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Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:05 am
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Joined: 09 Jan 2007
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Location: beaumont

Post subject: A Summer Conversation with Bob Dobbs at the Abandoned Campus Reply with quote

A Summer Conversation with Bob Dobbs at the Abandoned Campus of my Youth

What follows was originally intended to be the first half of the second part of my long-form Bob Dobbs interview that began with ‘The Real Deal’ piece I finished last year. Unfortunately, I ran out of steam at the end of last summer due to some personal issues and never really got back on track with the line of questioning and the piece seemed to slow to a halt of its own volition. Looking back over the work now, however, I see that the content that we completed works well on its own and when Bob suggested that I just put up what I had finished I decided to take his advice.

Upon reading this you will most likely notice that the tone of the piece is quite different from the Real Deal. The Real Deal was my attempt at creating an exhaustive ‘Day in the Life’ piece while this one reads more like the conversation that a protégé and mentor might have during a summer break as they look over a campus left abandoned by all but the most dedicated of students.

I am going to make this a Fivebodied exclusive [at least in electronic form]. I hope that you all enjoy.


PotM: The more I learn at fivebodied the more confused I seem to get. I have moments of lucidity where I feel this grasp and then it is lost like thoughts just before sleep. Is this normal?

BOB: Yes. Since we live at the speed of thought which is faster than the speed of light, particular thoughts get lost in the rush. Knowing this makes us naturally quadrophrenic, we know these thoughts will be retrieved. Whether or not you utter them depends on other people's quadrophrenia.

PotM: How was Zappa able to translate the truth into such audio strangeness?

BOB: With new technology. He was always stretching the jar we live in. He wasn't communicating "truth". Remember he said, "... Wisdom is not truth, Truth is not beauty, Beauty is not love, Love is not music, Music is the best". He worked with "music" which, in his time, was anything you could get away with... depending on other people's quadrophrenia.

PotM: I have been purging my home of a great deal of media in an attempt to keep focused. I have several Zappa recordings but have only ever been able to get into Joe's Garage. I also like Side A of Ship Arriving too late to save a drowning witch. Are parts of Zappa's oeuvre more important than others or do they all resonate equally?

BOB: No part is more important than any other parts but the consumer is the content. Even Frank had his preferences within his output. But his message was that the electronic environment killed music as an "absolute" category because we lived in a milieu where music was fungible - interchangeable or substitutable for any purpose. As McLuhan said of his time, "We live entirely by music."

PotM: How are you able to discern the technical from the personal [in regards to Zappa's importance for the 77-00 era?]?

BOB: I always found that Zappa translated the message of FINNEGANS WAKE as interpreted by Marshall McLuhan. "He" actually confirmed this when I spoke to an entity calling itself "Frank Zappa" through the Evergreens. I have it on audio cassette. FINNEGANS WAKE anticipated the digital world we live in today and Zappa reached for the same expression. He was the most relevant musician, technically speaking. Here's the young Frank Zappa in 1970:

"The only way you have of improving the world is by taking advantage of technology which is fucking it up. In the United States, the problems are a combination of organized religion, television, poor education, military-industrial-complex and the government which I think is extremely corrupt on all levels and the easiest way to attack that is through the medium which caused it." - NO COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL: The Saga of Frank Zappa (updated edition), David Walley, p.69

PotM: I want to map out my personal influences in a media ecological manner. Any pointers?

BOB: Think of the gadgets and vehicles of communication that you prefer. Those are the guides to your personal media-ecological biases.

PotM: Are personal influences important?

BOB: Yes, media are people today. We all need to be exorcised of our private Rumplestiltskins. But be considerate since you loved them "back in the day".

PotM: What should I focus most of my energy on at this moment in time? I check in at Fivebodied daily but have not been able to participate as much as I have in the past. My energy waxes and wanes, any pointers on how to stay ON?

BOB: Allow your energy to wax and wane. Let others carry the ball occasionally. Then you can intercept when they least expect it. This is the formula for sanity. Since quadrophrenia is inevitable for the growing "youth", KNOWING one is, on a daily natural basis, extending, obsolescing, retrieving, and reversing oneself thanks to the juggling of one's four bodies, HELPS.

PotM: I have been going through a period of growth concerning the mediated versions of human beings, fivebodied as helped a great deal with this, is there any way of mapping out the nothing that exists as part of the electronic environment in a measurable way?

BOB: My charts are meant to "map out the nothing that exists as part of
the electronic environment in a measurable way".

