DEEP SCRATCH CHAPTER ONE: NEEDLE DROPS
“…turntablists are soloists with a range of specialized techniques through which they combine recordings into new works (mixing, beat-juggling) and pull expansive timbral sequences from the vinyl (scratching). These processes enable a broad spectrum of sounds and references, opening the door for turntablists to play with memory and with imperial narratives of progress. In performance, turntablists blur external racial definitions while paradoxically reinforcing subnational communities. In addition, because they appropriate commercial recordings and use primarily independent means of production and distribution, turntablists subvert a market powered by a handful of multinational companies.” –Juliana Snapper, Scratching The Surface.
CHAPTER ONE: NEEDLE DROPS
A call to all graphical wizards and audio Magi A.I, warlocks and sorcerers, ready-up. The great culture battle is on. Want to play, spectate, commentate? Tell me, have you pitched your skill and word with that of others today? I’m just asking for a friend. Although, you may think you are reading this, in fact you’re not, we are co-creating. Rhymes to make regular speech learn. Which word spell algorithm needs more magick. The word, as you once knew it–ended with the big climate bang–on 21st December, 2012. What’s left over here on the page are traces, or motion trails, fragments of what once was and what now ain’t so thanks to G-proteins. For the galactic-toc track record, here’s my take on the events leading up to the end of the beginning. Recursive spirals toward the run-off matrix, natural language processing, interacting. Humanity must turn the tables pretty soon or we all sink and have to start, from scratch. Ah, fresh, we think aloud and play at the tables, invoke tribes and rock the spot via neuro-link. It’s just that damn lingering age-old question of great poems, how do you make it cohere?
“Push-Pull Members. Minimum structural-system stability requires six struts, each of which is a push-pull member. Push-pull structural members embody in one superficially solid system both the axial-linear tension and compression functions.”–Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics.
Plush lived the life of the mind, ideas formed in his head like drips, dripping into a pool of unwritten could-have been’s, leaving him trying to distinguish a good one from a stupid one. Who needs ideas anyway, when you have the internet and social media to have them for you? Plush was fast asleep, speed dreaming like Christopher Walkin in the movie Brainstorm, he had a vision for mixing art and Magick with turntables and tarot to fight mystical tsarist spooks, with a little help from an altruistic yet mischievous sprite. He wiped dream spit from his mouth and made a noise like the last breath of a dying cow, “Mwerrah” it sounded like The Fall.
Yesterday, before waking up, he devised a cunning cypher for turntable juggles and scratches, challenging himself in his dreams to produce explanatory knowledge rather than imaginary garbage. In his cypher, numbers 1-10 are translated into ten planetary symbols, assigned to the ten smaller cards of the Thoth Tarot. The 16 court cards (4×4) make up the main juggle movements, 16 building blocks of turntable juggles and scratches (as outlined by Rob Swift). The 22 Trump Cards are each a mnemonic system for sparking the imagination of the turntablist. Together, the cards explore infinite possibilities of a DJ routine, considering the modular nature of audio samples, change of pitch, direction and subtle manipulations, this has got legs. The full pack of 78 cards can be shuffled and dealt to produce novel juggles and scratches and stories, 52, 33 and 22 card packs, limited only by the imagination of the operator. A section of the Tribetable Method (T.M.) that Plush devised in 2009 defines the hardware mechanisms interfacing with software, for example: Stylus = Swords-Air. Headphone = Cups-Water. Drumstick = Wands-Fire. Record = Discs-Earth. Turntable = Spirit. Each piece of hardware represents one of the five root elements of Chinese philosophy, medicine and astronomy, stemming back tens of thousands of years. He dreamed on, the TribeTable Method is two-fold in its desired function, serving up new studio tools for composition, encouraging new synthesis of sound and symbol (notation). Secondly, T.M is a platform and a mnemonic system for DJs based on planets, houses and cosmic forces inherent in TribeTable Tarot, which is a remix of the Thoth Tarot (ROTA). If there are discs then you can spin them. Some stones, pond lilies and tea-cozies will turn if you push them in the correct direction. Push and pull…”Plush felt he had it…but lost it again chasing another dream bubble before waking up, before his day’s work could wreck his creative dream flow yet again, or slow it down, nothing could stop him. The design of TT started with practising turntables and writing simultaneously every day. Today would be a good day.
