Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to Conquer Death on the Internet Part II

What Is The Bardo?

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
 - I Am The Walrus 
The Beatles 

The threefold revolving cycle of Life, Death, and Rebirth represents a common archetypal motif in several spiritual traditions and mythologies.  The Tibetans point out a stage between Death and Rebirth which they call the Bardo.  Bardo literally means " in-between."  The key to conquering death lies in this stage.  

What is the Bardo?  It seems impossible to describe in words.  Some references include:  Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Ubik and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick, the Nighttown scene in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, some of Aleister Crowley's poetry, The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams ( though definitely NOT the Hollywood movie), and the film Beetlejuice.

The best way to get to know the Bardo consists of entering Bardo Spaces as much as possible and learning from experience.  Multiple ways of doing this can be found sans literally dying.  Lucid dream states and hypnagogic reverie open gateways to Bardo realms also called the Macrodimensions.  Meditative and contemplative practices, which can include playing or listening to music, are the time tested yellow-brick road to the Macrodimensions.  Online computer activities, gaming, net-surfing and so forth describe the latest, most innovative technology available for accessing and learning how to function in the Bardo.  The World Wide Web is a potent tool for this kind of training.

Die Before You Die

"Who are you?"  said the Catepillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation.  Alice replied rather shyly, " I -- I hardly know, Sir, just at present -- at least I knew who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then."
Alice's  Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll

It seems possible to enter Bardo Spaces before permanently doing so at the time of bodily death.  We speak of death metaphorically as well as literally.  To die before you die indicates experiencing some form of ego or personality death no matter how temporary.

Even the slightest amount of self-observation will show the tremendous influence that the environment has on our state of mind and how we function.  It could even be said that we take on a (subtly) different identity as the environment changes.  Oz in New York is a different character than Oz in California.  Same body, relatively speaking, but a slightly different way of perceiving and interacting with the world.  Whenever I travel, I die.  New York Oz dies when he gets to JFK Airport in Queens and takes rebirth as a different Oz after the trip.  The airports and plane rides in-between appear quite evident as Bardo Spaces.

Additional self-observation will reveal that this same kind of death occurs each time we enter a different room.  In other words, the cycle of Life, Death, Bardo, Rebirth, goes on constantly if we bring ourselves to the awareness of it.  It is useful to work with the hypothesis that we are always in the Macrodimensions.  Perceiving Bardo Spaces seems like waking up to the awareness of where we already exist.

To maintain a thread of self-remembering consciousness, to be present as we travel from room to room, conquers the little death that happens when our attention falls asleep and completely identifies with the environment.  We then find our mood and state of well-being at the sway and mercy of external circumstances.  Remembering who we are as we journey through the maze of life creates a real inner eye that sees beyond death.

Death and the Internet

This next section talks about a computer video game called Quake that was the Bardo Training game of choice back when this essay was composed.  Now,  the game of choice has evolved to Diablo 2, Diablo 3 doesn't seem to work as well, and people are still playing Team Fortress - what Quake became.  The following remarks are general enough to apply to any of these games.

The Quake that comes in eyelid's beat
to ruin, level gulf and kill,
Build's up a world for better use
to general Good bends special Ill

- The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yezdi
translated by Sir Richard Burton

So where does the Internet fit in with this discussion of death?  Let's start with computer gaming and a look at Quake, one of the most popular games on the Web.  Quake is a fast-paced, raucous and chaotic environment.  It compares with this description of the Bardo: "Strange, awesome, and frightening sounds, lights and radiation assail me."  We are also told of, "shocking ambushes and unexpected vistas" likely to be encountered in the Macrodimensions. (Quotes from the American Book of the Dead, by E.J. Gold, Gateways Press, 1993)

A fundamental precept of Bardo Training holds that you can learn how to handle and function in the Macrodimensions through repeated exposure to their conditions.  Many of these conditions get encountered and worked through by playing Quake.  Like the Bardo, Quake can have a wildly unpredictable quality because people play it interactively and their actions will, of course, vary as opposed to a rigid machine program throwing out obstacles in a mechanical repetitive way.

An interesting attribute of the Internet in general is the experience of non-biological contact with others.  Whenever sharing cyberspace with another in a Chat Room, a video game, or interacting with them online in any way, the contact with them occurs completely independently of the physical body.  Unless they say, you won't know their age, gender, race, what they look like, how they smell, etc.  Without these biological clues to go by, the tendency moves toward relating with others in a much more Being to Being fashion than usual.  You definitely feel the contact with the presence of someone else when you encounter them on the Net.  Players often report seeing each other in a game and knowing who runs each avatar without formal id.

Non-biological contact is crucial to successful labyrinth readings.  When delivering Bardo instructions to a Voyager who has left its physical body, contact with the Voyager ensures they get received.  This contact, of course, would have to be non-biological because one of us no longer has a biological nervous system to contact currently.  Practice and experience enables the ability to sense, feel and see when this contact has been made.  The gnosis of experiencing Being contact can occur through contact made with others on the Internet.

Bardo instructions appear in the American Book of the Dead (ABD) but any number of sacred texts would do as well.  Generally, whatever you feel is appropriate can work.  The ABD just happens to be configured in  a way that allows any Newbie to pick one up and learn how to do readings in a matter of minutes, though the depths of its teachings may take many years to plumb and assimilate completely.  

As an aside, I know I digress a little but that's the Bardo for you ... the ABD has been extremely useful for centering and grounding someone having anxiety and nervousness as a result of a psychedelic episode.

The person delivering the instructions is called the Guide while the Being receiving them is the Voyager.  This mutually interdependent Guide/Voyager relationship finds itself in one form or another on the Internet.  Tech support is one good example.  Anyone wishing to solve a problem describes a Voyager in a labyrinth or maze of sorts.  The person with more knowledge helping to solve the problem guides them to the solution.  The guides on the Internet aren't always human such as when asking a Search Engine to find some information.  It's also important to know that the guides aren't always friendly.

Quake has a limited Chat function which allows communication of a few lines at a time.  This facilitates teamwork and fosters camaraderie and team spirit among gamers.  Newbies will find it difficult to chat while playing as everything moves far too fast at first ... just like the Bardo.  At the top of the screen in Quake you see a constant ticker-tape read-out of who was killed by whom, who has the flag, people chatting with each other, etc.  At first it will seem impossible to read this while playing the game.  

In Quake, one's character constantly gets killed then respawns back into the game.  Actually, not quite like that.  After dying in Quake, you make the decision whether to respawn, ie take rebirth, or to quit the game altogether.  This seemingly unending succession of lives held together by the continuity of the player's consciousness is analogous to the relationship between Being and the human body it calls home for the moment.

Voyaging in the Labyrinth

The Bardo in its more immersive aspect frequently gets experienced as a journey through a very elaborate and, at times, treacherous maze.  One has the sensation of moving from room to room or scene to scene.  This apparency of traveling inspires the term Voyager to describe the Being.  We can find ourselves in a vast corridor or series of corridors with rooms branching out in all directions.  This describes the place of choice-point.  Just as on the Net in Cyberspace, YOU decide where to go, which room to go in, which website to visit, which rebirth to take.  Cyberspace, in its etymology, indicates self-directed space.  Cyber comes from an ancient Greek word that means "steersman" or "governor."  

This maze-like attribute seems so universal and apparent, once noticed, that we may characterize the Bardo realm as a labyrinth after the famous Cretan maze wherein abode the Minotaur from Greek Mythology.  Life in the Labyrinth, by E.J. Gold, is another excellent source of Bardo teaching.

Experimentation shows that the skill learned through solving one maze may be applied and utilized with others.  Maze solving ability, known as maze-brightness can get refined and developed throughout one's life.  Any maze you successfully move through now will help you immensely in negotiating the maze of the Bardo.

Quake and its variants have many maze-like qualities.  Each Quake map or level has its own architecture to learn.  There are hiding places sometimes manned with snipers to do you in.  Special weapons, reinforcements and healing salves appear in hidden locations.  There are moats with underground tunnels submerged beneath and pits of lava survivable just long enough to reach the corridor or room on the other side if you know how.  Of course, you always need to know where your Ammo Room is when it's time to replenish and gather strength.  Just a few of the many examples I could give.  Play the game, you'll see what I mean.

To Be Continued .... shortly

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How to Conquer Death on the Internet

These fragments, from an article I wrote years ago at the dawn of the internet, are what remain after taking out most of what has already been said.

Some time ago I had the incredible experience of finding myself in a discussion about music with Ornette Coleman. 

"You might find this very strange," he said to me, " but what I am searching for with my muisic is a way to conquer death."

I didn't find it strange at all.  Death has been a focal point of my work for over 20 years.  Ornette, this one is for you and for anyone else willing to confront the inevitability of their bodily death and do something about it.  There exist practical methods to prepare for death, measures readily available to anyone with access to the internet.  

"Preparing for death" seems a misleading phrase. you actually prepare for the survival of life.  Preparing for death also has the side effect of what Sufis call "waking up."  Or looked at the other way, waking up has the side effect of preparing for death.  For myself  this moment I'll define waking up as being aware and perceiving reality outside the standard physical, emotional and intellectual programs - usually accompanied by stronger sensation and feeling; perceptions appear much more vivid.  Waking up has various degrees and gradations ranging anywhere from mildly pleasant to extremely intense.  Therefore, preparing for death results in experiencing an increased vitality and appreciation for life.  

However, preparing for death is not conquering it.  What do I mean by conquering death?

Can death be sleep, when life is but a dream,
  And scenes of bliss pass as a phantom by?
The transient pleasures as a vision seem,
  And yet we think the greatest pain's to die.

How strange it is that man on Earth should roam,
  And lead a life of woe but not forsake
His rugged path; nor dare he view alone
  His future doom which is but to awake.

- John Keats

Mystics tell us there's no such thing as death.   They say that a certain something or other exists inside of everyone that stays eternally alive, that survives the cessation of bodily functions.  By identifying with this eternal aspect, which we'll call the Voyager, we can learn to maintain a thread of consciousness upon leaving the body at the time of death.  This is not easy.  All our lives, from the moment of birth, we have been programmed by cultural conditioning and social reinforcement to identify ourselves completely with the physical body.  When the body dies, we die states the underlying belief and fear many of us live with.

I don't know exactly what will happen at death.  I don't have a memory of having died before.  The experience of my physical death remains unknown to me though there have been a few times of looking at it very closely from this side of the veil.  Some knowledge of death has been preserved in certain traditions.  So, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, I propose to use what is known about death as a springboard into the Unknown.  

 Surviving Death

Death occurs as a very shocking and traumatic, but survivable experience according to various myths and religious traditions around the world.  The most developed death survival technology comes to us from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and also from the Ancient Egyptians.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead serves as an amazing resource by providing step by step instructions for guiding the Voyager through the transition of death.  The American Book of the Dead by E. J. Gold  places the Tibetan teaching into a cultural context more suitable to those of us born in the West. 

Much of the funerary rituals in Ancient Egypt dealt with aiding the soul's journey through the Land of the Dead in order to reach the Western Lands and attain immortality.  The spells that comprise the Papyrus of Ani, the so-called Egyptian Book of the Dead are to help prepare and handle the adventures and encounters the soul, or voyager, may experience in this perilous quest.  The instructions in the Tibetan Book of the Dead have the same purpose.

Death is a mind-blower, and if you've never functioned without your ordinary mind, you won't know what hit you.  Common wisdom in this belief system says it likely won't be that bad if unprepared.  You'll blackout and before you know it, you'll find yourself in an infant body ready to face the drama, education and intelligence test of life once again but with no memory of having lived before.  The ability to maintain a thread of consciousness from one lifetime to another is what we mean by conquering death.  Maintaining this thread of consciousness can be done by remembering ourselves, identifying with the Voyager rather than the corpse we leave behind.  The key to this - presence and attention.

To Be Continued ...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paul Is Dead

 Some recent synchronicities and a Beatles conspiracy:

  Last week I received an email from my friend Babx (David Babin), French composer and musician extraordinaire, whose next album we'll be mixing soon.. The email had the demos of his songs attached and a lenghty lucid description of the direction to take the mixes. He wrote: I was also REALLY influenced by the work of Nikola Tesla and the myth of this man.  I wrote back saying that I could imagine hearing  some of these songs playing in Tesla's lab as I saw it in the film The Prestige which has David Bowie playing the part of this eccentric genius.

A couple of days later I began recording The Famous at Oakland's New and Improved Recording Studio.  The Famous describe their music as "classic country with a shot of post punk." or " a blaphemous marriage of indie-styled rock & roll and cowboy laments."    Their music would fit perfectly in some of the Wild West segments from Against the Day (Pynchon).  I particularly enjoy their lyrics which contain no small measure of whimsy, humor and irony.  Turns out that guitar player/songwriter Victor Barclay works for Tesla Motors, a company that manufactures and sells electric cars originally designed by Nikola Tesla.  Their sales are good.  Electric cars seem to be catching on, and are becoming more affordable.

Two more unusual synchronicities also occurred last week.  The first one began by reading a blog post about Robert Anton Wilson and Phillip K. Dick over at RAW . After reading that I clicked on a new link on that site that went to TSOGBLOGSPHERE and read an excellent article on James Joyce and the Tao written by Robert Anton Wilson in 1959.  One of Wilson's points had to do with favoring direct experience, which he characterized as feminine, over  what he calls the masculine ethical rigors of Confucianism - living, or getting programmed to live according to arbitrary morals, conventions, and beliefs.  Later the same day, reading The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, it felt like I was seeing very similar points but given in a different way, in PKDspeak.  There was a footnote explicitly tying what Dick was saying into both the Tao and Joyce.  The annotater ends with a Wilsonian sounding statement: "Righteousness here is anything but self-righteousness.  It is instead the humility and practice necessary to silence the mind in order to perceive reality, a "casual field" unmistakably affected by the language by which we model it. - RD p. 482

The second unusual synchronicity began when I decided to watch Cranberry Sauce, an hour and a half documentary on the "Paul is dead" rumours and possible conspiracy that followed the Beatles in the Sixties and Seventies.  "Cranberry sauce' is what Johm Lennon claims the barely audible words heard at the end of Strawberry Fields Forever was really saying not, "I buried Paul," which is what many other people heard there.  I had this video bookmarked for a few months and just randomly decided to watch it while breathing one recent morning.  It was interesting but not convincing.  The next day, not having had a prior discussion about this, I received a link from Erin and the Project to a spoken word mix that heavily sampled news footage about the rumour.  I wrote back telling them about the synch and they recommended two other documentaries on that subject, The Winged Beatle, and Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison.  The second one had already been pulled by You Tube but I did watch The Winged Beatle and found it very entertaining.

