Saturday, May 14, 2022

My Dream Machine


It must have been in about 1990 or so when Disaster Amnesiac, through the Temple Ov Psychic Youth (T.O.P.Y.), acquired a set of plans for a Brion Gysin Dream Machine. I'd been familiar with the Dream Machine for about a year or so, due to RE/Search's Throbbing Gristle/William S. Burroughs/Gysin issue, which I'd read pretty obsessively since acquiring it in Georgetown, D.C. before moving to California. Naturally, you'll recall that T.O.P.Y. had some kind of program in which its members would somehow send a sample of their blood or jizz, to be entered into some kind of catalog. Disaster Amnesiac can't recall the reason given for this type of initiatory move, but I can most definitely imagine Genesis P-Orridge laughing as he realized that there would be people out in the wilds that would assent to doing such an odd thing. 

As for me, there was NO WAY that I'd be sending my precious bodily fluids to some P.O. Box in Colorado, but when I saw that one could order the Dream Machine plans........that was an entirely different story. The plans could not have been that expensive, for 19 year old Disaster Amnesiac was not the greatest earner in Alameda County, so I was able to send off for them. 

A few weeks later, said plans arrived, and I got down to the business of making my Dream Machine. Along with the cut-out plan, printed upon a rather large sheet of paper, all that was needed was a turntable that rotated at 78 RPM, a light bulb, and a way to hang the bulb into the cone that the sheet of paper, with the cuts from the plan having been made into it. Easy, right? Perhaps for most young Post-Punkers, but I must admit that I struggled with the design. Having made the cut outs from the plan onto my sheet of paper, it turned out that I'd not cut the sheet to its exact proper length. This lead to me having to put weird staples into it as its cone form took shape; although it eventually hung together reasonably well, it was certainly not pretty. The bulb apparatus was threaded through a chain that hung from a plant hook on the ceiling of my bedroom. Disaster Amnesiac moved a desk underneath it, placed the cheap turntable that I'd acquired from a thrift shop off of Fremont Blvd. in Fremont upon it, and presto! Dream Machine activated. 

Having read so much about the altered states that could be accessed from use of the Dream Machine, I was excited to get to reaching them, that much is certain. The flaw in my design gave my Dream Machine a kind of swishing sound that occurred with each of its rotations, which made it annoying right off of the bat. It made for a kind of dragging effect as well. Still, I was able to sit in front of it, with Heathen Earth or Boyd Rice music going, and trance out reasonably well. I recall seeing colored, vertical stripes, perhaps some amorphous blobs, within my close-eyed perceptions as the Dream Machine spun. Never really got into the deep hallucinatory states promised by Gysin, Burroughs, Sommerville et al, sadly. Still, if memory serves correctly, my sessions with it were definitely relaxing in some way. 

Sadly, for some reason, in a fit of anger, one afternoon Disaster Amnesiac smashed the Dream Machine. I'm guessing the reason was some silly girl-related depression or some such nonsense. It was immediately obvious what a dumb move I'd made, and the regret was equally immediate. Stupid kids gonna stupid kid. Soon, I chalked it all up to being an "interesting experience", and moved on to my next foolhardy scheme. As said, stupid kids......

A bit further into the 1990's, I made friends with a young woman with whom I talked about art, and Gysin, and the Dream Machine. She was very kind and bought me a copy of another book about the artist, one which contained a plan for the Dream Machine, similar to the one that T.O.P.Y had been selling. I still have it. I wonder if the "intelligence agencies" that raided T.O.P.Y. headquarters still have their lists of all those people that sent their cash and spooge that Colorado P.O. box. 

Who knows, maybe this year I will bust out that second Dream Machine plan, head over to the swap meet, grab a 78 RPM turntable, and get to blissing out on the cheap again. Pretty sure the temper that smashed that first Dream Machine has been quelled enough, even if I get those measurements slightly incorrect again.

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