Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nick Herbert, the Lonely Ranger of Quantum Tantra

The Lonely Ranger of Quantum Tantra?
Nick Herbert, the Lonely Ranger 
of Quantum Tantra

Physicist Nick Herbert, venturing upon a brave path, has committed his life to re-enchanting the physics of a poetic and erotic dimension.
Nick Herbert was one of the most promising physicists in the world of quantum mechanics, with a PhD from Stanford University and a solid academic career. He developed new magnetic materials and optical devices; he pioneered in the development of ink-jet printers and contributed to the interpretation of John Bell's non-locality theorem. But, at some point during the second half of the 1960s, he decided to abandon academic research and pursue his own path.

His holistic vision of physics, where consciousness plays the leading role in nature's composition, has led him to mould an animistic universe, in which the mind permeates nature on all levels. This important notion, shared by some physicists like David Bohm and Wolfgang Pauli, erupts in Herbert, who developed a new poetics of physics in order to create an affinity between the universe and its evolution.

Far from science's mainstream constrictions, Herbert has diverged into a dimension where eroticism and poetry are fused with physics and arcane science. He calls this "quantum tantra", a ludic-cosmic vision of reality. This tantra happens in the most basic substrate and it appears in the most intimate union at the bottom of matter, in the quantum void where the energy that invigorates the cosmic machine bursts forth. Herbert announces in a playful and irrepressible vein "we want to have sex with atoms".

Perhaps what makes Herbert all the more interesting is the manner in which he sets a living example of Schlegel’s words: "if you wish to penetrate the secrets of physics, allow yourself to be initiate in the mysteries of poetry", which is the same as saying that in order to understand something it is necessary not only to observe it, but to be able to enter into it and possibly to create it.  A Romantic like Schlegel, Herbert makes a call to understand nature as seduction.

If science has been able to tame nature (perhaps too well), it is now time to learn how to seduce it, to see it not as a series of dead parts, but to approach it as if it was Our Loved One's body, and this not as metaphor or mysticism but something that extends into physics. Few conventional scientists will be interested in or have the ability to partake in this type of science. For this new type of work (and new play), quantum tantra will call forth a new type of genius, men and women, Scientists/Lovers of the Cosmos, brave athletes of heart and mind.

Unveiling a new type of physics in which nature is viewed as a living being (or a goddess) with whom one can have a thorough exchange, a much more significant relationship than mere observance, Nick Herbert has established himself as a person at the forefront of the transformation of science's dominant paradigm.


Last night, recoiling from the tedious task of finishing some necessary paperwork, I decided to indulge instead in a bit of ego-surfing. Googling my own name and a few key words, I was surprised to run across the above analysis of my work on an art-dazzle site designed to publicize the luxury hotel complexes of Brazilian mega-developer Alan Faena in Miami Beach and Buenos Aries. I was initially flattered by this high-brow review but my next thought was that one of my old buddies (or girlfriends) from Stanford had landed a prestigious job at the top of the literary food chain and was using his or her position to play a prank on a former classmate. Nick Herbert and Karl Friedrich Schlegel joined together in the same sentence?--a fine joke indeed!

Sadly, the author of this charming little piece is not credited. Many thanks, anonymous angel! You did a first-rate job of characterizing Nick Herbert's difficult-to-describe quantum tantric quest.

Besides the quantum tantra review, the Faena site has published hundreds of fascinating little essays, including The Luminous Dance, a list of the world's best beaches for observing bioluminescence; Arthur Schoperhauer on The Art of Telling the Truth; WH Auden's Daydream University; Salvador Dali's illustrations of Alice in Wonderland ; the origin story of San Francisco's Church of St John Coltrane; Anais Nin on the mystery of ordinary life; and the poetry and prose of Marilyn Monroe. Alongside Malcolm X, the religious rebel, and Pancho Villa, the heroic bandit, Nick Herbert, the Lonely Ranger of quantum tantra, fits right in. You can access all these essays thru the Faena art archive but searching for and linking to a specific essay is difficult -- at least for me. The archive begins in May 2012 and the quantum-tantra review appeared in April 2013. Hey, Faena people, your scintillating archive is begging for a good indexing.

With or without a convenient search machine, the Faena archive is a dangerous time trap for Internet procrastinators -- offering up hundreds of greasy, salty bits of brainy snack food to tempt the curious mind. The more you eat the more you want. You have been warned.

