(Originally published in 2017.) Three decades ago, American hypnotist Larry Garrett committed himself to abstaining from the news. So, in 2001, when he received a phone call inviting him to Iraq, he said yes.
Below, photos from the Sufi ceremony Larry was invited to attend by Uday.
Artist – Song – Album
Ulfur – Molasses – White Mountain
Aarktica – A Shadow Knife (Draws the Bleeding Light) – Bleeding Light
Episode #102, AGB Radio January 25, 2016
The Life on Earth – Grace Under Pressure – Your Karma Is Coming
Maja Ratkje – Voice – Voice
Ulfur – Molasses – White Mountain
Ulfur – So Very Strange – White Mountain
Sppooo – Movement II – Arthur Levering: Still Raining, Still Dreaming
Leandro Fresco – El Cruce Impossible – Pop Ambient 2013
Ulfur – Molasses – White Mountain
Leandro Fresco – Point of No Return – Pop Ambient 2013
Mushio Funazawa – Artist – The End of Negation
El Resplandor – In the Marsh – Nettle
Roly Porter – Giedi Prime – Aftertime
Masayoshi Fujita, Jan Jelinek – Botuto – Schaum
Red Stars Over Tokyo – Lost Traces – Hits of Sunshine
Tim Hecker – Boreal Kiss, Part 1 – Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again
Leandro Fresco – Cuando El Sol Grita La Man˜ana – Pop Ambient 2013
Ulfur – Molasses – White Mountain
El Resplandor – There Is a Hole in the Middle of the World Filled With Language – Nettle
Leandro Fresco – Jean Vigo – Pop Ambient 2013
Ulfur – Molasses – White Mountain
Kreidler – Sun – Den
Larry Garrett – Hypnotist
Alright, lay back… Lay back, and maybe when you’re listening to me at home, I’d like you to just sort of pretend that I’m seated right there next to you, speaking to you personally, and you just follow with me a little bit at a time, and I’ll teach you what to do as we’re doing it, okay?
Okay, let’s do this now. You close your eyes, Sarah. Keep your ankles uncrossed, lay back and keep yourself comfortable. I’m going to use a gentle sound that’s going to attempt to assist us in letting things out. It’s a special piece I had made that has some little subliminal activities going on, that’s going to have your mind extracting the need to be preoccupied or worried about what you need to do next.
If you’ll listen real carefully, on the background you’ll hear a little beat; listen carefully. You heard that? That will come on periodically; watch it, it will come on again in a moment, watch… There it is again, see? So that sound is going to become very subconscious to you. You hear it again there. So pretty soon you won’t hear that sound, you’ll begin to feel that sound, and whenever you feel that sound, that sound is going to be extracting some of the challenges that are going on in your life. Relax… So slow… So calm…
I’d like you to just sort of take into your mind something that is going on in your life today that you would like to neutralize, or maybe minimize. You might think, “Why would you want me to think of something negative right now?” Just to show you how we’re gonna clear it out by the time we’re finished.
* * * *
[people talking; Arabic language]
We get to the bomb shelter and this woman comes out dressed with a head scarf, kind of traditional clothing.[- Welcome.
– Thank you.
– Hello, nice to meet you.
– Hello, thank you so much.]
So we walk into the place first, and I look in here and it’s kind of like all dark, black walls, black ceiling. She’s leading us, and we stop and she said, “Would you like to stop here and pray with us?”[- Please?
– Will you pray?
– Pray? Mm-hm.
Okay, let’s pray… So we stop. She says, “Allow me to tell you what happened here.” First place she takes us is to a place where there’s a big hole in the ceiling…[- This looks like a strong wall for protection, right?]
…and there’s rebarb, steel rods that they’ve put in concrete, hanging from the ceiling with this opening, about six foot in diameter. This opening is where a bomb came in.[- …guided by laser, and the weight of each one
And the heat of the bomb carbonized all the people against the walls and the ceilings of this building. The walls had imprints of people, and the walls looked like negatives of people. There was a woman holding a baby, and you could see the whole image of that, of her holding a baby.[- This is a girl… I’m sure this is a girl. But who’s that? I don’t know.]
The youngest children were at the top level. The ceiling was strewn with hands and fingers, carbonized to the ceiling, little hands of young children. The images on the walls were flat, like pictures, like paintings. The hands on the ceiling were like pieces of hands and fingers that were carbonized, like a piece of charcoal, and it was a horrible sight… Horrible site.[- …and you see, the part of their bodies make it like dusts, because so much…
– Oh, yes. How many people were in here?
