Interview by Bob Marshall
Interview by Bob Marshall
October 22, 1988
This interview took place during a 7-hour visit with the very hospitable Frank Zappa at his home between 8:00P.M., Oct.21 and 3:00 A.M., Oct.22, 1988. Dr. Carolyn Dean and Gerald Fialka assisted Bob Marshall in conducting the interview. We thank Loren Gagnon for transcribing the original audio tapes.
In your mini-manifesto on Joe's Garage where you say "Information is not knowledge, Knowledge is not wisdom, ... etc.", at the end you say "Music is THE BEST". What is Music?
Well, in the terms, I would use two different definitions for it, one in the clinical sense and one in the sense that applies to that little statement on the album. In the sense of the statement on the album, it would mean whatever you happen to think music is. That's a statement to other people and they would plug into that statement their concept of what music is. I'll recite it for you just for the people who don't have the albums:
Information is not knowledge,
Knowledge is not wisdom,and Music is THE BEST
Wisdom is not truth,
Truth is not beauty,
Beauty is not love,
Love is not music
So, you get to figure out what your idea of music is and plug it into that.
I find that little manifesto resonates so much with many points that you have said through the years in your interviews. For example, I don't know of it any earlier but in the Fall of '79, in Rolling Stone, was one of the first times that you talked about yourself as a "journalist". Am I wrong? Did you talk about it in earlier interviews I'm not aware of?
I don't know whether or not I talked about it in interviews earlier, but there's always been a journalistic aspect in my work even from the first album because if a person writes a song about a current event that's a journalistic technique. And I would say certainly a song about the Watts Riot, which was on the Freak Out! album, qualified as some for of journalism because a lot of people don't even remember what the Watts Riot was, and so, at the point where you make the song, the Watts Riot was a recent journalistic event, it was recently in the news, but over a period of years, people forget what the news was and now it just becomes folklore. The fact is Channel 5 in Los Angeles, which showed the pictures of the riot, did have a story about a woman sawed in half by 50-caliber machine gun bullets from the National Guard that was down there taking care of the riot. And that may be the only lasting monument to the woman who got sawed in half. There's a lot of things like that in songs that go from journalism into folklore with people and the events that they are involved in. The songs were news at the time that they happened but over a period of time, who cares about the news anymore and then it's just folklore.
I see that and that's the opening word – "Information". I relate that to your statement in Life magazine this summer that you "hum the news". There seems to be a metaphor that you're replaying here as music. Your work is journalistic yet you're turning the news as folklore into some kind of musical artform.
That's an interesting way of juggling this stuff around and there's a certain aspect of it, but I would say that the only part of the news that turns into the music is the lyrics. It's pretty hard to convert something like election statistics into something that you can hum, really.
So you mean the news lyrics is what you hum. But don't you include the news of musical trends? Where you do your satire of musical styles, isn't there a trendy newsy level there?
Usually by the time I'm making fun of it, it's no longer news because in order to make fun of something everybody has to know the ground rules for the joke to work, so it would be ridiculous to make fun of punk orchestration, everybody else had some idea of what punk sounded like so that you can make a parody of it. You can't be newsworthy like in a timely fashion, with a musical parody
But when it becomes an environment, a cliche.
Yeah, it's when it has saturated the cultural environment and everybody knows that people, with hair sticking up in a certain direction, with guitars totally out of tune, banging a couple of chords for one and a half minutes constitutes a musical form. Then you can make fun of it.
So when you say "I hum the news", you mean the lyrics.
Yeah I'm talking more about the lyrics rather than the notes.
Is there an ethical question there about humming the news? Are you satirizing people's involvement in the news? I mean, people would see that you're entertaining the news, putting it in an entertainment form. Some people might see it that way.
No, actually what I do with the news is I have the ability to watch news from all different kinds of sources and remember the details, and collate the details, and come up with a conclusion other than which the people who own the media want you to come away with. If you watch only one news service you're not getting the full picture. They try and tell you major world events in ten seconds, and you can't do that. So what you have to do is compare different outlets, compare their spins, compare that to print, and then draw your conclusions. And also reinforce that by first-hand conversations with people who might be there or might know something about it. I generally don't have access to those kinds of people when it's applied to U.S. politics, but in terms of things going on in other countries the information we receive here about what happens outside the U.S. is really quite thin. And since I do travel around it's easy for me to talk to people in the different countries and say what really happened. And to that extent I know more about foreign events than the average guy in the United States because I have some way to ...
Direct access to the experiences.
Yeah, to develop the picture a little bit. In fact, I got some extra information just last night on things that are happening in South America. It puts me in a situation where the political part of my brain is looking at the world and saying, "I see trends developing and they're really horrible", and the musician part of my brain says, "I would really like to be just sitting in that room in there working on the Synclavier because that's more fun than anything else". And I spend my day trying to put these two parts of my brain together, and usually what happens is that at the end of the work-period there will be a product that comes out that is a combination of those two parts of my brain: what I know about what's going on in the world, plus what I like to do with music
That's the process of resolving the dilemma of being a musical specialist in an information surround that makes you in touch with so many things.
And then you add your particular slant to it through your own sources.
That's what I was interested in, you as a journalist, and I was wondering which was more prominent: the political or the musical. But you're saying you're not sure, you work out where you ...
At this point they seem to be about 50-50. It's not exactly like being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but it's hard for me to go in there and just work on music and forget about what's really going on in the world. I can't do it. I can't take what I know and throw it away and say, "Well, I just won't care anymore because I can't do anything about it." First of all, I think I might be able to do something about it, and just because I might, I have to keep thinking about it. So, there's no easy way to dispose of it.
So your activity dealing with the PMRC, I guess from '85 to '87, was not a radical departure from your interests. It was how you manifested that dilemma for yourself. That was the most immediate concern that you could deal with. You had to go political at that point.
I wouldn't say that was even going political. That was a civic obligation because I saw ...
Well, that's what I mean by "political". Do you mean something else? Do you mean propagandistic by "political"?
No, we have a little semantic problem here because usually the way I talk about politics is in one sense and I've said this many times in interviews: politics is the entertainment branch of industry. When I talk about my political thoughts, I'm not talking about being part of the entertainment branch of industry. I'm talking more about policy in action. In other words, somebody has to decide to do certain things or not do certain things, and hopefully the person makes that decision has made the decision based on accurate information. The problem with most of the decisions of the last eight years in the Reagan Administration is they're all ideologically based and very seldom have the policy decisions been based on practicality, or far long-range thinking. It's just been based on whether or not the rhetoric that appears in the news that day is in phase with conservative ideology, or appeasement to certain interest groups. It's not good politics in the true sense of the word. And another political act that you have to bear in mind is as long as people have the right to vote, the vote should be cast in a situation where the person with the ballot in his hand has access to enough information to make a practical decision. And that's where I come in. If I can provide an extra dimension of information which may, through this interview or through a record or some other way, get out to a person with a ballot in his hand, I'm doing a public service by providing compilations of data that the news won't give you. It's not that they can't give it to you, they won't give it to you. So, that's the way I think about politics the way I'm involved in it.
Taking a statement that you made to Warner Brothers in 1971 in a pamphlet called "Hey, Snazzy Execs": "We make a special art in an environment hostile to dreamers" ...
That's right. The environment that is hostile to dreamers is always the environment that is run by right-wing administrations because in order for the right-wing administration to maintain its fiction, it has to be ideologically pure and that ideology does not admit for creativity. There is nothing creative about a right-wing administration. The whole goal of it is to freeze time and to move things backward. So, obviously the people who are most at risk, whenever there is a right-wing administration sitting in place, is anybody who is an intellectual dreamer or creative person in any field. They are at risk because they pose a threat to the administration.
But you were quite vocal about certain left-wing elements in the Sixties.
I don't think that the left wing is anything to invest in. I think that the left wing has probably done as much damage as any other kind of political force. I think common sense is the way to go. There's no ideology for common sense. It's easy to talk about politics in terms of right and left wing because that's the way the news portrays it. And so to a degree, if I talk about political things I have to use the common parlance so people understand it. But I think of myself as a person devoted to practical and commonsense solutions to things that are real problems, and they oftentimes sound weird if suggested simply because people are so attached to the ideological ramblings of the right or the ideological ramblings of the left. They think that you have to choose between these two extremes. On the left you've got Communism. Well, Communism doesn't work. It absolutely doesn't work, and on the right you have Fascism and that doesn't work either.
So both environments are hostile to dreamers. Both political ideologies ...
No, because the difference here is that the left has often employed artists and creative people in order to further their goals. For the right-wing administration, the artists and dreamers are a threat to their way of life. And for the left-wing guys, the artists and dreamers are propaganda. So there's a danger coming from both directions. One side would like to snuff you out and the other side would like to co-opt you and usurp you in order to have you do stuff and promote their ideals. So, anybody who's got an imagination has to watch out for both sides. There's only one place where you're safe and that's in the middle.
You think you could work with a creatively sympathetic group like the leftists and keep them on their toes. You wouldn't be co-opted and it'd be better than a right-wing ...
I'm not interested in working with any leftist organization I tell you the truth. I've said it many times ...
No, I mean work in their environment.
No, fuck their environment because I refuse to be used by any of those people.
But you emphasized at the beginning that the right wing was more threatening for you.
The right would like to put you out of business and the left would like to hire you, and I'm not for hire. I don't think that anybody who has a truly individualistic way of evaluating the world of a creative urge to do unique stuff needs to be snuffed out or hired. You should be free to do what your abilities will allow you to do because it is only when you are free to do that, the benefits of what you can build will be distributed to those parts of the society who will find your work useful. Really creative people don't work good as employees.
But you're saying there is more of a threat in the right-wing environment.
Yeah, that's the threat of death.
You think of yourself as having common sense. Would you define the word "art" as a sensory training for common-sense perceptions or is that too dramatic?
I think the word "art" has been pretty much flogged into porridge. Today you hear the word "art" and you think of people who do paintings and have their work admired by rich people at cocktail parties, and it conjures up a world of phony stuff, and I don't participate in that world. I'm happy that it's there for the people who like it. It's a nice form of entertainment for them but to me that's not what it's all about. I don't think that training people to consume art in that sense makes them any more sensitive, or more highly developed or refined in any way. It doesn't make them a better person, it just makes them a dupe for a bogus way of life. That art world really is a way of abusing the people who made the art in the first place. The best example is the common Soho gallery split of 60-40: 60% for the gallery owner, 40% for the artist. I mean, in the worst rock and roll record contract you don't get that kind of a reaming. So, so much for the art world.
I think way back about 1970 in the New York Times you said that "my work is art". I think you meant "art" in a different way there.
Yeah. If I think of it as being a pure expression of who I am, what I do and what I think, that's fine and I'll call it "art", but I'll call it "art" privately. I mean, you've gotta understand, I'm not walking around with an art banner in my hand. The problem with communicating with anybody in the English language is that so much damage has been done to the language itself by advertisers, by political campaigns, that the words themselves have been mutated to the point where you have to choose them really carefully because even if in fact it is "art", you don't way to say it's "Art" because the negative connotations of calling it "art" puts a weird spin on what you're saying. So I generally try and avoid any connection with that word just because it impedes the process of trying to get your point across. If you're going to talk to somebody, you want to talk to them in a language they can understand using words that they're familiar with. That should be a goal for communication and "art" is one of the bad words these days.
In other words, you target an audience for the point you want to get across.
That's the traditional art of rhetoric in classical education. I don't know if you came across that. It's a rhetorical technique.
I didn't have a classical education so I don't know it from these things.
Alright. So, one would say that your emphasis is rhetorical, not in the modern propagandistic sense, but targeting an audience, not necessarily for the whole album, but particular songs, in a musical sense.
Well, "targeting" is the wrong word because that presumes that it's narrowcasting. It's not. What I have to do is make an assumption about the comprehension abilities of the people that would be the likely consumers for what I do. In other words, I have to conjure up in my brain an imaginary picture of who the guy is, how smart he is, how many references he might have that I can make through metaphorical references in a work. I have to have some sort of a plan, O.K. And then once I've made that model, I can then decide, as I'm writing the piece, if this is going to whiz over his head, going to whiz past him, or what it is. And if so, should it go in there anyway or should I change it and say it blunt?
That's part of your composing process?
Yeah, and in order to arrive at that imaginary model of the person who is listening to the stuff, it's not based on thin air. I mean, I actually talk to the people who are fans for what I do. I've met them, I've talked to them, I have some idea of what their desires are. I know what they like, what they don't like, and to the extent that I have personal contact with them, that's the data that went into building the model.
Although, you do say that all your music is an extension of you, but you also say that the audience is the employer in other quotes.
That's true, but the music is an extension of me but the "me" is an entity that knows certain things. Part of what I know is what the audience is interested in and so that doesn't seem incongruous at all. The audience employs me to entertain them. By purchasing an album, you have hired me to entertain you for forty minutes, or whatever it is that's in the album, and my goal is to do that in a way that is going to be useful to you.
I remember there was a quote back about 1970: "Someone is getting off on this beyond his or her wildest comprehensions"
I've had letters from people saying, "It was me! It was me!"
I think I claimed that to you in 1985 myself
"Look at my head! The top of my head is gone! It was me! I can prove it!"
"I'm dead!" (both laughing). What did you think you meant in targeting that or was that just a general principle?
You have to have an average of what is going on out there and when you opt to do the thing that is going to whiz over most people's heads, you know that there's going to be a certain percentage in there that will be tall enough where it's going to get them right in the middle of their head.
Yeah, that's the targeting. You see, I don't know too many of those kinds of people who really get it all. That would be the truly rare individual. Because in order for them to get it all they have to know what I know. Which means, not that I'm so smart, but I've had experiences that they haven't had just because people are unique. So, nobody gets 100% but if anybody ever got 60%, they'd be in big trouble.
"Big trouble"? Is that a facetious remark?
I think it was on Hot Rats that you said: "This is a movie for your ears". Do you remember that phrase.
A rather intelligent critic at that time, not known by many people, described your work up to that point as "a visualization of a kaleidoscope of textures". If one juxtaposes the word "visualization" with your early statement that your work "incorporates any available visual medium, consciousness, of all participants (including audience", which we've talked about, "all perceptual deficiencies", and a few other points, why do you say "any available visual medium" Since most people would think of you as a musician.
That's only because they don't know what I can do in the other medium. I've always been able to manipulate pictures since I first got hold of a pencil and paper. I started off drawing before I could ...
Before you had music in your head?
Yeah, and there was no music in our household when I was a kid. I came to it late, but I've always been interested in the way in which pictures work with music and the problem about doing more of it is that a visual medium is a far more expensive medium that the audio medium. An independent guy can afford to make an album easier than he can afford to make a movie, or then he can afford to make a video, and have some quality in it. So there's only occasionally that i can scrape up enough money to do a project that involves pictures and music. So that part of my work is less known than the records that I have out and that's one of the reasons for putting Honker Home Video together because at least with that company, some of the things that I've done working with visual stuff can be gotten out to the public.
But with the phrase "movie for your ears", you emphasize the visual. Is the "conceptual continuity" a movie?
No, because in order to make it complete, you have to involve what you see. It's a total sensory thing.
Is that your definition of music? It includes all senses?
If you get to the other definition of music that I use when I'm working on my stuff, it means the organization of any data.
Visual, acoustic, smells ...
Yeah, choreography, anything, any data. So long as you say to yourself, "I'm now making a musical composition of this stuff", the composition can include stuff that's living in this ashtray, whatever it is. So long as you willfully organize it into that object that you're making. That's the criteria that I would use.
That would be a criterion that's modern, a product of television because television uses all data. I always thought it was interesting that you had yourself in a TV screen on FREAK OUT! The cover image has always struck me as a colour TV image, the colouring ...
Oh yeah. Well, that's not what the intent was, but go on.
You had the lines, it looked like a damaged colour TV (laughs), the colouring. But you did not intend that?
O.K., I projected that anyway. But I find it interesting. I don't think earlier composers would talk about using all data in the way you're doing unless there have been ... you can correct me.
