Monthly Archives: November 2019

“If you want to be a Bird…”

Work by ESTAR(SER) researchers over the last several years has brought new clarity to an issue that has long vexed students of the history of the “Order of the Third Bird” and its allied (& variant) bodies: to wit, the status of the use of intoxicants and stimulants in connection with attentional practices in the Birdish key.  A close reading of the document known as “The Goodway Speeches” (the 1977 transcript of a charivari of Plato’s Symposium, performed, apparently, as a kind of dinner-theater by a gaggle of inebriated hippie-Birds at the high-water mark of counter-culture “practical aesthesis”) reveals a stern warning that the Practice of the Order is strictly immiscible with the pharmacopeia of ekstasis.

Further detailed work on the topic is expected in a forthcoming volume of the Proceedings.  Nevertheless, the history of the Order is very definitely marked by a scintillating penumbra of practitioners who appear to have experimented with various supplementations of the disciplined transports associated with the canonical Practice (one thinks, here, in recent times, of the complex trajectory of Gonzalo Merrill and Reni Eppling, and the unfortunate rise and fall of “ESTRAS,” the so-called “Esthetical Society for Transcendental Realization and Applied Sensuality”; see Merrill and Eppling, “The Merrill-Eppling Peripatetic Peripeteia,” Proceedings, New Series 5 [June 2011]).

And in keeping with an intrepid willingness to go wherever the research takes us, we forward a recent note from an anonymous ESTAR(SER) scholar working on the filiations of Bird Practices through the youth-movements of the 1960s and ’70s.  Replies or follow-up inquires may be directed to the editors.

“In the course of research into formal practices of ‘Birdish’ attention in and around the ‘Counter Education’ circles of Los Angeles on the watershed of the 1970s, I followed up a lead that passed through Tuli Kupferberg to the Fugs, and from there to Barbara Ann Goldblatt, aka Antonia Duren — sometime songwriter for ‘The Holy Modal Rounders’ (aka ‘The Total Quintessence Stomach Pumpers,’ and, sometimes, if only in jest, ‘The Motherfucker Creek Babyrapers’ [sic/sick]). It was at this moment that I had a rather shocking realization: Duren is credited as the author of the Easy Rider soundtrack hit ‘If you want to be a bird’ (1969)! I recommend re-watching the crucial scene, which speaks volumes on what has come to be known as ‘The Disestablishment Period’ in the work of the Order.”

We append a link, for those who wish to consider: