Of Watling Street and Communicating with Places — It’s Time To Take The Road Less Travelled… Even If It’s the Street Where You Already Live

 

People already communicate with places. The slow pace we take around cemeteries says something about our relationship with the space… We are responding to gravestones and other contextual markers, and they change our behaviour.

 

By Adrian Reynolds

I’d been hearing stories about Lenny Darnell and his Amazon adventures for a while, always at second hand. It wasn’t until I met the American a few years ago at an event in Edinburgh that I got to hear directly about just what he was doing and discovering. And it’s only now that I’m able to put Darnell’s experiences in the context of the new book by John Higgs. Watling Street explores Britain, and Britishness, taking in mythology, folk history, and personal journeys — a long way from the jungles of South America, but touched by its own quiet magic and feel for the authentic as surely as Lenny’s escapade.

Some of you won’t believe what follows, and that’s fine. I’m just here to relate what the affable Mr Darnell described in a straightforward style one Scottish Saturday afternoon. In the course of his adventures, celebrated pianist Lenny came to be a business consultant who as well as being active in his local community became a member of an Amazon tribe. He lived with them not as an anthropologist, but as one of the group, and part of his interest was in how that tribe got its knowledge of the rainforest they lived in.

It was an answer that perplexed Lenny. Asking the forest? What does that even mean? Do those words even describe a recognizable behaviour?

Lenny spoke to a tribal shaman, and asked how he knew what plants would be of benefit to a person with a particular sickness. He was asking in part to discover if that knowledge was handed down, since that would suggest over several generations that information would dwindle because of the human tendency to forget. Instead the shaman told Lenny — as if it was the most straightforward thing in the world — that when he wanted that kind of knowledge he would ask the forest. It was an answer that perplexed Lenny. Asking the forest? What does that even mean? Do those words even describe a recognizable behaviour?

In chapter 5 of Watling Street, John Higgs relates that London poet and playwright called John Constable was faced with something similarly perplexing –— he’d taken a long walk around roads he didn’t know in the area of an ancient burial site known as Cross Bones. Next morning, he awoke to find he’d written a long rhyming poem from the viewpoint of a medieval prostitute. Where had the words come from, in a form he’d not written before?

The easy thing to do when you mention Amazon shamen and London poets in contexts like this is to suggest that weird substances may have shaped their perceptions. One of the things Darnell discovered was that regardless of the use of psychedelics such as ayahuasca, everyday consciousness as experienced in the tribe was different from what he knew as an American citizen. And the poet John Constable admitted LSD use. Which is handy for anyone looking to dismiss the experiences of either.

Only… Read more “Of Watling Street and Communicating with Places — It’s Time To Take The Road Less Travelled… Even If It’s the Street Where You Already Live”

R.U. a Cyberpunk? Well? R.U? … Punk

 

did we really know anybody who would stand up in leather pants and shout, “I am a cyberpunk?

by R.U. Sirius

 

Every few months the net goes gaga for someone publishing the off-the-cuff “R.U. A Cyberpunk” parody from a 1993 edition of MONDO 2000.

Oh well. Glib amusement and fast attention rules, so I may as well go with it.

When we called the first edition of MONDO 2000 the cyberpunk issue, I don’t think we really had a persona in mind (although Larry Welz did present Cherry Poptart‘s friend Elle Dee as a cyberpunk in that issue).  Rather, I think we saw it as a sort of memeplex that would be pretty well expressed not only by interviewing 4 SF writers who were identified with the C-Punk genre (and I don’t think they actually called themselves cyberpunks — maybe some of them were happy to call themselves cyberpunk writers John Shirley, maybe?); by interviewing the guys behind Max Headroom, by hipping people to Processed World and the latest from the Subgenius; by having mysterious articles on wicked computer hacks by “Lady Ada Lovelace” and “Michael Synergy.”

But did we really know anybody who would stand up in leather pants and shout, “I am a cyberpunk?” I think maybe Michael Synergy was the only one in our circle who embraced the identity. Outside of Synergy, I don’t remember any of the outlaw type hackers we had the occasion to interview or hang out with adopting the ID. Read more “R.U. a Cyberpunk? Well? R.U? … Punk”

Hurricane Harvey & the Blue Shed of Hope

He ejaculates tornadoes for breakfast; he taught Obama to surf

 

by Michael Pinchera 

As Emmy-award-winner and professional storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski shared the chaos and excitement of Hurricane Harvey’s Aug. 25 landfall on the Texas coast through his Periscope stream, memes were born.

