Later this month, I will be part of a group of people engaged on a great journey. The full details are yet to be widely revealed, but traces of it have emerged: in Daisy Campbell’s show Pigspurt’s Daughter, in a recent Psychedelic Detectives podcast, in a hashtag. It’s an amazing caper and one of the strangest things I’ve ever been involved in.
The other week I took lunch with a friend and mentioned the trip. He asked my why, and I didn’t have a snappy answer. It’s part of a larger story, one that goes back over fifty years; maybe longer, a lot longer.
A number of things have led me to this moment, but one of the most powerful (a true wampeter) was John Higg’s book on the KLF. I bought the first version of the book, back in December 2012. The story John told amazed me, and I ended up drawing a map of how many of my obsessions were linked through it. Threads could be drawn out to William Burroughs, Abbie Hoffman, Punch & Judy, Stone Circles and the Invisibles. Higgs’ book placed the KLF at the heart of a network of myth, magic and creativity.
That map now feels like comic-book foreshadowing, like when the Avengers found their future timeline laid out in a map.
As well as John’s KLF books, there were other things leading to the pilgrimage. I saw a crowdfunder for a discordian festival, paid £23, and ended up going along to Festival 23. Rosy began working on her one-person show, part of which is set in CERN, and also refers to David Bowie, whose Blackstar is a touchstone for the pilgrimage. Then there was an event in Brighton organised by David Bramwell, a launch event for Michael Coveney’s book on Ken Campbell.
Threads began to cross too. I got in touch with Cat Vincent after using some of his research in a talk about Internet brown notes. I met Cat for the first time at the launch of John Higg’s second book. Cat would later work with me and the Indelicates on the October Ritual event, where we cursed Brexit. The links go back to my late teenage years, doing a degree in Theoretical Physics. Or to the Invisibles comic book, with its concept of a hypersigil, a work of art that functions as magic.
One of the things I loved about Brighton was how many people I knew with secret identities. Some of them had buried old names with old, unwanted identities. Others had their performance names, which turned their ‘real name’ into a secret identity. I stayed the same, like Rick Jones. But this pilgrimage has brought me an alias.
The periods before and after a pilgrimage are as important as the journey itself. People are drawing together, collaborating on new things (check out Pilgrim Radio), making a new myth. There is a story unfolding.