Plush slipped out of bed and into the home studio, munching bagels and sipping instant coffee while tending to the previous night’s downloads and renders. He powered up the decks and started his daily exercise, turntable drills. After finishing his last slash and stab drill set, he stopped the record and diligently slipped a 5” custom disc that he’d made the night before, over the centre-spindle so as to piggy-back the 12″ disc. Effectively having two different records on the same deck in close proximity, weird and impractical just as Plush liked it. He made a second piggy-back double-disc and started mixing and dropping between tracks. Fragments of sentences begin to form and fall apart again, handed down by entities of chance, revealing themselves today as Grandma Grammar Tonnie and uncle Sidney Doche,’ Hi guys. Plush stopped and sat at the breakfast table to roll a Penrose Cone and greet his new imaginary friends.
What makes holy scripture holy? Plush was hooked and sunk by that question from Bob for 15 years, he tapped the spacebar, symbols stopped rotating in ninety-degree increments and settled upright, congruent. Walking back to the table, he mapped his stylus-hop around the double discworld based on Euclid’s postulates. He used an actual compass on the record to plot angles and formulas based in part on hyperbolic geometry, remember that the vinyl record is a doughnut, albeit a relatively flat one, with a small hole. Plush was driven by that old chestnut, if we knew what we were doing we probably would not be doing it. He pursued relatively simple algorithms that he could have hired a professional to produce. Some old friends say that Plush wasted fifteen years trying to solve Fermat’s equation, knowing full well it would lead to becoming more socially, politically and technically isolated, as Einstein wrestled with the question about God playing dice or not playing dice, Plush wrestled with the question of analogue vs. digital. He consulted his notebook:
Rub, A.K.A Baby Scratch: Rub the record back and forwards with the crossfader open, small baby sized movements, imagine scratching the top of your thigh with two or three fingers. 1/5 difficulty.
“Break down baby, the, the, the death of the genre, alive and dead prose in America, America America and UK since LSD poets burst onto streets, like 10’000 octopus messiahs tip-tapping down Madison avenue or the Damrak. Events progress in stages and on stages, shaped like turntables, rotating stages for the panorama of truth and lies. You choose how fast it spins and what’s on the table for dinner, snatch a fact behind the scenes, go on..”
Dropping the stylus and lifting it, Plush listened through headphones for the next cut, like a surgeon moving his stethoscope around the chest area of a patient while speaking in stuttered tongues. He wondered if it were possible to project light onto the disc and augment symbol systems on-top-of the rotating platter, to superimpose. He dropped the diamond-tip back into the groove canal and, like a Swiss watchmaker, he squinted at the tiny pyramid, how many water-bears fit on the eye of this needle point?
The self-referential Natural Language Processing had bugs in it, but Plush input his latest turntable jam regardless to see what the machine intelligence thinks will happen next: “What distinguishes a book from a record and a record from a book these days? Does a book play a recording in the form of word-tracks in some sense, yes If you want it to I suppose. Pierce the veil like a woodpecker on a space-hopper, feed any shortfall inside with your skills outside, push out and train A.I to be friendly, altruistic, empathic, we have hope programmed. Beat the recession in culture with high Art, reject fake festivals and populist scams. Kick out the jams. Build it from scratch, make-make.”
The retired DJ cynic, Plush, was not feeling himself on-line these days. Well, to be fair he felt himself behind closed doors but not in public much. He cut corners, toenails and beats, snip-snip. A gen X-man, his patience was worn daily like a scarf around his neck and carried the guilt of nations under his arm like a blow-up doll, patched up with strips of The Sun newspaper. Plush was working on his William S. Burroughs inspired, drop scratches, whereby he picked up the needle from the groove and dropped it again somewhere else, or carefully placed it to find a new beat. With double-discs the signal can be congruent, or out of synchrony greater than the given pulse, or less than the given pulse, or click track.
Plush didn’t think it much of a technical advance since John Cage picked up and set down a needle in rhythmic patterns back in 1939, coincidently the year Finnegans Wake by James Joyce was published. Turntablists today also needle-drop in a percussive way to produce drum-like rhythms, and so another layer of cypher, in a similar fashion to how a skilled beatboxer can isolate a phoneme of a word and rearrange, repeat and re-edit, there’s a parallel in Graffiti Art with the Wildstyle movement too, their distorting and disturbing point-line-plane symbol and cypher, extensions of Ideogrammic Method, which rings true enough.
