The Blue Raccoon

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Part VI (continued)
Seven Different
Kinds of Denial Just To Get Out of Bed

“This is not misdirection, merely art”

(The emergence of Dream's End, July 26-30, 2007)

Image posted on: these are the times--dirty beloved--un regard oblique
Identified as:
The High Rollers Extravaganza Co.
Courier Litho 1899
Theatrical Poster Collection
Library of Congress.”

The appearance of this vintage image drove Dream’s End to some distraction during a posting of July 28. The hoisted bowling ball marked “Wit” is upsetting a waiter, but the woman regarding the viewer—and this is my interpretation—has a casual resemblance to Duncan and her typical expression in photographs.


“True! – nervous—very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am, but will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses—not destroyed—not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily—how calmly I can tell you the whole story." –Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart.

“Then the Count armed and departed from Storisende, riding on the black horse, in jeweled armor, and carrying before him his black shield upon which was emblazoned the silver stallion of Poictesme and the motto _Mundus vult decipi._ [The World Wishes To Be Deceived] Behind him was Grandfather Death on the white horse, carrying the Count's grave-clothes in a neat bundle. They rode toward the sunset, and against the yellow sunset each figure showed jet black.

And thereafter Count Manuel was seen no more in Poictesme, nor did anyone ever know certainly whither he journeyed. There was a lad called Jurgen, the son of Coth of the Rocks, who came to Storisende in a frenzy of terror, very early the next morning, with a horrific tale of incredible events witnessed upon Upper Morven: but the child's tale was not heeded, because everybody knew that Count Manuel was unconquerable, and--having everything which men desire, --would never be leaving all these amenities of his own will, and certainly would never be taking part in any such dubious doings.

Therefore little Jurgen was spanked, alike for staying out all night and for his wild lying: and they of Poictesme awaited the return of their great Dom Manuel; and not for a long while did they suspect that Manuel had departed homeward, after having succeeded in everything. Nor for a long while was the whole of little Jurgen's story made public.” –James Branch Cabell, The Silver Stallion, Chapter XXXIX, “The Passing of Manuel”


“I am fairly certain that there is a cottage industry of people going around in various ways online utilizing and perpetuating certain internet myths about mind control/project monarch. And maybe it’s just for kicks, though I’ve seen the same disinfo style used, say, in UFO research by people who definitely WERE intelligence agents.” –Dreamsend, July 28, 2007, 12:17 am.

“Art is by nature weird: it accesses very deep reservoirs in our psyche…So, in summary, when parsing this mystery, I think it’s important to keep in mind that art has its own trickster logic.”
--slomo, on Dream’s End, July 28, 2007, 1:45 a.m.

“I think there is a risk of losing a sense of poetry or humor in all of this. I want to be clear: this is a horrible occurrence, possibly a tragedy, and I am truly sorry for Theresa’s friends and family (now that it is appears that she did really exist).

But given that she existed, I would argue that we are not dealing with an [AlternateReality Game], but rather an incredibly complex and sad story. The fact that Theresa was extremely intelligent and artistic means that the poetry of her site, and the sites hosted by her friends, are going to seem cryptic to outsiders. This is not misdirection, merely art.” – slomo, on Dream's End, July 28, 2007, 3:50 p.m.

“I came a bit late to this party, as I was out of the country for several weeks and returned to find a friend had sent me to LA Times article on the Duncan/Blake suicides. Like you, I’ve been researching it online — I’m a novelist, and elements of this story dovetail creepily with a project I’ve been working on.

I take a pretty detached view of this sort of thing — I’ve known too many suicides where “no one expected a thing” etc., and the sad final equation = depression + drugs + alcohol+- sex/love.

But I have to say that, from an artist’s standpoint, your posts make the most sense — i.e., if I were making this up, this is close to what I’d imagine as a storyline. Whether it’s a bravura display of intuition on your part, or paying too close attention to a simple sad event, or sheer paranoia, I hae no clue — but your take makes for a great story. Too bad for those involved it was real life." -- lizhand, on Dream’s End, August 1, 2007 at 7:45 pm


"Forgetting these are actual humans involved."

On July 27, Carol Lee, writing in the “Word of Mouth” column of Papermag’s WORD UP! blog titled “Devastating News About Artist Couple,” said in a breathless manner that the “tragic and disturing news” had “caught us off-guard.”

[Photo of Theresa Duncan by Joshua Jordan; Photo of Jeremy Blake by Donald Graham via PAPERmag]

There was a re-hash of then-known knowns and unknowns. A rather happy image of Duncan, her straight hair swept by a arty breeze, and she wearing a baring T-shirt emblazoned with the face of--a young Mick Jagger? -- and a somber Serious Portrait of Blake in a black jacket, eyes cast down. Lee mentioned that PAPER had followed their individual careers, in 1999 and 2003 articles. On August 3, Mike Payne found his way to the page and excoriated the treatment of the couple in the media.

Hack journalism,way to fucking go!

Admirers of Theresa and Jeremy, you degrade them when you discount their personal accounts of being harassed.I have a pretty good feeling they were feeling paranoia...what's your point?!
It was warranted,they weren't crazed or delusional-people were fucking with them. When Theresa talked about anything you could believe her-her vocation, her platform of expression was storytelling,in real life she didn't manufacture drama. the only thing you never knew, is her age, she was 27 for awhile-35+ later on, it wasn't vanity or secrecy, it was what's the difference anyway."

