Astral Projective Verse: Olson, Ophiel and Sun Ra

Astral Projective Verse

By Steve Fly Agaric 23

For Eric Wagner and John Sinclair. Thanks for inspiring these wild speculations which are really notes that shall be reshuffled into a more coherent whole at some future point.

"The essay introduces his ideas of “composition by field” through projective or open verse, which is a continuation of the ideas of poets Ezra Pound, who asked poets to “compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome,” and William Carlos Williams, who proposed in 1948 that a poem be approached as a “field of action.” Olson’s projective verse focuses on “certain laws and possibilities of the breath, of the breathing of the man who writes as well as of his listenings.” --Poetry Foundation, introduction to Projective Verse.

"This book, an occult book, deals with the subject of how to enter this Astral plane, function there, and then return to the physical plane, with a great deal of memory-knowledge of the “trip” retained in the memory and available for study and research. This book is a practical Occult book in that it gives all the theory necessary to understand the subject AND THE DEFINITE DIRECTION PRACTICES AS HOW TO DO IT.--Orphiel, The Art of AstraProjection.

"Music is a plane of wisdom, because music is a universal language, it is a language of honor, it is a noble precept, a gift of the Airy Kingdom, music is air, a universal existence … common to all the living. Music is existence, the key to the universal language. Because it is the universal language.--Sun Ra, The Neglected Plane of Wisdom (1966)
Astral Planes And New Moon Beams by Sun Ra (at discogs)

Astral Source History

The system of projective verse as defined by Charles Olson and the magical occult Art of Astral Projection, here as defined by Orphiel, twist themselves together to produce astral projected verse, a new kind of magical poetics, or roughly a poetic technique to remote-view (using the astral body) the spaces and places and the time period under investigation. 

I have dabbled with some of these ideas in a previous writing project called Open Source History. I created a target area based upon 48 hours of historical time set between July 31st and August 1st 1936. I picked this date due to the special intersection point that I perceived here based upon the life-span of characters from 'the tale of the tribe,' as defined by Robert Anton Wilson, who was 4 in 1936. William Butler Yeats and James Joyce were alive, so were Marshall McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon, Norbert Weiner, Ezra Pound, Orson Welles and Alfred Korzybski. This group of innovative critters who exerted a special IMPACT on Dr Wilson are pulled into a fictional vortex of history spread over 48 hours.

The ideas and innovations from the individuals are projected into the historical period under observation by using another fictional tool: tribetablism. An occult system of astral projection based up utilizing the instruments and sensibility of a disc jockey, the discs in this case contain the speech of the tribe or the speech of the historical characters, together with sounds effects and embellishments more conventionally associated with the art and craft of the DJ. The tribetable method takes a lot from the Enochian Vision Magick as defined by Lon Milo Duquette, and is the tool by which the historical tale is telling itself. The novel cuts between occult astral projecting DJs in 2012, and the targets from 1936: New York, Rapallo, Berlin. 

Pound, Olson, Baraka

At the time of writing this novel in 2008 I had not yet come across the essay by Charles Olson, Projective verse. Since discovering this essay and reading it over due to encouragement by my friend John Sinclair, I became convinced that it embodies much of what RAW was getting at, in particular the influence of Ezra Pound and to a lesser extent James Joyce. 

Furthermore, I have recently been moved by the passing of poet Amiri Baraka and tuned back to one of his recent lectures, drawing insightful parallels between the work of Charles Olson and of Sun Ra. Listening back to the lecture, i was stunned by his description of Projective Verse by Olson and how much it resonated with 'process oriented' ideas explored by RAW. 'I see no nouns, I only see verbs.' Bucky said.

I was moved to reshape some ideas of Ernest Fenollosa, Pound and Yeats around what Baraka was saying about Olson and Sun Ra. Projective verse seems to be a very important document and resource for research into the tale of the tribe, and thankfully, unlike many of the other gigantic texts, Projective verse is relatively short, super concise and generally optimistic and informative. It lays down another way in/out of the vortex, a way to navigate the maelstrom of thought and language and action in the world we dream in. The lineage of Projective verse and trajectory into history from that point of publication in 1950 demonstrates how strong and time-tested the contents are. 

I mean to say that Projective Verse is still NEWS today in 2014, its power and dormant potentials expanding at an exponential rate, and i wish to add a little something to that by presenting the concept of astral projected verse. I should add that within the context of the myth, magic and music of Sun Ra, astral projected verse resonates with him more than any other musician either living or dead. 

