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‘Seven Up’: The mind-expanding Krautrock album Timothy Leary made on the run from the law
08:49 am



The tale of acid sage Dr. Timothy Leary’s prison escape and subsequent exile is among the most amusing stories in the annals of drug culture lore—though sentenced to an absurd twenty years for utterly petty offenses including possession of a couple of roaches, Leary was able to game the prison system: as a reputable Harvard psychologist, it happened that he himself had designed the psychological examinations he was given by prison administrators to determine his security and work situations. He got himself assigned to a cushy gardening job in a minimum security facility, from which he handily escaped, issuing an outlandish revolutionary screed to taunt authorities shortly after he fled. Via a series of sneaks involving the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, an arms dealer, and a socialite whom he eventually married (how has this not been a TV mini-series yet? Get on this, Netflix…) Leary ended up in Switzerland, where he met with the German Kosmiche band Ash Ra Tempel, with whom he recorded the album Seven Up.

Formed by musicians from Eruption and Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel mostly shunned structured songs in favor of lengthy and often downright fierce improvisations. Their albums typically featured two side-length compositions, a feral freakout on side one, and a more ambient, electronics-driven suite on the flip, presumably to help sand the edges off from side one. From Peter Buckley’s Rough Guide Rock:

Manuel Göttsching (guitar) and Hartmut Enke (bass) had played together in various psychedelic blues and pop combos for a few years before they formed Ash Ra Tempel in August 1970 with drummer/keyboardist Klaus Schultz, who had just left Tangerine Dream. The most cosmic of the Krautrock bands, Ash Ra Tempel became legendary for their wild improvisational free-form live jams, influenced by Pink Floyd but eschewing songs to take the concept of space-rock much further, enhanced by both Schultz’s and Gottsching’s interest in experimental electronic music.

Schultz soon left for a solo career but several other musicians passed through the group’s revolving door, and with some of them Göttsching and Enke recorded the amazing Schwingungen (1972). With the idea of recording the ultimate psychedelic trip, Ohr label-head Rolf Kaiser next took Ash Ra Tempel to Switzerland to party endlessly and to record the album Seven Up with LSD guru Timothy Leary, who was living there in exile. The results were a more song-orientated first section, with Leary singing, followed by several conventional rock songs melded into a single track divided by spacey electronic segues.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Paul Laffoley: Penetrating the Kitsch Barrier
03:27 pm



For those of you lucky to be in NYC this month, there’s an especially exciting new Paul Laffoley exhibit opening at Kent Fine Art (210 Eleventh Ave between 24th and 25th) in Chelsea.

“The Force Structure of the Mystical Experience” will provide a rare glimpse at some of Laffoley’s seldom-seen models and sculptures, as well as some early work from the 1960s and a few key paintings not exhibited in recent years. The artist will be present at the gallery on September 10, 11, and 12th.

An online publication for the show was edited by Douglas Walla with detailed notes from Paul Laffoley on each piece. I wrote the intro, which follows. If you would like to look at the entire full-color 132 page PDF catalog, it can be downloaded here.

Penetrating the Kitsch Barrier

How does one approach the work of Paul Laffoley?  It’s not really like anything else and doesn’t fit neatly into any easy category that the art world routinely employs.  How do you even begin to wrap your head around the vastness of his cosmic vision?

He’s not merely a painter whose work sells for six figures and has been exhibited internationally at some of the world’s best and most forward-­thinking museums, or the subject of several books, TV segments, newspaper and magazine articles. He’s also a Harvard-­trained architect who has dreamt up living buildings grown from seeds and a bridge connecting the Moon and the Earth. A philosopher. An alchemist. A science fiction-style inventor of a time machine. He speaks Latin, Greek, French, German and several other languages. Laffoley majored in the classics as an undergrad at Brown and is an expert on the most cutting­ edge and far­ out worlds of scientific discovery. I think he’s one of the great living geniuses of our time and I know that I’m not alone in that assessment.

