party scene that would move on to more elegant surroundings and one day earn comparisons to Andy Warhol’s factory.

Aside from the couple — who called themselves Zarkov and Gracie — this was our first meeting with Apple Computers original (Steve Jobs’ former best friend) Dan Kottke, his best friend — the psychedelic “hindu” hacker and jokester who called himself SteveAnanda, and Francis Jeffries — AI researcher and literary partner to the psychedelics-and-dolphins legend, John Lilly.

After taking moderate doses of something or other, and just as the effects were starting to appear, a heavy set woman psychologist with a loud voice shared her theory that a lot of men have castration anxiety and hate women because their mothers had allowed them to be circumcized right after birth, which traumatized them.  The next half hour or so was spent with about half the males at the party — myself included — crossing and uncrossing their legs and occasionally cupping their balls, but aside from that the evening was uneventful.

We soon learned that Zarkov and Gracie had written a series of free broadsheets vividly detailing and analyzing their hallucinogenic experiences.   Dedicated to precise experimentation, they would use variations on (Aleister) Crowleyan magickal techniques of invocation and evocation in their high dose explorations.  They were highly-defined rare characters who let it be known to all and sundry that aside from being megadose, high risk trippers, they were also sexual swingers who had run Chicago’s most popular swingers club; committed libertarians, and — in a separate life, lived by their actual names — successful investment bankers.

At that time, I’d never met a libertarian; an investment banker; or a married couple into “swinging.”  In a funny way, these new arrivals from Chicago would come to represent the California-ness of the “Mondo” scene as much as any of the Californians who would join the tribe.

Some amongst us would find G&Z — with their Crowleyan sex magick and apparent expertise in absolutely everything — a bit demonic.  Indeed, we probably found their association with investment banking to be the prominent reason to suspect a satanic undertow.   In point of fact, they were pretty much always sweetly reasonable and intelligently amused by the unique counterculture we gathered around us, although they certainly tried — and occasionally succeeded — in roping some of us into their sexcapades.

Jul 17 2012

Altered Statesman: An Interview With Psychedelic Explorer David Jay Brown

 

 

‘I think DNA is ultimately trying to create a world where the imagination is externalized, where the mind and the external world become synchronized as one, so that basically whatever we can imagine can become a reality. Literally.”

 

Consciousness: What is it? Are your thoughts and emotions nothing more than neural static? Will your physical death extinguish your awareness? Is your individual consciousness just one of innumerable facets of a universal consciousness?

In search of answers to questions like these, local writer/neuroscience researcher David Jay Brown has mind-melded with many of the world’s most prominent philosophers, visionaries, culture-shapers and snorkelers of the psyche, including Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, Noam Chomsky, Ram Dass, Albert Hofmann, Jack Kevorkian, George Carlin, Sasha Shulgin, Deepak Chopra, Alex Grey, Jerry Garcia, Stanislav Grof and John Lilly. He’s chronicled these meetings in his bestselling interview compendiums Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse, Mavericks of the Mind, Mavericks of Medicine and Voices from the Edge. Dubbed “the most compelling interviewer on the planet” by author Clifford Pickover, Brown has recently completed work on the book “The New Science of Psychedelics: At the Nexus of Culture, Consciousness, and Spirituality,” to be published by Inner Traditions in the spring of 2013.  In approximately two months, the web magazine Reality Sandwich will publish his new e-book “The Complete Guide to Psychedelic Drug Research.”

Brown  is also the author of the sci-fi books Brainchild and Virus: The Alien Strain. He frequently serves as guest editor of the tri-annual newsletter from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a Santa Cruz-based psychedelic research organization that recently published the second edition of Mavericks of the Mind (available at Bookshop Santa Cruz). He has written for periodicals such as Mondo 2000, Scientific American Mind, Wired, High Times, The Sun, Magical Blend and the Journal of Psychical Research. The diversity of his output is telling of his leave-no-stone-unturned approach to consciousness exploration: It’s a good bet he’s the only writer in history who’s contributed to both the Buddhist wisdom publication Tricycle and the porn magazine Hustler.

Brown’s studies of learning and memory at the University of Southern California in the early ’80s earned him a B.A. in psychology. Between 1985 and 1986, he did research on electrical brain stimulation at New York University, obtaining a master’s degree in psychobiology. His inquiries eventually led him into the realm of parapsychology: He’s the man behind the California-based research for biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s books Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and The Sense of Being Stared At, both of which presented scientific studies of unexplained phenomena. Brown’s knowledge of such mysteries, as well as of technology, smart drugs, health, psychedelic research and sex-drug interaction, have landed him guest spots on shows like HBO’s Real Sex, Fox’s A Current Affair, PBS’s Nature, ViaCom’s The Montel Williams Show and the BBC and Discovery Channel’s Animal X.

DAMON ORION: Tell me about the electrical brain stimulation research you’ve done. 

DAVID JAY BROWN: When I was at New York University, I did research for years where I surgically implanted electrical stimulating probes into the lateral hypothalamus of rats, which is a pleasure center. I would watch rats press a bar that delivered an electric current into their brain center over and over and over again until they fell asleep from exhaustion. Then they would wake up, and there was food sitting next to them, water sitting next to them and a mate sitting next to them. They ignored all three and would continue to press that bar over and over again to get the reward stimulation over survival instincts.

The other area of research I was involved in was at University of Southern California, and it was the exact opposite of the research I did at NYU, where I was surgically implanting electrodes into the brain centers of mammals and stimulating them: In this case I was inserting cold probes, which are devices that actually freeze or inhibit a certain part of the brain temporarily, so you can see how the animal operates with that one part of the brain missing, and how they operate when that part of the brain comes back.

The anesthetic that we gave to the rabbits prior to surgery was a drug called ketamine. I took some of this ketamine home and experimented on myself with it. After injecting 50 milligrams of ketamine chloride into my right thigh muscle and turning the lights out, I suddenly “realized” that my professors and my fellow researchers and colleagues at USC were in reality extraterrestrials—that they were scientists who were there not to study rabbits; they were there to study me. I was the test subject, and they’d left this bottle of ketamine out for me to take. They were watching me right at this moment with a video camera. And suddenly I found myself in a cage with cold probes implanted in my brain and giant rabbits all around me. They were measuring me, and I was naked and helpless. Suddenly, I snapped back into my body. I did not continue very much longer in that program after experiencing what I was experiencing from the rabbit’s point of view. That’s what ketamine taught me: what the rabbit was experiencing from what I was doing.