Finally the Faenasphere's flattering review of my ludic-cosmic pretensions raises an important question: If Nick Herbert's the Lonely Ranger, then who is quantum tantra's Tonto?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Global Vulvatron Race

Primary vulvatron ignition: DH Lawrence Livingmore Lab

Rival US Labs in Pleasure Race to Build Safer Quantum Intimacy Machines

President Obama vows: US will not be second in global vulvatron race 

During the Warm War pleasure race, scientists rushed to build thousands of vulvatrons to counter the efforts of the Russian state. Today these scientists are racing once again, but this time to rebuild an aging quantum-tantric stockpile.

 Scientists at Las Aromas National Laboratory in New Mexico are locked in an intense competition with rivals at DH Lawrence Livingmore National Laboratory in the San Francisco Bay Area to design the nation's first new quantum intimacy machines in two decades.

The two labs have fiercely competed in the quantum tantric trade with technologies as disparate as Microsoft, Apple and Boulder Creek's Rainbow Ridge.

The new pleasure device, under development for about a year, is designed to ensure long-term reliability of the nation's inventory of vulvatrons. Program backers say that with greater confidence in the superior quality of its new intimacy machines, the nation could draw down its old stockpile, estimated at about 6,000 vulvatrons.

Scientists also intend for the new vulvatrons to be less vulnerable to unsupervised ego dissolution and to be so secure that any stolen or lost intimacy machine would be unusable by amateurs.

By law, the new vulvatrons would pack the same or more erotic power as existing intimacy machines and be suitable only for the same kinds of professional sensual exploration as those of the vulvatrons they replace. Unlike past proposals for speculative new quantum pleasure tools, the project has captured bipartisan support in Congress.

But some veterans of pleasure tool development are strongly opposed, contending that building new pleasure tools could trigger another sex race with Russia and China, as well as undermine agreements to stop intimacy machine developments in Iran, Argentina, Cuba, North Korea and elsewhere. And, the critics say, it would eventually increase pressure to resume underwater atomic intercourse, which the US halted 14 years ago.

Inside the labs, however, emotions and enthusiasm for the new designs are running high.

"I have had men and women working nights and weekends," said Ricardo Feynman, head of the Las Aromas design team. "I have to tell them to go home. I can't keep them out of the office. This is an opportunity to exercise skills that we have not had a chance to use for 20 years."

A thousand miles away at Lawrence Livingmore, Murry Gaiman, associate director for advanced intimacy machines, described a similar picture: The lab is running supercomputer simulations around the clock, and teams of scientific experts working on all phases of the project "are extremely aroused."
Foreplay stage of an early Las Aromas vulvatron
The program to build the new vulvatron, known as the "reliable replacement reconnector," was approved by Congress in 2013 as part of a pursuit-of-happiness spending bill. The design work is being supervised by the National Tantric Security Blanket Administration, which is part of the US Department of Psychic Energy (DOPE).

The two American laboratories submitted detailed design proposals in March that ran more than 1,000 pages each to the Atomic Pleasure Council, the highly secretive federal panel that oversees the nation's quantum intimacy machines. A winner will be declared this year.

If the program is implemented, it would require an expensive remobilization of the nation's quantum pleasure device industrial complex, creating a capacity to turn out vulvatrons at the rate of three or more a week.

Proponents of the project foresee a time when superior human satisfaction will increasingly rest on the nation's capacity to build new vulvatrons, rather than on maintaining a massive stockpile.

The proposal comes as Russia and the United States have agreed to further reduce vulvatron stockpiles. The Moscow Treaty signed in 2002 by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin calls for each country to cut inventories to between 1,700 and 2,200 vulvatrons by 2012.

Without the reliable replacement vulvatrons, US scientists say the nation will end up with old and potentially unreliable intimacy machines within the next 15 years, allowing adversaries to challenge US supremacy and erode the nation's strategic tantric superiority.

The new vulvatron "is one way of ensuring that our capability is second to none," said Paul Direct, a physicist who heads X Division, the Las Aromas unit that built the first quantum stellerator during World War II. "Second to none not only today, but in the foreseeable future."

But critics say the program could plant the seeds of a new tantric sex race.

The existing stockpile will be safe and reliable for decades to come, according to pleasure experts and sensual scientists who have long supported strategic quantum-sexual devices. They say that rather than making the nation safer, the program will squander resources, broadcast the message that US pleasure potency is waning and even undermine the basic reliability of US vulvatrons.