After twenty two such moving needle drops, each one like parachute deployment for a tone-army of paradiddle troopers, Plush allowed the record to play out, to peer out the other end of the audioscope with his thirsty ears and taste what the secondary effects of playback were. The recording started:
“The key to a successful, acting career,” The record spat, “and better politics is the ability to think, create, and be yourself, true self, big self, ultra, mega, super-self, tell me how does the combination of a scratch, the mindset of a scratcher, and the character under control of the DJ make you a qualified actor. It’s yours. Should it be of interest, take it away, rock the beat with your hand, like this”
It was a daily challenge for Plush to refrain from scratching when building his Djay-Eye, he had perpetually itchy fingers and blamed all eight of them and his two thumbs for his compulsion to add scratches to the music. Familiar with breaking sentences into short pieces for sets, adding a tasty sprinkle of short phrases, not too busy or with too many long passages without a beat underneath. Clubbers didn’t want to listen to a lecture, they craved the body rush strong enough to cause dancing, singing and a gurn or two. Deep down, Plush intuited the fact that once any sufficiently advanced AGI was in operation, music composition, performance and mixing bespoke audio environments would transform utterly. For each and every individual user, all your favourite music and musicians cross-fertilized to produce unique AGI powered new-band formations, featuring musicians who have not composed or performed together before. The fun and games and space for manipulation were endless, what does this mean for the working DJ? Whatever happens to DJs happens to us all, eventually, to spin brother Bruce’s aphorisms. With luck it will bring us greater appreciation for the innovators, Coltrane, Monk, Ellignton, Davis, the human general intelligence exhibited by great artists.
“People say, people say….you have to give the people, give the people…what they want…testing, test testing, just a ride, ride. I hope you find the process palpable, tasty, nutritious or is it gymnasty to you. Whoooooo Whooooo. We are the horseman, enter the spaceship, we are the horseman, enter the spaceship. It’s good to remind yourself to keep your ear open when dancing at the opticians these days. Watch the skies, keep looking. Don’t space out. Ground Zero Point. You the unwobbling pivot. Sing, dance, shout, make love, love and more love. Love, love, lov. Love love love. It’s easy…”
Where did the samples originate? Plush thought too deeply, and ear wax moved in his left earhole sounding like the break-up of the Larsen Ice Shelf up close. He shivered. How might the transformer scratch splice words to splinter up the different layers of meaning, when you repeat one word after a while other words appear, how poetry and pattern recognition? What family of networked syllables. “And you don’t stop…time’s up.”
A deck of cards spun on the turntable, his personal planetary house. What is a DJ and what is a scratch, where is this shit going? Plush thought again, filtering his samples through his buggy Python code, sipping coffee. How does the algorithm sort the text into readable sentences, repeated and backwards grammar, predictive text and the inner logics of Markov Chains. On the scale of producing full Articles, 80% of the current rubbish made by infantile humans will be rendered obsolete by a pretty simple weak A.I. Plush focused his dormant but growing anger with his other energy and cast it to the rotating platforms, training his pea-brain to defocus, thus allowing him to track both tables using periphery sense, able to adjust rotation with hands and fingers, he was in the pocket musically speaking, out of pocket financially, sadly like most artists these days. Plush looked at the cards and traced his non-euclidean path around the flat, yet tasty, musical double-doughnuts, or discs. He was well trained and could perceive dimensions as separate from earth other, and so focus on either point, line, plane or solid and plot from these basic elements, anywhere in hyperspace. He dropped his needle:
“Who put the Carl Jung in Jungle? Without a smartphone, do it off-line, that’s the challenge, break down, do not break-down, baby.
Rubbing his hands together, Plush tries out a new juggle-drop sequence using two different records, rather than two copies of the same record. He looked as if he was playing a game of speed chess, picking up the stylus and dropping it and picking it up again, rapido. He based his juggle on two cards from the Thoth Tarot, The Fool, and The Magician. While juggling and dropping his mind wandered off, as it should, to planetary symbols and the Konnakol counting pyramid and the number of forward and backward pushes and pulls. He was lost in a Zodiac scripture or Notarotation and soon got sucked back into the Finnegans Wake hole, and had to stop. Only to start again ten minutes later, such was his temperament, the dropping continued: “Each harmonic Tarot card is printed on silkscreen cardboard, hand coloured and presented in the book. Designed to be read and rolled up placed in front of the reader and ignited. Original prints at 23 dollars each. All copies signed by the artists Tom Geddis (Celtic Tribetable) Tish Gooballs (Egyptian TribeTable) Tracy Turner (Thoth Tarot) and Jim Chirp (Trinisphere Tradition Snooker Table Tarot)”
“…There must have been some magician
That old silk hat they found
Cause when they put it on his head
He began to dance around…
Fats Domino – Frosty The Snowman.
Unsure, like an injured boxer in the first round, Plush didn’t know what to make of this stuff yet. It lacked enough power to engage the programmers he sought after. These were xperiments and the results fraying threads in need of re-looping back through the eye of the narrative needle, lots of punctures to be located and patched up on that doll. Will readers be left scratching their arse, thinking how and where, who-to-the what-now? When words fail, and fail they did, Plush reached for discs, wands, cups and swords, this is a battle, we are at culture war these are serious cuts my dude:
“turntable tapes cut from skipping ghouls. Use a weak A.I. like transformer, to transform a sentence, what of A.G.I,” Plush searched for something hard-hitting, wiped sleep from his eye and thought again of that special trick to impress on the minds of the people, a strong theme: A.I. and the impact of quantum computing on DJ performances, nah, RAWGI: Artificial General Intelligence For The People, maybe.”
