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by Malgosia Askanas, Ph.D.
|"Self-regulation, instead of being the easy, spontaneous flow of events with its up's and down's, to follow and guard, will be turned into a "principle" to be applied to life, to be taught, to be exercised, to be imposed upon people, possibly with prison and death penalties (...)"|
|W. Reich, Hideous Distortions of Orgonomic Truth, 1951|
We begin our exposé with a simple and devastating constatation: in the nearly half century since the death of Wilhelm Reich, there has not been a single scientific advance in orgone physics, a single novel theoretical or experimental insight into the nature of the energy that Reich discovered, or a single novel application of the devices that he built.
As an illustration, take The American College of Orgonomy, an institution founded in 1968 by Elsworth F. Baker, M.D., author of one of the worst books ever written on Reich and his work. The College describes itself as -
a nonprofit education [sic!] and scientific organization devoted to setting and maintaining standards for work in the field of orgonomy. The College provides information, training, and research support for those interested and involved in orgonomy.
The College offers on its web site a Glossary of Terms. In this glossary, under "Orgone Energy", one reads:
Orgone Energy: Primordial cosmic energy, universally present. It can be demonstrable visually, thermically, electroscopically and with the Geiger-Mueller counter. In the living organism it is biological energy. Also called bioenergy, life energy, c'hi, and prana. Discovered by Whilhelm Reich between 1936 and 1940.This so-called "definition" is more than 40 years old. It is, with but one addition, identical to that provided by Mary Higgins in the Glossary to the "Selected Writings" of Reich, published in 1960. The addition is the sentence "Also called bioenergy, life energy, c'hi, and prana." A rather puzzling addition on the part of this "scientific organization", since one may well wonder on what scientific grounds the College makes its claim of the identity between orgone, c'hi and prana. Are there, for example, any data suggesting that c'hi or prana slow down electroscopic discharge or produce a temperature difference on top of Faraday cages? And if the orgone is identical to c'hi and prana, how can it be claimed that it was discovered by Reich between 1938 and 1940?
It is here that the story begins in earnest. For this is the very mysticism and amalgamation of scientific and crypto-scientific elements that has turned Reichianism into a caricature of Reich.
The same 1960 definition from "Selected Writings" (this time without the c'hi) also appears in the Glossary of Orgonomy Terms put forth on the website of the Public Orgonomic Research Exchange (PORE). The same website offers a feature article by Charles R. Kelley, Ph.D., called "What is Orgone Energy?" The article starts thusly:
Franz Anton Mesmer called it animal magnetism; Charles von Reichenbach called it odyle. To Henri Bergson it was the élan vital, the "vital force;" while to Hans Driesch it was the entelechy. Sigmund Freud observed its functioning in human emotions and termed it libido. William MacDougall, the great British - American psychologist of a generation ago, labeled it hormic energy. Dozens, if not hundreds, of lesser - known scientists have recognized its presence and have given it a name to characterize its special properties. Among the 20th-century proponents of the concept are, for example, Doctors Charles Littlefield and his vital magnetism and George Starr White and his cosmo- electric energy. Mechanistic science in the 17th through 19th centuries embraced many of its essential qualities in the concept of the ether, while mystical human beings have embraced other essential qualities of it in the concept of god.
Orgone energy is Wilhelm Reich's name for the substratum from which all nature is created. The best definition this author can provide for it is this: Orgone energy is the creative force in nature. This article will discuss briefly the history of the discovery of orgone energy by Reich and will describe its properties. It will then summarize the evidence for and against the concept and, finally, will undertake to explain why it is that the concept meets such great resistance.
Let us dissect this panoply of idiocies. The first paragraph euphorically lumps together anything that pops into Kelley's head: animal magnetism, entelechy, libido, ether and god. These are all the same as orgone, for which the best definition this Ph.D. can provide -- after presumably having read Reich's works -- is "the creative force in nature". What is it, one might ask, that Reich discovered? It looks like whatever it is, everybody else had discovered it well before him - especially since, according to Kelley, what Reich discovered was god.
Out of all these disparate concepts, Kelley manufactures one gigantic equation. Just as all these very different philosophers, scientists or thinkers dissolve into one gigantic brain, so does Reich's orgone become but one more Lacanist signifier for the god of all the last-ditch churches. Emptied of its exact and scientific content, painstakingly delineated by Reich, orgone energy is not simply neutralized and equalized, but is completely absorbed, as a concept, to a variety of animist, metaphysical and vitalist myths - leading at last to an opinionated doxa that abusively claims the status of a concept. With the above definition of orgone, Kelley de facto dissolves its concept. Under his pen and in his mouth, orgone is but an empty word - one more principle of transcendency.
