My last column gathered a few responses: Some good, some funny, and some angry, or at least worried. It seems that in this age of terror and strife, making light of anything remotely associated with 9/11 and Has-Been Laden is a no-no.
Well I say pooh-pooh on that. I didnt tell folks to take hostages. I wrote an essay on how to deal with a crisis, and theres absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Besides, I took the time to do the research, and Ill stand by my sources. Now, if you werent amused, thats a problem. Hard as it is to hear, you cant have comedy if you dont have a chump. Its an unwritten law that somebody is going to get the short end of the stick if everyone else is to laugh. Even if youre one of those politically correct, socially conscientious cowboys on the moral high-horse, you may find relief in the second unwritten rule of comedy: Like old-fashioned sword dueling, for every thrust theres an effective riposte. In point of fact, you may find yourself quickly disarmed if youre a practicing politically correct, socially conscience cowboy on a moral high-horse. Amen.
This month, I want explore the other (and undoubtedly more entertaining) side of hostages: turning those you have abducted or acquired into persons with a more agreeable disposition. Yes folks, Im talking Brainwashing old school! For the record, Im not advocating the abduction of people solely for the simple pleasures of brainwashing. But we just cant have a civilized dialogue on the topic if we dont treat all symptoms, and writing a Kidnappers Bible would be just plain wrong. Besides, who in their right mind would steal a kid, of all things? The best you could hope for is a ransom, and its betting a long shot that the parents of the little fartling would pay good money to have the nipple-nibbler back.
The inspiration and main resource for this article was written by that renaissance man of philosophy, Robert Anton Wilson. Those of you who have read The Illuminatus! Trilogy or Cosmic Trigger know of his capacity to twist ones preconceived notions of reality around like a balloon-animal artist. If youve never heard of him, just believe me when I say that he can juggle the research of Dr. Timothy Leary, the finer points of quantum mechanics, the philosophy of Aleister Crowley, chess and the Masonic conspiracy legend coherently sometimes in a single paragraph.
The majority of my shtick is derived from three of his books: Prometheus Rising, The Illuminati Papers and Quantum Psychology. A couple of examples below have been taken from his encyclopedia of conspiracies and other low-rent mayhem, Everything Is Under Control. Since this isnt a term paper, Im not going to bother with citing sources or a bibliography. If you feel so compelled to call me on my bullshit, then read the books yourself.
Because the task of brainwashing friends and influencing acquaintances requires a crash coarse in psychology, physiology and a dab of good ol gumption, Ill lay the basic principles down for your perusal. The model of the human nervous system used for this dissection and regeneration of someone elses reality-tunnel was created by Dr. Timothy Leary, and extrapolated by Wilson in Prometheus Rising. Please remember, this is just a model and not the real thing: Just because the menu doesnt taste like steak doesnt mean you cant get a sirloin using the menu as a guide. So be it.
As a last word, this column isnt meant to inspire bigger and better kidnappings. I just feel that everybody should have the personal ammunition to fight fire with fire. That is to say: If the world at large spends its energy telling you how to live your life, why should YOU not be empowered to play the same ace? Shit man, I say beat them to the punch, and mean it!
(Padre Disclaimer: If you somehow followed the instructions and your task came to fruition neither I, Andrew D. E. Miller, nor the Big Wu LLC, Inc claims responsibility; that fault rests solely upon the shoulders of Jon Schwartz, the man who beats me with weapons indescribable, simply to ensure I dont hand in my work an hour too late!)
The gist of this essay revolves around the omelet theory, first attributed to V.I. Lenin, as in: You have to break a few eggs to make one. The same thing applies to making an omelet out of someone elses egg: The mental walls that can be ripped down can be rebuilt. Only in this case, youll be the one not only ordering, but cooking and hopefully eating the other guys breakfast.
All of the things that make you the person you are (and me the loser I am) reside in four major categories: Genetics, Imprinting, Conditioning, and Learning. There are limitations on what a person can and cannot influence within a mind. Learning and conditioning can be imposed without too much trouble. Imprinting (the stamp of simple circumstance branded upon your noggin) can be reestablished with some skill. Genetics play a major role in the shaping of you, the person reading this now. But genetic traits are never the option for fiddling with (at least, not yet) as they are passed on before you could get a hold of the tit.
