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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 8:20 am
by American Dream
Exploring the Weird with Erik Davis

Scholar, journalist and author Erik Davis joins Phil and JF for a freewheeling conversation on the permutations of the weird, Burning Man, speculative realism, the uncanny, the H. P. Lovecraft/Philip K. Dick syzygy, and how the world has gotten weirder (and less weird) since Erik’s groundbreaking Techgnosis was published twenty years ago.


Erik Davis’s Techgnosis website

Erik Davis's podcast, Expanding Mind

Erik Davis, Techgnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information

Erik Davis, Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica

Erik Davis, Led Zeppelin IV

Mark Fisher, The Weird and the Eerie

Philip K. Dick, Exegesis

Goop Magazine, no. 2

Hakim Bey and the Temporary Autonomous Zone

The Burning Man Festival

Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance

Erik Davis, “Weird Shit”

JF Martel, “How Symbols Matter”

Henri Bergson, Introduction to Metaphysics

Charles Baudelaire, “Correspondances” from Fleurs du mal

Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny”

Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus

The Onion, “Lovecraftian School Board Member Wants Madness Added to Curriculum”

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 9:34 am
by American Dream

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 4:21 pm
by American Dream
The Templar's Reich Milieu
The Slaves Shall Serve

by Peter-Robert Koenig


This writer does not assert that Crowley, Thelema or the O.T.O are fascist or Nazi: Crowley also had connections to communist characters. His totalitarian streak could blend with the "right" or the "left," and both "right" and "left" if pursued to extremes verge into shades of the totalitarian. In this sense one can call him a fascist but one could equally call him a communist, and he was neither in the final analysis. However, it is obvious that some misanthropic elements can be found in the biography of Crowley, in the concept of Thelema and in the instructions for members of the O.T.O. and its environment. We will thus concentrate on the most evident examples and protagonists. And who else can be found in this milieu: the occult racists. And the rôle models.

However, before we attach the labels “totalitarian” or “fascist” to Crowleyites we should outline the main features of the Thelemic worldview.

Many Thelemites consider themselves to be divine agents, acting from a “True Will” — while non-Thelemites are mere 'objects' — as indicated in Crowley's dictum, "the slaves shall serve." The “slaves who shall serve” are each and everyone who lives (according to the Thelemic worldview) in dependency: dependants/subordinates, addicts, weaklings — in other words: the enslaved ones. Similarly, Grosche spoke of "things, objects, material".

In occult terms the Thelemite is a dichotomist, seeing himself as a superior being or a 'chosen one', while everyone else is as nothing. This sort of Thelemite (certainly, there are exceptions to the rule) lives in a world ruled by good and evil; of course, as a superior being these Thelemites might reach a level that is above that (the “crossing of the Abyss”) — but nevertheless the world below the abyss is only black and white. Thelemites are trapped in such relationships; all are victims and culprits, masters and slaves, gods and sub-humans. And this is mirrored in their language when they describe their critics, ex-members, the (Christian) churches, the government, the administration or whomever they target.

This is contradictory to the self-portrayal of Thelema retailed to the public from which new members must be drawn.

Not only is the religious-philosophical ideology Thelema totalitarian, but also the emotional attitude, the value conceptions, the opinions about being chosen, the rôle identifications, the projected unfair fate of the Thelemites and the assumption of the justified predominance over non-Thelemites derived from all of these considerations. Viewed politically, this is expressed in all political orientations resulting from an anti-democratic perspective.

Are there occult-fascist ideas today in O.T.O. lodges or in related occult groups outside of the German-speaking countries?
Marcelo Ramos Motta, one of the belligerent competitors in the field of the O.T.O. behaved like an anti-semite and interpreted Crowley’s writings accordingly. There is no point in delving into this matter here. Interested readers may look up Motta’s "Magick Without Tears (Unexpurgated, Commented)", Nashville 1983.

From a manuscript dated 1957: "People who have not as yet accepted the Law of Thelema are in it regarded as pagans and phillistines, little more than animals and, in certain things, below the beasts. [...] The O.T.O. is an anarchy, and, as a result, its government is absolutely autarctic. [...] it is to be foreseen that breaches of discipline shall arise, that scandal and immorality may develop in the Lodges, not only financial but sexual scandal may breed at any moment, and more easily so in the Lover triad than in the man–of–earth–triad. Breaches of discipline of this kind are breaches of Order discipline, not of personal discipline, and must be dealt with the utmost severity! Brothers who, in the interest of their egos or wishes harm the Organism of the Order must be not only demoted but, in case it is estimated they represent too much danger of disease, must be discarded by the Organism. When definitively discarded, if it is estimated that they possess too much knowledge, they must be ruthlessly exterminated. An appropriate magical link must be formed and a hostile current of will directed for their prompt destruction." Marcelo Ramos Motta: "The Development of a Secret Society in America in the Years 1957–2000 e.V.", 10.1.1957.

Christian Bouchet
In the political associations or alignments of the many Italian O.T.O. – variations, Hitler and Stalin are equally admired. Most members are recruited from the Right . In Italy some occult associations lead to a group called Orion, comprising former adherents of Julius Evola who promote anti-imperialistic and anti-American notions, mixed however with philo-Russian attitudes (this holds true for members both on the Right and the Left). Similar associations can be found among the French occult groups as well as the South American lodges.