Is Kelley really on the side of Reich? Has he even read Reich? Has he, for example, read the first chapter of "The Function of the Orgasm" in which Reich has the following to say about Driesch's "entelechy":
Between 1919 and 1921, I became familiar with Driesch's 'Philosophie des Organischen' and his 'Ordnungslehre'. I understood the first book but not the second. It was clear that the mechanistic conception of life, which also dominated our medical studies, could not provide a satisfactory explanation [to the question "What is life?"]. Driesch's contention seemed incontestable to me. He argued that, in the sphere of the life function, the whole could be developed from a part, whereas a machine could not be made from a screw. On the other hand, his use of the concept of 'entelechy' to explain living functioning was unconvincing. I had the feeling that an enormous problem was evaded with a word. Thus, in a very primitive way, I learned to draw a clear distinction between facts and theories about facts. I gave considerable thought to Driesch's three proofs of the specific totally different characteristics of living matter as opposed to inorganic matter. They were well-grounded proofs. However, I couldn't quite accept the transcendentalism of the life principle. Seventeen years later I was able to resolve the contradiction on the basis of a formula pertaining to the function of energy. Driesch's theory was always present in my mind when I thought about vitalism. The vague feeling I had about the irrational nature of his assumption turned out to be justified in the end. He landed among the spiritualists." (The Function of the Orgasm, 1973, p.23)
Reich was fond of repeating the dictum that "everybody is right in some way, only he does not know in what way he is correct". It is also true that he himself, in his later "popular" writings, could be seen as courting the kinds of identifications made by Kelley (or by the College of Orgonomy) with passages such as:
"The discovery of the cosmic energy ocean, its realities and concrete physical manifestations such as the streaming of life energy in living organisms, puts an end to the compulsion of turning deeper searching into unreal, mystical experiences. The human animal will slowly get used to the fact that _he has discovered his God_ and can now begin to learn the ways of "God" in a very practical manner." (Cosmic Superimposition, 2000, p.281)However, one would certainly expect of Reich's supporters to feel a certain sense of obligation to treat these excursions of Reich's judiciously and carefully, with a sense of fairness to the entirety of his endeavour. It does no service to Reich's lifelong work to mush it, to reduce it, to equate it indistinctly with every animist, vitalist or mystical notion under the sun on the basis that "everybody is right in some way", without paying very strict attention to the second part of the dictum: "only he does not know in what way he is correct". It does no service to Reich to identify orgone energy with god or Bergson's concept of elan vital unless, in the very same breath, one is prepared to explain exactly in what way the concept of orgone energy is _different_ from that of a god or of the élan vital.
Has Reich discovered that god produces a temperature difference inside orgone accumulators? Undoubtedly many god-fearing folk would say that the temperature difference is indeed an act of god, but we hardly think that this is what Reich discovered.
What is shown by these quotes from glossaries and feature articles? Several things.
First of all, that there has been no advancement, since the death of Reich, in what the "followers of Reich" know, understand, or have to say, concerning the nature of the massfree aether energy which Reich discovered. Reich spoke of man's burning desire for knowledge, but no such desire is discernible in any way in the passages we quoted from his "followers".
Secondly, that these "followers" consistently do not consider it in any way necessary to pay the slightest attention to Reich's own unique distinctions and differentiations, tempts one to doubt to what extent they even read him.
Thirdly, that there is a desire on the part of these "followers" to mush Reich's discoveries into a kind of processed lunch-meat that would be palatable to the "general public": a Reichian spam. This is a particularly hideous distortion of Reich's work, whose whole value resides precisely in having broken out of the generalized mush of the mechanistic and mystical myths of armored man. The 'mush' strategy of Reichians is to make Reich's discoveries palatable by explaining that they are in fact not discoveries at all, because what they, Reichians, have "discovered" has long been known and accepted by everybody everywhere. The 'creative force of nature' -- who can deny its existence? Who can have anything against Reich discovering it yet again, when we all discover it every time we stop our car at a scenic overlook? And if Reich wants to call it "orgone" and Bergson wants to call it "élan vital", so much power to them. Each of us prays in his or her own way.
This toxic spam is cooked in the ecumenical kitchen of our time: the kitchen of political correctness, the Great Equalizer of all thought and all perception. It is so politically correct that it can afford to be totally inaccurate.
But whatever these "Reichians" serve up for the consumption of the general public, the fact still remains that their own understanding and knowledge of orgone energy is deficient - not even at the height of what Reich himself knew, let alone having advanced since the days of Reich. This lack of advance is clearly not caused by a dearth of diverse orgonomy organizations, groups calling themselves "orgone laboratories" or "orgonomy institutes", or individuals claiming to be doing orgonomic research. And neither is it because what Reich has left behind is either complete or definitive. Much to the contrary, his work clearly constitutes but a first pioneering expedition into a vast unknown continent.
The same American College of Orgonomy which cavalierly equates orgone energy with c'hi and prana, offers a certification program in Medical Orgonomy. To quote from the website:
Certification in Medical Orgonomy In 1973, the A.C.O. estabilshed [sic!] the American Board of Medical Orgonomy to certify physicians in the practice of orgone therapy. The requirements include graduation from an approved, accredited medical or osteopathic school; board certification in an approved specialty and at least one year of residency training in psychiatry. Also required is a minimum of three years of courses and seminars in medical orgonomy; characterologic restructuring by an approved medical orgonomist; and satisfactory completion of written and oral examinations.
This perfectly bogus notion of 'characterological restructuring' was itself denounced by Reich - and one can only imagine how pernicious this conditioning can become when conducted by ignorant, emotionally-deadened and dull Reichian 'therapists'. Horrified by the consequences of such hideous distortions of Orgonomy, and contemplating such fascistic prospects of a new medicalization and stratification carried out in the name of Orgonomy, Reich wrote:
The constant, patient struggle for improvement of health, based on carefully drawn experiences, will be replaced by the idea of a 'perfect' readymade "health" as an absolute ideal with new social stratification in "healthy" and in "neurotic" people." (Reich, W (1951) "The weapon of truth", Appendix to "The Murder of Christ", pp. 188-189.)
