Communicating via the EIES terminal system employed during the 1979 Omnicon sessions in which Kurt participated clearly had an impact on him, and he employed a first-person “EIES terminal-style” in these amusing Omasters “dispatches” to Soofi Central. TROVADO is the surname of Ben Trovato, one of the cast of characters in The Omasters and a 17th century Italian expression meaning “characteristic or appropriate, even if not true.” TROVATO is aboard an intergalactic vessel, Adamantinus, at the edge of the Coal Sack Nebula when he makes this transmission.
Set in the sulphurous waters at a hot springs, this excerpt from The Omasters introduces readers to the musician Constance Chang (otherwise appearing as The Yellow Pearl) and Ignatz Fine, the Chasidic Mandarin mathematician and mystic. Allowing Kurt to expound on esoteric principles, the character of Fine is both cipher for Kurt and a vehicle for advancing the story.
“Like the ancient sages, Fine contemplated the changes in the dark and the light, from which he divined the movements in the firm and the yielding represented in the 64 ordered patterns of the oracle called by the name of the Book of Changes, or I Ching.”
As for Constance, “I don't understand anything you're saying,” she told Fine truthfully.”
There really was a book proposal prepared for The OMASTERS. It was sent to literary agent John Brockman, who at the time, and since, has represented a number of well-recognized authors, and has even authored books himself. Various sample chapters have been included in this website, but this book proposal demonstrates the ways in which those chapters fit into an overall scheme.
As noted in the proposal, “The frame story unfolds as three interlacing accounts of THE OMASTERS in action, featuring Primo the Fool, Woody Nicholson and Shakuhachi Unzen, in respectively a space opera, a celebration of the myth of America, and an East-West fantasy farce. Historical, technical and utterly fictive events are arranged as mirrors in a fun house to catch the play of real and imaginary values. Through the warp of science and scholarship we shuttle the thread of fantastic delight.”
This short excerpt from a sheaf of neatly typed onion-skin papers utilizes one of Kurt’s literary devices, namely the use of a “message” to “Soofi Central” to spin a tale and ramble on about essentially anything. In this case, the topic is in part about a turd too large to flush, an exercise in Scheisshumor Kurt often found irresistible. Ultimately, after invoking the spirits of Tibetan Buddhism, he navigates to a discourse on prime numbers and Pascal’s Triangle via transformations based on Middletown’s roadsign. Classic von Meier.
Omasters, Kurt’s one-of-a-kind, unpublished work of fiction, consisted of tales taking place in three different realms, all connected by threads of narrative and various characters appearing through transformations within each realm. One such realm was the Teahouse of Necessity, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Diamond Sufi Ranch (aka Samten Chuling). This segment features Shakuhachi Unzen, “dishwasher, flunky and garbage man.” He waits upon the meeting of a group of remarkable men. Kurt writes:
“Shakuhachi poured the milk of compassion into the pot on the hot stove, ground cardamom seeds, stirred in Lyle's Golden Syrup; like hopiscotch he covered a pattern over the kitchen floor worn smooth with retracing, the principle of design utilized by Harrison and Abramowitz for laying out paths at Brandeis University...”
One guest is Melvin Finnis, designated to lead meditation at the Teahouse. “Shakuhachi's technique with Melvin was to ask him questions which would conventionally, politely, require an answer of "No." He knew Melvin as practitioner of Perfection would be reluctant to utter "negative" thoughts, being at the rather literal level of the path. Melvin's left eye lid tic’ed whenever a NOT twisted his line of logical reasoning.”
What transpires is a unique game among the Teahouse denizens, a memory game filled with puns, quotations, arcane bits of information, integer sequences, chai, and fine cuisine.
Kurt von Meier’s and Clifford (Walter) Barney’s Omasters consumed years of writing and reams of paper. Though never published (except in part, on this website) in final form, or for that matter, completed, the project was a source of energy and amusement—the embodiment of G. Spencer Brown’s Laws of Form and a lifetime of studying art, mythology, mathematics, and mystical traditions.
