An Interview by Harvey the Invisible Rabbit
Nestled into a clump of redwoods and in the shadow of Mt. Tamalpais sits the poly construction home of Sound Photosynthesis. Established and operated by Faustin Bray and Brian Wallace, Sound Photosynthesis has for the past twelve years endeavored to record in all mediums available the thoughts and ideas of people concerned with cultural evolution in America. From Timothy Leary in Malibu to Ali Akbar Khan in New Delhi, Sound Photosynthesis has traveled the world to bring the cutting edge minds of today together in one catalog. Without further ado Rythmos brings you...
Harvey: How would you describe Sound Photosynthesis?
Faustin Bray: We're a media company that transforms the mime of the current cultural position on the nodules of condensing information that has happened through what we call interpretations of human activity that coagulate in certain types of arts and artifacts on to audio and video tapes that we then distribute to the unsuspecting masses.
Harvey: Would you say that you were chroniclers of a movement?
Brian Wallace: I wouldn't think of what we record as A movement as much as a cultural moment. There's not a splinter group; we take an inclusive look at things that seem most interesting to us.
Faustin: The birthing of the future culture happens in a few seed minds, and that's who we are interested in recording.
H: Whom would you say is a seed mind?
F: I consider John Lilly to be a seed mind. His ideas are so futuristic that we need to archive what he did in the past in order to have it around in the future when the group of us can actually assimilate his concepts.
H: What is it that John Lilly has said or done that interests you?
F: What I call "John Lilly's permissionary mantra" has helped me overcome my own inadequacies and it goes as follows: "In the province of the mind what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true within certain limits. The limits are to be found experimentally and experientially. When so found these limits turn out to be further beliefs to be transcended. In the province of the mind there are no limits. However, in the province of the body there are definite limits not to be transcended."
H: What do you do to promote his thoughts?
F: We gather his old material, that has been recorded or held in some other material form, and as time goes by we check in with him on his philosophical points of views and bring them up to date with what we already have. We do that in various ways; in audio, video, and articles in magazines. We document his activities to see if he lives by his concepts or are they just abstract. Is this a person we can look to as a leader or is it just his ideas that we should keep as images of him.
H: When did you individually become interested in recording?
B: I've been recording my own music since the late 60's. My interest in recording grew and I began to record musicians. When Faustin and I met in South America we began to record musicians we ran across as well as our own performances. Through this journey we developed are skills as performers and cultural archivers.
F: Before I left for South America I was a school director in California. I collected what I thought were futuristic education techniques and philosophical political positions. I began to video and audio my finds in the early 70's. John Lilly was my first interview. Later when I left for South America with a mobile school, whose intention it was to expose innovative teaching techniques to local communities, I continued to record this work and the local scene surrounding it.
H: Since you came together in your recordings, what kind of cultural trend have you seen growing in America?
F: Well media has become an incredible force. When we began recording initially, there was a very limited industry outside the major networks; not many people owned cassette machines and video cassette machines were virtually non existent. The speed at which people can share info and be alerted to details may have the same cultural impact on our society as, say, the leap from the horse to the car. Through media, local interpretations are globally shared. Nobody is isolated as the global network continues to spread its web, and that's the trend not only for America but for the planet.
B: Here's an example of how fast the non-print media has grown: In 1983 we made a talking book from Terence McKenna's novel "True Hallucinations" complete with music and sound effects. At the time it appeared to be the first of it's kind, now there is a huge industry using the very same format.
H: Speaking of hallucinations, there seems to be an interest in altering states of consciousness through psychedelics and dancing. What could you recommend from your catalog to aid those interested in the intellectual/self-discovery department of the psychedelic ward?
B: There is a video that we made of a San Francisco rave mixed with the voice of Tim Leary through out . There are compilations of gatherings of some of the older grand masters and younger grand old masters of psychedelic research. The Bridge Conference at Stanford and the Psychedelics in the 1990's benefit in Berkeley, give an introduction to researchers who have been actively studying in this area. These two compilations catch informative Hi-lights from the speeches and are mixed with the colorful images such as Beau Lee's fractals.
F: I think Terence McKenna is always a winner on the level of infotainment through his continuing spokesman ship for the mischievous mind of psychedelia. I would like to add that Sound Photosynthesis has consistently aimed to put out relevant information regarding psychedelics and cultural evolution. For example, one of the people we support, Stephen Gaskin, his philosophy was born out of the psychedelic movement of the 60's and early 70's. Stephen formed a group, the farm, that has fulfilled the aspirations of the psychedelic society as a community. The farm shows us a model of a group that actualizes the fantasy of living in a community that focuses on living in a higher state of consciousness.
Robert Anton Wilsons', author and lecturer, way of thinking has been enhanced by his continual search for ways to enhance his state of being. He is an advocate for the right of personal freedom to do whatever one chooses with their mind. The title of his latest book expresses this philosophy in a nutshell, "Reality is what you can get away with." Nina Graboi went from being a victim of Nazi agression in Austria to doing acid with Timothy Leary at Millbrook. Nina constantly pushes her perspectives on life through her ceaseless questioning of all that is.
B: One of the things about psychedelics that has impressed me is that they can supply a reference point for day to day life. Perhaps a perfect moment where one can see the incredible detail that makes us up or that we make up. Truly an experience of imaginative beauty informing us that everything around us is helpful in countering the illusion of mondainity.
F: I would like to add that almost everybody that we record says something about introspection. Charles Tart, who brings together virtual reality, meditation, and spiritual practices as ways to alter states of consciousness, consistently states that introspection provides the most profound path to self discovery. John Lilly's isolation tank has enabled him to do some of his most important research that culminated in the book, "Programming and metaprogramming of the human bio-computer."
H: If you could paint the future for our part of the world what would you like to see?
B: I would like to see a cultural landscape as rich and diverse as possible. A landscape where the parts of life that were once only available to elite groups or life dedicating students, such as the North Indian classical music traditions as performed by Ali Akbar Kahn or the teachings of Buddhist doctrines by the Dalai Lama of Tibet, are integrated into daily life so that anyone can experience them. These resources of confirming attitudes and approaches are necessary for all of the personal revolutions required for our lives to flourish and for the universes to be explored.
F: I would like to see a growing trend which bestows an ever increasing sense of individuality with in a community context; where each individual can have respect in a functioning and supportive community. I would like these communities to have power over themselves yet remain open to the on goings around them. Most importantly though I would like to see more focus on the child. Once the baby arrives on the earth that people respect that life and put their energies and resources into supporting that life become a strong and compassionate individual. We are missing it now with our educational structure. Complete education is our lowest priority. That's why Sound Photosynthesis does what it does. Hopefully through introspection something will click. Once you have the knowledge you gotta do something with it otherwise you will be haunted by it. All humans should be given an equal chance at birth, and when that happens within a period of time people will begin to allow in the education of the young more compassion, a broader mind, ability to care for each other, the planet, the future and...SPACE TRAVEL!!!!
You can visit Sound Photosynthesis at:
The interview was conducted October 1992 by Harvey the Invisible Rabbit for Rhythmos Magazine.