Friday, June 30, 2006

Open Thread

Silent weekend - man alive, I'm burnin' up on my brain. - Bob Dylan

I was hoping to post today, but we're in a canyon of boxes here, and I'm afraid I don't have the time or the attention to apply myself to it. So please, talk amongst yourselves, and I'll see you after the weekend.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

If I Only Had a Plane

Strawman, going straight to the devil
Strawman, going straight to hell - Lou Reed

It hasn't been a month since Salon's Farhad Manjoo declared case closed on 2004 election fraud. (The abbreviated argument, via Sadly, No: "There may have been widespread election fraud in 2004, but what really gets me steamed is the zany conspiracy theory that it might have affected the election.”) But he's already back to slay another conspiracy dragon with "The 9/11 deniers." And yes, that's the implication: to dispute the finding of the Kean commission is to make yourself a fellow traveller with Holocaust revisionists. (Though truthfully, we need to be careful about what company we keep.)

Is Gerald Posner glancing anxiously over his shoulder? The 28 year old Manjoo seems to be making a run for his title of Alpha Debunker. His prejudicial deference to authority, his selection and deselection of evidence, his strawmen and his sarcastic disdain for contrary thought should grease his way to great success. And conventional wisdom's eager-to-please houseboy has already come a long way since his 2000 graduation, "with apparently no advanced degrees in social science or political science."

Predictably enough, Manjoo's representative text of 9/11 conspiracy is the flypaper Loose Change, which he calls "something like a film version of a highly contested Wikipedia page." (Suggesting a certain shallowness of thought Manjoo's wiki fixation runs deep, as demonstrated by his cut and paste blog, What I Learned on Wikipedia Today.) Manjoo's critique of Dylan Avery's work is almost wholly borrowed from Jim Hoffman's "Sifting Through Loose Change", and though he credits Hoffman, he also studiously ignores Hoffman's far more credible case for conspiracy.

Following Salon's RFK Jr hit piece, Bob Fitrakis wrote that "Manjoo is much like the Tobacco Institute or the people they used to send around to show us film strips about 'Readi Kilowatt' back during the Cold War. They are individuals who have developed a cottage industry as debunkers and denialists. And in a society famed for Know Nothings an anti-intellectualism, of course an opportunist like Manjoo would come forward."

True. And much the same could be said of Dylan Avery. The 9/11 movement remains a creature of the general culture that rewards style and flash over substance and reflection. The dumbed down is raised up, and a scattershot of distortions and faulty assumptions is too often mistaken for argument. (Avery even shares Manjoo's wikipedia fixation, citing it with authority in Loose Change.)

Debunkers and disinformation artists aren't always found in the alphabet soups of intelligence agencies. Often, they're just working for themselves, trying to establish their names in whatever fields they've staked out by launching them into the prevailing winds. And frequently, Looking Out for Number One means you've got the Company's back whether you know it or not. Manjoo and Avery deserve each other. Now, how about the rest of us?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Crimes of Aspiration

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They'd probably put my head in a guillotine - Bob Dylan

Around the time of the 2002 Academy Awards, a screenwriter somewhat estranged from Hollywood told me he felt like flying a plane into the Kodak Theatre. (Whoopie Goldberg was hosting, so he probably wasn't the only one.) He had no flight experience, no access to an aircraft, no history of violence. He wasn't "operational" - just some guy who happened to be pissed off and briefly indulged in a dark fantasy. But by the seeming logic of last week's Miami arrests, Whoopie and the motion picture establishment don't know how close they came to becoming a stain and a ruin among smouldering Bob Mackie originals.

It's a stretch to call the Miami 7 amateurs. Like even mediocrity requires talent, being an amateur takes avocation. If they had been true amateurs, they would have sought explosives and weapons' training from their make-believe "contact," rather than new boots and uniforms. These guys were playing paintball al Qaeda. They were no more amateur terrorists than a daily regime of lip-syncing and air guitar might make me an amateur musician.

Miami and South Florida, of course, do not want for terrorists, but they are the amateurs who have been made operational by the true professionals who dream the dark fantasies of empire into being. It is these deadly amateurs who become the empire's tactical expression. Robert Parry does a nice job detailing US national security's hypocrical embrace of mass murderers such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada. (Though "national security" means very little when nations are essentially meaningless.) And after the Cubans have come others, like Atta and Al-Shehhi, who landed in the old Iran-Contra milieu and helped supersize it into the "War on Terror."

