Sunday, April 24, 2011

Darwin's Head

In recent months the media has really begun to play up the decapitations administered by the Mexican drug cartels. Naturally, this has lead to a series of puff pieces trying to explain this phenomenon. And as may be imagined, these pieces are great press for the 'War on Terror.' Let us consider one such work:

"The preferred form of cruelty by drug cartel henchmen is to capture enemies and behead them, a once-shocking act that...

"Decapitations by drug cartels in Mexico first began in 2006, and that year armed thugs swaggered onto the white tile dance floor of the Sol y Sombra discotheque in Uruapan, a town in Michoacan state, and dumped five heads from plastic garbage bags.

"The blood-curdling act shocked Mexico, and evoked images of Islamic terrorism half a world away.

"'These guys are copying the methods of al Qaida (terrorists),' said Jorge Chabat, a criminal justice expert at the Center for Research and Teaching of Economics in Mexico City. He said the Mexican drug lords saw Internet video of beheadings of hostages captured by Muslim extremists in Iraq and Pakistan, and adopted the tactic themselves, down to the posting of video on the internet.

"Experts suggest that the drug gangs have several motives. First, they seek to use beheadings to cow the citizenry from squealing on them and to pressure local authorities to collaborate. Second, the gangs try to out-macho each other with greater acts of macabre violence, frightening rivals in a murderous spiral.

"The only hitch is that all the drug gangs have taken up beheadings."

While it is certainly true that the beheading can be used as an act of terror, this technique is far, far older than al Qaida and other 'Islamo-fascists.' In fact, it has quite a rich tradition in Mexico and the American southwest decades before the 'War on Terror' became a rallying cry. Consider the plight of Prohibition-era, Taos, New Mexico-based gangster Arthur R Manby.
"Manby was an odd amalgram of cultivated English gentleman, secret society adept, and vicious robber baron. Upon arriving in the Southwest in the 1880s, he became involved in a nonstop round of mine swindles and petty shakedowns. He graduated from these to a gigantic and still not completely understood attempt to get legal title to most of the land of present day Taos County, apparently in collusion with shadowy international financial forces in New York and London.

"Manby moved in a homicidal haze where somebody or other seems to have ordered 'Off with his head!' oftener than the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass. His trail was littered with the decapitated heads of opponents and former associates. But in his semideranged old age, he seems to have lost control of the secret society that he had set up as his private terrorist and rub-out squad. His own decayed body (some said it was not his body) was found locked inside his house in the summer of 1929. It was decapitated. There was a half-chopped-away head sitting in the next room, but nobody was really sure if it was Manby's or not."
(Weird America, William Grimstad, pgs. 148-149)

While Aztec human sacrifices are primarily known for removing the hearts or skins of the victims, beheading was also a key feature of several major festivals. Case in point, Toxcatl, one of the main festivals in which a young man who had been impersonating the god Tezcatlipoca was sacrificed to this being. The grizzly end of this custom went something like this:

"Like the Mexican temples in general, it was built in the form of a pyramid; and as the young man ascended the stairs he broke at every step one of the flutes on which he had played in the days of his glory. On reaching the summit he was seized and held down by the priests on his back upon a block of stone, while one of them cut open his breast, thrust his hand into the the wound, and wrenched out his heart held it up in sacrifice to the sun. The body of the dead god was not, like the bodies of common victims, sent rolling down the steps of the temple, but was carried down to the foot, where the head was cut off and spitted on a pike. Such was the regular end of the man who personated the greatest god of the Mexican pantheon."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pg. 609) 

Aside from festivals, decapitations featured in the ritualistic ballgames of Mesoamerica. From Wikipedia:

"The association between human sacrifice and the ballgame appears rather late in the archaeological record, no earlier than the Classic era.[52] The association was particularly strong within the Classic Veracruz and the Maya cultures, where the most explicit depictions of human sacrifice can be seen on the ballcourt panels – for example at El Tajin (850-1100 CE)[53] and at Chichen Itza (900-1200 CE) – as well as on the well-known decapitated ballplayer stelae from the Classic Veracruz site of Aparicio (700-900 CE). The Postclassic Maya religious and quasi-historical narrative, the Popol Vuh, also links human sacrifice with the ballgame (see below).

"Captives were often shown in Maya art, and it is assumed that these captives were sacrificed after losing a rigged ritual ballgame.[54] Rather than nearly nude and sometimes battered captives, however, the ballcourts at El Tajin and Chichen Itza show the sacrifice of practiced ballplayers, perhaps the captain of a team.[55] Decapitation is particularly associated with the ballgame – severed heads are featured in much Late Classic ballgame art and appear repeatedly in the Popol Vuh. With the Aztec version of the game, the skulls of losing teammembers were even placed in a 'skull rack' besides the field, and their blood was offered as 'food for the gods'.[1] There has even been speculation that the heads and skulls were used as balls.[56]"

Women were not spared from this good stuff either. Consider the festival dedicated to Xilonen, the goddess of the young maize. Here a young woman impersonated the corn goddess and met a similar fate to her male counterparts that impersonated gods:

"Another shook a rattle before the doomed woman as she mounted up the steps of the temple of Cinteotl, the Goddess of the Maize. On reaching the summit she was seized by a priest, who threw her on his back, while the sacrificer severed her head from her body, tore out her heart, and threw it in a saucer. When this sacrifice had been performed in honour of Xilonen, the Goddess of the Young Maize, the people were free to eat the green ears of maize and the bread that was baked of it. No one would have dared to eat of these things before the sacrifice."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pgs. 614-615)
Decapitations and corn have an especially long history that goes beyond Mesoamerica. Consider the tradition of Lityerses in ancient Greece:
"...Lityerses was a bastard son of Midas, King of Phyygia, and dwelt at Calaenae. He used to reap corn, and had an enormous appetite. When a stranger happened to enter the cornfield or to pass by it, Lityerses gave him plenty to eat and drink, then took him to the corn-field on the banks of the Maender and compelled him to reap along with him. Lastly, it was his custom to wrap the stranger in a sheaf, cut off his head  with a sickle, and carry away his body, swatched in the corn stalks. But at last Hercules undertook to reap with him, cut off his head with the sickle, and threw his body into the river. As Hercules is reported to have slain Lityerses in the same way that Lityerses slew others (as Theseus treated Sinis and Sciron), we may infer that Lityerses used to throw the bodies of his victims into the river."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pg. 436

The severed head, and the closely related skull, are symbols that go back to the very earliest rituals of human beings -Many of the earliest ritualized forms of worship are skull cults. In fact, the fixation with the head may even predate human beings.

"We have already viewed the earliest unmistakable archaeological evidence of man's religious thought, in the burials and bear sanctuaries of Homo neanderthalensis. We now add, to complete the picture, the observation that a number of the Neanderthal skulls found at Krapina and Ehringsdorf provide evidence also of his ritual cannibalism. They had been opened in a certain interesting way. Furthermore, every one of the unearthed skulls of Neanderthal's Javanese contemporary, Solo Man (Ngangdong Man), had also been opened. And finally, when skulls opened by the modern headhunters of Borneo fro the purpose of lapping up the brains are compared with those of Solo and Neanderthal -the skulls having served, handily, as the bowls for their own contents -they are found to have been opened in precisely the same way.

"Remarkable indeed -we might observe in passing -how far cultural patterns can survive beyond the periods of the races among whom they first appear!

"What rites were associated with the early headhunt we do not know; but that its spirit was comparable to the head-worship of the bear is likely -particularly in view of the fact that at the five-chambered grotto of Guattari near San Felice Circeo, on the coast of Italy, some eighty miles southeast of Rome, a Neanderthal skull was recently discovered that had been treated much like the skull of a sacrificed bear. The head having been removed, a hole had been tapped in it for the removal of the brain; the remains of sacrificed animals were preserved in receptacles round about the grotto, and the skull itself, placed on the floor of the cave, was surrounded by a circle of stones."
(The Masks of God Primitive Mythology, Joseph Campbell, pg. 373)

Clearly the removal of the head is a very primitive impulse indeed. So, why is it appearing now on a wide scale in Mexico? Is this something that is being instigated by the Cryptocracy, or is the zeitgeist simply taking over? In pondering these questions, I can't help but be reminded of a stellar episode from the final season of Chris Carter's Millennium called "Darwin's Eye." In brief, the episode concerns an escaped mental patient who leaves a trail of decapitated bodies in her wake. Throughout the episode the audience is kept guessing as to whether the girl in question is the murderer, whether a shadowy organization is framing her, or whether she's been programmed to carry out her bloody deeds. Along the way we learn that she had a military father involved in espionage work who also happened to molest his daughter. Yet the show concludes with indications that all these things were simple coincidences.

