Hats are neat. Where would a high-class Kentucky woman be on derby day with out her hat? How many fly ball would outfielders have missed without their trusty baseball caps blocking the sun? How would we have opened a gateway to other dimensions if not for Ong’s Hat? I reiterate, hats are neat.
On this episode we’re talking about Ong’s Hat, one of the early Internet’s oddest legends. Who’d have though all you need to travel to other dimensions are a couple of Ivy League dropouts, a dash of eastern spiritualism and an egg? I’d have guessed you’d need at least an alien or two.
Bibliography of papers on math & physics methods of hunting lions in the Sahara Desert.
The fascinating history of identity and document spoofing by esteemed mathematicians with a wonderful sense of humor. I cited this in the book, Ong’s Hat: The Beginning.
“The material was written up by R. P. Boas and F. Smithies [Smithies 2002, personal communication] and appeared in [Pétard 1938]. Part of JWT’s assistance was in keeping the nonexistence of the nominal author, H. Pétard and of Pondiczery quiet when the Monthly enquired about the paper’s author. The full identification of Pondiczery was Ersatz Stanislas Pondiczery at the Royal Institute of Poldavia. The hope was that someday a document could be signed ESP RIP [Aspray & Tucker 1985]).“
…Albert Tucker: Was it that group that used the pseudonym “Pondiczery”?
Tukey: Yes, but with a somewhat broader reference.
Aspray: For what purpose?
Tukey: Well, the hope was that at some point Ersatz Stanislaus Pondiczery at the Royal Institute of Poldavia was going to be able to sign something ESP RIP. Then there’s the wedding invitation done by the Bourbakis. It was for the marriage of Betty Bourbaki and Pondiczery. It was a formal wedding invitation with a long Latin sentence, most of which was mathematical jokes, three quarters of which you could probably decipher. Pondiczery even wrote a paper under a pseudonym, namely “The Mathematical Theory of Big Game Hunting” by H. Pétard, which appeared in the Monthly. There were also a few other papers by Pondiczery.
Tukey: Somebody with a high principle. Pondiczery’s official residence was in Ong’s Hat, New Jersey3, which is a wide place in the road going southeast from Pemberton, but it does appear on some road maps. There is a gas station that has a sign out about Ong’s Hat.
Aspray: But no sign for Pondiczery?
Tukey: No sign for Pondiczery. Spelled c-z-e-r-y, by the way. Not like the area of India, Pondicherry, which is spelled c-h. Anyway, this was a good group, and it enjoyed its existence. I learned a lot from dinner table conversations.
The town’s not actually a town, as such. And not just because it’s an unincorporated community with a population of zero. The Hat may have only ever comprised one single building: Ong’s Hut. In fact, it’s possible Ong’s Hut is the correct name of the place, but it said Ong’s Hat on the map (the “town” appeared on maps as recently as 2006), and there’s an Ong’s Hat Road nearby.
When the QAnon movement began garnering more widespread attention a couple of years ago, a number of game designers pointed out the similarities between the ‘Q drops’ – and the associated community puzzle solving in regards to those – and the techniques used in alternate reality games (ARGs) (see here and here, for example). Not necessarily that it was an ARG, but that it (knowingly, or unknowingly) used the methods found in ARGs to hook in new players, and to blur the boundaries between reality and fiction.
So I was fascinated to listen to a recent interview with Joseph Matheny, creator of the now-legendary Ong’s Hat – described by many as the world’s first ARG – in which he discussed QAnon from his own viewpoint (see video embedded below). Matheny notes that he feels obligated to talk publicly about QAnon and Ong’s Hat, because “they’re using my methods and I don’t like that”, and also because people have been comparing the two, which upset him. “I mean…it follows the formula,” Matheny says, “but content-wise, and intention-wise, it’s definitely nothing like it.”
When the QAnon movement began garnering more widespread attention a couple of years ago, a number of game designers pointed out the similarities between the ‘Q drops’ – and the associated community puzzle solving in regards to those – and the techniques used in alternate reality games (ARGs) (see here and here, for example). Not necessarily that it was an ARG, but that it (knowingly, or unknowingly) used the methods found in ARGs to hook in new players, and to blur the boundaries between reality and fiction.
So I was fascinated to listen to a recent interview with Joseph Matheny, creator of the now-legendary Ong’s Hat – described by many as the world’s first ARG – in which he discussed QAnon from his own viewpoint (see video embedded below). Matheny notes that he feels obligated to talk publicly about QAnon and Ong’s Hat, because “they’re using my methods and I don’t like that”, and also because people have been comparing the two, which upset him. “I mean…it follows the formula,” Matheny says, “but content-wise, and intention-wise, it’s definitely nothing like it.
Translation: “Dir. Estrella Fematt
Ong’s Hat, New Jersey 1930. We were the scene of great economic activity, we had the focus of many but the contact of few. What was your concern? We translate by object, shape, gravity, noise and reality. To you hustler, who through consciousness could shape the universe itself, cause chaos and, consequently, have a portal to the strangest. You are left with only the bricks of the structures that once stood there, an old shed and an incompetent curiosity.”
We’re producing our first original on high strangeness. In it we explore the psyche of “strange” through the stories of three people in highly strange situations.
Season One – “Information Golem” looks at the life of Joseph Matheny as he dreams up what perhaps becomes the world’s first online ARG (Alternative Reality Game) known as Ong’s Hat. Launched in the 90’s as an innocent social experiment around story and information, things quickly went left of field. The oddities that surrounded Ong’s Hat are curiosities Joseph still struggles to understand to this day. Joseph has gotten alot of attention lately from the press because of the Quanon craziness and White House uprising. More recently he was featured on Slate Magazine’s Decoder Ring series. Also there’s news of a upcoming Netflix feature on conspiracy creation he’ll appear in. His story touches on the issues that seem to dovetail at the volcanic crossroads where personality and mental health meets randomness and free information. Lots of unruly yet relevant questions get born there.
A funny little name. A name on a map of a town that can’t be found.
Emerging on the nascent public internet at some indeterminate point in the late nineties, Ong’s Hat was the prototype for what would become a genre of participatory literature called the alternate reality game, or ARG. An ARG is part adventure story, part puzzle, part esoteric mystery, part scavenger hunt, part online community, all quite weird. They are mostly played on public forums, to capture the widest audience, but their content often spans multiple platforms, and typically multiple media. There have been many thousands of ARGs now, tiny and massive, but one of them was first, and it was wilder than the rest.
Ong’s Hat was by turns surreal, goofy, cosmic, and sinister, drawing heavily on classic counterculture and conspiracy theory lore. In the very early days of the worldwide web, it was doing something in a dispersed form that Mark Z. Danielewski would shortly be hailed as a postmodern genius for doing in the novel House of Leaves: playing adeptly with our ideas about how and why we find things to be true. What makes us believe a thing is real? The course of the game, its story, exists only in inaccurate second-hand reports and archived materials stripped of context now. By accident or by design, all the original online content has long since subsided into the digital sands, but the ghost of Ong’s Hat haunts us still.