The case of the Miami 7 also implies the domestication of the terror threat - we have seen al Qaeda, and it is us - but as with Katrina, which saw resourceful whites "scavenge" supplies while blacks "looted," race and poverty remain defining characteristics of the ruling class's scaremongering. It can no longer be said, even fallaciously, that "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here," because they are here already, and they're looking like the poorest and darkest of us.

Just as America's policy towards the Middle East and the Muslim world has not been composed of false steps but rather calculated provocations, so too it's war at home, with the disappearance of the middle class and the ongoing projects of disenfranchisements. That the sharpening of tensions breeds resentment and violence should surprise no one, least of all those wielding the sharpener. And the violence needn't be more than an impractical thought to be treated as a credible threat.

In the June issue of Harper's, Ben Metcalf wrote:

Am I allowed to write that I would like to hunt down George W. Bush, the president of the United States, and kill him with my bare hands?

Let me be clear that I have no wish to perform such a deed in fact, nor do I want anyone else to destroy bodily what is, at least in the technical sense, a fellow human being. (Let me be equally clear that the above qualification, although true, is intended primarily as a legal ploy and should in no way be attributed to my claimed pacifism, which today's prosecutor might find a way to use against me. I would also like excused from the proceedings my personal feelings for George W. Bush, embarrassment and rage, as they could probably be turned to my disadvantage as well.) In truth, I bring neither a message nor a promise of violence. I seek only to gauge what level of discourse is still acceptable in this country by asking, in the hope that I might someday participate in that discourse, whether I am free to posit that it would probably be great fun, and a boon to all mankind, if I were to slaughter the president of the United States with my bare hands.

Ben Metcalf was allowed to write that, and it probably didn't hurt that his name is Ben Metcalf and his magazine is Harper's. Someone with another name, writing farther afield from the mainstream, might have had the knock on the door by now. America's affluent white liberals may feel better entertaining the fantasia that their thought crimes make them enemies of the state, but it would appear they are still far too comfortable to make the enemies' list.

By the way, my family and I are moving to a new home over the next couple of days, so while we pack-up and unpack my time online will be disrupted. I hope not by much.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Chant Down Babylon

Men see their dreams and aspiration
Crumble in front of their face
And all of their wicked intention
To destroy the human race - Bob Marley

Maybe more Yippie, and less Hippie?

Yesterday on the RI board, "Johnny Nemo" remembered Abbie Hoffman saying "There were all these activists, you know, Berkeley radicals, White Panthers... all trying to stop the war and change things for the better. Then we got flooded with all these 'flower children' who were into drugs and sex. Where the hell did the hippies come from?"

The Yippies were trickster revolutionaries, who staged shamanic acts to advance social transformation. They led thousands to the Pentagon in 1967 to attempt its levitation. They crashed the galleries of Wall Street to shower money on the trading floor. They ran a pig for president. But the decade, in America's memory, belongs to the Hippies.

The misty-eyed nostalgia has created bitterness and confusion over how members of the Grateful Dead can also be members of the Bohemian Grove. Before Neil Young's change of heart, there was dismay at his support for Ronald Reagan and at his "Let's Roll" jingoism. And there's the resistance I still feel within myself to the consideration that Hunter S Thompson may have been up to some pretty weird shit with some disturbed company, even though Michael Aquino is also a fan, and Thompson said in 2003 that he didn't "hate Bush personally. I used to know him. I used to do some drugs here and there."

But where the hell did the hippies go? They entered into power, and the institutions of selfishness, because If it feels good, do it is a philosophy of life that doesn't shy from power, because it needs power to feed the habit.

The Sixties, at least as romantically recalled, is one of the most debilitating things that ever happened to progressive America. A mass, Dionysian movement for social justice became co-opted and debased into Bacchian self-indulgence, and was called a triumph.

In Breaking Open the Head, Daniel Pinchbeck tells the story of Robert, who one day in the Sixties consumed three Fly Agarics with some friends. To their disappointment, nothing seemed to happen. Until he went to the kitchen to grab a beer:

I took out the beer, turned around, and across the kitchen there were three huge mushrooms staring at me - a five foot tall, a four foot tall, and a three foot tall mushroom. The mushrooms were red and yellow and they had little eyes and little mouths. They looked just as solid and real as me or you.

Robert and the mushrooms stared at each other, until the largest asked, "Why did you eat us?" Robert thought, and then replied, "I was just following my dream."