In France, the O.T.O. lodge master of the 'Caliphate,' Christian Bouchet, received an antedated Spanish Memphis-Misraim Charter in 1991 from the Spaniard Manuel Cabrera Lamparter. This charter traces back to Michael Bertiaux and allegedly was issued to empower its possessor “to fuck the Caliphate” in matters involving copyrights.

With this charter, Bouchet “logically” proclaimed himself head of the national French Grand Lodge of Arnoldo Krumm-Heller's O.T.O. The 'Caliphate' subsequently expelled Bouchet, who meanwhile moved politically to the Right.

As in Italy, when the O.T.O is mentioned in France, rarely is the 'Caliphate' meant, but usually rather the associations that Bouchet created. Bouchet publicly claims himself to be the “Xe de l'Ordre du temple d'Orient, évêque gnostique et hiérophante de l'Etoile d'argent”.

Meanwhile, offshoots of Bouchet's O.T.O who think that this O.T.O. is equal to the 'Caliphate' thrive today in Spain. In 1994, Bouchet made Jordi García Casas and Juan José Comas García V° of the Loge “of the Mystical Kindi” [sic] in Barcelona and signed the document with a Gnostic reference as “Marcion XI°”. The two see themselves now as 'Califas' of the O.T.O for Spain and sign as IX°, X° and XI° . Together with Bouchet their names can be found in neofascist circles in Spain around Ernesto Milá (Frende de la Juventud [FJ], Partido Español Nacional Socialista [PENS]). Comas leads his own neofascist organization CEDADE. The same people are in contact with a Gabriél Rojas who runs an illegitimate Temple of Set and a Church of Satan, naturally without permission from the correct chiefs of either organization. Not surprisingly, these circles also contain an Ordo Illuminatorum and an Ordo Templi Orientialis [sic].

In 1991, Bouchet created the politically Right-oriented La Troisième Voie, from which he split off however in 1996 (?) to form the Right-wing, anti-American group Nouvelle Résistance. In 1999, Bouchet took part as a nationalist revolutionary (Comités d'Action Republicaines) in the splitting of Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National.

At the beginning of the 90's, Bouchet attained a doctorate as an historian on Aleister Crowley. His friend Rémi Boyer (allegedly an advisor at the French Ministry of Justice) then gathered different adherents of all ideological inclinations and created a Cercle d'Alexandrie.

This circle not only practised rituals but also pursued theoretical studies (i.e., the collecting of material). It is not completely evident whether this organization is identical to a so-called Group Thèbe, where the same names can be found ...

Likewise Boyers name is connected with a group Arc-En-Ciel. In the diverse memberships of these circles you not only find researchers like Serge Caillet (Memphis Misraim) or Robert Amadou (among other things Prêtre de l'Église Syrienne), who sometimes assemble with the Freemasons of Zurich, but also illustrious personalities, such as the Memphis-Misraim Grandmaster Gérard Kloppel, Jean Pierre Giudicelli de Cressac Bachelerie (Memphis Misraim in Nice and politically on the Right in the Front de Liberation National Corse) or Jean Pascal Ruggiu (Golden Dawn in Paris) ...

Martin Erler, former Grandmaster of A.M.O.R.C in Germany, whose “cooperation” in these circles was also solicited, came to the conclusion that these groups are only “sneaky constructions” in order to procure internal material.

In 1993, Bouchet, in the context of his contacts to the national Bolshevik front, appeared on a Russian TV program of Alexander Dugin. The interview was printed in Dugin’s yearbook “Mily Angel” and in “The Way to Apocalypse: Knocking on the Golden Gate” (1997) printed by Yury Vorobyevsky. Thus Bouchet ironically gave the initiation for the start of the 'Caliphate' in Russia, which took place in the spring of 2000.


Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 8:24 pm
by liminalOyster
How Sarma Melngailis, Queen of Vegan Cuisine, Became a Runaway Fugitive
With customers such as Chelsea Clinton and Alec Baldwin, the Pure Food and Wine owner was a food-world star. Then, in 2011, she met Anthony Strangis. Now facing prison for grand larceny and fraud, Melngailis says her collapse was due to a spell he cast.


Focus on the dog. By the time police arrested Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis on May 10 of this year on fugitive-from-justice warrants at a Tennessee hotel, where they’d been holed up for 40 days and 40 nights, this is how insane their marriage had become: Melngailis, 43, the radiantly blonde poster woman for vegan living, a Manhattan restaurateur, and a Wharton graduate, says she had come to believe—really, really believe—that her pit bull, Leon, was on the cusp of being made immortal. This Lazarus-ian feat, and more, would be accomplished by her husband, Strangis, 35, a gambler with a criminal past she’d met on Twitter five years earlier.

