TagR.U. Sirius

The “Mindstyle” of Pseudo-counter Culturalism in the Tech Industry, in 1993 and Today

Michael Stevenson revisits the “Mondo 2000 vs. Wired” of the early 90s to compare it to the contemporary blogger and startup culture:

The co-optation argument, however, fails to recognize a subtle but important difference between Mondo’s ‘rebel cool’ and that found in previous subcultures. Where subcultures are typically conceived of as ‘outsider’ scenes, from those in the counterculture that consciously ‘dropped out’ of mainstream society to more recent outsider scenes like punk and rave culture, the subversive computer culture Mondo proclaimed to represent was different. To borrow a key theme from Alan Liu’s book The Laws of Cool, Mondo’s cyberculture is best described as a scene of insiders-outside and outsiders-inside. The ideal subversive computer culture was something simultaneously inside and outside of mainstream, corporate America – for example, the corporate- and state-employed hackers and cyberpunks that Mondo imagined to be driving a social and cultural revolution from “inside the belly of the beast,” as Robert Anton Wilson wrote in the magazine’s first issue.

Wired’s style was similarly built on this contradictory positioning. Think, for example, of its portrayals of tech CEOs as rogue upstarts, as outsiders bringing about a subversive future from inside the system. This was also the essence of how Wired itself was imagined and operated – as an independent magazine that would infiltrate and revolutionize the mainstream publishing industry (on this, see especially Gary Wolf’s history of Wired, in which he often points out Louis Rossetto’s ambivalent relationship with his traditional publishing ‘peers’). This was not a co-optation of Mondo’s style, but an elaboration of its outsider-inside identity.

Full Story: webcultures.org: Cybercultural “mindstyles” circa 1993 and 2013

(via John Ohno)

See also:

The Californian Idealogy

Silicon Valley’s Anti-Capitalism-Capitalism

(Disclosure: I write for Wired)

R.U. Sirius Interviews Too Much to Dream Author Peter Bebergal

Too Much to Dream cover

R.U Sirius interviews Peter Bebergal, author of the memoir and cautionary tale Too Much To Dream: . This interview is a few months old, but I’ve only just seen it:

RU: It strikes me that psychedelics are both an enhancer and distorter of
pattern recognition. It’s like once the mind becomes too conscious and too obsessive about pattern recognition, it becomes delusional.

PB: This is probably the most succinct way of putting it I have heard. It’s essentially what we see happen with Phillip K. Dick. It’s part of the reason why no matter how non-addicting psychedelics might be from a chemical point-of-view, the capacity for the human mind to compulsively search for the same connection/insight over and over again is boundless. This same phenomena can be seen with a certain kind of occultism. Hermeticism can become an exercise in endless connection making and it’s amazing how even the most thoughtful occultists can become conspiracy theorists overnight. Psychedelics, and other forms of non-ordinary consciousness, can readily show that there is more to the human mind, and possibly the universe, than we can perceive normally, but when we lose the ability to critically distance ourselves from these experiences, the danger for delusion is great.


RU: You remain interested in the psychedelic movement even though you feel you can’t risk taking them yourself. What do you hope for people today who take psychedelic drugs in a way that is conscious of set and setting and so forth?

PB: I have come to believe in the absolute necessity of ritual and community, whether it’s the Native American Church or your local OTO lodge. However you can find it, try to access a group of people that share your spiritual/psychological sensibilities and that hopefully have a few seasoned elders and teachers. This is not to say there aren’t those that can handle the solitary journey, but I still think however one can position oneself into a larger context with its own myths and symbols can only be a good thing.

But more importantly I hope that those who use these drugs will see them not as a path but as doorway towards a spiritual/conscious way of life. As Alan Watts is often quoted as saying, “When you get the message, hang up the phone.”

Acceler8or: The Seeker: A Psychedelic Suburban Youth Doesn’t Find It Tripping. An Interview with Peter Bebergal

New Blog From R.U. Sirius: Acceler8or


Editor of the late Mondo 2000 and current (?) editor of H+ R.U. Sirius is running a new group blog on transhumanism called Acceler8or. This post is a good introduction to the new site.

R.U. was also recently interviewed by Vice:

Do you think it is good that we’ve reached a point where anyone can say or write/make whatever they want and post it for the world to see?

