Last night marked my return to Adam Sayne’s Conspiranormal podcast. Unlike the vast majority of interviews I’ve done during the past few months regarding my book, Chameleo, this conversation centers mainly on my first book, Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form, but also touches on Spies & Saucers (my second book), recent Phantom Clown sightings in South Carolina, David Paulides’ fascinating Missing 411 investigation, the loopy theory that Stephen King shot John Lennon, Freemasonry, Albert Pike, the origins of the Ku Klux Klan, Columbine, Donald Trump, the last days of Manly P. Hall, Stranger Things, the Montauk Project, the accusation that Mark Hamill is the surgically-altered progeny of Project Paperclip Nazi scientists, a variety of lone nut assassins, swimming pools filled with chocolate, and magic space pussies. Please click HERE to listen to this freewheeling discussion, which runs well over two hours long.
One of the several chapters of Cryptoscatology under discussion during this interview is Chapter Five: “Science Fiction as Manipulation: SF’s Intersection with the Intelligence Community.” To whet your appetite, here’s a brief excerpt from that chapter:
Undoubtedly, [H.G.] Wells was the first writer to use science fiction as a vehicle for intelligence propaganda, but not the last. One of the most interesting examples is the case of Paul Linebarger, who wrote science fiction under the name Cordwainer Smith. He was a leading expert in psychological warfare during the 1950s and ‘60s, and was an advisor to President Kennedy. He wrote the book on psychological warfare—literally. Its title is Psychological Warfare and was published by Combat Forces Press in Washington, D.C. just after World War II. In this book Linebarger writes: “Almost all the best propagandists of almost all modern powers have been, to a greater or less degree, literary personalities. The artistic and cultural aspect of writing is readily converted to propaganda usage…. Though literary men have converted their writing to propaganda purposes, few of them have gone on to define the characteristics of a specific conversionary literature or to compile canons of literary style applicable to the propaganda field. The contributions may lie in the future” (290).
That was in 1948. In 1950 he published his first short story “Scanners Live in Vain” in Fantasy Book, which was followed by at least twenty-five more stories plus two full-length novels. Linebarger admitted to his editor Frederick Pohl that there were numerous codes hidden in his stories (Smith, The Instrumentality of Mankind xvi). These are known in the advertising world as “phonetic embeds”—strange double-entendres, anagrams, and deliberate typos intended to plant suggestions in the reader’s mind. It would probably take a computer to decipher all the codes in Linebarger’s stories, but some of them can indeed be uncovered if one is diligent enough.
I mentioned earlier that Linebarger was an advisor to President Kennedy. In light of that fact it’s interesting to note the following codes. Only a few months after Kennedy’s death, Linebarger published a novel called Quest of the Three Worlds that was chock-filled with phonetic embeds. On pages 69 and 74 you’ll find that the first letter of each sentence spells out “Kennedy shot,” and “Oswald shot too.” Perhaps this would be unremarkable in itself, but the kicker is this: The paragraph spelling out Oswald’s name is entirely about hypnotism. The main character is taught to shoot a gun by hypnotism, and is then hypnotized into learning about psychological warfare with the aid of a “neuro-electric learning helmet,” a phrase that sounds somewhat like “neuro-linguistic programming.” Near the end of the book Linebarger writes about a secret council of “perfect ones” who “know everything” and live in a well-guarded Egyptian setting. Linebarger calls this group The Instrumentality. They sound very similar to The Round Table Group, or the High Cabal discussed by Col. L. Fletcher Prouty in his book JFK. Prouty, by the way, was also an advisor to Kennedy….
Robert Guffey is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University – Long Beach. His most recent book is Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security (OR Books).