Since genetics is a subject I know nothing about, I wont waste time with it, save a few notions that help troubleshoot the brainwash process. What we do know about the passing of DNA down bloodlines is elementary: The apple never falls far from the tree. Which explains why apple seeds grow apple trees and dog jizz makes puppies. But for our purposes, the relative results of ones genetic makeup play a crucial factor in understanding reality tunnels, or umwelt (Come on, say it like a Kraut: Ooom-Veltdt!)
By reality tunnel, I dont mean anything weird. Feel free to think of a reality tunnel as your point-of-view. For our purposes, the reality tunnel is what we want to cultivate in another way. That is to sayIf you used to think X is right, until I brainwashed you to prefer Y instead, then we can both correctly postulate that Y is correct indeed. Why? Because I said so (and you can say so too, if you get your brainwash on.)
As far as DNA goes, Ill use it in the most basic of circumstances. The DNA make up of a chimpanzee shares 98% of the same for humans. Thats right, for all our science, art and religion, were just a scant two points from settling our differences by throwing feces at one another (well kind of, but well get to that, too.) Similarly, dogs share a certain percent of genetic makeup with you and me, but not as much as the monkeys do. One step further reveals that even fish (such as crappies) share some DNA.
What really makes the difference is that we can track, like a sliding scale, the faculties made available to all of us albeit crappies less than canines, and canines less than us. This is the key to brainwashing: You can train a crappie to eat when you feed it, and you can train a dog to that and so many more complex functions. But you can soften a person up enough to imprint an entire reality, sexual preference and all, if you have the persistence. (Good luck training a dog to be gay, or even bi. They just wont do that. Giraffes on the other hand, are a whole new can of worms. As yet again, we shall see )
Imprinting, unlike genetics, is malleable. Like its younger brothers, conditioning and learning, it happens to you, ready or not. Scientists have observed a gosling make a mommy connection with a ping-pong ball. Since mommy wasnt there, the lil squirt bonded with the closest thing available, in this case, a ball. Others have witnessed a newborn giraffe attach itself to a Jeep as its mother figure (full of scientists gawking, no doubt.) In this case, the giraffe later tried to mate with a Jeep, as it seemed to be the most logical option. Either way, imprinting is home plate for brainwashers. For you at home wondering how youve been imprinted, you need look no further than your sense of self-security, gauge youre self-esteem, your ability to engage in problems/challenges and especially choice of porn. Whether or not you like it is most likely a result of imprinting. Go consult your freshman psychology textbook if you dont believe me.
Conditioning, a step less severe than imprinting, happens to us everyday. For an example: Ever since he found out that he can watch porn on the web without his wife finding out, hes totally conditioned himself to ____ every morning. (Fill in the blank and lets move on.)
Learning is like conditioning, except it requires motivation as the catalyst. As an example, I couldnt sit down and study either German or Spanish everyday because I felt completely unmotivated to do it. Why waste time on that when the shortest path between my pecker and getting nookie resides in the realm of rock-n-roll? However, if I was an exchange student in hot pursuit of a nubile native in another country, you bet Id be putting in crunch time on those verb tenses and vocab lists.
Were all victims of circumstance in regards to our genetics, but the other three are negotiable. Although no one actually has to live within the particulars of any given reality-tunnel, we all do so, because thats how we were raised. If we took a small sample of three people, any three people, say George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, and Sunshine Q. Hippie, we would find after extensive testing that they all agree on lifes major facts: The sky is blue, the sun is yellow, and the grass is green. However, its within their reality tunnels that vast differences of lifes major topics (sex, religion, politics) take place.
What is brainwashing? Ill define brainwashing as the willful act of drawing some one out of their current reality tunnel (consensually or not) with the goal of imprinting another reality of your choosing upon them without regard for their rights, freedoms, or opinions. For the purposes of this ditty, Ill accept the broadly regarded definition of this term in addition to lesser variations. How far you want to push your subject down the line is up to you.
Whether your subject is kidnapped or acquired by inducing them into a cult, an army or whatever, its almost irrelevant. Its what you do with them after you have them that matters. Like I said before, this is not a guide to kidnapping. You dont have to take people by force to put them in a position for brainwashing, but it has been done before (with outstanding results). Since this is an essay on brainwashing and not kidnapping, lets assume that the subject acquired is undecided on whether or not they were taken by force, dig?
