Saturday, February 13, 2016

Desert Solitaire – Oregon Standoff Aftermath

The Great Basin in all it's Glory...
Dateline: February  11 - Eastern Oregon Desert
The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge lasted 40 days and 40 nights. What began on January 2, 2016 as a protest against the perceived “double jeopardy” imposed upon Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond, would soon escalate. The Hammonds had been previously and controversially convicted of arson on federal land and were sent to federal prison. After completing that sentence, they were resentenced to five years imprisonment due to a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that held the trial judge made a sentencing error, a decade after they had finished serving the original sentence.

The locally protested treatment of the Hammonds would soon be eclipsed by an anti-government militia group: Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, founded by Ammon Bundy, son of infamous Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy. Following an earlier peaceful march in the high desert town of Burns, Oregon… the Bundy Gang forcefully seized the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, out in the Eastern Oregon sagebrush, south of town. The armed occupation of the wildlife refuge headquarters, high-jacked the local rancher’s protest and transformed it into a self-aggrandizing, nationally exploited media event, driven by the Bundy gang.

The Bundy Gang
It is now clear that the group that seized the wildlife refuge was less concerned with the local ranching community, and more concerned with promoting Citizens for Constitutional Freedom in particular, and the so-called “Patriot Movement” in general. We’ve seen this type of media mongering before, ala Donald Trump, et al. …and it’s not like the Bundy gang pulled off some daring coup… they took over a wildlife refuge headquarters, that, if even open, was likely staffed by somebody’s grandmother, whose job it was to hand out maps.

The Bundy boys wanted the attention of the media and the Feds… and they (literally and figuratively) got it. On January 26, Oregon State troopers and FBI agents bushwhacked the Bundy gang, shooting dead gang spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum (pictured left, above) and wounding Ryan Bundy. Ammon (pictured right) quickly surrendered. This wild-west shootout marked the beginning of the end for the Oregon Standoff.

On February 11, the final 4 occupiers surrendered to the Feds. Strangely… the last occupier to leave the wildlife refuge has been portrayed variously as a conspiracy theorist, a marijuana addict and most damningly… a “troubled young man.” Back East, the New York Times reported that before surrendering: David Fry, age 27 from Blanchester, Ohio… asked for pizza and marijuana, criticized a government that condoned abortion and drone strikes, and talked about U.F.O.s and dying rather than going to prison.   

Indian Paintbrush in spring bloom
It is not clear why “authorities” felt the need to apply classic marginalizing, character assassination techniques to the stragglers… unless they perceive the Patriot Movement as a continued threat. Lost in the media blitz, was the local ranching families who could care less about political posturing. They get along well enough with Forest Service and BLM employees. Not that the relationship has always been compatible. For this was not the first protest over control of western lands. 

Back in the 70s, the Sagebrush Rebellion sought to end federal land management. Here in the West, the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) controls vast lowland and desert holdings… while the US Department of Agriculture’s US Forest Service (USFS) controls much of the higher mountainous timberlands of the Pacific Northwest. All in all, aproxamatly 70% of the Western States is Public Land, ie: land managed for the American people by the Feds.

The original Sagebrush Rebellion, as well as radical environmentalism, was greatly inspired by that rascally trickster, author and anarchist… Edward Abbey. Abbey wrote such great environmental tomes as… “Desert Solitaire” (1968) and “The Monkey Wrench Gang” (1975). Although the Monkey Wrench Gang is widely considered to have sparked radical environment groups such as Earth First! is Abby’s Desert Solitaire that captured this author’s heart and imagination.

Mesmerized by the campfire…
In my youth, I spent much of my time in the High Desert Country of Eastern Oregon… trecking through the arid terrain, searching out hidden hot-springs… traipsing amongst the desert dunes, south of “Wagontire” …searching for arrowheads to pilfer at  Captain Jack's Stronghold... camping in the solitude of the “Great Basin” with not another soul for miles around and a million stars in the heavens above. The incense perfumed smell of sagebrush and the crackling juniper fire... waiting for the Peyote to kick in. Ghosts of the indigenous first peoples… now smiling… now wrathful. Such is the romantic adventure of youth.

