Is there still a Freudian subject in the age of Big Data? Scanning a bin full of books at Goodwill, I encounter an ominous concatenation of signs: “The Crippled Lamb”; “The White House Transcripts”; “Herman Kahn”; “1984”; “Armageddon.” Push away these titles on the surfaces, however, and one can happen upon a far more hopeful arrangement: a psychology textbook; a collection of “parable-stories for those on a mystic journey”; a study of the “theology of romantic love”; a guide showing how to set up a “children’s house” — an environment for learning based on the Montessori method, “where children can be their own masters, free to learn at their own pace.” Is there a name for the belief that reality has been edited, updated, revised? Just like that, rifts seem to form in memory. New dimensions are added to ease tensions in the fabric of the totality. By these means, those who adequately desire a thing can suddenly find in their immediate environments resources enough to bring their wishes to fruition.
In need of silliness to preserve my sanity, I clown about, I launch a study of Operation Mindfuck, a Discordian reality-hacking practice that entered counterculture consciousness in the 1970s via Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy. I refuse to grant more than a bare minimum of attention to burdens and distractions, interference with my pursuit of peak-experiences. Walking beneath cherry blossoms, for instance, head tilted back to observe petals in popcorn profusion aglow with sunlight. Peaks of this sort give way eventually to what Abraham Maslow called the “plateau-experience”: “a serene, cognitive blissfulness which can, however, have a quality of casualness and of lounging about” (Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences, pp. xiv-xv). A voice recommends The Rock Warrior’s Way. In it, I find a sequel of sorts to René Daumal’s Mount Analogue, but with all of the chewy metaphysical implications drained away, leaving a miserable earning regimen measured out in increments of exertion, irritated into being by promised pearls. Let us instead coast blissfully, attention unleashed to happen where it may.
Reality expands, splits along a seam, opening a path, a trail for bikes and pedestrians beside a downtown railway, linking formerly disparate parts of the totality. Cells and cell-clusters travel through veins beside arteries. The name of an appearing and disappearing cat scrolls across a screen. One can imagine universes suffused with entities of this sort, on whom one may call through performance of ritual, as in The Teachings of Don Juan. Among incalculable potential pathways through life’s labyrinth, I’ve wound up here, eyes scanning across rows of books. Let us make of our path a joyful journey. Planes streak the sky at twilight as I listen to Brett Naucke’s “The Vanishing.” Ignore the monorail and advance toward the glowing pyramid.
Using directional keys to navigate, I sit down at a drum set and unleash sprays of knocks and clicks, as if to initiate a ceremony. Strange voices enter my headspace, lecturing incoherently about Peter Pan, Pinocchio, archetypes, and DMT. Mental reprogramming sends me down stairwells, through lovely gardens, to an ancient sea below. Instructions appear in bubblegum font. Consciousness dwells sequentially over details spanning several levels of being. Object permanence bids farewell, leaves us momentarily to contemplate selfhood as extrapolation or device. The average lifespan of a ladybug is 2 to 3 years, announces a voice outside ours. Wilderness spaces are spaces of diversity, pluralities of plural worlds. Out of the folds of these worlds emerge previously obscured items: books like Ludic Dreaming: How to Listen Away from Contemporary Technoculture by a group called The Occulture, Steve Goodman’s Sonic Warfare, and François J. Bonnet’s The Order of Sounds: A Sonorous Archipelago. Let us engage in creative rather than merely receptive modes of listening. Like Cordelia in King Lear, let us exclaim, “All blest secrets, / All you unpublished virtues of the earth, / Spring with my tears!”
I practice silently the names of plants in my neighborhood. Star magnolia, tulip magnolia, hyacinth. Rows upon rows of daffodils. A massive weeping cherry tree atop a hill. The first-person perspective shots in Maryam Goormaghtigh’s Before Summer Ends fuse me in an unprecedented way to a trio of Iranian male protagonists, vacationing on the coast of France. By these ways, we forge new ties, bonds, interests, empathetic capacities, across and despite traditional national-linguistic boundaries. Alas, life runs through our fingers; let us make haste in our imagining a beyond. Screw in the corners of a hammock. Relax, lie back, light up, read a book. Lincoln in the Bardo comes to mind. It and High Maintenance present themselves as clue-bearing reference points within a secret network, a kind of “Head Underground.” The joint effort of assembling art from jointly sent and jointly received sets of signs.
Fiction could grant me in my role as author a means for the representation of a divided mind. The semester comes at me with advance laser fire, though, the moment in the break when I’m finally beginning again to think. I need to gear up to write a piece in the months ahead on psychedelic utopianism. What I like most about the two books I’ve most recently been reading, Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger and Aldous Huxley’s Island, is that they both document a movement from skepticism to joyous acceptance, or from cynicism to hope. Up next, a trivial but somehow endearing indie flick, Mr. Roosevelt.
“Let’s mourn a pet together!” sing the hipsters of gentrified Austin. A pleasant recreation in 2017 terms of the maya of Richard Linklater’s Slacker, strung along a storyline noncommittally indebted to reenactment of the life of Lena Dunham’s Girls character, Hannah Horvath. I despair of having to get back into character for another semester. That’s always the part of life that films of this ilk ignore. Symbol manipulators these days live in caves. They live without fresh forms of fun.