The two were accused by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office of draining Melngailis’s 12-year-old raw-vegan restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, of nearly $2 million, stiffing employees, duping investors, going on the lam, and spending lavishly on hotels, watches, and casinos. After they left town, in May of 2015, Melngailis went from feminist business icon to clickbait—the “Vegan Vixen” and the “vegan Bernie Madoff.” (Attorneys for Melngailis and the attorney for Strangis deny all charges.)

It was an attention-getting story because of the delicious reek of hypocrisy. “She is guilty of conduct unbecoming a vegan,” one of the jilted investors, a Boston software entrepreneur, told me. It was widely reported that, just before the arrest, the couple had ordered a Domino’s pizza. Actually, the non-raw, non-vegan cheesy pie (plus a side of chicken wings) was only for the 300-plus-pound Strangis, who placed the order using his real name, thus leading authorities to their hotel, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Pigeon Forge, just down the road from Dollywood, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Melngailis, alerted to a police presence by Leon’s barking while she was reading a book she’d bought at Goodwill, had been subsisting on vegan bowls from a nearby Chipotle. She begged the officers to treat the dog with care. Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson announced, “They were finally caught and we intend to now hold them accountable for this outrageous thievery and fraud.”


It was a severe comedown. During Melngailis’s stint in the Sevier County Jail, where she was held for nine days before being transferred to Rikers, some of her female cellmates taunted her, asking if it was true that vegans taste better. Their nickname for her was Sweet Pussy. But to former employees who used to call her Sarmama for turning the workplace into a surrogate family, and social-media followers who lusted after her vegan-deluxe life of tight dresses, biodynamic wines, TV appearances, and customers such as Tom Brady and Chelsea Clinton, the unanswered questions have been how Melngailis got involved with Strangis and why she stayed.

“I don’t know how she got mixed up with Anthony,” Strangis’s own stepmother, Ellie Strangis, said. “A woman like her—what did she see in Anthony?”

“Sarma lost her mind,” said the novelist Porochista Khakpour, a close friend. “She really believed that her dog would live forever.”

A source close to Melngailis describes a scenario in which Strangis resorted to cult-like techniques, including gaslighting, sleep deprivation, and sexual humiliation, to control her. (Strangis, through his court-appointed attorney, Samuel Karliner, denied all these allegations but did not elaborate on his denials in responding to 80 questions from Vanity Fair.) Perhaps if you can understand how a sane, successful businesswoman comes to believe the insane idea that her dog can live forever, everything else snaps into focus—how that person might be accused of bilking her investors of $844,000, owe her employees more than $40,000 in unpaid wages, financially strip her restaurant, and now find herself awaiting trial, with a potential 15-year sentence. She had thought all harm would be magically reversed, just as Leon’s life span would be extended, according to her camp.

The arrest was a cold wake-up. After a court hearing in August, she spoke in a monotone, as if emerging, stunned, from a bunker: “Everything I worked for, and everything I cared most about, except Leon, is gone.”

Melngailis first gained notice when she appeared with her boyfriend, the chef Matthew Kenney, on the cover of their cookbook, Raw Food, Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow, in 2005. The restaurant they founded, Pure Food and Wine, had opened a year earlier in the ground floor and vast back garden of a Gramercy Park town house on Irving Place. Inside, the bar scene hosted yoga-sleek patrons sipping signature cocktails, like the Master Cleanse Tini (organic sake with lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper in a martini glass rimmed with crystal date sugar). In the garden, lit by candle lights, the likes of Anne Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, and Rooney Mara could be seen gracefully masticating such offerings as cauliflower couscous with pickled Persian cucumbers and cultured tree-nut cheeses. On warm evenings, it felt as privileged a place to be as gated Gramercy Park itself. It was profitable, too, often serving more than 200 covers on a night and, with related businesses, yielding revenues of around $7 million and profits of about $500,000 annually, a former manager said.

Melngailis, sometimes sitting at a corner table in the garden, more often playing the role of gracious host around the bar even though small talk exhausted her, was at the center of it all. Back at Newton North High School, outside Boston, from which she graduated in 1990, she’d had a blue Mohawk. Taciturn in person, she loved a book called Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto, a treatise on how the quiet ones change the world. But on the cookbook cover, Melngailis, now blonde, did glow.

After a personal and professional split with Kenney the same year the book came out—she claimed that the relationship drained her savings—Melngailis kept the restaurant, vowing that it would spearhead a raw-vegan movement. (She also opened three juice bars, called One Lucky Duck, and a brand of snacks sold in Whole Foods markets.) But her blog revealed struggles. In 2007, prompted by an e-mail she had received that said, “Your life is my dream life!” she wrote, “And so I’m thinking, these people would all probably choke on their flaxcrackers if they knew that not only am I walking around often feeling entirely spent, weary and even on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but that I’m also carrying a few hundred thousand dollars of personal debt . . . that I’m full of burning rage to build this empire . . . with a residual and occasionally reappearing destructive closet eating disorder.”

