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Oct 12 2012

Your Friday MONDO: Nuggets — Pull Quotes from High Frontiers Issue #2 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #34)

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More nuggets from High Frontiers for your weekend pleasure

 

 The hydrogen bomb (was) the flash of the first synapse of an etheric brain which is extended temporally as well as spatially   Robin Hoor Khuit

 

Everyone was looking at Ram Dass like he must be the Magus riding out of the north.  Peter Stafford

 

Learn how to control your own nervous system and the whole universe is yours… that’s the transmutation the alchemists were working for.  Robert Anton Wilson

 

There are about six different realities that Bell’s Theorem makes possible, none of them are ordinary. They’re all preposterous… Nick Herbert

 

Joyce, Guernica, Auschwitz, lunar landings, nuclear weapons, psychedelic religion, and computer networking — markers on a path that may eventually carry us toward… functional anarchy  Terence McKenna

 

When you take MDA and LSD simultaneously, you get a sort of matrix multiplication effect where you can observe yourself in all possible  incarnations. Zarkov

 

[With the Brotherhood of Eternal Love] It was a religious zeal that life is better suited to being high.  Michael Hollingshead

 

Revolution and evolution, they’re both a process. A revolution never  ends; or once a  revolution ends, it’s  probably a dictatorship…  Paul Krassner

 

I realized that I was seeing “god central.” The central panel I saw was the control panel of the entire universe.   Zarkov

 

There was a giant punk goddess with a green mohawk and full body armor  screaming, “is it finally strong enough for you?” Terence McKenna

 

Magnificent extragalactic trisexual desires multiple sex with all creatures any time/any space. Non-smokers only. No weirdoes.  Amalgam X

 

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.]

 

Jan 29 2012

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

By 1988, High Frontiers was a somewhat more smoothly functioning operation.  We’d given up — for the moment — on trying to get out more than 2 issues a year, but we were running a very dynamic and well attended local lecture/community gathering series called Reality Hackers Forum at Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley, putting on one program almost every month.  Queen Mu would whip up an extraordinary “Trifle” — this amazingly rich densely layered cake dish with home-whipped whipped cream, so the events — which, if I remember, seated almost 100, had a homey vibe.  After each talk, we would have a group discussion.  I’ll always remember one guy saying: “I can make backups of my files but I can’t make backups of myself. I want to solve that problem.”  These days, that’s almost a transhumanist cliche and subject to much debate but back then, it just sounded way edgy and cool as hell.

I can’t remember if having RAW give a lecture titled “The CIA-Vatican-Cocaine Conspiracy” was his idea or ours.  I think it was our idea based on the fact that he’d written about it somewhere and we thought it was interesting.

Although he was no longer really a staff member, Lord Nose was still a pal to us all and he somehow got the assignment to pick Bob up from the airport.  Now, Nose didn’t tolerate anyone smoking in his car and Bob was a smoker’s rights militant (a fact that would later cause his column to be dropped from Mondo … not my idea, but that story is for later.)  So Bob got into Nose’s car and lit one up and Nose asked him to put it out.  I don’t recall how that standoff was resolved, but (like Nose’s lungs) I heard about it secondhand and that Bob was peaved.

But after he visited with some friends, it was a jovial RAW who showed up at Julia Morgan Theater for a talk that was at the top of his game.  He didn’t follow the script very closely, but it didn’t matter — it was big mind-stimulating fun for all. Some fragments of the talk — which will be included on the Mondo 2000 History Project Website when it’s made public — are presented below.

In the first recording, Robert Anton Wilson tries out a little bibliomancy with Finnegans Wake, and discusses the connections to European history and psycho-linguistics

Listen to the audio now:

 

Download Robert Anton Wilson discusses Finnegans Wake

The second recording features a spirited question-and-answer session about conspiracy theories, Operation Mindfuck, the Vatican, and reprogramming your own brain.

