Hal and Adrienne Kennedy, his fiancee, had put me up on a fold-out bed in his study. I awoke therein on Wednesday, 7 June 1972, in a mood that was a combination of a comfortable feeling coupled with an ice cream hangover.
The sense of comfort involved the certainty that I had only three more days to spend at SRI -- and which would constitute the END of all this parapsychology stuff. I could then reclaim my life and get on with my creative visions.
Hal was elated as we drove to Pete's coffee place,
but I was sardonic. It was clear to me by now that he fully intended to
attempt setting up a project at SRI. But I was gloomy in this regard --
largely because I was thinking through what later turned out to be two misconceptions
"If you try to do this," I warned him,
"you're sure to end up in Time magazine's Fraud Box, and the
parapsychologists will hate you anyway. You'll be dead in the water from
In talking along these lines, I was thinking in terms of parapsychology's closed, ghettoized system characterized by internecine warfare.
I had no idea that interest could come from far
larger auspices other than those parapsychology represented.
After all, back then all scientific, academic and mainstream systems were completely resistant to the phenomena Puthoff intended to work with.
I couldn't imagine a factor emerging that would make any serious change within that complicated, but rather straightforward scenario.
If, then, all things remained the same, and if
that factor had not emerged, my estimate would have probably been correct.
The factor that emerged was, of course, Dr. Harold
E. Puthoff himself, a person I really didn't yet know very well with just
two days experience with him.
And in this regard, his appearance and jovial, optimistic attitudes gave little in the way of clues to the reserves of dynamic strength underneath.
MY only clue at the time was that although Puthoff listened to my gloom-and-doom scenario, I was somewhat left with the impression that my speaking went in one of his ears and out the other. Oh, well, I was already familiar with the fact that people listen only to what they want to hear.
One of my major purposes in going to SRI was to
transport evidences of the experiments in which I had been involved in New
York. On behalf of Backster, Schmeidler and Karlis Osis, I wanted to find
out what Puthoff (and possibly others) thought about them, especially with
regard to whether the experimental protocols constituted competent science
At Pete's, we agreed to spend most of the day, Wednesday, going through those materials.
When we arrived at SRI, however, Hal proceeded
to be on the telephone for the entire morning. So I perched on the desk
of his secretary, Eli Primrose, an extremely beautiful and competent woman
who did everything to make me feel comfortable -- i.e., showed me where
the coffee machines were and gave me a tour of the local offices, labs etc.,
When I grumbled a little about the delay, Eli explained that Puthoff was
always on the phone.
I then remembered to telephone Dr. William Tiller,
whom I'd met briefly in New York. I called him in his office at Stanford
University, and he said something like "Well, you've really started
up a hubbub. Can you come to dinner tomorrow? Dr. Shafica Karagula is staying
with us. Would you like to meet her?"
WOULD I? YES, yes, indeed!
And so that was arranged.
At some point later in the morning, Hal came briefly
away from his precious telephone saying that Dr. Willis Harmon was on his
way over to meet me. "He'll probably take you to lunch, so I'll see
you later this afternoon."
I had no idea who Harmon was. Eli explained that he was one of the pillars of SRI, with his own staff and building at SRI, an office in Washington, D.C., and that he was connected to the highest places everywhere possible.
Meanwhile, Bart Cox came into Eli's office to shake
my hand regarding the magnetometer experiment. With him was Judy Schmickley,
who said she didn't understand much of what had happened, but that everyone
who did was excited.
With them was Dr. Earl Jones, director of all the labs under Cox's jurisdiction.
It's fair to say, I think, that Jones looked like his world was ending because of the experiment. But he was cordial and eventually gave his full support to Hal's project. I later learned that Jones's Washington connections were also awesome.
In fact, as of June 1972, everyone had Washington connections except me -- and as of that month I couldn't imagine that anyone in Washington would have the slightest interest in parapsychology stuff.
You see how dense and naive I could be?
Dr. Willis W. Harmon then arrived. He had a warm,
firm hand and for a full moment held mine and looked straight and deep into
my eyes without saying anything. He then said: "My, my!" This
flustered me a little, since I hadn't the faintest clue as to what THAT
was all about.
When Harmon found Puthoff was closeted with his telephone, he suggested that he take me to his office where a few of his staff were wanting to meet me. Then there would be lunch. I said OK. He made a quick call.
I'm going to present Harmon's credentials later
in this book, but in June 1972 I quickly found out something about him and
his far-flung importance.
