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Armageddon Averted: Where Will You be on August 16, 1987?
Inside Art Goes to the Frontiers of the Mind

September 27,1985

If you've already picked up your 1987 calendar, you may want to turn to August 16 and mark it prominently. According to Jose and Lloydine Arguelles, who recently presented their ideas at the Frontiers of the Mind Festival sponsored by the Maitreya Institute in San Francisco, that particular day is bound to be a significant one. As Jose puts it, "August 16th is a Sunday, so the 17th
is a Monday. We say, on that Monday it's not going to be business as usual.”

The Arguelleses are among many like-minded thinkers, teachers, artists, and composers who have been gathering this month under the Maitreya umbrella for a series of daily lectures, workshops, and performance events with a New Age slant. Composers Terry Riley and Pauline Oliveros participated; H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche gave talks on Buddhism; someone named Michael Toms even offered a workshop called "The Zen of Marketing." For imponderable reasons, your reporter found himself attending the workshop (at the Unitarian Church on Franklin Street, on September13th) and lecture (at Fort Mason Center, on the 14th) given by this interesting couple. And an interesting couple of days it proved to be.

During the course of the presentations, the Arguelles schema gradually took shape as heralding the dawn of a benign millennium in which the earth and its inhabitants will reach "critical mass” and turn the corner on a new age. It all boils down to the need for human beings to become, as Jose puts it, "dolphins of the atmosphere." He explains that dolphins have little lag between the right and left hemispheres of their brains - unlike humans, for whom the lag is considerable. He feels that there is a slight wiring problem in the way that DNA has programmed us, but that we've now just about "passed the DNA test."

And what was the test?

Technology. "Technology," Jose goes on, "is the time it takes the left hemisphere to get up to right hemisphere speed." What with instantaneous global communications, as most fully realized during the Live Aid concert, we've succeeded in bringing those left hemispheres up to speed. Eventually we will dispense with the technology altogether and begin building "ESP bridges" instead. Jose and Lloydine feel that the time is near.

Or already upon us. Lloydine tells this story: Last July she and Jose were in Hawaii, strolling by the sea while Jose played his flute, when suddenly a troupe of dolphins appeared offshore and began leaping into the air and cavorting to Jose's music. Later, back on the mainland, the couple learned that a friend had ascertained through psychic techniques that the dolphins had recently instituted a plan to make contact with humans by just such means as they had observed.

The Live Aid concert was on July 13th; the above incident took place on July 23rd. To hear Jose and Lloydine tell it, these may have been the opening rounds in a series of events that presage nothing less than the cosmic liberation of the planet.

One facet of their philosophy comes under the rubric of "The Crystal Earth." Jose and Lloydine hold that our planet is essentially a "resonant structure," in its truest nature a crystal going through a complex process of self-refinement. Evolutionary changes, they further propose, are the result of changes in earth frequency - fluctuations in the way terrestrial elements (animal, vegetable, mineral) resonate in relation to one another. What they see on the horizon is something they call “harmonic convergence" a point at which the crystalline earth wavelengths will become dramatically consonant. Certain key events will prefigure and implement this resolution of planetary harmonics.

One of the first was Live Aid. They point to the planned Farm Aid concert, and to the contemplated Artists United Against Apartheid offering, as festive global-media happenings that will bring us still closer to the crucial brink. Then there is the First Earth Day Run, envisioned for the spring of 1986, when a global relay race covering forty-four countries will doubtless be seen on televisions all over the world.

Something called World Day will follow, at summer solstice 1986. On World Day, an event sponsored by no less august a body than the UN, 24-hour global media coverage will show people all over the world performing cooperative and constructive acts. The entire process won't come to a head, however, until August 16, 1987—a date Jose came across in the late Sixties while studying the Aztec calendar. In that venerable document, 8-16-87 is seen as marking the end of a "Hell Cycle” and the beginning of a “Heaven Cycle."

As to exactly what kind of event will be staged on that day, Jose and Lloydine are not quite sure. Originally they had hoped to arrange for various people to be stationed at “key gridpoints" (acupuncture-like nerve centers on the planetary surface) where they would perform an Earth Surrender Rite. Currently, though, they seem not entirely satisfied with this idea and uncertain as to what other steps should be taken. But they are quite clear on the basic import of the occurrence, whatever it may prove to be. It will be a moment when a worldwide consensus of intention will be reached and an age of habitual global infighting will come to an end.

And when Jose says that the following Monday will not be business as usual, he really means it. According to him, the order of the day (and of the succeeding 25 years) will be: Take It Down. By this, he means that we will busy ourselves with dismantling the whole cumbersome, misguided structure of our civilization, including but not limited to nuclear arms. We will enter into an era of world harmony and cooperation that will itself lead up to another significant date: winter solstice 2012, when (according to an Arguelles press release) the Culture of Peace established through a full generation of harmonically intentioned action will have turned the world from its course of war to its highest promise."

One of the most interesting things about the way in which Jose and Lloydine Arguelles have reached these far-seeing conclusions is that they started out in life not as scientists or mystics but as an art historian and a dancer, respectively.

"I was trained in art history at the University of Chicago - B.A.,
MA., and Ph.D. degrees," Jose told me during a conversation one afternoon during the festival. He and Lloydine were staying in a friend's Lyon Street apartment; it was a beautiful day, with delicious air and light wafting in through a bay window. "Then I taught art history at Princeton and at the University of California at Davis, and in 1970 my students and myself were instrumental in organizing the first Whole Earth Festival, at Davis; and I lost my job over that. The first Whole Earth Festival was actually my students' final exam - as far as I know, it was the only final exam that lasted four days. But because of that I became very controversial and I came under fire in the academic senate there, and it was at the same time that Angela Davis was in trouble down at UCLA. I had fierce support from my students, who were calling me up when the controversy bubbled over and letting me know how willing they were to bomb the local Bank of America. And so I looked at all the options, and I resigned.

"I taught for two years then at the Evergreen State College, which is an experimental school up in Olympia, Washington. Then I free­lanced for a while, taught at San Francisco State; for three years I was a visiting lecturer at the San Francisco Art Institute. I left for Colorado in 1977. I started teaching at the University of Colorado in 1979, and in 1982 I was named the outstanding teacher of the year, given an excellence-in-teaching award, and denied tenure all in the same breath. I felt that I had finally become cast out from the traditional academic machinery. Begining in 1977, I had begun to work for a nontraditional organization also, which is called the Union Graduate School, a nonresidential Ph.D. program. And so when I left the University of Colorado in 1983, the UGS picked me up full time. So that's where I am academically now. My title with them is program coordinator for creative arts."

I said I was curious how his academic career had fit in with his cosmic pursuits, which had culminated in 1984 with the publication of his book Earth Ascending - an impressively written and beautifully produced tome containing complex and eye-pleasing maps of different facets of the planet's evolution in matter and mind.

When I started teaching at Princeton," he replied, "I began scribbling notes for something called Art at the Dawn of the New Magic - that's how I conceived it at that point. Then the notes for that particular book developed, into another book, which was actually published in 1975, called The Transformative Vision, with sections on the nature and history of human expression. From the outset, how I had perceived the situation was that the curriculum of art history, as well as all the textbooks attendant to that curriculum, were disastrously out of step with global reality and were very biased instead of presenting a world history of art, they were really presenting a history of art from the perspective of the European Renaissance, and all works of art were gauged by the values and standards of the European Renaissance.

“And so, particularly through the 1970s, I taught a whole variety of courses in the different places that I taught - Islamic art, Indian art, Japanese art, things like that – so that I could become better informed and work toward what I felt would be a more equitable methodology for the teaching and the study and the writing and the practice of art history, what I thought would be a global methodology. And actually, the fruit of my efforts appears in Earth Ascending, in Maps 22 and 23, where you have this geochronological flow of the civilizations of the world on a true-to-time scale so you can see where everyone was at a certain point in time.

"I tried getting grants in order to do some type of definitive statement of this new methodology, but it was very unsuccessful," he went on. “My first efforts resulted in The Transformative Vision, but that was merely a critique of the problems of modern civilization - particularly since the Renaissance - and also praise of the visionary as the hero of the modern world. But in the early 1980s I tried getting grants to present the possibility of a global methodology, which could become useful not only in art history but in the teaching of the humanities in general, by presenting a method and a way of studying the art, literature, and philosophy traditions of the different civilizations and cultures of the world. I was most unsuccessful in those efforts. So by 1982 I felt that I was like a Don Quixote tilting at windmills, and that these were definitely not the windmills I should be tilting at, and better just to forget the whole process - especially since the traditional system did not see fit to keep me in. Ultimately I feel that I was liberated at that point to do whatever it is that I'm doing now."

I asked Lloydine about her own artistic and educational background.

"I went through a master's degree in modern dance," she said, "and so, early on, I discovered the interface of art and academia, and understood that at some points there was difficulty in that mix; because, again, of trying to justify the creative process in an academic situation. I thought about doing a Ph.D., but then I realized that what we're doing is already beyond that, in a sense. Part of the strength of our teaching together is - as Jose was saying to me after our presentation yesterday— if I can't say the same thing, there actually isn't any legitimacy to what we're talking about. In other words, this information can come through all of us. And the separation of those who are Ph.D.s and those who are medical doctors and those who are psychiatrists and psychologists is at such an extreme level at this point that what I think we can look forward to is the empowerment of people to understand that we each have self-healing capacities which are not respected, somehow, by these systems.

"It's hard, because we can't create antagonism here; but at the same time, there's such frustration that there's so little openness in those who should be taking the leading edge of thought and information."

I wondered aloud whether she had done any university teaching.

"Well, in my past as a dancer I went through the academic part of it and did a lot of teaching in the university system, but then got most interested in teaching those who are nondancers," she answered. "I got much more interested in working with everyone who at some point had said 'I don't know how to dance' - just like people learn to say 'I don't know how to paint,' because some teacher told them they couldn't make it. I'm very interested in how art in everyday life is a reality, how we can bring creativity into our lives.

"Over the last six months I've started to draw, and Jose's been encouraging me," she enlarged. "When I gave up the idea that I needed to be good, I discovered that when you draw it actually increases your visual perception phenomenally. And that to me is the most important thing about what art is. It isn't that we have these products that we can sell; it's much more what the art process does to our whole perception."

I asked her how she happened to get together with Jose.

"We met on a meditation retreat, and so we didn't talk to each other - because we were having silent meals and so on," she said, smiling. "We happened to converge right at a point when my marriage was dead and Jose's marriage was dead. And we felt like it was such a gift, because we walked right into it. We sort of felt that our holograms met before we even opened our mouths."

After they'd been living together for a while, the phrase "Planet Art Network" popped into Jose's head during meditation one day. With
Lloydine's help, it grew from a thought to a global outlook and then to an actual nuts-and-bolts organization operating out of Boulder. They called it PAN for short. People had begun showing up regularly on Fridays at the Arguelles household, and it seemed to our friends that it would only make sense to institutionalize the whole thing. They began having formal meetings and brought in a third person as administrator. They had donors; they had business consultants. But Jose and Lloydine found the business side of it so disagreeable, in the final analysis, that they both became physically ill; and then when one of the consultants presented them with a bill for three thousand dollars, they realized it was time to call a halt. They believe now that PAN was not meant to be an organization but a wavelength.

And so they go from one symposium or workshop or New Age conference to the next, disseminating their hopeful, transcendant philosophy to all who care to hear. They offer no pie-in-the-sky visions, really, but a rapidly approaching date - now less than two years away. "We've run out of time," Jose says, "not just in terms of the arms race but in terms of the environment." When you stop to think about it, August 16, 1987, might not come a moment too soon.

See you then.

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