|Perfect Killer |
|How My Imagination Came True, Again!||Dr. Gabriel's Afterword||Critical Acclaim||Books 'n Blues|
|Southern Novel Wrapper in a Thriller||Related Links||Defense Therapeutics||Castello Da Vinci
||Sunflower County Freedom Project|
|Lew's Photos of Mississippi (2002)
||1973 article from The Nation
||Bibliography||National Military Families Association||The Mississippi Center for Justice|
Q. Where did you get the idea for this drug, Xantaeus?
A. Military scholar, and historial Richard Gabriel mentions a class of drugs called "nondepleting neurotrops" in a chilling work called No More Heroes: Madness and Psychiatry in War (Hill & Wang; Reissue edition, April 1, 1988, ISBN: 0809015390).
In this book, Gabriel makes clear that this class of drug is the pharmaceutical Holy Grail of warfare, something that can turn the average soldier into an awesome, special-forces-like killing machine that could increase the average unit's killing efficiency by 300 to 400 percent.
Producing such a is a high priority for the Department of Defense.
See excerpts from No More Heroes, at the end of this Q&A,
Q. Is there evidence that the U.S. military has conducted secret medical tests on soldiers and civilians? Can you offer some examples?
A. There are many such examples, the most prominent of which are the shameful Tuskegee syphilis experiments and the "atomic soldier" tests. In addition, other tests have been made public including the tests of LSD and bacteria releases for germ warfare experiments. There is no way to know the extent of activities still kept secret.
Q. Is there such a military unit as the Technical Escort Unit?
Q. Were there actually German prisoner of war camps in Mississippi?
A. Yes. All of the historical data, the rational for establishing the camps and the existence of a camp near Belzoni are true. I’m pretty sure the parts about the secret medical experiments at Belzoni are fiction. But, then, there’s no proof of that either.
Q. Surely you made up all that stuff about the Transdermal Nutrient Delivery system. Right?
A. Wrong. The TDNDS is currently undergoing tests at Natick Army Base with deployment possible in the near future. The TNO Pharma is a vital part of the plan as is the work on real-time biosensors to monitor warfighter vital signs. The use of microprocessor-controlled and remote wireless delivery of substances is actively being pursued.
Q. How did the recent re-opening of the Emmett Till case affect your writing?
A. It didn’t. Perfect Killer was finished before the case was re-opened. I was much more influenced by the successful re-opening of the Medgar Evers case and by my experience of working for Mississippi Governor Bill Waller (now on the state supreme court) who courageously prosecuted Evers’ assassin twice despite death threats and the immense pressure from the segregationist democratic party apparatus. Despite his courage, the best Waller could get was a hung jury from all-white panels. The fact that the juries hung rather than acquitted is testament to Waller and to the inherent goodness in the hearts of many Mississippi whites.
Q. Is there really a "quantum theory" of consciousness or did you make that up?
A. Yes. The top center for studying this is the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona. The leading proponent of quantum consciousness theory are Sir Roger Penrose OM (born August 8 1931), an English mathematical physicist. highly regarded for his work in mathematical physics, cosmology and a key theorist about black holes (along with his partner in this, Stephen Hawking, http://www.fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/space.html)
Q. Why did you choose "free will" as the underlying backbone of deeper substance in Perfect Killer?
A. Because intentionality, the ability to make a choice and the necessity of living with the consequences of choice underpin all of human relations from marriage and friendship to the criminal justice system. Additionally, the politically correct yet scientifically incorrect notions of orthodox biology and psychology have undermined the significance of free will and personal responsibility. Just as classical Newtonian physics has been proven wrong so many times by quantum physics, I wanted to set the record straight with regard to free will and how the old, classical view has been supplanted by the new.
Q. Your characters in Perfect Killer have a variety of mental dysfunctions ranging from coma to psychosis and outright homicidal mania. Why?
A. Because we learn so much about something when things go wrong. And because we are fascinated and horrified when serious things go wrong with our minds. With other animals and systems, we can intentionally tinker with things, alter a part of a system and study the effects to see what it does. This is obviously not ethical to do with human beings. Thus, volumes have been written about various mental, perception and consciousness issues all deduced from damage to particular areas of the brain.
In addition, one of the theories in Perfect Killer is that we are all incapacitated in some way or another in our ability to perceive, think and decide. In other words, our brains (the meatware) are analogous to computer hardware. We all have different hardware configurations that vary from one person to another in their ability to perform specific functions. Thoughts, motivations and the decision-making process are like software which will run better on some meatware and worse on others.
This concept is why I chose a spectrum of mental dysfunctions. The spectrum allowed me to explore the implications of decisions made by each character and how each character was able or unable to overcome their own meatware limitations in making decisions.
If Penrose and Hameroff and others in the field of quantum consciousness are correct, our consciousness derives from and has quantum connection to the space-time continuum – the very fabric of the universe and of reality itself.
Q. You describe a "Locked-In Syndrome" which is truly horrifying. Surely you made that up?
A. Unfortunately, no. See the National Institutes of Health site on this.
Q. Why is quantum consciousness likely to be more valid than the classical view?
A. To begin with, studying consciousness is a lot like studying quanta: any observation of the system – whether a person’s consciousness or a photon -- changes the system. This means that we can observe the results of an observation, but we cannot actually know with certainty what the state of the system was prior to our observation.
The past fifty years has shown us that the classical notions of physics formulated by Newton and expanded upon in subsequent systems may look good to us and comply with "common sense" but that they are simply "pretty good" approximations that do not accurately reflect the true nature of matter, energy and reality.
If classical physics is all we had to work with, we would not have semiconductors, solar cells, global positioning satellites, lasers, CD players, personal computers, modern medical imaging like MRIs and PET scans or any of the other of thousands of technological devices we take for granted.
Yet those who study consciousness and behavior still hew to the old, disreputable notions of classical science that have been proven wrong for so very long. They do this because it "seems logical" to them. But the well-proven principles of quantum physics show that the universe is a weird and counterintuitive place where matter and energy are both waves, particles and sometimes neither, where matter is energy is matter and neither really exists except as a yet-undetermined function of the space-time continuum. In the strange world of quantum physics, a particle can be in two places at the same time; the actual state of a system can ever be determined with absolute certainty; and an action on an entangled particle here, can result in an instantaneous chance in another particle, there – even if there is a million miles away.
If this counterintuitive maze doesn’t make sense to you, you’re in good company. Nobel Laureate and renowned physicist Richard Feynman said that "Anybody who says they understand quantum physics is either lying or crazy."
Albert Einstein never got comfortable with quantum physics. He called quantum entanglement "spooky action at a distance" and insisted the inevitable uncertainties could not be right because "God doesn’t play dice."
Einstein was wrong. Quantum physics proves that God does play dice. However an increasing body of research into quantum consciousness indicates that we get to roll those dice a lot of the time and that could be the foundation of free will.
Q. You have all this talk about quantum physics, but we’re biology, living things. How does that apply to us?
A. The biologists and chemists hate the intrusion of physicists into the investigation of consciousness, but the reality is that everything is physics. A biological system – whether it’s a turnip or a human brain – is a mass of molecules, sustained and energized by energy either from the sun or the chemical bonds in other molecules. This fits into the category of biochemistry which is simply chemistry applied to biological systems.
Chemistry for its part, is nothing more than the physics of how atoms behave when they connect or disconnect with each other.
Atoms connect and disconnect with each other according to how their electron orbitals interact and this is determined by quantum physics. These electrons, which many people think of as "solid" particles, are actually some undefined wave or possibly string-like phenomenon. This holds also for the supposedly solid protons and neutrons in an atomic nucleus.
Biology = biochemistry = chemistry = electron bonding = quantum physics.
Everything is physics and the foundation of all physics is quantum physics.
Q. Why do you choose the thriller genre to deal with weighty topics? Why don’t you write a "serious" book instead?
Your thrillers all deal in detail with compelling, significant issues of universal appeal and concern (religion and faith in Daughter of God, race and the dark side of genetic therapy in Slatewiper and now, consciousness, free will and the intersection of science and religious belief in Perfect Killer).
A. While it annoys literary snobs to no end, the reality is that too few people read "serious" books. So, despite the drumbeat of abuse heaped on popular fiction by snobs and vain intellectuals, genre fiction such as thrillers, mysteries, romances and other "airplane reading" reach far more people and in the end have a far greater influence on society, culture and the inner life of people than books that take themselves too seriously for their own good.
Steven King and Nora Roberts have had a far more lasting effect on American culture and its readers than a 747-load of "important" or "serious" books. This drives the snotty reviewers and critics (redundant, that) totally nuts.
In addition, a stultifying orthodoxy afflicts the "serious" side of any discipline, whether it’s literature, physics or consciousness studies. The defenders of the status quo jealously guard their turf against new ideas and concepts that challenge their view of the field. They have, after all, attained their lofty intellectual positions by supporting and publishing books and papers that bolster their "correct" view of the world. They have much to lose from new ideas.
Without the "right" intellectual perspective – their rules, their outlook, their dogma – any attempt I might make at a "serious" non-fiction work would probably be rejected by the establishment.
Besides, thrillers are fun to write and fun to read.
Q. Is there scientific evidence for free will?
A. Absolutely. A new form of psychotherapy, known as cognitive behavior therapy, has begun to break through the stone walls of psychiatric orthodoxy and the current drug-oriented treatment dogma.
The therapy goes beyond traditional "on the couch" talking therapy and requires a person to deal with their depression, anger, urges etc. by identifying thought patterns and assumptions ("I’m a bad parent;" "I don’t do well on tests.") then begin cognitively disputing those assumptions and to initiate physical actions that keep themselves from brooding over those negative assumptions.
In other words, people are thinking their way out of psychological jams rather than popping a pill. Studies at Harvard and other institutions have shown that CBT shows a recovery rate at least equal to pharmaceuticals but with a significant difference: CBT therapy has a more lasting effect than drugs like Prozac. CBT can be a "permanent" cure because it actually changes the physical configuration of the brain – growth of new synapses – and does so in more than one area of the brain whereas drugs work on one specific area and are effective only so long as the person continues to take them.
Obviously CBT represents a serious threat to the multi-billion dollar markets of the big pharmaceutical companies.
Perhaps more importantly, CBT offers confirmation that a person can "will themselves well," and offers evidence that pure thought can be self directed through conscious decision and that ethereal "thought" can produce a direct physical effect.
This disturbs the mainstream of neuroscience which believes that consciousness and all resulting thoughts are accidental or incidental byproducts of the web of electrical discharges in our brains. Through some as-yet-undefined method of self-referential coherence, the ruling dogma holds that everything is matter and nothing is transcendent. This, of course, comes from a classical physics standpoint which has been proven incorrect so often by quantum physics.
EXCERPTS FROM NO MORE HEROES BY RICHARD GABRIEL
On the battlefields of the future ….Soldiers on all sides will be reduced to fearless chemical automatons who fight simply because they can do nothing else….
There will no longer be any way to make the loss of men in battle meaningful in human terms. Their loss will make even less sense to their mothers, wives, brothers, and children, who, safely removed from the chemically induced haze, will retain their sense of emotional balance, human judgment, and moral horror.
For them, the death of their loved ones will make no sense at all. Life-and-death decisions, especially for commanders who commit their men to action, will become mere exercises in technical expertise totally devoid of human content. Men will fight and die because they fight and die. Nothing more.
Battle will no longer be a fearful or exciting experience. It will be an experience devoid of human emotion and meaning, akin to that felt by a strongly tranquilized individual carelessly driving an automobile on a rain-swept winding road at high speed. He recognizes the danger intellectually, but he continues his course because the danger has no genuine emotional meaning and his behavior is unaffected.
Under these conditions soldiers …. will "know" that their comrades have been killed, but it will not affect them; they will "know" that they have destroyed other men, but it will not matter; they will "know" that their actions killed innocent civilians, but they will not feel it; and they will "know" when they are about to meet their own ends, but it will not matter much. There will be no fear. The soldier will lack the capacity for emotional response and be left without human standards to measure or limit his actions. Amid the death, pain, and horror, the chemical soldier will simply fight on.
Faceless, well-meaning military medical researchers press the limits of their discipline with little or no regard for the consequences. We may be rushing headlong into a long, dark chemical night from which there will be no return. The paradox is that it is necessary to enslave the emotions as the means of producing soldiers who can defend a nation's freedoms.
The problem to be solved is to find a chemical compound that will prevent or reduce anxiety while allowing the soldier to retain his normal levels of acute mental awareness. …. In scientific terminology, the search is for a "nondepleting neurotrop." A neurotrop is a chemical compound that works directly on the transmitters and receptors of the brain's nerve pathways.
The search for such a chemical is already underway in the military research laboratories of the major armies of the world. Both the U.S, military and the Soviets have initiated programs in the last five years [this book was published in 1988] to develop such a drug; the details of the American program remain classified.
The U.S. military has already developed at least three prototypes that show great "promise."
If the military establishments of the United States and the Soviet Union succeed in developing a chemical compound that will prevent the onset of anxiety while allowing the soldier to remain mentally alert, sleep normally, and process information under stress, …
the nature of war, already too horrible to seriously contemplate, will become even more horrible.
If they succeed, they will have finally done what man has been incapable of doing since he first emerged from the primal mud: they will have banished the fear of death and with it will go man's humanity and his soul.
….The fear of death may remain in the conscious mind, but there will be no physiological or emotional support to make the fear real. Men may still know fear; but they will be unable to feel fear in an emotional sense. The chemical soldier will be a reality and the reality will be a chemically created monster.
[Fear]…. reduces the killing power of the soldier. Frightened soldiers don't kill very well and, in the past, this has made the level of war manageable in human terms. It is worth recalling that in World War II only 15 percent of the soldiers engaged in combat ever fired their weapons. This, of course, kept the casualties down.
But if chemical preventives for fear succeed in controlling anxiety in only 75 percent of the soldiers, 75 percent of the combat soldiers on the battlefield will be sufficiently mentally alert to kill other soldiers, an increase in the killing capability of 400 percent at the very minimum!
In earlier battles one side or the other simply absorbed as much death as it could until its spirit broke, at which point it either withdrew or surrendered. In either case battle had its limits and the defeated remnants at least survived. … [But]….[t]he chemical soldier will fight without fear.
Battles once joined will proceed until one side has been entirely killed or wounded. Without fear, battles will be fought to the death as a matter of routine because there will no longer be any reason to stop them.
Without psychiatric collapse and fear to force defenders to surrender when all is lost, units will resist to the last man. This will force the attackers, including the officers, to kill them all in a sterile exercise of military slaughter. It will be battle without prisoners.
The defenders will be unable to surrender and the attackers will be unable to offer it, for the basis of surrender, the fear of death, will no longer be present in the chemically bemused minds of the combatants.
For four thousand years military ethos traditionally has set limits on killing by requiring the victor to place himself as a fellow human being in the place of the vanquished. Soldiers have always had codes of ethics which guided their treatment of the soldiers against whom they fought. It was this empathy that led armies in the past to limit the killing.
Without fear there is no basis for empathy or sympathy for the loser. Military ethos will be replaced by efficiency and the killing will go on.
Qualities such as courage, bravery, endurance, and sacrifice have meaning only in human terms. They indicate conditions in which men triumph over normal fear. Heroes are those who can endure and control fear beyond the limits expected of normally sane men. Brave men are those who conquer fear. Sacrifice for one's comrades can only have meaning when one fears death and accepts it because it will prevent others from dying or will permit an idea to live.
The standards of normal men will be eroded and will disappear. Men will be dehumanized and will no longer die for anything that is meaningful in truly human terms. They will just die. The military virtues-courage, heroism, endurance, bravery, and sacrifice-will be replaced in war by probability tables that measure the technical efficiency of "human" performance. And the standard of performance will be the body count.
A chemical compound that prevents the onset of anxiety while leaving the individual mentally alert will produce a new kind of human being, a human being who would retain the cognitive elements of his emotions but would be unable to feel emotion…. And along with it what we know as the soul would be destroyed.
The real horror lurking behind the attempt to use chemical means for preventing psychiatric collapse in battle is that in order for a soldier to be able to function in the environment of modern war he must be psychically reconstituted to become what we have traditionally defined as mentally ill! He must be chemically made over to become a sociopathic personality in the clinical sense of the term.
The soldier must be made abnormal in order to behave "normally" on the battlefield. If he is to function efficiently, he must first be made insane.
We would be left with a genuine sociopathic personality induced and sustained by chemical means.
A sociopathic personality is one who clearly knows what he is doing to another person but cannot feel or appreciate in an emotional sense the consequences of his actions. Although sociopathic personalities are above average in intelligence, they often cannot prevent themselves from acting even though they know (but cannot truly feel) what the consequences of their actions might be. Sociopaths are unable to display loyalty to others, are grossly selfish, are unable to feel guilt or remorse or appreciate the consequences of their actions.
They are given to extreme risk taking and generally lack the normal characteristics which we commonly associate with conscience. The sociopath functions only on the cognitive plane of his emotions. That is why true sociopaths cannot empathize or sympathize with those who may be hurt by their actions.
To be sure, they know cognitively that they have inflicted pain but they cannot generate a genuine emotional response to this fact.
The chemical soldier will be a true sociopath.