Modoc Chief, Kintpuash... aka: "Captain Jack" circa 1870
Meanwhile… out in the High Desert of Eastern Oregon… life remains unchanged. Spring will bring the wondrous mating ritual of the Sandhill Crane... The Antelope will feed amongst the desert sagebrush... up in the mountains, Elk herds will move into higher feeding grounds... the Black Bear will forage for mushrooms... a lonely Coyote will call to the pack... the Ravens will cackle and conspire. With the coming of the spring, the sage will bloom, the snow will melt, the brook trout will flash in the streams...

Out here on the perimeter, the political intrigues that await us back in town… will not seem so important. Out here... Earth's rhythms will prevail... and the World will be renewed... reborn... once again.

Note: this post is dedicated to the great Tekgnostic Saint: Dennis "Agent 87" Igou.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Rise of Pop Culture - part two

The following is the second installment of a preview, from my upcoming book project: “The Tek-Gnostics Heresies – Tales of Wonder from the Collective Conscious.” In part one, we explored the rise of modern media and "Pop Culture" in the years following World War II. We focused upon that most pivotal decade... The Sixties. Specifically, we examined the incredibly prophetic works of communications theorist Marshall McLuhan. In the early 60’s, McLuhan predicted that the visual, individualistic print culture would soon be brought to an end via a new electronic media culture. In this new age, humankind would move from individualism and fragmentation to a collective identity, with a "tribal base." McLuhan labeled this new social organization: The global village.

In the second installment, we shall examine converging historic events that were to shape, not only the future trajectory of world politics and a new global economy... but occult forces that were to reshape the very fabric of reality. The normality of post-war earth was about to collide with the new... extra-terrestrial paranormal reality of the 21st Century...

America in the 1950s was at the apex of its global power, prestige and innocence. Psychedelia was only percolating in the minds of a few, such as Aldous Huxley. The struggle for civil rights had yet to tear the fabric of American idealism apart. Protest over the Vietnam War was still to come. The assassinations of Kennedy and King were yet to hurl America into chaos. In 1950s America... everyone was still living in a "Leave it to Beaver" world...


There were, however, strange clues that surfaced after WWII that not only shed light on this emerging global psychedelic culture but also tied in the converging trends of the occult and the paranormal. Again, the evolution that played out in the summer of 1967 was ignited by pressures which began to build at the close of World War II. The Second World War demonstrated the horrors that humanity was prepared to visit upon each other and the planet.

The rise of industry… the industry of war… became a harsh reality in the waging of World War II. Although World War I demonstrated the horrific potential of technologies of modern warfare, such as the use of chemical weaponry, it was the Second World War that proved there was “no going back.” Any hope of a return to a pastoral existence on planet Earth was forever eliminated by the mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Mostly hidden by the emergence of the post-WWII industrial war machine, there emerged other “psychic signals” that foretold of a rise in the new paranormal. During the war, reports surfaced of “extreme interest” by Hitler’s elite paramilitary corp., the Schutzstaffel (nefariously known as the SS) …in paranormal artifacts and sacred sites, located around the planet. Rumors spread of their attempts to harness the “psychic energies” of these sites and artifacts.

Other subtle signals took the form of reports of strange flying balls of light that often accompanied allied and axis fighter and bomber planes. These aberrations became known as “Foo Fighters.” Although many strange lights have been reported throughout history, the foo fighters foreshadowed that which was to become the UFO phenomena that would dominate mainstream media for decades to come. These and other strange phenomenon seemed to not only peak, but converge… congeal… in the years immediately following World War II.

The reality that there was no going back to a pastoral existence on planet Earth was evidenced by the abrupt global evolution of Earth’s mythologies after WW II. Suspiciously similar to ancient myths, ala Sumer & Egypt, the earth spirits of farm and field rapidly began to transform into technologically driven celestial deities. Old Earth’s “Leprechauns” were about to meet the “Little Green Men.”

