2020 Vision (What Will You Wear To The New Civil War?)

image by Chad Essley

2020 Vision (What Will You Wear To The New Civil War?)

Lyrics written in 2020 by R.U. Sirius
Images by Chad Essley
1 actual recorded song and video by Phr!endz

 

Inscribed

I stole my aphorisms from a young girl named Tristan Tzara
I minored in comedy but I majored in horror
I reached my 100th year when I was 27
I was inscribed inside with a little hint of heaven

And I’m writing this prescription
From an anarchist jurisdiction
Which is just a slimy fantasy
Or wistful wisdom let it be

 

Idiocracy (The Documentary)

And the idiots rose up against The Farrow and cried
Tore off their masks and roared “Let my people die!”
And the Orange Messiah passed out pills and bleach
And everyone agreed “great again” was within reach

And they came with their guns
And even some with hair buns
And all the Karens and Jaspers
Were cheering from the rafters
And some nebbishy patricians
Were signing their petitions
To please their voter base
By appealing to their race

And as they caught and spread infection
Orange Messiah fucked with the election
And called the idiots to insurrection
Promised free Cheetos and police protection

And so the virus spread and spread
Until there were millions dead
And all the supply chains collapsed in dread
And couldn’t get the people fed
And that was just the early crisis
Idiocracy spread just like the virus
To every corner of the earth
And every nation sputtered and lurched

And the idiots rose up against the Farrow and cried
Tore off their masks and roared “Let my people die!”
And the Orange Messiah passed out pills and bleach
And everyone agreed “great again” was within reach

So kiss farewell to the well-mannered plutocracy
And wave hello to the global Idiocracy

Illusions Of Agency

The great society
The ideology
Culture theory
Timothy Leary

Plant a tree
Subversives on TV
Digital means free
Let’s try alchemy

R.U. Sirius
Act imperious
New edge freaks
All power to the geeks

Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency

The DNC
Crypto-anarchy
Spread a creed
Propaganda by deed

Wild schemes
My magazines
Guillotines
Control of the means

Hillary and Bill
The Triumph of the Will
A perfect peace pill
Mad skills

Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency

Spread a trope
Audacity of hope
Say nope to that joke
Demand better dope

Susan Sarandon
Charlie Manson
Hair of Samson
Dear Leader is handsome

Pontificator
Angry instigator
Be a player
Run for mayor

Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency

Transhumanism
Ideological schisms
Elon’s cybertruck
The belief in luck

Joseph Stalin
Marty Balin
Volunteers
Rock careers

Patty Hearst
Voodou curse
America first
Melania’s purse

Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency
Illusions of agency

Stay the course
Find the source
Use force
Express remorse

Bio-engineer
Manipulate through fear
Point and jeer
Let me steer

Blank Panther Party

The universe is made of Crayola
I lost the ‘70s thanks to payola
I was a member of the Blank Panther Party
Ripped on coke and Bacardi

I learned to multiplex before I could add
I was a murderess before I was sad
My micro-mini is way below my knees
I ain’t no goddamn tease

I hit the racetrack I was loaded with cash
Was feeling guilty and a wee bit rash
Bet all my fortune on a system crash
And now I’ve gotta dash

He couldn’t love him with his broken staff
Though he was clever and so good for a laugh
And now he’s telling me he’s learning a craft
He must be fuckin’ daft

 

Live Free Or Dye Your Hair Blue

(every other line is verse/chorus i.e. call/response, etc.)

What will you wear to the new civil war?
Live free or dye your hair blue
Who’s gonna be your new Tipper Gore?
Live free or dye your hair blue
Did you beat the militias to the gun store?
Live free or dye your hair blue
What will you wear to the new civil war?
Live free or dye your hair blue

Will it be televised virtual or raw?
What will you wear to the new civil war?
Will it be tearful fearful and more?
What will you wear to the new civil war?
They’ve got the bullets we’ve got the teens
What will you wear to the new civil war?
Scare ‘em up with pictures of guillotines
What will you wear to the new civil war?

His name’s Erik Prince and he’s not funky
Live free or dye your hair blue
Should we wear grunge or a wee bit punky?
Live free or dye your hair blue
Frilly shirts & scarves like those elegant junkies? (distant voice shouting … “it’s only rock and roll”)
Live free or dye your hair blue
What will you wear to the new civil war?
Live free or dye your hair blue

 

Mean Tweets

Meme Streets
Mean tweets
Viral life
Virtual strife

Stuck in time
Such a bind
Sick and tired
Upload my mind

Meme Streets
Mean tweets
Bored teens
On screens

No touch
Thanks much
Tik Tok
Is my crutch

Meme Streets
Mean tweets
Scorcese’s
Goin’ crazy

Mean trolls
Meme scolds
Disembodied
Assholes

Meme Streets
Mean tweets
Viral life
Virtual strife

Stuck in time
Such a bind
Sick and tired
Upload my mind

 

Deleuze Guattari Gnash & Jung

Deleuze Guattari Gnash & Jung
They weren’t having too much fun
Til Dylan came along in a big-ass truck
Sayin’’ “Hey who really gives a fuck?”

