Thursday, 28 November 2013

Moon Bibles

This story appeared in The Times earlier in the week (many thanks to Steve Moore for sending me the clipping).

Microfilm moon bibles! What a wonderful snapshot of that brief moment in history when we were both an analogue civilisation, and also going into space.

But the story raises a number of questions. Every ounce in weight was precious to the Apollo programme, so taking books on microfilm appears sensible at first. Until, that is, you remember that there was no way a bulky microfilm reader would have been on board. Whatever reason they took those Bibles to the moon, it was not to read them. Their journey into space was for symbolic reasons, not practical ones.

Then there's the fact that they took 100 of them, as if the astronauts were intending to convert The Clangers.

Clangers: Not Yet Christian.
The answer, of course, is money. Those microfilm moon bibles can fetch over $10,000 a pop in auctions, so taking 100 will have made someone a nice little windfall.

But look again at what really happened - the proximity of the moon granted these old Iron Age texts an extra quality - they gained value. That is magical thinking. Money itself is magical thinking, as certain pieces of green paper are deemed to have value which other pieces of green paper do not, provided they have been blessed by the wizards at the Federal Reserve (as Robert Anton Wilson used to put it.)

So the Apollo Prayer League were using the power of the moon to take an old form of magic (sacred texts) and convert them into a more modern form of magic (dollars). That's an occult act, in anyone's book, and one performed for personal gain rather than the greater good.

Who knew that Christians were that ideologically flexible?


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Ten Reasons For Burning Money

Burning money is an action where intent is everything.

I've already written at length about Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond burning a million pounds, but what other reasons are there for lighting up the magic paper?

Here's your handy top 10:


1. To Frighten

Here's The Joker in The Dark Knight setting fire to a considerable stack of cash.



He claims he does this to 'send a message', but what message is he sending? It is, clearly, that people should be afraid of him. The Joker operates on levels that are so far off the maps of other crime bosses that fear is the only logical response.

This is also the reason why Hagbard Celine burns money in Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy - although Hagbard Celine is considerably more gentlemanly about it.


2. Ostentation

Should a TV programme or film wish to imply that a character has too much money, the standard trope is to show them lighting a big fat cigar with burning money.


This is the behaviour of cold-hearted corporate sharks and insecure rappers. It also has a poorer cousin, namely waving your money in someones face. See, for example, Harry Enfield's Loadsamoney character, city bankers during G20 anti-capitalism protests, or the overtime-rich police waving their bonuses at striking miners during the 1980s.

No-one who has ever undertaken these acts has come out of it well.


3. Protest

Here's an Occupy Wall Street protester burning a few dollars.



Like many protests, this is a largely symbolic act. The actual amount of money doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, yet symbolically it is sacrilege - like upturning a crucifix or denying someones gods. Like the Joker's 'message', it is a declaration that other value systems are available.


4. Spite



Here we see France's worst babysitter Serge Gainsbourg lighting a 500 Franc note in 1984, in response to what he felt were France's high levels of taxation. This could be filed under 'protest', but as it is also an example of burning money because you don't want anyone else to have it, it is placed here under spite.




5. Currency validation.

This is not a list about money being lost or squandered. I haven't included Yves Klein throwing gold dust into the Seine, for example, because the gold was scattered rather than destroyed. But there are other non-paper sources of wealth that can be physically destroyed, and that includes the virtual algorithm-backed currency BitCoin.

Here we see some people burning a memory card containing their bitcoin wallet. As the video states, "...the real aspect making it into a currency is not when it is spent but when it is burnt." Hence, this burning can be seen as further legitimisation of this mighty game-changing currency.


Hello Bitcoin from Videocassettera on Vimeo.

Love the marshmallows at the end. (h/t to @sinkdeep for this one)


6. Cracking up

Burning money seems to be a good way to get yourself locked away in a psychiatric institute - on the grounds that you must obviously be insane if you do it. One example was Billie Boggs, a homeless New York City woman notable for the legal test case that followed her being institutionalised for burning dollar bills in 1987 (h/t to Jonathan Harris for that one). Another example is Youth from Killing Joke, which he discuses in my interview with him here.

It's not hard to imagine that guy burning money at Occupy Wall Street in the video above being carted away some day soon for just this reason.