It’s a huge, complicated, evolutionary step. The average person actually having a voice in the world!? Even if the value of that voice is minimized by inflation, it’s still a whole new relationship to the social. If things go well and life becomes increasingly participatory and open communication oriented, we’ll be figuring out the psychology and sociology of this for the rest of the century. It’s rough on writers, definitely. Our specialization has become the cultural oxygen.

So you think it devalues as well as democratizes?

Canadian internet seer Marshall McLuhan said that with every human enhancement comes an amputation. For an elite (when considered on a global scale) class of literate people, the diminution of power of real literary or even journalistic talent feels like an amputation. But for people who never had the opportunity to speak before, it’s the beginning of something else. Ultimately, we’ll give opportunity for more geniuses of expression to emerge.

Vice: Mondo 2000 and Gonzo Anthropology

(via Dangerous Minds)

This reminds me of what Jason Calacanis said yesterday at the ReadWriteWeb 2WAY summit: that writing as a skill in and of itself will no longer be enough. You’ve got to have deep expertise in a particular area. People will choose to read experts who aren’t great writers over great writers without deep expertise.

Mondo Vanilli, the Art Prank Band with R.U. Sirius and Others, Releases Album Online

Before the Gorillaz and Deathklok, there was Mondo Vanilli (and before Mondo Vanilli, there was Silicon Teens, but that’s another story). Now the band, consisting of Scrappi DuChamp, R.U. Sirius and Simone Third Arm has released its 1993 album for free online.

David Pescovitz writes at Boing Boing:

In 1993, cyberculture prankster/provocateur/publisher RU Sirius, founder of Mondo 2000 magazine, composer Scrappi DuChamp, and performance artist Simone Third Arm, recorded an album for Trent Reznor’s record label. They had met at Reznor’s Los Angeles rental home, the house where the Manson Family killed Sharon Tate and others. Tim Leary had brought RU along to a housewarming party there and RU gave Reznor a demo tape of his band, called Mondo Vanilli. Reznor quickly signed the band to his then-nascent Nothing Records. Unfortunately, this great work of curious and quirky synth-industrial-pop, titled “IOU Babe,” never made it to the record stores. Almost two decades later, Mondo Vanilli has officially released “IOU Babe” for free online. A CD with bonus material is coming shortly.

Some of this was streaming on Revolting.com in the 90s, and somewhere along the lines I downloaded a couple MP3s of the band’s music (I don’t recall where from), but I think this is the first time the full album has been made available.

R.U. Sirius: The Best-Case Scenario For Posthumanity, And Who Is Making It Happen

R.U. fuckin' Sirius

Annalee has asked me to comment on what is the best-case scenario for posthumanity and what groups are working on putting that scenario in motion. This is the sort of question that invites utopian musings. I’ve become somewhat shy of utopian projections, which is maybe why I tend to interview other people and let them take the fall… but what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.

The fun, of course, would be in visions of tall, thin, beautiful blue skinned beings that are superbright rather than corny (maybe winged, too. Winged would be nice), a third arm for carrying groceries, skinny little fingers for ever-tinier portable devices, and everybody engineered at the germ line to be crazy sex freaks.

But being of nobler stuff, I’ll give you what I think is the best down to earth scenario for near-term enhanced humanity, and then I’ll also mention a few further out vision – some of which I’m fond of.

io9: The Best-Case Scenario For Posthumanity, And Who Is Making It Happen

Want to get involved in building the future, but lack a background in engineering science and hard science? Get started learning get started studying engineering online for free.

(Thanks Cole Tucker)

MONDO 2000: An Open Source History

MONDO 2000: An Open Source History is a web project and a book. All those who touched directly upon the history of the scene/magazine (including the earlier versions, High Frontiers and Reality Hackers) will be invited to write — or, in some cases, speak on video or audio — their stories and perceptions. Additionally, small groups of people will be encouraged to get together and record conversations. These will be posted on a private page available only to other participants. Participants will have the opportunity to insert comments into the text or add fresh entries.

At the end of the process, estimated to take approximately two years, a collaboratively-edited electronic document will be released on the web. A more closely-edited print book composed of selections from this process — edited by Ken Goffman aka R.U. Sirius (that’s me!) with Morgan Russell — will be published. Finally, the video footage might be rolled into a Mondo 2000 film documentary.

