Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Thousand Plateaus - A Contemporary Grimoire


Some remarks on Deleuze and Guatarri's  A Thousand Plateaus - Capitalism and Schizophrenia in light of the Alchemical Arts.

The verbiage in A Thousand Plateaus appears, at first glance, extremely dense, opaque and difficult to comprehend.  There are good reasons for this similar to why alchemical and magical instruction texts are elaborately coded. I suggest that ATP could accurately be subtitled A Manual for the Creation of Higher Bodies or some such. I will give indicators for looking in that direction but will refrain from giving too much away so that esoteric students may find their own way, adopt their own methodologies and practices.  We can approach this grimoire like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poroit and deduce how to apply this material for our own creative output and spiritual growth.  This book is a work book, meaning that it takes work on the part of the reader to unlock the information.  This  helps ensure that the keys get received only when the student is ready. 

The first time I read ATP, a little more than a year ago, most of it went completely over my head though I would encounter passages of extreme brilliance that inspired sticking with it.  I figured that the majority I didn't understand would help subconsciously teach my brain the syntax of their communication.  After finishing it, I spent a year largely reading the literature about ATP, the rest of the D & G oeuvre as well as books, articles, and videotapes by or about Gille Deleuze.  I recently finished reading ATP for the second time and received a much better picture of this masterpiece. 

To begin with our detective work, we observe that the title, A Thousand Plateaus, plainly suggests multiple levels of reality.   It shares that in common with both Sufism and Qabalism.  A thousand is a lot of levels though it seems that number has other connotations than the literal.   On one level this book is about the creative process, how things come into existence and what happens to them after that; morphogenesis, how organic form arises and develops, only the authors don't limit themselves to the organic.  They appear willing to include the more speculative areas of research into the Unknown such as Carlos Castenada's shamanic adventures and experiments.  You could call ATP pragmatic metaphysics.

There is little commentary in the supplementary literature I've seen as to why they designated 1,000 plateaus rather than 10,000 or 100 or some other number.  One writer compared it to that compendium of Middle Eastern and Eastern folklore known as One Thousand and One Nights.  This seems an accurate reference.  The framework of that epic is that the virginal Scheherazade tells her new husband the King a story on their wedding night but doesn't finish it.  Due to a previous bad experience Shahrya, the King, has a questionable habit of executing his brides the morning after their wedding night before they can dishonour him; male brutality crushing female intelligence. Scheherazade defeats immediate death by telling Shahrya a story every night but not finishing it so that he'll have to let her live another day to find out what happened.

Before examining the ATP title symbolically, we note that both Deleuze and Guattari were directly influenced by qabalistic writers.  Two of the most prominent influences in Deleuze's The Logic of Sense were Antonin Artaud and Lewis Carroll.  Artaud studied qabalah while Carroll's major literary works are veritable textbooks on the subject.  Alice in Wonderland is on Aleister Crowley's reading list of occult books to study.  Both D & G cite James Joyce as an influence with Guattari said to be obsessed by him.  An English copy of Ulysses was on his bedside table when he died.  It seems well established that Joyce used extensive qabalistic artifice and reckoning in his most experimental works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.  One clear commonality between qabala and D & G is that they both attempt to describe how form comes into being then look at what might happen next. 

Why a thousand plateaus?  In qabala, a thousand = 3 because of the three zeros.   3 = Binah, the archetypal feminine. 3 also = The Empress in the tarot, another prominent female character whose path, Daleth, corresponds with Venus and is the doorway to the Supernal Triad - what gets considered the real world beyond the world of illusion and appearance.  Daleth connects Chokmah with Binah, the Father with the Mother or pure yang with pure yin, the creative with the receptive.  We have, so far, three strong female presences connected with A Thousand Plateaus: Scheherazade, the new wife telling stories so her man won't kill her, Binah, and The Empress.  I mention this partly in homage to Deleuze's love for tripartite analysis which one commentator said he was almost obsessed with. While this may superficially appear as mashing one system onto another, the importance of the feminine in transformational processes gets clearly delineated in Chapter 10 1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible ...  Their concept of becoming-woman describes in another way a main theme in Aleister Crowley's Book of Lies, a theme symbolized by the N.O.X.  formula.  See chapter 35 in that book then read the supplementary chapters suggested in the commentary to see how Crowley articulates while hiding this theme.

We can go further with the ATP title.  In my 1994 Minnesota Press Edition the word PLATEAUS appears in a larger typeface than any other word on the cover.  Breaking down this word like a Lewis Carroll or Joycean qabalistic portmanteau we have:

PLA = ALP = Joyce's Anna Livia Plurabelle, another strong symbolic characterization of Woman. PLA also = 111 which corresponds to The Fool in the tarot which describes an alchemical process cognate with D&G's terms of deterritorialization, lines of flight, and new becomings.

T = Tau = the cross = The Universe (tarot).  T also = Teth, the cross path connecting Geburah with Chesed, balancing Power with Mercy.  Teth also = Strength (tarot) and shows yet another aspect of the Divine Woman this time taming a beast. Teth also = Horus.

EAU = the French word for water

S = Shin = fire.  S also = Samekh = Art (Thoth tarot), a card describing the alchemical blending related to The Fool.

The symbolic combination of fire and water at the end this of word PLATEAUS that I've mapped as a formula suggests more methods for deterritorialization, lines of flight and radiant becomings (solve coagula).  This method of metaphysical steam locomotion gets qabalistically presented at the very beginning of Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger I, another important manual for spiritual growth.

Finally, the subtitle Capitalism & Schizophrenia = 68 when adding the initials, a number which recurs regularly in Wilson & Shea's guide to qabalah, Illuminatus!  It denotes a particular kind of communication crucial to the alchemy of crystallizing rarefied bodies, bodies with an increased likelihood of surviving physical death.



Moving on ... before reading ATP for the first time I hadn't read straight up philosophy for quite awhile.  I didn't relate well too it preferring to get my philosophy from adventurous experimenters like Crowley, Wilson, Leary and Groucho Marx who put it into action.  What initially really turned me on to D & G's radical philosophical style was that they reference many sources well outside mainstream philosophy.  William Burroughs and James Joyce get recruited along with Nietzsche as early as page six.  They reference literature extensively: Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Jack Kerouac, Faulkner, Henry Miller, etc. to illustrate their concepts and lines of thought.  Music supplies them with a key concept, the refrain, along with other useful metaphors and examples.  John Cage, Stockhausen, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart and Pierre Boulez are some of the composers whose ideas get thrown into the mix.  Francis Bacon, Pollock, Kandinsky, are some of the painters drawn upon.  Chapter 10 begins with the subtitle, Memories of a Moviegoer, then goes into a discussion of the film Willard.  Other subtitles in that chapter include: Memories of a Sorcerer, Memories of a Theologian, Memories of a Spinozist, Memories of a Molecule etc. ATP appears vast, encyclopedic with an incredibly broad range of subjects from the creation of nonorganic life to politics, economics, psychology, metallurgy etc. etc. ...and, of course, philosophy: the wisdom shared by friends.

Alchemy and allusions to spiritual becomings is only one layer in ATP in its massive multiplicities of shifting, yet interconnecting subjects.  One reviewer called it a TOE, a Theory of Everything.  To me, it seems more like a theory of "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." though that seems limited too.   The closest might be to call it a theory of "Here To Go" with the only problem now being that ATP never represents itself as a unified theory of anything.  It's loaded with multiple theories and concepts of all kinds backed up with a plethora of references and examples, but doesn't ever appear to be selling a particular point of view or advocating a moral position; just showing an enlightened perspective on how things work. 

The writing often appears ridiculously complex, but it varies and at times can be crystal clear.  The complexity, upon further examination, appears an experiment to raise the reader's intelligence.  Just trying to figure out wtf they are saying at times requires the reader to get smarter or perish in the ignorance of that subject.  The Deleuze Dictionary edited by Adrian Parr, D & G's ATP by Eugene Holland, and D & G's ATP A Critical Introduction and Guide by Brent Adkins proved very helpful. Once some penetration into the ATP syntax has been made, it will appear that the writing deliberately stimulates the reader's intuitive faculty much like Crowley and Joyce do at times in their own ways.

 Here's a great quote on the creative process simpatico to D&G's views.  This shows how the concepts found in ATP can get creatively and practically used.

You think novelistically as a filmmaker ... We had broad-reaching ambitions, and you're reaching for something unattainable like all the great musicians you admire - filmmakers.  And only by reaching for that do you get pieces of it.  And you get all the pieces and ultimately you decide this is how it must come together with the proper mixture of ... reality and intensity, but also magick and also inspiration that feels honest, and that's the vision we arrived at.

David O. Russell talking about his recent film Joy which he says is also a riff on the emotion of joy.  Although Crowley doesn't explicitly appear anywhere in ATP these quotes from the Book of the Law harmonize well with their concept of deterritorialzation:

I:30: This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.

II:9:  Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.


To be continued ...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

David Bowie - A Conscious Death?

Jimmi Accardi told me that all of Bowie's songs from his new album:


 are about dying.  The co-producer of

Tony Visconti, said that David Bowie's death was a 'Work of Art' without fully explaining what he meant.  He implied that Bowie timed the release of his new album to coincide with his death then later said that he believed Bowie thought he had a few more months. Bowie had composed five more songs he wanted to record.  The album was released two days before Bowie's death on his 69th birthday.  An interesting coincidence indeed.  It seems like he was prepared to go at any time, but still vitally and creatively alive until no longer physically possible. Visconti reports that the conversation about doing more recording occurred only a week before terminus.  Since he studied Tibetan Buddhism from an early age and was a student and practitioner of Magick, it can be safely assumed that David Bowie was well aware of the technology of consciously dying.  If that's not obvious enough, look at his performance of "My Death" from the film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  I saw it last night, extremely poignant right about now, while making it clear that Bowie considered and confronted death more than forty years ago.  He had a long time to get it right.  It seems he did, and was able to communicate about it by making his death a Work of Art.  Visconti said that
was his 'parting gift.'  His parting gift appears to contain multiple perspectives on death by an experienced traveler who is almost there.

The album's name is a symbol, it's not a word or words; Bowie's gone beyond words, died to words  representing his art before he died in body.  It looks like a black star so everyone is calling it Blackstar, but that isn't its name, it's a representation of its name: a graphic symbol.  The symbol communicates infinitely more than its representation and can even become a doorway for adventurous astral experimenters.  I'm going to refer to it as Blackstar because I can't make the above graphic smaller.  The only other album I know of named with symbols in place of words is Led Zeppelin's fourth studio release also intended for magical purposes.  Both David Bowie and Jimmy Page have been quite open about drinking from the same source, Aleister Crowley.  On Hunky Dory Bowie sings: "I'm closer to the Golden Dawn immersed in Crowley's uniform of imagery."

I see speculation about the possible meaning of Blackstar online so I'll chime in.  It was commissioned for the TV series the The Last Panthers so I wonder if he might have been mentally associating with the Black Panthers when he came up with Blackstar??  He might have also encountered the descriptive phrase, 'black star,' during cancer treatment as a term health care professionals use for one visual effect of breast cancer. 

Magically speaking, the black star is a pentagram.  One of the initial formulas you come across in the Golden Dawn literature is: pentagram = hexagram, represented as 5 = 6. It symbolizes the transformation of man into godhead - the next level, however you wish to consider it.  In the Blackstar image above, below the five-pointed star we see six star fragments. 5 = 6.   5, the pentagram, the star, symbolizes the balanced WoMan; each of the four lower points connects with one of the four elements, one of the four lower circuits with the top point being the element called spirit .  To me, the most basic meaning of Blackstar: black = death, an obvious correspondence, and star = man as per the G.'. D.'. formula.  When Bowie sings "I'm a blackstar," it translates as, "I'm a dead man," and he didn't want people to hear it until his life/death became that art i.e. Blackstar.  If he did follow the G.'. D.'. formula then the star also corresponds with the 6 part of the formula. The 5 becomes an equivalence to 6 when the 5 becomes a star, when the lower circuits (physical, emotional, intellectual, social) get balanced, function harmoniously and become crowned by spirit.  Then black = death while star = 6 = godhead, the next step, etc. Singing "I'm a blackstar," then seems like he's saying "I'm dead, but I've moved on."  The six star fragments below the main star could symbolize that WoMan has to be taken apart to reach the next level.  Death seems necessary for the real transformation.  Bowie's artistic personae transformed often and radically over the years.  He knew how to die before he died.

Another song on Blackstar is Lazarus, also the name of an off-Broadway musical Bowie wrote the music for.  It's a sequel to the film he starred in, The Man Who Fell To Earth. The opening for it last December was his last public appearance. Lazarus.

The possibility that Bowie applied Golden  Dawn symbolism in Blackstar maybe gets support from Brian Eno.  Paul Gallagher from the Independent news site in the U.K. writes about Bowie's last message to Eno:

Eno said. “I received an email from him seven days ago. It was as funny as always, and as surreal, looping through word games and allusions and all the usual stuff we did.

Over the last few years - with him living in New York and me in London - our connection was by email. We signed off with invented names: some of his were Mr Showbiz, Milton Keynes, Rhoda Borrocks and the Duke of Ear.

[This time] it ended with this sentence: ‘Thank you for our good times, Brian. They will never rot’. And it was signed ‘Dawn’. I realise now he was saying goodbye."


The only other individual I can think of to attempt to make his death a work of art, an educational gift to humanity, was Timothy Leary. As soon as Leary found out he was terminal he wrote an outline for his last book called Design for Dying which came out posthumously, completed by R.U. Sirius.  On the jacket it says: "Leary ... used his approaching death to create an exuberant new vision of what dying can be. Optimism, courage, joy and spirituality were central to Leary's final days and his death.  Design for Dying ... shows us how we too can make dying the high point of life."


This is a promo photo released with Blackstar.  David Bowie, the star, dressed in black showing optimism, courage, joy and spirituality.

Leary had two separate documentaries made of his final days and death.  In one of them it appears that Leary's head gets surgically removed from his body in order to cryogenically preserve it.  There's a riveting image at the end of someone carrying Leary's head on a platter underneath a glass case .  A similar image with a different head turns up in the video for Blackstar.  That head is the skull of an astronaut ( Major Tom?) subtly stylized and decorated with gemstones.  At the end of the video it gets used in what appears like some sort of magick ritual.  Both Leary and Bowie displayed adept qualities at qabala so it doesn't seem surprising they would use it in their final communications. The combination of "head" and "death" conveys a significant key for surviving death, a motif these two pioneers of dying consciously and elegantly portrayed in their final video images.  Blackstar becomes cognate with that motif.  Blackstar conveys a key to dying consciously.

Leary did have incredible optimism which he applied to dying.  At the beginning of the Blackstar video we observe a common symbol of optimism, often a trite cliche even, but reterritorialized with poignant affect in the context of this video and of death.



 The following is reprinted from RawIllumination.net.  It consists of comments I made regarding David Bowie, Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) and yours truly.  

I recall someone in the online Crowley course RAW gave posting a rumor or anecdote that David Bowie had been seen at a RAW talk in the LA area in the early to mid '70's. I never did discover the actuality of that, but it seems plausible. Bowie lived in LA at that time and traversed similar experimental territory with RAW. They both practiced qabala and magick and both used it in their artistic expression.

Bowie also appeared completely dialed in to the space migration, extra-terrestrial intelligence, Starseed Transmissions gestalt that RAW and Leary were promoting in the '70s. Starting with his first popular single, "Space Oddity," which under the right circumstances really does give the feeling of being way out in Space, then especially on the album "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." "Space Oddity" was released in the summer of 1969 to coincide with the launch of Apollo 11 while Ziggy Stardust was released in 1972 so it seems unlikely that Bowie picked up the E.T. Intelligence subject from RAW and Leary who were undergoing their own experiences around that time and had yet to publish their findings. I don't know how or where Bowie picked up on that meme. He could have, through his experiences with experimental theater and magick, gotten himself hardwired to the source — whatever transmission it was that gave RAW the impression he was in communication with some kind of Intelligence from the Sirius star system. Through his studies of Crowley, Bowie could have been in touch with the ideas put forth by Kenneth Grant who also had theories and inferences regarding extraterrestrials and Sirius. In 1975 Bowie filmed The "Man Who Fell To Earth" his first major role and he played an extraterrestrial. I felt there was much useful information, mood and atmosphere related to E.T. contact in there I remember leaving the theater elated to see the film end with an allusion to an occult symbol when Bowie tips his hat.

Bowie's music became the primary soundtrack and inspiration to whatever Sirius contact experiences I had in the early 80's. One of the weirdest synchronicities involved the song "Starman." It was the first song on side B of a Ziggy Stardust cassette I had. One day I rewound the tape, turned up the volume and began a yoga practice. The next song was surprisingly not from Ziggy Stardust, not David Bowie at all. I went to check the music machine and saw that I hadn't been playing the cassette at all. When I turned up the volume I was turning up the radio which just happened to start that song at exactly the same time.

