A mysterious figure known as Vargus Pike created Mentofreeism. Pike comes across as a pugnacious, sanctimonious blow hard, who, with his eye patch and vibe of doom and gloom, looks like a perfect candidate for a soap box outside of a New York City subway station. Mentofreeism blends elements of New Age novelty with proper habits of media consumption, while asking who controls the levers of mass messaging in society.
At worst, Mentofreeism comes across as New Age quackery, and at best, it shows an uncanny prescience in terms of mass media consumption, years before the advent of the internet and fake news. If you can get past the eccentric concept of having a second mouth and second anus, in addition to your third eye, Mentrofreeism offers some quality framework for critical thinking and mass media consumption. In the lone, available seminar of Pike posted below, he talks about “a diet of true opinions.” He discusses an “info diet” and the ability to chew up stuff and spit out the crap. He posits that junk for our brain leads to “mental constipation.” Mentofreeism preaches a keen awareness of what your brain consumes, and if done correctly results in good mental health and “mental regularity.”
Pike seems to have had his finger on the pulse of America while pontificating about the foreboding direction we’re headed in. Very little information about Pike exists on the web. He supposedly disappeared days after this seminar, which is rumor at best. Some believe he has more in common with Andy Kaufman and was merely a showman and opportunist. Pike did make some appearances on public access television, as well as fronting some live musical performances. Was Pike a wildly talented performance artist?
The only other bit of information available is a run-in with Allen Ginsberg of all people. According to various sources, including this one, “It was shortly after the Tompkins Square Park riots in New York that Ginsberg was involved in a fracas with the Mentofreeist group and was assaulted by its leader, Vargus Pike. Pike was arrested, and was later released when Ginsberg, sporting a black eye, refused to press charges.” Although, this tidbit of information is absent on Ginsberg’s Wikipedia page, so who knows how true this is.
Watch below, and have a look at Pike’s Mentrofreeism seminar. A good number of students in the lecture don’t hide their distaste for Pike and the discussion becomes quite combative and heated at times. I can’t even imagine how this would go over in today’s “safe space” classroom climate. However, considering that this seminar may have been held nearly 30 years ago, the foreshadowing of our current political and media climate is startling. The core tenet of Mentofreeism, vaguely reminds me of another work by a mysterious author, Poker Without Cards by Ben Mack.
If you have information or anything to share about the mystery of Vargus Pike and Mentrofreeism, do share it please.0