hygienic dark retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

a book by andrew durham

formerly darkroomretreat.com


name change

2024 March 21

I just changed the name of this website from
hygienic darkroom retreat to
hygienic dark retreat

and the web address from
darkroomretreat.com to

“Room” is gone. “Dark retreat” is the common name for retreating in darkness. It is correct grammatically. It is the main search term used online.

“Room” is an unnecessary clarification. Most people know what it is thanks to word of mouth and a few celebrities. For example, athlete, Aaron Rogers, made the news in 2022 when he said he would do one. People who don’t know don’t know what a darkroom retreat is, either. They have to be told in any case.

“Darkroom” also has erroneous associations: photography here and darkened rooms in clubs for anonymous sex in Spain and other countries. These do not help me.

The standard phrase, “dark retreat,” shifts attention to the critical distinction: “hygienic”. It implies an approach, experience, and result different from other kinds of dark retreats.

It brings more attention to the science of health. Which isn’t medicine, and it isn’t just cleanliness, either. I would like people to find out.

It’s longer and harder to spell. Some people will have to learn to spell or go without. For me, it’s a relief to see it. Now my work is called what it actually is. This achieves my primary value, truthfulness, which led me to darkness in the first place.

The old address will redirect automatically to this new one, page for page, for years to come. I think everything works. But please let me know if you find a broken link or anything that is not quite right mechanically.


2024 March 7


Realizing a big idea requires three levels of work:

  1. investigation, to have an idea
  2. development, to turn the general, theoretical idea into a specific, practical solution
  3. application, to deliver the idea to people it is of value to

I didn’t know this 36 years ago. I thought it would all be over in a couple years. The first phase, investigation, took 21 years. Then I thought the hard work was done and I could apply what I had discovered in weeks. But the development phase had just begun. It would last 11 years.

For the first 4 years of development, I thought I was failing to apply my discovery. Then I realized, I had been succeeding to prove the concept. That redeemed the first 4 years. But I still expected to be able to apply the discovery. Which meant I was still failing.

This went on 7 more years. At the end, I realized I had been succeeding to develop the idea into a practical solution.

This time, I knew I had entered another phase, that it was the application phase, and that it might take another 5 or 10 years to start succeeding at it. I didn’t have the expectation of instant success this time. My task was simply to figure out how to apply the solution.

I am four years in. After countless failures for decades, I starting to see how to deliver my discovery to you.

I have good news.


Three months ago, I starting offering retreats again. Since then, I have worked non-stop on my book. I had somewhat neglected it for years.

I fixed dozens of broken links and hundreds of typos and grammatical errors. I rewrote sentences, paragraphs, even whole sections for clarity. I moved some around for better organization.

The print version has a new system so you can still follow crosslinks to other sections of the book. And addresses of external links are collected at the end for easy reference.

I made thousands of improvements. More will come. But the book is better than it has ever been.

It is also back in print now. See write (in my simple new store) for details.

Andrew Tate inspired me to get going again. Hats off to him and his brother, Tristan. These super-heroic men are helping revive the souls of millions worldwide, and I am one of them.


Improving the book affected the designs. One by one, I reworked the darkroom components (not including the mask). Now all of them are as simple for what they do as the door seal (my first elegant design, from about 10 years ago).

Now, each component is inherently adaptable. Little or no customization is involved. There are no more complicated formulas, no more intricate cuts or folds. Anyone a little crafty can make a darkroom in hours or days, not weeks. Everything is more durable and easier to use.

The absurdly fast and effective double-blind is the new standard for darkening windows. Along with the panel, it obsoletes three of my other methods (now in the “old” folder in the zip file of all designs).

The helix vent is renamed the universal vent. Instead of origami, it is just rectangles of cardboard or wood, glued together.

The threshold vent used to be the most complicated design requiring tons of customization. Now one size fits virtually any door.

Both vents are more durable.

The fan mount now uses a 200mm fan. It is so much quieter than a 120mm fan, a silencer is often needless. I could remove half the webbing as well as the tricky suspended sticks. The webbing joins with an adjustable buckle made of wire, not staples or thread that damage it.

The silencer, is skinnier, lighter and easier to handle. Later, it will work in pairs with a twin-fan heat recovery ventilator (still in the works).

The toilet upgrade has a smaller, simpler lining. And there is a new optional separating, squatting version.

The mask is the only one left to rework. I have an idea how to do it. It is strangely difficult to do it. Funny, it was the first one I planned to do in 2006 after my first retreat.

Czech format

The new 9-day Czech retreat format provides the critical benefits of the standard 9-day retreat, but without a separate building and with only one supporter. So it is much easier to arrange. It gives the organism enough time to:

  • heal noticeably and permanently from the most pressing issues in the being
  • replace false capacity with normal capacity (and, as in my case, recover from the dreaded over-loss).

Being easier to arrange, more people can start with a 9-day retreat, which is far superior to a 5-day retreat.

A 5-day retreat still enables one to start retreating alone at home when there is no other option. But an easier way was needed to get from 5- to 9-day retreats. The Czech approach provides the missing rung in the ladder.

Having this format is another benefit I only recently gained from my 2-year stay in Czech Republic.


The 9-day Czech retreat and simplified designs change everything. Now I can travel to a place you provide, darken it quickly (2-3 days), and support as little as one retreat. See enroll for details.

It’s funny. This is similar to how I succeeded at testing the idea while in Europe. I would meet someone, interest him in darkness, and build a darkroom for him at cost if I could use it myself once.

It is still too difficult for me to arrange a place good enough for people to come to. My semi-homelessness is still with me. I expect to heal enough from it in darkness. Then I will have more options. This is good enough to work now.


That’s my news. I hope it inspires you to:

  • read my book (again)
  • build a darkroom at home
  • or bring me there to do it and support your retreat

Cheers, –A

compost toilet

2024 February 28

[NOTE: this is a note on compost that almost made it into my book. It is meant to allay any concerns and provide more details regarding the toilet designs.]

I have traveled for decades among hippies, permaculturists, organic farmers, and professional self-sufficiency experts. I got to see and use many composting toilets. Most were inspired by The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins.

The most advanced was the Sunny John moldering toilet, designed by an associate, the late John Cruikshank. Poop composts composts where it is first deposited, without further handling till it is perfect fertilizer.

The system I liked the most for handling buckets of compost brought from inside a house was in a guy’s suburban backyard. It was three plywood bins under an awning. Two had hinged lids and were lined with plastic. They were 1 m3. One in the middle, about half as wide, held plant debris (leaves, etc).

We emptied 20L buckets of poop and food scraps into a big bin, then covered it with debris. We also wiped the buckets out with debris. This instantly stops the smell.

It only smelled while emptying a bucket. Poop and food scraps are proteinaceous. The nitrogen in protein makes it smell. Debris is carbonaceous. Carbon absorbs and neutralizes odor. Decaying leaves, for example, smell pleasant.

The carbon stuff combines rapidly with the nitrogen stuff to make humus, the black fertile component of soil. It happens by chemical reaction, microbes, and enzymes, and fungi and worms from outside.

Food scraps smell mild compared to poop. Mixing the two made the piles legal in Oregon. That law is old. It passed before indoor plumbing was common.

When the first bin was full, he would seal it off for about a year. He would empty the other, spreading it onto the yard and garden. Then we would start filling it.

I liked this system because of its overall simplicity, adaptability, and economy. It was easy to use. It just worked. I saw plenty of fancy, complicated systems that smelled or required regular maintenance. Who needs that?

Some systems are solid state, require no handling of raw waste or maintenance except emptying the perfect compost. Decomposition occurs inside. They are usually big, expensive, require 2 floors in the building, and require a permit.

Millions of people died in Europe due to poor sanitation. Once they realized this, poop terrified them. But poop was not the problem. Mixing it with water was. Poop is safe if it remains dry. Carrying it away with water in sewers and flush toilets is to blame, not proper composting systems.

It’s nearly impossible to screw up compost. There are a million ways to do it. I met a guy who had gotten a degree in ecology. He did his senior thesis on compost. He found that only one liquid or soft substance in a typical American home cannot be composted: chlorine bleach.

Chlorine bleach is a persistent toxin. It kills life wherever it goes and for a long time. It simply should not be used. Color-safe bleach (sodium percarbonate) works well and is non-toxic. Regular cleaners are sufficient elsewhere.

Everything else—detergents, pesticides, motor oil, expired medication—will break down. Any complication you ever hear about compost is simply false. Citrus and banana peels are fine, even meat scraps as long as they are covered immediately with plant debris. High temperature is unnecessary (it actually means: add more carbon). Whatever it may be, compost it.


2023 January 19

If we are to find a panacea, we must change our way of thinking about it.

We think of a panacea as one solution to all problems. But everyone knows there is no such thing. What good is education or prayer when what you really need is a bicycle? So we conclude a panacea is impossible.

But suppose we think of a panacea as a solution to our essential problem: the problem that causes all other problems. Then a panacea is the solution that makes solutions to all other problems possible. This gives us a healthy field of contenders. Practically every crackpot in the world has one! So let’s narrow it down.

A panacea ought to work for everyone everywhere. It ought to be simple, quick, cheap, rational, natural, easy, pleasant. It must use normal conditions of life, not something weird or contrived. It must be exceedingly effective, and rapidly lead to similar solutions to all other problems. This rules out discipline (like spiritual practice), therapy, sedation or psychedelics. Education, poltics, activism, and technology are obvious failures, as well.

The essential problem would involve primary systems. In man, the primary organic system is the psyche, the faculty of knowing. Why? The psyche is the system that coordinates all the others, largely unconsciously. It is our basic means of survival. If anything is wrong with the psyche, its dysfunction severely affects everything else.

Thousands of years ago, we suffered major psychic trauma due to a global cataclysm. Many elders died. The children did not recover. They took comfort in each others’ arms. They passed their trauma on to their descendants through neglect and abuse, down to the present day, 400-500 generations later.

Our society is a catastrophe. It unconsciously institutionalizes the ancient cataclysm. Its cycle of long development toward disastrous climax will persist until the psychotic people who fuel it—you and I—recover. Meanwhile, we will continue confronting each other with the psychotic symptoms of stupidity, hysteria, and self-destructiveness.

We have not had the chance to recover from this mass major trauma. We have lacked the hygiene: knowledge of our self-preserving power and of the normal conditions of life. Which we need for both health and healing. Organisms are inherently self-preserving—self-generating, self-maintaining, and self-healing—and at every scale: in the cells, organs, and systems. Self-preservation is a largely autonomic process. It is omniscient, omnipotent, and infallible. Once respected and provided for, health is certain.

The pysche is an organic system, so it is self-healing. The primary condition of healing is rest. Unbelievably deep psychic rest occurs in hygienic dark retreat. This is an extended period of rest in absolute physical darkness in a regular home. Therefore hygienic dark retreating leads to self-healing of the psyche. Health means wholeness. Integrity.

People with high degrees of psychic integrity can have enormous power, presence, and influence. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr are recent examples. Gandhi said non-violence held much greater potential than he had demonstrated. Our laughably fragile system can only withstand one such person every decade. If someone ten times more powerful appeared every month, the whole pitiful game would be over inside a year.

This would free everyone else to disengage from their roles in our systemic disaster and recover personally. This includes the system’s controllers. Most only persist in their folly for lack of something better. Many of us peasants fantasize that the controls are unnecessary. Few of us have any idea of the dire factors involved.

All the materials, knowledge, and personnel necessary for solving global problems already exist. The resources spent on war can solve hunger, epidemics, poverty, crime and most ecological destruction overnight. But only when the participants—and their constituents—are no longer psychotic.

Hygienic dark retreating is therefore plausible as the panacea: a solution to mass psychosis, mankind’s essential problem. If you try a retreat, you can see this plausibility for yourself. You can learn enough about it and become naturally motivated to try it from my book.

politics: distributed and centralized

2022 December 22

Politics is the set of principles that guides the official use of force in a society. There are two kinds:

  • individualism, which is distributed in nature
  • collectivism, which is centralized in nature

This post will explore and contrast them.


Individualist politics respects individual life and choice. It uses the force of a dsitributed state to uphold the rights of each man to his life, liberty, property. That is, his body, movements, and possessions.

Individualism entails self-valuing social dynamics. Everyone is a statesman and seeks the values life requires—its normal conditions—protecting himself along the way, sometimes with help.

An individualist form of government is distributed: in the hands of the individuals whose rights are at stake in any given case. The right to self-defense is the basic principle involved. A man makes his own laws with contracts, protects himself with the help of security services, and settles disputes using independent adjudicators.

Individualist government is possible by two things: knowledge of philosophy and law, and sufficient personal power. This power is a function of vitality which comes from health. If power is low, it is from a mixture of bad ideas and poor health. By alternating profound rest and study, this can be fixed.

The basis for contracts is The Precepts, a 200-word, non-binding statement of rights, meta-political principles, and basic crimes. Traditional Maxims of Law further aid everyone’s understanding of law.

We all have an individualist, distributed form of government in various ways. We use it every time we handle a matter of life and limb ourselves. It might be a moment of heroism or routine use of a traditional system we take for granted. It is also in the actually voluntary nature of systems we think are compulsory. The right of contract is operating against us there.

We have been blinded to it through traumatic conditioning (brainwashing). This happened through medical birth, parental absence, screen technology, factory food, laws limiting children’s liberty, and school. Most of us are only obliquely aware of our participation in the distributed state. Our facility with it is damaged and atrophied. But this can be fixed.


Collectivist politics denies individual life and choice. It posits a super-organism of which everyone is but a cell with only an illusion of will or choice. It uses a centralized state to enforce total physical control over everyone through the means of his body, movements, and possessions.

Collectivism entails self-sacrifice by everyone. Statesmen sacrifice by seeking the fake value of control over others. The more others are controlled, the less value they produce. The value of the control dwindles. The brutality necessary to get it increases. Citizens sacrifice real values, often by force, to pay for the insane process.

A collectivist form of government is centralized: in the hands of central bodies. These include legislatures, courts, executives. Executives control police forces, armies, spies, and various agencies. They are supposed to do everything for us. We are supposed to keep our heads down, work, pay for it, and obey.

This is the kind of government we are aware of. The loudest voices in society give it their exclusive attention. It is how their position is ensured. Media would have little place if each of us dealt with his political affairs directly.

Central bodies exist because people delegate their power to their member representatives by writing constitutions, voting, and paying taxes. The central bodies then handle political issues. People give up their power through delegation this because they are damaged, afraid, and misinformed.

Delegation makes the members of the central bodies responsible for everyone else’s well-being. It is inherently altruistic and collectivist. It is imbalanced. People in the central bodies are driven power mad. They become part of a psychopathic system. If you find that your country is mad, you are in the grips of a collectivist state.

People outside the central bodies have lost their power, so they become desperate for power. They become beggars or criminals for it. We see the craven behavior of the public toward the state and others. Everyone scrambles for resources inside an intensifying vacuum.


Society, like the world, is naturally a plenum. It can be again. Nature provides a way back to that state. Once a few individuals recover their living power, they will move others to recover theirs. Nothing conducts faster through people than life force. Capacity for correct ideas about politics will return. The disastrous situation of the last several millennia can begin to turn around within months and be totally reversed within a few years.

I found the way back and developed it into a practical method. It requires a place and a team. It will take three years. I have described the process. I discuss the politics further in two other recent blog posts, individualism and scene: freedom, and notes toward an individualist distributed hyperstate. The overall method is simple, quick, cheap, pleasant, and rational. Read my book, try it, and see the plausibility of it for yourself.


2022 December 11

I, the conscious part of myself, cannot make significant improvements in myself. But I, the unconscious part of myself, can.

That is the part of the self that is given free rein and full support in darkness. It swoops in like Tarzan to fix what’s broken, clean out the trash, and pump us back up.

I have gone into darkness suicidally depressed and emerged 3 days later with no thoughts or feelings of death. I felt good, calm, and energized. I was clear and purposeful. I got right back into the plot I had lost sometime before my retreat. The effect lasted months.

That was just three days in an apartment, a minimal length and set of conditions. Longer retreats promise complete, permanent recovery from everything. This includes physical injury and illness, including aging, birth defects, amputation, and war trauma. In other words, the very worst wounds dealt us on Earth can heal. Their myriad disastrous effects can evaporate like they never happened.

This is the promise of hygienic dark retreating: an actual solution to our actual problem of suffering. I mean our persistent, inordinacan healte existential suffering. We call it the human condition. It is not. It is sickness. It is rooted in mass major trauma from an ancient cataclysm manifesting as the routine brutality of civilization. It can heal.

Some people can’t seem to get it. They think I am talking about something other than solving our real problems. They don’t think these things can be reversed. They think darkness is a cool and groovy thing to do. No, it is a life and death necessity. That’s why I sought it out and hammered it into a protocol everyone (with a home) can succeed at.

Give it a try. Let me know how it goes and what you need help with.


2022 August 17

An individualist politics is not enough to secure freedom. An individualist form of government is necessary to apply such politics. And an individualist party is necessary to institute such government.

Individualistic movements have relied on the centralized state and traditional parties. But these are inherently collectivist institutions. The centralized state involves delegation of power, representation, voting, secret societies, and arcane rules and laws. Traditional parties compromise principle. Their centralization and hierarchy mirror the states they are oriented toward. Any individualist politics injected into their structure, they turn to collectivism, thus tyranny.

Structure determines function. “The medium is the message” (McCluhan). “We create our buildings, and then they create us” (Wright). “The means are the end” (Rand).

Ironically, the solution is the distributed organization of collectivist party activism. Distribution suits rebelliousness and individual initiative. It reflects the legal equality that underdogs yearn for.

