Thursday, February 13, 2020

Led Zeppelin & Crowley

After The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album came out, Dr. Timothy Leary declared it the ultimate document to communicate his message, the message of self-directed, personal freedom of consciousness to grow and expand as it will.  Led Zeppelin plays that role for the maps and techniques of consciousness expansion presented by Aleister Crowley, i.e. his system of magick called Thelema.  Speaking from experience, one way to get Thelema deeply imprinted into your DNA and engrained into your body of habits is to listen to a lot of Zeppelin's music.  Thanks to guitarist Jimmy Page's "reading and research," Led Zeppelin became a lightening rod for the 93 Current, sometimes consciously and deliberately, but probably a great deal of its reception unconscious to the four band members.  They facilitated and had a means to broadcast a group invocation that drew down a wealth of esoteric data. They acted as antennas and transmitters for the spirit of the A.'. A.'., a magick order established by Crowley and George Jones that, in Postcards to Probationers, claimed to have the methodology to produce Christs.

One of Robert Plant's consistent, improvisational ad libs in live performance is " push ... push... push" as if encouraging the birth of something.  For instance, he does that in The Song Remains the Same,  a song where the narrator starts off in a "crazy dream" where he apparently becomes Horus, the Thelemic deity presiding over this era.

This essay, a quick sketch, looks at the Zeppelin/Crowley alliance as exemplified in the song sequence from their reunion album, Celebration Day.

 Side A

1. Good Times Bad Times - Crowley's ontological 0 = 2 formula put into human terms of eros and set to music.  He explains this formula in Magick Without Tears Chapter V: The Universe: the 0 = 2 Equation.  This song also declares a statement of intent at the beginning - "Now I've reached the age I try to do all those things the best I can" and in the end, "I'm going to love you each and every day." The first song on Led Zeppelin I, their first recorded offering, so an excellent way to start their reunion, and possibly last concert.  Especially apropos given the title of the concert recording, Celebration Day.  Plant ends his contribution to the first song with the ad lib: "c'mon, c'mon, c'mon which for working mystics of the Thelemite persuasion might suggest activating the ON equation.

2. Ramble On.  The ON equation pops up in the very next song. A problem gets stated: "And now I smell the rain and with it pain and it's heading my way." A solution given: "Ramble on ... sing my song ... on my way ... ramble on." Or as some might say; "Do what thou wilt." The problem gets clarified in the bridge when he meets a girl so fair (BABALON) in the depths, but Gollum, the evil one steals her. The solution, or response, then follows with the last chorus: "Ramble on ..." We infer the girl so fair = BABALON because in the previous chorus he has to "find the queen of all my dreams."  Plant's final ad lib in this one: "I got a feeling in my mind" which qabalistically connects Netzach (feeling) with Hod (mind).  Those sephiroth on the Tree of Life connect to Tiphareth through the paths of  Ayin (O) and Nun (N).

3. Black Dog.  Plant still searches for the queen of all his dreams, which, given the song's title, suggests the Thelemic ordeal of crossing the Abyss.  Black dog suggests the flip side of its opposite, white god – that could imply the hazardous side of in-depth theurgic magick. The animal comes out and gets stronger along with the divinity, sometimes the dog seems black.  The abyss between the two appears actual.  The song's hot and sexual nature recalls this from The Book of the Law I:61:

"But to love me is better than all things: if under the night stars in the desert thou presently burnest mine incense before me, invoking me with a pure heart, and the Serpent flame therein, thou shalt come a little to lie in my bosom. For one kiss wilt thou then be willing to give all; but whoso gives one particle of dust shall lose all in that hour."

4. In My Time of Dying. Heavy Zeppelin blues from a traditional song; advocates for a different way of dealing with physical death, please no sadness just bring his body home so he can die easy.  The prevalent instruction from the Egyptian Book of the Dead to unite with Osiris (Tiphareth) at death, in the form of Jesus in this song, gets invoked after taking care of his body.  Then a journey with religious imagery along with the weighing of his heart on the scale.  Plant's last ad lib is the same one at the end of Good Times/Bad Times mentioned above suggesting a cycle with the repetition.

