A full color brochure for the Institute of Chaos Studies and the Moorish Science Ashram in Ong's Hat, New Jersey.
YOU WOULD NOT BE READING THIS ARTICLE if you had not already penetrated half-way to the ICS. You have been searching for us without knowing it, following oblique references in crudely xeroxed marginal samizdat publications, crackpot mystical pamphlets, mail-order courses in "Kaos Magick"a paper trail and a coded series of rumors spread at street level through circles involved in the illicit distribution of certain controlled substances and the propagation of certain acts of insurrection against the Planetary Work Machine and the Consensus Realityor perhaps through various obscure mimeographed technical papers on the edges of "chaos science"through pirate computer networksor even through pure syncronicity and the pursuit of dreams. In any case we know something about you, your interests, deeds and desires, works and daysand we know your address. Otherwise...you would not be reading this.
During the 1970s and '80s, "chaos" began to emerge as a new scientific paradigm, on a level of importance with Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. It was born out of the mixing of many different sciencesweather prediction, Catastrophe Theory, fractal geometry, and the rapid development of computer graphics capable of plunging into the depths of fractals and "strange attractors; "hydraulics and fluid turbulence, evolutionary biology, mind/brain studies and psychopharmacology also played major roles in forming the new paradigm. The slogan "order out of chaos" summed up the gist of this science, whether it studied the weird fractional-dimensional shapes underlying sworls of cigarette smoke or the distribution of colors in marbled paperor else dealt with "harder" matters such as heart fibrillation, particle beams or population vectors. However, by the late '80s it began to appear as if this "chaos movement" had split apart into two opposite and hostile world-views, one placing emphasis on chaos itself, the other on order. According to the latter sectthe Deterministschaos was the enemy, randomness a force to be overcome or denied. They experienced the new science as a final vindication of Classical Newtonian physics, and as a weapon to be used against chaos, a tool to map and predict reality itself. For them, chaos was death and disorder, entropy and waste. The opposing faction however experienced chaos as something benevolent, the necessary matrix out of which arises spontaneously an infinity of variegated formsa pleroma rather than an abyssa principle of continual creation, unstructured, fecund, beautiful, spirit of wildness. These scientists saw chaos theory as vindication of Quantum indeterminacy and Godel's Proof, promise of an open-ended universe, Cantorian infinities of potential...chaos as health.
Easy to predict which of these two schools of thought would recieve vast funding and support from goverments, multi-nationals and intelligence agencies. By the end of the decade, "Quantum/Chaos" had been forced underground, virtually censored by prestigious scientific journals - which published only papers by Determinists. The dissidents were reduced to the level of the marginand there they found themselves part of yet another branch of the paradigm, the underground of cultural chaosthe "magicians"and of political chaos-extremist anti-authoritarian "mutants".
Unlike Relativity, which deals with the Macrocosm of outer space, and Quantum, which deals with the Microcosm of particle physics, chaos science takes place largely within the Mesospherethe world as we experience it in "everyday life," from dripping faucets to banners flapping in the autumn breezes. Precisely for this reason useful experimental work in chaos can be carried on without the hideous expense of cyclotrons and orbital observatories. So even when the leading theoreticians of Quantum/Chaos began to be fired from university and corporate positions, they were still able to pursue certain goals. Even when they began to suffer political pressures as well, and sought refuge and space among the mutants and marginals, still they perservered. By a paradox of history, their poverty and obscurity forced them to narrow the scope of their research to precisely those areas which would ultimately produce concrete resultspure math, and the mindsimply because these areas were relatively inexpensive.
Up until the crash of '87, the "alternative network" amounted to little more than a nebulous weave of pen-pals and computer enthusiasts, Whole Earth nostalgists, futurologists, anarchists, food cranks, neo-pagans and cultists, self-publishing punk poets, armchair schizophrenics, survivalists and mail artists. The Crash however opened vast but hard-to-see cracks in the social and economic control structures of America. Gradually the marginals and mutants began to fill up those fissures with the wegs of their own networking. Bit by bit they created a genuine black economy, as well as a shifting insubstantial "autonomous zone", impossible to map but real enough in its various manifestations. The orphaned scientists of Q/C theory fell into this invisible anti-empire like a catalystor perhaps it was the other way around. In either case, something crystallized. To explain the precipitation of this jewel, we must move on to the specific cases, people and stories.
The Moorish Orthodox Church of America is an offshoot of the Moorish Science Temple, the New World's first Islamic heretical sect, founded by a black circus magicain named Noble Drew Ali in Newark, New jersey in 1913. In the 1950s some white jazz musicians and poets who held "passports" in the M.S.T. founded the Moorish Orthodox Church, which also traced its spiritual ancestry to various "Wandering Bishops" loosely affiliated with the Old Catholic Church and schisms of Syrian Orthodoxy. In the '60s the church acquired a new direction from the Psychedelic Movement, and for a while maintained a presence at Timothy Leary's commune in Millbrook, New York.
At the same time the discovery of sufism led certain of its members to undertake journeys to the East. One of these Americans, known by the Moorish name Wali Fard, travelled for years in India, Perisa, and Afghanistan, where he collected an impressive assortment of exotic initiations: Tantra in Calcutta, from an old member of the Bengali Terrorist Party; sufism from the Ovayssi Order in Shiraz, which rejects all human masters and insists on visionary experience; and finally, in the remote Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, he converted to an archaic form of Ismailism (the so-called Assassins) blended out of Buddhist Yab-Yum teachings, indigenous shamanic sorcery and extremist Shiite revolutionary philosophyworshippers of the Umm al-kitab, the "Matrix Book." Up until the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the reactionary orthodox "revolution" in Iran, Fard carried on trade in carpets and other well-known Afghan exports. When history forced him to return to America in 1978, he was able to launder his savings by purchasing about 200 acres of land in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Around the turn of the decade he moved into an old rod & gun club on the property along with several runaway boys from Paramus, New Jersey, and an anarchist lesbian couple from Brooklyn, and founded the Moorish Science Ashram. Through the early-to-mid-'80s the commune's fortunes fluctuated (sometimes nearly flickering out). Fard self-published a series of xeroxed "Visionary Recitals" in which he attempted a synthesis of heretical and antinomian spirituality, post-Situationist politics, and chaos science.
After the Crash, a number of destitute Moors and synpathizers began turning up at the Ashram seeking refuge. Among them were two young chaos scientists recently fired from Princeton (on a charge of "seditious nonsense"), a brother and sister, Frank and Althea Dobbs. The Dobbs twins spent their early childhood on a UFO-cult commune in rural Texas, founded by their father, a retired insurance salesman who was murdered by rogue disciples during a revival in California. One might say that the siblings had a head start in chaosand the Ashram's modus vivendi suited them admirably. (The Pine Barrens have often been called "a perfect place for a UFO landing.") They settled into an old Airstream trailer and constructed a crude laboratory in a rebuilt barn hidden deep in the Pines. Illegal sources of income were available from agricultural projects, and the amorphous community took shape around the startling breakthroughs made by the Dobbs twins during the years around the end of the decade. As undergraduates at the University of Texas the siblings had produced a series of equations which, they felt certain, contained the seeds of a new science they called "cognitive chaos." Their dimissal from Princeton followed their attempt to submit these theorems, along with a theoretical/philosphical system built upon them, as a joint PhD thesis. On the assumption that brain activity can be modeled as a "fractal universe," an outre' topology interfacing with both random and determined forces, the twins' theorems showed that consciousness itself could be presented as a set of "strange attractors" (or "patterns of chaos") around which specific neuronal activity would organize itself. By a bizzare synthesis of mandelbrot and Cantor, they "solved the problem" of n-dimensional attractors, many of which they were able to generate on Princeton's powerful computers before their hasty departure. While realizing the ultimately indeterminate nature of these "mind maps," they felt that by attaining a thorough (non-intuitive and intuitive) grasp of the actual shapes of the attractors, one could "ride with chaos" somewhat as a "lucid dreamer" learns to contain and direct the process of REM sleep. Their aborted thesis suggested a boggling array of benefits which might accrue from such from such links between cybernetic processes and awareness itself, includiing the exploration of the brain's unused capacities, awareness of the morphogentic field and thus conscious control of autonomic functions, mind-directed repair of tissue at the cellular/genetic level (control over most diseases and the aging process), and even a direct perception of the Heisenbergian behavior of matter (a process they called "surfing the wave function"). Their thesis advisor told them that even the most modest of these proposals would suffice for their expungement from the Graduate Facultyand if the whole concept (including theorems) were not such obvious lunacy, he would have reported them to the FBI as well.
Two more scientistsalready residents of Ong's Hatjoined with Fard and the twins in founding the Institute of Chaos studies. By sheer "chance" their work provided the perfect counterparts to the Dobbs' research. Harold Acton, an expatriate British computer (and reality-hacker, had already linked 64 second-hand personal computers into a vast ad-hoc system based on his own I Ching oriented speculations. And Martine Kallikak, a native of the Barrens from nearby Chatsworth, had set up a machine shop. Ironically, Martine's ancestors once provided guinea pigs for a notorious study in eugenics carried out in the 1920s at the Vineland NJ State Home for the Insane. Published as a study in "heredity and feeblemindness," the work proclaimed poverty, non-ordinary sexuality, reluctance to hold a steady job, and enjoyment of intoxicants as proofs of genetic decayand thus made a lasting contribution to the legend of bizarre and lovecraftian Piney backwoodspeople, incestuous hermits of the bogs. Martine had long since proven herself a bricoleuse, electronics buff and back-lot inventor of great genius and artistry. With the arrival of the Dobbs twins, she discovered her tre metier' in the realization of various devices for the implementation of their proposed experiments.
The synergy level at the ICS exceeded all expectations. Contacts with other underground experts in various related fields were maintained by "black modem" as well as personal visits to the Ashram. The spiritual rhythms permeating the place proved ideal: periods of dazed lazy contemplation and applied hedonics alternating with "peak" bursts of self-overcoming activity and focused attention. The hodgepodge of "Moorish Science" (Tantra, sufism, Ismaili esotericism, alchemy and psychopharmacology, bio-feedback and "brain machine" meditation techniques, etc.) seemed to harmonize in unexpectedly fruitful ways with the "pure" science of the ICS. Under these conditions progress proved amazingly swift, stunning even the Institutes founders. Within a year major advances had been made in all the fields predicted by the equations. Somewhat more than three years after founding there occurred the breakthrough, the discovery which served to re-orient our entire project in a new direction: the Gate. But to explain the Gate we must retrace some steps, and reveal exactly the purposes and goals of the ICS and Moorish Science Ashram - the curriculum upon which our activities are based, and which constitutes our raison d'etre.
The original and still ultimate concern of our community is the enhancement of consciousness and consequent enlargement of mental, emotional and psychic activities. When the Ashram was founded by W.Fard the only means available for this work were the bagful of oriental and occultist meditational techniques he had learned in Central Asia, the first-generation "mind machines" developed during the '80s, and the resources of exotic pharmacology. With the first successes of the Dobbs twin's research, it became obvious to us that the spiritual knowledge of the Ashramites could be re-organized into a sort of prearatory course of training for workers in "Cognitive Chaos." This does not mean we surrendered our original purpose - attainment of non-ordinary consciousness - but simply that ICS work could be viewed as a prolongation and practical application of the Ashram work. The theorems allow us to re-define "self liberation" to include physical self-renewal and life-extension as well as the exploration of material reality which (we maintain) remains one with the reality of consciousness. In this project, the kind of awareness fostered by meditational techniques plays a part just as vital as the techne' of machines and the pure mentation of mathematics. In this scenario, the theoremsor at least a philosophical understanding of themserve the purpose of an abstract icon for contemplation. Thus the theorems can be absorbed or englobed to the point where they become part of the inner structure (or "deep grammar") of the mind itself.
In the first stage, intellectual comprehension of the theorems parallels spiritual work aimed at refining the faculty of attention. At the same time a kind of psychic anchor is constructed, a firm grounding in celebratory body-awareness. The erotic and sensual for us cannot be ritualized and aimed at anything "higher" than themselvesrather, they constitute the very ground on which our dance is performed, and the atmosphere or taste which permeates or whole endeavor. We symbolize this first course of work by the tripartite Sanskrit term satchitananda, "Being/consciousness/bliss" - the ontological level symbolized by the theorems, the psychological level by the meditation, the level of joy by our "tantrik" activity.
The second course (which can begin at any time during or after the first) involves practical instruction in a variety of "hard sciences," especially evolutionary biology and genetics, brain physiology, Quantum Mechanics and computer hacking. We have no need for these disciplines in any academic sensein fact our work has already overturned many existing paradigms in these fields and rendered the textbooks useless for our purposesso we have tailored these courses specifically for relevance to our central concern, and jettisoned everything extraneous.
At this point a Fellow of the ICS is prepared for work with the device we call the "egg." This consists of a modified sensory-deprivation chamber in which attention can be focused on a computer terminal and screen. Electrodes are taped to various body parts to provide physiological data which is fed into the computer. The explorer now dons a peculiar helmet, a highly sophisticated fourth-generation version of the early "brain machines," which can sonically stimulate brain cells either globally or locally and in various combinations, thus directing not only "brain waves" but also highly specific mental-physical functions. The helmet is also plugged into the computer and provides feedback in various programmed ways. The explorer now undertakes a series of exercises in which the theorems are used to generate graphic animations of the "strange attractors" which map various states of consciousness, setting up feedback loops between this "iconography" and the actual states themselves, which are in turn generated through the helmet simultaneously with their representation on the screen. Certain of these exercises involve the "alchemical" use of mind-active drugs, including new vasopressin derivatives, beta-endorphins and hallucinogens (usually in "threshold" dosages). Some of these tinctures are simply to provide active-relaxation and focused-attention states, others are specifically linked to the requirments of "Cognitive Chaos" research.
Even in the earliest and crudest stages of the egg's development the ICS founders quickly realized that many of the Dobbs twins' PhD thesis predictions might be considered cautious or conservative. Enhanced control of autonomous body functions was attained even in the second-generation version, and the third provided a kind of bathysphere capable of "diving down" even to the cellular level. Certain unexpected side-effects included phenomena usually classified as paranormal. We knew we were not hallucinating all this, quite bluntly, because we obtained concrete and measurable results, not only in terms of "yogic powers" (such as suspended animation, "inner heat," lucid dreaming and the like) but also in observable benefits to health: rapid healing, remission of chronic conditions, absence of disease.
At this point in development of the egg (third generation) the researchers attempted to "descend" (like SciFi micronauts) to the Quantum level.
Perhaps the thorniest of all Quantum paradoxes involves the "collapse of the wave function"the state of Schrodinger's famous cat. When does a wave "become" a particle? At the moment of observation? If so does this implicate human consciousness in the actual Q-structure of reality itself? By observing do we in effect "create?" The ICS team's ultimate dream was to "ride the wave" and actually experience (rather than merely observe) the function-collapse. Through "participation" in Q-events, it was hoped that the observer/observed duality could be overcome or evaded. This hope was based on rather "orthodox" Copenhagian interpetations of Quantum reality. After some months of intensive work, however, no one had experienced the sought-for and expected "moment"...each wave seemed to flow as far as one cared to ride it, like some perfect surfer's curl extending to infinity. We began to suspect that the answer to the question "when?" might be "never!" This contingency had been described rigorously in only one interpretation of Q-reality, that of J.Wheeler - who proved that the wave function need never collapse provided that every Q-event gives rise to an "alternating world" (the Cat is both alive and dead).
To settle this question a fourth generation of the egg was evolved and tested, while simultaneously a burst of research was carried out in the abstruse areas of "Hillbert space" and the topology of n-dimensional geometry, on the intuituve assumptions that new "attractors" could thereby be generated and used to visualize or "grok" the transitions between alternate universes. Again the ICS triumphed...although the immediate success of the fourth-generation egg provoked a moment of fear and panic unmatched in the whole history of "Cognitive Chaos." The first run-through of the "Cat" program was undertaken by a young staff-member of great brilliance (one of the original Paramus runaways) whose nickname happened to be Kitand it happened to take place on the Spring Equinox. At the precise moment the heavens changed gears, so to speak, the entire egg vanished from the laboratory. Consternation would be a mild term for what ensued. For about seven minutes the entire ICS lost its collective cool. At that point however the egg reappeared with its passenger intact and beaming...like Alice's Chesire Cat rather than Schrodinger's poor victim. He had succeeded in riding the wave to its "destination"an alternate universe. He had observed it andin his words"memorized its address." Instinctively he felt that certain dimensional universes must act as "starnge attractors" in their own right, and are thus far easier to access (more "probable") than others. In practical terms, he had not been dissolved but had found the way to a "universe next door." The Gateway had been opened.
Where is Ong's Hat?
According to Piney legend, the village of Ong's Hat was founded sometime in the 19th century when a man named Ong threw his hat up in the air, landed it in a tree and was unable to retrieve it (we like to think it vanished into another world). By the 1920s all traces of settlement other than a few crumbling chimneys had faded away. But the name appealed so much to cartographers that some of them retained ita dot representing nothing in the midst of the most isolated flat dark scrub-pines and sandy creeks in all the vast, empty and perhaps haunted Barrens. W.Fard's acreage lies in the invisible suburbs of this invisible town, of which we are the sole inhabitants. You can find it easily on old survey maps, even trace out the the old dirt road leading into the bogs where a little square represents the decrepit "Ong's Hat Rod & Gun Club," original residence. However, you might discover that finding the ICS itself is not so simple. If you compare your old survey map with the very latest, you will note that our area lies perilously close to the region infamous in recent years, the South Jersey Nuclear Waste Dump near Fort Dix. The "accident" that occurred there has made the Barrens even more empty and unpopular, as any hard-core Pineys fled the pollution melting into the state's last untouched wilderness. The electrified fence shutting off the deadly zone runs less than a mile above our enclave. The Accident occurred while we were in the first stages of developing the fourth-generation egg, the Gate. At the time we had no idea of its full potential. However all of us, except for the very youngest (who were evacuated), had by then been trained in elementary self-directed generation. A few tests proved that with care and effort we could resist at least the initial onslaught of radiation sickness. We decided to stick it out, at least until "the authorities" (rather than the dump) proved too hot to endure.
Once the Gate was discovered, we realized the situation had been saved. The opening and actual interdimensional travel, can only be effected by a fully trained "cognitive chaote;" so the first priority was to complete the course for all our members. A technique for "carrying" young children was developed (it seems not to work for adult "non-initiates"), and it was discovered that all inanimate matter within the egg is also carried across with the operator. Little by little we carted our entire establishment (including most of the buildings) across the topological abyss. Unlike Baudelaire who pleaded, "Anywhere! - so long as out of this world!" we knew where we were going. Ong's Hat has indeed vanished from New Jersey, except for the hidden laboratory deep in the backwoods where the gate "exists." On the other side of the Gate we found a Pine Barrens similar to ours but in a world which apparently never developed human life. Of course we have since visited a number of other worlds, but we decided to colonize this one, our first newfoundland. We still live in the same scattering of weather-gray shacks, Airstream trailers, recycled chicken coops, and mail-order yurts, only a bit more spread outand considerably more relaxed. We're still dependent on your world for many thingsfrom coffee to books to computersand in fact we have no inclination of cutting ourselves off like anchorites and merely scampering into a dreamworld. We intend to spread the word.
The colonization of new worldseven an infinity of themcan never act as a panacea for the ills of Consensus Realityonly as a palliative. We have always taken our diseases with us to each new frontier...everywhere we go we exterminate aborigines and battle with our weapons of law and order against the chaos of reality. But this time, we believe, the affair will go differentlybecause this time the journey outward can only be made simultaneously with the journey inwardand because this bootstrap-trick can only be attained by a consciousness which, to a significant degree, has overcome itself, liberated itself from self-sicknessand "realized itself." Not that we think ourselves saints, or try to behave morally, or imagine ourselves a super-race, absolved from good and evil. Simply, we like to consider ourselves awake when we're awake, sleeping when we sleep. We enjoy good health. We have learned that desire demands the other just as it demands the self. We see no end to growth while life lasts, no cessation of unfolding, of continual outpouring of form from chaos. We're moving on, nomads or monads of the dimensions. Sometimes we feel almost satisfied...at other times, terrified.
Meanwhile our agents of chaos remain behind to set up ICS courses, distribute Moorish Orthodox literature (a major mask for our propaganda) to subvert and evade our enemies...We haven't spoken yet of our enemies. Indeed there remains much we have not said. This text, diguised as a sort of New Age vacation brochure, must fall silent at this point, satisfied that it has embedded within itself enough clues for its intended readers (who are already halfway to Ong's hat in any case) but not enough for those with little faith to follow.
CHAOS NEVER DIED!
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