What do you do when you dream about being a Harley Davidson rider, but at the same time are trying to live a more or less moneyless life, and are without any technical skills at all? You create a biker avatar in Second Life.
Second Life is an online virtual world, where the users, called Residents, can interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore the world (known as the grid), meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another.
Here I´m playing with my biker avatar as a virtual personification of my book Lucifer Morningstar – a Philosophical Love Story. The description of the book is:
With a preface by the Devil we are introduced to the love story of Dracula and Mina, seen with the eyes of a philosopher.
We learn that the nature of the Devil´s game is the paradoxical. This is revealed when we guess that the Devil´s proper name is Lucifer Morningstar, which means Bringer of Light.
We hear about the Devil´s double incarnation in the pain-bodies of Dracula and Mina. In the search for the unification of their love we undertake a Hero´s Journey through the Earth-Moon Kingdom of the Vampire. Like Vergil in Dante´s The Divine Comedy our guide will be Karen Blixen.
In this book I´m using popular culture to shed light on my own pain-body and the dark ancient powers I have struggled with for over two decades. In this way the book is an anologistic portrait of the experiential background for my teaching Meditation as an Art of Life.
The book is an inquiry into the nature of suffering and love.
As a virtual personification of this I have given my avatar the name Lucifer Morningstar, and is describing him as a Dungeon Master, Ghost Rider and Hell Preacher.
Ghost Rider is the name of many fictional supernatural antiheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Marvel had previously used the name for a Western character whose name was later changed to Phantom Rider. The first supernatural Ghost Rider is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze, who, in order to save the life of his father, agreed to give his soul to "Satan" (later revealed to be an arch-demon named Mephisto). At night and when around evil, Blaze finds his flesh consumed by hellfire, causing his head to become a flaming skull. He rides a fiery motorcycle and wields blasts of hellfire from his body, usually from his skeletal hands.
In order to give my Ghost Rider avatar something of Count Dracula´s aristocracy I have situated his place of living in a Palazzo in Venice, Italy. Not the ideal place for a biker, but on his supernatural bike he can ride through space and time and other worlds with numerous fantasy elements including steampunk, supernatural beings and magic.
In this way my avatar functions as my alter ego (I have even created a blog for him – click here).
So, how has the idea of this alter-ego arisen?
That being invisible to the culture of self-help – that being unregarded, ignored, devalued, is in a culture of self-assertion a curse.
I have myself experienced that in a rather special way, namely in connection with my awakening of Kundalini, which throwed me out in a spiritual crisis, years of investigating this crisis, university-studies in philosophy, and the slow development of my teaching Meditation as an Art of Life - and then that, again and again, being unregarded, ignored, and devalued by my surroundings - made me think of my own life as being befelled by a curse. First it was the devaluation of the Kundalini-experiences I have had.
The rise of "Kundalini Energy" is as ancient as history itself. It is also called "The Serpentine Fire" as it makes its way up the spinal canal (also called the sushumna) in an alternating spiral that would resemble a pair of intertwining snakes if it were seen clearly for any length of time.
So, the first time I was made aware of the Ghost Rider character I immediately thought of Kundalini. My Kundalini awakening happened in a dream. I was standing in a row of sinners on the top of a mountain. Scary demons were forcing the sinners to jump out from the mountain, down into the flames of Hell. Normally, when you have a falling dream you wake up. I didn´t wake up, and continued down into the flames and hit the ground among hills of broken bones. When I sat up I felt like I was sitting on a jet motor, or rather, on a Harley engine, because of the spasms of the energetical flames that streamed up through my body, with that characteristic thug, thug, thug - a hypnotic rhythm that must resonate with some fundamental frequency in the human brain. And out of my mouth came a Tiger´s roar in the form of a very deep om, or auuuummm.
The dream was lucid, and the experience didn´t disappear when I woke up like a Bat Out of Hell. The energy/fire was, and still is, continually floating through my body. When I was studying philosophy in Odense, Denmark, the hometown of Hans Christian Andersen, my friend Dion was living in Copenhagen. When I visited him we spend some rather crazy days together. One day we decided to get ourselves a tattoo. Mine was a roaring Tiger on my left upper arm with a Chinese sign meaning friendship. The tattoo was made by a high ranking Hells Angels biker, Tattoo Danny, in Nyhavn (New Haven) in Copenhagen, a former sailor neighborhood. My friend and I were also contemplating joining the French Foreign Legion. Maybe it could have saved my friend, because some years later he hanged himself. His pain-body was too dark for him to live a normal life.
Ageless symbols of healing speak louder about Kundalini than any description I could give. We see the rise of the Kundalini portrayed very aptly in the design of the Staff of Hermes, also known as the Caduceus. The modern medical profession has adopted this symbol as their standard---two snakes intertwined around a pole that is lifted high for all to see.
In Biblical Literature, we see reference to a staff that was utilized by the Hebrew Prophet, Moses, and the healing power it was purported to have. Around the pole was wrapped a serpent and it was held high above the people. Whoever looked upon that staff with faith could be healed of any affliction.
Later, in the gospels, Jesus said of Himself: "As Moses lifted up the staff in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up…." In this, Jesus was apparently making some incredible claims. First, He was equating Himself with the Serpentine Power on the pole. By all appearances, He was saying that the intertwining of that vital life force was, in fact, the very essence of who He was. Millions of people, those currently incarnate and also those who have transitioned in death, could testify of the healing power of that image of Jesus on the cross.
The Reconnections now come to us and offer the viewpoint that the intertwining power of that Kundalini Rise is, in fact, the very essence of who we all are. It is a dance of energy that involves both the active and passive elements within the physical universe. As we become balanced, within our physical body, the whole essence of our person (and our perceptual universe) begins to change. We somehow get "turned on," (as some might have thought: it´s very sexual) and nothing is ever the same again.
But the experience is seldom as positive as that. Numerous accounts describe the experience of Kundalini awakening. When awakened, Kundalini is said to rise up from the muladhara chakra through the central nadi (called sushumna) inside or alongside the spine and reaching the top of the head. The progress of Kundalini through the different chakras leads to different levels of awakening and mystical experience, until Kundalini finally reaches the top of the head, Sahasrara or crown chakra, producing an extremely profound transformation of consciousness. Energy is said to accumulate in the muladhara and the yogi seeks to send it up to the brain, transforming it into 'Ojas', the highest form of energy (see my article What are Chakras?).
Physical effects are believed to be a sign of Kundalini awakening by some, but described as unwanted side effects pointing to a problem rather than progress by others. This is due to that the energy necessarily floats into the pain-body.
Feelings are the body´s reaction on the mind (the thoughts). Feelings arise where the mind and the body meet. They are reflections of the mind in the body. Feelings can also be a reflection of a whole thought-pattern. A thought-pattern can create an enlarged and energy-charged reflection of itself in the form of a feeling. This means, that the whole of the thought´s past also can create a reflection of itself in the body. And if this past is filled with pain, then it can show itself as a negative energy-field in the body. Eckhart Tolle calls this the emotional pain-body. It contains all the pain you have accumulated in the past. It is the sum of the negative feelings which you have ”saved together” through life and which you carry. And it can nearly be seen as an invisible, independent creature.