As a relationship with a man 13 years her junior was fraying in 2010, Melngailis met Alec Baldwin, at her restaurant, and accompanied him to a staged reading of Moby Dick in the Hamptons. He soon confided in late-night conversations how much he wanted a wife and children. Her advice to the actor was to get a dog. He resisted, but she became obsessed with the online photo of a red-nosed, brown pit bull named Quinn at a shelter in Brooklyn. “One night I woke up crying at like 4am,” she wrote in another blog entry. “My boyfriend woke up too and asked me what was wrong. I told him, ‘It’s Quinn.’ ”

She adopted him. Heartbroken when the boyfriend left, she had her puppy, renaming him Leon. “She wasn’t someone who dated a lot of people,” Baldwin told me. “She worked at the restaurant, did the books, went home, and passed out with her dog.”


After Baldwin met his future wife, Hilaria Thomas, at Pure Food and Wine, in 2011, he set up a Twitter account for her. One of Hilaria’s first followers was a clever guy with the handle @DiscipleOfTodd, who’d already been interacting with @AlecBaldwin. “At the beginning it seemed like this fun thing,” Hilaria recalled. “He seemed nice. He used to make us laugh.” Soon, @Sarma was following this fellow who used various humorous names, including Mr. Fox and Mr. LongBottoms.

Mr. Fox seemed to know just what to tweet to win @Sarma’s heart. On October 28, 2011, Melngailis blew a Twitter kiss to Mr. Fox (@UKnowUWant_It) for guessing why she named her dog Leon—even though she’d posted on her easily searchable blog a year earlier that it was from Léon: The Professional, the Luc Besson film about a hit man. “I <3 anyone who guesses. usually i get ‘like, Kings of Leon?’ ”

According to Melngailis’s camp, Mr. Fox was Strangis, perhaps using Twitter to play six degrees of Alec Baldwin, figuring that somewhere in the actor’s orbit was someone valuable. (Strangis’s attorney denies that his client used these Twitter handles or aliases, or that he insinuated himself into Baldwin’s circle.) If so, the ploy worked. On November 12, Melngailis tweeted, “Mrs Fox be in love with Mr Fox. Can’t be helped.”

When Strangis was about three years old and living in a raised ranch house in Brockton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, he pulled a pair of dice out of his pocket and uttered, “Baby needs a new pair of shoes.” His mother, Patricia, aghast, knew her husband, John, a local policeman, gambled. But this? “He was holding Anthony in one arm and rolling the dice with the other,” she recalled. The couple was married for seven years, having one child. Around 1984, when she informed John she was leaving, Patricia said, “he pulled out a gun. First he put it to my head. He put it in my mouth. He pushed me back in the chair. And he had the gun pointed at me. Anthony came running out. John pulled up this ottoman and we sat there three or four hours.” Finally he walked out, and she called the police. “They called John. He came back and ripped the phone out of the house.” (The lawyer for Strangis denies his mother’s version of events.)

As a kid, Strangis would live with both parents. (His mother tried but failed to secure full custody rights.) In 2004, Strangis, then 23 (he never graduated from college), was said to be living with his father in the Orange Acres trailer park, in Sarasota, Florida, when he met Stacy Avery, a young mother separated from her husband, at a gym. She said that he came on so strong that she agreed to marry him in Las Vegas a few months after they met. She was taking birth control, she said, but Strangis pushed her to stop. Then, after she became pregnant, she alleges, he pawned her jewelry, telling her he was due to inherit $5 million from an aunt. “He went as far as to take me to Raymond James”—the financial-advisory firm—“and to say he wants his money invested in this stock and that stock,” Stacy Strangis said. “One account was to be for my daughter for her college.” Strangis had moved in with her (“I had a house; he didn’t have a house,” Stacy said, bitterly), and things got creepier. There was the time at his father’s trailer when he theatrically tripped over a heating vent. “He lifts the vent up,” Stacy said, “and it had a grenade in it. He said, ‘They are out to get me.’ ” She scoffed, pointing out that it was an antique with no pin and that she knew he had put it there. Even so, she started questioning her own sanity: “You say, ‘Why am I staying with this guy? Who is they?’ ” When Stacy fell three months behind on her mortgage in 2005 and all her electronics had been pawned, she said, Strangis took off for good, leaving a healthy eight-month-old son he has apparently never visited nor sent a penny to support. (Strangis’s attorney denies the ex-wife’s allegations.)

According to Strangis’s mother, it’s possible that when her son first began communicating with Melngailis, in 2011, he was living in a van with his father near the docks in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She said that the two, who often quarreled, had been living rootlessly, traveling together from casino town to casino town. (Strangis’s attorney says his client was living with a friend.) On July 6, 2012, John Strangis Sr. was found dead in that van. An obituary said he had “died unexpectedly” at 72, but did not say of what.