The female beheader's voice over narration at the beginning of the show is priceless:

"Ok so this is how life is supposed to be. Over millions of years we move forward, we evolve, in a series of tiny incremental steps. And each tiny step is a tiny improvement. It has to be. Survival of the fittest, that's what it's about. If you don't move on, you end.  Or, you're ended. So, we start with the primal ooze, and we end up with Mozart – Hitler – me. Which explains everything. And explains nothing. Because not everything evolves. Some things just happen. Like the eye, even Darwin worried about the eye. The iris, lens, retina. How could any of those things evolve in isolation? How could they be useful on their own? So how did the eye happen? How? Accident, it just happened. We don't know how, we don't know. One minute we're blind, next minute we see. Like the dinosaurs are lords of the earth for millions of years, then a big damn rock hits the Yucatan peninsula, and they're gone. Ended.  One minute we're here. The next minute, we're gone. Accidents happen. That's life. But what I want to know, what I want to know, is what makes the accidents happen."
The show perfectly captures the uncertainty of its opening monologue. How could a waffle-like woman manage to cleanly decapitate several men over the course of the episode without a struggle? Why did her childhood perfectly mirror Monarch programming despite conclusions that the abuse she suffered 'just happened.' And why did this woman perfectly recreate ritualized beheadings when supposedly they had no deep meaning to her?  

As previously noted, "Darwin's Eye" offers three possible conclusions to the killing spree: the girl is simply insane and tapping into a primitive instinct with decapitations, she was framed by an outside organization, or she was programmed. But what if all three are true? Is such a combination what 'makes accidents happen' as the opening monologue ponders? 

An image the killer made on her wall at the hospital

And if so, is something similar at work in Mexico at present? A decapitation has so much meaning, yet it exists at such a primitive level of our consciousness. Perhaps a slight nudge is all that's necessary to instigate full on ritual. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Over the past two decades the counterculture has embraced April 20th as a kind of cannabis Thanksgiving, in which smokers band together and celebrate their vice. The origins of this event supposedly trace back to California and the 1970s. The conventional plot goes something like this:

"It was Christmas week in Oakland, 1990. Steven Bloom was wandering through The Lot - that timeless gathering of hippies that springs up in the parking lot before every Grateful Dead concert - when a Deadhead handed him a yellow flyer.

"'We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais,' reads the message, which Bloom dug up and forwarded to the Huffington Post. Bloom, then a reporter for High Times magazine and now the publisher of and co-author of Pot Culture, had never heard of '420-ing' before.

"The flyer came complete with a 420 back story: '420 started somewhere in San Rafael, California in the late '70s. It started as the police code for Marijuana Smoking in Progress. After local heads heard of the police call, they started using the expression 420 when referring to herb - Let's Go 420, dude!'

"Bloom reported his find in the May 1991 issue of High Times, which the magazine found in its archives and provided to the Huffington Post. The story, though, was only partially right.

"It had nothing to do with a police code -- though the San Rafael part was dead on. Indeed, a group of five San Rafael High School friends known as the Waldos - by virtue of their chosen hang-out spot, a wall outside the school - coined the term in 1971. The Huffington Post spoke with Waldo Steve, Waldo Dave and Dave's older brother, Patrick, and confirmed their full names and identities, which they asked to keep secret for professional reasons. (Pot is still, after all, illegal.)"
The article goes on to explain how 4/20 became an international phenomenon:

"The Waldos also had open access to Dead parties and rehearsals. 'We'd go with [Mark's] dad, who was a hip dad from the '60s,' says Steve. 'There was a place called Winterland and we'd always be backstage running around or onstage and, of course, we're using those phrases. When somebody passes a joint or something, 'Hey, 420.' So it started spreading through that community.'

"As the Grateful Dead toured the globe through the '70s and '80s, playing hundreds of shows a year - the term spread though the Dead underground. Once High Times got hip to it, the magazine helped take it global.

"'I started incorporating it into everything we were doing,' High Times editor Steve Hager told the Huffington Post. 'I started doing all these big events - the World Hemp Expo Extravaganza and the Cannabis Cup - and we built everything around 420. The publicity that High Times gave it is what made it an international thing. Until then, it was relatively confined to the Grateful Dead subculture. But we blew it out into an international phenomenon.'

"Sometime in the early '90s, High Times wisely purchased the web domain"

In other words, the 4/20 phenomenon was essentially a triumph of marketing on the part of High Times. But, was their a specific purpose in the choosing of 4/20 other than an obscure reference to the Dead? In the last few centuries the date of April 20th has seen more than its far share of bloodshed and tragedy. Here are a few examples:

-1653: Oliver Cromwell dissolves the Rump Parliament

-1792: France declares war on Austria, beginning the French Revolutionary Wars

-1861: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the US Army to command the forces of VIrginia

-1884: Pope Leo XIII publishes the infamous anti-Masonic tract Humanum Genus

-1889: Adolf Hitler is born

-1914: 45 men, women, and children are murdered in the Ludlow Massacre

-1961: Final day of failed US-backed Bay of Pigs Invasion

-1999: Columbine High School shootings

-2010: Deepwater Horizon oil well explodes, leading to BP oil spill

This has led some conspiracy researchers to speculate that 4/20 is a major occult holiday. The general theory seems to hold that the 13 days leading up to May Day (May 1st), beginning with April 19th, are a significant time frame in the occult. Here is an example of this theory:
"The entire Occult Holiday spans from 4/19 through May 1 each year. The Lower Entities of Darkness thrive on humans that indulge in drugs, their main goal is to produce mind-control trances that allows attachment and possession...

"The Occult Holiday requires Blood Sacrifice To “The Beast”, a most critical 13-day period. Fire sacrifice is required on April 19 or 20. April 19 is the first day of the 13-day Satanic ritual day relating to fire and the fire god, Baal, or Molech/Babylon, Amun/Egypt (the Sun God).
"This day is a major human sacrifice day, demanding fire sacrifice with an emphasis on children. This day is one of the most important human sacrifice days, and as such, has had some very important historic events occur on this day. The Illuminati Occult considers war to be a most propitious way to sacrifice, for it kills both children and adults."
I cannot endorse this theory as I have found no indication in any of my books that the 13 day period leading up to May Day/ Beltane had major significance to the ancients.

Frazer, for instance, believes Easter was originally associated with the spring equinox, which was historically celebrated on March 25th in the West. Thus it would not have possibly factored into the April cycle as it does this year.
"The place which it might have taken in the affections of the vulgar was already occupied by the similar but more barbarous worship of Attis and the Great Mother. Now the death and resurrection of Attis were officially celebrated at Rome on the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth of March, the later being regarded as the spring equinox, and therefore as the most appropriate day for the revival of a god of vegetation who had been dead or sleeping throughout the winter. But according to an ancient and widespread tradition Christ suffered on the twenty-fifth of March, and accordingly some Christians regularly celebrated the Crucifixion on that day without any regard to the state of the moon. This custom was certainly observed in Phrygia, Cappadocia and Gaul, and there seem to be grounds for thinking that at one time it was followed also in Rome. Thus the tradition which placed the death of Christ on the twenty-fifth of March was ancient and deeply rooted... But the resurrection of Attis, who combined in himself the characters of the divine Father and the divine Son, was officially celebrated at Rome on the same day. When we remember that the festival of St George in April has replaced the ancient pagan festival of Parilia..."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pg. 363)
Indeed, the festival of St. George is the only major pagan based holiday that falls within the 13 day April cycle described above. But Frazer seems to be mistaken, as Wikipedia claims Parilia occurred on April 21st and not the 23rd. Regardless, there doesn't seem to be a connection between the two. Walpurgis Night and May Day are rooted in Beltane, which wasn't a major holiday in Greece or Rome (though the Romans did have the mysterious Bona Dea festival of which little is known). Certainly St George is a highly esoteric figure, but he doesn't seem to have a connection to April 19th or the 20th.

Regardless, a great degree of bloodshed has resulted on April 20th as well as April 19th (which witnessed the final day of the Waco siege and the Oklahoma City bombing in recent years), but much of it has been relatively recently, from the Renaissance onward. Thus, it seems unlikely that the tradition dates back to the Mysteries and the like.

The Qabala is a different story. It's teachings were jealously guarded until the 13th century, but it wasn't until the Jews were expelled from Spain at the end of the 15th that it began to have a major impact on Western esotericism. The rise of the Qabala seems to roughly correlate to the increasing prominence of April 19th and 20th as key dates.

