Hip Priest

Seeking Approval

Mark E Smith gatekeeper.

The Fall are catnip for people like me who write about music. That’s paradoxical because Mark E. Smith tended to hold the form and its practitioners in contempt: “they think [music] journalism is a subculture, which it isn't.” Songs like “Printhead” and “Mere Pseud Mag. Ed” express his frustrations with journalism. The Pseud Mag Editor in question is subjected to an extended putdown concerning his facial hair, inclination to enjoy curry, his johnny-come-lately music taste, “A fancied wit that's imitation of Rumpole of Bailey.” Ouch.

Specific journalists are even singled out, fixed in bile like mosquitos in amber: Gary Bushell of Sounds on the withering “C'n'C-S Mithering” in which he laments “My journalist acquaintances, go soft, go places, On record company expenses,” of “Various Times”, Smith remarks “Sometimes though on stage I change that verse to insult [Ian] Penman.” Often he was just rude. A "masterclass" interview with Michael Bracewell at the ICA collapsed abruptly after a desultory 37 minutes when Smith got up to leave, asking, “Mind if I split?

On one level this is because the strategies of music journalism, a profession centred on the granting of approval or disapproval of certain music, clash with Mark E. Smith’s own penchant for the same tactics. How do the hacks get one over on such a superior individual? It’s a struggle for the high ground. It's ironic that the pinnacle of Smith’s sarcasm towards the music industry, the album he thought he’d release before retiring, “Hex Enduction Hour” was the record critics love the most.

It's not even as though there seemed to be much design behind his dislike of certain journalists. Perhaps surprisingly he often seemed to give a hard time to his fellow Northerners in the media. For instance, Smith makes no effort whatsoever to put a nervous Lauren Laverne at ease on an episode of Transmission and, rather movingly, Frank Skinner has to implore him to be nice to him in the full length cut of this interview (which has sadly disappeared from YouTube). I thought I saw a pattern there, but then he’s very sweet to other Northerners, John Doran who he teases and Tony Herrington of The Wire who interviewed him back in the nineties. And against all the odds, we can watch him warm to the laddish London media wag Paul Thompson on Night Network.

Fall fans also seek approval from Smith. Unlike The Grateful Dead, who they are often compared with, and who cherished their audience to the degree that they would fence off an area of the auditorium for their bootleggers, Smith withholds his approval just as he did to his beleaguered musicians: “I don’t have any truck with musicians at all, I don’t like guitarists, I don’t like bass players, I don’t like drummers, I don’t like keyboard players”. The tradition of passing the microphone into the audience during “Hip Priest” (or “Big New Prinz”) for them to cheer “He is not appreciated,” is, as Stewart Lee pointed out, about as close as Smith got to sanctioning the audience.

Who did Mark E. Smith like? In “Gramme Friday” he offers the following insight, “The people I like, live in kitchens and halls…” These are not the people who live in offices, bedrooms and sitting rooms - the suggestion is that they are the people who choose the margins over the centre.

Hip Priest

This granting of approval, by MES or for that matter music journalists, is the key mechanism of a priesthood. It’s the crux of the relationship between the guru and their shishyas."Hip Priest" is the name of a track on The Fall’s “Hex Enduction Hour” and it’s about Smith himself: “Cause I'm a hip priest, People only need me when they're down and gone to seed…It's appreciation half won, And they hate their allegiance to hip preacher one.” Central to it is the aforementioned refrain repeated throughout, “He is not appreciated.

M.R. James

This identification with the clergy is, all told, unusual in Rock. I can think of Alex Chilton’s “High Priest” and the band Judas Priest, but Smith’s version feels like he might actually be an Anglican or Catholic vicar, not even an object of mockery like The Smiths' “Vicar in a Tutu”. A priest, for instance, like the French rector (or sacristan) in M.R. James’ ghost story “Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book” who relievedly offloads the scrapbook of “the unprincipled Canon Alberic, who had doubtless plundered the Chapter library of St Bertrand” to an itinerant collector and won’t accept more than two hundred and fifty francs for the tome. This story possibly the inspiration for The Fall's “Spectre vs. Rector”.

But there’s also Lucian’s father in Arthur Machen’s semi-autobiographical “The Hill of Dreams” who “…sometimes made the strangest remarks for a clergyman… People said they would often have liked to asked Mr. Taylor to garden-parties, and tea-parties, and other cheap entertainments, if only he had not been such an extreme man and so queer.” Smith, who loved words and etymology, relished the fact that he was born and lived in Prestwick in the Salford area of Manchester. The town’s name derives from the Old English “presost” and “wic” meaning “Priest’s Retreat.”

Pulp Benediction

Harry Clarke's 1926 Illustration of Goethe's Faust with its likeness of MES.

Smith does not arrive at his spiritual ideas through the usual channels – not from proselytizing gurus – and not, like the Hippies, from Eastern ideas mediated by Herman Hesse, Jung, or Alan Watts. His influences are not high-brow either. Discussing The Fall track "Dktr Faustus" he commented, “People go to me, 'Is that Faustus by Goethe or Faustus by Mann?', but I read it in a fairytale book. Somebody gave me a copy of this Goethe book and the drawings of Faustus are the spitting image of me. But I couldn't cope with the book, too hard. Not that I'm a simple fellow or anything but you have to give those things a lot of time.

These ideas mostly come from “Pulp” Science Fiction and Horror writing. Some Science Fiction books like Phillip K Dick’s “Valis” or Roger Zelazny’s “Lord of Light” (maybe even Arthur C Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama” or Ursula Le Guin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness”?) had connections to the counterculture. The counterculture itself was inextricably linked to a wave of spiritual ideas coming from the East. However, most of the writing Smith was tapping into reached further back in time and was conjoined to fin de siècle movements like The Order of the Golden Dawn, Theosophy and Spiritualism.

Smith liked H.P. Lovecraft, whose monster of “The Call of Cthulthu” and “The Dunwich Horror” appears in the song “N.W.R.A.”, “Body a tentacle mess”. He quite liked M.R. James’ “Ghost Stories”. He liked the more recent, seemingly disgraced, and by then unfashionable, occult fiction of Colin Wilson: “The Black Room” and “Ritual in the Dark”. But He LOVED the writing of early twentieth century Arthur Machen. “Machen’s fucking brilliant.” In his autobiography "Renegade" he comments, “He lives in this alternative world: the real occult’s not in Egypt, but in the pubs of the East End and the stinking boats of the Thames – on your doorstep, basically.

