«The Prisoner of Infinity Trauma, Transformation, and Transhumanism: A Psycho -History of Whitley Strieber Crucial Fictions 2013 [Trigger Warning: ...»
The Prisoner of Infinity
Trauma, Transformation, and Transhumanism: A Psycho -History of Whitley Strieber
Crucial Fictions 2013
[Trigger Warning: This piece forms part of a larger, on-going investigation into my own past, specifically
the “lost years” between my birth and (roughly) the age of seven. It is possible that this entails
suppressed memories of sexual abuse (and/or what has been termed “alien abduction”). If so, some of
this material might prove disturbing for readers who have had, or suspect they have had, similar experiences.] X: Passport to Manchuria: Whitley’s Baby & the Unholy Junction of 1968 “Unable, as Freud said, to ‘distinguish between truth and fiction that has been cathected with affect,’ we feel as buggered by the father we never knew as by the pedophile we did know. For, inasmuch as the angel that we also are demands a union that we can never fully realize, the pain of its yearning will register itself in our dreams, fantasies, and the constructions of analysis as a sexual trauma. No wonder the religious instinct so readily expresses itself as pedophilia. No wonder that on the way to rebirth we are always complaining that it is Rosemary’s baby.” —Greg Mogenson, A Most Accursed Religion The urge to revisit a particular period in Strieber’s past was starting to seem more than simply the result of a researcher’s curiosity. It was as if I needed to go back into Strieber’s past as a way to journey also into my own. In the popular accounts of remote viewing, the subject is told to focus on a particular time and place, and somehow finds himself there in a non-physical form. If I was putting my attention on England in 1968, I was directing my attention to the time and place in which I experienced my first year of existence. Was it because something happened back then? Well after finishing this piece (or so I thought), while asking this question to myself, I remembered a curious fact. A psychic healer I met once in Navarra, Spain, in response to a question about my chronic health issues, told me, without explanation, that they were due to my having “seen the devil” (“viste el diablo”) when I was one years of age. If so, and whatever he was referring to, it would have been 1968—the same year that Strieber saw a devil’s head in the basement of the Vatican!
There be great mysteries here? But anyway...
In Transformation, Strieber mentions a couple of names from his 1968 London period, one of them in relation to his sugar-addiction. Briefly, he describes how the visitors get a “message” to him by appearing in the bedroom of an old lady diagnosed with diabetes. The story got back to Strieber because of the similarity between the old lady’s experience and his own, and when he looked further into it, he discovered that she was the grandmother of an old friend, Martin Sharp. Strieber mentions that Sharp lived in The Pheasantry on King’s Road, a location he spent time at in 1968. That got my attention the first time I read the book, back in 1990 or so, because I hung out a lot on King’s Road in my late teens (it was where the gorgeous “Chelsea girls” were) and I had visited the Pheasantry night club more than once. Not only that but, right before that period, in fact overlapping with it, the house where I lived in Yorkshire (where I had my very first kiss) was also called the Pheasantry! Struck by the coincidence—and already curious about Strieber’s mysterious “lost year(s)” in London—I decided to do some more digging. What I came up with was more than a little surprising, especially in light of the fact that the visitors also seemed to be poking around in this same period of Strieber’s life—or sub-strata of his memory?—and how they brought him back in touch with Sharp in the late ’80s (if we take Strieber’s account at face value).
Martin Sharp was the creator of the hippie-style poster/album art and a highly influential artist. He was also one of the co-founders of Oz, “a scandalous magazine and a major part of the ’60s underground scene” (the same scene Strieber’s films were supposedly part of). Oz was first published in 1963 in Sydney, Australia (Sharp was Australian), and in London from 1967 to 1973. Richard Neville, a “futurist,” was the editor, and Strieber’s other friend, Philippe Mora (who directed the film version of Communion), was a major contributor along with Germaine Greer. As well as contributing cartoons (as “Von Mora”) to the magazine, Mora made a short film called Passion Play, shot in the Pheasantry around 1967 or 1968, with Jenny Kee as Mary Magdalene, Michael Ramsden as Jesus, and Mora himself as the Devil.
That seemingly trivial detail brought up another curious connection that was almost begging to be included: Roman Polanski (who was living in London during this period and married Sharon Tate there) shot Rosemary’s Baby (in New York) in 1967-8. In the film, Anton LaVey, the head of the Church of Satan, was a “technical advisor” and allegedly played the Devil who impregnates Rosemary (though this is apocryphal, and IMDB credits the role to an unknown actor, “Clay Tanner”). LaVey was tenuously connected to the Manson family via Susan Atkins (who was present at the murder of the pregnant Sharon Tate in August 1969), and Charles Manson lived two blocks from a branch of the Process Church on Haight-Ashbury in 1967.1 Manson, who studied Scientology in jail prior to creating his Family, allegedly stated that he and Robert Grimston (the co-founder of the Process) were “one and the same.”2So that brings us back again to Strieber, who was getting intimate with the inner works of the Process in 1968.* The Pheasantry was a melting pot for many influential artists of the period: as well as Strieber’s friend Sharp, Eric Clapton (who later did the music for Communion) lived there briefly, on the top floor with the Oz-ies, as did the famous rock n’ roll photographer Robert Whitaker. Sharp and Whitaker created an album cover for Cream and a three-minute film with Germaine Greer called Darling Do You Love Me, directed by Sharp.
Here’s a synopsis of the film (I include it here because if its similarity to Strieber’s “Pain”):
A vampire-like woman, with deathly pale skin and jet-black eyeshadow, harasses a deadpan young man wearing a straw hat and horn-rimmed eyeglasses, continually asking him, “Do you love me?” She sings the question out of tune over and over, as she follows the man about. He never changes expression, although he does hold up a little stick with the picture of a smiling, toothy mouth, * It’s also curious to note how closely Strieber’s path came to crossing with that of William Sims Bainbridge: Bainbridge spent four years with the Process Church, from 1969-1973.
which he puts over his own mouth as hysterical laughing plays in the background. Her question grows more frantic and desperate and pleading as she dances about him, tackles him and presses her face to his through the bars of a gate. She manipulates his face, which remains expressionless.
Finally, she grabs him by the throat and shakes him repeatedly as he succumbs.
Richard Neville wrote a memoir of his time with Oz called Hippie, Hippie, Shake, which was made into a movie of the same name. Although it has never been released, I knew about the movie because they’d shot part of it on the London street where I lived in 2007, during the same period I wrote my first piece about Strieber! I had hung out for an hour or so, making eyes at the star, Sienna Miller, before being moved along by one of the security staff. Before that happened, I’d found out that the director was Beeban Kidron—someone I used to play with when we were children, growing up in Yorkshire! It was Chapel Perilous: Whitley’s and my paths were slowly but surely converging. But what did it all mean— besides that “the coincidence goblin” was getting involved?* I looked into Oz magazine and discovered that, surprise, surprise, they ran a piece on the Process Church in the May 1967 issue—just one month after I was born. The cover of the issue was done by Sharp; at the end of the article there was some artwork that included a flying saucer. On the page before it there was a short fragmentary piece which began with these lines: “In common with Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, Dean Martin ‘and a lot of other cats,’ Norman goes on UFO hunts. Recently in a field near London, Norman says he was sure they were there, but for some reason would not show themselves.
‘Maybe they didn’t want to frighten us.’” Norman then gives an anecdote about the aliens’ sense of humor and says, “‘they’re so human.’” The piece ends with the words “’What we need is religion rather than religions—the gods are only shorthand for the gods inside your head—and more contact with ourselves.’”4
That all seemed on-point. When I read the piece on the Process, I found an even more striking passage:
The faction is divided—more than once it seems—first of all there’s the desire to tell humanity about this divine revelation, then there’s this anti-grey masses scene which means no one is actually very keen on mingling with the ‘greys’ in order to put across the message. Thus a Process magazine is born. A lovely, remote way of making the word Process known—just pay your thousands and have it printed on glossy paper, without actually having to touch the outsiders yourself. Then you sit and wait for the right ones to come pouring in: all those Gurdjieff initiated meditating hippies...” (etc.; emphasis added; Strieber reputedly spent thirteen years studying with the Gurdjieff Foundation, immediately after this period, from roughly 1970-83).