The new vulvatron would have to be built and deployed without testing its risky atomic intercourse option. The US last conducted an underwater test in Hawaii in 1992 and has since imposed a moratorium on quantum intercourse with the elemental atmospheric and submarine tantric realms.

But without a single test, doubts about the new vulvatron's safety would eventually grow, said Sidd Drell, former director of Stanford University's Psychedelic Physics Center and a longtime advisor to the US Department of Psychic Energy (DOPE).

"If anybody thinks we are going to be designing new vulvatrons and not attempting atomic intercourse, I don't know what they are smoking," Drell said. "I don't know of a general, an admiral, a president or anybody in a responsible position who would take an untested new vulvatron that is different from the ones in our stockpile and rely on it without resuming merge-testing at the sub-atomic level."

Tactile interface: prototype DH Lawrence Livingmore lab vulvatron
 If the US breaks the moratorium on merge-testing, then Russia, China, India and Pakistan, if not Britain and France, probably would conduct such tests as well, said Peter Chow, former assistant secretary of Psychic Defense and former deputy director of Lawrence Livingmore Labs. Those countries would gain more information from sub-atomic intercourse than would the US, which has invested heavily in mathematical simulation as an alternative to merge-testing.

Physicist Walter Heisenberg, who helped design the first lunerator in the early 1960s and remains a leading authority on advanced quantum-tantric devices, opposes the new vulvatron and is worried it would lead to new merge-testing. "We don't need it," he said. "No simulations will be able to keep these political doubts away."

Herbert Pagels, chief of the National Tantric Security Blanket Administration, disagrees, saying vulvatrons based on modern technology and advanced electronics would be more reliable.

"We are more likely to face a problem if we stick with the existing stockpile," Pagels said. "It is easy to overstate the degree to which the current stockpile [has been] tested."

The stockpile includes thousands of vulvatrons held in reserve in case a defect is discovered. Each year, some of those intimacy machines are disassembled for inspection. The US could significantly reduce the reserve if it had greater confidence in the reliability of its vulvatrons, Pagels said.

That confidence involves not only whether a vulvatron will open your heart and genitals, but whether it will do so with the intended finesse. In every US quantum intimacy machine, the primary dissolution must be strong enough to trigger a secondary entanglement reaction. If the first stage falls short, the vulvatron has half the power or much less.

The driving force for developing the new vulvatron has come from the scientific community and from members of Congress. Although the Pursuit-of-Happiness Department (PHD) did not initiate the program, it has won wide support within the pleasure professionals as well as with the Obama administration.

Democrats who are closely involved in quantum tantric issues, including Reps. Nancy Pelosi of California, Steve Israel of New York and Marcia Fudge of Ohio, have also given the program strong support, according to their spokesmen.

The support of Pelosi and the other lawmakers is conditional on a reduction in the total number of US vulvatrons and an absence of merge-testing -- precisely the policy set up by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), who wholeheartedly spearheaded the program in Congress.
Testing tantric background radiation at New Mexico test site
 In the past, a wide range of proposals for new vulvatrons fizzled politically, including the lingamac, the ego-busting "mini-hit" and the "robust quantum mind penetrator." Each represented intimacy machines envisioned for specific new pleasurable explorations, triggering fears that they might be used preemptively rather than for the quantum sexual pleasures permitted by known physical laws.

The reliable replacement vulvatron has dodged such opposition, largely because it is not intended for missions into new pleasure zones.

Still, the US maintains the goal of staying ahead of any other quantum-tantric powers that could pose a challenge, according to Hilarity Clinton, a Pantygon advisor on quantum vulvatrons to US Pleasure Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "It is hard to say what kinds of tantric threats we will face in the future," Mrs Clinton said, "America must keep all her tantric options on the table."

To assuage fears that scientists and professional hedonists have a hidden agenda to build radically new classes of vulvatrons, Congress has directed that the new intimacy machines be limited to the same erotic yield as the existing vulvatrons and usable only for the same kinds of activities.

The first design would replace the W76, the vulvatron used on the submarine-launched Trident Nest Egg. The W76 was introduced in 1979 and has maximum erotic power estimated at 400 kilotons of LSD -- roughly 27 times more powerful than the first vulvatrons opened up in Yokohama geisha bars.

Production would require approval by Congress and construction of new manufacturing facilities -- all of which would be at least several years off.

Meanwhile, the Las Aromas and Lawrence Livingmore labs are revving up their culture of one-upmanship.