DO: You often ask your interviewees what they think happens to consciousness after death. If you had to put money on what happens after death, what would you bet on?

DJB: I guess wherever you go after death, the money’s not going to matter anymore! [Laughs.] You know, I think about that question every day, as an exercise of the imagination, and I change my mind about it all the time. I used to debate with my friend Nina Graboi — whom I interviewed for my book Mavericks of the Mind, and who passed away about 10 years ago —a ll the time about what happens to consciousness after death. It was one of our favorite topics of conversation. In general, I took the position that after you die, your individuality leaves, and your sense of awareness merges with the higher consciousness, the oneness, the source that everything came from originally. And her position was, “Well, there is that, but then there are all these levels in between where individuality remains besides the body, and you go through [multiple] incarnations with that. For years we went back and forth with this. Nina referred to her body as a spacesuit, and she always said she was going to get a new spacesuit when she died; she would go from one spacesuit to another. Well, after Nina died, I was writing in my journal, and the TV was on in the background. I was thinking about what was going on in Nina’s mind when she was dying: “I’ll bet she was thinking, ‘Now I see: David Jay Brown was right! You do just merge with the one consciousness.’” As I’m sitting there in this kind of self-congratulatory way, I look at the television screen, and there on the TV screen is one word: SPACESUIT. There was this tingle up my spine. I stopped in my tracks; my jaw dropped open. It was the most profound sense of communication with somebody after they died that I’d ever experienced. That is the most compelling evidence I’ve experienced that consciousness not only continues [after death], but that some sense of individuality continues as well.

DO: What are your memories of your friend Timothy Leary?

DJB: Well, my fondest and most important memories of Tim, I think, are [of] while he was dying. The last year [of his life], he announced to the media that he was thrilled and ecstatic that he was dying. And for the last year, while he was dying from prostate cancer, there was continuous celebration, continuous parties, continuously people coming around his house to tell him how important his work was to them. There was such a feeling of festivity and celebration and Tim deliberately trying to be playful and have fun with this process. This really made a very deep impression on me, because I ask so many questions about death—it’s an important philosophical topic for me. And there have been so many people throughout history trying to die bravely or courageously or nobly, but before Tim, I don’t think anybody ever tried to say, “Let’s make dying fun!” [Laughs.] Tim really tried to party through the dying process, and I thought it was just a stroke of brilliance. I cried when he died; as much fun as it was, it was terribly sad the moment that he really left. But he just left us all with such a great message, I think.

DO: Tell me about your connection to Robert Anton Wilson.

DJB: Bob was not only one of my closest friends, but he was the person who actually inspired me to become a writer. It was at the age of 16 that I read Cosmic Trigger, and that was how I encountered Timothy Leary, John Lilly and a number of the other people I went on to interview. I went to a lecture that Bob gave here in Santa Cruz back in the late ’80s. At the end of the lecture, I went over to talk to him. I told him I was working on a book, and I asked him if he would possibly consider writing a blurb for the back cover. He kind of hemmed and hawed and looked not terribly enthusiastic, like I was the 15th person that day who asked him that, you know? [Laughs.] But he did tell me to have my publisher send him a copy of my book, and he would take a look at it. So you could only imagine my absolute delight when I discovered from my publisher that he ended up writing an 11-page introduction to my first book, Brainchild. It was through that that I became friends with him. He was a tremendous friend and mentor. When I had difficulty paying my rent early in my writing career, he actually sent me money to pay my rent! He was always there when I called him, giving me great advice. When an editor made some kind of change to one of my articles that I wasn’t happy with, [he said,] “Editors don’t like the way the soup tastes until they pee in it themselves.” [Laughs.]

DO: What was your experience as a guest on The Montel Williams Show?

DJB:  I was on Montel Williams’ show back in the early ’90s, during his first season. There was all this anti-drug hysteria, and I was on the show to talk about smart drugs: cognitive enhancers like hydergine, piracetam and deprenyl — different drugs that are commonly prescribed for senile dementia, but have been used by people to enhance their memory or improve their concentration. He didn’t seem to be very open to even discussing the research or hearing anything about it. He kept cutting us off, and he’d talk about how dangerous methamphetamine was, how this was sending the wrong message to people and how the whole idea of putting “smart” before “drugs” was wrong, and there was no smart way too use drugs. He would not even carefully consider what we were saying. He had his mind made up. And what I think was so interesting is that since he’s developed multiple sclerosis and has had to use medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of this disorder, he’s now become one of the leading spokespeople for the legalization of medical marijuana. What is it about illness that turns people around? People think that medical marijuana is a joke until they’re faced with an illness, or until a loved one is, and then they really understand the medical value that it has and what a horrible, horrible atrocity it is that it’s against the law.

DO:  Is there a primary goal of your work or a primary message you’re trying to get out?

DJB: It seemed to me since I was a child that our species is in ecological danger… destroying ourselves. Since I was a teenager, since my very first psychedelic experiences, I felt a very strong commitment to help elevate and expand consciousness on this planet through my work. I made a personal pact with what I felt was DNA or higher intelligence. I felt that if I aligned my personal mission with life’s overall mission, then I would always be supported throughout my life in what I was doing, and I would be working for a noble cause.

DO: And what is DNA trying to do?

DJB: I think DNA is ultimately trying to create a world where the imagination is externalized, where the mind and the external world become synchronized as one, so that basically whatever we can imagine can become a reality. Literally. And I think that everything throughout our entire evolution has been moving slowly toward that goal. In the past couple thousand years, it’s been very steady. And through nanotechnology, through artificial intelligence, through advanced robotics, I think we’re entering into an age where we’ll be able to control matter with our thoughts and actually be able to create anything that our minds can conceive of. We’re very quickly heading into a time where machines are going to be more intelligent than we are, and we’re going to most likely merge, I think, with these intelligent machines and develop capacities and abilities that we can barely imagine right now, such as the ability to self-transform. What we can do with computers—digital technology, the way we can morph things on a computer screen—is the beginning of understanding that that’s how reality itself is organized, that we can do that with physical reality through nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, that the digital nature of reality itself will allow us to externalize whatever we think. So I think that eventually reality will become like a computer graphic screen, and we’ll be able to create whatever we want. That sound right? [Laughs.]