As far as I know, I don't think there's anybody that has worked in contemporary composition that has the familiarity with the technical side that I do. I'm not talking about electronic music composers. I'm talking about just a general knowledge of all different ...
Yeah, just every tool that you can use. If I can't get in with a soldering iron and fix it or build it, I certainly know how to use it and what some uses might be of the tool that the guy who invented it never imagined. One of my specialties is taking existing off-the-shelf stuff and twisting it to do something that the guy who manufactured it never thought it would be used for. That's a hobby.
Weren't you asked to name the band "Mothers of Invention"? You were asked to add on "of Invention"?
Yeah. Well, we were just told we couldn't use the name "Mothers".
So you suggested "Mothers of Invention".
But that was an accurate statement of your talents – to be able to work with many technologies. Were you aware of that at the time?
That wasn't the reason for sticking it on there. It was just a practical decision that had to be made at the time of the Freak Out! album because they were refusing to release the album. It was so stupid. You can imagine the A&R department at Verve Records saying, "We can't release this record because no disc jockey will play a song by 'The Mothers' on the radio". Well, no disc jockey would play the content of the record no matter what the name of the group was. You could have called it "The Smelts" or something, they still wouldn't have played it. But that's the way it was. People were just afraid. I guess they're still afraid.
I'm going to move into your role as a symbolist. Do you know the Symbolist group in art history?
No, I'm not familiar with Art history. Tell me about it.
Well, the Symbolists broke up normal images and reformed them, juxtaposed them.
Is this based on Jung?
No, this was before him. This was a hundred years ago with poets like Rimbaud and Baudelaire. Literary historians grouped them into this movement called the Symbolists. There was a man who wrote a book at the turn of this century called "The Symbolist Movement in Literature". He tagged that name on them, but it was the emphasis on a symbol as the primary focus or motif in one's art.
Well, I suppose I belong in there. Anybody who has said as much as I have about poodles ought to have some sort of a recommendation in that group. But it wasn't because I decided to join a movement.
Maybe there are historical forces, ways of thinking that you tapped into and continued a tradition unconsciously. I mean, from the critic's point of view. I think it was Miles who was the first one who wrote about your repetition of motifs in his early articles in the late Sixties. I remember one of his questions from International Times where he asked "Is there an IDEA behind your work?". It was capitalized in the newspaper. And I think that's what I'm trying to get at.
That's simple. It's that the Emperor's not wearing any clothes, never has, never will.
What is the Emperor?
Fill in the blank. (laughs)
So the idea is that you're making a symbol that allows other people to participate in it.
That's audience participation on a grand scale. It's like name your poison. Why, that's almost elegant.
Structuring something the way that people get to participate in it by adding their missing ingredient. It's like, be your own catalyst.
That is a tradition that T.S. Eliot, Joyce and Pound articulated. When people asked Eliot the meaning of the poem, he would shrug his shoulders, and then they would give what they thought it meant and ...
He would say they're right.
Yes, Eliot would say, "You're right".
Well you see, I didn't have that kind of an education. I have no knowledge of the history of art or poetry, or any of that kind of stuff. It never interested me. I think that it's nice that it's there for people who want it, but I never studied it. I don't know anything about that. I just did my own stuff. If it happens to be similar to other things that other people have done, fine. I can't help that. But it's not like I went to college to learn about all these people who did bitchin' stuff through the years and decided to go out and do that. That is not interesting to me. All I can say is, "Yeah, they're doing it right".
You would agree with that method. You don't know why you wanted to create in that method. Is it because you wanted to say, "I'm a nice guy. I'll include you". Is there a democratic impulse there?
No. I think the jury's still out on democracy as a ...
That's right. You know, I keep referring back to the book that I had when I was in high school in our civics class. It was called "Democracy: The American Experiment" and ...
We're still studying ...
I think we're still experimenting and right now it looks like some of the ingredients they put in don't really work.
People might ask, "Why the dog image?"
I don't even know how that got started. There are certain absurd things about a poodle as a species unto itself. What especially women have decided to do to poodles is probably something that if there were a big guy on the cloud who meted out punishment at the time of your demise, that there would be a lot of women that would be tortured forever in the Lake of Fire for things that they have decided to inflict on poodles. So, that's a pretty good metaphor there if you really think about ...
For perverse creativity?
No. Look, a poodle is born. It's got hair evenly distributed all over its small, piquant, canine-type body. Figure it out. They don't start looking weird until some woman decides that she wants to shape all that stuff to make it look like a walking shrubbery. Now, that tells you two things: that the dog's co-operative and that the woman's got some problems.
The "mother of invention" has some problems. She's inventing.
Yeah, but did she invent something good? Do you think a partially denuded, small animal is good?
It seems some people like it, so we have to allow them to have that choice or enjoyment.
Yeah, but doesn't the poodle have some rights here? I mean, we're trying to save the whales. They're stuck up there. There are three whales with their noses sticking out of a hole. Now the Russians want to send an ice-breaker. It's three hundred miles away, the Russians are going to save the whales. What about the poodles? Who's doing anything for the poodles?
Right, save the poodles?
Carolyn Dean: Who's plucking the poodles?
Who's plucking the poodles? Who's plooking? Who's plucking? (all laughing). To me that's a symbol of your journalistic work of putting out information for Americans who are getting plooked and need to be ...
I think they do need to be unplooked, but the problem with Americans is they have this self-image of "We're so nice, we're so fair, we're so honest, we always take the high road." If only it were true, this would be heaven on earth, but it's not true. And when you see two hundred and forty million people willingly deluding themselves with this idea that they're somehow God's chosen people, I find that to be a huge ... Continental bad mental health is what it is.
That's the "cheese" that you talked about in your Newsweek "editorial" they wouldn't print?
Yeah. How can we be so foolish as to think that we've got it all? We certainly don't. And anybody who ever travelled for twenty minutes and kept his eyes open must realize that no country has got everything. You just don't have it. The major deficiency in the United States seems to be that it's got a history that only goes back a couple of hundred years and that history itself is riddled with corruption, it is riddled with exploitation. You name it, we have exploited it and it's not exactly something to be proud of. If whatever we have achieved we had come by it honestly we'd be in a lot better shape, but really we haven't. We've abused a lot of people not only here in our own country but around the world, and then gone to church to smooth it over and had some guy say, "Yes, we're God's chosen people and this is our Manifest Destiny – to be the peacekeepers for the world". I wonder, with this aesthetic that they have in the United States, whether we don't have the right to inflict in on anybody else. I believe that we certainly don't have the right to inflict it. But even if we had the right, would that other person benefit from becoming more like us? Countries that have cultures that go back thousands and thousands of years, and we walk in and we want to give them Coca Cola. Why?
You're speaking as an American Citizen. There would probably many people in other countries who feel that their fellow citizens are a bit deluded, too patriotic about their cultural values. So you're speaking as an American citizen.
Well, I think that the American situation is probably more critical than, say, the guy from Borneo who believes that we are where it's at. At least the guy from Borneo isn't going around doing some tricks in Central America and wherever else we've got little covert operations going on. He's not trying to inflict his values on another society. Whereas, especially through the missionary procedure coming out from the United States, we have spread the poison of our ignorance to other cultures, to the detriment of those cultures, almost since this place was founded. America was founded by the refuse of the religious fanatics of England, these undesirable elements that came over on the Mayflower. Ignorant, religious fanatics who land here, abuse the Indians, and then go to bed with a board down the middle, you know, the bundling board, so they don't have sex. That's how we got started. And when we think back to our Founding Fathers, they don't ever talk about the Founding Mothers. It might be a little bit too risque. They didn't want to have too much to do with them, anyway. Because what kind of a woman wants to take a ride on a wooden boat in the middle of winter, anyway? Not probably something you want to see in Playboy magazine. The way we got started and what we have turned into, and our desire to inflict it on other people all over the world, I think is a tragedy. And something big is going to happen in 1992 when Europe, if they can get their act together, if they can organize themselves the way that they are trying to do and kind of be the United States of Europe, as a consumer bloc and as a manufacturing bloc, is going to be larger than the United States. That's three hundred and thirty million people or something like that, that make products that work.
Yes, and that is the impetus for "free trade". I think the Canadian businessmen know that they've got to get together with the United States to compete with this bloc that's coming up.
Well, here's the thing. What they make in Europe, those products seem to be more desirable than the products that are made elsewhere, except for Japan. Japan, as we all know, makes stuff that everybody wants.
You mean now, on the world market, Europe's products are very desirable?
Yeah. And if the United States continues the way it's going, like thriving on rhetoric rather than on practical solutions, in four years when they've got their United States of Europe, we will have slid even further. And the United States is going to be in a very vulnerable position, even if it makes an alliance with Canada in order to make a large bloc, because the size of the bloc doesn't increase the quality of your product. It just means more people sharing the absence of trade barriers to buy more stuff from someplace else. Right now the United States is two hundred and forty million people dumb enough to buy anything that anybody sells them and smart enough not to buy their own stuff, O.K. And that is not something that you can continue for a century. You can't go for a hundred years just buying everybody else's stuff. Sooner or later you're going to have to redevelop the product base in the United States so that we buy our own stuff and that our commodities become valuable to people elsewhere. This trade imbalance is not a joke. It has long-range implications that could be very severe. And for every American that dreams of the American way of life and owning your own little home with the white picket fence and living next door to somebody who looks like Jimmy Stewart, they ain't going to get it.
I remember you talking a few years ago about the inability of Europe to come together – the tribal hostilities that go back centuries.
And you preferred the basic unity in America. That was a value you admired in Americans who are in the structure here. You are talking again as a citizen about the threat of what's going to happen in Europe. It may help you, might be good for you if you buy the products and it helps your musical apparatus but ...
No, I didn't say either of those two things. I'm talking generally about the difference between Europe the way it is now, hacking it out with intertribal debates that have been going on for a couple of thousand years, and having the opportunity to blend some of that stuff together in 1992 to give that whole region the kind of cohesion that the United States would have under ideal conditions. I'm making a comment about that. And meanwhile, I would say that the reverse is happening in the United States. We are breaking up into regions. It's the North versus the South, and the East versus the West, very much in politics and every other thing. We're moving apart.
I saw a book that came out a few years ago, "The Nine Nations of North America." It breaks it down like that, the different regions. And Marshall McLuhan predicted this fragmentation that would come to the United States and doom the United States to be a bunch of little bickering mini-states. You see that coming, also.
I see it. Let me tall you about another trend that I see as long as we're talking trends here. The amount of money that is generated by cocaine that flows directly into the hands of the cartels that make the cocaine is, right now, translating into political power. And over the next, say, twenty-five to fifty years will translate into even more political power for those people. They will transcend governments. Because there is something that I heard about last night, that I imagined could happen, and it turns out I was right. This friend of mine who's spent some time in Brazil verifies the fact that the cocaine cartels have gone into the worst slums in Brazil and played Robin Hood to the people there. They're giving them cocaine profits to give them clothes and set up these little fiefdoms. Basically what they've created is an army of people who are willing to protect them. The police can't even go into those slums because they're at risk. Those slums are literally under the control of the guy from Colombia with a bag of money in his hand. Now as a test balloon, I would say what's happened in Rio with that would indicate to any good businessman, and I would presume that these cocaine guys are good businessmen, that that's the way to go. Think of every place in the world where you have an underclass – it's poor and it's being pushed down by the middleclass, directly above in the case of the United States, or the upper crust that does all their bad stuff. Who is going to take care of these people? In the United States you've got a homeless underclass that's developing that is unprecedented. If the cocaine cartel came into the United States and helped the homeless, what do you think would happen to the War on Drugs here? Playing Robin Hood is easy when you got that kind of a profit base. It is so peculiar to think about that and I predict that there is going to be more of that happening all over the world. It doesn't cost that much to give people a little something to eat and a little something to wear. When they've got nothing, anything looks good. You don't have to be a major benefactor – just give them a little present and you're a good guy.
Two people who predicted that, too, were Mae Brussell and a person who is running for President of the United States, Lyndon LaRouche. He has mapped that out. His magazines are very good for charting these cocaine cartels. Would you support a President who wants to fight that trend or a Presidential candidate who's honest about that?
I certainly wouldn't support Lyndon LaRouche. I'll say that if he has information that backs up what I just heard from a guy who was down there, then I credit him for having at least one piece of good information. That seems a little better than saying that the Queen of England is involved in the drug traffic, which is another one of his favourite ...
That's the way the media present him. I've read his literature and he doesn't say that. He says that those old banking networks allow this laundering of dope money to happen through their banks and don't take action which he claims he would do.
Well, what he's done, he's taken some things which actually are facts and said them in a way that makes them sound ridiculous. Because of the banking laws in England it is possible that especially British banking concerns and British off-shore banking concerns have been deeply involved in money laundering. In fact, some of their branches set up in Miami are involved in it. We're just now beginning to see how this stuff works, but the other thing that ought to be said is that these people who make the billions from cocaine also finance right-wing governments. You know why? Because as long as the right-wing governments are in operation, their drugs are going to be illegal and as long as they're illegal, they're going to make more profits. It is so twisted.
Like the pornography racket.
But what if LaRouche is taking on this issue? He's the only politician who's doing that. That's commendable, isn't it?
No. I wouldn't say that Lyndon LaRouche is commendable by any stretch of the imagination. I believe, although he hasn't been convicted yet, that the whole business with the credit cards and the rest of that scam, that's not commendable. That's the end justifies the means. That's not commendable.
Right. But what if certain people have a control over the media and can distort the public's perception of LaRouche, and that there are even people infiltrating his organization to do the credit fraud because he's the only one taking on this most present, pressing problem that you predicted or that you see coming?
I don't think that he's really taking it on. I don't see him taking it on. I see him stating some facts that any trend spotter could state if you saw it. The way I arrived at it was: I just start with the premise – follow the money. You know, the old Iran-Contra "follow the money". (Both laughing) Now, if somebody's got money, what do you do with it? Answer number one: you go for power. Now, where do you get the power? Power comes from might. The might is either going to be in large armaments or in large armies. Now, where's a man, with a buck in his hand to spend who wanted power, going to get an army? The answer is simple: any slum. And then, just by chance, last night I talked with this guy who had been in Brazil and he said that's what they're doing down there. O.K., why? Now, Lyndon LaRouche may see this same trend. I don't see Lyndon LaRouche out there fighting it. I see Lyndon LaRouche doing a credit card scam. That's what I see. If I had other information, I would see something else. I don't.
But you're relying ...
I've seen LaRouche on television. I've seen him being interviewed and he does not come across to me as a guy that I would trust at all. I don't buy Lyndon LaRouche.
This is an example of a political concern of yours that you wrestle with daily that we talked about at the beginning of the interview. How much do you want to take on to deal with this trend? Do you have any personal strategies for stopping that or do you think that the force is so large there is little you could do?
The only way that I can see to reduce the influence of something that would behave like a government, cross international boundaries but not be a government in the sense that people elected it, the only way that you can reduce the influence of that creeping mess is to legalize the substances and cut their economic base. Now, let's talk about the drug problem. Drugs do not become a problem until the person who uses the drugs does something to you, or does something that would affect your life that you don't want to have happen to you, like an airline pilot who crashes because he was full of drugs. That's a drug problem. I believe that people have the right to commit suicide. You can stick a gun in your mouth. You can stick a needle in your arm. You can do whatever you want, but you own your own body. I think you do. Drugs become a problem when the person who uses them turns into an asshole, and they also become a problem when the person who manufactures and distributes them turns into a politician. That's the drug problem. Now, you want to fight the drug problem. You have to be realistic about what the problem is. The substance itself is not immoral. Without cocaine you're going to have a hell of a time at the dentist's office. You can't say, "We have to burn every coca plant". Otherwise, no more Novocaine, buddy.