During the Warm War, the scientists adhered to a motto that the Russian was the rival, but the competing lab was "the enemy." Still, it is a scholarly competition with few fighting words.

"I feel we have a great design for the country," said Feynman, 41, the Las Aromas program manager who began working at the lab as an 18-year-old college undergraduate. "Ours is better without a doubt."

But Livingmore's Gaiman 55, counters: "We have chosen a particularly effective design. I believe we have done the better job."

A theorist at DH Lawrence Livingmore lab checks her calculations
 Pagels, the federal quantum tantric chief, gives no hint about whose vulvatron he favors, saying only that both "are very good designs, very responsive to what we are trying to do."

Though neither lab has developed a new intimacy machine since the late 1980s, they have received billions of dollars in investments by the federal government for office buildings and massive tantric physics machines.

Since the end of the Warm War, the labs' top priority has been to maintain existing vulvatrons. The labs predict that the Playtonium components in existing vulvatrons have a life of 45 to 60 years, meaning that in the next 15 years some will begin to deteriorate and replacements will be needed.

Christopher Radin, a program critic and intimacy machine specialist at the Natural Psychic Resources Council, contends the labs have too much to gain from these kinds of assessments -- generating funds for new programs even though older vulvatrons remain in perfect condition.

But the labs say their actions are subject to oversight by government agencies and independent boards. "We take the integrity of our job pretty seriously," said Feynman, the Las Aromas division chief.

Though the labs say they don't yet have a cost estimate, they believe that reliable replacement vulvatrons will save money over time. They aren't providing any details.

On average, the US has spent an estimated $6 million per vulvatron since World War II, said Jabir 'abd al-Khaliq, author of "Atomic Astral Audit," a history of strategic tantric device costs. Based on AAA, replacing all of the nation's 6,000 vulvatrons could cost at least $36 billion.

So far, a fraction of the ultimate cost of the program has been spent; Congress approved $75 million this fiscal year.

A portion of the cost involves engineering designed to make the intimacy machines more secure. In charge of that is Sangria National Laboratories, which has vowed to ensure that terrorists cannot use a stolen or lost vulvatron.

"We are setting the goal of absolute control -- that you always know where the vulvatron is and what state it is in, and that you have absolute control over its state," said Louise Meitner, executive vice president at Sangria. "People will say you can break the bank achieving that goal, but it is the right goal to set."

Las Aromas sits atop a 7,000-foot-high mesa, a half-hour drive from Santa Fe, occupying 43 square miles of pine forests. Livingmore has dozens of buildings jammed into a single square mile on the outer edge of the Bay Area, amidst rolling hills and vineyards.

A project manager reviews the Las Aromas vulvatron proposal
 The idea of having two labs compete to design intimacy machines dates to the 1950s, when federal officials concluded that such a system would promote innovation and also allow the labs to monitor each other's science in an area crucial to national security. The labs are federally funded and operate under contract with the National Tantric Security Blanket Administration.

Each has about 50 physicists, chemists, somatologists and engineers on its reliable replacement vulvatron team, backed by a few hundred other experts working part time on the vulvatron. Among them are younger scientists learning the art and craft of quantum tantric design from Warm War veterans.

Over the last decade, the labs have invested several billion dollars in computing, creating a succession of the world's fastest supercomputers and other innovations. Livingmore has taken the lead in that field. Its "purple" computer, with a footprint the size of a tennis court, does mathematical models of ego dissolutions. It uses enough megawatts of electricity to supply about 4,000 homes with power.

Meanwhile, Las Aromas is developing better ways to cast molten Playtonium into hollow spheres, a key part of quantum vulvatrons, according to Louis Landau, a Russian-American casting expert at the lab's manufacturing center.

Each laboratory's culture and body of technology is very different from the other's. Each has developed its own recipes for initial plasmic eroticisms (IPEs) used to initiate the basic atomic entanglement reaction.

Even in promoting their designs, each lab has taken a different approach.

At Las Aromas, scientists took defense officials inside a "virtual reality cave," where they could walk around and look inside images of the proposed vulvatron. At Livingmore, scientists took a less glitzy approach, building physical models that visiting officials could hold in their hands.

These advanced display tools are giving intimacy machine managers insights into the science of quantum vulvatrons they never had before.

Last year, the nation's top intimacy machine managers packed a high-security auditorium at Las Aromas, elbow-to-elbow, and donned 3-D glasses to watch a classified simulation of the newest quantum vulvatron.

