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All governments have leaders. Even the young idealistic elected official, who starts her political career believing that she will make the community a better place, eventually focuses her efforts on maintaining her power. It's a matter of surviving amongst a pack of desperate and corrupt bureaucrats who will do almost anything to defeat her.

Why Anarchy?

Anarchists look at it this way:
The government owns your body: It sends you halfway around the world to die in an oil war, it forces you to give birth to a child fathered by a rapist, it throws you in jail for eating certain plants that produce ecstatic and visionary states of consciousness.

The government owns your property: It steals a large portion of your wealth in order to carry out its social engineering experiments (in which you are an unwilling subject), it evicts you from your home to build roads and government offices, it seizes your money if you disagree to take part in its programs.

The government owns your mind: It forces your children to attend its learning institutions, it regulates and licenses your television and radio stations, it bans books, magazines and newspapers it doesn't agree with.

What does the word "anarchy" really mean, besides "against rule?" No two anarchists will give you the same definition. Some believe it means that the Federal and State governments should be abolished, turning decision making power over to the community level. Others believe that there should be no government whatsoever.

Some non-human animals are total anarchists. Can people become as smart as they are? If all government was abolished, wouldn't the vacuum simply be filled with the first band of alpha-male primates that came around?

Perhaps anarchy is an impossible ideal to strive towards, just to keep centralizing governments and inflexible systems on their toes. Demolish Serious Culture!

(M. Frauenfelder)

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J.G. Ballard

Born in Shanghai in 1930, JG Ballard is one of the most influential avant garde writers of our time. His work has had a profound influence on both SF and experimental modern and post-modern fiction. He is popularly known as the author of "Empire of the Sun." Some of his science fiction novels include

His more controversial (only marginally SF) works include The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) and Crash (1973). His latest novel, The Kindness of Women, is a sequel to Empire of the Sun.

(Gareth Branwyn)

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Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson is considered one of the fathers of cybernetics and information theory. Unlike Norbert Weiner and some of the other mechanically-oriented cyberneticists, Bateson's principle area of exploration was the living cybernetics of minds and ecosystems. His principle works, Steps to An Ecology of Mind and Mind and Nature, form the basic outline of his approach to bio-cybernetics. To Bateson, mind is not contained in the brain, but is rather a complex inter-relationship between the perceiver and his/her environment. Mind exists in the relationship between things, not in the things themselves.

Batesonian cybernetics also holds that ideas have survivability and are subject to survival constraints similar to those found in ecosystems. This is similar to Richard Dawkin's notion of memes.

(Gareth Branwyn)

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Jean Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard was born in Reims, France, in 1929. An ex- university sociology teacher, he is the best-known of the group of French thinkers and writers known as the Postmodernists.

Most of Baudrillard's writing centers on the twin concepts of "hyperreality" and "simulation." We live in a world dominated by simulated experience and feelings, Baudrillard believes, and have lost the capacity to comprehend reality as it really exists. We only experience prepared realities-- edited war footage, meaningless acts of terrorism, the destruction of cultural values and the substitution of "referendum." In Baudrillard's words,

"The very definition of the real has become: that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction. . . The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced: that is the hyperreal. . . which is entirely in simulation."

Among his books translated into English are are

(Richard Kadrey)

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"You know how dumb the average guy is? Well, by definition, half of them are even dumber than THAT." --J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

Bob is eternal slack master, the saint of sales, the first fisher of wallets, and the mysterious "virtual" guru of the Church of the Subgenius. His clip art image is that of a 1950's "everydad" smoking a pipe. The Church claims that Dobbs was a real person, an aluminum siding salesman, who started on his path to Subgenius in the 1950's. Others claim that Dobbs is merely a figment of church founders' Rev. Ivan Stang and Dr. Philo Drummond chemically-enhanced imaginations.

Whether alive before, Bob is certainly alive now. His image and twisted backward twitticism are popping up everywhere! "Bob" is epidemic. To subject yourself to this designer non-cult cult (the worst kind) and the slackheaded Bob, check out The Book of the Subgenius or, for a mainline brain scrub, Arise: The Subgenius Video.

(Gareth Branwyn)

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Brain Toys

Brain Toys (also called mind machines) use electronic technology to induce states of enhanced consciousness similar to those produced by meditation or drugs. The theory goes like this: the brain will synchronize itself with periodic waveforms sent to it optically, aurally, or electrically through the skin. By using light, sound, and electricity, mind machines "entrain" the brain to synch-up with specific frequencies that are associated with different states of awareness.

Some advantages brain toys have over traditional methods of seeking higher consciousness: The drug-taker must commit herself to a several hours-long chemical-carnival ride, and the meditator often practices for years to reach the same trans-dimensional states that brain toys enthusiasts say they can get to in a matter of seconds.