Therefore it could be called an Alter ego. And therefore we also could, as H.C. Andersen does in his fairy tale, call it the Shadow. In this fairy tale the narrator´s shadow precisely develops into a shadowy, independent creature (not really a fairy tale, more a horror tale, like many of Andersen´s other “fairy tales”).
The pain-body is the inner demon, or the devil in the heart. Some pain-bodies are relatively harmless, some are anxiety-filled, depressive or angry, others are directly malicious and demonical. They can be passive or active. Some are passive 90% of the time, others are active 100% of the time.
The pain-body is, through the inner evaluating ego, which the pain-body is constructed around, connected with the more dangerous dephts of the astral plane´s collective history, which also are a kind of dark, ancient inertia, which opposes any change of the ego.
The energies found here are unfathomable, and when you direct them into your pain-body, as it must happen with an awakening of Kundalini, you are really facing problems. That is what is happening in a spiritual crisis. It is clear that a pain/sorrow can be so powerful that the pain-body directly gets a mythological character.
The following are either common signs of an awakened Kundalini or symptoms of a problem (the meeting with the pain-body) associated with an awakening Kundalini (commonly referred to as Kundalini syndrome):
1. Involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling, and crawling sensations, especially in the arms and legs
2. Energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body
3. Intense heat (sweating) or cold, especially as energy is experienced passing through the chakras
4. Spontaneous pranayama, asanas, mudras and bandhas
5. Visions or sounds at times associated with a particular chakra
6. Diminished or conversely extreme sexual desire sometimes leading to a state of constant or whole-body orgasm
7. Emotional upheavals or surfacing of unwanted and repressed feelings or thoughts with certain repressed emotions becoming dominant in the conscious mind for short or long periods of time.
8. Headache, migraine, or pressure inside the skull
9. Increased blood pressure and irregular heartbeat
10. Emotional numbness
11. Antisocial tendencies
12. Mood swings with periods of depression or mania
13. Pains in different areas of the body, especially back and neck (since such pains have become a widespread form of suffering, you should be careful believing that back pains are due to Kundalini).
14. Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
15. Trance-like and altered states of consciousness
16. Disrupted sleep pattern (periods of insomnia or oversleeping)
17. Loss of appetite or overeating
18. Bliss, feelings of infinite love and universal connectivity, transcendent awareness
People around me refused to accept what was going on. And they devaluated it completely. Some saw me as a fool, a weirdo, others were convinced I was mentally ill. Then I tried to put myself in respect by taking an education in philosophy. But after I had got my education in philosophy, it was this education in itself that was being devaluated. So, this tendency to devaluate was obviously something innate in my friends and family. But as if this wasn´t enough, I found out that this devaluating, or victimizing tendency, had become a part of society itself.
I began to experience an extreme anger streaming up to the surface. Let me sum up.
Today I travel around in the world as a Philosophical Globetrotter, Life Artist and Idler.
I campaign against the work ethic and promote liberty, autonomy and responsibility; in reality: the fine art of doing nothing. In this I take an anarchic approach to the everyday barriers that come between us and our dreams.
So, today I´m in for spiritual anarchism, civil disobedience, and the right to be an idler. I am, in everything, rebellious.
Combined with my anger I sincerely began to admire the biker experience – the dimension of the outlaw that Americans are decidedly warm towards (such as Jesse James, Billy the Kid, gangsters in popular culture), the anarchist and rebel, the fighter and warrior (in my pop culture file on Metallica I have given an account of the warrior virtues). The symbols worn on shirts and skin by outlaw bikers or outlaw wannabe Harley riders – skulls, Vikings (these are at least my ancestors), SS runes, iron crosses, werewolves, pirates, even swastikas – extol rebellious outsiders (though, in my experience, these are largely not pro-nazi political symbols, but rather symbols of rebellion aimed at shocking and engendering unease and even fear). In a world ever increasingly erosive of personal freedom and even of free speech, these symbols stir a sympathetic chord even in people who do not wear them.
Raw, loud, and dangerous, the choice of thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies for a hundred years, the motorcycle´s powerful juju has made it a colossal icon of popular culture, symbolizing values associated with freedom, rebellion, and, in the latter half of the twentieth century, a nihilistic Fuck the World (FTW) attitude.
Early in the 1960s, the motorcycle and rebellion came together in an unusual way with the emergence of the outlaw biker lifestyle. What´s fascinating is how in the last twenty years the trappings of outlaw biker culture have been co-opted, cleaned-up, and commercialized for mass consumption, making the outlaw biker the dominant fashion model for the motorcycle industry.
The sanitized image of the outlaw biker is now the stuff of romantic fantasy (like Dracula and vampires), conjuring up images of Vikings, pirates, and desperados. These now-trendy rebels celebrated for their iconoclasm are “as American as apple pie,” a documentary points out, “direct descendants of Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and other freedom-loving spirits of the untamed frontier.”
Before the outlaw biker style became cool, however, outlaw bikers were feared and loathed by the public. Getting plenty of sensationalized attention from the media, they were most often associated with unseemly acts of drunkenness, irresponsibility, and gratuitous violence, and their chopped scoots had less to do with cool than mayhem. True, these rebels smashed icons, but what the public noticed was that they smashed skulls, too. Besides the notions of freedom, brotherhood, and machismo, then, there was a more powerful underlying theme to the out-biker lifestyle – nihilism. In my book A Portrait of a Lifeartist I have described the nihilistic moment in spiritual practice where all ideas and images are leaving your mind (also see my book Sûnyatâ Sutras). You could also quote the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna:
I have no view of my own. My critical arguments are simply reduction to absurdity of the views ignorance has created.
It sounds very nihilistic, but it isn´t. It is supplied with the inexpressible spiritual dimension, which gives an absolute ethical foundation. So, in this aspect of nihilism I can recognize in myself.
No matter how frightening or loathsome the outlaw biking style of nihilism appeared to be, it also has a mysterious resonance; and no matter how Hollywood might negatively dramatize the image of the outlaw biker as a chopper-riding psychotic in black leather and chains, it remained a heady, intoxicating fantasy. In Hells Angels, Hunter s. Thompson writes that outlaw bikers “command a fascination, however reluctant that borders on psychic masturbation.” He´s right. Middle America, always fascinated with bohemian ways, couldn´t seem to get enough seamy reports of sex, depravity, filth, violence, and far-out choppers. Accordingly, the fantasy image of the badass nihilist biker slowly acquired almost mythic proportions as a symbol of rebellion, metaphysical escape, and existential freedom. Finally, it was ripe for Madison Avenue.
With this fantasy intact, I today hold an MA in philosophy (University of Southern Denmark 1996-2001) and a minor in psychology (Aalborg University 2002-2005).
I have practiced yoga and meditation since 1985, and during this period I have developed the concept of Meditation as an Art of Life. In 2008, 2009, and 2010 I have published this teaching in three books: Meditation as an Art of Life – a basic reader (2008), Dream Yoga (2009), and A Portrait of a LifeArtist (2010).
