THE ASPR DISRUPTION
- MAY 1972 -
I was to continue to work off and on at the ASPR for the next three years following the reception. Although I cut back my work schedule there after the reception, I felt I had to stay for Osis' and Janet's sake. And indeed they asked me to stay, as did the entire staff at the ASPR.
And I wasn't to be driven out by dark, largely anonymous forces which apparently lurked here and there. I still fancied myself the lean, mean fighting machine -- albeit apparently neither lean or mean enough. I was to toughen up much later.
Osis, Mitchell, Schmeidler and I and other supporters on the Board had many discussions about what to do, about how to get the experiments, and which experiments, up and running again.
At first my heart wasn't entirely in it. But when strange gossip began surfacing about me, I knew I had somehow to get stronger.
I had my tripartite spy organizations of Zelda, Buell and Ruth Centrals, and all of which combined to inform me of EVERYTHING. I was ready to quit lab research. But I wasn't going to be driven away from the ASPR by demeaning gossip, of all things.
It is somewhat painful to include the following in this book, and many might at first consider it out of place -- even vulgar.
But in the years to come, enormous efforts were made to debunk and debase remote viewing.
These efforts were made not only by chronic skeptics who could easily be identified as the "enemy."
Some of the efforts were made by a few noted parapsychologists, and some self-styled ones who had risen into visibility. I will touch on some of these events ahead.
All of these efforts included very ugly gossip, and so GOSSIP has its place in the real story of remote viewing.
In the first few days immediately following the reception of 26 April which, all in all, had turned out to be a rather glorious event,
I soon found it being spread about that I was, among other things, a drunkard; a debaucher; an alcoholic; a homosexual. I wasn't married, and so, it was said, I "must be" one. I also must be a pornographer because I was interested in, well, whatever they thought I was interested in.
On the other hand, I was also said to be a seducer of older wealthy women, and which caused some my older female friends to smile -- somewhat with a gleam of hope as I sometimes interpreted it.
It was ALSO said that my overall behavior was probably mentally deranged, that I was a mindless Scientology clone and spy. I was also a skillful mind manipulator, that I could read minds, and that I was a danger and threat to the integrity of parapsychology.
I was quite disturbed by this cloaked gossip at first, and thought it quite cruel.
But Zelda said, and she was serious, that "any publicity is good publicity. Just make sure they can spell your name right."
And Zelda reminded me that I had designated myself as a lean, mean, fighting machine, and ought to ignore the obscene accusations. Buell advised that I SHOULD read minds, for doing so was the only way of protecting oneself.
Well, I did like my drinks. So at least the drinking part was partly true. But in fact, I didn't drink very often or very much except on occasions when I had no lab work forthcoming.
You see, drink caused my psi functions to degrade or cease altogether. I also couldn't drink and paint or write, which I did most of the time, because doing so caused my inspirations to vanish.
But there was another side to the gossip, and I found going before me a fabulous reputation, one entirely out of proportion to my humble self.
I was a genius, an experimental innovator, an inspired mystic, and could travel out-of- body anywhere I wanted to go.
The appellations of "superpsychic" and "superman" (with X-ray eyes, no less) now first surfaced for the first time.
Some of this fabulous gossip held that I was the best thing which had ever happened to parapsychology. I shuddered on hearing this, for I well knew what parapsychologists would think of it.
The only part of this which was partly true was that I loved designing innovative experiments. Although I couldn't have known it at the time, this particular trait was to stand me in good stead in the future.
In the end, Zelda and I had laughing fits when new gossip tidbits came flowing in. "What next?" we would laugh.
As I've mentioned earlier, Zelda was the "Earth Mother" type, and had enormous connections everywhere. And she was a veteran sexologist, and people liked to talk with her and felt they could freely do so.
Thus she knew of some of parapsychology's sexual closets -- for example, who was a cross-dresser in secret; who was into S&M leather scenes; who was a compulsive satyr type trying to hop every female encountered; who was into drugs and psychedelics and what kind; who was a prude, who was ambidextrous even if married; who was impotent, who had prostrate problems; who couldn't get it up.
I must remind here that all of this was alleged to me by Zelda and a few others at times. In only three cases did I encounter first-hand knowledge.
But in the end, all of this only meant that behind the rather prissy surface of parapsychology, parapsychologists themselves were human just like anyone else.
As psychologists say most people do, some of them presented an official public side -- but there is also a hidden side conducted in private and secrecy. Several books, I think, have rather recently been written about this.
Hal Puthoff and I twice talked on the telephone, and both times he repeated his invitation to come to SRI.