Paul once detailed an erudite impromptu dinnertime dissertation on modern engineering by informing me that each and every futuristic invention anticipated by Jules Verne had been realized (submarines, rocket ships, space travel, etc) and that science fiction really stopped being “prophetic” around the mid 20th­century, with anything a science fiction writer could dream up eventually getting “invented” and put into mass production by a large corporation. (“How closely did the communicators on Star Trek anticipate the flip phone?” he asked.) Scoff if you will at his schematic for a gigantic genetically engineered ectoplasmic jellyfish that allows for communication with not only the dead, but the yet­-to-be­-born (for the purpose of intergenerational planning which would avert catastrophes), Leonardo’s cronies probably laughed at that crazy thing he sketched out back in the day that resembles our modern-­day helicopters. It’s all relative.

Once I described Paul in print as a Bodhisattva reincarnated in the form of a mild-mannered sci­ fi-­loving Boston architect, but years later (although I still see some value in my earlier call) I’d rather ask the reader to imagine what Buckminster Fuller would have done if he were a fine artist in addition to all that other cool stuff he got up to.

THE PSYCHOKENETIC WATER BALANCE: A DEVICE FOR TESTING PSYCHOKENESIS, 1980. Homage to: Isamu Noguchi [1904-1988] and Robert Hare [1781 – 1858]. Oil, acrylic, wood, wire mesh, string, shells and water. Fully hand carved, unique, 18 ½ x 35 x 17 1/2 in. 47 x 89 x 44.5 cm.
This is my favorite Paul Laffoley story and I think it’s particularly revealing about the way his beautiful mind works:

It was late February of 2000. I arrived home at my West Village apartment one evening to find a package waiting for me from Paul containing a most peculiar object, by name, “The Anti­kitschkitron” a “device for penetrating the kitsch barrier.” It was a small box, hand­made, black-­painted wood save for the top, which was a clear plastic sheet with a plastic bubble that read “TIME DILATION” in the Helvetica press type Laffoley is known for using. Inside were all sorts of light­-emitting diodes, circuitry, electronic capacitors and exposed wiring—­­in other words, the machine’s guts were plainly visible­­ and a coil of copper wire coming out the top with a circular sun-­like ornament affixed to it like exposed bicycle tire spokes. It seemed like something that might transmit a “beam” of an electronic or cosmic nature.

The device, which resembled some sort of curious text­-covered mutant dowsing machine, or a Star Trek version of one of Joseph Cornell’s boxes crossed with a metal detector. On the top was a big red clunky on/off switch.

Thrilled by this incredible gift, I immediately picked up the phone and dialed Paul in Boston. The ritual when calling him is that he screens all of his calls. The voice on the outgoing message is not Paul’s, and the caller is informed that he or she have reached the Boston Visionary Cell and to please leave a message after the beep—a drill developed when avoiding credit card collection agencies as he once humorously admitted to me. I started to leave a message, Paul picked up right away and I started gushing my gratitude about the amazingly weird—and absolutely beautiful—object/device that I was holding in my hand. What a thrillingly strange thing to get in the mail, I’m sure you’ll agree, but at this point I noticed that there was no obvious power source.

“Where do you put the battery?” I innocently inquired.

“Oh, there’s no battery,” he said with his strong, slightly stuttering Bostonian accent. “You know my concept of the… a… the uh.. luxe theater of the mind? Well it’s like that. You have to interact with the device and connect the circuitry to your mind, um, uh, in that way.”

I paused for a moment before mentally recalibrating and moving myself as much as possible into Paul’s philosophical framework before (I thought) redeeming myself with “Okay, so it’s like like Yoko Ono’s “Box of Smile” where you open it up, you see that there is a mirror inside and invariably everyone who interacts with the piece smiles, right?”

“Well, yes…” he said slowly, indicating a “yes” that was about to be uniquely qualified, “...but with my device, you have to actually turn it on.”

