Friday, April 16, 2021

Shifted Realities and Re-Enchantment

It's that time again kids. For this subscribers episode I've brought in two guests to discuss the highly influential and overlooked counterculture of the 1980s. Both are returning. They are musician and author Samuel Vandiver of the experimental electronica/folk outfit Corwin Trails; and writer, researcher, and activist Edmund Berger, author of Uncertain Futures: An Assessment of the Conditions of the Present and the forthcoming  Acceleration: Utopia Currents from Dada to the CCRU

For those of you who have heard my prior shows with Ed on postmodernism and the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, then you know this man is well versed on all things underground. But Sam is especially qualified: He was the neighbor and friend of legendary Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey. Through his relationship with Adam, Sam acquired an unique, insider perspective on many of the figures up for discussion.  

If you like your Farm's philosophical, this is the one for you. We begin with an epic discussion of the infamous French thinker Georges Bataille and his heavy influence on 80s counterculture. Sam provides specific insights into the influence that Bataille had on Parfrey and his early efforts. From there, we go into a rundown of Situationism and how this lineage continued into the 1980s through the efforts of figures such as Bob Black


The mid-point of our discussion revolves around two curious currents from the 1980s: the Neoism and the Abraxas Foundation. Ed traces the tangled history of the former, including it's most recent ties to QAnon. Sam tackles the complex history of Abraxas and it's successors in the alt-right. To wrap up, we engage in a fascinating discuss over whether the legendary figure of James Shelby Downard was a "hyperstition' crafted by Parfrey, Michael A. Hoffman II, and company. 

These are just a few of the highlights in what is a wide ranging conversation that traces the underground currents of the West from the interwar years to present. As always, I hope you guys enjoy. Ed and Sam are the latest guests in an ever growing collection of exclusive content in our subscriber's section. Other guests include Diana Walsh-PasulkaRichard B. SpenceChristopher Knowles, Douglas Valentine, Adam Gorightly, Greg Bishop, Walter Bosley, David Metcalfe, Neil Sanders, and J. Michael "Doctor Future" Bennett. 

Strange Days, Stranger Realities

There's no question that the COVID lockdowns of 2020 fundamentally altered our society and that the changes are still ongoing. By now, I'm sure many of you are aware of some of the more nefarious plans being telegraphed by the neo-liberal order in bright, neon skylights. These are the obvious stakes from the lockdowns. 

But are there potentially even more subversive undercurrents brewing that have completely flown under the radar? I for one certainly think so, least of all because in an era of total Accelerationism in the legacy media, it's easy for things to fall by the wayside. Especially if they seem weird or trivial. Often times, that is exactly the type of stuff the upends social order. You never see it coming until it's too late. 

So, what stands out to me? Chiefly, the developments in the ongoing symbiosis of magic and mysticism on the one hand, and the Internet on the other. Of course, the merger of the magical with the digital is nothing new at this point. Just grab that old copy of TechGnosis or Cyberia you probably still have in a closet somewhere if you don't believe me. In between Utopian musings that often seem hysterically dated in 2021, that likes of Erik Davis and Douglas Rushkoff are able to make some very compelling arguments for the close relationship between metaphysics and tech. During the late 1980s, while working on a new edition for her legendary Drawing Dawn the Moon, Margot Adler conducted an informal survey among the growing neo-pagan community concerning their occupations. She found that a staggering amount of them worked in the computer industry.

So, the ghosts have clearly been in the machine for awhile now. But this time, it's different. Seriously.

2020 gave new meaning to the phrase "captive audience." Those few lonely souls who had not yet embraced streaming circa 2019 learned too during the following year. But there's only so much binge watching a human being can embark upon. Something else was needed and this led to some creative solutions. 

One of the most remarked upon is the Randonautica app. Fittingly, it's creators have cited chaos theory and Debord's "theory of the derive" as inspirations. The app grew out of bot utilized in fringe sciences group on Telegram in 2019. By July 2020, the Atlantic was hailing it the "App of the Summer." Essentially, Randonautica promises on-demand synchronicity. The user focuses their intention on what type of experience they wish to have, then the app generates a coordinate and provides the user with directions. 