But I now had a second reason not to go. I told him of the sudden upsurge in vile gossip. "If I come there," I said, "you will have an alcoholic, faggot, mind-manipulator on your hands, one who also seduces elderly wealthy women. I'm sure you don't want such an odious creature under your wings."
In any event, I had firmly decided to slip out of the work at the ASPR and get back to my real life. I told him of this intent, and said "No. Thanks for your offer, but I'll not come there."
I was not the first to undergo the "gossip torture treatment," as I sometimes referred to it.
When Bob Monroe published in his first book that he could pinch female asses while out-of-body, the gossip exploded that if he could do THAT he could do all the rest, too.
Soon two or three women surfaced who claimed that they had been taken wonderful and satisfying advantage of by him while HE was roaming about in a lusty out-of-body state. He was also accused of invading and reading minds, and mind-controlling situations to his own advantage.
When word got about that Cleve Backster was conducting experiments on sperm, the gossip lines exploded regarding how and from whom he got his specimens and under what circumstances.
I'll leave it to your imagination here -- and in any event, imagination rather than first-hand facts always takes precedence regarding these kinds of things.
Besides the soap-opera drooling, the lascivious thrill of such speculations, the real purpose of such gossip probably had more to do with discrediting and stigmatizing certain individuals who might be making breakthroughs outside of the central and organized pale of parapsychology.
If the reputations of such contributors can be destroyed, or at least brought into question, then their work need not be considered or contended with.
In my direct experience of them, Monroe and Backster were paragons of propriety and hard work. But neither were accepted as parapsychologists by the hard, inner core of parapsychology -- although certain recent encyclopedias published in the 1990s have restored this well-deserved appellation to them.
All this "negative" gossip ultimately had a tentative outcome.
"Zelda," I said, "why don't we write a book on the sexual proclivities and phenomena of psychics, psychical researchers and parapsychologists beginning when the first Psychical Research Society was formed?"
Zelda was a bit flustered at this. "I've thought about it," she replied.
For my part, I decided to research these topics with the view to ultimately writing such a book. After all, I intended to be a writer, and this project certainly was a fascinating one during the years I dug deep into various sources.
In the end, I decided not to include personal stuff about psychics, psychical researchers and parapsychologists. My book would be about sexual phenomena encountered while doing research dating from the time of Anton Mesmer.
I finished that book two years ago, under the title of PSYCHIC SEXUALITY. Like this present book, it was turned down by all the major publishers my wonderful agent, Ms. Sandra Martin, submitted it to.
Most of the rejection letters stated that it was fascinating and written very well, but it was not their "type of thing." In other words, it was too hot and far out to handle.
I may self-publish it one of these days. And, indeed, I might self-publish a whole lot of stuff.
I probably compounded the negative gossip thing because of a strange, but welcome, shift in my attitude about myself.
After the reception at the ASPR, I began receiving invitations to dinners and parties by the score, often from people I didn't even know. I suppose everyone wanted to see what this odd mixture of gossip looked like.
I became mildly amused by watching people try to fit me into THEIR usually limited stereotype concepts -- and took a small revenge by doing everything I could NOT to fit into any of them.
Since I couldn't fit into any of my clothes any longer, I bought "new" ones at used clothing stores, and wore them boldly everywhere I went. But these tended to be religious, police or military clothes of one type or another.
I mixed these with ordinary clothes -- and went to the dinners and parties wearing them. I was expected to be abnormal, and so it was a pleasure to present myself as such.
After the reception, though, it was for sure that I was considered at least an oddity of a wide variety. Prior to this, I had tried very hard to NOT be considered an oddity. But there it now was, anyway.
So I said to myself: "To hell with NOT trying to be an oddity, let me just experience being my true self for a while."
And so I started appearing in public dressed in various strange ways. I didn't go overboard, though, but added discrete costume elements to my daily attire.
When Al Brod saw I had gotten into "costumes," he gave me two duffel bags full of HIS WW II Army clothes. He had always been somewhat portly, and they fitted me perfectly -- until I got even FATTER.
There was a somewhat liberating fallout from all the negative and positive gossip, at least in my mind. It freed me to be what I wanted to be at any given time -- where hereto I had forced myself to conform to respectable conventional standards. I luxuriated in this new-found freedom of alternating identities.
And there was one great and unexpected reward to this change in dressing style.
Because of my "costumes," I suddenly found myself easily accepted into a social substrata which had mostly rejected me before. Which is to say, into the realms of New York ARTISTS -- and most of whom tend to dress and act radically anyway.
In any event, the first part of the New Age Wave was in full progress, and to be even a small part of it meant that one could not wear conventional clothes which the "tuned in" New Agers had "dropped out of."