But collectivism’s function is despotism. This is hidden at first. Once power is attained, distribution is discarded for centralization. Hierarchy is fortified. It executes its activists (useful idiots). It crushes their rebellion before they grasp their masters’ nature.

Individualism’s function is liberation. This is its appeal. So it only has one face. Its party’s distribution manifests as the natural, permanent form of individualist government.


This post introduces the theoretical and structural requirements of freedom. Scene: freedom introduces the qualitative requirements. I suggest you read it next.


2020 November 11


A - Would you like to help solve the crisis?

B - Yes. What will we do?

A - We will become the kind of people who can solve it.

B - What kind is that?

A - Super-powerful people. Super-power generates enormous personal presence and influence. It disarms adversaries. It is irresistable. It inspires hope, imagination and initiative in witnesses.

Under its influence, ordinary people remember themselves. Conventional life suddenly seems strange to them. They immediately change course toward sanity and freedom. They start doing what they already know they should. They ask how to become super-powerful as well.

Politicians and the ultra-rich have the same response. Super-power dwarfs theirs. They are desperate for an alternative to despotism. They need assurance of their safety. Most of them would gladly relinquish the burden of enslaving billions of people.

Power is the condition of freedom. A powerful person is free. He also radiates an atmosphere of freedom. People relax in it. They feel safe and energized. They feel that anything is possible. Once freed, people can begin restoring themselves en masse.

B - How do we get such power?

A - By recovering it. This power is natural to us. We lost it.

B - How did we lose it?

A - Through mass major trauma. A global cataclysm thousands of years ago caused it. The extent of the destruction left our ancestors no chance to heal. Their trauma came down to us through hundreds of generations.

B - How do we heal?

A - As organisms, we are self-healing, given the proper conditions. The primary condition of healing is profound rest.

B - What is profound rest?

A - It lasts longer than daily rest and has perfected conditions.

B - How do we do it?

A - The most profound rest occurs in total darkness. Combined with other conditions of rest, it is called a hygienic dark retreat. We will study my book about it, build perfect darkrooms, and learn to support each other’s retreats. Then our diplomatic mission—and the world’s liberation—will begin.

B - Are you saying all we have to do is rest in darkness and thousands of years of suffering will evaporate?

A - Yes. Just as power is natural, so is trauma. It results from the collisions of a material universe. So nature, in its perfection, provides the conditions for healing from it, primarily darkness. It is that simple.

Freedom is also natural. We are already as free as we are capable of being. We will simply recover our original capacity for it.

Nothing spreads faster among people than the influence of super-powerful people. Five or ten of us, each 10 times more powerful than Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr, can quickly reverse the crisis. First results will appear in three months and newsworthy ones in a year. We’ll finish in 3-5 years. In a decade, all this will seem like a distant dream.

B - Where can I get your book?

A - At hygienicdarkretreat.com

B - How do we build perfect darkrooms?

A - By becoming the kind of people able to build them. We’ll start with the imperfect kind I know how to build now. We’ll build it inside the best shelter available to us. Experienced retreaters will support retreats for novices and train them as supporters. Total capacity in the team will increase. Then we will make perfect darkrooms, improve our processes, and start retreats that prepare us for our political activities.

B - I will have more questions, but I must think about it. I will talk to you again soon.

If you read this and individualism, now read the notes toward an individualist distributed hyperstate.

(proposal: freedom is based on the above scene.)

proposal: freedom

2020 November 11

Let’s enact scene: freedom, end the crisis, and restore mankind to sanity.

Other plans are possible. This is one example. It will take a team of 12 and $30k (4 people and $6k to start). It will becomes self-supporting within a year.

  • organization
    • you arrange funding, locations, suppliers, security, logistics, legal
    • I handle instruction, design, construction, and operation
    • we:
      • plan the work
      • begin documenting and developing the process with Lean and online open source tools
      • assemble a team: building, web/creative, legal (youarelaw.org), secretary (writing of manual), treasury, ?
  • retreat
    • I begin conferring with team remotely
      • about project
      • darkness: theory, protocol, design
    • team reads my book
    • you:
      • scout three locations for darkroom #1
      • research where to scout for darkroom #2
      • arrange a month’s shelter and transport for me
    • I:
      • rendevous with team within six weeks
      • darkroom #1
        • select house from scouted locations
        • darken it with team
        • support team’s first retreats
        • train team as supporter
      • continue instruction and training in hygiene, Lean, open source documenters.
      • darkroom #2
        • scout locations
          • for medium retreats (3-8 weeks)
          • in new buildings
          • round, 3-6m diameter/7-30m2
          • space for 16 of them in two clusters: staff and guests
        • build
          • darkroom and 3 huts with team
          • support medium retreats
          • train further
  • influence
    • organic
      • do what you’ve seen in darkness to do
      • weekly group reports
      • be an ambassador: meet influencers of all classes worldwide
      • avoid becoming tools of reinvented elites
      • help others to the darkroom; find the ten who will turn the tide
    • politics
      • Individualist Party: for a distributed state
        • defines non-binding legal precepts based on natural law
        • precepts provide basis of contracts (custom laws), and private defense and adjudication services
        • primarily focuses on private actors, not centralized politics: a distributed state will obsolete the centralized one
        • members who focus on centralized state will have an inverted strategy: not to win but to expose what is happening through satire (like Yes Men) and show the alternative
        • runs volunteer embassy to support missions to meet influential outsiders
      • distributed state
        • individuals legislate for themselves by applying precepts in private contracts
        • a contract specifies which defenders and judges will enforce it
        • legislature, executive, and judiciary are thus distributed throughout society at the individual level
      • openly conspiracist*
      • legal aid**
      • references
        • Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, Ayn Rand
        • Market for Liberty, Morris and Linda Tannehill
        • Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein
        • *Our Universal Journey, George Kavassilas
        • *Total Onslaught, Walter Veith (video series)
        • **YouAreLaw.org, TJ Marrs
    • Human Conditions Co
      • raises money through presale/crowdfund
      • rents/buys and takes over darkroom operation
      • expands prototype facility to 6 darkrooms, 16 buildings total, then multiplies
      • performs all functions: R&D, instruction, services, manufacturing

The following is an example budget purely in terms of money. Comparable offers of other values considered. At minimum, I’d like to decently survive the crisis while being useful in reversing it.

$a $b item
6000   fee to begin
~24000   project
  ~300 my lodging and transport, first month there
  ~700 darkroom #1 (rent + <400 for modifications)
  11000 salary (11 months@1000)
  ~9000 darkroom #2 ($6k) and huts (3@$1k)
  ~3000 influence mission seed fund
~30000   total
  • mission becomes self-supporting from:
    • donations
      • political
      • productivity of participants increases
    • royalties from spin-offs like Human Conditions
  • ending crisis is phase one
  • phase 2
    • supports Individualist Party to deepen social sanity worldwide
    • forms Freedom Skunk Works to stay at the bleeding edge of social renewal
    • extends diplomacy to space and other species and dimensions
    • ?

scene: intro

2020 November 10

Booth with sign:
“Volunteers wanted. Must be clever, practical, and hopeful. Major personal benefits.”]

D - What is your project?

A - We will apply nature’s solution to major trauma.

D - That’s a big deal. Few escape it.

A - I agree, it is tough and it is epidemic. I suffer from it myself. Fortunately, nature gives us a specific condition to heal from major trauma. I discovered and developed it as a practical solution. Everyone can do it.

D - What it is?

A - Darkness. In perfect darkness, the organism rests deeply. With enough time, it heals itself of everything. So one makes extended stays in darkness. It is called hygienic dark retreating.

D - I never heard of it. But it makes sense. How long do you retreat?

A - Eight days is best to start with, four at a minimum.

D - Ok. Why is it hygienic? Is it a cleaning process?

A - Hygiene is actually the science of health. It is a branch of biology. It consists of all conditions and practices conducive to the preservation of health. These include knowledge, darkness, and rest, as well as cleanliness. Hygiene is a complete approach.

D - Hygiene is the science of health. I didn’t know that. So it isn’t a cult!

A - Haha, no. But you aren’t entirely mistaken. Most spiritual traditions use darkness. I extracted it from that context. I made it strictly for health, reintegrating it within hygiene. Hygiene requires rationality, not strange beliefs or practices.

D - That’s a relief.

A - Yes, we’ve all had enough superstition, both secular and religious.

D - Hear, hear. My name is David, by the way.

A - Glad to meet you, David. I’m Andrew.

D - Now, if you don’t mind my asking: if this works, why do you still suffer?

A - I don’t mind. Healing requires a team to fully apply the solution. I just finished developing it on my own.

D - I see. What does it take?

A - It takes three things: an informed retreater, sympathetic supporters, and an excellent darkroom.

D - Would you explain them a little?

A - Sure. Reading my book or even an hour’s conversation imparts enough information to start with.

D - You wrote a book about this?

A - Yes. It’s a complete manual, with theory, protocol, and construction plans. You can read it for free or download a cheap e-book at hygienicdarkretreat.com. Or I sell paper copies.

D - I’ll take one. [Makes exchange.] Please continue explaining.

A - A supporter is reliable and has common sense. He has retreated and found value in it. He has read my book and helped support a retreat.

D - Ok. And the darkroom?

A - It needs a small fully functional house in a quiet location. We darken it with simple removable components. It has a separate building a supporter can sleep and prepare food in.

D - It is all so reasonable. I…

A - What is it?

D - It’s funny. I was just talking with friends about childhood. None of us had it easy. It has seemed impossible to understand. This makes it so simple. Could you come tell us more about this?

A - Yes.

D - How about tonight at my place? Everyone is coming for dinner. They would love to hear about this. Maybe we’ll all volunteer.

A - Great!

D - Here is my address and phone number. I’m glad to meet you, Andrew. Maybe we can help each other.

A - Yes, that is the idea. Glad to meet you, too, David. See you soon.

update 2019 november

2019 November 28

I figured out two important things this month:

  1. Eleven years of prototyping hygienic dark retreating is complete
  2. My failure to do the 21-day retreat I have sought all this time was a tactical necessity



I developed a model of hygienic dark retreating over 11 years. I worked out its theory, protocol, and design in great detail. 98% of it is in my book now. I focused on short retreats. On this basis, a team can:

  • develop my model for full application
  • prototype and develop medium and long retreats

Our first tasks include:

  • supporting me in revising and publishing my book
  • designing the organization
  • fundraising
  • public presentations
  • prototyping a complete, prefabricated darkroom

Development ended this autumn when I saw:

  1. the last pieces of the method
    • air filtration
    • bed design
    • the infinite nature of the self (thanks to George Kavassilas, author of Our Universal Journey) and featured in many videos. George shows how we have been in denial of our deep selves. He shows how we have some access to it. We need the relief and comfort it brings now. We need it to completely recover ourselves in darkness.
  2. the method as a whole
    • importance of and high standards necessary for all pieces of the method. I tried for years to get by on quick, cheap solutions. That was fine for experiments. But for full application, everything needs serious attention.
    • how they all work together. The main elements are:
      • darkroom
      • retreatant
      • support
  3. the place of method in the world
    • humanity has huge potential
      • the hygienic use of darkness has political implications. By recovering wholeness, we recover personal power, the basis of freedom.
      • in darkness, we can pull ourselves together to deal with huge changes predicted for Earth in the near future
    • malevolent forces oppose us
      • ruled by deception and force, we begin at a disadvantage
      • we are each damaged and conditioned as slaves

These six months have been strange. I had worked over a decade like a juggernaut. My momentum blinded me to the fact that I was reaching the end. Somehow, I had to slow down and reorient. I subconsciously arranged the theft of my computer, the destruction of my smartphone, and recently, getting defrauded of a significant amount of money. It was shocking and discouraging. But it got me to stop.

After my computer was stolen, I read George’s book. This was critical. I did one more retreat based on its encouragement. The retreat failed due to poor support. The confidence I gained from George’s ideas helped me weather it better than usual. And I found the last pieces of my model there.

I experimented in reaching out to others regarding capitalization. This proved costly and chimeric. I’m going to put my attention on survival now.


During these months of reflection, I found answers to two dreadful questions:

  • Why have I failed to retreat for 21-days, as I have tried for all these years?
  • If hygienic dark retreating is so great, why am I still unwell?

I have failed because unlike 5-day retreats, a 21-day retreat requires a fully developed method, a trained team, and an excellent darkroom. None of these existed yet. Even now, the method is still partly in my head, not fully in my book yet.

The greatness of hygienic dark retreating has only been potential, not actual. I have always seen it. I have proved it piecemeal. But until it is realized, I cannot apply it fully and heal.

One might think I would have at least not gotten worse. But two other factors came into play.

  • A retreat long enough to heal requires a team. But I could not work with others at first. The same sensitivity that enabled me to discover darkness makes me vulnerable to others’ influence. I could not protect the vision I had from them. I had to work mostly alone till it was stable in my mind. My condition worsened due to exhaustion. Now that the method is complete, it cannot be compromised. This is all that matters. Everything I lost can be recovered in darkness.
  • I hurt myself with too many 5-day retreats. I did not know their danger. Doing a couple 5-day retreats is fine. But I did 15! They strip a person of artificial survival skills. Normal capacity replaces these in darkness, but this takes at least an 9-day retreat. See false capacity and warning for more.

    A 5-day retreat is enough to get relief and begin healing, to develop the method, and to glimpse the potential of darkness. So I kept doing it. But it cost me greatly. I am debilitated. Some days, it frightens me. I hold on and await my chance to recover.

    I should be in a hospital being nursed back to health. But the hospital I need does not exist. It must be organized, funded, designed, and built. The staff must be trained. Somehow, I must direct a lot of this. Meanwhile, I cling to life. Once I have retreated, I will be stable and able to handle things normally.


The project needs all the normal elements to succeed: a team, money, organization, a facility, etc. I have done everything I can do alone. Now I just carry the seed.

Nature provides us a way to reverse the cause of our suffering: unhealed major trauma. This is our oldest, biggest problem. It causes all the others: slavery, poverty, war, disease, meaninglessness. Most people are so numb and resigned to it, they don’t even consider it a problem. It’s just how life is.

In fact, it is an aberration. So this idea is the most important in history, with commensurate benefits. In substandard form, it has saved my life twice. Perfected, it can restore humanity to health, happiness, and harmony. We will perfect it.

My elders were entrepreneurs. I studied business and organizations. I think darkness and hygiene need a horizontal, self-managing organization a la Reinventing Organization by Laloux. However things are organized, everything directly to do with the method itself has to be done my way. This will affect how the organization operates. I will not compromise the model. It challenges people. I will show the door to those who fight what they are supposed to be helping with.

Participants must study my book, retreat my way, see what I have seen, and make it their own as I have. The truth I have found is objective. Everyone can know it for himself. But only if he reads the manual and follows the instructions.

When I am better and we are all more experienced, the situation can relax and roles can overlap. Expect some rigidity until then. We have to keep things straight till they can keep themselves straight. As I believe they will. This is a living thing. It is natural. Like walking and talking, it must be learned. Then it can fairly go on by itself.


That’s what I worked out this month.

surpassing john galt

2019 November 26

“Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master,
poorer is the painting which does not excel the sketch.”
–da Vinci

We are Objectivists. We wish to live in freedom. Let us simply use Ayn Rand’s method. She gave it in Atlas Shrugged.

What are its ingredients? A world on the brink. An exceedingly great idea. And exceedingly great people capable of applying it.

Which ingredient is missing? The last. The trouble is such people hardly exist. They almost never become Objectivists. And Objectivism does not create them. Breeding, training, and effort contribute to greatness. But many people have had these things and failed to attain such heights as Francisco d’Anconia.

What if we had a way to become as great as him, John Galt, or Dagny Taggart? What if we could become 10 times greater? Then we could reduce the time to achieve freedom from 12 years to months.

I discovered the way nature gives us to do it. Here are its rudiments and explanation.

  1. Life begins healthy, happy, and harmonious.
  2. Life becomes sick, sad, and conflicted due to unhealed major trauma.
  3. Trauma results from the routine brutality of civilization originating in ancient cataclysm.
  4. Nature both causes cataclysm and provides for recovery from it.
  5. As organisms, we are self-healing.
  6. The primary condition of healing is profound rest.
  7. The most profound rest occurs in extended total darkness: a hygienic dark retreat.
  8. Extraordinary healing results.
  9. Natural power, presence, and influence, sufficient to return the world to freedom, is restored in people.

Why does it work? Three reasons: physiology, environment, attitude

  1. Physiology
    • As diurnal animals, we rest when it is dark. Total, extended darkness intensfies this process.
    • Sensory processing is 45% of brain activity. 2/3 is vision. Overall, sensory processing decreases 90%
    • Without the food of visual data, thinking slows down, becoming less frequent, harder, and less interesting. Feeling and sensation become more pronounced and interesting.
  2. Environment: all the conditions of profound rest are perfectly provided:
    • safety, solitude, support, time
    • silence, darkness, warmth, electromagnetic neutrality
    • fresh air, pure water, natural food, exercise
  3. Attitude:
    • the unconscious is omniscient, omnipotent, infallible
    • its job is healing
    • knowing this, one can finally relax on the conscious level, relinquish control, and support the process

Normal rest and healing enable us to recover from daily wear and tear. Profound rest enables us to recover from the wear and tear of a lifetime. Of generations. We can be restored to legendary degrees of function.

Francisco excelled at everything he put his hand to. Hank Rearden could always do the jobs he encountered on his rise. John Galt never made a false move. Their souls and bodies worked superlatively because their faculties were so much more intact than those of others.

The buck stops here. We can end our collective drama ahead of historical schedule, just as Galt did. We can recover the power to do so by recovering ourselves. Hygienic dark retreating is how.

See for yourself. It takes less than a month of reading and preparation, $50 in materials, and a 3-day weekend for the retreat. My book explains everything in detail, from abstract theory to protocol to construction. Read it for 10 minutes at hygienicdarkretreat.com. If it makes sense, continue.

freedom through darkness

2019 November 15

a new political strategy based on the biological origin of power
—in 5 iterations

1. Darkness and Politics

Hygienic dark retreating has a radical implication for politics. It enables individuals to recover personal power, the basis of freedom.

With power, we gain presence. Issues of identity and authority evaporate. Police don’t ask for your papers. They know who you are… and are awed. They don’t assert authority. They remember themselves. They ask how you did it and become your servant in fact, as they are in name.

Reason and force don’t work with the irrational or militarized. Presence works. It arises from power. Power is a function of health. Health is lost through major trauma. Health is restored autonomically in profound rest. Rest profound enough to heal from trauma occurs in total extended darkness.

Everyone can participate in politics without engaging the state. We needn’t live by stealth, nor wait nor work for the future. Political, spiritual, and technological solutions are ancillary to power. Power comes from within. It is biological. Nature gives us a way to recover it.

Using my book, hygienic dark retreat, everyone can try darkness at home up to 5 days. Longer retreats require a team and excellent facilities. I am exploring possibilities in Czech Republic, the world capital of dark retreating. Please get in touch.

2. Perfect Darkness

the biology of freedom

Here is freedom’s chain of causation:

  1. Life - our task as organisms is to live
  2. Freedom - living fully requires freedom to act on choices
  3. Power - freedom requires power: the power to live, including the presence necessary keep one’s place in the world.
  4. Health - power comes from health. But the routine brutality of civilization has drastically reduced our health.
  5. Rest - healing requires profound rest (longer and more intense than daily rest)
  6. Darkness - the most profound rest occurs physiologically in total extended darkness

Discipline, technology, and organization aid the cause of freedom. Yet they do not substitute for power. One person with power can move the world. Ten can renew it totally. The key is darkness.

Czech Republic is the world capital of dark retreating. Yet it still lacks world-class darkrooms and protocols. Perfect Darkness, Ltd will create an ideal darkroom. It will be functional, beautiful, pre-fabricated, natural, open-source. It will be shelter that supports full restoration of organic integrity. Perfect Darkness, Ltd will also systematize proper protocol and train supporters.

A darkroom is very well-built shelter. It controls exposure to all elements, including light. It offers protection from pollution: air, sound, etc. Restful (hygienic) darkroom protocol is rational and simple to teach and learn.

I have built 26 darkrooms in 6 countries over 13 years and written a book on hygienic dark retreating. I will guide the team technically and conceptually. It requires designers, craftsmen, professionals, financing, and partnerships. Please join or aid us.


hygienic dark retreat:
profound rest for the self-healing psyche at hygienicdarkretreat.com



I wrote this quickly. Perfect Darkness may not the best name and it can change. In the past, people have actually responded better to the phrase, world-class darkrooms.

Also, besides developing darkrooms, the team may also publish, consult, speak, and anything else that has to do with hygienic dark retreating and eventually hygiene, reason, and freedom in general.

3. Free Humanity in 3 Years with 10 People & $100k

The cause of humanity’s enslavement is powerlessness.

Power is natural. It is the ability to live. It gives us the presence necessary to maintain our places in the world and solve major problems. One person with power can move the world. Ten can end the system and restore freedom and peace to humanity.

We lack power due to severely impaired health. This resulted from the mass major trauma of cataclysm. A disaster in the solar system caused meteorites, earthquakes, volcanoes, shifting poles, and the Flood. After decades of resistance, archaeology and psychology are finally accepting these facts.

We got hurt. In the permanent emergency, we had no chance to recover, just survive. We fell sick and went mad. Unconsciously, we made civilization—a brutal slave system—to distribute the blow we had sustained. It worked. It has allowed a few the sanctuary and resources necessary to arrive at the solution to our problem. It is simple.

As organisms, we are self-healing, given proper conditions. The primary condition of healing is profound rest. Profound rest is longer and more intense due to perfect conditions.

The most profound rest occurs in extended darkness: in hygienic dark retreat. Hygiene is the science of health, a branch of biology. It relies on the supreme, self-preserving power of the organism and normal conditions of life. Dark retreating is resting in total darkness for days alone.

Czech Republic is the world capital of dark retreating. But most darkrooms here are sub-standard in construction and protocols. The few good enough to begin with are booked for months. None is suitable for later retreats.

One person can heal in 1-2 years from the core of his trauma using darkness and other hygienic influences. It takes 2-3 short retreats (4-8 days each) and one medium retreat (3-8 weeks). Study and preparation take 1-2 months.

We need one year to organize a team, publish my book, find the first of dozens of candidates, and design and build the first of several darkrooms. Some early retreatants will regain the power to begin turning the tide in the world. The effort will begin paying for itself. Some later retreatants will realize the final keys. The process is natural. It will lose its urgency. Everyone will relax.

Things develop slowly but conclude suddenly. This is the last piece of a puzzle. Its completion will trigger rapid results, beyond all our hopes. A full human existence awaits us. This is the last stretch. Let us go together.

4. Fountain of Youth

I found the fountain of youth.

Besides reliable miracles of healing, it also works for time and space travel; recovery of genius, empathy, and fitness; and interspecies communication. It enables mass social cohesion, international peacekeeping and diplomacy, and environmental restoration. It works by enabling the restoration of psychophysical integrity, which exists only as legend among us today, like the fountain itself.

I seek collaborators in making it available to others. Your main qualifications are the self-esteem necessary to believe that you could hear of such a thing and participate, and resourcefulness of some kind. The fountain is not in a specific place. It can be built anywhere.

The concept is proved. No counter-evidence has emerged. It makes sense and is easily understood. Based on biology not special ability, it works for everyone. After 11 years of testing and development, the approach is well-explored and stable.

The first thing is organization, then investment. First, we assemble a team and make a simple plan. Investment can be small to begin with, as low as hundreds of dollars. It depends on whatever we decide is the best approach given all factors.

I hurt myself discovering the dangers of the fountain. They are easily avoided, so everyone else is safe. But first I will need help setting up and using the fountain correctly so I can function again and guide significant work.

This discovery is personal with me. I worked on it 32 years after a childhood in training for it. I didn’t do it because I was a happy person, but because it was needed and I could. I maintained my integrity by basing my investigation on my best memories and by living in poverty. I studied independently, took counsel from wise elders, and listened to responses of the ordinary people I hoped would benefit. The project is ready for capitalization with attention, care, and money.

There is a way through our ancient quandary. We can make it together, opening the door for the rest of humanity in the process. Please write me.

5. Trauma-Based Conditioning

Trauma-based conditioning—brainwashing—is at the root of all our suffering and problems. Reason is undermined. What to do?

The exposés of the last century, beginning with Upton Sinclair’s, have revealed the horrors that box us in, generation after generation. History shows the failures of every movement so far to liberate us. We are traapped in a drama at the heart of our psychotic way of life. No invention, no technique, no achievement has brought us out of it.

The alternative is… nature. What started the horrors? Nature, through cataclysm ~13,000 years ago. What holds the answer? Nature, through the biological capacity for profound rest and self-healing. In perfect extended conditions of rest, we enter a state in which everything can heal completely. Trauma, illness, and age itself evaporate. The set of conditions necessary is fully established now. It is called hygienic dark retreat.

Civilization merely functions as a shock-absorber. It is not to blame, nor any humans involved from day one. Non-human intelligence seems to have had something to do with it, and we will have to deal with them. But we will not be capable of that until we use nature to get ourselves back.

Start at the very beginning of my free book about it and read for 15 minutes. See if it makes sense to you. Everything else can wait. Recovery of the lost self cannot wait.

long time again

2019 November 14

Boy, it has been a long time again since I posted.

In the past two years, I have continued developing hygienic dark retreating and updating the book. It is almost perfect. I found its last pieces this year. I plan to add them to the book in the next few months. Also, I will simplify the style of the sentences using the Hemingway App. This improves the clarity, makes it easier for non-native speakers to read, and improves results of machine translation. Then it will be ready for publishing in a more serious way.

I have continued on in Europe. I was in Spain for three years. I left almost a year ago to somewher important for the work. More eventually about that.

See my next three posts for new ideas and an update. Thanks for your patience.

new title

2017 September 22

I changed the name of the site and book. As dark retreating is growing a lot, I find it increasingly necessary to differentiate the hygienic from the usual spiritual, therapeutic, and psychedelic approaches. “Deep rest” unfortunately sounds like depressed, and other hygienists use the phrase, “profound rest”, so I changed that, too. The essence of the book remains the same, or more so. I have new sections planned and will write them as soon as I am capable. Cheers.

2016 overhaul

2016 May 2

After two years of work, the new edition of my book, dark retreat: deep rest for the self-healing psyche, is finally done, fancy computer drawings, theoretical breakthroughs, and all. Get it now at leanpub for free or pay what you like. Or just read it here as webpages. Leanpub keeps your name and contact info private, even from me, while enabling me to automatically send you free updates to the book.

This edition started when Simen Kirkerød, a friend and supporter in Norway, sent me a shocking message that the lightproof vent I’d just made for him leaked light like crazy. It turned out he was right, and that my design was rather stupid. I was appalled. The simple hand-drawings in my book were possibly misleading billions of people all over the world trying to darken their rooms! The situation would not stand.

I had added the drawings to my book almost as an afterthought. I sketched them in an hour or two, and it seemed so simple that idyllic night in Karlstad, Sweden. Dozens of prototypes and a year later, I actually came up with a functional vent that is as small as possible while being relatively easy to make.

About the same time, I got new ideas for other components. I learned to draw everything on a computer and things got out of hand. Now you can see all 19(!) drawings and several photos in the make chapter.

I also made a couple theoretical breakthroughs regarding hygiene:

  • formulation of the Law of Vital Capacity, which explains the beneficial mechanism lurking behind self-sabotage (and virtually everything else in life that goes sideways). See hygiene/capacity
  • dark retreating’s greater importance than fasting. This includes how dark retreating will make long, self-managed (unsupervised) fasts possible for the masses. This fulfills hygiene’s radical promise of perfect health for the people and, along with my previous discovery of trauma at the heart of all disease, helps prepare hygiene to finally overcome medicine’s strangehold on healthcare. See hygiene/psychology.

So much happened in the last two years, it will be difficult to catch up. But in the coming weeks and months, I will renew my blog and share some of my thoughts from this period. Some of them I already posted on facebook (where I tend to restrain myself more than I like sometimes). Many of them are still text files on my computer.

Many thanks (again!) to Daniel Reed and Heidi Sheryl Ewen in Sweden; Ketil Berg, Terje Tjensvoll, Bård Anders Lien, Benjamin Astrit Wold, Erlend Hårstad, Curare Austad, Magnus Vanebo, Bertrand Besigye in Norway; and Ségolène Lefébure, Marie Richter, and Virginie Bournaud in Paris for indispensable help since 2014 in completing this task. Special thanks to Sasha Day for heroic help with relevant personal matters, Nancy Gayle for cheerleading, and Mercedes Amapola Vlachou and Marion Abbott for recent enthusiastic help in preparing the text. Please forgive me if I left your name out of this list.

Everyone, please let me know what you think of this new edition and what you need. Cheers!


2015 March 28

I haven’t made a peep here in almost two years. But not for lack of activity on my part. I released a new version of my book in early 2014. I discovered a flaw in my vent and started working on it, never dreaming it would take this long to fix, going through two versions and 20 iterations. I built several private darkrooms in the process and just released a new edition of my book that reflects some of my new designs and thinking about retreating. The main change, small but important, is reflected in the format chapter, summarized in the first paragraphs there.

revisions, book

2013 August 3

I am working with professional writers to edit the darkness conjecture in preparation for publishing a proper book based on it. Several of the articles have changed significantly. Rapture and hygiene are extended. The retreat manual is now divided into design and protocol, and make was divided into format and design. All of these are better organized. More changes to come. These will include a re-organization of the articles into sections and a migration away from WordPress.

how not to retreat

2013 May 10

Retreating for less than 56 hours seems to be a really bad idea. [EDIT: glad to be wrong about this! See UPDATE below]

Three times in the last half-year, I have done mini dark retreats: once for 36 hours, twice for 16 hours. It just meant going to bed as usual then sleeping way in: waking up and going back to sleep several times, maybe all day and another night.

Rather than being lifted over a chasm, enabling further forward motion (as in 56 hours of darkness), a mini-retreat is like being lifted out of the dumps to a great height (nice), then dropped (not nice). I did not do this on purpose. It just happened in moments of crisis and extreme exhaustion. I needed rest but I was unprepared for a proper retreat. Unfortunately, this almost killed me.

A mini-retreat does not give enough time for the organism to adjust to being so re-energized, deal with underlying issues, or reset ones internal clock. Its like darkness turned into a drug.

At first it seemed promising. I went in super depressed and came out feeling like superman. With so much energy, I would lose track of time more easily than usual, stay up all night, go to bed feeling like crap and wake up feeling like supercrap. My poor sleeping habits were not neutralized in 16 hours, as in a regular retreat. They were accentuated. This excited my suicidal tendencies. I would not be surprised if people with good sleeping habits got thrown off them by this surge of energy.

For me, the point of a retreat is that it requires virtually no effort, and at the end, some things are made right in a permanent way, or at least fade out slowly. To do a retreat in a way that requires extra discipline afterward is stupid.

The only way it might work is if a person can go to bed on time despite having so recently awakened and with so much energy. But I still suspect something bad could happen. Ego-inflation at least. Like when people fast for psychological or spiritual reasons.

Myself, I have enough difficulty getting to bed without the promise of disaster if I dont. Normally, if I stay up late, I just get more exhaustion. Staying up after a mini-retreat led to serious vital and emotional crashes all three times I did it.

The last couple weeks, I have felt strangely paralyzed. I knew I was in trouble. But for once, I could not ask for help. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Now I think my winter and spring has been extra weird for this reason.

My shocking break-up in the fall from a girlfriend set me up for all this. But the two mini-retreats I did afterward established this pattern of emotional implosion. Since then, I have been especially imbalanced. A third one a few weeks ago revealed the pattern to me. I had wandered into the dark side of darkness! After watching me wander like a zombie in oblivion all winter, no wonder my fellow villagers are so hesitant about doing a retreat.

I was thinking of offering this kind of retreat as an introduction to darkness. It proved a failure point test: finessing a design to the point of collapse to find its absolute minimum requirements. A mini-retreat simply does not meet them.

UPDATE: I found a way to do a mini-retreat safely. The above dire description should just be taken as a warning against starting and ending a mini-retreat late. Starting and ending early is the key.

Go to bed in total darkness early: by 20:00 at the absolute latest. You might sleep the whole night if you are really tired. But if you wake up in the middle of the night as I usually do, don’t turn the light on. As in a longer retreat, you can hang out, meditate, exercise, eat a bit of fruit, or take a shower. But stay in darkness. Return to bed after an hour or two and sleep. In the morning, uncover the windows by 10:00 (set an alarm) and have a regular day.

A mini-retreat is not as impressive as regular ones. But it is safe, it feels really good, and it accustoms one to total darkness without disrupting one’s daily schedule.

It is actually just a slight modification of a normal night’s rest, in which one goes to bed early, wakes up in the wee hours for a bit, then sleeps again. That was common until artificial light came a hundred years ago. We haven’t adapted to sleeping the night through. We have just accommodated with chronic exhaustion.

retreat reports moved

2013 May 7

All my retreat reports are now blog posts, arranged chronologically in their own category, report.

EDIT: this has changed again. Reports are now a main menu item.

static site generator

2013 May 2

Soon I will migrate this site to a new content management system based on a static site generator. Generators are clients (like jekyll), hosted, or self-hosted (like blosxom and stacey). I’m most interested in hosted generators that use dropbox and github and usually markdown. Here are the ones I have found so far:

calepin.com (closed) droppages.com scriptogr.am site44.com paperplane.io telegr.am markbox.io dropplets.com kissr.com

I’ll add to this list as I find more.

the darkness hypothesis

2013 April 11

For four years, I have been trying to do a 14-day retreat. I thought short retreats were of little value, that a long retreat was the only action that mattered. But a room good for 14-day retreats is harder to set up than one for 5- or 9-day retreats. In my dysfunction, it was too big a leap for me, like trying to jump across a wide river. In my last retreat, I discovered my first stepping stone.

With this retreat, the conjecture has become a hypothesis for me. The principal obstacle to human function and happiness is obviously psychic trauma, and dark retreating really works in healing from it. I’m not out of the woods yet, but this is definitely a clearing.

This book closes the first phase of practical effort that began four years ago Christmas morning. Once it is published, I will tour with it to generate more interest in dark retreating as well as more income and stability for myself. Then a longer retreat will become possible.

For the second phase, we will make a documentary about my investigation, focusing on my discovery of darkness. It will climax with the 14-day retreat and show the aftermath.

In its theme of reckless uncompromise, it will echo the story of another extreme seeker, Christopher McCandless (of Into the Wild). He also wanted to find a way to break out of our sick conditioning and live a real human life. I want to show what becomes of such a person who lives to share his findings.

laws of life

2013 April 8

Check out Herbert Shelton’s cogent discussion of the Laws of Life as formulated in Natural Hygiene.

first client

2013 April 8

Our first client had a good retreat last week and our second client will exit the darkroom tomorrow. Sign up for your retreat now on the register page.


2013 April 8

I am working on a book now. It will contain all the articles about darkness here, all my retreat reports, and several blog posts that elaborate on theory and history of the conjecture. Once the book is published, I will start giving more talks.

[EDIT: This project became my book, hygienic dark retreat. All the extra material was cut, left on the website, and sometimes referred to in the book.]

human exceptionalism

2013 February 8

This meme is the essence of the Dilemma. It is the idea to be exposed, invalidated, replaced, buried.

swedish darkroom nearly ready

2012 December 27

The darkroom we have been building in Skattungbyn, Sweden is nearly ready. We are putting the finishing touches on the nifty fiwihex ventilation system today and will test it before the weekend is out. We will test and refine it with local supporters in January and open it to the public in February. You can see a calendar for it on the register page.

post-retreat protocol

2012 December 27

I’ve learned something really important this year about retreats, which is that for every 2-3 days spent inside, one day of identical conditions (except for being in light during the daytime) is necessary afterward to readjust to light and regular consciousness and to absorb the value of the retreat.

This takes a serious plan. The natural impulse is to blow off all the energy gained in the retreat. This can cause as much harm as the retreat did you good. The organism simply needs time to adjust. The parallel with an old saying about fasting is exact: “Any fool can fast. It takes a wise person to break a fast properly.”

So if you are going to do a six-day retreat, then schedule two more days at the darkroom so you can continue resting in darkness while spending more and more time in daylight. If it is too late or too expensive to schedule this time at the darkroom, then arrange a private, quiet place to go directly afterward where distractions and stimulation can be minimized. Maintain the same diet of fruits and green leaf vegies. No electronics, no visitors or media.

Time in darkness greatly enriches one’s inner life. Relishing it when it is so ripe is one of the points of setting this time aside. After this transition period, move as slowly back into your regular life as possible. Avoid annoyance. Take care to sleep. Take care of yourself.

guatemalan darkroom under new ownership

2012 October 26

Arjuna Thilo has taken over the darkroom I built in Guatemala. Ajna, the woman I sold it to, passed it on to him a few months ago. I never met Arjuna in person, but our communication has been good and he has built a serious website in support of the darkroom. Check it out!


new retreat center in works

2012 October 25

My new business partner and I are building a new darkroom in Central Sweden. Will be open to the public when it is ready. Lots of cool things in the works. More news when we have it!

john zerzan

2012 July 15

John Zerzan was my neighbor in Eugene, Oregon. I got to know him through a long-lost friend who happened to help edit _Green Anarchy Magazine _with John. It was a great honor to meet him. John even critiqued one of my earlier writings, Sociality Undenied. But until now, I had not absorbed his basic ideas from books, only gotten a shallow grasp of his thesis from his articles and conversation.

_Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization_ is the most intellectually exciting thing I have read in a long time. I knew that suffering, technology, hierarchy were the inventions of civilization. But I did not know time, language, art, and culture itself were, too.

This goes beyond Daniel Quinn’s critique of civilization. Quinn’s and Zerzan’s prescriptions overlap in some ways, differ in others.

Also I find it amazing to read a 60 year-old’s crying out against the inhumanity of our society with such vehemence as John’s. It’s such a relief from feeling alone in my own protestations. Highly recommended.

genius and the stupidity problem

2012 July 15

One of my purposes with a solution to inordinate suffering is to solve “The Stupidity Problem”. Stupidity results from psychic malfunction due to major psychic trauma. Healing from this will automatically restore natural human genius. Everyone has genius. It is yet another casualty of the stupidity-inducing process of becoming civilized through routine brutality and casual violence. But I have occasionally glimpsed genius in myself and others. It is yet another of the gems to be recovered upon recovering full health, full sanity, full consciousness.

I am going to be a genius again. I am clearing the way for billions of people be geniuses again. We are going to live forever do the same for the people of a billion other planets suffering the same psychotic stupidity as we do here. We will extinguish this age of darkness… with darkness.

“Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.”
–Richard Buckminster Fuller

tao versus moralism

2012 May 15

tao te ching, chapter 38

The Master doesn’t try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.

The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.

The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things to be done.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.

Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go.

[emphasis added]


2012 April 28

The koloni is my great discovery about Sweden this year. There is nothing like it in the States, really. That you can legally live somewhere that costs as little as one month’s salary to OWN is beyond belief. It can be had for as little as 9000 SEK (~$900) [Edit 2023 Jan: Sadly this opportunity seems to have passed. blocket.se used to have dozens of them] The whole rent thing is such a ridiculous drag.

It is maybe the greatest thing I have heard of in an industrialized country in my whole life. While kolonis are often near loud roads, trains, and electrical stations, there are nice places, too. It’s actually how people should live: in small houses surrounded by gardens, other people who are basically there to relax, no cars, minimal fencing, compost toilets, little or no electricity.

Of course, as a way of life, it is a big secret, because Swedes seem conditioned to see kolonis as vacation/summer/second homes, not primary residences. Some places are fairly closed down in the winter, and some places are not legal to live in in the winter due to insufficient insulation. But there are others where no one cares if people stay all the time. Houses can be properly insulated. Rainwater can be harvested. Power can be had from the sun and wind. Composting toilets are practically free to build.

Again, I can’t believe this is right under peoples’ noses, and the government allows it. You pay 500-1500 yearly fees for basic services, keep your garden nice, your noise level down, and you’re in. One could grow a tall hedge over time, I think, for pleasant privacy. It is instant freedom from the slavery of school/work/rent/distraction.

There are deals like this everywhere in the third world, of course. But, boy. What a miracle to find it in the first. It makes me think of developing a whole koloni with curved paths, small round shelters, permaculture, etc. It would become a real village over time, with its own economy, etc.

Hmm. Except in Sweden, when the children are 6, they are all confiscated by the state for brainwashing and family destruction. Bummer. Well, it provides great inspiration, a model, and a clue.


2012 April 19

Psychology is the study of the psyche, not just the mind. Thus mainstream psychology will continue failing to seriously help people as long as it considers health and illness “mental” rather than “psychic” in nature. The psyche—consciousness—is not just mental, but emotional and physical as well. Feeling and movement are not mere products of the intellect, but their own forms of intelligence.

Various spiritual traditions have posited this for ages. Gurdjieff, a Sufi, said, “Man is a three-brained being.” He called these brains, “centers of intelligence.” In addition to the thinking center of intelligence, there are the feeling and moving centers of intelligence. Some psychological schools recognize this triune intelligence as well.

A very useful and easy to learn typology* is based on the three ways that psychically traumatized people unconsciously armor themselves. Some people live into their heads. Others retreat deep in their hearts. Others go with their guts. It’s right here in our language!

Robotic intellectuals. Sensitive, helpless artists. Dumb athletes/fighters/laborers. We are entertained by the limitations of each stereotype. Nonetheless, all are able to do amazing things with their minds, hearts, and bodies respectively. All excel differently with different forms of intelligence.

Large amounts of neural tissue have been found in the heart and the alimentary canal. There is a physical basis for intuition and hunches.

Psychic trauma and illness must be seen not just in the mind, to be worked out in only an intellectual way. We must also find the illness in the heart and gut and the rest of the being these are only centers for. Trauma must be worked out in a whole way, by organic processes also involving feeling and movement, conditions and time. We have more than one brain, and they are damaged. We are brainsdamaged.


*Da Free John (Adi Da Samraj) explains this typology in detail in The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace. Gurdjieff makes many observations about tendencies of the three different types in Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous.

new stuff

2012 April 1

A handful of new and changed things have appeared in the last months without announcement:

  • A handful of retreat reports under five darkness experiences
  • Updates to “make darkness” and “retreat manual” based on my latest findings
  • Categories for both posts and pages

More to come.

gift economy basics

2012 April 1

Here’s a letter I just wrote an associate about the gift economy.



I have news about the gift economy that could blow your mind. It has blown mine, anyway. I’m hoping you’ve heard of David Graeber by now, the author of Debt: The First 5000 Years. If not, it is an amazing anthropological study of money. I haven’t read it, just the basics online.

Here’s the gist: the gift economy is not made up of people just giving things to each other without expectation of return. This is a completely mistaken notion spread by a few lucky people who somehow pull that nonsense off (or pretend to). The gift economy is simply letting people you know and trust have things of yours when they need them, with the mutual understanding that when you call on them, they’ll do the same. You say, “You like it? Take it!” and understand, “You owe me one.”

This understanding among traditional people is deeply ingrained. It is unstated, even considered obscene if verbalized. Civilized observers often didn’t notice it. They assumed this system was the same as our system of unconditional gifts. Which has a strange charge of propriety around it. This is the remnant of our past decency.

The gift economy consists of an endless series of:

  1. delayed exchanges of
  2. unequal values
  3. according to customs of evolving complexity.

Some cultures actively discouraged equal exchanges to help people stay on good terms with each other. (Thanks to Eli Gothill, formerly webisteme on twitter and creator of the defunct PunkMoney, for points 2 & 3.)

Graeber also exposes the barter system as a myth. There are no examples of it among established people. Spot trades of equal values are only found between:

  1. strangers
  2. people who have temporarily lost their currency system (and haven’t developed a gift economy yet due to conditioning)

Graeber’s more general discovery about money is that before there was gold or clams or whatever people are said to have used as money, people had mutual credit systems. For example, tally sticks. Money was a unit of account, not a commodity-based medium of exchange. These credit systems were just formalizations of the old gift economies. Commodity-based money like gold or wheat came much later. And it came by force, too, like our current central bank-issued monopoly monies.

I think what the mutual credit systems I have found are really good for is reorienting people to this way of seeing a local economy while maintaining the familiarity of accounting and limited debt exposure. Once a basic reorientation occurs, the system can become informal. In other words, not written down with arithmetic.

When I was learning a new diet that had me counting calories (to make sure I got enough of the right kinds), I got into it for a couple weeks, then I just knew. It was like a skill. Once acquired, there was no need to keep exact record anymore.

Here is the interview that finally got it through to me: An Interview with Economic Anthropologist David Graeber

I’m telling you because you and I have both struggled with money and with the gifting idea for a long time, and we ought to have a solution to it finally. I think we were basically right. We have been broke because we didn’t really want to have anything to do with regular money. It’s got blood all over it. It’s a tool of enslavement. To hell with it. Better to eat out of dumpsters.

But in 24/7 unconditional gifting, we were offered a false alternative. Historically, it is bizarre. It is a purely civilized invention. We wage-slaves evolved it to get a break from the cold, even exchanges we have to make most of the time. The real gift economies kept people obliged to each other, preserving relationships and work—peace and prosperity at a reasonable level.

Like I said, the exemplars of the unconditional gifting lifestyle whom we have met are just lucky. It’s not learnable. It’s unnatural and unnecessary. It’s a sham.

Hope this helps.

Best regards…

poetry of rapture

2012 March 25

Here is a poem I read at age 17. It prefaces one of my favorite books, Magical Child Matures by Joseph Chilton Pearce. It took all this time to start seeing the meaning. If ever there were a poem of rapture, this is it.


If I Could Only Live at the Pitch That is Near Madness

Richard Eberhart

If I could only live at the pitch that is near madness
When everything is as it was in my childhood
Violent, vivid, and of infinite possibility:
That the sun and the moon broke over my head.

Then I cast time out of the trees and fields.
Then I stood immaculate in the Ego;
Then I eyed the world with all delight,
Reality was the perfection of my sight.

And time has big handles on the hands,
Fields and trees a way of being themselves.
I saw battalions of the race of mankind
Standing solid, demanding a moral answer.

I gave the moral answer and I died
And into a realm of complexity came
Where nothing is possible but necessity
And the truth wailing there like a red babe.

tech communication

2012 February 27

Very off-topic note about how I have come to think of long periods of silence and repeated non-responses in text communication with computer technicians. When it happens I assume one of the following:

  • the issue:
    • was addressed before
    • is so basic I should already know about it
    • is easy enough in their minds for me to work out on my own
  • they don’t know
  • they would like to but can’t
  • they aren’t interested
  • the answer is no

As long as my message contained no interesting requests or instructions, why would they respond? It’s like a logic circuit. Or, at least, my idea of one.

I have read forums. There is simply too much data to respond to. One must not suffer fools or welcome the cloying “friendship” of a zillion strangers.

It took me awhile, but I’d like to think I get it. Here’s to the techs. I’m on your side. Thank you for making computers happen.

dominant assurance with a twist

2012 February 16

I came up with a twist on Dominant Assurance Contracts. Which is economist Alex Tabarrok‘s game theoretical extension of the all-or-nothing Assurance Contract popularized by Kickstarter. In an assurance contract, if pledges toward a financial goal are insufficient by the contract’s deadline, then pledges remain uncollected. With dominant assurance, everyone who offered to contribute gets a bonus. “Thus contribution becomes the dominant strategy,” says Dr Tabarrok.

My idea takes off from there.


Dear Mr Tabarrok,

Thanks for your idea of the Dominant Assurance Contract. I thought of a way to extend it to further open up opportunities in investment and value creation, possibly making crowdfunding more interesting than gambling. Maybe your students have already come up with all this and more, but what the heck.

I call it the Open Dominant Assurance Contract. Basically, it allows supporters of a proposal to:

  • help fund the bonus pot
  • adjust their positions throughout the game.

Here are the rules:

  1. The proposer:
    • sets the monetary goal and deadline
    • seeds the bonus pot, which counts toward the goal. (hmm: increasible? for how long?)
    • sets the maximum bonus rate between 0@@ and infinity in case of failure
    • sets the maximum profit rate in case of success
    • and can increase both these rates until the campaign’s deadline
  2. A supporter sets her bonus rate from –100% to infinity. She can increase her contribution and decrease her rate until the proposal’s deadline.
  3. In case of failure, the pot is divided amongst supporters in proportion to their contributions and according to their final bonus rates.
  4. In case of success, a supporter with an average bonus rates of less than 0@@ is treated as an investor who can eventually profit from the proposal in proportion to her average rate (–bonus rate x maximum profit rate).
  5. Supporters can make multiple contributions with different bonus rates.

Thus someone with an idea but little seed money could still create a Dominant Assurance Contract. Whole-hearted supporters (those with high rates). The higher the maximum bonus rate, the wilder the game gets. It could be a spectacle of brinkmanship between the whole-hearts and half-hearts more compelling than a good craps game. Half-hearts would help attract attention to the proposal initially. Whole-hearts would help continue to attract half-hearts as the deadline approached. Just as in Eli Gothill’s PunkMoney, participants could tweet changes in their positions, and a program could track variables, calculate totals, display graphs, and keep accounts in real time.


  • Due to Rule 3, a sole supporter of $1 with an infinite bonus rate toward a failed proposal with an infinite maximum bonus rate would win the entire pot.
    • A second such supporter of $99 would take away 99@@ of the pot.
    • If the proposer set the maximum bonus rate to 10@@, then the first would only get back $1.10 and the second $108.90, regardless of pot size.
  • Due to Rule 4, in a successful proposal with a 20@@ profit rate, a supporter whose bonus rate was –40@@ for 10 days and –80@@ for 10 days would have an average rate of –60@@, earning her 12@@ on her contribution (to be paid when the project actually profits).
  • Due to Rule 5, a supporter can try playing the game all three ways: whole-hearted,  half-hearted, and neutral (0@@, the same as in an Assurance Contract)

What do you think?

The game theory in your paper was stimulating but over my head. So I thought, How about letting the participants decide the variables? Coming up with it was fun and exciting.

Which is ironic because I came across your uber-cool dealio while looking for ways to finance my recovery from exhaustion-depression. (Take something worse than chronic fatigue syndrome but better than death and combine it with clinical depression. A real kick in the pants!) I have less-than-zero confidence in medicine or its common alternatives. So I spent 21 years looking for a way to deal with it before hitting upon darkness retreating. It’s relatively cheap ($2500), but money-making is not my strong suit. So thanks for the ideas and,

Cheers, Andrew Durham


EDIT: I removed this sentence from the third to last paragraph: “And I could not decide what to call this variant of DAC: Self-Funding, Autonomous, Automatic, Inclusive, Cooperative, or Viral DAC? DA Orgy?” I decided on “Cooperative”. If you think of a better name, please let me know.

EDIT: I renamed the contract again to Open DAC and heavily edited the letter, including removing one extra-complicated rule about reimbursing the proposer.

EDIT: added bit about [#PunkMoney][5]

money without debt

2012 February 8

Hey, I just came across this excellent web-based credit clearing system: Community Exchange System [EDIT: I no longer dig this system. It’s popular but messy.] CES* is international, free, simple, compatible with paper systems, thorough, and cool.  It’s just about what the godfather of new money, Thomas Greco, calls for in The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, chapter 17.

Other worthy systems I’ve come across in the last couple days:

  • payswarm.com was (?) a web technology-based, multiple-scenario payment system. Big vision.
  • opentransact.org similar goals as payswarm, different architecture
  • picomoney.com clever, based on opentransact
  • cyclos.org open source software to run your own bank, complete with free hosting; soul boggling!
  • villages.cc**is the best implementation of
  • ripplepay.com, a compelling solution to LETS accountability concerns.
  • e-flux.com/timebank hip and simple
  • friendly favors.org 2nd largest after CES, social, clever, but aging and a bit complicated
  • johnturmel.com/uniset.htm very simple, start alone now. Improved by showing account as a ledger using a web-based spreadsheet
  • JEU/GAME paper system (compatible with CES), very elegant, semi-private, decentralized accounting, best for when the lights go out.

CES is (NOT*) the most accessible, practical, and mature, though some of these systems, especially payswarm, have much greater potential. Open source money has finally gotten legs, wings… and teeth.

*EDIT: I gave up on CES because of issues with its design and management. So I am exploring two other systems now: Community Forge, based on Drupal Community Accounting/mutual credit module, and [Villages][7]. It’s Ripple base is better, but CF is much more developed. The insides of it look great so far.  Open source, delegated authority and responsibility. Kind of a weak social network, but it is there.

