This was originally published on Tantric Disposition Matrix.
I sat down with Robert Guffey, author of Chameleo published by OR Books, for a riveting interview.
John Hawkins: Chameleo read like it would make for a brilliant screenplay. The whole thing came to life. I felt like I was reading a mash of Hunter S. Thompson, Philip K. Dick, but also a bit of Elmore Leonard, with the slick characterizations. The first third is extremely entertaining, but later you bring together a lot of threads – verbatim interviews, emails and phone call transcripts, all of which makes for an interesting combination of humor mixed with striking, frightening stuff.
RG: Yes, the first third is very narrative driven and then I get into the transcripts. I can see where the narrative might slow down some at that point. But I was hoping that at that point the reader would be interested enough to get to the end. And I wanted to maintain the transcript just so the reader could see that this was not just something I was making up. I very much didn’t want to be preaching or standing on a soapbox warning people about the coming apocalypse of the surveillance state. People tend not to listen to that and they tune it out.
JH: What influenced the structural choices you made in putting the book together?
RG: When I was 18, I discovered Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And around that same time, I discovered a book called AIDS, Inc by Jon Rappoport, which is a very hard-hitting investigative journalism look into alternative theories regarding the origin of AIDS. Was AIDS from a government laboratory, etc. It examines all the theories. I remember thinking it would be fascinating if you could combine the serious investigative journalistic tone of AIDS, Inc with this kind of crazy Gonzo narrative thing, like in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and I think Chameleo is a culmination of that interest on my part.
JH: A lot of otherwise open-mined readers might be repelled by your background in conspiracy theories, and yet, in Chameleo that tenuous narrative trope seems to be supported by the raw events unfolding in a kind of hyper reality. How is Chameleo different from other conspiracy-centric narratives?
RG: When conspiracy theorists publish–or, more often than not, self-publish–books, they are frantically attempting to disseminate what they feel is important, life-or-death information. This is not my main concern. I’m coming from a literature background. I’ve been publishing short stories since I was 25. Writers like John Fante, Henry Miller, and Charles Bukowski wrote about the reality around them. I’m engaged in the same process. It just so happens that the reality we live in today is overbrimming with conspiracies. If Mark Twain were alive today, I’m certain he would be writing about conspiracies. He wouldn’t be able to avoid it. I see Chameleo, primarily, as a work of literature. If the book does succeed in disseminating valuable information, it’s simply a byproduct of my desire to write about reality as I see it.
JH: Your book, especially early on, has a Gonzo journalist flavor added to the stir fry approach, which is in keeping with words attributed to Hunter S. Thompson: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” This would seem to apply to the whole concept of your book. Care to elaborate on how?
RG: Actually, it was Joseph Heller who wrote, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” That line is from Catch-22. I don’t have much to add to Heller’s statement except to say that I agree with it. When Chameleo begins, I don’t think Dion is paranoid at all; however, being constantly surveilled and harassed does tend to push people over the edge just a bit. I don’t think Dion has ever been clinically paranoid, but the events that were swirling around him might have induced symptoms that could be interpreted as paranoia by those not familiar with the full details of his dilemma. After all, exhibiting paranoiac symptoms is a perfectly reasonable response to being stalked by an organized group of strangers.
JH: We live in times when government is becoming more opaque in its processes, while, at the same time, the human self seems to be disappearing with the rapid evaporation of privacy and free-thought. It occurred to me that what Dion goes through in Chameleo brought this out with great effect.
RG: This process was predicted by Marshall McLuhan. All of his books, in their own unique way, explore how to maintain one’s private citadel of consciousness in a world ruled by The Machines. McLuhan predicted this situation as early as 1946 or ’47. Here’s a quote from McLuhan: “I once wrote an article, ‘The Southern Quality,’ back in 1946 or 1947 where I explained why there was no human life on this planet. Since then human beings have been grown inside programmed media-environments that are essentially like test tubes. That’s why I say the kids today live mythically.” This “mythic” environment is one of the main subjects of a book I’m finishing now. The book is called Hollywood Haunts the World. The final chapter of this book will explore the “loss of self” you refer to.
JH: You mention that you were inspired by the humorous skepticism of Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo journalism, but also by Jon Rappoport’s book, AIDS, Inc. Can you say more about how AIDS, Inc acted as an inspiration – or, in other words, what was Rappoport’s thesis and how did his methods and findings inspire your Chameleo approach?
RG: Rappoport is a Pulitzer-Prize-nominated journalist whose approach to documenting the true nature of the 1980s AIDS epidemic was unlike any other reporter at that time. He asked questions no one else even thought to ask. The field of journalism will always be far too limiting for a searching mind like that. In fact, I think it would be incorrect to refer to Rappoport as strictly a “journalist.” He’s a journalist in the same way that Mark Twain was a journalist. He’s a writer who has his eyes wide open, and he simply reports on what he sees. In a sense, one might say that Rappoport’s style of reporting is a more sophisticated and spiritual version of Hunter S. Thompson’s subjective, drug-fueled reportage. Rappoport’s later book, The Secret Behind Secret Societies, is even better than AIDS, Inc. I consider it to be a vastly underappreciated book, one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. Everyone should read it and meditate on its central message. You might also want to check out Rappoport’s blog. [https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/]
JH: How would you sum up Project Chameleo?
RG: Project Chameleo is the brainchild of a scientist named Richard Schowengerdt, and resulted in the creation of Electro-Optical Camouflage that could be employed by soldiers in the battlefield. Schowengerdt’s findings were almost certainly stolen by a private corporation working in tandem with the U.S. military.
JH: Richard Schowengerdt comes across in your book like the fictional nutty scientist in Back to the Future, or the very real Edward Teller, a kind of futuristic genius, but also the stereotypical naif whose scientific inventions and forward-thinking get co-opted or stolen by government agencies with hidden agendas. I suppose Tim Berners-Lee is another. How do these comparisons work inChameleo, if at all?
RG: Richard Schowengerdt is not only a brilliant scientist, but also one of the most balanced people I’ve ever met. His ongoing fascination with the intersection between science and metaphysics belies a deep and curious mind, not unlike that of Nikola Tesla. If Schowengerdt is guilty of being a little too trusting of the U.S. military, he certainly would not be the first scientist to find himself in such a situation. A fellow named Albert Einstein comes to mind. In that sense, Richard Schowengerdt is in very good company.
JH: I can’t recall a work that featured cameos by so many secret or covert agencies. There’s NCIS and CAIS and Freemasons and group stalkers and the CIA, all immersed in what you might call the sub-primal juices of the Deep State or the Deep Net. But one also thinks of all the other groups out there – the NSA, KKK, Skull and Bones, the PNAC mob, on and on it goes, until you get the sense that our society, which is supposedly built on late Enlightenment principles, falls back rather readily into the occult, fundamental religiosity, the weird and bizarre. And then you look to science for antidotes, it instead exacerbates the problem with references to quantum theory, multiverses, and the Singularity. This seems to play into a central theme of Chameleo – the contemporary fragility of the self and the reality we collectively construct ourselves within. What do you reckon?
RG: The title Chameleo has multiple layers of meaning. On a literal level, of course, it’s referring to Schowengerdt’s attempts to create invisibility technology. On a higher level, it refers to the fact that Truth itself is often camouflaged–not only in the book, but in contemporary life. Politicians and priests and psychiatrists attempt to camouflage Truth every day. We camouflage Truth from ourselves, as well as from others, just to get through an average afternoon. But because Truth is hidden, we have to try to find it ourselves somehow. Occult organizations have been formed for this exact purpose since civilization began. Secret societies are certainly nothing new. You used the word “occult” in your question, and the word “occult” simply means “hidden.” The Freemasons, the Rosicrucians, and similar organizations have been delving for hidden truths since their inception. It has been argued by Robert Lomas in his book, Freemasonry and the Birth of Modern Science, that “Freemasonry, supported by Charles II, was the guiding force behind the birth of modern science.” In the 1600s many scientists were forced to form secret societies, such as the “Invisible College,” in order to study the secrets of nature in ways that were forbidden by the Church. If one feels the need to form a secret society to pursue Truth, due to the fact that the climate of the day is hostile to Truth, then so be it. All organizations are made up of people. A group of Imagination Vampires will probably end up creating a corrupt organization, while a group of humanitarian free thinkers will probably end up creating a worthwhile organization. It all depends on the intentions of theindividuals in the group, not on the group itself. Obviously, groups should always be subordinate to the individual.
JH: You mention that Edward Snowden’s breathtaking revelations, which detail the scope and power of the active global surveillance state, actually pale in comparison to some of the claims you make about gangstalking. That seems like a staggering claim, all things considered. Could you say more?
RG: I don’t think it’s that staggering at all. As far as I know, Edward Snowden never mentioned anything about invisible midgets, simian sharpshooters, leapfrogging robots, snooping flying saucers, and swarms of government-funded gangstalkers.