The Winged Beatle, not to be confused with The Winged Beetle, an excellent poetry compilation by a Mr. A. Crowley quoted elsewhere in this blog, naturally makes copius use of the winged beetle symbol.

It begins with a clip from the David Letterman show with McCartney and Letterman discussing the alleged hoax.   This piqued my interest because it reveals McCartney (or his double) giving wrong information, whether intentionally or not, I do not know.  First I'll give my assessment of the rumor based on what I've seen - I rate it at about 90% unlikely to be true.  The only reason I give it a 10% possibility of truth has to do with what "McCartney" told Letterman - that it all began with the Abbey Road album cover where he was photographed barefoot which was supposed to indicate that he really is dead.  He says that he was wearing sandals and that it was hot out so he took them off.  The only problem with this explanation lies in the logic that if it really was that hot then the pavement would have been too hot to walk barefoot on.  Also, the rumour of his death began much earlier than the Abbey Road album cover photo shoot.

The Winged Beatle does make some interesting points about what The Beatles were up to, namely their involvement with the magick of Aleister Crowley, as well as experiments in magick with tape recorders William S. Burroughs was doing in London at that time discussed in his book The Ticket That Exploded.  However, the connection between that and the literal death of Paul McCartney sounds spurious and unconvincing.

The film points out that Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band was released in 1967 and sings about..."It was 20 years ago today Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play..." Well, 20 years ago -  1947, was the year Aleister Crowley died, so the film asks, "Was Aleister Crowley Sergeant Pepper?."  
  Apart from the fact that Crowley taught the band to play long before he died, this isn't such an unlikely association. Looked at magickallly - he taught the band to play.  "Play" adds up to 121 or 11 squared.  11 represents a number of "magick" - energy tending to change.   Also, the 3 Ps in Pepper suggest The Tower tarot image.  Crowley corresponds that with the Opening of the Eye of Horus  ie an introduction to the magickal universe he envisions.  Crowley was perhaps the most notorious celebrity The Beatles put on the cover of the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band albumHowever, that did indeed introduce a great many people to Crowley for the first time included noted occult scholar Lon Milo DuquetteYou can't ask for better PR than a top-selling Beatles album cover.

If there is any truth that The Beatles generated and/or fed the "Paul is dead" rumour,  I suggest the motive behind it to be the rich allegory involved rather than a cover-up of a literal death.   If McCartney did die and they covered it up, why would they release all the clues and hints to uncover the conspiracy?  Perhaps the real conspiracy, whether intentional or not, was to confront and remind their large audience about death.  Getting reminded about the real possibility of death at any moment
comprises a very basic element of bardo training.  Many of the clues suggest or literally point to death but often the specific connection to McCartney's alleged death isn't so clear.

For instance, playing Revolution Number 9 from the White Album backwards you'll hear, "Turn me on, dead man," every time the announcer says 'number 9' in the forward version.  Now, that phrase closely relates with Timothy Leary's slogan Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out, and also with a primary agenda from Crowley's Book of Lies ( that book asymmetrically ends with last word, Amen) but has little relevance for, or indication of a talented musician dying in a car crash.

When I played that track backwards the phrase, "Are we not all dead?  The answer is yes, yes, "  clearly and unambiguously came across.  That's never mentioned in these conspiracy films because it doesn't make sense in connection with someone's literal death.  It does make sense if they are referring to the esoteric death of the personality or ego.  It also makes perfect sense in the context of bardo training - getting somewhat, the feeling and sensation of death before you die.

John Lennon is on record as saying, ( and not being happy about it ) that he killed his ego as per his interpretation of instructions from The Psychedelic Experience, Leary, Metzner, and Alpert's, psychedelic guide book based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  Harrison got them all into yogic meditation, another technique resulting in temporary ego death.  The Paul is dead rumor makes more sense interpreted allegorically rather than literally.  The ego/personality "Paul McCartney" is dead as he shamanically transforms himself, and by extension The Beatles, from superficial moptop pop star(s) writing catchy songs into serious artists communicating the zeitgeist of the era.

It appears quite clear that The Beatles had a strong connection with Crowley's magick.  Paul McCartney, either the real one or the fake, is quoted as attributing The Beatles phenomena to "magick spelt with a k"  The Winged Beatle documentary shows a basic Crowley exercise about learning to read and write backwards and connects that with the backwards effects they put in their music.  Communicating and learning to receive communication in a reversed order describes a basic qabalistic technique, a technique that helps free the student from standard linguistic programming to perceive in new ways.

All of the "clues" purported to reveal Paul is dead seem to point to a conspiracy of some kind on the part of The Beatles but I find it unlikely they refer to McCartney's literal death nor do I think that they staged the whole thing to boost commercial sales.  I suspect this conspiracy was spontaneous and unorganized, simply the result of their researches into mind expansion technologies and the wish to communicate what they discovered.

The reason that so many of the clues concerned death may have had to do with their experiments into magick.  As mentioned before, bardo training, the preparation to survive death and embrace life, is a primary purpose of magick.  Surviving death constitutes the next big step in the evolution of human consciousness.  The Beatles, wittingly or unwittingly, seemed to conspire to help humans with this step, or at least get them started by subtly, but repeatedly confronting them with death.  Cranberry sauce indeed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Musical Gnosis: A Love Supreme/Music For Airports

Musical Intelligence....information and directives in and out through street singers.
Musical broadcasts, jukeboxes and records, High School bands, whistling boys, cabaret performers, singing waiters, transistor radios.
Red sails on the sunset way out on the sea.

- from  the Western Land by William S..Burroughs read by him in the song Ineffect from the album Seven Souls produced by Bill Laswell.

Anyone who has worked with music, creating it, listening to it or both, knows  it communicate a great deal of information.  So much so that a particular piece may still yield new insights after many listens.  Music can also act like a guide and suggest  evolutionary directives if one is open to it.  It can serve as a vehicle or medium for some sort of contact with Higher Intelligence. Led Zeppelin emphasizes this idea in the song Houses of the Holy: "Let the music be your master, can you hear the master's call?"  

The Burroughs quote implies that Musical Intelligence radiates abundantly.  My experience concurs.  We can even say that all good music, all genuine musical expression has an Intelligence behind it that can potentially communicate useful information when unlocked and accessed.  Music can be looked at as an artifact to be psychometrized.  Psychometry is the psychic ability to unlock information stored in artifacts.  I maintain that the musical form makes a very good container for storing alchemical, magical,  and evolutionary information.  Music communicates mood which means that it also communicates states of consciousness.  Gnosis responds to particular moods or emotional postures.  Getting into the right mood seems to unlock the gnosis or Intelligence transmitted musically.

Related to music's esoteric function of communicating mood, I suggest, based literally on thousands of experiments, that the mood of the space the music gets recorded, mixed or mastered in ends up in the final product.  In my experience, states of consciousness can and do get recorded and transmitted.  This doesn't require belief, it can be determined for oneself.  I'll give a couple of suggestions for experiments to find out for oneself a little later. 

I began to entertain the notion that the mood of a space can recorded onto a reproducible medium from cleaning up and mastering hundreds of talk tapes in E. J. Gold's archive recordings which date from the '60's.  Sometimes the intense mood given off had a much stronger effect than the words being said.  I've heard Robert Anton Wilson talk tapes that also have this quality.  The atmosphere around these talks communicates something as well.