A rebuttal on the site josephmatheny.com regarding a recent podcast and article that ran on Skeptoid, by Brian Dunning.
There’s a podcast/website called The Skeptoid that is run by one Brian Dunning. The website seems to consist of a collection of transcriptions of the Skeptoid podcast, links to the podcast and a personal vita for Mr. Dunning. I learned that recently, Brian Dunningran an episode of the Skeptoid titled: Ong’s Hat, which was, predictably about the Ong’s Hat literary game.
Brian Dunning claims that his podcast, “Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena is an award-winning weekly science podcast. Since 2006, Skeptoid has been revealing the true science behind popular misinformation and urban legends.” His words.
While I haven’t sampled any of the other offerings on that Skeptoid website, I did read the text transcription of Mr. Dunning’s “investigation” into the Ong’s Hat urban legend and found it dismissive and misinformed in the following areas.
INCUNABULA A Catalog of Rare Books, Manuscripts & Curiosa Conspiracy Theory, Frontier Science & Alternative Worlds Emory Cranston, Prop.Incunabulum: cocoon; swaddling clothes; cradle; in-cunae, in the cradle; koiman, put to sleep, winding- sheet; koimetarium (cemetery); printed books before 1501, hence by extension any rare & hermetic book… Introduction
This catalog is a reproduction. This is not a commercial advertisement. ECommerce links to the available books are offered a as courtesy to researchers. Consider this first file an unusually complete bibliography to the story that unravels in the companion files.
No book for sale here was actually printed before 1501, but they all answer to the description ” rare and hermetic” – even the mass market paperbacks, not to mention the xeroxes of unpublished manuscripts, which cannot be obtained from any other source!
The symbol INCUNABULA was chosen for our company for it’s shape – cocoon, egg-like, gourd-like, the shape of Chaos according to Chaung Tzu. Cradle: beginnings. Sleep: dreams. Silken white sheets of birth and death; books, white pages, the cemetery of ideas.
This catalogue has been put together with a purpose: to alert YOU to a vast cover up, a conspiracy so deep that no other researcher has yet become aware of it (outside certain Intelligence circles, needless to say!) – and so dangerous that the “winding sheet” imagery in our title seems quite appropriate; we know of at least two murders so far in connection with this material.
Unlike other conspiracy theories, such as Hollow earth, Men In Black, cattle mutilation, UFO, Reich & Tesla or what have you, the INCUNABULA Theory harmonizes with genuine frontier quantum mechanics and chaos mathematics, and does not depend on any quack nostrums, psuedoscience or ESP for proof. This will become clear to anyone who takes the trouble to read the background material we recommend and offer for sale.
Because of the unprecedented nature of the INCUNABULA File we have included short descriptions of some of the books, pamphlets, flyers, privately-circulated or unpublished manuscripts, ephemera & curiosa available through us. Some of this is highly inflammable and sexual in nature, so an age statement must be included with each order.
Cash (or stamps) only. No cheques or money orders will be accepted.
Written by a scientist for non-scientists, simplistic and jokey, makes you feel a bit talked-down-to. Nevertheless Wolf uses his imagination (or other scientists imaginations) so well he seems to hit accidentally on certain truths (unless he knows more than he reveals). For example: the parallel universes must have all come into being simultaneously “at the beginning” in order for quantum uncertainty to exist, because there was no observer present at the Big Bang, thus no way for the Wave Function to collapse and produce one universe out of all the bubbles of possibility (p.174). If an electron can disappear in one universe and appear in another (as suggested by the Everett/Wheeler material), a process called “quantum tunneling”, then perhaps information can undergo a similar tunneling effect. Wolf suggests (p. 176) that this might account for certain “psychic phenomenon, altered states of awareness,” even ghosts and spirits! Actual travel between worlds must of course involve tunneling by both electrons AND information – any scientist would have predicted as much – but the mention of “altered states” of consciousness is extremely revealing! Elsewhere (p.204), Wolf speculates that a future “highly developed…electronic form of biofeedback” will allow us to observe quantum effects in the electrons of our own bodies, making the enhanced consciousness and the body itself a “time machine” (which is what he calls a device for travel between universes). He comes so close to the truth then shies away! For instance (p.199) he points out that the Wave Function has a value BETWEEN zero and one until it collapses. If the wave function does not collapse, the “thing” it describes exists in two universes simultaneously. How strange of him not to mention that fractal geometry also deals with values between zero and one! As we know the secret of travel between worlds is rooted in the marriage of quantum and chaos, particularly in the elusive mathematics of fractal tesseracts (visualize a 4-dimension Mandelbrot Set – one of the simplest of the trans-dimensional “maps” or “catastrophic topologies”). Wolf appears so unaware of this, we must sadly conclude that he’s not part of the conspiracy.
Particularly interesting – and not found in any other material- are Wolf’s speculations about schizophrenia. Are schizophrenics receiving information from other worlds? Could a schizoid observer actually observe (in the famous double slit experiments) a wave becoming two particles and then one particle? Or could such an observation be made by an extremely blank and simple-minded watcher (a sort of Zen simpleton perhaps)? If so, the perfect subject for parallel-worlds experiments would be a paradoxically complex simpleton, a “magnetized schizophrenic” who would be aware of the split into two worlds which occurs when a quantum measurement is made. Oddly enough, such a mental state sounds very close to the “positive schizophrenia” of certain extreme psychedelic experiences as well as the meditation-visualization exercises of actual travelers between worlds.
A masterful and lucid exposition of the different versions of reality logically describable from various interpretations of quantum mechanics. The Everett/Wheeler Theory is here given it’s clearest explanation possible in lay persons terms, given the authors awareness (at the time) of experimental verification.
Some of the theorists who touch on the Many-Worlds “hypothesis” place too much emphasis on time distortions and the implication of “time travel”. These of course seem present in the theorems, but in practice have turned out (so far) to be of little consequence. Chaos Theory places much more emphasis on the temporal directionality than most quantum theory (with such exceptions as R. Feynman and his “arrow of time”), and offers strong evidence for the past-present-future evolution that we actually experience. As K.Sohrawardi puts it, “the universe is in a state of Being, true, but that state is not static in the way suggested by the concept of ‘reversibility’ in Classical physics. The ‘generosity’ of Being, so to speak, is becoming, and the result is not reversibility but multiplicity, the unmeasurable resonant chaos-like fecundity of creation. “Nevertheless, Herbert’s second book is a brilliant speculative work – and it led him directly to a certain circle of scientists and body of research concerned with dimensional travel, rather than “time travel,” with the result that his third book (see next item) finally struck paydirt.
4. “Jabir ibn Hayaan” (Nick Herbert). Alternate Dimensions (publication suppressed by Harper & Row, 1989); bound uncorrected galleys, 179pp. $100. (We have 5 sets of proofs for sale, after which only Xerox copies will be available at $125)
While working on Faster Than Light Herbert came into contact with one of the “travel cults” operating somewhere in California, perhaps one with a sufiistic slant (“Jabir ibn Hayaan” was a famous 10th century sufi alchemist); according to the preface of Alternate Dimensions, which is irritatingly vague and suggestive, this group seems to have trained him and sent him on at least one trip to America2. Herbert suggests that he already had so much experience of altered states of consciousness and ability to visualize complex space/time geometries that only a minimum of “initiatic” training proved necessary.
In any case, despite it’s vagueness and brevity, this book is the most accurate and thoroughly-informed work on travel between worlds in our entire collection. So far we have been unable to obtain any deep theoretical work, and only a few papers dealing with practical aspects – but Herbert provides a magnificent overview of the entire field. Written for the lay person, with his usual clear and succint approach to theory, Herbert’s is the first “popular” study to make all the basic links: the Everett/Wheeler hypothesis, Bell’s Theorem, the E/R Bridge, fractal geometry and chaos math, cybernetically-enhanced biofeedback, psychotropic and shamanic techniques, crystallography, morphogenetic field theory, catastrophe topology,etc.
Of course he’s strongest in discussing the quantum aspects of travel, less sure when dealing with the math outside his field, and most inspiring when describing (pp.98-101) visualization techniques and “embodied ecstasy” (ex-stasis, “standing outside” the body; hence embodied ecstasy paradoxically describes the transdimensional experience).
Herbert makes no claim to understand the traveling itself, and goes so far as to suggest that even the (unnamed) pioneers who made the first breakthroughs may not have completely understood the process, any more than the inventor of the steam engine understood Classical physics (p.23). This definitely ties in with what we know about the persons in question.
Unfortunately the six illustrations promised in the table of contents are not included in the galleys – one of them was a “Schematic for a Trans-dimensional Express” which might be worth killing for! – and the publishers claim that Herbert never supplied the illustrations. They refuse to say why they suspended publication of Alternate Dimensions and in fact at first denied ever having handled such a title! Moreover Herbert has apparently dropped out of sight; if he hasn’t met with foul play, he may have returned permanently to Earth2.
We regret having to sell copies of a flawed book for such an outrageous price; we’d like to publish a mass market edition affordable by all – but if Harper & Row ever find out what we’re doing, we’ll need the money for court costs and lawyers’ fees! So get it while you can – this is THE indispensable background work for understanding the Conspiracy.
5. Thomsen, Dietrick E. “A Knowing Universe Seeking to be Known” (Xerox offprint from Science News, Vol.123, 1983); $5
Unwittingly demonstrates the resonance between quantum reality theory and the sufism of (for example) “the Greatest Shaykh” Ibn’Arabi, who discusses in his Bezels of Wisdom a saying attributed to God by Mohammed (but not in the Koran): “I was a hidden treasure and I wanted (lit.’loved’) to be known; so I created the universe, that I might be known.”
5a. We also have a few offprints (at the same price) of Thomsen’s witty “Quanta at Large: 101 Things TO DO with Schrodinger’s Cat” (op.cit,129,1986).
Contains the valuable if somewhat whimsical article by D.Z. Albers,”How to take a Photograph of Another Everett World”. Also the very important “Macroscopic Quantum Tunneling at Finite Tempatures” by P.Hanggi (we suspect him of being a Conspiracy member).
9. (Anonymous). Course Catalog for 1978-79, Institute of Chaos Studies and Imaginal Yoga (no address); Xerox of mimeographed flyer, 7pp, $15
An in-house document from the Institute where the first breakthrough was attained (probably in the late winter or early spring of 1979) – therefore, although it makes no overt mention of Travel or the Egg, the Catalog is of prime importance for an understanding of the intellectual and historical background of the event.
According to an unreliable source (see ESCAPE FROM EARTH PRIME!, #15 in this list), the Institute was located somewhere in Duchess County, New York, where the founder and director, Dr. Kamadev Sohrawardi, was employed by IBM in the 1960’s, “dropped out” and began investigations into “consciousness physics”; it is also claimed that Sohrawardi was a Bengali of mixed English, Hindu and Moslem origin, descended from an old sufi family, and initiated into Tantra. All this disagrees with clues in other sources and is perhaps not to be trusted. Other groups take credit for the Breakthrough, and sohrawardi may have been a fraud – but we’re convinced that the Catalog is authentic and Sohrawardi’s claim the most certain.
At first glance, the Catalog appears an example of late-hippy/early-New-Age pretentiousness. Thus there are courses in “Visions of Color & Light in Sufi Meditation,” “Inner Alchemy in Late Taoism,” “Metaphysics of the Ismaili ‘Assassins,’” , “Imaginal Yoga & the Psychotoplogy of the Imagination,” “Hermetic & Neo-Pagan Studies,” (apparently based on Golden Dawn teachings), “Visualization Techniques in Javanese Sorcery,” “Stairways to Heaven: Shamanic Trance & the Mapping of Consciousness,” “Stirner, Nietzsche & Stone age Economy: An Examination of Non-Authoritarian Hunter/Gatherer Societies,”, and – interestingly enough! – “Conspiracy Theory”.
The “shamanic” course may have been a blind for research in psychotropic drugs, including such exotica asahuasca (yage, harmaline), ibogaine, yohimbine, Telepathine and Viatmin K, as well as the more standard psychedelicatessan of the late 70’s.
However, the Catalog also contains amazing courses in frontier science, any combination of which could have provided the key or final puzzle-bit to the Breakthrough: apparently Sohrawardi taught or supervised most of them. Thus “The Universe in a Grain of Sand” promised information on models of brain activity, cybernetically-enhanced feedback, Sheldrake’s morphogenetic field theory, Rene’ Thom’s Catastrophic Theory as applied to consciousness, lucid-dreaming research, John Lilly’s work on “altered states” and other mind-related topics. Then in “Strange Attractors & the Mathematics of Chaos,” Sohrawardi discussed discussed matters unknown outside of the margins of academia till the mid-80’s,and made the astounding prediction that Chaos in the macroscopic world somehow be found to mirror Uncertainty in the microscopic or Quantum World, a truth still unrecognized in “official” scientific circles today.He felt that n-dimensional strange attractors could be used to model the quantum behavior of particles/waves, and that the “so-called collapse of the wave function” could actually be mapped with certain bizarre ramifications of Thom’s catastrophic topology. Making references to work by Ilya Prigogine which was still being circulated in private “preprint” or samizdat form at the time, Sohrawardi suggests that “creative chaos” (as opposed to “deterministic” or entropic chaos) provides the link that will unify Relativity, Quantum, Complexity and consciousness itself into a new science.
Finally in his “Advanced Seminar on Many Worlds,” he states baldly that the alternative universes predicted by Relativity (Black Hole Theory) are the same as the many worlds predicted by Quantum, are the same as fractal dimensions revealed in Chaos! This one-page course description is the closest thing we have to an explanation of why travel to other worlds actually works. Hence the Catalog is an indispensable document for the serious student of the Conspiracy.
10. Beckenstein, J. “Black holes & Entropy” (Xerox offprint from Physical Review, Vol.D7, 1973; 28pp), $15
An early (pre-Breakthrough) speculation with suggestive hints about quantum and chaos-as-entropy – although no knowledge of actual Chaos Theory is demonstrated. This paper was referred to in an in-house memo from the Inst. for Chaos Studies & Imaginal Yoga, believed to have been composed by K.Sohrawardi himself (see #9).
11. Sohrawardi,Dr Kamadev. “Pholgiston & the Quantum Aether” (Offprint from the J. of Paranormal Physics, Vol.XXII, Bombay, 1966), $40
An early paper by Sohrawardi, flooded with wild speculations about quantum and oriental spirituality, probably dating from the period when he was still working for IBM, but making visits to Millbrook, nearby in Duchess Co., and participating in the rituals of the League of spiritual discovery under Dr.Timothy Leary, and the psychedelic yoga of Bill Haines’ Sri Ram Ashram, which shared Leary’s headquarters on a local millionaires estate. The basic insight concerns the identity of Everett/Wheeler’s “many worlds” and the “other worlds” of sufism, tantrik Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. At the time, Sohrawardi apparently believed he could “prove” this by reviving the long-dead theories of phlogiston and aether in the light of quantum discoveries! (Phlogiston Theory – based on the thinking of the sufi alchemist Jabir ibn Hayaan – the original Jabir – was propounded seriously in the 18th century to unify heat and light as “one thing”.) Totally useless as science, this metaphor nevertheless inspired Sohrawardi’s later and genuinely important work on alternate realities.
Unfortunately no scientific speculations, but a fascinating glimpse into the political background of the inventor of Travel (or rather, one of the inventors). Making reference to French Situationist and Dutch “Provo” ideas which helped spark the “Events” and upheavals of Spring ’68 all over Europe and America, Sohrawardi looks forward to a world without “the alienating prison of WORK,” restored to the “oneness with Nature of the Old Stone Age” and yet somehow based on “green technology and quantum weirdness.”
Wild and wooly as it is, this text nevertheless poses a fascinating scientific question in the light of the author’s later accomplishments – a question still unanswered. All the “First Breakthroughs” we know of with any degree of certainty (those in New York, California, and Java – the actual sequence is unclear) without exception entered parallel worlds without human inhabitants, virtual forest-worlds. Most science fiction predicated other worlds almost like ours, populated by “us,” with only a few slight differences, worlds “close” to ours. Instead-no people!
Two possible explanations:
1. We cannot enter worlds containing “copies” of ourselves without causing paradox and violating the consistency principle of the “megaverse” – hence only wild (or feral) worlds are open to Travel.
2. Other worlds exist, in a sense, only as probabilities; in order to “become fully real” they must be observed. In effect, the parallel universes are observer-created, as soon as a traveler “arrives” in one of them. Sohrawardi wanted a Paleolithic world of endless forest, plentiful game and gathering, virgin, empty but slightly haunted – therefore, that’s what he got! Either explanation raises problems in the light of what actually happened; perhaps there is a third, as yet unsuspected.
This bizarre document, disguised as a brochure for a New Age health retreat, reveals some interesting information about the activities of Sohrawardi’s group or a closely-associated group, a fairly accurate description of the Egg is provided, as well as a believable account of the first (or one of the first) Breakthroughs. However, everything else in the pamphlet is sheer disinformation. The New Jersey Pine Barrens were never a center of alternate-worlds research, and all the names in the text are false. A non-existent address is included. Nevertheless, highly valuable for background.
14. “Sven Saxon”. The Stone Age Survivalist (Loompanics, UnLtd., Port Townsend, WA 1985), Pb, $20
“Imagine yourself suddenly plunked down buck-naked in the middle of a large dark forest with no resources except your mind,” says the preface.”What would you do?”
What indeed? and who could possibly care? – except a trans-dimensional traveler! Loompanics specializes in books on disappearances and survival involving a good deal of escapist fantasy – but as we know, this situation is all too real for the Visitor to Other Worlds.
Part I: Flint-knapping, an excellent illustrated handbook of Paleolithic tool-production; II Zero-tech hunting and trapping; III, Gathering (incl. a materia medica); IV, Shelter; V, Primitive warfare; VI,Man & Dog: trans-species symbiosis; VII, Cold weather survival; VIII, Culture (“Sven” recommends memorizing a lot of songs, poems and stories – and ends by saying “Memorize this book – ’cause you can’t take it with you.” Where is Mr.Saxon now, we wonder?).
15. Balcombe, Harold S. Escape From Earth Prime! (Foursquare Press, Denver, Colo., 1986), Pb, $15
This – unfortunately! – is the book that blew the lid off the Conspiracy for the first time. We say “Unfortunately” because ESCAPE!, to all appearances, is a piece of unmitigated paranoid pulp tripe. Written in breathless ungrammatical subFortean prose, unfootnoted and nakedly sensationalistic, the book sank without trace, ignored even by the kook- conspiracy fringe; we were able to buy out unsold stock from the vanity press which published it, just before they went out of business and stopped answering their mail.
Balcombe (whom we’ve been unable to trace and who may have “vanished”), is the author of one other book we’ve seen – but are not offering for sale – called “Drug Lords from the Hollow Earth” (1984) in which he claims that the CIA obtained LSD and cocaine from Dero-flying-saucer-nazis from beneath Antarctiac. So much for his credentials. How he got hold of even a bit of the authentic Other Worlds story is a miracle.
According to Balcombe,the first breakthrough was due not solely to K.Soharawardi – despite his importance as a theoretician – but also a “sinister webwork of cultists, anarchists, commies, fanatical hippies and renegade traitor scientists who made fortunes in the drug trade” (p.3). Balcombe promises to name names, and out of the welter of rant and slather, some hard facts about the pioneers actually emerge.
Funding (and some research) emanated in the 70’s from a “chaos cabal” of early Silicon Valley hackers interested in complex dynamical systems, randomicity, and chance, and-gambling! – as well as a shadowy group of “drug lords” (Balcombe’s favorite term of abuse), with connections to certain founders of the Discordian Illuminati. Money was channelled through a cult called the Moorish Orthodox Church, a loose knit confederation of jazz musicians, oldtime hipsters, white “sufis” and black moslems, bikers and street dealers (see” A Heresologist’s Guide to Brooklyn”, #24 in this list) who came into contact with Sohrawardi in Millbrook in the mid-60’s.
Sohrawardi was a naive idealist and somewhat careless about his associations. He received clandestine support from people who were in turn connected to certain Intelligence circles with an interest in psychedelic and fringe mind-science. According to Balcombe this was not the CIA (MK-ULTRA) but an unofficial offshoot of several groups with Masonic connections! The Conspiracy was penetrated almost from the start, but was actually encouraged in the hope of gleaning useful information about parallel worlds, or at least about the “mental conditioning techniques” developed as part of the basic research.
