Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Down the Psychedelic Rabbit Hole
Jan Irvin. Joe Atwill. Manufacturing the Deadhead. David McGowan. The dark origins of hippiedom. Your thoughts are not your own. Neil Sanders. Plus the fulsome coverage afforded these people and their theses by Red Ice Radio. To all of these I give hearty thanks. As a result of your work, with its half-truths, dodgy conclusions, and occasional total misconstruings, I have been forced to wake up - to the fact that 'alternative research' needs to be viewed with the same critical eye required when dealing with the mainstream......
About five years ago I discovered - or, rather, rediscovered - the alternative community. I say 'rediscovered' because I was an active member of the alternative scene during the early and mid 1970s, before deciding that my future lay with Buddhism, and taking that as my life's context. It was with joy and a palpable sense of relief that, back in 2009, I made contact with the modern digital age equivalent of the counter culture. I began listening to podcasts such as Shamanic Freedom Radio. I attended ARC conventions, and within a year Pale Green Vortex was up and running - well, toddling.
Consciousness has always been my main bag, but I soon found out that, along with matters of the mind, the contemporary alternative scene embraced a good deal of research on subjects such as geo- and para-politics, history and prehistory, the powers behind the scenes, and so on. My own studies relating to climate change and energy sources - especially wind farms - were already leading me to the realisation that what the truth is and what we are told by the BBC and other mainstream media outlets are not necessarily the same thing. This personal suspicion was confirmed and fleshed out by the many reports appearing on a regular basis within the alternative world. I began to see that we are presented with, not so much 'the truth', as a certain version of reality, a kind of theatrical narrative, with its own dark intentions. Often not so much a matter of open-ended information as a means of thought-and-attitude control. Such a realisation has something of a seismic impact - everything that I had learnt until now demanded fresh scrutiny, with the possibility that it was all a lie. Not everybody emerges from this stage of 'dark unveilings' psychologically unscathed. I am, it seems, one of the lucky ones. And I am extremely grateful for the work of those researchers who continue to reveal the nefarious side to what we are presented with as reality.
Enter Jan Irvin and his band of merry - or not-so merry - men (and they do all seem to be men). Jan is at the forefront of a bunch of researchers who have recently been promoting the theory that the 'psychedelic revolution' (whatever that is), the hippie dream (whatever that may turn out to be) were the creations of the CIA, military and other intelligences, as a big mind control operation on western youth culture. It seems at first hearing outrageous; but then reality often appears outrageous when first encountered.
I suppose that I take the notion a bit personally. I was not directly engaged in very much 1960s stuff, being a bit young for that. Neither would I have ever called myself a hippie (nobody with any counter-cultural self-respect ever called themselves a hippie). Yet the aspirations of my own commune years had their roots in the matrix of late 1960s 'youth culture'. So was I an unwitting victim of mind control games by invisible overlords? Actually, not at all.......
Of the various researchers in on this theme, it is Jan Irvin whose work I am most familiar with. A quick google search will lead you to his piece, co-written with Joe Atwill, 'Manufacturing the Deadhead'. Take a look. A careful read, along with a listen to his interviews on Red Ice, throws up a whole number of, as I said in the first paragraph, half-truths, dodgy conclusions, plus the occasional total misconstruing (deliberate or not, I do not know). To give just one or two examples. He calls upon the fact that a number of leading lights of the so-called psychedelic revolution (we could devote an entire article to this notion in itself, and deconstruct it: what is this 'psychedelic revolution', does it exist outside the heads of Jan Irvin and the Daily Mail etc. But we won't) were from military families as evidence of the thesis. Mind control puppets. Ironically, two of the foremost examples - Frank Zappa and Jim Morrison - were themselves highly critical of the sheeplike tendencies within 1960s youth. They both encouraged people to think and live for themselves, and they couldn't stand hippies ('You walk across the floor with your flower in your hand/ Trying to tell me no-one understands' sneers Morrison in 'Five to One'). Irvin quotes selectively from people like Timothy Leary and Terence McKenna ('cherry-picking' is the modern term), as if they had a completely consistent philosophy on hand to deliver. You can find a quote to prove pretty much anything from Leary, a flawed genius with a fatal attraction to opportunism and cheap publicity.
Jan Irvin seems to lump together a bundle of disparate people and organisations from different times - Aldous Huxley, Leary, McKenna, Esalen Institute, Alan Watts, Jim Morrison, the modern New Age - as all part and parcel of a big conspiracy to pervert and control the minds of western youth. There is a complete misrepresentation of McKenna's notion of the 'Archaic Revival', which Irvin and Atwill appear to feel is important. It is portrayed as a clarion call for a return to the Dark Ages, to peasantry and serfdom. This is total bullshit, no other word for it. McKenna is simply pointing out, as many others have done, that modern civilisation has taken a wrong turn, and that we would be better off rekindling the connection with the natural and supernatural worlds that our ancestors had.
I could continue, but I won't: it's not my intention to write a full critique. You can find out more, for example on Jan's website gnostic media, though beware. Some of it is not very pleasant, the comments sections frequently descending into personal slagging off. Jan's main responses to criticism are either to refer to the trivium (his own method for logic and reason) or to dismiss any doubts as 'horseshit'. There is, in fact, a more constructive discussion on an overtly psychedelic forum, shroomery.
So was this 'psychedelic revolution' of the 1960s a completely spontaneous and innocent upwelling of love, peace, and spiritual interconnectedness? No. Was it a carefully managed mind control event, with all its major players nothing but unwitting puppets in someone else's nefarious project for human enslavement? No. In this case, at least, reality was a dance between trendy groupthink (or unthink) and genuine creative living. Jan Irvin and his buddies are guilty of what one intelligent observer, Matt Reis (find his video on youtube), called 'conspiracy overload'. There is control out there, plenty of it; and there are 'conspiracies'. But to see the entire world through this particular lens is to blind yourself to the multifaceted nature of reality. It is no different to espousing an ideology, as a convenient, ready-made explanation for everything that happens. As Matt says 'This world view does not free minds, it enslaves them further.'
If you'd been a kid in 1958, you'd know one part of the story. My parents' generation, silently thankful just to be alive after the war, happy enough to live at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, with a house and a job and enough food for the evening meal. I was five years old at the time, and I recall standing on the windowsill of the living room, watching cars go by outside, taking people home from a day of work. I knew at that moment that this was not for me. The world held other adventures. I think I was right.....
Image: danngo on 8tracks radio