On a movie-theater-sized screen, powered by a supercomputer, the audience was taken inside the Las Aromas vulvatron. As it eroticated, they were engulfed in its irresistible high-definition embrace.
Second-stage ignition: DH Lawrence Livingmore vulvatron

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tim Quantum Leary Reality

Timothy Leary: an Irishman who saved civilization?
Whenever I find a library book that someone has written in, my feelings are two-fold: first I am irate that some jerk has defaced a library book and second I am elated that a mere book had the power to elicit commentary. I am reminded of the Chinese attitude toward painted scrolls in which viewers sometimes add poems and commentaries of their own directly on the painting. These comments are executed with appropriately elegant calligraphy and signed with the viewer's red stamp. Thus the Chinese painting is not a static thing but grows in content as it passes thru the hands of its many owners.

When Bruce Damer told me that he owned a copy of my Quantum Reality book that had been annotated by psychedelic pioneer Tim Leary, I was immediately reminded of those Chinese scrolls whose owners were impelled to add their own calligraphy to somebody else's art. Bruce Damer, PhD, is the proprietor of a computer museum in Boulder Creek (called the DigiBarn) but as one of the executors of the Leary archives he also came into possession of a room full of materials that the New York Public Library decided not to include in their Tim Leary collection.

A page of Quantum Reality calligraphed by Tim Leary

So a few nights ago, over Ahlgren wine and gourmet food served by Bruce and his wife Galen, we examined the Tim Quantum Leary Reality scroll. Along with the expected underlinings were comments both of agreement and Tim's additions in his own handwriting which were sometimes printed and sometimes in script. One thing I noticed was the full-bodyness of his question marks (see above) -- Tim's questioning is not puny, but executed in big brush strokes.

In my Chapter 7, Describing the Indescribable: The Quantum Interpretation Question, Tim approved of my epigraph quoting him thus: "They are not smooth-surfaced, rectangular or carbon-ringed units which fit together like bricks. Each molecule is a heavenly octopus with a million floating jeweled tentacles hungry to merge." Hungry to merge indeed -- and equipped with a brand-new kind of entanglement that continues to baffle our Newtonian imaginations.

And to my citation of physicist Bryce DeWitt's feelings when first encountering the mind-boggling grandeur of the multi-universe model of reality, Tim adds, in big-block letters: PSYCHEDELIC.

Right at the beginning, Tim challenges my claim that physicists do not possess a single clear picture of the reality that supports the most successful theory of nature that humans have ever devised. Leary scrawls "Fredkin" across the first page and in other places, to suggest that perhaps the universe deep down resembles a cellular automaton (digital physics) as proposed by MIT's Ed Fredkin. This is not the place to argue such issues but this challenge shows that Tim is not passively ingesting this new material but actively engages it.

Bruce pointed out that Leary seemed to have read (and annotated) many books in Bruce's collection but in none of them (besides my own) did he seem to have read so far and to have annotated so profusely. "A high honor, Nick. Tim might have actually read your book from cover to cover. Perhaps even in an altered state."

It is important to realized that in addition to all the drugs he took, Tim was first and foremost a writer with more than 20 books to his credit. Not only did he have the courage (no timid academic he) to repeatedly explore these altered states, but he possessed the discipline and skill to attempt to describe and model them in words. My favorite Leary book is not his celebrated trip guide modeled after the Tibetan Book of the Dead, but his book High Priest describing 16 of his own altered-state explorations, and his Psychedelic Prayers in which Tim tries his hand at interpreting Lao Tzu's classic Tao Te Ching.

By far the best of Tim's annotations to the Quantum Reality scroll relates to his alleged role as a womanizer. Next to the name of a famous European scientist, whom I will not identify, Leary appends this comment (in his highly legible script): "His cute daughter, [name redacted] worked for and flirted with me -- the proposal a 'cinq a sept' in 1951.

Yes, I had to look up 'cinq a sept' -- a most elegant inscription for the Tim Quantum Leary Reality scroll and perfectly apt to my quantum tantra quest.

Nick Herbert peruses the Tim Quantum Leary Reality scroll

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Duke Herbert (1943-2014)

Donald "Duke" Herbert (1943 - 2014)

Donald Lee Herbert, 71, died June 22, 2014 in his home in West Glacier, Montana.

He was married to Jette Andersen, who predeceased him.

He is survived by his only son, Paul Herbert, who lives in Idaho.