The Great Beast was quite fond of the number 419. He notes:

"Teth, the number of the 'laughing lion' on whom BABALON rideth. See Liber 418. Note 419 + 156= 575= 23 x 25, occultly signifying 24, which again signifies to them that understand the interplay of the 8 and the 3. Blessed be His holy Name, the Interpreter of his own Mystery!"
(777 and Other Qabalistic Writings, Aleister Crowley, pg. 48)  

420 is not nearly as impressive, but is naturally linked to vapour and smoke. Breaking down four and 20 and their combinations is also interesting. Four is of course the number of matter, eg the four elements. 20 is Yod, the letter of the father. Added together it equals 24, the number of the Elders. 24 x 3 equals 72, the number of Shemhamphorasch. 42 is the number of the judges of the dead, as well as the 42-fold name of the Creative God. 420 can be derived by 42 x 10, 10 being the number of the illusionary physical envelope.

In modern times, there was another major occult backed organization that was quite smitten with that faithful April date as well.

Hitler's 50th B-Day

As may be imagined, 4/20 was quite a big deal in Nazi Germany. It was turned into an official holiday in celebration of Hitler's 50th. It featured the largest military parade in the history of the Third Reich. Incidentally (or not), the Nazi's also happened to do experiments on cannabis in an attempt to develop a truth serum. The United States government became especially interested in this research after the war.
"Buried in the voluminous files of the Ahnenerbe-SS are also references to the use of mescaline and cannabis as 'truth serums,' programs that -according to John Marks in his ground-breaking study of CIA mind control projects -have been kept classified by US intelligence since 1945. Here and there we come across the names of Paperclip scientists involved with military and CIA mind control programs, such as Friedrich Hoffmann, a Nazi chemist who advised the CIA on matters relating to psychotropic substances for use in interrogation and 'brainwashing.' Hoffmann has been linked to Edgewood Arsenal, where CIA maintained TSS (Technical Service Staff) personnel involved in various aspects of chemical and biological warfare, including -according to John Marks -the implantation of new memories in amnesiac patients. One finds an article by Hoffmann and co-authors William A. Mosher and Richard Hively, on the subject of "Isolation of Tran-6-Tetrahydrocannibinol from Marijuana" in the April 20, 1966 issue of Journal of the American Chemical Society, an issue published -ironically enough -on Hitler's birthday."
(Sinister Forces Book One, Peter Levenda, pgs. 142-143)
How ironic indeed. Note that this would also link 4/20 to cannabis a good five years before the Waldos. Of course, its not likely a lot of members of the counterculture were reading journals on chemistry. On the other hand, they were attending the universities in which such a paper would be considered. The universities in California by the late 1960s and 1970s were hotbeds for various programs being run by the US intelligence community. I've already chronicled the bizarre remote viewing experiments conducted at SRI in the 1970s here and here. Incidentally, Stanford would play a major role in turning on the Grateful Dead, whose subculture initially spread the 4/20 concept.

"The first member of the Grateful Dead to turn on to LSD was Robert Hunter, the Dead lyricist, who participated in a government-sponsored drug study at Stanford University during the early 1960s. Hunter later recommended the experience to the other band members."
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, pg. 143)

Other universities became involved in various mind control programs, such as 'personality assesment' research that was developed by the OSS, the CIA's WWII predecessor.

"After the war, personality assessment would become a new field in itself, and some of Murray's assistants would go on to establish OSS-like systems at large corporations, starting with AT&T. They also would set up study programs at universities, beginning with the University of California at Berkley. As would happen repeatedly with the CIA's mind control research, OSS was years ahead of public developments in behavioral theory and application."
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pg. 19)
In general California has been something of a Mecca for the CIA's mind control programs since at least the 1950s. I've chronicled at bit of this scene in the later part of this piece.

Now, we must consider Operation Paperclip for a moment. Here is a brief description:
"In 1945, Nazi scientists -using slave labor from concentration camps -were in a race to develop superweapons to enable Hitler to win the war. They were working at Peenemuende and Nordhausen, famous rocket laboratories where the V-1 and V-2 rockets were designed which made life such hell in Great Britain, and where even newer, more lethal rockets and weapons were being developed. Alfred Einstein was worried that the Nazis were on the verge of developing an atomic bomb, and communicated this concern to President Roosevelt. And, what was worse, Russian troops were advancing towards Peenemuende from the east and would capture the Nazi rocket scientists and their laboratories, factories, and blueprints, thus permitting the Soviets unprecedented access to the 'art of German engineering.' Policy makers in Washington knew the next major conflicts would be fought between the United States and the Soviet Union, and they could not permit the Russians to have the upper hand in technology. It was of the utmost importance that those scientists -or as many of them as possible -made it to American shores, out of reach of the Russians and, more importantly perhaps, pressed into service in the United States.

"To that end, several wartime intelligence operations were put in motion.

"The most famous of these is Operation Paperclip...

"Most people who have heard of Paperclip assume that it was a program to bring Nazi scientists to the United States to assist the space program, a concept that is at least partially true. There was much more to Paperclip and subsequent Nazi recruitment -than rocket science, however. Nazi medical personnel were also recruited, as well as psychological warfare experts and, with the Gehlen Organization, spies, assassins and saboteurs."
(Sinister Forces Book One, Peter Levenda, pgs. 134-135)

Needless to say, the Nazi recruits brought in as a part of Paperclip and other such projects had an enormous influence on both our space and intelligence communities. If the Nazi scientists in our space program are any indication, it would seem that they never forgot their roots.

"As previously mentioned, the unmanned Surveyor 3 spacecraft had touched down in Oceanus Procellarum, just a few hundred feet from where Apollo 12 would land thirty-one months later; Surveyor 3 (third in an unmanned lunar reconnaissance series designed and built by Hughes Aircraft, and managed by JPL) had landed a few minutes after midnight, April 20, 1967...

"Adolf Hitler's birthday.

"If that wasn't enough, we soon discovered that NASA -remember, an Agency riddled at all levels by 'German rocket scientists' from Operation Paperclip, former Nazis and SS members like Von Braun -had landed on the Moon on Der Fuhrer's birthday not just once... but twice-

"The second time was with Apollo 16, in 1972.

"Curiously, the Lunar Module on Apollo 16 had 'a problem' with it's critical SPS engine just before planed 'deorbit burn'... which delayed the intended landing time for several nail-biting hours, while NASA trouble-shot various engineering possibilities from Earth. This process dragged on and on... until the date of 'April 20th' clicked over on the clock. Then, suddenly, the 'problem' cleared itself -and the astronauts were given the go-ahead to land on 'the next rev'-

"Once again -on Hitler's date of birth."
(Dark Mission, Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara, pgs. 252-253)

Personally I think Hoagland is a disinformation agent, but he seems to have his facts correct on this account.

So, to recap... Nazi scientists are brought into the U.S. space program and manage to pay homage to the Fuhrer by landing a spaceship on the moon on his birthday. Nazi intelligence assets were also  incorporated into US intelligence agencies. Further, several of the Nazis were were apt to be working in California at some point, either as part of a university research program, or in deep politics. Is it possible that the counterculture 4/20 was meant as a similar homage to the Fuhrer?

To my mind, this is quite possible, especially when one factors in the Dead influence. As previously noted, the Grateful Dead were introduced to LSD as a part of one of the CIA's research programs on the drug. The Dead would go on to spread the notion of 4/20 through their concerts and such. Is it possible that someone other than the Waldos coined the 4/20 concept? Or did they in fact coin it, but someone else associated with the Dead and aware of its significance adopted it into the slang? Or is this simply one of those glorious pieces of synchronicity?

Surely we will never no, but the coincidences are there all the same.

POST SCRIPT: Loren Coleman's got some great information on various spree shootings and such that have broken out around 4/19 and 4/20 here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


The title of this post derives from the 2008 studio album by the Swedish death/prog/experimental metal band Meshuggah. This highly unique and esoteric outfit is certainly worthy of an article on this blog, but that shall not be forth coming today. Instead, I'm going to do something a little different in this post from the normal research oriented work and go for more of an editorial blog.

Still, obZen is an apt title for the theme of this piece. According to Tomas Haake, the octopus-armed drummer and chief lyricists of Meshuggah, the title of their most recent album is a play on the words obscene and zen. Ob also happens to be the Latin word for 'anti.' This phrase was coined by Haake to describe the harmony man has found in destruction. From an exclaim interview with Haake:

"It’s a play on words between obscene and Zen. Also, 'ob' means 'anti' in Latin. The artwork suggests that the human species seems to have found its Zen in bloodshed and warfare, and that’s what the title suggests."

Haake's notion of 'obZen' seems to aptly describe the plight of the common man in the United States of 2011. Based on countless conversations I've had with assorted individuals over the past few months, there's a general sense of overwhelming anger beneath the surface of our society in which confrontation is the only release many can find. An incident that happened to a friend of mine this past weekend perfectly illustrates what I'm getting at. For the sake of this piece we'll refer to this friend of mine as 'Manos.'

Manos was in Orlando a few weekends back, taking in an 80s thrash band at one of the nicer venues out there. He was attending the concert with two other individuals, a brother and a sister, that are about a decade older than Manos (whose about 30). The show is going great until the sister runs into an ex-boyfriend from several years back. The ex starts harassing her at which point she asks Manos (who's simply a friend to her) to take her back to her hotel so she can get away from the ex.