Pinchbeck writes:

The mushrooms conferred with each other. Finally they seemed satisfied by his answer. "But are you prepared to follow this path?" the tallest Fly Agaric asked. Robert answered, intuitively and without hesitation, "Yes I am." Whereupon the mushrooms vanished. Fifteen years passed before Robert realized that the path he had agreed to follow was plant shamanism.

(Unknown at the time to Robert, Paul Devereux writes in The Long Trip that "the spirits of the mushrooms might appear to the individual and converse with him directly.... The number seen depends on the number of mushrooms consumed.")

A friend of Robert's who also ate Fly Agarics received a similar visitation, and was also asked "Why did you eat us?" But he answered, "I was trying to get high." The mushrooms told him, "Well, if you ever do this again, we're going to kill you."

That was America in the Sixties, and that was its choice, and these are the consequences. And it was more than just the mushrooms talking. At almost every turn in the culture and the counterculture, the easy and the selfish were chosen over the hard and the common. Not surprising. But America and the wider world still await a vanguard to take the harder paths into sacred space that lead to sacrifice and social transformation. It's a lot to ask, but that's how Babylon gets chanted down.

By the way, a couple of good things to report, after a month of bad from Blogger.

Thanks to 'et in Arcadia ego,' RI now has an excellent footprint in myspace. And here's a sign of things to come. Our family is moving, in material space, next week, so a move in virtual space will need to wait a little bit longer. But I'm looking forward to providing a better home for this community.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mind over Mind

Eden is burning; either brace yourself for elmination,
or else your heart must have the courage
for the changing of the guards - Bob Dylan

Maybe I've been reading too many comic books, or maybe too many books that should be comic books. Or perhaps a lot of non-fiction that describes a world most people presume to be fantasy. But I've been thinking lately how it can't be enough to know enough to recognize how strange and perilous our circumstances are, and how wicked the rulers of this age. Because if that's all we're about then it will be first they came for the communists-time all over again. Though possibly with the added insult that they won't even be bothered to come for us, because so long as we don't progress beyond analysis and diagnosis to treatment, then our virtual world has no congruity with theirs, and we're nothing but paperless tigers.

"To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement." Philip K Dick wrote that in 1978, when it was easy to give up the fight because it appeared already won before it was truly engaged. Americans saw a modest President who wore sweaters in the Oval Office, and who asked small, sensible things of them, such as consumption in moderation. (What they weren't allowed to see was his National Security Advisor "stirring up Muslims" in Central Asia.) And for what it's worth, and it must be something, in every year since there's been a Bush in the White House either by fact or by proxy. And the manifestations of seemingly intractable Empire are promoting in its demoralized opposition a paralytic state of apprehended madness.

So, if we mean to do something, how can we avoid Dick's paradox? How can we safeguard ourselves and whatever victories we may win from the viral derangement of Empire? But before we can answer that, perhaps we need to learn of what we're capable. Because the Empire knows, and would rather that we didn't.

A few weeks ago on the RI board, "slimmouse" introduced me to the story of Mirin Dajo, the "inviolable man," whose performances were banned when the sight of his assistant running fencing foils through his body induced a heart attack in an audience member.

Tony Crisp writes that, in 1947,

A Swiss doctor, Hans Naegeli-Osjord, hearing of Dajo's alleged wild talent, induced him to allow scientific investigation of what happened when he was pierced. In the Zurich Cantonal hospital many people, including doctor Naegeli-Osjord, doctor Werner Brunner, the chief of surgery at the hospital, and a number of other doctors, students, and journalist observed and reported on the experiment. In front of them Dajo stripped to the waist and after spending some time in meditation, had his assistant once more plunge the steel through him. This should have damaged vital organs, but there was no apparent harm, although the witnesses were shocked. Dajo was then asked to allow an x-ray to be taken with the rapier still in place. He agreed, walked to the x ray theatre with the foil still in place. The result of the x-ray undeniably showed Dajo was pierced through vital organs. At a later date Dajo was again examined by scientists in Basel, and this time allowed the doctors themselves to pierce him. Each time there was no apparent harm.

Jack Schwartz was a Nazi concentration camp survivor "who for years had to train himself to endure severe torture and pain." After liberation he "repeatedly astonished dozens of physicians by sticking mammoth six-inch sail-maker's needles through his arms without injury or bleeding."