Anyone can be brainwashed, in fact we all have to some extent. It happens all the time: Some get it in the army, some join cults. Others, who have taken against their will by creeps, find themselves rebelling at first, then faking an allegiance to their captors, before long, their admiration becomes more and more real until they no longer think about it. It is just accepted.
After you have your subject at mercy, lock them into a small, dark area. While a trunk or closet will do, arrange their emergence to simulate the birth process. As soon as they are out, give them food. This makes quite a statement to their consciousness: They are helpless as an infant and there is only one source of nutrition you. Repeat this as long as it takes to get them to stop breaking the handcuffs on your nice coffee table. They must accept you as the be-all end-all of their existence. The army does this a more subtle way: They send you a letter telling you when to show up at the induction center. If you dont, the message is all the same: Your body doesnt belong to you anymore. A cult will let you walk in the door and eat for free. Its because theyre hedging their bets on the probability that if you break the rules, theyll cut you off from the chow line. Most folks that walk in may be just fine with that. But theres always the ones who dont mind the cult rap. It just may be the thing theyve been searching for.
If youve ever watched a war flick (Full Metal Jacket; An Officer and A Gentleman or even Stripes) you may notice all the drill sergeants go off on a speech where they proudly announce to the newly shaved recruits that For the next eight weeks, Im your Mommy, your Daddy, your girlfriend, your blah, blah, blah No matter if you joined the army or got abducted by some weird fringe group (Detroit Lions fans come to mind) the song remains the same: Get with the program or die.
Needless to say, but all communication with the outside world is out. Once the subject begins to accept you as mommy or the savior or whatever, its time to practice the old saying youve got to be cruel to be kind. Since youre their sole link to the outside, a well-kept captive will try to make nice. Accept this as par for the course. But your real motive is to let the subject feel a connection, only so you can randomly and forcefully turn on them. Besides keeping them guessing as to your current mood, erratic reactions influence them to fake their gratuity at first, only to betray their will later as they accommodate themselves for your approval. And thats the name of the game. Like murder, its said the first times the hardest. The sooner they pretend to appreciate you and the food you bring, the sooner theyll stop pretending. As the Jesuits say Pray with your mouth, and soon youll pray with your heart.
After youve got them to routinely recognize you as the source of everything, its time to move on to crushing the vestige of their ego. This is easier than it sounds. If youve ever seen a two-year-old in action, youll notice that after theyve been fed, theyre next order of business is to grab everything on the table, open every cabinet, and bang every door seemingly just to see how far they can push you. Funny enough, thats exactly what theyre doing: Theyre trying to extend the boundaries within the Top Dog/Bottom Dog hierarchy of the family. Feeling secure that theyll be fed no matter what, a toddler begins to become conscious of yes and no as not only a command, but as a possible choice. Dont let this slide. If it persists, go back to the old random punishment it keeps the on their toes.
As an aside, the same part of the nervous system that plays the bottom/top game is the same part that marks territory. Bob Wilson noted that animals mark their turf with excretions of urine; humans define their space with excretions of ink on maps. Even more interesting is the connection made between this territorial mind and the anus: Have you ever noticed that anyone you dont like (especially some one in charge, like a boss) can be effectively described to your friends as an asshole or a shit head?
Either way, keep your subject at bay. Let them know whos Top Dog. For fun, drop hints that he/she may be a candidate for advancement, only to humiliate them later. (Gets a laugh every time at cocktail parties.)
While youre at it, give your subject a new name. Discourage any reference to their given name, and encourage them by only feeding them if they respond to the moniker youve chosen. Be creative, and be firm.
If youve gotten this far with your new robot, then youre ready to start the real fun: Mind Games! Every, and I mean every group that aspires to control people understands what I have come to call Homers Law. Named after that intellectual powerhouse Homer Simpson, it is stated that: Every time you learn something new, you forget something old. And if youve been keeping up on your beatings and feedings, youll find this easier than you thought.
Because domesticated primates (thats you and me if youre keeping score) conceptualize and socialize using symbols such as the alphabet, a good and thorough brainwash demands a new and revered set of semantics to assimilate. Aside from making their new reality more complete, the instillation of your logic gives your subject something to ponder during their off time. (Have you moved your subject out the closet yet?)
Its this kind of cerebral mumbo-jumbo that makes the news when brainwash victims are dragged out of their cult. It always comes as a shock to the rest of us when a cult leaders followers express anger at the arrest of their messiah. Initially, it might be the man that attracts them to his church, but its the blind acceptance of his gospel that keeps them among the faithful.