The Bakerism of the ACO is one more poignant example of this manufacturing of Orgonomy.
Among the courses that form part of the curriculum for the ACO certification, we find:
Laboratory Workshops in Orgone Biophysics These workshops acquaint the student with fundamental phenomena in orgonomic biology and physics through direct experience and experiment. Four-day Orgone Biology and Orgone Biophysics and Research courses are prerequisites for certification in medical orgonomy. These courses and a two- day introductory course for laymen are offered periodically and are open to the public.
So among the minimum of "three years of courses and seminars", the only requirement in _orgone biophysics_ is a FOUR DAY "Orgone Biology and Orgone Biophysics and Research" course, open to the public! Exactly how much research is one expected to cram into four days? At best, if one is lucky, one might be massaged, by such a "research course", into believing Higgins' 1960 glossary entry - that the orgone "can be demonstrable visually, thermically, electroscopically and with the Geiger-Mueller counter."
It is clear that the College does not think of orgone biophysics as having any essential connection to medical orgonomy. The College also publishes the Journal of Orgonomy, which has been appearing since 1967. If one can judge by the journal contents listed on the website, since the Journal's inception there appeared in it exactly ONE article in the category "Physics":
"Celestial motion (Part I): a lawful relationship between
the rotation of the planets and the galactic plane"
Journal of Orgonomy, Vol 27 no. 1.
One does not fare any better with the Public Orgonomic Research Exchange, from whose site we have already quoted the article by Charles R. Kelley, Ph.D. PORE, which was created in 1978 by Jammerling Ogg, describes orgonomy as follows:
"Orgonomy is the science of energy (orgone energy) in living and non living things that is similar to pre-atomic energy. It includes the biosphere, psychology, the weather, the earth, the solar system, the galaxies, and the universe."
One wonders: What is pre-atomic energy? And what does it mean for one energy to be "similar" to another energy? And what does the "it" in the second sentence refer to: orgone energy, or orgonomy? If the former, one's wonderment becomes almost unbearable: how does an energy form "include" psychology, the weather, and the universe? So maybe they are talking about Orgonomy, which thereby becomes the most marvelously non-specific and all-forgiving scientific discipline ever conceived. However, a look at what is actually featured on the site dramatically narrows down the field. The menu for the information that is actually being exchanged consists of: articles, bion experiments, book sources, cloudbusting, orgone accumulators, orgonomy groups, research equipment, public forums, therapy, and the Wilhelm Reich museum.
In the category of present interest, "Articles in Physical Science", we find the following selection:
"A Proposal for the Measurement of Temperatures inside ORACs
"Compass-Measurement of the Magnetic Field of an ORAC"
"HAARP: Vandalism in the Sky?"
"How far draws your cloudbuster?"
"How To Build an Orgone Blanket or Pillow"
"Infared Thermal Imaging of the ORAC's To-T Effect"
"Orgone Accumulator Building Plans"
"Student Discussion with Eva Reich and Bill Moise 1975"
"Subtle Energy Work: Basics"
"Radiesthetic Studies on Orgone Generators"
"Wild and Prescribed Fire in Forests of the Intermountain West -- A Policy Statement"
And in the Journal of PORE, which has been published sporadically since 1997, the breakdown by topic is as follows:
3 articles on how to build orgone accumulators, orgone
blankets, orgone pillows
1 article on cloudbusting protocols
9 articles of reminiscences about Reich, stories about Reich's life
1 article on the brain function
1 article on subtle energies
1 article on cancer therapy
1 article called "Orgostatic Energy"
1 article on origins of life
The Kelley article , "What is Orgone Energy", which we already quoted.
In other words, with the possible exception of the "Orgostatic Energy" article whose text is not available on the web site, the PORE site does not provide a single item that attempts to push forward the experimental or theoretical understanding of the energy that is, so to speak, PORE's bread and butter. The so-called 'scientific activity', at best, restricts itself to various addendums to Reich's reported measurements.
This restriction is starkly illustrated by the "Research Articles" which, until recently, were published at the website of Another Orgone Research Laboratory (AORL), an organization consisting of Douglas Marett. We will describe these articles because they are symptomatic; but so is the story of the website, www.terrapulse.ca. Before the publication of the present article, the AORL website used to be at http://www.geocities.com/capecanaveral/2514. Within 48 hours of the article's publication, the website was taken down. Douglas Marett announced the removal of the site in an email sent to the Orgonomy Mail List:
To: OrgonomyMail-List@yahoogroups.comShortly after, the site reappeared, intact, at its new location - www.terrapulse.ca - where it remained, without any visible updates, until June 2002.