They all piled in pointing at him
Taking narcotics and drinking gin
Bob asked “who here plays guitar
Who else here is a fuckin’ star?
& if you don’t like blues harmonica
Get the fuck out my car”

Well they had to think of something
Deleuze started humming
Then Jung started dreamin’
And Gnash started schemin’

Bob said “that’ll have to do”
Guattari said “I ain’t no fool
Let’s cruise drunken through the burbs
Pretend that we’re the angry birds”

They saw the white men cooking chicken
That is when the plot did thicken
While Deleuze and Guattari screamed like birds
Dylan didn’t say a fuckin’ word

Soon the neighbors with their guns
Cried “go elsewhere with all your fun
We like Bob Dylan and we like puns
But we have no truck with Carl Jung”

And just to make them stay away
Said “Last week we fucked up Dr. Dre
And if you wanna see the dawn
Hey hey you you get offa my lawn”

(rept many times)
They said “hey hey you you get offa my lawn

 

Our Cruel Father Who Art Beheaded

Our cruel father who art beheaded
Shallow be thy almost long tail
Thy ghosts are feted no statues erected
& all the tasty treatises are pungent stale
You took a wish upon a star
Even your golf game was subpar
And there’s no remorse just one less source
Of crumblin’’ dice & slammed shut doors

Our cruel father
Lost his head
Who will bake
All the children bread
Who will run
The important biznesses
Who will count
All the lesser sicknesses

Our cruel father who art beheaded
Swallowed much too much for one man
Took his sadness to the blood bank
Now there’s nothing much left to brand
With all the sins the eater consumes
All the letting a million lilacs bloom
All the fantasies dreamed by the TV
All the tricks that say can you see

Our cruel father
Lost his head
Who will bake
All the children bread
Who will run
The important biznesses
Who will count
All the lesser sicknesses

 

Failed State

You made it great (again)
Failed state
Lots of hate
President Jape

It’s been a long time comin’
It’s been a long strange bummin’
All those sad cats lamely strummin’
And the stunners who were stunning
And the millions killed by our wars
And the millions locked behind bars
And all the really cherry cars
And we had all the movie stars
And Kesey with his funny bus
And all the factories shut & rusting
And H. Rap Brown who didn’t lie
Said violence is American as Apple pie
And Siddartha says it’s suffer then die
And all the sacred cows on the frier
And maybe you should just take a flyer
At what might motivate the buyer
All the chickens comin’ home to roost
And their favorite actor John Wilkes Booth
And the old ones acting so uncouth
Dignity today belongs to the youth

You made it great (again)
Failed state
Lots of hate
President Jape

 

Be Where When?

There’s nothing happening here
The sky isn’t clear
Bad weirdness big fear
When were we to be here
Now?

There’s nothing happening here
Chin up – Don’t grumble
The way the cookie crumbles
And civilization tumbles
Now?

There’s nothing happening here
They say be best is better
We’re all in this together
‘Cept those living out in the weather
Now?

Punters fighting punters
Owners sailing yachts
You can jump into the fire
But you better pack your Reeboks
Now

 

IGNORE

Ignore
Out of boredom or torpor
The trending thing is so soporific
& your beauty & the moonlight is so terrific
So ignore

Ignore
Every Marie Kondo urging you pep talk
Every ugly rumor about Johnny Depp
Just ignore

& when you’re stuck in traffic
Some MAGA wearing a leather jacket
Some argument that trades logic for static
Ignore

And if everybody else lost the plot
& you ask are they really alive or not
Just lay yourself down on the cot
Have some whiskey & a little pot
& ignore

 

Grimes & Me Make 3

There’s no place to roam
No place is much like home
Everybody must get scolded
Every business must get folded

Gonna go into space
Get some AI to take my place
Gonna change my race
Be psychotic and set the pace

Gonna steal Grimes
Take her to the highest climb
Musk will feel so punked
After Grimes sprouts their man junk

Gonna be gender free
Every scene will involve a threesome
Two of them will be me
The other one will be lovely gruesome

They Canceled Lenny Bruce

Do you remember when chaos was a state of play
Do you remember “punk rock is here to stay”
Do you remember when Sister Ray was très outré
When Bowie asked… “or even yesterday?”

I’m wearing deplatform shoes
I’ve got the fear monger blues
When you ain’t got somewhere
You got no choice to choose
And now I’m yesterday’s news
They canceled Lenny Bruce

I still have a glimmer of rascalinity
But now it’s one inch short of divinity
My jest is a million miles from infinity
I may be creepy crawling to morbidity

I’m wearing deplatform shoes
I’ve got the fear monger blues
When you ain’t got somewhere
You got no choice to choose
And now I’m yesterday’s news
They canceled Lenny Bruce

I used to chatter to the birds and bees
Grabbed the branches and climbed the trees
I’m picking fleas, man… all this disease
All that’s left now is to vomit and sneeze

I’m wearing deplatform shoes
I’ve got the fear monger blues
When you ain’t got somewhere
You got no choice to choose
And now I’m yesterday’s news
They canceled Lenny Bruce

At The End Of Their Tether

Everybody seems to have a Tarot deck
Everybody seems to be gasping for breath
Everybody says soon things will get better
Things will get better at the end of their tether

They tried to cast a magick dispel
But it reeked of swamp gas and victory marches
So they set aside years to work on the smell
And build a new cosmos from inside a shell

Then in a bubble the cosmos drifted
And they were left behind when winds shifted
Yet still they made plans — at least the men did
They opened some bars and bought some guitars

And it was all pretty basic
If only they’d faked it
They would have put paid
To that runaway cosmos
That now smelled like a rose
They got so goddamn close
To be just another
Average dead sucker

Everybody seems to have a Tarot deck
Everybody seems to be gasping for breath
Everybody says soon things will get better
Things will get better at the end of their tether

(Boomer Please) Buy My Apocalypse Songs

While you’re standing around
Waiting for your grandkids to drown
Or maybe catch fire
After you’re dead and retired
You may as well listen
Get high and get pissed
To my apocalypse songs
Yes listen to this shit

Boomer please
I’m down on my knees
Everything has gone wrong
Buy my apocalypse songs

I’ve got profiles in discourage
From The Airplane to the bees
Failed stories faded glories
All you need is flowers and beads
From Stealers Wheel to The Troggs
From glitter glam to 60s mods
And there was surely Pussy Galore
Stick around you won’t get bored

Boomer please
I’m down on my knees
Everything has gone wrong
Buy my apocalypse songs

Fake Fur

I know that outrage is de rigueur
So I’m at the rally in fake fur
I am human hear me purr
Do I dare to cause a stir?

The stars are out and preening
Tonight they’re seeking meaning
And they’re gazing at the ceiling
Gonna send the nation reeling

Do you dare to eat a peach?
Do you dare to sneak a peek?
While blazing at the beach?
Do you care to make a speech?