Psychiatric Medication

Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

One reason I find Smith’s vision so engaging is that, perhaps only like Allen Ginsberg (who discusses the matter in this video), he grasped how the phenomena of spirituality, psychiatric conditions and the use of drugs form a single nexus. This conjunction was one of the revelations that came to me writing my book "Retreat" and it's been an impetus to write this series of articles on Music and Spirtiuality.

Smith liked Ginsberg’s writing. He thought he was a “more interesting writer” than William Burroughs. Ginsberg “was the one who took all the drugs as well. His lines are clearer, less dense. He doesn’t hide as much as Burroughs.” The Fall’s “In My Area”, “I have seen the birth of bad, I have seen declining tracks, I have seen the madness in my area,” is a pocket version of Ginsberg’s “Howl” (“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix”)

Both the Religious and Acid heads try to imagine their practices without either admitting or understanding that their experiences are of a piece with madness. To a great extent Religion is a social device organised to remove the threatening psychotic overtones present in Spirituality. Part of Smith’s unflinching understanding of this confluence between modes which Western society on the one hand endorses (Religion and Alcohol) and stigmatises on the other (Spirituality, Insanity and any other drugs) can be found in his comfort with the idea of the lack of any distinction between pharmaceutically prescribed drugs and street drugs. “… the time – in the mid-70s – in Manchester there were a lot of barbiturate things, you could go to the doctor and get barbiturates, I was just observing that, like Valium was a big thing; mother’s little helper or something, you know what I mean. A lot of people were zonked out of their heads every time you’d go out or go to work. Nothing’s really changed if you think about it; I mean nowadays the medical profession give ’em over the counter drugs, Prozac and shit like that, which is very dangerous. But a hundred years ago it was Laudanum wasn’t it? To keep the women quiet…

It’s surprising that this needs to be pointed out, but even as prescription opiates are commonly-used in the Trap milieu and anti-depressants are so widely prescribed, people still cling to a distinction between the two. Smith says, again of Machen: “He wrote a great drug story, The Novel of the White Powder. This is way before Crowley and all the other commercial occultists.

Arthur Machen.

The short story “Novel of the White Powder” appears in the Machen collection “The Three Impostors” and tells of how a Miss Leicester, concerned about her hard-studying brother's fits of dizziness and fearful dreams, gets a Doctor Haberden to prescribe him an “innocent-looking white powder”. The brother takes to the medicine with great gusto, “We were just finishing dinner, and he quaffed off his medicine with a parade of carousal as if it had been wine from the choicest bin.” However, his honeymoon with the substance soon comes to an end and Miss Leicester sees a “stranger” before her. She frets to the doctor, “As I understand all the symptoms he complained of have disappeared long ago, why should he go on taking the stuff when he is quite well?” It transpires that Mr Sayce the chemist has given him the wrong drug, and the Doctor visiting the brother is horrified: “I, who have dealt with death all my life, and have dabbled with the melting ruins of the earthly tabernacle. But not this! Oh, not this!” Eventually, almost comically, the brother dissoves into a “dark and putrid mass, seething with corruption and hideous rottenness, neither liquid nor solid, but melting and changing before our eyes, and bubbling with unctuous oily bubbles like boiling pitch.

Mark on the cover of Manchester's answer to Time Out.

When he was working as a shipping clerk according to the lyrics of “Rowche Rumble” Smith “...sent 70 pounds instead of 70 p to pharmaceutical company Rowche AG”. Dave Haslam recounted in an issue of Manchester’s “City Life” how “Mark found himself responsible for a forty ton load of barbiturates from Roche which had to be stored in a croft in Manchester. He kept stuffing barbiturates into his bottom drawer.” An update on The Stones’ “Mother's Little Helper” the lyrics of the song run “Menopause wives are hard to handle, No culture or love, no gambles, The dull manage, especially smashed on Rowche Rumble.” Presumably Smith and all his mates filled their boots.

In his autobiography “Renegade” he further explores the boundaries between illegal and prescription drugs. He disliked Ecstacy, “It’s like a gross antidepressant mixed with speed.” “I’m not a big fan of pot, either. It cuts people off from their feelings, like Prozac… At least you know where you are with booze.” This too is the meat of their cover of the sixties “punk” classic “Mr Pharmacist”, "Oh Mr. Pharmacist I can plead, Gimme some of that powder I need, Mr. Pharmacist". To a great extent all drugs are viewed from the perspective of self-medication, tools for "sorting yourself out".


LSD itself was a psychiatric drug which broke loose of the medical establishment. In “Renegade” Smith says, “I took acid before I had a packet of cigarettes in fact, at fifteen. I was on acid before I even had pot; pot was for hippies. I had no problem with the acid because it was proper LSD.” By which last remark Smith means he didn’t have a bad trip because it wasn’t “street” acid but the real thing. He continues, “If anything I was doing acid to get away from the cider clubs and sherry clubs… the bikers were doing a lot of acid, and I was vaguely connected to their scene.

Psychedelics aren’t mentioned gratuitously in Smith’s lyrics for the Fall. They are referred to cryptically like an insider might, and in a way that reveals a deep knowledge of acid lore. This was probably to avoid comparisons to hippies. So in “Cary Grant’s Wedding” Grant’s LSD trips in therapy with Dr Mortimer Hartman are mentioned obliquely, “Buster Keaton he turned up, He wasn't an old woman, He didn't take [loudly] hallucinogens.

In the song “Fantastic Life” he refers to “The Siberian Mushroom Santa” – a very in-the-know reference to the idea that the Father Christmas mythology was connected to the Amanita Muscaria mushroom. This, in truth ineffective psychedelic, was the basis for Gordon Wasson’s almost certainly incorrect hypothesis that the mushroom was the “soma” drug of the ancient Indian text the Rig Veda.

In “Two Steps Back” Smith sings, “I don't need the acid factories, I've got mushrooms in the fields”, this was a reference to the Operation Julie raids on 1976 in which police shut down the UK’s largest LSD manufacturing network. As a result of the raids it was estimated the price of LSD tabs rose from £1 to £5, and removed 90% of LSD from the British market. Martin Bramah told my friend Simon Reynolds, “We were anti-drugs at first and thought we could reach the psychedelic thing without the drugs. But in a club someone gave us some microdots, when we were about 16. The next day we went to Heaton Park and dropped it and spent the whole day on LSD. Heaton Park is a stately home, the nearest thing to a common in Manchester. And then we discovered psylocibin mushroom were growing in Heaton Park for free. Someone told us that there were fields of these mushrooms. So from that point we were kind of pickled in magic mushrooms and LSD. We just made it our own.” Bramah adds, “The LSD gave you the sixties psychedelic experience, but the mushrooms gave us a darker slant on things, awakening things in our soul that were forbidden.

It seems likely that this period of psychedelic experimentation was what pushed Una Baines over the edge into her nervous breakdown. Writing my book "Retreat" I came across many such examples of when less robust egos, or people with troubled backgrounds, became unmoored after using psychedelics. These drugs temporarily dissolve the ego and in Jung's terminology can give energy to previously dormant unconscious elements of the psyche. On the face of it Smith, hard man, seems unaffected, but psychedelics evidently opened him up to a strata of experience which, as much as he relished it, he also felt conflicted about. It was a strata which required further medication to negotiate.


The Wire September 1996.

When The Wire interviewed Smith in 1996, upon surveying Tony Herrington’s questions, his opening gambit was “I used to be psychic, but I drank my way out of it.” We can chart this psychic era of The Fall as lasting between 1978 and 1986 and it’s fascinating to hear Mark credit alcoholism for his integration after psychedelics and his near decade-long exploration of “etheric” psychic techniques.

Alcohol’s use, or abuse, in this respect is not uncommon. Alan Watts, the popular spiritual philosopher of the sixties, who after a more austere career exploring Zen Buddhism, was “turned on” to acid by Timothy Leary also switched to alcohol late in his life. R.D. Laing, the Anti-psychiatrist who saw himself as Leary’s British counterpart, as well as dishing LSD out in therapy, took whopping amounts himself and also wound up an alcoholic. Whilst alcohol elevates one from the mundane, as a drug it also makes one feel intensely embodied, grounded in some respect. I’ve always thought that the Christian church’s sanction of alcohol, for example in the communion, relates to an endorsement of this integrated experience.

Smith was confident that he was not an alcoholic, a condition he defined as "drinking in private". In "Renegade" he reflects, presumably whilst nursing a Whyte and Mackay (his favourite tipple, “it’s a lovely drink”), that “The worst thing I could do now is absolutely stop.” He apparently never got hangovers, “The only hangovers I’ve ever had were off ecstacy. It’s not nice… You’re drying up your brain with that stuff.

However, he was evidently fascinated by the phenomenon of alcoholism. The character of The Fall’s “Fiery Jack” must in part be based on legendary drunkard and speed freak, the beat author Jack Kerouac, not least because the lyrics quote lines from “On The Road”: “I sat and drank, For three decades, I'm 45, Cause I am Jack, From a burning ring, And my face is slack, And I think think think, I just drink drink drink, Too fast to work, Too fast to write, I just burn burn burn.

Click to enlarge innit.

In NME’s regular feature “Portrait of the Artist as a Consumer” in 1981 Smith refers to two celebrated black and white films on the subject of alcoholism.“Days of Wine and Roses”, the film version with Jack Lemmon, and “Lost Weekend” starring the Welsh-American Ray Milland. Both films are referred to in Fall lyrics, the former punned on as “Days of booze and roses” in “A Figure Walks”; the latter namechecked by a reference to Milland in “Spectre vs. Rector”, “M.R. James vivat vivat, Yog Sothoth Ray Milland, Van Greenway R. Corman, Sludge hai choi choi choi son

Jack Lemmon in "Days of Wine and Roses".

They are gripping but also excruciating films, both available to rent on YouTube. When it comes to mind-blowing depictions of the horrors of alcoholism they are almost level-pegging. Creepy Lemmon’s experience of delirium tremens whilst straightjacked in a lunatic asylum is heavy. However, the most chilling must be Ray Milland’s D.T. hallucination of a bat and rodent. The bat, clearly a clumsy prop which for some reason in no way undermines, even exacerbates its devilish quality, attacks a mouse that has worked its way through an eye-level crack in his apartment wall. Truly terrifying.

Imaginary bat eats imaginary mouse.

I’ve always questioned the effectiveness of attempting to cure alcoholism with LSD. Certainly, when outside researchers looked at the statistics of the Saskatchewan Weyburn clinic which Humphrey Osmond and Abram Hofer ran, and where they gave single “overwhelming” doses of LSD to alcoholics, whilst there were some success stories, in general Osmond and Hoffer’s claims did not stand up. AA’s founder Bill Wilson was certainly convinced; but the history of his engagement with psychedelics has been gently airbrushed away. Quaintly, fringe psychiatrists continue to try and dry people out with psychedelics to this day.

I think it makes more sense to understand LSD and Alcohol as being somehow complimentary, different sides of the same coin, or perhaps different ends of the same see-saw. One is not likely to cure you of the effects of the other. Refreshingly, for Smith they were both simply drugs.

Mental Illness

Kay Carroll on the rear sleeve of "77-Early Years-79"

Right at The Fall’s inception Smith was exposed to prescription psychiatric drugs which the band used recreationally. Mark’s girlfriend Una Baines was training as a psychiatric nurse at Prestwich Hospital, which Smith describes as “the biggest mental hospital in Europe”. In "Renegade" he remembers how drugs were used there as a chemical cosh to subdue inpatients, “They used to give them Largactyl and Mandrax for depression, heavy downers… I took them for kicks just to see what they were like… You’d be lucky if you had two pints in your local and you could make it home with half a Mandrax in you. Out of your box.” This experience inspired the lyrics of The Fall’s early song “Repetition”, “Oh mental hospitals, They put electrodes in your brain, And you're never the same.

Mark’s next girlfriend, and The Fall’s fearsome manager, Kay Carroll entered into the orbit of Una’s Kingswood Road flat after meeting Baines at the hospital where she too was a psychiatric nurse. Mark describes taking their patients down the pub for “a bit of normality” before returning them to the hospital where the nurses would say, ““Now, Terry we must try some yoga.” Playing them Pink Floyd and all that.” Deep in this milieu, Smith was evidently aware of the countercultural discourse around asylums, if not from Erving Goffman, or even R.D. Laing, the “anti-psychiatrist” who by the late seventies was fading into the background, then certainly from “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. In “Live at The Witch Trials” he refers to Arthur Janov’s Primal Scream therapy, “R and R as Primal Scream” – which line, not the actual therapy itself, gave Bobby Gillespie the idea for his band’s name.

It’s interesting to hear Smith mirroring Erving Goffman’s theory that what caused people to be sectioned were “contingencies” which Goffman describes thus, “...a psychotic man is tolerated by his wife until she finds herself a boyfriend, or by his adult children until they move from a house to an apartment; an alcoholic is sent to a mental hospital because the jail is full, and a drug addict because he declines to avail himself of psychiatric treatment on the outside; a rebellious adolescent daughter can no longer be managed at home because she now threatens to have an open affair with an unsuitable companion.

Smith himself observes: “I’d say to them, “What are you in for, Terry” or whoever it was, and he’d tell me this story of when he was eleven and he’d nicked two bob out of his mam’s purse, so they had him sectioned. And there was one woman whose mam just didn’t like her. She shouted a bit too much: bunged in the mental hospital for fifteen years.” In the song “Put Away” Mark has a bit of fun with the idea of being sectioned, he scats, “Prisoner for a year and a day, Putting me away but I'll be back someday.

It's poignant that Smith would say to Una and Kay, “Who are the patients and who are the nurses here?” because as Martin Bramah, the earliest Fall guitarist, describes to Simon Reynolds, “Una was very highly strung and she did have two serious psychotic breakdowns in that period. When she left The Fall, she had a year when she went completely psychotic and anorexic and lost a lot of weight… We were really scared of social services and mental hospitals. Una had been a mental health nurse before she got into music, so she didn’t want to end up on the other end of that scene.

MES on the rear sleeve of "77-Early Years-79"

It seems like Smith’s acuity always meant that he was able to modulate his behaviour, to rationalize his own symptoms of “mental illness” to understand them in entirely valid and more sophisticated contexts and thereby avoid being either medicated or sectioned. Often his strategy is one of an artistic detournement of the tics of the insane. On the back cover photo of Smith on "77-Early Years-79", he contorts his mouth mimicking an inpatient. In what are among my favourite Fall songs, “New Face In Hell” and “Muzorewi’s daughter” he screeches and squawks as though he were demented. In “Psycho Mafia” he describes his outsider gang of ambulatory schizophrenics, “Spit on the streets, Shot heads and teeth, Our eyes are red, Our brains are dead, Going on about drugs.

The Young Jung at the turn of the century: "A shadow walks behind me".

However, sometimes it’s apparent that beyond his interminable rumination and paranoia even he, the "Hip Priest", is overwhelmed by forces beyond his personality, when, as Jung puts it “a complex of the collective unconscious becomes associated with the ego, ie becomes conscious, it is felt as strange, uncanny, and at the same time fascinating.” In “Underground Medicin” he confesses “I had a psychosomatic voice, At one time it might come back. Now! It’s back.”” In an interview with John Robb, Martin Bramah revealed that Mark saw a “doctor” for a psychosomatic voice problem. In 1985 as his finances were unravelling, a terrifying threat to the ego’s stability, he had something of a major collapse, even if he describes it with something approaching familiarity. “Just before I went bankrupt I started hallucinating figures. People would be ringing me up about shows and I wouldn’t even be listening. I was hallucinating figures. I remember walking around and all the nice trees had numbers on them. It was worse than LSD.


Mark E. Smith was famous for his claims of what he called precognition or pre-cog. In other contexts this is called clairvoyance or, when deliberately produced, divination. There are a few examples of this which we should go through in order of their impressiveness.

Probably the least convincing claim I have heard for Mark’s psychic superpowers is when he said that the lyrics for his song “Bombast” predicted the Gulf War. The lyrics: “Feel the wrath of my bombast! Bazhdad! Bazhdad! Eat death! Bombast! Bombast”. Smith commented: “The weird thing is that 'Bombast', from 'This Nation's Saving Grace', predicted it all - it's like all about Baghdad and bombs raining down." Next!

Terry Waite.

On the Bend Sinister LP there’s the song “Terry Waite Sez”. Waite was an envoy for the Church of England who travelled to the Lebanon to try and secure the release of four hostages. At school I remember Terry Waite coming to talk to us in assembly. The Fall song was actually named after a guy Mark met who was coincidentally called Terry Waite. Mark mentioned to Steve Barker in interview, “there was this bloke in the pub and the things he came out with, you couldn't believe it!...and his name was Terry Waite!” So it wasn’t actually the more famous Terry Waite at all! When Waite was kidnapped his family, no doubt in desperation, and partly owing to Smith’s reputation as a psychic, called his record company Beggars Banquet because, in his wife Brix’s words, “They believed there might be clues in the lyrics as to where he’s being held.” Next!

The 1996 Manchester bombing.

Slightly more eerie is the suggestion that Mark predicted the Lorry bomb by the IRA in Manchester City Centre in June 1996 in his lyrics for “Powder Keg” written that same year: “I had a dream, Bruised and coloured, It going to hurt me, Manchester city center… You better listen he's a powder keg. You better listen to me.” This was convincing enough that The Sun newspaper called up Smith, and combined with the Terry Waite story, harangued him for more inside information… followed in turn by The Daily Star. On the one hand, it’s equally possible that this was about the earlier 1992 Manchester bombing. On the other, as far back as 1979’s “N.W.R.A.” Smith wrote, “The Arndale had been razed.” – a reference to Manchester’s shopping centre that the bomb was indeed detonated beside. Spooky!

Allan Kardec's practical sequel to "The Spirit's Book."

These three examples are interesting from the point of view that they could be classed as divination through automatic writing. Smith himself says, “Like I’ve found a lot of my writing is actual prophecy” (my emphasis). In Allan Kardec’s classic Spiritism survey “The Book on Mediums,” he touches on the topic as “Direct Writing” – “…its chief utility has hitherto been the additional proof thus afforded of the intervention of an occult power in the production of phenomena appreciable by our senses, power which has found, in this species of writing, a new method of manifesting itself.” The psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who wrote extensively on the occult, recounts how colleagues Binet and Féré found that with one of their patients, “when a pencil is put into the anaesthetic hand of an hysteric, she will immediately produce long letter in automatic writing whose content is foreign to her consciousness.” It’s at least conceptually plausible that the process of Smith’s poetic lyric writing opened him up to such “messages”, though of course the results are, in truth, not entirely impressive.