– About 422. Only 14 survived.]
Four hundred people were in this building, women and children 16 and younger. And these people that are in this building are here to be protected from the bombings of the first Gulf War, February 1991.
This was done by these bombs from the Americans who thought this was a artillery station that held guns and things like this. She says, “Four days later, the Americans sent a message here, and they said “So sorry, we made mistake.”
* * *[- How are you doing today?
– I’m good, how are you?]
My accountant says “It’s too much like a home. You have to have it more look like a business”, but I love it here. The whole building is triangles, yeah. Rooms are triangles here, bathrooms are triangles here…
I have every award that’s been recognized in hypnosis. I don’t know what that means, it doesn’t pay my bills, but… It’s recognition. This one here is like the Oscar of hypnosis.
Yeah, and then you have these lava lamps, which have really warmed up during our couple hours here.
Yeah, they’re kind of hypnotic, aren’t they? Now when you close your eyes, just imagine you could just feel your thoughts in the front of your forehead, right in the center of your forehead, drifting way back, just like a lava lamp, so slow, to the back of your head. So I kind of use it, and they’re sitting there watching that image before we start, so they kind of get into it. One of these days we’re gonna hypnotize you.
You want me to tell you how I stopped watching the news? That’s a great story. It must be early ’80s. I look at the weather each evening, to see what the weather was going to be; when watching the weather, I’d watch the news… And I don’t remember the man’s name, but I always remember it was on channel two. It was a little short guy with dark-rim glasses, and he looked at the cameras… It was a rainy, kind of crazy night, so I was like, “Should I bring an umbrella, should I wear boots, should I wear a raincoat?” So the camera zooms up on his face and he looks at the camera and he’s got this serious look, and he says “Don’t think tomorrow’s gonna be a good day.” “Right!” I thought, “What was that!?” It hit me!
Listen to the news, and they will tell you what to worry about today. It’s the biggest communication that’s going on among people. “Did you hear about this? Did you hear about that?” All the things that we hear on the news that we have no control over. He spoke to my subconscious mind; he didn’t speak to my logical mind that it was gonna rain tomorrow, he spoke to my subconscious mind that tomorrow’s not gonna be a good day.
I don’t read the newspapers, I don’t watch the news… Somebody will say, “Well, don’t you ever have bad days?” No, no, I don’t. I used to have bad hours, I even had bad days, I remember having bad weeks, I even remember having bad years! But I only have bad moments now.
I’m going to die at a hundred plus, smiling. And the reason I think that is because I don’t have angst in my system. People say, “Well, how do you know what’s going on if you don’t watch the news?” and I always smile and point at them and say, “You’ll tell me.”
The end of March, 2001, sitting in my office, and I receive a phone call wanting to know if I wanted to go to Iraq. His name was Dr. Shali, he was a neurosurgeon. All he told me was that he would like to talk to me about the possibility of me going to Iraq to hypnotize a patient of his who was a prominent businessman.
I’m listening to him and already I’m creating in my mind what I’m going to do with this patient of his that I haven’t even met. I feel my excitement generating in my body, like “Oh, boy!” But I’m trying to be cool on the phone, and I’m talking to him cool, and I said, “Okay… Dr. Shali, I look forward to meeting you whenever we have the opportunity”, and he says, “How about tomorrow?”
Of course, I don’t know anything about Iraq. Nothing. The only thing I had visualized with Baghdad was flying carpets. So the next morning I brought him in my office. He took his hat and his coat off, and he had on a little cheap suit. We go through some little gentle formalities of getting to know each other; he’s here for a medical convention downtown, and while he’s here he was asked to look for somebody who understands hypnosis well. So then I kind of segued into “Tell me about your patient.”
His patient was a prominent businessman who had been injured. His injury had caused some psychological, emotional discomforts; his injury had caused him to feel as though walking was difficult, but his medical staff had determined that there was nothing wrong with his body, that walking would be okay. He even expressed to me he was a little skeptical about hypnosis, but that his patient wanted an American hypnotist to come there.
I’m listening to Dr. Shali… I could sense a desperation in his person, and I don’t know why the desperation is there. Later I know why, but I don’t know why now. And I could sense that he’s trying to convince me to go to Baghdad because he doesn’t know that I’m already willing to go to Baghdad.