When Melngailis and Strangis first met face-to-face, in New York in late November 2011, a source close to Melngailis said, he was in decent shape, though not as rugged as he’d appeared online. According to Leo Candidus, Melngailis’s confidant since high school, she told Strangis, when they got into bed after a boozy night in the first weeks of their courtship, that she was in the fertile part of her menstrual cycle. She thought he would understand this to mean he should not ejaculate inside her, Candidus said. Instead, he did not pull out. (Strangis’s attorney denies this account.) Without conferring with him, Melngailis, angry, had an abortion on January 12, 2012. But soon, the source said, Strangis was promising to give her enough money to become independent of meddling investors, help anyone she wanted, and pay off her debts, including those related to a $500,000 mortgage she says she had taken to bail Kenney out of a floundering investment in a Maine restaurant property, and more than $1 million to Jeffrey Chodorow, the original backer of Pure Food and Wine. By April 2012, according to Melngailis’s camp, none of this money had materialized. (Strangis’s attorney denies these promises were made.) By then, she had told Strangis she’d terminated the pregnancy, and stopped responding to his messages. “I love my dog,” she tweeted. “Leon will never lie to me.” The breakup didn’t take. A city of New York marriage license was issued on December 5, 2012. Melngailis told almost no one about it. “He told me if I was his wife I’d be more protected,” she said. “It was vague.” (Strangis’s attorney denies that his client made such promises.)

According to a source close to Melngailis, Strangis began to speak of a secretive brother who was an expert in surveillance, violent, and connected to mysterious forces. (In reality, his one half-brother and two half-sisters “walk the straight and narrow,” Strangis’s stepmother said.) The Melngailis source said that Strangis told Melngailis that his tech expert, “Will Richards,” detected that her computer had been hacked. She needed to e-mail Will her login passwords. At some point, Strangis had access to her e-mail, cell- phone, and bank accounts. (Strangis’s attorney denies this version of events.)

When she would protest about his plans, the source recalled, he’d say such tantrums risked knocking them off course, and asked if she’d properly taken her antidepressant, Wellbutrin, and told her she shouldn’t trust her memory, because of Ambien. He said he could tell at a glance if people were “red shirts” (bad) or “blue shirts” (good). He began to tell Melngailis that some of her family and employees were red shirts. (Strangis’s attorney denies this.) At the apple orchard that Melngailis’s mother, Susan H. Jasse, owns and runs in New Hampshire, Strangis told Jasse that he needed funds to help Melngailis, according to Jasse’s attorney, Patrick Brackley. After all, she’d had an abortion, was bulimic, and was on antidepressants. “The poor mother came to believe based on what he was saying that if he didn’t get the money for Sarma she would have a nervous breakdown,” said Brackley, adding that his client took around $450,000 out of a trust to help her daughter. (Strangis’s attorney denies his client made this request or received any money.)

A source close to Melngailis said that Strangis told Melngailis that the money she was lending him (and that he had still not paid back) was one of a series of cosmic endurance tests similar to a series he had passed years earlier. Passing meant vast rewards. “He convinced me I’d be empowered in ways I couldn’t imagine,” Melngailis explained. “I would have access to unlimited resources so that I could grow my brand all over the world, make the documentary I always wanted to make—the one that would finally change people’s ways and help eradicate factory farming. Basically, I could do all the world-changing things I’d been quietly dreaming about. I could help whoever I want, and stay young forever doing it.” (Strangis’s attorney denies these allegations.)

Another test she allegedly had to pass was giving Strangis oral sex while blindfolded, which Strangis denies, even though, as he gained weight, she was becoming repulsed by him. Unlike Melngailis, he was not a vegan. He apparently loved junk food—Subway tuna-salad sandwiches with extra mayo, for instance. A source close to Melngailis said that he told her that dealing with his obesity was a test, as was the humiliation, for her, of repeatedly asking strangers to invest in her struggling company. Another test involved his moving many of her possessions to a storage unit. The bill went unpaid, and Melngailis’s photos, clothes, and journals were sold at auction. (Strangis’s attorney denies this account.)

Meanwhile, he allegedly let her know that he and his nameless brother were constantly watching. Once, according to a source close to Melngailis, he phoned a raw-food restaurant in Los Angeles, where she was dining. She had not informed him where she was. Staffers alerted Melngailis that “Mr. Fox” was on the line. (Strangis’s attorney denies that his client was involved in this incident.) According to Melngailis’s camp, he would warn her that, if she did not continue to pass tests, forces controlled by his brother would “gut” him and come for her. He told her that Leon had been his dog in a previous life. They’d all been headed toward one another for a thousand years, through past lifetimes, and if she did as he said, “among the things I’d be granted,” Melngailis said, “Leon would also be immortal and safe to be by my side for eternity.” (Strangis’s attorney denies this account.)

According to the indictment, over time, Melngailis transferred more than $1.6 million from her business accounts to her personal bank account, and Strangis spent $1.2 million of this money at Connecticut casinos. Strangis, whom employees knew as “Shane,” was “riding around in a Suburban” and acting like the boss whenever Melngailis was out of town, said Jim Switzer, the restaurant’s operations manager at the time. After Switzer was fired (for unclear reasons), a younger employee was put in charge of accounting. On about five occasions in 2014, this employee said, he received a text from Strangis/Shane telling him to meet him at the Citibank on the south side of Union Square with a week of Pure Food and Wine cash receipts, between $3,000 and $10,000. The employee was not a trained accountant. He said he never saw Strangis make a deposit. Instead, he said, Strangis would head out to a waiting Uber. (Strangis’s attorney denies this.) By the winter of 2015, Pure Food and Wine employees had begun picketing after not receiving paychecks.

