By: Pete Porro To: Pete Porro Re: ORGONE.2 In 1956 the Food and Drug Administration, convi
By: Pete Porro
To: Pete Porro
In 1956 the Food and Drug Administration, convinced that
orgone boxes were damaging the health of gullible people by
keeping them from needed medical care, ordered Reich to stop
shipping them across state lines. Reich defied the injunction
and was hauled off to court, where he served as his own
attorney. The court proceedings sketch a tragic picture of a
man seriously ill with delusions of grandeur and persecution.
Sentenced to jail for two years and fined $10,000, Reich
entered Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary persuaded that President
Eisenhower, whom he greatly admired, knew of his genuis and
would pardon him. Reich died in prison of a heart attack, at the
age of 60, a few weeks before he was to be released. To the
end he believed his persecution was a conspiracy by a group of
"red fascists" inside the FDA who were trying to steal for
Russia the secret Y factor he claimed was necessary to operate
another of is inventions, a motor that ran on orgone energy.
One might have thought that today's orgonomists (science
cults never die, they just slowly fade after the death of their
charismatic gurus) would confine themselves to Reich's youthful
contributions to psychoanalysis, which are reasonably sane and
still greatly admired by many psychiatrists, but no - most of
them buy it all. Almost all of Reich's books, including some
of the funniest (unconsciously funny, of course, because Reich
had no sense of humour), are back in print by Farrar, Straus,
and Giroux, and a raft of books have been written about him.
The worst is by Colin Wilson, England's intrepid journalist of
all things occult. The most reliable biography is "Fury on
Earth" (1983) by Myron Sharaf, whose own wife had an affair
with Reich. As Reich's third wife, Ilse Ollendorff, discloses
in her canid biography, Reich was intensely jealour of her,
while insisting on the Victorian freedom to have sexual romps
of his own.
In 1967 the remnant faithful founded the semi-annual "Journal
of Orgonomy", and a year later, the American College of
Orgonomy. In 1987 the new "college" moved its headquarters from
Manhattan to Princeton, New Jersey. Patricia Humphrey, wife of
conservative Republican Senator Gordon Humphrey from New
Hampshire, was chairperson of a committee that raised $2.5
million for a college building and is now conducting a drive
for an additional $3 million.
The most active rainmaker associated with the college is
Dr. V. James DeMeo, Jr. He got his B.S. degree from Florida
International University, Miami, in 1975, and his master's in
1979 from thje University of Kansas, Lawrence. His thesis
(available from Ann Arbor's University Microfilms, ID number
13-13336) is titled "Preliminary Analysis of Changes in
Kansas Weather Coincidental to Experimental Operation with a
Reichian Cloudbuster." His Ph.D. thesis (University of Kansas,
1986) is "On the Origin and Diffusion of Patrism: The Saharian
Connection." Formerly an assistant professor of geology and
geography at Illinois State University, Bloomington, he is
now assistant professor of geography at the University of
Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls.
DeMeo's cloudbuster, which he calls "Icarus," consists of
ten parallel aluminum pipes, 3 inches in diameter and 18 feet
long. The space inside the pipes is, as Reich specified,
"grounded" by empty tubes to a source of nonstagnant water.
When not in use, the lower ends of the tubes are stoppered
and taken out of the water. The pipes can be raised, lowered,
and swiveled by electrical controls to point at any spot in
the sky. In an interview in Bloomington's Daily "Pantagraph"
(August 9,1983), DeMeo explained that water grounding was
necessary because of a not-yet-understood property of water
that relates it to air pressure and magnetism: "For example,
when you soak in a tub of hot water, the water draws tensions
from your body." In analogous fashion, the water alters the
atmostphere's "tension parameter." To cause rain, the pipes
are aimed not at the clouds but at nearby areas to relieve
the "tensions" that prevent the clouds from releasing rain.
"Every phase of Reich's orgone theory was derived
experimentally," DeMeo wrote in reply to angry letters in
the Pantagraph. He accuses his critics of the same prejudice
that persecuted Galileo and that provokes "otherwise calm and
rational people into fits of irrational rage."
In a "National Enquirer" article that someone sent me
undated, DeMeo put it this way: "The theory is simple enough.
The atmosphere stagnates into deadly orgone and my machine
simply conducts energy from the stagnant area." He claimed
13 rainmaking successes out of 15 attempts. When the machine
is on, birds tend to flock around it, and to fly away when
it's off. Cumulus clouds of moderate size dissipate when the
pipes of Icarus are pointed toward them, but they grow larger
when the pipes are aimed to one side.
In 1987, at the Arid Lands Conference in El Paso, Texas,
DeMeo gave a paper on "A Cloudbursting Expedition into the
Southeast Drought Zone, August 1986." Funded by the American
College of Orgonomy, DeMeo and his associate Robert Morris, a
Reichian therapist, took two cloudbusters into Georgia and
South Carolina to relieve a major dry spell. From August 6
through 12 they moved the machines from place to place, at
13 different sites. DeMeo claims huge success in triggering
rain. The cloudbusters operated poorly, however, in "areas
where nuclear plants were located....In those cases the
orgone continuum around the cloudbuster became over-exercised,
eliciting a mild to severe oranur reaction" that made
everybody feel "uneasy." ORANUR was Reich's acronym for
Orgonomic Anti-Nuclear Radiation.
DeMeo and Morris identify themselves as co-directors of
Rainworks, and of the Orgone Biophysical Research Laboratory.
DeMeo is tireless in traveling around the country giving
profitable lectures and weekend workshops on orgone biophysics.
He also makes and sells a variety of devices, such as the
orgonotester ($1,500) and a pendulum that oscillates with
orgone energy ($150). At the close of his El Paso lecture he
thanked Fred Westphal for his help. Westphal is a philosopher
at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, and the author of
two philosophy textbooks published by Prentice-Hall.
There are rival Reichian groups. Courtney Baker, M.D.,
son of the founder of the American College of Orgonomy,
heads the Institute for Orgonomic Science, which issues an
annual periodical. Lois Wyvell, former editor of the college's
journal, now publishes her own quarterly, "Offshoots of
Orgonomy". Jerome Eden, in Carrywood, Idaho, issues a
newsletter, heavily UFO oriented, from his Center for
Orgonomic Education. These and other splinter groups are
sharply hostile toward one another, and toward Mary Higgins,
administrator of the Reich Infant Trust Fund, which owns and
operates the Reichian Museum, in Rangeley. Eva Reich has
unsuccessfully sued the fund for access to her father's
papers, and Higgins has repeatedly sued Reichian groups for
copyright infringements. Lore, Reich's other daughter by his
first wife, is an orthodox Freudian analyst in Pittsburgh,
with no interest in orgonomy.
When Reich first observed that heat inside his orgone box
rose above room temperature, he wrote to Einstein asking for
a meeting to discuss this discovery. They met in 1941. Later
Einstein wrote to Reich that the temperature does indeed rise,
but there is a simpler explanation than concentrated orgone.
Reich called this the "Einstein affair." Poor Einstein! In
Reich's eyes he lacked the vision to see the discovery of
orgone as ushering in a new Copernician Revolution, and one
that would save our planet from the twin dangers of a nuclear
holocaust and an attack by extraterrestrials.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank