Monday, January 14, 2008

"Tomorrow is our permanent address"

McLoon and Bucky One of the things I most regretted about not having the complete Tale of The Tribe course with Bob - we never really got to discuss Marshall McLuhan.

He seems well out of fashion. For all his analysis of media, he probably appears difficult. Partly because of his teasing approach - trying to make you think!

Bobby has offered the complete version of McLuhan's Wake (with Laurie Anderson doing narrator). [but note Glandmaster's technical comment below, about the site].

I choose to watch/listen to it right now as I write. I'll probably go and buy it, so I can show it on friends' DVD players (you see! We do end up buying things, even when we can look at it online). Oh, yeah - you have to set 90 minutes aside, like a docu-movie.

In the 60s he amused me greatly. He seemed as good as Dylan at winding up journalists. He gave great soundbyte...he got slogans. He apparently gave Leary "Turn on, tune in, Drop out" (or the idea for it).

English teachers often seem to have done far more than teach one simple subject (mine did, for sure - he even understood why I had to drop out, and even wished me luck - unlike all the other teachers). I didn't know he came from a Roman Catholic position (I have my own prejudices - most of my heroes seem like lapsed Catholics - Leary, RAW, Lilly, Joyce, etc). I can't read Lord of the Rings for just that subtext from Tolkien. I didn't know it when I tried to first read it in 1972. I just felt mysteriously ill, and queasy, as I do with the Harry Potter books (which seem curiously old-fashioned with their boarding schools and 'magic powers' - but, as so often, I feel quite out-of-synch with many people. Apparently UK citizens have turned religious again, just to get their kids into the best schools. (sigh)

-There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.
Marshall McLuhan

Guinea Pig B
“How can we make the world work for 100 percent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone?” — R. Buckminster Fuller

Check out John Cage talking about both of them.

McLuhan seemed curiously old-fashioned and straight, and also 'hip' at the same time. A great teacher. Whether he really 'stole' a lot of it from Bucky and Korzybski still seems an open question - perhaps we might call him a populariser.

The Phantom Captain
(click to read whole article quoted below)

But there is some evidence that this idea of the extension of man, identified by many as the core concept of McLuhan's philosophical stance, may have come from the transcendentalist Bucky. From 1960 to 1970, Constantin Dioxides, an engineer, architect, and urban planner and the founder of the Athens Technological Institute in Greece, organized summer cruises complete with cutting edge guests such as Margaret Mead, and Jonas Salk.

Many, including McLuhan, were guests more than once, but only Fuller was invited on every single trip for twelve years in a row. In The Synergetics Dictionary, under McLuhan, notes such as these were made by Fuller: "Marshall McLuhan told me the first day he met me - on one of the early Dioxide cruises - 'I am your disciple.' He held up copies of No More Secondhand God and Nine Chains to the Moon and said to me 'I've joined your conspiracy!"'

Only integrity is going to count

In his notes, he writes: "McLuhan has never made any bones about his indebtedness to me as the original source of most of his ideas. The 'Global Village' was indeed my concept. I don't think he has an original idea. Not one McLuhan says so himself. He's really a great enthusiast, a marvelous populariser and teacher. He has an irrepressible sense of the histrionic, like no one I've known since Frank Lloyd Wright."

Indeed, in Nine Chains to the Moon, a passage reads: "Through the leverage gained by his inanimate instrument extensions of self, he has attained an extended mechanical ability far in excess of his own integral mechanical energy content ability." He goes on to claim that the idea of "man backing up into his future" appears in his books and that Fuller's concept of the "Mechanical Extensions of Man" is the basis for McLuhan's talk of the "Electrical Extensions" of man.

Open source - interesting and relevant post...

At that time, I was cavorting with known anarchists like the composers John Cage and Udo Kasemets. I had been a fan of Cage, Bucky Fuller, Marshal McLuhan and William S. Burroughs since my teens; in retrospect, I was probably a powderkeg in search of a terrorist. As an unabashed advocate of free and unfettered information sharing, free software appealed to my young mind, it held an almost Kabbalistic hope: "You may pay for knowledge, but you should never charge for it.". Community currencies would prevail over the economics of scarcity; I devoted myself to learning, promoting and participating in the Free Software Revolution.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy 102nd Birthday, Uncle Albert!

Albert Hofmann two years ago, at age 100 Today I'd prefer to celebrate the living first, so wish Albert Hofmann a very happy 102nd birthday. If anyone could offer a better image for the sensible use of psychedelic substances, then he seems like living proof that (generally) they can prove life-enhancing.

Sadly, he lost his wife, Anita Hofmann-Guanella, on December 20th 2007, at the age of 94 - and they had shared lives for an amazing 75 years...
Anita and Albert on his 100th birthday
I don't wish to appear a zealot (nothing I can think of suits everybody), and I also don't feel like discussing the stupid image of jumping out of a window (whoops, I put that image in your head yet again!) As Bill Hicks said, if you think you can fly, why don't you take off from the ground, you don't see pigeons taking the lift (elevator) to the sixth floor, now do you?

That drugs can confuse, mislead, upset or disturb some people seems obvious to me. For some reason (worth studying) many people don't find it obvious that alcohol (for instance) appears in a multitude of anti-social or self-damaging behaviours, and yet appears encouraged (even among fitness fanatics like sports people, who always seem to get rewarded with champagne). That they spray it rather than drink it might seem wise (driving fast cars, precision kicking of a ball, etc) but the image remains of alcohol as a reward! Alcohol as a celebration (Christmas).

Nothing wrong with a wee drop of wine when you reach 100 At the same time - of all the drugs, alcohol represents the longest and clearest experiment to prove that Prohibition doesn't work. It simply led to badly made, or badly measured, use of moonshine - it brought crime, greed, violence, furtiveness and other nasty stuff into existence - and it poured money into criminal families like the Kennedy family, who went on to ill-fated attempts at power. Whether the assassinations came from religious nonsense (anti-Catholic), or old scores from the crime wars, or something else, I will leave to better researchers than myself.

Prohibition Didn't Work

For me the most interesting (or curious) result of Prohibition failing was that the same tactic was immediately turned on other substances. My private theory remains that a department of the police existed, and no-one wanted to simply throw them out of work (bureaucracy seems self-perpetuating) so they simply turned their focus on a drug less popular with journalists, lawyers, judges, politicians, etc. They looked around and found marijuana getting used by Mexicans and Blacks (and some bohemian artists) and turned the full force of the same tactics onto that. And we still live with that locked-in bit of non-sense (if it didn't work with alcohol, who in their right mind thought it might work on something else?)

During alcohol prohibition, of course, you could legally smoke dope...

A Personal Opinion

I have extended rants on this matter, which I won't bore you with now. A chief of police in the UK recently recommended legalizing all drugs, and I agree. They may still need licensing and controlling, researching and measuring, but at least people would receive clear dosage levels, quality controlled, and (hopefully) also receive a good education on the use and misuse of drugs.

As people only ever talk (vaguely) about Abuse (never Use) they keep the demonizing factor going, yet may happily receive morphine from a nurse when in pain. (Use).

And pain expresses itself through the bodymind, so we can't only talk of physical pain, as psychological/psychic/emotional pain hurts just as bad.
Robert Anton Wilson
This poor police chief now finds himself howled down by a few individuals, just for trying to act in a rational manner, because a few children died after taking something someone gave them as 'ecstasy'. No-one knows what chemicals they actually took (illegal supply), no-one knows what dose they took (illegal supply), and no-one educated these children about the difference between considered use and abuse - or gave them any pointers - just surrounded the whole subject with paranoia, and made their friends too scared to call emergency services (criminal involvement), or to tell the doctors the truth (even if they knew which chemical the victim had taken, it's strength, purity, etc.)

(Never show any hint of the positive when discussing 'drugs', or as Bob so astutely pointed out -'some drugs' - and please don't discuss them in a rational manner).

And into those journalistic manipulations of distressed parents (for whom I have the greatest sympathy at the loss of a child), very few people mention the much greater damage, death, illness, unhappiness, etc caused by (say) alcohol, to unstable (or ill-informed) individuals and society.

Enough, already. My three glasses of red wine, and one tobacco roll-up may have tired me slightly, so I'll find another time and place for this.

We MLA students also want to mark the first anniversary of a planet without Robert Anton Wilson - but with something positive (our Wiki project, amongst other things), and little sadness. Whatever your belief about afterlives (and mine tends towards 'dead' people continuing in other people's minds and memories - especially if they have left books or buildings, ideas or discoveries), I miss him still.

Bob wrote simply and clearly about 'death', and elsewhere you can find his lucid use of words - in Cheerful Thoughts on Death and Dying. I leave you to explore, because 1:30 a.m. (GMT) means I gotta walk the dog one more time, and go to bed.

Peace to all sentient beings.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hopalong Horus Rides Again!

We made a start on the Illuminatus! Wiki, and I guess visitors here might find it interesting, even in the bare bones state.

Feel free to contribute either by adding comments, suggestions, questions, advice, etc on the Discussion pages, or creating/editing Article pages to expand on some detail of the book(s).

On Friday 11th Jan we will have completed a year without Bob on the planet, and may hopefully get to celebrate Albert Hofmann's 102nd birthday (!)

Wiki for The Illuminatus! Trilogy

Carrying on with an interactive and collaborative experiment seems the best memorial we can offer to MLA founder, Robert Anton Wilson.

Do the exercises!

Amor et Hilaritas!


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