Monday, August 15, 2016

Stranger Things: The Upside Down World

I've finished my Stranger Things rewatch and have been mulling over all the various possibilities as to what it's really trying to tell us. Interviews with the credited creators (the Duffer Brothers) haven't told me much, especially since they've given a couple different stories as to how they came up with the story in the first place.

But there are a number of producers and writers involved in the series, at least one of whom has an interesting iMDb page, so I'm not sure if the twins themselves are my final go-to for the inside scoop.

It's interesting that the brothers would be so fixated on pop-cult ephemera that was popular before they were born, but not particularly unusual. I do sense the heavy hand of other players in the actual rendering of the series, but that's the way things go too. Stranger Things is period drama when all is said and done, a time-tested genre if ever there was one.

Gordon and I have been batting the whole "limited hangout" concept back and forth here, given that it leans so heavily on MK Ultra history and lore. 

My initial reaction was whitewash, in that it was saying "Hey, MK Ultra wasn't so bad; some hippies got some free acid and we were just trying to create some superheroes anyway. And look at Eleven- ain't she a badass?"

MK Ultra honcho Ewan Cameron didn't use sensory deprivation so kids like Eleven could remote view Russian spies, he used it to try to erase their brains. 

This is where MK Ultra starts to fictionally bleed into programs like Grillflame and Stargate, a crossover TV writers seem particularly fond of. But MK and RV programs shouldn't be conflated like that, even if there were strands of connections  amongst some of the players (it all fell under the same aegis, ultimately). 

This is particularly important since Eleven is made to identify her tormentor Brenner as her father, a practice that Cameron encouraged amongst his own victims.

That being said, it's worth noting Dustin's t-shirt in the later episodes of the series, advertising the "Castroville Artichoke Festival." 

For those of you who don't know, Castroville is in Northern California, smack dab in the corridor that runs through San Francisco, Palo Alto, Silicon Valley and Big Sur, where so much of the experimentation on RV and psi fictionalized in Stranger Things actually took place. This location hardly seems coincidental.

Nor does the "artichoke" reference. More on that shortly.

Another case of overlapping magisteria is a theme I haven't seen a lot of reviewers pick up on. And that's that Stranger Things is, among everything else, an alien-abduction narrative

The flower-faced ghoul is abducting its targets and ostensibly using them as incubators, as we saw in the second Aliens film. Several of the episodes open with shots of the starry sky, just begging for (further) E.T. comparisons, and others open with the aftermath of abductions.

Given the parallel dimension theme at work here it's worth noting that being the DMT trials done in the 1980s (arguably a descendant of MK Ultra, after a fashion), often featured disturbingly consistent reports of humanoid entities. Given its concretization of the ethereal dimensional realm posited in these trials, it's worth noting this feature in Stranger Things.
One common feature of the hallucinogenic experience caused by DMT are hallucinations of humanoid beings, characterized as being otherworldly. The term Machine Elf was coined by ethnobotanist Terence McKenna for the experience, who also used the terms fractal elves, or self-transforming machine elves.  
Hallucinations of strange creatures had been reported by Szara in the Journal of Mental Science (now the British Journal of Psychiatry) (1958) “Dimethyltryptamine Experiments with Psychotics”, Stephen Szara described how one of his subjects under the influence of DMT had experienced “strange creatures, dwarves or something” at the beginning of a DMT trip.  
Other researchers of the experience described 'entities' or 'beings' in humanoid as well as animal form, with descriptions of "little people" being common (non-human gnomes, elves, imps etc.). This form of hallucination has been speculated to be the cause of alien abduction experiences through endogenously occurring DMT. 
The frequency and consistency of the manifestations of these beings caused Dr. Rick Strassman, who was running one of the programs, to discontinue the trials.
Several factors led to the cessation of the New Mexico research. The biomedical model was increasingly intrusive and dehumanizing, and it was difficult recruiting new volunteers for these studies...(a) graduate student caused inordinate problems acting out–taking drugs with volunteers after hours, and undermining me when I told him to stop. Hoped for colleagues did not arrive, and in fact began setting up their own foundations competing for scarce resources and colleagues. Long-term benefits were meager, and adverse effects were adding up. The frequency of “being-contact” was unexpected and personally disorienting.- Rick Strassman, DMT: The Spirit Molecule synopsis
Now, think about it: does anyone seriously believe that such encounters didn't manifest during MK Ultra as well? Given the grab-bag of pharmaceuticals used, often in combination and often in extremely high doses, I'd bet these, uh, encounters were quite common indeed.

If that was the case, isn't it fair to assume that increasing, facilitating or exploiting such encounters didn't become a goal, or perhaps one of the primary goals, of the program? (MK Ultra was a lot weirder and more insane than a lot of people assume- the truly nasty wetwork was handled by its sister programs).

If so, you would naturally want to work with children, who might not only be more susceptible to the effects of hallucinogens, but who would also be able to endogenously produce chemicals like DMT as well

Perhaps this is exactly why so much work was done on children- in hospitals- during the MK Ultra years. 

And before and after as well.

In my rewatch I noticed an attempt to tell a parallel story, one that almost felt like a tale told out of school. It felt less like escapist entertainment and more like a real-life horror, of a local boy abducted on the order of an insane government doctor to carry on with his experiments when his primary subject (Eleven) escapes.

Will enters into the parallel world of hallucination, induced fever, drugs and madness that Eleven escaped. And the doctor, like any typical sadist, allows him to contact his mother on occasion to ramp up the terror and anxiety. Only in this case he does so with the hopes that such heightened emotional states will accelerate the process and produce more of the desired psychic results.

The generic government installation seemed like a trope, but in fact what we were seeing was a replay of the experimentation on children and marginal populations that took place during the MK Ultra/Etc years. Work done with electroshock therapy, drugs and perhaps even more exotic technologies.

Meaning work done in hospitals.

We see Eleven dressed in a hospital robe, which would be unnecessary if she were in some random DoE hideaway (pajamas would have done just as well) and we see orderlies dressed in hospital whites, rather than military tans or blues. 

I don't want to read too much in this series- the symbols are fairly blunt and blatant- but this reads like signaling to me.

Hopper and Joyce enter through the rather vaginal dimensional rift to search for will, and here we get our biggest eyefull of the Vale of Shadows, the nightmare alternate dimension in which Will is trapped.

That Will's ordeal is a metaphor for his own Cameron-like repatterning under an MK Ultra protocol seems fairly obvious by the fact that the monster's nest is found in the (upside down) library, where Hopper and Powell first stumble upon all of the information on the Hawkins lab and Brenner's connections to MK Ultra.

This isn't the most subtle kind of allegorizing I've ever seen, but given the target audience I don't think an overabundance of subtlety would serve the purpose.

Will is found with a disturbingly phallic tuber inserted deep into his larynx, and the entire scene is an obvious homage to the breeding nest in Aliens. I'm not sure if this was by accident or design but there's an interesting sync with James Cameron's nest being used as a metaphor for Ewan Cameron's house of mind control horrors in Montreal, especially considering that the former is also Canadian.

The Duffer Brothers use crosscutting- a film school 101 technique- to signal to us that Will's ordeal is to be identified with Hopper's daughter's ordeal when she was dying of leukemia. Whether or not they themselves intended to identify Will's captivity as a metaphor for hard-knuckle MK repatterning is open to debate.

Although the kind of experimentation that Stranger Things depicts is either dismissed, downplayed or otherwise excused, the reality of medical experimentation on children in America is real, grim and much, much worse than anything Hollywood screenwriters can dream up.

One of "America's own Josef Mengele's" is a woman many hail as a hero, Dr. Lauretta Bender, seen as a pioneer in the field of psychiatry. 

What goes unmentioned in her mainstream hagiographies is her long, brutal and heartless experimentation on children in hospitals, particularly some of our most vulnerable and marginalized children. 
From early 1940 to 1953, Dr. Lauretta Bender, a highly respected child neuropsychiatrist practicing at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, experimented extensively with electroshock therapy on children who had been diagnosed with "autistic schizophrenia." In all, it has been reported that Bender administered electroconvulsive therapy to at least 100 children ranging in age from three years old to 12 years, with some reports indicating the total may be twice that number. One source reports that, inclusive of Bender's work, electroconvulsive treatment was used on more than 500 children at Bellevue Hospital from 1942 to 1956, and then at Creedmoor State Hospital Children's Service from 1956 to 1969. 
Despite publicly claiming good results with electroshock treatment, privately Bender said she was seriously disappointed in the aftereffects and results shown by the subject children. Indeed, the condition of some of the children appeared to have only worsened.
This is torture. Let's make no mistake about it. Administering shock treatment to three year-old children is torture.

When MK-Ultra came to town, Dr. Bender was an eager participant, administering the drug to children, all under the age of 11. 

ElevenIs that in fact the real significance of the name?
In 1960, Dr. Bender launched her first experiments with LSD and children. They were conducted within the Children's Unit, Creedmoor State Hospital in Queens, New York. The LSD she used was supplied by Dr. Rudolph P. Bircher of the Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company. (Dr. Bircher also provided Bender with UML-491, also a Sandoz-produced product, very much like LSD but sometimes "dreamier" in effect and longer lasting.) Her initial group of young subjects consisted of 14 children diagnosed schizophrenic, all under the age of 11.
She soon found kindred spirits to assist and finance her work, which lasted into the 1970s.
Shortly after deciding to initiate her own LSD experiments on children, Bender attended a conference sponsored by a CIA front group, the Josiah Macy Foundation... A few short months after the Macy Foundation conference, Dr. Bender was notified that her planned LSD experiments would be partially and surreptitiously funded by the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology (SIHE), another CIA front group then located in Forest Hills, New York.
And again, we're dealing with a nexus of spooks and the spooky- a witch's brew of spies, psi, Satanists, saucer-chasers, and many stranger players still. These people were after something, something that you couldn't find in a science textbook.
The Society, headed by James L. Monroe, a former US Air Force officer who had worked on top-secret psychological warfare and propaganda projects, oversaw about 55 top-secret experiments underwritten by the CIA. These projects involved LSD, ESP, black magic, astrology, psychological warfare, media manipulation, and other subjects.

Now as to the Montauk Project, the ostensible inspiration behind Stranger Things.

I've revealed that my grandfather worked on the real Montauk Project, the SAGE radar system that is in many ways the precursor to the modern Internet. After that he went into black projects, so I don't know what he worked on.

I also talked about my most vivid childhood memories being these horrible nightmares, most of which resemble abduction accounts. The first one I listed in my post was this:
World's End: One of the earliest ones didn't include the lightning, though. My parents are still together, but this might be a wish-dream. I'm probably about 4 or 5. We're going to World's End Park in Hingham to fly kites. But my family leaves me in the car and disappear. I'm sitting in the backseat, alone and afraid. Then the car starts by itself, is put into gear and drives, while I scream for my mother. 
Bonus factoid: World's End was originally tapped to become the site of the United Nations building in 1945 before the site on the East River was chosen.
That's one hell of a dream for a five year-old to have, picking that particular site for such a harrowing scenario. Because World's End clearly has a connection to the Cryptocracy, given its shortlisting for the UN site. But in my research I found it was also across the street from an old Nike Missile site, one which housed a large pediatric practice as well.

What exactly is the significance of Nike Missile sites?

Well, they tie us directly into the nexus of Bell Laboratories and Lucifer's Technologies, but more importantly there's a paper trail on the use of old Nike sites and human experimentation, particularly on children, taking us right up to the doormat of the MK-Ultra Complex, ringing the doorbell of the infamous Louis Jolyon West:
 After January 11, 1973, when Governor Reagan announced plans for the Violence Center, West wrote a letter to the then Director of Health for California, J. M. Stubblebine. 
"Dear Stub: 
"I am in possession of confidential information that the Army is prepared to turn over Nike missile bases to state and local agencies for non-military purposes. They may look with special favor on health-related applications. 
"Such a Nike missile base is located in the Santa Monica Mountains, within a half-hour's drive of the Neuropsychiatric Institute. It is accessible, but relatively remote. The site is securely fenced, and includes various buildings and improvements, making it suitable for prompt occupancy. 
"If this site were made available to the Neuropsychiatric Institute as a research facility, perhaps initially as an adjunct to the new Center for the Prevention of Violence, we could put it to very good use. Comparative studies could be carried out there, in an isolated but convenient location, of experimental or model programs for the alteration of undesirable behavior. 
"Such programs might include control of drug or alcohol abuse, modification of chronic anti-social or impulsive aggressiveness, etc. The site could also accommodate conferences or retreats for instruction of selected groups of mental-health related professionals and of others (e.g., law enforcement personnel, parole officers, special educators) for whom both demonstration and participation would be effective modes of instruction. 
"My understanding is that a direct request by the Governor, or other appropriate officers of the State, to the Secretary of Defense (or, of course, the President), could be most likely to produce prompt results."
What exactly did West have in mind for this remote, fortified installation? 
 Some of the planned areas of study for the Center included:  
• Studies of violent individuals. 

