- MUSIC, MAGIC, & MEDIA MISCHIEF -

THE GNOSIS INTERVIEW WITH GENESIS P-ORRIDGE

by Jay Kinney

Genesis P-Orridge occupies the curious position of being both a

household name and virtually unknown at the same time. While he

has been prominent in performance art, so-called Industrial

Culture, the tattoo and body modification rites of Modern

Primitives, and the underground rave scene, Genesis (or Gen, as

he is called) and the groups he collaborated in, Throbbing

Gristle and Psychic TV, have remained largely hidden from

mainstream culture.

>From 1969 to 1976, Genesis collaborated with Cosey Fanni Tutti as

the performance art group Coum Transmissions in the U.K. Their

performances were visceral attacks on powerful taboos, including

explorations of pain, sexuality, disgust, and outrage. An Easter

performance in Amsterdam late in Coum's career included, in Gen's

own words, his being "crucified on a wooden cross, whipped with

two bullwhips, covered in human vomit and chicken wings and

chicken legs, while I had to hold burning torches; people in the

audience could hear the skin burning on my hands."

Coum Transmissions was replaced in 1976 by Throbbing Gristle

(TG), now a four- person project and one of the trailblazers of

Industrial Music, whose work has been described as "a mottled

sheet of experimental sound." As Genesis says in the following

interview, TG dealt with issues of power, control, image, and

propaganda, through an unending series of mind games, surprises,

seeming contradictions, and a conscious flirtation with

paramilitary style.

In 1981 TG split in two, with Genesis and Peter Christopherson

forming Psychic TV, which combined occult and paramilitary themes

that had begun to crop up in TG's work. Genesis soon founded a

magical order, the Temple ov Psychick Youth [sic], or TOPY, which

spread word of its existence through Psychic TV gigs and

recordings.

Influenced by the early twentieth-century occult painter Austin

Osman Spare, TOPY disseminated information on constructing

"sigils," magical objects intended to focus psychic energy toward

a conscious goal. TOPY's version of sigils entailed adult members

writing down a favorite sexual fantasy, anointing the paper with

various bodily fluids and hair at the 23rd hour of the 23rd day

of the month. Sigils were then mailed off to TOPY headquarters,

where they were held in strict confidentiality and supposedly

served to build a reservoir of psychic energy for TOPY members'

use.

In the late '80s, Genesis and crew became active in the

burgeoning rave scene in England, jousting with authorities over

holding unlicensed all-night dance parties in unlikely locations.

Their notoriety culminated in early 1992 when, in the midst of

public hysteria over Satanism, 23 Scotland Yard detectives

descended upon Genesis' home/TOPY headquarters in Brighton,

England, looking for evidence of satanic ritual abuse. Much of

Genesis' art and video archives were seized, and the tabloids had

a field day. At the time of the raid, however, Genesis, his (now

ex-)wife Alaura, and their two children, Carresse and Genesse,

were off in Nepal, organizing soup kitchens and encountering

Hindu and Buddhist holy men. Faced with likely public castigation

if they returned home, Genesis and family continued a nomadic

life, ending up in the world's designated parking lot for the

eccentric and aberrant - Northern California.

The following interview was conducted in San Francisco in late

March 1994. Despite his reputation as a sordid amalgam of Peter

Pan and Captain Hook, Genesis turned out to be a good deal more

complex - and charming, even gentle - than his image had prepared

me for. It also became apparent that although his motivations are

often mischievous and he has an anarchist's instincts for

stirring up trouble, Gen is also following a unique path of

public self-discovery that is surprisingly idealistic. Few

individuals better typify the questions raised by the

intersection of popular culture, art, fashion, the occult, and

radical politics.

Those wishing news and catalogues of Gen's current projects can

send a large SASE to: Transmedia Foundation, P.O. Box 1034,

Occidnetal, CA 95465-1034.

 

Jay Kinney: The Temple ov Psychick Youth is the first instance

I'm aware of where a public figure involved in art and music

created a public magical group and made it a integral part of

their work. Why did you found TOPY?