By the mid-70’s, Sohrawardi and his various cohorts and connections (now loosely referred to as “the Garden of Forked Paths” or GFP) had become aware of the Intelligence circles (now loosely grouped as “Probability Control Force” or PCF) and had in turn planted double-agents, and gone further underground. In 1978 or 79 an actual device for trans-dimensional Travel, the “Egg” (also called the Cocoon or the Cucurbit, which means both gourd and alchemical flask) was developed in deepest secrecy, probably at Sohrawardi’s institute in Upstate New York, certainly not at a branch lab supposedly hidden away in the NJ Pine Barrens near the long-vanished village of Ong’s Hat (see #13 in this list), since no such lab ever existed, nor does it exist now, despite what some fools think.
The PCF were unable to obtain an Egg for several years and did not succeed in Breakthrough until (Balcombe believes) 1982. The California groups, however, began Egg-production and broke through (into “BigSur2”) in early 1980 (again, Balcombe’s chronology). (Balcombe clearly knows nothing of the situation in Java.)
It remains unclear whether the East Coast and West Coast groups both entered the same alternate world, or two different but similar worlds. Communication between the two outposts has so far proved impossible because, as it happens, the Egg will not transport non-sentient matter. Travellers arrive Over There birth-naked in a Stone Age world – no airplanes, no radio, no clothes … no fire and no tools! Only the Egg, like a diamond Faberge easter gift designed by Dali, alone in the midst of “Nature naturing”. Balcombe includes a dim out-of-focus photo of an Egg, and claims that the machine is part computer but also partly- living crystal, like virus or DNA, and also partly “naked quantumstuff”.
Eggs are costly to produce, so the early pioneers had to return after each sortie and forego permanent settlement on E2 until a cheaper mode of transport could be discovered. However, emigration via the Egg proved possible when the “tantrik” or “double-yolk” effect was discovered: two people (any combination of age, gender, etc.) can Travel by Egg while making love, especially if one of the pair has already done the trip a few times and “knows the way” without elaborate visualization techniques and so forth. Balcombe has a field day with this juicy information and spends an entire chapter (VIII) detailing the “perversions” in use for this purpose. Talent for Travel ranges from brilliant to zero – probably no more than 15% of humanity can make it, although the less-talented and even children can be “translated” by the tantrik technique – and extensive training methods have somewhat improved the odds. California2 now contains about 1000 emigrants scattered along the coast, and the eastern settlements add up to 500 or 600. A few children have been born “over there” – some can Travel, some can’t, although the talented percentage seems greater than among the general population of Earth-prime. And being “stuck” on E2 is no grave punishment in any case!, unless you object to the Garden of Eden and the “original leisure society” of the Paleolithic flintknappers.
Balcombe claims that the PCF was severely disappointed by the sentience “law” of Travel, since they had hoped to use the parallel worlds as a weapons-delivery system! Nevertheless they continued to experiment, hoping for a more “mechanistic” technique; meanwhile they devote their efforts to (a) suppressing all information leaks, (b) plotting against the independent GFP and infiltrating the E2 settlements, (c) attempting to open new worlds where technology might be possible. They are however handicapped by a shortage of talent: the kind of person who can Travel is not usually the kind of person n who sympathizes with the “patriotic discipline of the PCF” and rogue Masonic groups, but some of these end up defecting and “doubling”, and anyway most of them are much too weird for the taste of the rigidly reactionary inner core of PCF leadership, who wonder (as does Balcombe) whether these agents are “any better than the scum they’re spying on?”
More worlds have been discovered – E3 and E4 are mentioned in ESCAPE! (and we know that E5 was opened in 1988) – but all of these are “empty” forest worlds apparently almost identical with E2.
In summary, Balcombe’s style is execrable and attitude repulsive, but his book remains the most accurate overview of the Conspiracy to date. If you’re only going to order one item from us, this is it.
16. (Anonymous). “Bionic Travel: An Orgonomic Theory of the Megaverse”, (Xerox of unpubl. typescript headed “Top Secret – Eyes Only”; 27pp), $15
If this paper emanates from PCF sources, as we believe, it indicates the poor quality of original research carried out by the enemies of Sohrawardi and the GFP, and may explain the PCF’s relative lack of progress in the field (especially considering their much larger budget!). The author attempts to revive W. Reich’s Orgone Theory, with “bions” as “life-force particles” and some sort of orgone accumulator (Reich’s “box”) as a possible substitute for the Egg. An unhealthy interest is shown in “harnessing the force of Deadly Orgone” as a weapon for use on other worlds. References are also made to Aliester Crowley’s “sex magick techniques” of the Ordo Templi Orientis – even speculations on human sacrifice as a possible source of “transdimensional energy”. A morbid and crackpot document, devoid of all scientific value (in our opinion) but affording a fascinating insight into PCF mentality and method.
One of the few books mentioned by title in the Catalog of the Inst. of Chaos Studies & Imaginal Yoga (see #9 in this list). The “mundus imaginalis”, also called the World of Archetypes or the “Isthmus” (Arabic, barzakh), lies in between the World of the Divine and the material World of Creation. It actually consists of “many worlds”, including two “emerald cities” called Jabulsa and Jabulqa (very intriguing considering the situation on Java2!). The great 14th-century Hispano-Moorish sufi Ibn’Arabi developed a metaphysics of the “Creative Imagination” by which the adept could achieve spiritual progress via direct contemplation of the archetypes, including the domains of djinn, spirits and angels. Ibn’Arabi also speaks of seven alternate Earths created by Allah, each with its own Mecca and Kaaba! Some parallel-universe theorists believe that Travel without any tech (even the Egg) may be possible, claiming that certain mystics have already accomplished it. If so, then Ibn’Arabi must have been one of them.
The first and still the most complete introduction to chaos – required reading – BUT with certain caveats. First: Gleick has no philosophical or poetic depth; he actually begins the book with a quote from John Updike! No mention of chaos mythology or oriental sources. No mention of certain non-American chaos scientists such as Rene Thom and Ilya Prigogine! Instead, alongside the admittedly useful info, one gets a subtle indoctrination in “deterministic chaos”, by which we mean the tendency to look on chaos as a weapon to fight chaos, to “save” Classical physics – and learn to predict the Stock Market! (As opposed to what we call the “quantum chaos” of Sohrawardi and his allies, which looks on chaos as a creative and negentropic source, the cornucopia of evolution and awareness.) Warning: we suspect Gleick of being a PCF agent who has embedded his text with subtle disinformation meant to distract the chaos-science community from any interest in “other worlds”.
19. Pak Hardjanto. “Apparent Collapse of the Wave Function as an n-Dimensional Catastrophe” (trans. by “N.N.S.” in Collected Papers of the SE Asian Soc. for Advanced Research, Vol.XXIX, 1980), 47pp, Xerox of offprint, $15
An early paper by the little-known scientific director of the Javanese “Travel Cult” which succeeded in breakthrough, possibly in the year this essay was published or shortly thereafter. Hardjanto is known to have been in touch with Sohrawardi since the 60’s; no doubt they shared all information, but each kept the other secret from their respective organizations. The pioneers of Java2 became known to the GFP and PCF only around 1984 or 85.
This article, the only scientific work we possess by Hardjanto, shows him to be a theoretician equal or even superior to Sohrawardi himself – and if Hardjanto is also the anonymous author of the following item, as we believe, then he appears a formidable “metaphysicist” as well!
