Some kind of dialog is now going on between individual human beings and the sum total of human knowledge and…nothing can stop it.Terence McKenna
On The Music Box EarthRites Radio Testing! Both High and Low ends. Cut and Paste these into your media player. New Stuff on Later Today!
http://184.108.40.206:8000/radio for DSL/Cable
http://220.127.116.11:8001/radio-low for Dial-Up
So Radio Testing has been going on this weekend, and various projects. Had a great Thanksgiving, and then celebrated our friend Randy’s 50th Birthday on Friday night… lots of people in and out, generally a very good time for all this weekend.
I had long been fascinated with a series of collages that I had seen in various publications/on record covers and on-line over the years. Thanks to Derek Robinson, who dropped The Legend of the Great Dismal Maroons into my e-mailbox, I now know who was the artist of these various bits, “James Koehnline. If you have seen a Bill Laswell cover, or Hakim Beys’ “Taz” you would recognize his works. We are featuring his art and his poem/article today.
On The Menu
Bill Laswell Axiom Sound System Musical Freezone
The Legend of the Great Dismal Maroons
Art: James Koehnline
Bill Laswell Axiom Sound System Musical Freezone 06 (part1)
Bill Laswell Axiom Sound System Musical Freezone 06 (part2)
Bill Laswell Axiom Sound System Musical Freezone 06 (part3)
Bill Laswell Axiom Sound System Musical Freezone 06 (part4)
The Subjugation of a Ghost
A young wife fell sick and was about to die. “I love you so much,” she told her husband, “I do not want to leave you. Do not go from me to any other woman. If you do, I will return as a ghost and cause you endless trouble.”
Soon the wife passed away. The husband respected her last wish for the first three months, but then he met another woman and fell in love with her. They became engaged to be married.
Immediately after the engagement a ghost appeared every night to the man, blaming him for not keeping his promise. The ghost was clever too. She told him exactly what had transpired between himself and his new sweetheart. Whenever he gave his fiancee a present, the ghost would describe it in detail. She would even repeat conversations, and it so annoyed the man that he could not sleep. Someone advised him to take his problem to a Zen master who lived close to the village. At length, in despair, the poor man went to him for help.
“Your former wife became a ghost and knows everything you do, ” commented the master. “Whatever you do or say, whatever you give your beloved, she knows. She must be a very wise ghost. Really you should admire such a ghost. The next time she appears, bargain with her. Tell her that she knows so much you can hide nothing from her, and that if she will answer you one question, you promise to break your engagement and remain single.”
“What is the question I must ask her?” inquired the man.
The master replied: “Take a large handful of soy beans and ask her exactly how many beans you hold in your hand. If she cannot tell you, you will know that she is only a figment of your imagination and will trouble you no longer.”
The next night, when the ghost appeared the man flattered her and told her that she knew everything.
“Indeed,” replied the ghost, “and I know you went to see that Zen master today.”
“And since you know so much,” demanded the man, “tell me how many beans I hold in this hand!”
There was no longer any ghost to answer the question.
No Attachment to Dust
Zengetsu, a Chinese master of the T’ang dynasty, wrote the following advice for his pupils:
Living in the world yet not forming attachments to the dust of the world is the way of a true Zen student.
When witnessing the good action of another encourage yourself to follow his example. Hearing of the mistaken action of another, advise yourself not to emulate it.
Even though alone in a dark room, be as if you were facing a noble guest. Express your feelings, but become no more expressive than your true nature.
Poverty is your treasure. Never exchange it for an easy life.
A person may appear a fool and yet not be one. He may only be guarding his wisdom carefully.
Virtues are the fruit of self-discipline and do not drop from heaven of themselves as does rain or snow.
Modesty is the foundation of all virtues. Let your neighbors discover you before you make yourself known to them.
A noble heart never forces itself forward. Its words are as rare gems, seldom displayed and of great value.
To a sincere student, every day is a fortunate day. Time passes but he never lags behind. Neither glory nor shame can move him.
Censure yourself, never another. Do not discuss right and wrong.
Some things, though right, were considered wrong for generations. Since the value of righteousness may be recognized after centuries, there is no need to crave an immediate appreciation.