But even within this new-found "freedom," I felt that the negative, ridiculous gossip was designed to drive me out of the ASPR -- and terminally out of parapsychology itself.
So Zelda and Ruth helped me trace back some of the gossip to its original source. In those instances where we succeeded, a parapsychologist was often found, and on some occasions other psychics.
My calendar for 1972 shows that I worked at the ASPR only ten days during May.
When I arrived for work on 3 May, I expected to do more of the tedious ESPateacher experiments.
But things went differently. I take the following from Janet's log for that day.
"Ingo arrived late in the rain. It was a surprise to both him and me that Dr. Osis had planned another experiment at the Natural History Museum. Dr. Haraldsson and Vera were to go there and Ingo was to find out what they were looking at."
Dr. Haraldsson was
Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson, the noted psychologist and
parapsychologist from Iceland, who was spending a period at the ASPR.
He had received his Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg with a dissertation entitled "Vasomotoric Reactions as Indicators of Extrasensory Perception." He later undertook research in Sri Lanka and India regarding cases of reincarnation.
Haraldsson and Osis had very much in common, including their body types, and so they seemed from the same planet. Dr. Haraldsson was genial and charming, and I liked him very much.
Janet and I later learned that this particular out-bound remote viewing experiment had been planned for a week, at the beginning of which Haraldsson and Vera had again gone to the American Museum of Natural History to plan their route.
This was to be the fifth experiment of this type. Of the four others, three had worked out quite well, but one was a bust as far as my perceptions went.
Janet had been omitted from the loop in this fifth case -- which she and I interpreted as questioning her integrity, and had somehow aided me in cheating.
But she was as "blind" to this experiment as she had been to all the others. She had not known the locations selected inside the Museum. But here was the first open suspicion that perhaps she managed to cue me in some fashion.
In the case of this experiment, the two out-bound beacons were to be at their first target site at 2:25 p.m. They were to stay there for four minutes, and then spend two minutes moving to their next pre-selected location.
I enter the full text of this experiment into this permanent record, because of a highly unusual aspect -- one which scared the bejesus out of the experimenters, and parapsychology as well.
2:25 P.M. Well, I'm having a little difficulty, but I suppose they are in some sort of a dark corridor. I can see a lighted hall at the other end, maybe in one of those rooms where they have those glassed-in exhibits, but I can't be sure. That's all. Did you get that? [I asked Janet through the intercom.] I now seem to be over a banister of some sort, a railing. Yes, a wide wooden railing. They seem to be moving now.
FEEDBACK. The two beacons were late at getting to their first pre-selected site and were still in a corridor at 2:25 P.M. They then emerged into a large room with glassed-in exhibits protected by large wooden railings. They quickly proceeded to the next location in order to make up for the lost time.
2:31 P.M. Well, again I am uncertain. It doesn't seem -- it doesn't appear that they've moved too far from where they were before, but if I position myself in back of where I think they are standing, they seem to be standing in front of a large window of some sort. I don't [pause] have the clarity [pause].
(NOTE: The last pause was a rather long one, and Janet noted that I picked up the verbalizing at 2:35 P.M. and which was out of order according to the established, pre-timed schedule.)
2:35 P.M. They now seem to be moving. I think they must have moved towards the right from where they were standing. I seem to feel that they are trying to decide which way to go next. There's a choice of corridors there or directions.
FEEDBACK: Haraldsson and Vera had gone to the Museum a week earlier to plot out their locations in the Museum, and the routes to get quickly from one to another. During the intervening week, the Museum had thrown up alternate wooden corridors and blocked off others because of renovations which had gotten underway after the two beacons had planned their routes, and of which the two were unaware. At this point, they were LOST and didn't know how to get to their next location. The Museum is very big. Thus, they were confused as to which way to go next.
2:37 P.M. At this point I see that they are passing some cages or -- not cages but shelves or displays which have glass fronts to them, where I can't quite discern what is in the glass case. Yes, I sort of got the feeling that they have stopped. Well, as usual in situations like this where there is so much in the environment, it is very hard for me to specify any thing. I can't see anything that I could specify except glass. They just moved location somehow.
FEEDBACK: The two beacons were again in a construction zone, a room of glassed-in exhibits, but most of the exhibits had been taken away leaving empty glass cases.
2:43 P.M. I get the impression, and this is an impression, that they are not as cool and collected as they might be. Well, I can see a corridor and stairs, but I can't quite seem to correlate how close they are to it. That's what I can't figure out. I can't quite locate them. Well, it's almost as if there were some confusion around which makes me withdraw from them. I'm not quite certain what it is. I'm afraid that's going to be it [for this session.]