More on Schwartz:

Below, Jack Schwartz painlessly - smiling - thrusts a large darning needle through his biceps repeatedly on request for the lab researchers. He was able to stop and start bleeding at will, control his heart rate (stop his pulse), hold lit cigarettes to his arm with no pain, or permanent skin damage. The cigarrette burns ranged from simple red marks to blisters on different occassions. With 72 hours all trace of burns dissappeared. Although he had been doing these kinds of demonstrations for years, the reserachers remarked that "The skin on Jack's arm is as smooth as a baby's." All of his puncture "wounds" closed immediately, and were completely healed and completely invisible between 24 and 48 hours.

Michael Talbot, in The Holographic Universe, uses examples of multiple personality disorder to demonstrate how consciousness, even when fragmented within the same individual, creates its own physical states. Medical conditions possessed by one alter may not be shared by another. Dr Bennett Braun of Chicago documented a case in which all but one of a patient's subpersonalities were allergic to orange juice: "If the man drank orange juice when one of his allergic personalities was in control, he would break out in a terrible rash. But if he switched to his nonallergic personality, the rash would instantly start to fade and he could drink orange juice freely." Psychiatrist Francine Howland had a dissociative patient arrive for an appointment with an eye completely swollen shut from a wasp sting. She immediately booked him an appointment with an opthamologist, but in the meantime, as he was in severe pain, and since one of his alters was an "anesthetic personality" who felt no pain, she had the anesthetic alter become dominant. The pain stopped immediately, and the swelling was gone by the time the opthamologist could examine him an hour later, who saw no need for treatment and sent him home. The following day, after the anesthetic personality had relinquished control, the swelling and pain returned, and he again visited the opthamologist, who later called Howland for an explanation. "He thought time was playing tricks on him," she said. "He just wanted to make sure that I had actually called him the day before and he had not imagined it."

Trauma inducing altered states of consciousness, and dissociative personalities exhibiting compartmentalized functionality even on the biological level - where have we seen this before? The Empire's mind control work has always been about more than zombie creation. It's been about activating dormant, and heightened, human capacities in its service. The "Monarch" subjects were not treated like royalty, but like butterflies: emergent creatures with novel powers, who were told to be proud of their status and their new flesh.

For example, survivor Kathleen Sullivan describes "Theta" programming as "thought energy":

I just knew it as magnetic-type energy from the individual to do a number of different things that they were experimenting with, including long-distance mind connection with other people - even in other countries. I guess you would call it "remote viewing" - where I could see what a person was doing in another state in a room or something like that. It was both actual programming and experimentation. Because what they did - they kept it encapsulated in several parts of me, several altered states. It was a lot of training, a lot of experimentation.

Sullivan notes that this level of programming went beyond remote viewing, to projecting mental energy in attempts to kill others at a distance. Fort Bragg's "goat lab" was also training ground for psychic killers, according to Jon Ronson's The Men Who Stare at Goats. At least one Green Beret, Michael Echanis, is said to have had success, though former psychic spy Glenn Wheaton told Ronson that Echanis's own heart suffered sympathetic damage. "Everything goes with a cost, see?" said Wheeler. "You pay the piper."

And so we're back to Dick's paradox. The Empire is mad, and we don't want to share in its madness and recreate its enslavements in our opposition to it. But it's made our consciousness part of its dominion, and it exploits our ignorance of ourselves and our power to maintain us in a state of false weakness. We shouldn't want to stop hearts with a burst of psychic energy - that's what they're about - but we should know that, however unlikely, it's possible that we could. And then we should try to do something better.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Aristocrats

It's always the same, the name of the game
Is who do you know higher up? - Bob Dylan

Familiar with the joke, and the movie of the joke? It's allegedly the comedian's "secret handshake": a family of vaudevillians visits a talent agent, who's reluctant to take them on because family acts are "too cute." But the act is a litany of scatological and sexual obscenity, often with horrific violence, and the more imaginative the comedian's depiction of the young children's abuse the more successful is regarded its telling. "It's the perfect joke," says Dana Gould. "Just hearing out loud descriptions of giddy shit-covered incest." (Like Otto Peterson's: "then my daughter comes on stage. She's a real sexy 9-year-old. I hit her with an ax handle....") When the family has finished, the agent says "That's a hell of an act. What do you call it?" And the father always replies: "The Aristocrats!"

Get it? The joke's pay-off is the supposed disparity between depravity and nobility. What could be more absurd than a family of torture artists engaging in polymorphous abuse identifying themselves by a term denoting high social station?

Here's another variation of the joke, as told by Crown Prince Vittorio Emanuele Alberto Carlo Teodoro Umberto Bonifacio Amadeo Damiano Bernardino Gennaro Maria of Savoy:

Italy is in shock after the son of its last king was arrested as part of an investigation into prostitution and corruption. One of the country's best-known figures, Prince Victor Emmanuel was detained in the north but taken to a jail in Potenza in the south where the probe is based.

