View Electronic Edition

Am I Psychic Yet?


EVERYBODY needs a metaphor to deal I with the mystery of life. Personally, I used to believe in reincarnation, but that was in a previous lifetime. There are those who say that even an aborted fetus chooses parents who will not carry the pregnancy to term. Well, maybe I decided to be born, but I was circumcised against my will. And now there is another, more subtle form of child abuse, described in the June-July '86 issue of The Psychic Reader. The item is about a man who took his daughter into a store:

She got caught stealing a package of cigarettes. When asked why, she said, "Because my father wanted them." He laughed and called her a liar. The truth was the father was trying to quit smoking and was emoting so much energy of wanting to smoke that his daughter went over and picked up the cigarettes to give to him. She was not even aware that she had stolen the cigarettes.
The explanation?
When sensitive family members are affected by a strong male, a very important function happens: He takes control over the brain.
 When a very angry male climbs into the space of a very sensitive wife or a very sensitive daughter with his energy, it is just as bad as striking them physically or violating them physically.

As a child, it was always very important to me not to believe in ESP. Adults might control many aspects of my life, but they could never exert power over what I thought. I indulged in the most bizarre fantasies, completely confident that they were not able to read my mind.

As an adult, I have tried to keep that mind open by maintaining what I consider a healthy skepticism. For example, at the Berkeley Psychic Institute in Berkeley, California, there is a clairvoyant training program — I had predicted there would be — and there is a clause in the application which states that students may cancel and receive full refunds if they do so in writing within two weeks. One would think that the registrar would have anticipated such an occurrence.
 
I WAS ONCE a guest on the Long John Nebel Show, an all-night radio program in New York. We were discussing psychic phenomena in general and telekinesis specifically. I put a dime on the table and said that if it could be moved by sheer will power I would immediately become a convert. The other guests ridiculed me. These were powerful gifts, not to be toyed with, they said. You could not move a dime just
like that; you had to work up to it.

"All right, let's start with a penny ..."

The Amazing Randi was also a guest on that show. In 1986, more than a quarter-century later, he was a guest on the Johnny Carson Show, demonstrating by film and special audio techniques how a prominent faith-healer "miraculously" received personal information about his patients from his wife, concealed backstage, transmitting to a radio receiver hidden in his ear. I wondered if Ronald Reagan's hearing aid was also actually a receiver for data from Nancy on legislators so that the absent-minded president could "remember" how to blackmail them into voting for aid' to the Contras.

IN THE FILM Rosemary’s Baby, Mia Farrow spelled out the name of her neighbor with Scrabble letters, and when she mixed them around, they spelled out the name of a warlock she had been reading about in a book on witchcraft. Similarly, if you spell out the name of former Vice President Spiro Agnew with Scrabble letters and then mix them around, they spell out GROW A PENIS. This is so appropriate that it defies ordinary standards of coincidence, for when Senator Charles Goodell came out against the war in Vietnam, it was Agnew who called him "the Christine Jorgensen of the Republican Party," thereby equating military might with the mere presence of a penis.

When Mike Wallace interviewed me for Sixty Minutes and asked about the difference between the underground press and the mainstream media, I told him about the above anagram, pointing out: "The difference is that I could print that in The Realist, but it'll be edited out of this program." Once again, my uncanny ability to forecast events accurately was dramatically demonstrated.

In 1963, during a standup performance at Manhattan's Town Hall, I said that the androgynous singer Tiny Tim would someday get married on the Johnny Carson Show. Six years later it happened. I thought I had merely been projecting into the future a certain cultural trend of co-option, but Baba Ram Dass has called this an example of astral humor. "The connections are all out there," he said, pointing to the heavens. "It's just a matter of plucking them."

I guess one person's logic is another person's astral humor. More recently, I've said on stage that an AIDS victim would be charged with attempted murder when he spat at someone, and that came true. I've also said that since facial stubble has become fashionable by the grace of Miami Vice, some entrepreneur would market a razor that left facial stubble, and that came true.

This is comedy voodoo, and we mustn't let it fall into the wrong hands. I've recently said on stage that the next baboon-to-baby heart transplant would take place as soon as another baboon was in an auto accident and the proper release papers were signed by its parents. Does this mean there will soon be a rash of auto accidents involving baboons?

IN 1970 I took a workshop with John Lilly at Esalen. He was attempting to explore mysticism by the scientific method. We were not allowed to use such words as "project," "fantasize," "daydream," or "rationalize." For the purpose of the workshop we had to accept any experience as reality.
I communicated with my old friend Lenny Bruce, who had died four years previously. Lilly had been talking about not publishing the book he was working on. The Deep Self, and Lenny told me to tell him that it was his responsibility to publish it. But Lilly was consistent. "That's Lenny's problem," he said. Nevertheless, the book was published.
 