Greco says a proper system needs:

  1. a marketplace
  2. a social network
  3. a means of payment
  4. a measure of value or pricing unit

Both have all four criteria. So it’s a toss up for me. I hope Villages works out.

Two cool sites about money ideas:

  • MetaCurrency
  • @webisteme invented PunkMoney, a twitter-based currency. fricking brilliant. Now defunct. :(

typable e-paper breakthrough

2012 January 23

At my request, xda developer, verygreen, with support from ros87, has done in 24 hours for $10 and a $109 donated device what tens of companies could/would not do in four years with all their resources (like the $500,000 one company told me it would cost).

Watch him type on the Nook Simple Touch on youtube: Nook Simple Touch usb host support

EDIT: for outline of installation instructions, see:Installation Wiki These are at noob-hacker level.

There are still some bugs, and the instructions are over my head at this point [EDIT: not anymore–see wiki link above]. But the basics are there now for people who know how to use them. Once the bugs are worked out, I plan to simplify the instructions for everyone’s use. Maybe even offer microSD cards with everything pre-installed. [EDIT: this plan is off my agenda for the time being.]

Here we go.


2011 December 15

Something important started to change for me last week. I have been hiding my own need for darkness by trying to make it happen for others. I wrote these posts about it on my facebook page this week:

Thursday: Dear Family and Friends: I am very sick. For the first time, I feel that I am slipping, that I might not make it. Please help me realize the solution I found. Not because it could be a solution for you, too. But simply because you care about me. This is what I have been trying to say for three years. –Andrew.

Friday: [In response to 20 people:] I am relieved to hear from each one of you. I also got supportive emails.

What I need is help in arranging and paying for a long darkness retreat. It needs an empty, functional house and people to bring food and say hello to me each day. And I need to not return to the US, where I feel very unsafe, to do it. There are places to rent here and new friends who could help.

The thing is, my 25 years of studying the absolute depths of both my condition and the world’s made me good at solving extremely complex problems, but not good at making money or simple arrangements like this. I cannot overstate how much shame and embarrassment I have felt about this. But I can state the truth about it.

Please do not let my articulateness fool you into thinking that I am ok. No matter what, it seems, I am able to talk.

Sunday: Thanks to everyone who wrote. My immediate problem is solved. Nearly undetectable poor air quality where I have been staying wore me down over the last month. I am making arrangements to move into a proper apartment tonight.

The wider issue of why I ended up in that situation in the first place is also getting addressed by rekindled support for the darkroom and other unforeseen means.

Wednesday: [in response to a local friend:] I’m basically okay now. Still edgy, but not as bad as yesterday. It was nice to be able to walk with you the other day. I had been slowly suffocating, and then I suddenly crashed. It felt like I’d been run over by a train.

Thursday (today): By the way, I never identified my sickness here.

Essentially, I view it as functional psychosis manifesting as a rigid dependence on my mind. This has numerous ill effects on my life, some of which some of you know all too well. For example, unconsciously setting myself up for periodic breakdowns like the one this weekend.

At 16, I had only a vague sense of my sickness. But it was strong, and it motivated my long search for the root cause of rapture: sanity. My discovery of darkness as an irreplaceable condition of psychological health ensued. This is why I have confidence only in darkness retreats as a means of healing from my sickness and why my wish to do one has finally found its way to the top of my priorities.

illuminati it may concern

2011 November 21

Dear Illuminati,

I believe that you are trying to handle our collective mess the best way you know how. Every day you wake up to the responsibility of managing billions of people who can’t handle things themselves. Your activities for millennia have maintained this absurd situation, but what option did you have?

I think that some of you really like this system of slavery and want to intensify it. But most of you dislike it and would do something else if you could. You feel as trapped as we do. It is a terrible problem. How to solve it peacefully?

For a long time, I thought that you were my enemy. Hatred and sadness about your activities consumed me. But now, as a result of my long search for understanding, I am extending both forgiveness and the offer of a way to handle our situation differently.

Since this subject is your main interest, please read my book. Then write me if you would like to help make this deep way of healing possible for yourselves. I could use your help. You could probably use a break. And working together would be a pleasant change from our previous estrangement.

I have found a way through our conflict that makes a place for everyone at the end, especially you whom many slaves would wish to exclude (if not summarily execute). In my opinion, you are hurt by all this worst of all. I believe the way I have found would serve your requirements. I really believe there is a place for all of us, even you.


Andrew Durham

[Updated July, 2022]

facebook page up

2011 November 21

I made a facebook page called Darkness Conjecture. There you can read about the latest goings on, including current public talks in southern Sweden.


2011 November 21

Here is something I wrote a friend about conspiracy theory following a conversation we had recently on the subject.


I had a thought during our conversation about 9/11 that there wasn’t time to voice, but which I think you would like to hear. So I am writing you with it.

I think the reason that the idea of a conspiracy can be hard to entertain is that it seems to mean that the people involved are evil and consciously do evil things.

This, of course, is nonsense, and people are correct to reject it. The nature of human consciousness is such that it is impossible to do what one considers evil. But it is a simple matter to do evil that one considers good.

Any honest observer of history and current events can see that it is possible to justify anything (including the justification itself). For example, listen to professional political commentators of any persuasion. What is obviously evil to ordinary people can be seen as good and even obligatory by someone in power. Hitler and his helpers thought they were doing the right thing. Even on the stand in Jerusalem, Eichmann never really got what all the fuss was about. Some National Socialists (NAZIs) actually disliked the program, but they believed in it. It is only people’s basic innocence combined with their great naivete that enables them fail to make this distinction.

All this is aside from the fact that the ultrarich and powerful are psychologically damaged to a degree almost impossible to believe. I hesitated to mention the other night—and it is horrible to think about—but in many established families, children are subjected to ritual sexual abuse from a young age. If you imagine a boy who is sexually molested in group Satanic rituals from the time he is less than a year old, with the knowledge and even participation of his own parents, then maybe you can see that his view of right and wrong might be a little bit distorted by the time he is forty years old and running a bank, a corporation, or a country (or these days, all three).

If so, then you can also see how it is possible that if the interests of enough organizations require, for example, the events of 9/11, then as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow morning, those events will take place. Obviously the people in power are deadly serious about making omelets, and it matters to them not one whit that you and I happen to be the eggs.

That was the thought. As I write, it leads to a few similar ones.

Exactly why any organization would require such events as 9/11 has a lot to do with the debt-based monopoly money system I tried to describe to you. Since money as we know it comes into existence as interest-bearing debt, the money available to pay back the debt is always less than the amount owed. So as some pay their debts, the economy must expand to provide others more money to pay the mounting debt. This is why there is never enough money and why we are destroying the earth.

Imbalances in the system grow. People begin to borrow just to stay afloat. This inflates the money supply beyond the wealth that backs it and thus devalues cash holdings. Just to stay even, individuals and groups must always be climbing upward financially, stepping on others as they go. We know how desperate the situation is at our level. Imagine the wicked cut-throat tactics necessary to stay at the top of the game, where there truly is never enough.

Poetically, the naive resistance to the idea of an inside job on 9/11 rests on the same benevolent metaphysics as conspiracism. To the conspiracist, the universe is a friendly, life-supportive place and people are basically peaceful and just. Therefore, the horrors we witness in our culture must be engineered. So to those we consider denialists, we conspiracists issue this challenge: prove how the material beneficiaries of 9/11 did not perpetrate it.

Lastly remains the simple fact that government has ever been a tool of the elite to control the (admittedly infantile) peasantry (including the managerial “professional” class). That government could one day benefit the peasantry is merely popular propaganda. Since the job of the state consists of subjugating us—since that is what we pay it to do and as quietly as it can—9/11 is precisely what was required of it at this critical juncture in history. So, again: prove that it failed to perform its function.

With convention stood on its head like this, you can see the difficulty that conspiracists and denialists have in communicating. It is not just about the facts. It is about what a person considers humanly possible. Philosophically, it is a metaphysical difference. This is usually unbridgeable.

Everyone experiences what I am talking about, but as part of a whole lifetime of conditioning in resignation (hospitals, TV, industrial food, school, the legal system) and at a low level where the causes are invisible. This is especially true due to the common preoccupation with survival. Few have the time, stomach, or resources to even consider events in these lights, let alone understand or do anything about them. We issue bitter little complaints as we accept it incrementally.

And then there is the successful propaganda campaign about our masters’ being too stupid and incompetent to pull off something like 9/11. It is an impressive conceit that we are smarter and more capable than people who coordinate transnational corporations, global wars, and mass media. Those who deny conspiracy have underwhelmed me with their snide ignorance of basic facts of the case. In my few brushes with the ruling class, even average members impressed me as sophisticated and whipsmart. Now they have accomplished the additional feat of convincing most of us they are otherwise.

For the benefit of both us and our tortured masters, I hope that my work can help bring an end to the madness I describe. Like most people, I believe that each of us, underneath the exhaustion, resignation, and damage, is still innocent at the core. I cannot believe that anyone really likes or is satisfied with what is happening. Surely we can find another way to be here together. But surely we cannot find it without first seeing things as they are, both in our souls and in our society.

Well, it was nice seeing you, again. Thanks for dinner.

Best regards, Andrew

swedish darkroom news

2011 September 12

Location secured for world’s second hygienic darkness retreat: newly remodeled small cabin in quiet neighborhood of Swedish resort town. Modifications commence tomorrow; first retreat within two weeks.

EDIT: the above attempt failed. Taking a bare cabin with only electricity and heat and trying to make even a simple bathroom, kitchenette, and ventilation proved overwhelming. No, the thing is to start with a fully functional building, darken it and start retreating, already. This will require taking the message to the people again.

bodhisattva math

2011 June 26

Let us say Bodhisattvas are both sincere and realistic in their vow that, after their own personal enlightenment (which will free them from the necessity of reincarnating on this planet) they will keep reincarnating here anyway in order to help liberate all sentient creatures.

Let us further say that they, combined with those of equal realization and commitment in other traditions, manage to liberate a million people a year until the job is done. At that rate, it will still take them 7,000 years to finish. That’s if population remains constant from now on.

Keep in mind this is a 2,500 year old tradition. And that all spiritual traditions combined are not pulling off more than a hundred genuine liberations a year. Which, according to some wise men I once knew, is an extremely generous figure. How are we to make sense of the Bodhisattva’s project? What are they counting on?

Maybe they are banking on an exponential effect of their efforts. Maybe we are only a few years or generations away. The results come faster as time goes on and the task gets easier, because its enormity nonetheless is shrinking, while their collective power grows.

Maybe they, like the Mayans, are merely holding out till a cosmic event completes the task in one fell swoop.

So they’re not worried. Maybe I should not worry so much, either. Many people have said as much, and lately, I have begun to notice what they’re talking about.

And, maybe it is time to review the effectiveness of the method of liberation. Or maybe we could just eliminate the need for it.


2011 June 5

I moved to Greece, partly as a result of my darkness retreat in March (more on that soon). My new friend and final client in Guatemala, Ajna of Yoga of Beauty in San Marcos La Laguna, Solola, Guatemala, is taking over the darkroom. Contact her through her website. I will be building a business here in Greece to open more darkrooms around the world.

Note: Ajna sold the darkroom to Arjuna. See his website, dark-retreats.com.


2011 May 29

Just saw this movie. Awesome. It gives a good idea of the surge in creativity, clarity, synchronization, and motivation that sometimes occurs in darkness (without the side effects, of course). But just for the record, darkness will ultimately make NZT-48 look like potty training.

new page - register

2011 April 6

Now you can register for your retreat online.

EDIT: This was when I offered retreats in Guatemala. Now see world map of darkrooms. Note link there to Czech map.


2011 March 24

[EDIT: I learned this is not a syllogism, just a regular old argument. Syllogisms have only three propositions. Sigh.]

Here is my clearest articulation yet of the conjecture’s chain of causation, in the form of a seven-line syllogism:

Suffering comes from a catastrophic injury to the psyche; the psyche is a system of an organism; organisms are self-healing; healing requires vital energy; vital energy accumulates during rest; psychic rest is most profound in absolute darkness; therefore, darkness is the solution to inordinate suffering.

[EDIT: See end of hygiene/psychology and basics for updated versions of this.]

line in the sand

2011 March 24

If the Problem results from error, then the solution is virtue. If the Problem results from injury, then the solution is convalescence. Either I am sound but mistaken, or unsound and malfunctioning. Let us stop equivocating.

cool site - photoperiodeffect.com

2011 March 13


This site talks about the effects of light on health and the use of darkness to reverse many illnesses. The author, Russell Johnston, who has used darkness to significantly heal from a serious malady, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, is a dogged researcher and a very clear writer.

new articles - make darkness & retreat manual

2011 March 12

EDIT: these articles were renamed “make” and “protocol”

I wrote instructions for retreating in my darkroom here in Guatemala in protocol and for creating a darkroom in your home in [make][/make/]. These are now included in the paper booklet about darkness that I offer.

typable e-paper

2011 February 12

I was talking with someone about my undying quest for typable e-paper. He concluded his comments with this suggestion:

“You can get an ipad and compose a book on that. The ipad has more glare to look at than e-paper that is e-paper’s advantage.”

I replied:

I say it in my plea, but let me state my assessment of the advantage of e-paper slightly differently here to better match what you are saying.

The advantage of e-paper is something much greater, much more fundamental, much more affecting than its lack of glare. A matte finish can be put on any display, or even achieved after the fact with plastic screen protectors.

What is different about all e-paper devices, regardless of their finish–is the absolutely still nature of the image. Once the page changes and the new words and images appear, the screen holds perfectly still. [EDIT The rest of this paragraph is erroneous. See NOTE below {It does not continue to refresh. The tiny pixels are not quivering with reinstatement 60 times per second. The eyes, which normally make 80 movements per minute are not constantly exhausting themselves in adjusting to the movement of the image. As with the static nature of ink on paper, the eyes do not get irritated. Thought and emotion thus remain undisrupted.}

This is why:

  • people love reading on e-paper devices, even if they do not understand exactly why.
  • e-paper would matter even more to a writer
  • I think this would be the most important invention since the personal computer, if not the typewriter or even the printing press.

The written word is the motive power of this culture, the fulcrum at its center. E-paper device makers are thus sitting unawares on a revolutionary opportunity to do something super cool, serve the world–and make a pile of well-deserved money in the process.

Who will be the one to stand up at a company meeting and help connect the last dots by pointing out the simple, obvious application of an existing product? For the sake of everyone who has ever suffered from:

  • an aching hand from handwriting
  • injuries from typing on a manual typewriter
  • the strained eyes, headaches, and insomnia of the hundreds of millions who write on computers
  • and far more importantly, the consequences of ideas that had to be dragged through all this torment.

I wish I knew how to help this happen in even the smallest way. I want one of these things in my hands as soon as corporately possible.

[NOTE I learned that it is strictly backlighting that causes the eyestrain I feel with LCD screens, whether the backlight is fluorescent or LED (due to Pulse Width Modulation). See my topic on mobileread about this, Project: E-Paper Tablet (typable!).

darkness science

2011 January 25

Just came across these three entries in Wikipedia about the strange light that people often experience in darkness retreats:

Ganzfeld EffectPhosphenePrisoner’s Cinema

“Cinema” certainly coincides with my idea of the entertainment value of the light show in the dark. It is just the “hallucinations” that the Ganzfeld Effect entry describes.

But maybe hallucinations are not fabrications of consciousness after all. With enough time inside, I think it will become evident either way.

e-ink writing device - a plea

2011 January 20

EDIT: Success! Type on e-ink now using hacked B&N Nook Simple Touch, the open-source project I started at xda-developers.com.

Here is a letter I sent an e-ink reading device manufacturer.

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Andrew Durham
Date: Sun, Oct 10, 2010 at 18:49
Subject: a plea for an e-writer
To: sales@pocketbook-usa.com

Dear Ms Sergiyenko, Mr Bondarenko, and Mr Sheiman and everyone at Pocketbook around the world:

I have heard your devices will have typewriting functionality soon, and I want to express my bottomless support for your efforts to complete this task as soon as possible.

As a philosopher, health practitioner, designer–and a human canary in a coalmine–I cannot overstate how much I would like to type on a non-irritating machine. So: if your device can host a USB external keyboard so that I can use it as a typewriter, not just a reader, then I will buy it. Otherwise, not.

That’s a little blunt. But frankly, I am baffled that no e-ink device maker has figured out yet that their e-ink device will only go viral when it becomes writable out of the box–and I mean serious typing with a proper external keyboard for touch-typing. Why?

Because then the e-ink device can produce its own content, just like computers and cellphones, the other big viral devices of our time. With one program and a USB host, you could double the usefulness–and the thus value–of your device, yet sell it for the same price as other devices.

I like USB because it eliminates the complication of recharging the keyboard, problems with bluetooth reception, and the alarming irritation of wireless radiation. For all the same reasons, you would much improve the device with an ethernet port or a third USB port for use with a USB-ethernet adaptor. WiFi burns and numbs my hands when I have to use it. I know other people who experience this, too, some of them without necessarily realizing what causes it.

Why else would you make your reader typable? Because writers, whose numbers have exploded since the beginning of the web, have not had a psychically neutral medium for writing–one that holds perfectly still to the eye–since the typewriter. To take advantage of the wonderful tool of word-processing, we have had to look at screens that exhaust the eyes, alter the mind, and disrupt the emotions.