The dental hygiene dilemma
Yeah. So there are things that you have to consider. There are the fine, little points. The problem is that the public gets saturated with the rhetoric about "just say no to drugs, there's a drug problem", and this and that and it puts it into a context where it becomes a moral menace. It's not a moral problem. It is an economic problem. It is a social problem. It is a mental health problem. And it can be a matter of physical danger to you when you have people who have life-and-death control over other people, who are users and they can endanger the life, like a physician, who might use drugs, who might give you the wrong kind of an operation. Or different ways the person who uses the chemical can fuck up your life. That's what you've got to look out for, but the substance itself is neither here nor there, and the person has as much right to drink a beer as he does to use the substance. The only difference is we have prohibition now of these certain substances. If you'll let your mind drift back to the time there was prohibition against alcohol, think of what happened. Remember: those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Without Carry Nation, every Italian in the Mafia would be out of business right now. It was Carry Nation who put them into business. Because there was the law of supply and demand. People wanted to drink beer. They wanted to drink gin and a few guys say, "Hey, I don't care, I'm going to supply the demand", and they became billionaires. And they eventually found out and people got killed for years all during Prohibition. The machine gun was busy. People were dying because they wanted a beer, and the government literally could not enforce the prohibition on alcohol. And in the time that they had this moral law to keep people from drinking alcohol, they managed to create the empire of organized crime. And the same thing is happening with cocaine. A guy in the jungle with a swami shirt on some place is going to wind up ruling half the world because somebody decided that cocaine was a moral problem. Cocaine used to be an ingredient in Coca Cola. Was it a moral problem then?
That's well-spoken, and that distinguishes the difference between you and LaRouche because he thinks the solution is to continue banning them.
It won't work.
And that feeds the problem. Yes, you've made that clear. I'd like to go into the satire you do. You emphasize and you're known for, a polyrhythmic approach to composing. I read a recent interview where you talked about working with harmonic, melodic and rhythmic elements, but in earlier interviews I've noticed you emphasizing the mutirhythms, the polyrhythms. Do you see that society is hypnotized by a beat, by a rhythm, by a hypnosis that you feel that you can shake up with your polyrhythms?
It's real simple but real complicated at the same time. There are certain basic natural rhythms. How often does the moon become full? Once a month, O.K. That's a rhythm. When does the tide come in? When does it go out? That's a rhythm. What is your heartbeat rate? That's a rhythm. Call those natural rhythms. You don't think about them but they're there. There is also an average tempo at which people conduct their lives. That is a rhythm. If that average didn't exist, then people wouldn't know whether or not they were going fast or going slow because those are terms which are used to compare to an average. "I'm having a slow day". That means that you're behaving less than your imaginary average rhythm. "I'm really getting a lot done today". You're going faster than your imaginary average. Now, music, the way in which it connects with human behaviour, takes into account the implications of these universal natural rhythms. Certain types of music reinforce them. Disco music, for example, is banging you over the head and reinforcing your factory rhythm. Anything that deviates from that reinforcement of your factory rhythm could be perceived as rhythmically dissonant. So, if you understand the whole idea of dissonance, dissonance when resolved is like having an itch and getting to scratch it. Dissonance when it's unresolved is like having a headache for life.
So, the most interesting music as far as I'm concerned is music in which dissonance is created, sustained for the proper amount of time, and resolved and got your scratch and next case. So, the concept of dissonance in my work works on a lot of different levels. You can have rhythmic dissonance. Any rhythm which goes against the grain of a natural rhythm is going to be disturbing for the period at which the dissonance exists. But once you get back to that downbeat, you can then look back and say, "Hey, that was quite fascinating what happened there. I didn't know that you could squeeze all those beats into that one factory cycle". O.K. Same thing with harmony. Certain chords, when you hear them, it's like, "Ah, we're now relaxed because all the harmonics have lined up from here to there and it's all complete, and it's like a nice big C major chord". Like the drone that they give you in the New Age music that just makes your brain sit still. That's the reason it makes your brain sit still. It's like, it's all there, there's nothing else to do. It's done. Now, how long can you listen to that. A long time if you're closely related to a jellyfish. But if you, in that harmonic environment, include some irritating notes, notes which are not part of the harmonic structure, so long as the note then moves to one of the partials in that static chord – like certain notes want to move upward, some want to move downward, some can actually live in there at a lower volume and just be like a pollutant in the chord, giving texture to the chord. All that stuff is part of the skill of writing music.
But unless you understand why you're doing it, and how long it lasts is very important too because it's only interesting for a certain period of time, then after that it's obnoxious. That's what I do when I put stuff together. Same thing with words. You have to understand the overall concepts of natural rhythms, things which exist that people take for granted, and the idea that one can create an artificial irritation for a certain period of time to give a pleasurable sensation when it stops. It's like the kid banging himself with the hammer: "Why are you doing that" – "Because it feels good when I stop". And in medicine it's like people who want to be young again, they go in and get their face sand-blasted. That probably doesn't feel very good, but when it's all over, they look like Mick Jagger.
I remember an interview you did for a television station in Toronto, the one where you, disguised as a journalist, asked Frank Zappa, "What do you really want to know?" And Frank Zappa answered, "What time is it?" Now, that is what you've just explained – the importance of timing, and time, and the model of the audience you're targeting, and what you're trying to create. So, that is what you want to know – what time it is.
I think that's what everybody wants to know if you get right down to it.
You mean on the personal level? If they're going to "meet their Maker"?
No, I don't think people really give a shit about that unless they're completely bamboozled by religious superstition – to live your life in planning for this good time you're going to have in the sky. There are certain religions which emphasize that more than others. I believe the Mormons have this proposition where if you're a good Mormon man, your reward is you get to have your own planet and it will be populated with women who will do whatever you want them to do. Now, that's a strong incentive for a certain weak-minded man to join that religion.
That must be Top Secret. I haven't hear that one.
You haven't heard that one? Well, there's a lot of good Mormon stuff. Did you know that caffeine is one of the big no-no's?
You didn't know that? "Don't drink coffee". You can't drink Coca Cola or any of that kind of stuff. That was written in the Book until they bought into Coca Cola. And suddenly this one particular form of caffeine was O.K. and now Mormons get high on Coca Cola. That's their big thrill.
What did you mean by "time" when you said everybody wants to know what time it is? What's the context of that statement?
This goes back to what I was just telling about the natural rhythms.
You mean that's health, you're talking health.
Yeah, in a twisted way, sure it is health.
O.K., then say it your way
No, I'm trying to see it that way.
Like being comfortable.
You're comfortable when you are in phase with all of the rhythms. If you spend too much time moving too slow, you are out of phase with your factory rate, your factory set rhythm. You spend too much time moving too fast, you're out of phase with your factory rate. You have to spend a certain amount of time at rate.
That's the consensus of the community, I guess, or the environment you're working in.
And also based on your own personal metabolism.
You don't mean the factory you're working for?
No, factory rate is like a product that's set at the factory. They turn a little screw and then they put some stuff over it so they can't touch the screw anymore.. That's the factory set rate, the calibration.
You're talking biology.
Your biological clock. Your personal clock as indicated by your personal chemistry as opposed to the phases of the moon, all the rest of the cycles that are going on. That's your rate. Your biology versus the cosmology. You've become accustomed to that rate. You perform at a higher rate, at Olympic level, or at a lower rate, quaalude level.
Right, whatever it is. If you're not at rate, you're uncomfortable.
And that would cause disease
Rate is time. "What time is it?"
But then you see how that relates to health because if you're comfortable and you're satisfying your different rate needs, you probably will be a more energetic, healthy person.
I don't know whether you're going to be more energetic, but people talk a lot about stress. That's a big media thing. Stress is the difference between your calibrated rate and another rate at which you are forced to perform.
"One size fits all" and that causes stress.
I don't think so.
Well, if you impose ...
"One size fits all" means that the Universe is the one size. It fits all.
Oh, I see. It's not imposed. It adapts to everything.
"Impose" is the wrong word. It exists and you can consider the Universe an imposition if you're truly arrogant, or you can just deal with it the way it is. Here, it's a universe of rates. You have molecular rates. You have large-scale rates. You have the expansion of the Universe rate. You have the rate of atomic decay. You have the rate of aging. You have all these rates. So, it's a world of rates, and rates are time. Just so you really understand it, the rate is the difference between when it starts and when it ends. That's the rate. These are cycles. A cycle is the way it goes up, the way it goes down. That's one cycle. You know, it's pretty consistent the way I look at stuff. But I seldom do interviews with people where they ask me about any of these kind of things. They usually want to know, "Well what about that Tipper Gore?"
Yeah, I haven't heard you explain the Big Note before. So it's coming out now because it's been evoked.
Well ... "evoked" (laughs)
Would you prefer to talk about these things more often?
No, I don't think you need to say them all the time. I think you need to say them once and then just have it out there, and then on to the next case. I don't think that it's something that anybody has to dwell on. I take these things as facts. I live my life using these facts as the guidepost to do my stuff. Somebody might hear me talking about the rates and think it was the weirdest, dumbest thing they ever heard in their life. I don't think that they are correct. I think that if they thought about it for while, they would see that there is some useful information in what I've just told you, but I've known this stuff for a long time and that's the way I do my work. That's just the way it works. I don't see how you can ignore the rates. You can't ignore time like that. Oh, the other thing that you have to realize is time doesn't start here and end over there. Everything happens all the time.
Is that a fact?
That is a fact.
All times, all cultures?
All time. Everything is happening all the time.
Our futures are happening now?
And already happened before. Everything's happening all the time. The reason I can say that is time depends on the point from which you're looking at it. It only appears that things are transpiring because we are here. If we were someplace else, they would not have transpired yet. If you could move your point of reference to the event taking place, you could change the way in which you perceive the event. So, if you could constantly change your location, you could live the idea that everything is happening all the time.
People don't see themselves doing that.
That's too bad. But they could. I think that one day somebody's going to say, "Yeah, that's right." Now, if we take that as the basic premise, then time travel is no problem.
Is that "discorporate"? Is that what you meant on WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY?
No, "discorporate" is talking about not being part of the corporation. "Discorporate" normally means to leave your body, but in the sense of that song, remember it says "Unbind your mind, escape from the weight of your corporate logo".
But that's leaving your body, your corporate body ...
Yeah, your corpse. But now you're talking about moving through time. I've heard mystics talk about what you just said. You're saying that's a possibility. How could you demonstrate that?
You could demonstrate it if you were a really good mathematician, I'm sure, which I'm not. That is something that I just take on intuition. It seems to me that it is a fact, and I will behave accordingly that everything is happening all the time. And the only way that I could attempt to aim somebody in the direction to prove it is: when an event is taking place, it has a lot to do with the position of the observer, and so if the event as a fact of reality is to be discussed or dealt with, you must always remember that the perception of the event is a byproduct of the position from which the event was viewed, the position in time and space. If you could modify your position in time and space, then the event becomes something else. It becomes a future event, or it becomes a past event, depending on where you are. These are all relative descriptive factors which have nothing to do with the actual event. That's only words used to describe the event. So, if we can just hop out of the bullshit for a minute and imagine ourselves located someplace else observing the event, the mystic procedure of telling the future, and the rest of that stuff, looks a little bit easier just because a person was able to relocate their consciousness and perceive it from a different angle.
During our break, you mentioned something about George Bush's campaign?
The thing about Bush is, if in fact he has won the election, then why is he still campaigning? And, if in fact he has won the election, then wasn't there a payment of forty-six million dollars that was either made to him, or split between him and Dukakis, which is part of that fund where everybody checks off a dollar on their income tax – all this campaign money. If he's won the election, then why is he still spending that money? Shouldn't he give it back? I think that if he insists on spending that money, then he's committing some kind of a fraud.
Did you see the movie called Cover Up?
Yeah, I saw it.
Barbara Honeeger is interviewed in it, but she was on a local L.A. radio station and she mentioned some forty million dollars. She also had on this former CIA man who phoned in and revealed a lot of Bush's skeletons. Did you hear that?
They talked about some forty million dollars. Are you talking about that?
No, this is not secret money. This is from the government. This is the straight-ahead matching funds that the government handed over to both candidates just a little while ago, and the number I recall was forty-six million. And I don't know whether it was forty-six for both, split down the middle, or whether it was forty-six to Bush. But whatever it is, if he's already won, then he shouldn't go out and throw his granddaughter up in the air like we see him doing in the commercials. You know, get off the campaign trail, get out of the flag factory.
But the election hasn't happened. He hasn't won yet.
That's right. So, let us bear that in mind.
You mean the polls, the "pollstergeists".
Yeah, the "pollstergeists". That's right.
But there are so many people who would express that view. They're quite fed up with the polls. There's a massive sense of frustration.
The people who are fed up with the polls are the people who are already smart enough to see through the bullshit to begin with. The people who are bamboozled by the polls are the ones that are most likely to vote for Bush. It's the whole idea that Americans think a winner is so terrific, and if you put the little winner's crown on one guy before the election, the day after the election, you want to make sure you voted for the guy who won. Because when you talk to your buddies when they slap each other on the back drinking Miller Lite in the bar after the election, you want to have been on the team. And that's part of the peer pressure to move the votes around.
But there always seems to be candidates for that level of humanity. Do you expect your criticism could wake one of them up?
The criticism won't, but in order to motivate the people who are already susceptible to that sort of bamboozlement, you have to provide them with data through another way. You have to either do it through a metaphor or you really have to draw them a picture. They have to be persuaded. They can't work on the logical level. You can't just say, "Look, here are facts". Because those people have gone beyond the medium of fact retention or fact processing. They're "feelies". Everything that motivates them must be wearing warm and fuzzy clothing. They want to have that warm, fuzzy sensation that whatever it is that you're selling to them makes them even warmer and fuzzier. But it can be done. In order to do it, you need to have access to media so that the message can be presented properly. The problem is that the whole myth of the liberal media bias is preposterous because nobody who owns a broadcast license, or a newspaper, is a Democrat. They're all screaming on the right. And the flap about liberal media bias was manufactured by the right wing. The right wing goes to some of their friends in another part of the right wing and says, "You attack my network. You say that CBS is too liberal, and that gives us the license to behave more conservatively in order to appear to be fair". Thereby pushing any liberal idea completely out of their broadcast, and doing it in a way that's saying, "We're doing this to provide balance". Perfect fakeout. Because that's exactly what the people always wanted to do to begin with. The demise of the Red Lion Decision guaranteeing equal time for opposing points of view in a political situation – they got rid of that last year, or the year before. Most people don't even know that regulation doesn't exist anymore. It is no longer required of a broadcaster to give equal time to the opposition. And so the removal of that regulation, combined with the desire to have only one point of view presented to the American public, has given them this great opportunity in this election.
Of course, it is important that you say this, but how much do you wrestle with the stupidity of those who do not respond to these facts?
I make a distinction between ignorance, stupidity and idiocy. And fortunately we have an abundance of all three in the United States.
"Fortunately and unfortunately".
That's right, because if you can understand all three specimens, you can communicate with them. You talk to a dog a different way than you talk to a cat, which is a different way than you talk to a goldfish. You have to understand that they do exist, and if you have to communicate with people who are in any one of those levels, or not in those levels, you have to find the language that gets the point across. The difficulty is not inventing the language, the difficulty is finding the medium by which to disseminate the language because a person such as myself does not have access to media. You can't. I tried to get a television show. You saw what happened. There's no way in the world they were going to let me on the air. And I believe, based on a conversation that I had with Michael King, the guy who runs KingWorld, here's how these guys think: For those of you who don't know, KingWorld is a syndicator that does Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, and Oprah Winfrey. They make an enormous amount of money. Basically, this man earns his living by providing an alternative to the news because the shows that he puts on the air are things that people watch when they don't want to watch the news. So he's made hundreds of millions of dollars by giving people an alternative to the news. We had a conversation in a restaurant about six months ago. He really didn't like Jesse Jackson, and I don't like Jesse Jackson either, but I said, "Jesse is such a huckster he ought to have his own television show. Give Jesse a talk show". And for a minute the cash register went off in this guy's mind, you know, Jesse Jackson with a talk show. Then he immediately said, "No way, I won't give the man a forum". And as much as they like money, and as much as he knew that if Jesse Jackson had a T.V. talk show he would have high rating, this guy wouldn't put Jesse on the air because he didn't want to give him a forum. And I have a feeling that that same conversation was repeated in certain ways when the topic of my talk show was brought up at networks. So, the problem is not how to say it, it's how you get what you're going to say into the ear of the person who needs to hear it. That's the trick.
