Geo’s Vision Machine
Part One of Three: The Citadel Concert
(A novella for video, film and song)
“Thinking in mythological terms helps you to put in accord with the inevitables of this vale of tears. You learn to recognize the positive in what appears to be negative moments and aspects of your life. The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure…(the adventure of being a hero, of being alive).”
— J. Campbell, The Power of Myth, p. 163
“Will our joining together-the linking of our cultures, hopes, dreams, ideas, and imaginations-into one communications lattice or membrane give us a single voice with which our planet can be heard by others greater than ourselves?”
— K. O. Berger, “The Information Ecosystem,” In Context, No. 23, 1988, p. 15
“I think spiritualism is where (music)…came from,…and I think it’s coming back to that.”
— Jim Goodwin of The Call The Rocket Magazine, Jan. 1990, p. 15
“With what seemed the simplest key (Franklin) had unlocked one of the darkest and most terrifying doors in the known universe. Here was another hero of the human race even as against the terrifying gods. Franklin, Kant said, was a new Prometheus who had stolen fire from heaven.”
— Benjamin Franklin, by C.V. Doren, 1938, p. 171.
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Geo’s Vision Machine
Weeks of rain and hail storms had pounded a swampy, Atlantian Armistead, Oregon, causing a whirling rain of splash from Jack’s rear wheel, christening faded jean and high tops alike, tall as the village fountain when summer water and power were pumping from the Cascades. A temporary break from the monsoon god was lucky, indeed. The late dusk sparkled powdered diamonds with blue black winds. He turned onto Avenue N pushin’ down hard, grinin’, headed for a Moon soaked and dangerous covered bridge. His walkman soundtrack matched his own heat, bammin’ with the Meat Puppets tape “Monsters.” Past the raging creek he fondly called Dreaming River. Over three bumps. Then right, up the gray red gravel road lined with ancient oaks to the video camera, and that weird barbed wire hex guarding the entrance to the Doc’s homestead. The lab. The mad scientists’ club.
To town folk, Geo’s two barns and leaky frame house looked just like those oil company calendars with their genetic rural scenes and never a human being anywhere. Moss had replaced paint and shingles and the place felt like it was slowly sinking, “divining to meet the water table.” The northern-most barn was off-limits to Jack for secret reasons. Geo made wine in the small barn off of the garage-which was stacked up high with boxes of books, college papers, bikes, skis, and camping gear. Dr. Georgette Klein split Cambridge, then left Madison, Boulder, and san Francisco ’cause her revolutionary philosophy courses didn’t hit the mark with each successive administration. Students loved the show, but they couldn’t do alchemy like Geo. They didn’t have the hardware.
Transformation. Atheist-Episcopalian then bottomland Buddhist, part psycho-engineer, frequent Quaker and eco-manic depressive poet. Ph.D. finisher in her last three races. Geo was as grandiose as her nickname; she worked the new alchemy-or spirit sciences, reinitiating world traditions with high computer techno-séances and transformed pagan menus. John Lilly, Ginsberg, Crazy Horse, Ben Franklin, W.I. Thompson, Jesus Christ. Players. It was this meta-mystical boundary, “door breaking” as she referred to the whole business, that kept Jack biking up here. He had his own plan for the Vision Machine.
Jack Gabriel placed his palm on the barn door scanner, and shifted his pack stuffed full of yogurt, rice, bagels, and juices. “Geo, jack here.” The laser light flashed twice, opening the security door. “I barely made it to the co-op before it closed,” he yelled.
Geo was on the phone. Someone in South American by her “world Spanish.” “Can’t seem to balance the r-wave tonight Ramone, we sign off, count 5-4-3-2-1 cut.” She was permanently perplexed, thought Jack. For years the “Truth System” was attempting the down link and connect various research bases from across the planet, independent of political boundaries-and only recently-free from corporate and military subordination. Many explorers brought programming or hardware expertise, as in the case of ramone, a wealthy mad humanist who brainstormed data bases for the System, and others like Telecommunix Nurvana Matrix in Chicago. He was a former NEC consultant and physicist from State University in Lima. He joined the group after meeting Geo at a Grateful dead concert in Oakland back in the ’80s. Many of Geo’s associates were “truckers.” Geo “trust funded a drug store raid” that lasted into her thirties, “dropping the moon” as she yowled. Advanced degrees occupied the other half of her brain: Philosophy, Creative Writing and Environmental Anthropology.
Jack pretended to be interested in his food cache, but his eyes wandered around the laboratory for new print-outs a communiqués torn from the telefax. Maybe Francesca transmitted a meeting time for this weekend when Geo would be in Eugene with white witches and other healers from the Northwest.
“Dude, ya you, behind the refrig.” She swerved off the old dentist chair and away from the multi-complex console. “Can an engineering drop-out handle the lentils and beer this evening?”
“Ya, sure Geo. What happened today? Did we receive?”
“Haven’t checked since 11:00 am. Please update the nirvana link pronto, OK?”
She walked out of the security gate, palm down to the sensor. “Barn check, Jack.”
What the hell is in there? He was one big frown. Maybe she doesn’t trust me with some aspect of the System, perhaps to experimental and dangerous. Maybe she was growing? His mind switched to the meal, and still hadn’t checked the dump ticket for electro-mail. Lentils and garlic, beer and Ben and Jerry’s. He ejected Shankar, replacing mellow with Camper Van Beethoven. Jack was kicked out of the engineering program at Berkeley because his grades were experimenting with sound theory and electronic music. His band, Totem Record, played a couple of times, once on a bill with the campers, and he missed Telegraph Ave.
“Maybe this weekend I can set up the tunebox and try out the interface pic,” he mused, twisting off a Henry’s NA.
Part of Jack’s grand design, beyond his satellite centerfold linkages and hard copy form Francesca in Madrid, required Geo’s mind machinery, sourced with world music and myth. Through critical sound patterns, as in ET I, II, and III, door breakin’ must occur. There was a metaphysical sound barrier out there and Jack was livid to bust into this new frontier. His “Sci-fi voyeurism,” his “aidship” to Geo, was an aging cartoon pushing him down an earthen black hole. How to break the mythic sound barrier?
Francesca Lambornii played a Steve Kilbey composition on her studio piano, a piece from his earthed CD entitled “the reality generators malfunctioned,” and wondered if her father would bring news of Jack in Oregon. Fall classes were rudimentary and not the electronic pathways she accessed in her papa’s lab Art school was five miles downtown, but Jack seemed right next door: trans-continental electro-male man. They met at an international computer music contest, both losing before the finals but sharing ideas on an emerging new theory of mythic sound. Delayed satellite sound alchemists; broadcast lovers. 21st Century cyberpunks.