Alec Baldwin became suspicious of Melngailis’s new beau: “One time he sent us a message and said, ‘Can you recommend a broker in East Hampton?’ I said, ‘Sure. If you don’t mind my asking, what’s the price range you want to stay within?’ He messaged me back on Twitter and said, ‘About 10 million.’ I said, ‘You must be selling a lot of cucumber towers over there.’ ” (Strangis’s attorney denies Baldwin’s account.)

A frustrated Pure Food and Wine investor turned up an arrest record for Strangis in Florida and shared it with Joey Repice, the restaurant’s beverage director. Repice texted Strangis for answers. Strangis texted back threats: “If anyone is going to try and drag me into some bullshit or drag my name through the mud because of something she’s caused I’ll be immediately suing . . . I’ve broken my fucking back helping her out non stop.” Repice, concerned for his longtime boss, texted: “Nothing makes sense. Where is the woman I knew the last nine years?”

During a visit to New York around May of 2015, Strangis’s half-sister McKaila Coulter said, she overheard Melngailis yelling, “You ruined my life!” and “Everyone thinks I’m crazy because of you!” But Melngailis wasn’t yelling for outside help. She was yelling for his, still wanting to know when his alleged promises for financial and emotional deliverance would come true.

If the facts are as the Melngailis camp claims, what she has suffered may be an example of what is called “coercive control,” a form of domestic violence that can manifest as a cult of one, with a spouse as brainwashed follower. “What they are basically trying to do is to close out the options so you are completely dependent on them for your sense of reality,” said Evan Stark, a professor emeritus at Rutgers, and the author of the 2007 study Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life.

I spoke by phone with Strangis, who is in prison on Rikers Island, awaiting trial because he has not come up with the $300,000 bond. His voice was confiding and sweet, like a little boy’s. But in three calls he placed to me, he never answered any questions on the record, and very few off. And there are still so many questions: Was the money gambled away or stashed? What exactly was the couple running from? Was someone threatening to “gut” Strangis? Karliner, the court-appointed lawyer, said Strangis is guilty only of liking gambling and having a rich wife in Melngailis, who indulged him and had her own expensive appetites. “No jury is going to look at her and say, ‘Oh, poor her, she was taken advantage of,’ ” Karliner told me. “She doesn’t have that history. She was too savvy a businesswoman.” But what about the claims that Strangis used coercive control to extract money and make Melngailis believe he had supernatural powers? If she were his client, Karliner said, he would put the kibosh on that: “I’ve got 12 people looking at her thinking, You’ll say anything for us to say, ‘Not guilty.’ Do you think we’re stupid?”

But Melngailis’s lawyers, Sheila Tendy and César de Castro, say they are, in fact, considering a coercive-control defense. Although there is no specific law criminalizing it in the United States, there is one in the United Kingdom (as of December 2015), which punishes “coercive and controlling behavior in an intimate or family relationship” by up to five years in prison. (Coercive control was a prominent plot point this year in the BBC radio soap opera The Archers, with a character being described as “the worst kind of abuser, because he doesn’t leave bruises.”) According to Stark, it has worked as a defense strategy. He said that up to 25 percent of domestic-abuse cases involve patterns of psychological control without physical violence.

A decade ago, men went nuts for Neil Strauss’s book The Game, about pickup artists, tantalized that there were mind-control tricks like “negging”—using vaguely insulting compliments in order to undermine self-esteem—to turn beautiful women into bedded putty. A coercive-control defense would indicate that Strangis had taken The Game to its extreme. Tendy told me, “He combined the best techniques of cult leaders—abusive partner control, manipulation, and con artist—along with the worst tactics of prosperity theology, meaning, When you give me your money, you’ll get 10 times back next week.” Karliner says that such claims make “her even freakier than him.”

Outside an August 10 hearing at the Brooklyn Supreme Court, Assistant District Attorney Meredith McGowan wryly observed of Strangis: “Well, he hasn’t lost any weight at Rikers.” In Tennessee, Strangis allegedly told Melngailis that they’d probably have to endure one more “shot to the gut” before the transformation was granted. (Strangis’s attorney denies that this statement was made.)

Melngailis’s own hearing had been an hour earlier, so she was not there to see her husband looming before he was escorted back to Rikers, where she had spent five days in May before posting $350,000 bail. The New York Post reported that the couple would be divorcing, which a source close to Melngailis confirmed. At a subsequent hearing, the judge announced that if no plea deals were reached a trial would start in early 2017. The October 9 cancer death of District Attorney Thompson won’t slow the prosecution, because acting D.A. Eric Gonzalez, Thompson’s former chief assistant, had been weighing in on the case all along, an office spokesperson said.

Melngailis, who could face up to 15 years in prison for grand larceny and fraud, said she is grateful that the madness is finally over. Suicide, she admitted, had occurred to her: “Imagine suddenly realizing, My dog isn’t going to live forever, I’m not eternally safe, all my dreams and visions that he promised me he’d make happen are not happening, and this colossal mess isn’t all just going to be undone, like he always said it would be. It’s like waking up into a nightmare.” As of October, she was living in a small upper Manhattan rental, hoping to find a way to pay everyone back and regularly feeding Leon yams to help with his digestion.