7. Becoming Sane

Allen Ginsberg's epic Beat poem Howl mentions someone "burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall." This is a reference to Ginsberg's friend Lucian Carr. Carr had claimed that he placed his head in a gas oven as "a work of art", but this argument was not accepted by the medical authorities and he was sectioned for suicidal tendencies. When he was declared sane and released he burnt his psychiatric record in a wastebasket along with $20, and Ginsberg immortalised the act.
cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wal - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15308#sthash.CZ2L54Sw.dpuf



8. War 

The 20th Century introduced us to aerial bombardment and as a result an unquantifiable amount of cash went up in smoke. True, it was largely very poor countries that found themselves on the receiving end of large amounts of bombs, but not exclusively - Dresden, London and Hiroshima will attest to that.




9. Forgiveness

Of all the reasons for burning money, the one I can get behind is that demonstrated by Jonathan Harris at our London Fortean Society Robert Anton Wilson event. He just burnt twenty quid, as you can see here, but doing so had a very powerful effect on those present:



Why? Well, his reasons focus on forgiveness, and giving without expectation of reward. I recommend you read his account of the act over on his blog, in which he explains his reasoning far better than I can here.


10. Housekeeping

Of course, millions of notes are burnt around the world every day. Such is the normal housekeeping involved in printing and maintaining a paper currency. You can see some of this here. And why not? It is, after all, just paper.

Almost every note you ever hold will be burnt in the end. That is the ultimate fate of every tenner or dollar bill. Hence the question when it will be burnt - and with what intent.



Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Jimmy Cauty's tiny police state

Yesterday I went to launch of James Cauty's Aftermath Dislocation Principle, a square mile of post-apocalyptic landscape shrunk down to 1:87 scale. The model itself is huge - 448 square feet - but the details are tiny.


The landscape is covered in burnt out cars and the aftermath of rioting, but there are no ordinary people. Only the security services are left behind - around 3000 tiny policemen. The population has gone but the state remains. Exactly what has happened is left open to your imagination.

It's a phenomenal piece of work - although one that is bleak as all hell. Everywhere you look there are little dramas occurring, sight gags, and political digs at the likes of Wonga and Foxconn.





Normally the crowd at art openings has an initial look at the work and then ignores it for the rest of the evening. This was different - people kept going back to it. The more you look at it, the more you find. Here's a packing crate Stonehenge.


 There's a few little details will appeal to KLF fans.



Police cars have the number 23 on their roof, of course.


My friend Brian Barritt used to say that it was simple to tell whether a piece of visual work was 'art' or not. If you never tired of looking at it, then it was art. For this reason the work of Banksy wasn't art. It's still great, of course, because it was a giggle and that's entirely valid. But once you'd groked it there was no reason to look at it again.

I'm not sure why, but it's all kicking off at Burger King.



Cauty's obsessional model echoes of the shift that has happened in film and TV storytelling. In the 20th Century, the 'Hero's Journey' story was considered enough to hold people's attentions. That is no longer the case. Now we flock to things that are deeper and far more complex - the so-called '1000-hour narrative'. Examples of this include the complex politics of a series like Game of Thrones, the endless storytelling of the Marvel Universe or the 50-year character story of Doctor Who. For all the concern about our modern attention spans, we've actually become sophisticated enough to want far more intricate and rewarding work - narratives that continue to reveal details the longer we engage with them.

This was brought home when I walked home and passed street art. It just seemed shit in comparison to what Cauty had done. It just wasn't enough.

Here's a film to give you more of a sense of the thing.


ADP V 2 from jimmy cauty on Vimeo.

It's on display in London until October 20th and is highly recommended. You'll find it in the railway arches right next to Hoxton overground station.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Daily Mail is a Drug

The reason for the Daily Mail's continued growth is simple. For every story it runs it asks itself, "How can I present this story in manner that will generate a feeling of disgust in the reader?" The paper is, by now, phenomenally good at presenting news stories so that they always do generate that emotion of disgust. From that, all else follows.

Should you think that this is an over-simplification, it would be worth pausing to look again at any edition of the paper with this idea in mind.

A photograph of the Mail's editor Paul Dacre, deliberately inverted.

Disgust is not just one of our many emotions. It is bedded deep in the foundations of our psychology. It is largely generated by part of the brain known as the anterior insula. Freud linked it to our initial oral stage, and Leary & Wilson to what they called the first circuit of their eight circuit model. It is not something that is learnt, like higher emotions. All mammals are born with the hard-wired ability to feel disgust, along with its opposite, attraction. Newborns feel attraction to food and comfort, and disgust or repulsion from rotting or poisoned food or stagnant water. This is the level it affects us at.