At SRI, he was Director of HIS Educational Policy Research Center. This Center was a large project merely sheltered under SRI's umbrella. The major goal of the project was studying "Planning Amid Forces for Institutional Change." Big Business, the DOD, Congress, everyone, was interested in what "institutional change" might consist of. Dr. Harmon and his staff were in process of giving answers.
When this gets transliterated into more simplified
English, Harmon was the head of SRI's futurology effort. And as of 1972,
Futurology constituted one of the most important and biggest efforts in
THE ENTIRE WORLD.
The Center's "own building," though was
not one of the modern glass-and-machine ones at SRI, but composed of two
old Army barracks joined together. During WW II and shortly after, the SRI
grounds had been a military hospital, and had at one time taken in earthquake
Upon entering, Harmon took me straight to a large
conference room -- where there were sixteen people sitting around the table.
He insisted I take the head chair, and then explained that everyone would
introduce themselves and have questions to ask me. ME? I was completely
Willis explained that part of their ongoing project (funded $2 million plus annually) was to see if parapsychology and/or psychic abilities could or should be factored into the future scenarios.
I was so stunned by this revelation that I nearly
missed my chair and almost fell to the floor on my ass.
Having managed to claim the chair, I began, of all things, laughing. All gathered just looked at me. So, paraphrasing now from approximate memory, I explained:
"Well, before you consider anything I might have to say, you should understand that only two months ago a move was made at the ASPR in New York to get me discredited and thrown out. I don't think I'm in good repute with the parapsychology inner core . . .".
I would have continued, but I got unnerved when
I saw almost everyone around the table start smiling. So I asked: "Why
are you smiling?" Then everyone started giggling.
Harmon explained that all was known about the ASPR goings-on, and that the attempt to expel me "gives you more credentials than you realize, and also makes it easier for various people."
I hadn't the faintest notion of what he was talking
about -- but I clearly remember what he said because I tried for the next
six months to figure out his meaning.
Then the questions began, none of which I remember.
And I'm sorry I can't remember the names of all present. But I met Mark
Markley, Duanne Elgin, Arthur Hastings -- and Brendan O'Regan, who earlier
in his career had been assistant to the famous architect, Buckminster Fuller.
Brendan, as we will see later, was otherwise one of the great mysteries
of the universe.
Through these five exceedingly interested persons, I was eventually was introduced to a large number of individuals throughout the Bay area and Silicon Valley. I thought all of them wonderful.
What I could not have suspected, though, was that Harmon would speak about me within his large circumference of "contacts" in and near Washington.
Harmon limited the "meeting" (as I suppose
it might be called) to exactly an hour, at which time he stood up, as did
everyone else. He then asked if I wanted some lunch, what kind. "A
good hamburger," I replied. So we got in his car and arrived at the
Oasis, a short distance down El Camino Real.
This was a beer and hamburger joint populated with a mixture of business people, Stanford students, and redneck motorcycle types.
It stank of beer, and had big wooden tables and booths into which everyone was invited to carve names, credos, obscenities and various kinds of sometimes shocking graffiti.
The hamburger was delicious, but I couldn't drink beer because Puthoff and I were again scheduled for the Varian Hall magnetometer later that evening.
As things proceeded in the following years, the
Oasis was to become a favorite watering hole for "visiting East Coast
scientists" (as they were called), since the noise and din at the Oasis
prevented surreptitious recording of conversations.
Harmon and I talked of metaphysics, meditation,
Eastern mysticism, parapsychology problems, ramifications of consciousness
and its different levels. He had brought a folder thick with proposals and
projects of the SRI futurology center, and he asked that I read them when
I had a chance. We talked for nearly three hours.
I report, with regret, that as I was writing this
chapter in April 1997, Willis Harmon died of a brain tumor -- leaving the
field of consciousness studies without one of its greatest pioneers.
The second magnetometer experiment that evening
at the Varian Hall of Physics yielded no results.
As reported by Puthoff in a later book, "We returned the next day, but the equipment was behaving erratically; it was not possible to obtain a stable background signal for calibration. ... This in no way cast doubt on the previous day's results, since at that time the perturbations occurred only in conjunction with Ingo's activity. ...replication of these results had to wait another year before we obtained apparatus of our own for an extended study." (See Mind-Reach, Targ & Puthoff, Delacorte, 1977, p. 25.)
Hal and I went and consumed MORE ice cream, anyway, after a delicious Chinese meal.
Thus ended the day of 7 June 1972 -- but I had met the guys and gals at the futurology center, an entirely different breed of consciousness carriers than I had ever encountered before. Although they never said so directly, they all more or less agreed that Rule of the World be invested in Wisdom Masters rather than in political cabals.