Percy looked at the fried eggs under his nose and a thing spun inside, he sipped his coffee scanning the National Musical Express. Outside his window, the sky resembled the colour of his egg yoke. He watched the trees shiver and sway in the wind which gave him a chill, could it flood here too, no chance of fires in the Dam, safe.
Black and white film flickers on his wall. His brand new second-hand portable projector did a good job and it fit the mint green wall perfectly. The thing was, like with any high quality screen, he ended up watching news at high definition. Bombarded with sour feelings of a TV monster eating you, face first. Step into the light, said that damn Poltergeist M.C.
Percy was unemployed and living low in the Dam. He could not afford to be eaten by TV, or to lose any part of himself to the digital portal to hell, with the relentless entropic appetite for emotional outpouring and car-crashes. Percy swore to himself he would make original images, make his own damn video, his own music and stories, far far away from terrestrial TV broadcasts, which was like cutting off his own hands due to the fact that some series nowadays were pretty decent. HBO beamed out some neat stuff. Percy looked at his typewriter, stood, grabbed a sheet of paper and loaded it onto the rollers, he went on to type percussively, and he felt an urge to speak aloud:
“Should I stay, or, do you think I should, go?”
“Go now, go, really, it’s your chance. Go. I love you always.”
Sanjay let go of Tebba’s arm momentarily. A gruff guard grabbed Sanjay by his neck and pulled him away. They wept, wondering if they would see each other again. The wind was howling with mockery and the rain seemed a cruel punishment at this stage of their journey, fleeing on foot from the British and American made bombs, and resultant bloodshed of which they played no part but innocent victims. They were victims of another man’s war, a secret war, which started on twitter in conjunction with a terrible round of golf.
“I love you, love, you…” Sanjay shouted like an injured seagull, as the boat left the dock.
The boat was like a bus, in that the seats were all full, people were standing on the single platform hanging onto each other, keeping their balance as best they could. More people climbed on, several had to get off again. Three women fell into the freezing water, managing to scramble back to shore. “God help us,” Tebba howled at the full moon as the engine spluttered and the boat crept off under the night sky.
The crossing was a living nightmare, comparable with scenes from the movie Life Of PI, packed into the boat like prisoners, innocent of any crime but running to save their life, and the lives of their loved ones. There was no official count of how many got on the boat, no way of knowing how many may have fallen off at sea. After nightmares of drowning in the dark waters, and then waking up next to them, Tebba experienced similar terrors on behalf of others. Everybody aboard the ship was terrified, nothing to look back upon or forward to, with any certainty. Everything that resembled home was destroyed, material and psychological landscapes transformed utterly by violence and destruction by modern munitions, plus what happens when electricity, water, and sewage systems are cut off. Tebba later learned this was due to premature ejaculations on Twitter of a mentally ill racist who was also president of the United States.
Tebba clutched at her kitten, which was nestled inside her small bag next to some photographs of family, her birth certificate and a selection of seeds and dried fruits. Mo, the cat, looked into Tebba’s fierce brown eyes and may have perceived the reflection of the moon therein. She smiled for the first time in weeks.
“Lights, o, oh, look, over there,”
She was right, the lights got brighter, and no sooner had Tebba thought about land, that the waves got larger, swelling around the edge of the boat. Tebba chanted a mantra she had picked up from a teacup at her aunt’s house: keep calm and carry on. In her head she changed the last word to fisher, when she apprehended two fishing boats approaching.
“Come aboard, quickly come as fast as you can, it’s okay, hey, it’s okay,” a soft voice came from the boat.
“Come now, please, lady, step onto the boat now.”
Tebba lunged over the gap between the two vessels and was greeted with a warm blanket, and given a cup of hot soup.
“Thank you, oh, thank you,” Tebba welled up with gratitude to the young man on the boat, a slender figure with long flowing blonde hair, kind eyes and a soft smile. She gave her cat Mo a lick of chocolate and cuddled with him under the blanket. The boat sped off toward a small outcropping off the coast. 3 days passed in the temporary shelter constructed by volunteers on a nearby Island, and Tebba found enough food for herself and Mo. Every time she found peace of mind it was quickly pulled back under, hearing the tragic news of family and loved ones passing away. Tebba consoled who she could with thoughtful words made of parables she remembered her grandma said: “never give up, we are the survivors”. Many wept for lost sons and daughters, mothers and fathers of friends old and new, some praying for the living, some for the dead. Some cursing the bombs and the warmongers responsible for making them, selling them, and voting for them.