Bowie was the lead musical figure and guiding inspiration, particularly his Berlin albums with Fripp, Belew, and Eno, to the punk/post punk art scene circles I moved in. A friend was in love with him so in 1980 she flew to New York and got tickets to see him on Broadway in "The Elephant Man." She told the theater manager her story and asked if there was any way she could see him only to be rewarded with a 40 minute private meeting in his dressing room after the show. She said he was very polite; they casually chatted about ordinary things.

In 1983 Bowie hit town with his Serious Moonlight tour. One of my top concert experiences, he definitely fulfilled the role of cosmic prophet/musical hierophant, a disseminator of Higher Intelligence. Through the set design, costumes and, of course, the music he projected a vision of global awareness and peaceful, tolerant, cooperative, diversity. One of the props was a large blue beach ball of planet Earth that they bounced around playing like they were gods. Truly a genius. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Greenpoint Part 2

Crime and rescue at Greenpoint.  I would seriously doubt this story if I hadn't heard it separately from both parties, corroborating point for point.  Shin Terai was getting ready to take a car to the airport from the studio.  He had flown in from Tokyo to visit and record vocal sounds and heavily processed spoken word for Chaos Face; the chaos was about to catch up with himI can't conceive of anyone doing this: he put his briefcase with money, plane tickets, passport, and a video camera down on the street by the front door and left them going back upstairs to get his bag.  Naturally, when he returned they were gone.  Shin Terai was, and probably still is, a soft-spoken, overly polite, upper-middle class Japanese businessman who owned and managed a hair salon.  He was also a loyal and stellar fan of jazz and avant-garde music who managed to make friends with serious musicians like Bill Laswell and Herbie Hancock by being a very helpful guide lending assistance in the local ways when they played Japan.  Shin Terai, though his name means fire of the earth, at that moment appeared completely unaware of how to deal with American urban survival.  He freaked and began repeating "O my Buddha, O my Buddha' over and over.'  DST, as he was known at the time - turntablist, troublemaker, and hip hop composer - happened by, saw what was going on and immediately jumped on a bicycle in pursuit of the stolen goods.  I don't remember if D actually saw the thief, but he managed to track him down to an abandoned building a block or so away and recover the briefcase and camera.  He saved the day for Shin Terai.  You could call it coincidence that someone who grew up in the South Bronx was around at exactly the right time to rescue a Japanese tourist from a devastating robbery or you could entertain the idea that the collective assemblage that worked out of Greenpoint took care of its own.  Protection by coincidence control?  The school works in mysterious ways.  To my knowledge, that was the only time anyone was ever assaulted or criminally aggressed upon around the studio.

Speaking of Herbie Hancock, the first time I met and recorded him was at Greenpoint.  He came there to lay down a piano solo for a track on The Third Power.  Not knowing that much about him I had no expectations of what he would be like.  As soon as he walked in I got a strong feeling that I beheld the presence of a star.  He radiated that quality immediately upon walking through the door. When he began playing the Yamaha CP 80 electric piano you could hear it in his touch of the keyboard, by the way the piano notes came out. With the trained listening abilities of an audio professional or a musician you can hear not only the notes, but also the way they're played.  No entourage of any kind or any other celebrity trappings, only accompanied by his manager, Tony Meilandt, yet there was a distinct sensation of being in the room with an extraordinary talent.  That was the only time I worked with Herbie at Greenpoint.  I did record him later at another studio and was also around him when he curated the Tokyo Jazz festival that Material played at, but I didn't even remotely have a similar kind of experience.  Something about that slice of time at Greenpoint.

One night driving back to Manhattan after a session, Bill told me about this freak guitar player who grew in a chicken coop somewhere in the Ozarks.  For some unknown reason his backwoods family confined him to the large chicken coop and didn't let him have anything except food, a Les Paul electric guitar and a 50 watt Marshall stack.  For years he did nothing but play the guitar for the chickens who were apparently a tough crowd to please.  As a result he became a world class shredder on the guitar.  When they finally uncooped him, he vowed to never forget his poultry brethren and sistren by taking a bucket designed to contain Kentucky Fried Chicken cooked body parts, symbollically turning it upside down then placing it on his head to become Buckethead.  No one knew his real name or if he even had one, he was just Buckethead.  Bill told me this as if it were literally true.  At the time it reminded me of something like an old blues legend ala the Robert Johnson Crossroads story put into a contemporary comic book adaptation.  I thought this would be an interesting person to record, but it seemed about as remote as the ghost of Robert Johnson showing up.

