I woke up today after a late night of self-quarantine. It doesn’t feel like a quarantine. It’s no different than being a child and consciously waiting to be big enough, old enough, strong enough to do, say, and be the things you need to do, say, and be. Timing is a real you-know-hwhat. But timing is everything. Because this morning, right now, this very today:
I learned who Buddy Hackett was. Better late than never. And if you have a little bit of time right now, here are 2 short video clips, both from Johnny Carson Tonight Show appearances, that I figure are worth a share. “Hack” drops mind-blowing facts, delving on the subjects of interferons/beating cancer with tuberculosis [which, by the way tuberculosis killed 1.6 million people in 2017 in a more civil, pandemic-less frenzy but you wouldn’t know it from watching the same “news” agencies covering the corona]; snakes; and healthy eating. His joke about the duck had me tearing [third video below]— his voice inflections and impersonations are Greatness with a Packer G. But enough from me, if you’re in need of some comedic relief like I think so many of us are– here is Buddy Hackett.
Stop putting words in our mouths. Look at how uncomfortable Mr. Carson gets when Bud starts talking superstition at 7’30”.
And ABC/Letterman cancelled Bill Hicks’ airtime because of a harmless but witty and logically-accurate joke about Jesus Christ, who was killed via capitol punishment for essentially preaching love and stoicism some 2,000 years ago. Feel free to humor yourself with a few minutes of that background information below [“people still wear crosses, maybe that’s why Jesus hasn’t come back yet” is too “”unsuitable“” joke for a Late Night fucking adult television show, fuck offffffffff]:
Fuck off. Here’s Buddy Hackett telling jokes back to back; this was the first video I saw of him before I binged for a couple of hours:
Invite me on your show, ask me personal questions, share none of your thoughts or personal experiences, and then tell me I’m crazy in front of your audience, and then we’ll get down to brass tax. My advice?: Sell your televisions. Smart TVs, curved screens, flat ones, cathode ray tubes, plasmas, appleTV, whatever you got– drop it. If someone told you the food you were eating was garbage and you kept eating it until it made you sick, whose fault is that? Same concept with the food for thought you feed yourself via the television set/entertainment center.
And I guess that’s a good enough segue to lead into more Terence McKenna wisdom:
Chapter 13, Food of the Gods, Synthetics: Heroin, Cocaine, and TV.
The same goes for this post as for the last FotG post (sugar/slavery)— the video below is a reading from a free YT audiobook, and below the video is the text from the book itself, which can be found in full here.
Chapter 13: Synthetics: Heroin, Cocaine, and Television
Morphine was isolated in 1805 by the young German chemist Friedrich Serturner. For Serturner, morphine was the purest essence of the poppy plant; he named it after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. It was this success in isolating the essence of the opium poppy that inspired chemists to attempt the isolation of pure compounds from other proven materia medica. Drugs for the relief of heart disease were isolated from foxglove. Quinine was extracted from the cinchona tree, purified, and used in the colonial conquest of the malerial zone. And from the leaves of a South American bush was extracted a raw and promising local anesthetic- cocaine.
Morphine use was restricted and sporadic until after the middle of the 19th century. At first its major nonmedical use was as a vehicle of suicide, but this phase was brief and soon morphine was established as a new and very different sort of drug. In 1853 Alexander Wood invented the hypodermic syringe. Before its invention, physicians has used the hollow stem of lilac plant to introduce drugs into the body. The syringe arrived just in time to be used to inject morphine into soldiers wounded in the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. This established a pattern that we will meet again in the history of opiates- the pattern of war as vector of addiction.
By 1890 use of morphine on the battlefield had resulted in significant addict populations in both Europe and the United States. So many Civil War veterans returned home as addicts to injectible morphine that yellow journalists referred to morphine addiction as “the soldier’s disease”.
Distilled alcohol and white sugar had preceded morphine as examples of high purity addictive compounds, but morphine set the pattern for the modern “hard drugs”, meaning highly addictive injectible narcotics. at first such drugs were derived from opiates, but all too soon cocaine joined the list. Once heroin, invented as a cure for morphine addiction, was introduced, it quickly replaced morphine as the synthetic opiate of choice among addicts. Heroin has retained this position throughout the 20th century.