From: "Doug Marett"
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 11:51:10 -0500
Subject: [OrgonomyMail-List] AORL website to be moved
This is just to let you know that I am currently moving my website to a new
address, and that my former Reich theme website at
http://www.geocities.com/capecanaveral/2514 is now out of service. This is
my only option because of password and access problems I have been having
with Yahoo, the new manager of geocities, which have prevented me from
updating this site for some time, and apparently I have to close the site
and re-start it at a new address. I am hoping to present some new articles
shortly on orgone physics, and with some luck will have a new site up in the
next 2 weeks. I will post the new URL here as soon as this is ready.
Doug Marett M.Sc.
In June 2002, Akronos published "Pulse of the Planet Taken to Task", which prominently featured, among those taken to task, Douglas' brother David (who authored one of the Pulse of the Planet articles), and mentioned Douglas himself as a protagonist in the tribulated history of Reich's spinner motor(s). A few days later, Marett appeared on the Vortex email list and, taking center stage before a chorus of like minds, announced that he no longer wished to be a Reichian, was taking down the articles on the Another Orgone Research Laboratory site, and would shortly transform it into a site dedicated to his renunciation of Orgone Research. From then on till the time of this writing (mid-October 2002), the site has been "under reconstruction". For a more detailed story of Marett's renunciation, we refer the reader to Akronos' feature Fallout from the Challenge to PP5.
Now back to those AORL articles which, although themselves washed away by the waves of history, have left behind - like a dream-body - their symptomaticity. All of the articles were authored by D. Marett, and all of them were published between 1996 and 1997, after which the Laboratory seems to have ceased its research activity. They were as follows:
1. A Connection Between Orgone Energy and Heat? (1997).
A further examination of the daily changes in To-T with weather.
2. The Effect of Tesla Coil Radiation on the Orgone Accumulator. (1997).
This article examines one of Reich's first reports of the over-excitation of the orgone accumulator by high voltage discharges, and attempts an experimental reproduction.
3. The Luminiferous Aether: An Investigation into the Assay Methods of Reich. (1992).
An in-depth investigation of To- T, electroscopic discharge, and a novel orgone measuring device, the "orgonometer".
4. Visualization of the Planetary Orgone Flow. (1996).
This article describes how to view the flow of the orgone over the surface of the Earth, observations made by this lab, and a theory of it's [sic!] motion.
5. Meteorological Functions in Modified Vacuum Orgone (VACOR) Tubes. (1996).
This article describes meteorological and cosmological phenomenon that can be measured using various modified VACOR tube arrangements described by Reich.
6. The Geiger-Mueller Effect of the Orgone - Revisited.(1996).
An attempted replication of Reich's experiment with charged geiger-mueller [sic!] tubes.
In effect, like an extended version of the four-day Orgone Biology and Orgone Biophysics and Research course at the American College of Orgonomy, this "research" was a kind of experimental mantra, a regurgitation-in-acts of the tenet, enshrined in Mary Higgins' glossary, that orgone energy "can be demonstrable visually, thermically, electroscopically and with the Geiger-Mueller counter". Each article ended with a statement to the effect that the experiments performed, although somewhat preliminary, confirmed Reich's observations, and warranted a more rigorous investigation into these phenomena -- an investigation which the AORL expected to begin soon (5 years later, it still hadn't begun).
As the reader will see below in part 3 of our exposé of (An)orgonomy, AORL was a veritable entreprise of confusionism. It argued in favour of an amalgamation of Reich's concept of orgone energy to the classical concept of the aether:
Proponents of the aether theory attempted to explain the small [positive] result [of the Michelson-Morley experiment] by postulating that the aether may actually be carried along by planetary bodies (...). Although considerable experimental evidence was soon amassed to support this hypothesis [sic!!], the aether theory was shortly displaced by the advent of Einstein's theory (...). The aether theory was revived again by Reich in 1939 (...).
We can only imagine the revulsion Reich would have experienced upon reading this schmoozy amalgamation of Reich to those few who, to this day, believe that the small and erratic residuals of the MM-type experiments indicate the existence of a static aether or a static aether drag.
How did AORL deal with the electroscopic experiments? Seepage was never tested or compared to leakage of negatrons. In fact, the article maintained that "the electroscopic discharge rate is a slow and cumbersome method" (page 2 of "The luminiferous aether", by D. Marett). And the author acknowledged that "electroscopic discharge measurements were made for only the last four days of the experiment [one point per day!], due to time constraints" (page 3, idem). He employed not a gold-leaf but an aluminum-rod electroscope - in other words, a perfectly useless electroscope used only to read connected potentials! Why? Because, to quote Marett, "the author introduces in this paper a new method of measuring the absolute orgone"!
...The absolute orgone...measured by silicon phototransistors! But then, would the orgone not have to be but absolutely photonic, electromagnetic - in a word, nonorgone? All because the aluminum rod electroscope AORL employed was "cumbersome"! And what did AORL do? It renamed its silicon phototransistor gimmick "orgonometer", imitating Reich's renaming of the electroscope as the 'orgonoscope'...
Shall we go on? The misery is complete - a misery of understanding; a misery of spirit and disposition; a misery of excuses, lame excuses; a misery of research; a misery of desire. And a misery of falsification.
AORL was convinced that orgone is both heat and electromagnetic! And what to say of AORL's overvolting of GM tubes, which the Correas exposed in "The Correa-Reich affair", and which passed for detection of orgone energy with a Geiger-Muller counter?
