One of the best people I met during the time I lived in Ithaca, New York was John Lennon, an author, musician, and all around great dude whose books are published under the name J. Robert Lennon for what should be fairly obvious reasons.
John has a great weekly SubStack newsletter where he discusses the intersections of writing and music, mostly in terms of creative processes. And in this week's newsletter, John discusses a particularly bizarre vinyl recording he happened upon during the local library sale, created by a man named Dr. Noving Jumand in collaboration with some early Moog employees from nearby Trumansburg, NY:
Jumand was something of an Ithaca legend back when I first moved here in the nineties, though he's mostly forgotten now. He'd come to town for a Cornell PhD in psychology, and was teaching as a lecturer, when he got approval for a controversial study involving the effect of narrative on human behavior. A few of his subjects—students, getting paid five dollars an hour—ended up hospitalized, and one was (and perhaps still is) committed to a mental institution. This created all kinds of paranoid rumors about Jumand's narratives—that they were in some way magical, or had been funded by the defense department—but it turned out that he'd given half of these students an experimental drug cocktail, derived from Phencyclidine, and this is what sent them on their dangerously dissociative journeys.
An investigation followed, during which it was revealed the the subjects knew they might be drugged and had signed release forms saying so; and the ones who were hospitalized already had histories of mental illness and drug addiction that could explain their reaction. As a result, no criminal charges were brought against Jumand—but the University cancelled his research and kicked him off campus.
One extant artifact of his brief period of notoriety is a series of rare recordings of his narratives, made in collaboration with some former Moog employees he met at a swap meet in Trumansburg.
So to recap: there is a recording of the narratives by this wild academic who ran lots of weird and questionably ethical but undeniable legal psych experiments involving drugs and the impact of narrative on the human mind, recorded with assistance by some electronic music pioneers. And John found one of the rare extant copies of this gem, and decided to rip the audio and upload it to BandCamp:
If this is precisely the kind of wonderfully bizarre shit you're into, I highly recommend subscribing to John's newsletter. You can also check out some of his books — Broken River is his most recent novel, though he has a new novel coming in April 2021, as well as a new short story collection.
Campfire Orb and Mailbox Ramble [J. Robert Lennon / Literambivalence]