Gorillaz: Journey to the West

Gorillaz: Journey to the West by Steven 'Fly Agaric 23' Pratt. 2007.

"I wish to develop my hypothesis further by proposing the following idea: What if DNA, stimulated by nicotine or dimethyltryptamine, activates not only the emission of photons (which inundate our consciousness in the form of hallucinations), but also its capacity to pick up the photons emitted by the global network of DNA-based life? This would mean that the biosphere itself, which can be considered "as a more or less fully interlinked unit," is the source of the images. - Jeremy Narby, Cosmic Serpent. P. 131

The Gorillaz are a bright example of 21st century novel languaging.

Post modem Aliens from another planet, and now as a harmonious accent to their reality bending oeuvre' they're paying direct tribute to a 16th century Classic Chinese Sacred Text, utilizing "from all quarters" the plurality of different mediums, dance, music, gymnastics, magic, from Oriental traditions and then, retranslating this big soup with modern audio/visual technology, and what you might call a more westernized extravaganza of light, Holographic projectors, and most importantly for this writing, the arts and crafts of Hip Hop culture.

Graffiti, DJ'ing, M.C'ing, Which, as i wish to show here and have hinted at before in a piece of writing for Maybelogic Quarterly called "The Knu Science of Hip Hop," have a distinctly Oriental mystique about them, Calligraphy, Swordsmanship, and many Martial Arts have been recently pulled into the fold of Hip Hop Culture, Wu Tang Clan, Ninjatunes, and the Gorillaz all have an affiliation with Orientalism, to give three examples that spring to mind, but of course many Orientals may vary in their opinion of how closely these western artists imitate their cultural values attached to these terms.

But what's important to me, is noticing that along with the outwardly noticeable Oriental themes through much Hip hop, there is a deep rooted affinity with orientalism and Hip Hop culture, rekindled and rediscovered by street poets and dharma bums, a new communication has been established by Graffiti writers and DJ's and Poets, and billions of people are tuning into Hip Hop culture world wide. Or language is mutating faster through Hip hop culture, especially fueled by modern Web 2 technology (Youtube, Photobucket, google) Digital photography and other new mediums for languaging.

The Gorillaz and Chen, and the humans in the mist, seem to have unified many of these themes, but in a way i find particularly attractive with a particular sensitivity to the "Oriental" way of seeing and perceiving which i suspect can be fantastically and completely different to our own Alphabetical and Westernized way of seeing, interacting and processing our symbol systems. Animation may have been what Ernest Fenollosa was searching for as a medium to translate the interacting picture poems within Oriental languages he was studying.

Instead his work found Ezra Pound, who was helping to birth Animation in poetry through Imagism, vorticism, Modernism and Surrealism and all of the great real icons of art and culture: The ancient wisdom of Chinese poetry, orientalism and Eastern culture are wrapped up in "Monkey", if you wish to unravel the rope and begin to analyze the fur on the Monkeys tale more closely you can see the fantastic "other" worlds emerge of Eastern ideogram cultures, Chinese poetry and their more positive cultural images related to enlightenment, peace and at-oneness with Nature, distilled from their oriental equivalent of synergetic historical periods, their Renaissance in arts and literature, in Respect/rejection of myth and in the relationship between mankind and nature.

"Journey to the West has an Epic encyclopedic cultural background in Chinese folk religion, as strange and new to most westerners as any alternative historical fictions from our own culture such as Tolkien's Middle Earth or the even the Matrix such are the seemingly Alien qualities of much Oriental culture. Its twice as strange but four times as real as our Western history, due mostly to the fact that, to be blunt, a chinese written character is more real than an alphabetical one. Hands down. Each and every way, ideogram conveys multi-directional images in multi-directional readings Chinese mythology and value systems; the pantheon of Taoist and Buddhist deities is still reflective of Chinese folk religious beliefs today. -Journey to the West

My personal impressions of the "Gorillaz" kind of worldview if you like is that they are living in a post alphabetical world, an apocalyptic afterfuture where a virtual self (avatar) seems ever so slightly or at least equally real. This concept relates very nicely for me to poetics based on the Zen-Buddhist conceptions of nonbeing as being, emptiness as form, and transcendence of the duality between self and world.