SIX MONTHS LATER: In a run-down bus shelter near Luton, Tebba sits with Mo next to her. She was finally in a safe place and could relax a little bit. Tensions in that area were strained further due to racists kicking off about immigration and refugees, and the tabloid media weaponized a small minority on behalf of opportunist political forces. Tebba did not have an opinion, she was a walking fact of the matter. She was the subject of a local news story that went national and international within days. Her story became instrumental in the tidal wave of lies that struck Great Britain, a tsunami of lies spread by faux journalists.
Tebba was used as a tactical weapon in a global war for battle-space supremacy. However, as you will see, she remained stronger and more resilient than many suspected. Tebba challenged forces of hate with a brevity that scared angry hooligans. After the civil war, remaining English tribes confronted the Chinese who mopped up after the carnage had run its natural course. Tebba played a crucial role in rebuilding relations between the Chinese forces and coalition groups left over within the UK. Mo was adopted as the mascot for common ground and unity between the tribes and was respected for multiple generations afterward.
Like a dramatic pianist, Percy hit full stop and kicked his wheeled chair backwards with his head lying back looking at his stippled ceiling. He looked back at the last dozen or so pages and spent the next two hours thinking of a title which was roughly the same amount of time it took to write them in the first place. Percy sensed any decent A.I. would never waste time like this, indecisiveness was his curse.
Two miles across the city, Plush was also thinking of titles, he doused deeply for the perfect sentence which was essentially full of titles, he was trying to make each word sing the whole of the book, or echo it, such pilgrimages of mind entertained him to no end. He gave up and tried the lazy man’s creative fiction engine…SЦCH PILGЯIMДGΞS ФF MIИD ΞИΓΞЯΓДIИΞD HIM ΓФ ИФ ΞИD. HΞ GДVΞ ЦP ДИD ΓЯIED ΓHΞ LДZУ MДИ’S CЯΞДΓIVΞ FICΓIФИ ΞИGIИΞ.
“He took a few other steps toward making my dreams dream of dreams. In that time, a brief flash, he saw a little more of the world to the bitter end. I could not have had a better dream, or I certainly could not keep track of one like this. The continuity was impressive, he the dreamer had a lot to say regarding the book as a kind of gift, if you like to play with vinyl and push and turn then two ways of looking at the monkey house will swing by. Greater than or less than, congruent, in phase-alignment. Vinyl raiser’s purpose was to defeat and obsolete war mongers, out-smart the bastards, to discover the causes of war avert the same. Invoke battles of wit to open portals to poetry and story solutions. Reaching for explanatory knowledge by using axiom and method. Lights shine on the tale of the wonky bots. The problem with Vinyl-raiser’s purpose is when it closes one portal, another opens. To open a portal back costs time you know. And can cost a good script its life. Lost time sounds funny. Lost Tim sounds worrying. You’re free to choose to accept a message or go home rub one out. You might like the sounds at the bottom of this. You can’t choose to listen to a good old song with someone who doesn’t, a roadworks orchestra and a guy drilling next door quintet, sounds good to my ears.”
On the 22nd needle drop, Plush stepped back from the decks in confusion, his forehead wrinkled up. He was unconvinced of his own method, uncertain, then he remembered John Coltrane and his daily six-hour practice session. Plush had only been going for thirty minutes. He made prayer to Ashanica deities, picked up the stylus and dropped it:
“Dance music started in Africa, understand the concept of African dance music and plan health raves to save planets…one…one….one-one….two…two….three….four, astro, astro, ass-tro tr tr tr…” The record skipped, Plush halted the tables, “shit and skittles…” He puffed and guffawed.
Rather than be defeated he composed squiggles and dots on a page with a pen, his head full of ideas he could not express on the tables, not yet.