5. For Your Life.  The titles In My time of Dying and For Your Life in sequence spell out the death/rebirth cycle as a powerful method for transformational change.  It recalls the Sufi instruction to "die before you die."  Lyrics are abstract and ambiguous, lot of sexual overtones, could refer to Babalon as the Scarlet Woman.  Plant starts the last verse with lines not in the printed lyrics: "I'd like to help you baby, but I don't know what to do ... Sometimes baby, there's nothing I can do ..."

6. Trampled Under Foot. "Love, love, ... I  can't stop talking about love." Love is the law, love under will.  It seems frequently trampled under foot in this day and rage. Foot = Malkuth, the plane of the material world.  Plant wails out the "PUSH" ad lib.

7.  Nobody's Fault But Mine.  Another traditional blues Zeppelinized.  "Try to raise my soul divine." No one else can do it for you.

8. No Quarter.  The classic hero's journey continued. "Walking side by side with death, the devil mocks their every step."

Side B

1. Since I've Been Loving You. "I'm about to lose my worried mind. " "Then the joys of my love will redeem ye from all pain." (Liber Al I:32)

2. Dazed and Confused. "Wanted a woman, never bargained for you" (Babalon again). "Lots of people talking, pretty few of them know. Soul of a woman was created below."  Liber Al I:32: "follow out the ordeals of my knowledge."

3.  Stairway to Heaven.  This one should need no explanation.  An alchemical song par excellence.  Buying a stairway to heaven, paying in the currency of your own efforts; bootstrapping your personal evolution.  The divine feminine, Babalon, that turns up in so many Zeppelin tracks as noted, becomes the Guide in this one.

4. The Song Remains the Same. An invocation of Horus as mentioned above.  "Everything that's small has to grow ... and it always grows ... push push yeah!"

"California sunlight
Sweet Calcutta rain
Honolulu starbright
The song remains the same."

5. Misty Mountain Hop. Inside these lyrics of a fantasy encounter in the Misty Mountains, where the spirits go, shades of Tolkien, is a pair of confrontational couplets:

Why don't you take a good look at yourself and describe what you see
"And baby, baby, baby, do you like it?
There you sit, sitting spare like a book on a shelf rustin' 
Ah, not trying to fight it."

6. Kashmir. Another epic journey of the soul, but it's not all roses, roses.  One verse suggests the ordeal of crossing the Abyss:

"All I see turns to brown
As the sun burns the ground
And my eyes fill with sand
As I scan this wasted land
Try to find, try to find what I feel."

7. Whole Lotta LoveAgain needs no explanation.  "You need coolin, baby I'm not foolin'. I'm going to send you back to schoolin'.

8. Rock and Roll.

"It's been a long time since the book of love
I can't count the tears of a life with no love

Open your arms, opens your arms
Open your arms, baby, let my love come running in"

Liber Al I:53:

"This shall regenerate the world, the little world my sister, my heart & my tongue, unto whom I send this kiss."

Of course the titles, lyrics and ad libs from Zeppelin's Celebration Day reunion concert represent only one side, not the most dominate side of the 93 current transmission in their songs.  Most of the power, most of the force resides in the music particularly the guitar playing along with Page's gesturing.  For more elaboration about this, see my review of this concert DVD.

Friday, December 6, 2019


Oz Fritz - The Wizard of Sound

I was honored to participate in  The Jai Dev Show podcast recently posted on the Apple network.  Jai Dev Singh is a vibrant, eclectic Kundalini yoga teacher who presents his services and transmission under the auspices of The Life-Force Academy.  He has a strong and informed passion for music.

The Jai Dev Show is HERE   Scroll down for The Wizard of Sound show.  Bookmark the page and check out the other podcasts, all as equally interesting and enlightening.

Oz Fritz is a music producer and sound engineer who researches mysticism.

Jai Dev Singh

Oz Fritz

This interview occurred in the fall of 2017 shortly after I returned from a West Coast tour with the group SIMRIT.  Singer and bandleader Simrit Kaur and Jai Dev are married - that's how we originally connected.

The content of the interview weaves biographical information alongside a discussion of music and mysticism put into practical use and expression.  This gives a rare look into the mystical side of my  musical journey.