The same day as Lee’s piece came the Chicago ART OR IDIOCY? blog that gave Jeremy Blake one of the few individual appreciations that featured him in the upper graphs. He also took the time to include actual images of Blake’s work. Indeed, this post demonstrates how many pure bloggers became acquainted in posthumous fashion with Duncan while artists with a knowledge of what was happening in the current scene had at least heard of Blake. The blogger here recalled how Blake gave a lecture a few years ago at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he’d earned his undergraduate degree.

[Jeremy Blake • Sodium Family Values • 2005 • digital c-print • 38 1/4 x 90 inches framed • edition of 6 • Kinz, Tillou + Feigen]

“In his lecture he remembered getting harsh critiques from Dan Guston at SAIC. He recalled being pulled aside at the end of his senior year by Guston and being confronted about his choice of Cal-Arts. Guston said something to the effect that he was going to play around with video there and not be challenged to paint. Guston then asked, “when are you going to make REAL art?!” Blake recalled the event with humor and fondness, not with a sense of bitterness at all. But the encounter stayed fresh in his memory, so with that in mind he created a series of paintings based on photos of characters from popular culture of his youth, ie Dark Shadows.”

Duncan is added on here, described as having a “perfume blog” and how weird it was to read elegies for Duncan on perfumer message boards that quoted “Duncan’s poetic descriptions of aromas and then “OMG this is so horrible,” written in internet slang. Not to diminish people’s emotions or lives, but it is a strange condition of the modern age for people to be lamenting a blogger they never met.”

The blogger also manages to get in what is a rare type of scold, with quite excellent points, about the blogosphere’s—and his own-- prying curiosity. “It is voyeuristic and shameful, at least on my part, and for others seeking news that have no personal connection. One commenter asks if it was possibly an accidental overdose, the administrator replies, it was definitely not, “she left a long note.” And later we hear that things were “spiraling out of control.” In the internet-blog-messageboard world, we are somewhere between high school gossip, reality TV and celebrity obsessed. So in reading people’s comments, we think “well, what did the note say!?” Forgetting these are actual humans involved.”


[From WitnessLA, via Bret, Yo! Venice]

WitnessLa’s Celeste Fremon on July 27, 2007, provided a wrap up of coverage about the Duncan-Blake deaths

“Amazingly, the somnambulist LA Times didn’t get around to writing about Duncan and Blake until Wednesday, July 25 —never mind that Venice resident Duncan was a vibrant player in the LA’s new literary scene—thus her death was a story the Times should naturally have covered, (ahead of, say, yet another idiotic blurb on freaking Posh Spice).

For the record, WLA even saw fit to write about Duncan’s death three days ahead of the Times, even though it clearly wasn’t a social justice issue; it was nonetheless a story that wouldn’t leave my head.”

Woody soon responded:

“Celeste, I only read your previous post on this. Suicide always bothers me, and these two cases don’t make sense based upon the description of the people who died. There has to be more that we’re not seeing.”

Kate Coe dialed in saying she’d known Duncan and that she was preparing a piece for the L.A. Weekly about the deaths. “Much of what’s been reported isn’t true, and nearly everything on line isn’t true. I’m moderately horrified at the number of people who write about her and Jeremy who never met them.

A short while later Daily-C wrote, “So many wild assumptions one could make from all these shreds of motives and reasons… Are we really preparing to accept the possibility that Theresa Duncan was killed?!?!! or are we just assuming threats and pressure from [Church of Scientology] drove her to that end? And if so, did Jeremy take his own life because of the guilt? Jeremy was the one who worked with Beck and dated Anna Gaskell… thefore [sic.] Jeremy brought this on the couple. Could this be some insane Orwellian cover-up? Are we ready to fathom that Jeremy staged his own death?

Then Groove pointed to this link, on July 20:

this guy has some crazy theories.”


[Image, The Wit of the Staircase, Wednesday
December 13, 2006, "Martians Land In Jackson Hole."

On July 26, 2007, at 6:36 p.m., Dream’s End swiveled around its clunky blog turrets and blasted the cyber-ether with the first in a series, titled: “This is Not a Game: The Mysterious Death of Theresa Duncan.”

DE writes with a fervid and furtive, earnest and urgent swiftness, fast as thoughts come, and emails, and links to websites that seem for the moment pertinent and relevant. One gets the sense when reading that he hears the creak of a strange step upon the stair, that he is peering through a curtain, wondering about the car parked out there all night long…

For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not –and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I may die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified—have tortured—have destroyed me.

That wasn’t Dream’s End, but Edgar Allan Poe, and the opening to The Black Cat.

Or, better yet, here is Fyodor Dostoevsky, beginning Notes from Underground that itself sounds like the name of a blog, and the language that follows, prefigures a blogger: thinking aloud through the keyboard and loosening his confessions into the world.

I am a sick man. ... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don't consult a doctor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for medicine and doctors. Besides, I am extremely superstitious, sufficiently so to respect medicine, anyway (I am well-educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious). No, I refuse to consult a doctor from spite. That you probably will not understand. Well, I understand it, though. Of course, I can't explain who it is precisely that I am mortifying in this case by my spite: I am perfectly well aware that I cannot "pay out" the doctors by not consulting them; I know better than anyone that by all this I am only injuring myself and no one else. But still, if I don't consult a doctor it is from spite. My liver is bad, well--let it get worse!

