Issue 22 : Spring 2012








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Motor Mouth: Bob Dobbs
Part III

by Craig Baldwin

1 Mar 2012

Baldwin interviewed Dobbs on videotape in the late 1990s.
Monty Cantsin has recently transcribed and edited the interview.
See Spring 2010 and Fall 2009 issues for Parts 1 and 2.

CRAIG BALDWIN: If it's not nostalgia what is it?

BOB DOBBS: It's live. It's new. Virtual reality is real reality is virtual reality. It is processing, it is more real than biological time. Media storage.

CB: What are the prospects for intervening and changing that past time?

BD: The recorded time? That's media ecology. [...] The Japanese had the idea that art is a thing that helps you adjust to the present. The only real artistic act now--in the sense of an artist or scientist intervening in a culture and presenting a new environment that upsets everything and to which people have to adjust--would be to turn off the electrical environment. If you turned it off, it would be would be way bigger than Stravinsky's riot in 1913, or the Yippies' riot at the Pentagon in 1967. No event we've had could compare to the apocalypse and change of perception that would be caused by turning off the electrical environment--television and satellite. That's the only way you'd do it. Now, is that going to happen?

CB: No! [video tape cuts off the conversation] ...Elaborate on the idea of a media fast.

BD: The only way is to drop out and specialize in one medium. Ignore Dan Rather and all that he's propagating. Ignore the news. The news is the only thing that exists. So, if you ignore the news you're ignoring everything. (Because, everything else is just spinning the news and making economics out of it.) One form of media fast in the electric age would be to retrieve the eye. The eye has no dominance in the electric age, which is more kinetic and tactile. Joyce says on page 52 [of Finnegan's Wake], "Television kills telephony in brothers' broil. Our eyes demand their turn. Let them be seen!" So how can the eyes be recovered as a floating organ in a situation where people really don't have any human scale, or they feel that they don't have any human scale? [...] How to retrieve the eye? Joyce created a book which you can't read. But in learning how to read it, by using depth perception, you re-activate your eye. So, the antidote to to the twentieth century is Finnegans Wake, because it brings back the obsolete eye (and it is an eye that includes all the senses), so you can read it out loud or you can see movement on the page, and ultimately you are making a book that is useful to the eye because it includes all the multi-dimensional experiences that you have in the 20th century mixed corporate-media environment. The only media fast you can have today is to do what Gerry Fialka does in L.A., is have a Finnegans Wake group. Do Finnegans Wake. Especially at a group or community level, because the whole thing is to retrieve community on a certain level of first biological nature. It is the only book that can be read in a group format where no one can determine what the hell the meaning is. But the exploration/explanation is the joy of speech, so you are retrieving language. Joyce was, as Hugh Kenner said, a modernist in the sense that he celebrated speech. Postmodernists see speech as a virus. But there is an eternal value in speech, in the Modernist sense, as the greatest archetype, the greatest medium. McLuhan always said that the greatest art form is conversation. Joyce took speech and made it the content of Finnegans Wake. He preserved the visual tradition of the book and the eye while enhancing speech interaction. Better than "E=Mc2!" A beautiful antidote, a scientific answer, a health progenitor for humans on a general level. A great answer to the disease of the twentieth century.

CB: Elaborate on your concept of "past times and pastimes."

BD: Many people think that McLuhan and Joyce were playing with the Hegelian 'thesis-antithesis-synthesis.' That is a 3-part, or triad, process. When you get to the tetrad process you realize that there is actually a retrieval aspect in the synthesis that creates a new environment, in itself, in which humans engage. Hegelian synthesis ignores the retrieval, the fourth part. [...] Reading a book like Finnegan's Wake is a pastime. It's a pastime which is about the history of past times. When a new environment comes in, any culture will take an old culture and turn it into a truth value system, or an art. A preservation. All through history of the Western world we had visual space and we started to create the idea of art (with Aristotle). We had a frame because we had writing, which was the medium that could create a frame. So we always turned the past time into a pastime. The Renaissance turned the Middle Ages into an art form. Shakespeare's plays were about the problems of Medieval kings. The Middle Ages turned the Roman Empire into a parlor game. That is, Charlemagne, 800 A.D., he wanted to retrieve the Roman Empire and re-do--like a Hollywood set--the past time of the Roman Empire (which at the time of the Romans was an environment invisible to them). [...] The knight/feudal culture was turning Charlemagne into an art form because they wanted to retrieve the Holy Roman Empire in Jerusalem, they wanted to kick out the infidels. So the Romans, to go back a bit, were the first ones to do a past time as pastime. They took the Greek culture and made it their content and their hero worship and their gold standard. Now bring it up to date, the twentieth turns the nineteenth century into an art form. The twentieth century is a world of phatic communication where what you say does not have to be responded to and no one's listening. In the nineteenth century, which was the epitome century of science art and technology, people were writing things out and they had an audience.

The twentieth century is a world of phatic communication where what you say does not have to be responded to and no one's listening. In the nineteenth century, which was the epitome century of science art and technology, people were writing things out and they had an audience.

CB: OK. Fine tune this idea about retrieval. In one of your writings you differentiate it from the idea of camp, right? And you said 'nostalgia' a little bit earlier, too. Can you try to distinguish between those three ideas please?

BD: That is important, to differentiate between camp, retrieval, and nostalgia. McLuhan said it best when he said "Camp gives people a sense of reality because it shows them a replay of their lives." Let's say it this way: camp gives a replay of people's lives, and therefore, seems real. [...] Because we take the past time/environment of the nineteenth century (which was an inhuman environment), and because of culture lag, we look at the present through the rear-view mirror. We think the present is apocalyptic and everything has disappeared. One of the things that's disappeared is our human biological nature bodies. This is properly expressed by the fear that the medical business will take over the process of family reproduction with genetic engineering and test tube babies and all that. So the bodies are obsolete. So camp--obviously coming in with Duchamp, and then the Warhol pop art retrievals--takes the body, puts on clothing, and then puns on the body by having a male being a cross gender. In other words, it is playing with the body and using the clothing with sexual gender stylings or categories to play with the effects of those categories. Now that's all clothing with the body... The body disappeared and clothing disappeared 100 years ago. So obviously it is nostalgia to regard everything you are doing as being in quotes. Camp puts everything in quotes. Quotation marks. The archetype is a quoting process. Past times as pastimes.

In the 20th century, we take the 19th century as a pastime and an art form, but that also contains a process of the Renaissance turning the Medieval age into pastimes and The Romans turning the Greeks into pastime! You get to a stage where the art form eventually, through time, becomes an archetype. The archetype is a quotation of the situation. It's high-falutin' camping, aw'right? But the cliché is the present environment of news (Dan Rather repeating the process of informing us. That's a cliché activity. It is not archetypal.) Cliché is the present, the new. And archetype is the old. Camp is a popular-level, unsophisticated, replaying of the archetypal-izing and art-form process. And the reason it is not sophisticated is: it thinks we still have bodies, and it makes an issue out of whether you are a male or a female or homosexual or heterosexual, it makes issues out of these things (when there are no sexual bodies anymore anyway in the twentieth century). The Warhol/Chelsea people, they camped it up. They were playing with bodies and playing with clothing while ignoring the new clothing we all wear, which is satellite environment. They're not even commenting on that. So that's why they are unsophisticated or street-level. It's camp, but it's the same process on the street level as the retrieval and archetypal-izing that McLuhan laid out.

We think the present is apocalyptic and everything has disappeared. One of the things that's disappeared is our human biological nature bodies. This is properly expressed by the fear that the medical business will take over the process of family reproduction with genetic engineering and test tube babies and all that.

CB: No. [...] What about using a collective media storehouse as more than camp or a pastime? Using it actually as a way to do research and learn things and to empower us to engage with the present and the future?

BD: The academics are the POB's, the print-oriented bastards. They are the ones who stick with the archetypal medium of the printed book. So Academia always has had a snobbish relationship to post-printed book media: movie, radio, pop culture. [...] Popular culture is regarded as not high-value or lofty or archetypal (as what the printed book boys preserve), so that's why you can see the cultural snobbery of the POBs against the Andy Warhols and pop culturists. The POBs are obsolete now. The only thing that preserved their tradition was Finnegan's Wake--and they can't even understand it. They can't use it. Joyce created the ultimate irony (by creating a thing that preserves the visual space hierarchy). Popular culture is the now-making. It is the use of all our senses, not just the eye senses. It is the content for the tactile mesh of TV. People are living more in the water of films, TV, movies, music. [...] There's been no communities since 1945. It's been a virtual reality sensorium. Nostalgia is the popular daily interaction in the interval between the great electric storage and the constant now-making. Since many people can't afford to get to the storage facilities that, say, Columbia Records has, Columbia Records puts out the greatest hits CDs. So the popular culture has its own museum by having nostalgia, but it is not nostalgia. [...]

CB: Right. I am talking about the autonomy of the individual to go and access that storehouse as opposed to Columbia Records. What about the prospects of this kind of autonomy and access on the part of individuals across society?

BD: Right. So, note that nostalgia really began in the 1970s (for the 1950s). You know, "Happy Days," and all that. That was before the microchip and personal computer. Then the eighties developed the interactive web. Now *everybody* is a satellite. What's interesting about the satellite environment is that it is the first time we have been able to take first nature and create an artificial environment that a human being could live in outside of the terrestrial habitat of the earth! So it was the first successful [hu]man-made simulation of first nature by second nature (technology). So the satellite environment was the fusion of first and second nature. That environment starts to happen from '57 to '67. Then, with the computer environment and the microchip, the satellite environment was gradually brought down into the personal domicile of one person. This is called the web and the internet, where every person now can be a satellite flowing around within the fusion of first and second nature. [...] Our historical archiving, our historical record.

People are becoming the owners of a whole cultural legacy of all cultures that are on chip, so that obsoletes Rockefeller, and it obsoletes the owners of the system even under the old Andrew Mellon art-preserving situation they were trying to do in visual space before WWII. I said, in a memo in 1977 I sent to Raisa Gorbachev, [pause]:

Gutenberg made everybody a reader, Xerox made everybody a publisher, but the internet makes everybody a satellite broadcaster to every other satellite broadcaster.

So the electric autonomy is that the collective satellite environment has now been personalized and internalized. The satellite environment contains all cultures and it is essentially a mythic structure containing all times--because the technological constructs to make the technology represent thousands of years of technological invention, all crystallized into the satellite--so it's the Omega point. It represents the history of the whole enterprise of humanity! Now we can internalize that! So I become, in traditional terms, godlike, I can contain the whole universe on the second nature level. And so every satellite broadcaster is a megalomaniac! [...] The Wired revolution is collapsed now because everybody is sort of saying: "Hey, we are all losing our jobs, the economy doesn't even need consumers anymore!" [...] The breakthrough will be fusion energy itself, and also a wonderful miraculous medicine that roots out ancient sources of disease. These things will guarantee a physical personal body utopia plus the general effect of cold fusion--which will create an energy source where more energy is created than is put in (therefore upsetting all the Newtonian laws and everything that happened in science). Without fusion we will be in an endless apocalyptic dark age. [...]

CB: You said something about hoiking.

BD: Hoiking is making conscious. [Dogs bark at Bob as he talks]. These dogs, they are using the verbal realm [...] Hoiking is basically a sound thing.

CB: You mentioned bio-electronics. I'm interested in electric vibrations and resonances and a quantum physics kind of thing. Go...

BD: In my chart I have the era from 1960-1990 and the first part is 1960-1977 which is called: "holeopathic cliché probes." The term holeopathic is a combination of the hologram and homeopathy [...] The hologram of now-making gets tinier and tinier yet more potent or more world-dominating. That's from '60 - '77. From '77 to '90 is what I call the anthropomorphic physical. I said earlier that our bodies, our first biological bodies, seem to be here. They seem always to be what we are using [...] but it is through a communication level of social interaction through all these media, aw'right? So I say that people were enraptured with the technological or second nature side of ourselves from '60 to '77.

But by the late '70s, with things like 3 Mile Island, and later Chernobyl, it made people want to preserve original nature, so you had the rise of the deep ecologists and First Earthers [sic] who wanted to retrieve first nature, which I call the 'anthropomorphic physical'. [...] The satellite environment predicts the fusion of first nature and second nature. The satellite is the merging [...] the first man-made environment [dogs barking] the satellite is the realization of [Dogs bark loudly].

CB: OK, cut! [Dogs barking.] Cut, it's OK. [More dogs barking loudly.]

BD: ...Second nature is technological, that's the holeopathic cliché probe. First nature nostalgia is for the anthropomorphic physical--this fusion that is predicted by the satellite. The actual fact comes in with fusion. That was anticipated on the basic scientific material level by Tesla, who could actually use first nature and create energy sources from it by sticking light bulbs in the ground. He somehow saw energy in first nature even though he used a bit of the medium of the man-made light bulb to interact with it. So what Tesla predicted was the fusion of first and second nature. I call that 'tactility', which is the chakric bodies--the occult subtle, non-chemical energies around our bodies. I think the electrical environment is an extension of that. We can extend our chakric occult bodies. We are part of the fusion of first and second nature. [...] The bio-electric situation

CB: Somewhere in your writings you make some reference to a new electric environment as a new model for ESP.