So, the development of this teaching, together with the outlaw biker fantasy, is connected with my experience of the Kundalini awakening (see my articles Spiritual Crises as the Cause of Paranormal Phenomena and The Awakening of Kundalini). Therefore the teaching also has some critical things to say about certain areas of spiritual environments and theories, simply because they – due to my experiences - are misleading and dangerous, many times directly wrong. This applies especially to New Age and the self-help industry.
When I in 2005 began to promote my teaching on the internet I, to my astonishment, experienced that their ruled some kind of spiritual censorship created by self-helpers and New Agers – not organized – but created by individuals who share the same ideas.
The presence of these people on the internet is enormous. And everytime someone is promoting spiritual issues (and also often scientific issues) you will have them on your comments area and on your email.
My “problem” was that I introduced the concept of Philosophical counseling. Philosophy is in the eyes of these people, in some weird way, banned in spirituality – it is somehow a terrible thing (probably due to the use of critical thinking – see my Matrix Dictionary entry on Anti-intellectualism and Anti-science).
And they didn´t want to go into discussions about it, they didn´t want to argue for their disagreement (argumentation is negative in their point of view). Instead they tried to silence me through mumbo-jumbo and condescension. So where philosophy tries to investigate, restructure and change thought distortions, these people are directly using thought distortions in order to get on in the world (see my book A Dictionary of Thought Distortions).
In the start I closed down a couple of websites, blogs and forums, simply because I was unprepared for the enormous degree of attacks.
But also in the real world I began to meet these people everywhere. I discovered that their theories are introduced in schools, continuing education and on workingplaces; yes that they even are on the top of EUs project on lifelong learning and education. I also discovered the connection with postmodern intellectualism and different kinds of reductionisms practiced on the Universities. Furthermore I discovered the connection with consumer capitalism, advertising industry and the entertainment industry.
Though many of the theories disagree in between there is a red thread going through them all: subjectivism and relativism - the indifference to truth, and the following distortion of spirituality, philosophy and science.
I realized that what I have met is a new kind of Sophists. The relationship between the Sophists (teachers of rhetoric) and Socrates (the philosopher) is the central issue in the whole of Plato´s work.
In lack of a better term I have decided to call the whole of this circus The Matrix Conspiracy. And I call the agents of this conspiracy The Matrix Sophists. The Matrix Sophists are a common term for the tens of thousands of consultants, coaches, practitioners, identity-experts, therapists, sexologists, educators, teachers, social workers, spin doctors, psychotherapists and psychologists, who all share the ideas of The Matrix Conspiracy; that is: some kind of mix between postmodern intellectualism, management theory, self-help and New Age.
In my first book Meditation as an art of life – a basic reader I presented what I call the four philosophical hindrances and openings in towards the Source (see my article The Four Philosophical Hindrances and Openings). I presented them in order to show what I think characterizes the spiritual practice as it exists in all the traditional wisdom traditions. Ever since I have become increasingly puzzled over, how The Matrix Conspiracy - which claims to work in accordance with spirituality - is turning this upside down.
The paradox is that while The Matrix Sophists are claiming to create the authentic, autonomous, resource-filled and competent human being, at the same time is doing the exact opposite: it is making people dependent of therapist, coaches, others ideas and ideals; making them modeling and imitating so-called successful people, etc., etc.
The Matrix Conspiracy, and its belonging therapeutic techniques, thereby exposes the paradox, that the more resource-filled a human being is conceived to be, the more it has to be supported therapeutically. The more self-actualizing a human being becomes, the more it is in need of help to actualize itself. And the more responsibility a human being is said to have for its own life, the more this same human being, basically, is considered as a victim, as non-authentic, and therefore as powerless.
That means that if you don´t share their ideas, and even are critical, you are considered as a non-authentic, powerless victim. That is one of the reasons why they think they don´t have to argue with you but instead are trying to silence you through mumbo-jumbo and condescension. I have especially met this attitude in relation with 1) my Kundalini-experiences, 2) my education, 3) when I tried to take an education as a health care assistant, 4) in my time as unemployed, and 5) from friends and family.
I will describe these points in short. With the words of my professor David Favrholdt, then we here speak about a movement, which conclusions are so rabid and stark raving stupid, that I hardly can give an account of them without immediately becoming accused of having distorted them. I can only say that I haven´t distorted anything, but due to the limitation of this article I can only here give a short example of the essence of the stupidity involved. If you want to get the full picture, just read my books and articles as such.
The points are:
1) My Kundalini-experiences
When my Kundalini-experiences had the aspect of The Dark Night of the Soul I tried to seek help from other spiritual people. The problem is that when you try to seek spirituality, for example on the internet, you will eventually meet New Agers or Self-helpers. Not surprisingly they had no clue about what I was experiencing, but as coaches and therapists (self-proclaimed spiritual teachers), they acted as if they knew everything. The message to me was that the crisis was due to my negative thoughts, and that the crisis would disappear if I from my vocabulary removed all the negative words connected with the crisis.
2) My education
I have again and again been confronted with the claim that my education in philosophy is outdated; that I am caught in an old way of thinking which does that I am closed-minded. And precisely because most New Agers and self-helpers not are particularly qualified in philosophy (or any other higher education), then they claim that this is a significant condition for contributing to the development of new ways of thinking in philosophy; that is: contrary to me they are much more open-minded; or said in another way: they understand philosophy much better.
Such statements are typical in the New Age environment. Normally they are directed towards educated scientists though. In order to explain where they have got such strange ideas from I will here (just one example among many - again: see my Matrix Dictionary entry on Anti-intellectualism and Anti-science) quote John Grinder, who is one of the founders of Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) (The other founder is Richard Bandler):
My memories about what we thought at the time of discovery (with respect to the classic code we developed – that is, the years 1973 through 1978) are that we were quite explicit that we were out to overthrow a paradigm and that, for example, I, for one, found it very useful to plan this campaign using in part as a guide the exellent work of Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) in which he detailed some of the conditions in the midst of paradigm shifts. For example, I believe it was very useful that neither one of us were qualified in the field we first went after – psychology and in particular, it´s therapeutic application; this being one of the conditions which Kuhn identified in his historical study of paradigm shifts. Who knows what Bandler was thinking?
The only thing Grinder here is demonstrating is that he doesn´t understand Thomas Kuhn (precisely because he is not qualified in philosophy). Kuhn did not promote the notion that not being particularly qualified in a scientific field is a significant condition for contributing to the development of a new paradigm in science. Furthermore, Kuhn did not provide a model or blueprint for creating paradigm shifts! His is an historical work, described what he believed to have occured in the history of science. He made no claim that anything similar happens in philosophy and he certainly did not imply that anything NLP did, or is doing, constitutes a paradigm shift (read more about the inspiration from Kuhn in my article Constructivism: the postmodern intellectualism behind New Age and the self-help industry).
In my article The Sokal Hoax you can find other examples of this way of attacking science and other highly educated people. In my article Quantum Mysticism and its Web of Lies I give an example of how the New Age guru Deepak Chopra is using this way of “argumentation”.