The worst part is that, even when their errors are starkly apparent, and made apparent and clear to them, Reichians remain curiously unable to recognize them and improve their ways - how they pursue research, how they articulate their understanding, and so on. Their response is precisely opposite that of any conscientious researcher. And, as is shown in Fallout from the Challenge to PP5 Marett's ultimate 'renunciation' of his Reichian faith was every inch as shoddy and lacking in scientific understanding as was his previous 'adherence' to it.
Part of AORL's mantric activity during the 1996-1997 period was a joint project with the Institut fur Orgonforschung und Orgontechnik (IOO). We will say more about this project below, but first a bit of background on the IOO.
The IOO clearly distinguishes itself from seemingly similar American organizations centered around orgone devices and orgone therapy, in that its focus on Reich is motivated by an opposition to existing social systems, springing supposedly from a desire to actively create a different form of social life. As the website explains:
The roots of our Institute lie on a "2nd path", independent from the American orgonomy -- the student movement of '68 in the German Republic and West Berlin, which next incorporated into its process the sociopolitical and pedagogical theories of Reich and A.S. Neill (Summerhill) and only in the 70s began to concern itself with bioenergetics and orgone energy.Such a pretension to a rebellious genealogy is already suspect enough. Echoes of Rudi Dutschke and Danny Le Rouge (now member of the European Parliament - see www.daniel-cohn-bendit.org); of all those anarchisms which succeeded only in breeding better politicians and aldermen...
Nonetheless, the menu of topics offered on the website is indistinguishable from the usual fare:
- Orgone data
- Orgone devices (which are built and sold by the Institute)
- Veterinarian page
We learn about Joachim Trettin, the founder of the Institute:
In his research, he performed anew the central experiments of Reich and for the first time documented the results as color films on the Internet. The daily measurements of orgone tension that have been taken for over 5 years and are the longest-running in the history of orgonomy, splendidly confirmed Reich's theory of orgone energy and provided new knowledge concerning its quantity over the course of the different seasons of the year. [...] The orgone practice within the Institute is a part of the "Cologne Life Energy Practice", which, in the future, will also include a division dedicated to Tibetan medicine.and about the work of the Institute:
We separate ourselves theoretically from the parallel development of neoreichianism in that we take as the foundations of our work the sexual economy based in an understanding of the tension-charge function, the orgasm reflex and the function of the orgasm. Our work builds on these foundations, as well as on their underlying principle, the existence and function of a real, existing physical energy, the orgone.
The existence of the orgone as a "real, existing physical energy" is thus taken as a foundational axiom, which is said to be "splendidly confirmed" by piling up reproductions of Reich's To-T and electroscopic leakage measurements over a period of 5 years. This is precisely the project which was carried out in collaboration with the AORL. Momentous and elucidating. And yet, nothing was ever learned from it.
Obviously, such a project of amassing data is not without usefulness. But what is striking is that a group of people dedicated enough to undertake such a long-term data collection does not seem to find it necessary or desirable to perform any scientific probing into the nature of the energy which they are so conscientiously measuring, or to pose any questions about the connection between these thermometric and electroscopic observations and the more pertinent questions of sexual economy which inform their work. After all, it is not as if Reich's writings provided a definitive scientific demonstration for this connection -- rather, they lay a cornerstone, a point of departure, a blueprint for future research.
Is it not necessary to investigate these questions scientifically if what hangs in the balance is nothing short of the founding of a new society, a new way of life, a new humanity? But it is as if the notion of "scientific investigation" were itself tied up with the structures of existing society, and had therefore to be thrown out together with it. And of course yes, the two _are_ tied up. But this only means that the notion of "scientific investigation" itself has to be subjected to a stringent investigation -- as does the notion of "stringency -- and that out of this investigation have to arise new concepts of "science" and "stringency" -- concepts that are open and functional, as opposed to fossilized and disfunctional notions. In other words, the old concept of "knowledge" may be unserviceable, but one can hardly presume to design a new life without deep knowledge, without an understanding of what constitutes serviceable processes of knowledge. Such considerations are conspicuously absent from what is presented on the IOO website. In their absence, despite IOO's many protestations to the contrary, orgonomy becomes indistinctly and mystically mingled with Tibetan medicine -- a marriage based solely on the fact that both have to do somehow with "energy" and have been marginalized or suppressed by the scientific establishment -- into a quite "unrevolutionary" stew of "alternative healing".
In fact, it is rather instructive in this connection to read Joachim Trettin's autobiography. Trettin writes:
The experiences of 20 years with orgone therapy have shown that although improvement is indeed possible, and results can be achieved of which other forms of therapy can only dream, a recovery in the ideal sense is reached only seldom. As Reich himself stated, recovery depends as much on individual condition as on social ones. The importance of social conditions is always readily suppressed within orgonomy. [...]
Like many freedom movements, orgonomy ended up in a dead end street, in that what is at stake is only individual freedom, career, and moneymaking.
Today, orgonomy does not have much to claim socially. I regret to have to say this after 20 years, as someone who is regarded in Germany as a champion of orgonomy.
In 1996, I became for a while a member of the Green Alliance, a step which 20 years earlier would have been for me, as a dyed-in-the-wool spontaneist, absolutely unimaginable. [...] After I had recognized the failure of the social onset of work-democracy as a possible theory of the future, the path to this decision was unobstructed.
