For many, life is a continuous stream of currents and eddies…with the occasional rapids and forks that over time, lead them to different places. For me and others, it was a bit more pronounced…more choppy and turbulent—not continuous at all.
But I had a way normal life as a child. All sorts of stuff: wandering around my grandfather’s large property along the Truckee river; hunting trips, fishing trips, four grandparents close by (all within 5 minutes until I was about 13) while my parents were busy finding their own way, birthing and raising three more boys underneath me. I have no idea of the hardships they must have endured from time to time.
When I was about 10 or so, one of my dad’s brothers “got religion” and he’s still at it to this day; bless his heart—because I know he means well and he and I always have nice, cordial conversations. Very unfortunately, it caught on in a big way in the otherwise pretty sane family where, mom & dad had the religions they grew up with, set aside mostly to enjoy life and raise a family. For me, that began about a 10 year chunk of my life that’s different from all the rest.
…To dispel another rumor—like the one where I’m an SEO Brilliant—I did not go to school at Tennessee Temple University to be a “preacher.” I went simply because everyone went to some “Bible College” or the other, and that seemed like the most sensible choice to me at the time. Two of my younger brothers went to Bob Jones University and Pensacola Baptist Bible College. To their credit, both lasted less even than the year I endured. I was a mathematics major, but at that school, everyone was a double major: your choice, and divinity courses. Lots of divinity. Lots and lots, including chapel services every single day. It was basically 24/7 church with some calculus, physics and rudimentary computer science thrown in.
I blogged about the event that got me to “drop out,” as it was characterized (I spent a year at Mt. Hood Community College taking only computer programming and computer security, then transferred all credits to Oregon State University—with divinity courses transferring to humanities). I set the hard religion aside, but by no means was I an unbeliever. Instead, I spent the next 10 years in a sort of limbo, a purgatory of sorts, simply avoiding the question. Life at Oregon State was marvelous. Living in a co-ed dorm, and later in an apartment, was simply a wonderful social learning experience and my attitude was simple: if this is the price for going to hell, it’s fucking worth every penny. I still feel precisely the same way, even though I now understand that hell is a very cruel device that’s used against children (by fundamentalists, who are children of mind) to scare them. Shame, awful shame upon anyone who ever does that.
The long & short of it is that I was doing just fine, never really connecting the dots: that I was likely doing fine because I was focussed on doing well—not by exercising some inexplicable duties to inexplicable woo woo super powers. I had a buried and largely ignored fear, but it never pronounced itself enough that living the life of a young man was not to be taken up with enthusiasm. Fuck the consequences! This was indeed fun times.
I was fortunate to live 5 years in a beach house in Hayama, Japan; then another two overlooking a beach on the Mediterranean in the south of France (Toulon, across the street from Le Fort Saint Louis) while being able to get along well with the language. It was there in France that I met this woman, now deceased. When that ended in 1990, I went back to the back room and pulled some books off the shelf. One was this curious, thick thing I’d ordered on a lark via mail order months before, but never cracked it open. It was called “The Neo-Tech Discovery” (there are a number of used sellers). As I recall, the mail order piece had been hugely long and detailed, rather unusual and interesting. It was about doing better in life by thinking better by “rooting out mysticism.” As I was to learn upon actually reading the book, this “rooting out” was of the sort that conditioning and indoctrination doesn’t typically allow you to recognize. For instance: prayer (that you don’t) vs. a rain dance (that you do).
The way Frank R. Wallace (Wallace Ward—FRW being a pen name based on his children’s names: Frank, Ruth, and Wallace, Jr.) organized his “114 Advantages” was pure conceptual-hierarchical genius, and I’ve really never seen anything quite like it. To see if I can describe it…it begins, Advantage by Advantage, with “The Nature of Man and Woman” in a number of different contexts clearly, in retrospect, to get you to accept nature by means of which you observe already. But then it begins, tiny-by-tiny, little-by-little, to get you to take that premise you’ve already accepted and then see how badly Neolithic institutions have violated it.
So, of course, evolution eventually enters the picture, as does cosmology even—and his analogs to the centralized, hierarchical, institutionalized Neolithic, juxtaposed to the long road from geocentricism, to heliocentricism to, really, no real center of the universe at all. These were mind-boggling integrations to someone steeped in religious doctrines for 29 years, even as much as I ignored them. Dr. Ward was a PhD Physical Chemist who’d spent 9 years as a researcher for DuPont.
It was perhaps somewhere in the 20s or 30s of 114 Advantages that, laying on my couch in Toulon, France, 1990, religion was solidly over for me for good…and very soon to follow, the idea of a state that ought to dominate everyone here (…so they can go on to be dominated in heaven or hell, I guess). I have never looked back a single second, never in a single iota of atomic thought, have I ever doubted my decision and resolve. …That was only the beginning of new problems, however.
I suppose it’s in human nature that when a real, no shit thing happens, everyone has to know about it. Not to be too unusual, that’s what I did: tell everyone. Nobody was interested. Instead and for the most part, I focussed on the burgeoning Internet. As an early adopter, I was on Usenet (accessible via Google, now) way back when there were maybe only thousands, tens, or hundreds of thousands on it.