The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell, an oversized, comprehensive, annotated catalogue raisonné edited by Laffoley’s longtime friend and gallerist Douglas Walla, with several essays by the artist and others, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in Spring 2016. I have a B&W print-out of the book and it’s one of the most exciting and stunning art books I’ve ever seen. Mark my words, it’ll be a cultural event when this book comes out. It’s TIME for it.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Juror wears Metallica ‘electric chair’ shirt to Aurora theater murder trial
01:25 pm

Stupid or Evil?


There’s a metalhead in the jury box of the Aurora mass shooting trial and the news is on it!

Colorado’s News 9 reports that an alternate juror in the mass murder trial against James Holmes wore a Metallica Ride The Lightning t-shirt which may have been in violation of a court order banning display of clothing which may influence the jury.

Neither the judge nor lawyers appeared to notice the shirt worn by juror 983, which features bolts of lightning hitting an empty electric chair on the front and the skeletal remains of a prisoner being electrocuted on the back side.

Judge Carlos Samour has “strictly prohibited” from his courtroom the “display of insignias, symbols, pictures, clothing, or any other items that may influence the jury” in an order that appears on a laminated placard in front of every spectator seat in court.

Since the matter was never brought up on the record Thursday, we don’t know whether the judge would have found the attire in violation of his order.

On Thursday, the 12 deliberating jurors delivered a verdict on aggravating factors, the first of three possible phases in the death penalty sentencing hearing.

Juror 983, who has sported heavy-metal themed tees in court before, is not on the panel of 12, but could be called on to deliberate if a juror should be excused for any reason.

The Metallica track “Ride The Lightning” is written from the point of view of a prisoner awaiting death by electrocution. According to James Hetfield, the song “was not a criticism of capital punishment, which I’m actually a supporter of. Rather, it’s simply about a man who faces death in the electric chair for a crime he didn’t commit.”

We’re guessing Juror 983 didn’t put that much thought into it.

We’d like to see “justice for all” in this case.

Via: News 9

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Real total war has become information war’: ‘This Is Marshall McLuhan’ wild experimental NBC TV doc
04:01 pm



In the 60s and the 70s, Marshall McLuhan, the pithy and eminently quotable Canadian philosopher of media and electronic communications occupied a rarefied niche (along with R. Buckminster Fuller) that really doesn’t seem to exist much in American culture anymore, that of the “public intellectual.” More to the point, McLuhan, who never met a TV camera he didn’t take an immediate liking to, was an intellectual celebrity.

Marshall McLuhan was once such a ubiquitous part of the media landscape that you could turn on the TV and see him hamming it up on the Today show or read Sunday funnies where cartoon characters debated his ideas. McLuhan even appeared as himself, employed as a human punchline in Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning Annie Hall. These days only someone like Slavoj Žižek has anything even close to that same sort of “smart guy” star power, but it’s difficult to imagine NBC devoting an entire hour to his work, like they did with 1967’s This Is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium Is the Massage.

An episode of the NBC Experiment in Television series, this was in fact pretty experimental stuff. A quasi-documentary cum visual essay (based on McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore’s best-selling coffee table book, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects) it was heady and decidedly avant garde programming for middle America in 1967. Just how avant garde was it you ask? Well, it’s got Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman in it for starters. She’s not playing her cello topless here of course, but is seen wrapped in plastic. Artist Allan Kaprow, father of “the Happening” also makes an appearance. There’s a long quoted passage from John Cage and the piece is littered with Pop art trappings and evocative visuals. The producers, Ernest Pintoff and Guy Fraumeni, were obviously making a sincere effort to be forward-thinking. And it was, and is still very much a satisfying viewing experience nearly half a century later. The only thing I can think of today that would be similar in any way would be one of Adam Curtis’ films. (There’s one section where the VO discusses how all pervasive the mediasphere is on all of our lives while onscreen hands are seen kneading dough as a stand-in for our collective brains. It practically screams Adam Curtis.)

McLuhan reveals that many of the subjects he investigates are things that he in fact finds irritating and exasperating, causing him to wish to mentally “take apart” things like television and radio. It’s might seem counterintuitive to view him as a Luddite, yet here he all but describes himself that way (which makes him even more fascinating, if you ask me.)

