Monday, March 13, 2006


Raver Madness, a shockingly true tale (Part Four)

And Disco Inferno... a story of youthful folley and misadventure at the hands of the zippies

Unzipped: Saint Crasier Flark the Martyr and his highly original Fleet Street Philosophy.

"Hush, my dear," he said; "don't speak so loud, or you will be overheard -- and I shall be ruined. I'm supposed to be a Great Wizard." L Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz

WHAT Fraser Clark has in terms of a philosophy, is really not all that unique or difficult to express -- Goddess worship, WoManity, Peace, love and a fair prophet. Then there's the "harmonise your hemisphere's racket, which ties into hemi-sync mythology created by cyberpunks. Rewire the brain, using chemicals. Listen to the beats at approximately 140bpm, (124, the heartbeat of the human feotus in the womb according to Clark) everything else is like "banging" unless its "trance" but that's like synthesiser music with a metronome. Sounds pretty surface hype, or is it?

When one reads Clark in his multifarious forms, extracts from Epi, ^evolution, or Zippy Times, you realise that he is really just one of those incredibly interesting characters situated in a pantheon that includes the entire history of psychedelic pop-culture, from Ginsberg to Burroughs and beyond, part Wavy Gravy, part Sir Francis Drake, part Franz Anton Mesmer. But to understand him you have to remember the period in which he speaks to various sections of the community across different generations. For example -- There's nothing terribly profound about wearing a "smiley" badge, unless you're living in a fascist state, and this is where Clark becomes interesting.

He is the master of systems collapse, because everything the Tories and the right-wing say about Clark and the Zippies are inevitably true. In the face of Puritanism and the Christian orthodoxy, Clark is positively satanic -- a breed of Celtic shaman and pagan hedonism that goes hand in hand with a form of anti-authoritarian mysticism.

"The zippies believe that word processors can be used to save the earth and ask you to project "negative vibrations" at the stock exchange to provoke economic collapse." So goes the I-D story published in 1989.

Sadly, it is here that he expresses his early reaction against punk, an "anti-punk" attitude because "punks were the second wave of energy - a negation of what the hippies had become". Ironically the early hippy who created zippy, would come unstuck on the issue of cyberpunk versus techno-hippy. Was there any difference essentially with what was already happening on the West Coast at the time of the Pronoia Tour? The failure of Clark's team to address this and other pressing issues of cultural importance, relegated him and the tour to the status of oddity. Reactions were swift. Clark and his team were denounced as nothing more than a hoodlums, who had come from England to disturb the tranquility of new-age America.

It is one thing to repackage the sixties and to marry the technotribes of the future with the earth people of the south, while plugging Marshell Macluhen and sages like Ram Dass aka Richard Alpert or Alan Ginsberg in a club, and calling the resulting combination "Zippie" it is another thing entirely, to try to doing the same thing in hippy home territory. What was occurring at Megtripolis West and so many of the party's we attended, was that the audience was preaching to the grand converter, the Zippie priest was being lead by his congregation. Clark had become a victim of his own philosophy.

If you read "Morning of the Magicians", by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, first published in Paris 1960 as "The Dawn of Magic" you'll be amazed to find a form of new age patois current doing the sixties and the title of the first chapter, just two innocent looking words- Future Perfect! If that were not clearly amazing in itself, there is an entire chapter on the thought of Gurdjief. Stuff like "A man is immersed in dreams, whether he remembers them or not does not matter...[but] what is necessary to awake a sleeping man? A good shock is necessary. But when a man is fast asleep one shock is not enough. A long period of shocks is needed. Consequently there must be somebody to administer these shocks... a man may be awakened by an alarm clock. But the trouble is that a man gets accustomed to the alarm clock far too quickly, he ceases to hear it. Many alarm clocks are necessary and always new ones." Sound familiar?

The idea that we "have to wake-up" is common to a lot of new age thinking. What isn't common, is that we have to "wake-up on the dancefloor" or "use a laptop computer" in other words, create a new-fangled alarm clock. It was Clark's genius to suggest elaborate methods of consciousness raising that really got people. The man was more accessible than either John Lilly who "talked to dolphins" or Tim Leary who had turned to virtual reality as a form of psychedelic, or Terence Mkenna, who has gone from describing aliens and mushrooms, to talking about the I Ching and computers.

Clark didn't need a psychedelic, there was no prescription except acceptance of an earlier state of conscious, call it an awakening - the "summer of love" which had hit Britain in 1988 and crossed the Atlantic in 1989. The Berlin Wall came down. The Cold War ended. Clark proceeded to create a "Magic Maggie Healing Doll", "You are invited to participate in the most important psychic experiment in history...whether you think Maggie is good, all bad, or a bit of both, the fact is that she in a position to affect the destiny of every psyche on this planet."

We were invited to make use of "acupuncture points" to help open "Margaret Hilda Thatchers' heart centre. "this will fill her with peaceful energy and love for all life-forms, thus arousing the living goddess within her. We consulted a range of healers and acupuncturists about the prime minister in order to arrive at these particular points" and so it goes, in a classic example of what is known as "magic politics".

Reading Clarks' EPi, meant that you could partake of the counter-culture without necessarily taking drugs. Drugs were just a side-effect, not the cause of a youth rebellion against the status quo, that had decided to use the iconography of the sixties as its starting point. This innocence was lost on the Pronoia Tour, when instead of invoking the sixties as a counter-balance to the nineties, resurrecting the swinging decade became an end into itself, an old-timers reunion, which was not surprising seeing as how literally every baby-boomer had jumped on the band-wagon, and expected us to deliver, not only hippies, but drugs, and even better young children smashed on acid or heroine to exploit, and a vision of me dying at age thirty. My response is -- you must have wanted this insanity really bad, you wanted it so much, look now you've even got another Vietnam!

Not only is Clark, a follower of Gurdjief, but he subtitled his club Megatripolis, (just another joke) "the future perfect state". However, to understand Clark, one has to understand not just the people who inform his philosophy but the milieu in which he operates. The early nineties for instance were a hot-bed of counter-cultural activism and this activism eventually found its way into rave culture. Naomi Klein in her chapter "Reclaim the Streets", mentions a particular creative combination of "rave and rage" which proved "contagious, spreading across Britain to Manchester, York, Oxford and Brighton, and in the largest single RTS event to date, drawing 20 000 people to Trafalgar Square in April 1997." [Klein, 315]

It was memes like this which created the "Zippy Intervasion of the UK" and the "Paradigm Jump off the Grand Canyon Rave.". We wanted to reclaim the internet from the straights and use it to "spook John Majors Criminal Justice Bill, which sought to outlaw dancing and banned "music with a repetitive beat." As Paul Staines says in "Acid House Parties Against the Lifestyle Police and the Safety Nazis". "Imagine a regime so totalitarian that it will not allow its young citizens to dance when they want. Imagine that this regime introduced a law which banned dance parties unless they were authorised by the state, and even then the parties would only be allowed to be of limited duration and on state-licensed premises. Naturally this regime would, in line with its ideology, only apply these laws to parties held for profit."

Thereby forcing the "wicked and evil" dance promoters into the untenable position of throwing parties for nothing. It was this ultimate sacrifice of the notion of profit which would force much of the counterculture during the nineties, into giving away virtually everything of value, including the music, which we all were encouraged to "copy and burn". The result would be traumatic in terms of ones personal status and bank account. Very few people actually made any money, and of those who did, invariably they were damned as the "sell-outs", artists signed to studios and record companies producing industrial-issue dance music that had little going for it, except the beat and a passing reference to the underground.

Continued in Part Five

[copyleft 2006, some rights reserved, please request permission to republish from the author, at]

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?