This is not just a bad combination for us writers. Too much of what is done in this culture is harmful. Nearly everything done today is first written about. If the machine we wrote with did not hurt us, it stands to reason that we writers would cause less harm to the world as well. More people would participate in the process of cultural creation with less difficulty and more psychic integrity. This is a radical proposition. For every writer there are a thousand readers. Every device you sell would support the freedom, self-determination and harmony of a thousand people.

In short, all the reasons for reading on an e-ink device apply a thousand times more to writing on one.

Please help us writers with what, in a subtle way, may be the most important invention since the personal computer. Give us a modern (word-processing) typewriter: sleek, humane. Do so, and I believe that, in the e-ink device competition, you will take a leading position. Do it well, and you might keep it.

With sincere hopes for your success, I am,

Andrew Durham

No reply as yet from Pocketbook, a company which has left multiple promises unfulfilled and many deadlines pass unremarked. FAIL.

However, another company, as yet unnamed, has responded positively to my idea. We’ll see how that goes. [2012 Jan 23 EDIT: this was with ctaindia.com. The effort failed in 2011 July due to my impatience with the guy’s lack of vision. Bad combo. No matter how much I explained it and how much he agreed it was a good idea, he’d always start in again with questions that began, “But what about…”]

http://noteslate.com is the advance marketing effort for an unproduced but extremely interesting e-ink device design which is “pencil” based and hyperconnected. Here is an unequivocal picture of their plans for typeability: http://noteslate.com/img/photo/gal/NoteSlate09.jpg (note the noteslate logo on the keyboard.) There is a small sketch of a keyboard with the noteslate in this photo: http://noteslate.com/img/photo/gal/NoteSlate11.jpg These are actually not photos, but photorealistic renderings of the design.

UPDATE (2012 Jan 23)
Success! See typable e-paper breakthrough, today’s blog post, above.

Now that we have proved the concept, I felt like unloading a little:

Other failures for the record: Jinke makes the Hanlin reader. We emailed for a few weeks in 2011 June about making a custom device for typing. The representative, Liumin, probably realizing I wasn’t some deep-pocketed entrepreneur, but just a homeless slob, sarcastically estimated development at $500,000. It was kind of disgusting. Today I was able to I let him know that my team proved the concept for $119. That was satisfying.

Then there was Edo-Tech. Apparently no one reads their email, but I finally I got a message through to them by guessing the management’s addresses. Got a hasty reply from the president. A couple emails later with the vice-president, the homeless slob was dead in the water again. They only work with market leaders in a given region. But they also could not even tell me where I could get one of their devices. Business is so strange.

wicked rest

2010 October 12

I have been playing with new names for this project. One that really strikes me is Wicked Rest. And here is a potential intro to the site with this name:

Wicked rest is what you get in a totally dark room. It is, finally, rest for the wicked, the tormented, the restless. It is automatic and foolproof as long as the room is set up properly. A couple weeks straight of wicked rest may also be sufficient to recover from the functional psychosis that characterizes the people of our culture, which may be what causes all our suffering—spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, social, and ecological. Below are three more formulations of this idea. The rest of the site provides elaborations upon and background for this proposition… (segue to three versions of the darkness conjecture).

Another word I like for a name is trapdoor. I think this gets closer to what I am trying to provide: a hidden door out of the otherwise seamless box of life in this culture.

(Update, 2011 Jan 30: What am I really offering here? What is the value of wicked rest or a trapdoor? These questions started bugging me after I wrote this post. So far the answer to the first question is, sanctuary. Asylum, refuge. Maybe one of these should be the name.)

I guess it does not really matter till I do the long retreat. Surely the correct name would come then. Vamos a ver (Let’s see).

2010 summary

2010 October 12

Long time, no news. Let me catch you up.

All spring I built a darkroom. I opened it in late May and 10 people got their first taste of darkness. All gave positive reviews. Common comments:

  • “I feel more myself.”
  • “I feel more in my body.”
  • “I feel more rested.
  • “I did not know how tired I was.”

Some saw light of varying durations and intensities. Many had intense dreams. All went through some version of the nice/rough/nice cycle I describe in five darkness experiences. I had an interesting time keeping the room going for them, bringing them food, not making too much noise upstairs.

The better rested a retreatant was in the beginning, the less affected by retreating he was. Several said they were just starting to get somewhere when their retreat ended. Those who felt major benefits did not really have time for the changes to become established. My conclusion was that people would benefit much more from longer retreats. About the same time, some noisy construction occurred at the house, so I closed the darkroom for improvements to make it suitable for longer retreats.

I also made a reasonable amount of money for my efforts and with an unusual degree of satisfaction. Businesswise, darkness retreating is very promising. The entire town knows about the darkroom and many are interested in going in. Word is getting out beyond the lake, even. Once I finish the room and do my own long retreat, there are 5-10 more people ready to do both short (3 day) and medium-length retreats (5-10 day). Wicked Rest Retreats (or whatever I’m going to end up calling it) has been a going concern from even before the room opened. Most of the first 10 retreatants made deposits on their retreats. And some of the depositors have not done their retreats yet. The proceeds allowed me to keep working on the room this spring until completion.

At first, I offered the retreats on a donation basis thinking it would be a cool way to do it. But I found myself thinking about money a lot more than necessary and expecting donations from people—very uncool. The donation model must be based on a genuine spirit of giving. I could not hack it. After one retreatant with lots of money donated very little, I got really annoyed and decided that simply setting a price would be better for me and everyone else, too. After that, I have had no dire problems with money. My scarcity habit will likely die hard, but something, at least, began to shift for me money-wise.

Recently, I have become very burned out from building, from being alone in the project (a bunch of friends left suddenly this summer). I have felt kind of shell-shocked from it all, weeping almost everyday for weeks. Living at the lake is very intense, especially near San Marcos, which is traditionally the spiritual/ceremonial center of the lake. In other words, even native people never lived here before. I’m across the lake at the moment, on one of my recent mini-vacations in San Pedro and Panajachel. I’m going back tomorrow to finish the new ventilation system. If I finish, and if beginning to sleep in the room helps me rapidly recover from my burn-out, I will continue working. Otherwise, I’m going to take a week vacation away from the lake.

Since closing the room, I have been living on some unexpected donations from my father, with whom I had a massive falling out three years ago about what the hell I’m doing with my life. Pretty ironic. But I’m glad he found a way to help me for awhile.

It has been a rigorous year. Not bad at all till the last few weeks. Let’s see what the next few days bring.

UPDATE: the 6-day retreats proved just as safe and more effective than the short retreats. In the first three days, the body rests from its exhaustion and relaxes from its tension. The next three days, these effects become more established while the organism delves into a pressing psychic issue.

One man said he used a certain method of introspection in darkness to clear out negative emotions. This worked for the first few days. Then he encountered something more than he could handle with the method, so he let go of it. When he woke up the next day, the issue was solved. That day he went home and got together with the woman he had desired for months.

It can happen.

love vs civilization

2010 October 11

Mayan youth, a quietly defiant demographic, have been playing “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna over and over. So I read the lyrics.


I hear a torturous description of true love colliding with a singularly unworkable culture, internally and externally. Perforce, most of us give up on, fail at, or get ruined forever by true love because we are already too shattered, and the social context necessary to maintain love is cynically absent. Only manageable and “sensible” relationships remain, being better than nothing. This song represents to me a blistering indictment of civilization, its inherent bankruptcy, and the thoroughgoing resignation and selling out that it demands and gets from all but a few, whose autonomy is not a theat. Like Sinead sang years ago, “They only laugh ‘cause they know they’re untouchable, not because what I said was wrong.”


2010 February 2

“My daughter will teach you our ways. Learn well, Jake Sully. Then we will see if your insanity can be cured.”

-Mo’At the shamaness in Avatar

My Maya neighbors asked me why I did what I did. I began my explanation with, “Sabe como todos los gringos son locos?” They always laughed and nodded.

superlight hypothesis

2010 January 15

For the record: when I finally succeed in spending two weeks in darkness, here is one thing I predict will happen.

I will access the dreamworld and see the light that pervades it. This light is called superlight. I believe it may be the subtle kind of light perceived directly by the pineal gland.

If so, then, superlight is food for the soul, just as the gross light of this dimension (sun, fire, star, northern, electric, etc) is food for the mind. Superlight is what floods consciousness from the inside out in moments of rapture and realization.

It is the light most of us are starved for and seek to replicate with technology, movies, computer screens, light shows at concerts, etc. That we do not see much of it is not a spiritual or moral shortcoming, but a physiological malfunction resulting from psychic injury.

(I believe this injury, by the way, resulted from the shock of incarnation on this planet after leaving the dimension and place in which many of people here were proficient. Earth is a crash-and-burn/trial-and-error planet. This makes more sense if you read the myth of three cultures.)

seventh failure!

2010 January 15

In mid-December, I made another serious attempt at a long darkness retreat. I thought I would try something different and keep it under wraps till it was over.

Across the lake, outside more populous San Pedro La Laguna, I rented what I thought was an appropriate house and bought supplies to darken it. The whole nine yards. Then the place turned out to be too noisy, cold, moldy, etc.

I spent all my money and a lot of energy. One of the first things I did afterward was write a long list of criteria any new space must meet before I spend a dime or minute on it. Then I returned to San Marcos to work and collect myself.

My new idea was that I will simply spend longer finding and preparing a place so that when it is finally time to begin, all I have to do is walk in, shut the door and turn of the light and everything will just work.

In the meantime, I would find a decent place to live (done! great housesitting job), decent work (done!), spend more time with the people here (doing it), and see to my immigration status in Guatemala, which I consider my home now.

Now cool developments have emerged since then. See my new post, serious darkness.

serious darkness

2010 January 15

Shortly after returning to San Marcos La Laguna from my seventh attempt at a long retreat in San Pedro La Laguna, several doors opened for me.

I was given a lovely house to sit for an indefinite time period. A friendly elder took stong interest in doing a darkness retreat, and then in the darkness project itself. Many people he talked to about it expressed interest in doing it. Then a suitable room for short retreats emerged. I have begun the minimal work necessary to prepare the room for retreats.

So basically, I almost have a going concern here. Amazing. Now it is much clearer what I can offer people related to darkness besides this free website: free talks, an affordable booklet made of the main content of this site, and short darkness retreats.

For years since my first retreat, I have had in mind to design and offer a proper eye mask for sleeping and resting in darkness. So this could come come next.

I think that with the intensified interest in the darkness conjecture that all of these services will generate, the opportunity for a long retreat for me will finally emerge.


2010 January 8

As I wrote before, I was overwhelmed by rapture when I was 15 for three months. When it began to fade, I wanted to know what had happened. What caused this feeling? Why did it fade away?

The short answer to this question just came to me: I went into remission. I had been suffering from complications arising from an earlier injury. As a result of the developmental surge during adolescence, the complications temporarily and partially cleared up. But the underlying injury remained unchanged. So when the surge abated, the complications returned and the feeling faded.

While I had answered these questions at length, I have not, until now, been able to put it in a single sentence. Recently an acquaintance asked me what was the answer to my original question. When I launched into my longer explanation, she lost interest, and I realized I needed to have a simpler answer. It occurred to me a bit later that the idea of remission would enable me to respond succinctly.

Wikipedia defines remission as “the state of absence of diseased activity in patients with a chronic illness, with the possibility of return of disease activity.” In my case, it was like an infected broken bone. If the injury is cleaned often enough, or if circulation is improved sufficiently, the infection can disappear. But if the bone is not set and immobilized correctly, healing of the basic malady will not occur and infection will return.

In this case, the infection is my inordinate suffering and problems. The break is the injury to my psyche that preceded the suffering and problems. The increased throughput of vital energy in my whole being during adolescence is the increase in circulation which temporarily and partially cleared up the infection.

atitlan report

2009 December 26

I’m sitting in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala, on the shore of Lake Atitlan in an internet “store”. It is just a painted cinder block room with a bare light bulb and four desks with computers. For 60 cents I can use the computer for an hour.

It is warm here. Everyone is out on the streets as Christmas Eve is a big deal here. Apparently the best way to celebrate it is with firecrackers. Very large ones. As often as possible. Small bombs, really. And the big show is tonight at midnight. Then I will sleep.

Speaking of the weather, the temperature here is the easiest thing to get used to. It hovers in the mid-seventies (21°C) all day. Last night it got really cold: 58 (14°C). Last week we had three cool days of rain. Very rare in December I hear.

The noise pollution is the hardest. It is like they were all born with earplugs in. It is hard for me to convey the intensity of the situation. My new house design fantasies involve caves dug deep into the side of the mountain behind several, thick, airtight doors. Maybe I can buy compressed air and just keep the valve open a little.

I have a job at the moment translating Spanish into English. Which is a joke, because I still speak Spanish only in infinitives in the present tense. However, there are automatic translation services online now that spit out very rough English versions of Spanish text. So I go through and make it intelligible. I know enough Spanish now to check it against the original. I get a whopping $1.80 for an hour of work. This is also how much a cheap hotel room costs here for a night. Truly, it is a foreign country here.

The people are wonderful. Period. Despite 500 years of various levels of European and American terrorism and extremely vigilant evangelism that continues to this very moment, the people still have the sense to carry, nurse, sleep with, and always be deeply connected emotionally to their babies. This is my only explanation for their near universal good natures (even the drunks lying face down in the street). Calm, relaxed, with a ready smile and time to ask your name and where you are from. It is an enormous blessing to be surrounded by a people who are like this.

When Mayans play basketball, they can hover over the court while shooting backwards. The crowd laughs as off-balance players dogpile into the children sitting at the boundary. The instant a period ends, tens of children dash onto the court with every kind of ball for 60 seconds of hoops and tag. Vendors ply parents with water and candy. And oranges, with whose peels mischief-makers hook me into a friendly food fight.

Wheelbarrows and handtrucks are a luxury here. Very young men two feet shorter than I carry twice their weight on their backs. It never fails to drop my jaw. A bag of cement is 90 pounds. I saw a man carry TWO on his back. I did a triple take then followed him to make sure I was seeing things correctly. The “cargadors” use a simple strap that goes over the forehead, then behind the back and under the load, which they secure against their bent-over backs with their arms. I think they must have the strongest necks in the world.

The mountains and lake continue to radiate their world-class beauty. I feel like the lake is where everything gathers, like I’m in the center of the world. The locals know they are a lucky and blessed people to live by this sacred lake, Atitlan. The volcanoes rise like three reticent and omnipotent gods from the south side of the lake, extending their protection to all who can see them. Really, they are the small children of a super-volcano whose crater now holds the lake. Seen this way, it is a little intimidating. It is the Mayan version of the fear of God, I suppose.

Well, Merry Christmas to you all there. Bundle up and sip an egg nog for me. When I get more settled here (still looking for a place to stay longer than a couple weeks), I hope you will come visit me. Tickets are very reasonable, as low as $124 one way, depending on departure city and date. For fun, check spirit.com.

meta-ethics of darkness

2009 November 8

On the metaphysics of self-preservation: “Consciousness, for those organisms which possess it, is the basic means of survival.” –Ayn Rand

This idea is one of the roots of the darkness conjecture. Our lives are so thoroughly screwed up because our consciousnesses is comprehensively impaired.

Generally, we try to use will—the most delicate part of the very faculty that is so damaged—to fix our problems. How is it working out for us? As a designer of the Los Angeles freeway system would later put it, “Each and every problem we face today is the direct and inevitable result of yesterday’s brilliant solutions.” If I were the left hand, I’d say the right hand’s bluffing.

Which is why I think it would be better to use will to provide the organism, including consciousness, the conditions it needs to heal itself autonomically, to do with ourselves as Rockefeller did with his company: “All I did was hire people who were smarter than me.”

so long, secret design

2009 October 28

secret design, the site I made in late 2001 to present my design for Tribal Housing and a bunch of writings that followed, closed Monday with the rest of GeoCities.

GeoCities was cool. I learned basic HTML by tweaking the code on my templated home page. I published a lot of my ideas. It helped me see the coherence in my thought and helped me communicate it to what seemed like a lot of people: tens, maybe hundreds.

Of course, WordPress and Blogger and posterous and so on are much better because they simplify things and make websites more powerful and cohesive. I would not go back to GeoCities. But it was cool. It hosted lots of sites with tons of rad information from the early days of the web boom. I hope the site owners migrated the data in time. I still have everything I wrote from then. If you do not see it on my “other writings” page, let me know and I will send it to you.


2009 October 23

For a long time, I have wanted to move to the tropics. It is warm, the people are not insane in the same way that they are insane here, and the food I would rather eat grows there. In short, the grass in Guatemala is not greener than it is here, but it is green year-round. I leave Nov 9.


2009 October 21

The strangest thing happened last night. I woke up with a strong sense of vertigo. I was having dreams of being way, way up high, of trying to cling to the flat surface I was spread-eagled on. When I woke up, the feeling persisted for a long time, with various high-up imagery to accompany it.

It is all coming from finally doing something I want to do: going to the tropics. I do not have money. I do not know anyone there. I do not even speak the language yet (started studying yesterday, though). But aside from all my grand ideas, my default vision for myself has, for a long time, included going there. It is like I have been huddled on the ground all this time, and now I’m climbing this crazy tower of my own desire. It has overwhelmed me in the past. It is still often scary lately, but sometimes now it feels exciting, like when I’m making arrangements for it, one after another.

I read in The Continuum Concept years ago that children who are held a lot when babies, like native people generally are, grow up without a fear of heights or agoraphobia. It is so odd now to feel it in connection with doing what I would like to do. It is as if people in this society, without necessarily knowing it, automatically stopped carrying around babies, especially with Victoria’s popularization of the stroller, in order to condition children to a future of not doing what they want to do, not daring, not being free. And should we begin to act from the heart again, a tidal wave of fear rises to discourage us.

A friend just said we should take this fear as a sign we are doing something right, but also to prepare.

site back online!

