What follows is a blend of my own observations with those made by Dave on the last event, “Lying: The Insanely Inflammatory Virus Destroying the Energetics of Humanity.” (I have also incorporated notes taken of the event by Martin Jolly.) As with previous posts, I will attempt to demonstrate, but also facilitate, a kind of synchronization of sensibilities (mine and Dave’s), thereby bringing about synthesis.
Before synthesis, thesis must meet its antithesis. In a certain sense, I am the antithesis to Dave, though, to my regular readers and listeners, it may seem like the reverse. There’s probably nothing to be gained from trying to identify the original thesis and decide which of us is the first-born; if synthesis occurs, it will be a revelation of a pre-existing condition, as much as the attainment of a new one, making it both/and and neither-nor. We are all moving poles of an eternal current.
Opposites attract and therefore opposites are also (as was the case with my brother and I) profoundly alike, even, in essence, the same. The more closely they approach one another, like matter and anti-matter, the more they may draw out both their differences—magnetic repulsion—and their likenesses, the original attraction.
Dave once told me—probably when I mentioned a movie I had seen—that he didn’t “do” horror movies. It struck me as odd because I knew he watched plenty of movies and TV shows, including cheesy sci-fi and violent action, even Tarantino movies, which I often find repellent. His objection to horror clearly wasn’t a moral one or (I am sure) an aesthetic one, but something specifically relating to the horror genre itself. I assumed it was to do with their being too “dark,” and I found it slightly annoying, or at least disappointing; in my view, movies that make light of violence are often more irresponsible, more harmful, than ones that make it dark and heavy.
Twins Souls of a Single Plot
That motley drama—oh, be sureIt shall not be forgot!With its Phantom chased for evermoreBy a crowd that seize it not,Through a circle that ever returneth inTo the self-same spot,And much of Madness, and more of Sin,And Horror the soul of the plot.Edgar Allan Poe, “The Conqueror Worm”
Why do I mention this? Two reasons, the first being obvious: that my writing-career was officially launched when The Blood Poets was published in 1999, a two-volume work about violence in movies, which Dave has often cited in one context only: that it was the only thing that got my father’s approval (though my father disliked violent movies!). The second reason I bring the topic up now is that Dave mentioned his aversion to horror movies, near the start of Sunday’s event.
I learned this last Sunday that, as a kid, Dave was unable to watch horror movies because the effect they had on his nervous system was too intense for him. He juxtaposed this example with how he also disliked Brussels sprouts (for some reason English kids never like Brussels sprouts), but that, through the diligent conditioning of his mother, he eventually developed a taste for them.
As I write this, a strange correlation arises between Dave and I again, one involving horror movies and healthy green comestibles. As I recount near the start of Seen and Not Seen, my earliest memory of my mother is of preparing to watch a horror movie (Day of the Triffids) in bed with a friend when she brought us both green apples to eat. (She stayed to watch the film with us in case we got too sacred, but it was she who found the movie terrifying, not us.) And though I never really developed a taste for green apples after that, horror movies did become close to the soul of my plot, as explored in Seen and Not Seen, The Blood Poets, and really, all of my books.
What’s with all these endlessly replicating correlations? Any one of them taken alone might not mean much; but as they accumulate, they start to seem like evidence of an emerging pattern, an implicate interplay, a connective tissue—a psychic fascia—between Dave’s life and my own; and by extension, connecting all those who have been drawn into our either one of our respective “nets.”
On the event, Dave suggested we imagine ourselves as an energy field rather than a body. He asked us to imagine this field as like the electric charge between two fences.
The ostensible subject of the meeting was lying. According to Dave, there are (at least) seven degrees of lying. This was an intentional play on words (I imagine, though with Dave the question of intention may be moot), since lying, in his thesis, is the principle cause of separation between human souls (as well as the leading symptom).
He described the (jingle-)jangly feeling we experience when people lie to us and the information does not add up because they are saying one thing while bodily expressing another. He compared this to the experience of watching a horror movie. In my last event but one (“Invitation to a Brainstorm”), I talked about how, if we take entertainment so seriously that it causes deep agitation of our nervous system, and possibly even messes up our day, it is no longer acting as mere entertainment, but as indoctrination, programming.