Live with cause and leave results to the great law of the universe. Pass each day in peaceful contemplation.
The Legend of the Great Dismal Maroons
(Swamp Rats of the World Unite! A Secret History of “The Other America”)
I. Oh, My Brothers
Freemasonry arose as a white, middle-to-upper class male conspiracy against God and King which sought to establish a new deal of the ages, a wholly rational infrastructure, administered by white male land-owners of the merchant class, so beautifully logical in its operations as to cause order to reign forever, in spite of human nature. White because the child-races were not ready. Male because logic was alien to women. Landowners because they alone knew responsibility. Merchants because they knew how to balance the books. The celestial clockwork of the church was to be anchored firmly in the earth. The royal monopoly on nobility was to be smashed and redistributed among all who could pass the entrance exam and return the secret handshake. So constituted, Freemasonry was not so much a body as a big fat head in search of a muscular mass to ride into the perfectible future. It succeeded with a vengeance in realizing the glorious dream: A racist, sexist, reductivist, venal order, headed by lawyers and accountants; an order so universally established that its logic is almost inescapable. Nearly everyone serves the planetary work and war machine, and a great many subscribe to its religion of profits and progress, persuaded by its logic– Ya gotta work to survive. Freemasonry, hybrid seed of the Renaissance quest to reassemble the potsherds of the Golden Age, spent its l7th-Century adolescence sifting through sand-piles of symbols, searching for portents, seeking the future in the detritus of the past. America opened her arms and offered herself as an only-slightly-smudged slate on which to write the New Jerusalem. In the eighteenth century, after Newton fused heaven and earth, the project began to seem more practical than philosophical. Gravity was the key by which their mad celestial schematics could be drawn down to enshroud the earth, to impose the map upon the unruly territory. No matter that the fit was imprecise, that the great, green riot of life was forever poking through the gaps, mocking from beyond the edges. No matter that our movement and speech were infected with its mad jazz patterns. When you live IN the map you hardly notice these things, any more than you notice the nameless ones silently slipping beyond the pale, leaving the map behind. Who cares who goes there, who goes nowhere?
II. Beyond The Pale.
In 1717 the Grand Lodge of England was formed and the “respectable” half of masonry began pushing the “irregulars” off the map. Tradesmen, including any stone masons who might have been in Freemasonry, were among the exiles. In 1741 members of the black-listed lodges staged a wild masonic parade in London to ridicule the Grand Lodge. They called themselves Scald Miserable Masons. By this time numbers of exiled masons were washing up on the American shores- convicts, vagrants, rebels, Irish- sentenced or sold into plantation servitude from which they escaped at their earliest convenience. Most headed west of the seaboard colonies, keeping ahead of the advancing map, (the great wagon road making its way, north to south and west,) joining the multi-racial maroon communities of the South Carolina hills and elsewhere, some whole communities calling themselves Freemasons. But we may safely assume that at least a few of these Scald Miserable Masons were guided to the secret maroon capital of the upper south, there to become citizen-warriors of the Great Dismal Swamp, on the Atlantic coast where Virginia and Carolina meet, the heart of the New World.