Genesis P-Orridge: Well, when I started doing public events and

provocations and happenings in the '60s, I was already reading

books by Crowley. And my grandmother was actually a medium. She

used to have a good reputation for what was called ectoplasmic

phenomena. When she was in a trance, people would claim to have

seen almost corporeal manifestations of relatives or people they

didn't know. From then on I had an interest in inexplicable

phenomena.

The first time I met a person who was in a magical order was in

1969 in Liverpool. This guy came round to this apartment that I

was crashing and he was in what turned out to be [Kenneth Grant's]

Typhonian O.T.O. He was a total heroin addict. As he was

explaining to me all about how he was in the O.T.O., he was a

magician, and so on, he was tying off and shooting up in the

kitchen. And then he was doing the classic squirting a syringe of

blood all over the kitchen walls in somebody else's place. And I

thought, "If that's what happens when you join a magical order, I

don't think I want to do it" (laughs). That was my first

introduction to someone who was prepared to say in public that

they were involved in magical practice.

Not long after that, I became involved in performance art. At

first it was involved with body movement, but very quickly it

went into sexual taboos. The performances went from being street

theater to having more and more to do with art galleries because

those were places where it was safe to experiment. During that

time, I got intensely concerned with ritualizing the event and

making it have to do with states of consciousness and the

assembly of different objects and symbols that seemed to focus

something i n my own neurology. And I started to notice other

things happening every so often.

In Antwerp in 1977, I was speaking in tongues really fast, which

has never happened to me before or since. During that particular

performance I drank a whole bottle of whiskey, and I also ate

branches of this tree that I had found outside, which turned out

to be poisonous. And in this trance state I was actually carving

designs with rusty metal into my chest. It wasn't planned; it was

more as if I was taken over. And then I started vomiting, of

course, which was the combination of the tree bark and the

whiskey. And because I have to take steroids all the time, if I

can't keep the steroid pills down, then I start going into a coma

really quickly.

Kinney: Why do you take steroids?

Genesis: They used to give me steroids for asthma when I was a

young boy, and it destroyed half my adrenal glands. And now I

have to take them to replace what my glands used to do.

So I ended up in the Antwerp hospital lying in the emergency room

with this doctor. And he was saying, "I can't find a pulse or a

heartbeat." (Laughter.) And my then partner Cosey was getting all

upset and saying, "What are we going to do? What are we going to

do?"

I remember I was lying there and listening and thinking, "But I'm

OK!" (Laughs.) I was in my own body, but I was aware of this

conversation going on and I was in some suspended state. My brain

was functioning normally but I couldn't speak, I couldn't

actually move. A transient kind of zombie state was triggered.

That was when I decided that whatever it was I was dealing with

in these performance pieces, it was getting so peculiar that I

didn't want to do it in a public situation anymore, because there

were obviously risks involved. I was getting to the point where

sometimes I nearly physically died, and I could put that

responsibility on an art gallery or on other people. And I should

start doing some research quick to find out what I was really

doing.

I'd been going that way anyway, realizing that I wanted to do it

privately and with a lot more rigor and thought and actually sit

down and plan it, fast, concentrate, and work out a schedule. And

always have somebody who was just there to guide or to be able to

call me back out if things started to get strange. And also to

document what happened.

Kinney: Who did you look to as a guide?

Genesis: I met a woman called Roberta Graham, who was also doing

very intense private performance pieces, building strange

contraptions that took the body to really deep thresholds of pain

that would push people out of their bodies. But she was very

methodical and very scientific. She would spend months planning a

new machine and experimenting and testing it slowly to find out

exactly what it did. So I collaborated with her to some extent.

I also began doing a lot more reading and thinking and sifting,

going back and recalling a lot of these events. And it seemed

that certain techniques were utilized all over the planet. Maybe

if the technique itself was looked at minus names and

incantations - or if the incantations were just a series of

sounds and the words were unimportant - maybe I should just try

and strip it down and see what was really there. What were the

key dynamics that made these things happen, minus all the

trappings?

It was a refining of the very simplest elements. One thing was

the orgasm, and another was various bodily fluids and certain

times and astrological conjunctions and the repetitions of

certain types of deep or high sounds.

Not long after that, I began working with Alaura and we began as

partners exploring rituals privately in this area. We were

friends from '78 to '81 and we got married in early 1981, and

then things really intensified.

