And Begin…

by  —  December 31, 2007

The Process started for me in Malibu in the early 90’s. I had been working with Skinny Puppy for several years and received an invitation to join the band as a full time visual artist. At the time I had pseudo net access (email and news reader) through a great unix BBS called the Edge Of Perception. It was enough to give me some access to the outside world and get me really thinking about this whole Internet thing, the impact it was having and going to have on us all. Keep in mind this was before Mosaic, the first visual web browser. The concept we had was to create an album length video in tandem with the recording of the new record for American Recordings. But we wanted to take it much further than this. I’ve long been a student of Marshall Mcluhan. The famous Canadian media theorist who coined the aphorism “The Media Is The Message”. I had also been reading Neil Postman who I thought did a good job of rounding up a lot of ideas regarding media technologies and their impact on culture. So basically I was thinking about developing the project as a meme. The mythology of Skinny Puppy was already there. The consensual infrastructure was in place. It seemed like a pretty fertile garden for a homegrown media experiment.
It was around that time that Genesis P Orridge strolled through the front door. Gen and I had a series of long talks about the project and I remember one fateful afternoon when I said “you know I have this idea that I can only refer to as cultural engineering”. He laughed and threw me his business card which said “G.P.O. Cultural Engineer”. Gen introduced me to the Merry Pranksters and a bunch of really interesting stuff that was happening while I was still knee high to a grasshopper. He also introduced me to “The Process, Church of the Final Judgement” Immediately we were all drawn to the way the Process used pop culture as a means of propagating their message. There were also some striking parallels. The idea of shocking people into a state of awareness, animal rights activism, the dark image.
We all felt we had found our muse. Genesis, Adam Rostoker (Adam Walks Between Worlds) and I penned the original “Thee Process IS..” document and sent it out into the world causing mass confusion within our sphere. American Recordings got on board and released to the press, little quicktime movies that we created (on floppy disks) and spread the rumor that we were involved with a mysterious cult. When somehow, our landlord got wind of this, we almost got ejected from Shangri-La, (oh the irony that lies in that name) our studio and home. Robert Engen, a student at USC and a sys admin set us up with an ftp presence and a mailing list (which is still to this day a ghost in the machine of USC). The list immediately generated loads of traffic and took on a life of its own. The Process was to be an early open source project. We planned to have people send us sounds and images through the net which would be incorporated into the recording and video production. It worked. Although we were on 28.8 dial up connections, the phone line was humming away 24/7. It was a very exciting time.
Unfortunately at the same time that our new Process meme was spreading through the internet, the band was imploding. The project would crash and burn just after it got off the ground. After salvaging what we could in terms of production in a studio in downtown L.A. (with the great help of the H-GUN crew) I returned to Vancouver. Ironically my 65 Renault 8 blew up about thirty miles from the Canadian border and I had to have it towed across.
The project was dead but the process list had taken on quite a life of its own. At its peak in the mid nineties there were up to one hundred posts per day. People seemed to be finding identity and like minds through the Process meme. Loki got on board and pioneered the first web presence. The contents of the ftp archive became the web site. Loki donated his NeXT computer so that we could have our own server independent of USC. We parked it on a T1 connection that was donated by Jean Yves Theriult. We gave server access to those who wanted to build upon the web site. The list folk created a variety of home grown projects. A threaded news reader of the list content, a music project that was a collaboration across the wires (including the production of the CD and artwork) and a project called “The Never Ending Story”. An open source story that anyone could add to.

Then one day, out of the blue, I received an email from someone claiming to be a real Processean from an existing chapter in the state of New York. That email was the only the start of a watershed of communication. I began to hear from several splinter groups of the original Process Church who, as it turns out, were both still active and keeping an eye on us. This was more than a surprise as I had, to this point, naively believed that the original Process Church was entirely defunct.
It was during this time that we lost Dwayne Goettle. One of the most beautiful creative souls I’ve been privileged to know. Also during this time Adam Rostoker was gunned down in his home. His murder is still a mystery to this day.

Anecdotes from this era:

I received a cease and desist email from the Portland airport regarding our use of the Process logo. I replied and let them know that the four P symbol was not only an ancient swastika probably of Buddhist origins, but that its trademark was owned by a psychotherapy cult know as “The Process, The Church Of The Final Judgment”. I believe I cited William Sims Bainbridge’s book “Satan’s Power” with the page number reference that contained a picture of the logo. I never heard back from their legal dept…..;-)
I once received an email from a gentlemen who claimed to be the first child born into the Process, as well as a Skinny Puppy fan. He warned me that associating with the Process moniker was tantamount to welcoming the FBI into your living room.
I received an email from a man in prison who claimed to be a cell mate of David Berkowitz. He told me that he had read a lot of Process literature and just wanted me to know that Mr. Berkowitz’s claims regarding the Process were indeed bunk.

