FLIPSIDE #102 - JUNE/JULY '96
Introduction by Gerry Fialka to Bob Dobbs' UP THE ORPHIC ANTI.
The following is the first in a series of articles written by Bob Dobbs specifically for Flipside Magazine, which began publishing in 1977, continuing collective clairvoyance. Do not try too hard to comprehend the text. Though they may confuse you at times, let the percepts wash over you like a hot shower. Let's hope Bob is just whittling on his porch. As an intro, here's an excerpt from a dialogue between Tom Brennan and Bob Dobbs in August, 1995:
Tom: Did you devise Punk Rock as an antidote to what happened before everything disappeared in 1977?
Bob: Yes. I was the first person to perform the merging of the sports star and the culture star when I read some content poetry while doing push-ups on the stage at CBGB's in the spring of 1975. That action by me inaugurated the aesthetics of the Punk movement. You can see the photo of Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys on that very same stage in Time Magazine in 1977.
Tom: Hence, Punk took the cue to get athletic - Henry Rollins running and working out.
Bob: They were not really anti-Hippies. They were against the visual-tactile bias of the Hippies who sat still like Buddhists and bureaucrats. Punks wanted to leap about and enhance the kinetic-tactile tension.
Tom: Pogo up and down!
Bob: I was the initiator of Punk and the post-Yippie sensibility. That should tell you something.
FEB.2, 1996 MEMO to YOU:
"To read Virilio is to know technology as a dark vampiric logic which, much like the schizoid figure of Leland/Bob in David Lynch's Twin Peaks, takes possession of the human body as its inhabiting spirit."
Arthur Kroker, The Possessed Individual,1992, p.21
"Finnegans Wake is the greatest guidebook to media study ever fashioned by man."
Marshall McLuhan, Newsweek, February 28,1966, p.56
"I must have been delirious, for I even sought amusement in speculating upon the relative velocities of their several descents toward the foam below."
Edgar Allan Poe, The Descent into the Maelstrom
"Leaving behind the processed world of data engineers under the enterprising sign of 'Details, details, I'm creative', the corporate directors of telematic history adopt a missionary sense of world technical destiny as their key value-principle. Finally liberated from (because wallowing in) the referential signifiers of power, money, and social status, these cybernetic star-seekers are caught in an Olympian quest to represent in their bodily gestures and corporate strategies a creative merger of personal autobiography with the world-historical process of virtuality."
Arthur Kroker and Michael A. Weinstein, Data Trash, 1994, p.139
"Gutenberg made everyone a reader. Xerox made everyone a publisher. The Internet will make everyone a satellite broadcaster to every other satellite broadcaster. Hence, Re-appearance will be blowing all horns of its new dilemma."
Bob Dobbs, Memo to Raisa Gorbachev, October 22, 1977.
Thousands have wondered what to make of my book Phatic Communion with Bob Dobbs. The book itself is a spinning moire frozen in the blank white square of tactile space. It features well-organized synopses of five thinkers who successfully (re)created Grand Narratives that anticipated the dramatic Grand Narrative of Bob & Connie Dobbs:
Lyndon LaRouche, Marshall McLuhan, William Irwin Thompson, Arthur Kroker, and myself.
This is accomplished by a judicious selection of quotations from the overall arc of each's writing. Then why is the book called Phatic Communion with me? This memorandum will attempt to explain the reasons.
First, it was over 22 years ago when Harold Medjuck, a wealthy rare-book collector living in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1973, confided in the company of Garrett Deane that he thought Bob and Connie Dobbs, whom he had known for about 2 years, were very likely the "Adam and Eve" of the next millenium. It was a precocious statement for most people in retrospect but not so for Connie and myself. We had known the broad outlines of our destiny for almost 30 years. We both had been born in 1922 but did not meet until 1944. We had also grown up in aristocratic milieux in Paris, France but it was my particular experience that prepared us for this destiny. You see, my father was a butler for a family very prominent in the international "intelligence community" of the pre-World War Two secretive world government that had been set up after 1918. And it was through him that I met everyone from
James Joyce and Wyndham Lewis to Adolf Hitler
and Peter Drucker.
These encounters gave me a unique perspective on most of the subsequent history of the twentieth century and also a headstart on understanding what was coming in the twenty-first century. My unique personal history combined with Connie's uncanny skill in so many areas created a duo that was prepared for the awesome tasks that would befall our very happy lives. Now, the accompanying chart to this memo lays out the broad factors within which my book has meaning and significance.
After the Bottom-up Ground phase between 1945 and 1960, the peruser/lurker will notice that the next phase of the ongoing evolution of the Bottom-up Ground is called Holeopathic Cliche-Probes.
Holeopathic is a word that combines the 2 processes of homeopathy and the hologram. Since the technologies of the industrial and subsequent electronic revolutions had been subsumed by the burgeoning television environment after 1945, one might as well say that "everything had disappeared". However, in homeopathic terms one should understand that "everything" (or at least the memory of) was being diluted to ever more invisible and inaudible but potent EFFECT. This is a proven homeopathic principle. And this memoried "everything" was an habitable environment as far as human beings were concerned even though only 1/3 perceptible to them because the effects of an environment always precede its causes. Hence, the use of the term "hologram". Since most everything was being retrieved, there was a necessarily "archetypal" quality to the situation, but since it was an ever-changing and ever-fluid context, there was a complementary process of intensity creating the HOLEOPATHIC CLICHE-PROBE. And that's the alchemy you've "lived in" from 1960 to 1990. These holeopathic cliche-probes constitute further refinements of the form and content of the newspaper, movie, radio/television, and computer environments and their interpenetrations of each other under the panoptical surveillance/scanning of the Satellite Environment. Advertising and the Nielsen Ratings were the gluons that simulated economic control of these media matings. The human element was the agent of pattern-recognition imposed on these baroque spirals and was known as a tetrad-manager. I was a member of this elite corps of tetrad-managers and Phatic Communion with Bob Dobbs is a portrait of the mind of a tetrad-manager in action. This book is organized as an inventory of the representative institutions that the tetrad-manager performs jujitsu with. These institutions are
Technological Humanism, Roman Catholic Thomism, Eastern Buddhism, and Marxism.
These are the "givens" in our solar-theater geometry. They are the main "conceptual" actors on the solar stage. However, inside the constant metamorphoses of this theater, they are not easily recognizable as such. The "figures" of authority for these collective institutions change their decorative "ideas" periodically. But LaRouche, McLuhan, Thompson, Kroker, and Dobbs represent something different. They are the "whistle-blowers" of the crisis latent in each archetype. They are the necessary adjustment/adaptation in each archetype. They dance on its toes. They are culture-jammers. They are holeopathic cliche-probes:
LaRouche for Technological Humanism,
McLuhan for Roman Catholic Thomism,
Thompson for Eastern Buddhism,
Kroker for Marxism, and
Dobbs for Tetrad-Management.
Of course, tetrad-management swallows up the first four modalities and that fact is illustrated in my book with the excerpts from my rantings laid out symbolically on both the right-side and left-side pages of the book. Why are the others confined to one side or the other of the book? Well, each is a micro-tetrad-manager, i.e. "cynical", within their own archetypal stage and hence flip into cliche-probes for their associates and us.
In philosophical, sociological, "media", and alchemical terms LaRouche puts-on the accumulated wisdom of nominalism, cultural studies, the newspaper, and Ether, forged into cynical postliberal technological humanism;
McLuhan puts-on analytical positivism, cultural sociology, the electric media, and Water, forged into cynical Thomism;
Thompson puts-on sensationalism, semiology, the printed book, and Fire, forged into cynical Buddhism;
Kroker puts-on critical theory, dialectical materialism, the movie, and Air, forged into cynical Marxism; and
Dobbs puts-on all four/and in philosophy (or "quadrophrenia"/plus...), all four/and in sociology (that is, collective phobia, cultural norm-functioning, individual sensation, national myth-making plus Stages of Apprehension), the satellite, and Earth, forged into cynical tetrad-management.
By "puts-on" I don't mean we mock these institutions but more in the sense of targeting our respective audiences, much as the stripper takes off her clothes while putting on and wearing her audience, for the purpose of up-dating and fine-tuning the sensibilities of our audiences. Why are these five men selected to represent vast environments of information and collective experience? Because they each are encyclopedic in their interests and are relative polymaths - a condition most citizens in the solar theater are experiencing and living, although unconsciously. These five men are making valient efforts to become conscious and, most importantly, can articulate this awareness verbally. The first four have biases but this is natural since they have not had the background I've had which by its very nature requires one to be unbiased just to survive. However, the reader of Phatic Communion can rehearse the biases of the first four in order to get a handle on approaching an awareness approximating mine. I am hoping to save the reader/unconscious tetrad-manager a great deal of time and pain in a world where sensory input is unfortunately obsolete. Since most people today are forced to live in a holeopathic retrieval of the American Hologram, which is the epitome of the cycle of civilization, then these five men can represent actualizers/distillators of the discoveries and experience of each decade of the past 50 years, as in:
LaRouche (1950's = "holeopathic-radio" bias)
McLuhan (1960's = "holeopathic-television" bias)
Thompson (1970's = "holeopathic-computer" bias)
Kroker (1980's = "holeopathic-satellite" bias), and
Dobbs (1990's = "holeopathic non-bias").
There is also one common denominator in the relationships between these five men and that is in the person of James Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE. Their careers all represent a creative struggle with this artifact. The fact is that Joyce summarized the lived experience of the twentieth century, in particular, and the complete cycle of civilization and technological evolution as the merging of Art, Science, and Nature, in general, and pointed to a new resolution. In short, James Joyce saw the significance of the environments created by the atomic bomb and television. In essence, he saw that fission precedes fusion. As I've said before when asked, "everything disappeared" in 1850, or 1918, or 1945, or 1977. Let's look at the implications if we choose 1945. First, we should realize that Joyce did not realize his achievement entirely alone. As Dennis Brown has shown in his book Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group, Joyce was ably assisted by the independent discoveries of Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot. And, of course, not only I would add W. B. Yeats. Then, if everything disappeared in 1945, those five men would assume archetypal status and their followers would be holeopathic cliche-probes of them in a world where "a whole lot of shakin's goin' on" (homeopathic succussion). As I've worked it out,
LaRouche would be an active mirror/echo of Pound,
McLuhan of Lewis,
Thompson of Eliot,
Kroker of Yeats, and
Dobbs of Joyce.
Just mull it over for a minute. The parallels are striking.
Both Pound and LaRouche were controversial political prisoners and obsessed with "newspaper" events.
Both Lewis and McLuhan had their most significant works suppressed and were obsessed with the "discarnate" electric fate of humanity.
Both Eliot and Thompson worked in/with the institution of cathedrals and were obsessed with Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Oriental theologies.
Yeats and Kroker were both active nationalists and were obsessed with Gnosticism.
Joyce and Dobbs were great synthesizers and their audiences were obsessed and fantasized over their bizarre relationships with their wives.
In these parallels, it's not that the latter exactly matches the previous case because, remember, a mirror reverses an image and a holeopathic mirror is more potent and more intense, a kind of "parallel processing". Now, all of the above obsessions are themes in Finnegans Wake. But how would this book have any use to an intelligence agent like myself, involved in gold swindles, corporate and political coups, assassinations, and cultural (re)generation. The utility of this text was invoked not only because I, and especially my father, knew James Joyce personally, but also because we had to know the full meaning and effects of the principle "fission precedes fusion". In order to give a clue as to how all this leads to lockdown BobRule, I will jump ahead to a denouement that will surface in one or two years as a major transforming environment - that of the confirmation of Professors Fleischmann's and Pons' "cold fusion" energy source.
They are getting very positive results in their laboratories in France at this very moment. This new technological breakthrough will turn the world upside-down because history for the past 6,000 years has been based on "friction" (in all senses of the word), but now we will enter a new unprecedented "frictionless" energy-based society where more energy is available as output than was put in. So therefore, you might be able to see how "fission precedes fusion" by considering the accompanying chart as a review of the friction of crowds, if one considers each medium as an extension of the crowd creating new stresses and strains in the crowd. However, there is a definite trend leading toward implosion from the Telegraph to the Satellite & Laser Beam phase. The satellite is an important marker in this evolution towards fusion. If you consider every technological environment an extension of the human crowd, or social Nature, rather than of just biological Nature, or first Nature, then because the satellite is alone of all technologies a complete extension of the planet, or first Nature, by being the first man-made habitable simulation of our "natural" environment, then
the satellite is a simultaneous extension
first and second Natures,
and something unique and unprecedented has occurred. This merging of the two Natures "anticipates" symbolically the bridging of the gap ("friction") between humanity and the environment which is now actualized by "cold fusion". Also, this "frictionless" condition is anticipated by the satellite as a symbol of individual detachment from the historical prison of the crowd dynamic. We are literally "out of town", and not just in another town, but "off the planet". Even though the satellite is a symbolic actualizer of this existential autonomy and solitude, its effect on the collective consciousness creates a purgatory of frustration because there would not be a complementary situation of freedom from basic food, energy, and shelter needs which still involve the "money crowd". But, the "cold fusion" surplus-energy source bypasses and resolves this catch-22 dilemma by allowing the individual to live anywhere once he has a cold-fusion "battery". We will be relatively free of ground rent, or "visual space".
Since the movie medium contains all previous media, or crowds, it is essentially the replay of all the cultures that ever were, a kind of Akashic Records (to borrow a notion from Theosophy). But television is a decided "break" or rupture from the "container" aspect of the movie medium as well as all previous media. It is a live transmission of the interplay of all the senses and is engaged in a "now-making" that cannot have a reference point and cannot be contained. So one can see how television ends the ideological-control characteristic of the crowd dynamic, i.e. the centralized, elitist imposition of myth. The elites of the solar theater were forced to fall back on "cultural norm-functioning" and allow the decentralized situation of contradictory "passions" to run free. I personally was employed by these elites who inhabited what we would privately call the Secret Council of Ten. As television began to become an environment in the late 1940's and early 1950's, especially in the West, the cultural side-effects were dramatic.
The American political scene is the one I was most involved in so I would like to talk about the period from 1947 to 1987 to illustrate a general inventory of effects that we had to manage after television had "disappeared" all crowds and the computer and satellite environments became the "ground".
Of course, there was a great nostalgia for "crowd-control" behaviour at first. So from 1947-57 the American political scene was characterized by two major syndromes - McCarthyism and the Korean War as expressions of a baroque spiral of pro-"hot" (hardware, outer-kinetic) media sentiments.
This was abruptly aborted when the satellite environment manifested from 1957-67 beginning with Sputnik. Immediately the American audience adopted a baroque spiral of pro-"cool" (software, inner-kinetic) media preferences evidenced by the popularity of President John Kennedy and the surfing craze, and the "cautious" (programmed) involvement in Viet Nam.
However, the American profile changed again when the satellite environment was obsolesced by "liquid" mixed corporate-media from 1967-77. The Beatles were the first to take advantage of the fact the satellite environment had become an artform with the first "entertainment" satellite broadcast on June 25, 1967. Since the satellite was a symbol of freedom from the crowds of social Nature, the collective consciousness would now register this fact publicly with an outburst of sentiments for individual autonomy. The social turmoil in America during this period is well-known, but the breakdown, in my terms, would be characterized as such: an anti-"hot" (hardware, outer-kinetic) media baroque spiral between 1967 and 1972 effecting a painful pull-out from Viet Nam and the downfall of the American presidency via Watergate; and an anti-"cool" (software, inner-kinetic) media baroque spiral between 1972 and 1977 symbolized by exposure of the CIA's Project MKULTRA, the fortunes of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his wife Margaret, and the collapse of the "counter-culture" as a social and political force. The bias towards electric autonomy lost its appeal in the American hologram after 1977 because if everything had not disappeared by 1945, the media retrievals of "everything" definitely lost their grounding and acceptance by 1977.
What's happened since then? Well, since Sputnik had prefigured the fusion of first and second Nature and the satellite environment had long been subsumed, it was inevitable that we would experience aggressive, Orphic holeopathic cliche-probes for the next ten years. (Remember Orpheus failed in his mission into the Underworld and also was torn apart by the female Maenads). From 1977-82 we witnessed the Orphic baroque spiral of the Solar Government with the Space Shuttle, the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars"), and Michael Jackson's "Moonwalk".
