The Dark Side of QAnon Part Two: The Friends We Made Along the WayTravis LeBlanc
QAnon gives me déjà vu.
This guy appears out of nowhere on an internet forum. He claims to have secret knowledge. But he won’t just come out and tell you what it is. Instead, he talks in riddles. He says he is affiliated with Trump, who has a plan, a grand strategy. But he can’t tell you what it is. He doesn’t really need to, because if you look closely, all the secrets are right there in front of you.
Yeah, this rang a bell. I’ve heard something like this before. You know how they say “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme”? Well, now that the A to the Q is upon us, that bell is ringing even louder, and the similarities are becoming more striking. I’ve seen a lot of people lately comparing QAnon to Operation Trust, a fake nationalist movement created by the Bolshevik government of the Soviet Union to smoke out dissidents and lead anti-communists into dead ends, blind allies, and unproductive endeavors. There are some parallels, but I’m thinking of something else.
My mind is harkened back to the ’90s, when the internet was still in its infancy. An event happened then which would set the Pink Floyd online fan community on fire and has become part of Pink Floyd lore. It would become the subject of much speculation, discussion, and ferocious debate in Pink Floyd fan circles and still does to this day. It was one of the first examples of internet marketing by a musical artist and in hindsight, seems almost like an eerily similar microcosm of the QAnon phenomenon.
It is called the Publius Enigma.
Before social media, before even message boards, there were newsgroups.
The year was 1994. Pink Floyd had just released The Division Bell. It was their first album since A Momentary Lapse of Reason 7 years prior. It’s not a bad album. A bit hit and miss, but the hits hit pretty hard. “Take It Back” is a jam. “Coming Back to Life” is a jam. I digress.
One day, this guy going by the name of “Publius” shows up on the alt.music.pink-floyd newsgroup and told everyone that Pink Floyd’s latest album was a riddle. Nay, an enigma! And if you took all the music, lyrics, album artwork, music videos, and promotional material around The Division Bell, they all pointed to a singular answer. More than that, Publius said that the person or group of persons who decoded the riddle (nay, the enigma) and discovered the hidden meaning would receive an unspecified prize directly from Pink Floyd. This was the Publius Enigma.
Publius’ first message hit the newsgroup on June 11, 1994.
You have heard the message Pink Floyd has delivered,
but have you listened?
Perhaps I can be your guide, but I will not solve the enigma for you.
All of you must open your minds and communicate with each other,
as this is the only way the answers can be revealed.
I may help you, but only if obstacles arise.
If I don’t promise you the answers would you go.
People on the Pink Floyd newsgroup were initially confused as to what exactly this message meant, so Publius followed up with another post to clear things up.
AS SOME OF YOU HAVE SUSPECTED, “The Division Bell” is not like its
predecessors. Although all great music is subject to multiple
interpretations, in this case there is a central purpose and a
designed solution. For the ingenious person (or group of persons)
who recognizes this — and where this information points to — a
unique prize has been secreted.
How and Where?
The Division Bell
As your thoughts will steer you
Leading the blind while I stared out the steel
in your eyes.
Lyrics, artwork and music will take you there
Feelings on the Pink Floyd newsgroup were as divided as a bell. Some were convinced that Publius was legit and instantly set out trying to solve the enigma and win the prize. But there remained a contingent of scoffing skeptics who believed Publius was a random troll winding them up. That’s when the mysterious Publius decided to lay his cards on the table. To silence the skeptics, Publius made a prediction. He gave a date, time, and place. Something that would happen then which would prove once and for all that Publius was the real deal.
To validate the trust of those who believe, as well as
to reconcile the doubt of others, I have gone to great
lengths to plan the following display of communication:
Monday, July 18
East Rutherford, New Jersey
Flashing white lights.
There is an enigma.
On the July 18 in question, Pink Floyd was performing in East Rutherford. At approximately 10:30, while the band performed “Keep Talking,” the words “ENIGMA PUBLIUS” flashed in bright lights in front of the stage.