I’d submit, if packaged well enough, Notes from Underground—not by any means obscure—and published as an ongoing blog would attract attention until denounced as a fake. Then a cult would spring up in its defense as a right to fakery, with an inner truth. Or something.

Compare the following to the earlier Poe quote, and to the above Dostoevsky:

And I’d like everyone to note that, as a professional paranoid as opposed to a paranoid schizophrenic, I am aware that I could be totally wrong about this. That, in turn, means that those of you posting your “I’m skeptical” comments are most welcome. In fact, you are essential. Dreamsend, July 27

And from July 30, sounding somewhat weary:

A couple quick final words. First off, a couple of people have suggested that THIS blog now looks like the “rabbit hole”. I realized going into this that this perception was a risk I ran. I don’t expect trust here…I’m just a guy with a blog. Maybe if you read the rest of it, you might be dissuaded of the idea. But if I keep going with this series…if there seems to be interest, I think you’ll see that the sort of manipulation, knowing tone and cryptic style will not be found here.

Secondly, I am letting my house go to pieces trying to get this out quickly. The reason is that, by suggesting this theme, whether I am right or wrong, it’s likely other folks who may not even be involved with this, will come along and start tossing in their OWN elements to the story. It’s a sort of “Foucault’s Pendulum” effect that I don’t know how to combat fully. So skepticism is welcome. However, I hope you will hold off on the judgment of my initial case until I can get a couple more posts up.

Then, admitting the need to take a breather, on August 7:

"I am exhausted and on edge. Despite wanting to take this in good humor and in stride, the games are starting to get to me. All of my private messages were erased at “Rigorous Intuition” and Jeff says he has no idea how that happened but it must be someone is “hacking in and fucking around.” Jeff doesn’t even talk like that.

For the last 2 or 3 years, some of the people I respected most as I attempted to explore many of my areas of interest on that board and then here, turn out to be in the game. It was all an act. And beyond that, whatever meager reputation I had on the internet for the work I’ve done has been thoroughly trashed over at RI. I have been threatened with legal action, threats to have my blog “obliterated” have been made…and I even was for awhile, apparently, communicating directly with Robert Eringer, the CIA spook discussed in a previous post. If it wasn’t him, he sure is someone VERY familiar with certain situations at the very least. Everything I’ve done has been called into question and there is no chance of recovering this blog for the purposes it was originally intended for.

In fact, and this is the weirdest part, I think there are areas of research I went into with no outside suggestions whatsoever, that turn out to tie into this game. I can’t explain that in any way that doesn’t lead straight to the psych ward.


My wife thinks I’ve become obsessed…my marriage is becoming strained and I have my regular work, related to school, getting ready to crank up again. I’m broke, disillusioned and completely uncertain where to go from here.

Theresa and Jeremy are alive. It is all a game. It is sophisticated, well financed and has been in preparation for at least two years.

I just wish someone had asked permission before deciding to hijack my fucking life.

Thanks for listening."

Which reads like he's tossing in the towel. But no. Dream's End won't. Let's rewind all this, though, to the very beginning.


" I would like to expose these motherfuckers."

[Image: The Wit of the Staircase, February 21,2006]

Imagine that you have a little blog. Nothing fancy. You use it to pursue and peruse matters of arcane interest to you and those likeminded, stuff of urban mythology and the X-Files; that is, UFOs, mind control, creeping fascism. And in your toodling around the part of the Internet where you feel most at home, you wander across Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intution. And what you learn of there blows your mind.

Theresa Duncan, artist, writer, perfume critic and video game pioneer is dead. The police aren’t making it official yet, but the papers are calling it suicide. Her longtime partner and collaborator, Jeremy Blake, is alleged to have stripped off his clothes and taken a one-way swim into the ocean. A body was recently discovered that fits his description.

When I initially went to Duncan’s website, my first thought was that the whole thing seemed very much like one of those alternate reality games or “ARGs” which you often encounter on the internet. These are stories which are not written out in one central narrative but consist of an introductory website and a series of clues. It is up to the readers to piece together the larger story. The more immersive ones will bring in other media…players might receive emails or phone calls, or be given phone numbers to call which actually work. Real websites not affiliated with the game might be referenced…videos produced…fake photographs created.

DE issued a call to arms:

And I want to reiterate…I am the one who is “outing” the ARG nature of this game but I have nothing to do with it. In fact, I think the people behind it, especially given the two deaths that are somehow related, are malicious in intent, whatever that intent actually is. But my goal is very simple. I would like to expose these motherfuckers. I hope you’ll join me.

And with that, DE rode off toward the rattle of guns, or, more accurate, the clattering of computer keys.


Everybody reading Dream’s End probably knows of the Blair Witch Project. The film’s release by Artisan Entertainment was abetted in the spring of 1999 with a fake website and followed by a “documentary” on the Sci-Fi Channel that added another layer verisimilitude. But either Blair Witch is so well accepted by the DEnders that its mention could be considered passé, or, this is all just so new and exciting that this was forgotten. The math-conspiracy-thriller Pi came out a year prior--another Artisan release.

Here, the narrator is a computational wizard who is plagued by headaches, encroaching paranoia, and increasing difficulty differentiating between what's real and hallucination. Then came The Matrix series, that posited the world as an illusory consruct of programming . [It also delivered 1999's Best Use of Leather By A Lithe, Fit Brunette]

These films were part of the U.S. 's millennial tremums, now replaced by the Mayan Calendar, and you name it.

