Sunday, April 18, 2021

Crossroads of the Soul by Worlds Within Worlds

Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists, worlds more different, one from the other than those which revolve in infinite space, worlds which, centuries after the extinction of the fire from which their light first emanated, whether it is called Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us still each one its own special radiance. 
- Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

Art is a veritable transmutation of substance.  By it, substance is spiritualized and physical surroundings dematerialized in order to refract essence, that is, the quality of an original world.  This treatment of substance is indissociable from "style."  
- Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs.

Crossroads of the Soul was our quarantine album project. Worlds Within Worlds comprises six individuals, Tito Rios, Niralee Kamdar, Nishit Gajjar, Sebastian Pulido Vela, Paula Galindo and myself.  The group name reflects the diversity of musical influences contributing to the sound as well as the connecting theme linking the songs: voyaging through space and time, the exploration of higher consciousness.  The music ranges from electronic, ambient, ambient dub, Andean folk, all variously enhanced with Brazilian percussion and samples from around the world.  It is released on the Cloister Recordings label.

1. Before Creation
2. Floating In Space
3. Bardo State
4. Crossroads of the Soul
5. Tiny Speck of Dust
6. Prasad
7. Kaleidoscope
8. The Burden of Illumination
9. Crown of Creation

Produced by Worlds Within Worlds.  Mixed and Mastered by Oz Fritz except Prasad mixed by Tito Rios

Special guests: Laylah Hali lead vocals on Crown of Creation.
                        EJ Gold - vocals on Floating In Space and temple bells on Bardo State
                        Anonymous Mullah - prayer call on Bardo State
                        Crows - on Bardo State
                        Mother whale with calves - on Kaleidoscope

Sample Material: International Free-Zone by Bill Laswell used in Bardo State

You can download the digital album in your favorite format for $7 here on Bandcamp.

All proceeds benefit the Institute for the Development of the Harmonious Human Being (IDHHB)

Crossroads of the Soul is a straight-up, old-school album in the sense that these songs indicate a sequential series that goes somewhere, from Before Creation to the Crown of Creation.  These tracks can be enjoyed individually, in any order; as a whole, it signals an intentional journey outside the boundaries of human experience, an exploration of the bardo space between where we've been and the direction we may be heading.  We even receive a little food along the way, some nourishment in the form of Prasad.

The title track has interesting symbolism and connotations with the archetypal cross at the core.  Legend has it that Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads and made a pact with the Devil to exchange his soul for fame and fortune as a bluesman.  This crossroads was Highway 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  Johnson did find posthumous fame, but not so much fortune as he was poisoned the following year by the jealous husband of one of his mistresses.

Bob Dylan has also found himself a subject of this legend.  Minnesota friends of his at the time say he left Minneapolis as an average Woody Guthrie imitator and came back from New York a mere 6 months later with the talent just starting to unfold that would drive him to become the songwriter of a generation who would eventually receive a Nobel Prize in Literature and get compared to Shakespeare.  What happened, what changed, what transformed?  Dylan jokingly comments in the No Direction Home documentary about speculation that he followed in Robert Johnson's footsteps and made a midnight trip down to the crossroads.

The crossroads indicates a choice-point, a decision that can influence or determine the course of the rest of your life according to those legends.  According to Tibetan Buddhist legend, when the soul voyages in the Bardo following the body's biological demise, it comes across entrances to wombs which can lead to rebirth into another biological lifetime, a reincarnation.  It encounters crossroads between continuing through the Bardo to wherever it may lead, or ending the journey by taking rebirth.

In a completely different respect, yet still relevant to Crossroads of the Soul, we consider the cross as a model for the whole of Creation with the four legs extending infinitely in each of the cardinal directions and, perhaps, a rose at the center.  

The science fiction writer, Phil K Dick, gave an interesting interpretation of the cross:

"The blood and the cross are the highest point of this world (2-3-74).  The tears – 'of the repentant sinner' – turn to agape, as in Tears; the tears has to do with sin and atonement and Christ and the cross.  But all this (sorrow) is a gate to: love (v.Tears!) and love (agape) equals ecstasy; so tears of sorrow – the cross – are converted into the opposite; joy. Through agape, this is the goal and mystery of Christianity, this conversion; utter sorrow (Mitleid) to bliss (agape)."

2-3-74 refers to February and March of 1974, the period when Dick had a series of gnostic mystical visions and experiences. Tears capitalized and in italics refers to his 1974 book Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, set in a future dystopia where the U.S. has become a police state after a Second Civil War.

Gurdjieff begins his epic science fiction opus, Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, with an elaborate, ornate rendition of the sign of the cross. The Qabalistic Cross begins an essential rite in Golden Dawn based magic, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  Aleister Crowley and his group performed this ritual everyday at their Abbey of Thelema in Sicily.

