Author Archive | Alex Burns

Weird Science (Part 2)

Sarfatti, left, with Fred Alan Wolf in Paris, 1973 (CC)

[continues from Part 1]

Into the Pandemonium

In 1975, Sarfatti co-founded the legendary Physics-Consciousness Research Group with Esalen Institute’s Michael Murphy, funded by EST guru Werner Erhard. Murphy was investigating revelations of the USSR’s intensive parapsychological research projects, later setting up the Soviet-American Exchange Program at Esalen in the 1980s, which attracted the likes of Boris Yeltsin during his 1989 U.S. visit.

Sarfatti gave seminars at Esalen, serving as a guiding influence behind Fritjoff Capra, Gary Zukav and other proponents of the 1970s “New Physics” movement, which explored links between quantum physics and Eastern mysticism. Sarfatti brought Zukav to the Esalen Institute, where he conducted the research for his bestselling The Dancing Wu Li Masters (New York: Morrow, 1979), a book which captured worldwide attention. Sarfatti ghost-wrote major parts of the book, but a bitter feud eventuated when Zukav reneged on promised royalty payments.… Read the rest

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Weird Science

Jack Sarfatti (CC)

[disinfo ed.’s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on January 28, 2001. Some links may have changed.]

Author’s note: This interview was originally published in 21.C magazine (4/1996, The Unafesto): 54-59. It was my entre to a covert and mysterious world.

Dr. Jack Sarfatti is one of the leaders of the New Physics movement. However, his research into E.S.P., time, future causality and his VALIS-type experience has provoked dissent in the mainstream physics community.

The Bohemian physicist . . . contributes a balanced scientific non-establishment for this expanding society. I don’t mean to disparage the work, either . . . Originality has always required a fertile expanse of fumble and mistake . . . Your wastrel life might turn out to be just what’s required to save the planet.
~ ~Herbert Gold, Bohemia: Where Art, Angst, Love and Strong Coffee Meet

Black holes, Alcubierre warp drives, traversable worm holes, and the quest for the Holy Grail of dark matter are outpacing the wildest SF fantasies in the public’s imagination.… Read the rest

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Operation Mindcrime: The Selling Of Noam Chomsky

from Stevertigo at Wikimedia Commons

[disinfo ed.’s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on November 15, 2001. Some links may have expired.]

Author’s note: This interview was originally published in REVelation magazine (#12, Summer, 1995): 30-38. This piece captures a transitional period in world politics that exerts a powerful influence over today’s Culture Jammers and anti-globalization activists. Post-NAFTA Americans have became aware of the maquiladora; the Zapatistas seized cyberspace; Jose Ramos-Horta has since been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize; Australia has stepped back from Paul Keating’s mid-1990s drive into South-east Asia; Noam Chomsky continues to lecture, teach, and write. The article title, of course, refers to Queensryche’s progressive rock album Operation: Mindcrime (1988), one of the finest portrayals of how ‘radical’ drones can unwittingly become an integral part of the Reaganite entertainment-as-oppression system that they are (supposedly) fighting against.

18 January 1995 was an extraordinary day for Sydney.… Read the rest

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Full Moon. Photo: Bresson editor’s note: This classic report by former editor Alex Burns was originally published on this site on Aug. 13, 2002. Some external links may have changed.

In a now infamous 1961 speech, US President John F. Kennedy pledged that America’s space program would “place a man on the moon before the decade’s close.”

At the heart of cold war battles for geopolitical supremacy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs also became the vehicle for inculcating domestic populations with American values and belief systems.

NASA’s growing power, its protection by the Kennedy administration, and the rise of the Right Stuff astronaut as celebrity hid the steady growth of the Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower had warned about.

These anxieties–of monolithic social institutions controlling information, and the decline of US global empires–are the core of conspiracy theories claiming the historic Apollo moon landings were elaborately faked. The world was hoaxed.… Read the rest

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CPRF ’08: Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails & Disruptive Innovation

Web 2.0 experts, Wired‘s Chris Anderson and music industry pundits suggested Radiohead’s In Rainbows (2007) and Nine Inch Nails’ The Slip (2008) were going to disrupt the music industry.