The arrival of Dream’s End into the Duncan-Blake Effect brought an overarching quality to the ever-expanding epos, a monomaniacal stream-of-consciousness contemplation; an open source feast of almost every possible connotation about the Duncan-Blake event.

In a Cartesian way, Dream’s End wiped all assumptions off the table and began with first principles. It is important to note that Dream’s End, as opposed to the commenters, recognized early on, after DE's own investigation, Theresa Duncan was real, not a construct, and that the Duncan-Blake deaths were actual suicides and not contrived murders. Though some DEnders weren’t quite as certain on this score, and as DE's perspective flipped a few times.

What bothered him most was how the couple got to the point where they could not go on living. In that singular respect, he was no different from, say, Ron Rosenbaum.

Like Descartes, with his dualistic hang up about good mind, bad body, Dream’s End, or at least the numerous commenters on the site, upgraded this to good bloggers, bad establishment: that despite all the efforts to uncover the truths, the status quo outlets were busy either ignoring obvious discrepancies in the tale or obfuscating them in layers of false clues and fake stories, planted to sow distraction among the Internauts.

In this respect, Dream’s End isn’t as different from various sites devoted to UFOs or alleged time traveler John Titor. The major difference is that here is a factual couple. They died. And left behind them is a legacy of art and cultural criticism, and this material became understood by some of the DEnders as a thicket of clues leading to something massive and despicable.

A criticism of television news is that the TV is something we watch when we’re not working, reading or interacting with people in some kind of social activity. No matter the seriousness of a Bill Moyers documentary, a person is watching it in lieu of doing something else. This, by definition, is entertainment.

Years ago, the family of a very good friend of mine—my wife—had a housekeeper. This housekeeper insisted that everything on television was a story—a soap opera, a dramatization—moon landings, assassinations, and foreign tumult. All made up – an Alternate Reality. The housekeeper distilled a bundle of contemporary media theory and prefigured the idea of hyper-reality-based decision making. That is, media 's controlling companies choose what kind of reality to present and this version may or may not have a whit in common with actuality.

Like it or not, despite protestations to the contrary, the Duncan-Blake Effect became an entertainment, a self-creating, Exquisite Corpse-style surrealist exercise. But it was also regarded by many of its participants with utter seriousness.

There is, too, a religious zealousness about the effort. Boiled down to the essential center, DE and its ilk represent a pursuit of faith. Either one believes, or doesn’t, and the dis-believers are lost in a haze of disinformation and ignorance. Outsiders may serve also either as witless dupes of the Great Conspiracy, or, as active paid hireling minions. And sometimes all of the above. Some of the participants became triple agents against their own psyches. It's all very Robert Anton Wilson.

And as usual within these sites, commenters fight with each other, and one accuses the other of misrepresentation or working both sides of the street, running a fifth column, hindering not helping. One is reminded of the story of the blind man leading his deaf daughter into a dark room in pursuit of a black cat.

Commenters run off in pursuit of leads imbedded within sites linked to The Wit of the Staircase. Random phrases and images take on monumental importance and are viewed as clues to a greater mystery perpetrated by…. Well, that’s part of the fun, because there is no consensus. Much like lovers in the first intoxicating moments of a relationship, there is something in everything and everybody that is reminiscent of the beloved.

The Internet is used as a tool for investigation by truth-seekers and an instrument of cloaking and deception by weird, counter-productive tricksters and covert operatives. There is a sense that if it doesn’t exist on Google it cannot be found (Libraries? Books? This requires leaving the house, though) with any ease, yet at the same time, there is much on the Innernets that is outright falseness. So what’s there is truth. Until it isn’t.

Scrolling numbers of pages and marching rows of non-paragraph broken text take an organic amount of time to gain a plateau within the painted desert of words, other than what everyone circled back to: two interesting people were dead under strange circumstances. Themes emerged over time: the ARG, art as hoax, insidious viral marketing, the connection to child molestation and mind control and the business with faked writer JT Leroy and the creation of a false identity for Kate Moss’ Pete Doherty, the appropriation of soccer player Luther Blisset’s name by for “a multiple-use name, an “'open reputation'” informally adopted and shared by hundreds of artists and social activists all over Europe and South America since Summer 1994.”

Because Dream’s End served as prompter and moderator, it accepted and rejected whatever theories that washed up. DE was trying to make sense of it all, too, and in the endeavor turning the Internet into a groupthink process of problem-solving. Except, DE began not to trust some of his informants, and rejected others as game players.

In the meantime, DE created such a sprawling component of the Duncan-Blake Effect that when New York Magazine made a 6,000 word contribution to the building mythos, Dream’s End could not be ignored. The blog received a one-line appreciation, that didn’t explain the site's content and purpose quite right – at least for the given day the writer checked in.  The reportage there didn't impress DE. How could it? No real sources were cited, though some new details were given, and DE critiqued the piece like an old East German Olympic judge.

In an August 20 posting, Dreamsend wrote what is perhaps the most true sentence in all his vast acres of words-- perhaps even amongthe top five statements within the Duncan-Blake Effect:

"In fact, if nothing else, Duncan and Blake’s deaths seem to have spawned some sort of macabre writing contest."


[All the private eyes upon her? Theresa Duncan, Wit of the Staircase, June 18,2006]

“Well color me skeptical. You’re not falling into an ARG of your own making are you? It even sounds like you’re trying to pull us into one. Titillating us with promises of explosive revelations. Warning about shady commenters who might try to play games with us. Sending us to trawl through a blog looking for suspect comments. And of course, you’re on our side against THEM. I don’t actually believe you’re creating an ARG, but remember what you were saying about Colin Ross and his code? About how placing a secret code into a book about mind control seems irresponsible? I didn’t quite get what your problem was with Ross but maybe I do now. You’re making this too much like a game for my taste. Or maybe I just feel like complaining about something. That’s probably it, carry on.”
-- erno. Dream’s End, July 26, 2007 at 8:44 pm

“…But I am invented too for your entertainment and amusement! And you poor creatures, who conjured you out of the clay? Is God in show business, too?”

– Frayn in Zardoz"
-- slomo, Dream’s End, July 27, 2007 at 2:19 am

Do you all ever wonder if this ARG is an information gathering exercise to watch how folks go about gathering and breaking down information? A field test of Conspiracy Researcher Diversion System v2.0 If I were a dissinfo/psyops type dude (and I am, so I have it on good authority) I’d encourage guys like Blowhard and DE and Jeff, to do their thing without any resistance. Hell I’d probably throw them a bone from time to time just so I could more likely plant some straw men and miss leading info. If I was really concerned I might not try and have them ‘rubbed out’ or ’suicided’ I’d just keep dropping puzzles with no real solution for them to sort out, and their dedicated readers to enjoy. Not that this isn’t a concept suggested already by DE (in one fashion or another). It’s just that I immediately thought that elements of this story seemed like conspiracy researcher chaff deployed to divert a secret seaking missle.

At any rate, (and with no disrespect to Theresa or Jeremy) this is way more interesting than Lost. Where have all the good TV writers gone?
-- WoodyWoodman, Dream’s End, July 27, 2007 at 1:21 pm


"How did this news get kept under wraps for so long?"

I have had trouble figuring out how to do this next post,” Dreamsend writes in his second big entry on July 27. “The basic problem is that an ARG is specifically a story told in non-linear, non-narrative form. So is real life. I had tried to pick a couple of items to fully explain so that you could follow my reasoning. But then I end up with a very long post about only two elements of the story. So instead, I’m going to give you some general notes on things I observed in and related to Duncan’s blog without all the explication. I’m not trying to be ARG-like myself and give hints to draw you in…it’s just too freaking complex."

Dream's End puzzled about the recycling of a few quotes given in the media, but no quotes from people associated more closely with them. "Collaborators, assistants…people named on the blog. Some of the quotes, particularly a number of anonymous quotes in various comments on blogs, point to some kind of “shared” mental illness between the two. And, of course, her insistence that Scientology was after her was taken as prima facie evidence that she was delusional. Let me just quickly say about that two things. One, living in Los Angeles is synonymous with “surrounded by Scientologists. And two, if you mess with them, they will try to fuck you up. (The policy used to be called “fair game”, which is what an enemy of the CoS becomes. Check out the wording:

SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by
any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the
Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.

This doesn’t prove they were harassing Duncan and Blake, of course. But anyone who thinks they aren’t capable of that SORT of behavior is mistaken. More on the CoS angle in later posts. Oh, and to pretend neutrality…the CoS says they don’t do that anymore. So, you know…don’t worry about it.)

But what is even more odd is that in New York City, a town in which I’m going to guess the police beat is well staffed, the news of Duncan’s death did not emerge until two weeks after her body was discovered. And the news of Blake’s disappearance was also not noted until that time. This is rather strange."

Further perplexing about the situation was the few friends knew she'd died, and that that Duncan and Blake didn't seem to have very many. "At least, if you don’t count the numerous anonymous comments outlining how fucked up they were," Dream's End said.

He continued, "And so, I wondered, how did this news get kept under wraps so long? Without going too conspiratorial, I would say that one conclusion is that very few people hung out with these two in person. Maybe the anonymous posters are right and they had some “shared” mental illness that caused them to run off all their close friends. Blake Robin didn’t mention that, but then again, who the hell is he? I found a comment attributed to him here. And you can click on his name and that takes you to a website of the band “Luxxury.” They appear to be a real band. And when you click Le Band, you find a review of them from Theresa Duncan.

‘ Elegant and vaguely ominous, the music of Luxxury causes time travel. They are clearly visiting us from a better, more ideal future, but like a long forgotten and formerly beloved scent, the music once uncorked creates a series of scenes, sensations and shocks that evoke an opulent history not seen around these parts for many a year. Future/Past whiplash is the dance to do when you practice the Luxxury in front of the mirror.


None of this added up at Dream’s End.

“And, naturally, when you add in the fact that her blog was not only full of references to conspiracy theory and the occult underground, but also stories of personally being stalked and harassed by a powerful Iowa businessman and the Church of Scientology, it really seemed too much.

The next step on the journey was to notice that one of her alleged oppressors was artist Anna Gaskell. If I continue on this series…and who knows if my fragile mind can take it…we will have a nice long look at Ms. Gaskell. But as I was first dipping into this (and please note, I am getting information from all sorts of folks…people posting at RI, people I correspond with online, etc…I don’t take credit for all this) I saw that Ms. Gaskell makes some creepy fucking art.

If you add to that, Jeff Wells revelation (though pointed out to him by a reader’s email…a reader with some amazing research skills, I’d add) Anna Gaskell’s brother was editor of a Des Moines newsweekly that intentionally printed a hoax involving a well known kidnap victim and his relation to mind control and a network of occultists and pedophiles. Hey, that’s HILARIOUS, Jon. Details over at RI, but I have checked it out and it’s all correct. Jon is her brother and mentions her in some interviews. He also mentions the death of their father and mother."


"Dessert Topping On The Apocalypse"

Here again comes the guilt-by-association rap: if the art is creepy, then the artist must be, too.
Gaskell's themes are checked off in prosecutorial manner: Alice in Wonderland, twins, mirrors and memory. Art, in general, is suspect in blogs like these. This is an historic issue with the general population of people in the U.S., and I've taken up the subject elsewhere in this essay. The confusing aspect of this is, that a number of these bloggers are creative, I call them bloggists. Yet one blogger's art is another blogger's "fucking creepy."

I cast my mind back to that now renowned May 31, 2007 interview with Father Frank Morales, and the portion of that conversatoin dealing with the theory that institutional forces are compressing and twisting the acceptance and even the definition of art.

"Wit: Yes, but one thing that I believe, that I've seen with my own eyes is that the creative capabilities and creative products of Americans are one of the things that led in part to the global hegemony of the United States. There's a book called How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art, and "culture" used to be a European idea, so that if you had an avant-garde or influential thought, it was European. And so, after World War II, you had people like Jackson Pollock posing with his world-changing abstractions in Life Magazine. And there was no better advertisement for America. Do they not understand or care that a vibrant intellectual and creative class is necessary to the health of a nation?

FF: I think their experience with this vibrant creative class is that they opposed their agenda.

Wit: But, even in terms of real estate and things like that, artists and other supposed countercultures always generate wealth. So, what they want basically, and I guess it's what we're actually seeing in the art world. Is that they want to create right wing artists.

FF: Yeah. But that's an oxymoron.

Jeremy Blake: Not if you're Frederick Remington, or…

FF: Well, yeah, Hitler did his art.

Wit: His victims were his art! Like the corny line in one of the shitty serial killer movies they're making so frequently just now.

FF: But they have their aesthetic. To me it's like the Christian thing—and I'm getting a little preachy here. But, you know, it's like when I hear Falwell—may his soul rest in peace—you know, coming on, his Christian this and Christian that. I don't give him or anyone like him that term. He's not a Christian.

Wit: And somebody right wing is not an artist. Jeremy says John Currin is a very good painter, but I say it's dessert topping on the Apocalypse. He wears his Republicanism on his sleeve and all these ancient creepy old guys go mad for him at Gagosian.

JB: Yeah, but Gagosian himself is incredibly entertaining. An old fashioned ‘70s street con.

Wit: His victims are his art! But with an artist like that, or these kind of art world observers, the chubby academics, the thoughtless trendy curators—it’s what Nietzsche called The Last Man. It's somebody who wants only coffee without caffeine and jogging only on a treadmill, all simulated exercise and experience. And most of all they want thought without risk. And that's what we see often now in the art world actually. Not so much from the artists, but from the huge bureaucratic apparatus that has arisen. But without risk, it's not thought!

FF: Yes. They can try to splash those kind of contradictions out there and make them fly in the abstract or something, but it doesn't work that way."

I am moved to a digressive, but, I hope, in partial underscoring of Duncan's observations, with, however, a tacked on caveat. To wit:

When one visits the vast art aquarium of Chelsea these days, one cannot help but be struck by the numbers of rehabilitated garages and warehouses that are fitted with massive windows. This is to permit passersby to "see" the art -- without coming inside. The fronts of galleries now resemble nothing less than huge flat screen televisions. And like television, the art in those windows cry out: Consume! Consume! Fatten your investment portfolio! Buy me! Take me and have me installed in your overpriced loft to impress your friends and enemies! If the art was instead homeless puppies one could better understand the emphasis on display. And the streets are chock-a-block full of these Scandinavian serene galleries. Those concrete white cubes resemble overhauled Atlantic Wall bunkers dislodged from the Normandy coast.

"Back in the day," as the kids say, when New York City was the white hot epicenter of art -- when Jackson Pollock was in Life Magazine, in the late 1940s into the 1960s -- there were a total of about five serious galleries in New York. Five. One could argue that there is a surfeit of art, and because there is too much of it, little is of enduring value. This doesn't mean all on exhibition is schlock, just a huge portion. But that's the way art is; as in the Biblical injunction, straight is the gate and narrow the way -- many are called, few are chosen.

Art -- most particular in urban centers of the U.S. -- is like rock music or anything else in mass consumer culture: subject to fashion and whimsy and disposable. Thus, galleries elbow each other in the throat to secure the next, best and hottest, like Ari Gold in Entourage. This isn't news anymore to anybody, but, the pathetic application of this method in the streets of Chelsea should make anybody understand that art made to survive and thrive in this environment is suspect.

An argument is that all wall-to-wall copiousness of bad art makes the good stand out in sharp relief. Except now, those puny labels aren't applicable in art. They were distractions, anyway, propagated by academics. Comes down to cases, the matter of deciding what is actual art and what isn't is the Supreme Court and pornography: you know it when you see it. Millions are made by artifical taste-makers who point buyers to work they don't even enjoy.

