Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Wizards, Workings and Walk-Ins: Born in Flames

In 2008, I went out to Jeff Kripal's first "Superpowers and the Supernormal" symposium at Esalen, on the recommendation of Roy Thomas, the legendary Marvel writer and editor, who replaced Stan Lee on Doctor Strange, among many other titles. Strangely enough, I had just interviewed Chris Carter for The Complete X-Files book the day before I flew out, and had discussed Carter's Ten Thirteen Productions' contributions to the mainstreaming of High Weirdness.

Roy and I had worked together before and spoke at length in the dining hall about the Silver Age of Marvel. Since my presentation was on "The Synchromysticism of Jack Kirby," we also spoke quite a bit about Kirby and his relationship with Stan, as well as Ditko's. None of this was academic to Roy, since he was often caught in the middle of the struggles between the three titans of the Marvel Age, and was Stan's go-between with Jack after Kirby left for DC in the early 70s.

The trip turned out to be a turning point for this blog in other ways; I met, spoke to and listened to presentations by Jacques Vallee and Bertrand Meheust (whose presentation on UFOs was every bit as synchromystic as mine on Kirby), as well as MUFON abduction investigator Brenda Denzler, who gave what amounted to a number-crunching evaluation of abduction reports, citing age, race, sex and income level of abductees and so on.

All of this was pretty eye-opening since I hadn't given much thought to the UFO topic in 10 years at that point. Like most people, I followed the "nuts-n-bolts" approach to a dead-end, lost interest and moved onto other things. When I tried discussing old sightings and reports and such with Bertrand, he looked at me like I was a pitiable thing, hopelessly trapped in a useless paradigm.

It would take me a while before I understood where that look was coming from.

But it would be Russell Targ's presentation which would set an unconscious fire in the work you've seen here that I'm just now coming to understand. As some of you may know, Russell was the director of the remote viewing program at the Stanford Research Institute for many years and worked with people like Ingo Swann and Joe McMoneagle.

But if I was apathetic about UFOs in 2008 (though considerably less so about AAT) I was downright dismissive of RV. My exposure to RV came through Art Bell and Ed Dames (the basis for the Kevin Spacey character in The Men Who Stare at Goats) and all of the rest of it, so basically my impression was that "RV=disinfo hoax."

Russell quickly disabused me of that notion. He's not the hoaxter type (neither is Ed May, who presented on RV in 2009) and his presentation had me spellbound. What sealed the deal for me was a test he ran, in which he presented a brown paper bag with an object in it. The group was to try to picture and then draw the object. I drew the silhouette of its profile my first try (it was an unusually shaped apple corer) and one of the other members named it, I believe.

Not psychic spy grade stuff, certainly, but intimate enough to capture my attention.

And then the High Weirdness started. Two weeks after I flew home a "freak" electrical storm in Humboldt County started a raging series of wildfires that tore down the California coast, raged throughout Big Sur and licked at Esalen's gates for days before dying out. I should note that myself and a couple other members of the group (both Esalen newbies) were feeling very weird and emotional the week we were there, for reasons I can't explain.

Shortly after, I started receiving these weird phone calls from a state prison in Florida, of all places, which were of a completely unintelligible computer voice. I didn't know anyone in jail in Florida. I kept them on my voice mail and then lost them when we changed cable companies (though I'm sure Verizon has records of the calls somewhere).

Then on one horrible day in August, two large black dogs that no one had ever seen before stormed into the neighborhood, came into my yard and murdered one of my cats while my new neighbors-- a very nice young couple-- watched in horror. Then the dogs ran off, never to be seen again. The neighbors were too afraid to get of their car so they honked their horn until we came out of the house.

I called the cops and it took a single female officer over an hour to show up because there had been some disaster in town somewhere and all available squad cars were dealing with the aftermath. I should add that it was one of those days when the light in the sky was wrong.