JH: If the Internet and the myriad digital technologies that have followed are like the first touch of the monolith by the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, then one might reasonably argue that the awakening process required of human consciousness right now to overcome our profound limitations is akin to entering the Stargate. Would you agree with that?
JH: What is gangstalking? Who gets gangstalked? Who gangstalks? How do you suppose gangstalkers get away with using expressions like “He’s evil,” as they stalk, while all the time, they are the ones committing the horrible crime of privacy invasion, character assassination, and, in some instances, conspiracy to commit brutal murders?
RG: The most concise and accurate definition of “gangstalking” can be found on fightgangstalking.com. Go to the home page, then click on the title “What is ‘Gang Stalking?’” [http://fightgangstalking.com/what-is-gang-stalking/]
JH: In your book you write: “Let’s not be obtuse: we’re dealing with a rule-crazy, Puritanical, hypocritical, Old Testament–style perception of reality that desperately needs to wipe out anything or anyone that is Other. Different. Contrary.” You seem to be arguing that such types are on the rise in America, and probably elsewhere as well. How do you explain such a backward, reactionary phenomenon at a time of so much futurism? If these kinds of humans prevail, what kind of future are we looking at?
RG: Back in 2003, I was fortunate enough to interview Rev. Stephan Hoeller, Bishop of the Gnostic Church in America, and during that conversation Hoeller said the following words to me, which I’ve never forgotten: “Do you remember The Last Temptation of Christ, Scorcese’s movie? There’s a scene where Jesus is trying to tell Pilate, ‘Look, you know, we want to change the world, but we want to change it with love. I don’t want to start a revolution. I don’t want to hurt anybody. I just want to change it with love.’ And Pilate says, ‘My good man, you don’t understand, we don’t want it to be changed at all. By no means, we don’t want any change!’ So, it’s a little bit that way. People involved in the matrix, they are within the consensus reality, they want reality to stay that way. To poke holes into that reality by one means or the other is very disturbing to such people. Those are the deeper psychological motivations of the dislike for psychedelics, or for that matter for ceremonial magic or Gnosticism, or anything that alters consciousness in any significant way.”
JH: The other thing I wanted to ask you about is some macro pictures. If you could sort of relate all of this to the Snowden revelations.
RG: Well, I guess the over-riding motto is: Never waste a good crisis. It’s quite ironic because I think that some of these people [gangstalkers] are being sold a bill of goods and think that they’re being upright — you know, Neighborhood Watch type citizens are being told: “Oh, you know, that guy down the street, he’s up to no good, you better do something about him.” In the book, Dion mentions a part where the cops stop him and they say that they were told that he talked about “doing something”. The accusation is vague enough, you know, it sounds vaguely ominous. And so I think these people are being told that this man down the street, he’s a terrorist, or he’s been talking about doing something, or he’s a pedophile, or whatever, and they believe it, and then they tell them to go and harass him at the local supermarket, go spy on him, and I think they might actually be doing that thinking that they’re protecting, you know, apple pie, and God and country, not realizing that they’rethe real terrorists.
RG: That’s the irony of it. Well, I know that when the George Zimmerman – Trayvon Martin tragedy occurred, Dion contacted me and wondered: Who’s this George Zimmerman guy? And who’s he actually working for? I mean, no one’s actually looked into that. I mean, George Zimmerman, his personality, is just the perfect gang-stalking personality. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was trained by one of these organizations. You wouldn’t hear anything about that because no one’s looked into it… because, of course, gang-stalking doesn’t exist, so no journalist has ever bothered to look into it.
I think what’s going to happen is, if the whole gangstalking thing reaches a kind of critical mass at some point, people are going to be surprised at the fact that the Snowden revelations are just completely mundane compared to what’s actually going on. Just the tip of the iceberg. What Snowden’s talking about pales in comparison to whole neighborhoods being trained to be government-sponsored vigilantes, which sounds like a paradox — I mean, how could you be a government-sponsored vigilante? But that’s essentially what it is. I mean they’re taking these people and training them in how to be amateur COINTELPRO agents, and the idea that this could happen… I mean, most people are resistant to the whole concept of gangstalking. They don’t want to think gangstalking is even possible.
JH: If what happened to Dion, the experience he had in his apartment with the midgets or not doesn’t really matter, but the invisible bodies bumping against him, and the phantasmagorical hallucinations out his window, that kind of shit, that’s disturbing to the core, really. It’s the kind of thing that, if you realized that that was happening on any kind of scale at all, not just to a single individual, you’re talking about a very serious shift in consciousness, what you could call “real.” What would be true or real? You make reference to the Vallejo paintings that seem to fill Dion’s apartment window. What do you make of them?
RG: In terms of the paintings that they were using? You know, I think that they were using the technology that Richard Schowengerdt was describing. He on his own started talking about using the technology to be able to distort what people see, not just making things invisible but changing objects into something else. So I think they were testing that aspect of the technology, to see whether they could make a landscape just totally disappear and turn into something else.
JH: The thing I worry about out of all of this is — as you know there are like 1.5 million people on some kind of watch list in the States, and that’s just the known lists, the publicized lists. The number of people being watched actively because they’re targets of Obama or DOJ targets. The government has actually acknowledged the number of people on this list. And you know they can’t all be terrorists. So there have to be people who watch them. Then you realize the number of people out there who have these top secret clearances out there. Last I heard there was something like 750,000 people who have top secret clearance. Then you find out that all these private companies are basically stocked with people who are “retired”, meaning they left the service to go work for these companies and get lucrative awards for it.
RG: Well, there’s a surprising amount of these private corporations that are currently involved in this. Last August, this ad popped up on craigslist. And for years I wondered what the people involved, the gangstalkers following Dion, what they called themselves. Because obviously they don’t call themselves gangstalkers. That was the name applied to them by the targets, the victims, if you will. So I wondered: what do they call themselves? And this ad popped up from a corporation that was based in San Diego — and the headline of the ad read: “Surveillance Role Players and Practical Exercise Role Player, San Diego.” And this was the ad: “The MASY group — M-A-S-Y– is looking for motivated surveillance role players (SRPs) and scenario-driven practical exercise role players (RPs) to support military training activities in the San Diego, California region. Qualified personnel should demonstrate an established track record of conducting surveillance operations at various discretion levels, supporting surveillance training and military practical exercise training. Individuals with previous military intelligence community and law enforcement experience are highly preferred.” And then it says, “The mandatory prerequisite qualifications for role players is a minimum of 5 years of counterintelligence and/or human intelligence experience, with at least two operational deployments in a CI unit military occupational specialty, or as a member of a civilian intelligence community organization.”
So surveillance role players is the term they use to describe themselves. The ad quickly disappeared after that, but I saved it. And the MASY group, which is the organization that’s advertising this, they describe themselves as a “global provider of high impact national security intelligence and private sector capital management solutions.” These organizations — there’s MASY, there’s DSAC, which is the Domestic Security Alliance Council; there’s something called PKS Group, Prescient Edge; ITA International; Whitney Bradley and Brown; all these private companies working in tandem with these ex-military people. And in reality, they’re actually working in tandem with people who are currently military as well.
JH: Yes. You put your finger right on it. Because that’s the problem: There’s all of these assumptions about authority, such that the accuser is an authority requiring trust. When what all this Snowden-Surveillance State business should tell us, going all the way back to Nixon especially, all of our experience should tell us totally the opposite.
It’s very Stasi-like in that sense. The Stasi brought people in and would say to people either you’re working for us or you’re going away for a long time. And so some of these people did some sick things. And that’s how the whole thing grew. I think the last figure I had for the Stasi was that their number had grown to 350,000 people working for them, in a population of 17 million.
RG: It’s important to point out that this isn’t just happening to marginal people like Dion. This is also happening to people like Gloria Naylor. Do you know who she is? She’s a very famous, well-respected African-American writer. She wrote Mama Day and The
Women of Brewster Place, and a lot of other well-respected novels. I mean, she’s a well-respected literary figure. But not a lot of people know that she is also a target of gangstalking. She wrote a whole book about it called 1996, which is ostensibly a novel, but she said it’s actually autobiographical. She sort of slightly fictionalized it. But according to her she moved to an island off the coast of South Carolina. She was living in this isolated house off in the country somewhere, but she had a neighbor, and the neighbor had a dog, and the dog ended up getting accidentally poisoned somehow, and the neighbor blamed her. They thought she’d killed the dog. And it turned out the neighbor had a brother who worked in the NSA, and suddenly she was getting stalked. And all of the stuff that Dion describes and I described in the book happened to her to a greater or lesser extent. And that’s before 9/11. So I think 9/11 did open the door to — it just widened the door, the door was already open — this stuff was already happening, but then it intensified after 9/11.
JH: I did a review of a book about two months ago, Suspicious Minds, written by two psychiatrist brothers, Joel and Ian Gold, and they write about the growing delusional trend in America, where people literally believe that they are actors in a Truman Show. Where everything is being directed by outside forces beyond their control, and that everybody else has a script.
RG: On the surface it sounds like a wonderful way for a psychiatrist to explain away people who claim they’re being gangstalked.
JH: I am mostly anti-psychiatry because I think they’re mostly full of shit. I think a lot of people forget that they’re not really out there to tend to individual humans; they are out to make you adjust to what’s out there, society. As R.D. Laing said, “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal.” Or bring in Nietzsche who said, “Insanity in individuals is rare, but in nations, states and societies it’s the norm.” So it’s that kind of thing going on here — you are trying to get people to adjust to a horrible, shitty situation. The structure of society can be such that its lies… that individuals pick up on that and it creates a real crisis in their own identity because there are some things you can’t adjust to without losing your mind.
RG: Earlier I mentioned a wonderful book called the The Secret Behind Secret Societies by Jon Rappoport. In that book he tells the story about a hypnotist he knew who worked in Beverly Hills. And the hypnotist’s name was Jack True. And the hypnotist told Jon Rappoport — he was a hypnotherapist — that when he has patients come into his office he often found that in order to put them into a trance he had to first break them out of a trance. That a lot of his patients came in already in a trance, and they had been in a trance for decades. And he had to break them out of that trance to then put them in a trance to do the hypnotherapy on them.
Maybe Chameleo will shatter a few trances here and there. You know, if Chameleo in any way helps to bring some of the targeted individuals together and talking to each other I would be extremely proud. Even if it succeeded in bringing just a few people together I would be very pleased. You know, maybe things are changing. There was a Washington Post article from last July. The title was “America’s Freedom Reputation Is on the Decline a Year after NSA Revelations,” and the first paragraph of the article read: “The main selling point of the U.S. brand on the international stage has long been summed up with the screech of one word: Freedom. But in the wake of revelations of U.S. surveillance programs from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden from last year, the world is less convinced that the U.S. has respect for personal freedoms, according to new survey results from Pew Research.”
It goes on to say: “The Snowden revelations appeared to have damaged one major element of America’s global image — its reputation for protecting individual liberties. In 22 of 36 countries surveyed in 2013 and 2014, people are significantly less likely to believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens. In six nations the decline was 20 percentage points or more. Pew calls this decline the Snowden Effect. And some of the drops are significant, especially in countries where NSA surveillance received major domestic news coverage, like Germany and Brazil.”
So that’s the Snowden Effect. Maybe there’ll be a Chameleo Effect. Who knows?
JH: The thing about that Pew Poll that is interesting, America is the leader when it comes to democracy, at least symbolically, at least when it comes to freedom, the rule of law, and due process — the kingpins of the Bill of Rights, which is the single most important thing about American democracy — you always have to face your accuser and then you have a process of evidentiary revelations, the cross-examinations, the witnessing, all that kind of stuff. That was the key thing for American justice. That was it. And throwing that out, not only by what the Pew Poll is saying, but also with Obama and his Drone Kill Tuesdays, where he sees himself dealing judicial review as a form of due process… and we just made it a lot easier for emerging democracies to ignore any attempt at installing a Bill of Rights, they won’t pursue them any more. If supposedly the greatest nation on Earth is suspending its own due process, then there really isn’t much point for any other nation to pursue it any longer.
RG: I teach at CSU Long Beach, and I recently assigned the graphic novel V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. There’s a wonderful line in the book early on, where the masked anarchist vigilante figure, V, is having a conversation with a statue in London: it’s called Madame Justice. And he’s having this imaginary conversation with the statue. He’s basically talking about the difference between justice and anarchy, and there’s one line he says to the statue, “Justice is meaningless without freedom.” And the reason why this is in my mind is that a student of mine — I was reading his paper this morning, and basically his paper was all about that sentence. And the student wrote this really interesting introspective essay about how in the United States you hear a lot of talk about justice — the Justice Department, no justice no peace — there’s all these articles about how we need justice for what went down in Ferguson or whatever, but his whole point was that we need to be focused on freedom, not justice.