And I said “don’t get riled
Take a walk on the mild side”
I said “don’t get riled
Take a walk on the mild side”
Cause of all the things we must detest
Fake fur says it the best
So don’t get riled
Take a walk on the mild side

Flabbergasted

Well I used to be disgusted
And then I tried to be amused
But now I’m just plain flabbergasted
At the depth of the abuse
And I’m not singing ‘bout a bad date
And I’m not singing ‘bout ya 2 minutes hate
I’m looking at the new level of crazy
With their hands wrapped around our fate

Does anybody remember the quantified life?
(R. Plant voice) Does anybody remember laughter?
Does anybody remember the balcony speeches?
Does anyone remember bloodletting and leeches?
Does anyone remember the days before then?
Lugubrious meetings with remake-able men
& Little Brother is watching one and other
So mark your turf — Then run for cover

Year Zero

Thanks a lot
Pol Pot
Hot to trot
Forget me not

Year zero
What a hero
Nero’s fiddle
No Middle

The bride stripped bare
The pride sniffs the air
He should put it all out there
They’ll appreciate his flair
And he’ll show them that he cares
And that he’s so aware
The pride sniffs the air
When the bride strips bare

Is she chic — au contraire
She’s barely even there
He’s no great catch to be fair
And he hopes she doesn’t scare
He’s got toxic in the pocket
And he’ll break down if she mocks it
But he’ll always preserve a locket
Of her bride stripped bare hair

Thanks a lot
Pol Pot
Hot to trot
Forget me not

Year zero
What a hero
Nero’s fiddle
No Middle

The Stepfather of Our Country

He was the stepfather of his country
But he raised the kids as his own
He gave them ears of corn — oodles of porn
But when they bought bad cocaine they earned his scorn

& when they all got older
He turned them into soldiers
Strapping tote bags to their shoulders
filled with weapons of mirth
It was all rather cheery
He read them Dr. Leary
Until those silly numbskulls
Decided to give birth

That was just the final straw
This was just what killed their pa
“Birth & death stay from my door
What do you think the porn was for?
To make you each one onanistic
Now I’ll get a bit fascistic”

One by one he ate his grandkids
Chowed them down like gutted pigs
Except one who was schizophrenic
& could produce some anaesthetic
Together they drifted into a coma
Singing gleeful songs of soma

& thus a world was born & died
All because of a stepdads pride
It takes a village to make things fair
Fuckin’ stepdad didn’t care

Rebel Without A Mask

I was greasy in the ‘50s
Freaky in the ‘60s
My idea of ‘70s fun
Was “carry on my wayward son”
But all of that is in the past
I support the Ruling Crass
Did you think I’d wear a mask?
You don’t even have to ask

Cause I’m a rebel without a mask
James Dean with a modern task
I’m using up my remaining sass
To be a rebel without a mask

I’m with you if you’re with Q
So many red pills still to do
So many weird things but they’re true
I’ll spread the news to the young dudes
And if YouTube kicks me off
I’ll tell R.U. he’s going soft
Don’t you wanna question authority
Naked and maskless near the sorority?

Cause I’m a rebel without a mask
James Dean with a modern task
I’m using up my remaining sass
To be a rebel without a mask

 

Actual Apocalypse

Everyone’s a prepper now
Everyone’s a mutilated cow
Everyone is making vows
Everybody take a final bow

Actual apocalypse
It isn’t fun like watching Mad Max
it isn’t clever like Oliver Sacks or
Insanely great like Steve Jobs’ Macs

One mask is for the disease
One mask is for the smoke
One mask is for avoiding police
Last toke before we’re broken

Actual apocalypse
It isn’t fun like watching Mad Max
it isn’t clever like Oliver Sacks or
Insanely great like Steve Jobs’ macs

2020 this was the year
2020 the vision is clear
Gonna need four more beers
Drown the fire in my tears

Actual apocalypse
It isn’t fun like watching Mad Max
it isn’t clever like Oliver Sacks or
Insanely great like Steve Jobs’ macs

Ring around the platitudes
A pocket full of smug
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes
Ashes ashes

 

 

Tripulations 1968 – 1969: Excerpt from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time

by R.U. Sirius

Tripulations 1968 – 1969

A Brief Return to Berkeley During “The Revolution”

Tim’s first impulse, upon being released from the Millbrook hive, was to take Rosemary and Susan (Jack had already left a year earlier, joining the great migration to the streets of the Haight Ashbury) back to his old stomping ground of Berkeley, California where he still owned the family home. By now, Berkeley was a buzzing center of the international counterculture. But Tim was not attuned to Berkeley’s late ‘60s culture of protests, riots and apocalyptic revolutionary rhetoric so his stay in Berkeley would be brief.   

The Brotherhood of Eternal Love

At the invitation of a group called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the small Leary family unit made its way south, to the sunny climes of Orange County, just outside of LA.  

In 1966, a notorious working class gang of tough marijuana dealers from Orange County invaded and ripped off a Hollywood party over a pot deal gone bad. Among the items they grabbed was a bunch of LSD.  They didn’t even know what it was — except that it was obviously a drug.  One day, the gang leader, John Griggs tried it. “This is it!” he told his followers. “A religious experience.” He threw his gun into the ocean. In nearly an instant, the Street Sweepers gang became a religious psychedelic commune. And the skills they’d learned smuggling marijuana from Mexico… well, that still fit the profile. They added acid and hashish to their sales repertoire and became such a successful underground operation that they would eventually get dubbed “the hippie mafia.”

Timothy Leary’s Psychedelic Prayers from the Tao te Ching became a sort of holy book for the Brothers and Leary a guru.  Being at loose ends anyway, the Leary family unit was happy to head to Laguna Beach and be glorified and feted by their high-flying friends.   

The Brothers were the ultimate ecstatic warriors of the psychedelic revolution.  They were following the logic (such as it was) of  ‘60s psychedelia — this was the idea or vibe that the more people consumed psychedelic substances, the closer we would get to an advanced enlightened society… even if there was some freaking out, fucking up and weirdness along the way.  What do you think? 