Disgust in itself is no bad thing, of course, but the Daily Mail's use of it is a problem because of the plasticity of our brains. The nature of reactive brain chemistry means that the more the experience of disgust is stimulated, the stronger the disgust reflex becomes and the more it gets linked to higher level concepts and models. Constant, repeated stimulation over time changes the brain and alters the personality of the Daily Mail reader. There is good reason why the common stereotype of Mail readers is as it is. There is also good reason for the rise of UKIP.

In the same way that heroin is so dangerous and addictive because it stimulates the deep psychological feeling of attraction and comfort, so the repeated stimulation of disgust is also addictive. It is important to recognise this, because it is being overlooked in all the current concern about the paper's actions and press regulation.

Most people have probably heard a Mail reader say, "I know that it is awful, but I can't read any of the other papers." Other newspapers do not provide that guaranteed hit of disgust that long-term Mail readers need. This is why they continue to buy the newspaper, even though they know how bad it is for them. It is not an act of free will. They are ill, they are addicts, and they need help. Mail readers simply cannot just switch to the Mirror, Times or Independent. They need to go cold turkey through a period of withdrawal.

Disgust-addiction is a terrible thing. It means that people spend their lives believing that the world is terrifying and cruel, when that is not the case. There is an argument that people have the right to their Daily Mail hit, of course, but we should remember that this is a public health issue, and it needs to be considered as such.

There are no easy answers. But one thing is clear: If you are a Daily Mail reader with a partner who would be expected to care for you when you become old and infirm, and if you do love that partner, then for their sake quit now.

If you still can, of course.



Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Youth's early Killing Joke-era "acid flipout"



Writing The KLF was in part an attempt to scratch an itch created by an aborted attempt to write a book about Killing Joke. There's a lot of cross-over between those two stories, and many of the threads I explored in The KLF would have worked equally well in a Killing Joke book - not least of which being the money burning (see below). 

Here's a transcript of an interview I did with Youth for that book, regarding his "acid flipout".
 
Youth, 1980, before Killing Joke gig at the Music Machine, London. Photo by Klaus Hiltscher on Flicker


YOUTH:
I was doing acid regularly. I’d done a German tour and I’d hooked up with this 21 year old hairdresser-come-acid queen called Heidi.  She gave me a little quarter trip before each gig. She was wealthy so she put me up in nice hotels and drove me to the gigs in a sports car which pissed the rest of the band off. 

So I was doing quite a lot but nothing cosmic had happened.  I was still treating it very much as a laugh. I was cocky, I always thought that I’d never lose it on acid. I thought that you had to be born a shaman to be cosmic or be like Jim Morrison or whatever, and I was too middle class, ordinary and normal.

The rest of the band weren’t really into acid.  Jaz had had a major freakout when he was 16. He used to take acid at school but one time he was spiked and he thought that his arm had disappeared. He was having The Horrors. His mum was an award winning teacher, very progressive.  She just sat him down, gave him some rocks to hold, did a bit of research.  She was very cool. So, yeah, the other guys weren’t into it, although we did take mushrooms together. But we’d rarely take acid. I was the acid head.

But then there was this one event that pushed me over the edge.  I’d let Ralph, this friend of mine, use my squat one weekend while I was away. When I came back my TV had disappeared.  I couldn’t get hold of him for ages, but then I bumped into him at a club one night. He was there with this other guy looking pretty rough.  I said, ‘Oh Ralph, how are you?’ And he goes, ‘I hear you think I nicked your TV.’ And I said, ‘No, no, I mean you stayed there and it disappeared and I wondered if you knew anything or had seen what happened?’  But he didn’t quite get that, he was fixating on whether I was accusing him and if I was still his friend.

Then he said, ‘If you are my friend, take this,’ and he gave me a tab of acid. It was this Sorcerer’s Apprentice trip with a picture of a little Mickey Mouse with stars going between his hands.  I said, ‘Acid? Oh yeah I take acid all the time.’ I took it. I mean he didn’t force me but at the same time I was taking it because that’s what he wanted.

