Ariel & Electra, a novel by R.Merlin, published by Ion Drive
From: IonDrivePublishing.com, 360 pages, $27.99
Printed on 60 lb. parchment with wool felt outer cover and
Hyperplaid diffraction foil inner cover (ISBN 978 0 981714 3 2 5)
Written over an extraordinary twenty-two years, Ariel & Electra draws on R.Merlin’s experience as a laser artist, working Druid, and occult initiate with a passion for the Eleusinian Mysteries.
And, while he wryly suggests it be listed under “sex, drugs, rock/n/roll, lightshows and magic in space,” (and, truth be told, all those things are in there), the novel is really about the evolution of consciousness.
Set in a hopeful near/future time, Ariel & Electra covers the adventures of a ship-full of visionary artists and, ultimately, the world-changing shamanic temple drama that they create.
Within the framework of the story, we find ourselves in the later stages of the Great Migration, the widening-out of the human drama into the planets and moons of our solar ecliptic plane. And with this, our newly expanded point of view, humankind’s perspective has widened as well. Some of the more evident changes can be seen in our Earth, now a garden spot, with a restored atmosphere and many natural wonders preserved and restored likewise.
A less evident (though more relevant) consequence of the Great Migration is a system-wide rise in our collective desire for the evolution of human consciousness. This blooming of sanity brings about a rampant rise in popular shamanism and the attendant altered states that ensue. This, in turn, leads directly to the emergence of a Spacer Culture, characterized by the conscious use of technology, and more importantly, the technological enhancement of consciousness...
Envision along, if you are so inclined...
What would your world be like if the pursuit of entheogenic experience were celebrated and encouraged? If new forms of mind/expanding experiences (and chemistry) were generally lauded and praised, were a vital part of the cultural landscape? If the internet carried sites with coded keys that ultimately led you to a secret magical society on the Moon? If personal body mods could be achieved solely through visualization?
What would it be like to awaken every day to the wilds of volcanic Io, the orange sulfur moon of Jupiter, beautiful beyond recounting...
Into this world we will now toss a spray of greeny crystals, a mind-altering substance an order of magnitude more powerful than anything extant hitherto, leading the crew of the Ariel to plan an evolutionary leap, embark on an unprecedented adventure of the mind, and frame up the greatest and most shamanic temple event in the history of humankind...
Writing Ariel & Electra
As R.Merlin relates, “Ariel & Electra had its genesis in a dream I had in April of ‘84. I was, at that time, midway through my trippy twenty-five year career as a laser artist, burning with the beauty of the Light.
“Laser Lightshows then were particularly difficult,” he continues, “There were formidable technical barriers in just getting to the point where we had a working rig. At the time, off-the-shelf hardware was very limited, and since it was mostly made for the scientific community, it needed to be modified for use in Lightshows, or pushed beyond it’s design limits, or both. So, we all built our own equipment, scanning modules and electronics and suchlike, and we wrote our own software. It was like having to invent the synthesizer before you could make music. The lasers themselves were also fragile cantankerous beasties that had to be fed massive amounts of three-phase power and truckloads of water, up to 200 gallons per hour.
“When we traveled, we hauled at least a ton and a half of equipment to every gig; we were the first to set up and the last to pack out.
` “The rush, however, was worth it...
“What could be better than to actually work with Light, to transcend the metaphor and work with the actual stuff?
“This is what came through from that time:”
”Lightshows are more than entertainment: they are holy instruments for the evolution of consciousness.
“On a magical level, certain talismanic figures of projected light become patterns for the calling of Power. These figures, recalled to the mind, attune that instrument to receive specific types of energy; love, inspiration, mystical experience, healing, dimensional travel, time expansion, creativity, change.”
-- Ariel & Electra, Chapter 7, A Lightshow for Ganymede
R.Merlin continues, “By the early nineties, Lightshows were reaching a low ebb. And I, frustrated with the limitations of an immature technology, realized that the only way i could create the Lightshows i was seeing in my mind was to write them into a book.
“Many of the ideas expressed in Ariel & Electra sprang from aspects of my Lightshows. As an art-form, Lightshows are about the expansion of consciousness, the freeing of the mind. By their nature, they are spatial rather than narrative, far above the usual melodrama that we conventionally call entertainment. Instead, Lightshows depend upon an endless stream of beautiful visions to keep us amused.
“And so, I thought, might Ariel & Electra.
“With altered states so much a part of my projection of the future, i am proud to report that almost the entire book was written whilst in the embrace of greeny vapours, usually between the hours of one and five in the morning, when the city is psychically still and i can hear the words whispered through the undifferentiated air...
“In truth, I found myself eager for the time when I could return to the world I had created. While in my physical life I danced with a full spectrum of changes, this work became a kind of refuge, a meditation, a teacher and a partner.
“It occurs to me that I have lived more than a third of my life (so far) in this infinitely perfectible personal universe. For sixteen years I told no one of my work, held the energy close, kept a monk-like silence about the mounting thousands of hours, referring to it only as my secret project, and only when necessary.