Listen to the audio now:

 

Download Robert Anton Wilson – Conspiracy Q&A

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.

 

Dec 18 2011

Conjurations in the Element of Flesh: Balancing the Transhuman and the Transpersonal

What are the critical disciplines by which 21st century humanity will initiate itself? How will those who wish to move from reality’s spectator seats to the middle of the ring do so?

How has humanity done so in the past?

The ancients represented the hall of initiation into the Mysteries as being flanked by two columns — one black, the other white. The tradition survives in Freemasonry, ceremonial magick and the High Priestess card of the Tarot, where Isis as initiatrix into the Mysteries sits between the pillars, reconciling them.

For the ancients, the black pillar represented, among other things, the path of ego calcination; the white, the path of ego dissolution. These more abstract principles. or “ways to do life,” if you will, have ended up in the common parlance as “white and black magic” and have become divorced from their original meaning and taken on new and largely inappropriate baggage.

Restored to their original symbolic association, however, the Pillars of the Temple of Solomon can offer critical suggestions about the modes of transcendence that 21st century humanity is beginning to explore.

For the young psychonaut, I draw clear the lines:

The Left-Hand Path: The Transhuman

Transhumanism is the augmentation, and therefore reinforcement, of the self. It is the current edge of the “project of Western civilization” that is concerned, and always has been concerned, with the extension of the individual will into physical, manifest reality. It is the directed use of technology to amplify the human experience — and technology can easily mean nonphysical means or techniques as well.

Here I place the increasing inseparability of humans and advanced communication technology; actual augmentation of the body with wetware, body modification, nanotech, etc., but also body change techniques like hatha yoga, martial arts, plastic surgery; the work of Wilhelm Reich; energy medicine, EFT/EMDR; the contributions of the Human Potential Movement and the increasingly clever and byzantine supplement industry. We can add modern and ancient brain-change techniques like NeuroLinguistic Programming, the Leary/Wilson Eight Circuit Model, Brion Gysin’s Dreamachine, radionics, tantra, chaos magick and the rest of the never-ending occult and New Age corpus. All of these and more can be used to change, warp, clean out, amp up, empower, manicure and otherwise “make cooler” the thing you call “I.”

Access to these technologies is increasingly wide-spread and I believe their use and refinement will likely produce some admirable customizations of the human experience as well as increasingly grotesque ego distortions as once-normal human beings mutate themselves into what might only be described as “creatures” comprised of a multiplicity of shattered and exaggerated ego shards rather than anything resembling a healthy, grounded, integrated identity.

The Right-Hand Path: The Transpersonal

If transhumanity can be seen as a continuing quest for dominance over the physical body and physical world, the transpersonal offers a much more direct (if perhaps even more dangerous) path — that of breaking down the barriers which separate the small-s self from the wider world itself. This is what might more vaguely be called the “spiritual path” — the path of the dissolution of the ego by uniting it with something larger than itself.

Under the heading of transpersonal we must place the many branches of mysticism: Gnosticism, Sufism, Qabalah, Advaita Vedanta, Mahayana Buddhism, the higher Yogas, true Tantra, shamanism, depth psychology and the activities that stem from the accelerated empathy that these practices can produce: namely activism, human rights work, ecology work, directed work on the problems of the human race and other such forms of “doing the world’s dishes.”

Leaving questions of actual higher spiritual perception or “cosmic consciousness” aside for the moment, and grounding the spiritual directly into the material world, I believe we can find the highest expression of the transpersonal path in the growing field of ecopsychology: a psychological model which proposes, broadly, that individual problems are in fact manifestations of the problems of the world itself, and that it becomes impossible to talk about healing a patient without healing the world they live in. Self and world are ultimately indistinguishable. There was never a separation to begin with.