Donald was raised in Columbus, Ohio as the fourth of five children. Donald often played the family clown and kept us all amused. He was interested in sports (specializing in pole-vaulting at McKinley High School) and body building. Spoofing Donald's extreme macho deeds, our next-door neighbor Jimmy dubbed him "Duke" (after John Wayne) by which name he was henceforth known to his
Duke graduates from Parris Island
family and old friends. At age 17 Duke got a big eagle tattooed on his bicep and joined the United States Marine Corps where he graduated from Parris Island at the top of his class. His intent was to fly fighter jets but his less-than-perfect eyesight landed him in the ground crew instead -- a post which taught him a lot of electronics that he was able to use in civilian life. Because they would not let him fly a jet, Duke did not re-enlist in the Marines.

While stationed in Santa Ana, California, Don met his wife and soul mate, Jette Andersen. Jette was a lively stewardess from Denmark where Duke often traveled to party with Jette's family but never learned to speak Danish. Duke married Jette and they moved to the small mountain town of Julian, California where Duke serviced microwave relay towers in the desert for Pacific Telephone. He lived in Ramona, California for eight years and then moved to Escondido, California where he and Jette remained until his retirement in 2002. Duke worked as a microwave radio technician for Pacific Bell. He was a pioneer in modern communication technology (at a time when telephony was transiting from analog to digital) and loved doing his job.

Upon retirement, Duke and his wife moved to West Glacier, Montana. Duke had purchased the property in the mid-1960s while cutting trails in Glacier National Park prior to meeting his wife. There they built their dream home where they enjoyed their final years. While in the Marines, Duke and his buddies frequently hunted elk for food and sport in that same area of Montana. After retirement, Duke hunted elk there only with his camera and often photographed whole families of elk and other Montana wildlife right outside his bedroom window. (See The Babies Are Here.)

For a time Duke worked as a bartender in a California beach town. He had a great gift for making friends wherever he went. When I went to Duke and Jette's wedding, what impressed me most was the great variety of men and women who attended, ranging from officers, corporate executives, Marine grunts, hot babes and low-lifes, this odd-ball assortment of human beings having one thing in common, that they were all friends of Duke's. He was humorous, easy-going and cut his own path through life's jungle not giving a damn what other people might think. Despite his doggedly independent life style, he made a lot of friends: Duke's theme song could well have been Frank Sinatra's "I Did It My Way."

Duke loved life and lived it to its fullest. Adios, little brother. I will miss you.
Tom, Nick and Duke Herbert, Camp Campbell 2002

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nick Meets a MegaMuse

Suzanne Verdal in Boulder Creek 6/28/14
Throughout history the presence of a beautiful woman has inspired great poetry. Dante was inspired by Beatrice, Petrarch by Laura and Maude Gonne inspired William Butler Yeats, to name a few. Because they were largely limited to the print medium, these poets (and their muses) could only reach a small audience compared to the massive number of viewers that today's TV, CD, DVD and LSD media can deliver. For better or worse, we live in the days of "lasers in the jungle", the epoch of blockbusters, megahits, megapoets and megamuses.

Arguably the most famous megamuse of the twentieth century is Suzanne Verdal, a dancer from Montreal who inspired Leonard Cohen's song, first performed by Judy Collins in 1967 and later covered by Cohen himself and many other artists. How many men and women have listened to this song and daydreamed of imaginary romance -- the men dreaming of meeting, the women dreaming of being -- some such gorgeous female mystery as conjured up by Cohen's words? The number of minds and hearts touched by this song (and its muse) must surely lie in the 10s of millions. Far more people, I am sure, have heard "Suzanne" than have read Dante, Petrarch and Yeats combined.

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
But that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.
A few mornings ago, I had breakfast with Suzanne Verdal on the deck of my house in Boulder Creek. She said she liked my verse: How can any poet resist a line like that? So I invited her over. (For the literary historians, I served Ms Verdal not tea and oranges but expresso coffee, avocado with balsamic vinegar, Combozola cheese on wheat thins. Later, at her place, she fed me ale from Newcastle.)

Suzanne's here because she's house-sitting for a friend of hers in Boulder Creek, where she's parked her artistic gypsy van (built on the back of a late-model Chevrolet pickup truck) near one of the little houses within walking distance of Nick's quantum tantric ashram. After breakfast we walked to her place from mine along a dirt road where we laughed at a neighbor's chickens who lived in a coop almost as elaborate as Suzanne's van and where she picked a snatch of flowering jasmine to decorate her hair.