By the same token, artists must earn money to eat, and buy supplies for the making of more art -- though galleries can take up to half the sale cost of a work. And the whirly-gig spins ever faster.

The procession of gleaming black limousines hove to the Chelsea sidewalks like North Atlantic cruise liners at the 1930s harbor piers. These vessels of conspicuous consumption disgorge goateed, sunglassed parvenus in modish tight cut clothes, who at least wish to appear that as individuals they possess more disposable income than the population of most Third World cities. All those black cars...reminiscent of a funeral. And it is.

All this being said-- and here is the promised caveat -- the arrangement of the contemporary art system didn't harm Jeremy Blake's career. Then again, he was using technology and artistic approaches in a manner that was novel. And that is one of art's functions: to make the world new.


"But possibly the couples' own paranoia became a juggernaut of a self-fulfilling prophecy as they dug deeper into their own suspicions - sort of like e-diagnosing yourself at 3 o'clock in the morning, deciding you have some some rare terminal illness but its actually only a mosquito bite - the internet can really promote that sort of thing, without a doubt it can certainly be a rabbit hole for the insane or the people willing to fall into its depths."
-- Gotham City Insider, "Total Twilight Zone," July 30, 2007

[The Wit of the Staircase, Sept.29.2006]

"I’m not saying she didn’t exist…
just that there is something odd about the WAY she existed."

“What I am now confused about.” Slomo replied on July 27, “ is whether it is possible to verify, independently, the existence of an actual Theresa Duncan. I mean, if I really wanted to be paranoid, I could suggest that this is all one big intelligence op, that the NY Times articles (and anything else appearing in the “respected” media) are merely plants, and that none of these people really exist.

Although I would like to respect DE’s style and pace, part of me wants to urge him to come out and say what he thinks is going on. In particular, if this is really an ARG with sinister intentions, then what are those intentions?

BTW, I used to travel among people who would routinely speak the postmodern argot (e.g. “narrative” is still in my vocabulary) so that in and of itself is not a red flag.”

DE responded later that night, “Ex machina..thanks. I wonder if you can source that online…or give away whether Blake Robin is really “Baron von Luxxury”…not that it really matters that much. The band itself is certainly real.

No…I can’t actually confirm Theresa existed. That’s the weird part. However, it CAN be confirmed. I’ve gone to the extent of checking out the website of the funeral home and then googling them and finding references to Funeral home associations, etc.

I’m not saying she didn’t exist…just that there is something odd about the WAY she existed…of all the people professing their love, I can’t find any who knew her well off line.

What do I think?

I think there are games being played here, absolutely. Duncan may simply have been a victim driven over the edge to suicide. We don’t know her details. Maybe her movie..that mysterious “Alice Underground” (more on that in future posts) got pulled. Maybe she had inoperable cancer.”

On July 31, Professor Pan enjoined with DE about alternate reality games, magic and so forth. He wrote, "We ply some dark waters — conspiracies, the occult, the paranormal, and other topics relegated to the fringe. It requires a reflexive skepticism because the waters are full of mines. I know you are sincere and intelligent, and I think as researchers we should always be ready to tell one of our cohorts when he or she might be floundering in the deep end. I would hope someone would throw me a line if I needed it."

And later Professor Pan said, in a simple declarative manner, pertaining to Blake and Duncan, "She's dead, he's dead. Can we agree on that now? Of course, the police could be 'in' on it...and the coroner who examined Blake's dental records..and the reporters at NYT, LAT, and well as the families..."

Johnny Bemar expressed the view of the counter-reaction crowd in two comments:

"Two less self-centered people on earth. Who gives a shit." Then, "Maybe he didn’t swim out to sea. Maybe he was pushed out, slowly, by the collective psychosis of those around him. There will probably be so many large, fashionable pairs of sunglasses at his funeral…"

On August 1, gothamcityinsider responded to the subject of the purported harassment of Duncan and Blake; that the delusion of such is just as real as the thing itself, and how did the couple get to the state. Were they pushed?

"Right, the terror is the fear itself. Once thats planted, it doesn’t matter if anything tangible happens again, it’s there, it’s alive and will always be with you. It could very well have been a self-fulfilling prophecy for Theresa and Jeremy. Maybe they poked around and found what they were looking for, maybe they instigated it by trying to find out, who knows. I still can’t believe there was any foul play here. Foul play may’ve been the seed planted in her mind about the evil the CoS is capable of but I can’t imagine much more than that - then again, it seems thats all the CoS needed. They didn’t need to dispatch a killer when they may’ve just turned her against herself."

But CB called the pursuit of answers--if there were answers to be found -- a zebra hunt. How Duncan would've bridled at the idea of her being middle aged (!)

"A middle aged woman gets sloshed and weepy and takes pills, miscalculating…she dies. Younger man reads biting blaming “suicide letter” feels guilty, probably drinks too and walks into the ocean. Two moments of irrational human emotion; two lives lost.

No matter how lofty we assume thei intellects to be, this seems like a very simple story. Trying to read more into it: CoS harrassment, occult, whatever is simply zebra hunting...

...Many people are harrassed and stalked…they call the cops. A blogger is not some rarified person immune to the emotional stress of middle age. Pills and booze are an integral part of this, as are anxiety disorders.

The zebra hunt makes for an interesting and disturbing read, like other reads over the years. Most people play these games for fun. If they kill themselves, it’s for very personal reasons: relationships, finance, criminal charges."