Allen Salkin is an author, screenwriter and actor. His most recent book is From Scratch: The Uncensored History of the Food Network.

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 10:16 pm
by American Dream
Creepy that the few times that I was there it just seemed like a typically Upscale/New Age place. Hustling comes naturally in those parts, I guess.

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 10:29 pm
by liminalOyster
I think it was. Really good though, IMO. I definitely buy that she was pretty much gaslit by a grifter. But it's tough not to link her propensity with that to some of her propensity for the grander claims of the raw food mythology.

Did you see Guruilla's link to his book? I was really impressed with how he spoke to childhood trauma as it links to magical thought in adults. It was a particularly clear, cogent description of something others have not done as well. I think that link is a real prime mover for so-called TIDs.

Either way, she did her time and it appears is pretty remorseful and pretty destroyed. I fully wish her well.

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 8:00 am
by American Dream
Yeah, I remember earlier iterations of the Raw Foods Movement. They were not so bougie or commodified but certainly included magical thinking, totalizing narratives, sketchy gurus, etc.

Childhood trauma is to me the norm and not the exception, and yes links to all our distortions. The grifters are everywhere, sometimes claiming to be victims when they are (also) perpetrators- which is no excuse for opportunistic and manipulative behavior.

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 9:43 am
by American Dream
Madness (psychosis) must be a concept that’s in the eye of the beholder rather than an objective reality, since we call people crazy if they disagree with our beliefs. For example, you may judge me crazy for proposing this. Belief systems (and behaviors associated with them) in one culture in one era may be judged crazy in another culture or time; this is known as cultural relativism. For example, animal sacrifice used to be normal practice, but today it would be perceived as madness.

Psychosis can’t refer to beliefs not based in reality, since most of us have such beliefs (political, philosophical, spiritual, ethical, moral, etc.). Only those that don’t adhere to any norms or customs of society, and thus only make sense to one member but are incoherent to all others, are judged to be delusional. For example, someone driving on the left side of the road will be perceived as a crazy driver in the US, but one who drives on the right side in England will be called crazy. So madness must be purely a subjective label given to those who, by coping non-conformingly, disrupt society.

The Myth of Mental Wellness: Can We Really Improve our “Mental Health”?, Lawrence Kelmenson, MD

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 11:33 am
by liminalOyster
Interesting. Sidenote that the DSM includes "exemptions" for psychosis-determining criteria related to spirits, etc based on culture/nationality. IE if you're Haitian and notice that spirits of the recently deceased are following you around, you're still perfectly "sane" whereas if you're a US native with no ancestral connection, you're likely delusional.

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 11:40 am
by liminalOyster
Thanks SLAD for formatting this on GD.

The Science of Altering Consciousness

In a new book, bestselling author Michael Pollan explores psychedelics and the mind

Gareth CookMay 15, 2018
The Science of Altering Consciousness
Michael Pollan. Credit: Jeannette Montgomery Barron
Among scientists, there are tentative signs of a psychedelics renaissance. After decades of stigma, impressive research is showing the power of these substances to help sufferers of depression and addiction, or to comfort patients with a terminal cancer diagnosis, struggling to face their own end. This is the fascinating territory that the journalist Michael Pollan explores with his new book, “How to Change Your Mind.” Pollan dives into brain science, the history of psychedelics (and our tortured attitudes towards them) but his larger subject is the nature of human consciousness. Eventually Pollan decides to try psychedelics himself — and documents, beautifully, a number meaningful experiences and the way his own mind has changed. He answered questions from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.

How did you get interested in writing about this topic, after all of your work on food?

It’s true I’m best known for my books about food and agriculture, but that work grew out of a deeper fascination with the human engagement with the natural world, and the species we co-evolved with, a fascination I explored in earlier books like The Botany of Desire and Second Nature. Food and beauty are two of the human desires other species have evolved to gratify, but there are other, more mysterious desires, and the human drive to change consciousness, whether mildly and routinely with plant drugs such as caffeine, or more dramatically with psychoactive mushrooms, has always fascinated me. Why do we want to do this potentially risky thing, and why did plants and fungi evolve these remarkable chemicals that affect us in this way? What do these experiences do for us, as individuals or as a society? Psychedelics are the most extreme case of this curious phenomenon, and they have been a central part of human societies for thousands of years. I wanted to find out why.

And then I began hearing about a renaissance of research into psychedelics by scientists hoping to treat cancer patients suffering from “existential distress,” addicts, people struggling with depression and so-called “healthy normals.” These researchers had found that psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, could reliably occasion a “mystical experience” in people that they deemed one of the two or three most significant experiences in their lives—comparable to the birth of a child of death of a parent. The experience had changed them in lasting ways. This was something I needed to explore. I wasn’t sure I had ever had a spiritual experience. Would one happen to me? Was there some dimension of existence or consciousness I was missing out on? Was it really possibly to change one’s mind as an adult? My journalistic curiosity soon morphed into a personal quest to explore some of the uncharted territory of both the mind and my mind.

Can you explain what the “default mode network” is, and how it figures in your story?