The basic premise in all my work has always been, if I think

about something and it seems to make sense, to project it into

the public arena of popular culture. To see whether it survives

or not in its own right, to see what happens and what is

confirmed and denied and what creates interesting interactions

and confrontations. To use popular culture as the alchemical jar

to see what happens. Why I have to do that, I don't know. It's

just been a drive for so long.

Monte Cazzaza came over to visit during 1979 and 1981 and stayed

for over six months with me. And I told him that I was thinking

more in terms of a paramilitary occult order that was secreted

within something that seemed enough a part of popular culture for

it not to appear to be a threat immediately. And for reasons of

mischief and fascination, this turned me on! (Laughs.) I liked

the idea of the mystery and the mischief both.

And of course Monte always encourages anything that looks like it

might create some short circuits in the status quo. Monte went

back to America, and I just sat down and designed the Psychick

Cross on graph paper. I wanted a symbol that seems really

familiar, that is almost the same as lots of things but not quite

the same, so that people could find it easy to adopt into their

personal mythology.

Kinney: I was wondering about both the TOPY cross and Throbbing

Gristle's thunderbolt logo. The thunderbolt has a slight flavor

of a neofascist group, and the TOPY cross had a feeling of being

both an upside-down cross and a Russian Orthodox cross. So you've

chosen symbols that are right on this edge where people can

project nefarious intents onto them. It's an interesting device

on your part.

Genesis: I think that symbols are critically important. And

that's why with TG it was the same: I sat down with graph paper,

and we spent a long time deciding how it was going to look and

what the proportions would be. Because in Britain and Spain red

and black are the colors of the anarchists. But red and black are

also traditionally seen to be neofascist colors. The lightning

bolt has the SS connotation, but it also has the idea of

shortcircuiting control. And if you look at the lighning bolt as

a break, it's actually the anarchist circle and flag snapping in

two. So it was, as you say, right on the edge.

Previously with Throbbing Gristle we had started wearing

camouflage and paramilitary stuff and walking that tightrope

between the acceptable and the provocative - pretty skillfully

most of the time. Because of our sense of humor, we managed to

keep it going, because people soon began to realize that we were

actually commenting and pointing things out.

We found that people began coming to the gigs dressing like us.

They'd come in army surplus and caps and put TG patches on. We

triggered something and observed it and then encouraged it. We

thought, "Let's see what happens when it's not the Bay City

Rollers or the New Kids on the Block." Here we are playing with

this dark shadow side, but it's the same pop phenomena, with

people wanting to feel that they belong and state their

allegiance in terms of popular culture and ideas by how they

look. Let's not be afraid of that and let's not be aloof from it,

let's explore it and push it even more.

The response was much more powerful than we expected. So we would

play with that and do a lot of talking about what we could do

that completely contradicts the expectation. Of course eventually

we did a gig all dressed in white with white light, and

everything was beautiful. And everyone else in the audience was

in black and camouflage and "uuuurrrr!" (grimaces), and we smiled

all the time and we really annoyed them. And it gives you all

these extra cultural weapons. You can do the simplest, stupidest

thing and it seems really loud and large and potent again.

Wearing white suits shouldn't make any difference, and yet it

blew the fanatics' minds and it was recorded in the papers:

"What's happened to TG? They're all wearing white! They've sold

out! What' s going on?" (Laughter.)

So that was very much a satirical exploration of what happens in

popular culture. And what is this dynamic, where people want to

gather and feel connected with the band? We were mirroring them

back and they'd mirror us and we'd mirror them more, until we had

designer camouflage made in Paris, which was to me the ultimate

incongruity, to have handprinted camouflage.

That stopped because it had got so there were no games left. With

the best will in the world of trying to confound it, we'd become

a rock band. The one thing we didn't want to be, that we

despised, was the rock band, and we'd become one. We could go on

stage and be as atonal and confrontational and dismissive as we

chose, and the more we were, the more it was OK. Because people

had worked out that that was what we did. So it was all right now

and we'd been called on it and it was going to be accepted.

Before that whole process ended, I was already beginning to put

on leaflets "from the Psychick Youth Headquarters." I was

beginning to build the next project into TG. With the TG single

"Discipline," it said on the back, "marching Music for Psychick

Youth."

