Lixgrijb Again … and Again

Coyote3in“I was just thinking,” said Coyote/Llixgrijb, “that maybe I’ve chosen the wrong realm to live in altogether. I created this physical, temporal realm, and put Brillig in it to experience it for me. But, really, all this physicality spells nothing but trouble. It seems that suffering, ignorance, and mortality are the only things that hold the temporal realm together. It leads to more grief than gratis.”

“Indeed,” said Wolf. “Buddha taught us that suffering and sacrifice are key ingredients in this realm.”

“Then why stick around? I believe I’ll scrap the whole thing and move on to the mythic realm—the world of flow, of determinacy. A world without surprises. I like the sound of that.”

“So are you contemplating destroying our world altogether?”

“What do you think?”

“Be careful, my friend,” said Wolf. “If you try to scrap this world, you may find the mythic world extremely boring. There will be no meaning or purpose to it, without information from our temporal realm leaking into it. The mythic world is only important because of the physical world, and the physical world is only important because of the mythic world. Here, at least, you get to experience the heroic myth of the mystic experience, because death is real here.”

Coyote/Llixgrijb grinned at him. “You’re trying to scare me out of it, aren’t you?”

“Besides,” continued Wolf, “getting rid of either realm would prove rather difficult. Dividing the mythic from the physical or the temporal is like cutting a magnet in two; the pieces will divide into physical or mythic wherever you make the cut. It’s either both realms, or nothing. It’s a cosmic/mythic complementarity. You must have both to have your dream.”

“I think you’re bluffing,” said Coyote/Llixgrijb.

—physicist Fred Alan Wolf in conversation with Llixgrijb, from The Jamais Vu Papers newsletter and book by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin. Reprinted in Jamais Vu Views along with additional material.

We thought that Llixgrijb was a fictional character, but if you Google that name today, you’ll get about 12,000 results. Some are quotes, usually (but not always) attributed to The Jamais Vu Papers, and sometimes translated into various other languages. Many are said to be posts by Llixgrijb, who apparently speaks Russian and a bevy of other languages as well as English and lives in various parts of the world. Here are just a few Llixgrijb links:

offering to be a pen pal

playing music

playing chess

discussing software

tweeting

lurking

You can read how that came about in our blog of 2012/10/05

Jamais Vu Views

It’s finally out in both paperback and KindleJamais Vu Views, the companion to our underground classic The Jamais Vu Papers.

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Some of you have been waiting for this book for two decades or more.

Others of you have no idea what we’re talking about.

So let’s go back to Los Angeles in 1987, for the birth of a crypto-legend …

The two us lived in a little house at the base of Mount Washington; at the top was perched the Self-Realization Fellowship. Its gardens are lovely, tranquil, and open to all. We loved to walk up there to retreat from that intense city, rest, and meditate. One afternoon, we were walking down Mount Washington after some especially stimulating meditation. As we headed home, ideas started flowing, and we talked and talked and talked. And so we started our own newsletter—the jamais vu papers, a monthly publication with a fictional storyline that included far-flung, far-fetched, and far-sighted ideas. (BTW, we got married the month the first issue appeared.)

Publishing a newsletter wasn’t easy back in those days. Does anyone remember waxers and paste-ups? We put the pages together in our little house and took them to a copy shop for printing. We sent free copies to as many people as we could get addresses for. We started asking other people to participate.

Real-life thinkers eagerly pitched into our fictional world, changing the story itself as it galloped waywardly forward, sideways, upward, downward, across parallel realities, and every which way. We interviewed Tom Robbins (our first-ever subscriber), and also María De Céspedes, Fred Chappell, Daniel C. Dennett, Jamake Highwater, Paul Krassner, Timothy Leary, and Fred Alan Wolf. Because these interviews took place in a peculiar no man’s land somewhere between fiction and reality, they became known as jamais inter-vus.

When the New York superagent John Brockman got wind of what we were up to, he signed us up with Harmony Books to rework our material into a novel—and he took part in a jamais inter-vu as well. The novel came out in 1991. Even after it went out of print, copies kept circulating until The Jamais Vu Papers became a bona fide underground classic. As copies grew scarce and zanily expensive, we published a new edition in 2010.