The legend of the Brotherhood and the Laguna Beach scene is the subject of numerous books and articles, the best one being Orange Sunshine by Nicholas Schau.

High Priest & Politics of Ecstasy

1968 saw the release of Timothy Leary’s first semi-autobiographical book, High PriestThis book bravely, poignantly, poetically and hilariously tells the stories of fifteen psychedelic trips taken during the Harvard years (plus the nervous breakdown/breakthrough in Spain in 1959)— the trips that turned Timothy Leary into the legend of a mind. Many of the adventures I’ve already described are included. If you’re going to read one Leary book about the psychedelic experience — with the emphasis on actual experience and not on the insights inspired by them — this is the one for you.

Later, 1968 saw the release of a collection of Leary essays under the title, The Politics of Ecstasy. Much more a product of its time than High Priest, Politics of Ecstasy crackles with its effervescent, confident and whip smart explication of how psychedelic experience intersected with generational politics and a demented war mongering repressive sociopolitical structure to create the mad countercultural explosion that was, in fact, peaking heavily that very year.  Read more “Tripulations 1968 – 1969: Excerpt from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time”

Morgan Russell High Frontiers/Reality Hackers/MONDO 2000 Writer/Editor Publisher RIP 12/11/1957 — 7/16/2018

Morgan Russell 

 

Morgan Russell came into the “MONDO 2000” orbit in 1987 when we were still called High Frontiers. He had come out from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to attend a 20th Anniversary of the Summer of Love that was taking place at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. But let’s let Morgan tell it.

Morgan Russell: There was a good crowd but no one seemed to be taking photographs. I set up a tripod and a long lens and took photos of people at a distance.

R.U. and Queen Mu were on the hunt for people to attend a Reality Hackers Evening or something… an event sponsored by the magazine. And it was a cyberpunk event—before this word had really entered the vocabulary. They approached me. In addition to the flyer for the event, Queen Mu gave me a copy of High Frontiers number 3 which I devoured in a night’s time and then knew that I had to meet the people therein. It’s not a reaction I normally would have reading a magazine, but I was convinced I had to make contact with them. At the same time, Mu was searching for a contact with me, which was made through Peter Booth Lee, who was kind enough to give me a ride home to the place where I was living then with my cousin. She had the intuition that I could be helpful to the magazine. Peter Booth Lee was put on the duty of scouring the neighborhood where he had dropped me off; because he didn’t see what building I went into. He didn’t find me. But at the same time I was looking for them.

I was so impressed with the magazine that — there was an ad for Pink Tarantula hairdressers and I went there when I needed a haircut. It was run by a woman who used to be a whore. She described herself as that or a prostitute. She was from Australia, and she had bones in her hair like other people would have ribbons in their hair. I didn’t know if they were chicken bones or something and I didn’t ask. They specialized in making more exotic cuts and colorings of hair before this was really happening in a widespread manner. A little girl came in with blond hair and the hairdresser made it bright pink or something like this. So I absorbed everything, even the ads. There weren’t too many ads.

R.U. Sirius: OK that’s a start but to get the real skinny you have to read the mad mad article that Morgan wrote for us about the event, about us, about whatever the fuck popped into his manic mind. In the process of putting together MONDO memoirs, I described his style as a cross between Hunter Thompson and Oscar Wilde — a dandy gonzo.

Seriously, stop reading this… and read this article! You may want to return to the rest of this tomorrow.

So Morgan came for the conference as a visitor, but he never left. I believe he may have gone home for a few days, but he was basically in the pudding for the next few years.

He stayed for a while at the Hotel Ansonia in San Francisco and eventually found himself living in an apartment in Oakland with High Frontiers veteran art director Lord Nose. But it wasn’t long before he was ensconced in the “technogothic citadel in the Berkeley Hills” (as it would be described in various periodicals out of which we were running our magazine. (It would eventually be known as “The MONDO House.”

Morgan Russell: Much of our history is tied to a place usually referred to as the MONDO House, designed by a follower of Maybeck, situated high in the Berkeley Hills and reigned over by Queen Mu. It eventually became the HQ for the latter High Frontiers, all of Reality Hackers and most of MONDO 2000. Before this, the business was located in the financial district of SF. I met R.U. Sirius there in the midst of people wearing jackets or suits with tie. There was cognitive dissonance woven into our aims and our neighborhood.  Read more “Morgan Russell High Frontiers/Reality Hackers/MONDO 2000 Writer/Editor Publisher RIP 12/11/1957 — 7/16/2018”

Memes Are For Tricksters: The Biology of Disinformation

by R.U. Sirius

An interview with Douglas Rushkoff, David Pescovitz & Jake Dunagan

Back in 1990, when MONDO 2000 magazine promised Screaming Memes on its cover, it was more or less a secret argot winking at our technohip Mondoid readers. I mean, sure there was that Dawkins book in which he invented the concept, but it seemed to be a bunch of playful, subversive freaks who were using them to blow open some heads (and maybe sell a few magazines). 

We’ve come a long way baby. Now, the world appears to be defined by memetic warfare and the damage done is real world crisis and horror.

A recent paper by Douglas Rushkoff, David Pescovitz and Jake Dunagan written for the Institute for the Future titled The Biology of Disinformation: memes, media viruses and cultural inoculation describes the contemporary condition and suggests ways to combat this bad operation mindfuck.  

Read The Biology of Disinformation

David Pescovitz and Jake Dunagan are both research directors at Institute for the Future and Rushkoff is a research fellow.  MONDOids are, of course, familiar with Pescovitz as one of the founding members of Boing Boing and Rushkoff as the author of many books including the highly relevant Media Virus, from 1994.