Often times the results are mundane. I personally used the app for Thanksgiving 2020. I made four separate attempts with the app, two for adventures within walking distance, and two in the car. I wasn't able to make it to any of the destinations, which is a common complaint among users. Sometimes coordinates are given in the middle of a lake or another body of water, for instance. In my case, all the coordinates were on private property. As I live in a rural area of West Virginia, seeing my Randonautica adventure through to it's conclusion probably would have been a good way of getting shot. 

A few adventures were more "successful." The one that really put Randonautica on the map was the discovery of two dead bodies in suitcase at a site the app's users were directed to. Specifically, it was a TikTok video recounting this adventure that really raised aware about Randonautica. Soon, a flurry of such videos on TikTok, often utilizing scores from horror films, followed. Living out The Blair Witch Project has never been easier.

The Metaphysics of TikToc

2020 was a big year for TikToc. The Chinese company was hailed as one of the fastest growing brands of the year. Elsewhere, former President Donald J. Trump raised a stink about banning TikToc in the fall of 2020, only to relent hours before the ban was supposed to go into effect. No doubt any number of factors played into the Orange One's brief war with TikToc during his failed presidential bid. The China angle is an obvious one. There's also the corporate angle: Trump, true to form, was able to procure a cut in TikTok for Wal-Mart and Oracle prior to the ban going live. No doubt a piece of the action made corporate America more favorably disposed. 

But there's no question TikToc has become a force. Consider: a video posted on March 26, 2021 turned a Missouri ghost town into a tourist attraction in a matter of days. Certainly the geopolitical implications are staggering, but I'm more fascinated by the ability of TikToc users to re-enchant the burned out corners of the decaying America empire with videos such as this and the ones derived from Randonautica. 

Which brings us to one of the really strange aspects of TikToc in 2020. It's called "reality shifting." Utilizing elements of lucid dreaming and deep meditation, reality shift purports to take Gen Z into another world. "Shifters" start the process by scripting out their desired reality. It's not uncommon for fictional universes derived from the likes of Harry Potter or Avatar to be invoked. Shifters are instructed to plot out as much of their desired reality, including how they will appear and their interactions with other characters in these scripts. 

From there, Shifters work on controlling their sleeping habits. Reality-shifting is supposedly most effective during an R.E.M. state. To activate the shift, a combination of affirmation/countdown can be used, or the "staircase method." Some kids have even employed subliminal messaging in music to induce the shift. 

All of this is quite fascinating on a number of levels. There are precedents, of course. Some have pointed to the "otherkin" and related communities. Otherkin, roughly speaking, are "people who believe and live as if they are partly other-than-human, for example, part-dragon, unicorn, vampire, angel, fae or other mythological or supernatural creature" (Fiction, Invention, and Hyper-reality, Cusack, 40). A parallel has been drawn between a specific subsection of Otherkin and the Shifters, namely the "soulbonders" of the prior decade:

".... Soulbonders form 'full-blown interpersonal relationship(s)' with 'other-than-human' entities, who may be fictional...Mrs Sephiroth and Sephirothslave, two women who were the avowed lovers of Sephiroth, a character from the videogame Final Fantasy, and... the phenomena of 'Snapists' (or SnapeWives), three women (Rose, Conchita and Tonya) who believe themselves to be in intimate sexual relationships with Severus Snape from the Harry Potter novels and films... of two intriguing phenomena that now seem to have ended..."

(Carol Cusack, "Otherkin and Therianthropy communities..." in Fiction, Invention, and Hyper-reality, 45)

The "SnapeWives" are especially interesting in light of the rampant use of Harry Potter among the Shifters. Given with the day-to-day realities of the post-lockdown world, it's understandable that many Gen Zs would want to escape to Hogwarts. But there are some even darker undercurrents at play than Draco Malfoy. 