The Beatles, at the height of their creativity, invoked powerful energies into their music.  For instance, the song they wrote for the first ever world-wide satellite broadcast was All You Need Is Love.  This deceptively simple, but  encompassing Zen koan prayer states a basic truth.  Visionary design science advocate Buckminster Fuller elaborated this truth in a different way when he said that we have everything we need to make the world work, the resources, technology, and intelligence.  We just need to take the emphasis away from the technological development of weaponry and direct toward what he called "livingry."  Livingry is defined by Fuller as that which supports Life.  The world  doesn't actually need war, violence and  the disadvantaging of one part of humanity to advantage another.  It may have seemed necessary at one time, but no longer rings true according to Fuller and other Comprehensivists.  It's a new day. 

We also see evidence of The Beatles magick in the Philip K. Dick gnostic reception discussed earlier.  PKD was listening to Strawberry Fields Forever when he got information beamed into him that saved his son'slife,  I found out more about this incident from the book What If Our World Is Their Heaven?  The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick.  The information that saved the life of his son was communicated through the music.

... first there was this flash of light, hit me right in the face and blinded me.  It did.  And it came out and all I could see was this pink and I was listening to this Beatles tune on the stereo and all of a sudden the words rearranged themselves.  And there was something outside me.  But what I heard was The Beatles' words rearranged.  It told me that my little boy had this, you know, undiagnosed birth defect, and it told me what the birth defect was.  And when I told Tess and I said you must take him to the doctor  immediately, it's urgent, she went right to the hospital to the doctor and it was true.  He did have that defect and he scheduled surgery for as soon as possible.

Something about Strawberry Fields Forever allowed it to get used as a vehicle for gnostic transmission.

Perhaps if we know something about the artist's intention behind a piece we can more easily access the headspace they were in when they composed and performed it.  Maybe that can aid to unlock the Musical Intelligence contained within?  Here's a couple of classic examples for experimentation:

John Coltrane's liner notes for A Love Supreme clearly state his intention behind the piece.  Here's an excerpt.  I would call it devotional or Bhakti yoga:

I will do all I can to be worthy of Thee O Lord.
It all has to do with it.
Thank you God.
There is none other.
God is. It is so beautiful.
Thank you God. God is all.
Help us to resolve our fears and weaknesses.
Thank you God.
In You all things are possible.
We know. God made us so.
Keep your eye on God.
God is. He always was. He always will be.
No matter is God.
He is gracious and merciful.
It is most important that I know Thee.
Words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thoughts,
fears and emotions – time – all related ...
all made from one ... all made in one.
Blessed be His name.
Thought waves – heat waves-all vibrations –
all paths lead to God. Thank you God. 

The complete liner notes are HERE.

Now find a copy of A Love Supreme and listen to it trying to get into 'Trane's headspace.  This experiment doesn't require any belief. Atheists and agnostics ( of which I am one) should have no problem with this.   God can be whatever you want it to be including nothing at all.

Here's the You Tube version if you don't have a better fidelity copy. It will still work:

And/or try this out: Brian Eno stated his intention behind composing the initial Ambient Music release, Music for Airports  was to write for someone who might be concerned and worried about or who might actually die in a plane crash.  It was music designed for those particular transit spaces called airports and Eno did use it to communicate something about fear of death.  With this in mind, listen to Music for Airports and see what, if any, of his communication comes through.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Musical Gnosis: The Who

Apologies for the delay in posting.  Been incredibly busy engineering and producing, and also moving. 

Sometimes looking back on extraordinary events I have to wonder if some nonhuman Intelligence Agency such as Coincidence Control conspired to bring about a certain outcome or if it was merely serendipitous random chance.  Case in point, the best concert I've ever seen as a spectator, The Who in 1980.

The story begins the week before the concert.  I was on tour with Sargent.  We were playing in Fort McMurray, Alberta, far in the North, about 300 miles Northeast of Edmonton.  It was my first experience with satellite television, rare in Canada in those days;  the first time viewing a Movie channel.  They played about a half dozen films and cycled them over and over, around the clock.  One of them was The Kids Are Alright, a 1979 documentary on The Who featuring a non-narrative pastiche of performances and interviews showcasing this amazing, high energy band.  I watched it 3 or 4 times in its entirety and saw various segments  at other times during the week we were there.  It proved quite educational as well as being most enjoyable.  Didn't know much about The Who before this.  I only knew their latest studio album, Who Are You, the last one recorded with drummer Keith Moon.  I particularly enjoyed the title track and a song called Trick of the Light.

The Who distinguished itself  from other major rock bands by having the focus of attention not on the lead singer, Roger Daltry, but on guitarist Pete Townsend, and on Moon whose frantic, manic drumming seemed equally at home in the worlds of punk rock or free jazz.  Moon was the inspiration for the Muppets drummer, Animal, a legacy no other drummer, not even Bonham or Baker can claim.  Bassist John Entwhistle, aka The Ox, held it all together with a foundation of rock solid musicianship that allowed Townsend and Moon to go off into space with their experimental free-form sonic and rhythmic explorations.

Toward the end of that week I picked up a copy of Rolling Stone magazine and noticed in their concert listings that The Who were going to be playing in Vancouver the early part of the next week.  Sargent, normally booked 6 nights a week, had that time off until Friday when they would be playing 2 one-nighters on the weekend.  It seemed that a Who concert was justifiable continuing education, so I decided to go.  I felt confident that I could get a scalper's ticket.  It was easy in those days, and not too expensive.  I booked a flight and called up a friend from High School, Jay Blue who had relocated to Vancouver.  Jay generously offered me a place to stay for the three days I would be there.

Arriving in Van I discovered that a Who concert ticket  was the hottest item in town.  This was the same tour where fans tragically died in Cincinnati due to poor crowd control.  As a result, Vancouver officials had held a lottery for the tickets to be sold.  Each request chosen would be allowed to purchase four tickets.  700,000 requests for tickets were sent in.  If all the requests had been fulfilled that would have meant 2.8 million tickets.  The Vancouver Coliseum only held about 26,000.  I began to wonder how easy it would be to get a ticket.  Fortunately, I found one advertised in the paper and was able to get it for $65 which seemed like a lot of money for a concert ticket back then.

The day of the concert was warm and drizzily, typical Vancouver weather.  I had some breakfast nosh at a cafe with Jay and we caught up on news.  Later, I met her brother Dennis, an energetic social activist.

Got to the concert, found my seat and made friends with a neighbor who offered a small partaking of hash that mellowed, but did not drastically alter the reality spectrum for me.  The seats were high up off of stage right, Entwhistle's side of the stage.  After the warm-up band, Vancouver favorites that did nothing for me,The Who came out rockin' full force with Can't Explain (writing this, I realize I can't, but will still try) then went immediately into Substitute.   Almost from the start Daltry did his well known bit of throwing the SM 58 microphone, attached to an extra-long cable, as high up as he could and catching it.  During the guitar solo in Substitute the mic went sailing way over his head.  Without looking back, Daltry backpedaled, jumped up and grabbed it like a baseball outfielder reaching for a fly ball about to go over the fence.  In the process of this, he crashed into Entwhistle's bass cabinets and bounced off of them, carrying on as if nothing had happened.  The reason he was able to bounce back was that 3 roadies, seeing what was about to happen stationed themselves behind the cabinets and held them up as Daltry made contact.  I could hardly believe the teamwork involved that allowed Daltry to just go for it knowing the support would be there.   Also was amazed that these roadies were alert enough to follow the lead singer's every move and be there when he needed it.  I guess it wasn't the first time.