Congratulations to all those who have newly begun the search.
Many of you correctly identified my signal last Monday (7/18). As
promised, this gesture should serve as visible proof of my
truthfulness and of the enigma’s existence. Contrary to recent
postings, this beacon has never appeared previously. If necessary,
check your available resources to verify this fact.
For those of you who still number among the non-believers, I
have provided verification of my credentials and I am finished
attempting to appease you. Originally, the newsgroup requested
evidence of my legitimacy and, in fairness to what I was asking of
you, I complied. I believe I have been generous in what I’ve
offered. I have extended you all an invitation into something
exclusive and unique – a token of appreciation for your continued
Pink Floyd interest. However, some of you still distrust the proof
that has been clearly shown to you.
An integral part of solving this enigma is a willingness to
imagine and speculate creatively. While some of you still seem
resistant to engage in such endeavors, I have no further
inclination to try and prove a claim you will simply never choose
to accept — regardless of what efforts I undertake to convince you
otherwise. I am not willing to engage in a futile battle with
skeptics. You will either have to contend with what proof has been
supplied or return to your regular newsgroup dialogue and discuss
whatever matters you feel secure are within your complete sphere of
understanding. Sadly, there will be no part in the enigma for you.
Stand aside, and let those who have demonstrated the incentive to
embrace this challenge with an eager and open mind pass by
unencumbered by your flames and arrows.
— Publius, July 24, 1994
Publius actually did present one more proof of his authenticity. On September 12 of 1994, Publius wrote that “another unusual and conclusive signal is being prepared to validate your trust! Have patience. It will be upon you shortly. . .”
Lo and behold, on October 20 at Earl Court in London, while Pink Floyd performed “Another Brick In the Wall, Part II,” the word ENIGMA lit up on the big screen backdrop.
The two concerts described above would be the Publius Enigma equivalent of what is known in the QAnonverse as “Q-proofs.” I’ll say a little more about Q-proofs later.
As you can expect, the regulars at alt.music.pink-floyd were floored by these revelations. It turned out this mysterious Publius character was affiliated with Pink Floyd after all. There was no other possible explanation. And if Publius was telling the truth about being affiliated with Pink Floyd (now no longer disputed) then he must also be telling the truth about The Division Bell being an elaborate Enigma.
People immediately started putting forward their theories as to the secret meaning of The Division Bell. The album was dissected a million different ways and a colorful variety of explanations were put forward. Some were very elaborate, dealing with astrology and star constellations. Others dealt with geography and obscure historical figures and events. Others involved science, others politics, and then there was one notorious newsgroup regular, a mentally ill middle-aged woman, who insisted that the album was about her.
All the while, this Publius character would monitor the discussion and occasionally chime in with clues and guidance.
Yes, I’ve been watching your progress and am duly impressed with the recent discourse.
Many of you have taken my words to heart and identified significant associations between the clues. Organized communication is the key.
Your persistence and thoughtful analysis is leading you down the road to a solution. Do not be discouraged; you are on your way!
Special cheers to ‘The Publius Concern’ — I’m flattered — and other formal committees who have formed to investigate the enigma.
Now, let me impart a word of advice: while each DB component requires its own individual degree of interpretation, carefully take note of those subtle, connecting relationships between seemingly disassociated clues. I emphasize this an essential step in the right direction.
Ask yourselves: how do these separate clues that you have been researching and evaluating now find renewed meaning within an overall, more unified theme? As an example, what does the following lyric suggest and how does this relate to your earlier findings:
On the day the wall came down
The Ship of Fools had finally run aground
Promises lit up the night
like paper doves in flight
Lastly, let me leave you with a final question:
Why would the Newspaper be crumpled?
Continued luck to all in your search!
— Publius, 13 Aug 1994
Greetings to everyone. I see that your work is progressing nicely.