Vice reports that another recent TikTok fetish is known as "The Gateway," which is drawn from declassified CIA documents. It should be noted, however, that these documents did not originate from the CIA, but the Pentagon. The CIA was merely reviewing in this case. 

The concept of "The Gateway" was actually developed by New Age guru Robert Monroe. Essentially, Monroe alleged that his techniques could induce an out-of-body experience (OBE) in which consciousness would breakthrough the confines of space and time. There, the past, present, and the future could all be observed at once. 

A big part of Monroe's method involved the process of "Hemi-Synch." Binaural beats were used to synch the two hemispheres of the brain. In other words, it also uses audio cues to induce an "enhanced" sleep state. Monroe took these techniques and established the Monroe Institute around instructing guests how to achieve "The Gateway" with them. 


During the 1980s, when they legendary General Albert Stubblebine headed the US Army's Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), Monroe and his institute became a big deal. It was common for the military's remote viewers, along with other characters such as Colonel John Alexander, to make use of Monroe's good offices. CIA was less impressed. In Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigation Into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis, Annie Jacobsen notes that the CIA concluded: "Altered states make the brain unstable... and can have effects similar to hallucinogens" (pg. 291). The CIA also recommended that the Army disengage from it's relationship with the Monroe Institute as at best their methods would produce "more noise than signal" for remote viewers. 


Obviously, there are some similarities between "The Gateway" and reality shifters. This point hasn't been lost on the Shifters themselves. But if the CIA's assessment is correct, psychosis may be a real potential fall out from "The Gateway." Which begs the question about the long-term effects of "shifting" on Generation Z.

If you've been following this blog or my podcast of late, you're probably aware of the emphasis I've put on the breakdown of consensus reality. Generally, I've explored this through the prism of alternate reality games or QAnon. Nominally, the mysticism of TikTok is far more benign. As was noted above, I fully grok the need of teenagers to escape our current reality. Further, Gen Z is merely continuing an ongoing process prior generations have already embraced. Christopher Partridge dubbed it the "Re-Enchantment of the West," the return of magical thinking to day to day life.

Partridge argued that the process of re-enchantment had begun in earnest during the 1960s counterculture. But it was during the '90s cyberculture and the rise of the Internet that things really took off. On the one hand, it was easier for fellow eccentrics to find one and other than ever. But on the other hand, it made spirituality even more personalized. With all of human knowledge now available at one's fingertips, the need to submit to a congregation or master was less than ever. 

ARGs were very much a part of this tradition of re-enchantment. They sought to bring a little bit of wonder into mundane experiences of day-to-day life. But in 2021, the mundane of the days gone past seems more and more like a utopia. And as QAnon demonstrates, a new generation of ARGs have continued this re-enchanting process (if you don't think this is a part of QAnon, consider this recent podcast), but in a far darker form. 

In this context, we would do well to keep an eye on the enchantment of TikTok. The reality shifting phenomena in particular seems to come with some major red flags. Beyond the disturbing implications of teenagers embracing declassified CIA documents as a form of rebellion, of course. And with that, I shall sign off for now. As always, stay tuned till next time dear reader. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

UFOs, Cults, and Confidence Games

Hat Tip: "Larry," Denim, S90

It's the first of the month once again, which means it's time for a new subscriber's show for The Farm's patrons section. My guest this time round is Diana Walsh-Pasulka. She is a writer and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She has co-edited the anthologies Posthumanism: The Future of Homo Sapiens and Believing in Bits: Digital Media and the Supernatural as well as being the author of Heaven Can Wait: Purgatory in Catholic Devotional and Popular Culture and American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology

This is a wide reaching conversation largely exploring the rise of the postmodern paradigm. Through this prism, we explore a host of topics: VideodromeIn the Mouth of Madness, and the science fiction reality we find ourselves living in; the strange, nonsensical behavior reported by contactees as a form of depatterning; how the rise of channeled communications coincided with the technological revolution in the West; synchronicity as a form of depatterning; Randonautica; and even the Mandela effect

We also consider the possibility that there is something genetic about families with multiple "Experiencers." From there, we delve into whether personality profiles have been applied to Experiencers, and the rather disturbing implications of this in a post-Cambridge Analytica world. On the topic of disturbing implications, we address whether a "meta-narrative" involving the UFO phenomena will be rolled out by the military during the next year. 

