July 12, 2007
It's been months since we got a PDF copy of the legendary "Changing Images of Man" document from Stanford Research Institute, and having read it through several times I feel safe saying the book exceeded my expectations. However, unpacking all the information - especially in terms of it's connections with contemporary events, then and now - has proven to be a much larger, longer task.
Consider the "alternative methodology" behind the project itself:
Without the context, without knowing
these people and how they work and what they talked about, it's
difficult to really decipher a paragraph as apparently clear as that
one. What was the "method of analysis" in the second step? They
never say, but take note of the term they use in quotes: "alternate
For the record, that "representative of the underground press" was Michael Rossman of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Anyways, according to Keith, Willis Harman hired Al Hubbard in 1968 as a "Special Investigative Agent."
It's worth noting that according to
Todd Brendan Fahey's classic article on Hubbard,
The Original Captain Trips, Hubbard
was (at least officially) hired as a security guard. It was Fahey's
article that abruptly came back to me today, especially the
Harman and Hubbard shared a goal,
Well, Boy Howdy. Of course, this is decades ago, and juxtaposed quotes are proof of nothing.
But there's that weird term again, this time slightly different: "the Alternative Futures Project."
When you look for a formal program by that name, you're led not to the Stanford Research Institute, but the University of Illinois, where Charles Osgood and Stuart Umpleby wrote a report entitled "A Computer-based Exploration of Alternative Futures for Mankind 2000."
The report was included in the book Mankind 2000, which is full of rather disturbing quotes like this one:
This kind of stuff could almost be comic relief.
After all, a computer program about the future had a lot of time and money invested in it, and when they ran the program, it said the future would be a lot like a computer program. If you're not familiar with the phrase garbage in, garbage out, now is a good time to get familiar.
What keeps this material from being funny is the line that comes right after the quote above, which sounds more or less exactly like the conclusion of Changing Images of Man:
The Alternative Futures project at the University of Illinois was funded by the same people who paid for SRI's work: the Charles F. Kettering Foundation.
Kettering was big on "the vision thing" during the 60s and 70s - they were looking everywhere to get an edge on futurism, putting a lot of money in very "out there" places.... and for what it's worth, the folks at SRI were very much out there.
"Changing Images" co-author O.W. Markley left behind a very curious paper entitled "Visionary Futures" that outlines some other SRI "alternative methodologies" - including "channeled material in the book Seth Speaks, by Jane Roberts (1972)."
This is the same SRI who employed top
Hal Puthoff and
Ingo Swann, to develop their
Remote Viewing program. That
doesn't mean they're jackasses or something - it means that SRI gets
paid, very well, for being very much out there. It's what people
depend on them for, then and now.
Everyone gets weird - hell, tomorrow we'll take a look at Zbigniew Brzezinski's hippie youth, just to prove it. Don't think for a second just because these people are gobbling LSD means they're down for the cause - or even remotely sympathetic.
Anyone exploring Changing Images of Man should bear Willis Harman's words in mind:
So did Al Hubbard run LSD visionary sessions for the SRI staff involved with Changing Images of Man?
I have no idea, only clues - after all, Hubbard was hired the same year that the Changing Images project started: 1968. Until further documentation comes out - or someone feels like speaking up - there's no way of knowing.
(Read a follow up to this report,
Images 2000 - Integral Approaches to Re-Imagining and Re-Making
Ourselves and the World.")