“wow” is the operative word, for the patron saint of the zion froptic, j.r. “bob” dobbs, was kind enough to bestow me with divine slack, granting me the extreme honor of meeting with countercultural heroes stanislav grof, ralph metzner, baba ram dass, and pope robert anton wilson, among many others. the conference was absolutely magnificient… but now let’s get to the nitty gritty:

i find speakers who are unengaging impossible to pay attention do, and so on occasion i found myself dozing, while at other times i couldn’t bear to sit through a lecture. by far, the best was gregg braden‘s talk, mystery of heaven, through the science of man. this guy blew me away. he showed us empirical evidence suggesting that, essentially, the universe exists as one giant piece of fabric, and that we are all woven together by it. in order to illustrate this idea, he showed us data from an experiment conducted by the u.s. air force, in which a patient had a DNA sample taken from them, which was then placed in another room, separate from the patient. both the patient and the DNA were then connected to scientific instruments which would monitor their electromagnetic fields. an intense emotional state was then triggered in the patient, and while the DNA was no longer within that person, and then even located in that other room, its electromagnetic frequencies mimicked that of the patient’s identically. this was shown to occur within a radius of up to 50 miles. if that’s not freaky enough, he then showed us more material–images of water crystals–both pure and polluted ones. the pure water crystals were simply beautiful and appeared incredibly similar to snowflakes in appearance and symmetry. the polluted water crystals on the other hand looked asymmetrical, mutated, deformed, disgusting. then he put up these before and after images of some polluted crystals, and the after images were those of what the polluted crystals appeared like after “healing” sessions in which people would pray for the healing of the water and send the water vibes of love. the crystals returned to near perfect symmetry and clarity. and if that doesn’t make you go, “you gotta be fuggin’ kiddin’ me,” this certainly will: we saw this camcorder-shot video of these three chinese reikei practicioners working on a patient with liver cancer. they showed the ultrasound screen, displaying the tumor. the “healers” began chanting and within two-and-a-half minutes, the cancer shrunk to undetectable levels. too good to be true? i put it to one woman like this, “you want to believe it so badly, so it becomes hard to believe.” i wish i could see something like that with my own eyes, cuz i have no way of knowing whether or not it was a hoax. ‘side from that, braden reminded me of a david copperfield-style illusionist–someone who might be running a stage show in vegas. so i dunno–i find the DNA stuff believable, the water crystals a little far-fetched, and the tumor business way the fuck out there. who knows tho–it could all be real. here are some links to research supporting braden’s statements: [ 1 | 2 | 3 ].

my next favorite was, of course, robert anton wilson. he was hysterical. everyone was dying of laughter throughout his lecture. his talk was essentially on the notion of including the words “maybe” or “possibly” into your sentences, thus not making conclusive statements, and averting the possibility of engaging in conflict, but instead he spent most of the time talking about why dubya’s an idiot and when and how we became a tsarist occupational government. totally bugged me out. i spent a lot of time chilling with him outside when he went out for smoke breaks. on the first day i asked him if i could make a flash version of reality is what you can get away with, but he told me he’s waiting to see if hollywood wants it first. later on he signed my subgenius minister’s card. glee! the next day we just shot the shit for a minute, and then finally on the third day, i posed two questions to him. first, i asked him if he had any advice for an aspiring young writer, such as myself. he said, “commit a heinous felony. think about it–criminals get paid millions of dollars for their books. get involved in some scandal, like watergate or something, and you’ll make millions.” heh. then i asked him this: “if the universe is one infinite everything, and if you’d be as so bold as to call the universe god, god is everything, thus you and i are both god. in that case, do we really have free will, or are we deluding ourselves by believing that we’re in control while god is making everything we do happen?” he said it was a really good question and that he’d post it to his website when he figures it out, or to e-mail him if i figure it out first. hehe. i was totally on his jock, but he was chillin… “this is why i come here, for the fans. the money doesn’t mean anything to me.” that same day, r.a.w. sat on a panel with huston smith, ram dass, and ralph metzner among others. the conversation turned towards altered states of consciousness, and r.a.w. made the following remark: “i don’t think it’s accurate to say that drugs or meditation or yoga are necessary to alter states of consciousness. we alter our consciousness all day long. like for example, if you’re telling a dirty joke to your friend and all of a sudden a priest comes walking by, you’re going to lower your voice. that is an alteration of consciousness. how do you know that he wouldn’t like the joke? especially if it was about little boys!” mind you, we’re in a catholic church. the audience went “ooooooooooooh!” hehehe. r.a.w.’s the man. i’m so glad i got to meet him.

so i ran into ram dass a lot, and on the third day, i actually helped wheel him around for a minute and during that panel i just mentioned, earlier in the day, he said that he’s a medical marijuana user and that he’s really troubled over the supreme court ruling. i told him about this piece i’m working on, which is now rapidly becoming a book, and he’s agreed to an interview! yippy! ya gotta understand, ram dass is the reason i’m the person i am today. had i never read be here now, who knows who i’d be… that book changed my life completely. ram dass’ lecture was a little… frustrating. since his stroke he’s had difficulty addressing audiences and takes about three minutes to complete a nine-word sentence. “i went to india … … … … … … … and met this guy … … … … … … … who took me … … … … … … … to meet his guru.” t-t-t-t-t-today junior! i was having trouble remaining patient, but it was ram dass, so i had to. heh. it was a good talk tho… he said to stop looking at people as humans and start seeing them as souls inhabiting human bodies. try thinking about that next time you walk under 42nd st. heh.

then i was hanging with ralph metzner for a minute. he was like a walking copy of kalle lasn’s culture jam. he spouted off the chapter on “the global economic pyramid scheme” like he was the author, and i don’t think he’s even read the book. he was nice, but a little snippy. michio kaku was super snippy. brilliant thinker, intellectual snob.

anywho, i also met this cat jason there who was mad cool, and very kind. we spent the three days wandering about with each other and comparing notes… hope to hear from him again in the future. as for now, time to get back to work. i’ll post the photos from the event as soon as they come in.