So I'd already got the name and the concept of doing it in a much

more ascetic, considered way, instead of it just being thrashing

around because it's fun and pisses off Mom and Dad and the old

teenage rebellion syndrome. What can we do that takes us further

than that?

It seemed to me that we were in this position where we had to

stop or take responsibility for our actions. TG was kind of

gratuitous, and that wasn't the idea either. It wasn't meant to

become really popular or be gratuitous just because we could get

away with it. I had serious intent behind all the mind games and

the double bluffs and the satires.

I decided to design something that was more about my own serious

interests, so that I could go deeper and deeper into it and pull

people across. So they might have a different perspective on how

to do their lives and consider alternative ways of seeing the

universe and the potential of their brain and their body and

their ability to have control over themselves.

Kinney: Did it ever occur to you that you might be opening up a

giant hole that the unaware might fall into?

Genesis: I was warned about that all the time by the people in

the Museum of Magic in England. Through my own interests I got to

know the people at the Atlantis Bookshop. I used to go there

regularly and fritter away my money on first editions of Crowley

and Austin Spare paintings. And I got to know people who were

seriously involved in Wicca and were friends of Alex Sanders. I

was doing research and I talked to everybody. I told them I felt

there was room for magic to come back out of its closet and see

how much relevance it still had. There was a whole generation of

people who hadn't seen the '60s occult revival and weren't

necessarily interested in learning things by rote but could get a

lot from knowing about the possibilities and then could make

choices.

Some people did say, "Oh you've got to have twenty years'

training first, and you've got to do this and do that, and people

go mad if they don't know all the right formulas." And I said,

"Well, I know what you're saying, but then there's the whole

voodoo self-hypnosis syndrome as well, that sometimes people go

mad because they've convinced themselves that that's what is

going to happen if they don't do things the correct way."

I personally feel that it was a responsible thing to do. I was

assuming that there would be people who were prepared to

investigate these areas and see what would happen when it was

done with other people. A lot of people did the same ritual at

the same time with the same basic parameters.

Kinney: In the Grey Book the intention stated for TOPY is in

terms of "moral freedom, spiritual freedom, sexual freedom' and

against faith.

Genesis: And guilt and fear.

Kinney: But at the same time the components of the sigils were

these three different bodily fluids and two different portions of

your hair, plus this very intimate sexual fantasy, ritually

combining these on the 23rd day of the month at the 23rd hour and

sending these off to you! It seems like an enormous act of faith

on the part of the person.

Genesis: I think more of an enormous act of trust. One of the

first posters we did said, "Abolish fear, establish trust." My

personal theory is that if your intention is clear and

non-malevolent, then nothing can be done to harm you with those

elements of your body. Once or twice people challenged me and

said, "I'm sending you my things. How do I know you're not going

to do some curse?" And I said, "Fine, I'll send you some of

mine!" And I always did (laughs). I don't remember doing anything

to harm you, so I don't see why you should do anything to harm

me. So have what you want.

I wanted to contradict the tradition that those things were

innately dangerous for other people to have possession of.

Because I thought that was something people had hypnotized

themselves into being vulnerable to. It's the skill of the person

attacking it isn't the things that they have. Those are just

tools for visualizing and focusing as far as I'm concerned.

That whole area of thought had become too entrenched and paranoid

and was based on "I can hurt you if I want." Well, I'm sorry, I

got bullied at school and I found it a completely intolerable

and despicable activity. I thought it was actually very freeing

for people to be told, "You can let go of this fear. It doesn't

matter. What mattered was what you got from your ritual for you.

And afterwards you don't need this stuff. You don't need to keep

it." And sometimes they said, "I really want to keep the one I

did this month because I feel really connected with it and it

still seems to be working for me." And I said, "Sure."

I hate to set up a new dogma. We said, here's a sketch. If

something starts working for you and you adapt it or find it's

uncomfortable, that's OK. We're not here to tell you what to get.

We're just saying, have you tried this? Because we've noted that

certain of these elements have worked for us in really

interesting ways that we can't fully explain according to the

consensus reality. We're glad that we get these extra things. At

the very least it's fascinating and makes life better, and maybe

it's also useful and significant. And all the sigils that came in

while I was running TOPY are still absolutely and utterly safe

and not one's been lost or destroyed.