2009 October 17

8.17 – Ok, I got most of the content back up. It is still pretty rough around the edges. The look is temporary. Some links do not work. Pictures are missing. Some pages have funny bits of code visible. But at least the content is up. Will fix the rest soon.

(two previous posts:) 8.17 – I will have the site back up soon. Fortunately, before it crashed, I got a backup of everything. Watch for most important pages and blog posts to start going up tonight. I should finish with the details (photos) by Monday night at the latest. Thanks for your patience.

8.16 – My site was hacked. Please check back soon.

last failure

2009 October 17

Tonight, I report my sixth and last failure to arrange for a long darkness retreat. I made two business propositions to people, the dome and health proposals. But my heart was not really in them. The effort was putting too much pressure on me and the project. It needs no pushing. And so unconsciously, I made these proposals randomly so they would not get enough response.

The benefit of all this has been to become able detach from the retreat in a way new to me. In other words, I no longer feel the need to make it happen right away or as a direct function of my livelihood.

Now I will find some simple work and do the retreat on my own time. If it works, then other opportunities will arise naturally.

Above all, one must be some place. Cold weather has not made sense to me for a long time. Nor has the American way of life. So I traded in my expensive winter coat for a flight to Guatemala on November 9. I will find a group to volunteer with, then go from there.


2009 October 14

On the wish to recover:

There are two kinds of doing—automatic; and doing what you “wish”. Take a small thing which you “wish” to do and cannot do and make this your God. Let nothing interfere. If you “wish”, you can. Without wishing, you never “can”. “Wish” is the most powerful thing in the world. —G I Gurdjieff

natural hygiene 2.0

2009 October 11

So far, Natural Hygienists have said that toxemia is the cause of illness [NOTE: actually only some say this. See CORRECTION below], and that toxemia itself results from misinformed behavior. But how did this cycle get started? I do not think it just started out of the blue, as if otherwise healthy people started eating incorrectly and then lost their way. Something else had to have happened inbetween.

My first clue was how crazy illness is. Consider the lung cancer patient who keeps smoking or the overweight person who keeps eating junk food. What causes this craziness?

I think something hurt us very, very badly—worse than we typically imagine being hurt—and we never had a chance to recover. This makes us crazy. In my view, all our suffering and all the problems that attend it stem from this unhealed injury. In my approach, which I view as fundamentally Hygienic, we provide for the healing of this injury so that, with our newly recovered sanity, we can freely apply the more common Hygienic practices.

CORRECTION (2010.10.13): I was mistaken about the hygienic position on toxemia._ Fully informed hygienists actually hold that the basic cause of illness is _enervation, in this sense, the chronic over-expenditure or lack of energy). Toxemia is simply closely related.

I finally finished reading the super rad central text of Natural Hygiene, The Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene by Herbert Shelton. His clearest statement of this in the book is in the chapter on Rest and Sleep. The nine Laws of Life on which Hygiene is based are, in fact, largely about vital energy and the supreme and unsubstitutable intelligence with which the organism manages this energy. I had heard a little about the hygienic idea of enervation before, and it made sense to me. But later, a student of Hygiene whose views I overly regarded said that, according to Natural Hygiene, toxemia is the cause of all illness.

Enervation as the cause of all disease is an idea much more compatible with the darkness conjecture than mere toxemia. Enervation would naturally result from catastrophic, unhealed psychic injury. Enervation would, in turn, lead to toxemia and deficiency. Without energy, the body cannot clean itself out or deliver nutrients, whether the food is appropriate or not. The psychic injury would also explain the strange persistence of our obviously unhealthy lifestyles. Taking this persistence as “just how things are” instead of being part of the pathology itself, Hygienists have so far enjoined people to exert effort to overcome this persistence with willpower. Thus dependent on effort, a very unreliable foundation, success is correspondingly rare. (This position is useful, however, for maintaining the puritanical, self-righteous elitism that characterizes some Hygienists.)

Anyway, I knew there was some reason I liked Natural Hygiene. There is nothing like finding out things for oneself.

new pages - poems, ashers

2009 October 9

I have made two new pages of some older writings: my poems from 1992 to the present and a short memoir, The Ashers, a River, and I of a canoe trip I took as a boy with the Boy Scouts, my Scoutmaster, Jack Asher, and his wife, LaVerne, which I wrote for their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

health proposal live

2009 October 9

I’m now promoting my health proposal, starting on facebook. Though published, I was still editing it and working out some logistics. There is a lot more to do, but the basics are in place now.

new page - health proposal

2009 September 27

I just added a new page, health proposal, to the site. It is my latest attempt to apply the darkness conjecture with others in a self-supporting, mutually beneficial way.

The dome proposal was a good step because it offered value rather than just asking for donations (my earlier, futile plan). But it had three major problems.

One, I do not actually enjoy design and construction. It is an overly fascinating compulsion I’m weary of.

Two, putting up domes, though very cool, is secondary to my overall purpose of giving direct support to people’s well being.

Three, the proposal does not help put my research on a solid footing. What if the darkness retreat does not work as expected? Then I will have lost three more months, and be back at square one with maybe a couple hundred bucks with which to nurse my reopened wounds. I have never been able to make a living at design. Enough, already.

I would like to be able to support a family in a stable home; grow and eat good food; and have the time and support to actually help people with what I have discovered. I can easily do this for $10,000/yr, but not $1,500.

The conjecture has given me something tangible and coherent to work with. My two broken feet have given me the opportunity to stop my normal frenetic design activity and properly review my situation. I believe this proposal is more straightforward, and I look forward to your response.

ayn rand and bullcrit

2009 September 19

People commonly act knowledgeable about things they have never read, let alone studied. I think this habit arises from the amazing idea that all the data necessary to life is in and now it is just a matter of sorting it out and making a decision. This, of course, is opposite the darkness conjecture, which is based on the idea that we are always short of most of the data we need to live because consciousness, the faculty which collects this data, is damaged.

Anyway, here is a quote from an unusually honest piece in the establishment press about the ubiquity of this practice among media professionals. I noticed it because of its reference to one of my favorite writers.

Over dinner at a French restaurant in Manhattan—there were four of us—the subject of Ayn Rand came up, and the air was soon full of thoughtful remarks about “enlightened self-interest” and “the way Fascism and libertarianism meet each other halfway in her books.” Under subsequent mutual interrogation, we all confessed that Rand was among the authors we had always meant to read. One guilty diner tried to win the court’s sympathy by saying, “Well, my best friend in high school read everything Ayn Rand wrote.”

New York Magazine, 1989 Feb 6, “Bullcrit”, p44

(Of course, students of Ayn Rand’s work have known of this phenomenon in the media for a long time. If only she had just gone away like she was supposed to, it would have all worked out.)

darkness made simple

2009 September 15

I have a friend that I want to tell about my work. But she speaks only some English, and I became concerned my multisyllabism in the conjecture would make it too difficult for her to understand. So I just simplified it.


  1. We civilized people hurt in our spirits, minds, hearts, bodies, society, and world.
  2. This is because we are brain-damaged. This damage makes us crazy about the material world and blind to the also-real world of dreams.
  3. We are locked into acting like this because, when we were young, civilized people hurt us very badly and so we are always afraid of getting hurt again.
  4. With a lot of very deep sleep, our brains, like any part of the living body, can heal from this hurt.
  5. Staying in a totally dark room for a couple weeks straight makes this kind of sleep possible.
  6. Once our brains heal, then our lives fill up again, our hurting stops, and we can let go of our problems.

Writing it was fun. And a couple interesting things came up.

One, there is something I should clarify. My use of the word, brain, should not be taken to mean I believe consciousness can be reduced to the physical brain or the intellect. I’m using it is a very general way to refer to consciousness.

Two, something unexpected came out of the last point: “Once our brains heal, then our lives fill up again, our hurting stops, and we can let go of our problems.”

This undermines the conventional view of the relationship between our suffering and our problems. Normally, we think that we suffer because of our problems. While paraphrasing. I realized that both our problems and our suffering result equally from our impaired consciousness. They co-arise, so they are reciprocal. Which is why our problems sometimes seem to result from our suffering. In fact, we just notice one first.

This does help explain the absurd and needless character of most of the problems we face in civilization. Like Tracy Chapman sang back in ‘88:

Why do the babies starve
When there’s enough food to feed the world?
Why when there are so many of us
Are there people still alone?
Why are all the missiles called Peacekeepers
When they’re aimed to kill?
Why is a woman still not safe
When she’s in her home?

What if we work as hard as we do everyday in order to maintain the illusion of our problems’ stubbornness? I mean, come on. On some level we all know the nonsense we face everyday is unnecessary.

Sometimes people have frozen in response to my criticisms of civilization, especially after I have demolished their cardboard defenses of it. Sometimes all they can do is ask perfectly insane questions like, “But if we stop, how will we clean up the messes we have made?” Or, “What will we do with all the people who make their livings by doing things they hate?”

It is irrelevant that nearly every individual and every small group of people I have ever met or even heard about expressed strong willingness to deal with their parts of our situation. It is irrelevant that for decades, countless alternative engineers, designers, economists, saints, mothers, indigenous elders, farmers, politicians, etc, have demonstrated the viability of alternatives to this lifeway’s ubiquitous violence and stupidity. It is irrelevant that together we have the money and resources to pay for the necessary changes thousands of times over. We do not need to know the answers to the above questions before we stop doing obviously senseless and destructive things. “First, do no harm,” Hippocrates advised us. This means that if we find ourselves doing harm, we are to stop.

With the conjecture, I am saying, let us not just stop. Let’s put down the impossible burden we bear, too. In our current state, we can only do harm our daily lives. We’re not qualified for anything else. Our psychology will drive us to it again and again. In perpetual fear, we will only recreate fearful circumstances.

Rather than more fear, let us allow love, in the form of the organic processes of self-healing, to take over for awhile. Spiritual adepts for millennia have told us that the pursuit of pleasure is futile because as we are, we suffer. Immeasurably. Momentary pleasures cannot change that. Furthermore, sages say we cannot, for the time being, change how we are. And so suffer consciously, they say. The only way out is through.

Similarly, they have said that we suffer because we are asleep to the splendorous reality of life. Or blind to it. Suffering are all we are capable of as long as we sleep. So let us sleep! But sleep consciously, literally, and fully, until finally, we wake up again.

first incoming link

2009 September 14

Well, I got my first incoming link today* from entitled to an opinion, a droll, well-written blog on contemporary social and political issues. The author just wanted an ad-free copy of Origins of Agriculture by Greg Wadley and Angus Martin and found one here. Random, but strangely exciting.

[*edit: in fact, this link occurred 1 1/2 years ago; I only just noticed it now that I’m using wordpress. Before, I just had a static html website and zero awareness of things like incoming links. Now, with WordPress, I’m starting to learn to manage this site properly. Thanks, TGGP.]

conjecture's sixth point

2009 September 13

I just added a sixth point to the darkness conjecture (see original version in basics).

Until now, I have left it out because it is implied by the first five. But I cannot stop wondering if it is really all that clear to folks, so here it is:

  1. Healed consciousness clears the way back to a full life, dispelling our inordinate suffering and absurd problems.

The suffering I am speaking of is not just the suffering we acknowledge, but also the suffering we have so deeply resigned ourselves to that it no longer counts among us as suffering. For us, it’s just how life is; get used to it.

For example, degenerative disease, such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, AIDS, heart disease, Crohn’s. Every kind of psychic illness: depression, schizophrenia, paranoia. Disease is not inevitable. Though at some point in every illness, death becomes certain, it is usually much farther along than medicine tells us. I do not care what you suffer from, you can heal, more rapidly and thoroughly than you can believe.

Frailty in old age. Perennial family conflict. The struggle just to make a living. Taxes. Wars of conquest sold as self-defense. Lying politicians. The boredom, hatred, and dread of schoolchildren, prisoners, soldiers, and employees. Homelessness. Famine, poverty, crime. Addiction and self-destructiveness of every kind. Basically, the noise all of us learn to turn down because it seems impossible to deal with. Yes, that is the suffering I’m talking about.

Every one of us has had moments of rapture, when the world appeared as paradise. In the conjecture, I am saying that these were moments of lucidity: clear awareness of the world as it truly is; that this awareness can be restored; that it will wipe out the suffering we have resigned ourselves to. Despite everything that has been drilled into us by school and church, by doctors and the state, by television and jobs, this is the world that can be lived in day in a day out, not just in rare moments.


2009 September 9

I wonder if it is earlier in the process of realizing this idea than I thought. Maybe it needs more development. Usually, when I have an idea, I rush it into production. And it has not really mattered before because everything was part of a massive survey of information. I only needed a rough test of something to catalog it and move on.

But this is different. Of course I have ideas about the best way to apply this, but I do not actually know. The idea is so big it could be applied in any of a million ways. Maybe the thing to do is solicit help from people I know to develop the idea rather than apply it directly with them right away. Maybe I’m in an early stage of marketing.

Part of what has driven me before is not knowing where I was going to sleep or what I was going to eat in the meantime. It drives me still. Not having the ability, with my feet broken, to fall back on some form of craftsmanship to support myself steps up my level of necessity to break through. It makes me think I need to develop/produce the darkness idea faster, that there must be some way right now to apply it profitably for all concerned. It is very confusing.

The next few days will tell, I guess. Boy.

darkness proposal

2009 September 4

Having just written a big hairy proposal to build a straw bale dome, it occurred to me that there may be a suitable building out there I could use. The main thing, after all, is the darkness retreat itself. So, if you have or happen to know of a small, round, building in a quiet place that I could use for about a month, then I would pay rent or work in exchange for its use rather than build a whole building from scratch. Please let me know.

william arthur evans

2009 August 26

I would like to share a bit of the background of the darkness conjecture by discussing the work of an early psychobiologist, William Arthur Evans. Evans wrote about the emotional origin of all illness. He had a practice in Dallas, Texas, and eventually, a school.

Due to his astonishing success with patients, he received a subpoena from the US Food and Drug Administration (funny how that works). He knew of and sympathized with Wilhelm Reich, the great somatic psychotherapist and researcher. Reich had recently died in federal prison while being persecuted by the FDA for similar reasons. Evans, lacking a victim complex to fulfill, left for England within a week, never to return. Thus we do not know who Evans was.

We do, however, know of his student, L Ron Hubbard, who lifted Evans’ achievement wholesale; fabricated some new vocabulary; emphasized the religious side of his teacher’s project; and, apparently, went around acquiring and burning copies of Evans’ books to hide the source of Scientology and Dianetics.

I learned this from Sterling Voss, an old friend and diligent researcher. He found some of Evans’s books and lent them to me.

Evans cogently describes the existence of intelligence and feeling in each cell of the body. As the unit of life, it is the micro-scale building block of everything experienced on the conscious level. Cells are commonly observed to respond intelligently to their environment. What we experience as our intelligence and feeling is the integrated sum of the intelligences and feelings of our trillions of cells.

Like whole human beings, cells are conditioned by experience to feel a certain way. In our lifeway, that often means depression: frustrated anger arising from fear from pain from injury, often unjust. It varies within a narrow range, depending on circumstances. This persistent, pathological emotional state leads eventually to all disease.

He illustrates the idea like this: A man complains of a nausea in the morning and explains it by saying he ate too much the night before. Evans’ singular question is: But why did the man eat too much?

Only the persistence of emotional habit explains the man’s acting against what he already knew to be his best interest. Thus, the material habits of eating, sleeping, exercising, bathing, breathing, etc, all become the handmaidens of emotions. It is true, for example, that more than a very small amount of fatty food toxifies the body and thus should not be eaten. But as long as a given set of habituated emotions is running its course in response to accustomed circumstances, the person involved will end up eating too much fatty food over and over, no matter what he learns or tries.

Can improved material habits lead to clarity of emotion? Temporarily, yes. But without further discipline and guidance, the process of purification and reconditioning will eventually break down. By force of will, the man can cut back on fat. But then he becomes absent-minded, or an asshole, or especially nervous, etc. Any of these can lead to other kinds of illness or injury of the same intensity and play the same role in his unconscious drama. In other words, the being will make an internal compensation and remain fundamentally unchanged.

Before reading Evans, I had thought that material factors of health and disease were the main causes of disease. This is the superheroic emphasis of contemporary culture and of Natural Hygiene alike. Through my former spiritual teacher, I had also learned Gurdjieff’s methods of self-study. In using these methods, I would sometimes experience profound physical and psychological relief. The experience of health deriving from clarity of consciousness began to repeat itself in me. But I found it difficult to reconcile these two ideas about the causation of suffering.

Evans’ work provided the missing link in what I had begun to imagine as a cycle of illness. While material causes of health or disease cannot be ignored if ones health is to be fully restored, the basic effect of these factors on health is determined by emotion. For Evans, this insight was enough. He was a master at helping ordinary people rapidly untangle the associations of their emotions and memories. Thus he was able to help people effect spontaneous healings on a regular basis. This likely killed local medical business, drawing the ire of the FDA, probably through the American Medical Association. Thank you, Mr Rockefeller.

Having studied Ayn Rand and Gurdjieff (and a little E J Gold), I knew that emotions themselves are products of thought. Specifically, they are artifacts of feelings reanimated by thought. Evans well understood this. But in my growing view, thought was, in turn, a function of the spiritual dimension of the human organism. “Neti, neti,” as the Hindus say: Not this, not that.

Presently, I intuited a long chain of causation of illness. It also connected to social breakdown and ecological destruction. Yet I was puzzled by the sense that all these causes seemed to exist on the same level. I had thought for a long time that the spiritual determines everything else, but this idea was also getting old to me. The work involved to make it true seemed too much. Being a designer, ie, a lazy person, I could not believe it. Maybe all these causes were co-arising. Reciprocal, quasi- causes. A single deeper cause must be at work.