We have the costume of the historical figure Maximus, put on by Olson and projected into his local space-time manifold, and we have the literal costumes of Sun Ra and his band, put on by Ra and projected into the performance space. Both these systems of using costume could be compared with Yeats and his descriptions and investigations of masks. 'The nature of reality is the reality of masks'. And let’s not forget the brilliant Novel by RAW called 'Masks of the Illuminati' that further explores costume, theatre, drama and layers of identity, with special focus on James Joyce, Albert Einstein and Aleister Crowley.

Astral Planes Language APL

Astral Projection is a psychological magickal technique and has many different variations and no single inventor or definitive text. Unlike projective verse, Astral Projection as far as i am aware is not such a popular field of interest to poets, probably due to its renaming and adoption by many fringe groups as remote viewing, many fringe groups that included intelligence agencies around the world, such as those from Russia, America and England. There are lots of publications based around remote viewing and secret government projects and so called psychic spies, there is also a Hollywood blockbuster movie about some of these events in the USA, called 'Men who stare at goats'. All the drama of psychic spies, clandestine magickal operations and the possible global hidden hand of spooks with special powers can divert the focus from the art and craft of Astral Projection itself.

As with all and any technology, both physical and psychological it can be used to forward the shared resources and knowledge base of all-around-the-world humanity, or used to constrict, consume and paralyse humanity. Astral Projection provides a tool that can be used for an infinite variety of uses.

You may have noticed that i am talking about Astral Projection as if i know for sure that it works, which may bring much contention from armies of skeptics, critics and the ignorant who, as with the argument against full legalization and availability of drugs, would never try, and have never tried, the things they are so certain are so dangerous and threatening to life.

Anybody who has an active imagination and a healthy inquisitive mind can bypass this kind of bigoted ignorance, and recognize it in most authority figures and systems of control. Some may see how the language used to project the authority of knowing, itself, is a mechanism used to distort the picture, frame the information and prevent those trapped in linguistic cells from realizing the infinite flux of being, out there, beyond language...ish

I am biased though, i must confess, after seeking and devouring the works of Robert Anton Wilson i have practiced the arts and crafts of positive thinking and critical analysis, resulting in a high sensitivity to my own projections, a kind of general awareness that 'I'  like every other 'I' cannot know everything, for example. I mean to say, i feel humble to the fact that everything you and 'I' know is wrong, yet i do not feel nihilist and serious enough about this to throw the baby out with the bath water.

To use the imagination, in tandem with the scientific reasoning faculty of the mind-body-language interface to get out there beyond language. Into telepathy, faster than light, everywhere and nowhere at once, the paradox of time-travel etc etc. Into the paradox, and out through the side door, taking bits and pieces of whatever the individual might think can help them on their journey, on the road of life to discover for themselves what the hell is going on. 

I think Astral Projection, in particular, is the kind of future technology that can really level the playing field regarding the age long questions about the individual and the state. The walls between the world in here and the perceived world out there are pulled down, if and when an individual can ignite the infinite potentials of the human mind-body interface and no longer be limited by the physical location of the body, able to travel anywhere, anytime, see and possibly act upon other psychic entities. The internet is a good metaphor that shapes one aspect of astral projection, or travelling the space ways in search of information, yet maybe with a hidden longing for a sense of experience, for an extra-sense of being there. 

Can you distinguish the boundary between your astral plane and your physical plane, where one starts and the other ends? A good place to start thinking about astral projected verse is to look at your own belief-system, how it is constructed, and why. This leads me back to the beginning of this essay. The mixture of ideas and methods from Projective Verse by Charles Olson with techniques and approaches to Astral Projection by Orphiel, topped off with the Astral jazz music of Sun Ra. Together, i believe that these three disciplines can produce some innovative, state of the art, poetic technology capable of handing individuals the free tools for self liberation, and for gaining agency in the world around them.

“the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE
the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE”--Charles Olson, Projective Verse.

--Steve Fly


Ernest Fenollosa 2014 and TTOTT

"Ezra Pound was no starnger to Oriental art when he met Mary McNeil Fenollosa, the widow of the American Orientalist Ernest Fenollosa (1853-1908), in London in late September 1913."--Zhaoming Qian, Orientalism and Modernism (1994)  pg. 9. 

Fenollosa 2014 and TTOTT 

 by Steve Fly
"Fenollosa [1853-1908], wrote an essay on
"The Chinese WrittenCharacter as a Medium for Poetry" which vastly influenced
Ezra Pound and, through Pound, modern poetry generally;
said essay also anticipates some formulations of General Semantics
and NeuroLinguistic Programming [NLP], and foreshadows
modern critiques of "linear" and "alphabetical" thinking. --Robert Anton Wilson, Recorsi 2005.