PotM: Is the effect that Joyce and Zappa have had on you singular to your own
experiences or is there a way for that influence to go across the board?

BOB: My use of Joyce and Zappa are not based on my personal responses
to them. I use them because they have perfect pitch for our present
situation. At least up to the year 2000.

PotM: What happened in 2000 that gave his work less descriptive resonance?

BOB: We entered a post-communication, post-information environment. By this I mean that information/communication between machines is not CONSTITUTIVE, is not the "ground". Frank Zappa, the "machine", was a tremendous communicator for the Age of Information which ended in 2000.

PotM: My aesthetic had been quite influenced by Ballard and Mothersbaugh while growing up, though I am not sure if these comparisons are relevant. It seems as though Joyce's work acts a sort of I Ching. Are Joyce and Zappa oracles?

BOB: They are oracles for the 1977-2000 period of the Android Meme.
Again, I'm speaking TECHNICALLY - not from personal preferences.

PotM: I find it interesting that the street gangs have created uniforms out of sports logos. Do you have any insights into the psychology of street gangs?

BOB: McLuhan spelled out (see p.335 of the MIT edition of Understanding Media) >>> the psychology of street gangs in his exegesis of West Side Story (Broadway >>> play, 1957; film, 1961). The present street gangs are holeopathic replays of >>> that syndrome. All areas and concerns of the Chemical Body, including mental >>> or thought rehearsals, have been in the realm of game and sport under Android >>> Meme conditions. The street gangs express the same dynamic.

PotM: I was stopped by security recently at the community college because they thought I was taking pictures of young co-eds. I was actually taking pictures of the architecture. The security officer seemed somewhat baffled by that fetish.

BOB: We have increased "security" because we're in a post-info society
now. These officers are programmed to respond to the concerns of the
Anthropomorphic Physical. The old information society of the Android
Meme is irrelevant to these role players so they are puzzled by its
remnants. They "forgot it in people" (Dave Newfeld's 2002 album for
Broken Social Scene). They're bafflement is a case of social amnesia on
their part.

PotM: Can you explain the concept of the Effect preceding the Cause? I find it interesting that Ivan Stang has such difficulty with that concept when Mothersbaugh, a colleague of Stang's, once stated that Dylan 'lifted' a later version of his own song 'How Many Ropes Must a Poor Monkey Climb?' when he created his own song. This seems to be the Effect preceding the Cause.

BOB: McLuhan developed the percept of "effects preceding causes". For
example, he noticed that the Renaissance artists in Italy invented the
painting device of "perspective" a hundred years before the printing
press imprinted the social novelty of perspective on a widespread level
in Europe.

McLuhan said that Seurat painted the "light-through" aspects of
television sixty years before TV imprinted the social novelty of the
tactile eye on a widespread level in the Western Hemisphere.

McLuhan pointed out how paths created for bicycles in Europe were
adapted later to the motorcar. These are cases of humans and media
intuiting sensory and technical effects of future environments (the
"causes") in reverse order.

Rev. Ivan Stang does have difficulty with this percept as is
shown in how he denies that I inspired the Church of the SubGenius. He
thinks that because he had the concept of J. R. "Bob" Dobbs before I
met him in early 1978 proves I'm a liar. My life in the Fifties and
Sixties and my father's earlier existence are examples of the effect
preceding the cause (the Church of the SubGenius of the Eighties).
Stang's enterprise is only a tiny case of many other instances of
bigger cases of my xenochrony ("effects preceding causes" type of
synchronicity under Android Meme conditions).

PotM: I have been extremely anxious as of late and have been using your
Phatic Communion tapes and the George Lucas Star Wars films as
remedies. I have also been quite fascinated by the Aum Shinrikyo cult
and have been reviewing the films A and A2. Is it dangerous to mix and
match like that?

BOB: No, it's no more dangerous than a sport - which is exactly what it is.

PotM: Do you consider your sharing of your works without financial gain as
being part of the open source movement?

BOB: Yes.

PotM: I've been trying to track down the D-Cell water but am having a hard
time? Is this an exclusive product?

BOB: Yes, it is extremely exclusive. It's not being made right now.
There are only a few of us longtime users who still have any D-Cells.
This is an unfortunate situation and we have been attempting to remedy
it for 8 years. So far, the "world" is out of luck.

PotM: Can you explain exactly what a D-cell is?

