The Pitfalls of Social Grouping and Solar Leadering (Requested Back-Story to Chris Knowles Letter)


Since my last post got linked at Facebook, some readers over there (none over here, evidently) are asking for the back-story. I don’t really think it’s that important, because I think it’s all there in my letter to Chris. The danger of adding more information is that people will get lost in the details and start arguing over the finer points of Netiquette and suchlike. I really want to stress that this isn’t about putting CK under the microscope and judging his behavior. That isn’t going to help anything unless it happens in a larger context of understanding and compassion.

My motives for posting the letter were threefold (my conscious motives, I can’t talk about my unconscious ones, that would be just crazy!): 1) to confront CK with what I see as unreasonable behavior in the hope of giving him a helpful pointer or two. 2) To let others who may have been, or felt like they were, subjected to a similar kind of treatment, know that it’s OK to speak up and say “No” to it. 3) To work through, in my usual public and slightly painful fashion, my own issues around power, status, influence, right and wrong communication methods, and the like.

What this has definitely helped me see is that there is a very good reason I don’t have the sort of following Christopher Knowles does, which is that I feel the need, for whatever reason, to connect to people as individuals and to see everyone as equally important. This approach becomes less and less viable the larger one’s audience becomes (at least when it’s an interactive audience, as both Chris and I encourage). Disregard for the finer points of discussion and eventually for other people’s points of view (and feelings) becomes increasingly necessary, or at least justifiable, the larger the crew being “managed.”

I now think, based on what I’ve learned from this last experience, that this is a wholly unavoidable pitfall of creating groups to lead, and that there’s probably no way around it, which only leaves the question of how deep the pit grows before you fall in, and whether you make it out or not. Any implied criticisms of Chris Knowles, therefore, should be seen as criticisms of the fundamental machinery of social grouping and of the accepted forms of leadership, which I think are not only corrupting, but corrupt from their very inception onward. The reason for this is that they are, perhaps invariably, compensatory, being sourced in early patterns of trauma and driven by an infantile (and wholly unavoidable) need to feel powerful, and to be seen that way in the eyes of others.

Now that’s all spelled out, here’s the requested “back-story.”

Ever since I first talked with Chris Knowles for Stormy Weather in 2009 (see episodes 27 & 27.5, here, for downloads, go here), he’s been my favorite alternate perceptions guy. Affinity is a strange thing. I didn’t follow his work, probably for the same reason (I assume) he didn’t follow mine, because it wasn’t central to my research; but I regularly cast an eye at what he was doing and looked forward to dialoguing with him again.

It seemed as if he felt the same way. After our talk he said it was probably his favorite interview; a few months ago, he invited me onto his Mystery Hour podcast. I said I’d be glad to but didn’t hear about it again.

A few weeks ago, before launching the Crucial Fictions site, I emailed Chris, along with a bunch of other people, inviting him to look at the “Prisoner of Infinity” material so we could discuss it together, as part of the audio series currently underway. He said he wouldn’t be able to, for personal reasons.

I let him know when the site was up, and also pointed out that the link at his blog (to “Vagabond Blues,” my old, old blog) was way out of date and asked if he could update the link, to this current blog. I’d made the same request a couple of months before, but then, as now, I didn’t receive any response from him and the old link remained up.

Meanwhile, over at Facebook: during the previous few months, I’d been hearing stories about Chris’s dismissive treatment of his followers, and been curious enough to observe it up close. (I mostly avoid posting at FB but have an account there, since sometimes it’s the only way to contact people.) One of the first things I saw was that Chris had instituted a rule after the Boston bombing incident that anyone who posted about it being a “false flag” operation would be “defriended.” A friend of mine (Keith Z) questioned this decree, and/or made a comment that didn’t meet Chris’s approval, and was promptly defriended. Chris had also posted that the whole notion of “psy-ops” was the invention of the (“right wing”) author Michael A. Hoffman, and he seemed to turn his nose up at conspiracy lore in general. More recently, my attention was drawn to someone being rebuked by Chris for talking about satanic ritual abuse, and for saying a friend of theirs had experienced it. Chris’s response was that “people who make these claims are usually delusional fantasists who have no evidence of this alleged abuse.” The person left the group soon after.

Hearing these stories gave me a feeling of foreboding, since my own writing was delving, at least peripherally, in just such forbidden waters.