We chatted using Slack…

thanks to Satori D for his assistance and participation

R.U. Sirius: In a sense, you’re offering a different model than the one most of us usually think in, as regards memetics. Instead of fighting bad memes with good, or their memes with ours, are you suggesting that we look at memes themselves as viruses attacking us? Is that right?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah, that’s the simplest way of looking at it. That’s why I called memes in media “media viruses.” Even if they end up forcing important ideas into the cultural conversation, and even if they ultimately lead to good things, they do infect us from the outside. They attack our weak code, and continue to replicate until we repair it, or until we come to recognize the “shell” of the virus itself.

I think what makes our analysis unique, compared with a lot of what’s out there, is that we’re not proposing yet another technosolutionist fix. Mark Zuckerberg wants to fight fake news with artificial intelligence. Great. He’s already over his head in a media environment he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know why his platform has led to so many unintended effects. So what’s his solution? Build yet another technology he understands even less to solve the problem with yet another black box.

Even those with the best intentions see all this as a technological problem, when it’s really more a cultural or biological one. The difference in our approach is that we still have faith in the human organism and human society to rise to the occasion and increase their resiliency. So we’re writing for people, not tech companies.

David Pescovitz 

David Pescovitz: I’m also interested in how our networked media environment has evolved to allow this nastiness to occur and, in fact, reward it. During the early days of Twitter and Facebook it was exciting that people were using the platforms to share ideas and “find the others.” But I was also annoyed and later alarmed by the rise in narcissism, emphasis on “personal brands,” and mob mentality. Maybe those people were always like that and social media just amplified those traits. Either way, to me it quickly felt like antisocial media.

Since then, it’s become increasingly clear that the only real way to fix our social media experiences is by fixing ourselves. This is true when it comes to how we interact with other people online but also our own vulnerability to propaganda, disinformation, and coercion. Of course reconnecting with our own humanity is much harder than just giving in to the algorithmically addictive dopamine rush of another retweet or “like.”

Jake Dunagan: There was an old Zuck who swallowed a virus, I don’t know why he swallowed the virus. He swallowed AI to fight the virus…

I was struck by the psychologist Dannagal Young’s point that we quoted in the article: “blaming readers for spreading fake news from a cognitive perspective …somewhat equivalent to blaming a baby for soiling itself. They can’t help it. ”

 

Jake Dunagan

This is what Doug is calling our weak code, our vulnerabilities we’ve inherited from evolution and extended by culture. Humor, satire, memes, are exploiting our cognitive weaknesses, and lowering our defenses. I’ve always loved the Mad Magazine, SNL, and Yes Men ways of showing us how the messages we’re hearing are full of shit. Read more “Memes Are For Tricksters: The Biology of Disinformation”

Ups & Downs With Ecstasy (MDMA, Molly, etc.)

 

by R.U. Sirius

With the recent FDA decision granting a Breakthrough Therapy Designation to MDMA (i.e. Ecstasy) for PTSD, it seems like a fine time to revisit the first ecstasy experience from the unpublished, incomplete MONDO 2000 story (a different sort of MONDO 2000 book is in the works)

While I am thrilled with the continued movement of MDMA and other psychedelics towards social and political acceptance as therapeutic tools, the fact that this is mainly aimed at bringing soldiers to an inward acceptance of the hurt they gathered… and in some case, inflicted… in one of America’s perpetual overseas adventures raises some deep political questions.  Not that I would deny our “wounded warriors” relief. They are not to blame for the poor choices of our political leaders. But it does raise the question whether — in a broader philosophical and political sense — we want the burden of going to war to be lightened and to what degree. 

It also implies the potential for a drug that makes us calmly transcendent and all self-forgiving even in the act of war. This is, indeed, one of the conditions the military is looking to create for its supersoldiers. 

Anyway, here are some excerpts about MDMA from the MONDO 2000 story…

The following entry is from the early part of the MONDO 2000 story, when “Somerset Mau Mau” and I were distributing the first newsprint edition of High Frontiers, the magazine that became MONDO.

From: “Chapter Six: Funky Punk Acid Rag”

A few weeks after publication, Bruce Eisner said that we really needed to hustle down to his and Peter’s hometown of Santa Cruz because there weren’t any copies available in the stores and people had already grabbed the few we had sent them for free.   Also, it would be good to meet the folks in the Santa Cruz psychedelic community. We were invited to stay at Peter Stafford’s apartment.

We arrived at Peter’s place, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Entering a spacious two-room apartment with high ceilings and sunlight streaming in through huge picture windows, Eisner greeted us in the living room. Meanwhile, behind closed doors, there seemed to be a mild hubbub going on. We stood making small talk with Bruce as the door to this other room — it soon became clear it was a bedroom — would quickly open and close.   Eventually the door opened and we could see a bunch of guys in a sort of ill-formed circle around the very tall Peter Stafford, so that we could just see his naked chest, goofy grinning laughing face and wildly flailing arms. Everybody seemed to be arguing with Peter. Bruce sighed. “Peter likes to get naked when he’s high,” he said. We assured Bruce that we had no problems with anybody greeting us naked. Eventually, Stafford apparently compromised with his friends and came out to great us wearing a pair of white undies. We immediately fell into a rapture with Peter, as he excitedly ran us through a full course in his personal psychedelic history; tossing books he’d written or that he was mentioned in at us and waxing mega-enthusiastic — as I recall — about squeezing mescaline from a cactus among many other trippy matters.

Bruce Eisner: You might say Peter (Stafford) was the prototypical hippie. He probably was the first hippie, in my estimation, because I remember him growing long hair when he was living in Greenwich Village in 1963, 64. And he hitchhiked to Mexico with really long hair, and he was very boyish and good-looking in those days. I think he was one of the first people to really inspire the hippie movement. He actually used to publish these tabloids, in the Village. He published these special ones that looked kind of like The Oracle, but they were “Stafford Specials.”