Topics include the “causes” of go-go dancing and “the discothèque,” the passing of one style of humor in favor of one favored by younger people (Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart and Bill “My name — José Jiménez” Dana are shown as examples of the new!), how politics had become show business, why teens often seek out corporate involvement for their fashion trends, the influence of the Beatles, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman and Pablo Picasso, how images of abundance (things as commonplace to us as refrigerators) seen worldwide via our television programs would have inevitable and far-reaching consequences in poorer nations who would perceive themselves as deprived of something which they would then aspire to.

The Velvet Underground and Nico make an appearance in McLuhan and Fiore’s book in this two page spread.

We hear McLuhan’s blunt musings on the Vietnam War, the first televised war, which the nation was then in the middle of. Also touched upon is how the media revolution would eliminate entire classes of jobs. That would have seemed an eerie thought at the time, a sci-fi prediction if you will, but flash forward to today and we’re living in that future.

As Tom Wolfe once asked “What…if…he…is…right?” In retrospect, McLuhan was right about practically everything! From the perch of nearly fifty years ago, he was extraordinarily prescient. His track record as a futurist is much better than… well, anyone’s, when you get right down to it.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Dr. Timothy Leary, MTV VJ
08:55 am



In 1987, Dr. Timothy Leary paid a visit to MTV to be a guest VJ. He had a few more IQ points than some of their regular contributors. It’s a treat to hear him set up the video for Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”:

Now this is a real heavy one—I don’t know what this means. It has something to do with the third world and the exploitation by the first world and our hopes that the third world will get behind the camera and start becoming part of the cybernetic age. I don’t know. Watch it and make up your own mind. It’s a good tune.

Leary also talks about playing percussion on “Give Peace A Chance,” shows off some early CGI in the video for “Hard Woman” from Mick Jagger’s unloved She’s the Boss, and shares his thoughts on Nancy Reagan’s drug policy. It ends with a spectacular Ike and Tina Turner rendition of “Proud Mary” that’s worth sticking around for.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘The heaviest dude I ever met’: Another side of the Father Yod and The Source Family saga
11:35 am



yod and followers
I’ve never been much of a joiner. Working in groups, team sports, board games even, have never really been the most appealing things to me. I’m fiercely independent and intentionally contrarian at times even to my own detriment, making me probably the least suitable candidate for communal living in the world (let alone religious cult membership). This does not mean I don’t find the whole phenomenon fascinating on some level, especially when we’re talking about the high level psychedelics of The Source Family.

As many of you are very well aware, The Source Family, the great 2012 documentary directed by Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille, compellingly lays out the story of that otherworldly “Aquarian tribe” of white-robed mystics searching for “God Consciousness” on the fringes of 70’s L.A. counterculture. Famously, the group made some of the strangest, most sought-after and sometimes straight-up creepy psychedelic recordings the world has ever heard while running the organically charged Source Restaurant in L.A. in order to finance the entire metaphysical enterprise under the spiritual tutelage of one Jim Baker (aka Father Yod, aka Ya Ho Wha).

But, if the 2013 doc didn’t already supply you with everything you felt like you needed to know about the Source Family, and if you’ve already read The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wha 13 and The Source Family then the two-and-a-half hour film below is sure to help you fill in a few more blanks. A student film project created in conjunction with cooperative members of The Source Family and made a decade before the 2012 film, this one is called Revisiting Father and the Source Family. A very young looking Evan Wells directed it, and lets not kid ourselves here, it could use some editing. But give the guy a break! He was still in schooll after all, and the film is still very much worth watching if this kind of thing is your bag. Many of the same folks from the 2012 The Source Family documentary speak their minds here but there are also several interviews with family members who don’t show up in the later movie. What the film lacks in slick production, it makes up for in raw, in-depth interview footage of people telling honest, wild tales from the inner circle as it were.

More insane stories about 6’ 6” family spiritual leader, Jim Baker, whom one former family member calls “The heaviest dude I ever met,” pervade the film. We get some additional information about Baker’s supposed military conquests including one completely over-the-top incident in which Father Yod claimed to have shot down a whole a bevvy of attacking Japanese fighter pilots from the deck of a sinking navy ship in his “former life.” The general attitude towards the guy is “Man, you couldn’t make this shit up if you tried.”

The sounds of the family band, sometimes called Ya Ho Wa 13 are prominent in the film and the utopian hopes for spreading the wild garage band’s message around the world are discussed in depth. Baker’s business acumen and even flaunting of monetary gain as an avenue to spiritual freedom is also explored once again and additional stories appear from the Source Restaurant which was one of the first organic dining establishments in the country and which supposedly made more money per square foot than any restaurant in the United States during a certain period in the ‘70s.

Revisiting Father and the Source Family also takes a look at what some people saw as the “spiritual snobbery” of the fringe group (everybody had to be beautiful) and the inherent lifestyle conflicts contained within it (Baker eventually took on thirteen wives). This film goes into far more detail about what some would call the inevitable fracturing of the group than the 2013 film, and there’s definitely an acknowledgement by some of the interviewees that a lot of people are embarrassed to admit that they were ever a part of the whole thing.

One striking thing about both films though is that some of the former members of the Source Family seem to have never really left. Many of those interviewed continue to refer to Baker as “Father” without a hint of irony. Some people will of course say that they were simply brainwashed robots looking for a father figure they never had, making them ripe for the drug-fueled ravings of an out-of-control megalomaniac. That could very well have been the case for some. But others clearly believe that they actually discovered something in the Source Family that was so goddamned enlightening that the average human being will never fully get it, a sentiment that’s expressed again and again throughout both dialogues. I have no idea, but they speak with a matter-of-fact ease about a chosen lifestyle that would absolutely push the limits of what most people’s accepted social mores could bare, and that makes these first-person testimonies fascinating to watch one way or the other. 

Drag City have recently released two Source Family albums—Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa and Kohutek—on vinyl for the first time since the 1970s.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
‘Bight of the Twin’: Update on Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s Amazing African Adventures!
09:44 am



As many of you know, all around icon Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has been spending much time working and filming with Hazel Hill McCarthy III on a truly eye opening project. How better to understand than in this message from Genesis in her own words:

“We just got back from touring followed by two weeks of filming in Benin, West Africa with Hazel Hill McCarthy III and crew. The film “BIGHT OF THE TWIN” should debunk a lot of misguided trashy Hollywood “Zombie” entertainment that has deeply generated an essentially destructive and wholly inaccurate idea/meme attached now, so strongly in many peoples minds.

We are so jet lagged yet also so inspired by Ouidah, in Benin. Statistics show something phenomenal.

As we understand it, the average number of sets of twins per thousand, worldwide comes out at four sets of twins per one thousand B-Earths. In Benin the average number of twin B-Earths per one thousand is around twenty five to forty! Nobody has yet found a genetic nor dietary explanation. So as our search for the “Mother story”, the oldest witness to intelligence and belief developing in humanEs led us there. We were already referring to “twins” in the context of PANDROGENY. Two beings make a third being that is the two individuals immersed and merged into each other. Hazel discovered that Sept-October in Ouidah is a very rare Festival of Twins, both those who die at B-Earth or soon after, and those still living who maintain by ritual, the memories of their twin (triplet,etc) into daily life. Voodu has been practiced continuously there for ten, twenty, even more thousands of y-eras ago. Their Creation myths include a Supreme Being MauLissa. Half male-half female.The male Mau is represented by a python (a serpent) the female Lissa is represented by a chameleon.