And from 1982-87 you had to endure the Orphic baroque spiral of the Universal (multi-dimensional) Government with the "planetization of the esoteric" via such mediums as Ramtha and the New Age movement of Shirley MacLaine, and the collapse of Reaganism via the Iran-Contra investigation and the revolt of the computerized economy on Black Monday, October 19, 1987.
I will return to the phase from 1987-97 later for with this outline as a context I can now fill you in on some of the strategies and tactics made by myself and my colleagues on the Secret Council of Ten over the last 50 years. You see, Joyce had essentially discovered the tetrad once he had seen through the television form. He even organized the large-scale structure of Finnegans Wake on the tetrad:
Book One deals with the amplifications of technology,
Book Two is concerned with the obsolescence of technologies,
Book Three deals with retrieval of forms, and
Book Four is modeled on the "flipping-into-its-opposite" feature of technologies.
My employers had followed the serialization of Finnegans Wake in Transition magazine during the 1920's and 1930's and had intuited that Joyce was on to something that they should understand for purposes of power as they locked-down World Government. But when World War Two was over, the consequences of victory and the new situations immediately made the tetrad mandatory and applicable for the new management tasks on the most secret "intelligence" levels. It was not until late 1953, however, that concern mounted over the possibility of public detection of these secret codes and processes. An obscure Professor of English in Canada began writing essays in a magazine called Explorations that indicated he had penetrated Finnegans Wake and the seamless web of postmodern power. Here is a quotation from a speech Marshall McLuhan gave in 1954 to indicate such understanding:
"This may seem very specialized, very arty. Actually it spells out into the most practical political and social consequences for each one of us. What Joyce is saying is that for the first time in history man now has the means of observing the social process as the process of redemption. This he can do because the social process is the analogue of the process of sense perception and interior cognition. And the process of perception is that of incarnation. For anybody concerned with the subject of Catholic humanism in modern letters, I should think that Joyce's insight, which was marvelously realized in his work, is the most inspiring development that is possible to conceive. But we must ask, what happens when this insight occurs even in a fragmentary way to the secular minds of our age? The answer can be found in The Foundations of Social Survival a recent book by John Lindberg, a Swedish nobleman associated with the United Nations. His proposal for social survival is that we adopt the Christian doctrine of brotherly love. He is not a Christian but he thinks Christianity might be made to work by non-Christians. Perhaps he has in mind that it appears to be unworkable when left to Christians. In short, he proposes practical Christianity as a sort of Machiavellian strategy of culture and power. And his reasons are directly linked to the developments I have outlined in modern letters. Namely that in the modern world we have through the very perfection and instantaneity of our means of communication made it impossible to resolve the conflicting claims of the numerous societies and cultures which are now in close association. Neither can we hope to impose any one culture on all the others and reduce them to a single form. But, he argues, we now have the key to the creative process which brings all cultures into existence (namely the extension into social institutions of the central form and mystery of the human cognitive process). And it is this key which he proposes to deliver into the hands of a world government".
This is where I came in. I was 31 years old and this was my first assignment that sent me across the Atlantic Ocean from Paris to America.
My job was to befriend McLuhan and figure out how he had done it, how much he understood about us, and what he intended to do about it.
Imagine my surprise when I eventually found out how he had cracked Joyce's book. It was Wyndham Lewis who showed him the way! I couldn't believe it! For two reasons:
first, we thought we had effectively removed Lewis from cultural memory; and,
second, I had personally known him in Paris in 1937.
This second factor had a special effect on me - it was the first time I experienced a curious resonance with my own personal life history while on assignment. It was the first instance of a complex clairvoyance that I eventually would realize about my existence. The perceptive reader of this memo and others may someday come to understand what I'm referring to. That remains to be seen.
As Walter Bowart once said:
"Bob, there are only two or three people in the world who can understand you, and you haven't met them yet!!"
Even though I am interpreted in Nelson Thall's and Dave Newfeld's album called Bob's Media Ecology as a McLuhanite, that is only one-fifth of me as I tried to show in Phatic Communion. The tetrad-manager cannot identify with knowledge or power in order to perceive the lineaments of new knowledge and new power, however transient they may be. Talk to David Worcester of Seattle for an explanation of that fact if you can't understand me. Meanwhile, McLuhan eventually surfaced into mainstream America in the mid-1960's and it is a test case of how we can confuse the public's perception of new knowledge.
