Parsons’ General Field Theory
address to ICE-Z (International Conference of Esemplastic Zappology) 16 January 2004 at Theatro Technis, Crowndale Road, Camden Town, London
Instead of the zappological reading of James Joyce's Ulysses we had been promised (if you want zappajoyce press here), Gamma read "General Field Theory", a paper from the collection Freedom Is A Two-Edged Sword by John Whiteside Parsons, edited by Cameron and Hymenaeus Beta for New Falcon Publications in Tampe, Arizona in 1989 as number one in their Oriflamme series. When he was a book distributor working with Ed Baxter, Gamma discovered this book. Parsons' paper began with the highly zappological problem that "in homo sapiens, intellect has grown to the point where it is equal to or even more powerful than instinct in regulating certain basic forces" (p. 85). Some listeners found the text's attention to the formation of power relations in groups relevant to Zappa as band leader and employer of technical staff, others to the socio-dynamics of the Esemplasm itself. The self-consciousness about group-formation in the situationist-tinged Paris section (Les Fils de l'Invention) was reflected here in a text by a member of the Agapé Lodge of Aleister Crowley's Ordo Tempi Orientis. Gamma concluded his reading with the following brief extemporisation: "John Whiteside Parsons was born in 1914. He was a rocket scientist, and he died in 1952 because he was playing with rockets. [laughter] Yeah, I know. Keep smiling. And Bush wants to go to Mars! - ha ha ha. Anyway, Jack wrote all this stuff down here. Ben asked me to read Ulysses, and I thought to myself yesterday, that's the one: Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword."
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