Dave mentioned a “New Age” term, FEAR, meaning: False Evidence Appearing Real. He recounted how, as a child, he had created for himself a “terrifying myth” of a man at the top of the stairs, and that his parents had not disabused him of this myth, but allowed him to continue to believe it. Evidently, not watching horror movies was insufficient to shield young Dave from the horrors lurking within his own psyche—and/or within the energy field of his existence.
The biggest lies you tell are the things you don’t say or do. Turn your microscope inside yourself and go looking for lies
Energy work is a journey you make through the senses of your body—go looking for lies and blocks inside your body.
Truth will feel easy, light and free; lies will feel heavy and dark. Turn your body into a truth-resonating device.
You think you have no right to express yourself—if you hold your stuff it will become pain and become other people’s pain. There’s nothing more painful than meeting someone in pain.
All through your body you will find lies—other parts are saying nothing, they are the uninfected parts. There is a web of lies inside your body. You go through the roads inside your body then you hit roadblocks.
Lying in its essence is the denial of love.
A Tissue of Lies
On Sunday’s event, Dave described “a tissue of lies” inside the body that confuses us between what we think we should do, and what we know to do. This tissue of lies he called “an evil Valhalla,” a lying pantheon of internalized false gods. In contrast, there is an area inside our bodies that does not tell us what to do, that is silent and calm, which connects us to the truth.
PTSD, he said, is when areas in our body hold memory of events that scream out constantly,
“I’m a trauma! Take me seriously!”
Like horror movies, their job is to persuade us to have visceral reactions to the scenes they create, as if it was happening now, as if it was a clear and present danger and not merely a simulation. Insofar as they are effective, these horror movies carry on playing inside our nervous system long after they are over: they screw up our bodies.
When Dave is talking to a room full of people, his attention always goes to the person who isn’t smiling, like a spot of shit on a toilet bowl. He quoted Lady Macbeth, for maybe the third time this year: “Out, out, damn spot!” The squeaky wheel gets the grease. The most desperate-for-love ensure they get our attention, even if it turns out to be an unpleasant experience for both parties. This is why it is hard to ignore an arsehole: they demand our attention. Dave made it clear, for those who did not have English as a first language, that he wasn’t speaking literally when he said his attention always went to arseholes.
He described certain individuals—really, bodies—that try to suck the world up their arsehole. He made a cutting playing on words, “Why would someone take it up the arse”—when the arsehole is a non-perceptual organ?
This for me was the key utterance of Sunday’s event. It opened up a new vista on an ancient dilemma, one of direct and central relevance to readers of this blog.
The Hole that Cannot be Filled
It is an extremely rare thing for Dave to cite anyone in his talks, but on Sunday he cited Wilhelm Reich (I cited Reich’s Mass Psychology of Fascism in my recent post about the fascia). His point was that only people who can’t feel anything get into S & M, because they need extremes of stimulation. This is “the dark end of the rainbow.” It is a hole that cannot be filled.
Which of you really know where you are? Knowing where you are is knowing that you are at the center of your existence, that there is only one existence and that this is where you find yourself. You have been trained not to make yourselves the center of your universe.
We feel most at home when our senses are working for us. Confidence is having the senses maximally open. Just because we are alive does not mean we are incarnated.
Breath can fill the body to keep things out—every part of you is pumped. The pump effect has to be evenly distributed over the body, which is a principle of energy work. Most people’s inner pressure in their body is not evenly distributed.
Most humans are only just enough in their bodies to function, and no more. Their awareness only makes it into their heads, the rest of their bodies are like zombies. This is why the arsehole is trying to suck the world into itself: because there is no life force in the body and so it tries to draw life from outside itself, from the world. Like a mushroom, or a vampire.
We do not become producers of energy until we are all the way into our bodies.
For me to help people means I am also helping them to stay weak, providing them with an artificial supporting device.
From my journal, January 7, 2002. The passage begins with a description of my acting improvisation class at City Lit in London, and ends with a portion of a dream I had that night, about an “Insanely Inflammatory Virus Destroying the Energetics of Humanity”:
Before the improv began, the teacher asked us about fears and stuff and brought up a Hammer Dracula movie with Christopher Lee which he’d seen at 14 that had given him nightmares (possibly Prince of Darkness—[the film my mother woke me up to watch on my eighth or ninth birthday]). He said of course that vampires were all nonsense, and so forth, and wondered aloud why we were scared by such things. I begged to differ. For a moment it was as if he had handed over the teacher’s baton to me, and I was presiding over the group. I explained that vampire myths were thousands of years old and that, regardless of whether they were actually real, our fears made them real. I added that it is useless to tell a child who is afraid of monsters that there are no such thing as monsters, since the child’s fear has created the monsters; as such, they indeed exist for him. (It is not monsters that create fear but fear that creates monsters.) I mention all this because it is relevant to the second phase of my night, the dreaming phase.
That night I dreamed of a virus that was transforming the world. I was on the trail of Jack the Ripper, following certain clues, visiting the scenes of the crimes, and so forth. At a certain point, I noticed that at every location where a woman had been murdered, there was a flower growing, incongruously, in the concrete. I realized that this flower (like in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers) was the real culprit: a viral intelligence that manifested (traveled?) through these flowers (spores?). I presume that it possessed individuals and caused them to commit hideous crimes (meaning that “Jack the Ripper” did not exist, as such, only this viral entity which used different hosts). I discovered this too late however; by the time I got to the truth, and to the location where I would confirm it, we—that is myself and my group—had been taken over by the entity.
The key point of this was that the virus was a natural and necessary agent of global transformation, and that we could make its work easy, or we could make its work hard. In the latter case, the route we have in fact chosen, the virus causes grisly scenarios of murder and mutilation. Being taken over by the viral hive mind was NOT the desired end; this was the dark side of the agenda, and had to be avoided. I recall palpably the sensation of being swallowed up in this organic green energy-spore thing (green as in moss or algae rather than like an ordinary plant: a sort of parasitic green). As we reached the death scene, I knew I had to do something in order to save everyone there, to break away and assume physical form again; it’s all fuzzy now, save that I apparently did succeed in the end.
I’m frightened by the total goal/Drawing to the ragged hole
And I ain’t got the power anymore/No I ain’t got the power anymore
—David Bowie, “Quicksand”
From the intro to a profound “sorcery” dream I had back in 2008 (full version here):
I am in a dimly lit room discussing the Kennedy assassination with a second person. More than just discussing it, we are almost reliving it. The forces behind the assassination, dark sorcerers, are trying “to turn the abyss inside out.” They are attempting this “because it is impossible.” I mention the play Macbeth, saying that it is a good parallel to the assassination (I remembered later that it was performed in the White House, just prior to Kennedy’s death). The other person thinks about it then disagrees. Macbeth was about slaying the king in order to become the king. “They” killed Kennedy for far more complex and less human reasons than mere worldly ambition. Yet the parallel does exist. I state that the emotions involved in the Kennedy assassination, ambition bordering on insanity, greed, envy, fear, hatred, remorse, despair, hunger for power, are similar to the emotions that run, like pigment, through Shakespeare’s darkest play.
Macbeth might be considered the original horror movie, the template for a Western diagnostic of madness, murder, cruelty, and despair, complete with a supernatural principle of evil directing the events. The play is about ambition. I even studied it in school. Because of that, I got to see Polanski’s version in class—possibly the single most enjoyable class I ever had in school (though the movie isn’t that good).
This is the Polanski who made it in Hollywood with a horror movie about Satanists, before his life turned into a horror movie, after which he made his own version of the Scottish play, as a commentary on his life. This is the Polanski who was my first role model for pursuing my Hollywood dream, and a central subject, not only of Blood Poets, Secret Life of Movies, and Seen and Not Seen, but also of Maps of Hell. Later, David Lynch became the surrealist auteur of my choice, after I saw Blue Velvet and became obsessed with it, at the age of twenty.
The conscious reason I became obsessed with that film was that I loved Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). Even though he was a cruel and abusive character, I felt deepest sympathy for him.
When my brother Sebastian was an adolescent, and I was a child, the walls of his room were covered top to bottom with magazine stills from Hammer horror movies. It was a fortress of horror, a shell of outer darkness that I was afraid to pass through (there was train set on the other side of that room, so I had no choice). In a similar way, perhaps, the dandy outfits he wore in his final years, red velvet and top hats, like a camp occult version of Jack the Ripper, the “clothes that made the Horsley,” were also a shell of outer darkness to hide inside.
A Space for Non-Judgment
On Dave’s free online event, this last Saturday on Zoom, he went around the hundred people present and asked them to name their superpower. Since I don’t take the idea of superpowers very seriously, I didn’t want to answer the question too earnestly, and I responded, “Shameless exhibitionism.” Afterwards, during the meet, I thought that a more accurate description would have been, “The ability to act as if I am fearless, even though I am not.” Some days later, however, after my own follow-up event, I decided that the closest description of what I consider my particular gift would be something like this: “The capacity to hold a space of non-judgment for apparent evil.”
Where this “power” fails me is in my most intimate relationships, which is when there is a feeling of betrayal involved. Then, it is generally not the “crime” itself, but the lying around it, that “offends” me. Vice of Kings, as with the previous two books but more so (and the unpublished Maps of Hell), was my attempt to break through the stench of lies and get to the truth of my life. The challenge was to do so without condemnation.
Family skeletons are a system of ancestral lies, lies to cover iniquities, to suppress shame. They prevent forgiveness because they prevent awareness of sin, they do not allow loving connection to happen, and so preempt understanding.
Lying in its essence is the denial of love.
The word “shameless” is an interesting one. It implies not freedom from shame (in the way fearless means freedom from fear), but rather to be without conscience. Shamelessness implies that we have done something wrong, but have not recognized or owned up to it.
My deepest wound shows itself in my unending hunger for validation—a wound or hole that is endlessly sucking up the world. Such hunger is at the root (the asshole) of all worldly ambition. I wrote books about horror movies to earn my father’s love, and to continue a lifelong dialogue with my mother—who first gave me the apple of (horror movie) knowledge.
An Unconscious Lethal Text
This is from Blood Poets, volume two, chapter two: “Return of the Id”:
The profound sense of dread which Lynch creates from here on in, and for the duration of the following sequence, is I think unparalleled in modern cinema. What’s most remarkable is that we’re not watching a horror film (or, at least, we weren’t), and yet the level of horror which the film begins to invoke in us here is beyond just about anything in the genre. . . . The sequence, which constitutes Jeffrey’s fully-fledged entry (having officially abandoned all hopes) into Hell, from his first meeting with Frank, to his brutal beating accompanied by Roy Orbison’s In Dreams, gets my vote (for what it’s worth) as the single most outstanding piece of cinema in the (admittedly still brief) history of film. . . . Watching these scenes for the first time (and even the subsequent half dozen times or more since), I felt as if my psyche were being torn in two [emphasis added].
On the one hand, we are wholly and agonizingly trapped inside the point of view of Jeffrey, and suffer the resultant horrors of being in the hands of the demonic Frank. On the other hand, we are, if we are honest, unable to detach ourselves entirely from the madness and depravity of Frank, so palpable that it becomes overwhelming, and constitutes a kind of agony itself. [There’s nothing more painful than meeting someone in pain.]
[B]ut, for all Frank’s gibbering, slavering depravity, the ultimate horror of the scene (for me at least) is the sight of the chubby, painted whore, in her pink miniskirt, dancing languidly to Orbison’s song on the roof of the car, while Jeffrey is beaten to a pulp down below. That whore might be the soul of the world, a soul so weary and jaded that it doesn’t even bother to turn away, but merely looks on in total, final indifference. Having seen it all a thousand times before, it now sees nothing at all. And, unspeakably awful as the acts of barbarity which Frank commits upon Jeffrey may be, it is this utter indifference to them, I think, which constitutes the true horror [emphasis added].
Immediately following this line, I inserted a quote from Toni Wolff (collaborator of Carl Jung) to head the next section:
“The natural, spiritual hunger, if it is not fed by the sacred, is trapped in the demonic.”
After that, I used the word “violation” to describe Frank’s treatment of Jeffrey, with a footnote attached to the word:
I use “violation” figuratively rather than literally—although there is a rumor of a final act of sodomy that wound up on the cutting room floor. It seems doubtful however, and even if there were such a scene, Lynch was right to cut it (a sure case of “too much of a good thing”).
To Boldly Go Where No Rabbit Has Gone Before
A couple of years ago, I recognized these passages from my first-ever published book as a sort of unconscious “lethal text,” exposing my own crucial fiction and the festering wound beneath or around it. An act of anal rape “rumored” to have been part of my all-time favorite cinematic sequence, in my no. 1 movie, that had been “excised,” edited out, cast into unconsciousness? The sequence, I wrote, marked the point at which the movie became ipso facto a horror movie. And yet, “the true horror” was not the violence of the violation, or the dementia of the abuser, but the total indifference of a woman, dancing on the roof of a car.