 

And then the party began. As I recall, it was just drink and powerful weed. So the next few days were a blur of way-stoned, half-drunk but absolutely lucid lessons in drug history and psychopharmacology as preached by Peter, interrupted by brief forays around Santa Cruz to meet the local heads. Most impressive were two older women, probably in their ’60s or ’70s. Nina Graboi lived in a neatly furnished modest but brightly colored apartment with huichol peyote paintings on the wall. She had been the New York Director for the League of Spiritual Discovery (LSD), Timothy Leary’s earliest attempt at organizing to educate psychedelic explorers and defend their rights to trip. She had also worked with the legendary LSD psychotherapist Stan Grof. Mau Mau and I felt ourselves in the presence of deep psychedelic history.

The other elder was Liz Gips — a funky gal in baggy blue jeans who seemed to have the hint of a southern accent. I remember being very impressed with her intellect as she laid out the Santa Cruz psychoactive scene and told us about the radio show she hosted on a local public radio station. She invited us to come on her show to talk about High Frontiers a couple of days hence.

The last day of our planned visit arrived and I woke up irritated that we’d stayed so loaded that we hadn’t done what we planned to do. — go to the local bookstores and get them to take magazine. Mau Mau’s heavy drinking and lack of discipline weighed on me. People who wanted to just stay high were clearly too irresponsible to stay on mission… even when the mission was pretty simple. As everybody in the house came to consciousness, I pressed my case for getting out right away and getting to Santa Cruz bookstores with copies of the magazine. My plan was hazily agreed to, but bowls of weed were smoked and lazy conversations sputtered along until the morning was completely gone. I finally got openly pissed and Mau Mau and I got ready to haul ass out the door to distribute the ‘zines. Just as we were walking to the door, this absolutely perfect young blonde haired surfer-looking dude with blazing blue eyes and a blinding shiny white toothed grin walked in. “Does anybody want some MDMA?”

Read more “Ups & Downs With Ecstasy (MDMA, Molly, etc.)”

Mutant/Mutation/Transmutation/The Total Fucking Transmutation of Everything

Excerpt from the unpublished Mondo History Project by R.U. Sirius… partly from preface party from “Chapter 3”

 

Accept for the moment — if just as a literary conceit — that I was entrusted by certain unknowable cosmic extradimensional forces with bringing about what I — in my heyday — called “the total fucking transmutation of everything.” Accept that, a few days after taking a 600 microgram liquid LSD trip, this daft absurd little American whiteboy felt himself to be as one of those windup toys dropped into the play set of the late 20th century human dramedy with a fantastic cosmic mission to transform the human species. An agent of destiny.

This world — the very one we currently occupy — would be led off into n-dimensional hyperspace; or brought via drugs and technology into a novel mutation of being human several degrees up the evolutionary ladder. I would erect my holy grail and plunge forth. All boundaries, borders and banalities clenched by civilization’s tight asshole would be expulsed leaving behind only the alchemical transference of shit into philosopher’s gold and the energies of abundance.

This transmutation was not to lead to the innocent empty eyed bliss ninny paradise of new age gurunoiacs. It would be a postpunk neoyippie trickster utopia — utopia with booby traps to keep everyone on their toes; utopia with a cacophonic bite; with more than a hint of Burroughsian or Sadean perversity, and with just enough science factional ambition to launch a posthuman species into the cosmos.

Of course, smart smug reader, this is all bullshit. I know it too. I knew it even then, except when I didn’t know it… which was just often enough to propel me forth to make this strange thing that was MONDO happen…

Mutant/Mutation/Transmutation/The Total Fucking Transmutation of Everything

In biology, a positive or beneficial mutation increases the fitness of the organism and promotes desirable traits.      

As cultural signifiers, the words mutant and mutation have been in circulation amongst countercultural and subcultural types at least since the mid-1960s when the organizers of the first hippie Be-In declared the hippies “a new generation of mutants.” Around the same time, Timothy Leary started describing the rebellious youths of the ’’60s generation” as post-Hiroshima mutants. Since then, these words have continued to pop up amongst the various flavors of alternativeness. Many Science Fiction fans, for example, see themselves as mutants who are different from — and smarter than — the “normals.”

The main conceit, largely framed by media philosopher Marshall McLuhan, was that the new communications media — particularly TV — in combination with mind-active drugs, was causing the era’s youths to privilege mental and emotionally abilities that were entirely distinct from those privileged by the previous several hundred years of print, alcohol and caffeine-oriented Western Civilization, thus making them a sort of new species living in a linked-up, innately trippy “global village.”

Regarding transmutation, prior to Darwin, evolutionary theorists used the word to describe the transition from one species to the next. The term had been passed down from alchemy and thus also had — and continues to have — a resonance among occultists and other mystics.

The Total Fucking Transmutation of Everything, as conceived by your main narrator R.U. Sirius, represented the idea of a radical transformation in the human condition, both fundamental and surreal.

In fundamental terms, I imagined a humanity that had transcended poverty, unhappy labor, ill-considered taboos, national boundaries, rigid ideologies, racism, sexual repression, absolute gender categorization and identification, and biological and neurological limits on what a human being can do or experience.

At the more surreal level, I was inviting conditions and experiences that defied all possible expectations based on familiarity with how the world is supposed to function, but that might relate to psychedelic philosopher Terence McKenna’s notion that during the 21st Century, we will enter into a place where “whatever we can imagine will simply come to be;” or singularitarian Vernor Vinge’s idea that we will take inside of us AIs with intelligences that will be to us as our intelligence is to the ant and that the future beyond that Singularity is beyond comprehension .  

Or in a less explanatory but more lyrical modality, I once wrote and sang:

I inverted the very color of being

But you weren’t there

Yeah the big ball turned right over

It needs no justification

I wanted to be Salvador Dali

I wanted to be dead and unreasonable

Let’s grieve in concentric circles

To make the night release your brain

In other words, rationality aside, my biggest motivation for invoking the Total Fucking Transmutation Of Everything was probably a fuck-all boredom and impatience with reality.

Timothy Leary’s 1987 rant against Reaganism and the Drug War

Eldridge, Tim & Abbie — Old friends

Timothy Leary ranted to Lord Nose and myself for High Frontiers at his Hollywood home in 1987.  In honor of our new president and his death penalty schtick, I now present the part where he goes off on Ronald Reagan and the War On Drugs, which the Reagan’s really started (you could say they escalated it, since Nixon announced the War on Drugs.  It really became a well-funded “war” under Reagan.)