BOB: The "D-Cell water" is made from grains soaked in water. When the light crystals/pigments eventually appear while being observed under the microscope, the water is then used to make little cement cubes. These cubes are then put back in a fresh bottle of water. They seem to clean and energize the water as lab tests have indicated. You then drink it and/or use it in gardens. Unfortunately, it isn't being made at this time.

PotM: You have arguably become a Meme unto yourself. Do you recommend the pursuit of Meme creation for any one else ? How would one go about doing this? Words, music, films?

BOB. The Android Meme encourages the pursuit of "Meme creation" for
everyone existing today. It's called "personal branding." Any medium's
after-image is useful in your effort to exploit this trend. I am the
prototype in satirizing this seductive aspect of the Android Meme.

PotM: You made a comment at fivebodied stating that you were also two other users - Kigye and Hexbodhi. Is this true?

BOB: As far as our Chemical Bodies go, it isn't true. We are different "people". But I am those two as concerns our Chip Bodies. There is very little distinction between anyone in the digital world. We're all the same ineluctable shape. But I single out those two because they regularly wrestle with my charts, more than any other posters at, just as I do in my "thinking". They express "quadrophrenia" IN EXTREMIS - on purpose.

PotM: Both seem quite independent of you and have completely different personalities - I have actually communicated with Kigye and had no idea it was you. what is your motive for acting out with different personas?

BOB: I don't have different personas when I'm online, but I do when I'm on older media such as the telephone, radio, and TV. Also when you meet my Chemical Body, I have a completely different persona again. The medium is the message. That is, the medium determines the image I project.

PotM: You stated that you played a Pac-Man game back in the early eighties but Kigye is well versed in a video game series that I find quite immersive - do you find it difficult to maintain these different identities?

BOB: No. I just have to notice the medium I'm in and follow its laws or counter those laws - depending on my momentary goals. I'm hyper-tactile. See how I explain "blocking and merging" in my Cloning ESP article:

PotM: Wow, I thought I had it down and then you throw me for another loop - I think I have had to deal with this for several years as I was a huge Devo fan and began to feel a bit of ownership of their work on the Chip level - leading to arguments and alienation from online forums etc. Whenever I would make Chemical realizations that this was not in fact 'true' I would become quite depressed - though I feel that due to the amount of energy I put into creating my own personal version of the Devo persona I have a 'right' to the work and am wondering how I can get it back - or at least be recognized - however - I have no idea by whom - etc. Any thoughts?

BOB: Under electronic conditions we project a pattern-of-information and search for affinities with it. This is what McLuhan means when he says "the user is the content". There is a constant identity, or reinforcement, quest for our image (pattern-of-information). The old markers of identity revolving around one's Chemical Body are anemic compared to the charisma of the information media one consumes and produces. This is what is erroneously termed "celebrity culture" or the "noise machine". Every new celebrity, from fringe to mainstream, signals a new public is born. Its public owns the celebrity. The celebrity is subservient to its consumers/producers and the values that its public projects into the celebrity. Andy Warhol intuited this phenomenon in the late Seventies when he said:

"It's the place [referring to Studio 54] where my prediction from the Sixties finally came true: 'In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.' I'm bored with that line. I never use it anymore. My new line is, 'In fifteen minutes everybody will be famous.'"

This is the "law of the situation" we've been in for a while. Your "ownership" of Devo and subsequent "depression" illustrates my point and pattern here.

PotM: I saw that there is a Devo convention being held in Ohio and that the Rev. Ivan Stang was going to be there and it made me feel sick to my stomach because that individual has proved to be much different than I had once believed.

BOB: See, he's polluting "your" front lawn.

PotM: I think this was caused by the difference in his television/radio body versus his Internet body. You seem to be quite at ease in manipulating all of your mediated forms - any hints for someone just starting out?

BOB: Take the time to watch how I do it. This is not something one learns in as little time as six months. There's a semi-discipline implied here.

PotM: My colleague Greg and I were speaking about a restaurant called PotBelly's - basically a chain of stores modeled upon an original - when you go into any of them it is like being at the original - this discussion came about by an overwhelming feeling of energy drain when I went to a BestBuy the other day - where does this depression come from - why did the repetition that used to be fun kind of begin to sour?

BOB: The repetition seems to indicate a fetish but in this case, the fetish is an environment. The hold of a fetish will die sooner now because you've got so many more bodies to juggle today. The "depression" is the scab finally falling off. You'll find a new fetish/environment soon enough. Perhaps is your new "energizer" (fetish).