Between the Gates

It’s easy to see how these two paths may overlap and blur at their higher reaches. Push the self to the limits of its expansion, for instance, and you may well break it in the process, allowing the “greater reality” to flood in. Similarly, the depth insights that arise from transpersonal work can and should become more greatly actualized in the physical world through the strengthening and empowerment of the “individual” who experiences them — there comes a time when you may have to lift your scarecrow-like, malnourished body from the meditation mat, do some pushups, put on a suit and start communicating what you’ve learned within the marketplace.

You can also see how these two paths can be intensely antagonistic.

Have no illusions about it: transhumanism arises from the same dominator impulse that gave us empires, Satanic mills, nuclear and biological warfare, technological slavery, the rape and degradation of the physical world, and so on. To the expanded awareness of the transpersonal, the products of Western culture and the calcified, soulless ego-worship of the transhumanists can feel as comfortable as splinters under fingernails.

Alternately, it’s questionable how much effect the insights of mystics actually produce — whether their “higher visions” are actually accurate new views into the human equation or just so much hallucinatory navel gazing. The most lasting contributions of the walkers of the transpersonal way are inner insights that, once expressed, can produce massive shifts in how cultures think — but these insights get turned into bureaucratic dominator religions overnight as soon as the original mystic is (all too often) conveniently disposed of… Godfather-style.

What Are We Left With?

Two paths. The black: Change the self as something separate from the world. The white: Delete the self and erase all separation from the world. Both provide a “beyond human” experience.

Followed exclusively, the transpersonal results in ineffectuality; take the transhuman alone, and end up a soulless machine in a world of soulless machines.

Or step between the pillars, and find something new — with no promises — for those who pass through these pillars step through and onto a yet-unlit road where only few have passed before, and where none has yet seen the destination.

Step mindfully.

Jason Louv is the author of Queen Valentine and editor of Generation Hex, Ultraculture and Thee Psychick Bible. www.jasonlouv.com

Dec 11 2011

Brain Magick Exercises

“Am I processing  my sensory  information  via Circuit Four: • Am I concerned or motivated by my family or sexual relationships? • Am I  horny? • Am I motivated by the way I appear to others, in regard to my masculinity, femininity, or androgyny?”

The following excerpt is from BRAIN MAGICK: EXERCISES IN META-MAGICK AND INVOCATION by Philip Farber .  Check out the entire book!

The Nature of a State

Consciousness flows, ever-changing, from one moment to the next. However minutely or broadly, each nanosecond of experience differs from the preceding one. When we talk about a “state of consciousness,” we make a generalization about a collection of such moments, that some aspects of consciousness remain constant, or at least similar, for a period of time. Even so, sensory experience continues its kaleidoscopic change. When we meditate, we ease into a session, first getting comfortable in our posture, then getting into the flow of meditation, then easing back out, aware of comfort or discomfort in our bodies, and turning our attention  back outward. Rather than a singular state called “meditation,” we may find a continually shifting experience—a process rather than a thing. A hypnotic trance induction has a beginning, middle, and end. A psychedelic experience rises and falls as chemical levels in the blood- stream peak and diminish. Sleep is characterized by several stages through the night.

Knowledge of how we get into and out of different states of consciousness can be incredibly useful in the practice of magick. Some rituals require that the magician be in a particular state prior to beginning. Some rituals —  particularly rituals of invocation — are all about inducing powerful altered states. It can be very important for a magician to be able to know when he or she is in a state, when the state is reaching its peak, and when it might be fading. In general, we usually are not aware of the process by which we change and enter states. Think about the last time you were happy — you may remember the content of the experience, the stimuli that pushed you in that direction, but, unless you’ve played with these kinds of calibration techniques before, the actual feeling of the state coming on and building likely occurred on an unconscious level. That is, you might remember the wonderful present that someone gave you and how happy that made you, but perhaps not the actual process of exactly how it changed you. Similarly, in magical practices we may work hard to remember the words and symbols of a ritual while the process of the experience slips past our awareness. It’s okay. It’s a normal experience. Now, let’s find out how we can bring state changes into conscious awareness.