Heroin also quickly replaced all other drugs in the public fantasy concerning the evils of drug addiction. ***Even to this day, with statistics showing that alcohol kills 10x more often than heroin, heroin addiction is still viewed as the depths of drug depravity[NYS governor Cuomo deems liquor stores “essential” during corona shutdowns]. There are 2 reasons for this view.
One reason is the actual addictive power of heroin. The craving for heroin and the illegal or violent acts that craving may induce have given heroin the reputation as a drug whose addicts will kill for it. Tobacco addicts might kill for their fix, too, if they had to, but instead they simply walk out to a 7-Eleven to by cigarettes.
The other reason for the distaste with which heroin addiction is viewed as the characteristics of the intoxicated state. Immediately after his shot the heroin addict is cheerful, almost ebullient. This active response to the shot quickly gives way to the “nod” or “nodding out”. The junkie’s goal with each shot of junk is to “get the nod on”, to get into the detached state of twilight sleep in which the long reveries of the opiates can unfurl themselves. In this state there is no pain, no regret, no distraction, and no fear. Heroin is the perfect drug for anyone who has been damaged by lack of self-esteem or traumatized by historical upheaval. It is a drug of battlefields, concentration camps, cancer wards, prisons, and ghettos. It is the drug of the resigned and the dissolute, the surely dying and the victims unwilling or unable to fight back: junk is the ideal product, the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy… the junk merchant does not sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve or simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client. He pays his staff in junk. Junk yields a basic formula of “evil” virus: The Algebra of Need. The face of “evil” is always the face of total need. A dope fiend is a man in total need of dope. Beyond a certain frequency need knows absolutely no limit or control. In the words of total need: “Wouldn’t you?” Yes you would. You would lie, cheat, inform on your friends, steal, do anything to satisfy total need. Because you would be in a state of total sickness, total possession, and not in a position to act in any other way. Dope fiends are sick people who cannot act other than they do. A rabid dog cannot choose but bite.
Cocaine: The Horror of the Whiteness
Like heroin, cocaine is a modern high-purity drug derived from a plant with a long history of folk use. For millenia the people of the montane rain forests of South America have held cultural values that promote the ritual and religious use of the stimulant/food coca. Locals in areas where coca has traditionally been cultivated and used will immediately tell one, “Cocci no es un droga, es comida.” Coca is not a drug, it is food. And indeed this appears to be largely the case. The self-administered doses of ground coca dust contain a significant %percentage% of the daily requirement of vitamins and minerals. Coca also is a powerful appetite suppressant. The importance of these facts cannot be appreciated without an understanding of the situation regarding protein availability in the Amazonian forest and Andean Altipano. The casual traveler might suppose that the lushness of the tropical forest signifies and abundance of fruits, edible seeds, and roots. This is not the case. Competition for available protein resources is so fierce among the thousands of species of life that comprise the jungle biota that nearly all usable organic materials are actually found in living systems. Human penetration into such an environment is greatly aided by an appetite suppressing plant.
Of course appetite suppression is only one characteristic of coca use. The important characteristic is stimulation. The climaxed rain forest is a difficult place to inhabit. Gathering food and building shelter often requires carrying large amounts of material over considerable distances. Often the machete is the only tool to hold the rain forest at bay. To the ancient Inca culture of Peru, and later to the indigenous people and the mestizo colonistas, coca was a goddess, a kind of New World echo of Grave’s white goddess Leucothea. Significantly, the goddess mama coca as a young girl, offering the saving branch of coca to the Spanish conqueror, figures prominently in the frontispiece of W. Golden Mortimer’s classic History of Coca: The Divine Plant of the Incas. In 1859 cocaine was isolated for the first time. Pharmacology was undergoing a kind of renaissance, and research with cocaine was vigorously pursued over the next several decades. At this point in one discussion it seems hardly necessary to mention that cocaine was first hailed as an obvious cure for morphinism! Medical researchers who were attracted to the new drug included the young Sigmund Freud: “At present is is impossible to assess with any certainty to what extent coca can be expected to increase human mental power. I have the impression that protracted use of coca can lead to a lasting improvement of the inhibitous manifested before it is taken are due only to physical causes or to exhaustion. To be sure, the instantaneous effect of a dose of coca cannot be compared with that of a morphine injection; but, on the good side of the ledger, there is no danger of general damage to the body as is the case with the chronic use of morphine.” Freud’s findings, which he would later repudiate, were neither very widely publicized nor well received where they were noticed. It was a fellow student of Freud’s in Vienna, Carl Koller, who took the next step in the medical application of cocaine, the discovery of its use as a local anesthetic. Overnight Koller’s discovery revolutionized surgery; by 1885 cocaine was being hailed as a tremendous medical breakthrough. However, as its use spread, its action as an addiction-inducing stimulant was also noted. Cocaine was the inspiration for the unnamed drug that causes sudden personality change in Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde– a fact that contributed to its fast-accruing reputation as a virulent new vice of the wealthy and depraved.