 

May 28 2012

All Aboard The Express Kundalini: Trippin’ Balls With David J. From Love And Rockets and Bauhaus

“I felt this glow at the base of my spine, and I felt a warm substance rising through the spine. I had a terrific hard-on, like a Yule log. I wasn’t thinking anything sexual. And then I had, like, an explosion of this substance in my head! It was orgasmic, but it was like a cosmic orgasm. And I felt a golden—I just equate it with the color gold—it was gold, and it just flowed over my brain! It was just ecstatic.”

 

The ’80s were a grim time for kids in search of higher consciousness. Cocaine, capitalism, hedonism and hairspray held sway, and all the things our parents had revered—psychedelic sacraments, meditation, tribalism, gentleness, artistic expression—were considered hopelessly uncool. Not surprisingly, the music of the day reflected this shift: “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream” had given way to “Everybody Wang Chung tonight.”

One of the few psychedelic treasures that mushroomed from this manure was Love and Rockets, a British alternative rock band comprised of three former members of the pioneering post-punk group Bauhaus. L&R broke through to mainstream American audiences in 1986 with its second album, Express—a title that, on one hand, challenged the group’s hair dye-sporting, trench coat-clad fan base to communicate through art, and on the other, proclaimed that the magical mystery tour bus of the ’60s had been replaced by a faster, sleeker mode of transport to the astral realms. When bassist/vocalist David J urged, “All aboard the Express Kundalini,” it was in much the same spirit that yesteryear’s psychedelic pied pipers had inquired, “Is everybody in?” and “Are you on the bus?” But the band’s stylish, cutting-edge sound left no question: This train was headed out there where the rainbow-painted buses didn’t run.

Enticed by the palpable whiff of LSD-fertilized spirituality emanating from Love and Rockets’ music, some of us accepted the invitation. With the aid of various enchanted fungi and exotic potions, we traversed the weird and wonderful landscapes of the hidden self. David J served as a friendly, wise, cosmically cool tour guide, directing us to let our flesh melt into pulsating whorls of electrical ectoplasm (“You are disintegrating into everything around,”), nudging us toward the realization that enlightenment can only be found in the present moment (“Are you in search of somewhere or something that rings true? Well, it could be closer than you think,”) and gifting us with Alan Watts-ian bits of mind-origami (“You cannot go against nature, because when you do go against nature, it’s part of nature, too”).

J, who explores the mystery of mortality on his latest solo album, Not Long for this World, insists that the essence of chemically catalyzed gnosis can’t be captured in words. “It’s like the Tao: ‘The Tao that can be expressed in words is not the Tao,’ and the psychedelic experience that can be expressed in a song lyric is not really the psychedelic experience,” he offers. “But it can give you a little hint. And maybe you can dance to it at the same time, which is fun.”

DAMON ORION: Tell me about your first psychedelic experience. 

DAVID J: I didn’t really get into psychedelics until ’85. It was the time of the first Love and Rockets album [Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven]. In fact, the collage that’s on the inside of the gatefold sleeve—that was finished on LSD, on the day of my first trip. I remember doing that tripping balls! [Laughs] And being quite delighted with it.

This was after a very long day in the English countryside. It was a place called Castle Ashby. Perfect place. Great setting, and I had the right mindset. I’d chosen the place, chosen the day: July 4th, 1985. I’d collected music — I was going to play Steve Reich, which I thought would be appropriate. I’d taken the tab, and I had all these cassettes all over the floor of my car. In that state, I couldn’t find the tape! It started this mild panic, but then I started laughing at myself for panicking. And I thought, “OK, I’m just going to dig in here and pull something out at random.” I did, and it was The Velvet Underground’s third album. That just turned out to be the perfect accompaniment, and it guided me on that portion of the trip whilst it was playing. I remember looking up at this blue sky, and “Pale Blue Eyes” came on. And the whole sky was made up of thousands and thousands of eyes that were sort of like embossed watermark designs—very subtle, sort of blue-on-blue. Then I realized it was my eye, and when I blinked, all the eyes in the sky blinked with me. And then I saw rays coming down from the eyes—these cosmic rays. They were going into my heart, and it was just very joyous. And as I received, so I gave back, and that built the intensity. So it was like this feedback was building up, like a generator. And what was at the heart of that feeling was love. Then all the eyes went away, and I just felt very connected to spiritual essence. Thank you, Lou Reed! [Laughs] It’s a song about adultery, but it became a trigger, a catalyst, that led me into that experience.

At the end of the day, we [Love and Rockets] all went back to [guitarist/vocalist] Daniel [Ash]’s house—a little terraced house on a side street in Northampton—and we were finishing off that collage. I remember sitting on the floor, looking at Daniel’s antique furniture and thinking how sexy the legs of the furniture were, and remarking on this! [Laughs] The curvature of the furniture, and Daniel just smiling.

DAMON: I love that Love and Rockets was christened with an LSD trip! What other psychedelic experiences have you had that influenced your art?

DAVID: My second experience was very heavy. That was indoors, and I decided to do some drawing and listen to The Beatles’ Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s. Just something I had to do. So I got as far as Revolver, and I was looking at this sheet of blank paper, and I just started to see this jungle in the paper. It was sort of like the cover of Revolver, but again, it was sort of like this effect of being embossed, almost like watermarks. It was incredibly detailed—there was all this fauna and jungle vines and leaves, and there were little characters in there, sort of like going through the hair on the front cover. And there were animals and all sorts of stuff, but as soon as I focused on anything, it would disappear, and something would come through to take its place.

The music sounded incredible. That was when I was listening to “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Then I remember looking at the back of my hand and seeing through to my bones, seeing the cellular structure, seeing blood coursing through my veins, and then seeing my hand rot in front of my eyes. It was horrific. But I remembered that old adage: the Buddhist thing of “If you see something terrible, do not turn away. If you see something beautiful, do not cling to it.” I embraced that and went into the hand, into the death, and came through the other side. I saw it as a very beautiful process.

There’s a line in one of our songs, “The worm we dug from higher ground”—that’s what that came from, that experience. So it was the death trip. If I had turned away from it, it could have turned very negative, but thankfully I didn’t. And there was a huge lesson in that.

DAMON: “I know what it’s like to be dead,” indeed! So, as long as you’re referencing the Express album, you’ve said before that you’d sum up that record in three letters: LSD. Can you elaborate on that a little?