The nature of a state may best be understood by paying attention to the differences between one state and the next, and the differences from one moment to the next.

To notice a difference, we first have to calibrate, to notice where and what we are now. The simplest method is to ask, “What am I experiencing now?”

Exercise 1.1 Physiological Calibration

To begin, find out how your body is functioning right now. Run through each of the physiology questions and answer them to the best of your ability.

Physiology

• What is the position of my body?

• Am I moving or still? How so?

• What are the positions of my arms, legs, hands, and feet?

• Is my heartbeat in my conscious awareness? If so, is it fast or slow, strong or weak?

• Is my breathing rapid, slow, even, uneven, shallow, or deep?

• Am I breathing from the upper part, middle, or bottom of my lungs?

• Which of my muscles are in use? Which are relaxed? How in use or relaxed are they?

Once you have determined the answers to these questions, you can change your state using Expansion and Contraction Breathing and run through the physiology modeling questions again, noting any changes that have occurred.

Expansion and Contraction Breathing — at least five minutes: Imagine a circle around yourself, at about the diameter of your out-spread arms. Sit or stand in the center of that circle. Fill your lungs completely, with a slow, even inhalation. As you inhale, allow your attention to expand to fill the circle. As you exhale, slowly, evenly, and completely, allow your attention to contract to a single point in the center of your chest. Repeat.

How have  the  physical parameters of  your state  changed? Has your  position  changed? Or your heartbeat, breathing, and musculature?

Modeling Resources

We can be more precise in modeling states by identifying and measuring a variety of perceptions, behaviors, and beliefs that can help us to define the processes we refer to as states. Here are some more Modeling Resources that can be applied to states of every kind.

Sensory-Based Model

In the model of perception and behavior used in the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), thought and experience are sorted and represented through   “sensory representational  systems,” visual, auditory,  kinesthetic,  olfactory,  and  gustatory—seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting. These are not only the senses that we use to experience in the present; they are also the ways that we sort our thoughts and memories internally. A sensory-based model can give us some idea of what and, even better, how we are using our senses while in a particular state of consciousness. Reflect on the following questions.

• Am I aware more externally or internally?

• How much am I consciously aware in visual mode?

• Do the things I see (with eyes open or closed)

seem bright, dim, colorful, distant, close, large, small, shiny, dull, etc.?

• How much am I consciously aware in auditory mode?

• Do the things I hear sound loud, quiet, tonal, rhythmic, vocal, deep, high, distant, close, distinct, fuzzy, etc.?

• How much am I consciously aware in kinesthetic mode?

• Do the things I feel seem tactile, visceral, emotional, proprioceptive, mild, intense, large, small, tingly, pressing, moving, still, warm, cold, etc.?

• How much am I consciously aware in olfactory and gustatory modes?

• Do the things I taste and smell seem intense, mild, pungent, sweet, smoky, musky, fruity, sour, bitter, spicy, etc.?

• Is it easy or difficult to separate one sense from another?

• Are senses represented to consciousness as other senses, that is, sound experienced as color, color experienced as feeling, and so on?

• Am I experiencing from my own point of view, or seeing/hearing/feeling myself as if from someone else’s point of view?

• How much am I concerned with how I feel about my sensory experiences?

After calibrating and testing an altered state, what differences did you find? Which senses characterized your baseline state and which were you using during your altered state?

Eight Circuit Brain Model

The model of an Eight Circuit Brain was originally proposed by Timothy Leary as a way of sorting behavioral tendencies, imprints, “life scripts,” and “reality tunnels,” among other uses. The model was further expanded on by other writers and thinkers, including Robert Anton Wilson and Antero Alli. The following modeling questions are based on Wilson’s explanations of the model.

Am I processing  my sensory  information  via

Circuit One:

• Am I motivated to move toward comfort and/or away from discomfort?

• Am I motivated toward food and drink?

