Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:58 pm

Chaos & Cyberculture
by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.
© 1994 by Timothy Leary  




"The '90s are here, and the doctor is in ..."

-- William Gibson

With Guest Appearances by: William Gibson, Winona Ryder, William S. Burroughs, David Byrne


• Inside Cover
• Acknowledgements
• PREFATORY NOTE, by Susan Sarandon
• EDITOR'S NOTE, by Michael Horowitz
o 1. How I Became an Amphibian
o 2. Custom-Sized Screen Realities
o 3. Imagineering
o 1. Conversation with William Gibson
o 2. Artificial Intelligence: Hesse's Prophetic Glass Bead Game
o 3. Our Brain
o 4. How to Boot Up Your Bio-Computer
o 5. Personal Computers, Personal Freedom
o 6. Quantum Jumps, Your Macintosh, and You
o 1. The Woodstock Generation
o 2. From Yippies to Yuppies
o 3. The Cyberpunk: The Individual as Reality Pilot
o 4. The New Breed
o 5. Electronic Cultures
o 6. The Next Twenty Years
o 7. The Godparent: Conversation with Winona Ryder
o 1. Conversation with William S. Burroughs
o 2. The Sociology of LSD
o 3. Just Say Know: The Eternal Antidote to Fascism
o 4. Czar Bennett & His Holy War on Drugs
o 5. MDMA: The Drug of the 1980s
o 6. The Case for Intelligent Drug Use
o 1. Hormone Holocaust
o 2. In Search of the True Aphrodisiac
o 3. Operation Sex Change
o 4. Digital Activation of the Erotic Brain
o 1. Pranks: An Interview
o 2. Keith Haring: Future Primeval
o 3. Robert Williams: Power to the Pupil
o 4. On William S. Burroughs's Interzone
o 5. William Gibson: Quark of the Decade
o 6. How to Publish Heresy in Mainline Publications
o 7. Reproduced Authentic. The Wizardry of David Byrne
o 8. Conversation with David Byrne
o 1. Common-Sense Alternatives to Involuntary Death, (co-written with Eric Gullichsen)
o 2. Hybernating Andy
o 1. Backward Christian Soldiers: A Brief History of the Warrior Caste in America
o 2. God Runs for President on the Republican Ticket
o 3. Who Owns the Jesus Property?
o 4. High-Tech Paganism, (co-written with Eric Gullichsen)
o Brillig in Cyberland, by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin
o 1. Checklist of Primary Works by Timothy Leary
o 2. Bibliographic Data
o 3. List of Illustrations
o 4. Cybertising
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Re: Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:03 am

The Acceleration of Brain Power


"The brave neuronaut whom I believe to be the Galileo of our age, albeit a Galileo possessed of considerable Irish blarney, which makes him all the more agreeable.”

-- Tom Robbins

"A true visionary of the potential of the human mind and spirit."

-- William S. Burroughs

"A hero of American consciousness."

-- Allen Ginsberg

"The ’90s are here, and the Doctor is in!"

-- William Gibson

"The cyberdelic guru.... The MVP (Most Valuable Philosopher) of the 20th Century."

-- Mondo 2000

"One of the intellectual giants of our time.... No one else had dared to publicly explore the metaphysical and evolutionary implications of the home computer."

-- Guide to Computer Living

"The Grandfather of Slacker Prophets."

-- Creem

"Inner-space pioneer. Outer-space advocate. Computer enthusiast. Writer. Humorist. A West Point man. An ex-Harvard professor. A former political prisoner. A provocateur extraordinaire. A high cat with Cary Grant style and grace.”

-- Exposure

"Dr. Timothy Leary: psychologist, iconoclast, prophet, outlaw, historian, and visionary."

-- Magical Blend

"In Leary’s 25-plus books and software one finds ideas pertinent to the present, not only to the 'new.’ Touching on media and culture, politics and psychology, mind and chaos, his ideas open up possibilities for the present."

-- Fad

"Yes, he’s back. At 72, the ex-Harvard professor who encouraged a generation to ’turn on, tune in, and drop out’ now counts himself as a cyberpunk. 'The PC is the LSD of the 1990s,’ he says.”

-- Time

"He’s a visionary, theoretician, fighter for individual freedom, advocate of tolerance... but more importantly, Timothy Leary’s lust for life always cheers us on.”

-- R. U. Sirius

"He makes the chaos of our everyday lives sexy."

-- Susan Sarandon
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Re: Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:07 am


PROJECT EDITORS: Sebastian Orfali, Beverly Potter, Ph.D.
BOOK EDITORS: Michael Horowitz, Vicki Marshall
MANUSCRIPT EDITORS: Aidan Kelly, Ginger Ashworth
ART DIRECTOR: Carolyn Ferris
COVER DESIGN: Brian Groppe
COVER ART: Carolyn Ferris, Brummbaer, Vic Keller, Robert Williams
ILLUSTRATIONS: Carolyn Ferris, Vic Keller, Andy Frith, Brummbaer

The material herein is presented in the spirit of the First Amendment for reference and informational purposes, and should in no way be construed as advocating the breaking of laws.


1. To set apart and consecrate to a deity or to a sacred purpose.
2. To devote wholly and earnestly, as to some person or purpose.
3. To inscribe (a book, piece of music, etc.) to a person, cause or the like.


Sebastian Orfali
Carolyn Ferris
Mike Horowitz
Vicki Marshall
Vic Keller
Andy Frith
Howard Hallis
Ginger Ashworth
Judy July


Susan Martino
Jack Leary
Zach Chase
Dieadra Martino
Ashley Martino
Brett Leary
Annie Leary
Sarah Brown
Davina Suzanne
Sunyata Palmer
Jubal Palmer
Noni Horowitz
Uri Horowitz


Barbara Leary
Rosemary Woodruff
Denis Berry
Aileen Getty
Angela Janklow
Siobhan Cyr
Momoko Ito
Joi Ito
Mimi Ito
Donna Wilson
Barbara Fouch
Camella Grace
Betsy Berg
Janice Gardner
Louise Schwartz
Susan Sarandon
Diana Walstrom
Joey Cavallo
Vince de Franco
Don, Holly & Kenny
Greater Talent
Marianne Leary
Anita Hoffman
Jack Armstrong
Jerry Harrington
J. P. Barlow
Al Jourgenson
Tony Scott
John Roseboro
Chris Graves
Scott Fisher
Joel Fredericks
Eric Gardner
Alan Schwartz
Tim Robbins
George Milman
Jas Morgan
Mondo 2000
Dave & Andy
Ron Lawrence
Michael Shields



Peter Booth Lee
Cindy Horowitz
Michael Shields
Jeremy Bigwood
Hi Leitz
Dana Gluckstein
Herb Ritts


Morgan Russell
William Gibson
Allen Ginsberg
 William S. Burroughs
Yvette Roman
 David Byrne


Carolyn Ferris
Vic Keller
Andy Frith
Robert Williams
Keith Haring
Matt Gouig
Howard Hallis


Michael Witte
Michael Horowitz
Ronin Publishing, Inc.
Paul Kagan
Vicki Marshall
Mike Saenz
Mark Franklyn
Rick Griffin


Special thanks for their help to the following:

Robin Kay
Ron Lawrence
Kenn Thomas
Joe Ranno
Flash Photo (San Anselmo, California)

The author has made every effort to trace the ownership of all copyright and quoted material presented. In the event of any question arising as to the use of a selection, he offers his apologies for any errors and omissions and will make the necessary corrections in future printings.

-- Michael Witte

"We are mutating into another species -- from Aquaria to the Terrarium, and now we’re moving into Cyberia. We are creatures crawling to the center of the cybernetic world. But cybernetics are the stuff of which the world is made. Matter is simply frozen information.... The critics of the information are see everything in the negative, as if the quantity of information can lead to a loss of meaning. They said the same thing about Gutenberg.... Never before has the individual been so empowered. But in the information age you do have to get the signals out. Popularization means making it available to the people. Today the role of the philosopher is to personalize, popularize, and humanize computer ideas so that people can feel comfortable with them.... The fact is that a few of us saw what was happening and we wrestled the power of LSD away from the CIA, and now the power of computers away from IBM, just as we rescued psychology away from the doctors and analysts. In every generation I’ve been part of a group of people who, like Prometheus, have wrestled with the power in order to hand it back to the individual.”

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Re: Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:08 am

Prefatory Note


Give me Timothy Leary's humourous, humane, entertaining challenge to our sluggish perspectives any day. This book is a romp through history from Aquaria to Cyberia. I feel my neurons perking up and snapping to attention as the fog of mass-media disinformation turns to high-definition clarity. He makes the chaos of our everyday lives sexy.

-- Susan Sarandon
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Re: Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:09 am


In their earliest forms, most of the texts in this book first appeared in an unusually wide array of publications, ranging from obscure, underground ’zines to university journals; from New Age/New Edge periodicals to mainstream Sunday supplements; and in fashion, computer, rock music, and adult monthlies.


The ideas expressed in these articles were also put forth in spoken-word performances at hundreds of colleges, in Whole Life Expo workshops, at the Lollapalooza rock ’n’ roll tour, from the stages of Sunset Strip comedy clubs, and large rave parties—often accompanied by computer-generated multimedia displays by some of the artists in this book.

A number of these texts were desktop-published and sold by mail order in the manner of samizdat (dissident, underground) publications from a “cyberdeli” called KnoWare—thanks to whom some of the buzzwords and soundbites in these pieces are sometimes worn as buttons and displayed as bumper stickers.

Like almost all of Timothy Leary’s spoken and written transmissions since the 1960s, the works in this book—mostly published during the dull, repressive Reagan-Bush years—are marked by a tone of entertaining dissent and optimistic critique, fueled by humour and brimming with novel perceptions.

Welcome to a cyberdelic Be-In!

-- M.H. [Michael Horowitz]
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Re: Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:11 am


PREFACE: The Eternal Philosophy of Chaos

For several thousand years it has seemed obvious that the basic nature of the universe is extreme complexity, inexplicable disorder—that mysterious, tangled magnificence popularly known as Chaos.

The poetic Hindus believed the universe was a dreamy dance of illusion (maya). The paradoxical, psycho-logical Buddhists spoke of a void too complex— maybe a trillion times too complex—to be grasped by the human A-B-C-1-2-3 word-processing system (mind).

Chinese poet-philosopher Lao-tzu sardonically reminded us that the tao is forever changing complexities at light speed, elusive and inaccessible to our fingers and thumbs laboriously tapping letters on our alphanumeric keyboards and mind-operating systems.

Socrates, that proud, self-reliant Athenian democrat, indiscreetly blurted out the dangerous secret when he said, “The aim of human life is to know thy selves.” This is surely the most subversive T-shirt flaunted over the centuries by humanists, the most confrontational bumper sticker on their neuro-auto-mobiles.

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition. The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it.[1] The term was coined by theologian Friedrich Niethammer at the beginning of the 19th century to refer to a system of education based on the study of classical literature ("classical humanism"). Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of human freedom and progress. It views humans as solely responsible for the promotion and development of individuals and emphasizes a concern for man in relation to the world.[2]

In modern times, humanist movements are typically non-religious movements aligned with secularism, and today humanism may refer to a nontheistic life stance centred on human agency and looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world.[3][4]

The word "humanism" is ultimately derived from the Latin concept humanitas. It entered English in the nineteenth century. However, historians agree that the concept predates the label invented to describe it, encompassing the various meanings ascribed to humanitas, which included both benevolence toward one's fellow humans and the values imparted by bonae litterae or humane learning (literally "good letters").....

Gellius says that in his day humanitas is commonly used as a synonym for philanthropy – or kindness and benevolence toward one's fellow human beings. Gellius maintains that this common usage is wrong, and that model writers of Latin, such as Cicero and others, used the word only to mean what we might call "humane" or "polite" learning, or the Greek equivalent Paideia.....Gellius implies that the trained mind is best equipped to handle the problems troubling society."[6]

Modern scholars, however, point out that Cicero (106 – 43 BCE), who was most responsible for defining and popularizing the term humanitas, in fact frequently used the word in both senses, as did his near contemporaries. For Cicero, a lawyer, what most distinguished humans from brutes was speech, which, allied to reason, could (and should) enable them to settle disputes and live together in concord and harmony under the rule of law.[9] Thus humanitas included two meanings from the outset and these continue in the modern derivative, humanism
, which even today can refer to both humanitarian benevolence and to a method of study and debate involving an accepted group of authors and a careful and accurate use of language.[10]

During the French Revolution, and soon after, in Germany (by the Left Hegelians), humanism began to refer to an ethical philosophy centered on humankind, without attention to the transcendent or supernatural.....

The first Humanist Manifesto was issued by a conference held at the University of Chicago in 1933.[12] Signatories included the philosopher John Dewey, but the majority were ministers (chiefly Unitarian) and theologians. They identified humanism as an ideology that espouses reason, ethics, and social and economic justice, and they called for science to replace dogma and the supernatural as the basis of morality and decision-making.[13][14]

-- Humanism, by Wikipedia

Individualistic thinking is the original sin of the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic Bibles. It sabotages attempts by the authorities to order Chaos.

The first rule of every law-and-order system is to trivialize-daemonize the dangerous concepts of Self, Individual Aims, and Personal Knowledge. Thinking for Your Selves is heretical, treasonous, blasphemous. Only devils and satans do it. Creative thinking, committed out loud, becomes a capital crime. It was “Three Strikes and You’re Out” for several hundred thousand Protestant dissenters during the Inquisitions of the Roman papacy—not to forget the witch burnings performed by the Protestants when they took charge of the Chaos-control department.

It was all very simple to the law-and-order controllers. There are the immortal Gods and Goddesses up there in that Gated Community on Olympus Drive. And then there are us—meaningless mortals, slaving around down here in the low-rent flatlands.

The concept of individuals with choice and identity seemed total folly, the ultimate nightmare—not just of authoritarian bureaucrats, but of common-sense liberals. Chaos must be controlled!

The standard way to tame and domesticate the impossible complexity that surrounds us is to invent a few “tooth-fairy” Gods, the more infantile the better, and to lay down a few childish rules: Honour your father and your mother, etc. The rules are simple and logical. You passively obey. You pray. You sacrifice. You work. You believe.

Our aim is to help recreate every man as God and every woman as Goddess....
The wise person devotes his life exclusively to the religious search - for therein is found the only ecstasy, the only meaning....
To Turn-on you must learn how to pray. Prayer is the compass; the gyroscope for centering and stillness.
Turning-on is a complex, demanding, frightening, confusing process. It requires diligent Yoga.
You are a spiritual voyager furthering the most ancient, noble quest of man.... the holy dance of the visionaries....
You begin to look like a happy saint! Your home slowly becomes a shrine.
Make your drop-out invisible. No rebellion - please! ...
You must form that most ancient and sacred of human structures - the clan. A clan or cult is a small group of human beings organized around a religious goal.
Avoid conflict with the establishment. Avoid recruiting and rapid growth. Preserve clan harmony.
The aim of clan living is to subordinate the ego-game to the family game - the clan game.
Your mythic guide must be one who has solved the death-rebirth riddle....Christ, Lao Tse, Hermes Trismegistus, Socrates are recurrent turn-on figures....
The League for Spiritual Discovery has three purposes - (a) individual worship of the Supreme Energy - God; (b) communal worship of the Supreme Energy - God; and (c) public worship of the Supreme Energy - God. These three forms of worship based on revelation and empirically validated methods for spiritual discovery.
(a) Individual Worship - We league together to help each member discover the divinity within by means of sacred teachings, self-analysis, psychedelic sacraments, and spiritual methods and then to express this revelation in an external life of harmony and beauty. We pledge ourselves to help each member to devote his entire consciousness and all his behavior to the glorification of God. Complete dedication to the life of worship is our aim, as exemplified in the motto "Turn-on, Tune-in. Drop-out".
(b) Communal Worship - We league together to maintain League Centers (Ashrams; monastic centers) where renunciates (i.e. "drop-outs" - those who take a vow to abandon secular activities for a specified length of time) will live a communal life of worship and glorification. The community serves to facilitate individual illumination and to liberate and channel spiritual energies to accomplish the evangelic and public mission of the League.

-- Start Your Own Religion, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

And then, Praise the Bored, let there be no terrorizing notions about individuals hanging around this meaningless, disordered universe trying to figure how to design themselves some individual selves.



The first Chaos engineers may have been the Hindu sages who designed a method for operating the brain called yoga. The Buddhists produced one of the great hands-on do-it-yourself manuals for operating the brain: The Tibetan Book of the Dying. Chinese Taoists developed the teaching of going with the flow—not clinging to idea-structures, but changing and evolving. The message was: Be cool. Don’t panic. Chaos is good. Chaos creates infinite possibilities.

The wacko Socratic idea of Do It Yourself (D.I.Y.), which created modern democracy, was a practical, common-sense, sassy Athenian version of the Hindu-Buddhist-Taoist yogas. And remember where this foolishness got India, Tibet, and China? Know-where!

The most dangerous idea is this crazed, megalomaniac Socratic notion of


which defines the serf-human being as a thinker. Outrageous impudence! The slave is encouraged to become a philosopher! The serf strives to be a psychologist! A potential yogic sage!

This heresy predicts why later atheist evolutionists like Linnaeus and Darwin defined our super-chimp species as Femina (Homo) sapiens sapiens.  

The standard way to tame and domesticate the impossible complexity that surrounds us is to invent a few "tooth-fairy" Gods, the more infantile the better, and to lay down a few childish rules: Honour your father and your mother, etc. The rules are simple and logical. You passively obey. You pray. You sacrifice. You work. You believe.


For centuries there existed a fanatic taboo against scientific understanding. Why? Because of the fear of Chaos. The facts about our (apparently) insignificant place in the galactic dance are so insulting to the control freaks who try (so manfully and diligently and seriously) to manage Chaos that they forbade any intelligent attempts to look out there and dig the glorious complexity.

At one point consciousness-altering devices like the microscope and telescope were criminalized for exactly the same reasons that psychedelic plants were banned in later times. They allow us to peer into bits and zones of Chaos.

Galileo got busted and Bruno got the Vatican microwave for showing that the Sun did not circle the Earth. Religious and political Chaos-phobes naturally want the nice, tidy, comfy universe to cuddle around them.

In the last century science has developed technical extensions of the human sensorium that specify the truly spooky nature of the complexities we inhabit.

Stellar astronomy describes a universe of fantastic multiplicity: a hundred billion tiny star systems in our tiny galaxy, a hundred billion galaxies in our teeny universe.


In the last decades of the 20th Century, scientists began to study the complexity within the human brain.

Talk about Chaos!

It turns out that the brain is a galactic network of a hundred billion neurons. Each neuron is an information system as complex as a mainframe computer. Each neuron is connected to ten thousand other neurons. Each of us is equipped with a universe of neurocomplexity that is inscrutable to our alphanumeric minds.

This brain power is at once the most humiliating fact about our current ignorance, and the most thrilling prospect of our potential divinity—once we start learning how to operate our brains.

You are GOD - but only you can discover and nurture your divinity.

-- Start Your Own Religion, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.


Chaos theory allows us to appreciate our assignment: the understanding, enjoyment, and celebration of the delightful nature of the whole universe—including the totally mad paradoxes within our brains.

Activating the so-called right brain eliminates one of the last taboos against understanding Chaos and provides a hands-on scientific basis for the philosophy of humanism -- encouraging us to team up with others to design our own personal versions of Chaos.


This book, as you will discover, covers a decade of recent writing. Looking over this verbal disorder so elegantly arranged by Michael, Vicki, Carolyn, Sebastian, Aidan, Ginger, and Judy, I get that special, pleasurable, dizzying head-hit so prized by us Chaos addicts.

For the last few months I have been obsessed by the extreme complexity of everything. We don’t know who, why, where, what, when we are. What a frightmare! Ignorant, alienated agents sent on a mission with no instructions.

My thrilling bewilderment about the Great Disorder (Chaos) is due, of course, to the three symptoms of senility which I have diligently earned.

1. Short-term memory loss means you forget exactly what's happening and why you are here.

2. Long-term memory gain gives you the ambiguous perspective of what our cultures have come up with in the way of weird solutions to the Mystery.

3. This book is about redesigning Chaos and fashioning our personal disorders...

On screens
With cybernetic tools
From countercultural perspectives
With informational chemicals (Chaos drugs)
While delighting in cyberotics
As guerrilla artists
Who explore de-animation alternatives
While surfing the waves of millennium madness
to glimpse the glorious wild impossibilities and improbabilities
of the century to come.
Enjoy it! It's ours to be played with!

Signed with Love,
Timothy Leary

Galileo got busted and
Bruno got the Vatican
microwave for showing
that the Sun did not circle
the Earth. Religious and
political Chaos-phobes
naturally want the nice,
tidy, comfy universe to
cuddle around them.
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Re: Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:17 am

Part 1 of 2




I.1. How I Became an Amphibian

In 1980 Ronald Reagan, a screen person, became the president of the United States. At the same time, the screen image of an Iranian mullah, the leader of a notoriously irritable fundamentalist sect, became the rallying point of the Islamic world. In the same year, surveys showed that the average American spent more than four hours a day neuronarcotized by the artificial realities and fake news-dramas on television screens—more time than is spent on any other waking activity in the flesh-material reality.

It was about then that I too found myself mutating gradually, imperceptibly, into an amphibious form. (The word “amphibian” comes from the Greek amphi [double] and bios [life].)

I began spending around four hours a day producing and scripting and directing the images on my personal screen. Some of these digitized words and images were my own. Some were encoded on disks. Others were phoned to me by friends and colleagues at almost the speed of light.

In this way I learned how to file, process, organize, clarify, store, retrieve, and transmit my digitized thoughts in the form of words and icons.

These exercises in translating thoughts to digital codes and screen images have helped me understand how my brain works, how the universe evolves in terms of information algorithms. And, in the most practical mode, to understand:

1. How we can avoid television dictatorships, and

2. How we can democratize the cyberscreen politics of the future.

My experiences, far from being original or unique, seem to be part of an enormous cultural metamorphosis. Like millions of others, I have come to feel as comfortable over there in Cyberia, Tubeland, on the other side of my electronic-reality window, as I do operating in the closed-in Terrarium of the material world. My brain, like yours, needs to be clothed in cyberwear and to swim, float, navigate through the oceans of electronic data.

Surely we can be forgiven if we are confused by all this. Organisms in the process of metamorphosis are forced to use the metaphors of past stages in order to anticipate future stages—an obviously risky business. “They’ll never get me up in one of those,” says the caterpillar to the butterfly.

So, let me venture some shaky allegories.

During the Roaring 20th Century, the equations of quantum physics led to the development of quantum appliances that allowed humans to receive, process, and transmit electronic images.



In our early marine forms, we lived under water. Trapped in Aquaria we could peer up through the sea ceiling and sense a wide world up there.

In the Devonian period (400 million years ago) we started developing the technology needed to migrate to the shoreline. I am talking state-of-the-art terrawear: skin-tight dry suits to maneuver around in the land world. Thus we became amphibians, able to live both in Aquaria and in Terrarium.

During the Triassic period we evolved to the mammalian stage and lost our ability to inhabit Aquaria. For the last 225 million years, we mammals crawled and ran around the Earth’s surface, nervously improving our Terrarium survival technologies.

Then, during the last million or so years, human beings developed enormous brains that we did not know how to operate. Our hairless primate ancestors, banded in social groups, living in caves, fashioning clubs to fight tigers, were equipped with the same brain model that we are just now learning how to manage.

And for thousands of years, the more poetic or neurologically advanced among us have gazed upward on starry nights, beginning to realize that another universe exists in space and that we are trapped in the Terrarium of Earth’s surface. Or what’s a heaven for?

Around 1900, physicists (Einstein, Heisenberg, etc.) demonstrated that the elements of all energy matter in the universe, out there or down here, consist of quanta of information. Light.

During the Roaring 20th Century, the equations of quantum physics led to the development of quantum appliances that allowed humans to receive, process, and transmit electronic images. Telephone, cinema, radio, television, computers, compact discs, fax machines; suddenly humans were creating digital realities that were accessed on living-room screens.

This universe of electronic signals, in which we now spend so much time, has been called Cyberia.

Just as the fish brain had to don dry-skin terra-suits to inhabit the Terrarium, so do our primate brains have to don Canaveral space suits in order to migrate into outer space. And use digital appliances in order to inhabit cyberspace.


As our brain evolves, it develops new vehicles and information-processing devices in order to feed its insatiable hunger for stimulation. Like any adolescent organ, the human brain requires an enormous, continual supply of chemical and electronic data to keep growing toward maturity.

In the last eight years, the dendritic metabolism of my information organ (brain) seems to have undergone a dramatic change. My eyes have become two hungry mouths pressed against the Terrarium window through which electronic pulses reach the receptive areas of my brain. My brain seems to require a daily input of several billion bytes of digital (light-speed) information. In this I am no different than the average, televoid American sluggishly reclining on the bottom of the Terrarium. My brain also requires regular diets of chemical foods. But my Very Personal Computer has transformed my brain into an output organ emitting, discharging digital information through the Terrarium window into ScreenLand.

Just as the heart is programmed to pump blood, my sinewy brain is now programmed to fire, launch, transmit, beam thoughts through the electronic window into Cyberia. The screen is the revolving glass door through which my brain both receives and emits her signals.

As a result of personal computers and video arcades, millions of us are no longer satisfied to peer like passive infants through the Terrarium wall into the ScreenLand filled with cyberstars like Bill and Hillary and Boris and Saddam and Madonna and Beavis and Butt-Head. We are learning how to enter and locomote in Cyberia. Our brains are learning how to exhale as well as inhale in the datasphere.

Of course, not all humans will make this move. Many of our finny ancestors preferred to remain marine forms. “You’ll never get me up in one of those,” said the tadpole to the frog.

Many humans will be trapped by gene-pool geography or compelled by repressive societies or seduced by material rewards and thus reside in the material-flesh world of mammalian bipeds. Oh, yeah. To escape from the boredom and to rest after their onerous, mech-flesh labors, they will torpidly ingest electronic realities oozing from their screens. But they will not don cybersuits and zoom into ScreenLand.


We tri-brains who learn to construct and inhabit auto-realities spend some time in the cyberworld and some in the material-organic world. We zoom through the datmosphere like Donkey Kongs and Pac Women, scooping up info-bits and spraying out electronic-reality forms. And then we cheerfully return to the slow, lascivious, fleshly material world to indulge our bodies with sensory stimulation and to exercise our muscles by pushing around mechanical realities in sport or recreation.

On the skin-tissue plane, our left brains are limited to mechanical-material forms. But in ScreenLand our right brains are free to imagineer digital dreams, visions, fictions, concoctions, hallucinatory adventures. All these screen scenes are as real as a kick-in- the-pants as far as our brains are concerned. Our brains have no sense organs and no muscles. Our brains command our bodies and send spaceships to the Moon by sending signals in only one linguistic: the quantum language of zeros and ones.



We tri-brain creatures seem to be resolving that most ancient philosophic problem. Forget the quaint, mammalian dualism of mind versus body. The interplay of life now involves digital brain—body matter—digital screen.

Everything—animal, vegetable, mineral, tangible, invisible, electric—is converted to digital food for the info-starved brain. And now, using the new digital appliances, everything that the brain-mind can conceive can be realized in electronic patterns.

To be registered in consciousness, to be “realized,” every sensory stimulation must be deconstructed, minimalized, digitalized. The brain converts every pressure signal from our skins, tickles from our genitals, delectables from our tongues, photons from our eyes, sound waves from our ears, and, best of all, electronic buzziness from our screens into quantum realities, into directories and files of 0/1 signals.

We tri-brain amphibians are learning how to use cyberwear (computer suits) to navigate around our ScreenLands the way we use the hardware of our bodies to navigate around the material- mechanical world, and the way we use spaceships and space suits to navigate around the outer space.

There are some amusing and alluring philosophic by-producls. Quantum psychology allows us to define, operationally, other terms of classical metaphysics.


Recite to yourself some of the traditional attributes of the word “spiritual”: mythic, magical, ethereal, incorporeal, intangible, nonmaterial, disembodied, ideal, platonic Is that not a definition of the electronic-digital?


Can we engineer our souls? Can we pilot our souls?

The closest you are probably ever going to get to navigating your soul is when you are piloting your mind through your brain or its external simulation on cybernetic screens. Think of the screen as the cloud chamber on which you can track the vapor trail of your platonic, immaterial movements. If your digital footprints and spiritual fingerprints look less than soulful on the screen, well, just change them. Learning how to operate a soul figures to take time.

The quantum-electronic universe of information defines the new spiritual state. These “spiritual” realms, over centuries imagined, may, perhaps, now be realized! The more philosophic among us find this philosophically intoxicating.



Those of us who choose the amphibian option will spend some of our waking hours suited up and moving around in the cybemetic-psybernetic ScreenLand. But please don’t fret about our neglecting the wonderful body.

The first point to register is this: We tri-brains should not use our precious fleshware to work. Is it not a sacrilegious desecration to waste our precious sensor) equipment on toil, chore, drudgery? We are not pack animals, or serfs, or executive robots garbed in uniforms rushing around lugging briefcases to offices. Why should we use our priceless, irreplaceable bodies to do work that can be done better by assembly-line machines?

But who will plough the fields and harvest the grapes? The languorous midwestem farmer will don her cybersuit and recline in her hammock in Acapulco operating the automated plough on her Nebraska farm. The Mexican migrant will recline in his hammock in Acapulco using his cybergear to direct the grape-harvest machines.

When we finish our work, we will take off our cybersuits, our brain clothing, and don body clothes. When we platonic migrants sweat, it will be in athletic or sensual pleasure. When we exert elbow grease, it will be in some form of painterly flourish or musical riff. When we operate oil-gulping machines, we will joyride for pleasure. The only mechanical vehicles we will actually climb into and operate by hand will be sports cars. Trains, planes, boats will be used only for pleasure cruising, and will transport our bodies for aesthetic, artistic, recreational purposes only. Our bodily postures will thus be graceful and proud, our body movements delightful, slow, sensual, lush, erotic, fleshly, carnal vacations from the accelerated, jazzy cyberrealities of cyberspace, where the brain work is done.


Face-to-face interactions will be reserved for special, intimate, precious, sacramentalized events. Flesh encounters will be rare and thrilling. In the future each of us will be linked in thrilling cyberexchanges with many others whom we may never meet in person and who do not speak our phonetic-literal language. Most of our important creations will take place in ScreenLand. Taking off our cyberwear to confront another with naked eyeballs will be a precious personal appearance. And the quality of our “personal appearances” will be raised to a level of mythic drama.

Learning how to operate a soul figures to take time.


Until 1983, when 1 acquired a personal computer, the principles of quantum physics always seemed, to my immature material mind, to be incomprehensible, bizarre, abstract, and totally impractical. Now that my digital brain lobes have been activated, quantum physics seems to make common sense and to define a practical psychology of everyday life in the tri-brain mode.

Einstein’s theories of relativity, for example, suggest that realities depend on points of view. Instead of the static absolutes of space-time defined by material reality, quantum-brain realities are changing fields defined by quick feedback interchanges with other information sources. Our computer brainware allows us to perform Einsteinian-spiritual transformations on our laptops.


Werner Heisenberg’s principle states that there is a limit to objective determinacy. If everyone has a singular viewpoint, constantly changing, then everyone creates his or her own version of reality. This gives the responsibility for reality construction not to a bad-natured biblical God, or to an impersonal, mechanical process of entropic devolution, or to an omniscient Marxist state, but to individual brains. Subjective determinacy operates in ScreenLand. Our brains create our own spiritual worlds, as they say along the Ganges. We get the realities we deserve. Or preserve. Or construct.

And now our interactivated brains can project wonderland realities onto our screens and hurl them around the globe at light speed. Notice the political implications. Quantum psychology stressing singularity of viewpoint is the ultimate democratic perspective. The screen is the window to the new world. Who controls our screens programs the realities we inhabit Therefore it behooves us to control our own reality screens.

These two notions, of relativity and self-determination, are street-smart common sense. But Einstein and Heisenberg and Max Planck and Niels Bohr lost the crowd when they said that the basic elements of the universe were bits of off/on (yin/yang) information. And that solid matter is temporary clusters of frozen information. And that when material structures are fissioned, they release energy: E=mc2.

These brilliant physicists were explaining electronic ideas by using their hands to write with paleolithic chalk on a slab of black slate!

During the next twenty to eighty years, quantum appliances became household items. The application of quantum physics to engineering produced vacuum tubes, transistors, integrated circuits, lasers, radio, television, computers. These gadgets are not intended to move “matter-energy” around. Instead, they move information. Data-buzzes. Electronic means “informational.” Sticks and stones may break your bones, but information can never hurt you. Although it can, alas, totally control your mind.

So it becomes clear that the basic “particles” that make up matter are bits of “information.” Matter is frozen information. Energy is just the dumb smoke and sweat that matter releases in its lumbering transformations. The famous formula changes to: I=mc2 , where “I”= information.

At the quantum level the Newtonian “laws” turn out to be local ordinances. It turns out that the smaller the linguistic element, the greater the I.Q. (Information Quotient). The larger is always the lumbering vehicle for the miniaturized, platonic info-units it carries around. The universe is an intelligence system, and the elements of intelligence are quanta. And suddenly w e understand that the brain is an organ designed to metabolize digital information.


Except to those who had studied the brilliantly intuitive metaphors of oriental philosophy, these principles of quantum psychology sounded implausible and weird when they were first announced around A.D. 1900. But looking back we can see that every decade of the Roaring 20th Century has produced events that have confirmed and applied quantum principles.

The philosophy of our century, since Peirce and Saussure, is linguistic, semiotic, semantic. So is the psychology, and the politics. Modem art, modem writing, modern music made us feel comfortable in the quantum atmosphere. The great artists dissolved representational structure, freed elements to create new forms, word patterns, sounds, and accepted the responsibility of subjective reality-formation. As Walt Disney demonstrated, the brain loves to be electronized.

And now we have interpersonal computers, Nintendo power gloves, Sega CD-ROMS, electronic bulletin boards. All of these relatively inexpensive gadgets place the power to create platonic, electronic realities in the hands of interacting individuals.


The advent of psychedelic (mind-opening) drugs (1960-80) produced a widespread fascination with consciousness alteration, mind exploration, inner searching, brain-stimulation gadgets, oriental yoga—all based on quantum principles. The advent of personal and interpersonal computers, digital editors, and audio-video gear (1976-90) turned the average American home into an electronic- information center. At the same time, neurologists were publishing their discoveries about how neurotransmitter chemicals and electrical nets move information around the brain.

The convergence of these waves of information, the inner psychedelic and the ScreenLand cybernetic, made it possible for the first time for human beings to understand how the brain operates.

The human brain is, by auto-definition, the most powerful control communication unit in the known universe. A constellation of a hundred billion cells floating in an ocean of info-gel. The brain has no muscles and no sense organs. It is a shimmering sea swarming with microchip molecules packaged in enormous hardware neurons, all linked by chemical-electrical signals. We could not understand how the brain operates until our electrical engineers had built computers. And now we are learning how to beam our brain waves into the Cyberia of electronic reality, to think and play and work and communicate and create at this basic (0/1) level.

Our hundred-billion-neuron computers are designed to process digital signals at the rate of a hundred fifty million per second. Each neuron can unfold as many as ten thousand dendrite receptors to pick up information from its neighbors. Talk about local-area networks! Talk about Central Intelligence Activity! More information is probably exchanged per second at the site of one synapse than in the CIA headquarters in a day. If any.

This is the reality field that Plato described in the 4th Century B.C., that quantum mechanics intuited in 1900, and that we tri-brains have begun to inhabit at the end of this Roaring 20th Century;



In the 1980s we saw how the fabrication of quantum realities empowered the monopolistic organizations that manage the careers of screen actors like Ronald Reagan and the Pope and Ayatollah Khomeini and Mikhail Gorbachev.

In 1989 the nature of the quantum politics of thought processing and the human-computer interaction was dramatically changed by the introduction and marketing of digital home appliances.

We can now create electronic realities on the other side of the screen not just with a keyboard or a joystick or a mouse. We wear the interface. We don cybergloves, cybergoggles, cybercaps, cybervests. Cybershorts! Our bodily movements create the images on our screens. We walk, talk, dance, swim, float around in digital worlds, and we interact on screens with others who are linked in our nets.

Cyberwear is a mutational technology that allows individual’s brains to experience O.O.B. (out-of-body) experiences just as landware like legs and lungs permitted the fish to escape the water (O.O.W experiences). Cyberwear will make it possible for individual Americans to cross the Merlin Wall and to meet and interact in cyberspace.



The basic notion of O.O.B. artificial-reality appliances was introduced by Myron Kreuger and Ted Nelson in the 1970s. The nitty-gritty realities of creating and inhabiting digital universes were described in 1985 by William Gibson in his brilliant, epic trilogy Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Gibson described the “matrix” the dataworlds created by human digital communication. By 1989 cybernauts like Jaron Lanier, Eric Gullichsen, Joi Ito, Brenda Laurel, and Rebecca Allen were developing cyberspace realities built for two. Or more.


Many people are understandably disturbed by the idea that in the future human beings will be spending more time in PlatoLand than in Flesh Play; piloting their brain-selves inside electronic realities, interacting with other electronic humans.

Like adolescents whose hormones suddenly awaken the unused sexual circuits of their brains, we tri-brains are just now discovering that the brain is an info-organ wired, fired, and inspired to process and emit electronic signals. The main function of a computer is interpersonal communication.

Within ten years many of us will be spending almost all our screen time actively zooming around digital oceans interacting and re-creating with other tri-brains.

Some industrial-age cynics say that humans are too lazy. They would rather sit back as sedentary couch slugs than be active. But we’ve been through these tech-jumps before in history.

Before Henry Ford, only big-shot engineers and captains employed by corporations drove mass-media vehicles such as trains and steamboats. Now we recognize (and often deplore) this genetic compulsion to grab the steering wheel, smoke rubber, and freely auto-mobilize that sweeps over every member of our species at puberty.

In ten years most of our daily operations—occupational, educational, recreational—will transpire in ScreenLands. Common sense suggests that we are more likely to find compatible brain- mates if we are not restricted to local geography.
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Re: Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:17 am

Part 2 of 2

I.2. Custom-Sized Screen Realities


For thousands of years, since the dawn of tribal societies, most human beings have lived in drab caves, huts, shacks, igloos, houses, or apartments furnished and supplied with minimum information equipment—oral-body language. Stone tools.

In these shut-in, introverted, inward-looking, data-starved abodes occurred the practical maintenance functions that people had to perform to keep the gene pool going. For most people the plumbing was crude, the clothing hardly seductive. Cosmetics and perfumes were minimal—to say the most.

In the tribal culture there were no books, radios, or daily newspapers. No Vogue magazine loaded with five hundred slick pages of silk fashion, voluptuous models pouting with desire, straining to arouse, flashing wide-open, inviting legs in high-heeled shoes, and curving, suck-me tits. No, the survival information needed to maintain the tribal home was packaged in rote, monkey-like signals expressed by the body: oral grunts, gestures, bodily movements, crude artifacts.



If we wanted to experience a bit of glamour, if we yearned to flirt around, looking for a sexual partner, or to check on what was happening, if w e needed a battery recharge to keep us going as a loyal gene-pool serf-servant, we had to exit the home and amble up to the village square. There we could get the evening tribal news, pick up the local gossip, and make deals for skins or fur coats for our wives in exchange for a stone knife.

On designated occasions, our entire tribe would swarm together for ceremonies of celebration: Planting. Harvesting. Full moons. Solstice flings. Weddings. Funeral orgies. In agricultural societies the ingestion of psychotropic vegetables has always provided the sacramental energy for the gene-pool gatherings. Wines, fermented grains, brain-change vines, roots, leaves, flowers containing the precious neurotransmitters prepared and administered by alchemical shamans produced the “high,” the venerable, sacred, precious transcendental state of chaotics, ecstasy, possession, revelation, trance—the mythic-genetic right-brain vision. The Holy Confusion.

You know what l’m talking about. What orgasm is to the body, this shuddering psychedelic experience is to the brain.

At these treasured high moments, we tribe members could escape the drab and activate our individual myths, our special inner talents, and we could communicate it to others who were navigating their own personal neurorealities. These intense communications, brain exchanges which Catholics call “Holy Communion,” we call the Holy Confusion.

At these ceremonies we tribe members could express our visions in communal theatre. This one becomes a jokester. Another sings. Another dances. Suddenly tricksters, artists, mimes take the center stage to act out the emotions and the identifying themes that held the tribe together.

The sponsors of the tribal show time?

The clique that ran the tribe. The priests and the chieftains. The lovable grey beards, the stem, traditional Old Ones. The studio heads. Those responsible for holding the tribe together for their own fame and profit.

The task of luring the populace to listen to the sponsors’ messages in the feudal-industrial ages was delegated to a special caste called: The talent The painters. The directors. The shaman. The architects. The entertainers. The minstrels. The story-tellers. Their function and duty in the tribal economy was to calm the fears of Chaos with delightful comforting fantasies, titillating ceremonies, and romantic dramas.

We could let our swollen, tumescent eyeballs pop wide open and our turgid, drooling peasant tongues dangle as we watched the belly dancers and muscular dudes wiggle, writhe, slither, jiggle, and quiver until our loins ached. When we w ere back in the dark cave/hut in fireplace flicker, our plain, glamourless, loyal mates suddenly turned into the Whores of Babylon! Krishnas with glowing hard-ons! Talk about pornography inciting desire!

The perennial problem with the directors and the talent is this. To attract and dazzle villagers to listen to the commercials, they had to allow the public to vicariously experience this steamy, smoking-hot, exciting, naughty stuff that was absolutely taboo for the people, but which could be acted out in morality plays, racy festival performances, sculptures of naked bodies. And here’s where we talents come in.

To keep the folks tuning in, the sponsors needed us performers. The sexy musicians, well-endowed dancers, clowns, raunchy comedians telling risque stories about adulteries and risky new sexual adventures, poets, X-rated storytellers, comics, mimes. It was the talent who performed the safety-valve function, who gave the populace a fantasy taste of the rich and forbidden fruits.

Talents were selected for beauty, erotic charm, powerful emotion. We were expected to go too far, to push the envelope of taboo, to test the limits of good taste. Show our tits and asses. Act out wild copu- latory sex dances. Scandalize. And we were required to suffer the consequences. We were banned. Blacklisted. Sold down the river. Forced into harlotry. Fired from Harvard. Forever shamed and exposed in the local version of the perennial National Enquirer. Denounced as devils from the pulpits of the orthodox preachers, and denounced as C.I.A. agents by Marxists.

The sponsors of the tribal show, the priests and the chiefs, were kept busy not only producing the event, but also watching and censoring and punishing to make sure that nothing got too far out of hand, or upset the sponsors.

And, of course, the gene-pool commercials w ere ever-present We could never forget who owned the drums and the rattles and the spears and the shamanic talent, and the temples: The patrons who paid for the tribal show.


Marshall McLuhan spoke wisely. "Change the media and you change the culture." Literacy upgraded the aesthetic level and the efficiency of the entertainment packaging. The growth of cities and nations by the 1st Century B.C. provided big budgets and big crews to distribute continual messages from the gene-pool sponsors.

The people, the average folk, the six-pack-Joe families, were now called plebes or serfs or peasants. Their role in the feudal-information economy was not that different from that of their tribal ancestors. The poor people are always seen as primitive because they are forced to live in tribal neighbourhoods, ghettos, in huts, shacks, windowless rooms, slum pads, shabby urban caves where the signal rate was limited to immediate biological data exchanges from first breath to death.

The cultural and political messages from the sponsors of the feudal age were popularized and disseminated in spectacular public broadcasts. The church in the central plaza was large, ornate, decorative, loaded with statues and paintings of truly inspired aesthetic genius. The mediaeval crime-time show, both Christian and Islamic, was performed by miraculously gifted talent. The tiled mysteries of the Alhambra and the ceilings of the Vatican Chapel still inspire the breathless reflex reaction, "Wow! Praise the Lord for sponsoring this great show!"

Every day the commercial logos and mottos of the feudal culture were repeated. The muezzin's call, the church bell's sonorous clang, the chanting of the monks, the colourful garb of the priests and mullahs. Stained glass!

No wonder these feudal religions—fundamentalist, fanatic, furious, passionate, paranoid—swept the Hooper ratings! The fellaheen could leave their scruffy hovels and walk through cathedrals with golden ceilings stretching to the sky, while candles flickered on the statues of the Prophet. A panoramic mosque-church scene throbbing with colour, pomp, grandeur, wealth, and melodrama pouring Into virginal eyeballs.

The palaces of the secular rulers, the kings and dukes, were equally stunning, and much more sexy. The priests may have preached sexual abstinence, but the nobles fucked anyone they wanted to and celebrated sexual beauty in the paintings they commissioned. The walls of the palaces glowed with flamboyant celebrations of naked wantonness. Greek goddesses with pink, swollen thighs and acres of soft, silky flesh sprawled on clouds of filmy desire, enticing their male counterparts to enjoy their favors.

You could stand humbly with cap In hand and cheer the swells dressed up in opulent lace and leather riding by in gold-decorated carriages. You loved the changing of the Guard, probably not realizing that the troops were there to protect the sponsors of the show from you, the people.

The shack you live in may be dreary, but ankle downtown to catch the big, spectacular God-King show.



The same McLuhan trends continued in the industrial age. As usual, the populace was housed in small, dark rooms, but now that big is better, the rooms were stacked in enormous slum buildings.

The factory culture created the highest form of intelligent life on this planet, up until now: the mass-market consumer.

The sponsors of the factory economy didn’t really plan to create an insatiable consumer class that would eventually overwhelm it with acquisitive desire. Quite the contrary. The sponsors of the industrial culture were those who belonged to the one class that easily survived the fall of feudalism: the engineer-managers. They were sometimes called Masons. They were white, anti-papist, Northern European mechanics, efficient and rational, with a scary hive mentality totally loyal to The Order. Stem puritans. They worked so hard, postponed so much pleasure, and got obsessed with engineering so efficiently that they ended up flooding the world with an unstoppable cascade of highly appealing products. Labor-saving devices. Better medicines to save lives. Better guns to snuff lives. Books. Radios. Televisions.

This cornucopian assembly line of everything that a tribal hunter or a feudal serf or a Holy Roman Emperor could possibly have lusted for required endless rotating armies of indefatigably industrious consumers willing to lift items from shelves, haul grocery carts, unpack bags, store in refrigerators, kick tires, read manuals of instruction, turn keys, drive away, and then religiously repair, until death, the appliances that rolled like an endless river of metal-rubber-plastic down Interstate 101 to the shopping malls and into our factory-made homes.

How can the sponsors keep the people motivated to perform the onerous tasks of producing and consuming at a feverish pace? The same old way—by putting on a show and promising them a glimpse of the high life. But this time, in the mercantile culture, they can sell ’em tickets.

The cultural celebrations that got people out of the house in the industrial society were no longer religious-political ceremonies. They occurred in commercial venues. Public invited. Tickets at box office or street comer. Every community boasted a theatre, concert hall, art gallery, opera house, burlesque palace, vaudeville show, sports stadium, bullring. Et cetera. These entertainment factories were built to resemble the royal structures of the feudal age. Theatres were called the “Palace” and the “Majestic” and the “Royal.”

In these plastic-fantastic whorehouse temples, workers could escape the routine, drab signalry of the workday and lose themselves in lascivious, wet-dream, hypnotic states of erotic pleasure, tantalizing, carnal carnivals designed and produced by us, the shamanic profession, the counterculture entertainers.

The psycho-economics were clear-cut. The consumers wanted the show to last as long as possible, anything to get out of the hovel. More w as better. The show-biz trick was to stretch out the scenes of the opera, stage play, concert as long as possible. Give ’em their money’s worth.



By the mid-20th Century, at the peak of the mechanical age, the relentless engineering search for labor-saving devices and mass distribution naturally extended to the entertainment industry. The new McLuhan media was electricity. Stage plays could be filmed, the films duplicated and sent to hundreds of theatres.

No wonder these feudal religions-fundamentalist, fanatic, furious, passionate, paranoid-swept the Hooper ratings! The fellaheen could leave their scruffy hovels and walk through cathedrals with golden ceilings stretching to the sky, while candles flickered on the statues of the Prophet. A panoramic mosque-church scene throbbing with colour, pomp, grandeur. wealth, and melodrama pouring into virginal eyeballs.

The effect was astounding. Fanner Brown could sit in the village theatre and there in front of him, thirty-feet high, was the face of Clara Bow, her bulging red lips glistening with moisture, her eyes beaming nymphomaniac invitation! Farmer Brown had never in his wildest fantasies dreamed of this sultry thang! Meanwhile, Mrs. Brown is breathing hard and leaking her precious bodily juices watching Rudolf Valentino licking his full lips with his sensual tongue!


Movies swept the world. The film industry naturally followed the commandment of the mechanical age—big is better. Cloned quantity is better. Feature films were made in two convenient sizes. The epic was very long. But the industry w as run by clothing merchants from New York w ho knew how to sell, cut-rate, two pants to a suit. So most films were manufactured in the half-size “double-bill.” If and when the people left their homes and traveled downtown to the theatre, they expected a good three or four hours of escape.

Over the last twenty-five thousand years, until yesterday, the sponsors had come and gone, and the technologies had improved from oral-gestural to hand-tool to mechanical-electric. But the goals, principles, and venues of human motivation and human communication hadn't really changed much, and the economics hadn’t changed. Big was always better.

The talent in tribal, feudal, and industrial cultures had two “charm” tasks. The first, and most important, was to entice, beg, grovel, seduce, use our sexual wiles, go down on our knees to the sponsors to get the deal. The second job was to please the customers. This was easier, because the customers basically were begging to get titillated, turned on, aroused. They had paid money to adore the talent.



"They’ll never get me up in one of those,” says the caterpillar to the butterfly.

The sponsors, of course, got their kicks from fucking over everyone, especially the glamourous talent. When and if the entertainers became superstars, they, naturally, got off their knees, wiped off their mouths, and proceeded to take exquisite revenge on the sleazy producers, the grubby studio heads, the rodent-like agency executives, the greedy managers, and the assorted lawyer thieves with briefcases and fax machines who had formerly abused us.

“There’s no business like show business!” As they were fond of saying.


These ancient rituals, which endured through the tribal, feudal, industrial ages, amazingly enough, began to change dramatically in the last few years! Just before yesterday, around 1984, a combination of American creativity and Japanese precision suddenly mass-produced inexpensive, do-it-yourself home appliances for individuals to electronify, digitize, and transmit personal realities.

Digital communication translates the recording of any sound or photograph of any image into clusters of quanta or fuzzy clouds of off/on information. Any image digitized by an individual human can then be flashed on telephone lines around the world inexpensively at light speed.


The basic elements of the youniverse, according to quantum-digital physics, can be understood as consisting of quanta of information, bits of compressed digital programs. These elements of pure (0/1) information contain incredibly detailed algorithms to program potential sequences for fifteen billion years—and still running. These information-jammed units have only one hardware-external function. All they do is flash off/on when the immediate environment triggers a complex array of “if-if-if-if... THEN!” algorithms.

Digital communication (i.e., the operation of the universe) involves massive arrays of these info-units, trillions of information pixels flashing to create the momentary hardware reality of one single molecule.

The Newtonian energy-matter equations of the industrial age (the 19th Century) defined a local-mechanical reality in which much bigger and more was very much better. You remember the catch-phrases in the old Newtonian heavy-metal Dinosaur Marching Song? Force. Momentum. Mass. Energy. Work. Power. Thermodynamics.

In the information age we are coming to realize that in packaging digital data, much smaller is very much better.

The basic principle in light-speed communication is that so much more information is packed into so much smaller hardware units. For example, the 2-pound human brain is a digital organic computer that processes a hundred million times more information (r.p.m.) than the 200-pound body.

The almost invisible DNA code keeps programming and constructing improved organic computing appliances, i.e., generation alter generation of better and more portable brains. A billion-year- old DNA megaprogram of invisible molecular size is much smarter than the shudderingly fragile, here-and-now brain!

And infinitely smaller. People are learning to deal with enormous stacks of digital-electronic information presented at light speeds. Telephone. Radio. Television. Computers. Compact discs. At home. In their “head” quarters. Electronic info pulled down from the sky and poured out of the portable stereophonic ghetto-blaster perched on shoulder, jacked into ear-balls as the body dances along the avenue. This “addiction” to electronic information has drastically expanded the reception scope and lessened the tar-pit attention span of the 19th Century.



Folks in the mechanical age may be content to sit drinking tea and reading the London Times for two hours. But energetic smart people navigating a postindustrial brain move through an ocean of information, surfing data waves breaking at light speed and stereophonic CD (the current brand name here is Hypermedia or CD-I—compact disc-interactive).

This appetite for digital data, more and faster, can now be recognized as a species need. The brain needs electrons and psychoactive chemicals like the body needs oxygen. Just as body nutritionists list our daily requirements for vitamins, so will our brain-psyberneticians soon be listing our daily requirements for various classes of digital information.

By the year 2000, pure information will be cheaper than water and electricity. The average American home will be equipped to access trillions of bits of information per minute. The credit-card-size interpersonal computer will be able to scoop up any page from the Library of Congress, sift through the entire film library of MGM, sort through all the episodes of “I Love Lucy,” and slice out (if it pleases you) paragraphs from the original Aramaic Bible.

On a typical Saturday way back in 1990, Los Angeles residents with a competitive itch could exercise the option to flick on seven major-league baseball games, nine college football contests, the Olympic games, two horse-racing tracks, etc.

By the year 2000, the poorest kid in the inner city will have a thumbnail-size chip (costing a dollar) with the storage and processing power of a billion transistors. He/she will also have an optic-fiber wall socket that will input a million times more signals than the current television set Inexpensive virtual-reality suits and goggles will allow this youngster to interact with people all over the world in any environment he or she chooses to fabricate.

As George Gilder says, “The cultural limitations of television, tolerable when there was no alternative, are unendurable in the face of the new computer technologies now on the horizon—technologies in which the U.S. leads the world.”

The home in the year 2000, thus equipped with inexpensive digital CD-I appliances, becomes our private television- film-sound studio that programs the digital universe we choose to inhabit, for as long as we want to inhabit it.

But is there not a danger of overload? The ability to scan and fish-net miniaturized, abridged, slippery bursts of essence-aesthetic information from the salty oceans of signals flooding the home becomes a basic survival skill in the 21st Century. Our bored brains love “overload.” They can process more than a hundred million signals a second.

Of course, this acceleration and compression of information has already become state of the art in television. The aim of crime-time network television is to get people to watch commercials. A 30-second slot during the Super Bowl broadcast costs close to half a million dollars.

The advertising agencies w ere the first to pick up the handy knack of digital-miniaturization. They spurt dozens of erotic, shocking, eye-catching images into a half-minute info-slot convincing us that “the night belongs to Michelob.” For that matter, we select our presidents and ruling bureaucrats on the basis of 30-second image clips, carefully edited by advertising experts.


Slowly, reluctantly, the factory-based film industry' is being forced to condense, speed up. Veteran, old-school movie directors don’t want to do it. They are trapped in the antiquated industrial-age models of the opera and the “legitimate” stage play and the epic movie. And the prima-donna omnipotent director.

Before 1976, the bigger the movie the better. The long, leisurely, time-consuming film was the great epic. A director w ho came into the screening room with anything less than 2 hours (120 minutes or 7200 seconds) was considered a breezy lightweight.

Way hack in 1966, before cable television, people loved long, slow films. They provided folks with a welcome escape from their info-impoverished homes. You went to the theatre to enter a world of technicoloured glamour and excitement that could not be experienced at convenience in the living room. In the theatre you could be Queen for a Night. The director, naturally enough, tried to stretch out the show as long as possible to postpone the customer’s return to the home dimly lit by three black- and-white television networks.


By 1988, however, most American residences were equipped with cable inputs and VCRs and remote controls. Sitting like sultans in botanical torpor, we browse, graze, nibble as many multitone, flashing screen-flix as our warm little fin gers can punch buttons.

We are no longer sensation-starved serfs pining in dark garrets, lusting, longing, craving, starved for the technicolour flash of soil curving flesh. On late-night television we can bathe in sexual innuendo. We can rent X-rated films of every erotic version and perversion ever dreamed. There is no longer that desperate appetite, that starved hunger, that yearning itch, that raw hankering for optical stimulation.

This appetite for digital data, more and faster, can now be recognized as a species need. The brain needs electrons and psychoactive chemicals like the body needs oxygen. lust as body nutritionists list our daily requirements for vitamins, so will our brain psyberneticians soon be listing our daily requirements tor various classes of digital information.

For this reason the long, slow, symphony-scored feature film has become a plodding line of 150 elephants trapped in the melodramatic swamp. Movies today are far too long. The information-age cyberperson simply will not sit for 150 minutes trapped in Cimino’s wonderfully operatic mind or Coppolla’s epic intensities. For many of us, the best stuff we see on a movie screen are the trailers. A new art form is emerging—the production of 3-minute teasers about coming attractions. Electronic haikus! Most movies fail to live up to the trailers that hype them. The “high lights” of a smash-grab action flick can be fascinating for 3 minutes, but lethally boring for 2 hours. Indeed, most of the new breed of movie directors like Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, Nelson Lyon, and David Lynch have learned their craft by making commercials or MTV clips, from which have come the new communication rhythms.

Filmmakers are learning the lesson of quantum physics and digital neurology: much more data in much smaller packages. It turns out that the brain likes to have digital signals jamming the synapses.


In response to this obvious fact, some innovative Filmmakers are beginning to experiment with customized movies, sized for length. The idea is this. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t want to sit trapped at a table for 150 minutes eating the same Italian dish. No matter how delicious. No matter how many Oscars the chef has won, most younger film buffs are not gonna sit still during a 2-1/2-hour spaghetti film by moody, self-absorbed auteur-directors from the operatic traditions.

But if long, slow flicks are what you want, if you really prefer to absorb electronic information like a python ingests a pig, if you want to stuff yourself and slowly digest a 150-minute film—why, no problem! You arrive at the cineplex and you make your menu selection when you buy your ticket If you want the super-giant 150-minute version of Last Temptation of Christ you pay $15, visit the rest room, pack a lunch, cancel a few meetings, walk to the long-distance room, settle in, and let Scorcese leisurely paddle you down his cerebral canals. As a television person, your attention appetite at the visual banquet table probably gets satiated after an hour. So you’ll tend to select the regular-size epic: Christ, $5 for 50 minutes.

But cyberpilots and brain jocks, with an eternity of digitized info-worlds at fingertip, tend to go for the nouvelle cuisine, gourmet buffet. You pay $5 and watch five 10-minute “best-of,” haiku compressions of five films. Five “high lights” essence-teasers. Tastes great! Less filling!

If you are really taken by one of these specialite de maison and want more, you either go to the box office for a ticket or you stick your credit card in the dispenser cabinet, dial your choice, and out pops a custom-sized rental video to take home and scan at your convenience.


So far you have been a busy consumer with many passive selective options.

But, suppose you want to move into the active mode? Change the film? Script and direct your own version? Put your personal spin on the great director's viewpoint? Heresy!

Suppose, for example, that you're a 14- year-old African or Asian girl and you dislike the movie Rambo, which cost $40 million, minimum, to make. You rent the video for $1 and scan it. Then you select the most offensive section. Maybe the one where Sly Stallone comes crashing through the jungle into the native village, naked to the waist, brandishing a machine gun with which he kills several hundred Asian men, women, and children.

To present your version, you digitize this 30-second scene, copy it into your $100 Nin-Sega-Mac computer, and use the Director software program to re-edit. You digitize the torso of a stupid-looking gorilla, you scan a wilted celery stalk or the limp penis of an elephant, you loop in the voice of Minnie Mouse in the helium mode screaming the Stallone line: "You gonna let us win this time?"

You paste your version into the rented tape, pop it back in the box, and return it to the video store. The next person renting Rambo will be in for a laugh and a half! Within weeks this sort of viral contagion of individual choice could sweep your town.

In the cybernetic age now dawning, "Digital Power to the People" provides everyone the Inexpensive option to cast, script, direct, produce, and distribute his or her own movie. Custom-made, tallorized, in the convenient sizes—mammoth, giant, regular, and byte-sized mini.


I am viewing a videotape filmed by cyberspace researchers at Autodesk, a Sausalito computer-software company.

On the screen, a woman wearing tennis shorts leans ahead expecting a serve. On her head she wears a cap woven with thin wires. Her eyes are covered by opaque goggles. In her hand she holds a metal tennis racquet with no strings.

She dashes to her left and swings furiously at the empty air.

"Oh no!" she groans in disappointment. "Too low!"

She crouches again in readiness then runs forward, leaps up, slams a vicious volley at the empty air and shouts in triumph.

The videotape then changes point of view. Now I am seeing what the player sees. I am in the court. The ball hits the wall and bounces back to my left. My racquet smashes the ball in a low-angle winning shot.

This woman is playing virtual racquet ball. Her goggles are two small computer screens showing the digitized three-dimensional picture of a racquet-ball court. She is in the court. As she moves her head-left, right, up-orientation-direction sensors in her cap show her the left wall, the right wall, the ceiling. The movement of the ball is calculated to reflect "real-life" gravity and spin.

I am experiencing the current big trend in electronics. It is called artificial reality or virtual reality or electronic reality. Some literary computer folks call it platonic reality, in honor of the Socratic philosopher who described a universe of idealized or imagined forms more than two thousand years ago. Cynics call it virtual banality.

We no longer need to press our addicted optical nostrils to the television screen like grateful amoebas. Now, we can don cybersuits, clip on cybergoggles, and move around in the electronic reality on the other side of the screen. Working, playing, creating, exploring with basic particles of reality-electrons.

This technology was first developed by NASA. The idea was that technicians in Houston could use their gloves to direct robots on the moon. Architects and engineers are experimenting with an Autodesk device to walk around in the electronic projections of the buildings they are designing. Doctors can travel down arteries and veins, observing and manipulating instruments.

Does this sound too Star Trekky to be for real? Well, it’s already happening. Way back at Christmas 1990 six hundred thousand American kids equipped with Nintendo power gloves were sticking their hands through the Alice Window moving ninja warriors around.

The implications of this electronic technology for work and leisure and interpersonal intimacy are staggering.

For example, within ten years many of us will not have to “go” to work. We will get up in the morning, shower, dress in our cyberwear suits, and “beam” our brains to work. No more will we have to fight traffic in our air-polluting 300-horsepower cars, hunt for parking spaces, take the elevator to our offices. No more (lying, strapped in our seats in a monstrous toxic-waste-producing air-polluting jet-propelled sky-dinosaur, jammed with sneezing, coughing sardines, fighting jet lag to attend conferences and meetings.

Tomorrow our brains will soar on the wings of electrons into the offices of friends in Tokyo, then beam at light speed to a restaurant in Paris for a flirtatious lunch, pay a quick, ten-minute visit to our folks in Seattle—all without physically leaving our living rooms. In three hours of electronic, global house calls we can accomplish what would have taken three days or three weeks of lugging our brain-carrying bodies like slabs of inert flesh.

This is the information age, and the generator-producers of information are our delightful, surprise-packed brains. Just as the enormously powerful machines of the industrial age moved our bodies around, so, tomorrow, will our cybernetic appliances zoom our brains around the world at light speed.



We won’t travel to play. We press two buttons and we are standing on the tee of the first hole at Pebble Beach. There to join us is sister Anita (who is actually standing on the lawn of her house in Atlanta) and our dearest, funniest, wonderful friend Joi, whom we have never met in the flesh (and who is actually standing in his backyard in Osaka). Each of us in turn “hits” the platonic golf ball and we watch them soar down the fairway. After finishing the first hole, we can dial-beam to Anita’s patio to admire her garden, zap over to the tee of the second hole at SL Andrew’s, then zoom to the Louvre to look at that Cezanne painting Joi was talking about.

Within ten years, most of us Americans will be spending half our waking hours zapping around in electronic environments with our friends. Any spot in the world we can think of can be dialed up on our screens with our friends. Any landscape, surrounding, setting, habitat we can think of or imagine can be quickly fabricated on our screens with our friends.

Some thoughtful critics are concerned by the prospect of human beings spending so much time trapped like zombies in the inorganic, plastic-fantastic electronic world. They fear that this will lead to a depersonalization, a dehumanization, a robotization of human nature, a race of screen-addicted nerds. This understandable apprehension is grounded in the horrid fact that today the average American spends around six hours each day passively reclining in front of the boob tube, and three hours a day peering docilely into Big Brother’s computer screens.

The optimistic, human scenario for the future involves three common-sense steps:

1. Cure the current apathetic, torpid television addiction,

2. End the monopoly of top-down, spud-farm, mass-media centralized television, and

3. Empower individuals to actively communicate, perform, create electronic realities.

How? By means of inexpensive computer clothing.

Another example? A married couple, Tom and Jane, are walking down the Malibu beach. In material form, you understand. Real foot-massaging sand. Real skin-tanning sunshine blue sky. On loving impulse, they decide to spend a funny, loving minute or two with their daughter, Annie, who is in Boulder. They flip down their lens-goggles that look like sunglasses. Jane punches a few numbers on her stylish, designer wristwatch. Tom turns on the one-pound Walkman receiver-transmitter. In Boulder, Annie accepts their “visit” and dials them to a prefabricated pix-scene of her patio. She is smiling in welcome. She is actually in her living room, but electronically she is in her electronic patio. They see exactly what they would see if they were there. When they turn their heads, they see Annie’s husband Joe walking out waving. He points out the roses that have just bloomed in the garden. Remember, at the same time Tom and Jane are “really” walking down the Malibu beach. They can look over the goggles and watch two kids in bathing suits chasing a dog.

The four people sharing the “patio” reality decide they w ant to be joined by sister Sue, in Toronto. They dial her and she beams over to the “patio” in Colorado. Sue wants to show them her new dress; so the gang beams up to Sue’s living room.

It is logical for you, at this point, to wonder about the cost of this transcontinental home movie-making. Is this not another expensive toy for affluent yuppies playing while the rest of the world starves?

Happily, the answer is “no.” The equipment used by this family costs less than a standard 1990 television set, that pathetic junk-food spud-box with no power to store or process electronic information. Designing and digitizing and communicating the electronic realities costs less than a phone call. In ten years fiber-optic wires will receive-transmit more information than all the clumsy air-wave broadcasting networks. A thumbnail-size brain-chip holding a billion transistors will allow us to store and process millions of three-dimensional signals per minute. Intense chaotics waiting to be re-created.

What will we possibly do with these inexpensive extensions of our brains? The answer is so down-to-earth human. We shall use these wizard powers to communicate with each other at unimaginable levels of clarity, richness, and intimacy. Reality designing is a team sport.

To help us imagine one dimension of the communication possibilities, let us consider the erotic interaction. Cyril Connolly once wrote, “Complete physical union between two people is the rarest sensation which life can provide—and yet not quite real, for it stops when the telephone rings.”

Connolly’s comment is useful because he distinguishes between “physical” communication, bodies rubbing, and neurological signals—words and thoughts transmitted electrically. The solution to his problem is simple. Electronic appliances are beautifully cooperative. (Hey, Cyril, if you don’t want to be disturbed, just turn the gadget off when you head for the sack, and then turn it back on when you wish to.)

But let us examine a more profound implication. Connolly refers to “complete physical union” as “the rarest sensation which life can provide.” Is he thereby denigrating the “union of minds and brains”? The interplay of empathy, wit, fantasy, dream, whimsy, imagination? Is he scorning “platonic love”? Is he implying that sex should be mindless genital acrobatics? A grim, single-minded coupling that can be disturbed by the platonic rapture of metaphysical sex? Or a phone call?  

Intense chaotics waiting to be re-created... with our friends. Reality designing is a team sport.

Here is a typical episode of erotic play that could happen the day after tomorrow. The two lovers, Terry and Jerry, are performing bodily intercourse beautifully with elegance and sensual skill, etc. They are also wearing platonic lenses. At one point Jerry touches her/his watch, and suddenly they are bodysurfing twelve-foot rainbow waves that are timed to their physical erotic moves. Sounds of liquid magnificence flood their ears. Terry giggles and touches her/his watch, and the waves spiral into a tunnel vortex down which they spin and tumble. They intercreate reality dances. Terry is a seething volcano over whom Jerry soars as a fearless eagle, while birds sing and the Earth softly breathes.

Plato, it turns out, was magnificently on beam. He said that the material, physical expressions are pale, crude distortions of the idea forms that are fabricated by the mind, the brain, the “soul.” We are talking about learning how to operate our minds, our brains, our souls. And learning the rudiments of mind-fucking, silky body juicy fucking, and... brain-soul fucking.


We are talking about learning how to operate our minds, our brains, our souls. And learning the rudiments of mind-fucking, silky body juicy fucking, and... brain-soul fucking

In fact, most physical sex, even the most “complete unions,” is no more than graceful motions unless enriched by brain-fucking imagination. And here is the charming enigma, the paradoxical truth that dares not show its face. Usually, even in the deepest fusions, neither partner really knows what is flashing through that delightful, adorable mind of the other.

In the future the wearing of cyberclothing will be as conventional as the wearing of body-covering clothing. To appear without your platonic gear would be like showing up in public stark naked. A new global language of virtual-signals, icons, 3-D pixels will be the lingua franca of our species. Instead of using words, we shall communicate in self-edited movie clips selected from the chaotic jungles of images stored on our wrists.

The local vocal dialects will remain, of course, for intimate communication. Nothing from our rich, glorious past will be eliminated. When we extend our minds and empower our brains, we shall not abandon our bodies, nor our machines, nor our tender, secret love whispers.

We will drive cars, as we now ride horses, for pleasure. We will develop exquisite bodily expressions, not to work like efficient robots, but to perform acts of grace.

The main function of the human being in the 21st Century is “imagineering” and electronic-reality fabrication; to learn how to express, communicate, and share the wonders of our brains with others.  
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Re: Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:25 am

Part 1 of 2



1. Conversation with William Gibson

2. Artificial Intelligence: Hesse's Prophetic Glass Bead Game

3. Our Brain

4. How to Boot Up Your Bio-Computer

5. Personal Computers, Personal Freedom

6. Quantum Jumps, Your Macintosh, and You


II.1. Conversation with William Gibson

Timothy Leary: If you could put Neuromancer into one sentence, how would you describe it?

William Gibson: What’s most important to me is that it’s about the present It’s not really about an imagined future. It’s a way of trying to come to terms with the awe and terror inspired in me by the world in which we live. I’m anxious to know what they’ll make of it in Japan. Oh, God—I’m starting to feel like Edgar Rice Burroughs or something. I mean, how did Edgar Rice Burroughs finally come to feel about Tarzan in his own heart, you know? He got real tired of it. Wound up living in Tarzana, California.

TL: You’ll end up living in a space colony called Neuromancer.

WG: That would be okay. I don’t think we’re going to have this kind of future. I think this book is so much nicer than what seems to be happening. 1 mean, this would be a cool place to visit I wouldn’t mind going there.

TL: Where?

WG: To the Sprawl, to that future.

TL: Going up the well?

WG: Yeah. Go up the well and all of that. A lot of people think that Neuromancer is a bleak book, but I think it’s optimistic.

TL: I do, too.

WG: I think the future is actually gonna be more boring. I think some kind of Falwellian future would probably be my idea of the worst thing that could happen.

TL: Yeah. That was a wonderful scene where you have those Christians who were gonna mug those girls in the subway.

WG: It’s not clear whether they’re going to mug them or just try to force some horrible pamphlet on them or something.

Personally, I have a real phobia about guys like that coming up to me on the street...

TL: That’s a powerful scene! And you describe the girls as like hoofed animals wearing high heels.

WG: Yeah. The office girls of the Sprawl.

TL: Yeah, and they’re wearing vaginas, and—Oh, God! That’s a powerful scene.

WG: I like the idea of that subway. That’s the state-of-the-art subway. It goes from Atlanta to Boston, real fast.

TL: You’ve created a world.

WG: What you’re getting when you read that book—the impression is very complicated, but it’s all actually one molecule thick. Some of it is still pretty much of a mystery to me. You know, the United States is never mentioned in the book. And there’s some question as to whether the United States exists as a political entity or if, in fact, it’s been Balkanized in some weird way. That’s kind of a favorite idea of mine, that the world should be chopped up into smaller...

TL: Me too, boy.

WG: West-coast separatism and stuff. In Count Zero, 1 mention what’s happening in California a little bit. One of the characters has a girlfriend who lives in a pontoon city that’s tethered off Redondo. Kind of like a hallucinated... it’s the Sprawl goes Sausalito—the Sprawl but mellower.

At the end of Neuromancer, the entire Matrix is sentient. It has, in some ways, one will. And, as it tells Case, kind of matter-of-factly, it’s found another of its kind on Alpha Centuri or somewhere; so it’s got something to talk to. Count Zero starts seven years later, and like Yeats’s poem about how the center wouldn’t hold, this sort of God-consciousness is now fragmented. It hasn’t been able to keep it together.

Case could be one of Burroughs's wild boys... in a way. I’m deeply influenced by Burroughs.... he found ’fifties science fiction and used it like a rusty can opener on society’s jugular.

So the voodoo cultists in the Sprawl, who believe that they have contacted the voodoo pantheon through the Matrix, are in fact dealing with these fragmented elements of this God tiring. And the fragments are much more daemonic and more human, reflecting cultural expectations.

Anyway, I’ve got to do a different kind of book now, because I’m already getting some reviews saying, “Well, this is good, but it’s more of the same stuff.” I’m desperate to avoid that.

TL: Frank Herbert, who was a lovely guy, wrote a book that’s entirely different from Dune. It’s about humans who became insects up in Portland. Did you ever read it? It’s a nice change. In some ways, I like that book as much as Dune. He got into an entirely different situation.

WG: Well, he was trapped! That’s something I’m very worried about. I get flashes of “I don’t want to be Frank Herbert.” Because even as wealthy and as nice a guy as he was, I don’t think he was happy with what had happened to him creatively. He did get trapped. It’s different for somebody like Douglas Adams, where I think that the whole thing started off as such a goof for him that it was just a stroke of good luck that he built on. But Herbert was very serious, at a certain point. And then, gradually, he wound up having to do more of the same, because, I mean, how can you turn people down when something like that gets enough momentum?

TL: Douglas Adams told me that the three books were one book, and the publisher said to split them up into three. He made a million dollars on each one of them. And they’re nice. It’s a nice tour.

WG: Yeah. They’re funny.

TL: These big books...

WG: I can’t go for that.

TL: I'm glad about that. Norman Spinrad... by the way—1 love Norman. But I have a terrible problem with him. He makes them too big. Did you read Child of Fortune?

WG: It was too big for me.

TL: Yeah. If he had divided it down the center. If he could only cut it in half.

WG: He wrote a book called The Iron Dream. It’s a science-fiction novel by Adolf Hitler, in an alternate world where Hitler became a science-fiction writer. It’s a critique of the innately fascist element in a lot of traditional science fiction. Very funny. For me, given the data in the books, the keys to Case’s personality are the estrangement from his body, the meat, which it seems to me, he does overcome. People have criticized Neuromancer for not bringing Case to some kind of transcendent experience. But, in fact, I think he does have it. He has it within the construct of the beach, and he has it when he has his orgasm. There’s a long paragraph there where he accepts the meat as being this infinite and complex thing. In some ways, he’s more human alter that.

TL: In some ways he reminds me of some of Burroughs’s characters.

WG: (Equivocally) Yeah. Case could be one of Burroughs’s wild boys... in a way. I’m deeply influenced by Burroughs. I always tell everybody that there’s a very strong influence there. I didn’t think I’d be able to put that over on the American science-fiction people, because they either don’t know who Burroughs is or they’re immediately hostile... he found 'fifties science fiction and used it like a rusty can opener on society’s jugular. They never understood. But I was like 15 when I read The Naked Lunch and it sorta splattered my head all over the walls. And I have my megalomaniac fantasy of some little kid in Indiana picking up Neuromancer and pow!

TL: Well, that happens, dude. Don’t worry. There’s five hundred thousand copies already.

WG: I had to teach myself not to write too much like Burroughs. He was that kind of influence. I had to weed some of that Burroughsian stuff out of it. In an interview in London, in one of my rare lucid moments, I told this guy that the difference between what Burroughs did and what I did is that Burroughs would just glue the stuff down on the page but I airbrushed it all.

TL: Burroughs and I are close friends. We’ve been through a lot together. I went to Tangier in 1961. I was in a hotel bar and Burroughs walks in with these two beautiful English boys. I started telling him about these new drugs and, of course, he knew much more about drugs than anyone in the world! I was just this childish Harvard professor doing my big research project on drugs. And Burroughs is saying, “Oh, shit. Here they come. Boy Scouts. And they’re gonna save the world with drugs. Yeah, sure.” We brought him back to Harvard. He came to the prison project and all. I got to know him very well. He couldn’t stand us. We were much too goody-goody. It’s implied that the crowd that Case hung out with is a drug crowd.

WG: Yeah. This seems to be a world where everybody is pretty much stoned most of the time.


TL: That first chapter... whew!

WG: I had to go over and over that. I must have rewritten it a hundred and fifty times.

TL: I'll bet. It’s like a symphony or a fugue. This is the fifth line in the book: “It’s like my body developed this massive drug deficiency. It was a Sprawl voice and a Sprawl joke.” (Laughs) Of course, his life was jacking in.

WG: Oh yeah. He just lives for...

TL: Cyberspace.

WG: Yeah. For cyberspace.

TL: Would you describe cyberspace as the matrix of all the hallucinations?

WG: Yeah, it’s a consensual hallucination that these people have created. It’s like, with this equipment, you can agree to share the same hallucinations. In effect, they’re creating a world. It’s not really a place, it’s not really space. It’s notional space.

TL: See, we live in that space. We that are hooked up to Neuromancer are living in that consensual hallucination.

WG: I didn’t think women would go for the Molly character very much. I’ve really been surprised at the number of women who have come up to me and said, “Molly’s great. I really got off on her.” I think America is ready for a female lead who beats the shit out of everybody.

TL: Molly says, “You like to jack in. I've gotta tussle.” That’s a beautiful two-liner.

WG: I was originally gonna call this book Jacked In. The people at Ace said it sounded too much like “jacked off,” but that was my first thought for a title. Molly’s tougher than Case because Case is the viewpoint character, and I wanted an enigmatic character; so she’s more shut off from me. It’s the symbolism of the sunglasses. He never even finds out what colour her eyes are.

TL: And making love, she says...

WG: “No fingerprints.” Yeah, she’s a tough one for me to do, because that’s some kind of image from my... She’s a bushido figure. When she says she’s street samurai, she means it quite literally. She has this code. And it may grow out of a sort of pathological personality, but it still is her code.

TL: What was that segment where she was like in hypnosis; so she didn’t know what was going on?

WG: Oh, they use a sort of sensory cut-out, so that she isn’t conscious when this stuff is happening, but her motor system was being run by a program. So, in effect, she became kind of a living sex-shop doll. Programmed. The people who write the program are in Berlin. She says, “They have some nasty shit there.”

Actually, this starts in Burning Chrome. That’s where it comes from. One of the key things in that story is when this guy realizes that his girlfriend is working in one of these places in order to buy herself an improved pair of artificial eyes. I described it a little more clearly in that story. The prostitutes aren’t conscious. They don’t remember. In Burning Chrome, the guy says the orgasms are like little silver flares right out at the edge of space, and that’s the...

TL: That’s the guy’s orgasm, not hers. She’s not even feeling it.

WG: Well, she can feel a little bit, maybe...

TL: What would you say about Riviera?

WG: Riviera is like some kind of terminal bag-person. He grows up in a radioactive pit, with cannibalism pretty much the only way to get along. It’s like Suddenly Last Summer. Ever see that? Where the guy's ripped apart by the little Mexican children? Well, Riviera is like that, a feral child. He’s smart, incredibly perverse. But all the stuff that he does—the little projected hallucinations and things—are relatively low tech. He’s just projecting holograms.

There’s this amazing German surrealist sculptor named Hans Belmer who made a piece called “The Doll.” He made a doll that was more his fetish object than a work of art, this totally idealized girlchild that could be taken apart and rearranged in an infinite number of ways. So 1 have Riviera call his piece “The Doll.” Belmer’s doll. Riviera also represents the fragmentation of the body. People see things like that, sometimes, out of the corners of their eyes.

TL: What about Armitage?

WG: He’s a synthetic personality, a character utterly lacking character. As Molly says, “This guy doesn’t do anything when he’s alone.” It’s some kind of post-Vietnam state.

TL: I can see certain Gordon Liddy qualities in Armitage.

WG: Yeah, I saw a video of his Miami Vice performance without realizing it was Liddy. When 1 saw that, I thought of Armitage. This book’s fraught with psychotics.

TL: (Laughing) You see, there are a few of us who think it’s a very positive book in spite of that.

WG: Yeah? Really? Well, I just try to reflect the world around me.

TL: I know. You’re a mirror. Yes. How about Lucas Yonderboy?

WG: Lucas Yonderboy was my reaction to the spookier and more interesting side of punk. Kind of young and enigmatic. Cool to the point of inexplicability. And he’s a member of the Panther Moderns. They’re sorta like Marshall McLuhan’s Revenge. Media monsters. It’s as though the worst street gang you ever ran into were, at the same time, intense conceptual artists. You never know what they’re going to do.

TL: What recent book have you most enjoyed?

WG: Bruce Sterling is my favorite science-fiction writer. Schismatrix is the most visionary science-fiction novel of the last twenty years or so. Humanity evolves, mutates through different forms very quickly, using genetic engineering and bio-chemistry. It’s a real mindfucker. When he first got it out and was getting the reviews back, he told me, “There are so many moving parts, people are scared to stick their heads in it.” People will be mining that, ripping off ideas for the next thirty years.

TL: Like Gravity’s Rainbow.

WG: Yeah. That’s one of my personal favorites. Have you ever met Pynchon?

TL: Ohhhh... I had him tracked down and I could’ve. It was a deal where there was a People magazine reporter with an expense-paid thing. We were going to rent a car and pick up Ken Kesey. Pynchon was living up near Redding, Pennsylvania. We had him tracked there.

And I decided I didn’t want to do it. I’ve said this to many people, so I should say it to you. Your book had the same effect on me as Gravity’s Rainbow.

The way I read Gravity’s Rainbow is pretty interesting. At one point, the American government was trying to get me to talk. They were putting incredible pressure on me. This FBI guy said if I didn’t talk... “we’ll put your name out at the federal prison with the jacket of a snitch.” So I ended up in a prison called Sandstone. As soon as I got in there, there was a change of clothes and they said, “The warden wants to see you.” So the warden said, “To protect you, we’re going to put you here under a false name.” And I said, “Are you crazy? Are you gonna put me on the main line with a fake name?” And he said “Yeah.” I said, “What name are you going to give me?” He said, “Thrush.” And you know what a thrush is? A songbird. So I said, “Uh-uh. In a prison filled with dopers, everybody’s going to know that my name isn’t Thrush. I refuse to do it.” He says, “Okay. Well have to put you in the hole.” And I said “Do what you gotta do—but I want to be out there in my own name. I can handle any situation. I can deal with it. I've been in the worst fucking prisons and handled it so far. So I can handle it and you know it. So fucking put me out there!” And he said, “Sorry.” He was very embarrassed because he knew.

He was a prison warden. His job wasn’t to get people to talk or anything like that. He knew it was a federal-government thing. The reason they were trying to get me to talk was to protect the top FBI guys that had committed black-bag burglaries against the Weather Underground; so they wanted me to testify in their defense. They actually went to trial, if you remember, and got convicted, and were pardoned by Carter.

Well, they put me in the worst lockup that I've ever been in, and I'd been in solitary confinement for over a year and a half. This was just a clean box with nothing but a mattress. The only contact I had with human beings was, five times a day, I could hear somebody coming down the hall to open the “swine trough” and pass me my food. And I'd say, “Hey, can I have something to read?” And they’d say, “No.” One of the guards was this black guy and, this one night, he came back. I could hear him walking -- jingle, jingle, jingle—walking down the metal hall. He opens up the trough and says, “Here, man,” and throws in a book. A new pocketbook. And it’s dark, so I waited ’til dawn and picked it up. And it was Gravity’s Rainbow.

WG: Perfect! Of all the books you could get, that’ll last you a while.

TL: You should only read that book under those circumstances. It is not a book you could...

WG: It stopped my life cold for three months. My university career went to pot, I just sort of laid around and read this thing.

TL: What I did—first of all, I just read it. I read it all day until dark when they turned the lights out. I woke up the next morning and read it. For three days, I did nothing but read that book. Then I went back and I started annotating it. I did the same thing to yours. Yours is the only book I’ve done that with since. The film industry’s never been able to do anything with Gravity’s Rainbow.

WG: It’s got eight billion times more stuff in it than Neuromancer does. It’s an encyclopedic novel.

TL: But there’s a tremendous relationship, as you well know, between Neuromancer and Pynchon. Because Pynchon is into psychology. The shit he knows about! It’s all about psychology. But you’ve taken the next step, because you’ve done that whole thing to computers. You don’t have any new drugs in Neuromancer.

WG: I’ve got the beta-phenethylamine. When that hits the street, watch out!

TL: That’s the one that makes your teeth rattle the nerves.

WG: Yeah. That’s actually a brain chemical. We all have a little bit, as we sit around the table. But you’d have to get it out of forty million people. Sort of like the Hunter Thompson story about adrenochrome. If you could eat somebody’s pineal gland, or something...

TL: That’s a very powerful drug experience that you describe, where he can feel it in his teeth.

WG: Yeah. I had a lot of fun writing that. (laughs)

TL: I know you did. I appreciate the disciplined work that went into that!

WG: Beta-phenethylamine is the chemical that the brain manufactures; when you fall in love the level rises. I didn’t know this when I wrote the book. I called Bruce Sterling in Texas, and I said, “This guy’s been modified; so he can’t do traditional stimulants. So, what can he get off on?” Bruce said (in laconic Southern drawl), “beta-phenethylamine.” It’s in the book. Beta-P. Actually, some people have called me on how I spelled this in the book. I never checked it. So I may have misspelled the name of the real brain chemical. About a month alter I finished the book, there was an article in Esquire. I think it was called, “The Chemistry of Desire.” And they talked about beta-phenethylamine, which is structurally similar to amphetamine. And it’s also present in chocolate. So there’s some possibility...

TL: Ohhh! I’m a chocolate addict. Notice last night, how the waiter automatically brought me an extra plate during dessert? They know my weakness. Double-dose Tim.

WG: Japanese kids get high on big candy bars that are just sucrose and caffeine. They eat five or six of these things and go to concerts on this massive sucrose-and-caffeine high.

TL: One of the things that’s wonderful about Neuromancer is that there is this glorious comradeship between Molly and Case. And he sings to her while she rubs her nipple and she’s talking to him and telling him.

WG: How they gonna do that in the movie? There’s no Neuromancer Part II.

TL: Case and Molly have children? WG: Son of Neuromancer. People have children in Count Zero, which was a real breakthrough for me. I was trying to up the ante. I like Count Zero better. Neuromancer, for me, is like my adolescent book. It’s my teenage book—the one I couldn’t have written when I was a teenager.


In the 1960s, Hermann Hesse was revered by college students and art rowdies as the voice of the decade. He was a megasage, bigger than Tolkien or Salinger, McLuhan or Bucky Fuller.

Hesse's mystical, utopian novels were read by millions. The popular, electrically amplified rock band Steppenwolf named themselves after Hesse's psyberdelic hero, Harry Haller, who smoked those "long, thin yellow... immeasurably enlivening and delightful" cigarettes, then zoomed around the Theatre of the Mind, ostensibly going where no fictional heroes had been before.

The movie Steppenwolf was financed by Peter Sprague, at that time the Egg King of Iran. I lost the male lead to Max Van Sydow. Rosemary's part was played by Dominique Sanda. But that story is filed in another data base.

Hesse's picaresque adventure, The Journey to the East, was a biggie too. It inspired armies of pilgrims (yours truly included) to hip-hike somewhere East of Suez, along the Hashish Trail to India. The goal of this Childlike Crusade? Enlightenment 101, an elective course.

Yes, it was that season for trendy Sufi mysticism, inner Hindu voyaging, breathless Buddhist searches for ultimate meaning. Poor Hesse, he seems out of place up here in the high-tech, cybercool, Sharp catalogue, M.B.A., upwardly mobile 1990s.


But our patronizing pity for the washed-up Swiss sage may be premature. In the avant-garde frontiers of the computer culture, around Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, around Palo Alto, in the Carnegie-Mellon A.I. labs, in the back rooms of the computer-graphics labs in Southern California, a Hesse comeback seems to be happening. This revival, however, is not connected with Hermann’s mystical, eastern writings. It’s based on his last, and least-understood work, Magister Ludi, or The Glass Bead Game.

This book, which earned Hesse the expense-paid brain ride to Stockholm, is positioned a few centuries in the future, when human intelligence is enhanced and human culture elevated by a device for thought-processing called the glass-bead game.

Hesse's Prophetic Glass Bead Game

Up here in the Electronic Nineties we can appreciate what Hesse did at the very pinnacle (193 M2) of the smoke-stack mechanical age. He forecast with astonishing accuracy a certain postindustrial device for converting thoughts to digital elements and processing them. No doubt about it, the sage of the hippies was anticipating an electronic mind-appliance that would not appear on the consumer market until 1976.

I refer, of course, to that Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge called the Apple computer.


I first heard of Hermann Hesse from Aldous Huxley. In the fall of 1960, Huxley was Carnegie Visiting Professor at MIT. His assignment; to give a series of seven lectures on the subject, “What a Piece of Work Is Man.” A couple thousand people attended each lecture. Aldous spent most of his off-duty hours hanging around the Harvard Psychedelic Drug Research project coaching us beginners in the history of mysticism and the ceremonial care and handling of LSD, which he sometimes called “gratuitous grace.”

Huxley was reading Hesse that fall and talked a lot about Hermann’s theory of the three stages of human development.

1. The tribal sense of tropical-blissful unity,

2. The horrid polarities of the feudal-industrial societies, good-evil, male-female, Christian-Moslem, etc., and

3. The revelatory rediscovery of The Oneness of It All. No question about it, Hegel’s three authoritarian thumbprints (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) were smudged all over the construct, but Hesse and Huxley didn’t seem to worry about it; so why should we untutored Harvard psychologists?

We all dutifully set to work reading Hesse.

Huxley claimed that his own spiritual-intellectual development in England followed the developmental lifeline of Hesse in Germany. Aldous delighted in weaving together themes from his life that paralleled Hesse’s.


Huxley’s last book, Island, presents an atypical, tropical utopia in which meditation, gestalt therapy, and psychedelic ceremonies create a society of Buddhist serenity.

I spent the afternoon of November 20,1963, at Huxley’s bedside, listening carefully as the dying philosopher spoke in a soft voice about many things. He fashioned a pleasant little literary fugue as he talked about three books he called “parodies of paradise”: his own Island, Orwell’s 1984, and Hesse’s Glass Bead Game.

Aldous told me with a gentle chuckle that Big Brother, the beloved dictator of Orwell’s nightmare society, was based on Winston Churchill. “Remember Big Brother’s spell-binding rhetoric about the blood, sweat, and fears requisitioned from everyone to defeat Eurasia? The hate sessions? Priceless satire. And the hero’s name is Winston Smith.”

Aldous was, at that moment in time, fascinated by the Tibetan Book of the Dying, which 1 had just translated from Victorian English into American. The manuscript, which was later published as The Psychedelic Experience, w as used by Laura Huxley to guide her husband’s psychedelic passing.

Huxley spoke wryly of the dismal conclusions of Island, The Glass Bead Game, and Orwell’s classic. His own idealistic island society was crushed by industrial powers seeking oil. Hesse’s utopian Castalia was doomed because it was out of touch with human realities. Then the crushing of love by the power structure in 1984. Unhappy endings. I timidly asked him if he was passing on a warning or an exhortation to me. He smiled enigmatically.

Two days later Aldous Huxley died. His passing went almost unnoticed, because John F. Kennedy also died on November 22, 1963. It was a bad day for Utopians and futurists all over.


Hermann Hesse was born in 1877 in the little Swabian town of Calw, Germany, the son of Protestant missionaries. His home background and education, like Huxley’s, were intellectual, classical, idealistic. His life exemplified change and metamorphosis. If we accept Theodore Ziolkowski’s academic perception, “Hesse’s literary career parallels the development of modem literature from a fin de siecle aestheticism through expressionism to a contemporary sense of human commitment.”


Hesse’s first successful novel, Peter Camenzind (1904), reflected the frivolous sentimentality of the Gay Nineties, which, like the Roaring Twenties, offered a last fun frolic to a class society about to collapse.

“From aestheticism he shifted to melancholy realism.... Hesse’s novels fictionalize the admonitions of an outsider who urges us to question accepted values, to rebel against the system, to challenge conventional ‘reality’ in the fight of higher ideals” (Ziolkowski).

In 1911 Hesse made the obligatory mystical pilgrimage to India, and there, along the Ganges, picked up the microorganisms that were later to appear in a full-blown Allen Ginsbergsonian mysticism.

In 1914 Europe convulsed with nationalism and military frenzy. Hesse, like Dr. Benjamin Spock in another time warp, became an outspoken pacifist and war resister. Two months after the “outbreak of hostilities,” he published an essay titled “0 Freunde, nicht dieser Tone” [“Oh Friends, Not These Tones”). It was an appeal to the youth of Germany, deploring the stampede to disaster. His dissenting brought him official censure and newspaper attacks. From this time on, Hesse was apparently immune to the ravages of patriotism, nationalism, and respect for authority.


In 1922 Hesse wrote Siddhartha, his story of a Kerouac-Snyder manhood spent “on the road to Benares” performing feats of detached, amused, sexy one-upmanship.

In the June 1986 issue of Playboy, the Islamic yogic master and basketball superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (“noble and powerful servant of Allah”) summarized with his legendary cool the life stages he had experienced, using bead-game fugue techniques to weave together the strands of his biography: basketball, racism, religion, drugs, sex, jazz, politics. “In my senior year in high school,” says Abdul-Jabbar, “1 started reading everything I could get my hands on—Hindu texts, Upanishads, Zen, Hermann Hesse—you name it”

Playboy: “What most impressed you?”

Abdul-Jabbar: “Hesse’s Siddhartha. I was then going through the same things that Siddhartha went through in his adolescence, and I identified with his rebellion against established precepts of love and life. Siddhartha becomes an aesthetic man, a wealthy man, a sensuous man—he explores all these different worlds and doesn’t find enlightenment in any of them. That was the book’s great message to me; so I started to develop my own value system as to what was good and what wasn’t.”

Steppenwolf (1927), observes Ziolkowski, was greeted as a “psychedelic orgy of sex, drugs, and jazz.” Other observers with a more historic perspective (present company included) have seen Steppenwolf as a final send up of the solemn polarities of the industrial age. Hesse mocks the Freudian conflicts, Nietzschean torments, the Jungian polarities, the Hegelian machineries of European civilization.

Harry Haller enters “The Magic Theatre. Price of Admission: Your Mind.” First he engages in a “Great Automobile Hunt,” a not too subtle rejection of the sacred symbol of the industrial age. Behind the door marked “Guidance in the Building-Up of the Personality. Success Guaranteed!” H. H. learns to play a post-Freudian video game in which the pixels are part of the personality. “We can demonstrate to anyone whose soul has fallen to pieces that he can rearrange these pieces of a previous self in what order he pleases and so attain to an endless multiplicity of moves in the game of life.”

This last sentence precisely states the basis for the many postindustrial religions of self-actualization. You learn how to put together the elements of your self in what order pleases you! Then press the advance key to continue.

The mid-life crisis of the Steppenwolf, his overheated Salinger inner conflicts, his Woody Allen despairs, his unsatisfied Norman Mailer longings, are dissolved in a whirling kaleidoscope of quick-flashing neurorealities. “I knew,” gasps H. H., “that all the hundred pieces of life’s game were in my pocket... One day 1 w ould be a better hand at the game.”


What do you do after you’ve reduced the heavy, massive boulder-like thoughts of your mechanical culture to elements? If you’re a student of physics or chemistry you rearrange the fissioned bits and pieces into new combinations. Synthetic chemistry of the mind. Hesse was hanging out in Basel, home of Paracelsus. Alchemy 101. Solve et coagule. Recompose them in new combinations. You become a master of the bead game. Let the random-number generator shuffle your thought-deck and deal out some new hands!

Understandably, Hesse never gives a detailed description of this pre-electronic data-processing appliance called the bead game. But he does explain its function. Players learned how to convert decimal numbers, musical notes, words, thoughts, images into elements, glass beads that could be strung in endless abacus combinations and rhythmic- fugue sequences to create a higher level language of clarity, purity, and ultimate complexity.


Hesse described the game as “a serial arrangement, an ordering, grouping, and interfacing of concentrated concepts from many fields of thought and aesthetics.”

In time, wrote Hesse, “the Game of games had developed into a kind of universal language through which the players could express values and set these in relation to one another.”

In the beginning the game was designed, constructed, and continually updated by a guild of mathematicians called Castalia. Later generations of hackers used the game for educational, intellectual, and aesthetic purposes. Eventually the game became a global science of mind, an indispensable method for clarifying thoughts and communicating them precisely.

Hesse, of course, was not the first to anticipate digital thought-processing Around 6oo B.C. the Greek Pythagoras (music of the spheres) and the Chinese Lao (yin-yang) Tse were speculating that all reality and knowledge could and should be expressed in the play of binary numbers.

... We reencounter here the age-long dream of philosophers, visionary poets, and linguists of a universitas, a synthesis of all knowledge, the ultimate data base of ideas, a global language of mathematical precision.



Hesse, of course, was not the first to anticipate digital thought-processing. Around 600 B.C. the Greek Pythagoras (music of the spheres) and the Chinese Lao (yin-yang) -tzu were speculating that all reality and knowledge could and should be expressed in the play of binary numbers. In 1832 a young Englishman, George Boole, developed an algebra of symbolic logic. In the next decade Charles Babbage and Ada Countess Lovelace worked on the analytic thought-engine. A century later, exactly when Hesse was constructing his “game” in Switzerland, the brilliant English logician Alan Turing was writing about machines that could simulate human thinking. A.I.—artificial intelligence.

Hesse’s unique contribution, however, was not technical, but social. Forty-five years before Toffler and Naisbitt, Hesse predicted the emergence of an information culture. In The Glass Bead Game Hesse presents a sociology of computing. With the rich detail of a World-Cup novelist (he won the Nobel Prize for Literature with this book) he describes the emergence of a utopian subculture centered around the use of digital mind-appliances.

Hesse then employs his favorite appliance, parody (psyber-farce), to raise the disturbing question of the class division between the computer hip and the computer illiterate. The electronic elite versus the rag-and-glue proles with their hand-operated Coronas. The dangers of a two-tier society of the information rich and the information have-nots.


The Glass Bead Game is the story of Joseph Knecht, whom we meet as a brilliant grammar-school student about to be accepted into the Castalian brotherhood and educated in the intricacies of the authorized thought-processing system. The descriptions of Castalia are charmingly pedantic. The reverent reader is awed by the sublime beauty of the system and the monk-like dedication of the adepts.

The scholarly narrator explains:

This Game of games... has developed into a kind of universal speech, through the medium of which the players are able to express values in lucid symbols and to place them in relation to each other... A game can originate, for example, from a given astronomical configuration, a theme from a Bach fugue, a phrase of Leibnitz or from the Upanishads, and the fundamental idea awakened can be built up and enriched through assonances to relative concepts. While a moderate beginner can, through these symbols, formulate parallels between a piece of classical music and the formula of a natural law, the adept and Master of the Game can lead the opening theme into the freedom of boundless combinations.

In this last sentence, Hesse describes the theory of digital computing. The wizard programmer can convert any idea, thought, or number into binary-number chains that can be sorted into all kinds of combinations. We reencounter here the age-long dream of philosophers, visionary poets, and linguists of a universitas, a synthesis of all knowledge, the ultimate data base of ideas, a global language of mathematical precision.

Hesse understood that a language based on mathematical elements need not be cold, impersonal, rote. Reading The Glass Bead Game we share the enthusiasm of today’s hacker-visionaries who know that painting, composing, writing, designing, innovating with clusters of electrons (beads?) offers much more creative freedom than expressions limited to print on paper, chemical paints smeared on canvas, or acoustic (i.e., mechanical-unchangeable) sounds.


In the Golden Age of Chemistry scholar-scientists learned how to dissolve molecules and to recombine the freed elements into endless new structures. Indeed, only by precise manipulation of the play of interacting elements could chemists fabricate the marvels that have so changed our world.

In the Golden Age of Physics, physicists, both theoretical and experimental, learned how to fission atoms and to recombine the freed particles into new elemental structures. In The Glass Bead Game Hesse portrays a Golden Age of Mind. The knowledge-information programmers of Castalia, like chemists and physicists, dissolve thought molecules into elements (beads) and weave them into new patterns.

In his poem, “The Last Glass Bead Game,” Hesse’s hero Joseph Knecht writes, “We draw upon the iconography... that sings like crystal constellations.”


Hesse apparently anticipated McLuhan’s First Law of Communication: The medium is the message. The technology you use to package, store, communicate your thoughts defines the limits of your thinking. Your choice of thought tool determines the limitations of your thinking. If your thought technology is words-carved-into-marble, let’s face it, you’re not going to be a light-hearted flexible thinker. An oil painting or a wrinkled papyrus in a Damascus library cannot communicate the meaning of a moving-picture film. New thought technology creates new ideas. The printing press created national languages, the national state, literacy, the industrial age. Television, like it or not, has produced a global thought-processing very different from oral and literate cultures.

Understanding the power of technology, Hesse tells us that the new mind culture of Castalia was based on a tangible mental device, a thought machine, “a frame modeled on a child’s abacus, a frame with several dozen wires on which could be strung glass beads of various sizes, shapes, and colours.”

Please do not be faked out by the toy-like simplicity of this device. Hesse has changed the units of meaning, the vocabulary of thought This is serious stuff. Once you have defined the units of thought in terms of mathematical elements you’ve introduced a major mutation in the intelligence of your culture.



The glass-bead appliance was first used by musicians: “The wires corresponded to the lines of the musical staff, the beads to the time values of the notes.”

A bare two or three decades later the game was taken over by mathematicians. For a long while indeed, a characteristic feature of the game’s history was that it was constantly preferred, used, and further elaborated by whatever branch of learning happened to be experiencing a period of high development or a renaissance.

At various times the game was taken up and imitated by nearly all the scientific and scholarly disciplines. The analytic study of musical values had led to the reduction of musical events to physical and mathematical formulae. Soon afterward, philology borrowed this method and began to measure linguistic configurations as physics measures processes in nature. The visual arts soon followed suit. Each discipline that seized upon the game created its own language of formulae, abbreviations, and possible combinations.

It would lead us too far afield to attempt to describe in detail how the world of mind, after its purification, won a place for itself in the state. Supervision of the things of the mind among the people and in government came to be consigned more and more to the intellectuals. This was especially the case with the educational system.


“The mathematicians brought the game to a high degree of flexibility and capacity for sublimation, so that it began to acquire something of a consciousness of itself and its possibilities ” (emphasis mine).

In this last phrase, Hesse premonitors Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick’s nightmare about neurotic artificial intelligence:

"Open the pod doors, HAL"

"Sorry about that, Dave. This mission is too important to be threatened by human error."

Hesse tells us that the first generations of computer adepts created a “hacker culture,” an elite sect of knowledge processors who lived within the constructions of their own minds, disdaining the outside society. Then Hesse, with uncanny insight, describes the emergence of a phenomenon that has now become the fad in the information sciences.


By 1984 billions of dollars were being spent in Japan (the so-called Fifth Generation projects), in America, and in Europe to develop artificial-intelligence programs. Those nations that already suffer from a serious intelligence deficit—Soviet Eurasia and the third-world nations—seem to be left out of this significant development.

The aim of A.I. projects is to develop enormously complicated smart machines that can reason, deduce, and make decisions more efficiently than “human beings.”

The megabuck funding comes from large bureaucracies, federal, corporate, the military, banks, insurance firms, oil companies, space agencies, medical-hospital networks. The mental tasks performed by the A.I. machineries include:

• Expert systems that provide processed information and suggest decisions based on correlating enormous amounts of data. Here the computers perform, at almost the speed of light, the work of armies of clerks and technicians.

• Voice-recognition programs; the computer recognizes instructions given in spoken languages.

• Robotry.

A.I. has become the buzzword among investors in the computer industry. There seems little doubt that reasoning programs and robots will play increasingly important roles in Western society, and, of course, Japan.

Just as the bead game became the target of outside criticism, so has there been much grumbling about the A.I. movement Some have asserted that the very term “artificial intelligence” is an oxymoron; a contradiction in terms, like “military intelligence.”

Other critics point out that A.I. programs have little to do with individual human beings. These megamillion-dollar machines cannot be applied to solve personal problems, to help Ashley get a date on Friday night, to help Dieadra’s problem with self-esteem. A.I. systems are designed to think like super-committees of experts. Remember the decision that it was cheaper to pay off a few large injury/death claims than to change the position of the gas tank on the Ford? Recall those Pentagon figures about “tolerable loss of civilian lives in a nuclear war”? That’s why many feel that these toys of top management are more artificial than intelligent.

As it turns out, our HAL paranoias are exaggerated. Computers will not replace real people. They will replace middle- and low-level bureaucrats. They will replace you only to the extent that you use artificial (rather than natural) intelligence in your life and work. If you think like a bureaucrat, a functionary, a manager, an unquestioning member of a large organization, or a chess player, beware: You may soon be out-thought!


Humanists in the computer culture claim that there is only one form of intelligence—natural intelligence, brain power which resides in the skulls of individual human beings. This wetware is genetically wired and experientially programmed to manage the personal affairs of one person, the owner, and to exchange thoughts with others.

All thought-processing tools—hand-operated pencils, printed books, electronic computers—can be used as extensions of natural intelligence. They are appliances for packaging, storing, communicating ideas: mirrors that reflect back what the user has thought As Douglas Hofstadter put it in Godel, Escher, Back “The self comes into being at the moment it has the power to reflect itself.” And that power, Hesse and McLuhan, is determined by the thought tool used by the culture.

Individual human beings can be controlled, managed by thinking machines—computers or bead games-only to the extent that they voluntarily choose to censor their own independent thinking.



In the last chapters of The Glass Bead Game the hero, Joseph Knecht, has risen to the highest post in the Castalian order. He is “Magister Ludi, Master of the Glass Bead Game.”

The game, by this time, has become a global artificial-intelligence system that runs the educational system, the military, science, engineering, mathematics, physics, linguistics, and above all, aesthetics. The great cultural ceremonies are public thought games watched with fascination by the populace.

At this moment of triumph the Mind Master begins to have doubts. He worries about the two-tier society in which the Castalian “computer” elite run the mind games of society, far removed from the realities of human life. The Castalians, we recall, have dedicated themselves totally to the life of the mind, renouncing power, money, family, individuality. A Castalian is the perfect “organization man,” a monk of the new religion of artificial intelligence. Knecht is also concerned about the obedience, the loss of individual choice.

Hesse seems to be sending warning signals that are relevant to the situation in 1986.


First, he suggests that human beings tend to center their religions on the thought-processing device their culture uses.... Second, control of the thought-processing machinery means control of society. The underlying antiestablishment tone of The Glass Be d Game must surely have caught the attention of George Orwell, another prophet of the information society.... Third, Hesse suggests that the emergence of new intelligence machines will create new religions.

Computers will not replace real people. They will replace middle- and low-level bureaucrats. They will replace you only to the extent that you use artificial (rather than natural) intelligence in your life and work. Ii you think like a bureaucrat, a functionary, a manager, an unquestioning member of a large organization, or a chess player, beware: You may soon be out-thought!

Hesse seems to be sending warning signals that are relevant to the situation in 1986. First, he suggests that human beings tend to center their religions on the thought-processing device their culture uses. The word of God has to come though normal channels or it won’t be understood, from the stone tablet of Moses to the mass-produced industrial product that is the “Good Book” of fundamentalist Christians and Moslems.

Second, control of the thought-processing machinery means control of society. The underlying antiestablishment tone of The Glass Bead Game must surely have caught the attention of George Orwell, another prophet of the information society. Like Joseph Knecht, Winston Smith, the hero of 1984, works in the Ministry of Truth, reprogramming the master data base of history. Smith is enslaved by the information tyranny from which Hesse’s hero tries to escape.

Third, Hesse suggests that the emergence of new intelligence machines will create new religions. The Castalian order is reminiscent of the mediaeval monastic cults, communities of hackers with security clearances, who knew the machine language, Latin, and who created and guarded the big mainframe illuminated manuscripts located in the palaces of bishops and dukes.

Most important, Hesse indicated the appropriate response of the individual who cannot accept the obedience and self-renunciation demanded by the artificial-intelligence priesthood.


After some hundred pages of weighty introspection and confessional conversation, Joseph Knecht resigns his post as the high priest of artificial intelligence and heads for a new life as an individual in the “real world.”

He explains his “awakening” in a letter to the Order. After thirty years of major-league thought-processing, Knecht has come to the conclusion that organizations maintain themselves by rewarding obedience with privilege! With the blinding force of a mystical experience Knecht suddenly sees that the Castalian A.I. community “had been infected by the characteristic disease of elitehood—hubris, conceit, class arrogance, self-righteousness, exploitiveness... ”!

And, irony of all irony, the member of such a thought-processing bureaucracy “often suffers from a severe lack of insight into his place in the structure of the nation, his place in the world and world history.” Before we in the sophisticated 1980s rush to smile at such platitudes about bureaucratic myopia and greed, we should remember that Hesse wrote this book during the decade when Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini were terrorizing Europe with totalitarianism. The cliche Athenian-democratic maxim “think for yourself; question authority” was decidedly out of fashion, even in civilized countries like Switzerland.

Gentle consideration for the touchiness of the times was, we assume, the reason why Hesse, the master of parody, leads his timid readers with such a slow, formal tempo to the final confrontation between Alexander, the president of the Order, and the dissident game master. In his most courteous manner Knecht explains to Alexander that he will not accept obediently the “decision from above.”

The president gasps in disbelief. And we can imagine most of the thought-processing elite of Europe, the professors, the intellectuals, the linguists, the literary critics, and news editors joining Alexander when he sputters, “not prepared to accept obediently... an unalterable decision from above? Have 1 heard you aright, Magister?”

Later, Alexander asks in a low voice, “And how do you act now?”

“As my heart and reason command,” replies Joseph Knecht.
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Re: Chaos & Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.

Postby admin » Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:25 am

Part 2 of 2

II.3. Our Brain


When you think of it, the ultimate wicked oxymoron is organized religion. Imagine a group of control-freak men getting together and saying, “We’re going to impose our order on the fifteen-billion-year evolutionary chaotic process that’s happening on this planet, and all over the galaxy. We’re going to chisel out the rules of a bureaucracy to keep us in power.”

The human brain—the most complex, infinitely and imaginatively complex knowledge system—has a hundred billion neurons, and each neuron has the knowledge-processing capacity of a powerful computer. The human brain has more connections than there are atoms in the universe. It has taken us thousands of years to even realize that we don’t understand the chaotics of this complexity. The human brain can process more than a hundred million signals a second and counting.

The best way to understand the evolution of the human race is in terms of how well we have learned to operate our brain. If you think about it, we’re basically brains. Our bodies are here to move our brains around. Our bodies are equipped with all these sensory inputs and output ports to bring information into the neurocomputer. In just the last ten years, our species has multiplied the ability to use our brains by a thousandfold.

The way to understand how efficiently you’re using your brain is to clock it in rpm— realities per minute. Just on the basis of input/output, my brain is now operating at a hundred times more rpm than in 1960.

