AN IRONIC DREAM OF A COMMON LANGUAGE FOR WOMEN IN THE INTEGRATED CIRCUIT
A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. Social reality is lived social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction. The international women's movements have constructed 'women's experience', as well as uncovered or discovered this crucial collective object. This experience is a fiction and fact of the most crucial, political kind. Liberation rests on the construction of the consciousness, the imaginative apprehension, of oppression, and so of possibility. The cyborg is a matter of fiction and lived experience that changes what counts as women's experience in the late twentieth century. This is a struggle over life and death, but the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.
Contemporary science fiction is full of cyborgs - creatures simultaneously animal and machine, who populate worlds ambiguously natural and crafted.
Modern medicine is also full of cyborgs, of couplings between organism and machine, each conceived as coded devices, in an intimacy and with a power that was not generated in the history of sexuality. Cyborg 'sex' restores some of the lovely replicative baroque of ferns and invertebrates (such nice organic prophylactics against heterosexism). Cyborg replication is uncoupled from organic reproduction. Modern production seems like a dream of cyborg colonization work, a dream that makes the nightmare of Taylorism seem idyllic. And modern war is a cyborg orgy, coded by C3I, command-control-communication-intelligence, an $84 billion item in 1984'sUS defence budget. I am making an argument for the cyborg as a fiction mapping our social and bodily reality and as an imaginative resource suggesting some very fruitful couplings. Michael Foucault's biopolitics is a flaccid premonition of cyborg politics, a very open field.
By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs. Ths cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centres structuring any possibility of historical transformation. In the traditions of 'Western' science and politics--the tradition of racist, male-dominant capitalism; the tradition of progress; the tradition of the appropriation of nature as resource for the productions of culture; the tradition of reproduction of the self from the reflections of the other - the relation between organism and machine has been a border war. The stakes in the border war have been the territories of production, reproduction, and imagination. This chapter is an argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction. It is also an effort to contribute to socialist-feminist culture and theory in a postmodernist, non-naturalist mode and in the utopian tradition of imagining a world without gender, which is perhaps a world without genesis, but maybe also a world without end. The cyborg incarnation is outside salvation history. Nor does it mark time on an oedipal calendar, attempting to heal the terrible cleavages of gender in an oral symbiotic utopia or post-oedipal apocalypse.
Dan Casey | January 9, 2013 at 8:48 pm
“Pickard was a pioneer.”
In more ways than one. The DEA chemists realized AFTER the bust, but before the 2003 trial, that Pickard was not using ergotamine tartrate as his principal precursor, but a (then) uncontrolled substance known as ergocristine. At least in terms of clandestine chemistry, Pickard pioneered the use of ergocristine as a substitute for the much-harder-to-get, tightly controlled ergotamine tartrate. Until then, the feds had no idea ergocristine could be used to synthesize acid. Since Owsley’s bust, EVERYONE else had used ET. (Owsley used lysergic acid monohydrate, which is now impossible to procure).
Only one (quite flawed) book has been written about this case, but there are a few other articles out there that have some more information. The other “best” article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and it’s a good one.
The book is Lysergic, by Krystle Cole, who for a time before, during and after the bust was Gordon Todd Skinner’s girlfriend. It’s kind of a first-person account, from an enthusiastic tripper’s perspective. She self-published it and it’s full of spelling and grammatical errors. But for anyone who’s fascinated by the case, it’s required reading. The 2nd edition is better than the first because she has republished a lot of letters she received from Skinner while he was in prison in Nevada after he got busted for MDMA distribution at Burning Man.
Krystle Cole has a website, Neurosoup.com on which she has published some of the transcripts from the trial. But she’s redacted many of the names of the individuals mentioned in tesitmony, such as Dr. John Halpern, a Harvard psychiatrist; Ganga White, a leading yoga educator in this country (The White Lotus Foundation) Joel Kramer (author/philosopher). There are hundreds of pages of other transcripts, unredacted, on Scribd — mostly they are Skinner’s testimony outlining the conspiracy. They also mention the musicians Sting, Paul Simon, and a shadowy Iclandic national and NYC bon vivant named Stefan Wahtne, who was in charge of laundering a good bit of the proceeds through Russia.
