An interview with activist, researcher and multimedia artist Shyam Mael
You're based in the UK, but live an itinerant life. Does that reflect in your creative work?
The way I live is my reaction to society's attempts to box people in on many levels. The 'box' is the mental and physical prison imposed largely through education and the media by those who control society. For me, living 'out of the box' stimulates thinking 'out of the box', or perhaps I should say that my thinking 'out of the box' makes living in the box unbearable. My work in all media reflects that reaction and the same aim, stimulating 'out of the box' thinking and reconnecting people with their power.
Was that why you wrote Psyclone?
I've been politically active in one way or another for years, and came to the conclusion that things were the way they were because people in general were being kept away from essential information on lots of subjects. I had the very optimistic idea that all that was needed to make a change was to connect people with that suppressed or little-known information and in doing so reconnect them, individually and collectively, with their power on various levels. I also got tired of having conversations with people and seeing their eyes glaze over when I mentioned certain subjects. Information that challenges someone's existing beliefs and/or opinions is often easily dismissed in the absence of supporting data. The problem with that is that in the context I'm referring to, I'm wasn't seeing scepticism as much as disbelief. The same people will on a daily basis accept whatever they're told through television, radio and newspapers without a glimpse of scepticism. The phenomenon was so puzzling, especially coming from people I consider to be intelligent and aware, that I was moved to look into it further and after research came to the conclusion that what I was seeing was partly the result of a human psychological response called cognitive dissonance, which subconsciously affects how the mind responds to new or challenging information. It's a subject that can't be condensed into a few lines, so I've included a section in the appendix of Psyclone that describes the subconscious program and how it works.
An 85-page appendix?
I know, but as I say in the appendix, it's not gratuitous. The thing is, although the novel itself provides a lot of information and in a way works as a reference resource, I wanted to provide all my research sources so that people could do their own if they wanted to. I'm not telling people what to think, I'm trying to get them to think.
It could be said that your portrayal of suicide bombers is supportive, what would you say to that?
It's an issue that touches me deeply, and the lack of real thought that people in the West give to the subject distresses me. It's something that I want people to think about more. For that reason I included it in the story and provided links to a variety of sources of information. There's also a section on the Centre of the Psyclone website, Suicide Bombers and the Promise of Heaven? that has some important information on suicide actions. I guarantee that after reading it, your perception of suicide actions won't be the same. As to my being supportive, I'll repeat what I say in that section, I am very strongly against the killing of innocent people, non-combatants, in the course of political, ideological, or any other kind of conflict.
How much in the novel is drawn from personal experience?
Those who know me will be familiar with aspects of Psyclone. War, torture, exploitation, and death are some of the issues that have and do affect my life deeply. Seeking solutions to the problems as I see them has taken me into some quite unorthodox spheres of science and spirituality. The conclusion I've reached is that solutions to our problems are what might be called 'spiritual'. Now because of the general conditioning pattern of the western world, calling something spiritual sidelines it in the minds of many. The conditioning is deliberate. Psyclone connects readers with some of the most advanced minds in the fields of science and human potential, and other dedicated and daring individuals who in their own ways have devoted much of their lives to human development.
Of the strategy options presented in Psyclone, which do you consider more important, political or spiritual?
It would be good to clarify what is actually meant by the word spiritual. One straightforward dictionary definition is not tangible or material, while another defines the vital principle or animating force within living beings. Some of the most important information that's being suppressed relates to our true nature as human beings. For instance, researchers in various recognised institutes and academies around the world have corroborated out-of-body phenomena. If it became common knowledge that we can, using tried and tested techniques, exist independently from the physical body, things would change. As I say in Psyclone, people could investigate things and discover answers for themselves instead of having to settle for the biased doctrines, false conclusions, and lies provided by society. Think about it for a moment and you'll see just how worldchanging the potential is, and realise why this kind of information isn't being widely discussed.
Do you have a writing method?
I don't type that fast, so I handwrite first on unlined A4 paper. Then I type it up and print it out as I get a better feel of things from reading a printed document rather than my own scrawl or on a screen. Then I edit on a computer. Writing Psyclone I was like a dog with a bone, I literally couldn't leave it alone. Eighteen to thirty hour writing sessions were common. More often than not I'd write until my eyes couldn't focus anymore, after prolonging the session by pumping the font size up and inverting the colours. I'd lock myself away and only come up for air when forced to by my body. I lost touch with a lot of people whilst writing Psyclone, including myself.
Plans for the future?
Plans? Actually, I'm ad-libbing, have been for years. I'd like the majority of personal input and output in 2014 to be musical. As for the future generally, well that's up to us, all of us. It's my hope that using the information in Psyclone people will reclaim their power and take control and steer us out of the swamp we're in into potentially amazing futures.
Shyam, thank you.