Thursday 11/28/19 Oz Interview

I was again recently honored to be interviewed by my girlfriend, Paula Galindo for the Thanksgiving edition of the Thursday with Xaxx show, a video broadcast on the GorebaggTV network streamed by Livestream.  This interview largely concerns my approaches and uses to some of the spiritual technologies unleashed by E. J. Gold with a touch of  Crowley and Gurdjieff thrown in for good measure.  Go HERE to view it, it begins at approximately 5:20.

Paula Galindo offers dynamic and unique Life Coaching services under the auspices of
She is an Awakening Consultant using a variety of techniques that include the Undoing program of exercises developed by Christopher Hyatt, Spiritual Gaming, Art, Floatation and more.  She has the most amazing sounding voice I've ever heard in my life.

Paula Galindo

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Esoteric Transmission of V. by Thomas Pynchon

The first novel by Thomas Pynchon weaves a labyrinthine mystery centered on the letter V.  No one can definitely pinpoint who or what V specifically represents, or even if it indicates a person, place or thing.  Pynchon gives the sense and meaning of V multiple different expressions with varying degrees of explicit and implicit levels of significance.  We don’t get a single explanation of exactly what V. represents. This changing, shapeshifting network of interconnected resonances and perspectives anticipates Deleuze and Guattari V. doesn’t have an arborescent final form to lock into, rather the narrative development behaves in the fashion of a rhizome: a creative process with no hierarchy or central organizing principal.

We’ll examine the esoteric side of the mystery.  In my Gravity’s Rainbow essay, I speculated that the search for V reflected Pynchon’s quest to claim the post and function as a Hierophant, that archetypal constellation that communicates the secrets of the Temple.  In other words, Pynchon’s desire to be a great writer, a literary genius.  From the little I’ve read of his biography, it appears that, much like Jack Kerouac, he had that passion and drive to begin claiming the destiny of a great writer at a young age.  He was only 24 when V. was first published. 

This speculation arose before I had read V. to confirm this bias for myself.  Having read it, I must modify this postulate.  It appears that Pynchon aims to draw the reader into this (alchemical) conspiracy.  Meaning, he wants to show the willing reader how to recognize those communications, the secrets of the Temple, in order that they may find spiritual instruction and inspiration wherever they may be, not necessarily, or only from any kind of authority figure.  How to find infinity in every grain of sand.  How to recognize angelic communication in the events of everyday life. 

Evidence for the Hierophantic aspect of V. comes swiftly with the very first mention of it in the novel:

Underfoot, now and again, came vibration in the sidewalk from an SP streetlights away, beating out a Hey Rube with his night stick; overhead turning everybody’s face green and ugly, shone mercury-vapor lamps,  receding in an asymmetric V to the east where it’s dark and there are no more bars.
-        V. p. 11 (perennial Edition 1990)
Note: SP = Shore Patrol.

Mercury represents the archetype of communication, among other things, thus relates very much to the Hierophant.  Going further: most esoteric data comes from points east relative to the American/European culture.  It’s dark, i.e. strange and unknown … and there are no bars – no restrictions for this kind of information. 

A few pages later, a scene gives a hint about learning to read these signs for ourselves, to begin learning pattern recognition. 

Beer had soaked down most of the sawdust behind the bar: skirmishes and amateur footwork were scribbling it into alien hieroglyphics.  -  V. p. 17

Learning to recognize patterns seems a recurring theme in Pynchon’s books. All his novels have a distinct didactic quality of an esoteric, or spiritual nature.  One strata of Pynchon’s oeuvre appears intent to communicate instructions for freeing oneself from the robot mind and mechanical, reactive life; and what Nietzsche calls ressentiment.  The feeling that you always play a victim at the whims and mercy of external forces.

The program Pynchon follows aligns closely with the current presented by Aleister Crowley and cohorts.  Crowley, of course, anointed Horus the reigning deity of these times.  Pynchon doesn’t wait long to invoke Horus in his writing, page 74 of his first novel.

“’My God’ from Goodfellow.  They looked up to see, materialized behind them. An emaciated figure in an evening dress whose head appears to be that of a netted sparrow-hawk.  The head guffawed, retaining its fierce expression. Victoria bubbled over in a laugh.
‘It’s Hugh!’ she cried, delighted.
‘Indeed,’ came a hollow voice from inside somewhere.
‘Hugh Bongo-Shaftsbury,’ said Goodfellow, ungracious.
‘Harmachis.’ Bongo-Shaftsbury indicated the ceramic hawk’s head.
‘God of Heliopolis and chief deity of Lower Egypt.  Utterly genuine this: a mask, you know, used in the ancient rituals’ He seated himself next to Victoria.  Goodfellow scowled.
‘Literally Horus on the horizon, also represented as a lion with the head of a man.  Like the Sphinx.”

The influence of James Joyce on Pynchon  seems well established, we may recognize the puns in this dialogue … "My God" and "Hugh" = you.  Diving deeper for an interpretation of “Bongo-Shaftsbury”:
Bongo = B + on + go; Shaftsbury connects with Crowley’s N.O.X. formula for the production of a male lesbian.  Since Pynchon’s construction resembles more of a rhizome proliferation than a specific arborescent form, we can’t stay absolutely certain of this interpretation and must allow the possibility of others.  For instance, take the paradoxical phrase, “Utterly genuine this: a mask …” and/or Bongo-Shaftsbury = BS = belief system and/or bullshit.  It remains unknown if Pynchon reveals sources and an ideology, or if he simply hopes to pull the reader’s leg.  This art of the put on, or not, perfectly resonates with contemporary schools that demand the student to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions. 

Another occult, yet completely out in the open way (like Poe’s The Purloined Letter) V. aligns with the Horus (93) current appears in the book’s title and thus in the header of every other page in the book.  A basic introductory formula representing the work of the Golden Dawn/A.’.A.’. finds itself in the 5 = 6 formula where 5, the pentagram, symbolizes WoMan while 6, the hexagram, symbolizes God realization.  The equals sign symbolizes Will in that formula. This formula represents the work of transformation. The title of Pynchon’s V. includes the letter V followed by a period as if V stood for someone or something’s initial letter. V = the sign for the Roman numeral that represents 5 in our common Arabic numeration.  The single period after V when added to 5 = 6.  From the occult perspective, the title V. signifies the 5 = 6 formula, plain and simple.  This trope, appearing wherever you open the book, seems like the ringing of a bell or, in Gurdjieff/Ouspensky terms, sounding the initial “doh,” the first note of the octave.  As if to confirm this hypothesis, in the very first paragraph of V. we get the phrase: “… and five or six seamen apprentice were standing around giving encouragement.”

V. and Death

A cardinal point of the 93 current concerns surviving the death of the physical shell and the permanent death of the ego/personality complex. Does consciousness have the capability to survive death?  The Book of the Law answers in the affirmative as does Tibetan Buddhists and V. The following quote seems opaque yet it communicates profound data about surviving death:

“The lady V., one of them for so long, now found herself suddenly excommunicated; bounced unceremoniously into the null-time of human love, without having recognized the exact moment as any but when Melanie entered a side door to Le Nerf on Porcepic’s arm and time – for awhile– ceased.

… If V. suspected her fetishism at all to be part of any conspiracy leveled against the animate world, any sudden establishment here of a Kingdom of Death, then this might justify the opinion held in the Rusty Spoon that Stencil was seeking in her his own identity.  But such was her rapture at Melanie’s having sought and found her own identity in her and in the mirror’s soulless gleam that she continued unaware, off-balanced by love; forgetting that even though the Distribution of Time here on pouf, bed and mirrors had been abandoned, their love was in its way only another version of tourism; for as tourists bring into the world as it has evolved part of another, and eventually create a parallel society of their own in every city, so the Kingdom of Death is served by fetish-constructions like V.’s, which represent a kind of infiltration.”  V. p. 409, 411

This is a fragment from a larger section about a woman named Victoria who “was gradually being replaced by V.”  The Rusty Spoon is the name of a bar.  Stencil is the name of the character searching for V., so a stand-in for the author if the theory holds that the search for V., in the broadest sense, represents a search for the Hierophantic post.  If true, then Stencil seeking in V. his own identity, seems revealing for Pynchon.  I’ll leave the rest to the reader’s detective skills.  This passage seems profound to me and resonates with everything I’ve learned on the subject.

V. ends with the death of Sidney Stencil, the previously mentioned Stencil’s father and the one who wrote of V. in his journal which set his son in motion for the search.  There is no actual direct mention of human death in the last paragraph, but you know that happened.  V. begins with the words “Christmas Eve," the day before the symbolic birth of Jesus Christ, the leading advertisement for the death/rebirth, transformation into godhead schtick. In this way, the end of V. connects with the beginning in James Joyce, Finnegans Wake fashion, a technique Pynchon uses more than once in his subsequent books. Pynchon telegraphs the circular nature of the book at the start of the final paragraph:

Draw a line from Malta to Lampedusa.  Call it a radius. Somewhere in that circle, on the evening of the tenth, a waterspout appeared and lasted fifteen minutes…”

You can also see something by considering the phonetics and associative puns with Malta and Lampedusa, another Joycean technique.

The first event in the book is Benny Profane going into a bar called the Sailor’s Grave.  It doesn’t take long for Pynchon to make a corny pun about having one foot in the Grave.  There isn’t one, or two, but three women named Beatrice who work at the Sailor’s Grave.  Pynchon quickly takes up the didactic hierophantic role and makes his qabala patently obvious:

“Beatrice,” said Beatrice. Beatrice being another barmaid. Mrs. Buffo, owner of the Sailor’s Grave, whose first name was also Beatrice, had a theory that just as small children call all females mother, so sailors, in their way equally as helpless, should call all barmaids Beatrice.”

Beatrice, of course, is the name of the Guide who shows Dante the way into Paradisio, the beatific vision, in the Divine Comedy – the classic journey through the Underworld adventure. 

The Beatrice, Great Mother as Guide motif gets implied differently in the very last phrase of the book, a beautiful send-off.  The final paragraph of V. has one of the most elegant death scenes in the history of literature.  A freak event in the ocean, a waterspout, lifts the sailboat fifty feet in the air before slamming it back into the ocean which “showed nothing at all of what came to lie beneath, that quiet June day.”  The month of June derives its name from Juno, the Roman Goddess of love and marriage. Coincidentally, Juno is the name of a Guide, or as they say “caseworker” in the bardo classic Beetlejuice.  In that film, she incarnates as an unsentimental, crusty old battle axe, with short, matter-of-fact, excellent course advice for anyone dead or alive. 

There exist a set of postures in the Golden Dawn called the INRI signs. In one reading, INRI, the letters nailed above Christ at the Crucifixion, represents the cycle of I = Life, N = Death, R = Resurrection, I = new Life.  See Masks of the Illuminati by Robert Anton Wilson for an excellent analysis of that formula.  The Golden Dawn sign in the series, the one for “N = Death,” has the practitioner holding their arms up in the shape of a V.

Sign of Apophis and Typhon

V. Represents Who or What???

This mystery at the core of the book receives many different answers, inferences and conjectures throughout the course of the novel.  Candidates include a few different women with names beginning with V., the capital of Malta, Valetta, a jazz club called the V-Note frequented by the Whole Sick Crew, and even a rat named Veronica. In one way, the book appears a qabalistic study on the letter V from a multiplicity of different angles including things that make the shape of a V:

“As spread thighs are to the libertine, flights of migratory birds to the ornithologist, the working part of his tool bit to the production machinist, so was the letter V to young Stencil.  He would dream perhaps once a week that it had all been a dream, and that now he’s awaken to discover the pursuit of V. was merely a scholarly quest after all, an adventure of the mind in the tradition of The Golden Bough or The White Goddess.” 
V. p. 61

That is the beginning of Chapter Three.  Pynchon, again makes the qabalah correspondence to Binah extremely obvious.  This technique is called iso-magnification – taking one area from The Tree of Life and highlighting and examining it. In V., Pynchon does this with the number 3, possibly partly in homage to Dante Alighieri who used the symbolism of the Trinity extensively in The Divine Comedy.

Reading V. has the effect of considering hitherto unnoticed images that pop up in the environment.  For instance, the V for Victory sign, reputedly given to Winston Churchill by Aleister Crowley to counteract the magical symbolism of the Nazi swastika.  Indeed, one manifestation of V. in the book is a woman named Victoria. The first day I began reading V. I saw someone with a huge V on their oversize t-shirt at the gym.  Later I discovered: “V.’s the country of coincidence, ruled by a ministry of myth.” (p.450) This also happens to accurately describe the Bardo, the Land of the Dead, the space of choice-points. 

That same day, I noticed that my gym trainer draws hearts, to delineate cardio exercises, that strongly resembled a V. V as the heart. This bias gets confirmed on the first page (and elsewhere) with an old street singer singing:

Every night is Christmas Eve on old East Main
Sailors and their sweethearts all agree …

A location vying for the role of V., the previously mentioned capital of Malta, Valletta, fits that interpretation.  Val can signifies the heart, being short for Valentine. Chapter 16 is titled Valletta and begins: “Now there was a sun-shower over Valletta, and even a rainbow."  16 denotes the key number for the path on the Tree of Life corresponding with the Hierophant.

More obvious qabalah: Chapter 14 V. in Love. 14 = the path of Venus, the Goddess of Love.

Some advanced qabalah: the first character we meet, one of the main ones, is Benny Profane.  Pynchon always has interesting names for his characters and more often than not, packs the main ones with delicious qabalistic delicacies.  The book starts: "Christmas Eve, 1955, Benny Profane …" then describes what he’s wearing, where he is and what he’s going to do.  Benny = Ben + e, sounding it phonetically.  Ben = 57, see Chapter 57 in The Book of Lies for how that connects with Christ – not necessarily Jesus, rather the post or place of Christ shown as the Rosy Cross.  The letter e = The Star (tarot).  Looked through that lens, the word Eve acquires more significance – a letter v with an e on each side.  Profane = Pro + f + ane. Pro = professional; f = a stand-in for v, both letters correspond to the Hebrew letter vau which = The Hierophant (tarot); ane = 56 = Nuit which resonates with both Beatrice and Juno, see above and also Chapter 56 in The Book of Lies: f + ane = 62 = Healing.  In Chapter 62 from the always truthful Book of Lies, Crowley connects the number with his ritual The Mass of the Phoenix, making another connection with the death/rebirth cycle.

V. comprises two general areas of characters and stories set in different eras. The contemporary one, beginning in 1955, tells of the adventures of a group of eccentric friends known as the Whole Sick Crew.  The historical one starts sometime around the turn of the XXth Century and goes as late as just after WWII though it also jumps around in time.  The book ends in 1919.  Some of the characters from the two time streams overlap.  The Whole Sick Crew recalls the Sufi blasphemy J.G. Bennett wrote about at the beginning of Gurdjieff: Making A New World that basically says the powers-that-be made a mistake with the Creation.  Gurdjieff elaborates this idea much more in All and Everything. Whole Sick Crew, in the esoteric sense, could indicate the crew that helps heal the sickness of the whole.  In other circles, this gets framed as alleviating the suffering of the Absolute.  Gurdjieff called it The Work. 

I have barely scratched the surface of the multiplicity of V. and its esoteric transmission.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Ginger Baker, Onward and Forward

May the road rise with you ...

Ginger Baker, one of the best and most influential drummers of any genre died and left his body October the 6th in Canterbury, England.

Ginger was a force of nature, there was no one like him on or off the stage.

I wrote much about him when reviewing the Beware of Mr. Baker documentary

Ginger might be best known to the general public for his work in Cream.  I was very fortunate and blessed to witness his playing in another trio, in some ways, more powerful than Cream.  Ginger Baker, Bill Laswell and Foday Musa Suso.  Soon after beginning work with them, at one of the first shows, I had an awakening moment, a strong realization that this was on a whole other level. Worlds created and destroyed while you listen, that's what Ginger brought to it. It was an ideal combination.  Ginger was in the control seat that established the time.  His African sensibilities perfectly complemented Suso's timeless griot melodies while Bill's seismic low end viscerally glued the sound and shook the earth.  The synergy of all this remains indescribable in words. Two tours of Japan; on the first, this trio also had Anton Fier on the Fairlight synthesizer; the second tour was the full Material band with percussionist Aiyb Dieng, Bernie Worrell on keyboards, and Nicky Skopelitis on guitar.  Ginger brought a certain kind of unpredictability to the proceedings which were already unpredictable just by their nature. 