Read more about NLP in my article Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) and Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT)
3) when I tried to take an education as a health care assistant
After I had finished my psychology studies in 2005, I tried to take an education as a health care assistant because there in this area were plenty of jobs. I had to stop it though, because a great deal of the theoretical part directly is based on the self-help industry. On the fixed curriculum were for example NLP and Nonviolent Communication; that is: in order to take the education you are forced to work with these theories, and you are being examined in them. Moreover I experienced to be bullied in the classes when I asked critical questions; that is: mumbo-jumbo and condescension.
4) in my time as unemployed
When you are unemployed in Denmark you need to attend so-called activation-courses (note: you are forced to, or else you lose your money). Most of them are directed by the self-help industry. I have attended quite a few. I will just mention one of them. It was a so-called job-seeking course. Most of the participants were under 30. Some of them were newly educated graduates, a couple of engineers, and a graphic designer. Others had simply lost their jobs.
The slogan of the course was that “From scratch we build up human beings as a wholeness.” Notice here the obvious view of the participants as scratch; that is: they were considered as non-authentic, powerless victims (also the participants who had had jobs for years).
The course had five parts:
a) A test of personality. Besides that the test in my case was completely wrong, then let me just mention the central issue: the attractive personality. In order to explain what the attractive personality is, the consultant kept on using the same example, which she thought was quite obvious: namely that people with boyfriends/girlfriends had attractive personalities, while people without boyfriends/girlfriends had unattractive personalities (one of the participants found this a bit strange since she had just lost a boyfriend who had got killed in a car accident) – read more about personality typing in my article Personality Typing is a Refined System of Prejudice.
b) How to give a handshake
c) How to smile
d) How to use a telephone. Here we learned how to ring up, say hello and goodbye
e) How to use the internet. Here we learned how to switch on the computer, go on the internet, search on google, and as the most advanced part: how to open an email account on google (Gmail).
The course lasted one month, so you can figure out how many days were spend on each of these parts. In the start of the course we learned how to shout in chorus: “waauuw!”. This we did several times each day. We had to do it each time one of the consultants had made an “obvious” conclusion.
5) from friends and family
In my first three books you can see my starting critique of all this. But since the main issue of the books is my spiritual teaching, the critique is rather sporadic and unsystematic. As you can see in the descriptions of the books, I had actually also decided that this critique should be the final critique. But after 2010 I experienced how The Matrix Conspiracy increasingly was creeping into all aspects of my life.
Especially since I also began to meet it in friends and family, I decided to write two books on The Matrix Conspiracy (The Matrix Conspiracy - part 1 and 2), which are dedicated the revelation of what I now seriously see as the most dangerous ideology on Earth. But it is also connected with the re-introduction of philosophical counseling and my teaching.
My book A Dictionary of Thought Distortions is a follow-up book to the first three books on my teaching. It is also a reference book to the two books on the Matrix Conspiracy. In this way it is a kind of bridge between my teaching and the two Matrix Conspiracy books.
As I have said before then it was actually my education in philosophy that taught me how to think clearly, and which was a main reason for, that I at all got out of my spiritual crisis. And that is also the reason why I again and again emphasize the importance of philosophy in a spiritual practice.
As far as I can see, then anyone, who is going to start a spiritual practice, ought to take some academical classes in philosophy. Though the spiritual practice not is intellectual when it is going beyond all concepts and ideas, then it must begin with the training of critical thinking, and here an intellectual and academical study in philosophy is crucial. And besides, this is not something new in spirituality. The monks, in, for instance Tibetan Buddhism, are going through up to ten years of studies in philosophy. The same is the case in the philosophical schools of India.
And, by the way, many of my philosophy-teachers on the university are actually some of the most spiritual humans I have ever met, and who have been the inspiring sources behind most of what I write in my books.
But the experiences with, again and again, being devaluated, without fully knowing what was going on, caused that I went into periods with periodical alcohol-abuse which I found justification for in the works of the Beat Generation and in the Counterculture of the 1960s, where I also discovered the first kinds of dropouts, who inspired me to begin my own rebellion.
Easy Rider is a 1969 American independent road drama film written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda, and directed by Hopper. Fonda and Hopper played two bikers who travel through the American Southwest and South carrying the proceeds from a drug deal. The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood era of filmmaking during the early 1970s.
A landmark counterculture film, and a "touchstone for a generation" that "captured the national imagination", Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle. Real drugs were used in scenes showing the use of marijuana and other substances.
Peter Fonda’s Wyatt rides the “Captain America” bike throughout the iconic film directed by none other than co-star Dennis Hopper. The custom motorcycle made use of the Harley-Davidson Hydra Glide former cop bikes and customized them into the Stars ‘N’ Stripes chopper.
Most of the bikes used for the film were actually stolen prior to the end of shooting and supposedly were dismantled for parts before their cult status was cemented. One bike that survived (but was demolished) was rebuilt and placed in the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa and later sold for over $1 million. Replicas have been built and sold, though their veracity has definitely been questioned.
On the Road is a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac, based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the United States. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and the Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use. The novel, published in 1957, is a roman à clef, with many key figures in the Beat movement, such as William S. Burroughs (Old Bull Lee), Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx) and Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty) represented by characters in the book, including Kerouac himself as the narrator Sal Paradise. Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) is a kind of Sal Paradise´s alter-ego.
Cassady was born to Maude Jean (Scheuer) and Neal Marshall Cassady in Salt Lake City, Utah. His mother died when he was 10, and he was raised by his alcoholic father in Denver, Colorado. My own father is an alcoholic, and therefore I can identify with such childhood. So, my own alcohol abuse (which ended with a liver disease, hospitalization, a near-death experience and the meeting with a Dream Master) is, besides being a medicine against the worst Kundalini stress, also due to inheritance.
Neal Cassady spent much of his youth either living on the streets of skid row with his father or in reform school. He was repeatedly involved in petty crime. He was arrested for car theft when he was 14, for shoplifting and car theft when he was 15, and for car theft and fencing stolen property when he was 16.
In 1941, the 15-year-old Cassady met Justin W. Brierly, a prominent Denver educator. Brierly was well known as a mentor of promising young men and was impressed by Cassady's intelligence. Over the next few years, Brierly took an active role in Cassady's life. Brierly helped admit Cassady to East High School where he taught Cassady as a student, encouraged and supervised his reading, and found employment for him. Cassady continued his criminal activities, however, and was repeatedly arrested from 1942 to 1944; on at least one of these occasions, he was released by law enforcement into Brierly's safekeeping. In June 1944, Cassady was arrested for possession of stolen goods and served eleven months of a one-year prison sentence. He and Brierly actively exchanged letters during this period, even through Cassady's intermittent incarcerations; this correspondence represents Cassady's earliest surviving letters. Brierly, a closeted homosexual, is also believed to have been responsible for Cassady's first homosexual experience.