The first meme saw Jeff immortalized as a super-powerful, all-knowing and benevolent god among men. Any exaggerated, smartass comment of strength that previously could be attributed to martial artist and mullet-headed ranger Chuck Norris was now an achievement of Jeff. (“Jeff pardoned the hurricane.”) All weekend long, no Periscope comment stream was spared the undying adoration of Jeff.. .it didn’t matter if the video was of rising flood waters narrated by a septuagenarian on a bicycle who was risking his life to share the tragic scenes in Houston or that of a Baltimore #cashmeoutside clone smoking a poorly rolled blunt and verbally assaulting her viewers. Jeff was everywhere. And Jeff is great, and I obviously spent too much time watching his stream as the disaster unfolded, but in those wet, sometimes horizontal, sometimes vertical transmissions I found meaning through an unexpected star.

With the hurricane’s eye wall getting closer, Jeff, along with some of his TwisterChasers.com crew found cover at Island Car Wash (2019 Highway 35 N, Rockport, Texas), a self-serve car wash (or “worsh” after the word escapes from Jeff’s Oklahoma-accented maw, all praise be onto Jeff) complete with a small, ancillary, tropical-blue out-building.

Camera facing forward through the car’s windshield, the square structure known as “ole blue” and then “blue shed” occupied the left side of the screen as rain and debris shuttled back and forth like white noise. #blueshed was born on Twitter at 7:17 p.m. via Logan Johnson — a hashtag that certainly first saw light moments earlier in the overly aroused Periscope commentary.

(“Everything is disintegrating!”). As the office buildings and strip mall businesses around Jeff met a twisted, violent end at 145 mph, #blueshed remained standing

Read more “Hurricane Harvey & the Blue Shed of Hope”

The Night of the 5-MEO DMT Assassin (From Freaks in The Machine)

Feeling like a cosmic assassin on a mission to blow away everyone’s last shred of attachment to any and all social constructs, I set out with my pipe and my bundle.

Another segment from Freaks in the Machine: MONDO 2000 in 20th Century Tech Culture

R.U. Sirius

One fine Sunday, we had a party — it may have been for the release of one of our newsletters — and it was possibly the biggest we’d ever had. The backyard at Quail House looked almost like a small rock festival as attendees found their spots and, no doubt, dosed themselves with favorite hallucinogens.

I had just received a fairly large bundle of 5-meo-dmt, a substance similar to DMT (and the stuff that Queen Mu had discovered was in a certain type of toad venom) — but unlike DMT, a full dose was 5 instead of 35 milligrams. The experience was perhaps even more intense, but rather than entering a colorful infinitely-dimensional funhouse filled with elves and clowns, some of whom may try to convey a message, 5-meo put you into something very much like that tunnel heading towards the white light reported by so many who had been pulled back from death.

I must have been bored, because as the sun was starting to set — and after smoking a double dose — I decided to turn on every person there.

Feeling like a cosmic assassin on a mission to blow away everyone’s last shred of attachment to any and all social constructs, I set out with my pipe and my bundle.

Most of the attendees — veteran trekkers all — accepted my kind invitation and took their journey beyond the veil with aplomb.  Every once in awhile, I would do unto myself as I was doing unto others.  A few partiers rolled around on the ground in fear or clutched my arm tightly while I reassured them that they weren’t actually dead.

Finally, I entered the final room of the house, where some boys — I’d estimate they were in their late teens — were hanging.  Boy One took his dose and settled back calmly into the void. Boy Two, same thing.  I came to Boy Three, the night’s final target. A big dude with a punkish shock of spikey blonde hair. He took his big hit and, unlike most, he didn’t close his eyes.  He stared out at me in terror. His head jerked back and forth. I was ready for him to go totally Linda Blair on me.  Well, his head didn’t spin around in a complete circle, but he did projectile vomit (it wasn’t green). And then he laughed. He blinked a few times. And then he looked at me… “Dude, that was fucking awesome!”

 

The Fab 400: What Did John Higgs See At KLF’s Liverpool event

 

What happened in Liverpool is that all of the 400 people present had their own personal myths connected up to Cauty and Drummond’s extensive body of myth. They weren’t there as an audience.

Lucky John Higgs, author of the widely loved history of KLF, was in Liverpool for the KLF event. What did he see? And what did he make of it? We asked.

From what I can make out, there was some music, including Jarvis Cocker performing some KLF, there was a sort-of book release (Illuminates inspired) and a funeral procession of some kind.  What happened that I haven’t yet mentioned?

John Higgs: There was quite a lot. A new band was formed, Badger Kull. They were hyped to beyond, performed their one song at a sell-out gig and then disbanded. There were a number of Badger Kull tattoos. Drummond and Cauty embarked on their new career – they are now undertakers. A brick pyramid is being built in Toxteth, Liverpool. A dead perch was released in a canal, in the belief that it would swim up the River Mersey. There was strange chanting performed in McDonalds and Yoko Ono-based brand subversion in Starbucks. There was a public hearing held into the burning of a million pounds 23 years earlier. There was soup. Every page of Drummond & Cauty’s book was assigned an owner, who was tasked with creating art in reaction. There was a recurring level of petty theft and vandalism in the service of a higher calling. Greg Wilson and DJ Food performed DJ sets. Robert Anton Wilson was repeatedly mentioned in mainstream British media. Various things were burnt, including a make-shift wicker man in a Liverpool skate park. An ice cream van with Ukrainian lettering was pulled three miles through the streets of Liverpool by a tribe of people in panda skull make up. The police weren’t happy about this.

This is only a fraction of what went on – every one of the 400 people present will be able to add further events, which may be known only to them.

But in short – something was detonated.

Was it exciting, apocalyptic, disappointing, all of the above? Was it sad or happy or profound? Too sedate or wild in the streets?

JH: It was all of the above. It was a reminder that life is never either/all, it is always both and more. The event was self-evidently extraordinary and I think I will be speaking for all the 400 attendees if I summarize it as just fucking great. Admittedly, at the time of writing, a lot of people are having serious trouble adjusting to normal life again. But the event itself – fucking great. Read more “The Fab 400: What Did John Higgs See At KLF’s Liverpool event”

HYPER-INTERACTIVITY TEARSHEET From “Freaks In The Machine: MONDO 2000 in the Tech Culture” High Frontiers 1988

Describe your earliest peak experience in 500 words or less. The best response, as determined by a panel of huffy curmudgeonly semioticists, urban folklorists, and idiopathologists, will be published in the next issue.

Magazines are supposed to learn more about their consumers for advertisers. We needed advertisers just like anybody else. But this tear-sheet from High Frontiers #4 (1988) was not at all normal. Some of it today might just look like cheap “hipster” appeal, but these semiotics were potent and friendly in the day. And some of these are genuinely amusing.  I believe many of the questions came from Morgan Russell. Also, from Queen Mu and R.U. Sirius and maybe some other folks. Answer Us! Read more “HYPER-INTERACTIVITY TEARSHEET From “Freaks In The Machine: MONDO 2000 in the Tech Culture” High Frontiers 1988″

KLF at the Brit Awards Show 1992 — Machine gunning the audience (and a Dead Sheep)

negotiations had broken down following their plans to fill a stage with angels and Zulus and arrive on the back of elephants.

An Excerpt from KLF: CHAOS MAGIC MUSIC MONEY by John Higgs

 

 

With hindsight, it was Jonathan King that killed the KLF. His fatal blow was an innocent-sounding comment. His words may not have split the group immediately, because Cauty and Drummond had too much momentum to stop straight away. But it was only a matter of time, as the implications of what he had said could not be ignored for long. The KLF staggered on for another three months, too stunned to realize that they were already dead.

It was February 1992 and the KLF had just won the ‘Best Band’ award at the Brit Awards. Jonathan King was the producer of the awards show, and he had been asked what he thought of the KLF’s live performance at the show. “I enjoyed it”, he said.

He enjoyed it. There was nothing else for it. It had to end.

King is a music producer, TV presenter and a recording artist who has sold over 40 million records under various pseudonyms, most of them novelty singles. As he busied himself backstage at the Hammersmith Odeon organizing the 1992 Brits Awards, he was forty eight years old and dressed in a garish shell suit and a baseball cap with ‘KING’ stamped in metal across the front. In the coming decade he was named ‘Man of the Year’ by the BPI, praised by Tony Blair and convicted of multiple sexual offences on underage boys, so in many ways Jonathan King could be said to personify the music industry. King’s acceptance had, on a symbolic level, signified the music industry claiming Drummond and Cauty for itself.

Drummond and Cauty’s problem with the music industry wasn’t the usual adolescent anti-authoritarian posturing that is so common among musicians. It was the result of bitter experience. By that point Cauty and Drummond had twenty-five years’ experience in the industry between them, from running record labels to producing, working in A&R, being in unsuccessful bands and being pop stars. They knew what the music industry did to people, and they also knew what it had done to them. But by then they also knew how much they had been formed by it. It had shaped their lives and left them feeling corrupted, but it was also an integral part of who they were.

It’s still surprising that they were asked to provide the opening performance for that year’s Brit Awards show. They had been asked to appear the previous year, but negotiations had broken down following their plans to fill a stage with angels and Zulus and arrive on the back of elephants. The deal breaker, with hindsight, was probably their plan to chain-saw the legs off one of the elephants. The elephant, they said, represented the music industry. The organizers understandably walked away at this point, but they should have realized then that they were not dealing with stable individuals. Read more “KLF at the Brit Awards Show 1992 — Machine gunning the audience (and a Dead Sheep)”

Some Comments About The Transhumanist Project (2014)

by R.U. Sirius

One problem is the underlying philosophical assumptions that enhancement is always enhancement or is just enhancement. And I always think of Marshall McLuhan’s dictum that our extensions come with amputations.

 

 

These are some comments that I wrote in response to some questions from Peter Rothman on the h+ website in 2014

 

Transhumanism as an ism — or a belief system — is probably about the right of individuals and, possibly, the human species as a whole (or large groups therefrom) to self-enhance and to engage in an experiment in self-directed evolution, in a literal sense. In other words, not that we merely have glasses and cell phones but that we might become something other, in a biological and/or perceptual sense.

 

I don’t think it’s necessarily optimistic and I don’t think it’s necessarily rationalist, (particularly when we’re talking about people who think they’re pretty darn rational, who can only really be responded to with satire). I do think rationality and technology — stuff that actually works — are the fundamental tools for attaining an increasingly transhuman or posthuman condition. But tools are not, in and of themselves, paradigms. So individual transhumanists may feel like rationalism is a fine tool for living well but not the essential factor in actually living or even in apprehending what life is about… to the degree that can even be done, or in having social relationships.

 

My ongoing support for the idea of transhumanism is partly a rare acquiescence  to foolish consistency. I’d like to see if the project of a positive radical mutation of the human condition suggested by people like Timothy Leary can somehow win the day; whether, with the engineers and scientists in the vanguard of making it possible, we alternatively minded mutant types can pull a few aces from the bottom of the deck and actually somehow transform this pinched, mean, surveilled, existentially barren and risky 21st civilization into something that feels like liberation, generosity and heightened awareness. At this moment, the tools that could be applied to such a state of affairs are gathering, but the memetic and environmental thrusts lean towards epic failure.

Read more “Some Comments About The Transhumanist Project (2014)”

Mathemagician Ralph Abraham: We Need Another Miracle

A little wind here, and the atmosphere interacts with the geosphere interacts with the biosphere interacts with the noosphere interacts with culture politics and society, and eventually back into the atmosphere. Huge nonlinear feedback loops. You, Ralph and I are part of a whole system that can’t be reduced to separate parts but must be understood as a whole.

by Giulio Prisco

I missed Mondo 2000. The internet wasn’t a thing in the late eighties, and I lived in Europe (still do). I didn’t miss Wired — I immediately subscribed after stumbling upon the first printed issue — but I didn’t realize that it was a watered-down commercial version of something more interesting.

Now our esteemed host is bringing Mondo back, and I hope this new online magazine will be as epoch-making as the original printed Mondo. In the meantime, we can find PDFs of some old Mondo issue collected in the Mondo 2000 History Project and other archives.

Had I been a Mondo reader in the late eighties and early nineties, I would have loved finding chaos and complexity prophet Ralph Abraham there as a frequent contributor.

I knew of Ralph as the mathematician who wrote “Foundations of Mechanics,” which I loved to read instead of my boring college textbooks to try and understand some of the magic of differential geometry and its applications to Einstein’s cosmology. I understood maybe ten percent, but that ten percent was useful.

Ralph seems to consider his life as a square university professor as a boring prelude to his real and very unsquare life as a cyberculture icon and explorer of the wildest fringes of mathematics, physics, history, society, life, the universe and everything. Read more “Mathemagician Ralph Abraham: We Need Another Miracle”

Punching A Nazi (Video)

Punching A Nazi

Creosote Cowboy

R.U. Sirius – Charlie Verrette – Acatelysteleven

Musical Production Daddy Phriday & Creosote Cowboy

Video by Daddy Phriday

with vocals from Acatelysteleven

lyrics by R.U. Sirius (w. help from Acatelysteleven

Killing an arab
Punching a nazi
Albert Camus won’t
Bring back the Stasi
Kissing a baby
Pinching a lady
Oh Mr. Mansplain
You so crazy

Banning an Arab
Punching a nazi
Even Ayn Rand was
Never this bossy
Dating a Barbie
Making a killing
Those were the days
Oh wasn’t it thrilling

Killing an arab
Punching a Nazi