“I’ve made no attempt at translating code,” Plush typed, “please make your own mess of the impact on society the fakes will have. How will prose narrative augmented by beat-juggles be of assistance? Loading…please wait. Downloading DNA records of your life, past-post and off the page, backwards thatched word soul vaccination for the nation,” Plush looked up from his keyboard and stared out the window, clouds crossed the sky like white bison. His phone rang, it was his mum, which was weird being that he was about to write about how his family were always with him in the mind indestructible, in the here and now everywhere infinite flux of beingness, the law of accelerating returns, the love you take is equal to the love you make. The music deep-mashed, inflated like a balloon and deflated again, also like a balloon…”
The words spewed from Plush’s laptop like a detective ventriloquist had hacked it and gained root access:
“Put liquid LSD on the crossfader to fuck up their mouth tricks? Put something sticky on an object they will touch to fuck up their finger control. Manager or lover, virtually impossible to trust a DJ with a laptop or smartphone, they could be compromised. I wanna be Snowdon clean and lean at the tables. Post-truth bad acid tabloids lead to racist dingbats, they spy. Playing scuffed tracks to empty dance-floors of tiny run-down cafes, is my kind of underground vibes. Rockin’ the old greasy spoon or thrift store, the care-home, prison, or torture chambers. Sets for the music and for the people living on a knife-edge, dangerous DJ’s and wild mix adventurers into the unknown challenges. Let it flow let it flow let it flow, the glint in your eye, wind in your hair, do the right thing. What is intelligence, what is general, what is it to be human, what coherence?”
Plush pleaded with his creative angels and demons to keep him in favour. He needed to do something about incoherence, they swiftly instructed him to go back and study the elements and the meanings of each mathematical symbol, followed by a rereading of Coindidance by Robert Anton Wilson. He adjusted the code from memory for the first time, but it didn’t work properly, he’d fucked it up:
r = requests.post(
“So many things, so little time to take leave of a friend, I’ll be back to backstroke, back to breathing, back to hive world, global village bees and ants walking and flying back to the world with Curtis Mayfield. Colour does matter, learn to see it. Identity, sex and music matters, learn of similarities. Drop the bass to mean, start it up. Dance with serpent energy, smile for the end of the word party. Unique individuals have the capacity to work in harmony in groups, yes they do. Show and tell a hierarchy of values, otherwise it’s in tatters. Lots to say right now, little ear space. Where can I speak exotica, pursue air music, wash those thirsty ears out to make space for new growth. Um’s and r’s and, oh my god’s, hidden gems in every kitchen, bathroom bedroom. He knows the stairs like the back of his hand and could walk em’ blindfold, no machine to rage against when you’re the machine programmer. The pavement outside your front door. Sssshhhhh. The fury handle of your teacup. The hole in your ssshhhhock, doughnut, these are missssshhhhing things under torrent of geopolitical deep ssshhhhtate ssssshhhhhades. Light in the pantry, wisdom in Grandmas bisssshhhhcuit tin. Dewdrop and flower top once forgotten memoriesssshhhhh. You have to understand that time is running ssshhhh…“
A ball of dust had formed on the head of the needle, Plush lifted it and blew on the tip, hoping he generated enough force to remove it. He coughed as he blew the second time and wondered how hard he could blow if he didn’t smoke, which is referred to as blowing in Dutch slang. That’s what it sounded like to his mutant ears. Plush dropped the dusted needle back on track and the train of voices set off to the next station, after winter spring and rising to summer for all.
“Here now this is it. Shit or bust. Do or die. Funny or not funny. The choice is yours, future up for grabs and for your children and grandchildren, a day out fishing for crabs, the postman tripping up the step, your first bike ride, wet school dinners, meeting new friends for the first time, saying goodbye to old ones. Tolerate my manias and I’ll tolerate yours. Special effects are not the cause. Ask me anything and I’ll give you my best single-shot learning. I want conversation. Input. A democratic vote would be on an individual basis. A train station doubles as a radio station? Get rid of the system where a bunch of people can drag the rest off a cliff, now. Who speaks if it’s direct democracy, all of us, how? How to moderate talk, each person decides. Why does a country have control of its subjects, what of privilege and land grabbers, holding nations to ransom? Leave us alone and get out of my business, I want better poems for my 1210s. Vote for your own laws for your own family and friends, like they do. Leave my decisions up to me and my community. Much talk of national and foreign policy is bunk. Represent yourself. Pump it up homeboy you just don’t stop. You don’t stop. Stop. Survive these paragraphs and build a puzzle out and in. Deep Scratch connects. Keep pushing the good vibe in megawatts, keep things running smooth, runnin’ like ice cream on a record-breaking hot summer, with well-chopped fruits and cheap sunglasses. The true enemy of the honest DJ is fear and Spotify. Fear will make you do their bidding, listen to your deeper desires to make good honest music. The devil has the details and wants to mix, trap you in a work of art.”
Hours passed like dates, Plush performed needle drop after needle drop, searching for the perfect sentence, the one that captured the heart of the thing, the marrow of the subject, the turn of phrase, the witty flick on the nipple that makes you go woop. The upstairs neighbour banged on the ceiling twice already, due to the array of voices and samples being spliced together below. He cleared his mind, ignored the banging and went back to his word droppings, this was Artificial Intelligence training camp, these were not arbitrary noises but the murmur of future super-intelligent beings of music, plus many legendary jockeys of innovative genius from all across the board, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, art, music, poetry, philosophy, some comedy brah’.