There’s a wonderfully useful psychiatric term, delusions of reference, which is used to describe the experience of Bipolar disorder wherein coincidences appear to be meaningful. It is defined as a “False belief that insignificant remarks, events, or objects in one's environment have personal meaning or significance.” This clearly applies as much to the idea that one is predicting the future as to subjective experiences like synchronicity. That Smith "magics" these supposedly startling examples of precognition from such thin base material certainly implies he may have been experiencing such delusions.

However, Peter T. Struck’s “Divination and Human Nature. A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity” describes how some of the leading philosophers of the ancient world Plato, Aristotle, Posidonious and Iamblichus, “…a rather long list of singularly powerful minds [meditate] on what for them is an undeniable sense that we humans sometimes acquire knowledge – on matters past, present, and future – in deeply enigmatic ways.” Struck’s own conclusion is that “Our ability to know exceeds our capacity to understand that ability.” “…it is not uncommon that we find ourselves in the position of knowing things, about which, if pressed, we cannot quite develop a clear account of how we know them.” Accordingly he positions “divinatory knowledge within the classical thought-world in a way that is more or less analogous to the position of the modern concept of intuition.” In many ways, however, intuition is as unearthly and mystical a phenomenon. It is just one we are more comfortable with.


The Matterhorn ride in the background.

When visiting Disneyland with his wife Brix and her father the following event occurred, here compiled in Brix’s words from two different sources: “I convinced Mark to go to Disneyland with me and my grandfather…We went on this ride called the Matterhorn...It's huge, you can see it from the freeway...it's a scary bobsled ride that goes through tunnels of the Matterhorn. We got off the ride and I swear to fucking God Mark was crying, I asked what was wrong and all he could say was that the ride was evil. I said it was ridiculous as I'd been going on it since I was eight. To calm him down I took him on the 'It's A Small World' boat ride which is the cheesiest, old-school baby ride with dolls.

Ten minutes after we get off, a woman fails out of her sleigh, gets trapped and decapitated by the oncoming one. They couldn't get her out, there was fire-engines everywhere coming out of the bushes, and all these Micky Mouse characters rushing out to distract people. It took them seven hours to get the body off. Everyone was pretending nothing had happened, they were all going 'Disneyland is wonderful land'. Mark was saying, 'Whaaat??? There's a woman up there with no head on', but Micky Mouse was just laughing away. Mark thought it was like a bad trip.” This event, a very unpleasant coincidence, is peculiar by any standards. On whatever level we want to acknowledge it, Smith intuits that something is deeply wrong. The end result is what might be The Fall’s most powerful and moving song, “Disney’s Dream Debased” in which Mark describes and contextualises the incident. The lyrics are so wonderful as to be worth presenting in full:

The day the dream went right back to base   
Was blood on the ground
Blood on the sand
Blood all around
Tracks of the ride of the bright murder hawk
The day the dream debased and went home
And the people did mill to those adrenaline rails
And everything stopped
The nurses climbed up
Our faces pale

And there was no doubt at all
No two ways about it
Was the day Disney's dream debased
Saw a mouse, who flapped at my wife
And she told him what,
And she told him what had gone down
Who then did not know the extent of the show
The evil had gave in the mouth of the ride
And though Minnie and Mickey, and Brer and Pluto
Secretly prayed

There was no doubt at all
No two ways about it
Was the day Disney's dream debased
Dark glasses on Western Union
Man the gates
The dream, an innocent meets her fate
Far away from Appalachia and the city hate
The day
The day
The day
The day

When there was no doubt at all
No maybe about it
Was the day Disney's dream debased
I remember it from
The back of my mind
The tune that I wrote
In fond dreams
Anthem to
Creator of all that had stopped

So there was no doubt at all
No two ways about it
It was the day Disney's dream debased

Maurice Sendak draws one of his Wild Things with Mickey Mouse.

Smith evidently views Disney’s original vision in a positive light. He was, as we will come to discuss later, particularly interested in comics, no doubt viewing cartooon characters as "archetypes" to use Jung’s term. Disney, who was not in fact a freemason as is sometimes mooted, was routinely sneered at by “High” culture. This passage by the children’s author Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild things are”) is very interesting in this regard:

Those were the Depression years and we had to make do. Making do-for kids, at least - was mostly a matter of comic books and movies. Mickey Mouse, unlike the great gaggle of child movie stars of that period, did not make me feel inferior. Perhaps it was typical for kids of my generation to suffer badly from unthinking parental comparisons with the then famous silver-screen moppets. There is no forgetting the cheated, missed-luck look in my father's eyes as he turned from the radiant image of Shirley Temple back to the three ungolden children he'd begotten. Ah, the alluring American dream of owning a Shirley Temple girl and a Bobby Breen boy! I never forgave those yodeling, tap-dancing, brimming-with-glittering-life miniature monsters. But Mickey Mouse had nothing to do with any of them. He was our buddy. My brother and sister and I chewed his gum, brushed our teeth with his toothbrush, played with him in a seemingly endless variety of games, and read about his adventures in comic strips and storybooks. Best of all, our street pal movie star. In the darkened theater, the sudden flash of his brilliant, wild, joyful face-radiating great golden beams - filled me with an intoxicating, unalloyed pleasure. In school, I learned to despise Walt Disney, I was told that he corrupted the fairy tale and that he was the personification of poor taste. I began to suspect my own instinctual response to Mickey. It took me nearly twenty years to rediscover the pleasure of that first response and fuse it with my own work as an artist…” Mickey Mouse is, after all, what? A rodent.

The weird-looking earliest Mickey Mouse.

Sendak too thought that "Disney’s Dream" had become debased, “That golden-age Mickey metamorphosed, alas, into less original forms roughly at the end of his first decade. Every addition and modification to Mickey’s proportions after that time was a mistake. He became a suburbanite, abandoning his street friends and turning into a shapeless, mindless bon vivant. Those subtle and not-so-subtle nuances pushed Mickey out of art and into commerce.