FEEDBACK: The two beacons were lost again because of the construction work. At this point they encountered a set of stairs but which were roped off. For a few moments they split up and went in different directions to find their way. They were confused, and I was picking up the confusion.
Dr. Osis waited with Janet and my humble self until the two beacons returned.
We felt I hadn't done well regarding my remote viewing perceptions. I
was quiet, trying to figure out why I had experienced so many confusions
during the experiment.
Then I got it. "Ah ha, I have a feeling they got lost at least TWICE.
Osis didn't see how that could be since they had planned their route a week earlier.
But I had faith in my perceptions. When the two out-bound beacons came in-bound into Janet's office, I spurted out: "You got lost, didn't you? That's why you were confused."
Yes! They had gotten lost because of the unexpected construction work.
Vera seemed pleased that I had detected this.
But Haraldsson's face had turned somewhat pale. "Does this mean you can READ OUR MINDS, TOO?" he asked.
And here I had inadvertently tripped across the most feared of the hidden wires in parapsychology research -- MIND PROBING.
I hadn't done anything of the kind, of course. I did NOT say in my responses that I was telepathically probing their minds, just that they were confused about which way to go next.
But in my gut I intuited that my career in psi was over with. A "psychic" was not supposed to read minds, at least those of the of experimenters and parapsychologists.
In any event, Haraldsson remained at the ASPR for the month of May. But I remember that he was cold toward me.
For the rest of May we limped through various experiment. But tension was everywhere.
When I arrived at the ASPR for work on 29 May, Janet said that Dr. Osis wanted to see me in his office. Her face was pinched up.
So I bounded up the stairs to Dr. Osis.
The upshot was that we were to do no more remote viewing experiments, that the ASPR was not to permit time for ideas I wanted to test out.
I was furious. And, I'm sorry to say that I treated Dr. Osis to one of my most volatile outrages -- and for which I was later to become somewhat noted as the "prima donna superpsychic."
I remember saying: "Is this your idea, or the idea of some of the scumbags on the Board? Does this mean that we will dispense with all my concepts -- including the picture-drawing one?"
No, the picture drawing idea had been a good one, and "we" (the ASPR) would continue to use it.
But in essence, I was henceforth to do only what the experimenters wanted -- and nothing else. I was to become a standard test subject.
The argument was tremendous and went on for about fifteen minutes.
"I quit," I shouted, "as of this moment. I will go somewhere else to work."
Then Dr. Osis managed to say the one thing which managed to break this camel's back.
I don't know how he managed to say this one thing. I remember it verbatim.
"Eeengo," he smiled. "Ver vould ju go? Zer is no place else for ju to go."
"Vell," I said, rudely mimicking his accent (to my eternal regret), "Ve'll jus see about that!" and stormed out of his office with my fists clenched wanting to break holes in the wall.
I briefed Janet, and then left the ASPR. I got to the stairs of the subway and once again sat down on the same spot where I had my transcendental experience the October before.
I calmed down a little, and smoked a package of cigars, astonished at the vigor of the adrenaline arousal of a complete hatred -- not for Osis or the ASPR, but for the parapsychology establishment in general.
I remembered Dr. Kinzel's advice to get some other more conventional place to test the PK stuff.
I stood up. There was now only one option open to me. If I didn't try for it, then my short-lived career would be not only mud, but sewage.
For reasons I can't explain, I've always had a peculiar kind of philosophical overview. It is this.
When all of what is to be known about a situation is known, and you don't like it, then marching into the completely unknown is more preferable -- for better or worse.
When I got to my studio, I went directly to the phone and rang up Dr. H. E. Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute.
When he answered, I said: "OK, I'll come. When do you want me? I don't have enough money for an air ticket. How will we handle that?"
"How about tomorrow? If you can get up the money, SRI will reimburse you for the travel expenses, and some per diem while you are here." (NOTE. It took SRI, with its millions or more of dollars, SIX MONTHS to reimburse me.)
I called up Zelda Dearest. "I have to have some money to go somewhere urgent. Can you loan it to me. It will be paid back."
I didn't tell her where I was going, or anyone else either. "Just say I've gone to screw my head off in Acapulco."
I arrived at San Francisco Airport on 4 June 1972. Hal Puthoff was waiting to meet me.
Until this day, and considering all that happened since, I've wondered if I did the right thing in making this first visit to SRI. I still don't know for sure.
In any event, I had stepped into the completely "unknown." It and its forthcoming circumstances were to be awesome indeed.