For ongoing information PLEASE go to the site We are now in possession (no pun intended) of approximately ninety hours of incredible footage, much never witnessed or filmed before. Plus interviews with Priestesses, “DAH"s (high priests) and many many more key people. We need to raise money to edit a distribution master, and cover all those edit suite hours etc. SO PLEASE go to where we are trying to raise the needed funds asap. We used Kickstarter to raise funds to return to Benin for the twins festival and it worked. We reached our goal, thanks to all of you! Quite literally, your contributions, no matter how large or small ALL force the hand of chance so that this film can be completed and happen as a media-entity, allowing this amazing story to be told, perhaps, by learning of our early days of consciousness, of the essential origin of this bizarre, yet beautiful species, yet also a mundane and brutal species. Perhaps in the Mother story is a truth, a revelation that WILL allow us to adjust our behaviors, so we all save ourselves. Conscious evolution can only happen en masse. Small pockets of alternative are a seed, a source, a “virus” as Burroughs used to say. We will see, or future generations will curse us for our lethargy and indifference to the writing on the wall. “PLEASE DON’T PISS HERE.”   

Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE NYC, September 2014.”


Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Cognitive Dissonance: Paul Krassner’s ‘Fuck Communism’ banner, 1963
01:54 pm



Fuck Communism
Paul Krassner started his trailblazing periodical of radical countercultural satire, The Realist, in 1959 as a reaction to what he saw as a lack of humorous political commentary targeting the sometimes ridiculous, often ominous issues of the day.  His intention was to create sort of an adult MAD magazine, a publication to which he was frequent contributor.  The Realist became one of the most celebrated underground publications of all time and, with the exception of a hiatus between 1974 and 1985, remained in print until 2001.

Krassner himself was not only the driving force behind the The Realist but was also a child violin prodigy, a founding member of the YIPPIES, a stand-up comedian and an all-around pretty damned funny guy. If you’re not familiar with Krassner’s sense of humor, you could find worst places to start than The Realist’s “FUCK COMMUNISM” poster published in 1963.

The poster in question designed by long-time MAD magazine art director and Realist contributor John Francis Putnam was meant to be not only hilarious, but also a linguistic conundrum to the knee-jerk set.  You know “Better dead than red and all, but the F-word is just so filthy.” 

Here’s Kurt Vonnegut addressing the poster in his forward to Krassner’s 1996 collection entitled The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race: The Satirical Writings of Paul Krassner:

Paul Krassner …  in 1963 created a miracle of compressed intelligence nearly as admirable for potent simplicity, in my opinion, as Einstein’s e=mc2.  With the Vietnam War going on, and with its critics discounted and scorned by the government and the mass media, Krassner put on sale a red, white and blue poster that said FUCK COMMUNISM.

At the beginning of the 1960s, FUCK was believed to be so full of bad magic as to be unprintable. COMMUNISM was to millions the name of the most loathsome evil imaginable.  To call an American a communist was like calling somebody a Jew in Nazi Germany.  By having FUCK and COMMUNISM fight it out in a single sentence, Krassner wasn’t merely being funny as heck.  He was demonstrating how preposterous it was for so many people to be responding to both words with such cockamamie Pavlovian fear and alarm.

Realist Krassner Interview
A FUCK COMMUNISM bumper sticker was also released. Krassner said if anyone had a problem with it, the critic should be told to “Go back to Russia, you Commie lover.”

You can find the entire Realist Archive Project, a veritable treasure trove/rabbit hole of underground press glory, here. The site indicates that “The Mothers of the American Revolution,” listed as a contact at the bottom right of the poster, was a fictitious organization deployed by writers at The Realist when they needed to get in touch with individuals that wouldn’t otherwise respond to somebody affiliated with the controversial rag. 

Now in his 80’s, Krassner is currently working on his first novel about a performer modeled after Lenny Bruce. His new book is Patty Hearst & The Twinkie Murders: A Tale of Two Trials.