DAVID: [Chuckles] This was from my own personal angle, because we weren’t all doing this together. And in fact, at that point, the others were a bit concerned that I was becoming too much of a psychonaut. [Laughs] But I had to have that experience, and it was the right time. And Love and Rockets, being the band it was at the time, was the perfect vehicle, because it was a very psychedelic-leaning band. I was kind of evangelical at that point—I was Timothy Leary back in 1960, you know?

DAMON: Well, I’m happy about that. I think it was really important for people like me, who weren’t around for the ’60s, to have musicians from our own era inviting us to visit those higher planes and fly the friendly skies. So, how did the song “Kundalini Express” come into being?

DAVID: That song originally was gonna be called “Dr. Hofmann,” and it was going to be about Albert Hofmann discovering LSD, but it just sort of mutated into this lyric about kundalini and aligning that with psychedelic experience. Just before I started experimenting with psychedelics, I had a spontaneous kundalini experience when I was meditating. I didn’t know anything about kundalini, but I started to hyperventilate, and then I effectively stopped breathing, which was very strange.

I felt this glow at the base of my spine, and I felt a warm substance rising through the spine. I had a terrific hard-on, like a Yule log. I wasn’t thinking anything sexual. And then I had, like, an explosion of this substance in my head! It was orgasmic, but it was like a cosmic orgasm. And I felt a golden—I just equate it with the color gold—it was gold, and it just flowed over my brain! It was just ecstatic. I had no idea what had just happened, so I started to look into this experience at the library—this was pre-Internet. I discovered kundalini, and I’d had a classic spontaneous kundalini experience. Never had it again.

DAMON: You struck gold there! People who have heard of kundalini can strive for 30 years to get there, and you just stumbled onto it! You mentioned Albert Hofmann. Did you ever meet him?

DAVID: No. I met Timothy Leary a couple of times, though. I was introduced to Tim by his personal assistant, Howard Hallis, who also did Tim’s website, and Howard does my website now. I actually met Tim the first time at Cinematic, this S&M bar in Hollywood where Psychic TV was playing. He invited me to a party at his house, which was a great event. I remember going to the fridge to get a beer, and next to the beers was a cryonic suspension tank for his head! I got to talk to Tim at length. He was interested in Love and Rockets. He actually really liked the lyrics of “No New Tale to Tell.”

So the last time I spoke to him on the phone, I invited him to a gig we were playing at The Palace in L.A. But I didn’t realize that he’d gone down really quick since the last time I saw him, and he was just staying in bed. But he said, “I’ll be there in spirit.” And he died a couple of days later.

We were on tour at the time, and at the gig that happened the day after he died, I dedicated “Yin and Yang (The Flower Pot Man)” to Tim. That song starts with an acoustic guitar, like a Bo Diddley rhythm. Daniel struck the guitar in a funny way, and it just made the strings feed back in a way I’d never heard before or since. And this vibration just picked up, and I thought, [excitedly] “Let that go, Daniel! Just let it go!” And he thought the same, ’cause he did. I remember him holding his hands up in the air, just lettin’ this thing ring out and build up and up and up.

He started doing this undulating rhythm, and it was echoing ’round this big hall. Kevin [Haskins, the drummer] picked up on it and started doing a bass drum beat to this rhythm, and then the crowd picked up on that and started clapping. We all started clapping in the band, and this tribal sound just grew and grew. It was really something! And at the right moment, Daniel went back to the Bo Diddley rhythm, and we crashed back into the song. The chorus of that song goes, “Beauty, beauty, beauty, beautiful.” Then I saw Howard, who was with Tim when he died. I said, “What were his last words?” He said, “His last words were ‘Beautiful. Beautiful.’” And then the last thing he said to me came back: “I’ll be there in spirit.”

DAMON: [Loud exhale] Wow. Getting chills here! This seems like a good time to ask: Do you have any hunches about what happens to consciousness after death?

DAVID: [Pause] Hmm. I do have a feeling about it, which is intensified through my meditation, and sometimes I feel I really understand that. But it’s hard to express. I’ll give it a shot: I think there’s an eternal, ever-expanding cosmic center. You can call this God; you can call it whatever you want. You can call it Simon. I dunno. But there’s something out there that’s not just out there—it’s in there, and it’s outside of in there, and it’s outside of out there. And its self-perpetuating is the essence of bliss. And it’s never gonna go away. It cannot go away. That is the thing that abides, and we are here to learn lessons, and for our souls to grow and for that soul-matter to keep coming back to school until we graduate, and then we just become completely absorbed into the center of Godhead, and we remain.

DAMON: Yes. That rings true on an intuitive level. Now, when Love and Rockets put out [1994’s] Hot Trip to Heaven, MDMA had clearly become the new fuel of choice. What’s your take on that drug?

DAVID: That’s a very interesting drug, in that it’s an empathogen. And also, I think it’s an anti-bullshit drug. You can’t get away with being a bullshitter, and you just see through people’s veils, masks and games. You don’t want to play any kind of games anymore. You just want to be real, and you want to relate and share the love. [Laughs] And it’s very beautiful for that. But because it’s so enjoyable, there’s a danger that it can be abused and overused. But I treat all these drugs with a lot of respect, and I think if you approach them with that mindset, then you get back what you give. I think that’s especially true of something like mushrooms, because there seems to be some spirit that resides within the mushroom experience and actually talks to you. You know McKenna’s thing of communicating with that entity? I’ve had that experience.

DAMON: What happened there?

DAVID:  One time we were on tour in the States, in L.A., and Daniel and I wanted to get some mushrooms. So somebody from our label at the time got us a big bag of God’s Flesh. Daniel chickened out, which he’s apt to do, so I just started neckin’ ’em. When the person who delivered them came back, she said, “He’s taken that much?! My God!!” I’m hearing this, and it starts coming on. I’m lying on the floor, looking up at the ceiling, which is just turning into spirals and swirls. I could have quite easily panicked, but again, that response kicked in: “No, go with it. It’s cool. It’s gonna be OK.” But I had to get out of the room. I walked down the corridor of the hotel, and there was a big family of Mexicans and all their relatives—it must have been about 20 of these people coming down the hall. I had to make my way through them—they were just thronging. And as I touched them, I was getting these ancestral experiences, just tapping into Aztec imagery.