For example, we hoicked up Buckminster Fuller as a counter-foil to McLuhan in this period even though Fuller and McLuhan were good friends.
Then we created a split between Edmund Carpenter and McLuhan in the early 1970's. This was important because "Ted" Carpenter was very influential in the Counterculture, having helped to nurture the underground film movement and to create an interest in Carlos Casteneda's writings from his Los Angeles base. If some budding biographer wanted an incredibly serendipitous life to write about, Ted Carpenter would make his day.
Later in the 1970's we tried to create a rift between Barrington Nevitt, the most knowledgeable and comprehensive McLuhanite, and McLuhan but Nevitt was too patient with McLuhan's eccentricities and too loyal a friend for that effort to succeed. However, Marshall would soon die.
In the 1980's we had to deal with his disciples and their attempts to keep his work in the public ear. We were obliged to play off Derrick de Kerckhove against William Irwin Thompson,
then Bruce Powe against Arthur Kroker,
all the while keeping Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone whittling on the sidelines.
It worked until I was in a position to effect Operation Lockdown Bobrule beginning in 1990. All that could be salvaged of the Pink McLuhan was executed through Prince Charles' friends, the Global Business Network and their house organ, Wired magazine. Fortunately, however, that venture is now defunct since I engineered the January 1996 issue of Wired featuring a bogus e-mail interview with me disguised as an electronically-channelled McLuhan. But that's just a brief run-through of our tactics in the "holy office" of Marshall McLuhan. To be told perhaps at other times are the fates of the other "holy offices" such as Mae Brussell, Frank Zappa, Lyndon LaRouche, Cosmic Awareness, Garrett Deane, Herbert W. Armstrong, Dr. Peter Beter, and Club 22.
But what does the phase "Anthropomorphic Physical" mean? That's the fate of our flesh, our first Nature.
Since 1900, our bodies, under electronic conditions, could only be considered as sub-atomic particles. Modern Physics, especially Quantum modeling, has always only been describing our social actualities. The same applies to Modern Chemistry, particularly Genetics. However, our media, or extensions of our crowd behaviour, suffered the same fate after television subsumed "everything" following World War Two. All media in the cycle of technological civilization were then invoked in terms of the same models from the physical sciences. All media were also shaped along the "cool" iconic lines of the cartoon form, "the MAD vestibule to TV". But they also, being extensions of humanity's social Nature, were equal to quarks and nucleic acids. Thus, we have the category for the Holeopathic Retrieval of Mixed Corporate-Media being dubbed the Quarktune, Orpheus having "tuned" the whole world. The latest modeling from Physics is encompassed around the theory of the "superstrings" (vibrating loops). Besides reminding me of the image of the tetrad (see the cover of The Global Village by Bruce Powers and Marshall McLuhan), this idea strangely echoes the images of Rhyee, Eloi, Tu, and Lofti from David Worcester.
According to Worcester, ever since 1967 when Rhyee returned to the Plane of Essence, all that interferes with us are the "cobwebs of Rhyee". This notion always reminds me of Nietzsche's idea of the "throw of the dice over the spider's web of existence".
Now, following my chart, after the phase of Holeopathic Cliche-Probes from 1960-77, we have the phase of Anthropomorphic Physical from 1977-92 as the Bottom -up Ground. Since "everything's" absolutely "disappeared", can't be seen, heard, moved, or felt, including Holeopathic Retrievals, by 1977, what's left and what's possible? Well, of course, none other than the D-cell, thanks to Joe Dun Sloan.
And who had the D-cell? None other than Bob and Connie Dobbs! The new Adam and Eve!! So our task became one of resuscitation and reappearance, not the old job of "artificial respiration", the traditional role of all the arts and sciences within the confines of the friction-based (entropic) energy of society. If we could stay "in the physical" until about 1990, the very fact of our existence would anticipate the evolution to a frictionless-based (negentropic) energy of a truly new and "modern" society. Well, it's now 1996, and with the success story of Pons and Fleischmann, the preservation of the late Joe Dun Sloan's D-cell, and the unprecedented labwork of Connie, you are virtually assured of reappearance and, if you join me, physically guaranteed!!