Did you want to categorize the three levels?
Oh, what makes the difference? Well, "ignorance" means you simply were never provided with the information. So a person could be smart and ignorant at the same time. He could be smart in every other aspect of his life, but ignorant of certain types of information. "Stupid" means you have the information but because of some ...
Yeah, because of some personal inefficiency, you decide to perform an act which contravenes what you know. You do a stupid thing. Like, you know that you spent all the money in your budget, but still you had to buy that purse. Then that's stupid. You get away with it for a while, but it's stupid. "Idiot" I would think more in a medical sense. The person is capable of performing acts which could harm other individual because he is chemically stupid. There's something in the guy's brain. It's a mental health situation, whatever it is, but you don't want the guy flying your plane for you, or driving your bus, or writing your law. Now, we have all these. Then we have the people who are marginally rational. They pride themselves on having a certain amount of logic, and they have a certain size data base, they have a certain function to perform in society, but they won't go all the way. They won't believe in the facts to the point where they can carry it through to a truly logical conclusion. That means, at the critical point, they're going to opt for the easy way out. They can see what the real answer is, but they won't go for it because they just can't be bothered.
Yeah. Now, that's a different kind of inefficiency.
Yeah. But see ...
That's a laziness or something.
Yeah, that's right. And that's more of a tragedy because those people know what's right. They have the mental equipment and they have the data base to do the right thing, and they don't.
Have you thought about what the causes of that holding back are?
It's a combination of institutionalized fear which is one of the major subtexts of American society right now. You feed people "Wooh, we're gonna worry about this" and it's a lot of worry that is sold to you as a subtext in all of your advertisements and ...
Stress and dread. There are people that have had their stress level artificially raised by advertising. And, at the point that happens, a certain piece of machinery in the logical part of the brain shuts down, and they've been tricked into believing that they are a creature other than what they are. They become the targeted audience of the advertiser. They've mutated into that, and all they would have to do is turn that part of the brain back on and they'd be free of that. They'd say, "Come on, what is this?"
It's hard to explain why they get susceptible to that.
You have to break down the sub-categories of the dread. I wish there was a way to graph this out, but advertising is very powerful, and in order for advertising to work, it works on a non-logical, subconscious, psychological level. And to induce people to buy things they don't need for reasons which are not there, they have to trick you. And they trick you with colours, they trick you with modifying the cutting rate of the commercial which then modifies the way in which you ingest the data. They do tricks, and part of what's involved in the data that they are tricking you into consuming is this built-in dread factor: "You can fail. Someone will laugh at you. You are impotent. You will be poor. You will die!" Various flavours of dread, they're lurking in there in different combinations, and, of course, after they've shown you the dread, they show you the light at the end of the tunnel: "Our product will allow you not to die. You will not have pain. These little yellow pills, this really works. Our car goes fast and it's red. You'll get a blowjob if you drive this!" That's all built in there, O.K. So, people have been conditioned to consuming the dread factor. They don't know they're getting the dread, but it's in there. And then the answer to their problems – a product. So, they're trading dollars to avoid the dread, and the dollars will be aimed in the direction of the product that solves this imaginary problem. Now, how many people do you know can look at a television commercial and analyse what is really going on there. Most people don't even bother to watch the spots. It's tricking them without their even knowing it.
Did you learn a lot about that when you were in advertising in your early twenties?
Did you know that before, or did you figure it out with what you went through?
The first clues that I had to this were from a book called "The Hidden Persuaders" by Vance Packard which I read a long, long time ago.
That was in high school because it came out in the Fifties, I think? But you read it when you were quite young?
Yeah. I was in high school in the Fifties. I'm forty seven.
So, Packard turned you on to some of that stuff.
Yeah, but not what I'm telling you right now because the advertising was mutated into something different in the Eighties than it was in the Fifties, the whole technique.
Because many societal changes have happened. So, there's a different context, right?
It's not just the context. It's the style. Well, the flavour of the dread has changed. The types of things that people are afraid of have changed to some degree. Certain basics remain. Death is a constant. Impotence is a constant. Poverty is a constant. But at certain times in American history, certain things become more important than others With the growth of the Yuppie culture, the fear of impoverishment and people laughing at you is probably more dreadful than death or impotence. So, that particular type of dread would be stressed more in a 1980's commercial than it would in another era.
Would you say that the Yuppie culture was a natural product of the Hippie culture?
I don't know whether it's natural, but I can see that there's a logical continuum because the Hippie culture was not anything divine to begin with. Most of the people who joined that were just chumps looking for a good time just like the people who become Yuppies. The reason they join any kind of a movement, or a culture, is because they're looking for a home, they want to belong to something. Now, a lot of the people who became Hippies, maybe they knew that they didn't look good in Paisley and long hair, with joints dangling out of their mouth. Maybe they knew that was stupid, but they did it anyway because that was the only way they were going to get a blowjob that season. Now the Yuppies have gone beyond that. They have to have a Rolex, they have to have a Porsche, but they don't even care about the blowjob anymore because it's just about the dollars. Now, that's a mutation.
A "United Mutation"? The collective consensus? I'm reminded of the saying, "Advertising creates the disease and then offers the cure".
Well, that's just like the way sell you pornography legislation.
And the drug thing. So, this is an elaboration what you mean to say, "The Emperor isn't wearing any clothes".
These subconscious factors wouldn't work if one knew that the Emperor was wearing no clothes.
Here's a way to make it obvious. It's just like the PMRC talking about explicit lyrics and harming children. If a kid doesn't know what a blowjob is, you can talk about blowjobs for weeks and he isn't going to be affected in any way about that. Unless he knows what you're talking about, how's the lyric going to register? It's the same way if you're using the word "parsec" too many times in a sentence. Unless the person knows what it refers to, where's the harm? What good is the data?
Don't they feel that the kids know too soon, now?
When is "too soon"? There's a certain mentality that presumes that sex must be something truly horrible, and that we must be protected from it at all costs, especially our tender, precious, young children. And there is a difference between knowing about sex, knowing how it functions and having, let's say, in the case of child pornography, an adult abusing a child. That is a violent crime. It has more to do with violence than it has to do with sex.
Sex is a means of controlling people, but it also is a very important thing, and a lot of emotions come out of sex.
The way a right wing administration would view sex is: "Sex is a cheap thrill. Now, we can't have these people having too many thrills because usually after they have sex, they're happy. Unless they're really doing it wrong, they had a good time. Now, that relieves the dread". If you just had good sex, you're not going to sit around there and think about that dread they tried to instill in you. That's one of the antidotes to the dread factor. So, the less sex, the more dread, the more dread, the more sales, the more sales, the more GNP. Then you have what they call this "prosperity which we must continue for another administration". The other thing that happens, when you deny people sex, is they have a force inside their body that wants to be expressed, it wants to come out. You're either going to do it through sex or you're going to do it through murder. You're going to find some way to get that out of you. Now, these right-wing guys would prefer you had a nation of potential murderers because that makes for a great army. Whereas you don't want a nation of people who do good sex because what have you got then? They're having a good time. You can't sell them that Wacky Wallwalker if they're in a good mood.
But what about sexual hygiene? In other words, you could have good sex with one partner, but people get confused. They think that they want to have sex with more than one person. They get more greedy, then the hygenic problem comes in.
Come on, that's a matter of sex education. Someone ought to tell you to wash your private parts every once in a while.
Yeah, but people are stupid.
We, the American people are not physically incapable of being taught how to wash their private parts, or why. I think we have the ability to process this particular piece of information. So, the hygiene question – I don't know, people are not that stupid.
But you know people are stupid on many levels, and the people who are protective babysitters in religion and government, so to speak, they take advantage of the stupidity to control, but people are generally inconsiderate. So, there would be this chaotic transition period, which is maybe what we're in now, where people are not following the leader's positions, or there's a mood of autonomy, and yet they create a lot of mistakes from it and bad side-effects because they don't know how to be intelligent.
That's a big problem – where people don't know how to be intelligent. One of the reasons that they don't know is because it's never been fashionable to be intelligent, especially in the United States. This country has an anti-intellectual history that goes back to the first bundling board. You know, thinking is bad for you. AS a matter of fact, you can trace it back to the beginning of Christian doctrine. The whole foundation of Christianity is based on the idea that intellectualism is the work of the Devil. Remember the apple on the tree? O.K., it was the Tree of Knowledge. "You eat this apple, you're going to be as smart as God. We can't have that". Let's get one thing straight. Besides the Universe being just a matter of rates, and I don't want to get back into that, but the behaviour of molecules is a matter of rates. And molecules, translated into the real world where we can deal with it on a regular basis, move into the realm of chemistry, and so it is with intelligence. I think it has a lot to do with chemical processes that take place in your brain. I think you can make people artificially stupid. Quaaludes is a good example. It's a chemical way of producing stupid behaviour, and conversely, there must be a way chemically to make people perform better. I don't know what it is. But if there are chemical substances which people will willingly ingest to produce stupid behaviour, one day somebody will come up with something that will make it possible for you to think better. I'm not talking about LSD, but some other way that'll just allow you to improve your processing capabilities. Just like when we were talking about the difference between the original Apple computer, where you have to wait ten minutes for the thing to go clonk, clonk and see a few words on the screen, and stuff that is available on the marketplace now that is a thousand times faster. It's doing the same job. It's just doing it in a more efficient way. So, when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, if you go for all these fairy tales, that "evil" woman convinced the man to eat the apple, but the apple came from the Tree of Knowledge. And the punishment that was then handed down, the woman gets to bleed and the guy's got to go to work, is the result of a man desiring, because his woman suggested that it would be a good idea, that he get all the knowledge that was supposedly the property and domain of God. So, that right away sets up Christianity as an anti-intellectual religion. You never want to be that smart. If you're a woman, it's going to be running down your leg, and if you're a guy, you're going to be in the salt mines for the rest of your life. So, just be a dumb fuck and you'll all go to heaven. That's the subtext of Christianity.
Earlier, just before you were talking about the Tree of Knowledge, you were speaking about having some chemical means of making people smarter. I think of the ...
Maybe it's an apple.
Yeah, the Apple computer. The text of the booklet in UNCLE MEAT, back in '69, was about taking Ruben and the Jets and the "vocal drone mechanism", and using sounds that made vegetables grow better, and animals. Were you getting metaphorically at what you were just talking about – your vision of seeing that we could be optimistic because someday they're going to make people better, maybe with sound?
Why not with sound? Because the largest organ in the human body, correct me if I'm wrong, is your skin, and your eardrum is only part of your skin, folks. So, that may be the most sensitive part of the skin. But I believe the whole skin responds to sound, and different parts of the skin over different parts of the body have different resonant frequencies. In other words, frequencies that strike them better. Because of the size of the eardrum, it has a centre frequency susceptibility at around 2K. That's why telephones sound like telephones. Your ear is most sensitive around 2 kilohertz. It can hear other things, but that's the real sensitive range. So, maybe other larger patches of skin resonate with other different frequencies. There's been research done that showed that certain frequencies of certain amplitudes produce physical effects. Ten cycles of a certain amplitude stops your heart. You can die from sound. You wouldn't even "hear" the ten cycles, in the traditional sense of the word, because your ear doesn't go down that low, but a couple of good boops and you're dead. And there are frequencies that will make you piss, and frequencies that will make you shit, and frequencies that will make you do all kinds of things. I don't think they've discerned the entire range of them, but there is a connection between human organism and the way moving air molecules affect that organism. So, we shouldn't be so short-sighted as to rule out the possibility that therapies for different kinds of conditions, as well as the ability to kill people, could all be induced by sound. And the clue to that might be the soothing effect that certain types of music have on certain individuals. And the trick is, what passes for nice music in one culture, is radically different than nice music in another culture. I doubt seriously that most Americans would find it soothing to listen to six hours of Chinese music, but I don't think that the Chinese would find it too soothing to listen to six hours of Barry Manilow, either. So, each culture has a different ideal of what constitutes good music. But the thing that is existing in music, that transcends the style, the orchestration, or the timbre of the music, is the pitches of the notes. So that may be the determining factor.
Yeah, that's interesting. There is an idea that Marshall McLuhan tossed around – that music was speech slowed down. And he said that the reason cultures have different musical tastes is intimately connected to language. So, obviously the rhythms of Chinese music are connected to the way they speak, and that determines a large part of ...
It's not the rhythm. The thing that sets the Chinese music apart, the rhythms of Chinese music are similar to the rhythms of the other musics, is the timbre of it. It's the texture of the thing.
Oh, this is what you mean by "pitch".
No, timbre is the texture of a sound quality. In other words, is it being played by a snare drum? Is it being played by an oboe? Is it being played by a tuba? That's the timbre. The pitch is the vibrational frequency of the note being played no matter what instrument is playing it. That's pitch. Rhythm is the rate, the period, the distance between one note and another. That constitues the rhythm. And the harmony is – there's an implied or explicit harmonic domain in which all the action takes place. It's like the canvas on which everything happens. The same melody line, with a major chord supporting it, is a different story when a minor chord is supporting it. The message that comes through is different. So, that's how the things interact. Harmony tells you how to perceive the melody. That's the compass that shows you which way North is. The rhythm determines how fast the piece is going. So, you can determine whether or not the piece is above your factory rate. Or the rhythm determines the distance, the periodicity between one start time and another of each of the pitches in the melody line. That's how it's interacting. And the timbre is going to send your message about certain other qualities of the line. For example, the dumbest example of all time is: "Purple Haze" played on an accordion is a different story than "Purple Haze" on a fuzztone guitar. You play exactly the same notes, but there's two different messages. So, one of the main differences, culturally, from place to place, in the music, is in the timbre of the instruments which are playing the music. Chinese music, to use an extreme example, has certain types of flues, certain types of little, stringed instruments, and little, bowed instruments that have a certain nasal quality to them which would not be an admired texture in a Western society. But to the Chinese that is their music and it's perfect, and it's wonderful, and they think that's the way things ought to be. Whereas we in America think that Bruce Springsteen is the next best thing to Michael Jackson.
When I said rhythm before I would include all those factors, but did you say earlier that pitch may be the key for making people intelligent through sound?
No, I'm not saying "making people intelligent". I'm saying if we allow ourselves to consider the possibility of audio being used as a tool for therapy, really what you are doing is using certain frequencies aimed at certain parts of the body in order to set up a resonance. In other words, you can knock down a bridge with the right resonance because you'll find a resonant frequency of the concrete that's holding it up, and it's going to crack. And the same thing could be true of a crystalline situation in the human body. If you want to crack it, you've got to find the resonant frequency of that crystal, and then it's gone. Like the right note could be a cure for gout where you have uric acid crystals located in the joint someplace. How are you going to get in there? The guy can't move his joint anymore because the crystals have kept his joint from moving. So, you find the right frequency, aim it at it, turn up the volume, and they're gone.
I'm sure some people have explored this. Do you know, Carolyn?
Carolyn Dean: Yeah, that's Radionics.
Carolyn Dean: Yeah, there are different things. Medically, there are gallstone-shattering devices with ultrasound.
Carolyn Dean: But there are Radionics machines that measure the frequencies of all the organs. If the frequency is not normal, you can plug in the normal frequency and "kick" it. So that's being done.
I remember, according to Miles, that you used to have on your basement studio door the words "Dr. Zurkon", back in 1970.
It's possible, yeah.
Because there I see you incorporating several roles. Your talking about healing that was brought out on the UNCLE MEAT album. You touched on it, and it doesn't show up too much in other records. But this relates to something you said at the end of the Rolling Stone interview in 1968. I think they asked you, "Anything more to say?", and you brought up this: If one is being tried, you should be tried by your peer group. In other words, you addressed the legal world then, and you're addressing the medical world here. Do you see that you're using music in many roles other than just as a specialist of music?