Half an hour later I’m in the attic of the club thinking that he’s going to murder me. I went down to the bar and met this Polish ballet dancer. I said, ‘You’re going to have to rescue me, I think these guys are going to kill me. I’ve been spiked with this acid and it’s freaking me out.’ She took me back to Westbourne Grove and shagged me solid for three days. But I never quite came down.  I slowly started to come down a bit but it was very strong acid.

I was really upset about the whole thing. I thought my friend had set me up. He lived in Croydon with his Nan, so I wrote to him there.  In this letter I said, ‘Look that really freaked me out, you should never do that, and lets meet and sort it out’.  And then literally a few days later I found out that he’d committed suicide and thrown himself off a railway bridge.

He was obviously in a very dark place. But that just totally spun me out. By that point I was tripping all the time. I couldn’t quite understand how that could be, because I hadn’t taken acid for over a month.

As it progressed I got more and more out of it.  I started to get all the classic delusions of messianic complex. I thought this white van was following me around.  I thought the Masons were out to get me because of Killing Joke stirring things up. I started to get intrigued by Masonry and saw it as this dark conspiracy thing. I was reading Robert Anton Wilson and stuff like that. And this just progressed and progressed.  The band started to get a bit concerned because I’d always been very cynical about things and now I was starting to see Masonic conspiracies in the drain covers.

I remember breaking into the Masonic headquarters in Covent Garden, that huge square building. I’m not sure how I got in, it had this scaffolding over it and doors going in and I managed to get in a side door somehow. This was around 8 or 9 o’clock at night. I went through all these different temples and put the crosses down because I thought that they were abusing the cross. I ran up to the top of the building to these French doors which were locked, and I was banging on these doors. This African guy came out in red polka dot shorts. I thought they were going to use him for some sacrifice.  I said, ‘Come on! Open the door, I’ll get you out, I’ll rescue you.’ And this guy was talking to me in an African accent, saying ‘Go away’ or something.

Then this Welsh security guard turns up. And I showed him this signet ring with this crest on that my Dad had said was something to do with my family from Llangathen. It had a dolphin on it.  I said, ‘Look, I’m Welsh. This is magic. Help me.’ He said, ‘I’m going to arrest you’. I just did a runner.

I ran into this bar opposite which was where Blitz had been, or one of those New Romantic clubs.  I remember all these Masons were in there, all these guys who had come out from some ceremony all in suits. And these guys started talking to me, I thought ‘They’re on to me, I’m being followed’. I was very paranoid.

We’d got a five grand advance for something and my dad set me up with this bank manager at the Clydesdale Bank. He also tuned out to be a mason. I deposited this money in and said, ‘I want to borrow another five grand on top of this.’ He asked why and I said ‘Well I want to do my shamanic training, study kung fu and do all this stuff.’ He said, ‘Listen son, I’m not going to lend to you five thousand pounds. You’ve got to learn the value of money,’ And I said ‘I know what the value of money is’, and I took a five pound note out and set fire to it, there in his office. I said, ‘Look that’s the value, it’s just paper.’ The guy freaked out, cleared his desk and threw me out of the bank.

I just kept doing more and more crazy things like that. I was starting to tap into stuff, some powerful energy.  I remember getting the band to sit round and put their hands out and we’d focus on something, and we’d make something happen.  I could say to Geordie, ‘look, if we focus our minds on that streetlamp, it will go out. Or at least flicker on and off.’ He’d say, ‘Really? Okay, come on let’s do it.’  And we did, and it worked.  And other psychic phenomena stuff was occurring.

And, yeah, it just got progressively more and more crazy. Then one day I woke up at my step-mum’s. She’d just had a baby with my dad but my dad was in prison at the time so he wasn’t there, just her and this Spanish nanny. And I remember looking out of the window and thinking, ‘Oh the sky’s going green. This is it. It’s the end of the world. I’m going to the river.’

I just had this pair of swimming trunks on and a kimono. I started walking from Brompton Road to Chelsea. And I started going into these fruit and veg shops and going to people, ‘Look, you want some money?  Have some money!’ They would say ‘No thanks’ but I kept on at them. I was saying ‘Look it’s just money, I’ll start burning it’. Which I did.  And I immediately got arrested.  And shipped off to a mental hospital.

It was very strange. I remember in the ambulance on the way, if you looked out the front window it was like normal, if I looked out the back window I thought it was the future, and everything was underwater. I remember going past Tooting Bec tube and there was gondolas parked up outside it.