BD: When visual space came in with writing and then the printed book, you emphasize the eye but you actually, paradoxically, numb the eye and it becomes less sensitive to body language. In the pre-writing cultures, these primitive societies were very sensitive, using all their senses. They were holistic, because they did not have a visual bias. So it was natural--in the excitement of the kind of direct-interface communication I described earlier--that many sparks would fly off in the exchange of words and body language. I think these tribal cultures got really flexible with the unforeseen effects of immediate sensory interaction. It was probably a product of that. Plus ingestion of food and drugs, whatever chemicals altered their body chemistry--which they would be naive about, and just be discovering. The confusion of signals between two or three people could be interpreted as something uncategorizable...

It is what we call ESP. It comes more out of body language communication than writing communication, aw'right? But body language is part of speech. ESP is really the dance of body language underneath verbal overlay, OK? [...] When we burst thru into the electric age, obviously, in movies and television, you have body language communicated in the medium. So we retrieve body language communication and therefore in the 20th century a passion for the occult, for the concept of ESP, was natural because people were re-discovering their bodies. That's the whole subculture of hip, learning how to talk without grammatical structure--impugning(?) more in your tone, imitating the jazz musician, improvising body language and verbal grunt rhythms. (Captain Beefheart versus the grunt people.) That retrieval of body language would naturally inspire, would archetypal-ize, now that's what amazing is that ESP became a romantic notion of immediate communication for the print/visual-biased culture which was fragmented and couldn't do immediate communication. They would romanticize the past time of pre-literate body language dance, and they called it ESP, so then ESP, as a fetish of the nineteenth century becomes an art form, a pastime that is obsessively studied by the 20th century, which actually lives in a natural ESP environment.

[...] The electric age has natural telepathy in effects of immediate interaction. [...] ESP is an obsession of the 20th century. It is past time as pastime.

CB: What about the possibilities of getting outside of our bodies...a kind of telepathic vehicle... remote viewing? [...] Somehow accessing [...]just jam on that one.

BD: When I talk and I am interacting with people and there are no technologies, if you get a certain distance away you can't hear me. Then if I start writing and sending letters with the postal system [...] then I can communicate at a distance. I can send my speech via [cameraman says to hold on] [...] now I've begun to communicate, beyond my normal first nature body, limitations with writing. When I get on the telephone I can talk to somebody in Tokyo and through my instructions (and even more so in the nineties) I can move things with my voice beyond my anthropomorphic first nature level. Therefore, I am operating beyond the normal boundaries of my body. So let's look at the meanings of out-of-body communication while looking at the technological fact that we do out-of-body communication (in reference to previous abilities) [currently].

Most people in the ESP culture celebrate the potential that the CIA was encouraging people to leave their body, travel into Moscow and look in the files, you know what i mean? [laughs] [...] There's a paradox there because satellite surveillance with it's remote viewing can spy on things all over the planet.

I think what most people think by 'out-of-body' is that they are going to leave this body and go into a whole other dimension without the aid of technologies. Why would one do that? Most people in the ESP culture celebrate the potential that the CIA was encouraging people to leave their body, travel into Moscow and look in the files, you know what i mean? [laughs] [...] There's a paradox there because satellite surveillance, with it's remote viewing, can spy on things all over the planet. So I am raising the question: what would be the point of leaving your body?

Probably, for most people, if they could leave their body and be in another dimension then that would satisfy the question of whether consciousness survives this body when it dies. That is a metaphysical question. [...] William Thompson develops this in his book Coming Into Being-- the confusion of the old body and the new technological body leads to an interaction with the astral energies, and,therefore, the astral energies get affected and they start coming thru as demons, or whatever, channeling thru people. So when people discover that they survive death--and I *know* that they survive death, but when *they* discover that--IT'LL BE OBSOLETE! That's the human dilemma! We always discover something because it's no longer a hidden environment!

The real hidden environment is the fact of lock-down Bob rule. [...] There are only two people left in the body--Bob and Connie--who are in a situation where nobody can reconnect with them because they are lost in the confusion between the bio and the electric and therefore the only antidote they have to that is to celebrate the past life, the past time of: [dramatic pause] having a body and wishing you had immortality! And so everybody now is going to announce that they are immortal and they live in the astral dimension, when the astral dimension is obsolete! Now, this is a problem for god and the devil. Because they created first nature. How are they going to deal with humanity's creations? Humanity has created technologies that are challenging all the previous notions of sacredness and that is a threat to the originators of sacredness, god and the devil!

CB: Thanks! That was great [tape cuts]

BD: [puts up his arms) I was like that little girl from Russia that did the perfect 10-10-10...

CB: Can you say a little more about the role of the hologram? I guess it is sort of a model for you in your theory. How does it relate to simulation and to today's and yesterday's media environment?

BD: Most Americans say you 'watched' television and 'I saw it on television' -- now that's the American visual bias, their cultural sensory programming interpreting TV as a visual medium when TV is largely an acoustic surround. It's the tactile interplay of all the senses including motion (because when the camera moves you move) [...] so, television is not a visual medium, um, it is multi-sensory. But a visually-biased culture will use it as content; will see it as a visual medium. But the hologram comes in and, as TV is the perceiving of acoustic space and hearing in all directions, the new requirement which would satisfy the American desire for visual space, for the eye retrieved, would be to see in all directions. Now to see in all directions is what the hologram can do, because you look at it and you walk around it and it develops dimension. So it is actually creating depth for the eye, which the TV doesn't do. The TV creates touch and ear in depth but not sight [...] Dali started making an art form of that in the early seventies.

So, the hologram is an invention that is going to satisfy the human need to to bring back the eye. Now an invention does not become an environment (in the sense of language, etc) until it is a common cliche and everyone is using it. One hologram does not create this effect, but when the hologram becomes an environment the effects will be obvious. As the hologram is becoming an environment the effects of it are already happening on people, it's like the 'hundredth monkey' effect. The effects are happening on people before the cause shows up. So when something becomes an environment it is obviously affecting everybody, but it has been anticipated by the artists and the scientists and previous ideas and notions [...]

The idea of the holeopathic is the hologram and homeopathy. I am taking that concept which describes the effects of the holeopathic situation, the bioelectric merging, and I am saying that the effects of that have happened from 1960-1990. The technology didn't show up and begin to be used by everybody until after 1990. The hologram is here in terms of its effects though the actual technological environment. WIRED magazine and MONDO 2000 etc have their whole virtual reality dream of refining it so you can have your own little goggles and your own little hologram and actually see in all directions and be a satellite. That is a technical thing that requires techno pawns to create inventions that'll gradually put the digital chips together to make it an actuality and a sale-able thing that is easy to use. The effects of that technology which will come in the next 20 years have been here from '60 to '90.

CB: Why, because people have already conceptually inhabited that space even though hardware isn't there?

BD: [Nods] And you know how? [...] TV has a certain bias so it is naturally by the tetrad flipped into a new environment. So the need for seeing all directions which the TV doesn't require does mandate the collective imagination expressed through language as a media to figure out an antidote to the TV specialization, because it fragments just into tactility. So everybody's already demanding holograms and the hologram experience in the TV environment and that's why movies didn't become obsolete with TV. They became a substitute for the future hologram. The hologram will be the movie experience personalized for electric autonomy.

CB: I see. Can you say more about how effects precede causes, how is that possible?

BD: OK. The big discovery of Joyce is past times to pastimes. That's the retrieval factor. McLuhan then synthesized it into a scientific paradigm and it is called a tetrad, where every new environment enhances a certain sensory preference and obsoletes the old situation.

For example writing enhanced the visual bias and obsolesced the oral. It retrieves something from the past that was sort of disappeared for a while. It was sitting on the shelf and then it came back. So what did visual writing retrieve? The private individual. The caveman, the guy by himself who hasn't even been tribalized yet. So the private individual is retrieved by writing, and then what does writing flip into? The printed book, and then if you tetrad that it flips into the electric environment. So the tetrad is the whole process of enhancement, obsolesence, retrieval and then flipping into it's opposite -- a new technology that wipes *it* out and makes *it* obsolete, so the tetrad is a slow process for the last 200 years but as we get into technological speedup and invention and turnover from to 1960 to 1990, the tetrad process of each technology goes through its fifteen minutes faster, aw'right? So as a result of that, the speedup means that the four stages of tetrad happen pretty simultaneously. So when the TV environment comes in as a new environment, extending the bias of tactility, it obsoletes reading -- Johnny becomes illiterate. It retrieves the occult and primitive awareness and drug taking, and it flips into the hologram and seeing in all directions. Because the length of that tetrad over normal biological time is shorter, we in the speedup situation can anticipate the flip point of the tetrad before it has actually shown up. That's how the effects of the future show up before the causes.