Of course what I was amongst the Greens can better be described as a Blue (blue is the color of the orgone radiation) - that is, an energy ecologist. [...] The Greens had completely neglected this field, even though it was Wilhelm Reich who discovered tree decay. [...]
In the beginning of the 90s, a collection of informational videos was put in the hands of Petra Kelly in Berlin - unfortunately, we never got an answer back.
As could be expected, the orgone- measurement data of our Institute, too, were ignored by the Greens.
My hope for a rationality amongst the Green has unfortunately turned out to be a fallacy.
I regret to have to say that the Greens today are a life-energetically-reactionary party, whose stance is to unreflectingly disclaim involvement with the malice of the Little Man.
The trajectory outlined by this quote is only too typical of a certain type of leftist "freedom fighter", who involves himself with one political organization after another, always in the hope of finding "rationality", work-democracy and so on, and always, shortly after, withdrawing in disappointment. The disappointment is invariably portrayed as something that "could have been expected", and the involvement as a heroic attempt against all odds, an attempt whose failure certainly cannot be blamed on the freedom fighter, who, after all, tried as hard as he could. He is a knight in shining armor, an innocent peripatetic champion of a different world, who staunchly carries his 'teachings' around the world, always to find them falling on deaf ears. He wants and 'deserves' to be loved, but is, instead, ignored.
The engagements that the freedom fighter chooses do not unfold an inner consistency of a path, but seem like a mechanical repetition of a pattern designed to show, over and over again, that the fighter is too good, too innocent, too pure, too idealistic for this world. The fighter never learns anything from his past engagements, he merely reproduces them somewhere else.
It is hard to avoid the temptation of drawing an analogy between this process and the orgone-data-gathering experiments à la IOO and AORL. If, 44 years after the death of Reich, the general public (including the Greens) has not managed to be converted to Reichianism by virtue of the mechanical repetition of the thermal and electroscopic measurement data that these champions of orgonomy claim as incontrovertible proof of the revolutionary potential of the orgone, it is highly unlikely that multiplying these data further or putting them on video will bring about such a conversion. Yet, these Reichians see no better way to spend their "research" efforts than to keep repeating these supposed "proofs", and to pose as champions of enlightenment in the face of the continued deafness of the world.
In addition, the obsession with endless reproduction of observable phenomena also has to do with the fact that, like so many other brands of "alternative science", Reichianism operates under the banner of the pseudo-principle that "seeing is believing". But believing in what, beyond the fact that one has seen, say, a difference between two thermometer readings? Can there ever be any real "seeing", or any real "phenomenon" to be seen, without understanding, without adequate conceptualization? The funny thing is that the belief in the foundational theories of modern science that these people, in major part, share with the rest of the modern world -- Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, theories of elementary particles -- is never based on any kind of "seeing", other than purely intellectual comprehension. Yet when these same people, who take for granted Quantum Mechanics without ever having seen a quantum, go to do "alternative science", they feel perfectly justified in making it into an exclusive domain of anti-intellectualism, as if the designation "alternative" suddenly liberated them from the requirement of understanding and conceptualizing, while still permitting them to call themselves "scientists" or "researchers".
This anti-intellectualism reaches grotesquely cynical proportions in those rare cases where these "alternative scientists" actually produce a piece of what passes for "theory". Below is an excerpt from a "theoretical" paper called "AETHER", by Stan Pawlak of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, published on the Keelynet site. Now admittedly Keelynet is the acknowledged National Enquirer of the "alternative energy" field, but, like the National Enquirer itself, it actually serves as a perfect crystallizer of the salient features of the environment within which it functions and which nurtures it:
1) Small subparticles come from the Sun, Stars and the centres of Galaxies. I have named these particles Aether. They take the form of magnetic planes. There are billions of them in one cubic meter. They go through our bodies with ease. One could consider Aether as the currents of the Universe. It plays a major role in the movements and energy of celestial bodies. All living organisms depend on Aether. We can call it: life energy waves. The Earth is heated inside by Aether through induction of direct current in melted metals ring.
2) These particles are the smallest chunks of magnetic and electric fields. They are also the smallest parts of an electromagnetic wave. (Photons, in comparison, are huge formations of them).
3) Aether, one can say, is an electromagnetic wave of frequency zero [sic!] which travels, of course, at the speed of light. It is inconsistent and chaotic. [...]
8) The effects of abnormal levels and polarities of this radiation on living organisms are unknown. Perhaps we could create an environment to live on the Earth for 1000 years? We could also make chambers to refresh our brain in just one hour instead sleeping 8 hours a day. Mr. Tesla experienced such a refreshment using high frequency currents. Maybe we can cure most of our diseases by using Orgone (another name for Aether) in different concentration and/or polarization etc. We could also control the weather with this technology. It already has been done.
So here we have it: the orgone is an inconsistent and chaotic electromagnetic (!) wave of frequency zero (!!), consisting of small subparticles which take the form of magnetic planes and associate into photons. Good grief! From where did Stan Pawlak get his data for this astounding proclamation? Did he get them from IOO's To-T measurements? Of course not. Such garbage can only be transcendental. Just as IOO, AORL, and PORE do not see any necessity for a theoretical exploration of the orgone which they are presumably studying, so Pawlak sees no necessity to tie his "theoretical" delirium to any experimental activity. The two are part and parcel of the same disconnection, which only reflects and continues, albeit in a distorting mirror, a de-facto disconnection characteristic of official and officiating sciences, between so-called theoretical thinking and the actual scientific exploration of living perception.
At the end of the short blurb about Trettin on the IOO site, we read:
Important Notice: Joachim Trettin completed the orgone therapy which is obligatory for professional orgonomists, and whose purpose is to ensure that the worker is freed from irrationality [sic!]. The work of the Orgone Institute IOO have nothing in common with irrational spiritualism and/or orgone-treated psychostimulating substances. Even through its ongoing developments, the work of the Institute has remained faithful to the fundamental views of Reich.
But is not the belief that orgone therapy can ensure that the subject will be "freed from irrationality", as if irrationality were a demon that orgone therapy can exorcise, just as irrational as any spiritualism? Once again, the specter of the bakerian "characterological restructuring": the patient is "freed from irrationality" and is imbued, instead, with the necessary logical rigour - rigor mortis. And is this belief "faithful to the fundamental views of Reich"? Surely not. But if it were, then it would seem to be one of those views of Reich's that call for a good healthy shakeup -- unless what one is building (as IOO emphatically claims it is not) is but another chapel in the Church of Reich.
The reader should indeed be staggered by the idiocies, the lies, the patently bogus definitions, the statements of blind faith enunciated by Reichians the world over. If the enemies of Reich murdered his life and work, these Reichians have murdered his spirit. They have turned Reich on his head - and often with the blessing of his children.
A nutshell articulation of the position of all these "research institutions", "research laboratories", and "research exchanges" is provided by the motto of the Orgone Biophysical Research Laboratory, Inc., headed by James DeMeo:
"Building Upon the Discoveries of the Internationally Recognized Natural Scientist, Wilhelm Reich, M.D."These "orgonomists" we have quoted all seem to be intent on "building" on discoveries they have made no effort to understand critically or contribute to, but which they want to present as having been validated, once and for all, by the fact that Reich is supposedly "internationally acclaimed". By whom is he internationally acclaimed? Mainly by other "orgonomists" similarly intent on "building" upon Reich's work -- i.e. using it for their own gain without contributing anything. It is a self-validating "community", in which all are permitted to vie for a piece of the pie as long as they honor the unspoken but sacred agreement of fanning the flames of the "acclaim" in whose heat the pie is baked. The piece of pie is, in some cases, being a big fish in a small marginalized pond not subject to the usual strictures of scientific "peer review"; in others it is the hope of getting rich quick by serendipitously tinkering out, under whispered advice from Reich's ghost, a bestselling gadget; in others it is the hope of magically transforming the world into a repression- free paradise; yet in others it is simply the eking out of an income from selling orgone accumulators and various so- called orgone devices. The desired gain varies, but not the principle. In the name of Wilhelm Reich...
We can only hear Reich's advice - "Do not be patient toward the killer of Life".
This commonality of principle gives so-called "orgonomy" the appearance of a united front of mystification and confusionism, especially as it is constantly and inseparably melded with peddling and marketing. PORE, for example, offers as its "featured item this summer" (which summer?) the following bogus gadget, priced at $199:
Orgone-Pulsator c 1999-2001 Los Orgones
Keep your living areas energetic with pulsating life energy. It changes lifeless energy back to living energy and without use of electric fields or electricity to do it. A must have item for houses, bedrooms, living areas, therapy and massage areas. In the past ionizers, and other devices were used to improve the energy in a room. Today we know these methods either overcharge a room or eliminate most of the good life energy while removing some of the negative energy. The Orgone-Pulsator allows you to keep the life-positive energy in the room at normal levels and change any negative energy into positive life energy without overcharging or undercharging the space you live in. It's advanced design gets life energy moving again using the scientific construction principles of an orgone accumulator.
What in the world is "lifeless energy"? And what, for that matter, is "positive life energy"? How does the Public Orgonomic Research Exchange, or anyone else, know when "lifeless energy" has been changed into "positive life energy"? What are "normal levels" of this "life-positive energy"? Who has measured them ? These Orgone-Heads? By what principle do ionizers and "other devices" (what devices?) overcharge a room or, indiscriminately, eliminate "most of the good life energy"? Who has discovered such a monstrosity? And what are the "scientific construction principles of an orgone accumulator"?
Worms eating away at Reich's corpse. This is the quality of the petty foggery pushed by PORE. Bogus devices with bogus references and bogus effects.
[NOTE. Within 24 hours of the publication
of the present article, the Los Orgones Orgone-Pulsator ceased to be
the "featured item this summer" on the PORE web site. It is still featured, however, in
"PORE's On Line Catalogue".]
Another miraculous object, the "Experimental Life-Energy
Meter", is being peddled for $259 by the Orgone Biophysical
Here we have somehow imperceptibly passed away from the
notion of a "life energy", and are presented with a
presumably interchangeable concept, that of a "life force"
(the author of this text probably learned his orgone physics
from Charles R. Kelley, Ph.D.). This force is such that all
matter and substance "contains it". How exactly does a
substance contain a force? We are also informed that what
distinguishes living matter from non-living matter is that
living matter emanates this mysterious life-force -- which,
however, is "contained" in non-living matter as well. Is
the distinction, then, that living matter "emanates" it,
while non-living matter merely "contains" it?
