In Language, Psyence by Nick Chan

What makes one a Psymbiote? This question is difficult to answer, as the very act of asking seems to shift the criteria.
“Imagine yourself part of a secret society in which active members are by definition unaware of their own involvement. This is a paradox only in thought and speech, but never in Doing.”Harla Wintermute
The Psymbiotes first existed as a group in the late 1990s, under the leadership of Harla Wintermute. Made up mostly of artists, scientists, writers and culture hackers, the group was primarily involved in consciousness exploration and remapping the mind, the development of trans-boundary memes, and the experimental use of media as a cybernetic extension of the human body and Self.
Within the eclectic mix, a common trait of early members was the desire for Complementarity.
Artists desiring a scientific gaze. Scientists desiring artistic fluidity. New Agers desiring illumination of light, and dark. Religious people desiring spirituality and intelligence. Outcast atheists desiring more than materialism and being only logically right. Everyone had something worth bringing to the table which seemed to benefit almost everyone else.

As a process in biology, symbiosis is commonly defined as “an interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both”. This had a nice ring but remained somewhat lacking as a metaphor, especially in an age where most live under the spell that they actually know what’s going on within, and without, themselves. The Psymbiotes readily acknowledged their own eternal ignorance, adding a gratuitous helping of PSI in recognition of the psychic dimension, resulting in Psymbiosis – a verb, noun, phenomenon and place.
By giving something a name they sought to at least symbolise the ephemeral and approach the Quintessence.

It is not a destination, yet the best of us inadvertently make our way there.
A state of Being? But what about Doing?
Asking where it is, proves no different from asking ‘Where is tomorrow located?’
Everyone spends a large bulk of their lives chasing it, denying it, (dis)believing it, anthropomorphizing it, being indifferent or agnostic to it.
Which simply means that everyone experiences it, even if by negation.

Perhaps the ancients knew it best when they spoke of the UNUS MUNDUS.
Early activities were mostly freeform affairs and the group’s output was indistinguishable from any ‘regular art project’, often taking the form of forays into mixed-media pseudo-audio/visual/tactile/verbal/haptic performances and installations. But the Psymbiotes had definite aims, and it was against this heady backdrop that Harla Wintermute laid the foundations of ‘Otherism’, the paradigm and modus operandi that would lead one to Psymbiosis. Such a paradigm vis-a-vis its destination neatly encapsulated the age-old dictum of Solve et Coagula, or to Dissolve and Coagulate, to Separate and Synthesize.

Membership required a sound mind and mastery over a preferred craft, if only to provide a focal point for the projection of Intent. While little is known of the group’s formal practices, the main thing all members worked towards initially was the individual ‘Construction of a Noospheric Egg‘, a process that took up to 2 years to accomplish. This involved penetrating, via external practice, deep enough into one’s psyche such that there resulted a fusion between interior subjective ‘psychological’ states, and the so-called ‘objective’ external phenomenal world. This was often fraught with various psychological dangers, since beneath the veneer of ‘normality/brilliance/mediocrity’ that we identify ourselves with, lurk many strange forms.  

Despite different methods employed according to individual preferences, all members reported high instances of Synchronicities, spontaneous lucid dreams, harmless poltergeists, objects disappearing and reappearing, and other psychic phenomena, especially at the peak of their working.
Outside the rational boundaries of their ‘art projects’ arose influences and connections that could simply be called uncanny. Many reported occurrences with lights that have since become officially documented as SLI(Street Light Interference) on Wikipedia. However, the Psymbiotes distanced themselves from such ‘experiential cataloging’ as it almost always resulted in ‘Cause-and-Effect’ being the only(and very insufficient) paradigm available to apprehend the phenomenon. This did however, afford them a cheap giggle.
For most members, such phenomena became part of everyday perception afterwards, the most common being the experience of time displaying as 1:11, 2:22, 3:33 and so on, whenever one casually checked the time. Curiously, these occurrences were especially frequent during liminal states and periods of fundamental change in one’s life. ie. switching careers, falling in/out of love, moving one’s home, adopting/losing a religion, etc.
The careful ‘Construction of a Noospheric Egg‘, grounded in the tenets of ‘Otherism’ served to provide the basic building blocks and psychic technology required for the next step. And it’s here that things get elusive. Few members are able to articulate it clearly and even fewer have attempted it.
The varying perspectives have a curious asymmetry. Some argue that the hard technology required hasn’t yet fully matured. Others point to their own personal self-development as the bottleneck. Harla Wintermute was astute in pointing out that such perspectives always found a correlation with whether the person adopting it had a predominantly introverted or extraverted psychic disposition.

Regarding this second stage, she once described it as such…

“We’re talking about a machine here. In the truest sense of the word. A tangible solid machine capable of materializing what could only be described as a dream within a hallucination. And best thing is, people will share this dream with you, it will be the same as waking life. Perhaps even more real, whatever that means. For this machine, it’s like a recursive holographic node, part flesh part language, part syntax part mind. Some of you are close to completing the hardware, yet underdeveloped in the skill to operate it, while for others, the reverse rings true. I can tell you that it’s the interfacing that matters, that’s what it really boils down to.”
“In the lower part of the step, toward the right, I saw a small iridescent sphere, of almost intolerable brilliance. At first I thought it rotary; then I understood that this movement was an illusion produced by the virtiginous sights it enclosed. The Aleph’s diameter must have been about two or three centimeters, but Cosmic Space was in it, without diminution of size. Each object (the mirror’s glass for instance) was infinite objects, for I clearly saw it from all points in the universe. […] ; I saw the Aleph from all points; I saw the earth in the Aleph and in the earth the Aleph once more and the earth in the Aleph; I saw my face and my viscera; I saw your face and felt vertigo and cried because my eyes had seen that conjectural and secret object whose name men usurp but which no man has gazed on: the inconceivable universe.”Jorge Luis Borges


About the Author
Nick Chan

Nick Chan

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Nick divides time between music and sound-stuff, in both work and leisure capacity. As a budding game designer, he has not released anything.

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