03 Feb Prince Rama Band Interview: Utopia Of The Now Age (w/ Manifesto)
Part I: Now Age Manifesto And Q&A
TEXT BY THAD MCKRAKEN; Q&A BY VIVIAN HUA; MANIFESTO AND ANSWERS BY TARAKA LARSON
The fundamental nature of time itself wasn’t something I’d contemplated at great length until roughly a year ago. I think what turned it around for me was when I accidentally summoned what classic occultists would refer to as my Holy Guardian Angel. Out of nowhere in the summer of 2010, I started performing sigil projection exercises which seemed to be coming from somewhere else. I felt strangely and unconsciously compelled to envision myself in third person, as an external character wearing a sleek black suit. I was confronting my demonic persona — the part of me that longed for frivolous shit like wealth and power — or something to that effect. Who am I kidding, I had no fucking idea why I was doing this, but the further in I got, the more the scenarios played themselves out in my head; they had me shaking hands with the world’s elite and proceeding to haunt their unconscious.
To make a long story short, this version of myself that I’d been unwittingly focusing on actually showed up in my room one night. I will confess that I wasn’t fully awake. I was in a hynagogic sleep state that a lot of mainstream psychologists would refer to as sleep paralysis. I taught myself how to do this by experimenting with astral projection years earlier; it fucked with my head forever. But it’s what “I” told myself that’s relevant here:
They then projected a telepathic communiqué into the depths of my spirit. My reality became this video-like demonstration which oscillated between perspectives, drawing connections to something I’d also randomly started contemplating months prior – the Gnostic concept of the Holy Trinity:
- The Father (or Holy Guardian Angel) – the me who is eternal and exists outside of time;
- The Son – the me who exists inside what we refer to as human reality;
- The Holy Spirit – the conjunctive tissue which binds us all into one coherent plotline; time itself, shown to me like a glowing orb which I existed inside of, though apart from my cosmic overmind persona (it/I watched from outside as if floating motionless in outer space).
Sounds completely nuts right? Well, it does until you realize you’re one of about a billion people throughout history who have had this type of shit happen to them. Unfortunately, these topics are usually relegated to the easily disregarded world of “New Age” literature, ensuring that anyone who believes a half-man half-God walked the earth 2,000 years ago will laugh them off without a second thought. The term “New Age” has been so intentionally co-opted throughout the years by military and religious interests that even I hate it. Luckily, writer Daniel Pinchbeck has been trying to rebrand the neo-psychedelic evolution of these concepts as “Next Age.”
And here, we have the multi-talented Taraka Larson of Brooklyn’s Prince Rama putting a much needed artier spin on ancient New Age ideas with The Now Age Manifesto. It’s a work about the importance of intentionally transcending so called normal space-time perception and entering what Larson and English philosopher John G. Bennett refer to as Hyparxis, a hypertime dimension that has a timeless quality noticeable to human perception.
In a way, these experiences and mind states kind of have to happen to you before you’ll take any interest in them – but The Now Age Manifesto details concepts that will help you get there if you try. The entirety of Larson’s manifesto can be viewed online at www.now-age.org.
The Now Age Manifesto: Introduction
The Now Age seeks to reconnect the current dislocation
between time and space and resurrect the symbolic power of music by means of UTOPIA.
NOW AGE = NO AGE
Somewhere between Time and Eternity lies a dimension called Hyparxis**.
Hyparxis is defined as an ‘ableness-to-be’. It does not indicate a change in time,
or a manifestation of eternity. Instead it refers to transformations in ‘inner time’.
Hyparxis combines what is actual with what is potential, thus creating a ‘present moment’
based on the internalized experience of external temporal events, past, present, or future.
Thus, the Now Age refers to no age at all, but instead
describes an elemental quality of being.
UTOPIA = NO PLACE
The word UTOPIA by definition signifies “NO PLACE”.
It is neither here nor there, of this world or transcendental to it.
Its existence as a non-existence can be seen as a singularity,
but within this “no place” exists an infinity of space.
Thus an invisible “space between worlds” is created
that acts as a medium between the real and the ideal environments.
This aspiration for a space within a pre-existing place is vital for distinguishing the utopian
impulse from the transcendental impulse; whereas transcendentalism
seeks escape from the “real” world in exchange for an ideal one,
utopia instead seeks a deeper connection with this world in the form of tapping into its inner potential,
a REALIZATION of the REAL.
It is here that the musical environment lives.
Sound in and of itself is a tangible example of “no place”.
It is pure vibration, a shifting of air particles,
and is thus (by sheer virtue of its nature) wholly meta-physical.