Then the day before yesterday, my wife emailed me a link to the latest post at Chris’s blog, here, which I read with growing interest. Chris was posting about UFOs again, and in relation to dystopian sci-fi futures, a dead match with the “Prisoner of Infinity” material. Excited, I made a comment at his blog, thinking to kill two birds with one stone: attract some Secret Sun readers to the Crucial Fictions site, and lay the groundwork for a future dialogue with Chris. Fools rush in. . .

I can’t link to the blog comment because it’s been deleted. It was a friendly comment about how we both seemed to have returned to similar subject matter at exactly the same time, and it included a link to the Crucial Fictions site and a quote from one of the chapters, about Strieber, trauma, daimonic inner agencies, and the body. Here’s a screen shot for the record:

CK blog

An hour or two later, I received an email from Chris. He apologized for not replying to my last email, and then wrote this sentence:

“I’m really not comfortable with the imagery on the title page. Let me know when you take it down and I’ll see about linking.”

The words gave me a jolt. The friendly tone which opened the email (he called me “Jase”) was instantly replaced by one of cool command. More stunned than angry, I noticed that I had immediately come down with a headache: a somatic reaction. The sentence, casually delivered, contained an unmistakable edge of accusation. It implied that the image at the site was somehow in poor taste, and even an infraction of some kind. It took it as a given that I would fix this error. The use of the word “when” instead of “if” did not seem like it was inadvertent.

Yet I hadn’t asked Chris to link to the Crucial Fictions site, only to update the blog link at his own blog. . .

I sent a reply clarifying this point, with a comment about how the image wasn’t meant to make him comfortable. Oddly, there was some confusion as to whether my email went through (I couldn’t find it in my sent folder), so I emailed him again to ask if it had. I didn’t receive any response from him, and the following day I sent another email, challenging him on (what I saw as) his unreasonable behavior.

He responded with a couple of words of dismissal. Shortly after that, I noticed he’d deleted my comment at his blog.

In Chris’s last post, he wrote this passage:

“The problem is that too many people plant their flags in one plot or the other (or the other), and zealously lob grenades at their neighbors rather than focusing all of their aggression where it belongs; the defenders of the corrupt establishment. . . . But for me, that’s not only a waste of energy, it’s also extremely short-sighted and self-limiting.”

The words seemed ironic to me now, now that Chris Knowles had lobbed a grenade of his own making into my inbox, without warning and for reasons unclear to me. Did he see me, because of an image which offended him, as a defender of a corrupt establishment? (I presume his discomfort over the image was for “moral” reasons and not aesthetic ones.) If so, he must be seeing demons in his soup.

There’s another passage in the post that caught my eye, since it intersects directly with “Prisoner of Infinity”:

“In between all of this I was invited by Jeff Kripal to lecture about Jack Kirby at the Esalen CTR, where I discovered that despite all the frothing nonsense you hear from little fascist weasels, Esalen itself is about as sinister as (and in fact was eerily similar to) an episode of Portlandia.”

So based on the fact that he had a good time at Esalen and everyone was nice to him, was Chris Knowles really suggesting that anyone who pointed out the (fairly well-documented) ties between Esalen and, for example, SRI (and therefore military intelligence) was a nonsense-frothing fascist weasel? That would include me then. I knew that Knowles had recently proposed the creation of a “Level Above Facebook” space, to be called the “Reality-Based High Weirdness Community.”  Apparently, being OK-ed for this space required renouncing all non-Reality-based Weirdnesses such as satanic ritual abuse or psy-ops. I would also guess, tentatively anyway, that questioning Chris Knowles’ ability to know when he’s having smoke blown up his ass is also going to be a No-No in that New Reality Zone.

But this is all by-the-by, and not really any of my concern.

The bottom line of this melodrama is that I fell into an unconscious trap, laid not by Chris Knowles but by the forces of our combined unconsciouses, and that I wound up feeling abused and distressed over what he (and probably others) no doubt sees as a triviality, but which for me is a deeply entrenched childhood wound: being bullied by a male figure I respect and having my offering dismissed and then erased from the record. My own (five years older) brother wanted to do exactly that: to make me disappear before I could steal his thunder. These things tend to repeat in our lives because we reenact the trauma unconsciously, as a way to try and re-experience it and thereby resolve it. Which, ironically enough, is what is all about.

So while all this might seem like a storm in a teacup and much to-do about nothing, for me it has at times felt like a bona fide life and death struggle. And since like always attracts like, I have no doubt, no doubt at all, that’s how things are for Christopher Knowles right now.