The Chuang Tzu, an ancient philosophical treatise, states that: "Tao cannot be conveyed by either words or silence. In that state which is neither speech nor silence its trancendental nature may be apprehended." perhaps painting best typifies that state which is neither speech nor silence, but manages to convey a unique mood which can transport us into a special awareness. Yet, if we, as westerners, are to experience the tao in Chinese painting or in the I-Ching, we must recognize and transcend certain limitations of mind. - R. L. Wing, The Illustrated I-Ching

The classical spiritual Avatar or guardian ANGEL parallels the "Gorillaz" avatars in many ways. And the flurry of Avatars born to web2 everyday. Avatars become a vehicle to help bridge self and supra-self, the A-typical western dualistic paradox which has long been kept alive in small enclaves and underground cells in the Western lands.

Hip Hop culture recently manifested thousands of magical Avatars, powered up with symbol, sound and movements united together, charged. Generally many Eastern religions include the phenomena of the "Avatar" as a kind of virtual super self, a comic book hero; often graphically mutated with an animal or element within nature.

In literature this metamorphosing takes place in metaphor, poetry and allegory. The great Oriental mystics, and many Western esotericists and Shamans and bards have been using metaphor to combat the demons of reality since the beginnings of "Time/space", within "ZEN" Buddhist and some Taoist creation stories and poetic parables we often see metamorphosis between mankind and nature.

Oriental paintings for example, eclipse the human being with Mountain, wave, river, cloud, monkey. Gorillaz have brought this myth science arkestra back to a Western stage in 2007. Capturing this kind of holographic motion on the page with words might be a helpful metaphor to use when describing what Joyce has left us in Finnegans Wake: a flurry of spicetyme Angels.

See Finnegans Wake and The Cantos of Ezra Pound for working examples of exactly this kind of omnipoteia, multiple sensory, multi-cultural, multi linguistic and multi-symbolic communications. More simply called Epic poetry or referred to as "The Tale of the Tribe". Monkey: Journey to the West qualifies as an Oriental based "Tale of the Tribe" or cultural compendium, working on many different levels, philosophical, spiritual, magical, historical.

And so i am knitting Monkey into a kind of Maybelogical glossed Oriental "Tale of the Tribe" and hijacking their performance into my own interpretations of Orientalism and Modernism.

"The Monkey King's journey from animal being to human being to spiritual being was obviously a Buddhist metaphor for the way in which you have to endure calamities to reach enlightenment. - Chen Shi-Zheng, Director with Gorillaz of Monkey: Jouney to the west.

And so the real and unreal thinking goes around and around, but thankfully the Gorillaz, dubbed as the worlds first Virtual band due to the cartoon/comic book like appearance and the hologramic "projections" of the band during their perfoirmances. The band however is a mutating band of gypsies, a well pool of talent from around the world, many special guests both real and virtual make magical appearances in both the real and the virtual world. Jamies Hewlett and "CHU" recently glossed a full 217 Meter train which rolls from London to Manchester daily. Journey through the West (Midlands) When the train is in motion the images are in motion creating animation and moving pictures, live film. Outdoors. A taste of public transport could aspire to, if it could break free of the influencial government dogm that Graffiti IS a crime!

Gorillaz as a medium for Chinese Poetry."Another set piece, by no means as poetic as Mutt and Jute, introduces the Tristan theme: the Prankquean (21-23) is Brangwen or Brangane who is responsible for mixing up the love-potion (21.27 lovespots) and the death potion in the opera: they both look like a pint of Guinness; hence the thematic riddle 'Mark the Wans, why do i am alook alike a poss of porterpease? (19-20). - Matthew Hodgart, James Joyce A students Guide P. 139

The philosophical questions raised about what real reality really is and what a virtual reality really is! is a portal of discovery which thanks to the Gorrilaz and their mist (tech support, musicians, producers, painters, designers, financial backing etc.) has led back to well spring of valuable information, preserved with out the usual mass identity fragmentation and forced re-shaping to fit in with the Knu world order reinforced by False Iconic Corporate Capitalists.

The boundless Wisdom of the Orient goes straight to the root, the seed, back to nature as metaphor. The Fullness of emptyness. The infinite Potential contained out of nothing. A new paradigm shift is languaging itself into our collective reality and i feel that the Gorrilaz and associates have crafted a fantastic gloss from which to update our instruments and communication apparatus, to help the people swallow up the whole mass-age and spit out "her" stories.

Monkey Magic!

Tori Amos sings about MONKEY: Journey to the West

As you may or may not know, all primates -- and we certainly are primates -- have what are called 'male dominance hierarchies'. This means that the longest-fanged, meanest s.o.b. in a monkey tribe takes control of the group resources, the females, the weaker males, and this character runs the show, and this is pretty much how we do it today.

But my belief, based on 25 years of working with and taking psychedelic plants and substances, has led me to -- well, certainly to the brink of hubris -- to make an adjustment to evolutionary theory and suggest that these psychedelic substances are not private, peripheral, ancillary, cultish, esoteric, meaningless, self-indulgent, narcissistic, or obscure; they are in fact central to understanding how what we call 'human-ness' actually came to be in the first place.

I really believe that the reason we have language and notions like community, altruism, loyalty, brotherhood, hope -- the reason we have these qualities, which are the qualities that we embrace as most human and most ennobling to us, is because for a period of roughly a hundred thousand years we self-medicated ourselves and suppressed the poisonous presence of the calcareous tumour of ego. - Terence Mckenna's "stoned" Monkey hypothesis

Terence Mckenna speaks at the State of the Stone

"The vast, interconnected mantle of mycelia reacts quickly to the availability of plant and animal debris, recycling carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, iron and other essential elements. When storms, floods, volcanoes, or other natural disasters wreak havoc on the environment, fungal champions come to the rescue, capturing debris with mycelium and beginning to recycle. Humans have the unfortunate distinction of creating more debris than any other organism on this planet. We have become the new natural disaster. From our minor significance in the biological world only 10,000 years ago, our population is now over 6 billion, continuing to rapidly increase, taxing resources and stressing habitats beyond their maxima. - Mycotech

M is for Monkey: Journey to the West

"Well, it's about Ezra Pound and James Joyce, whom I regard as the two major innovators of twentieth century literature. And oddly they both had a very powerful influence on Marshall McLuhan who has influenced how we think about all media, especially internet, even though internet didn't begin to develop until after McLuhan was dead. - Robert Anton Wilson, speaking of his "Tale of The Tribe." - RAW Utopia Interview 2001

Classic Oriental theatre and picture/poems rendered into a Hip Opera. Monkey: Journey to the West, in (2007), and so on through the emerald jungle of Orientalism and Modernism, now glossed with wind and rain of Wikipedia, Google, Youtube, Google maps, blogs, hyperlight communications. Escaped the city on a train, like a Haiku through the wilderness between London and Manchester. New weather patterns. Next will be the Vedas, the Sutras, the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Popol Vuh, Finnegans Wake i hope, the classics made KNU. The Worlds classics. Here we have something that i boldly think constitutes a new paradigm shift, equivalent to mass enlightenment in the Buddhist sense, in some sense - illumination, lights, simply. If we could just choose to see it that way. Awaken to the lower lights. Greet these holographic entities and make them welcome, they are here to stay. Bonded by an undefined spirit behind the curtain, a hidden hand in mind: The tech support mist of mind. Monkeys in the mist. Fresh air rushes in-coming, the virus of language sneezed from outerspice. The end of word is HERE. burp!

Monkey: Journey to the West Provides a new kind of band, and a new kind of Opera, a backdrop this week upon which to hang a bunch of important questions facing mankind: Virtual Reality and Oriental Reality. Who distributes it, how?

"Peace comes of communication."-- Ezra Pound

Every-things happening everywhere nowadays! Like in Finnegans Wake. So Knu pist modem to to show a bit of gnu-historical glow and knu-contextual flowing relationships sailing to our subject matter of eve're:thing. See "Google", "Wikipedia" etc. (The internet of things). The Oracle of surprise information.

