The Singularity Obsessed AI Hacker in Antero Alli’s Last Film Blue Fire is Only The Beginning

Sep. 08, 2023.
9 min. read. 11 Interactions

R.U. Sirius talks to filmmaker and artist Antero Alli about life, consciousness, and making his last-ever film.

About the writer

RU Sirius

14.82057 MPXR

R.U. Sirius is the former copublisher and editor-in-chief of the 1990s cyberpunk magazine MONDO 2000 and author and coauthor of 11 books including Counterculture Through The Ages. Currently involved in a project building an immersive virtual environment in collaboration with around the theme of his song with MONDO Vanilli and Blag Dahlia titled "I'm Against NFTs".

Credit: Antero Alli

I suppose the way to get Mindplexians interested in Antero Alli – author, theater producer, experiential workshop leader and film director – is through his ties to Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson starting back in the 1980s, where that pair were advocating transhumanist slogans like Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, Life Extension.

But the reality is that Alli has carved his own path as a writer, a thinker and director. And as he slowly exits corporeality, it’s his film oeuvre that most fascinates me.  

I recently spent a day watching several of his films and it struck me that I was looking at part of  an entire body of work that has been largely neglected by those writing about and advocating for indie films. Alli’s films may be about to be discovered. They certainly deserve substantial notice. There are hours of enjoyment and intrigue awaiting viewers.

And while enough of his films enclose neo-tech tropes like VR and AI to cause one or two commentators to toss out the buzzword “cyberpunk,” these are all ultimately human stories leaning on depth psychology, Jungian symbolism, dreams and real experience.

In the preview for his latest film (and most likely his last) ‘Blue Fire’, Alli highlights the Singularity.

The central protagonist is an underground singularity-obsessed AI hacker. Scenes show male computer-freak social awkwardness, unrequited male obsession with a woman and a bad Salvia Divinorum trip (been there). Ultimately ‘Blue Fire’ is not a film about AI or the personalities of underground hacker archetypes. It’s a film about human connections — connections made but mostly connections missed.

I interviewed Antero Alli by email.

R.U. Sirius: Since Mindplex readers probably aren’t familiar with your work, what would you say is the theme or project or search that runs through all of your work that includes books, theater, experiential workshops and film, including the most recent one we’re discussing today?

Antero Alli: The silver thread running through most everything I’ve put out to the public since 1975 – my books, films, theatre works, Paratheatrical experiments – reflects my ongoing fascination with how our diurnal earth-based realities are impacted in meaningful ways by our nocturnal dreams and related astral or out-of-body events. I have felt compelled to share these visions through the Art of words, images, and human relations. All this obsession started back in 1975 when I endured a spontaneous out-of-body experience at the age of 23. I say endured since the experience itself was traumatic and a massive shock to my concept of identity. I was no longer able, in all honesty, to identify as a physical body after being shown more truth when seeing and knowing myself as a light body, an electric body, cased within the physical body. No drugs were involved. The only condition I can relate it to was exhaustion from an intense theatre rehearsal that evening. All my films are oneiric docufictions, where real life experiences are camouflaged and spun by my feral poetic imagination.

Credit: Antero Alli

RUS: We met when we were both working and playing with the ideas of Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson. To the extent that their ideas are likely of interest to the mostly technophile readers of Mindplex, they would be attracted to the technotopian ideas they advocated like SMI²LE and evolutionary brain circuits as opened by drugs and technology, and then Leary’s later advocacy of cyberpunk and the digital revolution. How do you see your own work in relationship to these tropes?

AA: My contribution to the legacies of Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson is demonstrated through my thirty-year era of working with The Eight-Circuit Brain model. This started in 1985 with the publication of my first 8-circuit book, ‘Angel Tech’, updated and expanded in 2009 with ‘The Eight Circuit Brain: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body’. (Both books are still in print at The Original Falcon Press.) My approach is somatic and experience-oriented, rather than theoretical or philosophical. I relate the eight-circuit model as a diagnostic tool to track and identify multiple states of consciousness and eight functions of intelligence that can be accessed as direct experience through ritual, meditation, and trigger tasks. This embodiment bias sets my circuit work apart from Leary’s more theoretical approach and Wilson’s use of multiple systems theory to expand the eight-circuit playing field. Between the three of us, I think we cover the bases pretty well.

RUS: The dramatic persona in Blue Fire is an underground AI hacker… seemingly a singularitarian. How did you conceive of this character? Was he based on someone or a composite or a pure imagining?

AA: The AI-coder Sam, played by Bryan Smith, was inspired in part by the actor — a singular personality with a dynamic physical sensibility and this very pure kind of cerebral charisma, a complexity that I felt could brilliantly serve the film. I was also intrigued and inspired by the subculture of coders that I discovered talking with a few of my friends, AI freaks and serious hackers, who shall remain anonymous.

RUS: Without giving up too much of the plot, the other protagonists are a relatively normal nice seemingly-liberal couple. The dynamic between could be read as a contrast between neurotypicals and neuro-atypicals, In this case the atypical doesn’t do very well but is perhaps a catalyst for putting the typicals through some changes. Would you read it that way?

AA: The so-called typical couple are not lovers or married or in any kind of romantic involvement; nowhere in their dialogue mentions or indicates that. What is clear is that she is a student in the college-level Psychology 101 that he teaches. They form a bond over their shared interest in dreams, a bond that deepens into a troubling mentorship. All three characters act as catalysts for each other in different ways. Much of this starts in their nocturnal dreams and how their daily discourse is impacted by these dreams. This daytime-dreamtime continuum continues as a thread throughout most of my films.