One of the most interesting early findings of recent psychedelic research is that activity in the “default mode network” falls off sharply during the psychedelic experience. This network is a critical hub in the brain that links parts of the cerebral cortex to deeper and older structures involved in memory and emotion. The DMN appears to be involved in a range of “metacognitive” functions such as a self-reflection; mental time travel; theory of mind (the ability to imagine the mental states of other people) and the creation of the so-called “autobiographical self”—the process of weaving what happens to us into the narrative of who we are, thereby giving us a sense of a self that endures over time. (Curiously, fMRI’s of the brains of experienced meditators shows a pattern of activity, or quieting of activity, very similar to that of people who have been given psilocybin.) When the default mode network is taken offline by a psychedelic, not only do we experience a loss of the sense of having a self, but myriad new connections among other brain regions and networks spring up, connections that may manifest in mental experience as hallucination (when, say, your emotion centers talk directly to your visual cortex), synesthesia (as when you can see sound or hear flavors) or, possibly, fresh perspectives and metaphors. Disturbing a complex system is a great way to force it to reveal its secrets—think of a particle accelerator—and psychedelics allows us to do that to normal ego-centered consciousness.

You tried psychedelic drugs as a part of your work on this book, and I wonder which of those experiences most changed you?

After interviewing dozens of volunteers who had had guided psychedelic trips I became so curious that I decided to have one (actually several) myself. I think the most transformative of these was a guided trip on psilocybin, during which I experienced the complete dissolution of my ego—I could see the entity formerly understood as me “out there” spread over the landscape like a coat of paint. Yet there was still some recording “I” taking in the scene, a sort of disembodied, dispassionate awareness. Though temporary, that perspective was transformative. It suggested to me that I wasn’t necessarily identical to my ego, that there was potentially another ground on which to plant my feet. In subtle ways this has changed my relationship to my ego, which I no longer regard as identical to me, odd as that sounds, but as a kind of useful though sometimes neurotic and annoying character who occasionally needs to be put in his place. Sometimes when I’m reacting to an event or comment I can catch myself before the usual defenses leap into action, because I can see what he’s up to and why. This is the sort of perspective you can occasionally develop with years of meditation or psychoanalysis; psilocybin gave it to me in an afternoon.

What do you wish the general public understood about psychedelic drugs and their potential?

The image of psychedelics in the public mind has been substantially shaped by the Sixties counterculture and Timothy Leary, but that is just one brief chapter in a much longer and more interesting history reaching back thousands of years, one in which these drugs were the subject of serious research and, long before that, carefully regulated use, usually in a ritual context. These remarkable molecules have the potential—and I stress “potential,” because much more research needs to be done—to relieve the suffering of millions of people struggling with depression, anxiety, obsession, addiction and the fear of death. Many of the researchers involved believe we could be on the verge of a revolution in mental health care, which is a segment of medicine that right now has very little to offer and is dire need of some new thinking and new tools. The drugs can be used carelessly, as they often were in the sixties, but in the proper hands, they can heal and illuminate the mind. ... ciousness/

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 11:57 am
by American Dream
From a more narrow conspiracy standpoint, I'm always concerned that entheogenic research will be further co-opted for BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE type ends or technocratic Biopower agenda more generally. The Structuralization of Spirituality is a recurring theme here on this thread and is a great cause for concern.

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 2:52 pm
by liminalOyster
I think said conspiracy is already well underway but happily peer to peer.

I love(d) that blog, btw. From the article title, I thought it was going to be more of a critique of Ken Wilber.

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 6:16 pm
by American Dream

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 10:38 am
by liminalOyster
I have to offer up that, given your affection for Berger's work and the school it represents, you seem to find Nick Land (based on material you've posted in that Dark Enlightenment thread over the years) so unambiguously wretched. I don't think Berger any of these folks would exist if it hadn't been for Land (and Sadie Plant.) I can reject *him* altogether in some sense, but I think he's way too (amorally) smart and future-pulse-beat (if only methodologically) to ignore or no-platform as was attempted in London two years ago.

Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 11:00 am
by American Dream
I don't claim to fully know or understand Land's work. I definitely do have a leaning towards non-authoritarian Leftism and anti-Fascism. That leaves me deeply ambivalent towards Nick Land. I can appreciate his brilliance and his legacy but that all seems rather spoiled by his turn towards Dark Enlightenment discourse.

In the case of Berger I resonate most to the Deleuzian elements. I can appreciate left accelerationists though I am dubious about the reliance of some on Žižek. Long story short, I can read some of that sort of material and find it provocative and stimulating but am most definitely not supporting neoreactionary movements.

Perhaps Nick Land is a bit afflicted by some TIDS variant himself?

liminalOyster » Wed May 16, 2018 9:38 am wrote:I have to offer up that, given your affection for Berger's work and the school it represents, you seem to find Nick Land (based on material you've posted in that Dark Enlightenment thread over the years) so unambiguously wretched. I don't think Berger any of these folks would exist if it hadn't been for Land (and Sadie Plant.) I can reject *him* altogether in some sense, but I think he's way too (amorally) smart and future-pulse-beat (if only methodologically) to ignore or no-platform as was attempted in London two years ago.