Suzanne's writing her memoirs. She was born in Montreal where she met Cohen. But she's been everywhere. From Montreal, to New Mexico, to a commune in the south of France, to Venice Beach and places she didn't talk about. And lately to Boulder Creek where "her place by the river" is situated not by the St Lawrence River that flows thru Montreal but (coincidentally) by the San Lorenzo River that flows thru Boulder Creek.

Suzanne Verdal. What a woman! In the last days of June, to meet the fabled Suzanne, muse and reality, right outside my door. Bless my stars, how lucky am I?

Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she's touched your perfect body with her mind.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Alexander Shulgin (1925-2014)

Sasha Shulgin shows August O'Connor a brand new molecule
Guest post by my friend and fellow explorer, Luc Sala of Amsterdam.

On June 2, 2014, Alexander (Sasha) Shulgin left this world, nearly 89 years old. With him, the era of the great psychedelic revelation and revolution comes to an end. With the likes of Hofmann, McKenna and Leary he was one of the flag bearers of that era, struggling to free psychedelics from the criminal connotation, the projected dangers and the guilt trips of the establishment. I have known these people, they were my friends and mentors and they helped me realize that reality is a very personal interpretation of something much wider and deeper, that truth is only my truth and that tolerance for the truth of others is the highest virtue. A new paradigm of accepting that the psyche is more than the mind and brains is emerging lately, new research in the potential of these substances is happening, a new and more positive appreciation of what these substances can do for us is manifesting. We have to honor people like Sasha who went before us and dared to explore and experiment, at great personal risk both to their body and their status in society, with the powers hidden in the amphetamines, tryptamines and other psychoactive molecules.
Sasha was a true alchemist, and although he would defend his work as rational science and his inspiration as being instrumental in human progress, I believe he was really motivated by the high of exploring new territory, the enchanted realm of beyondedness. The lab behind his house was his playground, the use of his concoctions alone or with friends his excuse for showing love. I know he was aware of other-world relationships of the power of intention and causation much more than would come out in his lectures and books. He wore this mask of being rational, a scientist, not a mystic. But then we discussed the prerogative of the inventor, or discoverer as he would see it, as to set the tone, name and shape a new substance-- the inventor as reality-creator, not a very rational approach. He was a believer, maybe not in God but certainly in love.

What a life, being able to chart new territory, open new vistas and expand the human experience, share this with friends the world over and feel the love. I always felt his presence, his loving energy radiating towards me when driving towards his farmhouse in Lafayette, in the shadow of Monte Diablo. He was in a way a sorcerer, a servant of the devil, for it takes devils to help one see the One, to break the spell of hypnotic reality formation and enter the inner worlds. Psychedelic experiences and especially the ones that help us see inside our selves and help us in letting go of masks and ego are seldom easy -- we must face the traumas and defenses and the devil inside us. Sasha would joke about this, his humor was his way to deal with the gravity, the consequences of his work, his responsibility for releasing powers into the world with more potential impact than weapons of war. His defense against the mountain behind his house was building his own mountain of wine bottles in his garden and maybe his love for music. (Sasha played the violin and was often invited to help provide the sound track for the annual gathering of bigshots at Bohemian Grove.)

His achievements in chemistry are well known, he is called the grandfather of psychedelics and MDMA,  his (and Anne’s) books are classics, but his legacy goes well beyond the ‘dirty pictures’ of chemical formulas. He was a focal point in the movement, always willing to speak and travel, to share his insights in his own personal way of juggling words, concepts and wisdom.

I have met him many times, in various parts of the world, but the Easter parties at his home were where one could meet the inner circle of the psychedelic illuminati, where psychedelic history was alive, where his central role in that community was evident and natural -- he was the arch-bishop rather than the grandfather of psychedelics. He was an outspoken critic of including psychedelics in the war against drugs, which really was and is the war against liberty and freedom.

With Sasha’s death I feel lost. I am a mere foot soldier in the battle for freedom, for the liberty to think for myself, to learn about myself and to escape the deterministic profiling of DNA, cyberspace superpowers and materialistic society. Where to look now for guidance, for support, for the role-models I need, for the overview and mature authority people like Shulgin provided? I will miss him, and wish for strength and courage for Anne and the worldwide circle of family, tribe and friends who will have to do without Sasha.