But alas, the novel could not contain nearly everything we’d put in the newsletter. A lot of great material had to be left behind, including jamais inter-vus with Stewart Brand, Jean Houston, Russell Jacoby, Charles Johnston, Russell Targ, and Robert Theobald.

Now, at long last, we’ve compiled Jamais Vu Views, which includes all of the original interviews—those that appeared in the book, and those that haven’t been seen since our newsletter was discontinued in 1991. If you are already a fan of The Jamais Vu Papers, you’ll be delighted by what you have jamais (never) seen before. And if you have jamais (never) experienced the reality-bending phenomenon known as The Jamais Vu Papers, this new collection is a great place to start.

Check it out at Amazon.com—in paperback or Kindle.

Llixgrijb: The Story that Got Away

By the time we’d published a few issues of The Jamais Vu Papers newsletter, we’d talked with several brilliant and open-minded people, posing nosy questions about the nature of reality, Story, and just what we think we’re doing in this tangle of phenomena that we call a universe.

Then an entity named Llixgrijb turned up in our story.

We thought we were making him up.

We were wrong.

Here’s the premise:

Living in a reality of which we know nothing, an entity named Llixgrijb becomes trapped alone in an extra-dimensional cave-in. The entity is faced with the inexorable prospect of untold purgatorial eternities of infinite loneliness and boredom. What would you do if you were Llixgrijb? We ventured a guess:

“You’d create worlds in your imagination, worlds within yourself. You’d create universes with exotic dimensions no one ever dreamed of before. You’d become strange creatures, and share the company of other such creatures. You’d try to make these realms and beings so real you could completely forget the horror and boredom of your real situation.”

So Llixgrijb created a world—our world, in fact. Real though we may imagine ourselves to be, we are nothing but intricately flawed manifestations of Llixgrijb’s imagination. Our reality worked out nicely for Llixgrijb—an entertaining distraction from its cosmic plight. But Llixgrijb had one worry. The entity knew that if any one of us illusory mortals should become aware of its existence, the splendid fantasy would vanish. So how could Llixgrijb keep this from happening?

The answer was so obvious that you’ve probably guessed it already:

“It created a character so obtuse, so unimaginative, so dull and mechanistic that it could never figure out its own true dilemma.”

That’s right—Llixgrijb had to incarnate in the form of a college English instructor. Thus was created Llixgrijb’s alter-ego, Professor Joseph Xavier Brillig, the most obtuse academic in the histories of a bazillion universes. Having no idea of his true identity, Brillig joined our cast of characters.

We were a little worried about Llixgrijb. Was the whole idea too silly for reader consumption? Would our newsletter be scoffed out of existence? Or to the contrary, might the very concept of Llixgrijb put reality itself in perpetual danger of unraveling?

It seems that the latter was the case. We started getting the message when Wim visited physicist Fred Alan Wolf, hoping to interview him for the newsletter. Wim warily started telling Wolf all about Llixgrijb, bracing himself for a reaction of impolite incredulity.

“Oh, you don’t have to tell me about Llixgrijb,” Wolf said. “I’ve known Llixgrijb for years. Let me tell you all about Llixgrijb.”

The National Book Award-winning physicist then went on to describe Llixgrijb in intimate detail. Thus was confirmed the independent reality of a creature we thought we’d invented.

Llixgrijb escaped from the story. It wandered away and remains at large today. Decades after we first created (or discovered?) the entity who dreams our reality into being, Llixgrijb continues to crop up in the infoworld. We’ve come across Llixgrijb …

writing a blog

playing music

tweeting

offering to be a pen pal

answering questions

playing chess

… and appearing in various adaptations.

The lesson is this: Never underestimate the power of Story to alter the nature of reality. Alas, the lesson came with dire consequences. With so many mortals aware of Llixgrijb’s existence, how can our reality—time, space, matter, energy, mortal consciousness, the whole enchilada—continue to exist? Llixgrijb might zap us out of existence at any second.

Indeed, that outcome seems all too probable …

… perhaps even inevitable.