I was seeing lizards and pyramids and stars exploding. It was going off, you know? And then I got back to my room, put a big coat on and lay on the balcony. All of a sudden I was in this big, revolving mandala of Aztec imagery. And then I was aware of a voice coming through. It wasn’t in any language or anything; it was beyond language. But it was talking to me and saying, “Welcome. You’ve decided to step into this dimension. You’re free to remain, and you’re here of your own volition, your own free will. This is a very ancient world and can give you many gifts. And what you bring to the party is what you leave with,” basically.

The day after, I get up and I draw the curtains, and I see two flying saucers. Really close up. Just hovering in midair. Silver—just classic discs. This was about midday, bright blue sky, and there they are! So I thought, “I’ve got to phone Daniel to tell him about this.” But I couldn’t break away, because it was so compelling. I was straight by then, you know; I’d come down off of the mushrooms. So I called him up. He’s asleep, because he’s a very late riser.

He says, “Dave, this better be fuckin’ important, man.” I said, [hurriedly] “Just go and look out your window, Dan. Now. You won’t regret it.” “Oh, fuckin’ ’ell!” I get the call back: “Dave, you’re trippin’, man. I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.” “There were two flying saucers, Dan.” “Yeah, OK, Dave. Keep takin’ the mushrooms.” “But I saw the bastards!” And it’s interesting, McKenna’s whole theory about that connection.

DAMON: I was thinking the same thing. Well, it’s been said that these sacred plants and fungi are a kind of telephone that our… galactic cousins have left us as a way of contacting them. It may be that Daniel wasn’t on that particular telephone, but you were. Do you have a take on whether what you saw was real or not?

DAVID: Yeah. I think it was real, yes. I’ll tell you another interesting mushroom story: again, on tour, Love and Rockets. Actually, it was the same batch of mushrooms! [Laughs] I think it was what was left of them in the bag. A week before this incident—this is a real rock & roll cliché—but we were in Chicago, and I was having a bit of a meltdown. It’s the only time I’ve done this, but I went out and got a bottle of whiskey, and I wrecked the hotel room. Trashed it; did a Keith Moon. And then I just thought, “This is so negative. What are you doing?” And I had a big sketchpad I took on that tour, so I thought to draw and try to express my way out of this malaise. I drew a little planet Earth, and then I drew all the planets and stars around it, and I did a big face of Buddha looking down, beatifically smiling on all of this.

I thought, “I’m just this tiny little speck on this tiny little ball in the middle of this vast space. Get your stupid, spoilt-child problems into perspective. You’re living a life that a lot of people would give their right arm for. Get on with it, you fuckup!” It did the trick. Then I’m in a better mindset, and we had the mushrooms in L.A. Then we were on the bus, traveling north up to Canada, and we had to get rid of whatever we had, y’know. So I just swallowed these mushrooms, thinking that we had a day off.

But then, after we crossed the border, the tour manager says, “So, remember, guys, you’ve got a lot of interviews as soon as you get to the hotel. You’ve got about four each. They’re all gonna be waiting in the lobby. These are really important interviews.” And I’m just trippin’ my head off! So I thought, “Well, this will be interesting.” As I was goin’ in [the hotel], my eye caught this really beautiful, angelic-looking blonde girl. I thought, “Well, I hope she’s one of my interviewers.” I went through the first three interviews, and I just fessed up to the interviewers: “Look, I… I’m trippin’.” [Laughs]

DAMON: You must have made the journalists’ day! “I’ve got a live one here!”

DAVID: [Laughs] Yeah! And they were great about it. So my last interviewer comes in, and it’s this gorgeous girl. Then she said, “Before I start the interview, I’ve got something for you. But I want you to open it after I’ve gone.” So she gives me this little box, wrapped up. And I was just looking into her eyes. Her eyes became swimming pools, and I dived in. We had a lovely time, and then she left.

I decided to run a bath. As I’m running the bath, I open this present, and what is inside it is a little tin globe—a little tin Earth. I thought, “Hold on a minute.” I got my sketchpad out, and I put [the tin globe] over the little Earth that I’d drawn that day [of the hotel trashing], and it was exactly the same dimensions—I mean exactly the same circumference. So I go into the bath, and I take the ball into the bath with me and start bobbin’ it up and down, still trippin’ balls.

Then I start to do AUM in the bath. I don’t know why; I’ve never done that before, but I start to do it. I was just feeling the vibration of the AUM coming through the bath and water, and I was changing the molecular structure of the water, [or] I perceived that I was doing that. And it was a really good bath! [Laughs] And the next day I see Danny, and he said, “Dave, what the fuck was goin’ on in your room yesterday?! I was hearing, like, this dronin’ noise, man!” So I told him the story, and he was quite impressed. He said, “Yeah, I bumped into her on the way in as well. Wish she was my interviewer.” “Well, that’s the way it goes, Dan. She was meant for me.”

DAMON: Did you keep in touch with her?

DAVID: Nope.

DAMON: Too bad.

DAVID: Well, “If you see something beautiful, do not cling to it,” you know?

A shorter version of this interview was originally published in MAPS Bulletin

Mar 28 2012

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

We talked and tripped. I decided to know God at any price, but when I came down and found some 10 Chaos guys spread around in my living room snoring and shouted, I greeted them as God, but he was with so many! We also discussed the Silicon Brotherhood idea while sitting both in that bathtub.”

As I explore Mondo 2000 History, I find myself unreasonably surprised by my own recollections — particularly by the degree to which “new age” influences flowed through both the scene and the magazine.  My own exploration of this cultural and memetic milieu  is shaping up to be fairly critical, but in this commentary sent to me for use by the Mondo 2000 History Project, Dutch writer, publisher, and entrepreneur Luc Sala eloquently embraces Mondo as “a door to understanding and experiencing the convergence and integration of technology, new age, philosophy and art”… while also noting our distinctions from some of the more formal “spiritual” practitioners.  I’m always happy to have inspired anything… well, just about anything.

Luc sent us a long ramble… a mini-memoir for the project, which he has graciously consented to my publishing here.  I’m going to run it in two parts — today and Friday. I think it provides one of the many flavors of Mondoid reality.

R.U. Sirius

 

Mondo 2000 has been, for me, a door to understanding and experiencing the convergence and integration of technology, new age, philosophy and art. I believe the magazine and the scene were at the root of the development of the late twentieth century cyberculture and have helped bridge the gap between the more traditional new age (fairly conservatively focused on eastern traditions, health and body; somewhat negative and Luddite about technology) and the computer/information wave.

My involvement with the actual magazine was limited, I sponsored with money and was international distributor (paying in advance helped to print the magazine). My involvement with the people of and around Mondo was what was most important for me, those contacts opened a door into the world of cyberspace, cyberart, psychedelic (ontological) philosophy, design and counterculture. The Mondo scene was where one would meet the great alternative thinkers and writers. They were easy with their contacts and networking; opened many, many doors for me and I am very grateful for what I took home — not so much in material things, but in thinking for myself. Mondo inspired me to publish a similar magazine in Dutch, called Ego2000, and has been a source of contacts and new ideas for my activities in the nineties. Apart from writing and publishing. this encompassed my broadcast television station in Amsterdam. This Kleurnet channel (colored net) produced some 8000 television programs between 1995 and 2001, covering a wide range of subjects, many with a similar focus and taste as to what Mondo offered.

Mondo 2000 was a focal point where the counterculture, psychonauts and mind-researchers met, physically in Berkeley, and at various events in SF and elsewhere. They met in person, but also communicated via the then emerging email and budding internet communications of the times such as The Well. It united the greatest out-of-the box thinkers and change agents of the era, but was not a commercial success. Money to pay the printer had to be found every time. Lack of commercial talent and financial savvy hampered its development so that the newer Wired was able to capture the flag of the cyberculture. Wired was more of a hit, but remained more gadget-oriented and lacked the heart and zeal of the Mondo initiative. Funny enough, founding publishers Louis Rosetto and his partner Jane Metcalfe (after their Electric Word venture in Holland) contacted me in early 1990 to ask for funding for a new magazine in the US, which later became Wired (1991 trial, 1993 first issue). Jane was a great networker and organizer and I actually employed her for a while. She set up the seminal September VR-party in my house in Hilversum, near Amsterdam. I always considered Wired as overly commercial and not so ethical and was proven right when Wired tried to go public and failed because their data were not very honest, to say the least. While many contributors wrote for both magazines, the Wired-Mondo dichotomy; the difference in focus taught me a lot about the soul, the root energy of a venture, how the initial thrust kind of shaped its future. Wired in a sense was a cheap market oriented venture, it lacked the quality and integrity of the Mondo format.

In the early Eighties (1982) I started my computer magazine publishing company, after working as a launch editor and roving reporter for Pat McGovern of IDC/IDG, before that being employed by Fasson, Bruynzeel and Philips. As a then new journalist (I never trained as such) I travelled extensively to the USA, as the rise of the home computer (Commodore, MSX, Apple, PC) was partly a European thing with English makers like Sinclair, but obviously the USA was the motherlode for computernews. I went to shows like the NCC, the Comdex and the CES shows, often in Las Vegas, where I hooked up with the Californian crowd of computer journalists, afficionado’s and hobbyists. Those were exciting years, the computer spread from the highbrow DEC/IBM scene to the home, hobbyists became involved, the Commodore 64 opened a new world of low level ICT. I rode that wave with magazines, end-user shows (PC Dumpdag), books and even a retail operation. I was familiar with computers already during my studies (Physics at Delft University and Economics in Rotterdam), in my early career followed trainings in Industrial Engineering and was groomed by Philips for an executive commercial position in telecom in a year-long worldwide training program. When the personal computer emerged, I jumped in with a 16 KB Philips P2000 unit I used for my first books about home-computers, computer games and programming and then gradually developed my publishing and writing activities in telecom, the home computer field and later in more general ICT. I am happy I went through the rigorous mathematical and physics programs at university, because it taught me to think straight and systematic; this being in line with the slight Asperger syndrom behaviour I sometimes display. Apart from that I have always read extensively and my journalistic and media skills were acquired and learned by doing and supported by some guts, I was always in for a new venture.

Homebrew computers

In my travels for the computer press I met people like Lee Felsenstein, Jan Lewis, Mary Eisenhart (Microtimes), and of course Allan Lundell, Amara Angelica, Saint Silicon (Jeffrey Armstrong) Dusty Parks and friends. We were hanging out together; meeting at the computer shows in the press rooms. We joined the insider parties at these events with what then were budding entrepreneurs like Gates and Philippe Kahn (Borland), and opinion leaders like John Dvorak and Jerry Pournelle. I felt part of the new wave of ICT for the masses, but as an insider. I wasn’t only a journalist and writer, but invested a bit, started trading computers and basically used my publications to get in touch with interesting people. This is something I have always done, even my Kleurnet TV station was a kind of front, a mousetrap to catch the inspiring and interesting ones, the change-agents, the mavericks.

However, in those days it was all very straight; computers, ICT, business, the alternative wasn’t on my mind, but I was connected. This all changed in 1989. I got in touch with new age thinking, had some deep and life-changing personal mystical experiences and opened up to the  alternative side of computers, like brain machines, mindware (Bruce Eisner’s focus) and saw the much broader horizon opening with multimedia, pictures, video. There were visits to Xerox Parc, contacts with fringe scientists, hackers, game-developers… I realized that the days of alphanumeric number-crunching were over. Another notion that dawned upon me then was that data and information are not the same; “a bit is only information if it bytes” was the keyphrase I used and use to make that clear.

GHC

Then around the first big Hacker Conference august 1989 in Amsterdam (Hack-Tic/Paradiso),  I was approached by my friend Allan Lundell (his book Virus was just out… and the famous Captain Crunch — John Draper — was there too) who proposed to me that I support a new magazine which was to be called Mondo 2000 and showed me a mockup. It looked fantastic, desktop publishing really applied to creative publishing, in color, with visual effects that were, at that time, revolution in action. At the closing day of this conference (The Galactic Hacker Conference/ICATA) we had a party at my house in Hilversum (25 km from Amsterdam), where many showed up. The hacker folks, the Chaos Club people with Wau Holland, the local hack and Digitale Stad luminaries like Rop Gonggrijp and Caroline Nevejan came. It was a nice party, that cemented many connections made at the hacker conference, which was in itself a major networking node in the pre-internet times (we had some email, but no web then). Allan and I dropped acid, sitting in the bathtub of my house. We talked and tripped. I decided to know God at any price, but when I came down and found some 10 Chaos guys spread around in my living room snoring and shouted, I greeted them as God, but he was with so many! We also discussed the Silicon Brotherhood idea while sitting both in that bathtub. Allan has some video from that party.