The worldwide distributor of Pickard’s product was identified at the trial as a guy named Alec Reid of Petaluma, Calif. He has never been popped for the role he played. If that is the guy’s real name, he’s still bopping around Northern Calif., and he’s in his 70s.
Skinner is now in prison for life (like Pickard) because he kidnapped and tried to kill a guy Krystle Cole was dating after he and she broke up. That is a wild story, too.
Dan Casey | January 10, 2013 at 2:40 am
I was unaware of that. I’ll have to look for that episode of 48 hours. The latest on Pickard is that he’s still fighting to get out. He’s won a few legal battles, but lost most. By far his biggest wins have demonstrated that Skinner was, more or less a career informant for a number of different federal agencies over the course of more than 15 years. At trial the government claimed he’d worked for them in two cases; the number was actually many more than that, across a broad array of federal agencies. It’s very doubtful that will ever be enough to get the conviction overturned, though. Pickard was caught red-handed with the biggest LSD lab ever and 6 kilos of precursor.
The distribution network is still in place, though. It likely involves some of the same folks who distributed Nick Sand’s acid before his bust outside Vancouver in ’96. Nick personally told me that he knew Pickard back in the Orange Sunshine trial days — Pickard contributed to Sand’s and Scully’s defense. Nick told me he didn’t know Skinner personally but that he knew of him, and that Skinner was as bad news as just about anyone on Earth. It seemed to me when we were talking (which was shortly after Pickard’s bust) that Nick was holding back a lot of information about Leonard.
There are hints (they’re not strong enough to term ‘evidence’) in the information out there that the impetus for Pickard to begin cooking again in the 1990s was Sand’s bust — he was picking up the mantle, so to speak. Shortly after Sand’s bust, there was a very tense meeting among the acid cognoscenti at a house in Stinson Beach, Calif. Pickard and Skinner and Kramer were there. In 2011 here in Roanoke I met someone else who was at that meeting (according to one of Skinner’s letters to Cole from prison). That guy was visiting here and a mutual friend who lives here introduced us. I spent a few hours with the guy (long story) but I never got around to asking him about it. It was a timing thing — but I’m still kicking myself about that.
I got a message from Pickard a few months ago. It was answers to some questions I posed to him. One was about “Petaluma Al,” the head of the LSD distribution in his organization (according to Skinner’s testimony at the trial) and why Al had never been busted. Pickard’s response was: “As for “Petaluma Al,” I believe Skinner should be awarded the 2003 prize for best fantasy and science fiction short story .”
There have also been many side stories related to this one. One, which you can find on the Web, is known as “Halperngate.” It relates to Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Halpern’s cooperation with the government in the case against Pickard, and a hugely public row that caused one day in Switzerland, and his subsequent excommunication from the acid underground. Another is the case of the torture inflicted on Krystle Cole’s boyfriend (after she had broken up with Skinner) by Skinner. The injuries were permanent and he’s serving life w/o parole for those now.
The next chemist who tried to replace Pickard was Casey Hardison, but he got busted in England some years ago. It appears someone has picked up the mantle once again, and by now those folks may have even figured out how to automate the synthesis via specialized machinery the pharmaceutical industry has been using for years. Supposedly, that was Pickard’s holy grail.
Scully (with whom I haven’t spoken) is apparently preparing a book about the history of clandestine LSD production. I’m very interested in getting my hands on that when it comes out.
Dan Casey | January 11, 2013 at 12:00 am
I haven’t read Storming Heaven — yet. But I’ve read Acid Dreams, which is pretty good (but which Nick Sand panned). He said by far the best book out there is The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, by Stewart Tendler and Davaid [cq] May. I have read that one (the first edition, 1984). It is amazing, and you can read it online for free. Nick also recommended The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control, by John D. Marks. It’s based on governmental archival material he stumbled upon and takes you back to the earliest days. I’ve also read The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin (pretty good), ACID: The New Secret History of LSD, which has some info that’s nowhere else but overall is quite a flawed book, and Millbrook by Art Kleps, which is also online.
Apparently, The Brotherhood of Eternal Love was republished in a second edition that includes an interview with Nick Sand after his capture in Canada in 1996. I haven’t read that one.
Lysergic (2nd edition) is worth reading if you’re hooked on the subject. So are the trial transcripts, which are hard to put down.
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest