As in Chapter 1 of this book, I've made a philosophical effort to discuss the topic of CIRCUMSTANCES -- that we get sucked into them, and how they change the directions of our lives.
I was not yet quite aware of this as of the beginning of 1972. But as later events unexpectedly and soon changed the directions of my life I realized that it was important to begin considering how circumstances drag one along in their pull.
For example, one is aiming at a certain direction within the circumstances already present. The direction end up activating new circumstances -- and one ends up someplace altogether different from the original direction.
During February and March, 1972, it was widely understood that the experimental work at the ASPR was going well, all things considered, and this news had spread far and wide.
Even so, I could not see a future for me in doing more and more experiments. There was hardly any money in it and I felt I needed to go full-time into some other kinds of projects.
In any event, the various experiments were coming to closure at the ASPR, and the experimenters were already busy constructing their first draft reports concerning them.
I anticipated that the ASPR work would be concluded at some time in May, and I determined not to do any more psi experimenting for a while. And I needed some kind of life outside of parapsychology which for me was declining in its luster.
I had met a rather wild literary agent, Mr. Sidney Porcelain, and showed him some of my early literary outputs. He felt I had "promise," and we set about discussing a book he might be able to sell.
The Sexual Revolution had just begun, and the demands for sex-type literature were on a drastic upward swing. Sex was one of my, and Zelda's, favorite topics, and I felt I could write something original and daring along those lines -- about extraordinary sexual experiencing.
Porcelain had taken on one of my early novels entitled PINK NEON. This was a somewhat surrealistic adventure into the strange sex life in the 1960s gutters of the lower East Side of Manhattan.
Surrealism had been one of my favorite forms regarding my paintings; but the literary format I turned out bothered a lot of people whose minds think in ordinary, mundane ways and can't think in surrealist terms. None the less, most found the novel had intrinsic merit.
Porcelain submitted it to a number of publishers -- all of which thought it down. The publishers all agreed, though, that it was not obscene, was not pornography, but that it challenged too many social taboos. PINK NEON was never published.
One important publisher had turned it down on the grounds that there was too much sex in it. Another equally important cutting-edge publisher turned it down because there was not enough sex in it.
But we were enthusiastic regarding future novels.
Meanwhile, my New Year's resolution never to interact with the Media had become troublesome to just about everyone -- even to Janet Mitchell and Dr. Karlis Osis at the ASPR, and certainly to my three powerful gossip and espionage Centrals.
By now there were lots of requests from major and minor media for interviews, and my friends were bringing pressure along these lines -- majorly by calling me "stupid" for not opening up a little.
Finally, Ruth Hagy Brod convinced me. "You," she said, "have a chance in a thousand to make a difference here. The world of psi needs your voice. You speak very well, and you have the power to change the public perception of psi."
"Well," I replied, "most media have editorial policies to trash psi. There's no hope as long as those policies are on-going."
If I recall correctly, Al Brod simply said I was acting "like a chicken shit." Al could usually come directly to the point -- and there was probably some truth in his astute observation. We all broke out laughing. "OK, OK, I'll do it just once and never again."
In the end, I surveyed the numerous requests for interviews. I finally selected the then WABC EYE-WITNESS NEWS anchorman, Mr. Kevin Saunders. I had watched the program for a long time, and he seemed to me to be sensible, clever and straightforward.
My appointment calendar for 1972 records that the interview took place on 25 February, and that I spent $25.00 for "coffee and scotch." When he and his camera crew left, the scotch was all gone.
I don't remember Saunder's brief piece at all. And if the interview was not in my calendar, and my archives did not have a letter of appreciation to him dated March 4, I would have forgotten about it completely.
My memory triggered now, I do remember that Zelda had a few people in for wine and snacks and we all watched the piece together. I was terrified -- and got drunk (this first stress of TV exposure was unbearable).
As a result, I decided to give the BBC in England an interview at some near time in the future -- on the grounds, back then, that American media were dangerous to "psychics" and parapsychology.
I had also begun receiving numerous invitations to be a speaker at conferences.
In the latter part of February 1972, I met Mr. Robert D. Ericsson, then Executive Director of Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship (SFF), which had been founded in 1956, largely by the efforts of the renowned American medium, Arthur Ford.
The goals of the SFF were to sponsor, explore and interpret the growing interest in psychic phenomena and mystical experience within the church, wherever these experiences relate to effective prayer, spiritual healing and personal survival (after death).
I had been introduced to Arthur Ford, once at Buell's place and at a dinner party at the Bennitts' place when Ford was in town doing mass mediumistic displays at places like Town Hall and Carnegie Hall.
He was kept quite busy being lionized, but I had the opportunity to observe him at a distance. He was affable, but seemed to have a little difficulty putting up with being lionized.
Well, I concluded, THAT will never happen to me. And indeed I've done my best to prevent that until today -- much to the disappoint of many -- and I guess, to the loss of potentially good and/or socially powerful friends. Many have commented that I shoot myself in my own feet in this regard.
When Bob Ericsson tentatively asked if I'd be interested in giving lectures at SFF Retreats, I said I would. For here I saw a developmental line regarding not only psychic phenomena, but spiritual ART produced from within strong spiritual artists.
SFF had numerous grassroots Chapters throughout the United States, and so this was a circumstance set in motion. I couldn't go for top American media and be shot down by editorial policies against ESP, psi -- and as it later turned out, against UFOs, too.
So, if I had to have a public policy in order to help change the "face of psi," I decided it would be among the spiritual grassroots -- from which, after all, I came myself.
As it ultimately turned out, I was to participate in dozens and dozens of conferences and seminars until I terminated doing so in 1988.