• Experiments on prisoners from Vacaville and Atascadero, and hyperkinetic children. 
• Experiments with violence-producing and violent inhibiting drugs. 

Hormonal aspects of passivity and aggressiveness in boys.
• Studies to discover and compare norms of violence among various ethnic groups. 

• Studies of pre-delinquent children.
• It would also encourage law enforcement to keep computer files on pre-delinquent children, which would make possible the treatment of children before they became delinquents.
 Prisoners from state penitentiaries were chosen as subjects, as well as economically-disadvantage youths, primarily boys (kind of like Will Byers, you might say):
The purpose of the Violence Center was not just research. The staff was to include sociologists, lawyers, police officers, clergymen and probation officers. With the backing of Governor Reagan and Dr. Brian, West had secured guarantees of prisoner volunteers from several California correctional institutions, including Vacaville. 
Vacaville and Atascadero were chosen as the primary sources for the human guinea pigs. These institutions had established a reputation, by that time, of committing some of the worst atrocities in West Coast history. Some of the experimentations differed little from what the Nazis did in the death camps.
Here's an example:
Vacaville also administered a "terror drug" Anectine as a way of "suppressing hazardous behavior." In small doses, Anectine serves as a muscle relaxant; in huge does, it produces prolonged seizure of the respiratory system and a sensation "worse than dying".  
This may not have been performed under the aegis of MK-Ultra at all. 

Remember Dustin's shirt? Well, there was a program that was even worse than MKU, more brutal, more ruthless. And one of its magic tricks was erasing memory, using different drugs in combination to induce states of amnesia and dissociation:

Project ARTICHOKE was a CIA project that researched interrogation methods and arose from Project BLUEBIRD on August 20, 1951, run by the CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence.   
The project studied hypnosis, forced morphine addiction (and subsequent forced withdrawal), and the use of other chemicals including LSD, to produce amnesia and other vulnerable states in subjects. 
ARTICHOKE was a mind control program that gathered information together with the intelligence divisions of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and FBI. In addition, the scope of the project was outlined in a memo dated January 1952 that stated, "Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature, such as self-preservation?"  
Project Artichoke was the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret code name for carrying out in-house and overseas experiments using LSD, hypnosis, and total isolation as a form of physiological harassment for special interrogations on human subjects. 
The subjects who left this project were fogged with amnesia, resulting in faulty and vague memories of the experience.

CIA director Richard Helms claimed ARTICHOKE became MK-Ultra, but perhaps that was because most of the MKU files had been destroyed, conveniently. Two birds with one stone.
It could well be that ARTICHOKE didn't become anything else at all but kept right on truckin', right on over to Vacaville and the Santa Monica Mountain range. 

And keeps on truckin' still.  
Given the work done with inducing amnesia under ARTICHOKE it's worth noting that Louis Jolyon West, along with other CIA scientists and assets and flat-out pedophiles, served on the board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, a loathsome outfit that the media continues to try to rehabilitate.

So why Nike Missile sites? There were all kinds of places in which this work could have been done. 

What's so special about them?

Well, remember that the Montauk Project- the real one and the disinfo version thereof- focus on the use of radar. And that radar seems to have a lot to do with UFOs and all the rest of the high weirdness in the catalog. A missile site would come equipped with radar equipment and all other kinds of exotic technologies.