And of course all this has real world consequences, because the work I’m doing with Crucial Fictions is vital and a lot of people can benefit from it. In fact they already have, including people who follow, or followed, CK’s work—I would say “religiously,” except that it’s probably the ex-communicated and/or the apostates who are going to benefit the most from it. But the point is, between us, with our ancestral trauma and the unexpected explosion of those patterns coming into premature(?) contact, we’ve more or less burned to the ground whatever bridge might have been constructed.

Or maybe, in a strange and unforeseeable way, this is that bridge?

46 thoughts on “The Pitfalls of Social Grouping and Solar Leadering (Requested Back-Story to Chris Knowles Letter)

  1. FWIW I too have noticed a change in Chris’ posts @ SS. A more angered tone, which has also surfaced in his most recent comments @ The Daily Grail.

    But I’m in no position to dictate how anyone should write in their own personal blogs –& only a blind man would not admit there’s plenty to be angry about nowadays– I only wish the very best to Chris, since I’m thankful for all the insight I’ve received from his writing.

    And the same goes to you 🙂

  2. Jason, we are not friends. We were never friends. You invited me on your show and then put me on your spam list without my asking. Since then you have repeatedly asked me to do things for you without ever once volunteering to do anything for me. I am under no obligation to link to your site and am highly offended by the imagery in question, just by I was by a similar group of images you sent out to your “list” which led me to block your email on my old Yahoo account. You have a habit of projecting your own issues onto other people, before it was Whitley Strieber and now it is myself. How I run the Facebook group or whatever problems Keith has with it aren’t your concern so stay out of it. This is all very weird and obsessive and I suggest you drop it.

  3. Chris – when someone calls me “Jase” and “Aeoli” I figure they want to be on friendly terms with me.

    When someone doesn’t want to receive email notifications, they usually say so.

    I don’t know what you mean by asking you to do things. Can you give me an example?

    What would “volunteering” consist of? Mowing your lawn?

    I’ve already clearly stated my concern, above, and my first question is sincere. What is it you think I’m doing that compels you to ask me to drop it?

  4. Jason, we were done when you sent me those jpegs. Or rather, sent your spam victims those jpegs. You are ill. Get help.

  5. The ones I am going to have recovered this week. I will also be talking to certain people about Zawaski as well.

  6. Not to be glib, but at least then I’ll know what you’re talking about! (You haven’t been on my “spam list” for a long time.)

    Anyone who’s followed me at all knows that I have very little to hide.

    But I am saddened that all this turned out the way it has. I feel like I inadvertently forced Chris into a corner and I could have been gentler and more sensitive about it. I react badly to being bullied and when Chris told me, in so many words, to take down an image that offended him, that’s how I experienced it: as bullying..

    None of this would have happened if I hadn’t felt genuine friendship for Chris. I still do, maybe more than ever. Unfortunately he and others want to turn that into something perverted, obsessive, or “sick,” just as CLK has turned a harmless image (the result of something found at Corvis(!) with my wife’s painstaking artwork) into the same.

  7. Saddened. Bullied. This is exactly what I said when you asked me to link to your podcast site- this site only came up afterwards. AND you spammed the comment section to get around the fact that I had already told you that I wasn’t comfortable with the imagery you and Zawaski were using.


    No, YOU ARE the bully Jason.

    FOUR posts hectoring me, two of which you since took down. Pasting my pictures on your blog without my permission. Siccing your pathetic little catamite to slander me and start a flame war on Facebook against me and against my friends. Spamming my comments section.

    That’s bullying.

    I have to say I’ve found your recent podcasts alarming. You seem seriously unwell. I mean, it’s frightening how limpid and febrile you sound. Stop wasting your energy on me and deal with your real problems.

  8. Again- my exact words:

    Hey Jase,

    Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’m really not comfortable with the imagery on the title page. Let me know when you take it down and I’ll see about linking.

    Best, CK

  9. These words have already been quoted in the above post, in case you thought you were being misrepresented. Did you even read it?

    You don’t find it odd that you assumed I would take the image down as soon as I heard you weren’t comfortable with it? Or that I never asked you to link to it?

    Saddened. Bullied. This is exactly what I said when you asked me to link to your podcast site- this site only came up afterwards.

    When did you say that? I’m pretty sure I’d remember! Which site only came up afterwards? You’re not making much sense, Chris. This present blog (for which I asked if you’d replace your link to my old blog) was up long before the CF site. And, for the 4th or 5th time now, I never asked you to link to CF!

    AND you spammed the comment section to get around the fact that I had already told you that I wasn’t comfortable with the imagery you and Zawaski were using.