Locally this GHC stemmed from Hack-Tic and resulted in what later became XS4all and De Digitale Stad, but I personally had little empathy for what then was labeled as technoanarchistic hacking and focused myself on the USA and international side of things. However, this GHP brought together ‘the crucial network’ as Caroline Nevejan describes this and certainly influenced the cyberculture and cyber-counterculture. She, in a way, sees this as a consciously staged and orchestrated process, bridging the incommensurability (see 1962 Thomas Kuhn ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’) between participants. I tend to see it more as an autoconspiracy (again a notion Barlow inspired), an energetic exchange that fits the times and the place, and kind of inevitable happens. Maybe this is because I always more liked less staged parties and the mixing of people, ideas and disciplines that can then happen, more the be-in philosophy (Michael Bowen 1967). We come together because we had to, and for an outsider this might look like a conspiracy, but it is more a play. There usually is a spielmeister or facilitator, who sets the stage, but does not know or plan the outcome. This all of course has to do with my understanding of time, future and energy and how things come to pass,. The malleability of reality and the laws of nature is a major issue in my further work and development.

These events, like the GHP and the 1990 Linz Ars Electronica were pivotal events. The people that mattered in what later was coined the new edge movement met and started to make it happen.

Mondo

As a result of meeting the Mondo people in Amsterdam and my promise to help them out financially, somewhat later in 1989 I went to the USA, partly because of my regular visits to computer shows and Silicon valley as a journalist/entrepreneur, but also to renew contact with Lundell and the Mondo crowd. That late summer many things happened in my life. I discovered spirituality and had some amazing mystical experiences, got in touch with the Esalen new age crowd and began to see computers in a much wider and more spiritual context. Before, I was already interested in what computers could do for psychology, like with brainmachines and even started a small shop called Egosoft. There I was selling all kind of mind-enhancing devices, the early smart drugs, and all kinds of brain-tools, hypnotic audio, isolation tanks, even some magic mushrooms — stuff that was totally legal then. But in the late summer of 1989, there came the interest in the more esoteric, even the mystical aspects, like in techno-paganistic work of Marc Pesce (the VRML guy) and how information is a dimension in itself, related to consciousness. These thoughts and notions have kept me busy ’til today, with Infotheism and the legality of Cyberspace still on my mind. Information in that sense is a path, the Silicon path, as in the Silicon Brotherhood Creed from 1989 (see adendum).

In the USofA

In the USA that autumn I got more in touch with the Mondo house and the Mondo crowd, even stayed there for some time. I wasn’t so much working on the magazine but just being helpful, paying for the first Apple Postscript laserprinter, for food and many things — as cash was rather scarce in those days.  R.U. Sirius did have the most amazing collection of weird psychedelics.

It was an old house, above a creek and fairly complex of structure, with offices and rooms tucked away here and there. Alison Kennedy aka Queen Mu and Ken aka R.U. Sirius were living there. Jas Morgan was running around and the whole house was full of rubble, books, stuff, ideas, notes and half-worked articles. Mu and R.U. then were in a strange quasi-relationship. There were lovers and would-be lovers (a guy kind of lived in a van outside); many guests and some people working on the magazine. One of them was Linda Murman, then with Allan Lundell, who did some admin and money chasing. I had a great time there, not doing much apart from sending editorial articles back to my magazine staff. I remember that as the place was messy, even filthy, with rubble everywhere, I tried to clean here and there.

One day I decided to clean out the big fridge in the kitchen, and kind of put aside or in the bin the weird little packages there that I thought were just old pieces of meat or something. This caused a panic, as there wasn’t only a bear’s penis, but also spider venom and a few other outlandish ingredients, related to Queen Mu’s work/hobby. Anyway, I met amazing people there, among them John Perry Barlow, whom I liked and had many and deep conversations with. He had an apartment on Potrero hill in SF, but his family was living in Wyoming. One day he went to visit them. I hitched a ride across the bay, and then our conversation was so animated, that I stayed with him (I could always take a train back was the idea) for the whole trip, some 15 hours through snow and ice, to his family house in Wyoming. I flew back after a nice meeting with his wife and kids. On my 40th birthday, the Mondo people, always in for a party, especially as I was paying for the food and drinks, threw a great birthday dinner for me. Timothy Leary, Barlow, Claudio Naranjo and his wife (Enneagram); the weird professor of Asian religions that Queen Mu was more or less married to (a great dinner entertainer), R.U. Sirius , Linda and some more.

There was a catch, however, as Mu, in her role as grand witch, had secretly decide to match/couple me to Linda. As I was not very experienced with psychedelics at that time, the kind of concoction they half-jokingly slipped me caught me by surprise. Before that summer I had never taken anything, only one toke of a marihuana cigarette when I was 16 or so.

Her recipe in a way worked, I ended up with Linda in bed and for the next few months that was it. She had a house in Boulder Creek, full with Allan’s stuff and took me there. As I had no car, I was kind of stranded for the week out there. I remember how I sifted through Lundell’s gear. He was a writer for electronic and AV magazines, not a great organizer, but assembled the most extensive collection of video gear one could imagine, most lying around in the Boulder Creek house on the hill or stashed in a shed outside. I cleaned out a lot of rubble, read, and watched video’s (no web then!). Sometime in the spring of 1990 I decided to go back to Holland and pick up my activities as publisher. My company kind of ran itself, while away, I just wrote articles and editorials and emailed (complicated procedure in those days with modems and 12kbps connections) them, for the computer magazines we produced, In those days there were magazines for specific machines like Commodore, Atari, PC-DOS, MSX and one about general computer news.

I was (at that time and still) an outspoken and somewhat obnoxious journalist, publisher and entrepreneur and I made money in ICT, and therefore I was a bit the “enemy” of the alternativo’s in the Dutch hacker scene. When the hackers sold out for big money a few years later (Xs4all), I felt they had betrayed their original creed. I however always believed their stance was worth protecting, and the Silicon Brotherhood Creed at the end of my Virtual Reality book (written in 1990, but this creed evolved in and from meeting with Lundell in 1989) acknowledged the importance of the deviant, the alternative, independent hacker).