Later on, this contact with the grave continued, but I was now allowed to rationalize that I was using Lenny as a touchstone, projecting how I thought he would feel about something. I told his widow. Honey, about this, and she said that she communicated with the spirit of Lenny, too. I asked, "How do you know you're not just projecting?" She replied, "I know." Who could argue with that?
 
IN 1972, six weeks after the Watergate break-in, I presented the printer with a manuscript by assassination researcher Mae Brussell, titled "Why Was Martha Mitchell Kidnapped?" While the mass media still referred to the incident as a "caper" and a "third-rate burglary," her article delineated in detail the conspiratorial aspects, naming L. Patrick Grey, John Mitchell and Richard Nixon. Called crazy at the time, nine months later she was vindicated.

However, the printer wanted $5,000 cash — in advance. I didn't have it. 1 left totally confident, yet with no reason to feel that way. When 1 got home, the phone rang. It was Yoko Ono. 1 had met her in the '60s when she was an avant garde artist, and I had put all my savings into her absurdist project, where folks would get into big black burlap bags on a wooden platform at a macrobiotic restaurant, and people would pay to watch them move around. I think it had something to do with my guilt about money.

Now, Yoko was married to John Lennon. They were visiting San Francisco, and did I want to have lunch with them? Suffice it to say that I brought the galleys with me, and we all ended up going to the bank and withdrawing $5000 cash. My mind was thoroughly blown. I could rationalize to bits the process by which we had come together, but the timing was so exquisite that for me coincidence and mysticism had become the same process.

At that time, the Nixon administration was afraid that Lennon would entertain protesters at the upcoming Republican convention, and there was a strong attempt to deport him. The FBI refuses to release the portion of his file for that period when he was under such heavy surveillance. And, caught somewhere between information overload and political paranoia, I went slightly bonkers myself.

On a bus to Santa Cruz, I was convinced that the man sitting in front of me was a CIA operative. In order to confuse him, I used my ball-point pen as a walkie-talkie: "Calling Abbie Hoffman. Calling Abbie Hoffman ..." Abbie was freaking out himself around the same time, and it occurred to me that I might have actually reached him in this unorthodox manner. Recently I asked him about that.
"Oh, yeah," he replied. "I got your call but I didn't accept it 'cause you were calling collect."

PERHAPS I have simply become too hard up for mystical experience for my own good. But why do those creatures from outer space always make their presence known to others? Why don't they ever come to me? I would give them publicity or granola or whatever they wanted.
 
Only once was I convinced that I was about to have a close encounter with beings from another planet. From a cliff above the beach I could see them, dark figures with no ears. They were marking up the ocean floor, dividing it into latitudinal and longitudinal lines, just like on a globe. I was so excited. At last! Only, they turned out to be a few guys in wet suits, and they were digging for clam.s. Oh, well.

When Hustler publisher Larry Flynt got converted to born-again Christianity by Ruth Carter Stapleton, the evangelist sister of then-President Jimmy Carter, he hired me to reform his magazine of gynecological porno. I asked him a test question: "Do you believe that Christ is the one true path to salvation?"

"I believe," he responded with a Kentucky twang, "that Jesus was not a more important teacher than Buddha, and that neither Jesus nor Buddha is more important than any individual."

He took me into his office and said, "Do you see that wall there? I can make that wall come tumbling down through sheer will power." Oh boy, I thought to myself, this is gonna be some job. "But," he added, "I don't wanna misuse my power."

Nobody ever wants to misuse their power for me. The Transcendental Meditators won't levitate for me. Uri Geller wouldn't even bend my fork. Maybe it's hopeless. Flynt got shot a few months later, his wife Aretha took over, and she fired me.  I called up family and friends so they wouldn’t learn this news from the media.  Ken Kesey said, “Why don’t you come to Egypt with us?  The Greatful Dead are gonna play the Pyramids.”

I lay down in a long-dead king's sarcophagus in the middle of the Great Pyramid and started chanting.  I wanted a sign so badly.  But noting happened.  The only sign I got was that the tomb smelled from somebody's urine.  Maybe the guides were being tested for illegal drugs.

Recently, thought, it finally happened.  I got my sign.  I was watching a movie on cable TV, Falling in Love with Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro.  I wasn't sure whether I wanted to continue watching it or not.  Outside there was a fantastic thunderstorm.  Suddenly, a bold of lightning struck, and my TV set went off.

Okay.  I believe, I believe.

Why, just the other day I'm sure I heard a butterfly complaining about how it was really a caterpillar trapped in a butterfly's body. . .