Eventually after the list had waned and traffic had dropped away we gave over to a chapter of Processean’s based in NY. The site was active for a year or so and then appeared to go dormant. Eventually having no contact from the chapter I took it over once more to use it for a Vancouver based art collective called “Process Media Lab”. Not to be confused with Adam Parfreys publishing label “Process Media”.
It was around this time that I was contacted by the Toronto chapter of The Process. I arranged to meet with the head of the chapter while visiting the city. We met on a corner of College street. He looked at me and said “you don’t look like a member of Skinny Puppy” Well, he didn’t show up wearing a black cape with the goat of mendes emblazoned on the front either! It was an excellent meeting and I think informative for both of us. I learned about the Process street missions. The members of the Toronto chapter had anonymously been running a resource management operation for the different charity organizations in the area but now felt it was time to resume direct action helping people on the streets.
Since that time the web site has been in limbo with a little sentence proclaiming “rebuilding…be back soon”. I like to think that the flow of time is simply how you perceive it. So for me it’s just been a blink of the eye ;-). This thing that started as a social art experiment turned into a journey that has now spanned over a decade. Since we evoked it, it has always shadowed us. It’s taught me a few things over the years. Perhaps the biggest lesson is that you have to take responsibility for the things that you create. Once they are born they will always have some sort of attachment to you no matter where they go and how they develop outside of you. Einstein’s theory of relativity may very well relate to ideas as well as objects. An idea that is put in motion tends to remain in motion, and if ideas are faster than light, they must collect mass on route. I also learned that the concept of “open source” doesn’t just apply to software. It applies to ideas and actions. Here’s an example of what one man is doing to help a lot of people with an open source concept…

So now we re-launch the web site. The aim of this blog is to create a virtual speak easy with a library of resources for learning. You’ll find most of our links on the side bar are geared towards getting the old neurons humming. If you look at the main link Darknet, you’ll find tools to protect your privacy. Believe me, if you don’t take steps to do it, no one will do it for you.
We are musicians, artists, programmers and media hackers waving a dark flag proudly displaying the four-P logo. It’s my hope that we can inspire each other not only to think and speak. But also to act.

Marked as: Abnormal SociologyTechnology  —  10 comments   (RSS)

10 Comments so far
  1. Sighris January 1, 2008 6:23 pm

    Above, william wrote: >
    > You’ll find most of our links on the side bar are geared towards getting the old neurons humming…
    > It’s my hope that we can inspire each other not only to think and speak. But also to act.

    BTW, let me intro myself:
    I grew up in Chicago where I came across the ToPY movement in about… ummm… the late ’80s or early ’90s. I met the head of the ToPY contact point in Chicago and (separately – through the music scene) I met Jim Marcus (Die Warzau, PigFace, O23, etc.) and became good friends of both. Each of them, and a man I met at “The Occult Bookstore” passed on information and knowledge to me which (for lack ov better wordz) helped me to open my “third eye”. A few years later, they both introduced me to Gen (when he was passing through Chicago) who told me an amazing story, which at first I did not believe, until Jim confirmed that what Gen was saying was not some bizarre “performance art”/fictional-story. I think that was when I fell so far down the rabbit hole that it would be better to start digging deeper than to try to climb out.

    OK, I think that is enough… for now at least… maybe I will put more on my bio page later… but I just wanted to wish everyone involved with this project a Powerful-“New”-Year!


  2. william January 2, 2008 1:56 am

    Happy New Year.
    And welcome.

  3. pete23 January 3, 2008 3:26 pm

    i remember accessing the first through university in 1994 – book of dreams, book of…, etc… memory fades, so long ago… then i seem to have it on my bookmarks from work, circa 1998 – which i was just checking to see which are still live, and i come across this.


  4. FatalTwilight January 19, 2008 11:44 pm

    I have one quick question if you will, William.

    Was the original “Thee Process is…” document the same as the one found on the reconstructed Transmedia web-site that caused confustion regarding your landlord and such?

  5. william January 21, 2008 8:34 pm

    I haven’t seen the Transmedia website so I can’t say for sure.

  6. FatalTwilight January 21, 2008 8:57 pm

    I was just wondering if it was this file:

    If not, I was also wondering if it will be posted when The Process archives are completed.

  7. william January 21, 2008 9:06 pm

    That is indeed the one.

  8. seekue January 22, 2008 8:25 am

    From Xtul to Zion, in their own words:

  9. FatalTwilight January 22, 2008 3:26 pm

    That was a wonderfull read…thank you for posting that Seekue. I also love the pictures and how it tells of a more personal account of The Process Church.

  10. madalynkathryn December 20, 2013 11:58 pm

    What extraordinary luck! I’ve always found them diggable! So William, might you help me navigate? Loki said tag… 😉 Help please? As it is…

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