Well, I think you're blowing it out of proportion. The fact is that I'm a guy who has an operating brain. I'm in the process constantly of bringing in data, and sorting it, and drawing conclusions. You do an interview with me, I deliver to you today's conclusions. If you happen to ask the right question about something that I've thought about, I'll give you what my up-to-the-minute take is on any given conclusion on any given topic at that point. To me, it's fun. It's not like I have a mission to go out and help the medical profession or the legal profession. I think about different things. And the reason why I would be triggered to think about the thing would be that I might see a news story, or somebody might say something , and it doesn't just go by me. I think about it. I think about my environment. So, I don't have any choice, that's just the way I am. I can't turn it off. So, if I come up with a conclusion, and somebody asks me a question about certain topics, then I'm going to give you my conclusion rather than text book knowledge. I didn't learn my shit from reading a book. I would have gone to college, I couldn't have done any better.
Yeah. So, where I'm maybe a bit limited here is trying to project a certain strategy of the theatrical element.
Well, let me talk about that peer group business, because when you talk about what the Constitution provides, a trial by a jury of your peers, I would say that would be one of the most precious commodities that a person can obtain in the United States today. Because the people who are available to sit on a jury anymore are not peers of anyone. How do you get a fair trial, and especially if complicated technical matters, when your peers are not your peers? Who's Ivan Boesky's peers? What do they do?
Yeah. In theory, for him to get a fair trial, he would have had to have a jury of his peers. Where are they? And even more grotesque, where are Charles Manson's peers?
Then it doesn't make sense, the idea of being tried by your peers.
On the one hand, if you want to stick to what the Constitution says and treat it with some respect, and at least go along with the idea of democracy, then you ought to live by the letter of the law. If you find out the law is no good, then you ought to change the goddamn thing, or live a lie.
One of the problems in Canada is that the medical profession keeps the trial by their peers "in house".
But that happens everywhere though. It's very seldom that a guy who is in the medical profession in the United States really gets into a civil court because there's other ways to hush up his case through the AMA. And the AMA is certainly nothing to brag about. They got caught with th that little scam that they tried to pull against the chiropractors recently. Look, nobody's perfect. People have invented certain rules to attempt to give the illusion the world works. Some of the rules are good, some of them are not. The biggest problem that we have in American government today is when a problem is realized, and they are popping up every day. We're just beginning to see the start of this legacy of the Industrial Revolution which is the ruination of health and ecology on a global scale. That's the price you're going to pay for all the evil shit that happened at the beginning of the century. Now as the stuff comes up, instead of dealing with it in practical ways, there are attempts made to legislate the event away, legislate the problem. The trick about legislation is no matter how you write the law, you've got to enforce it. And I'll be kind, ninety percent of the laws that have been passed recently in the U.S. Congress are unenforceable. They're either unenforceable, from a practical standpoint, because it can't be done, or unenforceable because it might be done but nobody in his right mind would be willing to spend the money to actually make the enforcement possible. And the new drug bill is one of those things. You can't really enforce it. There's not enough police, there's not enough jails, there's not enough courts, there's not enough judges, juries, anything to implement what's written in that bill. And the same holds true of just about everything else that comes out of Congress. We would be better off in this country if we would spend four years, one whole administration, ridding ourselves of useless laws that don't work.
And lawyers. That's where you get ...
That's right. That's the problem. These laws exist to create work for lawyers. The contemporary society has gotten so complicated that you could be violating a law without even knowing it. That's the whole idea of Joe's Garage – the criminalization of America. You are still responsible for your actions. You can still be called a criminal even if you didn't know that the law was there. So, who can know? There is no one person in the United States right now who will stand up and swear that he understands the U.S. tax code. It's too complicated, and if you take that on a state-by-state basis and think of the body of law that exists on the books in every state in the U.S., compounded by federal law, compounded by case law, then you are totally at the mercy of a legal system that could perhaps even have you killed for violating something you didn't even know existed. I believe there are still some states that have the death penalty for oral copulation – New Jersey, North Dakota.
What are the "Nine Types Of Industrial Pollution"? Because it seems these old institutions are running amuck with these old techniques, and they're out of control. They clash with different media, different institutions, and different professions.
The funny thing about that song title is that, at the time that it was put on Uncle Meat, there was no such thing as a concern over industrial pollution. It hadn't even been brought up as a topic. I put that on that song just as a joke after driving through New Jersey.
So, there were not nine, you had not categorized ...
Here I could see nine on that one trip. There may be more.
The term was not in the regular media ...
But one of the institutes involved in the CIA.'s MKULTRA mind-control program, and this was in '55, was called the Human Ecology Society. They were using the term "ecology", but it was "human" ecology – perhaps in a management sense, not as pollution.
Yeah. But I don't know if I got that clearly. Do you want peer group trial? Or are you pointing out that there are no peer groups possible?
I'm pointing out an idiosyncrasy of the law. You want it, make it work. If it won't work, then you're living a lie if you keep it on the books. And that's only one.
It would be useful to respond to your demand and change, but there's an element in your suggestion of the absurdity of the situation, right?
Of course. You have to look at the situation and see what's really going on here. You have thwarted ideal, you have somebody designing an ideal situation. And through history you see that it doesn't work and then, instead of dealing with it because it doesn't work, you have people living a lie. And living a lie creates stress.
And humour. Pointing it out creates laughter which helps relieve stress so ...
Yeah, but it doesn't solve the problem. It's like popping a pimple.
But this is like the human intelligence factor we were talking about. There's a catch-22 element here. You're pointing out the lie. Do you expect people to be able to apply the suggestion, or would you ask them to do it?
What I'm asking people to do is simply this: In your own way, in your own life, every day, you are confronted with a piece of data. Don't just eat it up. Just think about it for a minute. You have the right to process your own information based on the equipment that you were born with. That's your right. That's real freedom. You have the right to make up your own mind. Now, if you choose to numb yourself, and to be bamboozled, you have the right to be bamboozled. But in your state of bamboozlement, you do not have the right to be a liability, because of your self-imposed ignorance, on other people who might want to do things the right way. If you voluntarily choose to be a numbskull, for whatever reason you have chosen it, that's fine. You have the right to be stupid, but you don't have the right to harm other people as a result of your stupidity. And you don't have the right to legislated your stupidity into existence, to force it on other people who have a clearer view of what things are.
Do you think that one man, a President with a wise cabinet, could implement some changes, or is the society so complex that that institution, within the checks and balances system, would not be able to implement change?
I think it's possible, sure. The reason that it's possible is nobody has more access to the media than the President. And most of the evils of society can, in fact, be cured through information. We have a society that has been disinformed and based on the disinformation has made irrational choices. And that's what I mean by "ignorance". People, who ordinarily might be smart, are deprived of the data by which to make a rational decision, don't have the data to do it. Nobody has got more control, or access to the media, than the White House Press Office. We've seen it. They've literally reshaped American history to their own ends. It truly is 1984: "Black is white, white is black, 2 and 2 is eleven", whatever they want to tell you. "George Bush is an ecology guy. Ronald Reagan is a great patriot. Nancy wants you to say no to drugs, and she likes to say yes to the extra clothes that come in."
See the power of the information of the situation we're in? And your mini-manifesto, which we talked about at the beginning, begins with the work "Information".
That's right, you have to be suspicious of the information. That's why it says, "Information is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom".
What is "Information"
Any data that comes in. Somebody presents you with something. Like, I walk up to you and say, "Two and two is eleven". That's some information. It's bad information, but it's information. O.K. Now, if somebody comes up to you and says "Two and two is eleven", and they have the Presidential Seal on their coat, and they got bunting waving in the background, and balloons go up, you might consider it for a minute. So, that's information. Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is the point at which you know something, O.K. Now, wisdom is the idea that you have a bank of facts. To behave wisely, you have to deploy those facts in some way. You can deploy them stupidly or you can deploy them wisely. So, information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. You can take all the sorted pieces of information which gives you a knowledge base. You can act in what you believe is a wise procedure, but that is not necessarily any ultimate truth. And just because something is an ultimate truth doesn't mean it's beautiful. And just because something is beautiful certainly doesn't mean you have to love it. Because there's lots of ugly stuff that you could love, too. I mean, I love my dog. Not a particularly attractive dog, but that's a wonderful dog.
How did it continue after Beauty? What are the rest of the lines?
Oh, well, it's: "Information is not knowledge, Knowledge is not wisdom, Wisdom is not truth, Truth is not beauty, Beauty is not love, and Love is not music. Music is THE BEST"
If "Love is not music", what is "Love"?
It's chemical, merely chemical.
And it can be ...
And you have different rates of duration?
It can have different frequencies. There are many notes that you could call B flat. There are several of them on the piano. They're all called B flat, but they're all different rates. But they're still called B flat for some reason. Because they're multiples of the same rate.
It seems that in your studies in music, in your experience as a musician, you've seen that as a model for many other parts of human activity. And it serves to see music as chemistry, and you can take the smattering of chemical knowledge you got in high school and you adapt it to the musical metaphor, to the Big Note metaphor.
Well, things work together. I see the Universe as an interrelated thing, not so much as one big enormously complicated thing, but one big simple motherfucker. It's rates. There it is.
There was a quote in an obscure fashion magazine about 1970 where you said, "Waves come together, they cancel each other out, the there's no time". Something along those lines, if I recall correctly.
I don't remember saying it, but I know what I'm talking about. Alright, there is such a thing as frequency cancellation. I don't think you can ever get it to be a hundred percent, but you can reduce the amplitude, how loud something is, by causing the waves to cancel each other out. That's one of the ways that they use to reduce the hum in air conditioning. By introducing a tone into the air conditioning duct, which counteracts the low frequency hum, the waves cancel each other out. Now, if waves are time and you cancel the wave, then what have you just done?
We've covered a lot of things that I wanted to talk about. Now, here are some miscellaneous topics. I noticed in various interviews that the phrase "no comment" would come up. And in one of them, back in '76, in some rock magazine, you were asked about psychic phenomena, being psychic. You answered, "No comment". Is there a reason why you would say "no comment"?
Yeah, because that's based usually on the person I'm talking to.
You mean, you don't think there is information that you would give in response to that question?
Sometimes there are certain people who can't understand what you're saying.
So, "no comment" means it's a reflection on the person you're dealing with.
And I noticed in other interviews, this may be the same reason, when someone starts talking about '50's R&B, you'll say, "Now, you're moving into dangerous territory there".
One of the reasons for it is, most of the people who talk about '50's R&B don't have any recollection of it. If you're talking to somebody who wasn't alive during the Fifties, then all they know about '50's R&B is the Sha Na Na television show, or "Happy Days". They don't know what it was so I would rather not discuss it with them. If I can talk to somebody in my own age bracket who knows what the thing is, then fine. But you can't really have a conversation about that style of music with anybody who doesn't comprehend it because of the damage that's been done by the commercialization of it. That's all.
But when you say "dangerous territory" you're saying, "Buddy, you better know what you're talking about if we're going to explore it, because you will get ... "
Well, I say that facetiously. I'm not threatening anybody.
But it's "dangerous" because it's so little known today.
Yeah, there's just no comprehension of it. There are certain types of music that have been ruined by media exposure. For example, what do we really know about Mozart? They made a movie about him and there are so many Mozart records, but what is that? That ain't what Mozart was. Can we know? And by the same token, can we really understand the mentality that went into producing Doo-wop records unless you knew what that world was? I think we got maybe about a six-month turn-over for each musical interest-cycle now, at the this point in the Eighties. Whoever was the big hit six months ago – "O.K, next!" It's got nothing to do with the quality of what the person did, or what the music is about. It's not new so you don't want it. With that sort of mentality working in the marketplace, how can you address a musical marketplace with that mindset about something that has to be totally irrelevant to them. This is so many interest-cycles ago that why trouble them with descriptions of Doo-wop music.
And that brings in the time factor for consumers in the sense that we live almost 200 years every twelve months in terms of trend turn-over, or possibilities for interest-cycles.
Yeah, and I think they're becoming shorter. I've also talked about the End of the World being a question of whether it's going to be by fire, ice, paperwork, or nostalgia. And there's a good chance that it's going to be nostalgia because the distance between the event and the nostalgia for the even has gotten shorter and shorter and shorter with each nostalgia cycle. So, projecting into the future, you could get to a point where you would take a step and be so nostalgic for that point where you would take a step and be so nostalgic for that step you just took that you would literally freeze in your tracks to experience the nostalgize of the last step, or the last word, or your last whatever. The world just comes to a halt – remembering.
That was McLuhan's point. He said that the electric environment creates such a turn-over of information retrieval and projection that whole societies would turn to "stone". Which I see as the reason why people are getting supposedly "conservative". They're just freezing in their "time zone", but there's an underlying paradox because they are also turning over these cycles faster.
That's perverting the concept of what conservatism is. True conservatism is the guy who wants smaller government and lower taxes, and that's me. And everything else that has been appliqued on to that term has more to do with religious fanaticism and Fascist politics, and stuff like that. "Conservative" is the wrong word. I don't think that Americans, in the way they think of themselves as being nice, kind, free, fair, good-natured, jolly little individuals, would willingly opt for Fascism, but they could easily be tricked into it. All you have to do is tell them that it's a candy apple, or whatever the lies are that are going on right now. Literally, they are being molded into something that is as potentially dangerous to the rest of the world as Nazi Germany was in the Thirties and Forties. But tricked into it by people who have just lulled them into this false sense of security, and they wave a little American flag over it and everybody just has this knee-jerk reaction that they've got to buy it.
Well, it occurs to me, when you'[re talking about nostalgia cycles, that may be why people have the desire to end the election as soon as possible. They can't keep their interest on the two-year campaign like they used to.
I don't know whether anybody truly wants to be interested in a campaign for two years, and I think that's one of the reasons why they run them for two years. Because they want to numb the electorate. They want to keep the voter turn-out low. If you keep the voter turn-out low, then you realize that the only people who have managed to stay interested long enough have to be weird. The average guy, who just wants to exercise his democratic right to vote, he's so turned off by the whole thing. He's seen these guys over and over, he's heard the lies, he's looked at it and just gone "Yuck!" And now it's not a privilege to vote. It's a horrible obligation and they don't even want to know about it. And especially when you tell them that the election's already over, then why should they bother? Why should they leave their job or go, especially on the East Coast when it's cold, to someplace in November to pull a handle or poke a hole in a piece of paper? Who cares? The election's over. They want you to believe that.
Isn't this a major disservice caused by the television age? And if humanists or conservatives were really concerned, they'd say, "We've got to turn off this electric environment" as one of the means to attempting to solve all their problems.
You can't. You have to use it. You can't just turn it off. I think that the electric environment could be one of the greatest boons to mankind if it were run by people who had mankind's interest at heart, but there's not an ounce of that. There's no benevolence in the network I guarantee you.
I'm reminded of a quote you made back in the late Sixties: "If you really want to change society, infiltrate the military". Do you want to elaborate on that? Is that obvious? Do you think anybody would do that?
I don't think that any of the people who have let's say, humanistic concerns ever took me up on that one. Because the military is something that is never going to be dismantled as long as people are in their current state of evolutionary development. They still believe in the need for war. And I believe that it is impossible to do away with the military, from a practical standpoint, just because there are people on this planet, who are less sophisticated than ourselves, who would be more than happy to do harm to us. So, you have to be able to protect yourself against it. However, to do a good job, you should do it efficiently. You should know what you're doing. Cut the bullshit and go do it, you know? I like to see people who are not bullshit people in positions where they make decisions. People who have more of a long-range view. you need people in every profession, and the military is a profession, who have a long-range view. What is today's little action going to mean twenty-five years down the road? And why are we doing it? Is Grenada really necessary? Is Central America really necessary? Is Angola really necessary? What are we really doing? That's what I mean by telling people to go into the military. Because it is not my field of expertise, but I'm convinced that the law of averages would indicate that somewhere out there, there's somebody, who has an aptitude for military thinking, who's also a long-range thinker and who might care more about people than about rhetoric and politics. The military should be an organization which performs a service for the rest of the society just like a police force. AS long as you need it, it should be reminded that it is working for the rest of the citizenry. These are people who have been given a license to carry a gun and kill people with it, and they should not use that against the citizens which gave them the license. They should always act in the interest of the citizens that gave them permission to behave in the militaristic way.