Kinney: Those weren't seized by Scotland Yard?

Genesis: No. What's really amazing is that they didn't take any

of them! Isn't that odd? We wrote an essay called "Magic Defends

Itself," and I'd say I rest my case!

They went up to my office where all the filing cabinets were and

they were locked and the key was hidden. They crowbarred them

open. And they left them all! [A TOPY friend at the house said

they just glazed over, they couldn't look. Their arms did this

(flips through folders) and their eyes did this (looks blankly).

They left everything!

Kinney: But ostensibly it was because of TOPY that this raid was

occurring.

Genesis: Yes! Because they were convinced that TOPY was the proof

that evil satanic rituals were really taking place. That we were

importing teenagers from Brazil and killing them in rituals.

Keeping women prisoners and forcing them to have babies and

eating the babies and all that stuff.

Kinney: Let's back up a bit. For a few years leading up to that

raid, you had also been involved in the rave scene, correct?

Genesis: Correct. Since about '86.

Kinney: So maybe there was a confluence of reasons that they were

coming down on you.

Genesis: Oh. I think so. We were involved in the

anti-Dolphinarium campaign in Brighton. And we were involved in

anti-apartheid; we used to go to Trafalgar Square to the

Anti-Apartheid Society and give speeches. And we've been involved

in squatters' rights, and I've been into gay street theater, so

we were involved at least to some extent in supporting radical

gay rights. And raves; pro-psychedelic, semilegal gatherings of

happy young people twisting their minds, propagandizing their own

view of life. So if they have a computer that says, "These are

the kinds of groups that we don't like," we appeared on each

list.

Basically I had decided to come out of my own closet and go,

"Look! I've actually been doing all this stuff for several years

using me as the guinea pig, and the bottom line is I feel that my

life has been incredibly enhanced and invigorated. And I feel I

have to share that."

Kinney: What's the underlying cosmology that you work with at

this point?

Genesis: (laughs) To tell you the honest truth, I'm reassessing

everything again. It seems like I got given an opportunity to sit

back and reassess to what extent more traditional methods might

still be really valuable for people. And not just dismiss them

out of hand for the sake of breaking a few holes in a wall. So I

guess each time we reincarnate, it's a little bit more serious

and a little bit more considered and a little bit further along

in terms of assimilating and respecting tradition. That's partly,

I suppose, the fact that I'm educating myself in public, which is

a stange and vulnerable thing to do.

Kinney: I was wondering because in the Grey Book the definition

you had of TOPY had to do with developing magical work free of

gods and deities. Do you still see the universe as not populated

with gods and goddesses or a God?

Genesis: Yeah. To be really honest I'm still pretty much an

existentialist. But I don't deny that certain energies and

resonances definitely seem to work.

Things do get manifested when you focus on them and truly desire

and need them to manifest. That happens. And I don't really care

why. My suspicion is that it's an innate gift that comes from so

far ago and is so primal that it's pointless putting names on it

and trying to humanize it. I think it is always an error to

humanize phenomena.

I think that if you substitue the word "Time" in any spiritual or

religious text for the word "God" or the name of a god or deity,

it makes equal sense. Time is infinite and omnipresent and

omniscient and everything comes from Time and returns to Time.

And physical manifestations are the exception, not the rule. So

if you want me to give a name to the greater power there is, I'd

say it's Time.

Kinney: Have you disengaged yourself from TOPY?

Genesis: Well, officially we announced we disengaged ourselves

because it was appropriate in terms of Scotland Yard. And I also

had this urge to become nomadic. I had started getting this sense

that a nomadic way of not being fixed in one place was really

essential. I wrote some essays on it in England before the raid.

So it was again a mixture of "which comes first?" Was it that my

guts were telling me that that was what had to happen, or did I

somehow just have enough of an inner vision that I knew that that

was the next step? I don't know. I know that we made the right

moves at the right time and we weren't there [when Scotland Yard

raided the TOPY house].

When I was in Nepal I was fascinated with the devotion and the

sadhus and the Aghori Babas. Especially the Aghori Babas. Just

the simple statement of "the path of no distinction," which is

what they follow, made so much sense to me.