“I was holding out for the time when i could roll it out like a new street rod (built by my own hand and astonishing in its perfection), and then revel in the enjoyment of my friends – and their praise. I figured if I shared it around before it was done I would get the praise too early, and it would erode my Will to finish.
“And there is this: I wanted to protect and insulate my connection with my Awen, my muse, keep my focus on the Voice that informs me.
“So much of this work is just me listening and writing down what comes; there were several times where I would write whole chapters, not knowing what they were connected to until years later. Characters would present themselves, old friends would make appearances on my pages, whole cultures would invent themselves as I watched...
“Once, four years in, I thought I had lost all of it during a lightning storm; but yea, I was smiled-upon, and my work was restored to me. More than once I left a lovers’ bed to add a word, join one line to another, expand upon a scene.
“I stopped counting after nine drafts, and I was still eight years away from finishing. The Lexicon/Codex alone (a section at the back of the book that expands upon some of the subjects mentioned), took two years to write.”
“I wanted to make the wording of the thing wholly positive. I sensed that eliminating almost all usage of words like ‘but’, ‘no’, etcetera, would improve the way it flowed through the mind of the perceiver; leave the way clear for more and more delicious imagery to provide that endless stream of beautiful visions.
“And I worked to treat language musically, bending grammar, spelling, and sentence structure to my Will, all to serve the lyric line, the rhythm and the color of the language. in a musical way
“And there is this: in order to improve the immediacy of the thing, I strove to make the prose as much in the moment as I could. This required a kind of forced present/tense...
“Being so close to the Work, I began to make deals with myself. There was this one night when all the words and letters, all the electropixels formed a kind of trade union and got me to agree with their concepts of seniority, continuity, and conservation of energy. I agreed to respect their right to an existence, and finished with the equivalent of five novels’ worth of trims.
“The Lexicon/Codex entry on entelechy alone took six months to write...
“Now, twenty-four years after I began, I am pleased to relate that I am at last ready to lay this book before you...”
Some Background on R.Merlin
R.Merlin worked as a laser artist in Los Angeles (birthplace of Laser Lightshows) for twenty-five years, from 1970 to 1995, a time-span that included over a hundred major projects. Starting with Paul Holman’s seminal Positive Media In America, his work included free-standing theater shows (the Cove Theater in Hermosa Beach), film effects (Tron, Buck Rogers), rock videos (including Rock With Me starring Michael Jackson), television (a Nickelodeon segment and other stuff), many club dates and raves (including one memorable night, sharing the stage with Moby, and another with Timothy Leary), outdoor concerts (Firefall, The Beverly Hills Symphony), live events, and many etceteras.
He is also the founder (in 1992) of the Celestial Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, and has led workshops on a variety of related subjects. A book containing his accumulated experience, including a year of rites, is forthcoming.
Along with being a working Druid, his passion for the Eleusinian Mysteries, the long-running temple drama of ancient Greece, has carried him through a number of classic shamanic initiatory experiences.
His influences include Robin Williamson, Terrence McKenna, and Captain Jet. Also Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe, Billy Scudder, Dion Fortune, WB Yeats, James Joyce, and Michael C Ford...
He lives in Los Angeles, and occasionally roams the Agoura Hills, the site of the original Renaissance Pleasure Faire, where he has worked and performed since 1982.
A Word About This Book As Artifact...
When the book was finished (“I realized I couldn’t look at it anymore, so I knew it must be done”), R.Merlin was faced with the prospect of finding an agent who would then look for a publisher who would then assign him an editor, etcetera. And, realizing just how far his book was from the mainstream, he decided that the best way forward would be for him to just build some books himself, and offer them directly to his friends and any other interested parties.
Which he has done.
Each idiosyncratic book is literally printed on his desktop, and perfect-bound there likewise. The paper is Domtar parchment, with 300 champagne- colored pages for the book and 60 sky-blue pages for the Lexicon/Codex. The inner cover is rare blue Hyperplaid diffraction foil from Spectratek (stored for fifteen years, awaiting the book’s completion), and the outer cover is double-thick blue wool felt. It also includes a bound-in yellow grosgrain double bookmark.
Additionally, it should be mentioned that the book opens vertically like a notepad (In the style of the ancient Eleuthrans); thus it can be held with either hand wrapped around the spine, cushioned by the comfortable felt. This vertical format allows the reader to see a long column of type, two pages at a time, with one of them flowing into the next, aiding in the tracking of the complicated indention and consecutive drop-line paragraphs that fill the work.
Uniquely, the book is also free of page numbers, a table of contents, and an index.
And there is this: the cover carries no printing whatsoever, since it is unlikely that the reader will have anything remotely similar on their shelves. Bar code and ISBN information, along with descriptive quotes and the price, appear on a label on the box in which the book comes.
Only a limited number of copies (under a hundred) of this first run of books are currently available, and only from the Ion Drive Publishing website.