And as Gordon talks about in his new post, a Nike site would also have all kinds of exotic shielding as well, providing an environment that could screen out all of the various forms of electromagnetic pollution that modern life is plagued with. 

Quoting the ubiquitous Andrija Puharich:
“When you’re inside [a Faraday cage], a psychic, for example, has their performance increased by a thousand fold. A Faraday cage shields you from the electromagnetic radio waves, allowing only extremely low frequency (E.L.F.) magnetic waves to get through. I don’t think there’s a psychic warfare research lab that doesn’t make use of them today.” This observation of the Faraday was supported by [Edgar] Mitchell. Mitchell also stated that “the brain waves of two individuals separated and isolated by a Faraday cage could be synchronised […] Somehow there seemed to be some sort of communication occurring between the two that we didn’t know was possible.”...once a brain is no longer bathed in electromagnetic radio waves, but isolate it from that “dirt”, the brain becomes “psychic”. That’s quite something, not?
So if brains become psychic when they're not being bathed in electromagnetic radio waves, what happens when they're constantly bombarded with Wifi and cell radiation and the thousands of other signals constantly beaming through our bodies? 


So did MK Ultra really end or has it cleaned up its act and gotten a better PR presentation? We're hearing a lot of talk about the new research being done in the field of hallucinogens but how exactly is this different from the old research? 

It has to be said that a lot of the MK Ultra field work was done in controlled environments, under the supervision of trained professionals and didn't seem to do a great deal of harm to some of its subjects. Was it merely the acceptable public face of the program? If so, can the same be said of the new hallucinogenic trials?
Together with revelations of unethical activities of psychiatric researchers under contract to military intelligence and the CIA, the highly publicized and controversial behaviors of hallucinogen enthusiasts led to the repression of efforts to formally investigate these substances. For the next twenty-five years research with hallucinogens assumed pariah status within academic psychiatry, virtually putting an end to formal dialogue and debate. 
In the early '90s, Nichols was at a scientific meeting telling a story he had told a million times: It's too bad there's not any clinical research, research with human subjects, with psychedelics. "You could do it, but you need private money." He decided he could find that private money, even though he didn't have the medical degree necessary to do clinical research himself. Along with Grob and others, he founded the Heffter Research Institute in 1993 to do legitimate, rigorous scientific research on psychedelics.

So what changed? According to Nichols, now an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, there wasn't an abrupt change in regulations, but just a slow shift in attitudes. "For many years when [the FDA] got a protocol to study psychedelics in humans, they just put it on a shelf somewhere."
What did change? "A slow shift in attitudes?" I don't know if that's exactly compelling.

Is there a new generation of Frankensteins out there, experimenting on children in secret laboratories? Sounds like lunatic paranoid delusion, right? Well, it does until you realize that these Frankensteins would have no shortage of subjects to work on.
At least 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees have disappeared after arriving in Europe, according to the EU’s criminal intelligence agency. Many are feared to have fallen into the hands of organised trafficking syndicates. 
In the first attempt by law enforcement agencies to quantify one of the most worrying aspects of the migrant crisis, Europol’s chief of staff told the Observer that thousands of vulnerable minors had vanished after registering with state authorities. 
Brian Donald said 5,000 children had disappeared in Italy alone, while another 1,000 were unaccounted for in Sweden. He warned that a sophisticated pan-European “criminal infrastructure” was now targeting refugees.
There are fears being aired in the German press that these children are being used for organ harvesting so I think a new wave of human experimentation isn't exactly outside the bounds of possibility here. 

Especially given the fact that a new version would almost certainly be entirely privatized and therefore unaccountable to any pesky legislators or regulators. If such animals even still exist.

And even in America, there are thousands of unaccompanied, unaccounted children entering the country. Once they enter the netherworld of traffickers and their fellow travelers, it's anyone's guess where they ultimately end up. It's a chilling thought.

So if an argument could be made that Stranger Things is a limited hangout, it would be to assure its viewers that all of these programs- MK, RV, you name it- are all a thing of the past. 

What do you think?

This recent ad on Craig's List put out a call for a study on "intuition," a weasel word for psi. It's sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.

I think it's safe to say the work continues.