The song, Crossroads of the Soul, begins with a distant rhythmic and melodic guide track that sounds like it might be coming from a broken radio.  You hear the sound of the door to the Crypt at the Basilica du Sacre Couer in Paris opening into the main body of the song, changing the space, the road, led by the warm tone and melody of an Andean flute.  After the first chorus, the distant melodic guide track crosses the path, indicating a choice-point before the solar melody of the flute and accompaniment re-enters to guide the journey on. 

The palette of sounds comes from all over the world, the mix defined an overall architecture of these sonic worlds within worlds.  The shehnaie samples in Bardo State originated from recordings Bill Laswell and I made in Madras, (as it was known at the time) India.  Part of the chorus in Kaleidoscope is sung by Niralee and Nishit in a dialect from India I don't know the name of.  Indian instruments such as tablas and tanpura drones are used in Nishit's compositions.  Brazillian-style latin percussion and trap set gives the beat, rhythm and movement in some songs.  Tito Rios uses some traditional instruments from his Bolivian heritage in his pieces opening another mood and dimension of sound.  Different chambers of world sounds and sensibilities line the hallway of this journey through the album.

Kaleidoscope starts with a primitive beat, something you might imagine hearing at a Santeria ritual - a beat intended to take consciousness somewhere else.  It speaks of the Univocity that Gilles Deleuze promotes and attributes to Spinoza and others.  The vocals are chants; the electronics greatly contribute to an otherworldly atmosphere that feels like being in any number of Phil Dick novels or other science fiction constructs.  The chorus: All is one, only one is sequentially sung in English, Spanish and an Indian dialect to celebrate in song the richness of difference that speaks from the same voice.

The final track, Crown of Creation, suggests magick and mysticism:

Worlds within worlds infinitely expand
And contract themselves in nothingness
Let's find ourselves in nothingness

Let's ride the stars, it's all crystal clear
Every dusk has its dawn
As above so below, as below so above


Monday, April 5, 2021

The Starseed Signals by Robert Anton Wilson

 Magick keeps opening me and opening me and opening me ...

 - Starseed Signals p. 428 

The Starseed Signals 
A RAW perspective on Timothy Leary PHD
by Robert Anton Wilson 

This new 470 page plus book published by Hilaritas Press out of Grand Junction, Colorodo lifts the veil a little bit more on two of the most remarkable philosophers and experimental adventurers of the XXth Century.  Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary explored, navigated and transmitted cutting edge, brain-change technologies and applications beginning in the 1950s going until the very end of their respective lives.   They both used their biological deaths to communicate very potent final messages. This book emerged out of one of the most prolific and creative periods in Wilson's writing career, the early 1970s, when he also wrote Cosmic Trigger I, Prometheus Rising and began work on Schrodinger's Cat.

The Starseed Signals arose out of necessity, the necessity to rationally and intelligently explain Timothy Leary, his ideas and research findings, at perhaps the most difficult time in Leary's life.  Behind the scenes in this book, Leary desperately negotiated for his freedom and life with the fascist Nixon regime under extreme duress in harsh prison conditions while simultaneously getting prematurely judged and condemned as a sell-out informant by the Left.  Misinformation and disinformation about Leary's situation abounded and part of Wilson's intention, it seems, was to set the record straight.  

Herein we find a story of real philosopher/adventurers like they had in Ancient Greece:  philos = brotherly love; sophia = wisdom; the story of two friends who truly loved wisdom to the point of endangering their own welfare in its service.  We find out that Wilson presciently compared Leary's position as a State target to Wilhelm Reich's earlier persecution and basically warned him in person that a similar fate might await (it did).  Leary brushed aside these dire concerns with his typical care-free optimistic good cheer mixed perhaps with too much denial for his own good.   

In these pages, Wilson presents Leary's case, his work and consequences, as objectively as possible beginning with the groundbreaking publication of The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality, "a study of comparative realities, the power politics of perception and emotion.  Its thesis, in colloquial terms, is that "ego" is a social conspiracy for which one person at a time gets blamed."  You will find no better explanation of Leary's groundbreaking pre-psychedelic scientific contributions to Psychology.  That alone makes this book a treasured historical document.  

The Starseed Signals was a lost work. RAW set it aside and moved on and the manuscript disappeared.  The story of how it got found and emerged to see the publishing light of day is told on page XI.  Some of this material found its way into Cosmic Trigger, The Final Secret of the Illuminati.  In some regards, this seems like the Bootleg edition, or the expanded out takes reel for Cosmic Trigger.  It gives a lot more background and context to what went on around the time of the creation of Cosmic Trigger, a book that changed my life.   It seems that because it never went through the final process of getting published, RAW's own editing seems less rigorous, more wide open i.e. a lot more left in, than in finished works like Cosmic Trigger.  