"We have speculated that the vacuum fluctuation of space-time is a holographic modular hierarchy whose individual levels posses properties in common with the King Wen sequence of the I Ching and morphology of DNA. - Terence and Dennis Mckenna, Invisible Landscape. mckenna.psychedelic-library

The Epic tale Journey to the West, both in the 1580's and the 2007's spills out of the conventional stage box with wet and wild bardic spewing from all quarters, metamorphoses, telepathy, sympathetic magic, levitation, spells, Sacred Elixirs, Autopoiesis,love potions, telekinesis, sign language, teleportation, Crypto-zoological nightmares, wild psychedelic visions and alien voices, transbutation, animism, direct communication with space Gods, weather gods, insect gods, mountain Gods and MONKEY gods, Gorilla "Gods" all sorts of Nature "gods" often called AVATARS in the more Easterly quarters. Interplanetary sentient web 3, a flurry of Angels, a paradigm shift, a re-orientation and redefinition of our collective internet of things, our reality engines. Identity? Am i google now? If i think of it?

"The idea of representative government after we overthrew the monarchy was: we'll have representatives who will represent us. In the first place, they don't represent us! They represent the corporations who pay their campaign finance. And in the second place we don't need anybody to represent us. Now that we've got internet we can represent ourselves. So I think all those people should be thrown the hell out of office and forced to make a living as honest men and women do, rather than by lying to the gullible and selling them out to the corporations, and we can represent ourselves through internet.

As a matter of fact, Buckminster Fuller--one of the most brilliant people of the twentieth century, often compared to Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin for the extent of the fields in which he was an expert, he was an expert in at least a dozen fields--one of his last books has that theme. He calls it desovereignization: getting rid of human representatives and representing ourselves though electronic media. So I am not as original as I sometimes think I am.
- RAW Utopia Interview 2001

Gorillaz are not the first virtual band they are one of the first really enlightened band, literally. They are light beings. Part human origin, part non-human, artificially represented as real (avatar): Spooks, Phantoms, Projections, alien hyperlight beings etc. Not of the word. Beings of Monkey magic-LIGHT. Gorillaz are Aliens from another dimension. They have landed again. They are mythical magical beings; they have a strange new hemisemi-fictionalized history, partly based on real flesh and bloody humans but humans who sometimes pretend and imitate themselves and so making them also satisfactorily "unreal" and so falsifyable, and so "Real" again! and around we go! but, they make up for this confusion, for me, with a very convincingly real presence when on the stage communicating through sound-waves and music. But writing about music is like blowing smoke rings about architecture so i'll leave that for crumbling music press. Monkey: Journey to the West seems more Real and interactive and present NOW than most political Puppets on the world stage in 2007. The hologramic projection equipment and the magic (Peppers Ghost Technology) provide Gorillaz with Monkey Magic, new creation engines, partly programmed by a real Chinese master - Chen Shi-Zheng. Gorrilaz' combine with the incredibly rich and incredibly vast portal of new discovery and rediscovery of The Orient, via Chen Shi-Zheng.

Joyce's Epiphany, McLuhan's "Electronic Orientalism" and the human tech-support team helping to translate and propagate a new hyperlite from a newBudust'" Sutra. Follow the journey of Wu Cheng'en and his experiences with a totalitarian Chinese culture intolerant of great poetry in a similar way to how totalitarian America was mostly Intolerant of Ezra Pound and totalitarian Great Britain was Intolerant of Oscar Wilde and other great genius of world literature.

Monsters and demons are trying to obtain immortality by eating flesh! This provides a large part of the plot in Monkey: Journey to the West. I am familiar with Immortality themes within some mythological contexts and some cannibalism in mythology and fairy lore may can be glossed as the trickery of prankster drug cultists who created "False" etymologies for certain species of sacred fruits to keep them hidden and hidden. Entheogens are chemical and biological candidates in for real ingredients within real wet dazzling "Immortality Elixirs" like Ayahuasca or other psychoactive brews, teas and snuffs. In both the (biological) reality of the damp forest and the freshly perfumed hillside and in the digitally remodeled virtual reality of the myth space/time including history Also see RAW's essay on why Hannibal Lector would make a better President than George W. Bush!