That’s where Dr. Ward took note of me. He emailed out of the blue one day, early 90s: “you truly understand the essence of Neo-Tech.” That began a friendship over a number of years. One time, he just sent a plane ticket and a receipt for a hotel room in Vegas and it was just to rub elbows with his office staff (…many years later, I retained his international marketing manager—NT is published in many languages—as a consultant for my company). I ultimately had an office for my own company in Vegas and most trips down, I’d try to get together with him for lunch or dinner. He was an immensely soft spoken gentleman in the private sphere. He was never given to advising you, or anything like that. We talked about our lives—and perhaps a little of the fact we were both married to Latinas. I took him 4-wheeling once in the hills around Boulder City, NV, in my Jeep, and he was ear-to-ear smiles the whole way—having grown up in NYC.
He was a quintessentially lovable, delightful man. To me, which is all that matters.
I drifted away from it all after a few years of having fun on Usenet. Dr. Diana Hseih of Modern Paleo knows about “Nicholas Rich.” She was Diana Mertz Brickell in the alt.philosophy.obvectivism newsgroup back then—before she married Dr. Paul Hseih—before mostly everyone moved to humanities.philosophy.objectivism: a new group created with a charter to explicitly exclude Neo-Tech (yes, we were assholes, partly my bad). Others have known as well, when in context. There was a paleo Libertarian email list sometime back and I let them all in on the “secret,” that I was “Nicholas Rich,” back then. From time to time I get an email from someone digging about me and I always reply: yep, that was me: “Nicholas Rich,” in case you didn’t get it the first time. It wasn’t really anonymity, as many people know and knew, including, Betsy Speicher, whom I believe still probably hates Diana—yet is Facebook friends with Billy Beck—and it’s As The World Turns. Many knew my name. Nicholas Rich was a turn on Richard Nikoley, the name I’d have given myself had it been up to me.
Then there was Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, founder of Wikipedia. He was there as well and was one of the few who actually read some of the Neo-Tech stuff for himself. Like me, he liked some, didn’t like other stuff. We corresponded for some years after that, on & off, mostly about business.
Eventually Dr. Ward & I drifted apart. A couple of emails per year, always friendly. In 2006, in his mid 70s and very vibrant, out jogging as he did every day, he was killed instantly by someone driving a car.
But I drifted from NT because it was no longer of any use to me on a quotidian level, and Wally understood that, and encouraged me to go forth. “This is not guru, it’s wide integration of everything known.” As he got me to realize, there are the very hard sciences: math, physics, biology, etc., that establish real, base knowledge. After that, it’s difficult to determine applications because so much is intertwined with all sorts of interests and, and, contradictions don’t exist: you cannot deconstruct for some study and have it contradicting what we already know as human animal biology and physiology from observing animals. “Mouse study.” Yea? Well, what’s it studying. See? “Mouse Study” is neither a means of acceptance or rejection. It depends.
There is a lot of weird shit associated with Neo-Tech. I was not a fan of most of the stuff after the 114; Wally understood, but said: you always have to push boundaries to get people to think for themselves. ‘When I began publishing this stuff in the 70s, it was cutting edge. Now, in the 90s, to get people to take note and read, I have to compete with all the cosmic woo woo.’ He was willing to get behind that but I wasn’t, so I stopped being a supporter. I never heard a disappointed word from my friend about it.
In the end, all worked out really well on large and I have no regrets. And there’s one thing that really came of it that I love to this day. Turns out there was Japanese, Zen mystic sort of guy who somehow got wind of Neo-Tech way back, came out to Vegas and even wrote for them for a time. His essay, Neo-Tech: The Philosophical Zero at about 35 pages is still one of the most widely integrated things I’ve ever read. Try it if you can, because though I have not read it in many, many years, I think it’s still valid on many levels and above all, attempts to view humanity in the widest possible context of evolution and the universe. He’s very special and unique as a man who’s not only a scholar of Eastern mysticism, but also of Hellenic and Western/Enlightenment thought, and he has even, even integrated Ayn Rand—a lot. As I said: very unique. Very special…because integrating everything—we’re all human—is the very most special talent. To my mind? He shames philosophers generally.
I had the pleasure over some few weeks, a few years back, to strike up an email exchange with Yasuhiko Genku Kimura, and was happy to know he’s doing fine. He moved on from Neo-Tech as well—before me, actually,—but I know he loved Wally, because he told me so. He’s still teaching people to think deeply, widely, with no boundaries. Moreover, he teaches them to overcome all Neolithic boundaries. Then, he teaches them to go back in, so that they can better under-stand every paradigm of boxed, monolithic logic that everyone is a victim of.
I’ll close with a short video of his. See if you can spot the anarchism and atheism. Zen Master, so don’t discount, eh? The Omnicentric Mind.
Don’t get hurt out there. Be careful.
And oh, for all those feeding PaleoDrama, it’s “Nicholas Rich” and the choicest quotes for you to find will be in the alt.philosophy.objectivism newsgroup. Trust me, there’s some silly shit. I laugh myself when I read some of the lunacy I was writing online in 1995ish. Now get to it. I need the traffic.