I will be a major participant in this process, essentially writing my own full and complete memoir of this time and posting most of these in fragments on the collaborative site.

Mondo 2000’s history is an exhilarating and weird tale of early digital culture, drugs, sex, surrealism, gonzo anthropology, death, digital culture, media hype, conspiracy paranoia, celebrities, transhumanism, irresponsible journalism, appropriation, hackers, pranks, theft, fun and desktop publishing. This mostly true article from the SF Weekly tells only part of the story. http://www.suck.com/daily/95/11/07/mondo1995.html

Many extraordinarily talented writers, artists, scientists, and outsider philosophers participated in the Mondo 2000 experience and there are marvelous tales to be told. If we can get even 20% of them to participate, we may have final proof that collaborative narratives don’t have to suck.

Happiness, freedom, and control

Two quotes on my mind tonight:

1. From The Job interviews with William S. Burroughs:

Q: Are they happy anywhere?

A: They’re certainly happier in Spain with all the poverty than they are in Sweden with all the prosperity and their high living standard.

Q: But then, Spain is a good example of a highly controlled country with a repressive government, a religious bugbear – just about everything…

A: Just about everything. They have all sorts of troubles. But you see, poverty keeps people busy. You see happiness there in the faces of the people on the streets that you do not see on Swedish streets.

This interview took place in the 70s when Spain was still under Franco. With regard to the question of “being busy” read this and consider what many (most?) of us are “busy” doing in modern post-industrial society.

2. Reality Sandwich interview with R.U. Sirius:

Q: It seems equally possible that we will be thrust into some kind of totalitarian technological hell in which our every movement is watched and our perceptions are closely monitored, a la A Scanner Darkly or 1984. It’s interesting to observe how a force as powerful as technology can simultaneously invoke great dread or great hope in people based on different perspectives of its usefulness in our lives.

A: Yeah, I think that’s actually more of a parallel vision than an opposite vision. These technologies could solve problems and not be disastrous in a physical sense, but they seem to almost inevitably bring on the death of the Western concept of privacy. The scenario could be hellish, considering the current political dynamics: authoritarian tendencies married to paranoias about security are at war with authoritarian outsider anti-imperialists who hate technology and modernity.

But I don’t think the scenario will necessarily be particularly hellish. It could easily resolve into a very liberal control system. In some interview during the ’80s, someone asked William Burroughs about Brave New World and he said (in that great Burroughs voice), “I think it would be an improvement.” I can imagine a very liberal society – pampered by machines – in which people are free to carry on wild festivities in the hippie/pagan/Burning Man traditions, or do just about whatever pleases them, and where the margins on behavior are set really wide, but if you slip over those margins, everybody immediately knows about it and your brain is instantly corrected so that you can’t do that taboo thing again. Instant rehab!

Which of course makes me think of the movie Zardoz

New Issue of H+ Magazine: Has the Future Been Canceled?

h plus magazine

Read it at H+

One gripe: why is a publication so obsessed with the future stuck replicated the decidedly past format of print magazine? The do better than anyone I’ve seen at making this quasi-print webzine into a true hypermedia object with permalinks to specific articles and a search functionality. But they are still stuck replicating the past.

That aside, I’m looking forward to reading this.

New Timothy Leary book from re/search publications

leary on drugs

New Leary book with an introduction by R.U. Sirius:

Psychedelic guru, Timothy Leary was a psychologist who experimented, wrote and lectured about his investigations of mind-expanding drugs. Here is a collection of just some of his effusive output, much of it written as it happened.

Follow Leary as he drops acid at a prison with inmates, raises his children while the adults are “swimming on a sea of jewels,” becomes incarcerated, escapes prison, and generally expounds upon the politics of mind-altering substances before and after they become “controlled substances” in the U.S.A.

This is an authorized collection of Leary’s writings and lectures, and includes a dozen photos from the Timothy Leary Archive. Drawings by Jared Power.

Leary on Drugs at re/search publications

New transhumanist web magazine edited by R.U. Sirius


R.U. Sirius, the editor of the seminal Mondo 2000 and about a billion other things is back with a new project: H+, a transhumanist web magazine. The first issue include Aubrey de Grey, Charlie Stross, Cory Doctorow, Warren Ellis, and much more.


(via Dose Nation)

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