At that time I was just getting in to punk rock.  With their leather jackets, high energy, and bare bones stage set, The Who appeared the ultimate punk rockers but with elegance and class.  The first time Townsend did one of his trademark windmill guitar strokes, I felt energy rushing up my spine.  I was far from alone  judging by the crowd response.

One of the songs I did know before seeing The Kids Are Alright - the classic song of rebellion, Won't Get Fooled Again.  An early band I worked for used to play it and it became my favorite song from this band.  At the concert I picked up on something unnoticed before.  You can hear it in the studio version but it's not too obvious.  The band I worked for didn't include this nuance.  It comes after the line, I know that the hypnotized never lies, there's an instrumental break for about 16 bars then Townsend walks up to the mic and says, Do ya...  that woke me up a bit.

The sound was terrible except for Townsend's guitar sound which was incredible.  Stacks of Hiwatt amps lined the back of the stage cranked up to a godly volume.  I was too young to have seen Hendrix. so had never experienced a guitar player who incorporated feedback so well into their sound.  I remember a moment when he sustained a sound into feedback then hit the top of the guitar body with the palm of his hand and angled it forward slightly causing the pitch of the feedback to modulate up a 3rd.  He had absolute control over this massive sound.

It seemed like I was hearing the guitar right off the stage and that the rest of the PA was competing to be as loud as Townsend.  Shrieking transient feedback from Daltry's vocal mic periodically rang out for most of the show but it didn't bother me in the slightest.  At one point I was looking through my neighbor's opera glasses watching Entwhistle fluidly play his bass line but couldn't hear it at all.  The seat on one side was vacant so I moved over and then could barely hear it.  A little lesson in the relative nature of acoustics never to be forgotten. 

The song Who Are You, the title track off their last studio album, included a lengthy extended instrumental section.  Townsend manipulated and cleaned up his sound so that it almost sounded like he was playing an acoustic. He was doing some delicate, intricate soloing at a relatively soft volume that drew the attention in.  After going on in that manner for awhile, he paused, cranked up the guitar volume, and hit an incredibly dissonant chord nowhere near the key he'd just been in.  Another shocking moment that woke me up.

The gnosis came through in the song See Me, Feel Me.  It wasn't much of a dramatic moment when it started; wasn't that familiar with the song.  However, the end section where they start singing:

Listening to you, I get the music
Gazing at you, I get the heat
Following you, I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet

Right behind you, I see the millions
On you, I see the glory
From you, I get opinion
From you, I get the story

 kept building and building.  It felt like they repeated these lines endlessly and with each repetition it seemed a  higher harmony was added.  Looking back, it seems like they were climbing a ladder or a stairway of intensity.  Then, another shock - the house lights came on.  Suddenly the focus was no longer on the band, who kept singing and playing, but on the audience which is what they were singing about all along.  As I realized this, I had the experience of leaving the body and becoming incredibly huge in awareness as if  becoming everything in the building.  It didn't last that long maybe 20 - 30 seconds though it felt much longer.  I had the unmistakeable glimpse of something far beyond common perception.  

This song and it's presentation had a strong effect on everyone because when they stopped, people gave them a standing ovation, cheered and clapped as if it was the end of the concert and were calling for an encore.  No one wanted to stop expressing their appreciation this way.  Finally Townsend had to say, " alright, alright, that's enough, we're going to play some more.

That one experience has taken me far because it showed what's possible.  I speculate that most people have these spontaneous glimpses of enlightenment at some time in their life but write them off as a dream or hallucination.  In my opinion, this level of consciousness should be and can become the normal state of affairs.  The dream - maya, or samsara, as Eastern mystics call it, seems the ordinary consensual reality that puts a myraid of limitations on what we can do and become.

I also noted that this experience was deliberately, one could say magically, induced through a powerful combination of sound, light and good music generated by shamanically inspired artists.  It forever changed how I approached rock concerts.

I was buzzing with energy when the show let out and walked several miles back to Jay's apartment.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Musical Gnosis and Philip K. Dick

A sudden realization of knowledge, intuitive information appearing out of nowhere, getting a profound insight into something by experiencing it, these all qualify as gnosis.   The word gnosis comes from the ancient Greeks.  It means knowledge, however its use by Greek philosophers indicates knowledge arrived at by experience as opposed to theoretical knowledge.

I wonder how many people like myself have had strong insights triggered by music?  In an earlier post  I mentioned reaching a deep understanding of Taoism through an exercise that involved dancing while listening to a live Rolling Stones recording.  It was the guitar interplay between Keith Richards and Mick Taylor that triggered it.  Prior to that I'd read and utilized the I Ching to good effect.  That, and reading Crowley's musings on the subject in his autohagiography, Confessions, marked the extent of my study on the subject.  Future posts will show more examples.

Gnosis triggered by music doesn't appear to be a widely explored subject judging by a google search.  If anyone has some leads on it, feel free to enlighten us in the comments.  Also, if anyone has had strong experiences of gnosis through music I'd love to hear about them.  I'm sure lots of people have.  Someone could write a book about musical gnosis.

I did find one excellent example searching the net.  This anonymous blogger wrote of his experience with  a piece of music called Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis.  He or she wrote:

It’s the kind of music that elevates you from your small, insignificant perspective and seems to place you at a kind of universal vantage point — perceiving a vast cosmos in a glance, understanding an infinite number of small things working together, seeing the hope and meaning and madness of it all.

The inspiration to write about this came from reading of Philip K. Dick's profound musical gnosis that actually saved his son's life. PKD was sitting with his eyes closed listening to Strawberry Fields Forever by The BeatlesHe got up and opened his eyes after hearing the lyric, Living is easy with eyes closed. Then he writes:

 I look toward the window. Light blinds me; my head suddenly aches. My eyes close and I see that strange strawberry ice cream pink. At the same instant knowledge is transferred to me. I go into the bedroom where Tessa is changing Chrissy and I recite what has been conveyed to me: that he has an undetected birth defect must be taken to a doctor at once and scheduled for surgery.

It turned out to be real.  His vision included anatomical details.  The surgery was performed and the boy's life saved.

The quote comes from The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, page 277.  This is my current "bible."  I feel it will eventually get recognized as one of the most important philosophical explorations of modern times after enough people have read and grokked it.  I plan to write a review when I've finished with it.   The Exegesis  documents PKD's search for the truth regarding several gnostic mystical visions he had in February and March of 1974.  While he presents many different theories and explanations about these events ultimately he seems agnostic about it all, quoting the Greek philosopher Xenophanes, "We can never know for sure, and even if we were right we wouldn't know it." - Exegesis, p. 285.

Philip K. Dick

Part of what makes The Exegisis so informative is all the philosophers, scientists and writers PKD references to back up whatever theory he's pursuing at the time.  Many of them I'm discovering for the first time but there are also some perennial favorites including Robert Anton Wilson, William S. Burroughs, James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon and several of his science fiction writing peers.

PKDs agnostic approach to his gnostic experiences seems a mirror image to a subject heading Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) introduced in his online Crowley course, the gnostic approach to agnosticism.  If gnosis means knowledge than a-gnosis means not knowledege.  Agnosticism represents a view regarding the unlikelihood of reaching absolute certainty about the bigger issues.  It often gets confused with atheism.  Atheists believe that God does not exist.  Agnostics say, 'I do not know if God does or does not exist. '  Taking a gnostic approach to agnosticism indicates a willingness to experientially seek out the truth of deeper philosophical matters, like 'Who am I' and 'Why am I here' despite never reaching a final conclusion.  A good example of this in play occurred at a RAW Q&A session when I asked Wilson what he thought about the Secret Chiefs.  In the Thelemic system, the Secret Chiefs represent the enlightened masters who supposedly guide human destiny.  They have corol[aries in other occult systems such as Theosophy. "The Secret Chiefs," RAW replied, "are a useful metaphor."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wesley Morgan - Back Room in Tulsa

I'm pleased to announce the official release of Back Room in Tulsa an EP by up and coming singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer/engineer Wesley Morgan. I was fortunate to work with Wesley and a stellar band he assembled on two of the tracks, Back Room In Tulsa, and Flesh and Bone at John Vanderslice's studio, Tiny Telephone, in San Francisco. It was an all analog recording  through a vintage Neve console onto a Studer Multitrack machine then mixed down to an Ampex 1/2" never once passing through an A/D converter en route. This certainly made a difference in the quality of the recording. I was especially happy with the vocal sound we got. Wesley brought his own microphone, a Neumann M149, the reissue of the classic M49, and we used a Neve mic pre and one of  Tiny Telephone's vintage compressors. He told me the exact signal chain we used but I must have deleted that message. Maybe he'll let us know in the comments. As a rule I never notate these things preferring to just go with what feels right in the moment, but I was so impressed by the intimacy of the vocal sound we got that I asked if he remembered the signal flow.

Morgan's songwriting hails from the Tom Waits school of gritty, dark and brutally honest expression with an implied promise of redemption if from nothing else than the very fact that it can be sung about.  That fits the first song, Back Room In Tulsa further described on his website as:  "what you might hear being played at a drive-up chapel on your way to hell. Full of dark imagery and lost love, "Backroom in Tulsa" is a rollicking good time that you will regret the next day."  The musicians do an excellent job of creating the appropriate atmosphere.  You will feel like you are there.

Flesh and Bone is a tender, country style (check the pedal steel in the background) ballad full of heart and soul. It gives a fresh take on the classic scenario of a narrator so devoted to his beloved that he would do anything for her yet tinged with the melancholy feeling of knowing the limitations of time and space, flesh and blood.

 The third song, Fade, is described as: a slightly different adventure. Born from the live looping Wesley employs in his solo show, Fade is built up from a simple beat box loop that is reminisicent of the intro to "Closer" from Nine Inch Nails. Wesley then applies different sounds on top of this loop to create an electro-acoustic hybrid that borrows heavily from Radiohead, Lou Reed, P.J. Harvey, and many others. The song's lyrics present two sides of the same story, a story that dwells in obsession and desire

The closing song, Last Call, an atmospheric instrumental, recalls the spatial immensity of Ry Cooder's soundtrack for the film Paris, Texas.

All of the songs can be previewed and the EP ordered HERE.

Wesley and group are performing a free CD Release show Thursday August 2nd, 7pm at Amensia in San Francisco's Mission district.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Hakim Bey and E.J. Gold

This post will conclude my series on E.J. Gold for the time being.

Some years ago I was invited to dinner with Bill Laswell, Janet Rienstra, and radical ontologist Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey.  As mentioned in the last post, Wilson/Bey held the prestigious post of the official philosopher for Axiom Records.  Not many record labels have an official philosopher, but then again Axiom was an extraordinary label in more ways than one.  I had seen Peter Wilson once before when he introduced Robert Anton Wilson the first time I heard RAW speak at New York's Open Center in Soho, and listened to him occasionally on W.B.A.I.  Apart from his book T.A.Z., also mentioned in the last post, I knew PLW as an authority on Sufi poetry, and  Hassan I Sabbah,  the Old Man of the Mountain, a person of multiple legends,.  Wilson's Angels served as the main reference book when E.J. Gold and his group made extensive studies and experiments with Angelology in the 1980s.

Wikepedia says of his early work:
After studying at Columbia University, he did extensive traveling in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan India and Nepal.. He studied Tantra in West Bengal and visited many Sufi shrines and masters. In 1971 he undertook research on the Ni'matullahi funded by the Marsden Foundation of New York.[2]
This research was the basis of Bey's book Kings of Love. The biography continues:
During 1974 and 1975 he was consultant in London and Tehran for the World of Islam Festival . I1974 he became director of English language publications at the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy in Tehran under Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and he studied, worked with, and published books by Nasr, Toshihiko Izutsu, Henry Corbin and others. He was editor of Sophia Perennis, the Journal of the IIAP.Bey left Iran during the Islamic Revolution
Hakim Bey

We ate at an upscale Indian Restaurant that had a royal bearing.  Not long after we were seated, Janet mentioned that she had a couple of friends interested in learning about Sufism and asked Wilson if he could recommend a good introductory book.  He hemmed and hawed, seemed quite reluctant to give a direct answer but finally suggested that the best approach was to read Sufi poetry in the original language without specifically saying what poetry to read.  I found this a little evasive, I'm sure he had his reasons, so I said that The Sufis and The Way of the Sufi by Idries Shah seemed good introductions to the subject.Wilson objected saying those books were misleading and went on a mini, soft-spoken rant against Shah and his work saying that he brought in a lot of his own ideas and called it Sufism.  These were distortions, he felt.  I mentioned that Shah had recently died and he stopped saying that he didn't want to speak ill of the dead.  I then asked Wilson what he thought about Gurdjieff's presentation of Sufi ideas?  He felt the same way, Gurdjieff added a lot of his own stuff, you couldn't call it authentic Sufism.  Then I asked him about Reshad Feild and Murat Yagan two writers I considered knowledgeable about Sufism. Wilson wasn't familiar with either of them.

Being young, arrogant, and getting mildly frustrated with Peter Wilson's criticism and inscrutability - there was no Wikipedia at that time, I didn't fully know his creds - I said, "well I know someone in California who started a Fake Sufi school."  Laswell knew immediately where I was going with this and gave me an encouraging look which basically communicated, 'tell him about E.J.'
Wilson replied, "who is that?"
"E.J. Gold," I said.
His face lit up, "ah, there's someone who has the real goods.  Is he still giving it out?"
"Yes," I answered, "if you listen closely and pay attention.  He doesn't make it easy."

His affirmation of E.J.s Sufism surprised me as Gold seems to add all kinds of things that wouldn't be thought of as Sufism.  He also doesn't call what he presents Sufism, maybe that's one reason why Wilson considers it genuine?  However, one of his classic books is the, The Joy of Sacrifice - Secrets of the Sufi Way. 
Another is Autobiography of a Sufi.