Some of you have noticed clues in the mini-disc release of “A Momentary Lapse of Reason.” The appearance of the words “publius” and “enigma” were included to give you further proof of my legitimacy.
It is time to give you another clue from “The Division Bell.” Some of you have been searching the booklet through different means, such as holding pages up to a light to see what bleeds through from the other side. Turn your attention away from these methods and refocus on the words and the music. See what you have not seen.
Finally, a clue in the lyrics:
Why did we tell you then
You were alwayS the golden boY
And that you’D never lose the light in your eyes
You are getting closer to the solution. Keep up your efforts, and rest assured that the enigma will be revealed.
— Publius, December 14, 1994
With months to stand back and observe your progress, I must congratulate you on your persistence. My planned and prolonged absence from the newsgroup has inspired the formation of vast groups of people all over the world to work closely and in concert with each other. Plus, the lack of regular clues has encouraged not only a thorough reconsideration of the existing pool of evidence, but also a vigorously renewed search through the music, lyrics and artwork to discover even more information.
You are all owed a sincere round of applause!
But now, as we move forward, a most exciting turn of events is about to take place.
Thousands have already joined the search and a great deal more will soon follow.
And, while the ultimate prize still lies waiting to be unearthed, let me help by pointing out that there is another physical location that must be visited before final progress can be made. As I’ve been monitoring your discussions, I feel this should now be made clear in order for you to properly proceed. As a reward for your diligence, I can help lead you to this landmark through a small series of new clues. But, make no mistake, this new information must be considered in relation to all previous clues that have either been discovered by you or provided by me.
The first clue:
There is great significance in the page numbers.
While some of you might think this statement vague, trust me. It is not.
While I have been gone awhile, trust that I will return shortly with the second clue. You are all closer than you think.
— Publius, August 2, 1995
For a complete record of Publius posts, click here.
Now for the end of the Publius Enigma story. Who was Publius? Was he a member of the band? Or was he their publicist? And what was the prize? Was it something lame like an autographed copy of the album? Or was it something cool like the Stratocaster that David Gilmour recorded Dark Side of the Moon with?
And most importantly, what was the answer to the Publius Enigma? Would it blow my mind?
Well, here’s the punch. Twenty-seven years later after that first post, we still don’t know with any certainty the answer to those questions.
Once Pink Floyd’s tour ended, Publius’ posts became less and less frequent. In September of 1996, the alt.music.pink-floyd newsgroup was taken down for legal reasons, and contact with the mysterious Publius character ended. Various anonymous accounts have popped up over the years claiming to be Publius, writing in his distinctive style, but nothing could be proven one way or the other.
Pink Floyd themselves have given conflicting accounts over the years. David Gilmour initially denied any knowledge of Publius, but confessed in 2002 that it was “some silly record company thing that they thought up to puzzle people with.”
Marc Brickman, Pink Floyd’s lighting technician (the guy who would have arranged the “ENIGMA PUBLIUS” signal) initially acknowledged the existence of and some involvement with the Enigma and pointed the finger at Pink Floyd’s manager Steve O’Rourke. O’Rourke denied any involvement in the Publius Enigma whatsoever (read Brickman and O’Rouke’s statements here).
Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason (whom many consider a prime suspect of actually being Publius) stated that the prize was going to be a “crop of trees planted in a clear cut area of forest or something to that effect.”
We have some clues as to who Publius might have been. But the ultimate answer to the riddle? Or if there was a riddle? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to figure it out. There are entire blogs, websites, and dozens and dozens of videos dedicated to trying to crack the riddle. One guy produced a 19-part (over ten hours!) YouTube series attempting to explain the enigma.
What do I think the answer to the Publius Enigma is? I don’t know. Probably something about Jews. From the right perspective, anything can be interpreted as a metaphor about Jews. Planet of the Apes? The apes are Jews. To Kill a Mockingbird? The mockingbird is a Jew. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!? Well, the “wake me up” part means “redpill me on the Jews” and the “before you go-go” refers to getting banned on social media.