During 1964, Cassady served as the main driver of the bus named Furthur on the iconic first half of the journey from San Francisco to New York, which was immortalized by Tom Wolfe's book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968). The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is a nonfiction book that was published in 1968. The book is remembered today as an early – and arguably the most popular – example of the growing literary style called New Journalism. Wolfe presents an as-if-firsthand account of the experiences of Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters, who traveled across the country in a colorfully painted school bus named Further. Kesey and the Pranksters became famous for their use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs in hopes of achieving intersubjectivity. The book chronicles the Acid Tests (parties in which LSD-laced Kool-Aid was used to obtain a communal trip), the group's encounters with (in)famous figures of the time, including famous authors, Hells Angels, and The Grateful Dead, and it also describes Kesey's exile to Mexico and his arrests.
Cassady appears at length in a documentary film about the Merry Pranksters and their cross-country trip, Magic Trip (August 4, 2011), directed by Alex Gibney.
In January 1967, Cassady traveled to Mexico with fellow prankster George "Barely Visible" Walker and Cassady's longtime girlfriend Anne Murphy. In a beachside house just south of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, they were joined by Barbara Wilson and Walter Cox. All-night storytelling, speed drives in Walker's Lotus Elan, and the use of LSD made for a classic Cassady performance — "like a trained bear," Carolyn Cassady once said. Cassady was beloved for his ability to inspire others to love life.
Yet at rare times he was known to express regret over his wild life, especially as it affected his family. At one point Cassady took Cox, then 19, aside and told him, "Twenty years of fast living—there's just not much left, and my kids are all screwed up. Don't do what I have done."
During the next year, Cassady's life became less stable, and the pace of his travels more frenetic. He left Mexico in May, traveling to San Francisco, Denver, New York City, and points in between. Cassady then returned to Mexico in September and October (stopping in San Antonio, on the way to visit his oldest daughter who had just given birth to his first grandchild), visited Ken Kesey's Oregon farm in December, and spent the New Year with Carolyn at a friend's house near San Francisco. Finally, in late January 1968, Cassady returned to Mexico once again.
On February 3, 1968, Cassady attended a wedding party in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. After the party, he went walking along a railroad track to reach the next town, but passed out in the cold and rainy night wearing nothing but a T-shirt and jeans. In the morning, he was found in a coma by the tracks, reportedly by Anton Black, later a professor at El Paso Community College, who carried Cassady over his shoulders to the local post office building. Cassady was then transported to the closest hospital where he died a few hours later on February 4, four days short of his 42nd birthday.
But my fascination of the wild life style started even earlier, in my teens, with a book by Susan Hinton, called Rumble Fish, which in 1983 became an American drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Hinton co-wrote the screenplay.
The film centers on the relationship between Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke), a revered former gang leader wishing to live a more peaceful life, and his younger brother, Rusty James (Matt Dillon), a teenaged hoodlum who aspires to become as feared as Motorcycle Boy.
Coppola wrote the screenplay for the film with Hinton on his days off from shooting The Outsiders. He made the films back-to-back, retaining much of the same cast and crew.
Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the film begins in a diner called Bennys Billiards, where local tough guy Rusty James is told by Midget that rival group leader Biff Wilcox wants to meet him that night in an abandoned garage lot for a fight. Accepting the challenge, Rusty James then talks with his friends — the wily Smokey, loyal B.J., and nerdy Steve - who all have a different take on the forthcoming fight. Steve mentions that Rusty James' older brother, "The Motorcycle Boy," would not be pleased with the fight as he had previously created a truce forbidding gang fights, or "rumbles." Rusty James dismisses him, saying that Motorcycle Boy (whose real name is never revealed) has been gone for two months, leaving without explanation or promise of return.
Rusty James visits his girlfriend, Patty, then rendezvous with his cadre and walks to the abandoned garage lot, where Biff and his buddies suddenly appear. The two battle, with the fight ending when Rusty James disarms Biff and beats him almost unconscious. Motorcycle Boy arrives dramatically on his motorcycle and this distracts Rusty James who is gashed by Biff in the side with a shard of glass. Incensed, Motorcycle Boy sends his motorcycle flying into Biff. The Motorcycle Boy and Steve take Rusty James home (past Officer Patterson, a street cop who's long had it in for the Motorcycle Boy) and nurse him to health through the night. Steve and the injured Rusty James talk about how Motorcycle Boy is 21 years old, colorblind, partially deaf, and noticeably aloof — the last trait causing many to believe he is insane.
The Motorcycle Boy and Rusty James share the next evening with their alcoholic, welfare-dependent father, who says that the Motorcycle Boy takes after his mother whereas, it is implied, Rusty James takes after him. Things start to go wrong for Rusty James: he's kicked out of school after his frequent fights. Despite Rusty James' desire to do so, The Motorcycle Boy implies that he has no interest in reviving any gang activity. Rusty James fools around with another girl and is dumped by Patty.
The two brothers and Steve head across the river one night to a strip of bars, where Rusty James enjoys being away from his troubles. The Motorcycle Boy mentions that he located their long-lost mother during his recent trip while she was with a movie producer, which took him to California although he did not reach the ocean. Later, Steve and Rusty James wander drunkenly home, and are attacked by thugs, but both are saved by the Motorcycle Boy. As he nurses Rusty James again, the Motorcycle Boy tells him that the gang life and the rumbles he yearns for and idolizes are not what he believes them to be. Steve calls the Motorcycle Boy crazy, a claim which the Motorcycle Boy does not deny — further prompting Rusty James to believe his brother is insane, just like his runaway mother supposedly was.
Rusty James meets up with the Motorcycle Boy the next day in a pet store, where the latter is strangely fascinated with the Siamese fighting fish, which he refers to as "rumble fish". Officer Patterson suspects they will try to rob the store. The brothers leave and meet their father, who explains to Rusty James that, contrary to popular belief, neither his mother nor brother are crazy, but rather they were both born with an acute perception. The brothers go for a motorcycle ride through the city and arrive at the Pet Store where the Motorcycle Boy breaks in and starts to set the animals loose. Rusty James makes a last-gasp effort to convince his brother to reunite with him, but the Motorcycle Boy refuses, explaining that the differences between them are too great for them to ever have the life Rusty James speaks of. The Motorcycle Boy takes the fish and rushes to free them in the river, but is shot by Officer Patterson before he can. Rusty James, after hearing the gunshot, finishes his brother's last attempt while a large crowd of people converges on his body.
Rusty James finally reaches the Pacific Ocean (something the Motorcycle Boy never got to do) and enjoys the shining sun and flocks of birds flying around the beach.
Francis Ford Coppola was drawn to Hinton's novel Rumble Fish because of the strong personal identification he had with the subject matter — a younger brother who hero-worships an older, intellectually superior brother, which mirrored the relationship between Coppola and his brother, August.
A dedication to August appears as the film's final end credit. The director said that he "started to use Rumble Fish as my carrot for what I promised myself when I finished The Outsiders". Halfway through the production of The Outsiders, Coppola decided that he wanted to retain the same production team, stay in Tulsa, and shoot Rumble Fish right after The Outsiders. He wrote the screenplay for Rumble Fish with Hinton on Sundays, their day off from shooting The Outsiders.
Coppola is also the director of Dracula.
But the whole thing is the background for the rise of The Ghost Rider as my alter-ego. Due to a mix of alcohol, victimizing approaches from my family (they still don´t read my books), and condescending attacks from New Agers and Self-helpers, I could suddenly explode in extreme anger, where I insulted a lot of people, often in my nearest family. All this of course didn´t made my situation better, and just confirmed people in the belief, that I was totally helpless, and in need of treatment (eventually a self-fulfilling prophecy).