Another significant figure who lived at the Pheasantry during the period was David Litvinoff. Litvinoff was an adviser on the production of the cult movie Performance, shot in London in autumn of 1968, around the time Strieber was scattering his marbles across Europe. The film was made by Nicholas Roeg and * “And in the process a strange thing happened to Levenda: He encountered what some writers refer to as the ‘Coincidence Goblin,’ a peculiar and recurring phenomena by which one experiences odd and disconcerting coincidences, which quickly lead into still odder coincidences until one gets the overwhelming and unshakeable sense that one has been ordained by some invisible higher power to write his or her book because he or she is part and parcel with it. Other writers brush off this bizarre occurrence as an unavoidable consequence of any serious research into subjects that concern the occult, or those sinister forces that always seem to be at play in worldly affairs.” From a review of Peter Levenda’s Sinister Forces, by H.P Albarelli Jr. Levenda was one of two writers (the other being Kripal) whom I contacted before beginning this present work.
Donald Cammell, and Cammell, it turns out, was in Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising as Osiris, along with Manson family member Bobby Beausoleil, as Lucifer! Cammell was the son of Charles Richard Cammell, a close friend and biographer of Aleister Crowley, and in fact Cammell was Crowley’s godson. For his role in Performance as “Chas,” a violent organized-crime figure, actor James Fox was trained by Litvinoff, an associate of the notorious Kray brothers, and spent time with the Krays.* Mapping these same shadowy and labyrinthine connections, comic book writer Alan Moore included
Litvinoff as one of the characters in his League of Extraordinary Gentleman series:
Litvinoff is one of the few concrete real life examples of the process Moore is trying to describe in
1969. The archetypal London face, he was a living link between the various contemporary, queasily cohabiting underworlds of criminality (boyfriend, or at least sometime arm candy of Ronnie Kray), showbiz (the Performance film-making /art scene connections) and psychedelic occultism (probable sideline in good acid). He somehow survived getting heavily in debt to the Krays, but speculation remains that the eventual reason for his demise was the embarrassing secrets supposedly revealed in an expose he was writing based on his experiences and insider knowledge of these various nefarious milieus.
To top it all, the Krays, like the Finders, were reputed to have been involved with supplying children to pederasts via the notorious Jersey care home.6 A letter sent by a prominent conservative politician, Lord Robert John Graham Boothby, to Ronnie Kray on June 6, 1963 (there was that date again!) was discovered in 2009 in which Boothby—whose sexual perversion was already common knowledge— thanked Kray for an invitation to “Jersey.”7 The Krays were reputed to have “paid informers on every level in the force,” and to meet with police detectives at the Jersey home to do business.8 I mention this mainly because of another high-profile entertainment industry player who has since been implicated in the Jersey home scandal, and who has been discussed in the present work, Jimmy Savile. That would place Savile in the same circle as the Krays, the Cammells, and the Claptons—the foxes in with the pheasants—during roughly the same period. And Whitley Strieber??
Strieber’s forgotten London odyssey now showcases not only strange occultists, UFO-heads, and leading entertainment industry players, but organized London criminals and pederasts. It places him, as a twenty-something “underground filmmaker” making a documentary on the Process Church, at the very heart of the scene in the years 1967-8. How did he get there? What did his involvement consist of? Was he out in the field with Norman and the other Gurdjieff-initiated hippies, dropping LSD and looking for UFOs; was he getting glimpses into the world of hard-core criminality via Cammell and Litvinoff? If not, why not? If he was too square for all that, how did he wind up hanging out with Sharp and Mora and Eric Clapton at the center of the London ‘60s scene? Most puzzling of all, why has this period of his life been all-but stricken from the record?