Barlow was, in those days, a good friend and inspiration. He spent quite some time in SF. We travelled and tripped together, he got me backstage at the Grateful Dead new years concert, we visited trade shows and discussed the world, copyrights, God and psychedelics. His thinking inspired me a lot. I had used so many of his ideas and visions in my VR book, that I decided to put his name on the cover too. We differed in opinion in some ways. I never sided with his belief that copyrights don’t matter, that information should be free. His Cyberspace Independence Declaration/Manifesto was, in the context of his EFF work, a great statement and has been very influential; one of the few articles that really address the need for clear cyberspace rights and laws. It was, at the same time, somewhat naive, expressing a belief in the power of information and freedom that didn’t reckon with the traditions and forces concerning copyrights and the fear of institutions and governments for total freedom. I think Barlow was also inspired by Leary’s Declaration of Evolution (1968). The whole subject of cyberspace rights, legislature and freedom has been the subject of many articles I wrote in Dutch, also in the context of Infotheism and my personal notion of evolution as “a remembrance of the future” and what DNA is (an antenna into the future).

Sacramento 3220

The San Francisco scene in those days had (for me) two poles. One was Henry Dakin’s outfit on Sacramento 3220 (Henry’s Playhouse full with nonprofits and a secret Apple multimedia lab, the SF-Moscow Teleport, Jack Sarfatti and, later, Faustin Bray). The other was the Mondo House, up the hill a bit in Berkeley. Henry was a humble and softspoken millionaire, heir to the Dakin Toys fortune but fascinated by the alternative; be it waterbirth, East-west bridging, dolphins, new physics (Jack Sarfatti), Damanhur or psychedelics. He facilitated so many and was so helpful in organizing, promoting and financing the new, the different, the small and great innovators, I always liked him and his gentle approach. He was easy, slept in the back of my Egosoft new-edge shop in Amsterdam. He was an inspiration for me and many.

The Mondo house, with Queen Mu in charge and at the purse (and the editing!), was a different story. More egocentric, Mondo wasn’t about helping the world. It was an ego-statement by what my kids called catch-up hippies, flippo’s obsessed with the new, the different, who saw the potential of the new technology, as a mind changing and world changing tool. The spirituality that Henry Dakin lived was part of the Mondo culture too, but more as a tool, an experience, as part of the psychedelic awareness, the transcendental in action. Of course the house was full with esoteric art and books. All present were very well read. With people like Claudio Naranjo (enneagram), Barlow and Jaron Lanier around, philosophy and spirituality were part of the daily smorgasboard of discussions and exchanges, but not in a formal way. Although all had some deeper understanding and awareness of the mystical, the transcendental or deep contemplative was not on the agenda. Many had (had) contacts with Alan Watts or John Perry and the beat-generation poets like Ginsberg were not far off, but Mondo was more worldly than that. It made connections with the New Physics crowd via Nick Herbert (and Fred Wolf); dabbled in whatever was new in arts and music, but kind of stayed away from the health scene, the new age body work, Gaia folks and soul searching. But there was enough; the connections from Mondo with what was happening in the Bay area and beyond were fascinating. I really laid the foundation of my network there, which became the basis for my later work (writing, television, esoteric studies) and inspires me till today.

Counterculture

Before Lundell and friends made me aware of Mondo and got me involved, I was familiar with the technological side of things, the ICT industry and its outgrowth into brain machines, mind technology, but was not really hip to the general counterculture of those days. I was more a new age person with an ICT interest. Of course when I got to the Mondo house, I caught up. I have seen and read the earlier publications that R.U. was involved with — High Frontiers and Reality Hackers, but those were more traditional in appearance and layout. It was Mondo (and of course Bart Nagel and Heide Foley who made that jump in layout perspective happen) that really opened up to PostScript and the integrated layout possibilities that so markedly made Mondo 2000 a new wave in publishing.

When the Mondo people asked for support, I donated money to help print the first issue, as did John Perry Barlow and I also subsequently helped out here and there with some funds and became international distributor, not with much success. It came down to preordering and prepaying for some 800 issues (and that helped to get it printed anyway) every run, and having them shipped to some distributors in the Netherland and England. However, I never made money out of Mondo and ended up with serious stacks of Mondo’s, still in my cellars.

As R.U. was not only a keen observer and gifted writer, he also supplied all kinds of things to the Bay area cognoscenti and therefore had a real interesting network. Psychedelics were the not so secret but illicit link between the various subworlds of art, literature, music, new age and technology. Morgan Russell, R.U., Queen Mu, St. Jude (Jude Milhon/Hippie) were all broadly interested, but in different directions, with different networks and it was this convergence that was the hallmark of Mondo. They covered the whole gamut of alternativity, with a distinct “highness” underlying the meetings, events and discussions.

As this was the Bay Area and Silicon Valley was close, the link with the computer industry was easy and logical, There was the money and the excitement, in those days everybody looked at the new possibilities, whether it was in music with synthesizers; in broadcasting with digital media; in entertainment with the emerging computer games — and virtual reality was definitely the magic potion that would free us from the limitations of space and time, the ultimate trip, the electronic drug. Most of the people involved had a sixties background, although there were also the catch-up hippies like myself, who missed out on but were fascinated by the likes of Leary and the Zeitgeist of the sixties.

Part 2 will be published Friday, 3/30

Adendum

The Silicon Br/otherhood :

` We acknowledge the Silicon Path ‘

By Luc Sala and Allan Lundell
Hilversum, August 14, 1989

The computer and information technology, with the word Silicon as its main symbol, is one of the identifiers of the 20th century. This has challenged some to explore its possibilities beyond the mere superficial, utilitarian aspects of it. In arts, media, psychology, Artificial intelligence, consciousness projects, religion and creative crime, new applications are discovered and new interactions mapped. As has happenend in the history mathematics, the quabala, martial arts, building technology etc., such powerful new knowledge is first applied to the relatively mundane fields of economics, warfare and the suppression of people before one acknowlegdes and then explores the transcendental possibilities.

All through the ages people have concentrated on parts of the reality to gain access to the greater or even ultimate reality in themselves and the perennial wisdom of our species and the earth, our Silicon Mother Goddess.

The computer offers us new, and at the same time, age-old, possibilities of concentration and expansion, of communication and isolation, ego-discovery and letting go, that are largely untapped. Those who are now so deeply involved in the computer are, even unconsciously, part of a new tradition, the Silicon Path.

Now we, the initiators, explorers, guardians and even exploiters of the Silicon awareness revolution are concerned about its uses and abuses, and above all, acknowlegde its potential for growing awareness and human transcedence. We owe today’s hackers and whiz- kids, and ourselves, the opportunity to follow the Silicon Path, becoming the magi(cians) and mystics of our times. If the computer is nothing but another way to get in touch with the ultimate reality (and what else could it be), it needs some `small’ br/others to safeguard that path.