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Nov 09 2012

First Glimpse Of MONDO 2000 History Project Archives: Complete Issue #1 Of High Frontiers (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #39)

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The following is a rough draft excerpt from Chapter Six — titled “Funky Punky Acid Rag” of the book in progress, Use Your Hallucinations: MONDO 2000 In Late 20th Century Cyberculture along with a link to the first glimpse of the MONDO 2000 History Project archives, being organized by the Internet Archive.

We did a really ratty first issue of High Frontiers… with a lot of different type sizes.  A very funky on-the-cheap layout. There was a lot of text, because I had transcribed these long interviews with psychedelics heroes, so some of it wound up being in absurdly tiny type that made the New York Times look like a children’s book by comparison.

For visuals, we started clipping these old black and white pictures that looked like they were ads out of the 1950’s Reader’s Digest or Life Magazine. I think that was Mau Mau’s move.  We did it entirely because it made us giggle. I was also aware that these sort of recontextualizations of corny 1950s/60s graphics had been used in beneath-the-underground publishing. I’m sure Mau Mau had seen that in places also.  I particularly associated it with the dadaists. So we used these silly images in ways that almost mocked the subjects that we actually respected, which I thought was an acceptable way to carry on amongst the hip.

On one inside page, we advertised ourselves as running for President (me) and Vice President (Mau Mau) in the 1984 election under the moniker of the NeoPsychedelic Pop Party. Unlike my eventual 2000 candidacy, there was no plan for any follow through — it was a total put on as compared to mostly a put on.  Mau Mau came up with the best slogan:  “Somerset Mau Mau: The Peace Candidate. ‘Vote for me and nobody gets hurt.’”  I’ve wanted to steal that line ever since.

Perhaps the most outrageous and dangerous aspect of that page and, in fact, the entire edition — dangerous at least to my future career amongst counterculture celebrities — came about as the result of something Lisa, the girl I moved to California with, had done.  One day I’d brought home an edition of a free local paper called Poetry Flash that had this smallish photo of William Burroughs on one of the pages.  Lisa cut out the photo and drew an apple on Burroughs’ head… which I thought was just hilarious.  (Lisa had been famous as the fiery campus feminist… but this was done more in humor than anger.)  Anyway, I had that and we added it to the  NeoPsychedelic Pop Party collage.

Looking back, I was very naïve about how irreverent you could be towards irreverent countercultural celebrities who were themselves irreverent.  There’s a certain inevitable degree of dishing it out but not taking it in that game. Not that I ever got into trouble with the Burroughs camp over it.  I don’t think they ever saw that first issue.  But it’s definitely something I would have thought twice about a few years later.  I’m sure James Grauerholtz (Burroughs’ personal assistant and watchdog) would have freaked.

We finished the issue. I really didn’t give much thought to the visual aesthetics, other than knowing that it was raw and punk.  I just thought we were issuing forth a new revolutionary sensibility…  that the combination of ideas was so amazing and stunning and timely that it would set the world on fire, starting in the Bay Area.

We’d barely talked about the money we needed to publish the thing.  We took it to a local printing press… the Pacific Sun actually ran a printing business… and I think the guy gave us a good price.  I still remember him being amused by our enthusiasm and total lack of a business plan.  I remember getting money from Terence McKenna and that Mau Mau borrowed money from an uncle.  I don’t even remember if I put in any money.  I probably put in my $400.

https://archive.org/details/highfrontiers00rusi

Oct 31 2012

Dementing Augmented Reality: How Future Activists Will Break People Out Of Their Digital Trances

It’s less than two months prior to the “End of the World” on December 21, 2012. Terence McKenna predicted that we would see a spike of “infinite novelty” at the end of the year, when the ambient strangeness in the world hit the point of no return, the Omega Point beyond which we entered post-historical hyperspace.

With not much longer to go, it’s clear to me that he was right, but that he probably “confused the planes,” as it were. The model applies perfectly to the world of information and data: just check Facebook and Twitter and you’ll see what he meant. Meanwhile, down here in the physical world, it’s the same haves-and-have-nots, except there’s a lot less rainforest and everybody’s glued to screens checking f*king Facebook, lost in the infinite hallucinatory kaleidoscope.

“This is the generation who grew up and forgot to lead their lives,” caws Borgia Ginz in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee. “They were so busy watching my endless movie… I sucked and sucked and sucked. The media became their only reality. And I owned their world of flickering shadows.” Of course, the greatest triumph of social media is that now the “powers that be” have tricked us into hypnotizing each other for them, and volunteering all of our data in the meantime.

Over the next ten years I can imagine this trend only increasing. As physical reality becomes grimmer, our endless virtual realities will only become more and more complex and enticing. As we will likely face increasingly vicious oil wars in the countdown to Peak Oil — and, towards the middle of the century, water wars—those who are privileged enough to do so will become more and more disassociated from the physical world, vanishing into the comforting data ether, in which the illusion of participation takes primacy over actual contact with the world.

Soon we will have augmented reality, and behind our glasses or held-up phones we will move through the reality tunnels that Google, Facebook and their successors will lay out for us, all with ads targeted to our increasingly focused consumer desires. Why bother dealing with reality when you can walk through a personally tailored data tunnel instead? Now this is worrying, because as if people weren’t drugged and hypnotized enough, now we’re going to have this level of immersive corporate hallucination to deal with.

So without further ado, and as a gift to the poor bastards of the future, I present four ways to troll augmented reality.

  1. 1. Tunnel Swapping. No, this is not a sexual fetish. It’s a great opportunity for applying the old Gurdjieffian shock: taking people’s data feeds and simply swap them with those of others. Imagine the augmented reality feed of an investment banker swapped with that of a drug dealer. A Republican demagogue’s switched with a welfare mother’s. The endless possibilities for the bridging of social opposites and antimonies should be more than apparent.

 

  1. 2. Dataleaks. While we currently live in the world of Wikileaks and the celebrity sex tape, when augmented reality rolls out it’s inevitable that we’re going to see leaks from people’s personal feeds. The unfairly panned 1996 movie Strange Days has this concept at the center of its plot, and is worth a repeat viewing in the context of new augmented reality technologies.

 

  1. 3. Détournement. Old tactics never die, they just get refreshed for new technology. Détournement is the Situationist practice of changing the words in advertisements and other media to show what they “really” mean. Imagine having your data feed compromised and suddenly seeing the physical world relabeled. Instead of seeing prices and buy links on those Nike shoes you just walked by, you’re shown the wages and life expectancy of the sweatshop children who made them. Taglines on billboard supermodels are replaced with text reading YOU’RE TOO UGLY TO GET TO HEAVEN. Candidates in political debates and advertisements are suddenly shown wearing not suits but racecar driver-style jumpsuits bearing the logos of all of their corporate sponsors.

 

  1. 4. Reclaiming the Physical. Faced with a totally controlled, monitored and owned online world, in which every utterance is immediately scanned and filed away, many have yet to make the connection that the best solution may not be running Tor and eighteen proxies, but writing things down on paper and talking face-to-face. Remember the mail? Remember conversations? Yeah, those still exist. Want to shake somebody out of their online trance? Send them a letter. Send them art. Want to record something that will last longer than a few seconds on Facebook or Twitter? Write a book. The physical world didn’t go anywhere. In fact, physical artifacts and experiences have only grown in totemic power the more we’ve pushed them away.

Further ideas will undoubtably present themselves in spades to the creative reader. Under the datafeed, the beach!

 

Jason Louv is the author of Queen Valentine

and editor of Thee Psychick Bible, Ultraculture Journal and Generation Hex. He currently helms the group futurist blog Ultraculture . @jasonlouv ( https://twitter.com/jasonlouv )

Oct 26 2012

Your Friday MONDO: Brain Nuggets From High Frontiers #4 – 1988 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #36)

And more pull quotes, from High Frontiers   issue #4.

 

The biggest threat to the status quo worldwide is that the new species will recognize itself.  R.U. Sirius

 

…is anyone currently trying to duplicate those now lost, but now forgotten, experiments from the 1950s that gave the world that marvelous substance, FLUBBER?   Letters to the Editor

 

We are discovering that there is an angel within the monkey.   Terence McKenna

 

It seems unintelligent to base the important question of whether a machine is conscious or not on human gullibility.   Nick Herbert

 

…it was a holistic blender drink, a Synaesthetic Slurpee…   Morgan Russell

What a set of frontal lobes!  I’d like to slide between those hemispheres.   Morgan Russell

…satin-trousered temptresses lazing on divans, wearing dark glasses, sipping hummingbird nectar from diamond demitasses.  Morgan Russell

 

I would operate under about 30 different names. I’d try to maneuver people into calling me by name so I’d know who I was.   Captain Clearlight

I was thinking, “…if they’ve got uniforms, they’ve probably got guns.  They’re just waiting to have me on toast.”   Captain Clearlight

 

The CIA was like an unwitting midwife in the birth of the acid generation.  Martin Lee

…everyone knows the Nazis were into the occult. There are rumors that Hitler experimented with peyote.    Martin Lee

When you come right down to it, the CIA is a secret society.   Martin Lee

 

The future according to rock and roll is a no-tilt, ten-ball, bumper-pounding orgasm.   Alex Cain

 

I feel as though I’m sort of a graduate of my own elevator in my own mind hotel.  Mike D

 

 

 

People will vote with their money for the kind of personal quantum “knowledge appliances” they want.  Timothy Leary

 

Oct 12 2012

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

 

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

 

Oct 05 2012

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

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

 

Sep 28 2012

Your Friday MONDO: William S. Burroughs in High Frontiers 1987 About Mind Technologies (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #31)

 

In 1987, Faustin Bray conducted an interview with William S. Burroughs by phone, mostly using questions suggested by Terence McKenna and R.U. Sirius.  Below is the opening exchange, about mind technologies.

HIGH FRONTIERS: What do you think is the direction of mind technologies in terms of drugs and surgical implants, external technologies and techniques? 

WILLIAM BURROUGHS: There is no limit to control of thought, feeling and apparent sensory perceptions. Professor Delgado stopped a charging bull. He had an electrode implanted in the bull’s brain, just pressed a little button and the bull stopped. They can do the same thing with people. They can elicit rage, fear, joy, sexual excitement, just pushing buttons.

HF: Could some of these techniques be used positively, to help humanity get to a higher level of functioning and self-government, self-control? 

WB: Humanity is a meaningless abstraction. As Korzybski always says, “Who is doing what, where and when.” Are you talking about Columbians in an earthquake, Ethiopians in a famine, Americans in a country club, ethnic minorities in a ghetto? The punctuationalist theory of evolution seems to point to the fact that changes occur in small isolated groups and the tendency is towards standardization. In any case, take a species, probably only a very small fraction would be involved in evolutionary alterations. Maybe about one in a million and that’s, biologically speaking, very good odds.

Faustin Bray’s Sound Photosynthesis offers audio and video  of  Richard Feynman, John Lilly, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson and many others here. 

Aug 24 2012

The Interiorization Of The Body. The Exteriorization Of The Mind (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #26)

 

A small excerpt from an interview with Terence McKenna from the 1st issue of High Frontiers, the magazine that would eventually become MONDO 2000.

hf) …I saw a quote which I had copied down from you, which said that “the future is leading toward the interiorization of the body and the exteriorization to the mind.” What do you mean?

tm) Through electronic circuitry and the building of a global information-system, we are essentially exteriorizing our nervous system, so that it is becoming a patina or a skin around the planet. And when you telephone people, and when you watch TV, when you do all these things, you’re essentially projecting your consciousness over great distances. And as technology becomes more miniaturized, less physically and spatially obtrusive, we are going to naturally lose the distinction between the body image, and the technical projection of the body image, which is all this information transfer technology. I think eventually there will come into being a kind of globalized state of informational oneness which will be experientially available as an alternative to ordinary ego-consciousness. In other words, people will have the option of experiencing a true mass-mind, a global mass-mind. And phenomena like group drug taking and rock-and-roll concerts and this sort of thing… these are simply cultural anticipations of this coming age of electronic pooling of identity which will become a viable alternative. It’s an extension of the sexual revolution, the information revolution, all of these things. When it’s finally realized, we will live in the human imagination. The human imagination will have been erected in a dimension of electronic circuitry.  That’s what I mean by interiorizing the body and exteriorizing the mind, turning it around so the body is thought of as the locus of being, the way we now think of the mind as the ground of being. But the vehicle of being will no longer be the body. It will be the mind and the imagination. Switching these two roles from base to vehicle will completely change mans’ conception of himself and the space which he inhabits.

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 29 2012

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

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

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

It was my idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, then…

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

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

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

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

What Are The Reality Hackers Doing

1: Using high technology for a life beyond limits

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

3: Blurring the distinction between science fiction and reality

4: Making big bureaucracy impossible

5: Entertaining any notion — using what works

6: Infusing new energy into postmodern culture

7: Using hardcore anthropology to understand human evolution

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

9: Blurring the distinctions between high technology and magic

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Previous MONDO History Entries

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

Gibson & Leary Audio (MONDO 2000 History Project)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.