When I was in Nepal with both the more Bonpa-oriented Tibetans

who were basically sorcerers, and then the Shiva and the Aghori

and the Naga, I felt the really deep sensation of, "Wow! All the

stuff we were doing based on impulse and instinct and intuition

and observation, here it makes sense! We were right! That line of

inquiry was right. These techniques are being used as a daily

thing over here. We are Mr. and Mrs. Normal. We don't have to

explain our practices. We don't have to explain scars and tattoos

and piercings because the people here do it too. It's a symbol of

devotion and a quest for holiness. And that's wild!" I just felt,

"Ahhh, at last, a homeland!" I could wander around here naked and

everybody would be quite happy about it, and just say, "Oh,

Baba," and bless you and leave you to it.

And that's something I think we're all moving back towards. I

think part of the piercing phenomena and the resurgence of an

interest in early Pagan perceptions is actually a gradual

remembering of another way of life, a way of life that's

devotional, disciplined, integrated. That's something that has

been missing. That's why I even started to respect people like

the Jesuits.

Kinney: But a central component of that devotional way of life

generally is the conception of something larger than the

individual.

Genesis: I know, I like devotion for its own sake! (Laughs.) And

it gets me into strange conflicts with people. I haven't been

able to align myself with an orthodoxy. Sometimes I wish I could,

but I just can't. I start to blaspheme and I start to make jokes

all the time or change the sentence around to see if it's more

fun reversed. I always have to check and doublecheck things. And

not feel that I am subservient to the dogma so much as that it's

working for me.

Kinney: Dogmas and orthodoxies and belief systems aside,

experientially, amidst all this working with forces or energies,

haven't you had some sort of experience that made you think, "My

sense of self in this body is only a convenient fiction"?

Genesis: Oh yeah, ever since I was young. But I just take that as

written. This is just a useful vehicle, transient, mortal,

insignificant. I've always had a very strong sense of that. It's

existentialism. I think I should never have read Jean-Paul Sartre

when I was a kid. Because I don't feel the need to feel contact

with greater beings. I've had really powerful spiritual

experiences at times, mystical experiences and visionary

experiences, but none of them makes me feel that there is a

specific one I should align myself with. These phenomena are

fabulous and I'm really fortunate when I experience them, but I

shouldn't make it into a way of life, because I can't repeat them

ad hoc. They just come upon me.

One of the most fascinating experiences I had like that was in

Nepal. Some friends of ours took us to this tiny village with

lepers and incredibly poor people. In this small village square

there was this tree in a shrine where supposedly Shiva had had

sex with this other deity. And it was padlocked up, and there

were hardly any people around it except the lepers and the

beggars, and we were wandering around taking photos of some of

the statues. All of a sudden, out of my peripheral vision I saw

our friend, Treelotion, who was a Shaivite, waving and at that

moment I immediately went into this trance state where everything

seemed unreal and I was no longer controlling what was happening.

As I saw him waving out of the corner of my eye, I knew, that I

had to go straight to him. So did Alaura.

We both went straight to him without speaking. He was with a

village priest who had unlocked the shrine and was waving us in.

So we took our shoes off quickly and Treelotion's going, "Hurry

up, hurry up!" So we went inside and he closed the door. Then the

priest anointed us with this tilak [paint marks of the deity],

and I got this really fast freeze frame of the shrine. And there

were the remains of this tree in there, strewn with animal

intestines and mummified human heads and incredibly powerful,

very darkedged materials. Pools of blood. We had to throw some

money on a plate. Around the edges were cast-iron creatures with

heads that come off, and they were all filled with blood too. And

it was really dark and he started chanting.

As soon as he started chanting it was like Terence McKenna

describes DMT. I just went "whhhoooo" instantly into this

completely altered vortex. There was this sense of shooting like

a particle accelerator and becoming a particle and no longer

being in a body. Shooting into this deeper and deeper blackness.

Until suddenly there was a sense of floating in this liquid

blackness. The only way we have to describe it in our language

was it was the ultimate blackness, black beyond black. And then I

became really aware that somewhere within this ultimate black

were these two shiny, slightly pointed, almost insectoid eyes. I

couldn't see them; I just knew they were somewhere; the distance

could be light years or feet. And I knew that those two insectoid

eyes were what was referred to as Shiva. And that Shiva watched.