Governments are starting to look at brain toys and virtual reality as forms of "electronic drugs," and they are cautioning their agents to be aware of their potential for "abuse." Brain toy technology will be difficult to suppress, however, when anyone with a schematic, $15, and a nearby Radio Shack can build one on her kitchen table.


Brain Toys range in price & sophistication from the $12.95 lung-powered "Day-Dreamer" to the $60,000 room-sized "Graham Potentializer." The dealers listed below will send you their catalogs offering a wide variety of Brain Toys:

MegaMind offers a range of different mind machines. Their catalog is available on request (4013 Silver SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108).

(Mark Frauenfelder)

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William S. Burroughs

(1914 - ) Scion of the famous business machine corporation, Burroughs graduated from Harvard University in 1936. In 1953, he wrote Junkie (under the pseudonym of William Lee), a semi-autobiographical account of his drug experiences, which he embarked upon in 1944. Naked Lunch (1959), a ground-breaking novel employing a his oft-copied cut-and-paste technique, is credited as a major influence on many cyberpunk and avant garde authors. Burroughs' work often explores the relationship between the controllers and those being controlled, perhaps as a result of his dealings with authorities while he was using opiates. His keen eye and willingness to become intimate with primitive and civilized tribes throughout the world qualify him as an excellent and unique critic of the human condition. His other novels include

"Streets of mirror and glass and metal under flickering cylinders of colored neon - projector towers sweep the city with color writing of The Painter - Cool blue streets between walls of iron polka-dotted with lenses projecting The Blue Tattoo open into a sea of Blue Concentrate lit by pulsing flickering blue globes - Mountain villages under the blue twilight - Drifting cool blue music of all time and place to brass drums." - Nova Express

(Mark Frauenfelder)

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Cellular Automata

Also known as "Artificial Life" or "Toy Universes", Cellular Automata (CA) are matrices of information-packets called cells. These cells continuously examine both their own information content and the contents of their neighboring cells, and based on these conditions, modify themselves according to a simple rules table. Even when the information content of a cell is only a single bit (0 or 1), a randomly seeded colony may display remarkable emergent behavior.

The game of Life, invented by John Horton Conway in 1970 (who ran his CA algorithms on a checkerboard) is the most famous and simplest of cellular automata. Today, CA theory is being applied in parallel computing, biology, chemistry, and physics.

Cellular automata will provide the glue that will one day facilitate the merging of meat and silicon.

Iterating the steps of a CA computation can produce fabulously rich output. A good CA is like an acorn which grows an oak tree, or more accurately, a good CA is like the DNA inside the acorn, busily orchestrating the protein nanotechnology that builds the tree." - Rudy Rucker, CA Lab manual, pp 16.

Some scientists, notably MIT lecturer Edward Fredkin, believe that the universe is a cellular automaton, composed of googles of tiny cells.

(Mark Frauenfelder)

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Until recently, scientists lumped systems into three categories:

  1. periodic, settling down to a regular oscillation;
  2. stable, reaching a fixed value; or
  3. unstable, shooting off to infinity.

Unpredictable systems were called "random" or "noisy" and were thought to be combinations of the three different categories. But in 1962, Edward Lorenz made a world-view changing discovery while studying computerized weather simulation. His model followed a course that was neither random, periodic, nor convergent. The model exhibited very complex behavior, yet consisted of only a few simple equations. The curve generated by the model exhibited a bizarre characteristic; two points located close to one another on the curve (so close, in fact, that it would require a computer with impossibly infinite precision to differentiate between them) would inevitably take widely divergent paths. This observation led to the conclusion that long term weather prediction would never be possible. The Lorenz-Butterfly effect is often presented as an example of chaos: the tiny eddy currents produced when a butterfly flaps its wings can change the outcome of a hurricane. Scientists are using chaos as a new way to look at previously misunderstood phenomena, such as population curves, epidemiology, turbulence, heat flow, biological rhythmicity, and social and political movements.

(Mark Frauenfelder)

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One who "cracks" the security of a system. A name that is sometimes given to computer hackers who have malicious or criminal intent. Also recently referred to as "dark-side hacker" (see Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier Hafner and Markoff).

(Gareth Branwyn)

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Aleister Crowley

(1875 -1947) Aleister Crowley is one of the most fascinating, mythologized, and despised occult figures of the Twentieth Century. He is known to the world as a Satanist, a drug addict, and an abuser of women. To those who "study" him, he was also a brilliant researcher into the far side of the human psyche and one of the first "magickal scientists." He used his body and mind as a laboratory from which to explore magick, addiction, sexuality, physical endurance, and madness.

