High Wierdness by Erik Davis, reviewed by Ashley Chapman

I have to say that this is one of the best books I have read on mind-altering subjective experiences.

It looks at three 1970s writets or pychonauts, Kenneth McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson and Philip K. Dick.

McKenna is a great subject, but perhaps McKenna is best left to talk for himself, but Robert Anton Wilson is truly an inspired choice for hagiography.

He wrote the Illuminati Trilogy and Cosmic Trigger and others, and goes on what can be described as an epic cosmic mind meander, blasting aside whatever amniotic fluid-like barrier seperates the conscious reasoning mind from the mythological unconscious.

The anecdotes are numerous, the bravery of the psychonauts insane and the sense of one ‘tunnel-reality’ after another being atomised to allow in all kinds of astral madness – palpabal, weird and definitely high.

And I still have Philip K. Dick to enjoy…

The Starmer Project by Oliver Eagleton, reviewed by Ashley Chapman

Sir Keir Starmer as the substance, as well as conclusion of this book details, is a dedicated advocate of the UK’s ‘deep state’ – and as such an authoritarian.

In The Starmer Project: A Journey to the Right published in May by Verso, Sir Keir Starmer comes across as a priggish individual who is bruisingly indifferent to justice.

The cases that demonstrate this are too numerous to mention chronologically, so let’s begin with Brazilian student Jean Charles de Menezes in 2008 when Sir Keir Starmer was already DPP after having been an advisor to the Northern Irish Police Board. After profiling by the Metropolitan Police went wrong, de Menezes was tragically shot seven times in London’s Stockwell Station boarding a train. After the charge of lawful killing was dropped by a jury at the inquest, following evidence from eyewitness accounts, it was nonetheless robustly upheld by Sir Keir Starmer.

Sleeping with key organisers in the group became part of the covert tactics deployed by the police. In one instance, an officer was reporting on his own wife with whom he had two children.

Next up in the following year, 2009, the pitiful case of newspaper vendor Ian Thomlinson who was mistakenly blugeoned and pushed to the floor by PC Simon Hardwood as he passed a G20 protest on his rounds, resulting in death from internal bleeding. After a year of ‘stoney’ silence, Starmer cited inconsistent medical reports and no charges of murder were brought. These cases and others, show that while Starmer was in a position to redress the balance in favour of the victims of police brutality, he did the opposite and instead chose to uphold their unlawful activity.

In 2010, for instance Jimmy Mubenga, who was held to stop him leaving his deportation flight, was brutally axfixiated. Starmer’s CPS did not press charges, but a subsequent inquest found that they had acted unlawfully.

Far from being a progressive human rights lawyer, Starmer is if anything an authoritarian. So that instead of reforming the heavy-handed tactics of the police while in the position of DPP, he upheld their violent actions. And, in the case of BAME community victims (following a series of deaths in custody) a proposal to create a Deaths in Custody Community Engagement Panel, was intead quietly dropped by Starmer’s office.

Again, when the notorious Blair Peach case from 1979 was finally reviewed, Starmer claimed there was insufficient evidence to charge the Met’s mounted Special Patrol Group. They had also struck their victim dead.

But perhaps the worst case in his career as DPP at the CPS is that of the ‘Spycops’ scandal. Originally an undercover unit set up in 1968 to infiltrate radicalised anti-Vietnam groups, it was re-instituted under Tony Blair to ‘penetrate’ leftwing environmental and anti-racist groups. Sleeping with key organisers in the group became part of the covert tactics deployed by the police. In one instance, an officer was reporting on his own wife with whom he had two children.

Sir Keir would later go on to deny this… [but] police were instructed ‘in all cases’ to hold youngsters in custody both in police cells and later in court holding cells.”

My parenthesis and insertion

Eventually, in 2010 all this came to light during an Old Bailey trial in which forty-nine defendents were acquited. Following the fallout, Sir Starmer commissioned a report by Sir Christopher Rose whose remit he severely limited. Rose could not question CPS practices with regard to briefing the undercover unit. This after it was clear that malfeasance on the part of the CPS had clearly taken place as they had used the undercover unit to pre-empt an occupation of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, effectively setting the protesters up. Key evidence, recorded by undercover officer Mark Kennedy, who slept with several of his female targets over a seven year period, was supressed by the CPS. Nonetheless, the police were compelled to release the taped evidence by court order, despite Sir Keir Starmer’s attempts to thwart the defendents.

But it goes even beyond this as Starmer, as the book suggests, avoided using his office to increase prosecutions in rape trials, seeing a 14% decline in the outcome of successful trials. Instead, returning to police interventions, he stopped cases from being heard early enough to affect successful prosecutions while ensuring the weakening of protocols that helped ‘specialist’ barristers to effectively process the testimony of rape victims. Conversely, he moved to ensure that women were harshly punished ‘in the public interest’ where they were found to have made false accusations. This, despite courts dropping more than two-thirds of legitimate rape cases found too difficult to prosecute, and several cases in which woman had, after being accused of acting in bad faith, been found to have been raped.

In the August riots of 2011, following the indiscriminate shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, Starmer’s full-on attack on the rioters, many who were youthful miscreants caught up in the heat of the moment, reached draconian heights. The CPS swang into action, putting David Cameron’s assertion that no ‘crime will go unpunished’ swiftly into effect. 24-hour courts were created overnight. Sir Keir also drafed a form for police to send directly with defendents to trial, advancing the notion that as there was no time to process cases, harsher penalties for a lower level of civil disobedience should be meted out by the CPS.