But seriously. . .
I lean towards “there was no riddle.” David Gilmour (who wrote most of the album) has said that he did not deliberately put clues in the music. When asked about the Enigma, album artwork designer Strom Thorgerson had no idea what the hell they were talking about.
I think Publius Enigma was purely about promoting an album and its accompanying tour. Once the tour was over, there was nothing left to promote, and the person or persons behind Publius Enigma just moved on with their lives.
This brings us to QAnon.
If you know anything about the lore of QAnon, the parallels with the Publius Enigma really jump out at you. A mysterious figure appears on an internet message forum promoting a conspiracy. In both cases, they won’t just come out and tell you the answer. Rather, they drop little breadcrumb clues and encourage the reader to figure out the rest.
There are even some similarities in style. Consider this Q drop:
Are you awake?
Do you SEE (for yourself) the MSM = propaganda tool of the LEFT?
Do you SEE FB/Twitter/GOOG censoring non LEFT POVs?
Do you SEE the corruption?
Do you SEE the EVIL?
Are you a SLAVE?
Are you CONTROLLED?
Are you a SHEEP?
ARE YOU AWAKE?
DO YOU THINK FOR YOURSELF?
LEARN THE TRUTH.
THE GREAT AWAKENING.
THEY ARE LOSING CONTROL.
RESPECT OPINION OR ATTACK THOSE WHO DARE CHALLENGE THE NARRATIVE?
IT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.
WHO ARE THE TRUE FASCISTS?
WHO ARE THE TRUE RACISTS?
WHY DOES THE ANTIFA FLAG MIMIC THAT OF THE NAZIS?
FOR HUMANITY — WAKE UP — LEARN.
FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
WHERE WE GO ONE, WE GO ALL!
Now, the million-dollar question: “Is QAnon real”? Before I get to that, I should explain what I think QAnon is: a psyop designed to draw support away from the Alt-Right.
How much of a role the Alt-Right played in the 2016 election is debatable. But it was always the case that Donald Trump was dependent on a strong online fanbase to counteract his chief enemy: the bitterly opposed mainstream media.
For Trump, there were problems with the Alt-Right. Firstly, the Alt-Right was prone to various public relations disasters like Charlottesville (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that QAnon emerged shortly after Charlottesville).
Secondly, the Alt-Right’s support of Trump was always conditional on Trump fulfilling his campaign promises (mass deportations, end to birthright citizenship, etc.) and when he started cycling on those, many in the Alt-Right started to turn on him.
What the Trump administration did was create its own Alt-Right. A “safe” Alt-Right with “safe” enemies. Instead of Jews and non-whites, the villains were pedophiles, communists, Satanists, and China, people boomers could feel okay about hating.
More importantly, QAnon encouraged unconditional loyalty for Trump. If Trump starts cucking to the globalists, don’t freak out! It’s all part of the plan. It’s 800-dimensional underwater space chess. Trump’s cucking is actually proof of how based he is.
So, who is Q?
I’ve heard that a couple of YouTubers created Q. Supposedly, there was one time on a livestream that a guy accidentally showed himself logged into his Q account. I’ve also heard that he is some Jew in the Department of Defense.
Both could be true. It could have been started by one person and then taken over by someone in the Trump admin.
But is Q “real”? QAnon is “real” in the same way that Publius Enigma was “real.” Publius was “real” in the sense that he was affiliated with Pink Floyd in some way. He was not just some guy sitting in the proverbial mother’s basement. But the conspiracy he was pushing about The Division Bell being a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma? That part was a bunch of bullshit.