On June 24, 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold claimed he had spotted a string of nine, shiny unidentified flying objects, flying past the Pacific Northwest’s Mount Rainier. This was the first post-war sighting in the United States of the foo fighter phenomena and it attracted nationwide news coverage. Thus began the modern era of “unidentified flying objects” or UFO sightings. Arnold's vivid description of the objects quickly led to the national press’s coining of the terms “flying saucer” and/or “flying disc,” which quickly became popular descriptive terms for UFOs.

As mentioned above, ancient civilizations such as those from Sumer and Egypt (whose myths informed later cultures) had developed robust celestial cosmologies of humanity’s creation and evolution. In these mythologies, gods would descend from the heavens to impart divine guidance upon humanity. These deities were often portrayed by the ancients as flying or winged sun discs. As such, they are characterized as “solar deities” by modern archaeology.

The foo fighters of WW II and subsequent UFO/flying saucers of the 1950’s abruptly modernized these ancient flying disc mythologies. Emerging rocket science of the Nazi regime brought with it a global faith in the power of technology. Technology quickly replaced magic… scientists and engineers replaced the high priests… extra-terrestrials replaced angels and demons. The winged sun discs of old became metal-hulled flying apparatus or “space ships.”

From the ashes of WW II Nazi Germany emerged modern rocketry and the resulting aerospace industry. These technologies only hinted at before WW II, became a global certainty after the war. Post WW II earth saw an amazing rise in the technologies of modern industry. With these technologies came the unquestioned confidence in earth’s newest mythic religion… Science.

As we shall see, the parallel re-emergence of psychedelic culture during this time, along with renewed interest in the paranormal, suggest that these synchronistic events arose in tandem, or “as if in response” to the rising power of technology. That the realm of the psychedelic would re-emerge in the modern world via the scientific discovery of the chemical compound, LSD-25, only strengthens the mythology that psychedelia re-arose when it did, as a counter-balance to technology. It is as if the ascension of the psychedelic experience arose as a cure or inoculation… to the viral growth of technology…

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Rise of Pop Culture - part one

The following is an excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book, titled… “The Tek-Gnostics Heresies – Tales of Wonder from the Collective Conscious” Having covered some exceedingly interesting ground since this weblog’s inception, the “Heresies” represent a retrospective synthesis of the esoteric investigations pursued on this blog, as well as a synopsis of philosophic principles explored at the Tek-Gnostics website. The book format allows these ideas to be more fully contemplated and expanded upon. 

The Heresies compilation is not intended to be an exhaustive treatise on the subject, but rather an introduction to an evolving system of perception that merges technology (tek) with intuitively derived knowledge (gnosis). This blending of technology and intuition represents the foundational cornerstone of what I have come to call: Tek-Gnostics. It aspires to be a field guide to the practical application of Artifact and Epiphany, in one’s daily life.

In the excerpt below, we pick up the tale in chapter three, entitled “The Rise of Pop Culture” wherein the Heresies examine formative historical events, circa 1967. Viewed through the lens of popular or “pop” media, the sixties are best remembered for the explosion of cultural expression, psychedelic experimentation and consciousness expansion known as the “Summer of Love.” In turn, the events that played out in the summer of 1967 were a culminating flash point that was ignited by pressures which began to build at the close of World War II. The Summer of Love signaled the end of the old paradigm and suggested the beginning of the so-called “new age.”

“People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around… the music and the ideas.”

- Bob Dylan

During those early post-war years, something new was germinating… unnoticed, almost lost in the outward expressions of the era. National optimism was at a peak during the 1950’s. Even with the technological muscle of post-WWII America, there still lingered a collective innocence reminiscent of the last century. However, something strange was brewing in the psyche of the Western World… a fundamental shift… as yet undefined.

In the early 60’s, communications theorist  Marshall McLuhan prophesized that the visual, individualistic print culture would soon be brought to an end via an "electronic interdependence" …where electronic media would replace the now-antiquated print culture. In this new age, humankind would move from individualism and fragmentation to a collective identity, with a "tribal base." McLuhan labeled this new social organization: The global village.

Key to McLuhan's theory was the idea that technology has no moral disposition. It is an artifact that deeply shapes an individual and his/her society's self-conception and self-awareness. As if in anticipation of the World Wide Web, McLuhan coined and popularized the usage of the term "surfing" to refer to rapid, irregular and multidirectional movement through a voluminous body of documents or knowledge.

In 1964, McLuhan published: “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.” In that work, McLuhan coined the phrase: “The medium is the message” …illustrating that a specific medium (print, radio, television, social, etc.) becomes an inseparable and influential part of the message being communicated. This symbiosis of media and message influences how the message is perceived. McLuhan’s work implied that modern media itself was fast becoming more important than the content it carried. McLuhan brilliantly foresaw that a specific medium affects society, not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also, and most importantly, by the attributes of the medium itself.

In 1967, the very year of the Summer of Love, McLuhan published his “opus magnum,” what would become his definitive work: “The Medium is the Massage.” Given that McLuhan was known to enjoy a good play on words (originally titled The Medium is the Message, McLuhan preferred the new title, which is rumored to have been a printing error), he adopted the term "massage" to denote the effect each medium has on the human sensorium (the sum of an individual’s perceptions), taking inventory of the "effects" of numerous media in terms of how they "massage" the sensorium. To wit:

“Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library, the world has become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as (in) an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us… Big Brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence. 

Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything… all the time. In our long striving to recover (for the Western world), a unity of sensibility and of thought and feeling we have no more been prepared to accept the tribal consequences of such unity than we were ready for the fragmentation of the human psyche by print culture.”

- Marshall McLuhan

As the sixties drew on, pop media began to evolve, mirroring McLuhan’s ideas. Artists, such as Peter Max and Andy Warhol began producing psychedelic-neon-infused works of art that foreshadowed the luminous artwork of the coming information age. The US East Coast music scene smoldered with avant-garde experimentalism as exemplified by Warhol’s favored: Velvet Underground, whose work would inspire the punk scene of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Meanwhile, musical groups on the West Coast, such as the Byrds, the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead (aka: The Warlocks), were busy creating an accompanying psychedelic soundtrack for the culminating Summer of Love.

Perhaps one of the most profound musical vehicles of the emerging psychedelic media of the Summer of Love was epitomized and imported to American shores by that  neo-diasporic phenomenon known as the “British Invasion”. The important cultural artifact in question was released in June of 1967, in the form of a record album titled “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” …by those master magicians… the Beatles. One of, if not “the” first concept album… Sgt. Pepper incorporated visually rich montage album art and auditory memes of the era, to produce the definitive multi-media musical offering of the decade.

Track three on the album, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” …was broadly considered a thinly-veiled reference to the chemical catalyst… the apex… the crown chakra of experience that fueled the summer of love… LSD-25. Championed by that rascally trickster, John Lennon, the Beatles foreshadowed and encapsulated the psychedelic revolution that was to come…

“Picture yourself in a boat on a river… 
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly… 
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.”

-from “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by Lennon & McCartney

In order to fully appreciate the truly earth changing and epoch ending importance of the events of the Summer of Love, we must examine in greater detail, those events in history that lead up to this pivotal decade. As we shall see, the psychedelic sixties did not suddenly emerge out of thin air, after WWII. In fact, the emergence of the sixties’ psychedelic culture is but one contemporary example of what anthropologists call an: entheogenic sub-culture, the lineage of which has a long, archaic history.

to be continued...

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Fisher King

The realm of cyberspace dark and vast... Not all of its secrets are given up easily. Having explored its far reaches, the traveler emerges from the darkness of the virtual wood, into a campfire-lit clearing. Illuminated by the pixilated firelight, the storyteller sits…
“Shall I tell you one of the ancient tales?” the rascally old sage cackles. Slowly he begins...