Am I processing  my sensory  information  via Circuit Two:

• Am I concerned about my importance relative to other people?

• Do I want to fight or run away?

• Is my behavior expressed as dominance or submission?

Am I processing  my sensory  information  via Circuit Three:

• Am I thinking about things more than doing them?

• Am I  motivated by logic, intellectual curiosity, or scientific interest?

• Am I talking a lot? Or talking to myself in my head?

Am I processing  my sensory  information  via

Circuit Four:

• Am I concerned or motivated by my family or sexual relationships?

• Am I  horny?

• Am I motivated by the way I appear to others, in regard to my masculinity, femininity, or androgyny?

Am I processing  my sensory  information  via

Circuit Five:

• Do I experience movement of “energy,” “light,” “vibration,” or temperature in or near my body?

• Am I easily able to control my rate of breathing, heart rate, and comfort level?

• Do I feel “high,” “stoned,” “trippy,” “floating,” or otherwise positively experiencing a body/mind-based, sensory experience?

Am I processing  my sensory  information  via Circuit Six:

• Do I recognize the experience I’m having as “magick” or “brain-change?”

• Am I acutely aware of the social/cultural programming of myself or of others around me?

• Does human behavior seem like an abstract concept based on arbitrary, random, and easily altered rules?

• Am I aware of choices to alter, abolish, or create forms of my own inner programming?

Am I processing  my sensory  information  via Circuit Seven:

• Am I conscious of experiences in terms of “past lives,” “future memories,” or “magical currents?”

• Am I aware of the interconnectedness of things?

• Do ordinary things seemed imbued with symbolic meaning?

• Am I aware of or motivated by an evolutionary concern?

Am I processing  my sensory  information  via Circuit Eight:

• Can my experience be described as “out of body,” “lucid dreaming,” “bilocation,” or “astral projection?”

• Does reality itself seem like an abstract concept based on arbitrary, random, and easily altered presuppositions? (“There is no spoon.”)

• Do concepts such as location, size, direction, time, and so forth seem meaningless, arbitrary, or laughable?

• Do I experience my universe as a singularity?1

What was the difference in experience between your calibrated baseline state and your altered state? Which circuits were characteristic of each state?

NLP Meta-Programs Model

Richard Bandler, one of the  cofounders of NLP, originally suggested the idea of meta-programs as patterns of behavior that help us to organize other behaviors. Meta-programs help describe our general approach in a situation rather than the specifics of our perception and action. It is possible for us to organize our behavior using different, over- arching patterns in different states. Meta-programs have been further explored and developed by other NLP practitioners, including Leslie Cameron- Bandler and Robert Dilts. The following questions represent a very simplified version of the model, sufficient for basic state-modeling purposes.

• Are my behaviors motivated away from discomfort or toward pleasure?

• Are my behaviors motivated from my own internal decisions or based on the decisions of others?

• Is my attention more on myself or on others?

• Am I more concerned with generalities or de- tails? The big picture or the individual brushstroke?

• Is my attention directed toward past, present, or future?

• Am I thinking in a long time frame or a short one?

• Am I thinking about how things are alike? Or how things are different?

How did your general tendencies change from your baseline state to  your  altered  state? What meta-programs were characteristic of each state?

Meta-Magick Energy Flow Model

The Energy Flow Model found its original inspiration in NLP techniques to access kinesthetic states, described by Richard Bandler, and Steve and Connierae Andreas. This is a very streamlined version, again sufficient for our present purpose. We will explore this technique quite a bit more, later in the book.

Track the kinesthetics of the experience as follows:

• Notice where in your body the feeling of the state begins.

• Notice where it moves to as the experience develops toward its peak.

• Pay attention to whether the feeling is moving or static, cycling or pulsing.

• Give the feeling a color. “If this feeling had a color, what would it be?”

• Experiment by making the colored shape brighter, darker, richer, faded, larger, or smaller to determine which of these increases the feeling associated with the state.

