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Project MKULTRA was the code name for a covert CIA mind-control research program that began in the early 1950s and continued through the late 1960s. Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees. Coincidentally around that same time the Joint Chiefs of Staff were working on Operation Northwoods. In 1962 there was a plan by the U.S. Department of Defense to stage acts of terrorism on U.S. soil and against U.S. interests abroad. The goal was to generate U.S. public support for military action against Cuba. Does this frighten anyone? The fact that the CIA dosed its own agents with LSD while also being the principal advisor on covert and military issues?

Here’s the scene: Inside a log cabin. Somewhere in upstate New York. It’s 1961. Two CIA agents are high on acid. One agent is occasionally looking out the window. The other agent is pacing back and forth around the room.

“First we put something in Castro’s beard so his beard will fall out and he’ll look like a lizard. Then we shoot Kennedy with a triangulated crossfire because he’s a lizard person too. We take a road trip to Guatemala, set up a banana farm, fly over to Southeast Asia like a huge swarm of bats, bring back heroin, sell that in the projects to get money to buy guns to protect our banana farm.”

“Yeah that kind of makes sense… But how are we going to get everyone in on this? WHAT THE FUCK IS ON ME? IS THAT A SPIDER?”

“Whould you chill?”

“Ok, I’m… fine… my head still feels like there’s a bumblebee in it though. Or some kind of hive… a beehive thing… but… What was I saying?”

“This is what we do. Check it out. We highjack our own commercial airliner and blow it the fuck out of the air over Cuba.”

“Oh man your head looks like a rat face. Wait… what? Highjack a plane? I’m looking at your rat head but I hear these words coming out like streamers. Are we on a plane right now?”

“Just listen to me. Lemnitzer is going to love this one. Say we paint an empty plane to look like a commercial jetliner. We get a few operatives to climb on the real plane. Then we take our bullshit plane and rendezvous in the air so no one knows what the fuck is going on. The real plane lands somewhere in a banana field and our boys climb off and act like they’re picking bananas or some shit. Then we blow the fake empty plane out of the air over Cuba and blame it on Castro.”

“What if his beard is made of bees?”

“Right. It could be a disinformation beard.”

“Oh dude I’m seeing… your head looks like an anteater now.”

“Stay with me. We have to keep this on the down low. We’ll paint the same numbers, same airline, they’ll fly in the air right next to each other and it’ll look like the same blip on radar. We tell the New York Times the other blip was a goddam UFO or Cuban MiG. No one will know or give a shit because the FAA is seeing weird blips all the time. Remember Mac Brazel? We’ll scare the fuck out of anyone who gets too close to the real story.”

“Hey that reminds me. You said I was supposed to get my TS clearance so I can see that thing. Are you a goddam mole? Your face is turning green and I can see my dead father.”

“Look you fuck nut, you’re tripping balls. You have a head full of acid and we’re brain- storming war games right now. I’m not a lizard. You know me. Your father and my father have been friends for fifty years. They went to Yale together. They’re on the square. Fuck we were in the Order of DeMolay together in grade school! Don’t start that paranoid crap.”

“I don’t know dude. I can see weird horns popping out of your anteater head right now. When you get angry I see fire coming out of your mouth and you’re growing a forked tail. Why do you have that bandage on your head?”

“I told you I have to keep my head safe. This is for my Trepanation scar. I need to keep the pressure off my brain.”

“Well I’m seeing two red horns pointing out of that fucked up thing… Oh God! Are you a Shriner?”

“For the last time, you paranoid freak. I’m not a Shriner. You know me. It’s not a turban. It’s for my Trepanation scar. It’s that surgery I got for the hole in my skull”.

“You are out of your fucking mind.”

“Trepanation is a mystical experience. Evidence has been found in prehistoric human remains. The Andean people used to bore holes in their skull. There’s a goddam cave painting that proves it. Hippocrates talked about this shit. Look it up yourself.”

“Why do you have to do this every time? I’m seeing pyramids and dog horns, you’re talking about some fucked up hole in your head, I’m tripping balls out and now some crap about a plane that looks just like another plane? I think I’m going to take my clothes off.”

(Allen Dulles calls)

“Oh God! What is that sound? I’m hearing it in my neck. Something’s wrong here. Is there a fire? I’m hearing a… THE PHONE IS ON FIRE!”

“Would you mellow out? It’s Dulles. He said he’d call us right when we started to peak. I think he wants another ten grams of this shit.”

(CIA agent picks up the phone)

“Yeah… Uh huh… Right! I know dude. It’s fantastic! I’m seeing all kinds of things. Olsen is about ready to jump out the window. This batch is amazing. I can get you another 10 grams. We can dose the whole Revolutionary Armed Forces with half that amount. Put it in a crop duster and fly it over Havana… Uh huh… Right… We’ll pile naked Cubans up in a pyramid, have them jack off and take pictures of it… (laughs) I know. Plans within plans. Yeah… Ok… Working on it… I’ll give you a report in five days after I come down. See ya.”