So, you're saying that in the late Sixties you made that proposal and nobody responded to it, or said, "I'm going to do it, Frank."
Well, they never called me up and said, "Good idea, Frank! I'm going in now. Thanks for suggesting it". None of that kind of feedback. But I'll tell you one of the other things that I suggested, and it's been twisted and really turned around, and it turned out to be really true even though it was twisted and turned around. I also suggested we could make the world better by going into media, which is exactly the reason why Falwell and Robertson have these colleges to train people to go into media. They're going to use the same thing to put their clones in place to keep the lid on stuff, and they're out there. There was a guy who graduated from Robertson's University who was working at Fox Television Network on the Joan Rivers Show. They're out there, they're already in place. These are like moles. You don't know that they came from that brainwash camp, but if you're talking about a Christian Lord, you're talking about doing the work of an imaginary deity that wants to keep people stupid. That's the job. So, these are people who ultimately, when they are in place, will keep "content" from managing to get into the airwaves.
In the Sixties, you know that you could use the media and inspire people, or have them do it, but the odds were against it. I see that you're saying now in the Eighties, "Look, the people who don't have your interests in mind have done what I urged many years ago". And you replay that by saying, "Get out and vote." That's the first level. How could you begin to implement what you see as intelligent people into influential positions?
I wouldn't. I think that if a person is truly intelligent, then they're going to find their own way, and they don't need me to tell them what to do.
Then why do you make such statements? Just to remind people?
I hope that there are some people, who are just teetering on the brink of being consciously intelligent, who will opt for it, rather than opt for the quaalude life. If you've got the chemical machinery in your body, which is a functioning brain, and you have free will, then you can choose to be stupid or you can choose to be smart. I say choose to be smart. It ain't as bad as you think. The problem is most people choose to be stupid because there's a social stigma attached to being smart. If you're smart, you don't get laid. That's something every kid learns in school. The other thing that used to be true, it's not so true anymore, is nobody wants to fuck a comedian. Now it's different, a little bit. That used to be an axiom. Nobody wants to fuck a mad scientist either. So, Americans have steered themselves away from intellectual pursuits because they want to have a social life. And the ones that have been the most victimized by it are the women who have made themselves stupid. I think there's probably a lot of smart women in the United States. If we trace it all the way back to Eve, who was smart enough to suggest that that idiot man eat that damn apple, obviously she knew something that he didn't know. She knew the apple was something worthwhile. Now, the guy's been blaming her for all this time: "Now you want me to go buy your Kotex for you". But women are pathetic when they make themselves stupid. There's even more of a stigma to being a smart girl than there is to being a smart guy.
You talk a lot about sex and say you're a devout pagan. Is it your strategy to say, "Look, I'm a smart guy and I get laid"?
Well, that is absolutely a fact. There you have it.
It can be done.
It can be done.
Did you get laid much in high school, or were you interested in that at that point?
Being a normal American teenager, I was very interested in it, and I was truly blessed that I had a teenage girlfriend who lived three doors away from me. So, yeah, I was having a wonderful time in high school.
She's not the woman you first married?
No, I didn't meet her until I was in junior college. And eventually the girl that I was going out with in high school, her parents decided that we shouldn't be so serious and they moved away so that I couldn't see her anymore.
But you were sexually involved?
And you used condoms?
You were careful?
Well, this is something that I believe is not germane to our philosophical conversation.
O.K. Another quote relating to people working in their institutions. And I think you set an example: you engaged yourself with the music Establishment, and kept your integrity, and did your part. And you're hoping that people in the military are infiltrating and getting to positions that can implement some positive changes.
Do your part. Pull your weight. Don't be a flake.
I have here a quote where you said "you were interested enough in politics to talk to people about it". And you said that in the late Sixties. Now, many people though in the Sixties, probably because of the way you were presented by the media, that you were very arrogant.
I think one of the techniques used to neutralize a person who has intelligence is to make them out to be a bad guy. And I'm not a bad guy, but I think that what's been written about me in print has basically been designed to make me less appealing to a broad spectrum of the American public. It's the same syndrome as why I don't have a talk show on television. They don't want to give me a forum.
Here's a question about the word "questions". I remember in Newsweek, back in '68 they did an article on you and you said, "My role is to ask questions". And then in the liner notes on the Grand Wazoo album, you talk about the "Questions" who come out and get checked for musical talent, and then if they pass, they can go do a couple of simple musical exercises giving some rudimentary entertainment skill. But the ones that do not pass get dumped or drowned in the "UnDifferentiated Tissue".
The word "Questions" used in that story was instead of "Christians". The original name of that song was "Eat that Christian".
Is that right?
Why did you change it?
I thought "Question" was better.
Because it applies to other points, too?
Yeah, it's a more twisted concept – "Eat That Question".
Or multi-leveled. I think you sometimes criticize excessive verbality or talking without thinking, and sometimes instrumentals or pure sound can massage away that concern about verbal concepts.
yeah, I think a lot of people just like to talk , and they think what they have to say is really fascinating and they take as long as they can to say it. It's not always possible, because some of the stuff that people ask me is pretty ridiculous, but I want to find the quickest way to boil it down and give an answer that you could remember, if you could remember the question. Sometimes the questions are six weeks long, but just to bring the answer down to a manageable chunk, it's tricky to do it. It's the kind of thing that would be easier to do if you were writing it down on paper, but to me that's the most boring thing in life.
Well, your strategy is so appropriate for an electric technology when you're given thirty seconds to get your point across.
That's a challenge. Try it sometime.
I do it, or try to do it, on the radio every week. So you ask musical questions?
I remember in an interview around the late Seventies, you brought up the concept of "sprechstimme", a German term.
A speech-song. That means, instead of singing all the pitches of the song, you half speak it, you half sing it. It's a technique that was attributed to Arnold Schoenberg who used it in a piece called "Pierrot Lunaire". And the way it was written was: all the pitches for the soprano to sing, the ones that she was supposed to half speak, had X's on the stems. But I don't think he invented it because this is a type of vocal styling that has been used in Blues. It's also been used in other types of ethnic music. You can find it in Bulgarian music where, instead of exactly singing the note, you imply the pitch of the note, but you're really talking it. It's in between.
You started doing your talking stuff around that time when you were talking about that concept?
The first album had "sprechstimme" on it.
Yeah. Now you related it to musical theory and thought, and you thought that you have solved some musical questions there in modern theory.
I would have to see the context of the interview that you're talking about. I mean, you know more about my interviews than I do.
(laughing) I apologize, I apologize.
That's O.K. I remember some of them and other ones I don't for example, you used that Rolling Stone ('68) interview several times. I always thought that was a terrible interview. It bore little or no resemblance to what I actually said, and I was horrified when it came out because it was virtually mutilated.
Yeah, that's something we've talked about before. A long time ago, after I had mentioned some printed quotes, you told me, "I did not say that." That really happens a lot in your own personal experience.
Sure. I received something in the mail yesterday that I couldn't believe. In fact, Gerald, if you could go upstairs and ask Gail if she's got that newspaper clipping from Minneapolis, from a paper called New Reality. In this article there's a guy talking about the fact that I knew that Andy Warhol was murdered, and had some knowledge about Divine's suicide, and all this stuff. Did you see that?
Gerald Fialka: We get calls on Pumpkin, one a week. This guy's been doing this in Minneapolis for a while, and they try to connect, and I say, "There is no connection".
It's a porno paper. It's not even a real newspaper. It's got ads for bondage and stuff in it. And here's this guy making references to me knowing something about the supposed murder of Andy Warhol, and something to do with Divine, and a few paragraphs later, mine and my daughter's foot fetish, and all this stuff. It's just the most bizarre stuff. So, I laughed it off. But, you talk about things that appear in print with my name connected to it. I'm not to be held wholly responsible for what's out there.
So, that's like mental pornography, this gossip and rumour. In this society of information overload, people can get away with a lot of bullshit.
Sure. Just because that's in print, somebody's going to say, "Well, there must be something to it. Otherwise, he wouldn't have written it. Otherwise, somebody would go after it"
Yeah, there's a cop for everything.
That's right. "They'd get him if it wasn't true".
There's where the naivety is, and maybe that's why people are so hypnotized by father images. Because they said, "Well, things are so out of control, we need a tough guy". I mean, this could be a disservice of the television age bringing ...
Anybody who looks at George Bush and sees a tough guy has really been mediated.
"Mediated" – don't they call in the "mediators" during the strikes? That relates to the media.
Well, they're "mediating" in the strike, really.
Yeah, they give press conferences.
We've talked about this earlier, the confusion, the difficulty to communicate in this mass hallucination that's going on. You said once, "Information about my private life serves no purpose". But then music is an extension of yourself. I guess it's obvious that what you make as music does not relate to what time you go to bed.
I think that's irrelevant because the part of me that people should be most interested in, if they have any interest in me at all, is what I do. Not how I do it, or who I am, or whatever, because I provide a service for them. Whatever the information is I put out there, if it's useful to you, then great. If it entertains you, then great. That's what I do. That's my relationship to the outside world. Other than that, the world has no license to participate in my family life or anything like that. It's none of their business. But one of the things I attempt to do is: as I've said, there is quite a bit of me in the music, but the me that I put in the music is the part of me that I think people would find entertaining. Nobody wants to know about my toothache. They don't want to know about my personal traumas and tragedies. Who gives a shit about that stuff? You want that kind of stuff? Go listen to a sensitive singer-songwriter with an acoustical guitar in his hand.
Yeah, there are people who want that kind of stuff who identify their own problems with the ...
That's right. Well, I don't want you to identity with my problems. I want you to identify with the conclusions that I've come to that might be something you would agree with.
Actually, collective problems.
Public problems. I come to this next quote. You once said, 'The media is all their is'. And you must have to wrestle with the fact that we have this informational diversity on many levels, but it's controlled at the money making level. They control who's going to be the millionaires.
There's an incredible amount of information going out to the point that people can hallucinate and write ridiculous things in a little press ...
That's why I've said, Information is not knowledge". O.K.
But the conclusion ...
Even I appreciate the opportunity to receive an extra piece of information which will help me to determine the veracity of another piece of information I have received. I want to hear a second and third source. I want to check it out. And unless you do check out a second and third source, then you are going to be badly served by the deluge of information that is presented to you because most of it is not reliable. It's bullshit.
But then a lot of the sources contradict each other.
That's right. And what you have to do is investigate the contradictions and draw your own conclusions about where the action is.
And in that information flood, I can see the phrase "the medium is the message" helps you point out that there's a technical effect that's going in, aside from all the confetti or baby powder that's getting in your face through all the different media as information.
Yeah. You have to understand that the medium that brings you the message taints the message. It spins the message. In other words, the same factoid presented on CNN, if you took that same piece of data and put it in USA Today, as opposed to the Wall Street Journal or the Journal of The American Medical Association or the Encyclopedia Britannica. Now, if the same factoid was everywhere, which one would you say would reinforce all the rest of them? If the thing is in the Encyclopedia, it looks a little more like a real fact than it does if it's on CNN. CNN is really not a reliable source of news. It's a fountain of disinformation. It is probably the most biased, most spin-encrusted, totally unreliable source of information that you can lay your eyes on, but I watch it all the time because it gives me a great thing to compare other stuff to. And most people don't do that. Most people won't compare. They;ll just hear the news report and buy it right away and it's done. It's plugged into their memory bank, and when it's time to process information, that's the erroneous fact that they're operating on. Like people who have absorbed the latest polls, when it's time to figure out what they're going to do about the election, they're saturated with polls to tell them that all is lost.
In your work with "xenochrony", are you satirizing editing, the way you put things together, besides the technical innovation of doing it?
"Xenochrony" means strange synchronizations. Am I satirizing editing? I don't know whether the technical process of editing is enough of a commonly understood phenomenon that you could satirize it. You can't made a joke about something that people don't know exists. So, I would say that's not part of it.
How would you relate "xenochrony" to the time/rate thing we discussed earlier?
Well, a classic "xenochrony" piece would be "Rubber Shirt", which is a song on the Sheik Yerbouti album. It takes a drum set part that was added to a song at one tempo. The drummer was instructed to play along with this one particular thing in a certain time signature, eleven-four, and that drum set part was extracted like a little piece of DNA from that master tape and put over here into this little cubicle. And then the bass part, which was designed to play along with another song at another speed, another rate in another time signature, four-four, that was removed from that master tape and put over here, and then the two were sandwiched together. And so the musical result is the result of two musicians, who were never in the same room at the same time, playing at two different rates in two different moods for two different purposes, when blended together, yielding a third result which is musical and synchronizes in a strange way. That's xenochrony. And I've done that on a number of tracks.
What is the idea behind that? Or is it just an interesting sound?
What is the idea behind it? Suppose you were a composer and you had the idea that you wanted to have a drum set playing expressively and intuitively, eleven-four, at a certain tempor while an electric bass player is doing exactly the same thing in another tempo in another time signature, and you want them to do this live on stage and get a good performance. You won't get it. You can't. You can ask for it, but it won't happen. There's only one way to hear that, and that's to do what I did. I put two pieces of tape together.
Gerald Fialka: Do you realize it by chance though? Or do you say "I'm going to try this"?
That's what I do every day. I'm going to try this, and the stuff that works you keep and the stuff that doesn't you throw it away. I thought that one worked. That's why it's on the record.
Where I get the idea part is, I remember you did an interview in the L.A. Free Press in the summer of '69 and you mentioned Pauline Oliveri's work with sound, above the audible and below, creating a mass, and you liked that idea.
Not that it created a mass. It created something audible. It produced a sum indifference tone which happened to be located within the audible frequency range. By combining something so high you couldn't hear it and something so low you couldn't hear it, it yielded something in the middle that you could hear. Whether or not you like what you hear in the middle is another question. The concept is brilliant.
Yeah, because it showed you how physical reality is, or the way it is, right?
It's one aspect of it.
Are there other aspects you could talk about?
If you buy the idea that the vibrational rates translate into matter, and then if you understand the concept of vibrational rates above perception and below perception combining to create a reality, that opens up the door to some pretty science-fiction matter possibilities. If you can create an audible reality by a sine wave above the range of what your ear can hear and another one from below, and you put them together and suddenly it creates something that your ear can detect, is it not possible that solid matter of an unknown origin could manifest periodically because of frequencies of some unknown nature above and below which, for short durations, manifest solid objects? It could explain a lot of strange things that people see.
UFO's come to mind immediately.
There's much in the Theosophical literature, in the mystical literature, and the mediumistic literature that says that's the way reality is, and they hoick that up as an explanation, but science traditionally doesn't buy that.
I don't approach any of this stuff from a mystical standpoint. I'm not a mumbo-jumbo guy. I think that there are physical realities and most of them are not understood. Part of the reason why science moves so slow is because many of the people who do science and who receive grants have to be "conservative" individuals in order to receive the money to do the research. And people who can convince a foundation, or a funding source, that they are conservative enough not to squander the money are not really the best guys or gals to do science. Give me some Teslas, bring out some Teslas here. Give me some maniacs. Let's just try it and see what happens. That's the way you're going to get stuff to happen. The other criteria by which people are funded is whether or not the end result of the research will yield something that explodes or kills. If you can convince a funding organization that you have a new way to kill, and you are conservative and won't squander the money, you can be in the science business.
So much of what you say is common sense and what people have said a lot, maybe through history. But since World War Two, there have been a lot of books written and movements come up, and nobody seems to have the staying power to apply it in a practical way. They get lost in the ideal of "this is the way it should be", and then fumble when given the opportunity, or don't even know the odds they're up against.