And you know, this is like an 18 year-old kid; he never read a graphic novel before. And he was really jazzed about this graphic novel and wrote this very thoughtful piece about it, and so that gives me hope when I see my students come in on the first day and they’re kind of ready to be bored, because that’s what they’re used to, and I’ll just pose questions, or I’ll give them something to read. And you see that they’re not entirely stupid; they’re not entirely sheeple. There’s a kind of a stereotype of teenagers plugged into their videogames or their iPod or Facebook, and their zombies, at least that’s the way older people might see them, but there’s actually this creativity and this intelligence that’s ready to burst out, but they’re so used to being told not to use their imagination that they’re stuck in a trance. So I kind of try to do what Jack True did; I kind of try to break them out of a trance in my own subtle way. I remain optimistic.
I wrote an article called “Concentration Campus,” which you can find in my first book,Cryptoscatology, and it’s an entire history of American education. My thoughts about the educational system are really summed up by that title. But I also wrote a follow-up article that’s not in the book called “The War Against the Imagination.” [You can find the article here:https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/the-war-against-the-imagination/] And basically it’s about the current state of education, and I really see that there’s some people who seem to want to go out of their way to deaden the imagination of the students and it’s quite distressing to see it. But whatever I can do to kind of counteract that is what makes me want to wake up in the morning.
JH: What is gangstalking and how do you fight it?
RG: I mentioned earlier that site fightgangstalking.com. It’s really good and I wish it had been around in 2003 because it would have saved a lot of trouble for me and Dion. It’s a very good site, very thorough. And there’s one section on the site you need to see. If you go to fightgangstalking.com, on the left side of the screen and you’ll see various headers, and one of them is “Tactics for Fighting Back.” I really recommend that anyone who is being gangstalked, or thinks they’re being gangstalked, or knows someone who’s being gangstalked, go there and read about all the wonderful, clear, concise and easy to do methods — I mean, these are within your reach, things that the common person can do to kind of offset or fight these people. Dion came up with his own unique methods of fighting them, including hurtling spaghetti at times, but these might be slightly more effective in the long run. The “Tactics for Fighting Back” section on that site is a really good list of defensive and offensive measures you can take against these perps.
JH: You are writing a long essay called “Nation of Stalkers.” Can you give a rough outline of what you might be covering?
RG: Basically it’s updating things that have happened since the end of the book, but also I offer other advice on fighting back, other than the sort of more prosaic level that’s being offered by the fightgangstalking website. I’m trying to go into some more esoteric methods to fight back as well.
JH: You mean like playing Bob Dylan songs backwards? That kind of thing?
RG: Well, I know a woman who’s very well-versed in remote viewing. She was trained by one of the major proponents of remote viewing, and she’s very good at it. I mean, other remote viewers come to her to ask her advice. My late friend Walter Bowart, author of Operation Mind Control, knew a remote viewer who could basically view from a distance these secret underground military installations and come back and give Bowart detailed information about them. And I began to think of how that technique could be used in the context of the gangstalking problem. I’ll touch on these types of things in “Nation of Stalkers.”
JH: There’s a gap between the narrative time and when Chamelo got written and published — a decade or so — what explains that?
RG: The only reason that I did end up writing the book finally was that random encounter, when I was teaching a Literature of Science Fiction class in 2010 at CSU Long Beach, and after class a student asked me the question: “Can you think of something that we think of as science fiction that is not science fiction?” And then he mentioned invisibility as an example of that, not knowing at all my interest in that. And so I answered the question, and I went into a brief synopsis, and I stood there talking to him for about a half hour. And I then I left, went home, and forgot about it. But then the next day the student had become so captivated that he wanted me to tell the whole class the story. So I told the whole class the story, and then speaking about it out loud, having a live captive audience to bounce the story off of, made me realize how to tell the story. I had been thinking in terms of maybe a short article, and I immediately wrote down in my notebook an outline with bullet points of everything that I had said in the order I had said it to the class. When the semester ended, and the summer break began, I just started writing it. And it quickly ballooned way past 30 pages and became over 300 pages. The process of writing the book went pretty smoothly.
Overall, I think Chameleo works because the tone of the story is not depressing. It could easily have been, but it’s not. In my nonfiction work about conspiracies I always try to include some sort of possible solution to whatever the dark problem is. There are a lot of writers who don’t do that. They sort of wallow in apocalypse culture. So I always try to have some kind of optimistic silver lining. Because it’s always important to have some kind of proactive solution, and not just wallow in what can be a very depressing reality.
JH: In the book the last word on Dion is in 2013 and I was just wondering if there has any word from him since then — you know, in the last couple of years?
RG: I’m in contact with Dion. He’s living in the Pacific Northwest. At one point he was living in a van. He actually has his own apartment now. He’s painting all the time. And the incidents are now intermittent.