**John G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe
Symbolic Power: In Practice
TEXT BY THAD MCKRAKEN; Q&A BY VIVIAN HUA; MANIFESTO AND RESPONSES BY TARAKA LARSON
About a year ago, Prince Rama were participating in a Portable Shrines record release event, and were projecting tripped out variations of a sacred geometrical pattern, the Sri Yantra, on the screen behind them. Their set led me to do a bit of research. What managed to stick with me the most was that in certain mystical traditions, downward facing triangles represent sacred feminine energy and conversely, upward facing triangles represent sacred masculine persuasions. I’ll never be able to get that out of my head. It was because of this area of internet inquisition that now when I look at Larson’s use of intercepting triangle images throughout The Now Age Manifesto, I see the convergence of masculine and feminine sexual energy creating an orgasmic state of dislocated timespace perception. The underlying philosophy behind basic magickal practice involves the recognition that states of stoned, erotic, and artistic excitation are the holiest of sacraments. Larson calls this Hyparxis.
the silence at the inner core of the record plays an essential part
in the experience of its rotation.
When emptiness, sound can be.
When silence is, music can be.
Just as the record preserves time, it also preserves the end of time.
The end of time preserves the Hyparctic Song.
When time ends, NOW can be.
Part II: Revelatory Experiences With Prince Rama
Q&A BY VIVIAN HUA; RESPONSES BY TARAKA LARSON
Basically, I was on a house boat when it happened. I was kind of really involved in filmmaking at the time; I thought that was what I wanted to do. I wasn’t playing music at all. I had this dream that I was in this weird sort of an abandoned park of some sort, with these kind of abandoned structures, almost as though it had been an outdoor market at some point. And I was kind of walking around, and there was this one abandoned structure that seemed like it had some movement going on in the background. I stopped to see what was going on, and there was this animal, sleeping in the back. I couldn’t really make out what it was. And then it got up and kind of saw me and started coming towards me. It was like this giant, seventeen-foot-long prehistoric leopard. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is so insane.” I got my camera out — my Super-8 Camera — and was like, “I gotta film this.” So I take it out and just as she’s getting close to me, I started filming. As soon as she heard that sound, she just leapt back. It scared her or something. She went back to hiding where she was, and I was like, “Oh no! Come back!” I tried to coax her to come back again, and she kind of slowly crept back. I pulled out my camera and softly pressed the trigger, and she leapt back again.
It kept going back and forth a couple times. I can’t shoot her; it’s not working… so I finally put the camera down and am like, “Alright, just come over here.” She came over and once it was established that there was no more threat of her being filmed, she just collapsed in my lap and laid her head in my lap. And I started stroking her and singing to her, and I was singing this really weird language — I don’t even know what; it was a really weird hymn of some sort, a really haunting melody. I’d never heard it before, but I could tell she was responding to it. She was becoming more and more relaxed and then, all of a sudden, there is a gurgling sound in the back of her throat and it was almost like she was trying to make sounds with me. A voice came out of her, out of nowhere — a really beautiful, high-pitched harmony. She was singing with me. We were both singing together. I woke up from the dream and it just seemed so clear to me; I can’t film anymore. I have to sing. This is what I need to be doing. It was almost like the leopard was my soul, visiting me. By me trying to film it, it wasn’t responding, and it was trying to leap away from it. But as soon as I started singing, it knew the song. It had remembered… it was kind of poignant. It was kind of a game-changer.
When was this?
This was like my Junior year of college? Maybe like 2008? No, it was more like 2007.
Do you consider this a realization on a subconscious level or the universe directing you in that way?
Probably a bit of both.
It seems totally intense to have an animal like that hanging out on your lap.
Yeah, totally. I don’t usually have dreams like that. I generally have, I don’t know, kind of annoying dreams about like, checking email or something… I had [another] dream right before 9/11 that was like, this city on fire… there were planes all around, and I didn’t know it was New York City, but Abraham Lincoln came up to me — he was in a lot of my dreams for a while — he was in like every single dream for a really long time — and said, “New York City is burning.” And the next morning, 9/11 happened.
Me and Nimai both have had pretty extensive ghost experiences. I had one not too long ago; I was at my parent’s house in Florida, which we found out later was built on this old Confederate farm. There was apparently a slave quarters that had burnt down on my parents’ property, and I had no idea until afterwards, when we all started having weird ghost experiences — everyone in my family [did]. I had this one where at the time I had this weird dream. I woke up and got up and splashed water on my face and went back to bed — but the bed just felt really weird. I felt, I don’t know, kind of an erupting feeling coming over me where I was paralyzed; all of my limbs felt really cold. There was something really heavy pinning me down, and I look to the side of the bed, and there’s kind of an open closet right by the bed. There seem to be these silvery film projections — that’s what they look like at first — but it was just a man who was dressed completely in an Confederate soldier outfit. He was kind of an older man, but then his face and body started transforming to become younger and younger, and then behind him, all of a sudden — this is going to sound really weird — this other image started coming up behind him and growing bigger and bigger. All of a sudden, it came in front of him and totally eclipsed him. There was this giant baby head. I don’t know. He was growing younger and younger, and all of a sudden, this giant baby head came and was staring right at me. I was like, “Oh my god, this is so crazy.” So I was like, “I’m going to turn around. I’m going to count to ten. At that time, you guys are all going to leave, because I want to go to sleep.” So I turn around and I count to ten; I look back and there’s nothing there. And the pillow next to my head started — I don’t know how to describe it, but you know how when someone first gets up from a really cushy area, you can see the imprint of where they were kind of rise, like inflate? It was totally like that. There was something that was lying beside me and it just got up. So I felt the sheets kind of uncrinkle and smooth out, and I kind of felt the heaviness lift from over me. We have a lot of stuff like that happen. I don’t know why; I feel like ghosts just like to hang out with us.