“Who was that?”

“It was Dulles. We need a notebook. I’ve got to keep track of this. It’s so clear to me now. Lizards, guns, heroin, bananas, pyramids. It’s all coming together.”

“I feel like I have bat wings.”

“Would you get the hell away from that window!”

(Twelve hours later)

“Time has no meaning. There is only the absolute present. There is no past. No future. No history. Everything is occurring in one infinite moment.”

“Time has meaning because I have shit to do today. You’ve been on that fire escape for 12 hours.”

“I told you I’m on this fire escape because you are still on fire.”

“I’m not on fire. There is no fire. I don’t have a cat head. Your arms are not made of rubber. We’ve been over this a million times.”

“Then what is that ball of fire doing in the sky? Doesn’t it seem hot to you? I feel hot.”

“It’s the sun. The sun is a giant fireball. It’s the middle of July and its two in the afternoon. Just hop down onto that dumpster it’s only about five feet.”

“I’m on the side of a mountain. It looks to be about a fifteen thousand foot drop.”

“That’s the acid. The LSD is tricking your brain. It’s not real. It’s all in your mind.”

“If it’s all in my mind then everything is in the mind, along with the fireball in the sky and this mountain. You cannot tell me it’s not real because I’m experiencing it right now.”

“I’m going to beat you in the head with a fucking shovel if you don’t come down.”

“There is only my subjective reality. Therefore fuck off. I’m telling you to fuck off so you are fucking off right now.”

“Look. I have to work today. I’ve got to type out that Northwoods Document.”

“And what is that? That’s not real. You were telling me you were going to do all this fake crap and blame it on Castro. You’re wasting your time because you’re on fire. You need to stop drop and roll. You flaming fucking cat midget with your fucked up cat head. Fuck off.”

“Ok so if I’ve been on fire for this long how come I haven’t burned up completely?”

“Good question. I’ll tell you why. It’s because your cat head is made entirely of asbestos and you’re wearing a non-flammable gay sweater. You have a wooden leg. And I think you’re in the CIA.”

“We’re both in the C.I.A.”

“So you admit it. You’re a goddamn intelligence officer!”

“That’s our job. That’s what we do. You just took some acid and you’re freaking out.”

“Let me get this straight. I’m in the CIA. I’m high on acid and there really is a giant fireball in the sky. You admit you’re also in the CIA but you have a cat head. You say it’s all in my mind but some of this is real. If this is some kind of mind control operation you’re not very good at it.”

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Down in the third sub-basement below Mortimer’s castle here at Media Underground, I  just finished a three week investigation into Halo 3 Live. I had some suspicion that the gamer PinkUnicorn12 had hacked into my X-Box game controller and installed a remote program to make me lose every game I played against her and all of her online friends. I also found I lost to random players and even a five year old boy with a broken arm who said he was eating a sandwich at the time. I remember hearing his exact words, “I just pawned your bitch-ass down”. I knew there must have been some security breach with either the game controller or my X-Box console. Statistically I had been able to win one or two games out of 1000 games played. I switched controllers and nothing seemed to add up. Then the phone rang…

“Inman, this is Mortimer.”

“Ah… (long pause)… Yeah?”

“Get off the X-Box for Christ sake while I’m talking to you on the phone.”

“Ok, what?”

“I’m sending you to West Africa for an initiation into the Bwiti ceremony. You are to meet up with the head of the tribe. The Shaman’s name is N’ganga. You’ll take massive amounts of a drug called ibogaine. During the ritual the visions will come on pretty strong for about eight to ten hours during which time I want you to look for machine elves, the Terrence McKenna kind. Grab one as your spirit guide and find out everything you can on Simulated Reality.”

“Yeah ok… just a second… Oh no, you took my Plasma Rifle bitch!”

“Inman this is important. Put down the controller.”

“Ok I got it. Machine elves and SimCity, I used to play that game. I’ll get on it.”

“Not SimCity you retard. Simulated Reality. It’s the proposition that…”

“NO! NO! NO! You whore! Goddamit!” (explosions in the background)

“Put it away for the last fucking time Inman or I’m coming down there. It’s not the video game SimCity. Look, just get a pen and write this down… Simulated Reality.”

“S-I-M-S…?”