• Notice any other changes in feeling as well as in what you might see, hear, taste, or smell.

What were the differences between your baseline energy flow and your  altered  state  energy flow? What changes in colors, shapes and sizes could you perceive??”

Exercise 1.2 Calibrate, State, Model, Repeat 

The techniques for altering consciousness listed below range from simple to moderately complex. Play with as many of these techniques as you comfortably can and attempt to quantify them according to the modeling resources.

Remember that the point of the exercises is not necessarily to learn as many altered states techniques as possible, but to learn how to model and understand what our minds and bodies do as we explore different states.

Here’s how it goes:

Calibrate, State, Model, Repeat

1. Calibrate your present state. Run through the modeling resource categories and questions and mark down the answers, simply and briefly. Use as many of these resources as you think appropriate for each task. It’s like filling out a questionnaire — make a list of your responses to each question that seems to apply. Skip any that do not apply to your particular experience. For now, forget about what any of it means. In fact, at this point it is just raw data, until we have something different to compare it to.

2. Enter into an altered state via one of the methods listed below. Enjoy it for as long as you’d like.

3. Then, immediately upon returning (or while remaining as much as possible in the state), use the modeling resources to build a model of the state. Use as many of these resources as you think appropriate for each task. Skip any that do not apply to your particular experience.

4. Repeat using a different technique to alter your consciousness. It’s not necessary to explore all of the methods given, just the few that might draw your interest. You can also use the modeling process with other techniques that you might be familiar with, along with those included here.

Database of Techniques

Simple Zen—at least ten minutes: Sit in a position with your spine vertical and straight (a chair will do nicely). Allow your breathing to become relaxed and natural. Let it set its own rhythm and depth, however it is comfortable. Focus your attention on your breathing, on the movements of your chest and abdomen rather than on your nose and mouth. Keep your attention focused on your breathing. For some people an additional level of concentration may be helpful. You might add a simple counting rhythm, spoken in your head as you breathe: “One” on the inhale, “Two” on the ex- hale, and repeat. Or you might visualize your breath as a swinging door, swinging in on the inhale and out on the exhale.

Ajna Monkey—at  least one hour, days if you can manage it: The following method was suggested by Aleister Crowley in Magick in Theory and Practice. One imagines that all your perceptions and thoughts go to or arise from the Ajna chakra, the “third eye” located above the bridge of the nose, between the eyes. Begin by breathing deeply and fully, imagining that you send the breath to the Ajna, not to the lungs. Walk slowly and observe the movements of your legs. Reflect that the legs work because they are guided by nerve impulses from the brain, controlled by the Ajna. “The legs are automatic, like those of a wooden monkey: the power in Ajna is that which does the work, is that which walks. This is not hard to realize, and should be grasped firmly, ignoring all other walking sensations. Apply this method to every other muscular movement … Transfer all bodily sensations to the Ajna, e.g., ‘I am cold’ should mean ‘I feel cold,’ or better still, ‘I am aware of a sensation of cold’—transfer this to the Ajna, ‘the Ajna is aware,’ etc. … Finally, strive hard to drive anger and other obsessing thoughts into the Ajna. Develop a tendency to think hard of Ajna when these thoughts attack the mind, and let Ajna conquer them. Beware of think- ing of ‘My Ajna.’ In these meditations and practices, Ajna does not belong to you; Ajna is the master and worker, you are the wooden monkey.”—Aleister Crowley2

Chasing the Tail—at least ten minutes: Chasing the Tail is a simple meditation of self- observation. Sit quietly and pay attention to where your thoughts arise. When you think something—anything—the thoughts appear to come from a particular location in space, usually somewhere in your head or somewhere in your body, although occasionally a thought may seem to arise outside the physical body. Just note where the thought arises and let all other thoughts fall from your mind. As each new thought arises, just note where it comes from. If you have thoughts about the practice itself, note where they come from. If you have thoughts about noting where a thought came from, note where that thought came from.