I was taken to Springfields Hospital, near Tooting Bec. I’d been put into a sort of flashers’ ward, which was odd in itself, with all these guys who were flashers because I was in a kimono.  And I was going, ‘I’m not mad, you’re all mad’, which of course makes them think ‘Oh he’s definitely mad’.

They gave me Largactil, which I think is supposed to make you compliant but it just spun me out even more.  And they gave me ECT [Electroconvulsive Therapy, also known as Electroshock Therapy], like in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. They still use it. I must have had two or three sessions of that. They put a wooden thing or something in your mouth, it’s all very Victorian.  I don’t remember it being difficult or anything, I just remember this white light.

And I just felt we were totally underwater. I remember my Dad coming to the hospital and sitting with him and seeing utter shock on his face. This was when Dad was doing time and he got let out to see me in the hospital, which probably didn’t do him any good. I said, ‘Isn’t it weird Dad, we can sit here and have this conversation and we are underwater.’

But there was one point where I thought the hospital was on fire. And I remember running away in the middle of the night and leaping over this fence, and stabbing my hand on the spike of the fence, running a few miles to where my Dad had been living, which was the Coach House on the other side of Wandsworth Common. He was in prison but his friend and his girlfriend were there. I was completely spaced out. I said, ‘Look’, showing them the wound on my hand, ‘I’m the one! I’ve got stigmata!’ I thought I was Jesus, that the whole world was all on my shoulders. 
They let me stay the night and my step mum came by the next day and said, ‘Look you’ve broken out, the hospital didn’t burn down, there was no fire, you’re hallucinating. If you don’t go back they’ll slap a section on you and you won’t be able to leave’. So she persuaded me to go back.

While I was in there this guy called The Wizard used to come up every day to visit me.  The Wizard lived in the church near Lyndhurst Road with twenty feral cats. He had a seven pointed star tattooed on his face. He’d never wore shoes, he was very much a nature magic person. This is the guy who used to come to the early Killing Joke gigs and blow fire and do circles and make ceremonies, he was our shaman basically. The whole ‘ceremony’ aspect to Killing Joke was there from very early on, it came out of the community we were living in really.

The Wizard came to visit me and gave me this crystal. I remember meditating with this crystal in the hospital and seeing these stars, like lights. These were my spirit guides. They talked to me and told me what to say and do. They said, ‘Look you’re going to come up to a panel of doctors, you’ve got to say ‘I’ve just had some LSD and I feel really tired and I want to go home and see my Mum’, and they’ll let you go. Don’t say, ‘I’m not mad you’re mad’.

And so I came up before this panel and that’s what happened. I was released from the mental hospital because I did what the spirit guides in the crystal told me do. They let me go and I went up to Wales with the band. I was in there for about two weeks overall.

It took me a good eight years or so, until I was about 29, before I would go near psychedelics again. I still smoked pot a bit but I kind of almost stopped that for a bit. It took me that time to rebuild my ego and get my confidence back, and find a good anchor again.

But what’s amazing is, I came back. I was watching that Syd Barrett documentary recently, and the Peter Green one, and I did achieve going to the place that they went to. But I managed to come back, which is very rare. And that is an amazing thing, I think. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Go Home @klfbook, You're Drunk

A relationship with a book is very one-sided. You learn from it, it does not learn from you. A book can alter your brain if it so wishes, but you can do nothing to the book. Except throw it at a wall. Even then, it's not that bothered.

Books are also said to 'live on' in the heads of their readers, but again this is a one-sided relationship. Pondering this, I fell into conversation with Shardcore about what my KLF book would actually do, if it could act more like a living thing. I wanted to somehow 'animate' the text through code, in the manner of a more hygienic Doctor Frankenstein, and let it loose online. One of the themes that runs through the book is identifying things that are not alive, but which act like the are, so it seemed fitting.

The answer, we decided, was that if the book was alive it would do what all the kids do: create animated gifs based on what they like and post them on Tumblr in the hope that they go viral. And also babble away on Twitter.

It wouldn't touch Facebook, obviously.


Shardcore then went away and gave the text life. He will blog about what he actually did soon, but basically he created a bot that knows nothing of the world except for the text of my book. From this, it worked out what was important by seeing what was listed in the index, and it attempted to deduce a relationship between those things by analysing their proximity in the text.

