NEW FROM THE STEAMSHOVEL ARCHIVES: TIM LEARY AND KENN THOMAS IN CHAOS TOGETHER
The following comes from a longer interview set to appear in an upcoming issue of After Dark, the companion magazine to Art Bell’s Coast To Coast show.
Q: In recent years, do you think conspiracy theories have moved out of the fringe, and become more mainstream?
A: Actually, that was our great intent back in the early 90s, to open conspiracy and secret manipulation more to the popular culture. "We" refers to me, with my magazine Steamshovel Press; Jim Martin and his old Flatland zine; and Greg Bishop, who did The Excluded Middle zine (all building on the efforts of people like Mae Brussell, the conspiracy maven who long had a respected place in the American counterculture.) We provided a basis for parodies reflected in things like that X-Files offshoot series, The Lone Gunmen -- the first episode of which not only predicted 9/11 but otherwise took elements right out of the Octopus book. So the extent to which conspiracy became a much bigger concern in the mainstream is some measure of the success of that effort. Then, of course, Bush stealing the election in 2000, convinced a lot of people that we weren't just joking around and then 9/11 led to a whole new generation of the conspiracy obsessed. It took several years for the JFK research community to get started after Kennedy's death; after 9/11 thousands of web sites about possible conspiracies sprang up almost immediately.
Of course, conspiracies have always been a mainstream activity among power elites. I prefer the term "parapolitics," which means the kind of secret politics that happens alongside the more visible activities like elections. Surely most people understand by now that the real flow of power has something to do with things other than the establishment process and the narrow range of issues discussed in mainstream media like FOX and CNN. The measure of chaos is much more enormous than that now.
I recently started making available a DVD of an encounter I had with Timothy Leary in 1992 at a place called Café Chaos. It’s great to see his enthusiasm for the potential of information technology and talk about the vast changes he saw coming in the near future. Too bad he didn’t live to see the ensuing chaos, something he thought was necessary for change. So, yeah, I think things have mainstreamed a bit but in ways the mainstream hasn’t fully absorbed. (The “Café Chaos” DVD is available from Kenn Thomas, POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121, for $10.)