By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger
On page 232 Bob writes of FBI agents who didn’t see godless communists everywhere, “To talk about such perceptions at all would be to invite suspicion of eccentricity, intellectual wiseacreing or of being oneself a godless communist.” I have spent too much of my life afraid of inviting suspicion of eccentricity or intellectual wiseacreing, alas.
On page 238 Bob writes that “’Good Americans’ believed Dr. Leary was a half-crazed dope-fiend. I recall in the 1980’s I heard multiple people who didn’t like Dr. Leary refer to him as “Mr. O’Leary”, both taking away his doctorate and emphasizing his Irishness.
I find Bob’s discussion of “the Mind War symphony” on page 241 very interesting. Of course, I think of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Bob writes about the fourth movement of that symphony in the upcoming chapter on the eighth circuit. In this chapter Bob writes:
The first movement was the primitive neuroscience of ancient and medieval tyrants who acquired a great deal of pragmatic know-how about the effects of isolation, terror and intimidation; and of shamans and occultists who learned how neuro-chemicals can alter perceived reality-tunnels. The second movement began with modern psychology, with Freud, Pavlov, Jung, Skinner, etc., climaxing with the LSD revolution and the discovery by millions that reality-tunnels could be radically mutated – temporarily and sometimes permanently – by neurochemistry.
The third movement is the growingly obvious warfare between those who would program all of us, and those of us who wish to become our own Metaprogrammers.
If one sees Beethoven’s Ninth as somewhat isomorphic to this model, Bob’s words on the fourth movement seem apropos:
Mystics stammer, gibber and rave incoherently in trying to discuss this. Beethoven says it for all of them, without words, in the fourth movement of the Ninth Symphony. The words of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” which Beethoven set to this virtually superhuman music, are a linear third-circuit map conveying only a skeleton key to the multi-level meanings of the 8-circuit “language” of the melodic construction itself, which spans all consciousness from primitive bio-survival to meta-physiological cosmic fusion. (pg. 261)
The phrase “skeleton key” makes me think of Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson’s A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake. (David Shenk and Steve Silberman wrote Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads, inspired in part I suspect by the Campbell and Robinson title. One finds a number of Deadheads among Bob’s readers, myself included.)
The phrase “spans all consciousness from primitive bio-survival to meta-physiological cosmic fusion” makes me think of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange use of Beethoven’s Ninth seems to fit perfectly with Bob’s notion of a Mind War symphony with its brain washing theme, especially Kubrick’s use of the second movement. James Joyce greatly influenced Anthony Burgess, who wrote the novel A Clockwork Orange, and Bob Wilson loved Burgess’s novel about Shakespeare Nothing Like the Sun.
(Hopefully my co-workers and neighbors won’t have me committed to a mental hospital before I finish writing this book.)
I found it interesting to live a whole week with the program, “Everybody likes me and tries to help me achieve all of my goals.” I did encounter a number of people whom I think do not like me that week. This makes me think of the radical changes that took place in Elwood P. Dowd before the start of the play Harvey. He previously strode to act “oh so smart,” but then he began to act “oh so kind.” I fear that believing everyone likes me might make me become gullible and get taken advantage of (this sort of happens to Elwood), but that sort of reprogramming might work out well. The bunnies in the backyard have not started talking to me yet, or at least I don’t think so. I have begun metaprogramming that “Everything works out more perfectly than I plan it.” We will see.