Buckethead; photo credit unknown


Some months later Buckethead walked through the front door of Greenpoint and I met the legend in person. His guitar playing definitely lived up to the back story.  We hit it off right away.  He arrived with his friend Brain who I knew as the drummer for the Limbomaniacs, one of the first projects that I started to engineer for Bill over at Platinum Island.  They were there as part of the musical group  Bill put together called Praxis that also included two old-school funksters, Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell, as well as dj turntablist Af Next Man Flip (Lord of the Paradox).  Next Man Flip, the artist formerly and currently known as Africa Baby Bam from the Jungle Brothers might have changed his name for this project. Next Man Flip seems, in conjunction with the album title, a dead on accurately poetic way of characterizing this project.  The album Praxis made, Mutatis Mutandis, became a classic series of experiments in sound/music construction  connecting and conjugating various mixtures of the funk, rock, ambient, and electronica genres into previously unheard of musical territories; creation of new spaces with sound/rhythm/melody/noise; supple segments of guitar shreds; different rates of sonic  intensities and speeds ebbing and flowing; sounds of false start and tape rewind; funky liquid bass lines transmitting feel; new information from autonomous zones close and far.  Song titles provide descriptor clues: War Machine, Black Science Navigator, Dead Man Walking, The Interworld..., .../Godzilla etc.  Classic because it sounds as fresh and on the cutting edge now as when it was made.  It raised the bar and the bar is still there.  I haven't heard anything else quite like this genre collage/mash-up.

Four of the musicians had  intertwined musical relationships with each other both virtual and actual.  Next Man Flip was the wild card, maybe thrown in to meet the Discordian Law of Fives while injecting randomity and chaos into the proceedings; he contributed static transmissions through electronic whooshes, blips and beeps; atonal sound phrases naturally cut-up and stitched back together for new combinations and connections.  Buckethead and Brain were old friends who used to play together whenever Brain visited the Ozarks.  Bootsy and Bernie had a long history together, Funkadelic and beyond.  Bootsy was a major influence and virtual mentor to Bucket long before they met; Buckethead got to work with one of his heroes.  Both Bootsy and Bucket counted Jimi Hendrix as a major influence; both could be considered part of the Hendrix musical lineage.  Bill once brought us to Electric Lady studios (originally built for Jimi Hendrix) to mix a single Buckethead recorded for the Last Action Hero film.  Brain too was well stewed and soaked in funk influence via Limbomaniacs.  Bernie shapeshifts to sound like he's instantly at home playing with anyone.  Though there was considerable slicing and dicing sound construction when it came to the mix, much of the initial recording was done live.  All five musicians set-up around the room playing together as a unit, each one occupying a separate edge point of a pentagram star.

 Bernie, Af, Bootsy, Buckethead, Brain; photo by Thi-Linh Le


Mutatis Mutandis is an archaic Latin phrase that means 'the necessary changes have been made.'  The liner notes assembled quotes from Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone.  Hakim Bey with his ontological anarchy would later sign on as Axiom's resident philosopher.  Bey is the alter ego of Peter Lamborn Wilson, a (mostly) respected Sufi scholar among other vocations having absorbed source teachings while on staff at the University of Tehran.  Besides Sufism, Wilson has written about Hassan I Sabah, Angelology and a few other recondite esoteric subjects.  Occultists and conspiracy theorists should pay no attention to his middle name, Lamborn, referring to Lam, one of the more significant XD (Extradimensional) characters Aleister Crowley communicated with.  Wilson, in the service of ontological anarchy regularly utilized concepts from Deleuze and Guttari.  The second part of the first track on Mutatis Mutandis is called War Machine, an important D&G concept I wrote about here.

The other pole seems to be the essence; it is when the war machine, with infinitely lower "quantities," has as its object not war but the drawing of a creative line of flight, the composition of smooth space and of the movement of people in that space.

  - A Thousand Plateaus, p. 422

The necessary changes have been made.

Ira Cohen, a friend of Lamborn Wilson's - they worked with the same guru, Ganesh Baba, at different times - was another cultural heavyweight to make his way into the Greenpoint orbit.  Cohen was a beat poet, publisher, filmmaker and shamanic photographer.  When living in Kathmandu, Cohen started the Bardo Matrix publishing imprint.  I recorded him reading one of his poems about that time.  He also successfully experimented with mylar photography on the third floor at Greenpoint hanging the mylar sheets on the wall that previously showcased featured paintings when I ran the space as an art gallery.  At that time, my friend Wade Hines (HuDost) was visiting and we were both staying at Greenpoint to master, after my regular session, his album that we had mixed in Florida.  Ira's photography is on several Axiom releases including T.A.Z., the one Bill made with Hakim Bey.  He might be called the official, though not exclusive, Axiom photographer.  Definitely something going on when you include Hakim Bey and Ira Cohen as part of the creative assemblage.

In Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf the protagonist, Harry Haller, encounters an electric sign over a theater which reads: MAGIC THEATER. ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY. FOR MADMEN ONLY.  If there had been a similar sign over the entrance to Greenpoint in all likelihood it would read: NOTHING IS TRUE. EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED.  This magical motto, supposedly the last words of Hassan I Sabbah, leader of a sect of Nizari Ismailis known as Hashisheen in the 11th and 12 Centuries was adopted and used quite extensively by Bill Laswell around the time Axiom  came into existence. I used to have a t-shirt with the Axiom logo on the front, red graphics on a black background, and that signifier on the back.  I wore it when mixing live sound for Material eventually giving it to Gigi, Bill's wife, when she was pregnant with their son Aman.

What the phrase means exactly is for people to find out on their own, because, after all, nothing is true; probably multiple meanings; multiple artistic possibilities.  We get some clues by looking at how other writers have used it.  William Burroughs used it to dedicate or consecrate his novel, Cities of the Red Night:

To all the scribes and artists and practitioners of magic through whom these spirits have been manifested….NOTHING IS TRUE. EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED.” 

Robert Anton Wilson riffed on the phrase and Hassan I Sabbah's unique metaprogramming
techniques in Sex, Drugs, and Magick and also in the Illuminatus! Trilogy. Bill created a remix album of ambient versions from the Axiom catalog called Lost In The Translation that had a suite called Cosmic Trigger, the title of one of Wilson's best books. The suite consists of ambient mixes of Through The Flames, Cosmic Slop and Animal Behavior.
 
Laswell with Janet Rienstra explored the Hashisheen in depth in a spoken word/ambient/trance soundscape collection of readings from 25 different scholarly, historical, and underground sources on the subject.  It's called Hashisheen - The End of Law and features the voices of Burroughs, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Hakim Bey, and Ira Cohen among others.  The second track introduces The Old Man Of The Mountain (Hassan I Sabbah) with Genesis P Orridge intoning Nothing Is True. Everything Is Permitted.  After Percy Howard (Meridiem) reads a historical text, circa 1210, the phrase repeats, only differently.


This clip is the tenth track on Hashisheen called Sinan's Boast later reterritorialized into Sinan's Boat due to a typo that got picked up and repeated.  Boat seems much more accurate.  It's read by Ira Cohen.  Laswell reterritorialized it again to introduce a Pharoah Saunders track on Excavation - Unauthorized Cut-Up Vol. I. It's only 1:47 in length;  In a classic Tom Waits spoken word track he asks, repeatably as a refrain, "what's he building in there? ... what the hell is he building in there?"  If anyone ever asked that question about the activities at Greenpoint, they might want to listen to Sinan's Post for one answer.



 YouTube lists yet another variation on the title that also fits.

Another modern prophet turned up in spirit at Greenpoint when Bill, at the behest of Chris Blackwell and with the blessings of the Marley estate, did ambient mixes of classic Bob Marley and the Wailers tracks for what became Dreams of Freedom.  I engineered about half the mixes and Robert Musso engineered the rest (or vice versa?) and mastered it.  The mixes were constructed with what I call "poor man's automation" meaning that it was mixed manually in sections to 1/2" tape then spliced together.  I would set-up effects on the different Neve auxiliary and bus sends for Bill to trigger as the mix recorded to tape.  Mixing each section down after it was prepped and balanced was like a live performance.  Rarely was it done more than once.

Mixing Dreams of Freedom in May of 1996 coincided with the15th anniversary of Marley's death.  Photos of him appeared everywhere on the streets of New York. His visage was spotted at magazine kiosks, advertisements on buses, people's t-shirts and jackets, billboards, Times Square etc.  Working with the pristinely recorded master tapes of Marley's biggest songs eight hours a day resulted in a strong sense of contact with his spirit, for me. I pretty much felt like I was going through an ever-changing bardo space the whole time; voyaging through Dreams of Freedom.  I was crashing in a room above the studio so would stay an extra hour or so after the session listening to out takes and any alternate tracks.  How often do you get to examine Bob Marley's master tapes like an audio forensic scientist?  I learned something useful engineering-wise just by soloing and listening to how the tracks were recorded.  A superb job by the original engineers.

No doubt this bardo experience got aided and abetted through Bill's conceptual approach to the mix construction.  Bob Marley's voice does not appear in this collection, the only vocals you'll hear are the Wailers singing backgrounds and choruses usually in a dense ambient atmospheric background.  This demonstrates a brilliant use of a literary technique applied to music:  Bob Marley becomes extremely present by his absence.  Present in spirit, heart and soul.  This is a ghost album, a conjuration, an invocation of Bob Marley's presence in the present.  He showed up and remained; it's all recorded; a legominism of his life's work.

Image designed by Russell Mills

Tetsou Inoue was also on hand contributing his electronic insect soundscaping calling forth a Burroughs Interzone environment; something completely alien, Other, and outside of any time reference; could be futuristic, from the ancient past, or simultaneous on another planet. He would set up his machines, filters and processors to run automatically with micro variability and randomity programmed into the flow then, once ready, we would go straight to tape sometimes crossing over into the Marley music translated into the Laswell dimension..  A good example is the intro to the first track.  His techno bardo ambience is heard elsewhere and may be the reason that every song is sonically connected; a continuous voyage through the dreams.

 Various aspects of the Laswell/Inoue/Musso/Fritz sound design for Dreams of Freedom remind me of Antonin Artaud writing about Balinese Theater music:

"There is also the broad pounding rhythm of the music - an extremely insistent, droning, and fragile music, in which the most precious metals seem to be ground, in which springs of water seem to gush up as if in their natural state, and armies of insects march through vegetation, in which one seems to hear captured the very sound of light, in which the sound of deep solitudes seems to be reduced to flights of crystals, etc. etc."

Deep solitudes reduced to flights of crystals brings us through a smooth space to Nûs. I first met Percy Howard, Hassan I Sabbah's narrator, when Bill brought me in to Greenpoint to record, mix and master Inside is the Only Way Out by Nûs.  Howard was the lead singer and principle writer for the group. He brought a strongly developed poetic and literary sophistication to the songwriting table citing Milton's Paradise Lost as one overt influence.  He also proved to be an extremely passionate singer. One amazing take, it might have been for Absolution, leaving him literally in tears from the intense emotional experience of delivering that vocal.  Nûs, as I understand it, is a gnostic term representing that part of the discerning mind that recognizes what is real.  Perhaps not unrelated to what gets known in modern parlance as a bullshit detector.  Nûs has also been likened to the intuitive mind.

Howard has a rich, pure, baritone voice that compares in strength and resonance with Robert Goulet or Tom Jones but in much more interesting musical contexts than pop schlock.  He's also been compared to Nina Simone.  After he left Nûs, Percy started his Merdiem troika of albums by assembling a band comprising Fred Frith, Charles Hayward, and Bill Laswell.  The four musicians playing Howard's mystically inspired songs proved a potent combination as reviews here testify.  Though Frith and Laswell were long time collaborators, they hadn't played together with Hayward before whom Howard had become acquainted with at a music festival in Italy.  Howard's nûs, his intuition to connect the three proved both prescient and far-reaching. Frith, Laswell, and Hayward gelled instantly both inside and outside the Merdiem framework and became a reformation of Frith's free jazz improv band Massacre, currently one of the most interesting and instructive expressions of progressive music on the planet as I've attempted to describe elsewhere in this blog flow.

To be continued ...




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