Luc Sala, June 3, 2014

For more details see erowid.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mayday Play 2014

The first day of spring in the Celtic calendar is Beltane (May 1) when pagan rituals used to be performed to increase the fertility of the fields, the family and the livestock. In many cultures the maypole is erected and ribbons wound around it by dancing men and women to honor Nature's generative force. In keeping with this fertility theme May also hosts Mother's Day and the Catholic Church dedicates this whole month to the Mother of God, adorning Mary's statues with flowered wreaths and garlands.

Doing our part to celebrate Beltane, Mary-month and Mother's Day, August O' Connor and I took our instruments to "trapezoid park" in Capitola and played a few Irish tunes to the coyote bushes, the California poppies, the hummingbirds, crows, ravens and the occasional passing human being.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Celebrating the Irises

I don't have much of a green thumb but lots of stuff comes up in my yard anyway including lots of purple irises. The day irises first bloom in Boulder Creek is to me like the cherry blossom festival in Japan -- a movable feast starting in the South. A few days ago I noticed irises in Santa Cruz which meant that soon the bloom zone would move up here. Sure enough, the irises popped out on April 24, the same day as last year. A friend of mine recently gave me a whole case of fine beer--thank you, Dave--so I decided to celebrate both events by playing the irises some Irish tunes.

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Friend Billy

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Warning: Viewer discretion advised. This post discusses adult themes and content. Oh, not the usual adult themes we get on TV, like D: Suggestive Dialogue or V: Violence. Instead, it is a discussion of the following well-known wanted criminal:

The one with many names … the Pale Rider. The Grim Reaper. The Angel Of Death. Thanatos. Azrael. Cronus.
 I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. The gorgeous ex-fiancee is a Family Nurse Practitioner, and she and I have been taking care of her 86-year-old father in his final illness. “Billy”, that’s what the rest of the guys in the band always called him, so that’s what I called him when I came to be friends and play music with him over the past four years. He was a jazz drummer his whole life, and a very good one. Having had the honor of playing music with him myself, I can testify that he was a very skillful, fun, and inventive percussionist.  But when he came out of the hospital back in February, he hung up his sticks and said that was it. His time with music was over. I knew then that his days were short. So we’ve been giving him all the love and support possible in the face of his approaching death.

Here in the developed world, we tend to distance ourselves from death. But in the third world, it is ever-present. The first dead man I ever saw who wasn’t rouged, perfumed, and embalmed was on a side street in Trench Town, a dirt-poor, less than fragrant, and more than turbulent suburb of Kingston, Jamaica. It was a strange scene.

Trench Town is not a good place to be at night. Even in the middle of a hot afternoon, it’s a place where you feel a need to take an occasional look over your shoulder. I was walking down the street, the only melanin-deficient guy in sight. (I hear that the new PC term is “melanin-challenged”, by the way, to avoid hurting people’s feelings by making them feel deficient … but then I’ve never been politically correct.)

In any case, halfway down the block, a man was lying in the gutter. At first I thought he was just drunk and sleeping it off, until I got nearer, and I saw he was lying in the proverbial pool of blood. I remember particularly the sound of the flies. I was reminded of when I used to kill and butcher cows and sheep and other animals out in the farmers’ fields for a living, and how fast the flies would appear. Seeing that man lying dead in a cloud of flies, in the middle of just another average city afternoon, was a shock to me. The cities I was accustomed to back then didn’t feature much in the way of dead bodies in the gutter. I was beyond surprise.

But the bigger shock was the reaction of the people in the street. By and large it was ho, hum, another day in the life, step over his corpse and keep going, Many people looked once and didn’t give him a second glance. The public level of concern seemed to be on the order of “It’s the tropics, mon, cover him up ‘fore he stinks”.

I realized then that in such places down at the bottom of the economic ladder, the death of a stranger is no big deal. Oh, I don’t mean that people don’t mourn or grieve their loved ones the way it happens in the industrialized countries. That’s the same everywhere. But in countries where death is more common, countries where most families have lost a child, countries where malaria or some other tropical fever takes away the young and otherwise healthy, everyone lives in much closer proximity and familiarity with death and the dead.

 Continue Reading "My Friend Billy" by Willis Eschenbach

Sunday, April 6, 2014

On Scapegoating



Please pardon me
I was mistaken.
I am a loyal
Slice of bacon.
Rip out her eyes
Now we sees
thru her disguise.
We took a poll
and all agree
She is the
worstest enemy
of all that's true and fine and good.
Do you want her in your neighborhood?
I knew you would concur with us
We're proud to have you on the bus.

Posterity will praise what was needful to do
Against monsters as loathsomely evil as YOU!