Peter Lamborn Wilson and I got along pretty good for the rest of the dinner.  He gave me a bunch a cool bookmarks from a publishing venture he was part of, Semiotexte, that featured different outlaw literary figures on each one.  "We will no doubt see each other again," he said as we parted but that hasn't happened yet.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How I Met E.J. Gold (addendum)

Shortly after my return from California I went to a lecture by Timothy Leary.  In it he stressed the importance of working in small groups, a strategy that also received a great deal of emphasis at the workshop and convention in California.  This part of the lecture strongly resonated with Gold's school.  Along the same lines, the following year would see the publication of Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone  which "describes the socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control" 
( Gray, Chris (2001). Cyborg Citizen. New York: Routledge. p. 47).  This idea seemed to be in the air.  Hakim Bey was to become the official philosopher of of Bill Laswell's Axiom Records.  A few years later, I would help record a spoken word record of the same name produced by Bill for Axiom.

At one point Leary made a comment I thought rather unusual for him to make in public considering his history with law enforcement.  He said that it seemed psychedelics were the only way to reach higher consciousness.  This registered as being not at all aligned with the California school.  Nothing was ever said or implied that psychedlics or any drugs were needed to reach the waking state.  They weren't a topic of discussion at all either pro or con.  They only came up at the initial workshop talk given by Claude Needham when he advised against using psychedelics saying that E.J. had mentioned they use up energies useful for working.

During the break I stepped outside and discreetly did a short Presence Meditation.  When I came back in and went to take my seat I made eye contact with Leary.  He was beaming at me as if he knew exactly what I'd been up to.  

After the lecture a small group of us hung out around Tim hoping to talk a little more.  I wanted to ask him the same question I had asked in California.  I soon got the chance, phrasing it a little less formally.  I asked him how I could get a job doing what he was doing.  He looked puzzled so I added, 'you know, being a cheerleader for change (one of his self-descriptive slogans), that kind of thing.'  He laughed and said he didn't know but if I ever found out to please let him know.  Then he asked me if I had a computer.  Remember, this is in 1990.  Home computers were on the rise but not as ubiquitous as they are today.  It was still a few years before the internet.  It's well known that Dr. Tim was one of the first schmurus to jump on the computer bandwagon saying  they were the next stage in brain-change technology.  With this prediction he showed remarkable prescience and was completely in synch with E.J. Gold.

Gold and his G.O.D.D. ( Games Of Diabolical Distinction) crew - Dr. Claude Needham, Richard Hart, and Barbara Haynes, have been making immersive video gaming environments for almost as long as there have been computers to program.  The latest releases are the Prosperity Path levels.  "These  nonviolent environments are learning tools designed to make your life and death better."  It's basically free costing a nominal 99 cents for a download fee.  I help out with the soundtrack.  Gold's blog, Gorebaggs World carries all the latest gaming news though it gets into other things also.  It appears aimed at the general public. No experience  necessary, you just need a computer.

Friday, July 27, 2012

How I Met E. J. Gold (part IV)

It was the last chance to ask the question burning up inside of me.  In the morning I would catch a flight back to New York City.  My mind was made up to ask it no matter what happened.  Of course, as fate or Coincidence Control would have it, the circumstances couldn't have been worse.   Despite what was going on, I absolutely had to ask my question.  When it seemed a break point had been reached, I cautiously asked a question - the wrong one!  I said, " can I ask a question?"  Gold went into a satirical impersonation Of Johnny Carson's Carnac the Magnificent routine where he hilariously divines the answer without knowing the question.  After some minutes of this when it seemed I wouldn't get a straight answer to the question of asking a question, I interrupted and asked what I really wished to ask.  "How can I get a job that requires the ability to access the waking state at will in order to work at that job?"

 Carnac the Magnificent

Gold's first response was to say that was a good question.  Then he looked directly at me and said that answering that question was like trying to explain nuclear physics to a bushman from Borneo.   The rest of the reply seemed addressed to the group as much as it was to me, sometimes even moreso.  Most of the following discourse didn't sound like a direct answer to the question, sometimes it seemed only tangentially related.  The talk wasn't recorded and I wasn't taking notes.  I wrote down what I could remember on the plane the next day but don't have access to that notebook at this time.  However, some things I'll never forget, such as:

"If you want the truth you have to tell the truth.  If you lie to yourself then you'll teach the whole Universe to lie to you."

Another direct moment came when he asked, "Who are you? ... who are you?"  The same question the hookah smoking caterpillar asked Alice in the Wonderland adventures. I didn't have an answer in that moment.  I'd done the Buddhist "neti neti"  ( not this, not that) exercise enough times to know what he was asking.  I knew that I was not "Oz Fritz," not a sound engineer, not a magician, yogi or spiritual seeker, etc. etc. - these are all masks, activities, or relations, they are not who I am at the deepest level.

Gold started taking about Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land book following that question.  He knew Robert and Virginia Heinlein through his connection with Galaxy Magazine.  E.J.s father, Horace L. Gold was the founding editor.  Apparently, they were very conservative.  Gold held that Heinlein intended SIASL as a satirical comment on the hippie lifestyle.  I still find this hard to believe though having read it again recently, I do find the free love section over the top and can see how that might be a parody.

At one point Fortrean type phenomena was mentioned particularly architectural structures that couldn't have been built by any known technology  at the time they were constructed.

Toward the end of the talk he brought up the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation, found in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy story.  I don't recall the context but remember him finally saying, "they're real ... they're out there ( points up to the right), well, no actually they're over there ( pointing down to the left) ... or maybe they're over there"( pointing horizontally to the right) amongst laughter, and that's how it ended.  Claude Needham said, " to be continued..."

I felt in a very altered state when the talk was over and had no idea how long  had been.  It seemed like a really long time but in consensual clock time probably lasted for 60 - 90 minutes.  I still felt altered 2 days later at Laswell's Greenpoint studio when I helped Jason Corsaro record the best drummer alive at the time, Tony Williams, for an album called The Word by Jonas Helborg.  After Tony left, I told Bill everything that had happened in California.  Bill said that he felt a strong contact high just hearing about it.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

How I Met E. J. Gold (part III)

When we last left off, I had accompanied a group of musicians from IDHHB's 1990 Convention site to observe a mixdown session at the Union Label studio, as it was then called, located in one wing of E.J. Gold's ranch-style home.  I didn't return to the Convention, spending the days assisting Jimmi Accardi with studio chores.  One day saw trumpet overdubs provided by a musician named David, last name unknown, a visitor from Dru Kristel's community in New Mexico. 

The post-convention workshop had been cancelled.   Participants had their money refunded and sent home, however a few people were invited to stay, among them my ex and I. Early mornings saw us out in the California sunshine weeding the large vegetable garden until it got too hot to work.  I was supposed to stay with that small group for the rest of the day but Jimmi  made a special request to get me back into the studio.

One night I recorded Lee Lozowick singing classic rock and blues songs.  Unbeknowst to me, Lozowick was a widely recognized spiritual teacher in his own right running a community outside of Prescott, Arizona.  I just recognized him as not a particularly great vocalist who sang with much passion.  The first clue that Lee wasn't your average Joe came when I approached him in the parking lot after the session and expressed that it was nice to work with him.  Another fellow, I later guessed to be a senior student, began to bristle and look defensive as I approached Lee, like he might be on some kind of security detail.  Lee simply acknowledged the comment and stayed relaxed.  None of those songs ever got used except one, Little Red Rooster, the Howling Wolf classic, which ended up on a compilation album. 

