Remember kids, your life story is a barium meal!
A long, long time ago when I was, oh, about ten years old, I spent a sermon writing the word ‘cheese’ over and over again in tiny print, covering both sides of a church donation envelope. My parents showed it to the priest, perhaps in an attempt to shame me out of my meditative practices, but I just thought he was a weirdo in a stupid costume. I’d rather be watching cartoons, and I felt like I was getting one over on God.
Later on, in my early twenties, I replaced my hopeful agnosticism with Pantheism and was introduced to Sufism. Sufists are to Islam what Unitarian Universalists are to Christianity, but that doesn’t do Sufism justice. I got hopped up mainlining a hard dose of Rumi and Hazrat Inayat Kahn after a love-epiphany gone horribly wrong, and it’s a wonder the whole thing didn’t swallow me. I’d be eating out of garbage (which is actually an ascetic aesthetic pleasure in this freaked out world) and doing some kind of phony healing ceremonies while my earnings funneled up the local Sufist hierarchy to an unlicensed psychiatrist guru who was strapped for cash because she fell for some new-age ponzi scheme. Fuck that.
Bitterness and near-death experiences drove me into isolation, and the general feeling that everyone thought I was insane drove me to Anonymous. Crazy fucks who think the whole world should be remade in their image are a magnet for crazy fucks who think the whole world should be remade in their image. From my previous experience, I knew it was all madness. I played the game for laughs and got them. The apogee of my career as a “phony” (can such a thing exist?) spokesperson for Anonymous was a viral (76k views) and prophetic (Sabu was a snitch) “Emergency Christmas Anonymous Press Release,” but it was essentially just like every other “fake” press release I wrote. There was no greater pleasure than turning dogma in on itself and watching this process work its way through so many people. But it was a trap! The subtle hordes of the menacing Anonymous sockpuppet conspiracy were on to me.
That place was a known wasteland, yet after the failings of Sufism it was nice to spend so much time as an obstreperous and effective heretic. I needed to dial up the irony, supplement my heresy, and fill the hole that punking Anonymous couldn’t anymore. A page into the Book of the SubGenius and I’d found what I’d been looking for. “Bob” was everything that was wrong with church, everything that was wrong with Sufism, and everything that was wrong with Anonymous. Everything that was wrong with everybody! Later, I’d read some Nietzsche and realize he’d said everything that’s in the Book of the SubGenius without all the neologisms (overman?) and irony ((meh)), but it was funny! It nudged me, or perhaps FORCED ME, to be more ambitious as a writer (and as a reader). I chose several of my landmark blogposts and press releases about Anonymous and wrote out a kind of theory behind the madness, the Anti-Leader’s Handbook. It is currently the definitive piece on Anti-Leaders, at least according to Google. How successful it is as a piece of literature isn’t clear to me, but it played better for people who’d followed the doings of Anonymous.
X-Day (The yearly SubGenius eschaton) drew nigh, and my SubGenius friend Magdalen invited me. She also suggested I post the Anti-Leader handbook to a secretive inner sanctum of SubGenuses (sic) who sat around and chatted with Ivan Stang about his phallic microscope obsession. I assented to both requests gladly, and walked face-first into a paranoia nightmare. Rejected by the SubGenus (but of course not by Magdalen)! The Anti-Leader handbook was an imitation of Stang, a cheap knockoff! Stang banned me because “I didn’t take criticism well,” and maybe I didn’t, but there’s nothing in that fuckin’ book about that, and his criticism was BASE! Shallow! From my reading of “Orthodoxy is the only Heresy” and “If they can’t take a joke, fuck ’em,” I figured they’d be a little more open to counter-criticism. Again, I was let down. All the shit about divine all-inclusive excuses, the light-hearted and playful heresies, and everything else was as much bullshit as the Sufists and their rubbish about God and love. At its heart, it was a fan club for Stang strokers and a not-so-ironic moneymachine fameworship hatehole. So be it!
So close but so far away! I had to get it right. And shit if I hadn’t hijacked my own deity, Inglip, months earlier and begun the work of hashing out a cosmogony, a path to enlightenment, and all the epic archetypal myths that such things consist of. Now it took a deadly serious light-hearted nature–the imperative to “outdo” Stang took control of me. I distributed over 9,000 (really) SubGenius-ish-ish pamphlets in the course of a few months. You see, they used to troll for dollar bills, but I was doing it for internet hits. If you’re going to be a hack and a poser, you better do it RIGHT! The Social Media freaks like me were crying out for a new metaphysics, and I gave them a taste! But the Anonymous paranoia was transferred onto a SubGenius conspiracy, and I sank into that same sockpuppet abyss where everyone on the Internet was a part of a SubGenius-guided plan to drive me insane.
In a single week, the following events set me on the path of renunciation, which Hindus regard as a natural step beyond the acquiring of money, power, and influence. An ex-girlfriend threw herself at me, telling me I was the greatest writer of our time AND a demi-god. She claimed to have read everything I ever wrote. Friends of mine got in on the Inglip joke, we even had baptisms! It wasn’t just an Internet thing. We were burning the holy Octothorpe and worshiping Inglip in real life. My boss took a quick look at one of my screeds and said “We’ve had this for thirty years.” Shit!
I quit the Chronicle, I resigned as Anonymous spokesperson, and I revealed that the cult of Inglip had been a sham “from the very beginning,” just like The Wave. All of the sudden, the sockpuppets (in my mind) laid off. I ignored the Internet for a few days, and enlightenment fell on me “the easy way.” I suppose I did put a lot of thought and a certain brand of meditation into the whole process, but it wasn’t exactly a lifetime of devotion to the teachings of a Zen master. Sure, maybe it was just Pseudonirvana, but that’s only two steps away from Nirvana.
The SubGenius knew they fucked up and they don’t want to admit to it. Stang mimicked my renunciation and “quit” the Church of the SubGenius days after I gave up at the Chronicle to, in his presumed words, “tease some chronic haters.” This is metatrolling at its best. The prefix meta- originally meant “beyond,” but it’s more commonly used to mean “under,” even by hallowed prophets like Neal Stephenson (metaverse?). In a sense, I’m both getting one over on Stang and having him pull a fast one on me. At any rate, Cory Doctorow (hysterical surveillance paranoid) is the idiot who really got punked, so it all turned out great for the both of us. On the Hour of Slack (mp3), some guy named Legume read out a moral of this story that boiled down to “we’re threatened by your presence, you’re banging our groupies, and we can’t have you around grindin’ yo feet in our couch.” He also wrote a parody of the Cat in the Hat (Tiny Penis SubGenius) that seems to imply that the posting of the Anti-Leader’s handbook somehow fucked shit up for Stang, but whatever. It couldn’t have been about me because I was, in fact, invited. I barely believe this all happened, myself, even though it all “hangs together quite nicely.”
I never hated the SubGenius, and was only angry at them after realizing that all this was some kind pathetic attempt to make amends for how shitty (humorlessly) they’d treated me.
Now that I’m a Zen master who’s attained Nirvana, I’m using my prophetic scifi skills to work on a novel about all this and much much more, which I intend to publish as subversively as possible. There’s no fucking need for publishers when we’ve got social media (to abuse) and ebooks (for hipsters), so I do intend to self-publish as I always have. However, I still desperately need an excellent editor, as that’s a vital component of a good novel. If you’re on the following list, please contact me and I will have the manuscript I’m feverishly working on ready for you sometime next year. I know I promised to have the whole thing ready by December 21st, 2012, people, but that just ain’t happening.
- Neal Stephenson
- Bruce Sterling
- William Gibson
- Cory Doctorow
- Ivan Stang (last restort)