It also generated spin-off material for a television series: a story summary, an unfinished synopsis of episodes and scenes about its lead character, Matt Welles, and even a snippet of a screenplay. Yet another peek through von Meier’s magical looking glass, one can only imagine the world in which this television series would be broadcast.
Primo "the fool" plays a central role in O'Masters; he's one of the crew struggling to figure out how to navigate the star-ship Adamantinos away from the black hole towards which it is falling. In this short sequence, Kurt advances the story line by introducing aleatory and intuitive navigation elements, essentially clues in a cosmic puzzle. "A scorpion image referenced volume One of Science and Civilization in China, with the number 10,000. Scorpion in a sand circle, two to the sixth power, 64. Sixty four squares: chess, the Zoroastrian game of Asha, zero-sum, black and white, Ahriman and Ahura Mazda, the I Ching."
Collaborating with Cliff Barney, Kurt conceptualized a book proposing to expound upon Brown's Laws of Form by actually performing Brown's calculus; "to show how, by examining the structure of Spencer Brown's calculus, which is to say its language and symbols and formal relations of its parts, we may, by uncovering the form of the form, see and intuit the relation of form to content and the way in which all systems reflect themselves in each other." What began as a scholarly exercise evolved instead into the fictional Omasters, its oddball characters and settings presenting various archetypes postulated by Brown and action within differing but simultaneous realms of time.
Herewith another segment of Kurt's fictional Omasters, this time featuring Aubrey W. Holz, Johnny Walker, Marque Dutchman, and the wise lady Hildegard,
"'What is simple is hard,' said Hildegard, a character played by the Abbess Hilda, whose companions were geese, who was of royal blood, Anglo-Saxon, and whose monastery at Whitby, aka Streonshalh, set above the white chalk cliffs, as at Leucadia where those sea heifers were sacrificed to Poseidon, over the edge, into the Adriatic Temples to Apollo."
Filled with arcane references to esoteric teachings and explicating models of cognitive neuro-psychology, it's classic von Meier in full polymath mode, up to and including the torn corner of a yellow paper napkin.
Here's another slice of Omasters, the unfinished esoteric novel Kurt developed with the assistance of Cliff Barney. This serving includes reflections by Dr. Jose Goldolphin Que, the alter-ego of Dr. Kurt von Meier, a generous portion of literary and mythological references, and the dubious Sperm Whale shenanigans of Ahab McGaffe, at home in his 'Vegas saloon, The Double Cross.
This first chapter of Omasters sets the stage for all that follows. Ironically, the effect of vast islands of garbage and debris floating in the oceans, a present-day problem in 2017, plays a major role in Kurt's fiction of 1975. "The MIS' DONA suckled projects in cetacean interspecies communication, psychoastronomy, and an ongoing sea-skimming operation. Gobbling up masses of off-shore sewage, oil spills, floating Styrofoam, throw-aways and the waste of contributing continents, the MIS' DONA's mission was much like that of a vulture, jackal or shark...." Kurt and Clifford Barney created a work of genius, and you get to read it right here. (For an additional chapter, click here).
Kurt's study, with his friend Cliff Barney, of G. Spencer Brown's Laws of Form generated a surge of creativity in Kurt resulting in sample chapters of a book called Omasters. A multi-dimensional-story-line fantasy adventure in part about a space vessel shaped like a tortoise shell in danger of falling into a black hole, hundreds of pages were generated, and literary agent John Brockman tried, unsuccessfully, to find a publisher for the book. Funny, confusing, arcane, and filled with scholarly references, it was just too wild for the traditional world of publishing in 1979. An encouraging rejection letter from Doubleday/Anchor Books to their agent John Brockman is illustrative. From what appears to be Kurt's original typed pages, you can enjoy a bit of Omasters right here. More to follow!