III. The Other America
Ever since 1524 when the Spanish founded the first European (and African) settlement in what is now the U.S., slaves had been walking away from bondage, joining or forging alliances with friendly Indian nations. In the early days most of these Maroons were white- at least from among the English colonies- Irish and poor English convicts, indentured servants and slaves. There were also a great many Americans who had been taken as slaves and escaped, only to find their tribes decimated. The growth of the African slave trade brought increasing numbers of Africans into the Maroon camps. In 1586 Sir Francis Drake, returning north from the wars with Spain in the Caribbean, carried a shipload of former Spanish slaves- 300 South American Indians, 200 Guinea Coast Africans, 200 Moors- as a sort of gift to the English colonists on Roanoke Island, (Raleigh’s second attempt to establish a colony there). No sooner had they arrived than a great storm blew up, frightening the English back to England with Drake. When they returned a year later to try again they were dismayed to find that their servants had deserted, joined the Indians on the mainland. A year later, when Raleigh’s ships returned to reprovision the colony the white colonists had also deserted. Raleigh’s agents could find no trace of them on the mainland and the Indians just shrugged their shoulders. Perhaps they were hiding out in the nearly impenetrable Great Dismal Swamp nearby. Perhaps, four hundred years ago, these Maroons of four continents held a big pow-wow, dedicating themselves to the fight against slavery even then As the English colonies up and down the Atlantic seaboard bustled with new settlement and commerce, North Carolina, the ancient Albemarle, was strangely silent. The lords proprietors collected enough rent to keep themselves comfortable and left the inhabitants to their own devices. The Tuscarora nation still exercised considerable influence in the region, and the settlers, it seems, had no objection to this arrangement. The settlers were, by and large, Maroons. By 1650 they had their own government under Nathaniel Batts, who converted to the Tuscarora religion and was accepted as an honored member of the tribe. The settlers had full representation in the governing councils of the Tuscarora nation. New fugitives arrived regularly to join them. They lived at their ease, hunting, fishing, trapping, adventuring together and generally celebrating their good fortune to live free and among friends. By 1708 political forces in England had determined that the time had arrived to develop North Carolina as a commercial plantation slavery colony. This necessitated a full-scale war against the old settlers, which was followed by a full-scale war with their allies, the Tuscarora nation. The British declared victory and established their colony. The Maroons never admitted defeat. They retreated to the depths of the Great Dismal Swamp and from their sanctuary waged a 160 year guerrilla war against slavery. In the end, they won. They fought alongside the British under Lord Duninore in the revolution, because Dunmore promised an end to slavery and gave them uniforms with a special sash that read “Freedom For Slaves”. They fought as “Buffalo Soldiers” on the side of the Union in the Civil War, holding all the surrounding territory without army support. In between, they sent out continuous raiding parties to free slaves and discourage slavers. They established an extensive communication system throughout the upper south through a network of plantation preachers and conjuremen and women. The swamp had been considered a holy place by the Indians since time immemorial. It was now doubly’so for the slaves and Maroons. There were many Maroon enclaves up and down the coast in the swamps and pine barrens but none larger or more militant than the Great Dismal. Here was the original Rainbow Coalition. With Emancipation they left the swamp to make a life in the open, but their triumph was short-lived. Some were absorbed into the African-American community, some went to the reservations and a few passed for white, but the majority had no desire to be so segregated. This was true of the other maroon enclaves as well. They emerged to find slavery being replaced by a rigid caste system that had no place for them. They were marginalized, isolated and despised. Some even went back to the swamps. They were our Dark Secret, an enormous blind-spot in our collective psyche. Within twenty years liberal progressive Christians had launched a “scientific” crusade to deal with the problem:the American Eugenics movement. By the early years of this century they were promoting a Final Solution- compulsory sterilization. In 1907 Indiana was the first state to pass a compulsory sterilization law. It was aimed at a nomadic, tri-racial tribe in that state, the Tribe of Ishmael. Rather than submit to this the Ishmaelites dispersed. This law, which came to be known as “The Indiana Plan,” seemed like such a great idea that within twenty years 29 states had adopted similar Eugenic laws and the Indiana Plan had been adopted by seven European countries, most notably Germany, where it served as the legal foundation for an escalating series of racial laws that led, ultimately, to the Nazi Final Solution. At Nuremburg after the war there was much debate over whether or not forced sterilization could be prosecuted as a war crime. Of course, they decided it could not be, as it was still legal in the U.S. Today the descendants of the Maroons are still with us, some still living in the cracks, many more have blended into the crowds of the nameless. You may be one, in blood, or spirit, or both. Search the dark, rough recesses of your heart and mind. See if you can find traces of that Other America, the one that did not build its celestial city on a foundation of cruelty, murder and deceit, but gathered the exiles of four continents in its Great Dismal City of Refugee.