To close out, I have Diana cover one of the more curious aspects of the famed SRI remote viewing experiments: the influence of the French Jesuit anthropologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Further, this also involved SRI's Augmentation Research Center, the same one that played such a crucial role in launching the modern PC revolution. It's a fascinating, and fitting, note to wrap up on. 

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Diana is the latest in a ever growing collection of guests on The Farm's patron section. Others include Christopher KnowlesRichard B. Spence, Douglas Valentine, Greg Bishop, Adam Gorightly, Walter Bosley, J. Michael "Doc Future" Bennett, Neil Sanders, and David Metcalfe. Next up is "The Secret History of 1980s Counterculture." It's going to be awesome. 


We might as well talk some UFOs with this one as there are no shortage of headlines and sound bites making the rounds of late. Just this past week, Senator Mario Rubio paused at Reagan National Airport to discuss the matter with TMZ. It was probably a sound move by Rubio, who has all the charisma of a paper bag. Merely mentioning UFOs gives him the finest sound bite of his political career. But you know it's the end of something when encountering headlines like: "SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: LET'S I.D. THE UFO'S FLYING OVER MILITARY BASES ..." and they're not being taken from The Onion


Disclosure is in the air again, as it is every few years. It's supposed to be different this time because of the provisions placed in a Trump-era COVID relief bill. But it's all supposed to be different. And then, it's more of the same old crap.

But there is one compelling circumstance this time around, and it has nothing to do with COVID, Cold War 2.0, or pending economic collapse. Rather, it has to do with the UFO racket teetering on the verge of collapse due to a recent lawsuit. 

It's goes by the name of Kiviat vs Marriott. The saga is every bit as strange as one may imagine. Many of the usual suspects are present. They include: Hal Puthoff, who co-directed the famed SRI remote viewing program and later helped found To the Stars Academy (TTSA) with Blink 182's Tom Delonge; Silicon Valley entrepreneur and longtime Ufology sugar daddy Joe Firmage; former Utah state congressman Daniel Marriott, also a member of the hospitality dynasty; Utah real estate mogul and current Skinwalker owner Brandon Fugal; and former CIA Deputy-Director, Division of Science and Technology honcho Ron Pandolfi. 

Pandolfi is a crucial figure in this racket. Reportedly, he ran the CIA's "Weird Desk," which was tasked with UFOs and other strange doings. Pandolfi is a part of "The Aviary," an informal network of mostly former spooks that have been gaming the Ufology field for decades. 

possibly Pandolfi

As for Kiviat vs Marriot, the story goes something like this: At some point in the '90s, Hal Puthoff acquired a strange gyroscopic devise from Russia that was (allegedly) capable of producing anti-gravity energy. Naturally, it was claimed to be reverse-engineered extraterrestrial technology. At some point, Firmage acquired this wonderful toy and brought Pandolfi on as his "scientific adviser." Eventually, this all led to a company called the International Academy of Science and Arts, or InterNASA for short. Pandolfi assembled a CIA team of "physicists, engineers, and mathematicians" to examine the devise. Financial backing came from Dan Marriott, and possibly Fugal. 