“Apparent Collapse”, while certainly not a blueprint for Egg construction, nevertheless constitutes one of the few bits of “hard” science published openly on our Subject. Unfortunately, its theorems and diagrams are doubtless comprehensible only to a handful of experts. The topological drawings literally boggle the mind, especially one entitled “Hypercube Undergoing ‘Collapse’ Into 5-Space Vortex”!
20. (Unsigned, probably by Pak Hardjanto). A Vision of Hurqalya (trans. by K.K.Sardono; Incunabula Press, 1988), Pb, 46pp, $20
The Indonesian original of this text appeared as a pamphlet in Yogjakarta (E.Java) in 1982. We ourselves at Incunabula commissioned the translation and have published this handsome edition, including all the illustrations from the original, at our own expense.
If one knew nothing about the Conspiracy or Many-Worlds Theory, A Vision would seem at first to be a mystical tract by an adherent of kebatinan, the heterodox sufi-influenced freeform esoteric/syncretistic complex of sects which has come to be influential in GFP circles, inasmuch as the idea of “spiritual master” (guru, murshed) has been replaced by “teacher” (pamong); some kebatinan sects utilize spontaneous non-hierarchical organizational structures.
However, in the light of our knowledge of the material existence of other worlds, Vision takes on a whole new dimension, as a literal description of what Hardjanto and his fellow pioneers found on Java2.
They discovered another uninhabited world, but with one huge difference. The author of Vision steps out of his “alchemical Egg” into a vast and ancient abandoned City! He calls it Hurqalya (after a traditional sufi name for the Other World or alam’e mithal). He senses his total aloneness, feels that the City’s builders have long since moved on elsewhere, and yet that they still somehow somewhere exist.
The author compares Hurqalya to the ancient ruined city of Borobadur in E.Java, but notices immediately that there are no statues or images, all the decoration is abstract and severe, but “neither Islamic nor Buddhist nor Hindu nor Christian nor any style I ever saw”. The “palaces” of Hurqalya are grand, cyclopaean, almost monolithic, far from “heavy” in atmosphere, despite the black basalt from which they seem to have been carved. For the City is cut through by water … it is in fact a water-city in the style of the Royal Enclave of Yogjakarta (now so sadly derelict), but incomparably bigger. Canals, aqueducts, rivers and channels crisscross and meander through the City; flowing originally from quiescent volcanic mountains looming green in the West, Water flows down through the City which is built on a steep slope gradually curving into a basin and down to the placid Eastern Sea, where a hundred channels flow dark and clear into the green salt ocean.
Despite the air of ruin – huge trees have grown through buildings, splitting them open – mosses, ferns and orchids coat the crumbling walls with viridescence, hosting parrots, lizards, butterflies – despite this desolation, most of the waterworks still flow: canal-locks broken open centuries ago allow cascades, leaks, spills and waterfalls in unexpected places, so that the City is wrapped in a tapestry of water-sounds and songbird voices. Most amazingly, the water flows at different levels simultaneously, so that aqueducts cross over canals which in turn flow above sunken streams which drip into wells, underground cisterns and mysterious sewers in a bewildering complex of levels, pipes, conduits and irrigated garden terraces which resemble (to judge by the author’s sketches) a dreamscape of Escher or Piranesi. Viewed from above, the City would be mapped as an arabesque 3PD spiderweb (with waterbridges aboveground, streams at ground level and also underground) fanning out to fill the area of the basin, thence into the harbor with its huge cracked basalt-block docks.
The slope on which the City is built is irregularly terraced in ancient SE Asian style – as many staircases and streets thread their way up and down, laid out seemingly at random, following land-contours rather than grid-logic, adding to the architectural complexity of the layer of waterways with a maze of vine-encrusted overpasses, arched bridges, spiralling ramps, crooked alleyways, cracked hidden steps debouching on broad esplanades, avenues, parks gone to seed, pavilions, balconies, apartments, jungle-choked palazzos, echoing gloomy “temples” whose divinities, if any, seem to have left no forwarding address … all empty, all utterly abandoned. And nowhere is there any human debris – no broken tools, bones or midden heaps, no evidence of actual habitation – as if the ancient builders of the City picked up and took everything with them when they departed – “perhaps to one of the other Seven Worlds of the alam’e mithal” – in other words, to a “higher dimension.”
Thus ends the Vision of Hurqalya, raising more questions than it answers! There is no doubt that it describes exactly what was discovered in Java2 in 1980 or 81. But if the “observer-created” theory of other-worlds travel is true, “Hurqalya” represents the “imaginal imprint” of what Hardjanto (or whoever) expected to find. Yet again, if that theory is false … who built Hurqalya? One current explanation (arising from time-distortion theorems which have so far remained unsolvable) suggests that the Builders “moved” in prehistoric times to Earth-prime and became the distant ancestors of the Javanese (“Java Man”). Another guess: the Builders have indeed moved on to a “distant” alternate universe, and eventually we may find them.
A small settlement now exists in Hurqalya. Once the American groups heard of the City’s existence, members of both the GFP and PFC were able to visualize it and Travel to it from America (the Javanese can do the same from Java-prime to America2). Since 1985 all three groups have expanded most of their exploratory effort on “opening up” new worlds in the Java series. Apparently Indonesian sorcerers and trance adepts are very good at this, and we believe they have reached Java7 – without, however, finding replications of the City or any trace of the Builders – only more empty forest.
21. Von Bitter Rucker, Dr R. ” ‘The Cat Was Alive, But Looked Scared As Hell’: Some Unexpected Properties of Cellular Automata in the Light of the Everett-Wheeler Hypothesis” (Complex Dynamical Systems Newsletter no.8, 1989), offprint, $10
Who is this man and what does he know? No other serious mathematician has so far made any connection between cellular automata and the Many Worlds. Tongue-in-cheek (?), the author suggests that Schrodinger’s poor cat might be both alive and dead, even after the box is opened, IF parallel universes are “stacked” in some arcane manner which he claims to be able to demonstrate with a piece of software he has hacked and is selling for an outrageous sum; we have also seen and ad for this program in a magazine called MONDO 2000, published in Berkeley and devoted to “reality hacking”. We’d love to know what certain members of the Conspiracy would make of this bizarre concept!
This writer appears to have inside information. The notion of a drug-induced hallucination so powerful it can be shared by many (in a proper “blind” experiment) and can actually come into existence, into material reality; the idea that drug-enhanced lucid dreaming can be used to discover objective information from “other ontological levels of being”; and finally the “prediction” that “a combination of these methods utilizing computer-aided biofeedback monitoring devices” will actually make it possible to “visit ‘other’ worlds in ‘inner’ space” (which suggests that the author adheres to the “observer-created” theory of parallel universes) – all this leads us to believe that the author is probably a member of one of the California Travel Cults – as well as an expert bruja!