When it hits home: The 10/13 Fire
Then to top it all off, I went shopping on the evening of October 13th and came home to find the street filled with fire engines and police cruisers. As I slowly drove down the street I realized to my horror that it was actually my fucking house that was on fire, and my wife was sitting on the back of an ambulance being attended to by paramedics for smoke inhalation. Luckily, the firehouse is around the corner and the volunteers were in-house that night, so damage was contained to the bedroom. It could very easily have been much, much worse.

Even so, I felt like I was living in a summer stock production of The Mothman Prophecies. If something was trying to get my attention, it succeeded.

Of course, shortly before our fire there was that strange sighting in Philadelphia while Bruce Springsteen played at the Obama rally, an event which ultimately lead to The Very Sirius Election series which in turn led to the Stairway to Sirius extravaganza. And of course, Sirius, the dog star-- now seen as a binary star system-- was known as the "burning" or "flaming" star in antiquity.

The weirdness is nothing new to me (when you live in the shadow of Crowley's burial site, you get used to weird), what was new was that it was playing out in real time with the work I was doing here. So in many ways all of my work can be looked as pre-Esalen and post-. Two separate blogs, in my estimation (I hardly posted on Sirius at all before the Philadelphia sighting).

Since 2008 and 2009 I've discovered endless clues in Kirby's (and Ditko's, by extension) work tying into the overall paranormal exegesis, but I don't see it as "Synchromystic" anymore. I look at things now through the lens of Parapsychology, for lack of a better term.

In this light, meeting with Jacques Vallee and Russell Targ wasn't simply a pleasant diversion, it turned out to be crucial in my understanding of the work that's been unfolding here.

And of course, it goes without saying that Kirby not only has produced a number of stories according to the Vallee-UFO hypothesis (especially stories that inspired the Magonia-like Doctor Strange story that kicked all of this off), he also did a least one story on remote viewing; "The Psychic Bloodhound," originally intended for his Spirit World anthology.

But it's not just the remote viewing itself that fascinates me, it's that the character "Burkel" seems to be a kind of unconscious analog of Kirby himself, a damaged WWII vet who knew things he had no business knowing. Note that "Karl Burkel" is the kind of name a writer would substitute for "Jack Kirby." It also reminds of the kind of dream-logic prophecy we looked at in relation to the Ten Thirteen Universe way back in the day- somewhat anagrammatic, but just a bit off.

But my problem with remote viewing is that whole transmitter-receiver thing, meaning we have interesting evidence of remote viewers receiving interesting transmissions, as it were.

But transmissions from where?

The sun, moon and stars and "Universal Consciousness" and so on don't work for me. You can throw Jung at me, but I'll throw the Mithraic Liturgy- - the basis of his collective unconscious theory-- and his UFO obsession back at you (and most people seem to mean safe and socially acceptable Joe Campbell when they cite Jung, in my experience).

And here's where I'll alienate RV believers (I'll eventually alienate everyone with my theories, just you wait): one of Kirby's longtime obsessions is the alien/orbital intelligence transmitter routine (which we looked at recently), along with the walk-ins, the ancient astronauts, the androgynous supermen and all of the rest of it.

But what if those transmissions and the remote views are connected? Very closely connected, in fact? Maybe that's the key to this mystery.

Of course, that's essentially the same as saying all you need to do to get to England is swim across the Atlantic Ocean. But it gives us some grist for our crazy, nutty, off the wall conjecture, right?

My thesis then is that Jack's bout with scarlet fever and his traumas on the front lines of WWII (and maybe something else in the mid 60s) changed the essential structure of his consciousness, just as it did with "Burkel." It is the act of altering the consciousness that opens the mind up to influences that the boring, ordinary brain will never perceive or experience, not matter how hard they try.

This process somehow opens the consciousness of these extraordinary individuals to signals from transmitters unknown once the basic architecture of their brains have been fundamentally altered. It also somehow changes their objective experience of reality. This is how I define parapsychology, no matter how others might define it.

So keep that all in mind, because we're going back into Chapel Perilous again for our next installment. But I'm not Robert Anton Wilson-- I like to lock the door behind me when I bring in a tour group. The faint of heart need not apply.