“Simulated. S-I-M-U-L-A-T-E-D as in fake reality. Jesus I can’t believe I have to deal with this. Did you go to public school? Look, you have your mission. The plane leaves for Gabon tomorrow. I know it’s a weird way to go about this and it may be a shot in the dark. N’ganga has been a buddy of mine for years and he’ll talk you down if you go nutters. I had Klein on this one at first but he says he’s allergic to Tabernanthe bark or some crap. Anyway keep a diary because I might be able to find clues from your notes. Write everything down. Don’t freak out and remember, look for anything out of place or ask a machine elf spirit guide. I need to know if the universe itself could be a computer simulation indistinguishable from “true” reality. And if it’s possible that someone could actually hack reality.”

I put the phone down. I stare at the wall for a few seconds. Did I just hear what I think I heard? This is the ultimate paranoid conspiracy and he’s lost his goddam mind. He’s gone Syd Barrett batshit-crazy and he’s trying to take me with him. I’ll have a psychotic breakdown from some bad reaction to ibogaine, wake up barefoot and penniless wandering around West Africa, collapse from malnutrition and dysentery and finally end up being torn to pieces by wild hyenas in a dried up river bed. There’s no way I can go on this trip. I’ll have to fake the simulated reality study.

At first I thought it would be easy. I’d just type simulated reality into Wikipedia and make a few notes. Scribble weird crap in a diary with mathematical symbols and rub dust all over the cover so it looks like I’ve been in the desert for three days. No problem. That’s when I remembered N’ganga would be waiting for me in Gabon. If I don’t show up he’ll ask Mortimer what happened. I’ll have to hire a guy to fly down to Gabon, have him meet up with N’ganga posing as me, he’ll take the ibogaine and write a few things down about elves, send me his notes and I’ll mix that with the Wiki simulated reality material in a dusted up diary.

Sounds like the perfect plan right? Turns out the guy I send down there used to hang out with N’ganga in Glastonbury in the late 80s. And N’ganga isn’t N’ganga. His real name is Niles Octavious Hall the twin brother of the Governor General of Jamaica Kenneth O. Hall. Niles O. Hall was the Black Rebel Jamaican Freedom Fighter who later migrated to Gabon and became a Bwiti initiate. Kenneth O. Hall was the Dean of the State University of New York who later became the Governor General of Jamaica.

Just a side note, the Bwiti ceremonies are led by a (male or female) spiritual leader who has extensive knowledge of traditional healing practices, hexes and spells. Their spiritual leader is called an N’ganga. So N’ganga is not only not Niles O. Hall’s real name, it’s not even his fake name because it’s a title. If Niles or the “N’ganga” meets my fake Bwiti initiate dupe posing as me and recognizes him from Glastonbury I’m fucked.

Luckily the guy who was supposed to be me, Ian, didn’t blow my cover and I called Mortimer to tell him I missed the plane. Thinking quickly I also told him I was supposed to meet my “assistant” Ian in Gabon who has a satellite phone and laptop so I can be initiated into the Bwiti ceremony over Skype in the comfort of my office in the third sub-basement. All I really had to do was dose myself with a placebo here, look for the machine elves in my own imagination and tell Mortimer it was all being done according to the Bwiti ritual over remote live video. Sound simple?

Ian doesn’t have a laptop or satellite phone or even a video camera. So I had to write and direct a ten hour fake Bwiti ibogaine ritual on film. First off I couldn’t find a guy who looked like Ian or N’ganga. We tried some kind of computer graphics thing with a friend who said he worked for Pixar. That looked completely retarded. Then we figured the shaman and Ian would probably have tribal paint all over their faces and beards with crap in their hair. No one would notice if they were dancing around with dirt all over everything. We hired two actors who looked the part, painted their faces and recorded the whole thing with an iPhone. I thought the acting was weak at first. I tried to motivate them about machine elves while looking for weird shots with the iPhone. One guy started waving his arms in the air like a Shaman and the other wrote stupid shit in a diary.

So summing up, I don’t know if the machine elves are real. I don’t know if reality is fake or not. I don’t know if I’m sitting in a comfortable chair right now in another part of the universe with a brain-computer interface. I don’t know if I interact with a simulated world and if it receives feedback from me. I don’t know if virtual people exist or if they’re just other poor schlubs strapped in a chair interacting with their brain-computer. I don’t know much of anything. And even if this world is simulated and let’s just say for the sake of argument it is. I found a few clues…

TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD – “Male, female, father, mother, the thunderstorm, the hurricane, the thunder, all phenomena are naturally like magical illusions. However they arise they are truthless. All things are untrue and false.”

LAO TZU – “The world is formed from the void, like utensils from a block of wood. The Master knows the utensils but keeps to the block. Thus he can use all things.”

FREDRICK NIETZSCHE – “Why couldn’t the world that concerns us be a fiction? And if somebody asked, ‘but to be a fiction there surely needs to be an author?’ couldn’t one ask simply why? Doesn’t this longing perhaps belong to the fiction too?”