In short order, upscaled swift and brutal sentencing followed from what were reported at the time as ‘Kangaroo’ courts, often to 13-,14- and 15-year-old defendents, indiscriminately dragged to court at 2am or 3am in fast-track trials. Damningly, children were seperated from their parents and denied water and food. And in contravention of the law, which Sir Keir Starmer knew only too well, CPS prosecutors were told to withold bail applications. Sir Keir would later go on to deny this, but a leaked Met memo shows otherwise, police were instructed ‘in all cases’ to hold youngsters in custody both in police cells and later in court holding cells.

Voting for Sir Keir Starmer after reading sixty pages detailing his rise to power by crushing individuals – with numbing rapacious indifference – would be an endorsement for the creation of a future surveillance state with harsh laws imposed to limit political and economic dissent.”

Sir Keir in unprecedented fashion had cases moved from magistrate to crown courts. In this way, heavier penalties could be applied. Added to this, it was decided by Sir Keir that charging defendents with ‘theft’ was not sufficient so instead they were charged with ‘buglary’, which carried a more severe penalty, generating longer incarcerations. The results, were inevitable miscarriages of justice as reported by appalled prosecuters in Sir Keir’s own CPS and by Ken Macdonald QC, who said, they had lost all ‘proportionality’.

But if Sir Keir Starmer’s views on legal justice are skewered in favour of the police and ultimately the establisment with which he so clearly identifies, it is surely surprising that a future Labour leader should also have so little sympathy for social justice? Starmer, true to his blunt inclinations, harshly pursued benefit misclaimers suggested they should be prosecuted under the Fraud Act as this carried a ten year jail sentence.

At a time when benefit fraud amounted to £1. 2 billion, or ‘0.7 per cent of the total claim’, Eagleton states convincingly, HMRC reported tax evasion at £7.8 billion. This, he argues, demonstrates that Starmer had his priorities pegged in one camp, but failed to stake the other; thus, playing straight to George Osborne’s austerity rhetoric, and leading to the dire economic measures that would follow.

Voting for this politician after reading sixty pages detailing his rise to power by crushing individuals – with numbing rapacious indifference, time and time again – suggests it would be tantamount to endorsing the creation of a future surveillance state with harsh laws imposed to limit political and economic dissent.

Never has the UK been closer to democratic and social political collapse. And Brexit offers such a callous operator the legal and sovereign tools to use the state to oppressively manufacture a regime made in his narrow rightwing Labour image.

“Nonetheless, the police were compelled to release the taped evidence by court order, despite Sir Keir Starmer’s attempts to thwart the defendents.”

Following the lazy, corrupt, disjointed premiership of Bojo and co., Sir Keir Starmer will use his knowledge of the judiciary, especially its internal state apparatus to resolutely further his authoritarian vision.

With hindsight, Corbyn’s biggest mistake was to allow this ambitious establishment facilitator the room to distract with his shadow Brexit brief, and to not see in 2018 that John McDonnell, as Len McCluskey recently said in an interview with Aaron Bastani on Novara Media, and which has been confirmed by Eagleton, was compromised in his conviction that Remainers would split the Labour party. The Labour party conference endorsement of a second referendum, The People’s Vote on Brexit was a ploy. Remain in Labour was an opportunistic divisionary rightwing tactic to regain control of the party, which worked!

What they and anyone on the left should instead have feared is the deep state creation that is Sir Keir Starmer, moulded by his various advisory and leadership roles within it, and what the implications are for the UK should the prevailing historical circumstances allow him to come to power – for as the book suggests, a deeply disingenuous man, he is supremely unfit to be Labour Leader, let alone Prime Minister.

The Murderbot Dieries: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells.

Is it only me? Or do we all like android stories and their unique take on our own ontology? Being in being, in other words.

This is simple, but great science fiction. A murderbot who isn’t quite right with murder.

Like Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with a Vampire’ it does that great thing of providing its central character – the android – with superhuman powers that it is not comfortable with.

Now sympathies engaged, we go on the second adventure in the Murderbot Diaries, eSeries, where our hero makes friends with a super AI transporter bot ART, running its own ship; then finds itself allowing  its own physical transformation under ART’s sculpel-weilding intelligence; before regressing us to its own dark pit of ‘inspiration’, providing a perspective on being one enternal step removed from ever being wholly human.

And aren’t we all, at times, not feeling quite sentient enough?

The Captain

I am a tawny hinge,
Once of a lucent pair,
Attached to half a broken door
By a single screw!
Adrift on a mound of slippery waste –
the lock won’t shut!

     What difference?
     What I have done.
     At least in love Loved.

But scattered flotsam now.
The remnant of some once grand ship.
     Oh, where is my other half?

My loving wife,
My tender, tender Love.

Out there, across the endless sea.

      Where is she now?

I left her in our nest with babe,
For war and for glory.
And a fair widow made.

A ghost.
I have returned.

       Where is my lover?

The one who knows.
She who is my heart,
And I hers.
The one I left with child
In Plymouth Port,
So I could perish in the sea
Burned on my frigate on a foreign shoal.

      But am I not returned?

Searching for the one:

In a field of bright flowers,
A thousand wear her smiles,
Masks that delight to tease and trick.
I dally here and there.
Each scent a thorny promise:
(‘Oh, take me close.’)
So many sunny faces
Who with lips parted grimaced,
And turned!

      But where is my love?

My one true…
Who knows before I.
And from cold stone,
Turns me warm.

      Why did I leave you?
      And will I ever find you?

My true Love,
The only one who when we’re done,
Brings final rest.