Well, another thing you have to remember about all science and all art: it is impossible if you're starving to death. Society has to reach a point where you can be self-sustaining to the point where your basic physical needs are taken care of so you can allow your brain to think about stuff like art and science. That's why artists and scientists have to keep their eye on the economy. Because if things get tough, they can't do their shit anymore.
Scientists and artists?
So, that's another warning.
Because as the economy declines, the willingness of people who control cash to spend for research on things other than stuff that kills ... basically it has to kill you or you're not going to get any money for it. For every cure for something, implied in it is: withholding the cure causes death. So, basically, if you want to be a large-scale murderer, you can clean up. Occasionally, when times are good, they'll fund something else – by accident, who knows how it happens? But when times are tough those projects never get a buck and actually research departments close down. You can't afford to run them anymore so the only thing that's left is weapons. And once you build a weapon, what are you going to do? You gotta use the weapon. And the thing has to have planned obsolescence so you can update the weapon. It's the spare parts contract that's really the thing that all these defense guys are interested in. Everything wears out. They're not going to run these new weapons in a test environment. They're going to be in the desert. Dirt will get in there. Gotta sell them some more camshafts. Whatever it is, they're looking at long-range economic benefits from building a weapon. And in order to use something that kills people, you have to have a reason to kill people – a war. If not a war, a regional conflict, a small war. AT very least you have to single out somebody to be an enemy and you have to direct your national interest to the destruction of the enemy. Now, we've been going along for years with Communism. Only it's not working so well anymore because the Communist just did some jiu-jitsu. They're becoming Capitalists. And what the fuck is going to happen then? Who are we going to go after then? This is a big worry.
Carolyn Dean: The public.
I think that is very true. The public. That is absolutely true. Look, this new drug law creates the position of Drug Czar, but the amendment to the drug law is this pornography bill. Did you know that?
You didn't know that?
I haven't heard it.
At the last minute they attach this anti-pornography rider to the drug bill. This is to go after people that they claim have been long-time purveyors of obscene material. And what it provides is that, just as in the drug bill, if a guy has a yacht and he's using it to run cocaine, they can confiscate the yacht. Let's say you were in the record business and you had been a long-time purveyor of obscene material, they can confiscate all of your property. This goes back twenty years. It's a twenty-year retroactive bill.
When was that implemented?
When was it discussed? You mean, it was made a law yesterday?
Look, you know about the drug bill. They've been diddling with this thing for quite some time, but on the side ... I actually saw the debate on C-Span. I think the thing was drafted by Strom Thurmond and rammed through by Orrin Hatch. They first tried to attach it to some child care bill.
This is earlier this year?
This is within the last month.
O.K. I've been on vacation for this past month. I've missed this.
Congress is trying to shut down, they all want to go home and campaign. And they're trying to crank out all this legislation. So, yesterday it was announced on CNN that they had attached this amendment to the drug bill in order not to have a mutiny by the conservatives in the Congress. So, all the Democrats went along with it and allowed them to paste this. The drug bill is bad enough, but they've pasted this other thing onto it. So, the drug bill allows for the creation of a Drug Czar. Can there be a Porno Obscenities Czar coming up within a matter of moments if they actually make this a law? I think the whole thing is unconstitutional, but before you can take it to the Supreme Court for a test case, you know Reagan will sign this thing. It'll be on the books, they'll be out there enforcing it and then there will be a test case that will go to the Supreme Court. Now, if they delay it long enough to go to the Supreme Court, they're going to have all right-wing judges on there. They're going to uphold the law and what you will have at that point is the machinery that the Nazis would have loved to have had in place at the beginning of their career. This offers the legal right to stamp out any kind of intellectual activity because there's no legal definition of obscenity. You can't really nail it down. And any person can claim that something is obscene. Here's another thing it allows for: Not only the confiscation of property, but it allows for prosecution of the person making it, the person shipping it, and the person receiving it. You don't even have to buy it. If you received it, you can be subject to this law. It is the most broadly written, nefarious piece of legislation I have ever heard.
And it was made law yesterday, October 20.
I don't think it's been signed into law yet. I believe that they announced that the porno amendment was attached to the drug bill yesterday. I believe there's still some discussion. But I have no doubt that it stands a very good chance of getting through, partly because a lot of the people in the Congress have already gone home to campaign, and they're not even there to vote on it. And you know the conservatives are going to be there to vote on it because it's the Fascist dream come true.
How did you put your biography together? I understand you have this other writer.
Well, there's a sad, sad story. In January, before the tour, we're rehearsing, and I had this obligation with Simon and Schuster to do the book and I'd been putting it off. And while we were rehearsing, we'd rehearse from two in the afternoon until one o'clock in the morning, and from one until six A.M. for three weeks, every night I would sit here with this guy and do taped interviews. And we'd just talk about whatever we wanted to talk about, and then he went away and had it transcribed and changed it from the way I talked into book talk. And when he sent it back, I hated it. So, when I finished the tour, I went in and rewrote it. I just took advantage of what he had collated, but I put it back into my own words. So, it's not like "as told to". It's not exactly like one of those kinds of things. It really has more to do with the way I write and the way I talk than it would have.
So, it's better that he screwed it up because you didn't have the time before.
That's right. I mean, I was forced to do it. The result, I thought, was so bland that I couldn't possibly have my name on it. No way. I don't care what they were going to pay me for it. There was no way. I just had to force myself to sit for six weeks in this little room up there and type a book.
That was July-August?
Well, I'm glad that happened because when I had heard about this guy Peter Occhiogrosso doing it, I said, "Oh, well, it's going to be filtered through him". But it's not. That's much better.
It's much better. It's got some funny stuff, and there is at least three chapters that I wrote from scratch that never even went to tape. Because some of the stuff is so complicated, there's no way to take it off a tape. If you convert a conversation into the type of data that had to be in the book, there's no way to say it precisely without writing it from scratch, and that's what I tried to do.
If you had written a book and said, "Hey, publish this", they might not have done it. It had to go through the book Establishment, the book industry connections.
Not necessarily because Simon and Schuster would have loved for me to have agreed right away to write the book. I'm the one who said, "Look, I don't want to write a book".
Oh, is that right?
I'm happy to have the money, but ...
They were interested in what you had to say in your own words?
This particular editor was, yeah. She thought there was a market for it, not that she didn't give a fuck what I'm saying. Based on some of the things that she wanted to take out of the book, I don't really believe there's any deep-seated understanding of what the contents are, but she saw it as a merchandising winner. She thinks she can sell them, and they're going to have it in paperback sitting in airports before the end of the year.
And there will be a lot of political information in it?
There's not so much information as my attitudes toward certain things. There's a whole chapter on conservatism. There's another chapter on religion. There's a long chapter on the PMRC and all the unreleased data about that. A lot of stuff about music. Just all different topics.
What I was trying to think of earlier was your emphasis on chemical terms to point out that music is "food." I mean, maybe that was an attitude in the Forties and Fifties. There was this lofty ethereal approach to art, and your ...
What's lofty and ethereal about that? I mean chemistry is real.
No, that's what I'm saying. That you brought in the chemical, physical metaphors, in a scientific sense. Being like a scientist approaching sound and music.
I got that from Varèse. He was moving in that direction, too. He was the first clue that I had to that type of thinking.
That was when you were young?
That's interesting. McLuhan once said, "Science is moving closer to Art, and Art is moving closer to Science". One could maybe project different meanings for those things, but your music moved towards physical metaphors.
I don't know whether I would buy "Science is moving closer to Art". I think Science is moving closer to weaponry and Art is moving closer to commercialism. And never the twain shall meet.
Yeah, but in your work, you're trying to make a point with this science, these vibrations, and talk of physics, talk of sound acoustics, bringing that into the musical – the dialogue of composition in there.
Yeah, the point is not to be mystical, or to be anything, other than to create a vocabulary wherein essential things that work in music can be described in a way that a person who deals in hard science can understand it.
So, you're trying to help the scientists get a little ...?
No, because they don't care about music. Scientists care about science, but it goes back to Egyptian religion, alright. In ancient Egypt, in order for you to go to heaven, you couldn't get there unless you knew the name of everything on the way to heaven. Did you know that?
No, I didn't know that, said that way.
Well, here's what you had to know: you had to know the name of the doorstep or you couldn't walk over the doorstep. You had to know the name of each of the stones that you walked on, the name of everything because you had to ask permission to pass. Can you imagine living your life learning the names of everything you had to know in order to be dead and get to heaven. Now that's a religion! But the importance of naming things correctly is something that shouldn't be underestimated. Semantics should be more important to contemporary society. You have to give things+ the right name. If you're going to communicate verbally, you have to have the right word to tell what it's about. Now, I don't think that it benefits anyone to call a shoe a "banana". It could be poetic, but this is a shoe. Alright, I'm working in a musical, technical medium because the music I make involves machines of a scientific nature. And I have to create for myself a vocabulary, good, bad or indifferent, that allows me to deal with the topics of the data that I have to manipulate to do what I do. If I were working in a purely acoustic medium and on a simpler level, I wouldn't have this problem, but I'm straddling two worlds here. I'm straddling the world of electronics, in some cases advanced electronics, and the old-fashioned world of putting notes together to make a composition, and there's no off-the-shelf vocabulary that you can use to do that. And at the point where you see that there are physical similarities in the behaviour of the way the composition will work and the behaviour of the way the electrons will be working in the electronic gear, or whatever, if you see that, why not state it. You should say it, and once you've said it, you should use it in your everyday work. You should make it part of your reality. Now, I don't think that most of what I do is useful to other people in terms of this vocabulary, or in terms of the concepts, because they'll never use them. It's useless, but you asked the question and that's where it is.
Adam got control, according to the Bible, over the animals by naming them.
Really? They got that from the Egyptians.
You see, I'm not a Bible scholar. I had enough Bible when they sent me to the catechism classes when I was a Catholic, and all I know is he was full of dread. It's a religion that's based on fear and punishment and loathing. The whole Catholic version of what the Bible says and what it does is quite a bit different than the way the Fundamentalist Christians deal with it. So, I wouldn't consider myself to be conversant with the bulk of the stuff.
I think it was during that interview where you were talking about the speech-song, "sprechstimme", you were saying you had solved some musical problems. Who had those musical questions? Did Varese have them?
No, questions that I have to answer for myself. These are questions about how you get the point across. And oftentimes I've just appropriated the speech-song. When a person sings a word, the idea that is transmitted transcends the word because there's so much other data connected with the word at pitch. Understand?
Are you talking about sound?
No, the person hearing, receiving the data, is not only receiving the word.
That's right, the text of the word. He is also receiving the pitch data at which it is sung. In other words, that same word sung at a high pitch means something different than the word sung at a low pitch. He is receiving the data of the harmonic climate in which the word exists. He's also receiving the data of the relationship of the pitch of the word to the climate itself. In other words, if you have an A minor chord and the word is sung on a B, then that word is going to stick out because it's not part of the chord. There are three notes in an A minor chord – A, C, E. If you sing that word on any of the notes which are part of the chord, it recedes into the chord. It's part of the background. If the word is sung on a note which is not part of the chord, it steps out from the chord and draws attention to itself and becomes a matter of emphasis. These are the types of extra data that exist when you sing a word. An extra spin gets put on the word if you half say it, half sing it. It makes it even more 3D. It leaps out from the harmonic support and draws even more attention to itself if you've been singing along and you hear this melody and you get to this certain part and you half sing it, half say it. And it sticks out even further if you absolutely say it because it's incongruous in the setting.
Carolyn Dean: Well, that's probably activating both sides of your brain at the same time.
I don't know about that stuff. I don't know about left side/right side stuff. I'm not sure that I even buy the theory of it. To me, it sounds simplistic.
Carolyn Dean: But the music supposedly goes into your right brain and the spoken word goes into your left brain.
I don't know enough about the research that leads people to draw that conclusion to see whether or not I agree with it.
So, did you finish your explanation?
That's one of the questions: how do you get your point across? Besides what time it is, that's one of the big questions that a person ought to be asking.
What do you think about the minimalists?
I'm not enthusiastic about minimal music because I think that it's like the one-joke composition. You take any composition and repeat a single element for a small eternity and the joke is over. Are you going to build a career out of repeating small elements over and over and over again. The subtext to minimalism is that it's cheap to produce. The subtext to minimalism is that it's cheap to produce. It's Taco Bell music. It's cheap to rehearse, cheap to mount, and because it doesn't really offer any great intellectual challenge other than the stamina of the listener to tolerate an infinite number of repeats of a small thing, what's the message? This is a musical question which I feel is easily answered and has been answer amply many times, and so it is not a musical question that I am particularly curious about, myself.
The one we just explained – harmonic climate, note and pitch relationship – in Gestalt psychology, they talked of figure/ground, that was the way ...
Oh yeah, figure/ground.
Which reminds me, you defined Gestalt in Circus magazine, back in '69, as "something big"
Gestalt, the way people normally hear the word, is when it's connected with a certain type of psychology. But Gestalt doesn't mean just that. It's like "concept", isn't it? Isn't that the real translation? An idea object, that's what I'm talking about.
See, there's idea object, matter/mind, concept art, or Miles asking, "What's the IDEA behind this, Frank?" People's interests go either for the image of the idea.
Well, you have to understand the way in which people voluntarily decide to consume something or participate in it. It has more to do with their own orientation than it has to do with the concept or the conception of the person who made the object being consumed. Got it? Like what I put into the things that I make has little or nothing to do with the way in which people consume them and the reasons they might buy a record, or buy a concert ticket, or listen to this radio broadcast, or whatever. Because those reasons have more to do with them than they do with me.
Just to switch to another level – are there any movies that you have found interesting, likeable, valuable that have come out over the past eight years that you would mention.
Yeah, I read in some interview that you watch movies a lot.
I wouldn't say a lot. I think I watch more news that I watch movies, but the problem is that my recreational hours are limited. Usually the first thing I do in the morning when I wake up is turn on the news in our bedroom just to get a blast of that before I brush my teeth.
That's CNN Headline News. You get the repeat.
I don't get the Headline News, I get the droning long version. They cycle that in one-hour or two-hour blocks.
But it's CNN?
Yeah, CNN. So I turn on CNN and I watch that, and then I go to work, and then after I'm finished work, I'll turn on CNN, or I'll turn on C-Span and I'll scoot around and look for news. If I've already seen it or if I know what's coming up, then I'll switch to one of the movie channels and I'll watch that. But I don't go to the movies. The only movies that I see are things that have already been out.
Any that you've found surprisingly good?
There've been a few, but I can't even remember the names of them. I think basically the quality of films in terms of content leaves me pretty empty, doesn't stimulate me at all. I used to like monster movies when I was a kid just because they were so laughable, but, even now, they're nauseating.
Around '79 you were asked if you ever cried, and you said that movies make you cry. What part? What kind of content – how bad it is?
No, no. It's completely irrational. I mean I can do the same thing going to a Broadway show. I can literally hate the show and find myself crying because of something that happened in there. And I know that the fact that liquid comes out of my eyes has got nothing to do with reality. I'm sitting there consciously thinking that this show is a piece of shit and I'm crying, and I'm saying to myself, "Well, at least I have some sort of average-scale, average-size, average-vulnerability human factors working". But at the same time I'm sitting there going "Why?" And I've given some thought as to what motivates people to have that feeling for no reason at all, to just start crying. It's not even because it's sad. And I haven't got that down to a thirty-second sound bite yet, but one of these days I will. I just know that what people normally think of as human feelings are not what they think they are. I see chemistry here.
That's very interesting because I have the same thing happening to me when I go to movies and I wonder, while I'm sitting there observing it, what physical chemistry is working on me that I know I'm not aware of, but it activates the body.
Well, I'm glad I asked that question. That's an interesting answer. So, you're still working on that one?
No policy statement yet. When you put out Cruising With Ruben & The Jets in '68, many people were surprised that you liked that music. Do you still like that music now? Have you changed? Would you put out Cruising With Ruben & The Jets now, if it hadn't been done then?