That's what Shiva did; from such a power place of darkness that's

all that Shiva had to do - just be in that place and having eyes

to observe, that was enough. That was about as powerful as it

got, mate! I wasn't afraid, it was just totally mindboggling.

And all of a sudden it was like "whhhhhoooo" - a real

science-fiction sound effect - and suddenly there we were again

in this shrine. "Wow, that was really strange!" And Treelotion

was going, "Quick, quick!" We had to get outside again. All the

villagers had found out that we were in there, and they were

going nutty because nobody outside their sect was allowed in, and

certainly never any Europeans. To this day I have no idea why the

priest chose to unlock that place. And when we left, the

villagers were still screaming and swearing at him and shouting

at us. "It's blasphemy, you shouldn't have let that happen! What

were you thinking of?" From what I gathered he was equally

puzzled as to why he did it.

That was a really deep, religious experience, and it was

unexpected. I hadn't visualized anything like that at all. I

hadn't read it up in advance. It wasn't coming from anywhere I

knew of in me.

I don't know how long it lasted. It was probably only three or

four minutes, the whole thing. But I came away with an amazing

repect for the Shiva tradition and those sadhus. And then I went

back and talked with the Aghori Baba and he asked me for my solid

gold Psychick Cross, which I had on a leather thong, so I

obviously couldn't refuse. So I gave him my Psychick Cross and he

gave me his ring and bracelet. And he gave both of the children

gifts off his altar, and he gave us ash from his fire which burns

in his chamber. They have records saying that that fire has not

been extinguished for over a thousand years. And he told us to

bring it to America. We didn't know we were coming here then.

Kinney: The Aghori Baba is from Hinduism, then?

Genesis: There are reputed to be only nine practicing Aghori

Babas. It's an offshoot of the Shiva sadhus and the Naths. There

are the Nagas, who are pretty extreme and the most revered. He

stayed in this chamber most of the time, but primarily they live

in graveyards because they have to copulate with dead bodies.

Also some of their initiations are in the jungles with the

tigers. They have to sit naked in the place known to be

frequented by the most ferocious tigers for days and days, and

people bring them the minimum amount of food and water. And they

just sit their until they have no fear of any kind, of tigers or

of death.

The Aghori Babas' basic discipline is one of the most ascetic.

They would have their followers bring them the absolutely most

expensive, exquisite feast of chicken and food, and then they

would have to eat human shit or flesh off one of the bodies

burning outside. His chamber actually has the ghat in front of

the door, so the entire time you have the smell of burning human

flesh in there as well as the incense.

The point is they both are the same. They taste the same to the

Aghori Baba. Everything is the same. There is no judgment, there

is no moral standpoint or perspective in terms of the implicit

nature of things. That's not saying behavior, because obviously

there's a morality of behavior, but in terms of the implicit

nature of things, they're all the same.

Kinney: I was wondering also about your interaction with pop

culture and music. You successfully avoided being too caught up

in the corporate control of culture. But at the same time

Throbbing Gristle or Psychic TV were cult figures and a lot of

the things that you were in the forefront or exploring - piercing

or tattoos or industrial music - have ended up becoming

popularized. And that becomes a trap in itself.

Genesis: Sometimes things do get diluted and homogenized for a

period of time. My personal feeling is that oil rises to the top,

that if you cast your net wide enough you'll pull in a higher

ratio of serious fanatics. It's something I was discussing with

William Burroughs back in 1971. He said he preferred to be the

quiet, reclusive, seminal thinker. He liked to wear suits and

appear superficially to fit in with the status quo, whereas I

liked to be the bull in the china shop. It's just a different

strategy. I don't think either one is right or wrong. I'm happy

to have a lot of strategies happening simultaneously.

We're dealing with a planet that has ever increasing editorial

control over its own mass media, which it uses as an equivalent

to an imperial army. You know television is, without any doubt,

the cultural neutron bomb. Once you send television in by

satellite anywhere in the world, the language dies, the culture

dies, and people aspire to consumerism. If you really travel in

the Far East, you just know that that's what's going on. It's no

accident that the Peace Corps give out Xeroxed plans of how to

make satellite dishes in Nepal. They do it because it's the

quickest way to control the culture.

