Operation Mindfuck



“Voltaire suggested that those who can make us believe absurdities can make us commit atrocities, and QAnon provided the practical demonstration. Robert Guffey’s razor-sharp postings illuminate how a collage of Shaver mysteries, Discordian prankster politics and recreational conspiracy theory played out as dissociative American fugue. Jaw-dropping and essential.”
—Alan Moore, author of V for Vendetta and Watchmen

“. . . a codex to madness and a critical examination of how a massive fraction of our culture has imbibed a counter-reality. Guffey explores underground sources lost on many mainstream historians, bringing us into an (occasionally ingenious) netherworld of outsider thought forms. Guffey is the Ernest Shackleton of paranoia—and one hopes his journey will result in a happier ending.”
—Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award-winning author of Occult America and Uncertain Places

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About the Book

Mind control. Satanic rituals. Unspeakable sexual perversions. Supervillains eating children’s brains. A divine mandate to keep Donald Trump in the White House, no matter what.

This surreal combination of horror-movie shocks and fascist marching orders is the signature of QAnon, which emerged from the dark corners of the internet in 2017 and soon became the galvanizing force behind Trump supporters, both during Trump’s presidency and in the volatile, ongoing aftermath of the 2020 election. But despite the strange pervasiveness of QAnon, its origins remain obscure. Who is behind QAnon’s messaging, and what do they want? And why do they pair their extreme political agenda with such obviously made-up, phantasmagorical beliefs?

In Operation Mindfuck, Robert Guffey argues that this is not as mysterious as QAnon’s anonymous “drops” of cryptic directives seemed. Drawing on an encyclopedic knowledge of conspiracy theories and mixing deep-dive research, political analysis, and firsthand notes from QAnon’s underbelly, Guffey insists that we’ve seen it all before.

Unraveling QAnon’s patchwork quilt of recycled material, from pulp-fiction spook stories to Hunter S. Thompson-style pranksterism to Nixon-esque dirty tricks, Guffey diagnoses QAnon as a highly engineered ploy, calibrated to capture the attention and lock-step loyalty of its audience. Will its followers ever realize that they’ve been had? Can this new American religion be dispelled as a cult like any other? The answers, Operation Mindfuck reveals, are hidden in plain sight.

256 pages • Paperback ISBN 978-1-68219-331-0 • E-book 978-1-68219-332-7


About the Author

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Robert Guffey is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University – Long Beach. His most recent books are Widow of the Amputation and Other Weird Crimes (Eraserhead Press, 2021) and Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Crossroad Press, 2021). Guffey’s previous books include the darkly satirical, apocalyptic novel Until the Last Dog Dies (Night Shade/Skyhorse, 2017), the journalistic memoir Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security (OR Books, 2015), which Flavorwire called, “By many miles, the weirdest and funniest book of [the year],” the novella collection Spies & Saucers (PS Publishing, 2014), and Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form (2012). A graduate of the famed Clarion Writers Workshop in Seattle, he has written for numerous publications, among them The Believer, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, The Evergreen Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Mailer Review, Phantom Drift, Postscripts, Rosebud, Salon, The Third Alternative<e/m>, and TOR.com.

Read an Excerpt

In March of 2020, I was talking to a friend about COVID-19 and the national lockdown. He’s ten years older than me and lives in a small town in the Midwest. I live in Long Beach, California. While chatting with him on the phone about all the unexpected difficulties that have arisen from teaching my English classes online, he suddenly volunteered the opinion that COVID-19 would end up being a positive development in 2020.

“Yeah?” I asked. “How so?”

He proceeded to tell me, with complete sincerity, that after Trump was re-elected in 2020, he would deliver “free energy” to the people of America. Not only that, he was also going to abolish the income tax. At that very moment, United States troops had been deployed underground where they were busy “cleaning out” covert subterranean tunnels, “saving hundreds of children from satanic slaves,” and kicking out the “black hats.” Without skipping a beat, my friend then insisted that news of this game-changing development would be “coming out” soon.

“It’s a great thing,” he told me in measured tones. “Trump will have to use the Emergency Broadcast System to give this news to the American people because the media keeps lying and social media like Twitter and YouTube are censoring and deleting videos that report reality the way it actually is.”

Furthermore, my friend said in tones of absolute certainty, Trump supporters working behind the scenes (referred to by my friend as the “white hats”) had recently wrested control of the entire Google corporation from devil worshippers, which is why you could now retrieve “accurate information” from that particular search engine.

“Uh . . . where are you getting all this?” I asked.

He seemed reluctant to tell me. At first he hemmed and hawed, then muttered, “Oh . . . just these message boards.”

“Well, what message boards?” He wouldn’t say. “Could you send me the links?” I asked.

“There are no links,” he replied.

“No links? What is this, the dark web or something?”

He chuckled. “Kind of.”

When I pushed further and asked for more details about this “accurate information,” in an urgent whisper he told me to search the word “Adrenochrome” on Google.

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