Ernest Fenollosa (1853-1908) found a place in the chain of human innovation, and the lineage of modernism as defined by Dr Robert Anton Wilson in his unfinished project called 'the tale of the tribe'. Please read some of my others posts trying to get at TTOTT and what it all means to me.

When compared with other characters from TTOTT Ernest Fenollosa seems a rather strange addition at first glance, hardly any of the Wilson readers i know hold Fenollosa to be as influential in defining TTOTT as say, Pound, Joyce or McLuhan. At the same time Fenollosa is rarely noted as an influence on RAW, in any writings i have found, which says something about the focus on RAWs subject matter, opposed to his hologramic prose style, or his specially hand-crafted Robert Anton Wilson language that weaves together signs, symbols, equations and primary experiences into the magical texts he left behind for us to meditate upon.

RAWs lifelong reading and re-reading the works of Ezra Pound seem to me to be where he might have first come across Fenollosa, and probably through his work: The Chinese Written Character As A Medium for Poetry, which has a famous introduction by Ez. I would like to note here that RAW once led an online class (2004) at the virtual Maybe Logic Academy, called The Ideogrammic Method and set the above text by Fenollosa as course work, together with sections from Pound's ABC of Reading.

Here we are in 2014, how and why on earth would some obscure American scholar of Japanese Art and Poetry who has been dead 105 years be important to any of us today? To attempt a quick answer to that question would be foolish, and as only fools rush in I'll get my feet wet and suppose that Fenollosa is important because he was instrumental in the development of modernism, more precisely his works got to Ezra Pound and William Butler Yeats and by osmosis the whole world or global village, introducing for the first time around 1913/14 highly developed poetry, history and culture from the Orient, in particular Japan and China.

This first contact with the best parts of Oriental poetry, plays, and paintings fused a new level of coherence within the small group of western poets gathered in London. A new aesthetic emerged, and can be traced through poetry, sculpture, painting, clothing design, throughout the 20's, into the 30's and then splintered and somewhat shit upon during WWII.

After these great global horrors, fewer people in the west wished to pay much fair and unbiased attention to some ancient Japanese poets and Chinese Buddhist philosophers. However the tale goes on, and of course we emerge out of the arts world and the literary impact of the oriental traditions to the economic and political-military-industrial impact on the global stage.

"It eplores the influences such as ethics of pictorial representation, the syle of ellipses, allusion, and juxtaposition, and the Taoist/Chan-Buddhist (Zen-Buddhist) notion of nonbeing/being (formlessness/form) in Pound's pre-Fenollosan Chinese adaptions (1914), Cathay (1915), Lustra (1916), and Early Cantos (1915-19), and in Williams' Sour Grapes (1921) and Spring and All (1923).--Zhaoming Qian, Orientalism and Modernism (1994)  pg. 9.

China, in 2014, still remains occluded to most westerners. I mean to say, we, or most people i know and communicate with are as like the public of 1909, without any inkling as to what the Chinese language and culture is about. Myself included. Yet, what fascinates me about Ernest Fenollosa, Ezra Pound and Robert Anton Wilson is the synchrony in the general message "Taoist/Chan-Buddhist (Zen-Buddhist) notion of nonbeing/being (formlessness/form)"

In 1913 we have a special intersection point, from the point of view of the development of peaceful communication between peoples and cultures (The Orient and the Western lands), in the passing over of Fenollosa's manuscript to Ezra Pound, who then published it and promoted it to the hilt. Perhaps this point in history exactly 100 years ago should be celebrated and so investigated due to the gravity of the situation from the perspective of modern poetry and its proponents and their impact and precursive-innovations on such fields as Neuro Linguistic Programming, computer programming, pluralistic non-linear conceptual, and, non-conceptual models of history.

There seems to me traces of Buddhist/Taoist wisdom contained within the Chinese characters themselves, on some level, when you think of caligraphy and the ancient ceremonial approaches to writing and painting. To generally empty the mind of clutter and get with the flow, and go.  

Here, i think that RAW may have been hinting at another way forward, or around the problems presented by alphabet cultures, and the general subject-predicate orientation that often skews the sensation of being/nonbeing, or tuning in/tuning out which has much more in common with ancient Chinese (Chan-Buddhist) wisdom, than our western Aristotelian history of alphabet.

Internet and HTML present an interesting case where alpha/numeric characters can be combined and reused to create fantastic parallel processing powers. Yet, most human western brains are still wired with an Aristotelian system, hundreds of years old, totally at odds with the nature of the things we pertain to know, speak of, write about etc.