In this presentation for Australia’s Communications Policy & Research Forum 2008 I discuss how Radiohead & NIN used the ‘label shopping’ phase to gain a better negotiation position with major labels, to develop options and alternatives, and to test new business models. It’s a presentation aimed at Australian policymakers and strategists, which Disinfonauts can use in their next creative project.

The presentation’s genesis came from this Disinformation story about Radiohead’s In Rainbows release.


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Global Metal

York University anthropologist Sam Dunn has found a communication strategy to reach a broader audience than many academics and scholars. Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (2005) combined Dunn’s fandom of heavy metal music, a taxonomy of subgenres, interviews with influential musicians and a field trip to the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany. Dunn’s follow-up documentary Global Metal (2008) travels from Wacken to three BRIC members (Brazil, India and China), China, Israel, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates. Global Metal has rich insights on the coevolution of nation-states in the world system, the challenges of market design, indigenous and hybrid responses to globalisation, and new voices on old debates in heavy metal subcultures.


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Anvil! The Story of Anvil & Prospect Theory

Sacha Gervasi‘s Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) is more than a documentary on the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil: it’s one of the most poignant films yet on how our beliefs and emotions affect our decision-making abilities.

Gervasi’s film begins with Anvil’s triumph: a support set at Super Rock ’84 Japan where lead guitarist/vocalist Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow wears bondage gear and plays a guitar solo with a dildo whilst drummer Robb Reiner unleashes fast blast beats. Anvil’s albums Metal on Metal (1982) and Forged in Fire (1983) combine two different strands of heavy metal music: the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the early 1980s that Def Leppard and Iron Maiden popularised, and outrageous tactics that Motley Crue and other Los Angeles bands would adopt in the mid-1980s. The other bands at Super Rock ’84 sold millions of albums: Scorpions, MSG (Michael Schenker Group), Whitesnake, and Bon Jovi.… Read the rest

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The Devolution Is Here

Devo‘s first Melbourne performance in 25 years was ‘a dream come true’ cofounder Mark Mothersbaugh told the audience – in falsetto – as Booji Boy during the finale ‘Beautiful World’. Most of the audience were ‘less beautiful than their parents’ who had attended Devo‘s last show in 1983. Australia was ‘relatively untouched then’ compared to the post-industrial decay in Devo’s hometown of Akron, Ohio.

The 90-minute setlist centered on Devo’s first three albums from 1978-82. After opening with clips from Chuck Statler’s film In the Beginning Was the End: The Truth About De-Evolution (1975) the band played the MTV hits ‘Whip It’ and ‘Girl U Want’ early in the set. Devo’s heavy rock arrangements became even more intense when they dispensed with the Korg keyboard at the front-of-stage and their trademark yellow radiation suits to reveal black t-shirts and shorts. Session drummer Josh Freese kept a fast drum tempo, Bob Casale switched deftly between keyboards and rhythm guitar, Bob Mothersbaugh added lead guitar histrionics to ‘Uncontrollable Urge’, ‘Gut Feeling’ and the Rolling Stones cover ‘I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)’, whilst Gerald Casale’s vocals on ‘Secret Agent Man’ highlighted the band’s humour.… Read the rest

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Dealmaker With The Dead

Randy Nails‘ documentary Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero (2008) screened as a ‘work in progress’ at the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival. The documentary charts Romero‘s evolution as a director and how his films are responsible for a 40-year-old ‘zombie economy’ worth over US$2 billion.

Three themes are central to Nails’ documentary: how psychopolitics such as Cold War nuclear fears and Vietnam War social activism influenced Romero’s personal vision, why Romero has fought to retain his independence against Hollywood studios, and how the zombie meme has in turn influenced contemporary ‘indie’ directors, subcultures, and musicians such as Glen Danzig and Rob Zombie.


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Roy Christopher: 2008 Summer Reading List

Disinfo ally Roy Christopher storms the reality studio with the grimoires you must read in Summer 2008. Contributions include Disinformation’s publisher Gary Baddeley and alumnus Richard Metzger & Alex Burns; neuronauts/occulture chroniclers Mark Pesce, Daniel Pinchbeck & Erik Davis; new media mavens Paul D. Miller, Steven Shapiro, Peter Lunenfeld & Ashley Crawford; and Gang of Four’s Dave Allen & Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye.

You owe it to yourself to check the list out now, read a few selections, and get Illuminated.


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