Enter Robert Kiviat, a TV producer best known for the Alien Autopsy "specials." Kiviat went to work at InterNASA for nearly a year handling "Communications, Public Relations, and Studio projects" for the company. All Kiviat saw for his efforts was five grand, considerably less than what he signed up for


While Kiviat's lawsuit was launched nominally to recoup his pay, it had a another purpose: to expose this group of hucksters. Specifically, it would have forced Pandolfi to go on record concerning his claims of continual intelligence support. These claims would have in turn been submitted to the inspector generals for the CIA and DIA. Needless to say, the results of those inquiries could have caused a considerable amount of trouble for Pandolfi and company. Most likely, they would have revealed that Pandolfi was using his status as a former senior CIA officer to bilk gullible investors for these fantastic technologies. 

A key early figure in all of this, Hal Puthoff, is a co-founder of TTSA, a major force behind the current Disclosure push. Interestingly, many of the heavy hitters in TTSA such as Christopher Mellon, Luis Elizondo, and Steve Justice recently departed this past December. Beyond this, TTSA is also rebranding itself as an "entertainment company," and largely abandoning it's research into science and technology in the process.

Gee, could that be due to the fact that the gyroscopic devise Puthoff pawned off to Firmage is hardly the only piece of dubious tech he's backed over the years? Like Pandolfi, Puthoff is another Aviary huckster who's been working behind the scene for decades now. These men have made impressive livelihoods for themselves off of using their intelligence credentials to rope in people with too much money and too little common sense. 


But what about men like Firmage, Marriott, and Fugal? These men already had fortunes well before entering the UFO field. Surely there are easier ways for them to expand these fortunes than the otherworldly confidence games men like Pandolfi and Puthoff specialize in. 

This is where the strange beliefs of the elites come in to play. Want to know something interesting that Firmage, Marriot, and Fugal all have in common? Besides the UFO racket? The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). 

Yes, all of these men are Mormon. And they are hardly alone in the UFO field. Indeed, members of the LDS have been covertly pushing the extraterrestrial narrative since at least the 1970s. Consider, for instance, Sunn Classic Pictures, a production company located in Salt Lake City and dominated by Mormons. During the 1970s, it had some success with a series of documentaries it released. These documentaries either dealt with Biblical narratives or UFO/paranormal subjects, especially the ancient alien trope. This was also the era of the original Battlestar Galatica, created by Mormon Glen A. Larson and loaded with Mormon cosmology. The 21st century version toned down the Mormonism greatly, but several of the crucial elements. 

Glen A. Larson

Since the 1990s, a Mormon presence in Ufology has been much more pronounced beyond Hollywood. Firmage was once one of the principal investors. Fugal has picked up some of the slack in recent years. Elsewhere Harry Reid, the former Democratic Senate Majority leader who procured funding for the Pentagon's 21st century UFO inquiries, is also a Mormon. 


Personally, I don't think it's a coincidence at all that there has been such an influx of Mormons into the UFO narrative since at least the 1970s. This is likely a glimpse into true ideology that dominates in certain circles --not the wholesome, Leave it to Beaver image of Mormonism that's been carefully cultivated for decades now, but an esoteric variety with a truly bizarre conception of the chosen people. It's faith that few are probably ever brought into fully, least of all rank-and-file LDSers. And Mormonism is surely not the only flavor available in such circles, but certainly one of the most overlooked ones. 

Suffice to say, this is the type of thing that no one in these circles wants coming out. A guy like Pandolfi cashing in on his CIA credentials to run a confidence game or two on dupes is one thing.  Financial gain is a motive the public can easily grok. The implications of the belief systems driving the continual funding for this stuff is not so easy to digest.

But with the heightened attention the UFO narrative is currently generating, the moneymaking schemes of many of the "experts" in the field could become a major issue. Fortunately for all involved, Kiviat's lawsuit appears to have been ill-conceived. It appears to be winding down with no major revelations forthcoming. But it is very illustrative of how fragile the mythos around Ufology truly is. The combination of flim-flam men and religious fanatics at the heart of Ufology is not something certain quarters want John Q. Public paying too much attention to. 


On the topic of cults and UFOs, I've got a great one to share with you guys! We already discussed some of the strange symbolism present at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Let us now consider one of the speakers, a certain Hiroaki “Jay” Aeba of the Happiness Realization Party (HRP). This outfit helped establish Japan's own version of CPAC.


Predictably, Aeba and the HRP have an anti-PRC stance, and the threat China poses to the American Empire was at the heart of his address. This is all pretty textbook for a right-wing Japanese politician addressing his US counterparts for the past 75+ years. What really stands out about Aeba and the HRP is the body behind both. 

It is known as "Happy Science" and has been described as a cult by some commentators. Founder Ryuho Okawa reportedly believes himself to be the reincarnation of a god from Venus who created all life on earth millions of years ago. So yeah, cult sounds about right. These Happy Science folks should fit right in with Falun Gong and the remnants of the Unification Church in the GOP's Asian section. 

Happy Science...

Predictably, neo-liberal outlets like Vice are having a field day with the GOP's increasingly open relationship with various cults. No doubt they feel secure in knowing the Democrats would never publicly align themselves with an outfit like NXIVM or the Satanic Temple or some weird UFO cult...

Neo-liberal cults have an easier time flying under the radar. They typically attract celebrities and feature glowing accounts in Rolling Stone or whatever constitutes a chic/hip publication in 2021. There's no way GOP cults can compete in terms of gloss. Fortunately, they more than makeup for it in sheer batshit insanity. 

Case in point, the whole Shaunawaz and Sabmyk thing. There have been some interesting developments in this offshoot of QAnon since I last touched upon them. Rumblings indicate that the "visionary" behind the "Sabmyk network" has been unmasked. Reportedly, he's a Berlin-based artist known as Sebastian Bieniek


As one might imagine, Bieniek is an interesting guy. In the twilight zone of Q, strange figures appear endorsing the purported crusade against the Pedophocracy. Figures like General Paul VallelyMichael Aquino's old Mind War buddy. And something maybe in the works for Sabmyk as well. Turns out Bieniek worked with none other than Marina "Spirit Cooking" Abramovic, she of Pizzagate infamy. Apparently, Abramovic was an influence on Bieniek's approach to performance art. Don't expect many discussions on that to emerge among the Safmyk network. 


Another interesting aspect of Bieniek is his long history of making fake social media accounts to promote his art. Indeed, it seems as though the Sabmyk network grew out of various characters Bieniek created to promote his work. Bieniek even published a book in 2011, RealFake, that detailed his use of social media and fake identities ("sock puppets") to promote his efforts. As the title implies, the book takes the Baudrillardian perspective that the lines between reality and fiction have been blurred to the point of being non-existent. Is Bieniek a practitioner of theory-fiction? I've found nothing online to suggest such, but it would hardly be surprising if he were aware of the concept. 

Bieniek's connection to Abramovic puts developments in conspiritainment over the past five years in a curious perspective. As was noted above, there are compelling indications that various Aviary types having been crafting UFO mythos to promote their own confidence games. For more on the strange dealings of the Aviary, I'd suggest picking up a copy of Adam Gorightly's most recent work, the groundbreaking and brilliant Saucers, Spooks, and Kooks

If Ufology has been used as a field for various confidence games for decades now, are mainline conspiracy theories any different? Certainly Bieniek appears to have been using QAnon to promote a hoax for the purpose of selling his art. Michael Flynn has already cashed in on QAnon. He is hardly alone in these efforts. And what of Pizzagate, a crucial foundation stone in QAnon? While there were clearly political motives for leaking Podesta's emails, did someone start playing up Abramovic's art as a marketing gimmick, one that quickly got out of hand? 

But would someone use the Pedophracy and conspiracy theories in general to sale their art? Well, if you've seen any number of music videos made in the twenty-first century, or skimmed a website like Vigilant Citizen, then the answer to the question should be a resounding "yes." This isn't to suggest that there aren't strange beliefs present in these circles --see my above musings on esoteric Mormonism. But there's a lot of humbug as well, and that's what sales. And certain folks are living very well off of these efforts.