While writing “Occult Yorkshire,” continuing on as I worked it into Vice of Kings, I began to experience what seemed like somatic memories of early abuse. In one such dream, I was told that a rape occurred in a car, with my mother present. I have no way of knowing if this is true. There is no ostensible “reason” (nothing in my conscious memory timeline or known family history, not counting what I uncovered via “Occult Yorkshire”) to believe that it is. And yet, the patterns continue to emerge, like dark veins beneath my skin, and their very obscurity and symbolic (screened) nature seems to indicate a traumatic reality behind them.
Is this how such body memories enter our awareness: as horror movies that play endlessly inside our nervous systems?
I wrote an email to Dave about his last online event:
My impression is that you were unveiling a deep planetary dynamic, what I called traumagenesis, the rewiring of the human nervous system to invert the energy flow, trap awareness in the head, through systematic abuse centered around that particular horror-face; it’s what VOK is about.
(The word horror-face was a play on orifice, and off of Dave’s suggestion that we have somehow been inverted and turned our arseholes into non-perceiving organs of engagement with the world.)
We still haven’t gone down the rabbit hole.
What I wish to convey with this blog post is this: there is a rabbit hole that I have been mapping for lo, these past three decades, that has drawn so many of you to this damned spot, where much is of madness, and more of sin, and horror has until now been the soul of the plot. But it is only a map, a simulacra, an image of a shadow of a reality that all our efforts to escape have only compelled us to come back to, like a dog to vomit, or circle ever returning in.
And what is occurring here, via my collaboration-synchronization with Dave Oshana, is not, as some have opined, a departure from that ragged hole, but rather the “preliminal” steps to finally diving all the way into it. If you have made it this far, then you have now been prepared for takeoff.
It is not the dark that fills us with horror; it is the first shards of sunlight, breaking through the curtains.
Next online Oshana events, this Easter Weekend:
For info about my own guys-only meet-up on Easter Monday, read this blogpost:
I was struck by the unusually high energy level of the Sunday event about the lying virus, especially compared with the more constrained energy of the free Saturday event. At the latter, Dave was hosting a hundred souls, many in ignorance and/or denial of their “secret identities” as neurons in an invisible economy of love. It brought home the contrast between what can be delivered, and received, on the paid events vs. the free ones. In the paid events, a field has been created, over weeks, months, and years, via the synergy of Dave and the other regular, committed participants who have done the necessary cleaning and preparation, and who can collectively hold a transformational space for newbs. In contrast, on the last free event, newbs, casuals, and dilettantes far outnumbered veterans (few of whom even attended). In a sense, this means the newbs carried the day and the only synergy was what could be created during the event itself. This means people who are only coming to a free event, expecting to have “the Dave experience,” are really, truly selling themselves short: the experience they are getting is probably less than a tenth (maybe closer to one hundredth) of what they might experience if they enter into a field of regular participant-neurons.
The other post-script observation I want to make is this: as I hope recent posts illustrate, the deeper dimensions and wider implications of what I am trying to convey here are only going to be glimpsed, much less experienced, by following them to their “shadow” side or complementary dimension, over in Oshana-land. The last blogpost before this was partially offered as a concession to regular readers still seeking sociopolitical deep background analysis; but its main value is not in the information it presents but in demonstrating how information can be applied to provide deeper context, and bring coherence, to the world. In my opinion, this is the only lasting value of such analysis, which means it is limited by the recipient’s ability to apply it.
Those who are on guard against, or hungry for, conspiracy theories see only conspiracy theories when presented with such contextual data. What’s actually on display is a lens through which to view the world, to rearrange information and make it more coherent, to find implicate order, meaningful narrative, within it. Even this narrative construction is of little value, if the narrative becomes a cause for excessive belief or interest: the real value, IMO, is in learning to recontextualize data and make it coherent. That’s where my work with Dave comes in and why, without it, none of this really leads anywhere but back to the self-same spot.
If confidence comes from having all the senses working, then developing confidence (learning to be at ease) likewise allows our senses to begin to function more optimally. Rendering chaotic data—intense world syndrome—coherent is the true, hidden function of “conspiracy theory,” and it maps exactly onto the larger, deeper, and more joyful task of opening and organizing our senses so that we begin to perceive the invisible realms of meaning around us and within us. This is the true body of organic knowledge onto which all of this trauma-storytelling has been tattooed. The trauma tattoo can lead us to the body, but it is not the body.