Got it? Like a cat chasing its own tail, you turn your consciousness back on itself.

The Betty Erickson Self-Hypnosis Method— at least five minutes: Sitting comfortably, with eyes open or closed, list (to yourself) three things that you can see, then three things you can hear, then three things you can feel. (For example, “I see the color of the wall, I see the person opposite me, I see the color of her hair, I hear the sounds outside the room, I hear people moving about, I hear my own breathing, I feel the cushion underneath me, I feel the air on my skin, I feel my hands on my lap … ”). Then narrow it down to a list of two things in each sensory mode, then one thing in each mode. Tell yourself,  “As I count from ten down to one, I can go into a deep, comfortable trance.” Then count breaths backwards from ten to one and enjoy the trance that you are drifting into. This works most powerfully when the verbal listing within your head is timed in a rhythm with your breathing.

Lucid Dreaming: Lucid dreaming begins when you become aware, while dreaming, that you are, in fact, asleep and dreaming.

Once you are aware that it is a dream, you can consciously take the experience in any direction. As an example of how we can work with dream states, consider this basic and effective method for lucid dreaming. Throughout the day, at least a dozen times during the day, test to find out whether or not you are dreaming. For instance, try to fly—if you are in a lucid dream, flying is easy—or read something, look away, then look back and read it again (in dreams, things rarely read the same way twice). There are many other such tests. If you get in the habit of doing this frequently, it carries over into your dream states and then, suddenly, the tests are positive and you are lucid dreaming. This is a popular and effective method used by dreamers all over the world. Along with other “pleasant dreaming” practices (for example, sleep late and when you wake in the morning, stay in exactly the same position and drift off again, wake under your own power, with no alarms, etc.), this will eventually induce lucid dreaming in most people, usually within a week or so.3

Yogic Breath—at least ten minutes: Your lungs have three main areas: the bottom, which is controlled by movements of the diaphragm and is visible as a rising and falling of  the abdomen (“abdominal breathing”); the middle, controlled by expansion and contraction of the rib cage; and the top, controlled by rising and falling of the shoulder blades. Each of these different kinds of breathing are associated with different states of consciousness. For purposes of the Yogic Breath, however, the key is simply to fill and empty all three of the areas of the lungs. Fill and empty your lungs completely but smoothly, without halting or straining. This is not hyperventilation—it is proper and full breathing, at a relaxed pace.

Pranayama — Square Breathing — at least ten minutes: Once you are comfortable with the Yogic Breath, you can begin to slow it down a bit. Figure out your usual time for an exhalation or inhalation, then add one second to it. Let’s say that you normally exhale a Yogic Breath for four seconds—you can now begin to practice pranayama by inhaling for five seconds, holding your breath in for five seconds, then exhaling for five seconds and holding your breath out for five seconds. Five in, five hold, five out, five hold—and repeat.

Pranayama — Circular Breathing — at least ten minutes: Take full, even, Yogic Breaths and entirely eliminate the pauses at the top and bottom of the breath so that your breathing cycle becomes a seamless and constant ebb and flow.

The Freedom Dance — at least twenty minutes: Pick out some great music with a good tempo and dance to it. Get wild. “Dance as if no one is watching.” Move freely. Work and play with all your muscles and joints. Explore your range of movement in every limb. Some people are more flexible than others; some have limitations due to injury or illness. Just do as much as you can. Repeat regularly.

The Bee Breath — Begin with a long, slow, full inhalation through both nostrils. Fill your lungs without straining. As you exhale completely and easily through both nostrils, let your throat make a soft “eeee” sound. Five to ten repetitions of this may be enough to notice a change in consciousness.  Five to ten minutes is an even better starting place.

Mindfulness Meditation — at least ten minutes: Sit and pay attention to your posture, your breathing and your environment. As thoughts arise in your mind, note them, give them a label, and then let them go. Label them without being judgmental. That is, note that “this is a thought about an itch” … then let it go. Or “this is an emotional thought of love (hate, anxiety, compassion, happiness, etc.)” and then let it go and return your attention to your present experience.