And they’re always just chillers? You can be like, “Okay, we can hang out, and I’m going to count to ten and you guys are going to leave,” and that works?
Um… no… that was kind of a more peaceful one. I feel like I’ve gotten better. I was trying to tell you one that wasn’t so scary for me. We definitely — me and Nimai both — have had experiences where they’ve kind of messed with us, and it hasn’t been as easy to get them to leave. The place that we were at before — one reason my family left was because it was so haunted. Sometimes it’s tricky; sometimes they’ll take the forms of people who are familiar to you. I remember when I had my wisdom teeth taken out, and I was already in kind of a weird state. I wasn’t really able to eat a lot; I wasn’t sleeping a lot. I was already kind of delusional a little bit, but I feel like because I was kind of inebriated, my guards were let down so they were able to mess with me more than usual. I remember one time they took the form of my mom and it felt like my mom was in the room with me, but it wasn’t her. Just stuff like that would happen.
The ghosts you see are really clear, then? They’re not like, translucent?
Yeah, exactly. There’s different kinds, I guess. There’s the kind that, I said before, almost kind of seems like a film projection or something; it’s kind of silvery clear. And then there are other ones that totally look real. They look like a real person until they just disappear. Nimai had this experience where one took the form of a guy she was dating at the time. He was in bed with her, and it looked like him… but she looked down at his feet, and instead of his feet, there was like this trail, like ecto… so that’s kind of half and half. And sometimes they’ll just get into your subconscious. You won’t necessarily see ghosts, but you’ll feel them, and they’ll just kind of put images into your head. They’re weird. It’s almost like they tap into your mind and just put these images there that you’re not really creating yourself; it’s like watching a movie or something.
While you’re awake? Or is it a between wake and sleep kind of thing?
Kind of between awake and asleep a lot of the time. But it’s different than your mind producing it. I’ve had that too, where it’s like, lucid dreaming or whatever, but this is different because you feel that same kind of sinking feeling — that cold feeling, where you don’t really feel like you’re in control.
Why do you think some people are so much more receptive to these things? Why do you think that happens to you and Nimai so much more?
I don’t know. I’m not really sure. There’s some people who see them way more than we do. A friend of my mom’s — she would just see them all the time, and it was so intense for her that after a while, she just kind of had to make a pact with the spirit world. She said, “I really just need to lead a normal life. I can’t see you all the time. Please stop.” And for a while, she just started ignoring them, and they gradually just kind of left her alone. But at any time, she could see them, and they would be there. I think to some extent you have to be a little bit receptive to begin with; I feel like if I was dead set on not believing in ghosts, I’d probably have so many other explanations as to why these things were happening, and I’d probably go to a shrink or I don’t know what, haha. I think it has a lot to do with… I’ve been fascinated with other dimensions, and I think that even though it can be kind of scary sometimes, it does kind of fascinate me.
It’s cool that you guys have each other to relate to on that level. I have some friends who grew up seeing that kind of stuff and just start to go crazy, because there’s no one else to talk to about it.
Yeah, totally. I think that’s important. I think there’s something in the genes too … my parents — my mom — has definitely had a lot of ghost experiences growing up. And her family, on a whole, are from Russia, and… there seems to be a heritage of psychicness. My mom is totally psychic; it’s kind of annoying. You can’t keep anything from her. And her mom is kind of like that too. I feel like it’s just kind of passed down. I worked for this guy, Paul Laffoley, and he’s kind of a medium. He talked to me a little bit about just… the medium trade, and how you get yourself into it. A lot of times, it’s not something you can really train for. It’s just something you’re born with, or you’re not. His father was a medium, and his grandfather was a medium, and it’s just kind of passed on.
How do your experiences with ghosts relate back to your music?
We had some [EVP (electronic voice phenomenon)] going on a track on Shadow Temple… just this strange mysterious sound; we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from or how to get rid of it. The place we recorded in was an old church, so we just figured it was a ghost and left it on the record.