Another aspect of Mark E. Smith "the seer" is his dabbling in actively seeking to read the future. Psychics are a familiar aspect of working class and obviously gypsy culture. Mark, “used to hang around with them when I was on the docks,” and noted “my mam is really into this shit.” It’s relevant perhaps to mention that the Oracle of Delphi, the Pythia, was legendarily illiterate. Again, his entrée into this world is through popular culture, for instance in books like Luke Reinhardt’s “The Diceman” (1971), which gives us The Fall song of the same name, and describes the central character, a psychiatrist, daily throwing a dice to determine his course of action; but most obviously through Tarot and its comic-book-like imagery.

From the beautiful Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck.

As in many other “spiritual” matters Mark is cautious of their New Age, Hippie trappings: “I got more interested in the Phillip K. Dick "Time Out of Joint" angle – the way certain pieces of writing have a power all to themselves, almost as if they can prophesize things. But I still did the readings. Kay [Carroll] had a lot of hippy mates, housewives with a bit of money, really, who were always seeking out people to read for them. And I had a natural talent for it. I’ve always been able to read people. My mam’s a bit like that. I never used to charge a lot, but now you can earn a fortune… When people did a tarot with me they’d walk away with their life changed. But you can’t fuck around with those things too much. You’re dealing with a force… I did the readings for a year or two. But people started coming back too much. I had to tell them to stop. You get to the point where you can’t function without it – once a week turns into twice a week… One of the rules of tarot is that you shouldn’t really take a lot of money for it, like psychics. It’s not good… I’ve got that type of face that people want advice off – I get it all the time.

This last point certainly squares with Allan Kardec’s view of the “Mental and Moral Influence of the Medium”. On the question of whether it was “absolutely impossible to obtain good communication through a medium but little advanced in point of morality,” Kardec concluded that the spirits themselves have no truck with immoral people, “…when superior spirits see a medium becoming, through his moral delinquency, the prey of deceitful spirits, they almost always bring about incidents which show up his faultiness, and thus prevent serious and well-intentioned inquirers from being taken in by him.

Of course it’s easy to be sceptical about the Tarot, in part because its claims of great antiquity (dating back to the ancient Egyptians – eyes roll) are unsubstantiated. Tarot used as a tool for divination, as opposed to a card game, its original use, only dates from the late eighteenth century. The academic Peter Struck too is sceptical, “The best modern analogue to ancient divination by this account is not horoscopes, palmistry, or Tarot cards, since, in most current valuations, these and similar practices are esoteric and self-consciously marginal.” This seems a little “holier-than-thou”. Jung slyly argued this about the I-Ching, “the Chinese sage would smilingly tell me: “Don’t you see how useful the I Ching is in making you project your hitherto unrealized thoughts into its abstruse symbolism?’” Presumably the same underlying process could work in Tarot readings, where an intuitive reader and subject negotiate their way towards unconscious intuitions.



In general Mark tried to leaven the more outré and eccentric qualities of Spirituality. He often complains about its idiocies, “I went through a phase in my teens where I read all the books on the occult. The only reason I was into it is that it's fascinating, really. But you can't really go around talking about it, or people will just come out with facts, books and lists..."oh yeah, Crowley, blah blah blah..." all these boring farts, you know.” The jibes at Crowley are obviously also an attack at the likes of Jimmy Page and David Bowie and that era of rock culture. Tarot itself was a hippie staple. In his excellent book “Season of the Witch: How the Occult saved Rock’n’Roll” Peter Bebergal points out that Led Zepellin’s signs, or more correctly “sigils”, were lifted almost whole from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck.

When Mark's "spirituality" ramps up we can almost certainly see the influence on him of his wife Brix. She, who is integral to many of The Fall’s greatest moments on record, is endearingly superstitious in the way only Americans can be. Brix’s intense belief in Mark’s psychic powers may have played into his vanity of him possessing supernatural gifts. Commenting on the rollercoaster incident in “Disney’s Dream Debased” Brix is, if anything, more superstitious than Mark, “The person who died was Dolly Regene Young. Which was even more bizarre because my nickname from my grandparents was Dolly.” The idea that this is a meaningful coincidence is probably stretching it.

The Questors Disco. Image discovered by dannyno.

The early Fall guitarist and Gurdjieff fan Martin Bramah clearly influenced Mark as well. Bramah is affectionately described in “Renegade” as always “meditating”. He is doing Tarot readings at the same time as Mark where, with Martin, the “drugs prevailed” and “it got ridiculous”. Bramah himself, I think credibly, claims to have introduced Smith to the original venue, an actual disco held at the Manchester Psychic Centre, that was the basis for The Fall’s Song “Psychic Dancehall”: “"Psychic Dancehall" was a story I told Mark about a club I used to go to - a little disco - above a spiritualist church in Prestwich, called Questers Psychic Disco. It was a rough little dive, a pre-18 place, because there was no alcohol. It got raided by the police one night. I didn't know Mark at that point, and Mark never went, but later I told him about this place, and the "outside" of Prestwich became a strong theme in his writing.

In many respects Bramah’s wonderful second group, The Blue Orchids, were the logical extension of this strand of The Fall, and having studied the “etheric” meltdown of sixties culture it's no surprise to me that in their first run the band imploded after a few early singles, one LP and a swansong EP. Bramah comments on their implosion “We were taking all kinds of drugs that are bad for your mental health, and the band started to fragment.

Psychiatric Spiritualism

"Detective Instinct." Arthur Conan Doyle in Spiritual Photograph.

While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle argued to the psychiatrist Harold Dearden that many cases of mental illness were in fact examples of spirit possession, Jung took a different view upon the apparent connection between the two phenomena. In Jung’s astonishingly extensive case study, “On the Psychology of Occult Phenomena” [1902] he argues of the “excellent” young female medium “S.W.” whose seances he attends on multiple occasions, that her earlier “successful” forays came in tandem with actual psychiatric symptoms, somnambulism, displays of catalepsy with “flexibilitis cerea” (a waxlike malleability of the body common in catatonic schizophrenics) and a sudden pallor which gave her face a waxen anemic hue that was “positively frightening.

The waxy limbs of a catatonic schizophrenic.