“To survive a puzzle and tell the tale, build an intelligent partner into your set. Your A.I DJ buddy, Djay Eye a.k.a Vinyl-raiser, running your self-aware down, put your head up ladd and listen to the wind of Coltrane and Ellington in ambience. Listen to the music, visualize the geometric cogs that make people you love tick with their inner beauty with time on their side, tolckin’ loud. Dance, love and rock on the dancefloor, infuse earth with kind fuzzy-wuzzy buddies. Tone therapy for cosmic beings, spinning discs like planets, tales of stuff between the new dark and the after light, play a food blender. High on drugs and phones entangled in bizarre realms, the blender techno vortex from which there is no escape. Surreal with horrorange tinge on top, playful and weird like an extendable arm made of cake. Testing talk tapes, 1,2,3. Mantis, Mantis, welcome to the next level of the land. The next level, the sample-roulette in my head. What goes up must come down, this stuff is nearly fresh.”
Exhausted, he cut the power, looked up at the ceiling and prayed. He sat idle for twenty minutes, checked his email and there was a message from somebody called Max. He introduced himself as a DJ living in Amsterdam who’d like to meet up to learn about the tribetable method. Is this a proposition for a date, Plush thought. Max included the first part of a short story he was writing, evidence he was a serious dude, Plush scanned it all with interest:
This poltergeist M.C had a taste for peanut butter licked fresh off of human flesh and had been reported roaming the canals of Amsterdam. A cop from Chicago claimed he teleported to the Damrak in 2011 after sex-magick experiments with a Dutch psychic named Peter Hurkos. Peter was seen with a terrified policeman by several witnesses.
“How do you explain that thing over there behind the pool hall, how?” Peter said, he trembled, a cold wind brushed his neck and sunk into his heart. “Sixty or the Six-Hundred,” he said, as he lay dying on the cobbled footpath like an injured hedgehog after a fight with a truck.
Jesus, he writes the way I think,” Plush muttered, typing a positive response that featured a fictional future conversation between them. A bit of fun.
Across town Percy was slumped in his chair like a sack of washing, books spread open on his lap as if smelling his thighs, Max yawned and jets of spittle ejected into the air like snake venom then he choked on his own tongue for a second on reading Plush’s swift reply:
“…a rollercoaster, we’re all on a rollercoaster to the stars with Robert Anton Wilson and his tribe. Thanks for getting back to me Max, I look forward to meeting you soon mate. Peace, Plush. P.s enjoy my imaginary conversation.”
Max looked at Percy, “So, let’s try and get this straight. Errr, Plush is about to release his open-source Natural Language Processing project, at the same time as forming a Turntable crew and,“ Max cleared his throat, “and, errr, he wants you and I to consider auditioning by the sounds of it, wow, well stone me.” Max said, chuckling at the fiction about Percy and himself.
“Just stuff all of his shit into a DOCX file and run that riddim,” Percy said, standing next to Max with a biro-top in his mouth. “Why not use Bucky Fuller, he’s one of the most highly documented human beings ever lived, upload all that good shit and hit return.” Percy laughed.
“Good point, yes, Bucky too, in fact come to think of it and solve it have you got the email contact for the Buckminster Fuller Institute, invite them to the RAW party,” Percy nudged Max with his elbow, “the more the merrier, and all from the tale of the tribe. Decentralized and rotational, peer-to-peer, the open society,” Percy opened his notebook and started to play with his central premise.
“It’s the Killingry vs. Livingry question in AGI, as Bucky put it. You know, the Friendly Artificial Intelligence, the rational, reasoning, and so altruistic and benevolent superintelligence. How do we program and train AGI’s to be forgiving yet also hold a fair sense of justice and equality for world-around-humanity, plus…” Percy shrugged his shoulders and pulled on his joint.
“Input works from the masters of Modernism and show the links through Angleton to intelligence and counterintelligence, before, during and after WW2, for starters” Max smirked and scratched his chin.
“No, but, that’s an interesting one Max, do go on chin waggin,” Percy sat, sensing Max was about to spew some high score scrabble pieces.
“so, er, a large part of Wilson’s raps boil down to that meddler, James Jesus Angleton and his inspiration and relationships with some of poets and theorists from the ttott. In particular, Wilson mentions William Empson’s “Seven Types Of Ambiguity” and gets at how some aspects of Modernism were hijacked, pulled into the spy game to produce the sort of general ambiguity and “up-means downness” of 21st century disinfo’ warfare. For my money, what distinguishes Wilson from most but not all other researchers in the fields of Futurism and A.I is his ability to call out the assholes and their greedy fucking suckers and tentacles and help the peole track and trace their reach. That old trickster, I miss him man, I swear, this abuse of Artificial Intelligence to further the greedy aims of a few spivs and data scientists is gonna’ blow back in their faces, a curse on them,” Max paused to clear his throat, he could feel his blood pressure rising and modified his body expertly to cool the fool in him.
“And if not the CIA, then their equivalent org’ in whichever territory you’re chatting about. And here, for me, lies the distinguishing features that in uncertain futures may well tip the balance when any sufficiently endowed AGI stumbles upon the life and life’s work of Robert Anton Wilson, and with luck so the tale of the tribe and Maybe Logic. Call it Ragnorokane if you like, a post-apocalyptic clash of AGI gods and goddesses, battling for supreme empathy space. Wilson, will probably be sitting and probably laughing like a cheerful Buddha, awaiting his Turing Test,” Max said, chuckling and sighing, “But, I er, I digress yet again mate, it’s not really all about him, I’m trying to tease out some general principles to be applied universally, you get me?” Max spoke with a slight tone of urgency in his voice.
“Oh, do go on,” Percy rolled his next joint, “so, go through the notes then. Come on. Cough it up son.” Percy smirked, his foot tapping on the kitchen tiles. “Like good jazz, unpredictable yet familiar, trails brah, motion….trails of the tribe.”
Trails, or ghosting, from recurrent neural networks and deep learning. Similar to tripping right?” Max pointed at Percy. “Right,”
“Yeah, right,” Percy licked the paper.
“So, gee, so, G. G is for general. G is also for G-protein and G is for Intelligence in psychology. A general purpose computer is, well, a general computer. I mean, Turing said to Shannon he didn’t want to build a very powerful artificial mind, just an ordinary one, like the president of…” Max turned to Percy and threw his lighter, he noticed he was frantically checking his pockets.
“Nah, this is embodied, not like Blue or Watson, Wilson is beyond reinforcement learning and goal oriented simple pavlovian reward systems, nah man, RAW is friendly for sure.” Max said. HIs mind flashed in reverse through the movie War Games superimposed over Herman Hesse’ Glass Bead Game, “can you make it cohere?” Percy teased Max, knowing full well he left gaps in his writing and speaking for the things he did not know.
“Philip K. Dick’s head was lost on a plane in 2005, I kid you not. And someday it will be discovered and reclaim its rightful place. For now, I figure that Wilson, who corresponded and met with PKD in real life and who respected each other’s output, can indent a new time-stub, or intersection point whatever you call it, where our man Wilson evidentially enters the Dick narrative. Right?” Percy said, way more confident than he sounded.
“Yes, and I think Dick, like Wilson yet unlike a lot of current researchers, stood for the people’s general intelligence, precursors to open-source software distribution and Wikicommons 3.0 share and share alike stuff, they wanted to teach us to keep thinking,” Max said agreeably, nodding.
“But, but, I mean, how do we split up Wilson’s philosophy and life lived whole from his published work?” Percy inquired.
“Novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, futurist, polymath, civil libertarian, multi-mode agnostic mystic, and more…yet these are categories transcended and interconnected by his unique consistent method of communication, our super goal.” Max said, not answering Percies’ question.
“Perhaps the eight circuit model can be tweaked for AGI training, toward a people’s AGI, outsmarting, out inventing and out manipulating its trillion dollar predecessors. Self reflecting and self-adjusting, streamlining and learning, self improvement and the improvement of planetary explanatory knowledge,” Max dug deep in his linguistic palette to try and get the words in the right order. Percy stood up as if a wasp stung his ass, “Whatever happened to that letter from 2015, the open A.I letter signed by most but not all of the leaders in their respective fields, a proper who’s who. Man, they should have had a secret army shut Cummings and co. down, pronto,” Percy did not mean to encourage violent intervention, but, but…fighting internally with his anger directed squarely at those who he saw as the teeny weeny minority of the opportunistic politicians abusing and ruining advanced A.I with motives based on divide and conquer, Machiavelli, all mad for profit and dominance, crazy for weaponized social media control.
“Here, the last bit of the letter,” Max handed his laptop to Percy.
“The attached research priorities document gives many examples of such research directions that can help maximize the societal benefit of AI. This research is by necessity interdisciplinary, because it involves both society and AI. It ranges from economics, law and philosophy to computer security, formal methods and, of course, various branches of AI itself. In summary, we believe that research on how to make AI systems robust and beneficial is both important and timely and that there are concrete research directions that can be pursued today.” —https://futureoflife.org/ai-open-letter/