There are some obviously flaws. It was spontaneous, and of its time. Still… I love this rant.

 

The Reagan administration is an extraordinary recurrence, or flare-up, of the basic American disease, which is the Protestant ethic, the original Massachusetts Bay Puritan notion of predestinarianism. The idea that there are the elect and the damned. Naturally, white Protestants are the elect and everyone who’s not a white Protestant Puritan is damned. Therefore they have no rights, can be offed, enslaved, can be treated basically as in the service of the Devil.

****

People like Reagan because he’s got enthusiasm, energy, charisma. He smiles and feels good about himself. My god, if your president doesn’t feel good about himself, if he’s dragging his ass around like Mondale, what message is he sending to the herd or to the tribe. But I think everyone would agree that at the level of creativity, open-mindedness, tolerance — the basic intellectual virtues — Reagan is a 1 on a scale of 1 to 8.

****

I don’t think that being illegal is going to stop people from taking ecstasy. America’s going through a hysterical fanatic paroxysm of religious intolerance. These Protestant types truly believe they have to have an enemy to be against… it was the Soviet Union. For the last twenty years we’ve been at war with Central America, Nicaragua, Cuba. We have to have colored people, or different language people, or different religions as scapegoats.  These South Americans are obviously dirty sinful people because they don’t sing Protestant hymns. So the American government has to have an outside enemy to whip up the military fervor, and it also has to have an internal domestic civil war going on at all times. So that we started with the Civil War 100 years ago, which was a total disaster; an unnecessary war, whipped up by this insane Protestant desire, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” and then, just in the last century, the scapegoating of Wobblies and trade union people, then the Jews have always been scapegoats of the Protestant ruling class, and then the Japanese for awhile during World War II.  And then after World War II it became reds and communists and pinkos. If you were not a total rightwing republican, you were a communist. Because it’s either/or. There’s no shade. You’re either a god or a devil. So they had to have a new domestic enemy and, of course, drugs are the perfect scapegoat. People that use drugs are young and they tend to be dissident. They don’t tend to be Born Again Christians. They tend to be everything that’s sinful and horrible to a Protestant ethic predestinarian. So the war on drugs is a religious war, and in a religious war there’s no pretense at honesty or clarity or tolerance — anything goes, propaganda, lies, persecution. That’ll end, hopefully, by 1988.

John Perry Barlow Through the Lens of Lisa Rein’s Archival Memories

John Perry Barlow at the San Francisco Aaron Swartz Memorial

John Perry Barlow was a close collaborator and dear friend, since the first day I met him, in 2002. He was extremely encouraging, spoke at many of the events I organized, and was there for me generally, as I followed the breadcrumbs of my archival adventures. First as Dr. Timothy Leary’s Digital Librarian, next as the co-founder of Aaron Swartz Day, and most recently, as Chelsea Manning’s Archivist.

Barlow was a very exciting person to work with. In the beginning, there wasn’t much pressure during our meetings, while he answered questions about Dr. Timothy Leary, who he had a close and very interesting — albeit sometimes strained — relationship with. He was helping me fill in the little details between the overlapping stories I had heard from others. I often showed up with a box of artifacts from whichever specific time period I wanted to discuss that day. Although the lives of psychedelic folks in the 1960s and 1970s are often portrayed as footloose and fancy free, their real lives weren’t really like that most of the time (except when they really really were :).

I would often ask him to confirm specific facts for me, and would end up hearing completely different stories that took place around the time period in question. Being Dr. Leary’s Digital Librarian, I liked to know the story behind every artifact. Since I wasn’t alive yet, much less there, when a lot of things took place, my job, most of the time, amounted to collecting and comparing notes from everyone I could find who was there.

I would often get conflicting stories about how certain events played out, and I was usually hoping that John Perry’s account of events could break the tie. Unfortunately, his accounts did no such thing. More often than not, he would say that something different altogether had taken place, making it so the only thing I knew for sure was that the “official” story was wonky. Nevertheless, it was always quite amusing hearing his take on famous figures — Dr. Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Baba Ram Dass, Bobby Weir, Jerry Garcia -— or hear him tell (and re-tell) the story of forming the Electronic Frontier Foundation with Mitch Kapor and John Gilmore.

These last few years, as things became more intense around my work, if I stopped by for anything, he would literally drop everything (give or take an hour 🙂 to see me and help me figure out what I needed, and quickly. Often, it seemed as if he was dealing with two or three other critical situations at the same time, and I felt quite honored to be included in his circle of intensity.

Barlow at the Leary reunion

In 2009, I worked with the Leary Estate to put on a family reunion and party for close friends. John Perry Barlow was there, and said a few words:

From that talk:

And, this archive…”will attempt to tell a complex story from a number of different points of view”… and will attempt to encapsulate Timothy Leary, who was truly the most paradoxical and vexing and inspiring and maddening of human beings. He probably had more to do with introducing people to the spiritual matter than practically anybody who wasn’t born in the desert someplace, and yet he was, for much of his life, a profoundly anti-spiritual man.

 

He was a very loving man, who introduced a lot of people to a greater depth of love…

 

I think it’s really important to decode this guy. He was one of my friends. I knew him from ’65 until he died, pretty continuously, and I loved him dearly. But it’s important to take him apart, and figure out who he really was, ’cause you can learn a lot about America, from learning a lot about Timothy Leary.”

 

 

Read more “John Perry Barlow Through the Lens of Lisa Rein’s Archival Memories”

J.P. Barlow Remembers… US? Interview About MONDO 2000 (Reality Hackers, High Frontiers)

Stefan Z., Amelia Rose, J.P. Barlow, Morgan Russell

 

John Perry Barlow was interviewed for an oral history of MONDO 2000 several years ago. That version of a MONDO 2000 book has been displaced by something more essay/idea oriented (albeit with some memory mixed in) — and that leaves us free to use some of the interviews here on the website.