When we were back in the caves a million or so years ago, we were just learning to chip stones to begin making tools. We lived on a planet where everything was natural. There was almost nothing artificial or even handmade—but we had the same brains. Each of our ancient ancestors carried around an enormously complex brain that eventually fissioned the atom, sent human beings to the Moon, and created rock video. Long ago we had the same brains, but we weren’t using the abilities. If the brain is like a computer, then the trick is to know how to format your brain—to set up operating systems to run your brain.

If you have a computer, you have choice. You can have word processing or not. If you have word processing, you have WordStar or WordPerfect, all these choices. Once you’ve formatted your brain, trained your brain with that method, you have to go through that program to use it. The process of formatting your brain is called imprinting.

Imprinting is a multimedia input of data. For a baby, it’s the warmth of the mother, the softness, the sound, the taste of the breast. That’s called booting up or formatting. Now baby’s brain is hooked to Mama and then of course from Mama to Daddy, food, etc., but it’s the Mama file that’s the first imprint.

There is the ability to boot up or add new directories. To activate the brain is called yogic or psychedelic. To transmit what’s in the brain is cybernetic. The brain, we are told by neurologists, has between seventy and a hundred buttons known as receptor sites that can imprint different circuits. Certain biochemical (usually botanical) products activate those particular parts of the brain.

In tribal times, before written language, communication was effected through the human voice, small groups, and body motion. Most pagan tribes had rituals that occurred at harvest time, in the springtime, or at the full Moon. The tribe came together and activated a collective boot-up system. They hooked all their computers to the same tribal language. This often involved the use of psychedelic plants or vegetables.

There is the ability to boot up or add new directories. To activate the brain is called yogic or psychedelic.



In terms of modern computers and electronic devices, this would be a multimedia imprinting ceremony. The fire was the center of light and heat There were symbolic objects, such as feathers or bones. This experience booted up the brains of all present so they could share the basic tribal system. But each person could have his own vision quest. He could howl like a wolf, hoot like an owl, roll around like a snake. Each tribal member was learning how to activate, operate, boot up, and accept the uniqueness of his/her own brain.

A human being is basically a tribal person, most comfortable being together in small groups facilitating acceptance and understanding of each other as individuals. Later forms of civilization have discredited individualism. The history of the evolution of the human spirit has to do with new methods of media, communication, or language. About five thousand years ago, alter the species got pretty good with tools and building, somewhere in the Middle East (possibly also in China) people began making marks on shells and on pieces of papyrus. This allowed for long-distance communication.


Handwriting, which linked up hundreds of thousands of people, gave total power to the people who knew how to control the writing. Marshall McLuhan reminded us that throughout human history, whoever controls the media controls the people. This is French semiotics. Literacy is used to control the poor. The educated use literacy to control the uneducated.

A typical feudal organization, such as the Catholic Church, restricted the power to send a message like this to a very special class of computer hacker-nerds called monks. Only they were authorized to touch the mainframe—the illuminated manuscripts up in the castle of the duke or cardinal. But to the others—no matter how important a person in the village or the city—the word came down from the Higher Ups.

Once people start organizing in large groups of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, the tribal situation could no longer be controlled. If a hundred thousand people are all hooked up, like a hive or termite colony, there has to be some central organization that keeps it going.

With thousands of people carrying rocks to build a pyramid, or thousands of people building the churches of the pope, a feudal society can’t function if the workers are accessing their singular-brain programs. To illustrate the totalitarian power control of the feudal situation, consider the basic metaphor of the “shepherd” and the “sheep.” “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Now, if the Lord is your shepherd, who the fuck are you? Bah! Even today, when the pope flies around to third- world countries, they speak of “the pope and his flock.”

Another example of brain control preventing the individual from accessing his or her own computer is the first chapter of the Bible. The opening text of Genesis lays it right out God says, “I made the skies, I made the planets, I made the earth, I made the water, I made the land, I made the creepy-crawly things, and I made you, Adam, to be in my likeness, and I put you in the ultimate destination resort, which is the Garden of Eden. Boy, you can do anything you want I’m going to pull out a rib and give you a helpmate like a little kitchen slave, named Eve. You can do whatever you want, Adam. This is paradise.

“However, there are two Food and Drug regulations. See that tree over there? That’s the Tree of Immortality. It offers cryonics and cloning. You shall not eat of the fruit of that lest you become a God like me and live forever. You see that tree over there? That’s even more dangerous. You shall not eat of the fruit of that because that is the Tree of Knowledge. It offers expansions of consciousness.”

Genesis makes it clear that the whole universe is owned, operated, controlled, and fabricated by one God—and he’s a big, bad-tempered male. That’s why we have a war on mind drugs. The one thing that no mass society can stand is individuals and small groups that go off to start learning how to program, reprogram, boot up, activate, and format their own brains.

There’s a good reason for these taboos. The feudal and industrial stages of evolution are similar to the stages in the evolution of individuals. Young children are glad to have Daddy be shepherd, but after a while the child has to take responsibility.

Feudal societies imprinted millions to totally devote their lives to being herd-flock animals. Imagine living on a farm fifty miles from Chartres during the 15th Century. On Sundays you walked five miles to get to a little village. There the priest told you, “Listen, six months from now we’re all going to Chartres. There’s going to be a big ceremony because the archbishop will be there.”

You spent a week to hike there. You walked into the central square of Chartres. You looked up and saw a cathedral taller than any trees, almost like a mountain, with its stained-glass windows and statues, and there were all those people the priest told you about They’re seven or ten feet tall. You walked in, looked up at the towering Gothic arches, the rose windows, heard the organ music and chanting, smelled the incense.

And a new philosophy emerged called quantum physics, which suggests that the individual's function is to inform and be informed. You really exist only when you’re in a field sharing and exchanging information. You create the realities you inhabit.

Talk about multisensory, multimedia imprinting! If you think that the Grateful Dead light show is something, for almost two thousand years the wizards of the Catholic Church have orchestrated one hell of a show. The smell of perfume, the candles, the chanting getting louder and louder, until suddenly the bishop appeared, bejeweled, carried in on a big golden throne. You’d never seen anything like that back on the farm.

"All right, down on your knees. Say after me: 'Thine is the kingdom and power and glory.' Now I want you all to go to the Middle East and kill heathens for Christ."

"Sure, anything you say."

An earlier multimedia imprinting event look place near Athens before the birth of Christ The Eleusinian mystery rile was an annual religious event that reoccurred for over a thousand years. The wisest people as well as ordinary folk came to the temple of Eleusis to participate in the secret ceremony. An LSD-type drink made from ergot of barley was drunk by all the initiates. An extravagant light show and a powerful dramatic reenactment was performed, resulting in a group experience of chaos and rebirth for the audience.

It’s no accident that the Greek philosophers, dramatists, and poets left an incredible record of creative self-expression and polytheism. When Socrates said, “The function of human life is to know yourself; intelligence is virtue,” he was invoking the Greek notion of humanism that was to later influence the Renaissance and the romantic periods.

Far more than by weapons, society is controlled by multimedia, neurological imprinting. Marshall McLuhan reminded us that the medium is the message.

When Gutenberg invented moveable type, it empowered dukes and cardinals to print and distribute thousands of Bibles and histories of the Crown. Within a few decades, many Europeans were learning how to do what only the monks could do. Gutenberg created the one device that was basic to the future industrial-factory civilization—mass production for consumers.

In the industrial age, the virtuous person was good, prompt, reliable, dependable, efficient, directed, and, of course, replaceable. There was not much need for the individual to operate his or her own brain in a factory civilization. The bosses can’t have people on an assembly line becoming too creative, as in the Cheech and Chong movie where cars are coming down the line.

"Hey, Cheech, I'm gonna go eat now.”

"You can't, not yet."

"Why not?"

"You can't eat until the bell rings."

"Okay, let's paint the next car rainbow."

You cannot operate industrial society with loo much individuality and access to the multimedia capacities of the brain.

Around 1900 Einstein came up with the idea that space and time only exist in an interactive field, and Max Planck devised a theory that the basic elements of the universe are particles of information. Then came Heisenberg’s proof that you create your own reality. And a new philosophy emerged called quantum physics, which suggests that the individual’s function is to inform and be informed. You really exist only when you’re in a field sharing and exchanging information. You create the realities you inhabit.

What’s the brain for? Why do we have this incredible instrument? Our brains want to be hooked up with other brains. My brain is only in operation when she’s slamming back and forth bytes and bits of information. Multimedia intercommunication.

The original basic dream of humanity is that the individual has divinity within. There is this enormous power within our bio-computer brains. We are going to have to learn how to use this power, how to boot it up.

II.4. How to Boot Up Your Bio-Computer

The human brain, we are told, is a galaxy of over a hundred billion neurons, any two of which can organize and communicate as much complex information as a mainframe computer.

Many cognitive psychologists now see the brain as a universe of information processors. Our minds, according to this metaphor, serve as the software that programs the neural hardware (or wetware). Most of the classic psychological terms can now be redefined in terms of computer concepts. Cognitive functions like memory, forgetting, learning, creativity, and logical thinking are now studied as methods by which the mind forms "data bases" and stores, processes, shuffles, and retrieves information.

Noncognitive functions such as emotions, moods, sensory perceptions, hallucinations, obsessions, phobias, altered states, possession-trance experiences, glossolalias, intoxications, visionary images, and psychedelic perspectives can now be viewed in terms of ROM brain circuits or autonomous-sympathetic-midbrain sectors that are usually not accessed by left-brain or forebrain conscious decision. These nonlinear, unconscious areas can, as we well know, be activated intentionally or involuntarily by various means. The pop term "turn on" carries the fascinating cybernetic implication that one can selectively dial up or access brain sectors that process specific channels of information signals normally unavailable.

These concepts could emerge only in an electronic culture. The mystics and altered-state philosophers of the past, like the Buddha or St. John of the Cross or William James or Aldous Huxley, could not describe their visions and illuminations and ecstasies and enlightenments in terms of "turning on" electronic appliances.

There is no naive assumption here that the brain is a computer. However, by using cybernetic terminology to describe mind and brain functions, we can add to our knowledge about the varieties of thought-processing experiences.

This use of a manufactured artifact like the computer to help us understand internal biological processes seems to be a normal stage in the growth of human knowledge. Harvey's notions about the heart as pump and the circulation of the blood obviously stemmed from hydraulic engineering. Our understanding of metabolism and nutrition inside the body had to await the science of thermodynamics and energy machines.

Two hundred years ago, before electrical appliances were commonplace, the brain was vaguely defined as an organ that secreted "thoughts" the way the heart processed blood and the lungs processed air. Forty-five years ago my Psychology 1-A professors described the brain in terms of the most advanced information system available—an enormous telephone exchange. This metaphor obviously did not lead to profitable experimentation; so the brain was generally ignored by psychology. The psychoanalytic theories of Freud were more useful and comprehensible, because they were based on familiar thermodynamic principles: Neurosis was caused by the blocking or repression of surging, steamy, over-heated dynamic instincts that exploded or leaked out in various symptomatic behavior.


Those young, bright baby-boom Americans, who had been dialing and tuning television screens since infancy, and who had learned how to activate and turn on their brains using chaotic drugs in serious introspective experiments, were uniquely prepared to engineer the interface between the computer and the cybernetic organ known as the human brain.

During the early 1960s our Harvard Psychedelic Drug Research project studied the reactions of thousands of subjects during psilocybin and LSD sessions. We were able to recognize and classify the standard range of psychedelic-hallucinogenic experiences, and to distinguish them from the effects of other drugs like uppers, downers, booze, opiates, tranquilizers. But we were able to categorize them only in terms of subjective reactions. There was simply no scientific language to communicate or model the wide range and "strange" effects of these chaotic phenomena. Psychiatrists, policemen, moralists, and people who did not use drugs accepted the notion of "psychotomimetic states." There was one normal way to see the world. Chaotic drugs caused all users to lose their grasp on the one-and-only authorized reality, thus mimicking insanity.


To talk and think about drug-induced experiences, the Harvard drug experimenters and other researchers were forced to fall back on the ancient literature of Christian mysticism and those oriental yogic disciplines that had studied visionary experiences for centuries. The scholars of mysticism and spiritual transcendence snobbishly tended to view "normal reality" as a web of socially induced illusions. They tended to define, as the philosophic-religious goal of life, the attainment of altered states.

Needless to say, enormous confusion was thus created. Most sensible, practical Americans were puzzled and irritated by this mad attempt on the part of the mystical millions to enthusiastically embrace chemical insanity and self-induced chaotics. Epistemological debates about the definition of reality soon degenerated into hysterical social extremism on the part of almost all concerned, present company included. Arguments about the nature of reality are always heavy, often bitter and emotional. Cultural, moral, political, racial, and above all, generational issues were involved in the Drug Wars of the late 20th Century.


But the basic problem was semiotic. Debate collapsed into emotional babble because there was no language or conceptual model of what happened when you got "high," "stoned," "fucked up," "loaded," "wasted," "blissed," "spaced out," "illuminated," "satorized," "god-intoxicated," etc.

Here again, external technology can provide us with an updated model and language to understand inner neuro-function. Television became popularized in the 1950s. Many psychedelic trippers of the next decades tended to react like television viewers passively watching the pictures flashing on their mind-screens. The semantic level of the acid experimenters was defined by the word "Wow!" The research groups I worked with at Harvard, Millbrook, and Berkeley fell back on a gaseous, oriental, Ganges-enlightenment terminology for which I humbly apologize.

Then, in 1976, the Apple computer was introduced. At the same time video games provided young people with a hands-on experience of moving flashy electronic, digital information around on screens. It was no accident that many of the early designers and marketers of these electronic appliances lived in the San Francisco area and tended to be intelligent adepts in the use of psychedelic drugs.

Those young, bright baby-boom Americans, who had been dialing and tuning television screens since infancy, and who had learned how to activate and turn on their brains using chaotic drugs in serious introspective experiments, were uniquely prepared to engineer the interface between the computer and the cybernetic organ known as the human brain. They could handle accelerated thought-processing, multilevel realities, instantaneous chains of digital logic much more comfortably than their less-playful, buttoned-up, conservative, MBA rivals at IBM. Much of Steve Jobs's astounding success in developing the Apple and the Mac was explicitly motivated by his crusade against IBM, seen as the archenemy of the 1960s counterculture.

"If thou write stoned, edit straight.

If thou write straight, edit stoned."

By 1980 millions of young Americans had become facile in digital thought-processing using inexpensive home computers. Most of them intuitively understood that the best model for understanding and operating the mind came from the mix of the psychedelic and cybernetic cultures.

Hundreds of New-Age pop psychologists, like Werner Erhard and Shirley MacLaine, taught folks how to re-program their minds, write the scripts of their lives, upgrade thought-processing. At the same time the new theories of imprinting, i.e., sudden programming of the brain, were popularized by ethologists and hip psychologists like Conrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and John Lilly.

Once again, external engineered tools helped us understand inner function. If the brain is viewed as bio-hardware, and psychedelic drugs become "neurotransmitters," and if you can reprogram your mind, for better or for worse, by "turning on," then new concepts and techniques of instantaneous psychological change become possible.

Another relevant question arises. Can the computer screen create altered states? Is there a digitally induced "high"? Can psyberdelic electrons be packaged like chemicals to strike terror into the heart of the Reagan White House? Do we need a Digital Enforcement Agency (DEA) to teach kids to say "No," or more politely, "No, thank you" to RAM pushers?

My opinion is in the negative. But what do I no? I am currently enjoying a mild digital dependence, but it seems manageable and socially useful. I follow the ancient Sufi-Pythagorean maxim regarding creative writing: "If thou write stoned, edit straight. If thou write straight, edit stoned."

And always with a team.


II.5. Personal Computers, Personal Freedom


Once upon a time... knowledge-information was stored in extremely expensive mainframe systems called illuminated volumes, usually Bibles, carefully guarded in the palace of the duke or bishop, and accessible only to security-cleared, socially alienated hackers called monks. Then in 1456 Johannes Gutenberg invented a most important piece of hardware: the moveable-type printing press. This knowledge-information processing system could mass-produce inexpensive, portable software readily available for home use: the Personal Book.

Until recently, computers were in much the same sociopolitical situation as the pre- Gutenberg systems. The mainframe knowledge-processors that ran society were the monopoly of governments and large corporations. They were carefully guarded by priestly technicians with security clearances. The average person, suddenly thrust into electronic illiteracy and digital helplessness, was understandably threatened.


My first contact with computers came in 1950, when I was director of a Raiser Foundation psychological research project that developed mathematical profiles for the interpersonal assessment of personality. In line with the principles of humanistic psychology, the aim of this research was to free persons from dependency on doctors, professionals, institutions, and diagnostic-thematic interpretations. To this end, we elicited clusters of yes-no responses from subjects and fed back knowledge in the form of profiles and indices to the patients themselves.

Relying on dimensional information rather than interpretative categories, our research was ideally suited to computer analysis. Routinely we sent stacks of data to the Kaiser Foundation’s computer room, where mysterious technicians converted our numbers into relevant indices. Computers were thus helpful, but distant and unapproachable. I distrusted the mainframes because I saw them as devices that would merely increase the dependence of individuals upon experts.

In 1960 I became a director of the Harvard Psychedelic Drug Research program. The aims of this project were also humanistic: to teach individuals how to self-administer psychoactive drugs in order to free their psyches without reliance upon doctors or institutions. Again we used mainframes to index responses to questionnaires about drug experiences, but I saw no way for this awesome knowledge-power to be put in the hands of individuals. I know now that our research with psychedelic drugs and, in fact, the drug culture itself was a forecast of, or preparation for, the personal-computer age. Indeed, it was a brilliant LSD researcher, John Lilly, who in 1972 wrote the seminal monograph on the brain as a knowledge-information processing system: Programming and Meta-Programming in the Human Bio-Computer. Psychedelic drugs expose one to the raw experience of chaotic brain function, with the protections of the mind temporarily suspended. We are talking here about the tremendous acceleration of images, the crumbling of analogic perceptions into vapor trails of neuron off-on flashes, the multiplication of disorderly mind programs slipping in and out of awareness like floppy disks.

The seven million Americans who experienced the awesome potentialities of the brain via LSD certainly paved the way for the computer society. It is no accident that the term “LSD” was used twice in Time magazine’s cover story about Steve Jobs, for it was Jobs and his fellow Gutenberger, Stephen Wozniak, who hooked up the persona] brain with the personal computer and thus made possible a new culture.



The development of the personal computer was a step of Gutenberg magnitude. Just as the Personal Book trans¬ formed human society from the muscular-feudal to the mechanical-industrial, so has the personal electronic-knowledge processor equipped the individual to survive and evolve in the age of information. To guide us in this confusing and scary transition, it is most useful to look back and see what happened during the Gutenberg mutation. Religion was the unifying force that held feudal society together. It was natural, therefore, that the first Personal Books would be Bibles. When the religion market was satiated, many entrepreneurs wondered what other conceivable use could be made of this newfangled software. How-to-read books were the next phase. Then came game books. It is amusing to note that the second book printed in the English language was on chess—a game that became, with its knights and bishops and kings and queens, the Pac Man of late feudalism. We can see this same pattern repeating during the current transition. Since money/business is the unifying force of the industrial age, the first Wozniak bibles were, naturally enough, accounting spreadsheets. Then came word processors, and games.