"The forces which produce the branch-angles of an oak lay potent in the acorn. Similar lines of resistance, half curbing the out-pressing vitalities, govern the branching of rivers and of nations. Thus a nerve, a wire, a roadway, and a clearing-house are only varying channels which communication forces for itself. This is more than analogy, it is identity of structure. - Ernest Fenollosa, Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry.

Monkey teached me to revisit the relationship between words and images and things. Poetry in the print media world now a unique kind of bridge-space between words and images. A GLUE that binds cultures, languages, history, religion, Law and science all together, a tale of a tribe, a modern verse epic, a cultural encyclopedia. See "The Cantos and Finnegans Wake! Something more than the sentencing masses. Monkey: Journey to the West has some of the qualities of a Modern verse epic and due to its 2007 web 2 re-release and digital transmission by hyperlight communication around the globe millions of times in a minute into outer-space/time; Monkey: Journey to the West (An OPERA feat. The Gorillaz), is something the pre-internet poets such as Joyce, Pound, Po and Crowley and hundreds more seemed to be dreaming of in their folded up catapillar form. The crystal ball of freely available classics.,

Classics of world literature, poetry and tribal encyclopedias, e-post, e-modernism and the beginning of a new Global Theatre perhaps, the electronic age as the coming of the hyperlight age, youtube, facebook, myspace, google, wikipedia, flikr, photobucket, e-bay, and bluetoothing wireless "everyware" (Sterling 2006).
Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage. -- Henry Louis Mencken

Imagism in the early 20th Century was heavily influenced by the relatively unknown, Ernest Fenollosa partly revived by Robert Anton Wilson and more directly by Ezra Pound who famously included many pictograms or word/images in his grand synthesis "The Cantos": A Globally oriented praxis of language and culture including Oriental cultures, especially Chinese languages. (which was a center study text in Wilson's course "The Tale of the Tribe" at Maybelogic Academy in 2004. I have come around and around to thinking that uncle Bob encouraged others to read and re-read Pounds Cantos so as to be sufficiently equipped with a single bound poetic guide (an oracle) to help us and our new emerging multicultural global community (VILLAGE) and our own relative comprehension of "reality" and "History" to boot as we crawl through the sewage of the 20th into the new 21st century e.v.Finnegans Wake is the other single bound Oracle that Robert Anton Wilson recommends. I would add his "Illuminatus!" to make three blinding bound Oracles for better processing 21st century life.

"For centuries, the epic tale of the Monkey King's journey of enlightenment has been an omnipresent part of Chinese culture, delighting young and old with its heady mix of adventure, mystery and magic," said the Manchester International Festival's website. - cartridgemonkey.com

Alphabet and ideogram meat again stuck in web 2, Finn again for humanity to move forwards again and to get around the obstacles and roadblocks blocking our communication canals again.

I use the term Gorillaz' to mean Human beings and alien light beings, a part of the many collaborators who are Gorillaz tech-support mist in some sense, the production crew, the multiple personalities behind the metaphorical curtain of a 21st Century virtual band.

Monkey: Journey to the West maybe a knu catalyst for a new paradigm shift in the western lands if we see it clearly due to the new means of community within which classic literature from the Orient and all over thw world can begin to weave its magic "binding" qualities. Everyware! And catalyze the sort of cultural exchange and feedback the modernists would have liked, i guess. The classics of Oriental culture translated for a Western world word 3 experiencing alphabet psychosis.

"You cannot own the power and the magic of this world. It is always available, but it does not belong to anyone." - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Fly Agaric 23 Wed 27 June 2007.

"Internet belongs to the people that use it. Nobody has found an effective way of policing it, and they never will as far as I can see. Any way of controlling internet would involve creating a world government and the people who most want to censor opinions are the most opposed to world government. So they can't do it that way. If they try to do it any other way they'll wreck most major corporations that depend so much on internet to do business. So it can't be done.

Internet is going to remain free, and I believe, I've believed since I was in my early twenties, that everything that accelerates the flow of information and communication benefits the human race, and every communication jam damages us. So internet is the greatest tool, or device, or gimmick, or whatever you want to call it, for accelerating the flow of information between peoples. It is, I think, the most revolutionary force in the history of humanity since the invention of the wheel--especially when Asia and Africa get online in a major way. That's what I really look forward to."
-RAW Utopia Interview 2001