If you remember Heavens Gate (Nike sneakers and the Hale-Bopp comet), Waco (where the FBI showed their true colors) or Jonestown, (poison Kool-Aid and almost a thousand suicides) you may recall some strange shit. Not surprisingly, theyve all been outdone by that perpetual champion of everything wrong, Hitlers Nazi Party. Always raising the bar on idiocy, a faction of Nazi Party members, including Hermann Goering, got themselves caught up with a religious nut and German pilot Peter Bender. Among Benders eccentricities, he was a follower of an American born prophet Cyrus Tweed, who later renamed himself Koresh (Hebrew for Cyrus). One of Koreshanitys main tenets is that the universe is neither round nor flat, but concave.
Bender endeared himself to Nazi officials by writing An infinite universe is a Jewish abstraction. A finite, rounded universe is a thoroughly Aryan conception. Like most things Nazi, he was so wrong that most regular folks have a hard time getting their head around this lunacy. Not to be put off by overwhelming evidence that suggests the world is round, Bender and his pals attempted to prove their hollow Earth theory by firing rockets strait up at the night sky, assuming that the stars were streetlights in other countries. As the embarrassing search for the British Navy by looking through powerful telescopes at the sky proved futile, the Reich ran out of patience, sending Bender and his family to the camps. (Who didnt see that coming?)
The point of this story isnt to show that the Nazis were as dumb as they were malicious, but to illustrate the human capacity for twisting facts around to fit their beliefs and reality tunnels. Also, it shows how far you can fuck with somebodys head, given the time.
And so shall it be with your subject. Assuming you had some kind of plan for whom you wanted your subject to be after the brainwashing, this is the time to implement it. Drill your subject with new beliefs, reward correct behavior, punish any slip-ups, and remember to always keep them guessing. If they say clouds are made of water, tell them that clouds are camouflage to hide space ships. Before I forget, always use a patsy to justify your behavior. Its much easier to keep control if they are perpetually warned of the enemy. The old us against the world speech is a brainwashers stock-in-trade.
Incidentally, this happens all the time. Eight weeks of basic training will transform any fun-loving kid into a formidable killing machine. Im not saying that all soldiers are brainwashed, but most civilians dont look forward to jumping in a tank and blowing everything to kingdom come. Conversely, eight weeks on Phish tour can turn any regular kid into a stinky hippie.
The final step of a brainwash is certainly the most dangerous, and potentially the most intriguing: Recasting their sexual and social imprints. If you go check your old Psychology 101 text, youll find a common excersize to illustrate the power of imprinting. Youll be asked to remember the first time you had an orgasm. Chances are your sexual script was written at that moment. While folks tend to expand and change their preferences over time, the cornerstone of their sexuality is rooted in the first experience.
Not surprisingly, cult leaders and brainwashers tend to be nutcases, and their sexuality reflects their weirdness. Dave Koresh and Jim Jones took multiple followers for wives, Heavens Gate founder Marshall Applewhite required celibacy and encouraged castration. Ralph Reed, head of lobby group Focus On The Family and all-around dork, attempts to attract new devotees into his brand of Christianity by forbidding sex until marriage. Always caught with his head up his ass, Reed cant see the angle that most people dont save themselves, and if they did, what kind of reward is it to have sex with, let alone marry, the kind of woman that listens to him?
As for the obvious moral problems that go along with engaging in sex with a subject, dont sweat it. If you transform their will to match your will, then its unlikely that anything happening can be construed as against their will. And if you buy into this, youre crazier than me. The only thing Im asking of you if you fight boredom by brainwashing somebody is that you make it weird. When the FBI shows up and busts your cult and you end up on the cover of Time magazine, it makes for much better reading if the sexual details are sordid, or at least kinky.
Now that youve thoroughly transformed some chump into a completely compliant zombie, take some time to grab an ice-cold Old Style, crawl up on the hammock, and yell: Mow my lawn bee-yatch!
And pretty soon, we was both jumpin up and down, yellin Kill! Kill! and the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me an sent me on down the hall I didnt feel too good about it. Arlo Guthrie

This months Old Style zealot is my brother John, one of my best men in my wedding. More than a master of buzzcrafting, John made my life when he gave me his Rickenbacker bass guitar for Christmas in 1986— Quite a guy.
Drive safe, be nice to your mother, and drink your milk!