His family strongly denies the allegations against the 69-year-old who went into exile with the rest of the country's royals when Italians rejected the monarchy in favour of a republic, in 1946. But the magistrate who signed the arrest warrant for the prince and 12 other men told reporters about what he called "extremely alarming evidence."

"I believe I have made a rigorous assessment without taking into account the rank of the person concerned," said Alberto Iannuzzi.

Others detained include Salvatore Sottile, a top aide to the foreign minister in former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government.

According to media reports, investigators believe Prince Victor Emmanuel had contacts with Mafia clans and was involved in procuring prostitutes for clients of a casino in Campione d'Italia, an Italian enclave on Lake Lugano near the Swiss border.

Implicated in Victor Emmanuel's corruption charges is also his cousin, Bulgaria's former child King Simeon II, Simeon Saxe-Coburg.

[And on edit, updating with a story from May 29 posted in the comment field:]

Police bust suspected child trafficking gang

A Bulgarian gang of suspected child traffickers has been broken up by police in simultaneous operations in Italy, Austria, Germany and Bulgaria. Police in Italy say dozens of people were arrested in the raids.

Most of the children moved by the gang were from Bulgaria and were between the ages of eight and 13-years-old. They appear to have been sold to the gang by their poverty stricken parents.

Police said some of the children appeared to have been sexually exploited, they had been kept in slave like conditions and they had been used to move drugs and commit crimes. Operation Elvis Bulgaria - coordinated by the Italian Carabinieri - involved police forces in Austria, Germany and Bulgaria.

[It's not a great stretch to see the potential of a link between this action of Italian police and the unspecified "extremely alarming evidence" against Victor Emmanuel, which also appears to have a Bulgarian connection.]

Some other knee-slappers of the Italian Prince have included shooting a tourist to death in 1978 (and subsequently acquited of unintentional homicide), dealing arms for the likes of the Shah of Iran (his son bears the name Reza in honour of Reza Pahlavi), defending Mussolini's anti-semetic legislation under his father, the last King of Italy, as "not that terrible," and having been a member in good, secret standing of P2, Licio Gelli's criminal fascist Masonoic lodge. As was, let's never forget, Berlusconi.

In April 1981, Milan magistrates broke into Gelli's villa and discovered his lodge's membership lists, which read, says Daniele Ganser in NATO's Secret Armies, like a "'Who is Who in Italy' and included not only the most conservative but also some of the most powerful members of Italian society." Fifty high-ranking officers of the army, for instance, and ten bank presidents. In the subsequent parliamentary commission, Communist member Antonio Bellocchio lamented that "we have come to the definite conclusion that Italy is a country of limited sovereignty because of the interference of the American secret service and international freemasonry." He regretted most commissioners had not followed their analysis to its logical end, but understood why they could not, because then "they would have had to admit they are puppets of the United States of America, and they don't intend to admit that ever."

Even without a joke, even just as a punchline, there remains something anachronistically comic about the aristocrats. They appear about as serious as actors in a heritage fort or pioneer village, recreating the rituals of a long-dead era. Their form is absurd, because their function appears to carry no consequential gravity. Yet they remain apart from us in a privileged world, linked by blood. And not only by the blood in their veins.

Early in Grant Morrison's The Invisibles - comic art, and as funny as the End of the World - we read a phone conversation between Whitehall and an occultic assassin. Scion of the ruling class Sir Miles Delacourt, who's favourite recreation is the most dangerous game, cuts the conversation short: "Look, I have a Cabinet ritual to attend, and if it's anything like the last one we'll be up to our knees in blood and spunk for at least the next twelve hours." It could almost be a joke.

A network of fascist Princes and Kings, laundering money, shooting tourists, running guns and elite prostitution rings, is a hell of an act. What do you call it?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Flight of Capital

They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy.
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.
I can't help it if I'm lucky. - Bob Dylan

This may be old news to you, but just a quick note here of something I'd missed about Flight 77, thanks to "Bismillah" and the RI forum, that I hope you won't miss, too.

At least among those with a mind for such things, it's fairly well-remembered that on September 10, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld made the shocking announcement that the Pentagon "couldn't track" $2.3 trillion of its transactions. "Iroquois" observes, "What's interesting to me is that he made his press release on a Monday. In DC, I always see bad news given on a Friday, usually late in the afternoon on Friday. The exception, of course, would be when someone happens to know that there is a far bigger story coming out."