This idea of a deeper cause of health, catalyzed by Evans, mixed into my experiences with darkness, spiritual practice, design, and diet. It led, a year later, to the darkness conjecture*. In the conjecture, the six main kinds of human suffering are viewed as co-arising. That is, they appear to cause each other, but actually derive from impaired consciousness and its immediate effect, psychosis. The spirit becomes dim, the mind bored, the heart numb, the body fatigued, society brittle, and the ecosystem stressed, because so many peoples’ consciousnesses are actually broken. Damaged. Wounded. The majority of available data is missed, suppressed, or misinterpreted automatically long before will (ie, volition, reason, choice) comes into play. Failures, deficiencies, and distortions result in the rest of the human system, individually and collectively. These dysfunctions renew existing cultural problems until it exhausts itself in total collapse. Survivors, more damaged than ever, begin the long, slow, “glorious” work of rebuilding toward the same end.

But the organism in darkness can break this cycle before it reaches its inevitable external end.


*I read Human Technology and Introduction to Human Technology, which are out of print and very rare. However, a couple of Evans’ other books have recently returned to print. See abebooks.com. Also, I mentioned Evans and Gurdjieff before in a sketch of a piece I didn’t finish before it led to the conjecture and then hygienic dark retreat.

darkness, take 6

2009 August 26

My 5th attempt to arrange for a darkness retreat has failed. So tonight I start my 6th attempt.

I began putting the word out that I need a location and a provider of funds for materials. The new retreat building will be made of straw bales, so unlike the plysphere design, I cannot build it first and find a location afterward. Also, I do not know if I will stay wherever I build the thing, so I need someone who wants it afterward, someone who would pay for the materials beforehand.

The cost should roughly equal the plydome estimate: $600. This is for straw bales, twine, 15 sheets of 3/8 CDX plywood for a roof and gas to haul urbanite (for a foundation) and sand (for the cob plaster).

I aim to either succeed or fail thrice more by year’s end. Plus leave the states for warmer climes because I prefer warmth, yummy fruit and Latin-Indigenous culture. Central/South America, anyone?

soundproof dome

2009 August 20

The dome must be soundproof, not just sound-dampened. Enough bad experiences with noise and enough reflections by other people have finally gotten it across to me. Sound, to a lesser but still significant degree than light, will sufficiently stimulate consciousness’s fixation on the gross dimension. How much? Maybe enough to ruin a test of the conjecture. I’m not going to take that chance.

As much as I’d like to build it, the plysphere mentioned before will not meet this new qualification. Furthermore, attempting the retreat in or near the city is also now out of the question.

Soundproofness, like other standards the conditions of this first test will meet, may prove non-essential. I hope so. But I will not know till I go through the test first.

Another project I heard about in the spring got me thinking of a corbeled straw bale dome with cob plaster and, like i did with a friend in 2007, a conic roof of canvas. The design is very simple, fast, and cheap, and would work well for the retreat. I’m working on a model right now. Pics soon.

This also means I need a new source of funding for the dome, and a new, quiet location in the country. Maybe they’d like this at the Possibility Alliance and I should try again there.

We’ll see. I’m glad to have finally seen the need for soundproofness before building something.

What else am I missing?

situation report 090811

2009 August 11

If you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this culture remain unknown to you, then I would suggest you allow this post to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I invite you to avail yourself of the vivifying veracity of these volumes:

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins A former perpetrator explains the precise mechanism of American imperial activity abroad. Not the greatest, but the most important book I have read in years.

The New Pearl Harbor Revisited by David Ray Griffin, PhD A relentless, unanswerable, comprehensive exposé of Cheney’s bombing of the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001, and the ensuing cover-up.

more by Dr Griffin: video 9/11 and the American Empire interview What Really Happened on September 11?


2009 August 11

I came up with a new word for the process of inducing psychosis: psychosagenesis. This concept, I realized shortly afterward, is identical to the process of civilization. To civilize someone is to induce psychosis in him.

To induce psychosis in someone, just traumatize him thoroughly. Violently injure him. Do it physically and psychically, repeatedly, relentlessly, in diverse circumstances and by various methods until something deep inside him gives way. His will? His integral awareness? His spirit, joy, and values? All these things. Now he is left with the peculiar sort of psychosis that makes it possible to function inside the machine that hurt him so badly. Civilization is thus both the process of causing psychosis and the collective embodiment of that psychosis.

Other words for or related to this include: zombification, mass hypnosis, walking wounded, living dead, coffee-drinking nation, got milk, beef: it’s what’s for dinner, idiocracy, sleeping world, matrix, “they”. I will add more as they occur to me. Send your suggestions.

This is the most damning description of civilization I can come up with. All it takes to make the meaning of it palpable is to go into a darkroom for a couple of days and experience the contrast between being rested and living as a functional psychotic in the uncomfortable and vague dream that is modern life.

Note the light pollution nearly everywhere that prevents normal sleep. I read a little bit today about delta brain waves. An EEG machine will record mostly delta waves during deep sleep, when the healing quality of sleep is most active. Modern life systematically prevents this kind of sleep through ambient urban light, light leakage around doors, LED indicators on machines, LCD alarm clocks, and night lights. The reason we are metaphorically asleep as people and as a society is that we are sleep-deprived.

Edison’s invention was the logical consequence of 10,000 years of violence against humanity.

Now, is everyone in civilization psychotic? Yes, everyone. Even the realized masters of various spiritual traditions. Why?

“God” is the civilized concept for the subtle and conscious aspect of Universe. This concept is a way to expose civilized people to the subtle dimensions of reality, yet through an avenue effectively controlled by hierarchical traditions. It is as if we have been imprisoned in a cell where we are constantly tortured. Then someone—a realized person—drills a small hole through the wall of the cell and says, “Look, there is god.” But he stands there controlling access to it. He will be happy to teach you to drill your own hole through the wall, too. Sometimes, in heightened states, he can make the walls disappear. He is psychotic because he has accepted the necessity of the cell walls, just as he has acquired, by immense force of effort, the ability to dissolve them at will.

The truth, of course, is that the subtle dimension pervades the universe just as the gross one does. It is accessible at every point, every moment, even inside a cell. The blinders are inside one’s knowing, in the psychosis of each of us. They will remain there until we inside the cells appreciate the opportunity to relax into its darkness and finally heal from them. The torture will continue whether this relaxation takes place or not. One has lasted this long. One can last a bit longer.

sphere bid

2009 July 23

Here is my quick bid for the direct costs of building the sphere.

  • body and awning:
    • 1/4″ BCX plywood, 15 sheets @ 18.50 = 277.50
    • 130 machine screws, nuts, fender washers, = 5.00
    • linseed oil, 1 gal = 20.00
    • turpentine = 15.00
  • stand
    • 2x4x8′, 8 boards @ 2.50 = 20.00
    • metal stakes, 5 @ 2.00 = 10.00
  • floor
    • 1/2″ CDX plywood, 3 sheets @ 13 = 39.00
    • 2x4x10′, 8 boards @ 3 = 24.00
    • deck screws = 5.00
  • door:
    • 1/2″ CDX plywood, 1 sheet @ 13 = 13.00
    • 2x4x8′, 1 board @2.50 = 2.50
    • deck screws = 2.00
  • tools:
    • circular plywood blade = 10.00
    • bits = 15.00
    • misc tools & supplies = 20.00
  • total: $478.00
  • time to completion: 3 weeks
  • other necessary components, cheap or free:
    • humanure composting toilet
    • convection ventilation system
    • food cooler
    • water dispenser
    • bed
    • inversion swing
    • chin-up bar

If you feel moved to contribute in any way to the purchase of materials, the fabrication, assembly, outfitting, and occupation of the sphere, please write me.

spheres for darkness retreats

2009 July 4

Where should one do a darkness retreat?

For a few years, I have thought: a dome. Sphere-based structures, such as geodesics, conics, hexayurts, superadobe domes, allow lifeforce to flow. Thus they are very conducive to rest. They also provide an energetic shield against the psychic influence of this culture. In my architectural experiments, I have experienced this first hand. These kinds of building feel different because they are different.

I mean different from square buildings, of course. Having observed the effects of square shapes on myself and others for many years, I have concluded that rectilinear geometry does not serve resting and healing well. This is because we rest to allow an inflow of vital energy and squares do not let subtle energy flow. Squares halt, concentrate, and focus lifeforce. The square is a manifesting shape. Thus it can be good for productive activity such as work and spiritual practice (and then only if you know what the hell you are doing and are committed against becoming a black magician). In any case, the square disrupts and deforms passive activities. Thus resting and recreating in them is—how shall I put it?—significantly less than excellent.

Should the darkness conjecture prove true, then the energetic field generated by small groups of healed and sympathetic people can mitigate the effects and vulnerabilities of square buildings. Initially, however, a round shape is critical.

I found especially interesting David Wilcock‘s comments in 2012 Enigma on an organic geometrical transformation that occurs when traversing the dreamworld. Apparently the conscious shift from spacetime to timespace is accompanied by a change from an icosahedral to a dodecahedral shape in the water molecules inside the pineal gland.

This kind of thing naturally appeals to my geeky designer-brain, with which I have been toying with Platonic solids and spherical trigonometry for the past few years. So, for the retreat, I’m going to build a pure icosahedral Self-Strutting Geodesic Plydome.

18 ft geodesic plydome, shows construction method
18 ft geodesic plydome, 2v triacon

Except I will make a whole sphere rather than just a dome. We may even hang it by ropes from the large surrounding trees in the backyard. It will be 12 feet in diameter and cost roughly $600 (exact breakdown to come) in materials and be extremely interesting to build.

12 geodesic plydome, size I intend to build, except without conical cap
12 ft plydome, 1v

My roommates, who are grateful for the copious work I have done around the house, have expressed interest in keeping the sphere as guest quarters. One roommate might abscond with it to land he intends to buy in the fall. So they have offered to cover the cost of materials. What is not covered in the meantime are my other expenses: food, bike parts, laundry, etc, at about $200/month.

I also feel dubious about being subjected during the retreat to the noises in this neighborhood, which is the local hunting grounds for KCMO’s well-funded, racist police. This is not necessarily a problem because the sphere can be moved fairly easily if an idyllic countryside location opens up. Then again, this neighborhood might be the ideal location, given the radical nature of the retreat. We’ll see.

The dome, food, and continuing to serve my household: so far these constitute my plan and wishlist. So various opportunities for participation in the project exist for interested parties. I would very much appreciate help if you feel moved to give it. Somehow, somewhere, and for the sake of all beings everywhere, especially on Earth, and especially this being, I will lie down in darkness for two weeks.

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
–Richard Buckminster Fuller

design bonanza

2009 July 4

Still here in Kansas City, MO. It is design bonanza day due to my friend’s computer’s webcam, which is an absurd but effective way of taking pictures. (edit: I retook 3 photos with a real camera. More photos soon.)

Anyway, the hexayurt’s up! I’m moved in and basically, it is beautiful.

hexayurt front, with screen door (blue tape is screen repair, and yes, that’s an impala). 6’ hexayurt ( 1’ extra height), plywood walls, OSB roof under salvaged asphalt roofing

hexayurt from back

Between my obsessiveness about details, the non-uniform, dirty, salvaged materials, and my funny toolset, it has taken way longer than expected. These things can be built in a few days if you just follow instructions. C’est la vie. The hexayurt now has provisional solid and screen doors. It still needs shelving.

I racked my brains for three days over the design of the hexayurt’s experimental “flat octet truss” floor:

It was worth it, though. I’d been imagining it for a few years and finally had a chance to build it. It is much lighter than a conventional 2×4 or 2×6 joist floor. It is springy and will work nicely in the dome.

Now that I’m sleeping in it, I’m keeping electricity out of it. This is due partly to the influence of the Hughes, who make such excellent candles. I am using an oil lamp:

uses any vegetable oil or biodiesel

I developed it in April in Seattle for Marcus’ Martini Heaven, the Pioneer Square bar of my hard rocking high school friend, Steve Alexander.

Recently I built a solar shower out of a 5-gallon bucket.

solar shower bucket

A black planting bucket fits perfectly inside and heats up the water in the sun. A salvaged piece of tempered glass (framed in blue masking tape) traps the heat. A 3/8″ OD polyethylene tube comes out a 5/16″ hole toward the bottom to give a 12-minute warm shower. In use, the bucket rests on a chest-high platform I built above the tub in the bathroom. An upside-down bucket in the tub provides a seat. Our water runs cold and only to the sinks, so this baby has much improved our quality of life for the price of the tubing ($2).

Also I built a compost tumbler for humanure out of a plastic 55-gallon barrel. It uses my first toggle latch.


These latches totally fascinate me. However, I’m not sure the tumbler is going to work for all the humanure collected over the last six months (!), so we’ll build a three-bin shed in the backyard that will also act as a fence. Maybe the tumbler can go in front for food scraps. It will rest on a frame with four skateboard wheels to spin on.

The ever-snapping clothesline stays up finally and folks are keeping the house a lot cleaner. Three guests left, two disgruntled roommates moved out, and a smart, funny guy moved in, so things are running smoothly right now. I hope his somewhat resembles a “life that already works well in other ways” (see midwest bound post). I’m super grateful for the welcome, friendship, and shelter of the young KC crew. What is youth? The absence of resignation.

Oh, look. It is the 4th of July.

kansas city

2009 May 28

I’m in Kansas City, Missouri now, pursuing an unexpected opportunity to build a spherical geodesic plydome and retreat into darkness. Should take a month or two to prepare. We’ll see!

The Possibility Alliance was relaxing and useful, but ultimately the folks there were not open to my doing a darkness retreat there anytime soon. Best wishes to the Hughes and everyone there. Worth the trip, for sure.

In KC, I have been helping around the home of some groovy peeps who needed some plumbing and a bike rack. Next, 6′ hexayurts for myself and a couple other guys because they’re so cheap, elegant, and quick to build. Then the plysphere and darkness!


2009 April 26

I have decided that the darkness retreat must be embedded in a life that already works well in other ways. So I am going to the midwest next week to stay at the Possibility Alliance, which I have mentioned before. After languishing in Eugene for six weeks following my first failed attempt at a long darkness retreat, and exploring options here in Seattle for a month, it is clear my own happiness must become a priority. I cannot wait until the completion of a darkness retreat. And I cannot hope that anyone will really understand this before I complete one.

I really appreciate the comments and support various people have given me since I stumbled out of the darkness in February. Boy, what a strange couple of months it has been!

I have been printing up a booklet of this site’s contents in order to send it to people who have supported me in the past. If anyone would like one, let me know.

In other news (ha), I just finished reading a long strange mushroom trip of a book by Daniel Pinchbeck called 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. Here is an applicable quote: “It may be that the only way to survive the Apocalypse is to undergo it, first, within your own being.”

new page - psychosis

2009 March 3

I just wrote a new page, psychosis. It describes the insight I had on Christmas, 2008 which led to the darkness conjecture.


2009 February 27

I’m collecting myself after my first failed attempt at a long darkness retreat. It only lasted two days, not two weeks as planned. I underestimated the need for quiet and chose a room that proved too noisy.

Thus I now seek a separate, finished building, preferably with a bathroom. I would need as much as a week to prepare it before heading in for 14 days.

If anyone has or knows of a such a finished building; or has any other thoughts, please let me know. I can travel.

it's not mine alone

2009 February 24

I have long felt like I could not impose the demands of my quest on others, could not trouble them with it. But today, it occurred to me that my quest is not really just mine. There are plenty of people who are in the same boat as I, having declined/rejected/imploded the roles we were offered in this cancerous culture.

As I began to nod my head, I thought, like me, they look for a viable alternative. They would be glad to participate in it if they thought it might work. Just like me, they feel they have nothing to lose. Maybe they have nothing better to do, either.

It is not for me to decide whether you participate in this. It is not mine alone.

Besides, the darkness conjecture is just a sketch of a hypothesis. It needs fleshing out and further testing. I make no promises, only a reasonable case for it. I am not bringing a revelation from the mountain, just a sketch of it from the plain. I would like to go there one day. Maybe you are headed that way, too.

I think of the group as a family, a research family. We would be a band of refugees from the death-culture, explorers of the future, looking together for a bridge to a human way of life. Each of us has different aptitudes and sensibilities, all of which are necessary to arrive at a genuine solution to the problem we all face: inordinate suffering.

Here is something about the money part of it that some friends, Ethan and Sarah Hughes, have demonstrated: that the group immediately begin freely serving other people. It is not about making money. If I still worry about making money, it is because my material expectations are too high. If the conjecture is a good idea and if we approach it well enough, it will be supported. This has been the Hughes’ experience, which they saw modeled in Peace Pilgrim’s life and many others. I have seen it, too. Who hasn’t, really? Generosity is infectious.

So rather than soliciting funds, we solicit opportunities to serve. One idea I had is to darken people’s bedrooms with free reusable materials. Or to set up free darkrooms, portable or permanent, for neighborhoods or groups. Perhaps our own experiences in darkness would eventually inspire us as a radical theatre troupe or guerrilla gardeners. Or we could walk down streets banging pots and calling out to people for their sick. I do not know. Like everyone, I have a mostly untapped genius that could flow in many different directions.

My only possible conflict is I also wish I lived in a warmer place with yummy fruit and saner people, but maybe I’m not special in this regard, either.

To begin, I guess I will give a free talk somewhere soon. And there is more to say than what I have put up so far. Let me know if you would like to be there.


2009 February 23

I think I’ve theoretically solved all the problems in the world with this idea. Sorry it took so long, and thanks for coming.

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