IV. Toward The Swamp – The Way Home
Trapped between faith and fear, progressive liberalism is adrift in the current of modernity which eats away at faith and builds fear, moving toward an end which is only that: Finis. Lacking an articulate alternative, lacking, too, the communal basis of alienation, ours is a vague search for something which is missing. What is it? The counter-culture has always been just that. A negation bound up with what it rejects; the underside of liberalism. Its notions of human communion are tied to the immediate realization of something very like the old liberal utopia- total private liberty and gratification of desire. That old utopia is wholly blind to the nature of communion, rooted in self-loathing and fear of the other; hostility to the ego, a desire to blot it out; fraternity as alliance of embattlement again. The possibility of citizenship has been eclipsed, and, having been eclipsed, it waits to be bloom anew. It awaits a new polity, and in the dismal swamp heart of the “inner” city something stirs. Still we hide our bones for fear of being born because birth’s first lesson is loneliness. To build a new city among these multitudes of strangers we must learn to recognize our fellow citizens when chance shall throw us together, and find the means for affirming our mutual “patriotism.” We are obliged to set an example, to be the preachers and poets and tellers of tales of the great dismal city of refuge. We must steer clear of the Jeffersonian fraternal ideal which, in the name of unity, blows up such a cloud of sentiment as to obscure a dark and violent city. We must avoid charity as the plague it is, with its ethic of condescension. We must remember that war is no medicine for loneliness. Try love-laughter-song-dance, the tonics, before resort to narcotics and final solutions. In the lonely crowds of the urban wilderness there is mingled a saving remnant, a band of brothers and sisters, mostly unknown to each other, whose lavish hearts still accommodate the possibility of The Other America- who are holding the pass, so to speak, until we are ready, each in his or her own time, to go back over all the rough, dark places, to try, and finally, to fathom our old love-America. We must make the pilgrimage of Huck Finn, back to the beginning, divesting ourselves of false romance, disciplining our imagination in the school of nature, seeking fraternity with the strong victim, one to one, with the strength of personal character and devotion such that both of us are stretched toward our full stature. Then we shall find ourselves in the Great Dismal City of Refuge, candidates for citizenship. If we have learned well to recognize ignorance and dependence in ourselves and the world at large, and if we have learned to draw on the inexhaustible well of humor within which laughs aside our fears and pretensions, cheering us in our search for a true humanity, then we shall be the shining citizens of the Great Dismal City of Refuge, brothers and sisters in the global swamp-rat communion.
Biography – James Koehnline – Born in Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 6, 1955.
Childhood in Flint, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Family moved to Chicago area in 1970, where I began to think of myself as an artist. Inherited my father’s love of surrealism, fantastic art, William Blake, science fiction, etc., to which I added psychedelia, anarchism, sound collage, Eastern philosophy, etc.
Hung around with Chicago Surrealist Group during their International Exhibition at Gallery Black Swan in 1976, where I premiered my animated film, “Dogs Shall Eat Their Masters”. Took a class with Harry Bouras in 1978 and he remained a friend and mentor until his death in 1990.
In the early 80s my old friend Scott Marshall drew me into radio work (WZRD) and a noisy band we called the Burden of Friendship. For a while the band’s extended family formed the North Shore Industrial League, which held late-night noise orgies at a derelict steel foundry.
In 1985 I got together with six activist-artist friends to rent the huge top floor of an old department store in the Logan Square neighborhood and open the Axe Street Arena, a gallery and performance space for art and politics, with plenty of room left over for studios, and living space for 9+.
While curating the Haymarket Centennial International Mail Art Exhibition with Ron Sakolsky, I made the acquaintance if the mysterious Hakim Bey. I have been collaborating and conspiring with him ever since. Through Bey I was introduced to and joined the Brooklyn-based publishing collective Autonomedia, and the Moorish Orthodox Church. I worked as a librarian for three and a half years, spending much of my time at work doing historical research which eventually became the book GONE TO CROATAN, and most of my time away from work creating hundreds of black and white collages for the zine scene, 46 of which were collected in the book MAGPIE REVERIES.
In 1991, my girlfriend (now my wife), Andrea Frank and I moved to Seattle for a change of scenery. Here I got started doing book and magazine covers and illustrations, cooking up the Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints, working with Antero Alli on his quarterly journal of imaginative trouble, Talking Raven, doing a continuing series of CD covers for various projects of Bill Laswell’s, and trying to make ends meet by dealing in used books and painting houses.
In 1995 I got a computer and started working in Photoshop.