As Manos and the brother and sister leave the club and walk into downtown Orlando the ex rushes up behind them and hits Manos in the back of the head as hard as he can. As Manos spins around, the ex attempts to cut his throat open with a knife.

Mercifully the blade only scratches his throat and Manos is able to promptly recover and disarm the ex. He then  proceeds to pummel him until the police arrive and put a stop to the brawl. Manos is now in an awkward situation in which, if he asks the cops to arrest the guy that just attempted to kill him, he himself will probably be charged with assault and battery and drunk and disorderly. Needless to say, when the cops provide the opportunity for Manos and his attacker to walk away, he pounces on it.

This incident represents the latest in a long line of increasingly violent confrontations I or my friends have experienced over the past year or so. In most cases these confrontations are over issues every bit as petty, if not more so, than what almost got Manos' throat cut. For instance, I was driving my car through my neighborhood a month or two back at the exact speed limit. One of my neighbors came flying up behind and started riding my ass bumper to bumper through our little subdivision. Finally we came to my driveway and I started to break so I could make the turn. Just as I start going into it the yuppie cuts into the other lane and flies beside of me, missing the the edge of my car by inches before speeding away.

Am I missing something? Is driving under 50mph in a residential area now considered bad etiquette?

As interesting as driving is becoming, it still can't hold a candle to the utter loss of reality within the realm of 'politics' and other 'serious' topics that come in day to day conversations. I was on the phone a few days ago with a family member listening to yet another in a long line of rants about food stamps and unemployment and how essentially all evil in the country could be linked to the fact that individuals are drinking and smoking in bars while being on the dole -Somehow, this was our great obstacle to a return to financial stability, or some such shit.

I casually brought up a piece I had recently read on the the cost of occupying Iraq:

"The cost of these wars is enormous.  The U.S. media, being good servants for the government, only reports the out-of-pocket or current cost of the wars, which is only about one-third of the real cost. The current cost leaves out the cost of life-long care for the wounded and maimed, the cost of life-long military pensions of those who fought in the wars, the replacement costs of the destroyed equipment, the opportunity cost of the resources wasted in war, and other costs. The true cost of America’s illegal Iraq invasion, which was based entirely on lies, fabrications and deceptions, is at least $3,000 billion according to economist Joseph Stiglitz and budget expert Linda Bilmes...

"To put it bluntly, the $3 trillion cost of the Iraq war, as computed by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, is 20% of the size of the U.S. economy in 2010. In other words, the Iraq war alone cost Americans one-fifth of the year’s gross domestic product.  Instead of investing the resources, which would have produced income and jobs growth and solvency for state and local governments, the U.S. government wasted the equivalent of 20% of the production of the economy in 2010 in blowing up infrastructure and people in foreign lands.  The U.S. government spent a huge sum of money committing war crimes, while millions of Americans were thrown out of their jobs and foreclosed out of their homes."

I suggested to this family member that $3 trillion a year dedicated to liquidating Arabs and making Iraq safe for foreign oil companies was probably a far greater tragedy, to say nothing of a drain on domestic resources, than our food stamp program. This family member simply responded that food stamps were also a tragedy.

ObZen strikes again in one those 'clarity-in-the-killing' moments, I suppose. It would of course be very pleasing to me if this world view only existed in my family, but its going both mainstream and 'underground.' With the rise of the 'Truther' and Tea Party movements, however, a kind of battle cry against the so-called 'sheeple' is becoming more commonplace.

That many 'awakened' Americans chose rage against the sleeping masses is not surprising. I myself, when first delving into the whole conspiracy culture, was also seduced by these notions. Like most Americans, I had been hardwired with the concept of personal responsibility and the notion that anything else is simply a cop out.  But I continued researching and I stumbled upon certain things. An early concept that had particular effect on my way of thinking was that of 'total propaganda', as defined by the philosopher Jacques Ellul. Ellul believed that in modern society every aspect of the mass media had to be geared toward propaganda, or it would not be effective.

"Propaganda must be total. The propagandist must utilize all of the technical means at his disposal -the press, radio, TV, movies, posters, meetings, door-to-door canvassing. Modern propaganda must utilize all of these media. There is no propaganda as long as one makes use, in sporadic fashion and at random, of a newspaper article here, a poster or a radio program there, organizes a few meetings and lectures, writes a few slogans on walls; that is not propaganda. Each usable medium has its own particular way of penetration -specific, but at the same time localized and limited; by itself it cannot attack the individual, break down his resistance, make his decisions for him...

"It is a matter of reaching and encircling the whole man and all men, Propaganda tries to surround man by all possible routes, in the realm of feelings as well as ideas, by playing on his will or on his needs, through his conscious and his unconscious, assailing him in both his private and his public life. It furnishes him with a complete system for explaining the world, and provides immediate incentives to action."
(Propaganda, pgs. 9-11)

Americans have been living in a state of total propaganda, or psychological warfare, since at least WWII.

"The phrase 'psychological warfare' is reported to have first entered English in 1941 as a translated mutation of the Nazi term Weltanschauungskrieg (literally, worldview warfare), meaning the purportedly scientific application of propaganda, terror, and state pressure as a means of securing an ideological victory over one's enemies. William 'Wild Bill' Donovan, then director of the newly established U.S. intelligence agency Office of Strategic Services (OSS), viewed an understanding of Nazi psychological tactics as a vital source of ideas for 'Americanized' versions of many of the same stratagems. Use of the new term quickly became widespread throughout the U.S. intelligence community. For Donovan psychological warfare was destined to become a full arm of the U.S. military, equal in status to the army, navy, and air force...

"These projects helped define U.S. social science and mass communications studies long after the war had drawn to a close. Virtually all of the scientific community that was to emerge during the 1950s as leaders in the field of mass communication research spent the war years performing applied studies on U.S. and foreign propaganda. Allied troop morale, public opinion (both domestic and international), clandestine OSS operations, or the then emerging techniques of deriving useful intelligence from analysis of newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts, and postal censorship intercepts."
(The Science of Coercion, Christopher Simpson, pgs. 24-25)
The OSS was of course one of the predecessors to the CIA, in addition to several other intelligence programs. Wild Bill Donovan had been a Wall Street lawyer before taking over America's chief intelligence outfit during WWII. This would establish a firm relationship between the intelligence community, the mass media, and academia that still exists to this day. Just consider the sway of the Army's Psychological Warfare Division from WWII in the post-War years:

"At the Army's Psychological Warfare Division, some prominent staffers were William S Paley (CBS), C.D. Jackson (Time/Life), W. Phillips Davison (RAND and Columbia), Sul Padover (New School for Social Research), John W Riley (Rutgers), Morris Janowitz (Institut fur Sozialforschung and University of Michigan), Daniel Lerner (MIT and Stanford), Edward Shils (University of Chicago), and New York attorney Murray Gurfein (later co-author with Janowitz), among others. Of these, Davison, Padover, Janowitz, and Gurfein were OSS officers assigned to the Psychological Warfare Division to make use of their expertise in communication and German social psychology."
(ibid, pg. 27)

Note that William Paley, the actual founder of the CBS TV station, was a 'former' psychological warfare officer. This is how much of our 'independent' media rolls. More information on America's mass conditioning can be found here.

The effects of these practices have likely been devastating to the mind of the average American.
"To be alienated means to be someone other (alienus) than oneself; it can also mean to belong to someone else. In a more profound sense, it means to be deprived of one's self, to be subjected to, or even identified with, someone else. That is definitely the effect of propaganda. Propaganda strips the individual, robs him of part of himself, and makes him live an alien and artificial life, to such an extent that he becomes another person and obeys impulses foreign to him. He obeys someone else."
(Propaganda, Jacques Ellul, pg. 169)

So what does all of this have to do with a jealous ex, tailgating, obZen, and general misplaced political rage? Everything.

I myself do not believe that most human beings are naturally confrontational. It has taken decades of conditioning and billions of dollars in research to achieve this magical state in which individuals are more likely to kill one and other over a parking spot at Wal Mart rather than opposing the American Empire that bleeds the working people of this nation like the parasite that it is. So the next time you're tailgating an individual over some slight in traffic, think about where this impulse is coming from. Is not being able to speed really something worth putting your life and other's at risk over?

To my mind the greatest tragedy about our obZen state is that it is effectively killing a crucial part of our humanity, and that is empathy. Societies tend to rise and fall based upon the ability of the individuals within them to band together in times of crisis. Clearly, this is not happening in America of the 21st century. Worse, the greatest proponents of social Darwinism amongst the plebs seem to be the same individuals that consider themselves to be 'awakened.' The thing is, if you've truly acquired real knowledge, yet are simply remaining in the shadows and waiting for your fellow Americans to 'get what's coming', then you're arguably even more morally bankrupt than the Cryptocracy. At least they have some kind of ideology. The average 'Truther' or Tea Bagger seems to have nothing but spite, largely directed at other normal Americans rather than at TPTB.