    For the record, Zavatski isn’t involved in the CF site directly, only the audio conversations, which you were also invited to join in. How is a several-paragraph comment making comparisons between our research “spam”, exactly? Also, your email came after I commented at your blog.

    FOUR posts hectoring me, two of which you since took down.

    I don’t know what you’re referring to here at all. Are you sure you’re not confusing me with someone else?

    Pasting my pictures on your blog without my permission.

    Lovingly rendered artwork by my wife, which once upon a time you praised, and which has been on the internet since 2008.

    it’s frightening how limpid and febrile you sound.

    Ironically enough I listened to some of your live interview yesterday and was disturbed by how histrionic and overwrought you sound. (Frankly, I wondered if you were on some sort of stimulants.) You seem to be pumping up your and your listeners’ emotions with fear-charged phrases about a “permanent dark ages” and how the planet is “trying to kill us” and the like.

    Maybe you think you need to rouse the people into action, but I’m not of the Alex Jones school of podcasting, so it’s easy to see why you would find my style “limpid.” I know you’re not expressing true concern for me, but I’m probably better situated in myself now than ever before. That often manifests as less confident, true, but that’s because my confidence in the past was often, or largely, a cover for my insecurity.

    Fervent belief is not knowing, and having strong opinions – or charisma – is no substitute for real mastery.

    I can see a thin thread of possible communication between us, but it’s very thin.

    This is what you wrote to me in an email, going on 4 years ago, in reference to the first “Warty Theorems”:

    I think it’s great you are podcasting again. I think voice really is your medium- you definitely project authority. Obviously this first pocast was more off the cuff, but you’re able to make complex concepts very comfortable in that medium. I think you should think about how to proceed in that medium and how you can take it to different levels. There’s definitely a charism at work and my feeling is that those are given for a higher purpose.

    Here’s my take on it now: I was projecting authority, not from my core self but as a kind of cloak or persona to hide behind. Life’s events took on a frightening intensity: two deaths in my family, closing down SWEDA when I felt I was abusing my power over others, a temporary separation from my wife, the profoundly humbling experience of realizing I’d fallen under “the spell” of a charismatic spiritual teacher (John de Ruiter); I was all-but gutted after that. (Saturn-Uranus conjunction was the main astrological influence).

    What you are perceiving as limpid and febrile is the vulnerability, and admittedly the exhaustion, of having been stripped of those many layers of defense, ego, and assumed authority/charisma, so I can better give myself to that higher purpose, instead of trying to use them for my own empowerment (and to feel safe behind). People close to me have recognized the change and been appreciative of it. I did use to be an unconscious bully and I used my “charism” to intimidate others. Now I do that far less, largely because I have learned to be OK with not feeling (or being) powerful.

    I can’t help but wonder about your interpreting that process as a sign of weakness or illness. Interpretation isn’t fact, and it can get in the way of real observation of what is fact.

    Maybe it does inevitably look that way to some people. I don’t really care how it looks, but only how it feels and how others close to me are affected by it.

    And maybe the only way to really understand it is to try it?

  10. That’s not an unreasonable request. I wouldn’t want to link to a site that had a picture on it that is somewhat questionable just to appease someone either. You could have just changed the damn picture dude. I really don’t think it was worth starting all of this over.

  11. Did it ever occur to you I never saw these letters? That you write a letter and then another letter *that I never saw?*

    That I never saw this stuff because I don’t follow your work?

    That I can’t get through any of your communication here because it’s pure manipulation?

    Did it occur to you that Zawaski started his little pigpile without me being aware of ANY of this? That I don’t buy this passive aggressive routine *at all,* especially after you sic Zawaski and his mental cripples on me? That’s classic sociopath behavior.

    You sound sick, Jason. You sound extremely unwell. I don’t know what’s going on with you but you sound like a character out of Valley of the Dolls. And seriously, get over yourself. Start by not using yourself a wallpaper. for God’s sake. And leave Whitley alone- it’s creepy as hell.

    And oh, tell Zawaski he might want to seriously reconsider his recent actions.

  12. Oh yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure that’s why you took it down.

    Now why don’t you two ask yourself this- was it worth it? Was it worth attacking someone -and enlisting all your little friends to do so as well- who never did either of you any harm over it? Someone who has helped both of you in the past? Were you so attached to that image that you would make yourselves an enemy for life over it? Had you done this from the outset I would have been more than happy to help promote your sites both on my blog and in my FB group but you had to go on the attack. Why you chose to attack me over this, I don’t even care to speculate.

    I justl hope it was all worth it. I really do.

  13. Chris, I didn’t enlist anyone to do anything. I posted the letter and tagged friends who were current or former members of the Secret Sun and watched the comments fly in- the sentiments expressed had obviously been bubbling for some time but you can’t rightfully pin that on me, Chris. Shoot the messenger and all that. But it was most certainly never my intention to create a life-long enemy. I don’t have any at the moment so this would be the first. although I hope not. I asked you what you would have me do and you ignored it. Now what am I supposed to do- ask again? OK, in all sincerity what would you have me do, Chris?

  14. I’m surprised there hasn’t been much discussion on the images at the crucialfictions site — both the old image (recently removed) and the new image. That , after all, seems to be at the crux of this whole mountain, or molehill, depending on how you are looking at all of this. Shall we go there?

    I personally was a bit startled by the first image when I first saw it. But then I looked at my own hyper-repressive American male self and saw, for a second, this character who was reacting so strongly to it. America, after all, was colonized by people who did find the atmosphere of their European kinsmen repressive enough. So an image of a bunch of boys AND girls with their shirts off was terrifying and wrong to me, at first, and I assume it was so for Chris Knowles as well (we all know that by now, actually, so sorry for assuming it) . But then I realized that I was in the middle of being an idiot having a robotic reaction, which brings us to the second, new image on the crucialfictions site. The image is perfect with that American flag pasted onto the classic Strieber-esque alien head with its robot upper torso and child lower torso (legs only, actually, and are those the legs of one of the girls from the previous image !! oh dear) . A classic image to portray the alienated roboticized American — completely sexually repressed with robot genitals.

    I hope there is more discussion on the images and your reactions to them. None of this would be happening, I think, if it wasn’t for the image and a person’s strong reaction to it and another person’s (who posted the image) strong reaction to the previous person’s strong reaction.

  15. “America, after all, was colonized by people who did find the atmosphere of their European kinsmen repressive enough.”

    This should read, “America, after all, was colonized by people who did NOT find the atmosphere of their European kinsmen repressive enough.”

  16. Thanks Chris(!).

    very nicely said and you gave me some Sunday morning chuckles (as I hoped the previous vid would do for others).

    your points are all dead-on, I think. Others may disagree, but let’s hope not violently…. ; )


  17. Well znore:

    a) As far as I know the jpegs remain mythical creatures roaming the rocky terrain of CK’s psyche
    b) The image which caused offense, as is usually the case, may be equivalent to a red herring made of straw in the shape of a scapegoat. In other words, an angry person’s excuse to act offended/offensively.
    c) my own grievance can’t be reduced to indignation at being treated as one of CK’s minions to be ordered about, since others were involved
    e) the “public vs. private” dichotomy may be as illusory as the fiction vs. non-fiction one
    f) the overall result of this enactment seems to have been making conscious and overt what was previously unconscious/covert. Is that a bad thing?

  18. My apologies if I sounded judgemental. I did not intend to be. We are all learning the hard way of how to communicate effectively within this ever-transforming sea of media. This present comment included. I have immense regard for both of your work.

  19. Here’s the DeaL, Jason –it doesn’t matter what I think of the image in question. Put it back up- show us how brave and principled you and Zawacki are. Don’t let big, bad old me bully you around. Stand up for free expression. You won- I got beat by the Horsley Army. I’ll go skulk off and lick my wounds.

    • I’m not sure if you’ll believe this but I never wanted to make you angry, and my principle reason for taking the image down was as a peace offering. I wasn’t bowing to any “pressure,” and I didn’t feel pressure from you so much as lack of respect or regard, a touchy spot for me.

      I admit I prefer the original image and maybe I’ll put it back up, but I’m more interested in learning why you object you it. I guess I could, and maybe should, have asked that at the outset. But kick my knee, first thing you’re gonna see is a jerk.

  20. Dear Jasun,

    no offense to Chris Knowles, but I am impressed how you handle yourself in this dispute.

    The master manifests himself first in limitation,
    And only the law gives liberty. (Goethe)

    Love, it is said, has no law.
    Why not?
    Because love itself
    Is the supreme law! (Baader)



  21. I’ll tell you what, Jason- if I have the time I’ll write all about it on my own blog. You and Keith will certainly be invited to respond but only under your proper names. Cheers ’til then.

  22. Reading this again just reminds me of how CK can use psychological buzzwords to browbeat people he’s turned on. thx

  23. Many people have noticed CK’s mood deteriorating. He seems to be in a lot of pain. He reminds me of Hoagland, you know with his special number 17 as Hoagland’s to 19.5. I really hope he can sort out his health problems. Shame..

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