PotM: Is this just my own malaise reflecting outward - is it possible to make things better if I become more optimistic or is there a nature to reality that is unable to be sculpted by personal efforts?

BOB: The "nature of reality that is unable to be sculpted by personal efforts" is becoming very negligible under present user-generated conditions of the Chip Body. The strain of this fact is too much for many people today. The recent phenomenal success of "THE SECRET" and its celebration of "the law of attraction" illustrates its underlying flagging or exhaustion.

PotM: When I was a teenager I found myself 'wearing' media environments as a replacement for my own self expression - I see that this is a trend that continues for people throughout their lives and I struggle with this on a daily basis - every time I think I may have it beat something proves to me that I did not in fact have it beat - is there anyway to sort of turn this around and make it work for me rather than being at odds with it?

BOB: What I've said above applies to this question. Again, as Zeus said to Narcissus: "Watch yourself". Study the constituents I say your "self" consists of.

PotM: My two favorite bands Information Society and Devo - have both released songs this year with a common theme [I like the way you Werk it] and Watch us Work it. I have noticed such similarities in the world before - the two films the Prestige and the Illusionist come to mind as well. Is there a name for this phenomenon?

BOB: It's niche marketing based on demographics research which scans, 24/7, for the unforeseen effects of our new "media". It began in the Sixties with the phrase and fetish for "where it's at". Overlaps in movie themes would be the slower form of this pattern-recognition in an older medium. "Branding" is the most recent nomenclature for this mining of the old "zeitgeist".

PotM: If one were to take a media fast [assuming there is a point to such an activity] what would you suggest?

BOB: Attempt the impossible: limit your "reading", "listening", and "watching" to There's a rich archive of posts/excrement there now. And study/observe your reactions as you digest the input.

PotM: The longer I am at fivebodied the more I feel as though I am undergoing a continued education - to quote the police 'I have only come here seeking knowledge/of what they would not teach me of in college' - do you have any advise for the new student in tackling the labyrinth of ideas housed at fivebodied?

BOB: Remember my motto, "when you're laughin', you're learnin'". The etymology for "school" is a word that meant "leisure". There should be no hurry when the road is so long and spiraling. Just keep hanging in there. Communication of the NEW is a miracle but not impossible.

PotM: I have been reviewing the android Meme xenochrony - which I think should be required reading for anyone interested in life on Earth. When did you compose this work?

BOB: I started writing a diary in the Sixties. All entries dated before the mid-Sixties were written from memory. Those may not be 100 per cent accurate in their verbal content. However, anyone can check out their veracity when they die and have access to the Akashic Records. Meanwhile, the entries from 1965 on are accurate because they were written immediately after the events. I had a sense, by then, of the "historical" importance of the activities which were unfolding in my life.

PotM: would you be willing to engage in an in-depth discussion of different sensory memories from some of those passages?

BOB: We can try and see how it goes. Some entries I can't expand on because of invasion of some people's privacy. The point of what I have posted is partly to illustrate the repeating patterns in how I related to people through the decades since the Sixties.

PotM: you have been interviewed on several occasions by many different interviewers coming from differing schools of thought - is there any part of your teachings that you feel has not been addressed that you would like to discuss?

BOB: If you listen to all my recorded interviews, you will have heard some reference, in passing, to all the parts. However, since most of the interviews have been for radio and TV, time has always been limited. I feel there's a lot more to say about each of the parts. My present taped discussions with Scott Norris about the contents of my Phatic Communion book have no time restrictions so I'm satisfying my desire to explore "more". We have done 44 ninety-minute (approximately) sessions so far and they will be posted soon. As we get more and more on "tape", it begins to sound like "teachings".

PotM: how much do you write on a daily basis?

BOB: I don't write at all other than short emails and postings on I don't even keep a diary anymore. I am too busy managing your affairs in New York City. Remember, earlier I said I have to take a lot of phone calls throughout the day.

Here's the last article I wrote - almost 4 years ago:
Plaza of the Mind
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Sun Jul 20, 2008 7:11 pm
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BOB: The repetition seems to indicate a fetish but in this case, the fetish is an environment. The hold of a fetish will die sooner now because you've got so many more bodies to juggle today. The "depression" is the scab finally falling off. You'll find a new fetish/environment soon enough. Perhaps is your new "energizer" (fetish).

Nicely said.

Great exchange guys, keep energizin'

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Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:21 am
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Location: beaumont

Post subject: Reply with quote

great stuff

Thank You.
Plaza of the Mind
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