Same with QAnon. This Q character may very well have some contact with Donald Trump. I’ll admit that I have seen some “Q-proofs” that would be pretty hard to explain unless there was some coordination with the Trump administration. The thing that sealed the deal for me was when Michael Flynn started promoting QAnon. He went on InfoWars and gave Trump a 100% chance of staying in office, which is QAnon levels of delusion. That’s when I knew that this was worse than just a hoax — it was an op.
But that doesn’t mean there was ever a “plan” to arrest and execute a few thousand Satanic pedophiles. In that sense, you could say Publius Enigma and QAnon were “real,” but not “true.”
And here is the last comparison. Publius ultimately just vanished into the night, leaving his devotees with a nasty case of blue balls. No answers, no closure. Q will likewise fade away. He has not posted a drop since December 8. Like Publius Enigma before it, QAnon was just a promotional marketing gimmick. But with Trump out of office and Pink Floyd’s tour over, there is no more product to sell. No more reason to keep selling.
I will end, however, on this more upbeat tone.
While researching for this article, I stumbled upon a blog of someone who was once deeply involved in Publius Enigma and committed a great deal of time trying to decode its meaning. Of the experience, he said:
The Enigma brought many lessons to the table for most who had more than a glancing brush with it. Many learned interesting and new things during the course of all of the theories put forth in the search for the answer. Physics, Astronomy, Geography, Art, History, Mathematics, were just a few of those things. Many people made new friends, many made enemies, and many discovered that the line between the two can be deceptively blurred at times. For a very small handful of people however, the meaning of Publius’ instructions to Listen, Read, Think and Communicate, have become an eye-opening and especially valuable lesson, as well as made some painfully aware of just how badly we all need to pay heed to those four words every day, with everyone who touches our lives.
Despite being (in my opinion) a hoax, one thing the Publius Enigma succeeding in doing was fostering the creation of a vibrant online Pink Floyd community. That may have been the whole point of the exercise. One of the things Publius repeatedly encouraged was for the residents of alt.music.pink-floyd to start talking to each other.
“Organize yourselves formally, plan a true method of investigation, choose your leaders.” (July 24, 1994) “Organized communication is the key.” (August 13, August 31, 1994) “It is my impression that searching together and exchanging information openly has enhanced your progress. Good work! Continue as such and you will unearth your treasure soon enough.” (September 12, 1994).
QAnon is a scam, a hoax, a giant steaming pile of malarkey. That said, I hope the people who got sucked into it made some friends. At least then they got something out of the experience. And those social networks might come in handy if the QAnon crowd ever becomes redpilled.
Some have predicted the imminent demise of QAnon, but I think it will keep going for a while specifically because it has become a community. People will continue going to QAnon message boards because, well, that’s where all their friends are. Especially now that half of them have alienated all of their old friends by incessantly ranting about Satanic pedophiles.
Should we expend any effort trying to redpill the QAnon crowd? Some QAnon people will become redpilled on their own. It might be better to let those people then redpill their old QAnon friends. As far as I can tell, QAnon types are on a completely different wavelength from most of us. In the same way that an ex-alcoholic should be the one to talk a current alcoholic into quitting, it might be best to let ex-QAnon people redpill the current QAnon devotees.
QAnon, for all its faults, is doing one important thing: it is breaking people out of the binary Democratic-Republican paradigm. A large percentage of white nationalists came from libertarianism because it exists outside that dichotomy. The Republicans have their narratives and the Democrats have their narratives. Discovering that there are other narratives beyond just those two — or even better, entertaining those narratives — is a big step in breaking one’s conditioning.
In some ways, QAnon is normie conservatism on steroids (and LSD). And yet, according to QAnon mythos, half the Republican party are also in on the Satanic conspiracy. They have figured out that evil knows no party affiliation. In that way, it is outside the standard Conservative Inc narrative.
QAnon is a hoax based on lies and bullshit. And yet I remain cautiously optimistic that some good will come of it.
In the meantime, however, QAnon followers could stand to learn a lesson from Pink Floyd: “We don’t need no thought control.”
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