Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Acid Spooks En Francais

I saw this story linked to at Facebook the other day. It's being reported by several newspapers, most notably by the Torygraph...er, I mean Telegraph, in the UK. Back in 1951, the residents of a French village started going really loopy. A few critters died and some were confined to institutions. The big mystery over the years has been why the folks of Pont-Saint-Esprit suddenly experienced nightmarish hallucinations and began to behave in highly 'unorthodox' ways.

It was initially thought that the local baker had unwittingly baked some ergot-infected wheat into bread, which was consumed by the locals. The villagers would then have been victims of ergot poisoning, or St. Anthony's Fire--a very not-pleasant combination of hallucinations and convulsions. In extreme cases, gangrene in the limbs develops and death can occur.

New evidence has allegedly come to light now, whereby it's being claimed that there's documentation to show that CIA agents, working in conjunction with some scientists at the Sandoz Laboratories (where LSD was first synthesized), conspired with a few French 'plants' to essentially dose the population with LSD and observe the results. What swell critters, eh?

It definitely seems plausible, given the agency's track record with other experiments of a similar nature. What amazes me is how long it took for the original files to be made public. I suppose it shows a sliver of progress that the Iran-Contra affair was exposed after only a few years of being in operation. Same old CIA. Robert Anton Wilson once quipped that if the gubberment were really fighting a 'war on terror', they would carpet-bomb Langley, Virginia. But of course, like the 'Drug War', it's only a war on some terrorists (mostly brown ones, with funny names, who don't worship the X-tian 'God').

Now, if I lived in a paranoid reality-tunnel most of the time - I'd ask why the Pont-Saint-Esprit story is surfacing now. I'd think that maybe it's another scare-story about psychedelics, to try and put the kibosh on any legitimate research. The Beckley Foundation is starting a research project on LSD and I suspect that M.A.P.S. will be soon, too. Ah well, hopefully humans have learned more and got a bit smarter since psychedelics were demonised by the mainstream press in the 1960s. I say hopefully....

Here's a great little film showing LSD experiments with British soldiers in the early 1960s:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Edition of "WILHELM REICH IN HELL" by Robert Anton Wilson

A couple copies of the new edition of RAW's "Wilhelm Reich in Hell" arrived at my house today, featuring artwork by yours truly.




WHO IS ROBERT ANTON WILSON?


Generally speaking it's probably asking a bit much to expect to get to correspond w/ your very favorite writer. Exceedingly so to imagine blundering into their home, burning one, and watching a Frankenstein movie. But to then endeavor to sit down and actually participate in the work, even in such a small way, absolutely unfathomable!

The lasagna remains flying, as per request.

bc

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

EZ SEZ

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers


I am enjoying Inherent Vice a lot…an excellent mix. I seem to remember Vineland had a hippie 70s setting, too (?)

I have to say I picked up the hardback of Mason & Dixon, and simply despaired of hundreds of pages of ‘hard work’, so put it back. When I read Gravity’s Rainbow I had a cat-sitting job, a few days to myself, and a lump of Moroccan, and I just read, smoked and drank tea for several days…occasionally dozing off. I really enjoyed that read.

Then Against The Day turned up in the library, and I figured it sounded like my sort of thing “The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.”

But again, in this hectic world, such a large hardback (over 1000 pages) put itself back on the shelf.

Not to say I won’t go back to them, when I have a few days off…

Inherent Vice just drew me right in. Admittedly, with a main character you might describe as a hippie Private Investigator some readers might pick up echoes of The Dude from The Big Lebowski, or even Kinky Friedman as his alter ego P.I. – but I consider those recommendations, not faults.

So Pynchon either has an ear and an eye for sub-cultures, or maybe I should stop thinking of him as some English Lit professor (think McLuhan) and put him in a sort of Tom Robbins category. Just as he avoids publicity, I have avoided thinking about him too much.

Given that he hung out with Richard Farina in early days… Given that he would have reached 30 by 1967, perhaps he uncomfortably straddled that Beat/Hippie divide, too old for one, too young for the other. Who knows? People got drawn into that Sixties/Seventies realm who didn’t really fit or always feel comfortable (think Philip K Dick) – and I’d be the last one to romance the period, just because I found it ‘interesting times to live through’. He does appear ambiguous about the 60s.

some Pynchon resources:

Spermatikos Logos


Zak Smith's Illustrations For Each Page of Gravity's Rainbow

The Illustrated Gravity's Rainbow

Thomas Pynchon.com on Inherent Vice and its Wiki

spasticattack

i'm a tunnel rat, don't watch this - i'm making links.

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