The history of human evolution is the record of technological innovation. Expensive machinery requiring large group efforts for operation generally becomes a tool of social repression by the state. The tower clock. The galley ship. The cannon. The tank. Instruments that can be owned and operated by individuals inevitably produce democratic revolutions. The bronze dagger. The crossbow. The pocket watch. The automobile as self-mover. This is the liberating “hands-on” concept “Power to the people” means personal technology available to the individual. D.I.Y. Do It Yourselves.


If we are to stay free, we must see to it that the right to own digital data processors becomes as inalienable as the constitutional guarantees of free speech and a tree press.

Digital-graphic appliances are developing a partnership between human brains and computers. In evolving to more physiological complexity, our bodies formed symbioses with armies of digestive bacteria necessary for survival. In similar fashion, our brains are forming neural-electronic symbiotic linkups with solid-state computers. It is useful to distinguish here between addictions and symbiotic partnerships. The body can become passively addicted to certain molecules, e.g., of heroin, and the brain can become passively addicted to electronic signals, e.g., from television. The human body, as we have noted, also requires symbiotic partnerships with certain unicellular organisms. At this point in human evolution, more and more people are developing mutually dependent, interactive relationships with their microsystems. When this happens, there comes a moment when the individual is “hooked” and cannot imagine living without the continual interchange of electronic signals between the personal brain and the personal computer. There are interesting political implications. In the near future, more than twenty million Americans will use computers to establish intense interactive partnerships with other inhabitants of cyberspace. These individuals will operate at a level of intelligence that is qualitatively different from those who use static forms of knowledge-information processing. In America, this difference is already producing a generation gap, i.e., a species gap. After Gutenberg, Personal Books created anew level of individual thinking that revolutionized society. An even more dramatic mutation in human intelligence will occur as the new digital-light appliances will permit individuals to communicate with individuals in other lands.


It seems clear that we are facing one of those genetic crossroads that have occurred so frequently in the history of primates. The members of the human gene pool who form symbiotic links with solid-state computers will be characterized by extremely high individual intelligence and will settle in geographic niches that encourage individual access to knowledge-information-processing software.

New associations of individuals linked by computers will surely emerge. Information nets will encourage a swift, free interchange among individuals. Feedback peripherals will dramatically expand the mode of exchange from keyboard punching to neurophysiological interaction. The key word is, of course, “interaction.” The intoxicating power of interactive software is that it eliminates dependence on the enormous bureaucracy of knowledge professionals that flourished in the industrial age. In the factory culture, guilds and unions and associations of knowledge-workers jealously monopolized the flow of information. Educators, teachers, professors, consultants, psychotherapists, librarians, managers, journalists, editors, writers, labor unions, medical groups—all such roles are now threatened.

It is not an exaggeration to speculate about the development of very different postindustrial societies. Solid-state literacy will be almost universal in America and the other Western democracies. The rest of the world, especially the totalitarian countries, will be kept electronically illiterate by their rulers. At least half the United Nations’s members now prohibit or limit personal possession. And, as the implications of home computers become more clearly understood, restrictive laws will become more apparent If we are to stay free, we must see to it that the right to own digital data processors becomes as inalienable as the constitutional guarantees of free speech and a free press.


... to teach individuals how to self-administer psychoactive drugs in order to free their psyches without reliance upon doctors or institutions....


Psychedelic drugs expose one to the raw experience of chaotic brain function, with the protections of the mind temporarily suspended. We are talking here about the tremendous acceleration of images, the crumbling of analogic perceptions into vapor trails of neuron off-on flashes, the multiplication of disorderly mind programs slipping in and out of awareness like floppy disks.

II.6 Quantum Jumps, Your Macintosh, and You

Chalk: A soft, white, grey, or buff limestone composed chiefly of the shells of foraminifers.

Quantum: The quantity or amount of something; an indivisible unit of energy; the particle mediating a specific type of elemental interaction.

Quantum jump: Any abrupt change or step, especially in knowledge or information.

Chaos: The basic state of the universe and the human brain.

Personal computer: A philosophic digital appliance that allows the individual to operate and communicate in the quantum-information age.




The great philosophic achievement of the 20th Century was the discovery, made by nuclear and quantum physicists around 1900, that the visible-tangible reality is written in BASIC. We seem to inhabit a universe made up of a small number of elements-particles-bits that swirl in chaotic clouds, occasionally clustering together in geometrically logical temporary configurations.

The solid Newtonian universe involving such immutable concepts as mass, force, momentum, and inertia, all bound into a Manichaean drama involving equal reactions of good versus evil, gravity versus levity, and entropy versus evolution, produced such pious Bank-of-England notions as conservation of energy. This General Motors’s universe, which was dependable, dull, and predictable, became transformed in the hands of Einstein/Planck into digitized, shimmering quantum screens of electronic probabilities.

In 1989 we navigate in a reality of which Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg could only dream, and which Marshall McLuhan predicted. It turns out that the universe described in their psychedelic equations is best understood as a super mainframe constellation of information processor with subprograms and temporary ROM states, macros called galaxies, stars; minis called planets; micros called organisms; metamicros known as molecules, atoms, particles; and, last, but not least, micros called Macintosh.

It seems to follow that the great technological challenge of the 20th Century was to produce an inexpensive appliance that would make the chaotic universe “user friendly,” which would allow the individual human to digitize, store, process, and reflect the subprograms that make up his/her own personal realities.

Murmur the word “Einstein,” put your hand reverently on your mouse, and give it an admiring pat Your modest, faithful, devoted Mac is an evolutionary celebrity! It may be an advance as important as the opposable thumb, face-to-face lovemaking, the Model-T Ford, the printing press! Owning it defines you as member of a new breed—postindustrial, postbiological, post-human—because your humble VM (Volks-Mac) permits you to think and act in terms of clusters of electrons. It allows you to cruise around in the chaotic post-Newtonian information ocean, to think and communicate in the lingua franca of the universe, the binary dialect of galaxies and atoms. Light.



The chain of events that elevated us to this new genetic status, Homo sapiens electronicus, began around the turn of the century.

Physicists are traditionally assigned the task of sorting out the nature of reality. So it was Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg, Bohr, et al, who figured out that the units of energy/matter were subatomic particles that zoom around in clouds of ever-changing, off-on, 0-1, yin-yang probabilities.

Einstein and the quantum physicists digitized our universe, reduced our solid realities into clusters of pixels, into recursive stairways of Godel-Escher-Bach paradox. No one understood, at first, what they were talking about. They expressed their unsettling theories in complex equations written on blackboards with chalk. These great physicists thought and communicated with a neolithic tool: chalk marks on the blackboard of the cave. The paradox was this: Einstein and his brilliant colleagues could not experience or operate or communicate at a quantum-electronic level. In a sense they were idiot savants, able to produce equations about chaos and relativity without being able to maintain interpersonal cyberrelationships with others.

Imagine if Max Planck, paddling around in his chalkboard skin-canoe, had access to a video-arcade game! He’d see right away that the blips on Centipede and the zaps of Space Invaders could represent the movement of the particles that he tried to describe in chalkdust symbols on his blackboard.

Reflect on the head-aching adjustment required here. The universe described by Einstein and the nuclear physicists is alien and terrifying. Chaotic. Quantum physics is quite literally a wild acid trip! It postulates an hallucinatory Alice-in-Wonderland universe in which everything is changing. As Heisenberg and Jimi Hendrix said, “Nothing is certain except uncertainty.” Matter is energy. Energy is matter at various forms of acceleration. Particles dissolve into waves. There is no up or down in a four-dimensional movie. It all depends on your attitude, i.e., your angle of approach to the real worlds of chaotics.

In 1910, the appliance we call the universe was not user friendly and there was no hands-on manual of operations. No wonder people felt helpless and superstitious. People living in the solid, mechanical world of 1910 could no more understand or experience an Einsteinian universe than Queen Victoria could levitate or fish could read and write English. Einstein was denounced as evil and immoral by Catholic bishops and sober theologians who sensed how unsettling and revolutionary these new ideas could be.

Is it not true that freedom in any country is measured perfectly by the percentage of Personal Computers in the hands of individuals?


In retrospect we see that the first seventy-five years of the 20th Century were devoted to preparing, training, and initiating human beings to communicate in quantum-speak, i.e., to think and act at an entirely different level—in terms of digital clusters.

The task of preparing human culture for new realities has traditionally been performed by tribal communicators called artists, entertainers, performers. When Greek philosophers came up with notions of humanism, individuality, and liberty, it was the painters and sculptors of Athens who produced the commercial logos, the naked statues of curvy Venus and sleek Mercury and the other randy Olympian Gods.

When the feudal, anti-human monotheisms (Christian-Islamic) took over, it was the “nerdy” monks and painters who produced the commercial artwork of the Middle Ages. God as a bearded king swathed in robes. Madonna and Bleeding Saints and crucified Jesus, wall-to-wall anguished martyrs. These advertising logos were necessary, of course, to convince the serfs to submit to the All-Powerful Lord. You certainly can’t run a kingdom or empire with bishops, popes, cardinals, abbots, and chancellors of the exchequer joyously running around bare-assed like Athenian pantheists.

The Renaissance was a humanist revival preparing Europeans for the industrial age. When Gutenberg invented the cheap, portable, rag-and-glue home computer known as the printing press, individuals had to be encouraged to read and write and “do it yourself!” Off came the clothes! Michelangelo erected a statue of David, naked as a jay bird, in the main square of Florence. Why David? He was the young, punk kid who stood up against Goliath, the hired Rambo hit man of the Philistine empire.

With this historical perspective we can see that the 20th Century (1900-1994) produced an avalanche of artistic, literary, musical, and entertainment movements, all of which shared the same goal: to strip off the robes and uniforms; to dissolve our blind faith in static structure; to loosen up the rigidities of the industrial culture; to prepare us to deal with paradox, with altered states of perception, with multidimensional definitions of nature; to make quantum reality comfortable, manageable, homey, livable; to get you to feel at home while bouncing electrons around your computer screen. Radio. Telegraph. Television. Computers.



In modern art we saw the emergence of schools that dissolved reality representation into a variety of subjective, relativistic attitudes. Impressionists used random spots of color and brash strokes, converting matter to reflected light waves. Seurat and the Pointillists actually painted in pixels.

Expressionism offered a quantum reality that was almost totally spontaneous. Do it yourself. Cubism sought to portray common objects in planes and volumes reflecting the underlying geometric structure of matter, thus directly illustrating the new physics. The Dada and collage movements broke up material reality into diverse bits and bytes.

Surrealism produced a slick, smooth-plastic fake-reality that was later perfected by Sony. In Tokyo I have listened to electronic anthropologists argue that Dali’s graphic “The Persistence of Memory” (featuring melting watches) created modem Japanese culture, which no one can deny is eminently surreal.

These avant-garde aesthetic D.I.Y. experiments were quickly incorporated into pop art, advertising, and industrial design. Society was learning to live with the shilling-screen perspectives and pixillated representations of the universe that had been predicted by the equations of the quantum physicists. When the Coca-Cola company uses the digitized face of Max Headroom as its current logo, then America is comfortably living in a quantum universe. HACKING AWAY AT THE WORD LINE


These same aesthetic trends appeared in English literature. Next time you boot up your Mac, breathe a word of gratitude to Emerson, Stein, Yeats, Pound, Huxley, Beckett, Orwell, Burroughs, Gysin—all of whom succeeded in loosening social, political, religious linearities, and encouraging subjectivity and innovative reprogramming of chaotic realities.

The most influential literary work of this period was produced by James Joyce. In Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, Joyce fissioned and sliced the grammatical structure of language into thought-bytes. Joyce was not only a writer, but also a word processor, a protohacker, reducing ideas to elemental units and endlessly recombining them at will. Joyce programmed reality using his own basic language, a quantum linguistic that allowed him to assemble and reassemble thoughts into fugal, repetitious, contrapuntal patterns. (It also helped that he was semi-blind and dyslexic.)

Imagine what James Joyce could have done with MS Word or a CD-ROM graphic system or a modem data base! Well, we don’t have to imagine—he actually managed to do it using his own brainware.



The most effective pre-computer rendition of quantum-digital art was to be found in a certain low-life high-tech style of spontaneous, cool, subjective, improvisational sound waves produced by a small group of black audio engineers. Jazz suddenly popped up at the height of the industrial age, eroding its linear values and noninteractive styles. A factory society demands regularity, dependability, replicability, predictability, conformity. There is no room for improvisation or syncopated individuality on a Newtonian assembly line; so it was left to the African-Americans, who never really bought the factory culture, to get us boogying into the postindustrial quantum age. Needless to say, the moralists instinctively denounced jazz as chaotic, low-life, and vaguely sinful.

Imagine what James Joyce could have done with MS Word or a CD-ROM graphic system of a modern data base! Well, we don’t have to imagine-he actually managed to do it using his own brainware.

We seem to inhabit a universe made up of a small number of elements-particles-bits that swirl in chaotic clouds, occasionally clustering together in geometrically logical temporary configurations....



The most important factor in preparing a society of assembly-line workers and factory managers for the quantum-information age was the invention of a user-friendly electronic appliance called radio.

Radio is the communication of audible signals, such as words or music, encoded in electromagnetic waves. Radio allows us to package and transmit ideas in digital patterns. The first use of “wireless” was by government, military, and business, but within one generation the home micro-radio allowed the individual to turn on and tune in a range of realities.

When Farmer Jones learned how to select stations by moving the dial, he had taken the first hands-on step toward the information age. By 1936 the comforting sounds of Amos ’n’ Andy and swing music had prepared human beings for the magic of quantum-electronic communication, as well as the brainwashing powers of political leaders.



The next step in creating an electronic-computer culture was a big one. Light waves passed through celluloid frames projected life-like images on screens, producing new levels of reality that transformed human thought and communication.

It was a big step when computer designers decided to output data on screens instead of those old green-white Gutenberg printouts. The silent movies made this innovation possible. It is, perhaps, no accident that in the 1980s IBM used the lovable, irresistible icon of the Little Tramp in its commercials.

The next time you direct your hypnotized eyeballs toward your lit-up terminal, remember that it was cheerful Charlie Chaplin who first accustomed our species to accept the implausible quantum reality of electrical impulses flashing on a flat screen.



World War II was the first high-tech war. It was fought on electronic screens: radar, sonar. The Allied victory was enormously aided by Alan Turing, the father of artificial intelligence, who used primitive computers to crack the German codes.

As soon as the war was over, these new technologies became available for civilian use. There is simply no way that a culture of television addicts can comprehend or appreciate the changes in human psychology brought about by the boob tube.

The average American spends more time per week watching television than in any other social activity. Pixels dancing on a screen are the central reality. People spend more time gazing at electrons than they do gazing into the eyes of their loved ones, looking into books, scanning other aspects of material reality. Talk about applied metaphysics! Electronic reality is more real than the physical world! This is a profound evolutionary leap. It can be compared to the jump from ocean to shoreline, when land and air suddenly become more real to the ex-fish than water!



The first generations of television watching produced a nation of “vidiots”: passive amoeboids sprawled in front of the feeding-screen sucking up digital information. Giant networks controlled the airwaves, hawking commercial products and packaged politics like carnival snake-oil salesmen.

Perceptive observers realized that Orwell’s nightmare of a Big-Brother society was too optimistic. In 1984 the authoritarian state used television to spy on citizens. The actuality is much worse: citizens docilely, voluntarily lining themselves up in front of the authority box, enjoying the lethal, neurological fast food dished out in technicolour by Newspeak.

Visionary prophets like Marshall McLuhan understood what was happening. He said, “The medium is the message.” Never mind about the junk on the screen. That will change and improve. The point is that people are receiving signals on the screen. McLuhan knew that the new electronic technology would create the new global language when the time was ripe, i.e., when society had been prepared to take this quantum leap.



The first generations of computer users similarly did not understand the nature of the quantum revolution. Top management saw computers as Invaluable Business MachinesTL. Computers simply produced higher efficiency by replacing muscular-factory-clerical labor.

And the rest of us—recognizing in the 1960s that computers in the hands of the managers would increase their power to manipulate and control us—developed a fear and loathing of computers.

Some sociologists with paranoid-survival tendencies have speculated that this phobic revulsion against electronic communication shared by millions of college-educated, liberal book readers was deliberately created by Counter Intelligence AuthoritiesTL whose control would be eroded by widespread electronic literacy.

The plot further thickened when countercultural code-cowgirls and code-cowboys, combining the insights and liberated attitudes of beats, hippies, acidheads, rock ’n’ rollers, hackers, cyberpunks, and electronic visionaries, rode into Silicon Valley and foiled the great brain robbery by developing the great equalizer: the Personal Computer.

The birth of the information age occurred in 1976, not in a smoky industrial town like Bethlehem, PA, but in a humble manger (garage) in sunny, postindustrial Silicon Valley. The Personal Computer was invented by two bearded, long-haired guys, St. Stephen the Greater and SL Steven the Lesser. And to complete the biblical metaphor, the infant prodigy was named after the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge: the Apple! The controlled substance with which Eve committed the first original sin: Thinking for Herself!

The Personal Computer triggered a new round of confrontation in the age-old social-political competition: control by the state and individual freedom of thought. Remember how the Athenian PCs, goaded by code-cowboys like Socrates and Plato, hurled back the mainframes of the Spartans and the Persians? Remember how the moveable-type press in private hands printed out the hard copy that overthrew theocratic control of the papacy and later disseminated the Declaration of Independence? Is it not true that freedom in any country is measured perfectly by the percentage of Personal Computers in the hands of individuals?

It seems to follow that the great technological challenge of the 20th Century was to produce an inexpensive appliance that would make the chaotic universe "user friendly,” which would allow the individual human to digitize, store, process, and reflect the subprograms that make up his/her own personal realities.



Those who like to think for themselves (let’s call them free agents) tend to see computers as thought-appliances. “Appliance” defines a device that individuals use in the home for their own comfort, entertainment, or education.


What are the applications of a thought-appliance? Self-improvement? Self-education? Home entertainment? Mind interplay with friends? Thought games? Mental fitness? Significant pursuits?

Free agents use their minds not to perform authorized duties for the soviet state or the International Bureaucracy Machine TL but for anything that damn well suits their fancies as Americans. In the old industrial civilization you called yourself a worker, but in the information age you’re a free agent As you develop your agency, you develop your skills in communication.

Personal Computer owners are discovering that the brain is:

• the ultimate organ for pleasure and awareness;

• an array of a hundred billion microcomputers waiting to be booted up, activated, stimulated, and programmed;

• waiting impatiently for software, headware, thoughtware that pays respect to its awesome potential and makes possible electronic internet linkage with other brains.
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