Together with the principles of lets say, Count Alfred Korzybski,  a total revolution in the human mind is possible, and therefore a total assault on the culture. A transformation in the perception of language, can transform the entire cosmos, to paraphrase B.J Whorf. Consider the Hubble telescope, for example, and how it has changed our perceptions of the cosmos, but with images of a higher resolution.

The Fenollosa/Korzybski version of the Hubble telescope would be turned in on the viewer, looking deep into inner space--your mind--where the formation of language clusters and tiny universes dance and morph and often burst out into communications. These outbursts are limited by whatever singular forms are invoked from the vast limitless region of mind, by the word-things that are what we all know and what we love, the familiar day to day language of waking life that we share.

Yet too often, outbursts without doubt or the suspension of judgement, eruptions full of the continuous lyric of 'I', or of 'being'. The ego-beak or bigger rhino tusk, trampling through the human universe, blinkered to the infinite flux of being all around in 360 degrees, here, in the decentralized universe promoted by Girodano Bruno in 1584 where you sit.

Somewhere in the Korzybski matrix of general semantics can be found A WAY to better sanity. The way to better sanity involves attention to language, you are what you think. And by extension, in a McLuhaneque way, you are what you watch, what you listen to, what you type. In a hyper-connected world you are what you tune into, like the old Zen-Buddhist poets thought on occasion. Attention to mind, body, speech, or the cleansing of the doors of perception. Like RAW often hinted at: "repeat often, if you want to be a writer, do it every day, if you want to become miserable watch the news everyday, if you want to become a concert pianist, do it every day."

The global Internet opens the doors for the good and the bad to enter you and become one with you, like some kind of intergalactic body-snatcher. Therefore, to go back and trace the history of those wise people in the west who warned us, but and also provided useful tools, methods, principles, tricks, hacks, helpful feedback on the issues at hand, solutions, or general paths to where some solutions may lie, is an important journey in 2014, i think.

Buckminster Fuller also promoted the modification of the language used to describe new and future technology, based on the fact that any and all innovation starts in the human mind: the matrix of Korzybski, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Girodano Bruno, Claude Shannon, Bucky, and RAW...all characters in the tale of the tribe. All these characters from TTOTT can show us the way towards changing our own minds and transforming the world around us, as we work to practically transform that perceived world to the benefit of others.

Here lie dormant tools for the mind to navigate around many challenges faced by humanity in 2014, use them. Ernest Fenollosa helps to define the kind of Orientalism wisdom RAW (who had a pen name Mark Chan) liked to promote and found most interesting to his on going study of language, etymology, and how to get beyond language.

This synergy between Fenollosa and RAW also helps to pin point the area of most interest to RAW concerning Ezra Pound, which can be best be encapsulated by the Ideogrammic Method. At this point i might mention that another innovation, with a modernist heritage, and that seems in resonance with the Taoist/Buddhist concept of being/nonbeing can be found in Joyce's masterwork Finnegans Wake, which stretches and contorts alphabetical languages to near breaking point, forcing the familiar signs and symbols to behave upon a completely different axis of meaning, turned upside down and inside out 'all laotsey taotsey' as Joyce might say.

FW includes a rather large portion of foreign languages including Chinese, Japanese and Gaelic/Irish, translated and reconnected through his super condensed hologrammic prose. Much like ideogrammic method of Pound, the hologrammic prose of Joyce condenses meaning and fires off branches of context in all directions through spacetime. A relativistic prose. A kind of design science innovation, a new poetic shorthand, a blast of synaesthesia. A stylized alphabetical sculpture, at least, to stand proud next to a picture, a painting, a photograph, a movie projection, overshadowing the world of written words?

How can the word, as we now know it--stand up--to the new media of a visually dominated world? Well, Joyce had his own weird ways, possibly having something to do with his interest in synchronicity and transference of the sensation of epiphany, more on that another time. I think that living your life with integrity and honesty, and living in resonance, sympathetically with the symbol systems and languages around you can help a lot. You can also simply feel yourself as the center of all things, the master who makes the grass green, and if you like ask yourself what role these TTOTT characters have had in the rapid trajectory of culture we all now find ourselves inter-twinned with through our digital being/nonbeing

--Steve fly

My ETTT post linking to an essay on Ernest Fenollosa that includes many TTOTT luminaries. A must read for a deep academic tour of WHY Fenollosa matters in 2014.

"The pictographic and ideographic nature of Chinese characters conduces to thinking in images, which, in turn, renders Chinese thinking, among other things: 1. analogical 2. nonlinear 3. concrete 4. holistic 5. intuitive 6. in harmony with nature.--http://projects.chass.utoronto.ca/mcluhan-studies/v1_iss3/1_3art7.htm