"I’m suggesting that the fact that I thought maybe she had not existed would have made Duncan really happy."

If you will recall, a couple posts back, I entertained the idea that Theresa Duncan didn’t even really exist. (I accidentally deleted that post, but appended it to Part 4 below.) Seems silly to those who knew her, but to be honest it’s hard to FIND anyone who knew her…online at least. There are a couple people interviewed…a few anonymous sources…a few articles about her here and there, mainly from many years back…and that’s it. I finally confirmed to my satisfaction that she did exist, but I’m suggesting that the fact that I thought maybe she had not existed would have made Duncan really happy. It would be, in a sense, a very high compliment.

I say this, because like so many artists within the sort of esoteric, postmodernist, ultra-hip media savvy she was associated with, playing with ideas about identity, especially online identity, image vs. reality, memory…all these were themes which were featured on her blog.
In fact, much of this can be described as being similar to another “philosophical movement” if we can even characterize it as such, called “neoism.” I’m just learning about this, so bear with me, and this one is tough to characterize.

I will say that the creators of actual ARGs are often inspired by it. Joseph Matheny lists it among his influences. Butwhat is it? Check this out:

The central three methods are plagiarism, shared identity, and false histories."

This evolves, later in August, into the Dream’s End Duncan-Blake Annex that delves with dense detail into the theory of an ARG's application to viral marketing schemes and that this business is about a camapign built to promote Duncan's Alice Underground film. Maybe.

There is also a hint of what's become an obsession with the United States since Jon Bonet Ramsey, then parodied in Little Miss Sunshine, pre-pubescent or adolescent girls, sex and violence, the denial of a state of innocence, and all this mix-mastered into the Puritanical belief that the body is bad and that young people ought not to have sexual identities.

What if anything this has to do with Duncan is tangential; the Staircase’s love of youthful models, Kate Moss (“What men want is a 13-year-old boy with tits,” as one feminist critic announced), a Wit posting quoting Graham Greene and Salvador Dali on Shirley Temple, the Lewis Carroll and Alice connection, the ARG, and onward, ever onward, down the rabbit trail, falling in a pell-mell rush to embrace a sensible explanation that does not exist.

Next: The turn of July to August, Rosenbaum, Coe and critics, Washington Post, and assorted.

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At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it...Not a SINGLE comment?

At 4:08 PM, Blogger HEK said...

Ya got me, Anonymous. I have an open forum here. Thanks for stopping in.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Before you dissect me, please note:
I've never worked for any tv news dept., much less FOX.
I did work for A Current Affair, which was cancelled in 2005. I left in May 2005. I did maybe 6 stories,one on the Children of God, who stalked me.
I am a paid blogger at, but I am not a staff member and do not sell the classes, as was reported on RI's forum.

I am currently working on this project, and no, I am not a "glorified PA".

I previously worked at the London Sunday Times in the DC bureau, years ago, so the LA Weekly, while a fine venue, does not represent my "big break" in print.

And if you read about me on RI's forum or Alex Constantine--so much of what was posted there about me was wrong, and so easily proved wrong, why would anyone believe much else posted on either site?

At 9:06 PM, Blogger HEK said...


Fear not. I'm taking every one in their turn -- and everybody gets their drubs. But not, so much, from me -- but those who are writing about those who are .... well, writing about This Thing Of Ours.

Thing is, they take themselves with utter seriousness. And. like it or not, RI and Alex and those of their ilk are contributors to the Duncan-Blake Effect. They chose this event to glom onto. You wrote about it because, hey, it's a story. And you're there. --HEK

At 9:12 AM, Blogger Kate said...

So true. I was so fascinated by those reactions as well. Theresa would have run miles before willingly becoming their poster girl, too.
And if I sound defensive, well--I am a little bit. The misinfo/disinfo is just insane, and easily checked, asn yet no one did. A flip commnent to Luke Ford, whom I know well, is now offered as proof of something or other.
Some guy on RI claims to know me or at least to have me me, and still got tons of stuff wrong. WTF?
And even though my email address is very easy to find, not one person has emailed me directly with their complaints/allegations/charges.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger HEK said...

Kate (and anybody else, this ain't personal conversations, here)

Here's the thing. If those who feel you as a writer are entangled in what they view as an infernal plot, if they contact you, then they are also implicated in said plot--or--will come under scrutiny by the Sinister Forces, as "Big" Al Haig once said.

All this is counterintuitive for everyone involved. We today live in the era of Total Information Totally when anybody, anywhere, can be found and somehow contacted.

The only way to vanish is to build a cabin in the woods, cultivate a Rasputin-like beard, and use a clunky Underwood to compose your manifestos. Of course, if you resort to blowing up people, then your cover is, well, exploded. And how.

Problem is, you go that cabin, with the typewriter, where you eat what you grow or capture, and live off that dadblasted grid, then put up a windmill, and soon as you stick your cyber-periscope up and out upon your jury-rigged WiFi connection, BLAM! They got you pegged. Although, I guess, if you are as tech savvy as some of those anti-establishment types make claim to, you can encrypt the whole thing into tertiary levels, and still hide.

Look: All this fol-de-rol makes me tired. And it's 100 degrees in Richmond, and too damn hot to worry over -- though much is worrisome. But this, after all, is August in Richmond, Vee-ay.


At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


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