Out of the thousands of studio projects I've engineered, Middle Passage by Ginger Baker is at the top of my list with only a few others.  It has extreme power beyond the human realm.  The drum solo piece, Basil, remains the most innovative drum solo/electronics piece I've ever heard.  The only other one that comes close is Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick.  Except for Basil, the album was made by Ginger improvising drum tracks that Bill Laswell and Nicky Skoplelitis turned into instrumental songs.  Ginger's presence seems so strong as to help invoke these extraordinary tracks in his name through the sympathetic resonators of Bill and Nicky's melody compositions and other musical improvisers.  In other words, the fact that this record was for Ginger influenced the invocation in mysterious and magical ways that wouldn't have occurred for anyone else.

I wish him all love and good wishes on his journey.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Gravity's Rainbow, Timothy Leary and the Occult Part 6

"How about letting go," Winsome said after awhile. "Aren't your arms getting tired?"

Pig admitted they were. "Did I ever tell you," Pig said, "the story about the coke sacker, the cork soaker, and the sock tucker."

Winsome started to laugh and with a mighty heave, Pig brought him back over the low rail of the fire escape."

                                                                         - V, by Thomas Pynchon, p. 361

"... of their arrival in Sicily and the difficulty with local bandits on the mountain road (from which Stencil extricated them by telling foul Sicilian jokes ...)" - ibid. p. 444

Undoubtedly, another reason Timothy Leary loved Gravity's Rainbow so much is because it's so damn funny.  From surrealistic absurdity to outright slapstick hi-jinks, Pynchon infuses his horror show with jokes ranging from the ridiculous to the ever more ridiculous (the ridiculously ridiculous) to the sublime.  We get more than a few groaners along the way.

Pynchon communicates qabalistically, the lingua franca of any serious occultist, and qabalists burn the candle at both ends, linguistically speaking.  In other words, they consider the opposite, the reversal, the mirror image of any image, trope, word, or ideogram.  They look at the whole, forwards and backwards. Take, for instance, the character of Frau Gnahb, whose last name in reverse reflects a substantive tenor of the times the book was written; Gnahb with reverse spelling = Bhang, a potent cannabis product from the Indian subcontinent.  Frau, in backwards.qabalese: u = you, a = a, r =  Resh, F =  Hierophant.  Her son's name, Otto, reads the same in either direction.  The opposite of gravity = levity and we get plenty of elevated levitation in Gravity's Rainbow.

Humor not only makes for a fun diversion and light way to pass time, it can and should become a potent weapon in the shaman's arsenal. I once received an assignment to do some research at the Museum of Natural History in New York that required accessing archives not usually available to public eyes.  I got advised: humor will get you past the bardo guards.

A literary classic that greatly influenced GR, a magical precursor if you will, Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, remains possibly the funniest serious book of all time.  It boasts the most erudite fart joke ever written according to the Guinness Book of World Records.  The central theme in that book, fearlessly living up to seemingly unreachable ideals, to dream the impossible dream, requires much humor to get through the inevitable and constant setbacks and obstacles.  Compare that to Timothy Leary's answer in a jailhouse interview when asked if he was trying to change the world. Spoken in his light, jovial tone, "Yes, sure, we were trying to change the world.  We knew we were outnumbered and the odds were against us, but we had a sense of humor about it."

It seems no coincidence that the most highly intelligent individuals of modern times appear wickedly funny.  Aleister Crowley and one of his most distinguished magickal heirs, Robert Anton Wilson, became masters of the put on.  When I saw Timothy Leary speak at a South Street Pier nightclub in the early '80s, he billed himself as a stand-up philosopher.  Robert Anton Wilson plied the same trade at his speaking engagements.  Humor becomes a major part and parcel of the conspiracy of Intelligence.  At its best, it acts as a carrier wave for the transmission of esoteric data.  One only need watch Marx Brothers films with a receptive mind for conclusive evidence of this.

After a heavy, dark and scary bardo opening in Gravity's Rainbow we meet the first character, Capt. Geoffrey ("Pirate") Prentice who has a passion for bananas, growing them and using them in very creative ways: "tall cruets of pale banana syrup to pour oozing over banana waffles, a giant glazed crock where diced bananas have been fermenting since this summer with wild honey and muscat raisins, up out of which, this winter morning, one now dips foam mugsfill of banana mead . . . banana croissants and banana kreplach, and banana oatmeal and banana jam and banana bread, and bananas flamed in ancient brandy Pirate brought back last year from a cellar in the Pyrnees also containing a clandestine radio transmitter . . ." (p. 11) He grows bananas on a rooftop in England during the height of the Second World War and makes banana breakfasts so famous that people from all over England come to partake. Talk about surrealistic absurdity. Pynchon even throws in the classic slipping-on-a-banana-peel joke.

A good example of the ridiculous co-mingling with the sublime occurs, right after we meet Pirate, as an introduction to the banana fugue:

Bloat is one of the co-tenants of the place, a maisonette erected last century, not far from the Chelsea Embarkment, by Corydon Throsp, an acquaintance of the Rossettis who wore hair smocks and liked to cultivate pharmaceutical plants up on the roof (a tradition young Osbie Feel has lately revived), a few of them hardy enough to survive fogs and frosts, but most returning, as fragments of peculiar alkaloids, to rooftop earth, along with manure from a trio of prize Wessex Saddleback sows quartered there by Throsp's successor, and dead leaves off many decorative trees transplanted to the roof by later tenants, and the odd unstomachable meal thrown or vomited there by this or that sensitive epicurean - all got scrumbled together, eventually by the knives of the seasons to an impasto, feet thick, of  unbelievable black top soil in which anything could grow, not the least being bananas.  Pirate, driven to despair by the wartime banana shortage, decided to build a glass hothouse on the roof, and persuade a friend who flew the Rio-to-Ascension-to-Fort Lamy run to pinch him a banana sapling tree or two, in exchange for a German camera, should Pirate happen across one on his next mission by parachute. (p. 5 - 6)

That roof has seen a lot of action!  I have discovered Pynchon often uses fog as a code word for death.  There was fog on the road when Richard Farina, to whom this book is dedicated, tragically died in a motorcycle accident.  "... a few of them hardy enough to survives fogs and frosts" also translates as surviving death and emotional shutdowns.  The phrase "dead leaves" might possibly be in homage to James Joyce.  In the Tales of the Tribe online course, Robert Anton Wilson wrote of the multiple instances of "leaves" as a metaphor for death in Finnegans Wake pointing out that Joyce knew he was close to death as he completed his opus; death = to leave behind.

Laughter is the best medicine.  It works as a rescue remedy in a variety of tense or dire situations.  Pynchon gives an example in the opening quote to this section of a joke preventing a suicide.  Humor lifts the mood and mood guides us through inner emotional states, for better or worse.  In Gravity's Rainbow Companion, Steven Weisenburger maintains and demonstrates that Pynchon wrote some elaborate narrative subplots for the sole purpose of telling a joke.  Charles Hollander goes further in his short, excellent essay, Jokes and Puns in Gravity's Rainbow, first suggesting a doctoral dissertation on the typology of jokes and puns in the book, then pointing out some of the subtle and elaborate humor, while concluding:

Pynchon (somewhat like Woody Allen) uses most of his narratives as armatures on which to hang jokes, puns, discursions, meditations, allusions, quodlibets, etc., about thematic issues that repeatedly concern him: "power" and "unreason" (Pynchon, WSR 29), the relation of individual and state. The more elaborate the joke, the more likely it is to be thematically important; the more seemingly removed the passage is from the manifest issues of the text, the deeper we may have to look to find the referent. Since text and subtext in Pynchon’s fiction take turns carrying the thematic charge, we have to keep our magic eye peeled to, as the narrator tells us at the end of Gravity’s Rainbow, "Follow the bouncing ball" (760).