The thing that sets Crowley apart from other early "hedonic engineers" is that he was one of the first to use the rigors and methods of science in his exploration. He took detailed notes on everything and kept journals. His rituals and operations were conducted like controlled experiments. His "work" has been influential to many occult and psychedelic researchers, including Tim Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, and Genesis P'Orridge.

Important works by Crowley include:

Recommended books about Crowley include The Magical World of Aleister Crowley by Francis King (1977), and The Eye in the Triangle (1970) written by his secretary Israel Regardie.

(Gareth Branwyn)

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For the cost of a $100,000 life insurance policy, you can be delivered to one of several organizations when you become "bio-static" (aka dead), whereupon your body will be drained of blood, pumped full of anti-freeze, and stuffed into a metal canister flowing with liquid nitrogen. If you are a budget-conscious immortalist, you can opt for neuro- preservation, in which case they'll cut your head off and put it into a little jar full of liquid nitrogen.

In either case, you'll float peacefully at 224 degrees below zero, and wait for nanotechnology to progress to the point where the cellular damage your body underwent when it was frozen can be reversed.

Conventional science insists that cryonics is a hopeless dream. The immortalists answer their critics by saying "We can't promise that we can bring you back to life after we freeze you. But we can promise that if you are buried or cremated you'll never come back."


Alcor, publisher of Cryonics Magazine ($10/12 issues, 12327 Doherty St, Riverside, CA 92503 (800)367-2228)

TransTime (10208 Pearmine ST, Oakland, CA 94603 (415)639- 1955), and the Cryonics Institute (24041 Stratford, Oak Park, MI 48237 (313)967-3104) all offer biopreservation services.

The Immortalist Society publishes The Immortalist Subscriptions are $25, 24443 Roanoke, Oak Park, MI 48237.

Lifequest is a magazine that publishes fiction dealing with cryonics and looks at what might be in store for twentieth century people who return to life decades or centuries after dying. ($3/issue, PO Box 18690, South Lake Tahoe, CA 95706)

(Mark Frauenfelder)

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Cultural Terrorism

"Cultural Terrorism," "Poetic Terrorism," and "Psychic Terrorism" are used to describe various forms of (usually) non-physical assaults on culture. These actions are taken in the belief that our sanitized, media-ized, corporatized culture has been lulled to sleep and stupidity. Cultural Terrorism is any act that attempts to directly and powerfully confront this somnambulism.

The forms and strategies of these attacks on "Serious Culture" can be linked back to the Dadaists, Surrealists, and Futurists. They were the first to realize the dystopian drift of modernism and to begin fashioning an appropriate (negationist) response.

(G. Branwyn)

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Cybernetics comes from the Greek word kubernetics, which means steersman or pilot. Cybernetics is the scientific study of control and feedback in living, electronic, and mechanical systems. Cybernetics was developed during WWII to aid in the guidance of missile systems. Constant course corrections could be achieved by comparing current and desired positions of a missile and making appropriate adjustments during flight. This type of corrective information is referred to as feedback. (see Cybernetics and The Human Use of Human Beings Norbert Wiener).

(Gareth Branwyn)

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Cyberpunk is simply defined as the place (the interzone) where high technology meets the street. Or, as Bruce Sterling has said:

"'Cyber,' the world of superclean, antihuman high-tech...and 'Punk,' the world of completely rejectionist outlaw attitudes. The thing about 'cyberpunk,' that makes it an interesting and novel term is that it represents an integration of two worlds which have traditionally been at opposite ends of the social spectrum."

While the word Cyberpunk was first used in the mid-to-late Eighties to describe the writings of science fiction authors Gibson, Sterling, Shirley, Rucker, and Shiner, by the late-Eighties, it was being used more and more to describe real-world "street culture," such as the computer underground, high-tech performance art, industrial music, and other expressions of high-tech pop culture.

(Gareth Branwyn)

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"Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation...A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data..."
- Neuromancer William Gibson

Cyberspace may have started out as science fiction, but it has quickly caught on as a metaphor for the real-world global telecom grid and, now, with the development of virtual reality, it looks like a near-future reality.

As more and more links and bridges are installed in the major national and international computer networks (such as Internet, Usenet, Bitnet), anyone with a modem and a PC has almost instant access to thousands of people, information databases, services, and virtual communities that are being "built" by their users. Increasing numbers of people work, play, socialize, and wander around in a crude version of Gibson's cyberspace. While today's cyber-residents have to use their imaginations to see beyond the text-based communication, developments in VR will soon provide them with interactive visual representations of data. The direct neural interface described in cyberpunk literature is still fiction, but some researchers claim it's a distinct future possibility.

(Gareth Branwyn)

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Gareth Branwyn -

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