23. (Anonymous). A Collection of Cult Pamphlets, Flyers, Ephemera & Curiosa from the Library of a traveler (Looseleaf portfolio of photocopied originals) sold by lot, $25
The unknown compiler of this Collection (whom for convenience we’ll call “X”) left it behind when he “vanished”, whence it came into our possession. We know something of the compiler’s career from an untitled document written by him and found with the Collection, which we call “The Poetic Journal of a traveler” (#24 in this list), as well as a pamphlet believed to be by the same author, Folklore of the Other Worlds (#25). (The Ong’s Hat Color Brochure was also discovered in the same cache, and is sold by us as #13.)
The Collection contains the following items:
1) A History & Catechism of the Moorish Orthodox Church, which traces the origins of the sect to early (1913) American Black Islam, the “Wandering Bishops”, the Beats of the 50s and the psychedelic churches movement of the 60s – deliberately vague about the 70s and 80s however.
2) The World Congress of Free Religions, a brochure-manifesto arguing for a “fourth way”, a non-authoritarian spiritual movement in opposition to mainstream, fundamentalist and New Age religion.The WCFR is said to include various sects of Discordians, SubGeniuses, Coptic Orthodox People of the Herb, gay (“faery”) neo-pagans, Magical Judaism, the Egyptian Church of New Zealand, Kaos Kabal of London, Libertarian Congregationalists, etc., and the Moorish Orthodox Church. Several of these sects are implicated in the Conspiracy, but no overt mention of the Travel Cults is made here.
3) Spiritual Materialism, by “the New Catholic Church of the Pantarchy, Hochkapel von SS Max und Marx”, a truly weird flyer dedicated to “Saints” Max Stirner and Karl Marx, representing a group claiming foundation by the 19th century Individualist Stephen Pearl Andrews, but more likely begun in the 1980s as a Travel Cult. Uses Nietzsche to contend that material reality itself constitutes a (or the) spiritual value and the principle of Infinity “which is expressed in the existence of many worlds.” It argues for a utopia based on “individualism, telepathic socialism, free love, high tech, Stone Age wilderness and quantum weirdness”! No address is given, needless to say.
4) The Sacred Jihad of Our Lady of Chaos, this otherwise untraceable group calls for “resistance to all attempts to control probability.” It quotes Foucault and Baudrillard on the subject of “disappearance”, then suggests that “to vanish without having to kill yourself may be the ultimate revolutionary act … The monolith of Consensus Reality is riddled with quantum-chaos cracks … Viral attack on all fronts! Victory to Chaos in every world!”
5) The Temple of Antinous, a Travel Cult of pedophile boy-lovers and neo-pagans devoted to Eros and Ganymede. (Warning: this leaflet contains some just-barely-legal graphic material.) “Wistfully we wonder if the boygod can manifest only in some other world than this dreary puritanical polluted boobocracy – then, gleefully, we suddenly recall: there ARE other worlds!”
6) A Collage, presumably made by X himself, consisting of a “mandala” constructed from cut-outs of Strange Attractors and various Catastrophic topologies interwoven with photos of young girls and boys clipped from Italian fashion magazines. Eroticizing the mathematical imagery no doubt helps one to remember and visualize it while operating the Egg.
24. (Anonymous). Poetic Journal of a traveler; or, A Heresologist’s Guide to Brooklyn (Incunabula Press, pamphlet, $15. Believed to be by “X”, the compiler of the Collection, & transcribed by us from manuscript.)
Apparently X began this MS with the intention of detailing his experiences with a Travel Cult and eventual “translation” to the various alternate-world settlements, but unfortunately abandoned the project early on, possibly due to PCF interference.
It begins with a summary account of X’s spiritual quest, largely among the stranger sects of his native Brooklyn: Santeria in Coney Island, Cabala in Williamsburg, sufis on Atlantica Avenue, etc. He is disappointed or turned away (and even mugged on one occasion). He becomes friendly with a Cuban woman of mixed Spanish, black, amerindian and Chinese ancestry who runs a botanica (magical supplies and herbs). When he asks her about “other worlds”, she is evasive but promises to introduce him to someone who knows more about such matters.
She orders her grandpdaughter, a 14-year-old named Teofila, to escort X through the “rough neighborhoods” to the old man’s shop. The girl is wearing a t-shirt that says “Hyperborean Skateboarding Association”, and indeed travels by skateboard, “gliding on ahead of me like Hermes the Psychopomp.” X is clearly attracted to Teofila and becomes embarrassedly tongue-tied and awkward.
The old man, called “the Shaykh”, who claims to be Sudanese but speaks “pure Alabaman”, runs a junk shop and wears a battered old Shriners fez. His attitude toward X is severe at first, but X is enchanted by his rather disjointed rambling and ranting – which reveal a surprisingly wide if erratic reading in Persian poetry, the Bible, Meister Eckhardt, William Blake, Yoruba mythology and quantum mechanics. Leaving the girl in the shop, the old man takes X into his back office, “crowded with wildly eclectic junk, naive paintings, cheap orientalismo, HooDoo candles, jars of flower petals, and an ornate potbellied stove, stoked up to cherryred, suffusing waves of drowsy warmth.”
The Shaykh intimidates X into sharing a big pipe of hashish mixed with amber and mescaline, then launches into a stream-of-consciousness attack on “Babylon, the Imperium, the Con, the Big Lie that there’s nowhere to go and nothing to buy except their fifth-rate imitations of life, their bullshit pie-in-the-sky religions, cold cults, cold cuts of self-mutilation I call ’em, and woe to Jerusalem!”
X, now “stoned to the gills”, falls under the Shaykh’s spell and bursts into tears. At once the old man unbends, serves X a cup of tea “sweetblack as Jamaica run and scented with cardamon”, and begins to drop broad hints about “a way out, not to some gnostic-never-land with the body gone like a fart in a sandstorm, no brother, for the Unseen World is not just of the spirit but also the flesh – Jabulsa and Jabulqa, Hyperborea, Hurqalya – they’re as real as Brooklyn but a damn sight prettier!”
Late afternoon; X must return home before dark, and prepare to take leave of the Shaykh – who gives him a few pamphlets and invites him to return. To X’s surprise, Teofila is still waiting outside the shop, and offers to escort him to the subway. The girl is now in a friendlier mood and X less nervous. They strike up a conversation, X asking about Hyperborea and Teofila answering, “Yeah, I know where it is, I’ve been there.”
The main narrative ends here, but we have added some other poetic fragments included with the original MS, despite the fact that they might offend some readers, in light of the importance of the “tantrik technique” of other-world Travel. (And let us remind you that a statement of age must be included with every order from Incunabula Inc.). These rather pornographic fragments suggest that X, too shy to attempt anything himself, was in fact seduced by Teofila, and that his subsequent “training” for Egg-navigation consisted of numerous “practice sessions for double-yolking” with a very enthusiastic young tutor.
We believe that X subsequently made an extended visit to America2 and Java2, that he returned to Earth-prime on some Intelligence or sabotage mission for the GFP, that he composed a paper on Folklore of the Other Worlds (see #25), that he and Teofila somehow came to the attention of PCF agents in New York, aborted their mission and returned to Java2, where they presumably now reside.