This seems an essential read for anyone interested in Dr. Leary's 8 Circuit model of Consciousness, this likely being the first of Wilson's ongoing lifelong exegetical presentations of this model.  I've found that RAW has a unique ability to take complex information and present it an understandable way to average people like myself.  He does that in this book not only with Leary's latest research and taxonomy of consciousness but, to greater or lesser degrees, with a variety of subjects: Aleister Crowley's Magick, LSD, Gurdjieff's system ( less so than Crowley's), longevity and immortality research, Wilhelm Reich, William Burroughs, Space Migration, and the consciousness of plants, among others.  The first two short paragraphs in the book alone references Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, John Lilly and the value of skepticism. The 8 Circuit model gets the highest percentage of explanation with multiple iterations of it throughout the book.  

The Starseed Signals derives its title from a series of telepathic experiments that Leary and a few others did where they felt they received communication from  an extraterrestrial source of Higher Intelligence.  Independently, and coincidentally, RAW experienced similar contact phenomena around the same period of time.  Starseed also refers to the theory of Panspermia, that life originated in Outer Space, that the chemical "seeds" for life arrived on earth via meteorites.  Leary aligns himself with this hypothesis.

  Sirius, the Dog Star

The subtitle of this book, Link Between Worlds, ostensibly indicates the link between Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson yet this subtitle covers broad territory.  As a student of Magick, I took great interest in the presentation of Wilson's research into Aleister Crowley and how that connects with the Starseed subject matter.  

Naturally, The Starseed Signals transmits multiple signals.  One could consider it a frequently modulating carrier wave like a radio or television (tell a vision) station. The root of signals = signs.  Cabala describes a complex lexicon of signs (semiotics) and we know that RAW availed himself of this method.  I agree with Eric Wagner when he states in his Insider's Guide that one can find Cabala in all of RAW's books, this new find doesn't make an exception.  The praxis of Cabala also opens links between worlds.   

We discover that RAW had begun a book project about Crowley titled Lion of Light.  RAW leads off Chapter 8 (Hod = Mercury = communication)  with a quote from a poem called One Star in Sight showing where he got the title for the Crowley book project:

To man I come, the number of
    A man my number, Lion of Light; 
I am The Beast whose law is love
    Love under will, his royal right –
Behold within, and not above,
    One star in sight!
                                         - Aleister Crowley

The number in question = 666 which, under oath in a Court of Law, Crowley explained as the solar number 6 given three times.

One premise of magick and this book maintains that humans can make contact with Intelligence far beyond the human domain.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it; we can carefully and attentively observe the Starseed semiotics and infer whether such contact may have occurred with the invocation of this book much like a physicist might study the residual effects in a Wilson Cloud Chamber after bombarding it with energetic, sub-atomic particles.  Cabalistic semiotics that he wouldn't have consciously known about appears the same rationale Crowley uses to "prove" The Book of the Law came from a Higher Intelligence outside his own.

For instance, the very first word put down by RAW in Chapter One = "This;" the very last word in the book = "service" – the entire text lies between the words, "This service."  The Starseed Signals not only provides a service, in my opinion, it illustrates how to be of service both to self and to others.  Perhaps just a coincidence, yet I find it notable that "this service" = 69 by the Cabalistic method of Notarikon (transposing the initial letters into numbers and adding them).  69 can suggest mutual reciprocation, like the yin/yang symbol of the Tao, or connection, like the edges of a book – Finnegans Wake being a prime example.  The gematria of 69 = " a manger, stable; an enclosure;"  as in the edges that enclose this book.

On page 174 RAW makes a startling admission I've not seen elsewhere, he gives himself away a little more than usual:

"I also developed what occultists call 'inner certainty;' that is, I knew when this sixth circuit faculty was operating and could be trusted. ...

I have now developed a system, based on Crowley combined with Dr. Leary and Dr. John Lilly, in which any ordinary person can be trained to obtain similar results within six weeks, at least on a sporadic and occasional basis.  Further development of the sixth circuit, of course, requires further training."

Later, in a letter to Greg Hill published in the closing pages, RAW mentions that a collection of essays called Prometheus Rising is scheduled for publication.  Perhaps this contains the system he was referring to?  Although he recommends the first exercize  in PR be practiced for 6 months, not 6 weeks.

The Starseed Signals begins with an invocation of Nuit in the form of a poem by Arlen Wilson called Our Lady of Outer Space.  The Notarikon of the book's first phrase, "[t]his is a journey inward and outward..." = 111 which connects with the initials of Anna Livia Plurabelle, the name of the Goddess archetype in Finnegans Wake. A journey inward and outward also alludes to the Thelemic cosmology of Nuit as the infinitely large (outward) mating with Hadit, the infinitely small (inward).  And so on...  

Also of interest to me is the brief description of the group magick workshops RAW gave in Berkeley, the first I've ever heard about that specific activity.

This book begins with a quote from Leary that asks, "[w]hat will be the next step in biological and social evolution?"  One could say that the rest of the book attempts to answer that question along with much insight into researchers who consider it and their methods.  Shortly after, following the introduction and emphasis on skepticism, RAW states the intention of this book:

"But we do not ask the reader to accept anything here as dogma.
If this book encourages further investigation and original thinking, it will have served its purpose; if it leads only to blind faith in the hypotheses it puts forth, it will have failed entirely."