We did not, however, expect to be using the Barlow interview so soon. But now, with everybody remembering Barlow, we’re going with Barlow remembering us.

Some or all the persons and references herein may be unfamiliar but with a modicum of intuition and /or imagination, you should be able to get into the MONDOMania as J.P. Barlow recalls it.

 

Meeting Reality Hackers

I met Morgan Russell either at SIGGRAPH Boston or Macworld Boston (1989). But I didn’t really put it all together, I don’t believe, until I ran across Reality Hackers. R.U. Sirius was at a hackers party at the Exploratorium giving away copies of Reality Hackers and High Frontiers.

I just thought this was marvelous. I thought, this is exactly right because there had been this thing that had been gathering in my head, I thought, somewhat independently, about the relationship between consciousness in computing and psychedelics.

I knew about them and I was interested in them for a good long while before I discovered that they had this house that was kind of an artist collective — an atelier of some sort — that was gathering energy around this whole thing. And I was in fundamental agreement and even felt like part of their auto-conspiracy.

Coming to the MONDO house

I was almost certainly lured by Morgan. I thought that the house was a truly magical place. It was out of a Hermann Hesse novel, filled with these people the likes of which did not exist anywhere else. I felt like I kind of made them up. They were so perfectly aligned with something that I wanted to exist.

They were telling the story of something that was going to be a natural continuity of a thread that I’d been tracking ever since I became a teenage beatnik when I was thirteen.

I had been on that path in some form or fashion through LSD and hanging at Millbrook, and finding out that my official best friend was a member of the house band for the Acid Test and all these kinds of things through college and subsequently.

I was re-engaging with something that I had been out of the loop of. I mean, I’d gone off to Wyoming for seventeen years where I’d been a cattle rancher. And yeah, I’d been writing Grateful Dead songs on the side but I actually didn’t feel myself to be at the core of that movement or any kind of countercultural movement… and I very much felt like I was re-engaging what seemed to be my life’s work that night, meeting those guys and becoming part of whatever it was that you were up to.

Read more “J.P. Barlow Remembers… US? Interview About MONDO 2000 (Reality Hackers, High Frontiers)”

Zach Leary Remembers Timothy Leary’s Final Years

Interview by R.U. Sirius

Zach Leary is the host of both the “It’s All Happening with Zach Leary” podcast and “The MAPS Podcast.” They have helped to cement him as one of the most thought provoking podcasters in the cultural philosophy genre of podcasting. He’s also a blogger/writer, a futurist, spiritualist, a technology consultant and sociocultural theorist.

Raised from a young age by Timothy Leary and his mother Barbara Leary, Zach had the ultimate front row seat to Dr. Tim’s later years. I’m excited to have him share some of his memories and thoughts with us about Dr. Leary’s final years as he was dying from prostate cancer.

R.U. Sirius: Was there any sign of illness that you were aware of before your stepdad got his diagnosis of prostate cancer? Anything you can tell us about this?

Zach Leary: Looking back on it, it becomes much easier to connect the dots and to make sense of what went on with his sickness and physical deterioration. Before the actual cancer diagnosis occurred, he expressed to me many times how he was brokenhearted and dejected that Barbara (Zach’s mother, Tim’s wife) had left him. I remember one night less than six months after she left where he confessed that he felt a sense of completion and a loss of a will to live. He simply had so many personal heartbreaks in his life that eventually caught up to him. I suspect from that point forward, he let his personal state of mind effect his physical one. He started to get old fast, so by the time the actual diagnosis happened, it didn’t feel terribly out of place. To me it felt like it might have even been what he wanted.

The fascinating part that makes him so different than most people is that he didn’t let it affect his work and prolific output. During the last 3-4 years of the downward life spiral he still found time to produce some of his most compelling work and inspire everyone around him. He had a stiff upper lip and marched forward.

RUS: How did you learn of Timothy’s cancer? How/when did he talk to you about it?

ZL: Honestly, I don’t remember the specific moment. I do remember him letting me know, but I can’t recall it being a formal “sit down.” The more severe talk/disclosure occurred after his one and only chemo treatment. He went to one chemo session and said “FUCK THIS. I’m not going to do it. From here on out, I’m calling my cancer Mademoiselle Cancer and we’re going to make friends with it!”

He did gauge my feedback by having a talk with me that he wasn’t going to get any treatment — which, in turn, meant he was going to let it kill him. I was young and didn’t know what to do with that information. He seemed to be at peace with it so I played along. That said, it took me awhile to really make peace with it. I was just starting to be an adult and the thought of not having his paternal wisdom in my adult life freaked me out. He certainly was very open and vulnerable to anyone wanting to talk about it, that’s for sure. He didn’t hide one bit!

RU:  Was there a slow or immediate transition to “the mother of all parties” — his public celebration of the dying process? Do you remember any complications around that… practically or emotionally?

ZL: As far as I recall, the transition to what you’re calling “the mother of all parties” was immediate. He instantly recognized the juggernaut potential of making the death and dying process into the final act of his life’s work. That’s how I remember it anyway.

Once he decided that he wasn’t going to get any treatment for the cancer there was a short and very much unsustained grieving process. He somehow charmed us into making his dying into a celebration. Had I been older and more mature, I certainly would have handled that differently. His death, while of course profound and inspiring, hit me after the fact in a very challenging way. I was a lost young man with no identity of my own and part of that was due to me never really having much time to feel the loss and process. We had some really sweet father and son moments towards the end that contained some very necessary tears. But overall I think Timmy’s ability to barnstorm through emotionally difficult milestones was ultimately a downfall of his.

I’m glad the whole “designer dying” idea of his found such strong footing and uncovered so many important topics for our culture, but I do wish there was a more sensitive way to offset the public celebration with some compassion for those close to him. Immediately after he died, my life fell apart very quickly — when that happens it’s no ones fault, but I was by no means prepared for life without him.

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