And that's it, that's the entire basis of its "thought". We have just switched it on and are watching it, slightly unnerved.

It is now posting animated gifs four times a day (in six hourly intervals starting at 23 minutes past midnight.) It first randomly selects a sentence from the book that is less than 130 characters long. It then tries to work out what that sentence relates to, and skims Google Images for pictures of whatever it thinks is important.

Then it mashes all these up into a seizure-inducing image. You can find them at klfbook.tumblr.com

Here's an example:



At some point we will probably see sense and get it to calm down a bit with the flashing images. But at the moment it seems happy going crazy, so who are we to argue? Part of the fun is trying to identify the images it has found as they flash by, and to try and work out why it thinks they are related to the text.

It is particularly keen on pictures of Patrick Troughton and seems to think that almost everything is connected to the number 23. It's working well, in other words.

It is also up and running on Twitter - you can find it @klfbook. It will tweet links to the gifs it creates, and will periodically scan twitter for popular tweets about subjects in the book, and retweet them. If you like the book, it should be worth a follow.

You can also talk to it. Follow it, and ask it a question. It will attempt to answer. It won't make a great deal of sense, obviously, because all it knows is the text from one book, and one book does not a good model of the world make. Much of the time its responses will be gibberish. But occasionally, you may be able to read some sense into them. Occasionally it will be far wiser than it has any right to be. Or more sinister:



Typically, though, it will make no sense at all:


What I find disturbing is that, even when it is talking nonsense, it still sounds exactly like me. This is very sobering. On the plus side, if I do loose the plot completely people will assume I've just gone on holiday and left the bot to take over.

What all this is, essentially, is an experiment in apophenia. Apophenia is the process in which people project connections and narratives onto random data. This isn't a bad thing - Humans are apophenia machines, basically - but we can come unstuck when we confuse the patterns we perceive with the objective reality. Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea used apophenia in their Illuminatus! novels. They invented the most absurd conspiracies that they could imagine and relied on apophenia to make them appear plausible to their readers. They did this in order to help us recognise how much of our own beliefs are similarly arbitary patterns of our own devising.

Apophenia needs a large data set in order to be really convincing. One single book should not be enough (sorry to break it to you like this, The Pope.) @klfbook, then, is an experiment in seeing how the early sparks of apophenia appear from a small, limited model. For example, the first gif it produced was this:


The quote about Bill Drummond not looking like a pop star is a line from the book, but the bot has chosen to illustrate this with a picture of Doctor Who's first script editor, David Whitaker. And in that context I suddenly realised that, if you saw him in his younger days, Whitaker did actually look like a pop star. That idea, that connection, is now lodged in my head, and it matters not how random the non-sentient code was being when it put the two ideas together.

Please feel free to play around with @klfbook and kick it about a bit to see what it does.

The real paperback book is released on Thursday, Sept 26th, and Amazon are currently offering it with a third off.


--

UPDATE: Shardcore has now posted on his blog about how @klfbook works, including an interactive data visualisation of how the concepts in the book are related.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

EPIC UPDATE - Plate Spinning 101

There's so much going on that I'm starting to lose track with what's been announced and what hasn't. Hence this EPIC UPDATE to put that right - more for my benefit than for yours, I suspect.

1. The First Church on the Moon


This is the sort-of sequel to The Brandy of the Damned and it's out now in paperback and Kindle (UK | US). It's also free to download - but only until about 8am tomorrow, so be warned. The free download offer is lazy marketing, basically, as I'm well aware I've too much going on at the moment to promote it properly.

Like The Brandy of the Damned and The KLF, The First Church on the Moon was one of the three books I wrote during 2012, so it's good to finally have it out. I hope you enjoy it - it was written just for shits n' giggles after finishing KLF and while sorting out deals for the forthcoming 20th Century book. Maybe I'm overly fond of it for that reason, but I think it stands up well and hope you give it a try.

2. The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds.


The paperback of this - originally released on Kindle last November - will be published by Orion's Phoenix imprint on September 26th. It's available for pre-order now, and the first edition will come with a sticker of a sheep on the cover which completely covers the title, so get in early all you lovers of limited edition things, and indeed lovers of sheep stickers. The book is a slightly more polished version of the original ebook, now with photographs, notes & sources, a timeline, index and a discography. We've done it proud, I think.