So, what shall it be? ObZen or empathy? I have seen the former and it leads only to pitiful attempted murders, and cowardly politicking. I hope more people will begin to realize this. Otherwise we'll continue to play out the sceniro depicted in the Who classic "Won't Get Fooled Again" until our end:
"We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

TSA, Eat Your Heart Out

Mural from DIA

Yesterday much was made of yet another grotesque display of contempt by the TSA in this video.

Today an even more depraved act committed at an airport was brought to light:

"A woman who missed a connecting flight at Denver International Airport said she was raped in a deserted concourse by a man she met at an airport bistro and that two janitors passed by and did nothing.

"Officers arrested Noel Alexander Bertrand, 26, of Portland, Ore., early Tuesday after other airline employees saw the attack through a window and called for help, Denver television stations KMGH and KDVR reported.

"A woman who said she is Bertrand's grandmother answered the phone at his Portland home Tuesday and said he was in Denver.

"She said her grandson was a former U.S. Marine but declined further comment.

"Bertrand served as a U.S. embassy guard in Dublin, Ireland, and Caracas, Venezuela, according to a 2009 issue of Leatherneck Magazine, a publication for U.S. Marines.

"Another airport spokeswoman, Laura Coale, told KMGH that the airport was investigating whether any employees failed to report the attack."
In conspiracy lore the Denver International Airport plays a major role, with its apocalyptic murals, blue horse, swastika-like design, and persistent rumors of underground bases beneath the airport. Much more information on this facility can be found here.

The suspect in this case is a former a military man, the latest in a recent trend to be linked to bizarre sexual assaults of women. Previously I had covered the bizarre life and times of Col. Russell Williams, a Canadian Air force member convicted of raping and murdering two women in addition to numerous voyeuristic adventures here. More recently I covered 'the Cleveland Strangler,' an another former military man convicted of raping and murdering multiple women.

Russell Williams

I suspect that the alleged perp in this recent case,  Noel Alexander Bertrand, has some kind of deep background based on his time spent on security at the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela. Remember that Raymond Davis, the American arrested in Pakistan for killing two of its citizens in 'self-defense,' was also allegedly in security detail for the US Embassy there as well.

"The US has not commented on the latest claims, but US sources closely following the case said Davis, who is being held in a Lahore jail amid a tense diplomatic dispute, was working as a 'protective officer'.

"Davis's duties as a protective officer - essentially a bodyguard - were to provide physical security to US embassy and consular officers, as well as visiting American dignitaries, US officials who declined to be identified told Reuters."

Pakistani intelligence felt Davis was CIA. From the same article:

"In remarks bound to inflame tensions between Islamabad and Washington, a Pakistani intelligence official told a news agency Raymond Davis was working as an undercover CIA contractor when he shot two Pakistani men who he claims threatened him.

"The anonymous Pakistani official reportedly said it is 'beyond any shadow of a doubt' that Davis was working for the CIA."
At a synchronicitic level, the victim in the DIA rape was 22 years old. 22 is a major number in the Qabala. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and 22 paths on the Tree of life. 22 is comprised of 2 times 11. Two is the number of the ego and the Demiurge while 11 is the number of magic. Combined in the number 22 they represent a kind of completion of imperfection.

Whether this incident represents some kind of bizarre ceremonial performance or several layers of synchronicity is difficult to say. But it does seem to strangely capture the zeitgeist of the times.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Syd Barrett Against the Gates of Dawn

Despite his actual compositions remaining virtually unknown in the United States Syd Barrett stands as one of the great rock 'n roll legends. Even the most casual of Pink Floyd fans are aware of the myths surrounding the group's founder -namely that he was a cracked genius that would crumble further and further with each dose of LSD until he became a vegetable. Those that delve deeper into the legend will find a maze of contradictions. One camp will claim that Syd was already pretty unhinged before the LSD and his nonstop schedule pushed him over the edge while another will say that he was an essentially sane, if highly unique, human being that was badly abused by the record label. In some stories Syd is an abuser, smashing a guitar over the head of a girlfriend, while in others he is the one being abused via close associates locking him in a cupboard in the midst of a bad trip. Most consider the post Pink Floyd Syd Barrett to be a total recluse while his family has claimed that he simply wanted to forget his past.

So who was the real Syd Barrett and why do accounts vary so widely?

To answer these questions, we should probably begin a bit with Syd's background and the scene in which he rose to fame. Like many rock stars that would follow, Syd performed under a name other than his own, which was Roger. 'Syd' was apparently adopted at the age of 14 in honor of a local Cambridge jazz Double Bassists. As to his childhood his sister, Rosemary, notes:

"As children, she and Barrett shared a bedroom and she recalls him leaping from his sheets to conduct an imaginary orchestra. He always had an extraordinary mind, bordering on the autistic or Aspergic. He had a rare talent to exploit ambiguities in language and also experienced synaesthesia — the ability to “see sounds and hear colours” — which was to be a huge influence on his music in his psychedelic phase." 

Syd Barrett's father was a prominent pathologist who died a month before Syd turned 16. While his family is generally described as middle class, his father's occupation and the general lifestyle his family was able to afford seems to imply that he may have been from a more prestigious background than many biographers claim. Regardless, Syd was clearly a talented kid with an air of childhood trauma surrounding his father's death and his mother's pampering. This probably did not make for the best background for the world Syd was about to enter.

In 1965 London became Swinging London in no small part due to arrival of one of Tim Leary's old Millbrook cronies, Michael Hollingshead.

Leary's Millbrook collective, financed by the infamous CIA-linked Mellon banking clan, is highly suspect as I've already briefly chronicled here.

"The Millbrook clan not only had their sights set on America; their aspirations were international in scope. In September 1965 Michael Hollingshead returned to his native London armed with hundreds of copies of the updated Book of the Dead and five thousand doses of LSD (which he procured from Czech government laboratories in Prague). Hollingshead felt there was very little understanding of LSD in England, but he intended to change that. He proceeded to establish the World Psychedelic Center in the fashionable Kings Road district of London, attracting the likes of Jo Berke (a psychiatrist working with R.D. Laing), the writer and philosopher Alexander Trocchi, multimedia artist Ian Sommerville, filmmaker Roman Polanski, and numerous musicians including Donovan, Peter and Gordon, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and the Rolling Stones."
(Acid Dreams, Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain, pg. 115)  
Virtually over night English groups such as the Beatles, Donovan, and even the Rolling Stones (in addition to their American counterparts such as the Byrds) would begin to supplement their blues and folk origins with explorations of sound under the influence of this new drug. This new kind of music would be dubbed psychedelic, and it would become all the rage as the world headed toward the 'Summer of Love.' And in the heart of London there was one band that seemed to capture the Technicolor zeitgeist of times better than any other outfit: the Pink Floyd.

I do not wish you delve to deeply into the Floyd in this blog as I'm planning a piece on their big 70s albums at a later date so forgive me to sticking to the basics. An early version was already in existence prior to Syd joining in late 1964, performing under such names as Sigma 6, Meggadeaths (seriously), the (Screaming) Abdabs, and the Tea Set, amongst others. Several different musicians passed through the group in the early years but the core revolved around Roger Waters, and at different times Nick Mason and Rick Wright. At one point the group's singer was a chap named Chris Dennis, a technician in the Royal Air Force. Syd became the main singer once Dennis left due to his stationing in Bahrain.

Chris Dennis signing

Drummer Nick Mason (the only Floyd member to appear on every studio album) and keyboardist Rick Wright come from pretty normal backgrounds. Mason, Wright, and bassist Roger Waters met each other at Regent Street Polytechnic while studying architecture. Wright moved to the London School of Music a year later after struggling at Regent Street.

Roger Waters, who would become the dominate personality in Pink Floyd after Syd Barrett departed and was the chief songwriter for their big 70s albums, has a most curious biography. His father, Eric Fletcher Waters, was a school teacher and Communist Party member. After a period of pacifism he joined the British Army during World War II and was killed at Anzio, Italy. Those of you familiar with Floyd's big 70s albums will know that the death of Waters' father had a profound impact on the songwriter and his world view. Despite many of the populist views Waters has expressed in his work, he married a noble woman, Lady Carolyne Christie (who admittedly was the niece of the Marquess of Zetland) in the late 1970s and had two children with her. Waters was also a childhood friend of Barrett's in Cambridge.

Based on most accounts I've read, it seems that there were two key figures involved in the Floyd's early years that were instrumental in their rise to (semi) stardom. One would be manager Peter Jenner, and another would be promoter/producer Joe Boyd. The former had a much larger influence on the band, but the former gave them their first real break. Boyd was the co-founder of the infamous UFO Club, one of the main venues in London's infant psychedelic scene. It was here that the Floyd, who played at the club's opening night and would serve as the house band for several more weeks, gained their first true following in no small part due to their light show, spacey jams, and Syd's theatrics.

Before Boyd became a mover and shaker in London's underground music scene he had been an American with a degree from Harvard University who was snatched up by the fledgling Elektra Records (who would be instrumental in the psychedelic music scene of the late 60s) and sent oversees to establish an office for the label. Shortly before Boyd began attending Harvard the CIA had already began establishing a presence there.

"...example of the CIA's role in the U.S. mass communications studies during the 1950s was the work of the Center for International Studies (CENIS) at MIT. The CIA became the principal funder of this institution throughout the 1950s, although neither the CENIS nor the CIA is known to have publicly provided details on their relationship. It has been widely reported, however, that the CIA financed the initial establishment of the CENIS; that the agency underwrote publication of certain CENIS studies in both classified and nonclassified editions; that CENIS served as a conduit for CIA funds for researchers at other institutions, particularly the Center for Russian Research at Harvard..."
(The Science of Coercion, Christopher Simpson, pgs. 81-82)
The Center for Russian Research was not the only Harvard body on the CIA payroll then.

"...some academics interested in quantitative methodology or in communication effects studies, who were also amenable to psychological warfare campaigns, sought government funding in an effort to pursue both goals simultaneously. Samuel Stouffer's program at Harvard's Laboratory of Social Relations illustrated this trend."
(ibid, pg. 99)
To recap, upon graduating Harvard in 1964 Boyd was on the payroll of Elektra a year later and already being entrusted with an overseas office. He would go on to produce Floyd's early singles and receive credit for their legendary debut, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, though former Beatles engineer Norman Smith is generally believed to be the actual producer on that album.

By all accounts manager Peter Jenner had an enormous influence on the Floyd's early sound and image. Initially the group was primarily concerned with blues and early rock tunes like "Louie Louie." However, they would flesh out these standards with wild improves by Barrett and Wright. Jenner became fascinated with these sonic explorations and encouraged the group to start writing originals based around these sounds. He, along with partner Andrew King (who became the group's co-manager), would hook up the group with new equipment and sign a contract with the duo. Jenner, by all accounts, had quite a taste for LSD as well. In fact, Syd was his only real revival in terms of drug consumption as far as the band was concerned. Syd was already using the drug before coming into contact with Jenner, but it went to another level afterwards. Whether management was feeding Syd LSD has generally been denied by other Floyd members, yet strong implications were hinted at in later songs about Syd.

Peter Jenner is a man with a most interesting background. He graduated with a degree in Economics from Cambridge University at the age of 21 and then went on to become a lecturer at the London School of Economics. The LSE was founded in 1895 by Fabian Society members Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and George Bernard Shaw. The agenda of the Fabian Society, according to Wikipedia, is:

"The Fabian Society is a British socialist movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World War I. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire, especially India."

Former New York State and City Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto elaborates:

"What nineteenth-century Transcendentalists and Muggletonians hoped to be in reordering the triumvirate of society, school, and family, twentieth-century Fabians were. Although far from the only potent organization working behind the scenes to radically reshape domestic and international life, it would not be too far out of line to call the twentieth century the Fabian century. One thing is certain: the direction of modern schooling for the bottom 90 percent of our society has followed a largely Fabian design -and the puzzling security and prestige enjoyed at the moment by those who speak of 'globalism' and 'multiculturalism' is a direct result of heed paid earlier to Fabian prophecies that a welfare state, followed by an intense focus on internationalism, would be the mechanism elevating corporate society over political society, and a necessary precursor to utopia. Fabian theory is the Das Kapital of financial capitalism."
(The Underground History of American Education, pg. 178) 
Continuing with Gatto on the scope of their influence:

"When I speak of Fabianism, or of any particular Fabians, actual or virtual like Kurt Lewin, once head of Britian's Psychological Warfare Bureau, or R.D. Laing, once staff psychologist at the Tavistock Institute, I have no interest in mounting a polemic against this particular conceit of the comfortable intelligentsia. Fabian strategy and tactics have been openly announced and discussed with clarity for nearly a century, whether identified as Fabian or not...
"The London School of Economics is a Fabian creation. Mick Jagger spent time there; so did John F. Kennedy. The Economist,once elitist, now a worldwide pop-intellectual publication, is Fabian as is The New Statesman and Ruskin Labor College of Oxford. The legendary Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations, premier mind bending institute of the world, are Fabian. Theodor Adorno, an important if barely visible avatar of the therapeutic state, and a one-time eminence at Tavistock, traveled the Fabian road as well."
(ibid, pg. 183)

Individuals associated with the Fabians do not deny these chargers. One of the most famous confessions came from Georgetown professor, Rhodes Scholar, and Council of Foreign Relations (the American branch of the Royal Institute of International Affairs) member Carroll Quigley in his history Tragedy and Hope:

"The chief aims of this elaborate, semisecret organization were largely commendable: to coordinate the international activities and outlooks of all the English-speaking world into one (which would largely, it is true, be that of the London group); to work to maintain the peace; to help backward, colonial, and underdeveloped areas to advance toward stability, law, and order, and prosperity along lines somewhat similar to those taught at Oxford and the University of London (especially the School of Economics and the Schools of African and Oriental Studies."
(pg. 954)
That two of the Floyd's chief advocates would be graduates of university's closely associated with globalism and psychological warfare is curious, but not unexpected, if one has read more than a few bios of 60s rock stars. At this point it probably behoves me to address the Tavistock Institute and the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding it.

In general there is not a lot of reliable information concerning Tavistock out there. According to Wikipedia, Tavistock was primarily concerned with the treating of trauma at its foundation:

"The Tavistock Clinic was founded in 1920 by Dr. Hugh Crichton-Miller, a psychiatrist who developed psychological treatments for shell-shocked soldiers during and after the First World War. The clinic's first patient was, however, a child. Its clinical services were always, therefore, for both children and adults. From its foundation it was also clear that offering free treatment to all who need it meant that the Tavistock Clinic needed to offer training to staff who could eventually help people across the UK. The clinical staff were also researchers. These principles remain to this day.

"Following its founding the Tavistock Clinic continued its interest in preventative psychiatry, and developed expertise in group relations (including army officer selection), social psychiatry and action research. Its staff, who were still mainly unpaid honorary psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers were concerned about leadership within the armed forces. The staff prepared to treat the civilian population who might be traumatised by a further world war, which would bring bombing of cities, evacuation of children and the shock of bereavement."
Much of the conspiracy lore surround Tavistock derives from John Coleman, an individual who claims to be a former MI6 agent working from classified material that he saw while at Her Majesty's Service. Perhaps some researchers have validated Coleman's MI6 claims, but I have yet to see anything reliable, and this puts all of Coleman's conspiratorial writings in doubt. Coleman may well be a former MI6 man, but his work has always struck me as disinformation so I will not delve to deeply into his theories concerning Tavistock here. A sample should suffice:

"From its modest but vitally important beginning at Wellington House, the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations expanded rapidly to become the world's premier top-secret 'brainwashing institute.' How this rapid progression was accomplished needs to be explained.

"The modern science of mass manipulation of public opinion was born at Wellington House, London, the lusty infant being midwifed by Lord Northcliffe and Lord Rothmere.

"The British monarchy, Lord Rothschild, and the Rockefellers were responsible for funding the venture. The papers I was privileged to examine showed that the purpose of those at Wellington House was to effect a change of opinion of the British people who were adamantly opposed to war with Germany, a formidable task that was accomplished by 'opinion making' through polling."
(The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, pg. 2)
Regardless of Coleman's creditability (or lack therefore of), Tavistock has had an enormous influence in the field of mental health. Former Tavistock man John Rawlings Rees would go on to found, and become president and director of, the World Federation of Mental Health, for instance.

During his breakdown, Syd Barrett would seemingly avoid a former Tavistock psychologist R.D. Laing. From the Guardian:

"In the spring of 1968, Roger Waters had talked to the hip psychiatrist RD Laing. He had even driven Barrett to an appointment: 'Syd wouldn't get out. What can you do?' In the intervening months, however, Barrett became less hostile to the idea of treatment. So Gale placed a call to Laing and Po booked a cab. But with the taxi-meter ticking outside, Barrett refused to leave the flat."  

Perhaps Syd was more lucid than others suspected by avoiding Laing. I shall examine this possibility a little further on, but for the time being I'd like to get to the actual music. For those of us that love psychedelic rock there are few albums that can equal Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Few albums have come as close to recreating the psychedelic experience as this forgotten classic. Few albums have come as close to recreating the invisible world, the other side, the macrocosm, or whatever you choice to call it, either.

As regular readers know, this blog has highlighted the similarities between fairy encounters, UFOs, and the psychedelic experience before; as well as the beings behind these encounters, which are referred to as macrobes around here. More information on the similarities between different Fortean encounters can be found here while a definition of macrobes and macrocosm can be found here.

Whether Barrett had extensive knowledge of the occult or metaphysics is difficult to say, but he surely had a passing interest that went beyond his childhood love of fairy tales -The lyrics from the song "Chapter 24" are largely derived from the I Ching. Syd initially told the press that the name Pink Floyd was given to him by aliens, who appeared while he was mediating upon a ley line (Syd actually made it up by combining the first names of two bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council). The Beatles, several of whom were quite taken by the occult, were recording Sgt. Pepper at Abbey Roads at the same time the Floyd were recording Piper. The two groups met each other at the studio and seemingly influenced one and others' sessions as both albums have a similar Technicolor vibe that has rarely been repeated since.

Aleister Crowley on Sgt. Pepper's album cover

Piper at the Gates of Dawn is an especially apt title for the time and place in which the album was recorded. The title of Piper is derived from chapter seven of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. I have never read the book, but descriptions claim that the chapter concerns an encounter with the god Pan, who plays upon a magic reed flute. It seems to be heavily influenced by another legendary Piper, namely the Pied Piper of Hamelin, which at a synchronistic level is what many people will take from the album title. Wikipedia gives a decent run down of the myth:

"In 1284, while the town of Hamelin was suffering from a rat infestation, a man dressed in pied clothing appeared, claiming to be a rat-catcher. He promised the townsmen a solution for their problem with the rats. The townsmen in turn promised to pay him for the removal of the rats. The man accepted, and played a musical pipe to lure the rats with a song into the Weser River, where all but one drowned. Despite his success, the people reneged on their promise and refused to pay the rat-catcher the full amount of money. The man left the town angrily, but vowed to return some time later, seeking revenge.

"On Saint John and Paul's day while the inhabitants were in church, he played his pipe yet again, dressed in green, like a hunter, this time attracting the children of Hamelin. One hundred and thirty boys and girls followed him out of the town, where they were lured into a cave and never seen again. Depending on the version, at most three children remained behind. One of the children was lame and could not follow quickly enough, the second was deaf and followed the other children out of curiosity, and the last was blind and unable to see where they were going. These three informed the villagers of what had happened when they came out of church."

The Pied Piper himself is an extension of the Trickster archetype. And at this point, so was Syd -He was being set up as the Piper of LSD with all those flower children at the gates of Aquarius. Granted, such thoughts probably never occurred to Syd at this point, but I suspect someone at EMI or in the Floyd's managerial team was aware of the implications and possibilities. The modern concept of the archetype was largely devised by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who believed that they were a part of the collective unconsciousness; a deeper, primitive, symbolic consciousness that all humans shared. I have written a bit on this, and the related phenomenon of twilight language here.

Jung not only believed in a shared consciousness populated with archetypes such as the Trickster, but he also believed that individuals could be possessed by these archetypes in a very real sense.

"Although everything is experienced in image form, i.e., symbolically, it is by no means a question of fictitious danger but of very real risks upon which the fate of a whole life may depend. The chief danger is that of succumbing to the fascinating influence of the archetypes, and this is most likely to happen when the archetypal images are not made conscious. If there is already a predisposition to psychosis, it may even happen when the archetypal figures, which are endowed with a certain autonomy anyway on account of their natural numinosity, will escape from conscious control altogether and become completely independent, thus producing the phenomena of possession."
(The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Carl Jung, pg. 39)

Keep the above quote in mind when considering the rest of this piece. Now, to Piper.

The album kicks off in high gear with "Astronomy Domine", one of the earliest space rock numbers. Despite its spacey vibe, the lyrics are heavy on magic.

"Lime and limpid green, a second scene
A fight between the blue you once knew.
Floating down, the sound resounds
Around the icy waters underground.
Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda and Titania.
Neptune, Titan, Stars can frighten."
Green represents nature while blue represents consciousness, the song implying that the two are in conflict. A similar implication comes from the reference to Jupiter and Saturn -Saturn represents chaos while Jupiter is balance and order. Oberon and Titania are the King and Queen of Fairies in Shakespeare's heavily esoteric A Midsummer's Night Dream. Titan is the irrational universe. In general, the song captures the futility of applying rationality to an irrational world after being 'awakened.'

The next song, "Lucifer Sam", seems to be a depiction of a witch and her familiar.

"Lucifer Sam, Siam cat.
Always sitting by your side
Always by your side.
That cat's something I can't explain.

"Jennifer Gentle you're a witch.
You're the left side
He's the right side.
Oh, no!
That cat's something I can't explain."
Syd would describe this song as being personnel. Given some of the bizarre stories surrounding Syd's relationships with women, anything is possible. Consider this account from the Guardian:

"Similarly, Barrett's lover and flatmate at the time, Lindsay Corner, denies the stories that he locked her in her room for three days, feeding her biscuits under the door, then smashed a guitar over her head. This time, however, three other residents swear he did: 'I remember pulling Syd off her,' says Po. And that's the trouble with the whole Barrett business. There are witness accounts by people who weren't there, those who were there disagree - half of them, being as totally offs swear he did: 'I remember pulling Syd off her,' says Po. And that's the trouble with the whole Barrett business. There are witness accounts by people who weren't there, those who were there disagree - half of them, being as totally off their faces as Barrett was, must have a question mark over their evidence."

Track three, "Matilda Mother," perfectly conveys the subconscious effects fairy tales have on the collective unconsciousness, especially in children.

"Higher once upon a time.
Wandering and dreaming
The words have different meaning.
Yes they did.

"For all the time spent in that room
The doll's house, darkness, old perfume
And fairy stories held me high on
Clouds of sunlight floating by.
Oh Mother, tell me more
Tell me more."
"The Gnome," about a pot smoking little guy, is one of the lightest tracks on Piper yet it still weaves in the occult theme by making the title character a gnome. Paracelsus considered gnomes to be representatives of one of the four elements, in this case earth. It also continues with the green and blue motif established in "Astronomy Domine."

"I want to tell you a story
'bout a little man
If I can.
A gnome named Grimble Grumble.
And little gnomes stay in their homes.
Eating, sleeping, drinking their wine.

"He wore a scarlet tunic,
A blue green hood,
It looked quite good.
He had a big adventure
Amidst the grass
Fresh air at last."
It also continues with the theme of entheogens and nonhuman encounters that Piper brilliantly captures.

Another curious track is "The Scarecrow."

"The black and green scarecrow as everyone knows
Stood with a bird on his hat and straw everywhere.
He didn't care.
He stood in a field where barley grows.
"His head did no thinking
His arms didn't move except when the wind cut up
Rough and mice ran around on the ground
He stood in a field where barley grows.

"The black and green scarecrow is sadder than me
But now he's resigned to his fate
'Cause life's not unkind - he doesn't mind.
He stood in a field where barley grows. "
The choice of barley in the field of the scarecrow watches over is a curious one. Barley is closely associated with two dying and resurrecting gods of antiquity, namely the Egyptian Osiris and the Greek Dionysus. In Egyptian mythology Osiris is who taught the Egyptians how to brew beer from barley. His body was associated with barley in certain rituals and his color was green. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and also had a close association with barley and the color green. Both deities have been referred to as 'the Green Man,' a symbol of spring and summer. As previously noted, green is also associated with vegetation and growth. While black is commonly associated with death, it can also represent corruption. Black and green are opposites of one and other. In this case, the scarecrow seems to represent the common man, indifferent to the tools of initiation (here represented by the barley) all around him.

And that about does it for Piper. Was the esoteric view of Piper that I've put forward intentional? Did Syd actually set out to write an album dealing with the themes I outlined above, in other words? Frankly, I have no idea. There are certainly implications that Barrett was versed in the occult and that those around him were also knowledgeable in that regard. But Barrett could have just as easily been tapping into something primal in his collective unconsciousness while under the influence of LSD. I know only that the album masterfully recreates the experience of what modern researchers refer to as 'high weirdness.' Indeed, weirdness does not get much higher than Piper...

Syd (and few other artist, for that matter) would never reach the singular brilliance of Piper again. He would in fact be run out of Pink Floyd due to his increasingly erratic behavior shortly after the album's release. While his two solo albums are fine works in their own right, they lack the esoteric slant of Piper, so I will not delve into them here. I will briefly address several tracks off of 1975's Wish You Were Here as that album seems to add weight to the views I'm expressing. For those of you unfamiliar with the album, a brief recap: It was recorded after their groundbreaking Dark Side of the Moon record, and is a concept album revolving around Syd Barrett and the corruption of the music industry. Syd himself famously appeared at the Wish sessions in a most disheveled state:

"In June 1975, while Pink Floyd were recording the album Wish You Were Here at London's Abbey Road studios, a portly, shaven-haired man arrived and stood quietly at the back, watching...

"At first, they didn't recognise the man, whose head and eyebrows were shaved and who was apparently trying to clean his teeth by holding the brush still and jumping up and down.

"But this was the 'crazy diamond' himself: Syd Barrett, the subject of the song. He was the most famous 'acid casualty' of his generation, and the writer of much of the original material of the group, from which he had been ejected because of his drug-induced eccentricities."

'Crazy diamond' is in reference to the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," one of the tracks on Wish that is overtly about Barrett. Like many I had always assumed the 'diamond' of the title was a reference to Syd's mind, e.g. it was as brilliant as a diamond. But the diamond can also be an alchemical symbol as well.

"As gold was the symbol of spirit and the base metals represented man's lower nature, certain alchemists were called 'miners' and were pictured with picks and shovels digging into the earth in search of the precious metals -those finer traits of character buried in the earthiness of materiality and ignorance. The diamond concealed in the heart of the black carbon illustrated the same principle."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly Hall, pg. 144)
A line toward the end of the second "Shine On..." suite makes me think that the diamond of the title is being used in an alchemical sense.

"Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Pile on many more layers and I'll be joining you there.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph,
and sail on the steel breeze.
Come on you boy child, you winner and loser,
come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine!"

Now, consider the lyrics from the second verse of the first "Shine On...":
"You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision.
Rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions.
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!"
Masons are blindfolded during their initial initiations into the craft. When the initiation is complete, the blindfold is removed and the brother is shone 'the light' or 'receives the light.' The moon is one of the most vague symbols in the occult. Syd makes reference to it in several of his songs, most notably the chilling "Jugband Blues," the last song he ever recorded with Pink Floyd.

"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear
That I'm not here.
And I never knew the moon could be so big
And I never knew the moon could be so blue
And I'm grateful that you threw away my old shoes
And brought me here instead dressed in red
And I'm wondering who could be writing this song."
When I see the moon in this context I can't help but be reminded of the concept of 'food for the moon'::

"Due to special cosmic circumstance , organic life on Earth is necessary for receiving this energy of creation and transforming this into a form that is passed further along, to 'feed' the 'moon,' which is said to be growing. All this is seen as a natural process where organic Earth life, including man, performs a function in a cosmic organism, a little like bacteria perform a function in the human digestive system. The fact of mankind collectively being required to produce certain 'vibrations' or 'energies' for serving various cosmic purposes is stressed throughout Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales. So called planetary influences cause mankind to fight wars and endure cataclysms so that a certain quota of energy release be fulfilled and the 'moon fed.'

"Exactly what the moon represents is not described in much detail. The food in question is described as vibrations generated by intense human experience, for example the experience of violent death. While being food is inescapable, man may still modulate the quality of his contribution to the cosmic demand of vibrations. With man being less and less conscious, nature found it necessary to substitute quantity for quality of vibrations, thus leading to population explosion and increased incidence of natural catastrophy and war."
In some occult traditions the moon was said to control human movements, or represent the physical nature of man -to hold a kind of sway over our baser elements. Is this why Syd 'cried for the moon?'

There are several more fascinating occult references in the two "Shine On..." tracks that I shall leave to my readers to find. In general, I can't recommend the Wish album enough. From the legendary album cover (which seems like a mockery of occult handshakes) to its gallows sense of humor, it's a one of a kind experience. But before leaving it I can't help but mention the chilly, proto-industrial "Welcome to the Machine," which isn't directly about Syd, but is the ultimate put down of the faux rebellion of the rock 'n roll culture and the mentality it spawned, as depicted in garbage such as Nickelback's "Rockstar." Plus, it directly acknowledges the reality-shapers behind the industry.

"Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
Where have you been? It's alright we know where you've been.You've been in the pipeline, filling in time,
provided with toys and Scouting for Boys.
You bought a guitar to punish your ma,
And you didn't like school, and you know you're nobody's fool,
So welcome to the machine.

"Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
What did you dream? It's alright we told you what to dream.
You dreamed of a big star, he played a mean guitar,
He always ate in the Steak Bar. He loved to drive in his Jaguar.
So welcome to the machine."

And now it seems I should address Syd's mental health. The general view, as readers may have gathered from this article, is that Syd was reduced to kind of walking vegetable after the excesses of the 1960s. Yet the man was only briefly institutionalized and generally managed to take care of himself after he dropped out of the spotlight in the early 1970s. Close family members such as his sister Rosemary claim that Syd managed to live a relatively normal life:

"From 1981, when he returned from London to the suburbs of his native Cambridge, resumed the name Roger and set up home in his mother’s modest semi, he made faltering but significant progress.

"Rosemary is adamant that he neither suffered from mental illness nor received treatment for it at any time since they resumed regular contact 25 years ago. At first he did spend some time in a private “home for lost souls” — Greenwoods in Essex — but she says there was no formal therapy programme there. (“And besides, he didn’t mix, because he was very content to be basket weaving and making things.”) Later he agreed to some sessions with a psychiatrist at Fulbourn psychiatric hospital, Cambridge, but neither medication nor therapy was considered appropriate...

"Barrett lived in the semi with his mother until her death in 1991 and then remained there alone. “So much of his life was boringly normal,” said Rosemary. 'He looked after himself and the house and garden. He went shopping for basics on his bike — always passing the time of day with the local shopkeepers — and he went to DIY stores like B&Q for wood, which he brought home to make things for the house and garden.

“'Actually, he was a hopeless handyman, he was always laughing at his attempts, but he enjoyed it. Then there was his cooking. Like everyone who lives on their own, he sometimes found that boring but he became good at curries.

“'That’s why he avoided contact with journalists and fans. He simply couldn’t understand the interest in something that had happened so long ago and he wasn’t willing to interrupt his own musings for their sake. After a while he and I stopped discussing the times he was bothered. We both knew what we thought and we simply had nothing more to add. It became easiest to pretend those incidents never happened and just blank them out.

“'Roger may have been a bit selfish — or rather self-absorbed — but when people called him a recluse they were really only projecting their own disappointment. He knew what they wanted but he wasn’t willing to give it to them.'"

I find it most interesting that Syd became Roger again once he finally escaped from the London scene so much of his life had revolved around. Based on hints Barrett himself dropped, he seemed to have viewed 'Syd' as something other than himself (Roger). Consider this encounter from the early 80s recounted by Tim Willis:

"When the DJ Nicky Horne doorstepped him in the 80s, Barrett said, 'Syd can't talk to you now.'"
Roger became 'Syd' at the age of 14 and never looked back until the Pink Floyd days were long over. He would hardly be the only rock star to adopt a new persona for the profession, as I mentioned before while discussing Tool.

Then there's Roger's seemingly fanatical avoidance of his former life. Many have assumed that Roger simply didn't remember those days (which doesn't seem to be the case) or that they were to painful for him to relive (entirely possible).

But what if Roger was hiding, or trying to escape, from something? His behavior in a way almost reminds me of the Emperor Claudius as depicted in Graves' I, Claudius. Here, Claudius plays up his physical deformities and the perception that he is retarded in order to avoid being murdered by his power hungry family. Roger, despite living in relative stability, seems to have greatly played up his mental problems when in the presence of fans, and especially journalists. This would possibly explain how Syd could be fully functional on the one hand, but instigate encounters such as the one journalist Tim Willis experienced when going to interview Barrett at his home:

"So I walk up the concrete path of his grey pebble-dashed semi, try the bell and discover that it's disconnected. At the front of the house, all the curtains are open. The side passage is closed to prying eyes by a high gate. I knock on the front door and, after a minute or two, look through the downstairs bay window. Where you might expect a television and a three-piece suite, Barrett has constructed a bare, white-walled workshop. Pushed against the window is a tattered pink sofa. On the hardboard tops, toolboxes are neatly stacked, flexes coiled, pens put away in a white mug.

"Then, a sound in the hall. Has he come in from the back garden? Perhaps it needs mowing, like the front lawn - although, judging by the mound of weeds by the path, he's been tidying the beds today.

"I knock again, and hear three heavy steps. The door flies open and he's standing there. He's stark naked except for a small, tight pair of bright-blue Y-fronts; bouncing, like the books say he always did, on the balls of his feet."

This would be in keeping with the deceptively lucid manner Roger used throughout his career -remember how he avoided the Tavistock psychologist R.D. Laing at the height of his breakdown? Did Roger even have a 'breakdown' as it is commonly understood, or did he start becoming aware of what he was being used for?

And finally, was the Roger of Cambridge a recluse, or a man that truly understood the cost his freedom came at?