But I had to go into what was going on. It was necessary for me to investigate this enormous market alongside with the development of an art of life, or a teaching about how to live in this society. And today, where I have entered into my critical "Matrix Conspiracy Phase" I´m beginning to laugh of the implicated stupidity of this ideology, and I´m glad to report, that a lot of comedians also have discovered the comical side of all this.
Anyway, to understand and be free from self-assertion, and to do something, which you really love to do – regardless what it is, how small or how little remarkable it is – awakens a spirit of greatness, which never is seeking others´ approval or reward, and which do a thing for its own sake, and therefore possesses strength and ability not to lie under for mediocre influences.
Here is that being invisible to the culture directly a blessing – that being unregarded, ignored, and devalued, can be an impetus to take another route: the quiet way, the gentle, steady, behind-the-scenes path. This is the invisible way of empowerment, the slow path of alchemy. Soul work takes time. This meant I intentionally had to make time, especially in our increasingly hyperactive, extroverted secular culture.
Therefore this quiet way has an inborn paradox, since it also can awake a spirit of greatness, or rather, a spirit of vengenance. Any motorcycle – but particular Harleys – which are, in a sense, the Platonic form of a motorcycle emulated and plagiarized by others, is a piece of industrialized sculpture, as elegantly at home in a gallery or store window as it is burning up the roads. And in addition to its functional nature, a motorcycle is an investment in a work of art. What other object can be used for years as it is meant to function, and yet not only keep its financial value but actually grow in value? Although mass-produced vehicles, Harleys are almost never left as they came from the assembly line, but are customized by individual riders to reflect their own aesthetic. A bike bought for $ 25,000 from a dealer may immediately be majorly rebuilt for an additional $ 10,000 or $ 20,000 more, with the aim of turning it into one´s unique aesthetic creation. This is truly an example of how high technology and mass production can make each individual an artist, creating a work that, like fine art, will usually appreciate in value.
And, when riding a Harley out on an isolated, open road for several hours, it´s easy to start imagining yourself differently. You have finally escaped from all of the subtle mud and oppression of everyday life, to experience selfhood and solitude in nature. There are no telephones. No crowds, no barking dogs or other obnoxious noises. Just you with your powerful engine, the Road, and the sound and feel of the wind. As you become one with the machine, you may feel like a centaur, a roaming creature of the forest. Or navigating the skies of Pandora on the back of a great toruk. Or a siren, as your pipes play your compelling, alluring music. Or Robin Hood on an ancient proletarian mission. Or you may see yourself as debonair Pancho Villa, empowered Cher (my favorite She-Devil), Billy Idol or Britney Spears, or Jesse James, or, as the Ghost Rider on the ultimate chopper (in my pop culture file on David Bowie I have investigated the theme of changing your life into a piece of art).
Yet, no matter how twentieth- and twenty-first-century riders have imagined themselves while operating their motorcycles, their self-identities and fantasies have been socially ignored and reworked by a variety of nonriders, institutions, and social power structures. The result has been a stifling, negative set of stereotypes and attempts to alienate motorcyclists.
My own discovery of this was what finally turned my crisis into a healing and transformative spiritual practice. Instead of seeing my life as befelled by a curse, I began, deeply inspired by Karen Blixen, to realize that this might be God´s plan with me. I could begin to see the dreaming tracks (fire tracks) and songlines in the artwork of my life.
The question I had to ask, involved as I was in exploring extraordinary phenomena devalued by mainstream consciousness, was whether the burden of being disregarded by noninitiates is truly greater than the burden of trying to convince them that I had an experience that, at least by implication, made me somehow “special”. I began to adopt an Epicurean way of life.
Epicurus (341-270 b.c.) was a Greek philosopher and Life Artist, who contrary to most other Hellenistic philosophers, was Athenian citizen. His place of birth was however on the island Samos by the seaside of Asia Minor, and on this, and on the other, cultural seen, rich islands in the eastern Aegean Sea, Epicurus came in contact with Philosophical traditions, that hardly was alive in Athens; especially the thoughts of the great philosopher of nature, Democritus.
Epicurus left Samos after having stepped his philosophical child-shoes on the island, and established as philosopher on the island Lesbos. However he was banished from the island because of his viewpoints. In 307 he travelled to Athens with the mental ballast, that he was Athenian citizen; this meant that he, contrary to the other philosophical schools, had the right to own land in Athens itself.
Epicurus established one of two central schools in Athens. It was in constant sharp opposition to the Stoics. I will not go deeper into the philosophical opposites, just mention, that philosophy of nature was central in Epicurus, whilst the Stoics had a concept of a god, which in them was the central. But both are common in the view of philosophy as an art of life.
The school of Epicurus was called The Garden, and since then the concept ”to cultivate your garden” has in European way of thinking been synonymous with living a life retired from the world´s ups and downs, to give up all ambitions about social status. This is a completely central aspect in my own way of life.
Epicurus had a real garden, a kitchen garden with vegetables, and to that he retired, and lived of own productions. It was an attempt to avoid the bindings of the world, just like the Stoics, but in quite another way. The Stoics were radically extroverted, and went into Athen´s central buildings, where they, among the cloisters, forced themselves speach access to the citizens, whereas Epicurus retired, and avoided all kind of – also political – debate. As he said: “Live in secret!”
Note, that avoiding debate doesn´t mean not to lead a critical dialogue in philosophical sense. Epicurus wrote critical texts, and his way of life is in itself a deeply critical attitude. I have already investigated the difference between debate and critical dialogue.
In his garden he realized his own life-ideal: together with friends and pupils to live a life in silent peace and joy, in peace to cultivate his garden and his needs, afar from the world´s noise and political quarrel. It was a kind of philosophical commune, which stood open for all sections of population and for both sexes, and where the master with his friends practised, what they taught. The teaching of Epicurus is in other words a way of life, a teaching, which puts undisturbed happiness and refined pleasure up as the supreme good.
This Epicurean attitude became a central inspiration for my own life, my teaching, my kind of philosophical counseling and cafés.
It is a passive way of meditation, a non-acting, receptive receiving, relaxed, enjoying, easy laid-back holyday-like kind of awareness, as when you listen to the birds or the breeze in the trees. Just like the experience of a Zen monk.
But it is a rebellion, and it still reminds me about the biker life style. Zen reminds about the Epicurean life style. And Motorcycles and Zen don´t seems to be natural bedfellows either. When we think of Zen, we normally think of a monk seated peacefully in meditation in the tranquillity of a temple or a garden (like an Epicurean). If there´s any noise at all, it´s the ringing of a temple bell or the chirping of birds or cicadas. By contrast, motor bikes are noisy, exciting, dangerous – almost the exact opposite. To try to put the two things together would seem to be paradoxical in the extreme.
So when Robert Pirsig decided to face this paradox, putting the two things together in what was to become the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, this was an act of great daring.
But driving a motorcycle can be a vehicle of the above-mentioned Zen experience. This happens most, I think, on long trips on the open road. After a while one just forgets that one is driving. One ceases to think about that. One ceases to think about anything, in fact. There is just the road, the elements, the driving. There is not even a you that that is doing the driving. You are the driving – and the road, and the elements. Maybe this is not the purest form of Zen. It is certainly not the most robust. It has a tendency to disappear very fast when, for example, an oncoming truck thunders past you, hogging too much of your side of the road – unless you have nerves that are made of harder steel than mine. But it is a Zen experience, nonetheless.
It is possible to get the experience just as much when you drive a car, as well. But there is something special about a bike. You can feel one with a bike in a way in which it is difficult to feel one with a car. On a bike you move with it, lean with it. You are one with it. You also experience the elements directly: the wind, the rain. You are one with the elements. None of this is true of a car. In a car, you are hermetically sealed. There is a sense in which you always feel like a passenger, even if you are driving.
Many have also found Harleys more conducive to the experience than other bikes, BSAs, Yamahas, BMWs. Many have had the experience more on a Harley. There is something distinctive about riding a Harley. The sitting position is relaxed. You are not leaned forward with your chest over your knees. The engine does not whine. Indeed, because the engine is very low-revving, it never feels as though you are going fast, even if you are. And as the bike drops into top gear, you get that characteristic thug, thug, thug – a hypnotic rhythm that must resonate with some fundamental frequency in the human brain.
No wonder then, that American Indians, whose civilization flourished on fast horseback, revere Harley-Davidsons as “iron horses” and wear T-shirts (as do many bikers) showing a motorcyclist in tandem with a ghostly Indian warrior with the logo “brothers in the wind.” Though few reservation Indians can afford a Harley, the shirts are actually ubiquitous on the vast Navajo reservation.
Today I live like a kind of philosophical mendicant friar, in poverty, chastity and obedience to some philosophical principles. And I live more or less moneyless. So I can´t afford to buy a Harley. But like the Indians, I feel a brotherhood with bikers.
I often to ask people the question: What philosophy of life would you choose if money was no object?
As the man who quit money, Daniel Suelo, says: “Wild Nature, outside commercial civilization, runs on gift economy: ´freely give, freely receive.´ Thus it is balanced. Commercial civilization runs on consciousness of credit and debt; thus it is imbalanced. What nation can even balance its own budget or environment? Gift Economy is Faith, Grace, Love - the core message of every religion. The proof is inside you: Wild Nature is your True Nature, crucified by commercial civilization.”
Following this philosophy of gift economy (freely give, freely receive) all my services (including philosophical counseling and cafés) are free of charge. All my articles and books are available in free PDF Versions. Links can be found on my blog: www.MortenTolboll.blogspot.com
Both the three basic books on my teaching, the follow-up book A Dictionary of Thought Distortions, and the two books on The Matrix Conspiracy, can in this way be seen as a kind of free internet library for people, who want to go into a deeper study of my teaching. The philosophy behind my teaching is namely the central foundation for my critique of The Matrix Conspiracy. And the Ghost Rider can, as the Spirit of Vengenance he is, who feeds on the evil of his victims and consumes the souls of sinners - be seen as a pop cultural manifestation of this critique.
So, I earn my living from what people give me (the “freely give, freely receive,” philosophy) and what the society can offer in form of social security benefit (which I see in the light of a kind of “Robin Hood-philosophy”). This is sometimes not very popular, but as I have mentioned, sometimes you have to be a kind of spiritual anarchist, a philosophical rebel, if you want to live in accordance with your calling in life. And not so different from how monks and nuns, or artists, always have lived. And bikers.
Krishnamurti said, that it would be wise to retire in the age of 40 or 45, or even younger. Not in order to enjoy the fruits of what the world can offer, or what you have gathered of wordly things, but retire in order to find yourself, to think and feel deeply, to meditate and discover reality; because then you would actually be able to help the world in quite another way, because you not are identified with it. An insider in society is namely an outsider in relation to life itself, while an outsider in relation to society, is an insider in life itself (see my article The philosophy of Krishnamurti).
So now I have retired from the world´s noise and political quarrels – especially the work ethic. In the period 1985-1989 I worked as a gentlemen´s outfitter in Harrods in London. It was here the spiritual process began. Thereafter I went through the spiritual crisis, and have taken an education in philosophy.
Now it is time to go deep into the teaching I have developed during this period. People might get angry, and call me an idler. And they are correct. With the words of the great life-philosopher and idler, Lin Yutang, I call myself an apostle of loafing. But people have to remember, that I am not anymore contributing to the world´s noise and political quarrels, and therefore not to conflict, violence and war. On the contrary I try to help people to get out of this confusion. I do this by offering free philosophical counseling and cafés. Mostly this happens in Rold Forest, Denmark, which is the place I have retired to. But it also happens when I´m traveling.
And, I also offer free philosophical counseling and cafés in the virtual world Second Life. Here you can meet my avatar, Lucifer Morningstar, the Ghost Rider.
As mentioned, Ghost Rider is the name of many fictional supernatural antiheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Marvel had previously used the name for a Western character whose name was later changed to Phantom Rider.
The first supernatural Ghost Rider is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze, who, in order to save the life of his father, agreed to give his soul to "Satan" (later revealed to be an arch-demon named Mephisto). At night and when around evil, Blaze finds his flesh consumed by hellfire, causing his head to become a flaming skull. He rides a fiery motorcycle and wields blasts of hellfire from his body, usually from his skeletal hands. He eventually learns he has been bonded with the demon Zarathos.
Blaze starred in the Ghost Rider series from 1972 to 1983. The subsequent Ghost Rider series (1990–1998) featured Danny Ketch as a new Ghost Rider. After his sister was injured by ninja gangsters, Ketch came in contact with a motorcycle that had somehow been mystically enchanted to contain the essence of a Spirit of Vengeance.
Blaze reappeared in this 1990s series as a supporting character, and it was later revealed that Danny and his sister were Johnny Blaze's long lost siblings. In 2000s comics, Blaze again became the Ghost Rider, succeeding Ketch. In 2013, Robbie Reyes became Ghost Rider as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative.
Nicolas Cage starred as the Johnny Blaze iteration of the character in the 2007 film Ghost Rider and the sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in 2012.
The Ghost Rider is a human who can transform into a skeletal superhuman wreathed in ethereal flame and given supernatural powers. The motorcycles he rides can travel faster than any conventional vehicle and can perform such seemingly impossible feats as riding up a vertical surface, across water surfaces and leaping across great distances that normal motorcycles cannot.
The Ghost Riders are virtually indestructible and notoriously hard to injure by any conventional means, as bullets and knives usually pass through them without causing pain (knives are seen to melt while in their body). It is possible that they are genuinely immortal, as it is said that God created them and only God can destroy them. Despite being composed of bone and hellfire, the Ghost Riders possess formidable superhuman strength, enough to easily pick up a truck and hurl it across a road.
Originally when Blaze transformed into Ghost Rider, his body changed but not the clothes he was wearing. In his new incarnation, this is different and his clothes take on a different appearance with a spiked leather jacket and chains. As Ghost Rider, he can cause his motorcycle to transform and surround itself with hellfire or he can create a new cycle from pure hellfire. He is also capable of projecting hellfire as a weapon. Hellfire "burns the soul" without leaving physical injuries on the victim and its effects have been seen as similar to the "Penance Stare."
In his new incarnation, Blaze is now possibly the most powerful hero on Earth. During "World War Hulk", it was stated by Doctor Strange that Ghost Rider might be equally as powerful as the "Green Scar" persona of Hulk and could possibly defeat him. During this series Dr. Strange states that Ghost Rider protects only the innocent, which none of the Illuminati are. In recent comics Blaze's Ghost Rider has been given the "Penance Stare" and mystical chain, both of which were specific to the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider. Blaze also uses a shotgun and discovered that he can discharge hellfire from the weapon when he first encountered Ketch. He also now has new abilities including hellfire breath and the ability to produce chains from either his throat or chest. He is also now able to travel between the incorporeal realms.
When Ketch transformed into Ghost Rider, his clothes changed with him, taking on the appearance of a spiked leather jacket with chains, gray leather pants and spiked gloves and boots. Likewise, his motorcycle underwent a radical transformation, changing from a conventional into a high-tech motorcycle (this transformation was not strictly limited to the motorcycle he found in the cemetery as he was once seen to be able to transform another cycle in "Ghost Rider/Wolverine/Punisher: Hearts of Darkness"). Along with flaming wheels that allow the bike to nearly fly across surfaces, the bike included a shield-like battering ram on the front. As the Ghost Rider, Ketch used a mystical chain which responded to his mental commands. It could grow in length, alter direction while in the air, stiffen into a staff or spear, and separate into several links which can strike like shrapnel and then return to their original form. Daniel's most famous power was the Penance Stare. By locking eyes with a target and mentally focusing, the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider was able to make the target experience all the pain they had ever inflicted on anyone else.
Some beings have shown resistance to this ability, such as Venom and Carnage as their alien symbiote "costumes" do not technically have eyes; and Madcap who is so masochistic he claims to enjoy the experience.
In the 1994 Fantastic Four animated series, this ability was shown to be powerful enough to bring down the mighty Galactus, as Ghost Rider forced Galactus to feel the pain of all those who had died as a result of his feeding on their planets. As Ghost Rider put it "A billion billion souls". This display of power, though, appeared to simply be a rewrite for the animated series, as the original story line in Fantastic Four issue 243, has Doctor Strange casting a spell that causes all of the souls of those Galactus has killed by his feedings to be visited upon him, at once. Originally, this incarnation of the Ghost Rider could only be summoned if Danny was present when "innocent blood was spilled" (an innocent simply being threatened was not enough), at which time Danny had to touch the gas cap of his motorcycle for the transformation process to occur. Later, he was able to summon the Ghost Rider without touching the gas cap, but still needed to wait for innocent blood to be spilled. Later still, he was able to summon the Ghost Rider by willpower alone.
The ghost of Eli Morrow that inhabits Robbie Reyes body is not, according to Johnny Blaze, a true Spirit of Vengeance. Regardless, he gives Robbie several abilities similar to that of other Ghost Riders, including the power to manifest and control chains ending in thin knives or sickles. The black muscle car that Morrow's ghost initially inhabits is linked to the Ghost Rider, allowing Robbie in his Ghost Rider form to instantly teleport to and/or merge with the car. The car can also be driven remotely, and Robbie's Ghost Rider form can pass harmlessly through it, allowing it to drive into foes. The car's trunk, when opened, acts as a portal, allowing the Ghost Rider to transport anything, including people, to any location. It is unknown if Robbie's Ghost Rider form possesses the more "Biblical" abilities of other Ghost Riders such as the Penance Stare. Eli is able to take full control of Robbie's body when the teen gives in to his negative emotions, signified by a pallid skin tone and both of his eyes turning orange.
This Panhead Chopper was custom built for the movie and, as the story goes, will transform into said the design of this bike is based upon the Easy Rider "Captain America" chopper used by Peter Fonda, who portrays Mephistopheles ( the Devil) in the Ghost Rider film. So, it is no coincidence that the custom motorcycle made use of the Harley-Davidson Hydra Glide former cop bikes and customized them into the Stars ‘N’ Stripes chopper, which again became customized into the chopper of a Spirit of Vengenance, who consumes souls of sinners.
The panhead was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine, so nicknamed because of the distinct shape of the rocker covers. The engine is a two-cylinder, two-valve-per-cylinder, pushrod V-twin. The engine replaced the Knucklehead engine in 1948 and was manufactured until 1965 when it was replaced by the shovelhead.
As the design of Harley-Davidson engines has evolved through the years, the distinctive shape of the valve covers has allowed Harley enthusiasts to classify an engine simply by looking at the shape of the covers, and the panhead has covers resembling an upside-down pan.
Anyway, though I´m an apostle of the philosophy of loafing, I am actually working quite hard. My art of living is an idle philosophy born of an idle life. And if my life raises the suspicion of lolling, then look at my actions. I am trying to help people, and are favouring a person who would react freely and incalculably to external circumstances, pitting their individual liberty against the process of society: the little man eluding the clutches of the traffic warden.
And look at what the wisdom of the art of loafing has given us. Chinese literary tradition is rife with the jottings of non-achievers – the cultured vagabond, the scholar recluse, the Taoist wanderer. Already in 500BC, the sage Lao Tzu recommended that one should “never be the first in the world”. Only he who is not wanted by the public can be a carefree individual, runs the Taoist adage. The importance of living is peopled with educated dropouts – for instance poets such as Su Tungpo and Tao Yüanming; Su, who sang about “the clear breeze over the river and the clear moon over the mountains”, and Tao, who sang about “the hen, which rested in the top of a mulberry tree”.
So after having followed the Beat writers´ way of living, then the Chinese kinds of dropouts have become the new great source of inspiration in my life.
Like Lin Yutang I actually see the art of loafing as democratic in its nature. But, as Walt Whitman is pointing out in his Democratic Vistas – it is the ideal of free men and women in the Now, not the ideal of the democratic progress or improvement (today Consumer Capitalism and the growth fanatism of the self-help industry) - just look at Laurence Sterne on his “sensitive journey”, or at Wordsworth and Coleridge, wandering on foot through Europe, with a great sence of beauty in their hearts, but with a very few money.
The philosophical refined pleasure in the art of loafing is something, which costs much less than the lust for luxury. The only thing the pleasure of loafing requires is a creative emptiness, a life enjoyed as it is lived. Play without reason; travel to see nothing; a perfectly useless afternoon spent in a perfectly useless manner – these are the kind of activities that redeem the art of living from the business of living, which also Henry David Thoreau has shown in his Walden, where he describes his life in the woods, retired from the world´s ups and downs.
Look at nature! All nature loafs, while Man alone works for a living!
No, I have retired to Rold Forest, where I participate in the joys of conversation on a moonlit night; to be in the middle of a joyful gathering of happy friends, like in Wang Hsichih´s immortal little essay The Orchid Pavilion. An analogy to the brotherhood of bikers.
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