Not all literary references to cocaine portrayed it in such horrific light. In 1888 British physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a now-famous short novel, The Sign of Four, in which his detective, the redoubtable Sherlock Holmes, comments on his use of cocaine: “I suppose that its influence is physically a bad one. I find it, however, so transcendingly stimulating and clarifying to the mind that its secondary action is a matter of small amount.” Coca followed the pattern already set with coffee, tea, and chocolate; that is, it quickly attracted entrepreneurial attention. Chief among them who saw commercial opportunities in coca was a Frenchman, M. Angelo Mariani. In 1888 the first bottle of Vin Mariani was marketed [holy shit can you imagine], and soon there was an entire line of coca-based and -laced wines, tonics, and elixirs:
***Mariani was the greatest exponent of the virtues of coca the world has ever known. He steeped himself in coca lore, surrounded himself with Incan artifacts, cultivated a coca garden at his home, and directed a merchandising empire that featured his tonic wine. Through his genius for advertising he came closer to “turning on the World” than any man who ever lived. ***Queen Victoria, ***Pope Leo XIII, Sarah Bernhardt, Thomas Edison, and hundreds of other celebrities and medical men gave public testimony to the tonic properties of his products in a series of 12 volumes published by his company.
Modern Antidrug Hysteria
In the United States at the turn of the century, racist rumormongering fanned the hysterical fear that southern blacks, maddened by cocaine, might attack whites [sounds like a bad case of paranoia] In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed; it made cocaine and heroin illegal and set the stage for the legally sanctioned suppression of the synthetic and addictive compounds found in the opium poppy and the coca bush. In contrast to tobbaco, tea, and coffee, which were initially resisted and then made legal, morphine/heroin and cocaine began their career in modern society as legal substances but once recognized as addictive were suppressed. Why these drugs and not others? Was the addiction more virulent? Was the use of the hypodermic injection somehow offensive? Or was there some social and psychological effect of these drugs that made them scapegoats for the damage being done to society by alcohol and tobacco? These are difficult questions, not amenable to easy answers. Yet, if we are to understand the different climate of drug markets and drug use in the 20th century, these are the questions we must attempt to answer.
Part of the answer may lie in the fact that by the beginning of the 20th century nearly 100 years of experience with the social consequences of addictive synthetic drugs was behind us. The cheerful folly of hailing each new pharmacological discovery as a universal panacea had been amply demonstrated. What could be ignored or left undocumented in the 18th or even 19th century could not be so easily hidden in the 20th. Ever more rapid communication and transportation networks spread information about the drugs as well as the drugs themselves.
These technologies helped lead to efficiently organized and administered large-scale criminal syndicates. Yet the rise of these syndicates and of modern narcotics production and distribution systems also required connivance on the part of governments. Hard drugs addiction had given the drug trade a blackened reputation. Governments that had dealt drugs with impunity for centuries suddenly found themselves, in the new atmosphere of temperance and social reform, forced to legislate this lucrative trade out of the realm of ordering commerce and into the status of an illicit activity. Governments would now make their drug-money in kick-back schemes and in situations in which they would be paid to “look the other way”.
Drugs and Governments
Government involvement in and direct responsibility for the drug trade would diminish, with protection rackets replacing direct earn- while retail prices would rise astronomically. The new price structure made the drug money pie large enough for all parties to profit handsomely, governments and criminal syndicates alike.