In this early phase when “S.W.” had visions, according to Jung, she, an uneducated girl “made exclusive use of literary German, which she spoke with perfect ease and assurance.” Although in time it transpires the young woman, whose psychiatric symptoms dissipated, was craftily studying Justinus Kerner’s book “The Clairvoyante of Prevorst” [1829] and, under the guise of a trance, was eavesdropping upon the learned conversation of the credulous attendees. She started to modulate her behaviour, with a view to refining her performance and loses her “mojo”. Jung becomes less and less entranced. But although he concludes “The phenomena lost their plasticity and became ever shallower”, he still remains convinced by her earliest performances, “At all events, considering the youth and mentality of the patient, it must be regarded as something quite out of the ordinary.

There’s a familiar motif with this fraudulent behaviour, one which Mark E. Smith himself notes in “Psychic Dancehall #2” when he recounts a famous historical case, “Helen Duncan was accused of being a fraudulent medium, They burst into a seance over in Portsmouth, over a chemists shop, A length of ectoplasm or a suit of cheesecloth, Was grabbed but it got away.” In “Afterlife”, his excellent if credulous summary of Psychics and Mediums, Colin Wilson says, “The Hoaxers had all been teenagers. The majority of people quoted in “Phantasms” [Edmund Gurney of the SPR’s “Phantasms of the Living”] are respectable middle-aged citizens, many of them clergymen…” However, as true as this is, as per my emphasis of “respectable”, Wilson doesn’t go far enough. As much as the psychic modality relates to mental illness it can also be viewed in socio-political terms as the triumph of the working class over the pseudo-intellectual decadence of the middle classes; so often, it seems, pulling one over on the bourgeoisie.


If he is sometimes evasive about pre-cog, and non-committal about Tarot, Mark is yet more guarded about his belief in past lives. There are many references in The Fall’s lyrics which suggest to me that, possibly on LSD, Mark had these kinds of experiences, for instance in “Gross Chapel-British Grenadiers” with his adaption of the traditional marching song "British Grenadiers." “Then let us fill a bumper, And drink a health to those, Who carry caps and pouches, And wear the louped clothes. May they and their commanders live happy in their scaly years.

The Cottingley Fairies.

In “Spoilt Victorian Child” in the lyric “Past trees the fairies are flying,” he refers, as though channeling the spirit of the times, to the Cottingley sisters who, in 1917, took pictures of themselves with cardboard fairies. The sisters admitted to the fraud only in 1985 – still claiming one of the photos was real! LOL. In the heated Spiritualist climate of the epoch when The Society for Psychical Research was still in its prime, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a committed Spiritualist whose links to the movement in his later life irreparably damaged his relationships with distinguished friends Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and King George V, included the photographs in an article for The Strand Magazine which he hoped would inspire the public’s belief in the paranormal. In “Various Times” Smith travels, not to the Victorian era but to wartime in Germany, “Alright we're going to go back to 1940, No money, And I live in Berlin, I think I'll join up, Become a camp guard, No war for me, An old Jew's face dripping red.

Experiences of past lives are relatively common experiences with LSD, and the psychedelic literature is full of them, for instance LSD Psychoanalyst Stan Grof’s book “When The Impossible Happens” features a whole chapter describing various such psychic events including an account of Grof’s own three-dose LSD session at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Centre. This was arranged by Stan to get to the bottom of a puzzling relationship he had with a woman called Monica. The confusion between the couple apparently threaded through a long series of lives stretching back to, you guessed it, Ancient Egypt.

Robert Crumb's The Religious Experience of Phillip K. Dick.

Mark E. Smith was a fan of the author Phillip K. Dick’s. Describing the superstition of Martin Bramah as one of those people “always looking at things you can’t see at all” he remarks, “I'm more interested in stuff like where Philip K. Dick is going. 'Cause it's real, you know?” Smith was evidently impressed by Dick’s experience, probably triggered by a high dose of Sodium Pentothal he had been given after the extraction of a wisdom tooth, when the author saw the world as that of the apostolic Christian times of Ancient Rome. When Smith cries out “Exit this Roman shell” in the song “Leave the Capitol” he is no doubt referring to this same idea of the permanence of those power structures of antiquity.

From the library of MES.

The most startling experience Smith discusses happened on a trip to America, “I still believe that things leave vibrations. America, for instance; I’ve visited all these old Civil War sites and the Atmosphere is incredible. You can almost reach out and feel it.” He lists William H. Price’s “U.S. Civil War Handbook” as one of his favourite books. This experience is explored as a reincarnation "flashback" in the song “Wings”:

The stuffing loss made me hit a time lock
I ended up in the eighteen sixties
I've been there for one hundred and twenty five years
A small alteration of the past can turn time into space

Ended up under Ardwick Bridge
With some veterans from the U.S. Civil War
They were under Irish patronage
We shot dead a stupid sergeant, but I got hit in the crossfire
The lucky hit made me hit a time lock

Amusingly, Smith even predicted his own spiritualization in “Psychic Dancehall”, “When I am dead and gone people will dance to my waves.

Super powers

In “Retreat” I compared the “siddhis”, the super powers of the Yogis often acquired through meditation, abilities like levitation or teleportation which fill the pages of Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”, with psychoses: “It’s relevant to note that one of the clinical descriptions of schizophrenia is that the subject, suffering from delusion, believes they have superpowers.”

The evolution of the Joker catches up with MES.

The connection of these super powers to the comic book genre is unavoidable. Although these undercurrents, suggestions of both the idea of the archetype and questions of mental instability, have been ever-present in the medium, today these are now explicit. For instance, The Joker definitely started off as a malevolent figure – but today he is depicted as psychotic. Indeed, long before Frank Miller’s pivotal reimagining of the superhero genre “The Dark Knight Returns” with its Joker issue “Hunt the Dark Knight” or even Alan Moore’s subsequent ultra-modern depiction of the Joker, in 1988’s “The Killing Joke”, Smith invokes the Joker on the “Room to Live”[1982] album in the song “Joker Hysterical Face”.

Smith, always a fan of pulp literature loved the psychic and metaphysical quality of comics and many D.C. and Marvel characters appear in songs by The Fall. Dr. Doom (”Various Times”), “The Riddler” (a song on the Bend Sinister LP), Hawkman (“Slang King”), and through his allusion to a recipe for fear gas in “I am Damo Suzuki”, Mister Fear.

Elasticman he say oof!