We also learn that:
What is "full strength"? An undiluted life field? Are we
talking about an energy, a force, or hydrogen peroxide? And
what full strength can there be but that of the hidden RF
oscillating source employed in such a meter? How, then, can
that meter measure anything but attenuation of that source?
Is that what orgone is...? Los Orgones - lift the leg!
This kind of occultism under the banner of "science" is
being purveyed by groups that supposedly have it as their
charter to promote and further Reich's work. In truth, they
promote and further what every institutional Church promotes
and furthers: mystification, obscurantism, calcification of
thought. And like any Church, this Church of Orgonomy is
splintered into mutually hostile sects whose differences are
immune to understanding. Eva Reich wars with Mary Higgins;
PORE wars with OBRL; Trettin wars with the Wilhelm Reich
Gesellschaft; Joel Carlinsky wars with James DeMeo, and on
and on. War about what? About scientific issues? Not
likely, since none of these people seem to be engaged in any
process of scientific discovery. But it is impossible to
tell, since the differences, when they are talked about, are
talked about in the tones of whispered obscurantism in
which a Church talks about a heresy. They smooth their
differences out as they smooth the body of their despot.
The wars, just like the "research", do not seem to be about
science or thought or the functioning of nature, but about
the heady mix of mystical belief, turf, territory, image,
marketing, and making a buck.
It is not even clear that these "scientists" or
"orgonomists" have any scientific conviction about the
strength of Reich's discoveries, or the strength of their
own -- and other people's -- reproductions of Reich's known
experiments. If they did, why would they be, for over 40
years, reproducing these reproductions, rather than moving
on to what is _not_ known -- especially since everything
that forms the basis of their "business as usual" lies in
this area of the unknown? They behave as if they were
truly afraid that this basis, and with it their "business as
usual", might crumble away under any serious attempt to
advance its scientific understanding. And in spite of all
their warring, they all keep to the unspoken covenant of
honoring this fear in which they are joined, and not
permitting any windows to be opened -- lest they all, like
Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkmann, might be killed by the fresh
Have you ever wondered what it is about living things that
distinguishes them from non-living matter? Evidence from
many sources today demonstrates that living creatures
emanate a life-force; in fact, all matter and substance,
whether living or not, contains some quantity of this force,
which is not electromagnetic in nature, and cannot be easily
detected by conventional methods.
There are no standards for the measurement of "life fields"
and so the device is calibrated in percent units of full
Another miraculous object, the "Experimental Life-Energy Meter", is being peddled for $259 by the Orgone Biophysical Research Laboratory:
Here we have somehow imperceptibly passed away from the notion of a "life energy", and are presented with a presumably interchangeable concept, that of a "life force" (the author of this text probably learned his orgone physics from Charles R. Kelley, Ph.D.). This force is such that all matter and substance "contains it". How exactly does a substance contain a force? We are also informed that what distinguishes living matter from non-living matter is that living matter emanates this mysterious life-force -- which, however, is "contained" in non-living matter as well. Is the distinction, then, that living matter "emanates" it, while non-living matter merely "contains" it?
We also learn that:
What is "full strength"? An undiluted life field? Are we talking about an energy, a force, or hydrogen peroxide? And what full strength can there be but that of the hidden RF oscillating source employed in such a meter? How, then, can that meter measure anything but attenuation of that source? Is that what orgone is...? Los Orgones - lift the leg!
This kind of occultism under the banner of "science" is being purveyed by groups that supposedly have it as their charter to promote and further Reich's work. In truth, they promote and further what every institutional Church promotes and furthers: mystification, obscurantism, calcification of thought. And like any Church, this Church of Orgonomy is splintered into mutually hostile sects whose differences are immune to understanding. Eva Reich wars with Mary Higgins; PORE wars with OBRL; Trettin wars with the Wilhelm Reich Gesellschaft; Joel Carlinsky wars with James DeMeo, and on and on. War about what? About scientific issues? Not likely, since none of these people seem to be engaged in any process of scientific discovery. But it is impossible to tell, since the differences, when they are talked about, are talked about in the tones of whispered obscurantism in which a Church talks about a heresy. They smooth their differences out as they smooth the body of their despot. The wars, just like the "research", do not seem to be about science or thought or the functioning of nature, but about the heady mix of mystical belief, turf, territory, image, marketing, and making a buck.
It is not even clear that these "scientists" or "orgonomists" have any scientific conviction about the strength of Reich's discoveries, or the strength of their own -- and other people's -- reproductions of Reich's known experiments. If they did, why would they be, for over 40 years, reproducing these reproductions, rather than moving on to what is _not_ known -- especially since everything that forms the basis of their "business as usual" lies in this area of the unknown? They behave as if they were truly afraid that this basis, and with it their "business as usual", might crumble away under any serious attempt to advance its scientific understanding. And in spite of all their warring, they all keep to the unspoken covenant of honoring this fear in which they are joined, and not permitting any windows to be opened -- lest they all, like Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkmann, might be killed by the fresh air.