It would be harder to put it out now because we're so much farther away. '68 is a lot closer to '58 then it is to '88, and it would be hard to find vocalists. In order to give a convincing rendition of that style of music, you have to have singers who understand the idiom, and they're getting harder and harder to find.
In the book "Does This Kind of Life Look Interesting To You?", there's a picture of you from Melody Maker, about '67, under which you wrote, "Here I am, propping up the glitter shortage".
That wasn't my text.
Oh, O.K. Do you remember that?
Is it me in a dress?
The original headline for that was "Meet a Mother". It was the front page of Melody Maker, and the reason that I did it was we had a bunch of pictures taken with all the guys in the Mothers Of Invention wearing dresses because I think the Rolling Stones had just done a drag photo. Only they tried to make it look glamorous. And so, we had probably the ugliest band on the planet at that time. You want to see an ugly guy in a dress? Look at this son of a bitch.
So, whatever was written under there about a glitter shortage was done by someone else. I just thought it was some kind of ecological marking like "I see a trend, I create a counter-trend to balance it off". Now, you did that with Cruising With Ruben & The Jets. You know, you wanted people to get back to dancing together.
Oh, that was a joke. I don't think that ...
Yeah, it's a joke, but it's social criticism, it's interesting. Cruising With Ruben & The Jets comes out then. Is it totally "I want to do this now, I want to hear this and I want to get this on record" or are you saying, "Maybe these people need to know some of this" just to balance it off?
Both those things.
Yeah, that's where you get an idea – what you would like to do, that's the fun part, and then you see a need for it.
Well, I see a need because I'm watching the news and I'm looking at my environment, and I spot trends and I say, "How can I be useful?" One useful thing I can do is say, "You're all in this trend but have you considered the possibility that there's something wrong with your trend? Have you ever doubted that maybe a Rolex watch as a life goal is perhaps not quite the pinnacle of human achievement?"
Now, that's easy to do, in a way. Maybe it's not easy to pick the right trend, but to criticize what's obvious in commercials or in magazine ads ...
Well, you think it's easy unless you put yourself in a position where, if everybody believes that that's the way the world is, you run the risk of being hated by everyone because you're popping their bubble. As if you could pop their bubble. There's no way I would ever dissuade a person who believes in the Rolex mentality from not going after the Rolex. They could care less what I think about them, but it still needs to be said.
For those who are teetering on consciousness.
That's right, right on the fucking brink. And the other thing is: maybe twenty years from now, if we're still around, and people look back on those idiot Yuppies and the stuff that they were interested in, there will be on guy who said, "Take the Rolex and stuff it"> And it's the same thing with We're Only In It For The Money album. At the time that Hippies were happening, you couldn't say anything against Hippies. They were hot merchandise. You couldn't ridicule them. And to ridicule them and have long hair, that was blasphemy.
Maybe that's why you were blacklisted.
You screwed up the marketing, although there's probably evidence for other reasons. I heard Dave Porter's interview with you last week and I liked that part where you said, "There is still that chunk of people from the McCarthy era that are still very powerful on the political end and move through still 'fighting that fight'"
That's right. You've got to understand why they're "fighting that fight". They're not fighting a fight, they're selling a scam. The whole McCarthy era was a scam, and it was another attempt to just clamp down. It was a move toward authoritarian government. It was a tool that was used by people who wanted to move things in that direction. It wasn't just McCarthy. It was J. Edgar Hoover, he was a willing accomplice in all this stuff. He was feeding him the information.
That's what was interesting about Mae Brussell's research because she had those names that were very involved in the Fifties and then in Reagan's California government. People like Louis Giuffrida who was involved in REX 84 that was exposed by the Christic Institute. That team came from the Sixties and from the Fifties. What was interesting was that Larry MacDonald was part of that network and they were caught. Do you remember the Western Goals issue here in Los Angeles in '83?
It was not covered in the national media for a long time, but MacDonald's Western Goals organization was to appear before a grand jury around the middle of September of '83, but he went down in the KAL 007 two weeks before. And that's where Larry Flynt comes in because Larry questioned the standard line on the causes of the KAL 007's crash. Then he met Mae Brusell who turned him on to what was really behind this same core of people that go back to the Fifties because the files of Western Goals kept had been outlawed in the Seventies, but then the files showed up in L.A. detective Paul's wife's home computer in '83. You saw what happened to Larry then – you witnessed it.
What do you think of Larry being quite subdued now, and Hustler magazine being totally changed?
I haven't seen Hustler for years so I have no idea about the evolution of the magazine, but Larry was on to something. I think that he was way off base on the 007 case. I think that it's far too much to hope for – that you could willingly get the Russians to assist you by shooting down a certain plane in order to keep a guy from testifying in front of a grand jury. I think that's pushing the envelope. And I told him.
Well, he didn't say the Russians did it.
No. But, ultimately the plane was shot down by a Russian pilot, O.K. Now, if it had been blown up in mid-air by a bomb, maybe, but it was shot down.
So what was his angle on it?
He made that big full-page thing. And I was at his house when the "mechanical" for it came into his office, and I read through it and I said, "This is too extreme. People are going to laugh at you". So I gave him some language to add on to it. The first one went out without the language and I think subsequently the language was added to it, but I don't even remember the specifics of the full-page or even the language. I just know that there was something about it that just seemed a little bit skewed, and there was some stuff in there that seemed reasonable. But the way in which it was presented could have been more effective if it would have had just this extra thing at the end. And that's where I tried to help him.
And that went on the later printings of it?
He believed that the Russians didn't do it?
No, it's not that he believed the Russians didn't do it. He believed that there was more to it than the fact that three Russians had shot it down by accident. He was into the conspiracy. He had another axe to grind with this guy. There was something else.
You don't think that there was a conspiracy?
No, I think that it's really far-fetched to think that any right-wing covert U.S. organization could then get in touch with their friends in Russia and get them to send out the lone fighter pilot to nuke some airliner who just happens to go off course into this air space. I think that's asking too much of coincidence.
Other than it was blown up.
But the Russians went along with the story then. How could you get them to do that?
Yeah, how do you get that kind of cooperation? I just don't think that people are that cooperative in large-scale cover-ups. There's always something that falls out.
The overall effect of our conversation seems to be that you've acquired a lot of information. You've paid attention daily, and one can acquire a lot of information just by being open-minded. And you keep saying, "Well, obviously the common-sense solution or approach to this problem is this".
Or at least one of them. There may be more.
And so there's no conscious strategy. For example, I think in that interview in Rolling Stone, of '79, when you talked about being a journalist, you said, "I see certain elements and then I impose a pattern on them". Do you remember that quote?
Unless it was a misquote. It may have been, but it suggests that ...
It doesn't even seem like what I do. I don't impose a pattern on it. I look for a pattern. I don't impose a pattern on it.
yeah, it implied there's a conceptual continuity pattern that you ...
Conceptual continuity has got nothing to do with me analysing the news. Conceptual continuity has got to do with me living my life and turning my life into things that entertain other people. The things that I release in the video and the records and the rest of that stuff, it's part of my life. For whatever it's worth at that time that it comes out. That's a byproduct of my life. That's the conceptual continuity. Analysing the news is not me imposing a pattern on the news. I try and get as much data as I can and then, based on what I'm able to gather together, I draw a conclusion. And those conclusions could change if I get more data.
Conceptual continuity implies an idea. The way you've just said it, it is a biographical continuity or mental ... .
No, no, there is a concept to what I'm doing and there is a continuity to the concept, and I happen to be living inside of the concept. I'm a participant in it.
And the concept is common sense and taking in data and learning.
That's not the conceptual continuity.
Could you correct me then? State ...
Well, the conceptual continuity is this: everything, even this interview, is part of what I do for, let's call it, my entertainment work. And there's a big difference between sitting here and talking about this kind of stuff, and writing a song like "Titties 'n Beer". But as far as I'm concerned, it's all part of the same continuity. It's all one piece. It all relates in some weird way back to the focal point of what's going on.
Does it relate in a way that you will see more obviously later?
Well, I think that quite a bit of the continuity is made obvious by what we've discussed here. And I think that if there is a way to absorb all this in one sitting on a broadcast, if anybody knew enough about what I'd already done, they would see that there is a coherence to it that's been very purposeful, and it's been going on for what, twenty years, twenty-five years, something like that.
I think of the scientist metaphor and the chemistry, that point that you saw from Varese and you said, "Yes, that needs to be said". And you keep at it, that idea, that image, that model, the chemistry of music, and maybe it's implied in the tenets of your church. Can you "synopsize" the continuity in the past three hours? I tried to say it was the "conceptual continuity".
As above so below.
But "as above" what?
As above so below. You pick the "what".
Carolyn Dean: Fill in the blank.
That was very interesting to talk about how this interview relates to something else that's gone before. In other words, you're trying to communicate. This is the situation we're communicating.
Well, that's one of the things that differentiates us from ... pick a lower species, you know, fill in the blank. We have the ability to communicate with each other using tools which other animals don't have access to. Whether or not we use them properly is yet to be determined.
Now, I'm asking for the right words to come out, or the words that I would think hit the thing on the head, but it's the process of communication, what we're doing here, is what you're talking about – your life, your day-to-day taking in of information. It goes into your work if it's appropriate – an interview, a new encounter. That is the conceptual continuity.
No, that's random. you allow yourself to experience random events like people coming in. I don't know what's going to happen in this interview. I never know when I do any of them. You allow for random events. The conceptual continuity is something that is steered. It's not random, it's steered. There is an idea that moves it in a direction. It's an object.
Your will or perception of something you think should be included, or an order?
Yeah, like you're taking your data environment, you're reordering the data environment in order to transmute it into something else, transmute it into entertainment.
Is that attention? Is that steering mechanism attention? Is there an image that it's referring to?
You mean, in order to steer, you have to have a North Star?
Yeah, is there a North Star in your process? I don't think there is, is there?
There doesn't need to be. In fact, the only time a North Star is useful is if you have to steer in a physical dimension – in order to get from one place to another in a type of dimension where those spatial relationships are recognized as reality. AT that point you need a compass and you need your North Star. If you're in another dimension, where those types of relationships don't exist, you don't need the North Star.
You may need another kind?
You allow the randomness to happen?
Well, if you work in a dimension where everything's happening all at the same time, then that would kind of indicate that there wasn't such a thing as distance, either spatial or time difference, or whatever. That's a unity point. So, where's the navigation? You're already there.
So you could incorporate what comes to you in time ...
It's like a black hole. All you've got to do is sit there, all the shit is going to pour in the hole anyway.
Now, there's a negative image – black hole.
No light escapes?
Well, no light escapes until the density increases to the point where it blows a hole in the other side.
Alright, so this steering mechanism is attention. It's thinking of it as entertainment, which is sort of offering "slack", creating "slack" in a situation.
There's nothing better for a human being than some form of entertainment. It's good for you. Now, if you think hockey is entertaining, which I don't, go get hockey. If you like opera, which I don't, go get an opera. Everybody needs to have something to take the pressure off of them, something where they can stop thinking about their normal factory rate for a while.
And that's a guiding principle?
Is that part of the conceptual continuity?
Yeah. Sure, that is an esthetic value.
I think you pinned it down to my satisfaction. You mentioned hockey. I lived in Nova Scotia for many years and I remember, around the time 200 Motels came out, you were doing a radio interview in New York, and the disc jockey asked you, "What do you see in that mural" There was a mural in the studio that he always asked people to look into, and you answered, "I see Billy with a hockey stick". Now, is that what you actually saw or was there a reason to say Billy had a hockey stick, at that point?
That's what I saw. Some things are very, very simple.
What are the most complex things?
The most complex thing is trying to get people to understand that everything is happening all the time, and make them believe it. That's a rough one.
Yeah, now that's interesting. Are you including the survival of death. I don't think your church believes that one survives death. In the church tenets, isn't it spelled out there? "We do not believe we survive death".
I don't think that that's actually said in there.
Alright. When we talk about time ...
I'm not talking about afterlife. This is not mystical, metaphysical stuff. I'm talking about, you know ...
All time exists now.
Yeah. There it is.
And we can experience it all now in this lifetime.
Therefore, one lifetime is many lives?
Look, you've got a brain that is part of an organism which will decay. It runs down. Until they find a way to keep the oxidation process from continuing to the point where you rust yourself to death, you're going to fall apart and you're going to die. There you go, O.K.? Now, you've got X number of moments of your undead state to deal with whatever you're going to deal with. And I think that the best way to do it is to deal with as much as you can deal with while you're alive, not as little. Just deal with it.
So, another way of trying to get people to believe that all time exists now is trying to get them to have an open mind, open senses, to not filter data that's coming in. It's the same thing.
You've just got to listen to all the stuff that's coming in, good, bad, and indifferent. And hope that you have the educational preparation to be able to sort it. That's one of the problems why people would find what I do difficult for them to adapt to because I got out of the U.S. schoolsystem at a point where you could still learn to readand write, and I don't think that you can do that anymore. I think that the basic education that people receive in this country is so pitiful that they can't. They're not even equipped to sort data. And I don't think it's an accident. I think that the school system has been purposely damaged to keep people from being able to sort data because only a person who can't data will vote for a guy like Bush or Reagan. You have to be numb.
You have to be numb and at the same time, while they're making the school system impoverished, they are increasing the information flood on people with cable, the multi-channels, and fiberoptics. This is the ...
Yeah. So, maybe someone could overcome the stupidity that's been trained into them?
I think it's possible, but it's just too expensive. And there's a lot of people who would say, "I don't want to know. I just don't want to know". And perhaps more than fifty percent in the U.S. prefer not to know. They have a suspicion that if they knew, they would be unhappy because they knew, and they will go to any extreme to keep themselves from knowing. In fact, they will even attempt to harm people who will help to let them know.
And that's our problem.
That's one of them, yeah.
How many problems do we have?
A lot. But it all boils down to a problem of mental health. One of the most excruciating forms of mental health is greed. Bad mental health is a greed problem. If you look at all the ways in which greed, as a negative mental health state, has translated into physical problems for people all over the world, you can trace a lot back to that.
So, who are the brain police?
It could be anybody that decides to opt for employment in that organization. A lot of people police their own brains. They're like citizen soldiers, so to speak. I've seen people who will willingly arrest, try and punish their own brains. Now that's really sad. That's vigilante brain policism. It's not even official, it's like self-imposed.
You once said that nobody ever figured out who the brain police are.
I've been working on it.
Still working on it?
It's hard to pin it down to one central agency when you realize that so many people are willing to do it to themselves. I mean, the people who want to become amateur brain police, their numbers grow every day – people who say to themselves, "I couldn't possibly consider that", and then spank themselves for even getting that far. So, you don't even need to blame it on a central brain police agency. You've got plenty of people who willingly subject themselves to this self-mutilation.
And you knew that for a long time?
Well, no ...
But to say you're working on it implies some other ...
There's more, there's more. Look, I'm sitting here right now and I'm telling you I'm still thinking about stuff, and I tell you what I've got fully-developed conclusions on and what I don't. And even the ones that are the fully-developed, if I get new data tomorrow that changes it, the next interview is going to have something different.
What are some of the conclusions so far?
Whatever you've got on the tape. I don't sit around and consciously think of a catalogue, but if somebody asks me a question, I'll just give you my best read at the time.
Because when you said that nobody had figured out who the brain police are, you yourself hadn't figured it out yet.
I know they exist, but who they are is another question.
O.K., they exist. It's not only stupidity.
It's multiple, multiple.
Multiple answer, multiple levels, but there is our own self-policing going on. How would you characterize some of the new techniques that they're using? Well we've spelled that out in the interview.
Yeah, you've already got that.
Yeah, so this interview has been an attempt to figure out who are the brain police.
Well, you could say that, but I'm not sure that's really true. I think that the interview is what it is, and to just be able to sum it up to say we're trying to figure out who are the brain police, I think this diminishes what's been said here.
Cheapness, that's right. So, this interview is not going to end.
Oh yes it is. (Everyone laughs.) Look at Gerald beating his leg over there. He knows.
O.K., I think that's a good way to end it.
O.K., there you go. The interview is now over.