My choice has always been to disseminate alternative propaganda,

alternative information, to be more accurate. If I have anything

that's an act of faith, I believe that if you throw out as many

possibilities as possible, you get a higher return in terms of

people into change. Or in terms of behaving in a more

constructive, less damaging and dangerous way. And who knows why

I've still clung to that idealism, but I have.

I am serious about magic and sorcery. I want to aspire to a point

where whatever is possible is so incredible that bodies and

manifestations and thoughts are irrelevant, that it's outside

anything that any of us can conceive. That's what I aspire to, to

explode into that. Or to be part of something or someone

exploding into that at some point. Whatever is the most infinite

aspiration and go for that.

Kinney: I wonder if there's a certain danger. It's the same with

energy coalescing around places where rituals have happened. The

cultural forms, say, of fascist ideology are deeply cut grooves,

and if you click into them, you might find yourself speeding

towards disaster.

Genesis: In my experience, archetypes are unquestionably

powerful. In that sense I would agree with you about things being

dangerous. We did a ritual at Stonehenge, the Audio X, which is

basically a Thelemic ritual from the Book of the Law. We got

permission from English Heritage to do that, letting people

inside Stonehenge for the whole night on the right astrological

day and everything. Now I didn't know the woman who was the

priestess very well. There were more TOPY people than there were

traditional Thelemic people, but it was a good balance. But in

this ritual there's a section where it says "Unto. . ." and the

Priestess is going, ". . . me." And then she goes, "Unto me." She

went insane afterwards, quite classically insane, lost her head

and had a nervous breakdown and never really recovered.

What we all felt had happened was that she felt that she was the

Goddess, not a channel or a symbol of the Goddess. And I think

that can happen. Instead of investigating the archetype or even

allowing an archetype to manifest in ritual and ceremony, people

identify with it. They think, "I'm dealing with power, I am

power!"

People have to be really honest about how they perceive

themselves, about their own weaknesses and traumas and

temptations. In ritual I always work with someone who is

completely straight and who is there as an observer. The Eye, I

call them. The Eye is there to police the ritual and watch

everyone and make notes and also has the right to intervene. I

think it's really important if you're dealing with something that

you conceive of as very potent and archetypal. We are susceptible

to the tiniest event in childhood or to emotional cruelty or

brutality later on. These things leap back and come back like a

hammer. To me, it should all be about being freed from those

hammers, not becoming the hammer.

Kinney: I also wonder about TG's camouflage clothes or armbands.

Can that be flipped to the point where other people take it up

and it slowly becomes what it was originally mocking?

Genesis: The irony was that didn't really happen. I decided to do

Psychic TV and TOPY and make it overtly paramilitary and encourage

people to wear uniforms and have the same haircuts. And

interestingly enough, I never saw any abuse of that. I can only

assign that to the fact that the underlying philosophy was not

one that would appeal to the person who would want to be that

way.

Kinney: So in a sense that was playing out an impulse in a

harmless fashion?

Genesis: Look, TOPY was saying, "It's not the uniform, it's not

the armband, it's not the haircut." All the people in TOPY were

trying to look as much like each other as we can, and guess what?

None of us look the same. With the best will in the world, we all

end up slightly individualizing what we have. One of us just

wears a different ring, that ring just shouts out as being

enough to define somebody as different. It's what's going on in

the mind that matters; it's not any of the trappings at all. And

our mindset is definitely contrary to people wanting to sublimate

other people to their will. We're not doing that and it's not

manifesting as that. We're showing you don't have to be afraid of

the symbol.

What can I say? It worked. No one I ever knew became a neo-Nazi.

With TOPY I pushed the envelope to its limit and the message I

got back was, "These are good people." People who are drawn to

this are being filtered effectively because they're all right.

They're very supportive of each other.

We couldn't have toured America without TOPY people who'd give us

their houses. They'd bring us food, they'd run the merchandise

stall, they'd stick posters up. They were really positive. It was

a tribe. The Cherokee weren't neofascist even though they all had

the same basic tribal look. There's a difference between

tribalism and the mob mind. Our tribe was based on individual

strength, while the mob is based on individual weakness and

communal strength.