3. I Have America Surrounded: The Life of Timothy Leary.


It's taken a while, but I Have America Surrounded in back in print in America - this handsome paperback edition is now available from Amazon. Got there in the end!

4. Brandy In The Basement.


The Brandy of the Damned has entered into an enforced marriage with another book, Jason Arnopp's psychological horror novella Beast in the Basement. The result is Brandy in the Basement, a low-cost, all formats, DRM-free ebook bundle. Details of where to find it are here. Note that this is currently the only way you can get an epub version of The Brandy of the Damned.

5. Jason Arnopp interview

Speaking of Jason Arnopp - seen here about to be shot in the head by crack UNIT troops for his crimes aiding the Sontarans - he recently interviewed me about The First Church on the Moon over at The Big Hand. Go there and see what regrettable confessions he forced out of me.

6. Robert Anton Wilson talks


I've been doing a number of talks about how, in a culture of people who DECLARE CERTAINTIES LOUDLY, we need Robert Anton Wilson more than ever. Come along and see me if you get the chance. Note that the October London talk with Daisy Campbell for the London Fortean Society has already sold out. If you're around Brighton, though, I'll be doing a quick 15 minutes at the Catalyst Club on Sept 12th.

I'll try and get some more arranged - they'll be announced on my Obligatory Facebook page, so like that to keep informed.

7. Shardcore is Up To Something.

You may know Shardcore as the artist/coder behind Radio Eris, an internet radio stream that ran for a few weeks when the KLF book was originally published. Needless to say, he is up to something different for the release of the paperback. No announcements yet, but watch this space as there may be a soft launch ahead of time.

8. The 20th Century.

And finally - deep breath - there's the real work for this year. This is my alternative history of the 20th Century, which I'm writing for Orion. I've just hit the half-way mark with this, and am feeling good about it. It's not a book that wants to improve your current understanding of that century, but a book that wants to see that period with completely new eyes. Wish it luck.

I'd better get back to it, come to think of it.




Saturday, 10 August 2013

The First Church on the Moon - out now

Today is my 42nd birthday. To celebrate I'm putting out a The First Church on the Moon, a Douglas Adams-esque novel and the sort-of sequel to The Brandy of the Damned, as a freebie.



You can get the Kindle version here, and it will be free for the next five days.

Alternatively you can get the paperback version here but you'll have to cough up real human money for it, such is life.

The ebook is free as a thank-you to everyone who has supported me by buying The Brandy of the Damned and the original KLF ebook, because that has led to me being able to stop making cartoons and become a full time author, for the medium-term at least. Please fill your boots and download away with my gratitude. If you were moved to leave an Amazon review or a Facebook like, of course, then I wouldn't try to talk you out of it.

The First Church on the Moon was written for the hell of it between finishing the unholy brain-mash that was writing The KLF and starting the epic quest that is my book on the 20th Century.  It is me enjoying myself, basically, and I hope that's infectious.

I talk more about the book in this interview with Jason Arnopp, over at The Big Hand.

*blows party blower*

Friday, 19 July 2013

Brandy In The Basement

Jason Arnopp is a lovely, charming man, so it is sometimes difficult to understand where the malignant evil in his writing comes from.

You may know Jason from his Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Friday 13th work, but it is his horror fiction that really makes you question exactly what it was that his mother unleashed on the world. A case in point would be his Stephen King-esque no-don't-go-there psychological horror novella The Beast In The Basement.

I mention this because we have put Beast In The Basement together with my book The Brandy Of The Damned and called it Brandy In The Basement. It's the indie-author equivalent of a indie label split 7-inch single (ask your dad). We've basically invented the AA-sided ebook.


This means that if you PayPal a few buttons via this link here you will immediately be emailed the combined ebook in DRM-free pdf, ePub and mobi for Kindle formats. This is, incidentally, the only way you can get an ePub version of Brandy at the moment.

The price is something ridiculous like 99p at the moment, although that be raised shortly to the giddy heights of two quid. You can read Jason's take on all this over on his blog.

Have a read of the reviews of Beast In The Basement and see if it looks worth 99p of your hard-earned.

If you're not familiar with my short novel The Brandy of the Damned, it was written around the same time as the KLF book and is a companion book to it, in my head at least.  Here are the reviews.

It's all something of an experiment, and who knows if the world is ready for AA-sided ebooks? But if temptation beguiles you so, then you'll find Brandy In The Basement here.