0019 RF Bachman Presents -806/30DEC12017

RF Bachman & Calm Productions Present


Stephen King's Dark Tower series has been recently popularized by a movie, which is necessarily very different from the thousands of pages of narrative in King's books. The importance of the series stems not so much from the story itself (although that is important), as from the way that it explicitly connects every single aspect of King's life-work in a kind of web, or network. Apparently unrelated stories are seen to be connected by distant events and fringe characters, all woven together to create a single, dynamic universe.

Today, we will be reflecting on that achievement in two ways. Firstly, we will be applying King's method to Zero State in the creation of network nodes and channels. Secondly, one or more of those nodes will be established to explicitly connect with King's Dark Tower mythos, creating a kind of bridge between metafictional universes.

1. Nodes and Channels

Zero State (ZS) is an Alternate Reality Game (ARG), which means that it is defined by a narrative which (A) can be influenced by its characters/participants, (B) largely plays out on the internet in ways which blur the line between reality and fiction, and (C) reaches out across multiple platforms, media, and social networks.

The first ZS-ARG "rabbit hole" to go live, in close partnership with The Foundation, is the following competition:


That competition requires individual (and very small groups of) ZSers to act as nodes, which is to say informatic junctions with very simple, well-defined functions. The Teacher is currently assembling nodes to handle queries which will soon be coming in. Those ZSers who commit to running nodes will earn Dharma. An example of node-level activity is to be responsible for replying to emails to a certain address, setting up a voicemail message, and so on. The key success criteria in setting up and maintaining a node are (1) to do so according to the specifications given, and (2) to ensure that the node is reliable for the lifetime of the event.

Channels are larger and more complicated affairs. There are 36 initial channels within ZS, each being one of the primary modes of communication between a ZS House and its most avid and reliable supporters. Each House is required to establish and maintain a minimum of three such channels, each containing a minimum of one hundred reliable human supporters or agents of any other type, as long as they are effective.

For the sake of this initial rabbit hole activity, to get things started with a certain momentum, it has been decided that each channel must now establish a minimum of 20 operational nodes. There will be functional redundancy, to allow for the inevitable reality of a small handful of nodes doing most of the work, and therefore reaping most of the rewards.

Therefore, each of the six Meta-Houses is now tasked with establishing 40+ operational nodes of 1-5 people each, giving rise to an initial foundation of somewhere between 240 and ~1200 people. Ideally, nodes will be clustered by Channel (an even distribution would be ~7 nodes each), sharing some kind of flexible subcultural identity which means that although they can work independently, they sense that like-minded others are working with them, in parallel.

The most basic, minimum criterion of node functionality is to:

  • Abide in all matters by the Principles of Social Futurism.
  • Set up Twitter accounts, minimum one per node member, to re-Tweet ZS signal.
  • Agree upon a collective node name, handle, or callsign for future use, and inform your House.
  • Have a minimum of one reliable agent on call (with contact details), maximum of five.
  • Be ready to accept Missions at short notice.

2. King Crimson and the Dark Tower

In the Dark Tower multiverse, the Dark Tower is said to unify all scales, all realities. It is the "Stairway to Heaven", essentially. If you know your 1960s-70s subcultural history, then you know that such themes were not only the concern of ultra-famous occultists like Jimmy Page. Also-well-known-but-not-quite-superstars King Crimson were named for a mythological underworld figure, and their name inspired King's "Crimson King", the ultimate bad guy who is nevertheless locked on a balcony of the Dark Tower (don't ask - long story- very odd - clearly symbolic of... something. We have our suspicions).

The notion of a "King Crimson" raises other interesting parallels. For example, as a nod back in the direction of Jimmy Page the Thelemite, there are a number of reasons for suspecting connections to a metafictional entity popularized by Aleister Crowley, known as Choronzon (again, a very long story, but we're trying to stay on track here!). Without so much as glancing down the fabulous and intrinsically connected side-alleys of the King in Yellow and Nyarlathotep, we inevitably come to the psychedelic court of the Red Queen, who remarks to Alice:

"It's a Poor Sort of Memory that Only Works Backwards"

In context, what the Red Queen means is that Alice is basically half-blind, because she can only remember the past, whereas the Red Queen and others can also remember the future. This "precognitive" phenomenon was an intrinsic feature of Gnostic mythology, and a recurrent riff in the novels of Philip K Dick (who of course wrote at length about these things in his Exegesis). The Red King & Red Queen are exactly the sort of cultural symbols which connect the Dark Tower mythos with the stories we are currently spinning.

Long story short: One (or more) of our 120 initial nodes-per-MetaHouse will be dedicated to making connections between the ZS and Dark Tower mythoi. That won't be hard to do. The real trick will be doing it with style. If you want to be responsible for one of those nodes, show us what you've got.