And we know that Flight 77, allegedly piloted by an incompetent, made an aerobatic, spiralling descent over Washington, effecting a 270-degree turn to strike the Pentagon from a western approach at ground level. The side struck was the only one with an exterior wall hardened against attack, and was relatively empty while renovation continued.

Relatively. The unfortunate construction workers perished outside, but who were the expendables within?

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 20, 2001: "One Army office in the Pentagon lost 34 of its 65 employees in the attack. Most of those killed in the office, called Resource Services Washington, were civilian accountants, bookkeepers and budget analysts. They were at their desks when American Airlines Flight 77 struck."

The Arlington County After-Action Report noted that the "impact area included both the Navy operations center and the office complex of the National Guard and Army Reserve. It was also the end of the fiscal year and important budget information was in the damaged area." And Insight Magazine editorialized that "the Department of the Army, headed by former Enron executive Thomas White, had an excuse [for not making a full accounting]. In a shocking appeal to sentiment it says it didn't publish a "stand-alone" financial statement for 2001 because of "the loss of financial-management personnel sustained during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack."

High Crimes of State often come down to the movement of capital, and so the high criminals generally share the gray and black economics of common felons. Money is money; it's the magnitude of the heist that's different, and the means to effect and cover-up the crime. And part of the cover-up of the Pentagon heist has been the no-plane shell game, played smartly by Rumsfeld himself who "misspoke" that a "missile" had struck the Pentagon the same week Thierry Meyssen's original no-plane website was launched.

It's such disinformation that has drilled irrelevance and folly into a once potentially dangerous and angry army of authentic skeptics.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Snakes in the Head

Wiggle 'til it whispers, wiggle 'til it hums,
Wiggle 'til it answers, wiggle 'til it comes. - Bob Dylan

Please note: I remain unable to update the original site, and Blogger is now telling me that this page has the "characteristics of a spam blog," which may be the precursor to my getting locked out of here, too. This is looking like corporate incompetence on a Bushian scale, which is to say, as if.

And if we happen to go under here as well, please refer to the RI board, particularly this thread. Because we'll be somewhere.

And having typed that, I'm anxious to get this posted before I can't. So to get the conversation started in a half-assed fashion, I'm wondering about the imaginal meaning of a recurrent ayahuasca vision and voice.

First, from Jim DeKorne's Psychedelic Shamanism, via this thread on the RI forum:

Immediately I had the vision of a snake wrapping itself around my head. I saw my head open, as if my brain had been cut in half. It looked like the honeycombs of a beehive. Dozens of snakes appeared and began sliding into the tunnels of my brain. At first it felt wonderful, as if an immense power was entering me, but then I wasn't sure that I should let it in. I remembered Julio's warning that some spirits are good, others are evil. I was afraid I was dealing with an evil one. What if it wasn't the spirit of ayahuasca; or if it was, what if it was an awful, dark aspect of it?

I asked the voice what the snakes meant why they had to enter me -- but I didn't get an answer. Part of me thought it was a test. Another part knew that if the snakes disappeared into my brain, I would never get them out. The thought was horrifying.

Suddenly, I knew I had to get those snakes out of my brain. I began pulling them out by their tails. They were strong and hard to dislodge, but the more I fought them the more certain I became that the voice wasn't the real spirit of ayahuasca. It wouldn't have asked to enter me in such a disturbing way. I was fighting for my life. I feared that if I lost I would be enslaved forever.

The moment I got the last snake out, I began to doubt my decision ... I felt that I had failed a test and missed an extraordinary opportunity. I asked the voice why it seemed to be testing me. The voice answered that it had already given me so many gifts that I should have some faith and trust. The voice didn't sound angry or disappointed. It just said I shouldn't ask for so much without giving anything in return. Then it disappeared, and I knew my visions were over for that evening.

Now Peter Gorman, from his exceptional essay "When Ayahuasca Speaks - An Unexpected Venture into Healing":

...on perhaps the most extraordinary ayahuasca journey of all, a journey in which I was forced to confront my deepest fears and most hidden desires, I encountered a voice which asked me why I kept calling it. Thinking I was going crazy I answered that I had not called it, to which the voice said I certainly had, otherwise why was I drinking ayahuasca. Feeling silly that I was talking to myself, and simultaneously terrified that I was actually in conversation with a being that was way beyond my ken, I timidly told it that I was drinking ayahuasca to visit friends in New York, and to fly with birds. The voice responded that those were parlor tricks meant to entice me to return to ayahuasca; that the real reason I returned was to learn things and that the way to learn them was to allow ayahuasca to enter me. At that, my head seemed to split open, as my whole body and being had when Julio and his apprentice sang years ago ,and I watched in horror as a thousand snakes began to enter my brain. I knew that if I didn't get them out I'd be taken over by ayahuasca or whatever evil spirit that was, forever. So I fought with all my life to pull the snakes out and when I'd won the fight I was exhausted.

I didn't mention the experience to Julio for two years, during which I'd visited him but didn't drink. I simply couldn't face that voice again. When I did finally broach the topic he told me the voice was the voice of ayahuasca, that I could ask it for things, like songs to make me strong, or how to learn what plants were good for healing, or to answer questions that were otherwise unanswerable. He assured me that while it was a real spirit, as were many others I might encounter under the influence of ayahuasca, it was only a spirit and couldn't hurt me unless I let it. He also said I was a fool to have pulled the snakes out of my head, that it was a gift from ayahuasca to get snakes in one's head or belly because anyone who had them would always know who their enemies were, from thieves in the city to brujhos, black magic sorcerers, who would try to kill you with invisible arrows.

(Author Daniel Pinchbeck tells me that he, too, has had the snakes enter his head. Though interestingly, "not on ayahuasca - it happened to me one day at home, and had a strange visionary valence to it.")

Snakes and ayahuasca, we've seen, go together like the two halves of a double helix. Kira Salak concludes her recent account of her ayahuasca initiation by shining her flashlight into her vomit bucket: "No. I lean down closer. Steady the beam of light. I catch my breath as I examine the object: A small black snake seems to have materialized from my body."

I can well imagine how, to Western initiates into plant shamanism - even those who've already had the entheogenic elves break and enter their heads - the vision of snakes tunneling into their brains would be enough to make them suddenly doubt the wisdom of their path, and feverishly start yanking them out by their wriggling tails like a psychonautic Samuel L Jackson ("I've had it with these motherfucking snakes in my motherfucking brain!") That's the conditioned reflex determined by centuries of demonizing the figure of the snake, though it has long been regarded elsewhere as representative of humanity's potential power, typically coiled and dormant, known as the Kundalini.

But even in the scriptures of the West, it hasn't all been bad press for the snake. In Matthew 10:16, Jesus says "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

I hate the term sheeple, because it's almost always arrogantly applied to others. But in a world ruled by wolves, divided between prey and predator, let's get over ourselves: we are the sheep. In fact, if our souls are precious to us, we had better be. But that needn't mean we're what's for breakfast, if we can nurture a serpentine wisdom. And we won't become indistinguishable from our roaring adversary if, at the same time, we can also embrace our doveself.

I'm still skeptic enough to appreciate the caution from Emmanuel Swedenbourg that "when Spirits begin to speak with a man, he must beware that he believes nothing they say." But I've also come to suspect that against the principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in High Places we have great allies, which are all the same ally, which is Life. Test the spirits, but sometimes it may take a few snakes in the head to see we have friends in high places, too.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

That Bill Hicks Moment

Carved next to his name, his epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game. - Bob Dylan

Just trying to get my groove back, here.

I've written before that it's never been enough, or even likely correct, to say Bush Knew. As usual, it's the under-examined things that suggest why that may be.

From The Longboat Observer, September 26, 2001 (and it's a surprise to see this still online; so many of mainstream stories that don't make an easy fit to the official fabrication have become dead links):

At about 6 a.m. Sept. 11, Longboat Key Fire Marshall Carroll Mooneyhan was at the front desk of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort as Bush prepared for his morning jog. From that vantage point, Mooneyhan overheard a strange exchange between a Colony receptionist and security guard.

A van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent had pulled up to the Colony stating they had a "poolside" interview with the president, Mooneyhan said. The self-proclaimed reporters then asked for a Secret Service agent by name. Guards from security relayed the request to the receptionist, who had not heard of either the agent or plans for an interview, Mooneyhan said.

Possibly the same van was reported later that morning by a resident awaiting the presidential motorcade to pass, just minutes after Flight 11 struck the North Tower. Two men of Middle Eastern descent were seen "screaming out the windows, 'Down with Bush' and raising their fists in the air."

Earlier - "in the middle of the night" according to Monica Yadov's report for ABC's Sarasota affiliate - a "warning of imminent danger was Secret Service agents guarding the President.' With peculiar precision, she noted it came "exactly four hours and thirty-eight minutes before Mohammad Atta flew an airliner into the World Trade Center." That would place the warning at 4:10 AM.

There are more than a few odd things here.

The Secret Service, allegedly in receit of a warning of imminent danger to their charge less than two hours earlier, simply turn the van away, telling its occupants to "contact the president’s public relations office in Washington." This, despite the fact that just two days earlier, the Taliban's greatest foe, Shah Massoud of the Northern Alliance, was assassinated under the ruse of a phony interview, by a bomb hidden inside the video camera.

If the "poolside interview" was an assassination attempt, it was less likely to succeed than the alleged plot of some Toronto kids to storm parliament and behead the Prime Minister. (Abandoned, sensibly enough, because they didn't know their way around Ottawa.) Showing up at six in the morning - any morning - dropping the name of a non-existent Secret Service agent and making the easily-checked false claim of an interview is not a winning tactic. The Secret Service would have had to be Dealey Plaza-negligent to have allowed them anywhere near Bush, yet they acted surprisingly nonchalant in light of the warning of "imminent danger" to the President they'd received just two hours previous and the recent example of death-by-interview of Shah Massoud.

Coincidentally, according to three eyewitnesses, including bartender Darlene Sieverts, Atta himself was in town September 7 "drinking rum and coke" at the Holiday Inn and meeting a man identified as Marwan Al-Shehhi, the alleged pilot of Flight 175. (Memorably, "he left a $20 bill to cover a $4 tab," Sieverts tells Daniel Hopsicker in Welcome to Terrorland.) Sepetember 7 was also the day Bush's visit to Booker Elementary was publically announced.

The poolside plot was not a serious assassination attempt, though it may have seemed as though it was to the men in the van who were permitted to go so far but no farther. But neither was it meant as a public shadow play that Bush was himself at risk. If it had been, the propaganda value of a thwarted assassination attempt would have been played up, rather than hushed up. I think, instead, it was a private display of power to the play-acting president that even a Bush had better not hold illusions of being his own man.

This lesson was reinforced later that morning, with the "credible threat" delivered, appropriately, by Dick Cheney, that "Angel is next", which effectively kept Bush out of both Washington and Cheney's alternate control and command loop until events had run their course. Remember? An anonymous White House caller, speaking in code, declared Air Force One a target. Though the administration soon quietly denied this awkward story that no longer fit, it's been supported by interviews with many principals, including Air Force One pilot Mark Tillman. "It was serious before that but now it is - no longer is it a time to get the president home," said Tillman. "We actually have to consider everything we say. Everything we do could be intercepted, and we have to make sure that no one knows what our position is." Tillman requested an armed guard at his cockpit door, and Secret Service double-checked every passengers' identity. This threat, at the highest level, was also made at the highest level.

What implication can we draw from the conflicting accounts? That there was no anonymous call to the White House, but Dick Cheney did phone in the threat to Air Force One. And Bush wasn't in on the hoax.

Bill Hicks famously said that he had "this feeling" that whoever's elected president,

no matter what promises you make on the campaign trail - blah, blah, blah - when you win, you go into this smoky room with the twelve industrialist, capitalist scumfucks that got you in there, and this little screen comes down... and it's a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you've never seen before, which looks suspiciously off the grassy knoll.... And then the screen comes up, the lights come on, and they say to the new president, 'Any questions?'

"Just what my agenda is."

Message received, over and out.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Catch Vampire

Obadiah, Obadiah,
Jah Jah sent us here to catch vampire

Here's the deal: this will be our temporary home, while I'm getting space organized to migrate off of Blogger. I hate to leave the original URL, especially since I can't edit the main page to inform surfers what the hell has happened and where the hell we've gone, but I've done all the troubleshooting I can do, and until Blogger lifts a finger I'm frozen out. (I don't know that it was a malicious attack, but my paypal account was hacked the same day I went down.)

So, until the new site is up, or unless the original blog gets unplugged in the meantime, I'll be posting here. (If you have a blog of your own, and readers we share, I'd really appreciate it if you would spread the word.) All of the old posts and comments will be accessible here, as they are on the original site, from the sidebar on the right. (Though I have about three months-worth of links to update, hopefully sometime Tuesday.)

(Of special interest for forum members: it's my intention to export it over to a PHP-based board on the new site.)

I hate it when media isn't transparent. I'm not interested in writing about computers, I just want to write with them. So enough, already. Let's start talking again about the stuff we're not supposed to talk about.

Just as soon as I get some sleep.