Picture the archetypal king as a boy, having to spend the night alone in the forest to prove his courage so he can become king.

Now while he is spending the night alone he's visited by a sacred vision. Out of the fire appears the holy grail, symbol of God's divine grace. And a voice said to the boy,

"You shall be keeper of the grail so that it may heal the hearts of men."

But the boy was blinded by greater visions of a life filled with power and glory and beauty.

And in this state of radical amazement he felt for a brief moment not like a boy, but invincible, like God,
... so he reached into the fire to take the grail,
... and the grail vanished,
... leaving him with his hand in the fire to be terribly wounded.

Now as this boy grew older, his wound grew deeper.

Until one day, life for him lost its reason. ... He had no faith in any man, not even himself.
... He couldn't love or feel loved.
... He was sick with experience.
He began to die.

One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn't see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. And he asked the king,

"What ails you friend?"

The king replied, "I'm thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat".

So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king.

As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the holy grail, that which he sought all of his life. And he turned to the fool and said with amazement,

"How can you find that which my brightest and bravest could not?"

And the fool replied,

"I don't know. I only knew that you were thirsty."

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pop Warfare

“Only when there are many people who are pools of peace, silence,
understanding, will war disappear.” 


To begin with the obvious, there is nothing “pop” or trivial about the horrors of war. The State of War is visited upon humanity all too often, pathologically infecting and impacting large swaths of Earth’s human population. The word Pathology is from the Ancient Greek root of pathos (πάθος), meaning "suffering" …and logia (-λογία), "an account of" …is a foundational identifier in the study of causation of disease… an account of suffering. The condition of War is like a disease, or more closely akin to the fable of the little rodents known as Lemmings, who periodically commit mass suicide… so the story goes.

What is horrific about our modern “War on Terror” as pursued by the likes of US “Homeland Security” and others, is that it falls outside the confines of conventional war. The War on Terror does not have any clearly defined beginning or end. It does not have a designated battlefield, or even a clearly defined enemy. It is a war without boundaries, targeting multiple… real or imaginary… perceived enemies. Consequently, the parameters that encompass the conception of modern warfare have virally expanded.

This state of affairs is especially complicated and confusing when addressing the conflict surrounding the entity known variously as ISIL, the Islamic State… and most nefariously as Daesh (Dawlat al-Islamiyah f'al-Iraq wa al-Sham). Daesh has further expanded the parameters of warfare to include media warfare. Beyond propaganda, Daesh promotes an international “Brand” via a robust social media presence that preys upon the disenfranchised world-wide… so the story goes.

Daesh stands out as a particularly successful example of militant ideologues that has psychically weaponized what once was a factional, if not ethnic… regional Islamic struggle, through the virtual vehicle of social media, and created a platform that can be accessed by millions, daily. Ironically, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, use the “Follow” function as their primary networking means... thereby reinforcing the recruiting connotation.

In their slick branding, Daesh assumes the persona of David, doing battle against the Goliath that is the Western Empirical Powers. This underdog facade draws many at a time when peoples the world over have understandably lost faith and trust in the presiding dominator cultures. Their message is easily consumed and digested in the alienating, divisory world of social media, where One's actions are not immediately held accountable.

 There are those who are savvy to the new paradigm of social media warfare. It is worth noting that the loosely associated international network of activist and hacktivist entities, collectively known as “Anonymous,” has recently declared war, in response to the Paris attacks.

This emerging social media culture… still in its infancy, remains malleable, especially by those who would twist it to meet their ideological needs. Our emerging culture is driven by popularity... "likes" ..."follows" etc. This popular or "Pop" culture turns on a dime... Morphs... mutates almost instantaneously. In the hands of heartless powers, social media becomes "Pop Warfare" …infecting the vulnerable with the desired ideology. The lines have blurred… the enemies R us… Welcome to the World Entertainment War… welcome to Pop Warfare.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace.” 

- Jimi Hendrix