25. (Anonymous). Folklore of the Other Worlds (Incunabula Press, pamphlet,$15. By the same author as #24, transcribed by us from manuscript.)
Our anonymous traveler from Brooklyn appears to have composed this little treatise after his first extended stay in E2. It deals with tales of Travellers and inhabitants of the other-world settlements, pioneers’ experiences and the like. Of great interest is the claim that ESP and other paranormal abilities increase in the parallel universes, that the effect is magnified by passing through the series of discovered “levels”, and that a small band of psychic researchers has therefore settled on Java7, the present frontier world. The “temple” of Hurqalya (or whatever these vast buildings may have been) are used for sessions of meditation, martial arts and psychic experimentation. X claims that telepathy is now accepted as fact “over there,” with strong evidence for telekinesis and perhaps even Egg-less Travel.
Also intriguing are various accounts of “spirits” seen or sensed around the settlements, were animals supposedly glimpsed on higher levels, and legends which have arisen concerning the lost Builders of Hurqalya. Something of a cult has grown up around these hypothetical creatures who (it is said) are “moving toward us even as we move toward them, through the dimensions, through Time – perhaps backwards through Time”!
X points out that this legend strikes an eerie resonance with “complex conjugate wave theory” in quantum mechanics, which hypothesizes that the “present” (the megaverse “now”) is the result of the meeting of two infinite quantum probability waves, one moving from past to future, the other moving from future to past – that space/time is an interference effect of these two waves – and that the many worlds are bubbles on this shoreline!
This “bible” of the modern neo-shamanic movement also served as a metaphorical scripture for the pioneers of interdimensional consciousness physics and alternate-world explorers.Not only does it contain innumerable practical hints for the traveler, as well as a spiritual ambience conducive to the proper state of mind for Travel, it is also believed that Eliade’s mythic material on the prototypal Stone Age shamans who could physically and actually visit other worlds, offers strong evidence for the possibility of Egg-less Travel – which however so far remains in the realm of “folklore”, speculation and rumor.
You may remember that after the Patty Hearst kidnapping it was discovered that a cheap pornographic thriller, published before the event, seemed to foretell every detail of the story. Jungian synchronicity? Or did the Symbionese Liberation Army read that book and decide to act it out? It remains a mystery.
Maze of Treason is also a pornographic thriller, complete with tawdry 4-color cover, sloppy printing on acidulous pulp, and horrendous style. It’s marketed as Science Fiction, however. And there is no mystery about the author’s inside knowledge. “John Lorde” not only knows about the Conspiracy, he’s obviously been there. This book is probably a roman a clef, as it appears to contain distorted portraits of Sohrawardi and Harjanto (depicted as Fu-Manchu-type villains) as well as several actual agents of both the GFP and PCF – and even a character apparently based on the real-life “X”, author of several titles in our list (#s 24 & 25).
The hero, Jack Masters, is an agent of an unnamed spyforce of American patriots who jokingly call themselves the Quantum Police. Their mission is to regain control of the alternate worlds for “the forces of reason and order” and “make trouble for agents of chaos in every known universe.” The Q-Cops’ secret underground HDQ contains a number of Eggs granting access to hidden bases on the other worlds, including “the Other America” and “the Other Indonesia”.
Jack Masters is investigating the activities of a Chaote named Ripley Taylor, a “child-molester and black magician who runs a Travel Cult out of a comic book store in a “racially-mixed neighborhood” of New York. The Cops hope to catch Taylor with his “juvenile delinquent girlfriend”, blackmail him and turn him into a double agent.
The hero now becomes involved with Amanita, a beautiful woman performance artist from the Lower East Side who seems to know a lot about Taylor and the Travel Cult, but also seems quite attracted to the virile Jack Masters. At first he suspects her of duplicity, but soon decides he needs to “convert” her by making her “fall for me, and fall hard.” Jack’s problem is that his own “talent” will not suffice for solo Traveling, and in fact he has never managed to “get across” – since the Cops do not practice Tantrik techniques! He suspects her of being an “Other-Worlder” and hopes she can convey him thence via the “infamous ‘double-yolk’ method.”
Meanwhile Taylor has laughed off the blackmail attempt, burned down the comic shop and escaped “into the fourth dimension – or maybe the fifth.” Masters heats up his affair with the artist Amanita, and finally convinces her to “translate” him – after three chapters of unininterrupted porno depicting the pair in many little-known ritual practices, so to speak. (The author rises above his own mediocrity here, and attains something like “purple pulp”, an inspired gush of horny prose, especially in the oral-genital area.) Masters now rises to the occasion for yet a fourth chapter in which a “government-issue Egg” becomes the setting for a “yab-yum ceremony of searing obscenity.”
Immediately upon arrival in “Si Fan” (the author’s name for Hurqalya), Amanita betrays our hero and turns him over naked to one of the tribes of “chaos-shamans who inhabit these Lemurian ruins”. At this point Maze begins to add to our knowledge of the real-life situation by depicting more-or-less accurately the state of affairs and mode of life in present-day Hurqalya, at least as seen through the eyes of a paranoid right-wing spy.
The thousand or so inhabitants have made few changes in Hurqalya, preferring a life of “primitive sloth” and minimal meddling with Nature. Sex, hallucinogenic mushrooms and song-improvisation contests comprise the night-life, with days devoted to the serious business of “sorcery, skinnydipping, flintknapping and maybe a couple of hours of desultory fishing or berrypicking.” There is no social order. “People with bones in their noses sitting around arguing about Black Hole Theory or recipes for marsupial stew, lazy smoke from a few clan campfires rising through the hazy bluegold afternoon, children masturbating in trees, bees snouting into orchids, signal drum in the distance, Amanita singing an old song by the Inkspots I remember from my childhood…”
Masters, or rather the author, claims to be disgusted by all this “anarchist punk hippy immorality, all this jungle love!”, but his ambivalence is revealed in his continued desire for Amanita, and the ease with which he falls into his own curmudgeonly version of dolce far niente in “Si Fan”.
We won’t give away the rest of the plot, not because it’s so great, but because it’s largely irrelevant (Taylor flees to distant dimensions, Masters gets Girl and returns to Earth-prime in triumph, etc.,etc.) – the book’s true value lies in these pictures of daily life in Hurqalya. Sadly, Maze of Treason is still our only source for such material. The Conspiracy to deny the world all knowledge of the Many Worlds is maintained by both the forces active in the parallel universes – the GFP and PCF both have their reasons for secrecy, evasion, lies, disinformation, distortion and even violence. Maze of Treason is not our only source for claiming that people have lost their lives as a result of getting too deeply involved in all this. But we at INCUNABULA believe that truth will out, because it must. To stand in the way of it is more dangerous than letting it loose. Freedom of information is our only protection – we will tell all, despite all scorn or threat, and trust that our “going public” will protect us from the outrage of certain private interests – if not from the laughter of the ignorant!
Remember: parallel worlds exist. They have already been reached. A vast cover-up denies YOU all knowledge. Only INCUNABULA can enlighten you, because only INCUNABULA dares.