Breaking News: The Farm podcast episode (mentioned below) w/ Recluse, John Brisson and yours truly, is now live. We have embedded the episode at the bottom of this post. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog...
There has been significant press coverage, of late… published by significant sources, digging into what has been (until lately) a very obscure subject. It is with a deep sense of incredulity that I find myself posting… yet again… on the culture-jamming phenomenon known as Operation MindFuck! OM! has been a fun topic in these parts, for years. But to see this esoteric curiosity the subject of an in-depth expose in the Financial Times of London, as well as other websites (see footnotes below) in apparent reaction to the FT report… is astounding.
The discerning, regular readers of this blog are well aware of the OM! psy-op. For those of you less familiar with the subject, a very good source for the history of OM! can be found in Erik Davis’s new book: High Weirdness… in his section on Robert Anton Wilson. For the sake of this conversation… a quick recap is in order…
Operation MindFuck! allegedly began as a Discordian prank with a beatnik named Kerry Wendell Thornley, in his letters to Robert Anton Wilson. The gist of the prank was to start a rumor, in the “letters to the editor” page of Playboy magazine, that a vast conspiracy existed, and controlled much of the nefarious happenings of the 1960’s and beyond. The perpetrators of this conspiracy, were none-other than the rascally Illuminati.
Wilson promptly incorporated Operation MindFuck! (as part of the prank) in the grand, conspiracy infused, ontological masterpiece: Illuminatus!… which Wilson co-wrote with Bob Shea. It was with the publication of this trilogy that the OM! mindvirus was exposed to a wider audience. Heads and Hackers alike, were turned on to the OM! culture-jamming concept during the 70’s and 80’s.
As with all things in our Discordian Universe, OM! Is imbued with dualistic, yin/yang properties. And as all good discordians know, universal duality manifests as an eternal dance between the two primal forces of humorousness and seriousness. This is important to bear in mind, as within the cultural sphere, OM! has a Left or Right political flavor to it, depending upon how it is evoked.
The Left-leaning OM! displays characteristics of what the Discordian historian Adam Gorightly defines as: “sowing the seeds of chaos as a means of achieving a higher state of awareness.” In his book: High Weirdness, Davis suggests that… “in this light, the Discordian prank was also an instrument of expanded consciousness, a stinging stick wielded by American Zen scalawags who wanted to expose the “thermoplastic” nature of reality. The mindfuck was not just an epiphany, however. It was also an invitation. Discordian pranks gestured towards a separate reality that lay just next door, a plane of possibility whose existence depended, at least in part, on the collaborative game of staging it in the first place.”
This OM! of the Left, proceeds from the humorous aspect of manifest universe. This is the mischievous, playful side of reality that inspired such “happenings” as the Diggers, the Youth International Party, better known as Yippies, and of course Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. These cabals of craziness arose in the era of Thornley and Wilson’s prank, and helped shape the Left’s “culture jammer” operations, that are in play today.
The Right-leaning OM! displays more somber characteristics, of what Davis portrays as: “A dark side to the mindfuck… something few would deny in the era of 4chan, gaslighting and alt.right meme magic. In a sense, the word simply intensifies the troubling ambiguities already carried by the term fuck, which can signify selfish pleasure, transgression, anger, degradation, and manipulation. These excesses feed into what the philosopher Colin McGinn argues is the dominant contemporary sense of mindfuck: the manipulative use of dishonest means to mess with people's psyches in an aggressive, even violent fashion.”
This OM! of the Right, proceeds from the serious aspect of manifest universe. This is the harsh side of reality, an approach taken by the CIA and the FBI’s COINTELPRO black-op, back in the day… where agents infiltrated student-led groups in the sixties, to spy and spread disinformation. This is the form of OM! that has soberly evolved and has so successfully driven the Alt-Right movement of today.
So this is the dichotomy of Operation MindFuck! It can be playful… or damn serious. Both the Left and Right aspects of OM! continue to mutate in interesting ways, in our socially mediated, Tic Toc world. Pranksters of today continue to have fun with it, while those with Alt-Right ideologies continue to stew. Which brings us back to the Discordian world view of the humorous vs the serious. In the oft-quoted words of the great American prankster, Wavy Gravy: "Keep your sense of humor, my friend… if you don't have a sense of humor... it just isn't funny anymore."
In coming full circle, Operation MindFuck! is back in the news. I had reported on the strange synchronicities of the FT report in the post: Is QAnon a LARP gone wrong? That post provides more background on the strange happenings of OM! In regard to my and Recluse’s collaboration on the topic. I joined Recluse and John Brisson, from “We’ve Read the Documents” fame, for a roundtable discussion on the aftermath of the FT report. Between the three of us, there is much more perspective on what John has called the “Right side of the Pyramid” as well as more history of Operation MindFuck!
Appropriately, Recluse is going to drop this interview on November, the 23rd… in honor of Robert Anton Wilson and the 23 enigma. Our interview will be published on Recluse’s podcast: The Farm. So mark your calendars, friends and neighbors, for November 23... and stay tuned, dear intrepid observers of the fringe… stay tuned!