Also in early February, Buell Mullen telephoned one day to say that Dr. Kinzel would be in town on 17 February. She was having a dinner party and he wanted to know if I could attend. I said, "Yes, of course."
Then a few days later, she called again and said that Dr. Kinzel would have a few "friends" who wanted to talk with me. The friends wouldn't stay for dinner. Could I be at her place at 4:30 sharp.
Now occurred one of the strangest, or at least most mysterious encounters in my life.
When I had made my way up to Buell's studio and residence on Central Park South, she answered the door and asked me to wait in her small entry hall. Then Kinzel came from the studio.
He would introduce his "friends" only by their first names. I wasn't to ask any questions about who they were. I was to speak as openly as I wanted about all other matters.
This meeting was "strictly confidential." No one was to know of it, and Buell had gone up to her bedroom where she couldn't hear what was being said.
My mouth was open. The only thing Kinzel would say was that it might concern big-time funding for a new research organization -- of which his "friends" were in a position to set up.
For the first time in my life I felt completely and suddenly paranoid.
I asked if this had to do with the donor pledges which were being accumulated. No, this was something entirely different.
There were four "friends," and we sat around Buell's large dinner table which hadn't yet been laid out with dishes and crystal.
Three were "tycoons" of some kind, if judged by their obviously expensive, but refined clothes. One wore a suit which was obviously store-bought.
The "meeting," if that was what it was, went well. The principal questions seemed to be directed to my new ideas I might have about utilizing psi faculties for practical purposes.
I had a lot to say about new ideas, about the deficits of conventional parapsychology approaches, about science's rejection of psi potentials. I was open, and my big mouth finally had its place. I had the idea I was talking to corporate leaders perhaps interested in setting up a "secret" project along these lines.
The questions and conversations lasted one hour precisely. Then Kinzel and his "friends" went into Buell's entrance alcove and stood talking.
I could smell Buell's leg of lamb perhaps getting overdone, and so I quietly went into her small kitchen to tend to it. The kitchen was just off of the entry alcove.
This I overheard:
"He probably won't go for plan A. He's not committed enough. I recommend switching to plan B."
"He's stalwart enough to resent being caught in a pincer. He might walk once he learns the facts."
Then the group went into the hall to wait for the elevator and closed the door.
I never heard one more word about any of this. I was tremendously mystified.
Some years later I made one of my few visits to the Defense Intelligence Agency, then still located in Laurel, Maryland -- just outside of Washington proper. I waited in the crowded lobby for my escort.
When we got to the elevator doors, one opened up -- and out walked the man in the store-bought suit. There was no mistaking him for one of the conferees at Buell's place.
"Does that man work here?" I quietly asked my escort.
"Him? Oh no. He works at a company over in Virginia."
Well! That meant only one thing. He was, and had been, CIA.
Back in March 1972, the experiments were going very well. The formal series of OOB experiments had been concluded.
We next had to wait for the independent judge to compare my impressions and sketches with photos of the targets -- and hopefully match them correctly together.
Meanwhile, I had become very impressed with one aspect of the experiments I had not noticed at first, but which had increasingly become apparent.
This aspect will be dealt with in detail ahead -- because it became central to controlled remote viewing. I'll only briefly summarize it here.
There is a myth or legend in psychical research and parapsychology that psi subjects need time to gather their wits and for their impressions to start coming in.
This does seem to be a notable characteristic of mediumship where a lot of delay waiting for the action seems to take place.
But I was finding this anticipated slowness not true at all regarding the experiments at the ASPR. I found, or eventually noticed at any rate, that the moment I set my attention onto the target -- well, there it was. Bang and pop.
I first noticed this on the informal, long-distance remote viewing experiments. When Janet said she was ready to record the brainwaves, my attention went to the target -- and there it was. No delays.
I then noticed this had also been true in the case of the OOB experiments as well, and with all of the other kinds of experiments, too. When I laid back waiting for impressions of the targets -- well, they had already come and GONE if I wasn't right on the instantaneous dot.
FAST -- we are talking of FAST here. Immediate, instantaneous.
Because of this phenomenon, I got interested in, as I first termed it, the "speed or velocity of psi signals," or "instantaneous connection to the psi signals."
No one knew what I was talking about.
At some point in the latter two weeks of March, I was again visiting Cleve Backster's lab near Times Square. I happened to mention this phenomenon to Cleve and we went out for junk food to talk about it.
Returning to the lab, Cleve pulled out some papers from one of his file cabinets and handed them to me.
"Hal Puthoff," he said, "is a physicist out in California. He is very interested in tachyons, particles which go faster than the speed of light. You should be in touch with him about this."
I was scanning the papers when Cleve said: "He has a very prestigious reputation. You two might get along. He's into Scientology, too."
I looked up at Cleve incredulously. Then I simply threw the papers into the air over my head. They fluttered to the floor.
Cleve looked at me as if I'd lost it.
"Jesus, Cleve. You know what I went through on this thing. I can't possibly be in touch with ANOTHER Scientologist. The whole world will be sure there is a plot here. This is out of the question."
Cleve just laughed and gathered up the fluttered papers. He made me copies and said that I should take them home and read them.
I was determined NEVER to read them. But curiosity got the better of me.
I found the papers to be stimulating and exciting, somewhat begrudgingly so.
In the end, I wrote Dr. H. E. Puthoff a letter dated 30 March 1972.
And with that letter, the sucking-into circumstances of my life changed forevermore -- although I hadn't the least idea that they would.
All I wanted to achieve was a discussion about the velocity of psi signals. Instead, I got the involvements for the next seventeen years of my life.