The first one on one conversation I had with Gold occurred in the recording studio.  I told him that I could get into different states  of consciousness but couldn't stay there with any consistency.  He said that what he did was get a job that required higher consciousness to work at it.  I started to ask how he got his job then stopped myself and asked how I could get such a job?  He said that was a good question but that it should be asked before a group.  He told me to formulate the question as best I could then ask it at lunch in the dining room in front of the group.  Then he asked me a question, "Why is God in Hell?  God is everywhere, right?  So must be in Hell, too?!  I am God in Hell, Jimmi is God in Hell, you are God in Hell, etc. etc. so why is God in Hell?"  I had no idea what he was getting at so made no response.  I did recall Robert Anton Wilson writing in his Introduction to Visions in the Stone that Qabalists consider "Hell" to be the space/time continuum.

By the time lunch arrived I had formulated the question as, "how can one get a job that requires the ability to access the waking state at will in order to work at that job?"  I was prepared to ask it, however Gold made it impossible to say anything by playing back some music at a substantial volume and exhorting us to pay close attention to it.  So I thought, ok, I'll ask it at dinner.  Dinner rolled around, and again a space was created where I felt I could not ask the question without interrupting something more important.  I started to get a little antsy.  Every meal I attended in Gold's dining room for the remainder of my time there played out a similar situation.  My neccesity to ask this question kept building and building to a breaking point until I felt that I would be missing a tremendous opportunity if I was to leave California without asking the question.  It finally came down to my last evening before returning to New York.  I resolved that I would ask the question no matter what breach of conduct it required.  I might as well be dead if I left without asking the question is how strong it felt at the time.

Earlier in the week I overheard Gold make an unusual comment to Lee Lozowick saying that he lied about the Work 50% of the time.  This related to something Claude Needham had said when initially addressing the pre-convention group which was to not automatically accept anything Gold or anyone else said, including himself, as true.  They might be wrong, he said.  He then gave a past  example of people spending their whole time out there getting steered down a dubious course by community members with a personal agenda.  I didn't get the sense he was saying Institute staff would intentionally give misinformation but that it might not be relevant to our own course.  This is why I posted the Wilson video where he suggests never fully buying into other people's BS (Belief Systems) , '"I don't care who they are" - this seems very much the spirit of what Claude communicated.  That also relates with the second Wilson video - "every perception is a gamble"  To unquestioningly accept that what you perceive equals reality gives rise to "naive realism."  Don't fully buy into your own BS either.

So why would Gold deliberately lie about the Work?   I don't fully know but would suggest it has something to do with dissuading anyone of the misapprehension of appearing as some sort of infallible Guru figure.  A traditional Guru in the Eastern sense is someone you put your full trust in to carry you to the other side.  It requires unconditional obedience and unquestioning devotion.  You better hope the Guru knows what he or she is doing, and with a plethora of charlatans and out there, you risk some probability that they do not.  In my opinion, fully surrendering to an external Guru indicates the giving up of personal responsibility.  You don't have to make the effort and go through the pain of becoming enlightened, or whatever you wish to call it, the Guru will do it for you.  However true and effective that may be, you still have to go through your own death on your own.

Gold refers to spiritual teachers as schmurus which seems a yiddish way of gently discounting the Guru idea.  Like the joke about a guy going to a psychologist saying, "Doc, I think I've got one of them Oedipus Complexes," whereupon the doctor replies, in a heavy New York  accent, " Oedipus schmedipus, as long as you love your mother."

As I see it, the point is that you have to learn to think and do for yourself.  That won't happen if you're being told what to do all the time.  The realization that every perception is a gamble doesn't appear obvious in the ordinary course of events.  If you're told that 50% of what the schmuru says isn't true, then every time they communicate about the Work you will knowingly make a gamble of whether to accept or reject it as true.  Even accepting the 50% number seems a gamble. 

Gold also didn't want to be referred to as a teacher.  At the early workshop he said to not think of him as a teacher but rather a fellow researcher or a technical adviser.  However, he has been called a teacher's teacher by others on more than one occasion.  The teachers he has worked with include Chögyam Trungpa, Tarthang Tulku, Thich Nhat Hanh, Reshad Feild, John Lilly, Robert Anton Wilson, Claudio Naranjo, Lee Lozowick, Purna Steinitz, Dru Kristal, Reb Zalman Schachter, Andrew Cohen, Werner Erhard, John Allen aka Johnny Dolphin, Timothy Leary, Swami Vishnudevananda, Ricardo Flores aka Koyote, Isaac Bonewits, and Poke Runyon to name a few.  Not to say that Gold was a teacher to them all, for some he clearly was, for most it seems the influence went both ways.  Gold was friends with Jim Morrison who used the patchouli oil Gold sold out of his Compleat Enchanter shop located in the Gemini Psychedelic Supermarket in L.A.  Morrison was a frequent visitor and they would often talk philosophy and other arcane subjects.  This may have been how Morrison acquired his interest in shamanism.

Part IV, the conclusion, should be ready shortly.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Jon Lord's Greater Feast

Another extraordinary musician has joined the All-Star line-up in the sky.  Jon Lord who lent his signature amplified Hammond B3 Organ sound to Deep Purple, and later to Whitesnake, died earlier today in London from complications arising from pancreatic cancer.  Lord was one of the first rock musicians to incorporate classical music into his compositions.  Deep Purple's album, Concerto for Group and Orchestra was their first release to make it onto the charts.  Wikipedia has an extensive biography on him.

I listened to a lot of Deep Purple in my formative years.  Their album Machine Head was a favorite, but I particularly enjoyed the extended live jams from Made In Japan.  Songs such as Highway Star, Space Truckin, Lazy, and of course the venerable classic, Smoke on the Water stayed at the top of my playlist for some time. 

Lord shows his amazing versatility in this video. Bon voyage ...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Robert Anton Wilson On Reality

Taking a slight break from the "How I Met E.J. Gold" fugue with the harmonically contrapuntal but very much related Robert Anton Wilson On Reality video clip.

Highlights include:

1) Wilson's take on the origins of all prejudice, bigotry and ignorance - not taking into account that "every perception is a gamble," and not realizing that what we consider "reality" comes down to an interpretation of the signals we receive.  He says that in philosophy, "what I perceive is reality is called naive realism."

2) "Every reality tunnel might tell us something interesting about our world."

3) "We are trapped in linguistic constructs"  This leads to a short discussion of e-prime, trying to remove the word "is" from speech and writing, and the value of that for getting out of angry or negative emotional states.

4) The advantage of knowing your own Cosmic Schmuckness

5) People arguing about words "should be put in a nice quiet home in the country with kindly doctors and beautiful nurses and good sedatives.  Instead, they end up in government mansions and start bombing one another or leading a religious crusade for the one true faith and kill each other with swords"

6) "Why it's more fun to be an optimist than paranoid."

To return to the first point, naive realism seems related to " what Gurdjieff called the ‘formatory apparatus’, that part of the brain which was busy classifying ideas and objects, putting them into pigeon holes, and thereafter returning mechanically to them as statements of truth."

-quoted from Louise Welch , ‘Orage With Gurdjieff In America’: pg. 47 as seen on this website.

The formatory apparatus often assumes and jumps to conclusions about things with insufficient data.  The classic example in our times justified the 2nd war in Iraq due to the erroneous belief that they had programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.  Even politicians can get things wrong!

When we return to our main musical program, "How I Met E.J. Gold,"  I'll show how this video and the  Wilson video at the close of the last post fit into the overall theme.

Enjoy the video!