In effect, the modern solution has been for the drug cartels to operate as proxies for national governments in the matter of supplying addictive narcotics. Governments can no longer participate openly in the world narcotic trade and claim legitimacy. Only pariah governments operates without fronts. Legitimate governments prefer to have their intelligence agencies cut secret deals with the drug mafiosi while the visible machinery of diplomacy seems all aflutter over the “drug problem”- a problem always presented in such terms as to convince any reasonable person of its utter insolubility. It is significant that the major production areas of hard narcotics are “tribal zones.” Modern imperialists would have us believe that, try as they might, they never have been able to overrun and control these areas, in Pakistand and Burma for example [or if you tuned in with Colonel Christmas above, in present-day Afghanistan, for example– remember, this book was written 10 years before 11/9], where major production of opium occurs. Consequently, faceless tribal leaders, ever changing and with unpronounceable names, can be held responsible for it all. From 1914 until WWII [25 years] drug distribution was largely in the same hands of the gangsters who directed other illicit operations that characterize gangster subculture: prostitution, loan sharking, and various rackets. The prohibition of alcohol in the US [1920-1933, 13 fucking years, good shit Franky de Rooster, goooood shit Harry J. Asskisser] had created a vast windfall market for hard narcotics, as well as offering the opportunity for easy profits from alcohol manufactured illegally and sold untaxed.
Government manipulation of drug markets occurred elsewhere, too. During WWII the Japanese occupiers of Manchuria took a page from the book of British colonial oppression of a century earlier and produced vast amounts of opium and heroin for distribution inside China. This was done, not with an eye to profit, as in the British case, but with the intent on creating so many addicts that the will of the Chinese people to resist the occupation effectively would be broken. Later, during the 1960s, the Seeyaiayy would use the same technique to smother political dissent in American black ghettos under an avalanche of #4 China White– heroin of extraordinary purity.
Drugs and International Intelligence
The virulence of addictions to synthetics like heroin and cocaine could not long escape the attention of the inheritors of the slave trade and the opium wars– international intelligence agencies and secret police organizations. These shadowy groups have an insatiable need for untraceable money to fund the private armies, terrorist cells, coups d’ etat, and front groups that are their stock in trade [ever seen Cunton Cash? sp? woopsies].
Involvement in, and indeed domination of, the world narcotics trade has proven irresistable to groups such as the Seeyaiayy, Ohpuss Day, and da Fwench seequit soyviss: The US Governments mafia and narcotics connection goes back, as is well known, to WWII. Two controversial joint operations between Office of Strategic Services and US Naval Intel established contacts (via Lucky Luciano) with the Sicilian Mafia and (via Tai Li) with the dope-dealing Green Gang of the Tu-Yueh Shang in Shanghai. Both connections were extended into the post-war period.
The involvement of legitimate institutions remains the same with certain exceptions. In the late 1970s, there was a move in American hard drug culture from emphasis on heroin to emphasis on cocaine. This move was in part a logical consequence of the American military defeat in Vietnam and retraction from Southeast Asia. It was soon reinforced when the Reagan agenda of contra support and narcoterrorism opened new frontiers for covert operations. Yet it is unlikely that the virulence or social cost of the cocaine epidemic was ever anticipated. Perhaps no one ever asked the question “What are the consequences of hooking the American public on cocaine?” Perhaps the development of smokeable, more efficient, and more addictive crack cocaine was unexpected. It is highly likely that the phenomenon of crack is an instance of technology having escaped from the control of its creators. In the 1980s cocaine assumed a form more virulent than any of its earlier victims and detractors could have possibly imagined. This is a new and disturbing pattern in the evolution of human-drug interactions– a pattern that cannot be ignored. If today we are confronted by a super-addictive form of cocaine, why not tomorrow a super-addictive form of heroin? In fact, such forms of heroin already exist. Fortunately they are simply not as easy to manufacture as is crack cocaine. Ice, a smokeable form of highly addictive methamphetamine, has appeared in the drug underground. There will be other drugs in the future- more addictive, more destructive than anything now possible. How, then, will law and society respond to this phenomenon? It is to be hoped the response won’t be one of self-righteously holding the addicts up as examples of contemptible behavior [well this is awkward]. From a historical point of view, restricting the availability of addictive substances must be seen as a peculiarly perverse example of Calvinist dominator thought– a system in which the sinner is to be punished for addiction by being relieved of his cash, by the criminal/governmental combine that provides the addictive substances. The image is more horrifying than that of the serpent that devours itself- it is once again the Dionysian image of the mother who devours her children, the image of a house divided against itself.
In his science-fiction novel The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick imagined an alternative world in which WWII had been won by the Japanese and the 3rd Reich. In Dick’s fictional world, the Japanese occupation authorities introduced and legalized marijuana as one of their first moves at pacifying the population of California. Things are hardly less strange here in what conventional wisdom lightheartedly refers to as “reality”. In “this world” too, the victors introduced an all-pervasive, ultra-powerful society-shaping drug.
This drug was the first of a growing group of high-technology drugs that deliver the user into an alternative reality by acting directly with the user’s sensorium, without chemicals being introduced into the central nervous system . It was television. No epidemic or addictive craze or religious hysteria has ever moved faster or made as many converts in so short a time [again, this was written in 1992, before phones with Snake programmed on them already existed, so we can easily include computers into this category]. The nearest analogy to the addictive power of television and the transformation of values that is wrought in the life of the heavy user is probably heroin. Heroin flattens the image; with heroin, things are neither hot nor cold; the junkie looks out at the world certain that whatever it is, it does not matter. The illusion of knowing and of control that heroin endangers is analogous to the unconscious assumption of the television consumer that what is seen are the cosmetically enhanced surfaces of products. Television, while chemically non-invasive, nevertheless is every bit as addictive and physiologically damaging as any other drug.
Not unlike drugs or alcohol, the television experience allows the participant to blot out the real world and enter into a pleasurable and passive mental state. The worries and anxieties of reality are as effectively deferred by becoming absorbed in a television program as by going on a “trip” induced by drugs or alcohol. And just as alcoholics are only vaguely aware of their addiction, feeling that they control their drinking more than they really do… people similarly overestimate their control over television watching… Finally it is the adverse effect of television viewing on the lives of so many people that defines it as a serious addiction. The television habit distorts the sense of time. It renders other experiences vague and curiously unreal while taking on a greater reality for itself. It weakens relationships by reducing; and sometimes eliminating normal opportunities for talking, for communicating.
The Hidden Persuader
Most unsettling of all is this: the content of television is not a vision but a manufactured data stream that can be sanitized to “protect” or impose cultural values. Thus we are confronted with an addictive and all-pervasive drug that delivers an experience whose message is whatever those who deal the drug with it to be. Could anything provide a more fertile ground for fostering fascism and totalitarianism than this?? In the US, there are many more televisions than households [ever been inside an opiate-induced hospital? how many televisions were there?], the average television set is on 6 hours a day, and the average person watches more than 5 hours a day– nearly 1/3 their waking time [I’d argue more than 5 hours a day on computers [including mobile phones]]. Aware as we all are to these simple facts, we seem unable to react to their implications. Serious study of the effects of television on health and culture has only begun recently. Yet no drug in history has so quickly or completely isolated the entire culture of its users from contact with reality. And no drug in history has completely succeeded in remaking its own image the values of the culture that it has infected.
Television is by nature the dominator drug par excellence. Control of content, uniformity of content, repeatability of content make it inevitably a tool of coercion, brainwashing, and manipulation. Television induces a trance of state in the viewer that is the necessary precondition for brainwashing. As with all other drugs and technologies, televisions basic character cannot be changed; television is no more reformable than is the technology that produces automatic assault rifles.
Television came along at precisely the right time from the point of view of the dominator elite. The nearly 150 years of synthetic drug epidemics that began in 1806 had led to disgust at the spectacle of human degradation and spiritual cannabalism that institutional marketing of drugs created. In the same way that slavery eventually, when no longer convenient, became odious in the eyes of the very institutions that created it, the abuse of drugs eventually triggered a backlash against this particular form of piratical capitalism. Hard drugs were made illegal. Of course underground markets then flourished. But drugs as stated instruments of national policy had been discredited. There would continue to opium wars, instance of governments coercing other governments and peoples to produce or buy drugs– but in the future these wars would be dirty and secret, they would be “covert”. As the intelligence agencies that arose in the wake of WWII moved to take up their “deep cover” positions as the masterminds of the international narcotics cartels, the popular mind was turning on to television. Flattening, editing, and simplifying, television did its job and created a postware American culture of the Ken-and-Barbie variety. The children of Ken and Barbie briefly spoke out of the television intoxication in the mid-60s through the use of hallucinogens. “Oops”, responded the dominators, and they quickly made psychadelics illegal and halted all research. A double dose of TV therapy plus cocaine was ordered up for the errant hippies, and they were quickly cured and turned into consumption-oriented yuppies.
Only a recalcitrant few escaped this leveling of values. Nearly everyone learned to love Big Brother. And these few who don’t are still ducked over by the dominator culture each time it complusively scratches in the barnyard dust of its puzzlement over “what happened in the 60s”.