Ecstatic Breathing:

1. Breathe through your mouth, slowly and evenly, for about one minute.

2. Breathe by drawing the air into the bottommost part of your lungs, deep into your belly. Start with a slow, even pace, then gradually increase the rate until, finally, you are panting, but still filling and emptying the deepest part of your lungs.

3. Continue to pant for half a minute then take a deep, full breath, filling your lungs from top to bottom. Hold the breath for ten seconds, then release and breathe slowly and deeply a few times. Then return to panting and repeat this cycle until you have deepened your trance state.

Orgasm — as long as possible: Do I really have to tell you how to do this one?

Psychoactive Substances — Any change in state can be modeled to some extent, and that includes the great diversity of states that can be experienced by allowing our neurology to interact with psychoactive substances. Research the substance you intend to model so that you understand about appropriate dosages, set and setting.

1.  Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising (Las Vegas, NV: New Falcon Publications, 1992).

2.  Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice (London, 1929).

3.  Stephen LaBerge, Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991).

BRAIN MAGICK: EXERCISES IN META-MAGICK AND INVOCATION by Philip Farber © 2011 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125. All rights reserved, used by permission.

Oct 14 2011

Is Stiff Academia Killing Mental Evolution?

One thing I have noticed about the Transhumanist community is that there is a division between the academic crowd and the consciousness expansion crowd. Previous Transhumanist movements have battled on idealistic grounds for the notion of what Transhumanism was really about. Was it the hard scientific outlook with the academic credentials and PowerPoints or was it the consciousness expansion outlook with the mind altering psychedelics and technological revolution? Was the hard academic current stopping the freethinking cyberpunk current from being viewed as Transhuman and was the freethinking cyberpunk current stopping the hard academic current from being taken seriously?

I used to say that the stiff academics were killing mental evolution and I completely sided with the freethinking cyberpunk current. Yet I have recently come to the realization that both currents of Transhumanism are equally important. As freethinking cyberpunks we need hard academics to build a sustainable movement or we will simply come off like a bunch of techno-hippies.

I do, however, wish to address a part of academia that has been upsetting me for a while. I’m talking about the anti-philosophy part which states that philosophy is irrelevant to Transhumanism because we now have technology. The “why have discussions on philosophy when we can build new machines?” people. They are the ones who are killing mental evolution because they dismiss philosophical discourse on the future as all talk and no action.

The last time I checked it appeared that philosophical discourse was required for action to exist in the first place. Would we be able to build new machines if we didn’t philosophize about technology? Why would we want to live in a society of robot builders if we couldn’t even theorize about what we were building? All talk and no action is a definite waste of time but all action and no talk is a cold society devoid of free thought and revolution. I feel that we need a mixture of both. We need the talk and we need the action. We need the techno-hippies who have just discovered LSD and Robert Anton Wilson to throw the raves and we need the MIT graduates to advance genetic research and throw the conferences. We need each and every person in this movement.

Transhumanism has split off into a bunch of different currents and in 2011 this has reached a level so meta-meta-meta that there are at least 30 different groups on Facebook for different currents of Transhumanism. Recently someone in the Singularity Network group asked a question to the effect of “why was I just added to 15 different Transhumanist groups?” Can we blame the hard academic elite or can we blame the petty infighting that every movement inevitably has to deal with? Should we be placing any blame in the first place or should we be embracing the splintering off of so many new movements?

In the end, I believe every MIT graduate was once a freethinking cyberpunk or — at the very least — they embraced these ideals in their youth. I also believe that every freethinking cyberpunk would benefit from a more academic education so they could turn their visions into realities via technology and scientific theory. The only thing killing mental evolution is the idea that ideas are no longer important because … “Hey! Check out those robots over there… and stop talking.”