Astral Projective Verse: Olson, Ophiel and Sun Ra

Astral Projective Verse

By Steve Fly Agaric 23

For Eric Wagner and John Sinclair. Thanks for inspiring these wild speculations which are really notes that shall be reshuffled into a more coherent whole at some future point.

“The essay introduces his ideas of “composition by field” through projective or open verse, which is a continuation of the ideas of poets Ezra Pound, who asked poets to “compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome,” and William Carlos Williams, who proposed in 1948 that a poem be approached as a “field of action.” Olson’s projective verse focuses on “certain laws and possibilities of the breath, of the breathing of the man who writes as well as of his listenings.” –Poetry Foundation, introduction to Projective Verse.
“This book, an occult book, deals with the subject of how to enter this Astral plane, function there, and then return to the physical plane, with a great deal of memory-knowledge of the “trip” retained in the memory and available for study and research. This book is a practical Occult book in that it gives all the theory necessary to understand the subject AND THE DEFINITE DIRECTION PRACTICES AS HOW TO DO IT.–Orphiel, The Art of AstraProjection.
“Music is a plane of wisdom, because music is a universal language, it is a language of honor, it is a noble precept, a gift of the Airy Kingdom, music is air, a universal existence … common to all the living. Music is existence, the key to the universal language. Because it is the universal language.–Sun Ra, The Neglected Plane of Wisdom (1966)
Astral Planes And New Moon Beams by Sun Ra (at discogs)

Astral Source History

The system of projective verse as defined by Charles Olson and the magical occult Art of Astral Projection, here as defined by Orphiel, twist themselves together to produce astral projected verse, a new kind of magical poetics, or roughly a poetic technique to remote-view (using the astral body) the spaces and places and the time period under investigation. 
I have dabbled with some of these ideas in a previous writing project called Open Source History. I created a target area based upon 48 hours of historical time set between July 31st and August 1st 1936. I picked this date due to the special intersection point that I perceived here based upon the life-span of characters from ‘the tale of the tribe,’ as defined by Robert Anton Wilson, who was 4 in 1936. William Butler Yeats and James Joyce were alive, so were Marshall McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon, Norbert Weiner, Ezra Pound, Orson Welles and Alfred Korzybski. This group of innovative critters who exerted a special IMPACT on Dr Wilson are pulled into a fictional vortex of history spread over 48 hours.
The ideas and innovations from the individuals are projected into the historical period under observation by using another fictional tool: tribetablism. An occult system of astral projection based up utilizing the instruments and sensibility of a disc jockey, the discs in this case contain the speech of the tribe or the speech of the historical characters, together with sounds effects and embellishments more conventionally associated with the art and craft of the DJ. The tribetable method takes a lot from the Enochian Vision Magick as defined by Lon Milo Duquette, and is the tool by which the historical tale is telling itself. The novel cuts between occult astral projecting DJs in 2012, and the targets from 1936: New York, Rapallo, Berlin. 

Pound, Olson, Baraka

At the time of writing this novel in 2008 I had not yet come across the essay by Charles Olson, Projective verse. Since discovering this essay and reading it over due to encouragement by my friend John Sinclair, I became convinced that it embodies much of what RAW was getting at, in particular the influence of Ezra Pound and to a lesser extent James Joyce. 
Furthermore, I have recently been moved by the passing of poet Amiri Baraka and tuned back to one of his recent lectures, drawing insightful parallels between the work of Charles Olson and of Sun Ra. Listening back to the lecture, i was stunned by his description of Projective Verse by Olson and how much it resonated with ‘process oriented’ ideas explored by RAW. ‘I see no nouns, I only see verbs.’ Bucky said.
I was moved to reshape some ideas of Ernest Fenollosa, Pound and Yeats around what Baraka was saying about Olson and Sun Ra. Projective verse seems to be a very important document and resource for research into the tale of the tribe, and thankfully, unlike many of the other gigantic texts, Projective verse is relatively short, super concise and generally optimistic and informative. It lays down another way in/out of the vortex, a way to navigate the maelstrom of thought and language and action in the world we dream in. The lineage of Projective verse and trajectory into history from that point of publication in 1950 demonstrates how strong and time-tested the contents are. 
I mean to say that Projective Verse is still NEWS today in 2014, its power and dormant potentials expanding at an exponential rate, and i wish to add a little something to that by presenting the concept of astral projected verse. I should add that within the context of the myth, magic and music of Sun Ra, astral projected verse resonates with him more than any other musician either living or dead. 
We have the costume of the historical figure Maximus, put on by Olson and projected into his local space-time manifold, and we have the literal costumes of Sun Ra and his band, put on by Ra and projected into the performance space. Both these systems of using costume could be compared with Yeats and his descriptions and investigations of masks. ‘The nature of reality is the reality of masks’. And let’s not forget the brilliant Novel by RAW called ‘Masks of the Illuminati’ that further explores costume, theatre, drama and layers of identity, with special focus on James Joyce, Albert Einstein and Aleister Crowley.

Astral Planes Language APL

Astral Projection is a psychological magickal technique and has many different variations and no single inventor or definitive text. Unlike projective verse, Astral Projection as far as i am aware is not such a popular field of interest to poets, probably due to its renaming and adoption by many fringe groups as remote viewing, many fringe groups that included intelligence agencies around the world, such as those from Russia, America and England. There are lots of publications based around remote viewing and secret government projects and so called psychic spies, there is also a Hollywood blockbuster movie about some of these events in the USA, called ‘Men who stare at goats’. All the drama of psychic spies, clandestine magickal operations and the possible global hidden hand of spooks with special powers can divert the focus from the art and craft of Astral Projection itself.
As with all and any technology, both physical and psychological it can be used to forward the shared resources and knowledge base of all-around-the-world humanity, or used to constrict, consume and paralyse humanity. Astral Projection provides a tool that can be used for an infinite variety of uses.
You may have noticed that i am talking about Astral Projection as if i know for sure that it works, which may bring much contention from armies of skeptics, critics and the ignorant who, as with the argument against full legalization and availability of drugs, would never try, and have never tried, the things they are so certain are so dangerous and threatening to life.
Anybody who has an active imagination and a healthy inquisitive mind can bypass this kind of bigoted ignorance, and recognize it in most authority figures and systems of control. Some may see how the language used to project the authority of knowing, itself, is a mechanism used to distort the picture, frame the information and prevent those trapped in linguistic cells from realizing the infinite flux of being, out there, beyond language…ish
I am biased though, i must confess, after seeking and devouring the works of Robert Anton Wilson i have practiced the arts and crafts of positive thinking and critical analysis, resulting in a high sensitivity to my own projections, a kind of general awareness that ‘I’  like every other ‘I’ cannot know everything, for example. I mean to say, i feel humble to the fact that everything you and ‘I’ know is wrong, yet i do not feel nihilist and serious enough about this to throw the baby out with the bath water.

To use the imagination, in tandem with the scientific reasoning faculty of the mind-body-language interface to get out there beyond language. Into telepathy, faster than light, everywhere and nowhere at once, the paradox of time-travel etc etc. Into the paradox, and out through the side door, taking bits and pieces of whatever the individual might think can help them on their journey, on the road of life to discover for themselves what the hell is going on. 

I think Astral Projection, in particular, is the kind of future technology that can really level the playing field regarding the age long questions about the individual and the state. The walls between the world in here and the perceived world out there are pulled down, if and when an individual can ignite the infinite potentials of the human mind-body interface and no longer be limited by the physical location of the body, able to travel anywhere, anytime, see and possibly act upon other psychic entities. The internet is a good metaphor that shapes one aspect of astral projection, or travelling the space ways in search of information, yet maybe with a hidden longing for a sense of experience, for an extra-sense of being there. 

Can you distinguish the boundary between your astral plane and your physical plane, where one starts and the other ends? A good place to start thinking about astral projected verse is to look at your own belief-system, how it is constructed, and why. This leads me back to the beginning of this essay. The mixture of ideas and methods from Projective Verse by Charles Olson with techniques and approaches to Astral Projection by Orphiel, topped off with the Astral jazz music of Sun Ra. Together, i believe that these three disciplines can produce some innovative, state of the art, poetic technology capable of handing individuals the free tools for self liberation, and for gaining agency in the world around them.

“the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE
the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE”–Charles Olson, Projective Verse.

–Steve Fly
Amsterdam

One thought on “Astral Projective Verse: Olson, Ophiel and Sun Ra

  1. Terrific piece, and thanks for the dedication. Have you read “The Truth of Masks” by Oscar Wilde? Bob Wilson loved that essay.

    When I first went to Europe in 1985 a friend gave me a card with a Sun Ra quote, “You made a mistake and did something wrong, so make a mistake and do something right.”

    Have you head the recent Lady Gaga song “Venus” which samples Sun Ra's “Rocket #9.” I enjoyed Graham Lock's book on Ellington, Sun Ra, and Anthony Braxton.

    “Space is the place, next stop Mars.”

    PS I loved Olsen's essay “Projective Verse” and read it repeatedly in the 1980's.

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