In the clip below, we find Krassner in an interview with pioneering conservative TV talk show host, Joe Pyne—Bill O’Reilly’s “papa bear” as it were—in 1967. Pyne berates Krassner about his persistent use of the “filthiest four-letter word in the English language,” Krassner’s deep respect for Lenny Bruce, and a front-page headline in The Realist that asks what kind of deodorant Lyndon Johnson wears.  Pyne is beside himself with disgust. Despite the annoying text overlay on the video, it gives a great sense of the kind of visceral hatred that Krassner could inspire amongst those who just couldn’t get down with his unrelenting irreverence.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
David Byrne, Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg on Arthur Russell
01:05 pm



It’s cellist/composer Arthur Russell’s great triumph that his influence became so massively widespread, and his great tragedy that he never knew it. His AIDS-related death in 1992 happened before the world caught up with him, but his vision impacted genres as widespread as acid house, jazz, minimalism, ambient, folk, hip-hop, dub… this could go on, as a concise summation of Russell’s improbable career is just flat out impossible. DM’s Niall O’Conghaile did an insightful post on Russell about a year and a half ago, and frankly, I can’t touch it. If you want to know more, I strongly recommend you have a look at it. Now is fine, I’ll wait.

There’s a lot of GREAT personal and musical background on Russell here in this rarely seen video. It features his friends and collaborators David Byrne, Philip Glass, and Allen Ginsberg, and it was recorded in 1994 as a video press kit for the posthumous Another Thought, a collection of unreleased late-career recordings. Bonus: David Byrne’s heroic pony tail.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Outsider: Colin Wilson’s Glass Cage
05:01 pm



Colin Wilson, who died last December, produced a phenomenal number books during his lifetime. He wrote on such diverse subjects as criminality, the occult, philosophy, religion, the supernatural, biography and psychology. He also produced an impressive array of fiction ranging from the “Metaphysical Murder Mystery” to works of science fiction. In total over 150 books over almost sixty years of writing.

Yet, throughout all of this prolific output, Wilson developed his own unifying system of beliefs where (as understood by the central character in The Glass Cage):

...everything that happens is connected with everything else, so you have to try to get to the root of things to understand them, not just concentrate on minute particulars…

Colin Wilson was born in Leicester, England, in 1931. He left school at sixteen, taking up a variety of jobs, before marrying his first wife, becoming a father, separating, and then traveling around Europe. On return he developed the tentative idea for his first book The Outsider:

It struck me that I was in the position of so many of my favourite characters in fiction: Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, Rilke’s Malte Laurids Brigge, the young writer in Hamsun’s Hunger: alone in my room, feeling totally cut off from the rest of society. It was not a position I relished… Yet an inner compulsion had forced me into this position of isolation. I began writing about it in my journal, trying to pin it down. And then, quite suddenly, I saw that I had the makings of a book. I turned to the back of my journal and wrote at the head of the page: ‘Notes for a book The Outsider in Literature’...

Wilson famously slept outside on Hampstead Heath while writing this book during the day at the British Library. When The Outsider was published in 1956, it launched the 24-year-old Wilson to international fame. However, his follow-up books were less well-recieved, and Wilson began to disseminate his ideas through a series of fictional crime novels starting with Ritual in the Dark in 1960.

In this mind-trip of interview with Jeffrey Mishlove for the program Thinking Allowed, Wilson explains how he has written on the same theme throughout his career. He cites an essay by Isaiah Berlin that explained how writers can be divided into two groups—foxes and hedgehogs:

The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows just one thing. So, Shakespeare is a typical fox; Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are typical hedgehogs. I am a typical hedgehog—I know just one thing, and I repeat it over and over again. I’ve tried to approach it from different angles to make it look different but it is the same thing.

The “same thing” Wilson alludes to here is his world view of our inter-connectedness, which he expounded in his favorite novel The Glass Cage, which told the story of a William Blake-quoting serial killer to explain “the abuse of human potential.” This is part of the theme Wilson develops in this interview, where he suggests humans are 51% robot, and 49% essence, and it is only in moments of extremity that the essence takes over, allowing individuals to experience their potential.

Wilson’s books offer a greater understanding of the positive human existence. He was averse to the “negative” view of life promoted by such writers as Samuel Beckett or Jean-Paul Sartre and believed in a philosophy that would actively promote a positive engagement with life.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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