RUS: Again, not giving up too much, the hacker dude smokes some salvia divinorum… and based on my own experiences, you got that right in the sense that it’s often an uncomfortable high. I’ve referred to it as “naggy”. People who want to be happy about being in disembodied cyberspace should probably make ketamine their drug of choice (I’m just chattering here but welcome you chattering back) or even LSD rather than a plant. McKenna used to believe that with plant psychedelics there’s someone or something in there… kind of another mind with something to impart to the imbiber. Any thoughts on this or thoughts on minds other than our own here on earth and what they can teach us?

AA: I knew Sam, the A.I. coder, had a drug habit, but didn’t know at first what drug would be the most indicative of this native state in mind. What drug would he gravitate towards? What drug amplifies his compartmentalizing, highly abstract, and dissociative mindset? After smoking salvia several times, it seemed like a good fit (not for me but for Sam). By the way, I don’t make my films to school the audience or teach them anything. It would be a mistake to also view any of the characters in my films as role models, unless your Ego Ideal includes flaws, shortcomings, and repressed Shadow material. Though ‘Blue Fire’ revolves around Sam’s AI coding, this is also not a story about AI but how AI acts on Sam’s psyche. Like my other films, I explore human stories planted in extreme circumstances or situations where people face and react to realities beyond their control or comprehension.

RUS: Aside from AI, virtual reality pops up in some of your work, and the language of hacking occurs here and there. But I don’t think your work would be categorized as cyberpunk or even sci-fi. What role would you say fringe tech and science play in your films?

AA: The fringes of tech and science play a role in those films – their presence amplifies the human story or shows the viewer a new context or way of seeing how the characters interact with tech and science. This keeps me and my films honest, as I’m no techie or science nerd. My deep background in theatre and ritual (Paratheatre) has slam-dunked me into the deeper subtext of human relations and how this interacts with the transpersonal realms of archetypes and dreams.

RUS: I’m feeling a little claustrophobic making what I suspect might be your last or one of your last interviews just about Blue Fire as directed at the Mindplex audience. If you’re up to it, why don’t you hit the world with your parting shot, so to speak. A coda? A blast of wisdom? A great fuck-all? A kiss goodbye? Whatever you feel. And thanks for being you.

AA: I’m feeling a bit claustrophobic about answering your question. I get that others sometimes think of me as this fount of wisdom – which humors me to no end. I suppose whatever ‘wisdom’ has been born in me, it’s come from making many mistakes and errors of judgment that I have felt compelled to correct as soon as possible, if only because I hate the dumbdown feeling of making the same mistake more than once. This self-correction process vanquished any existing fear of making mistakes, in lieu of an excitement for making new mistakes – defining my creative approach to most everything I do as experimental. Everything starts out as an experiment to test the validity of whatever idea, plan, or theory I start with. Sometimes I’m the boss and sometimes the situation is the boss.

No fuck alls, no kisses goodbye, no regrets. I remain eternally grateful to have lived an uncommonly fulfilling life by following and realizing my dreams. At 70, this has proven a great payoff during my personal end times (I was diagnosed with a terminal disease and don’t know my departure date).

BLUE FIRE Official site

Antero Alli Films online

9/21 Portland premiere

Purchase Advance Tickets

Sept. 22 – YouTube Premiere

Sept. 26 – New York Premiere

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Comment on this article


3 thoughts on “The Singularity Obsessed AI Hacker in Antero Alli’s Last Film Blue Fire is Only The Beginning

  1. In this tech-dominated world, we've nearly forgotten our humanity. Antonio, we cherish you, and as you sail away, may you do so with courage and a wide smile.

  2. I am so in love with this article. I wish Antero will be with us for another decade. Don't give up and you will deliver more movies.

  3. I love the human touch in this article. Yet, I am confused by the drugs!😜

    This interview seems to focus on enlightenment or out-of-body experiences and states that humans are not just flesh but also have another self: the electric, the soul, or the spiritual side. (I will not put words into R.U.'s or Antero's mouths because neither of them specify what this other side is).

    From this, it goes to the psychedelics. Drugs are then depicted as gateways to achieving enlightenment, epiphany, awakening, or nirvana: you call it by any terms. Isn't this a dilemma, and the embodiment of the typical arrogant Western hijacking mentality?

    I am well aware of my generalization. "The West hijacking Eastern concepts (or African and Native American) and bastardizing them is a complex issue with a long history. Though there is no doubt that Western cultures have often appropriated Eastern spiritual traditions for their own purposes, often without fully understanding or respecting the original context, it is also true that these Eastern, African, and Native American traditions are not static, they have been evolving and adapting for centuries.

    However, when we are talking about the other side, the one that is not biology, isn't it ridiculous to claim that drugs can enrich spirituality? Or Drugs can deepen our understanding of the other self?

    What we know, again this is a controversial finding, is that some scientific research suggested that some psychedelic drugs can alter brain connectivity and can temporarily open the mind to new experiences and insights. Then, based on this loosely constructed idea, we are jumping to a huge conclusion that 'rearranged brain connectivity' is the key to discovering the other self and the reality beyond.

    I am tired of quoting Kant because the meaning of 'enlightenment' is not the same for all of the past and present different cultures throughout this planet. However, we can agree with one thing "Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another.” 'The guidance of another' is the thing hijacked here; the drugs. It disturbs me to see how drugs are depicted as the magical pill (that infamous red pill).

    I completely agree with Antero Alli's life lesson and that an independent and self-centered journey toward enlightenment is good enough to tap into this other reality. However, reason should also be included. We should promote reason as one of the basis of understanding both the physical and spiritual worlds.

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