In the entirely wonderful “How I wrote Elastic Man” Smith casts himself as like the genius Jack Kirby - a pulp comic book artist-author, unrecognized and unappreciated. “The fridge is sparse, But in the town, They'll stop me in the shoppes.” I once passed Mark in an empty street in Glasgow in 1992 (“I feel comfortable in Glasgow and Edinburgh, I always have.”). I remember him cocking his head, squaring his chin and looking down imperiously at me. I wish I had asked how he wrote elastic man.

In “Shoulderpads #2” he refers to his powers diminishing even as he dons that superhero accoutrement, shoulder pads. This song contains, I think, a direct reference to his sense of having drunk away his psychic talents: “Watch out fakers and cads, It's MES in shoulder pads, My powers gone, Powers, said Batman”. My friend Mark Fisher, who wrote brilliantly on The Fall, and who occasionally described himself as a superhero who had lost his powers, put what he saw as Smith’s demise (which we might date as starting in1986) beautifully if harshly, “Behind the autobiography [Renegade], there’s a Weird tale in itself. Or rather a tale about how the Weird ends up mired in the mundane. The Man Whose Head Diminished. Smith’s own fate looks like that of Romane Totale in reverse. If Totale was a cabaret entertainer become sorcerer, Smith is a lapsed sorcerer turned celebrated cabaret star, licensed fool on the BBC, licensed prole (in The Guardian). Totale was last seen in his Faery bunker, a tactical retreat that became a permanent exile, ritual facepaint devolving into Pierrot makeup dripping down his chin.


This handy compilation rounds up the singles and EPs after TWAFWOTF.

The Fall’s music is often brilliant. Its peak is the string of EPs and singles which trailed one of their best LPs 1984’s “The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall.”: the luminous “Call For Escape Route”, “Oh! Brother” and “C.R.E.E.P.” Otherwise it’s the anti-technocratic, backwards-through-a-hedge rockabilly of “Grotesque”[1980]. No wait… how many favorite recordings by The Fall is one allowed?

The comic book cover art of Grotesque.

I’m usually a music guy, but in this case The Fall's fundamental appeal is Mark’s personality, his lyrics and, critically, their delivery. Still, the synergy with the group between 1978 and 1986 is essential. Latterly there’s a sense of the two axes, music and language, grinding away in separate universes. I don’t doubt there are good Fall recordings after 1986, but that’s where I got off the train. Sighs, but those lyrics! Is there a poet more fun and engaging? At their heart is one of the central ideas of poetry, that it should be a mechanism for turning language into sound, with a view to tapping into the underlying meaning of the vibration of those sounds.

In his monumental tome, an intellectual tour-de-force studying man’s evolution of consciousness “The Ever-Present Origin” Jean Gebser goes into this in depth. One example: “We can discern in the auditory aspect of several common verbs, used in their normal way, the acoustic-magic stress indicative of the extent to which power is expressed, not in a palpable but rather in an auditory manner, and appeals to the incomprehensible and pre-rational in us: to belong [gehören, derived from hören= to hear]; to obey [gehorchen, related to horchen = to hearken]; and to submit [hörig sein, releated again to hören= to hear]. These words and what they convey are always subordinated to power that we ascribe to things, events, or human beings, whether as possesions, authoritarian beliefs, or sexuality; and they are always connected to the loss of ego and responsibility. It is not the sun-related eye but the labyrinthine ear that is the magic organ; the sun represents diurnal brightness, whereas the labyrinth represents the cave-like nocturnal darkness or dormant consciousness.” Poetry, with the defamiliarization it engenders in words we would normally recognise, aims to tap into this metaphysical strata of existence.

"Puffing and globbering they drugged themselves rampling or dancing with wild abdomen, stubbing in wild postumes amongst themselves..." A Lennon comic. Click to engorge.

Rock lyrics have always been a locus for this exploration of the ear as “the magic organ” - the eye into the metaphysical. John Lennon discovered this in the nonsense rhymes of Lewis Carroll, “’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.” Here we know, just by the sounds, the underlying meaning. Lennon loved this style of writing, his most famous example being “I am the Walrus”, “Yellow matter custard, Dripping from a dead dog's eye, Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess, Boy, you've been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down”. His poetry collection “In His Own Write” is full of a myriad of examples where the cereal box of language is shaken. Of course, this phonetic punning and linguistic horseplay reminds us of the word-salad speech of schizophrenics.

In his book “The Haight-Ashbury”, Charles Perry equates the visual riddles common to psychedelic art, especially the ambiguous lettering of rock posters, intended to advertise concerts but almost impossible to decipher, with Acidheads’ language, “[They] were given to a peculiar noncomic punning that worked the same way. The phrase “ahead of his time,” meditated on for an instant too long, would fall apart into mere syllables and different meanings (for example,“a head [an acid user] of his Time”). The song “Dedicated to the One I Love” is transformed into the “One-Eye Love,” obviously the unitary Godhead that sees through all our eyes.

The Fall lyrics are full of too many examples of this to list, but significantly many come to life in Mark E. Smith’s careful pronounciations. John Doran points to the pivot between “Entrances” on “Winter” which Smith renders closely to “Entrancers.” On “Backdrop” on “Fall In a Hole” MES riffs on “Schedule” and “Scared you all”, on “Slang King” the word cacophony is pronounced “caca phony” and maybe my favourite, so subtle you’d almost miss it, in “Printhead”, “My face in creases, How my head increases.


What if the web broke? My carefully organised print-out of The Annotated Fall website.

One of my favourite terms that I picked up in the course of research of writing “Retreat” is that of Bhakti. It pertains to the discipline of Bhakti Yoga which is the technique of achieving a spiritual high through the act of intense devotional worship. The Hindu saint Ramakrishna pegged it, alongside Jnana Yoga, the yoga of intellectual inquiry, as the surest path to spiritual understanding.

In the secular west Bhakti is most visible in the intense reverence and psychological "fondling" that we witness in music fans' love for their bands or sports fans for their teams. The skillful guru, the “Hip Priest”, is the one who can nurture and intensify that devotion by their actions. There are very few other artists, perhaps only The Beatles, who have inspired so much loving worrying as The Fall. In wrapping up I’d like to give thanks to bzfgt (and, the Robin to his Batman, dannyno) for The Annotated Fall website, a truly awesome receptacle of Bhakti. Thanks too to Gary Lachman.