Everybody I would mention this to would freak out… Literally freak out. Then when I went on the internet and I typed in “travel to Baghdad”, big bold type across all screen says “Baghdad is dangerous. If you are there, leave immediately! Don’t travel to Baghdad!” I became even more paranoid here.
I have a friend who is a travel agent, and I say, “Do you know anything about traveling to Baghdad?” “Nobody goes to Baghdad!” she says. “Nobody goes there!” And I keep hearing all this stuff. Eight out of ten people screamed at me not to go. “What, are you worried I’m not gonna come back?” “Yeah, we’re worried you’re gonna die, you’re gonna get killed.” Then I got on a plane and left for Baghdad.
Relax so slow… If you begin to think of a relationship that’s very significant to you, and you say “Oh my god, this is exciting… I like this person!” So the person does one little thing that somebody did to you a number of years ago, and immediately you stop trusting that person, or immediately you start building up this anxiety that “This isn’t going to work.” Then we have to wonder, “Did you sabotage the success in this because of your past conditioning?” I remember a phrase my mom used to tell me all the time, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Isn’t that a good metaphor, when we’re under stress, to do things as we’ve always done? When we always do what we’ve always done, we always get what we always got. Time to stop doing what we’ve always done. Time to start doing what we know will work.[Okay, this is recording. I’m on my way to Oman, and probably about an hour away on the plane right now.]
No planes were legally allowed to flow over Iraq. We had to fly to Jordan, and you would then drive through the dessert at night to get to Baghdad, which was 500 miles.
I get off the plane, and you know how all these people sit there with signs and with names on the signs; so I see a sign that says, “Mr. Garrett.” Oh, that’s me! That’s me! I finally saw something that looks familiar!
So here’s this young guy – really vibrant young guy, about 30 years old, and he’s just like full of energy and he says, “I’m Mohammed.” He shakes hands with me and he’s all excited to see me like I’m a long lost friend (I never met him before), so he says “Follow me.” We get in this Mercedes and we’re traveling down the highways of Jordan now.
Such an experience to be in the Middle East. Have you ever been to the Middle East? The Middle East is like a different world. People are walking alongside the road with these long, white gowns on… “You know, Jesus Christ was born 50 miles from here.” No kidding! I could just feel goosebumps on my arm. It’s like saying, “Elvis Presley was on the street here…”, no kidding?!
What really was exciting was to see Kentucky Fried Chicken written in Arabic; the same logo and everything, but written in Arabic.
I say, “Well, why are we traveling at night like this?” Because the dessert’s too hot during the day. “What are those lights out in the dessert? Who lives there?” “People.” That’s the way they were answering me. I think I was excited like a little kid.[Does anyone want another throat lozenge or anything?]
When we got close to Baghdad it was about five in the morning and it was becoming daylight. Visualize you walk into this hotel and there’s this large reception area. Everybody was dressed — let’s not say cheap suits, let’s say outdated suits. I look around and I see pictures of Saddam everywhere; paintings, portraits of Saddam. Saddam on easel, Saddam hanging on the wall, Saddam everywhere.
The tile on the entrance of the Al Rasheed hotel had this huge mosaic of the first president Bush with kind of snarl on his face, like he’s angry. I’m thinking, “Why would they have a picture of an American president?” I thought they don’t like Americans.
Ali says, “Get some sleep, make yourself comfortable. We’ll call you when we’re ready to meet.” Okay… I sort of felt like a little kid. “Okay, go into your room, sit there until we call you.”
So I unpacked, and I proceeded to do my sightseeing from the window. They had a wonderful view of Baghdad streets. The city was waking up. I was feeling the excitement of everything coming to life. Traffic is starting, there’s a garbage truck outside, loading garbage. A lot of cabs in Baghdad, orange and white cars… Right across the street was a soccer field and there were kids there starting to play soccer.
About two o’clock I got a phone call in the room. They said, “Mr. Larry, we’re waiting for you downstairs.” “Okay…” So I go downstairs to the lounge area and there was about eight, ten people sitting at a table waiting for me. All heads turn towards me. They all look at me. I’m a little bit out of my league right now, like “Oh boy, look at these guys here, checking me out.” I’m smiling. I’m smiling, I’m relaxed, I’m cool… So I greet them. “Hi, I’m here!” [laughs]
One by one they introduce themselves; they stood up and shook hands. They proceeded to tell me as best they could what was going on. They called him “the patient.” That he had been in a serious situation where he was shot and he had 15 bullets in him. He had gone through many surgeries and he had been bed-ridden for almost two years, on his back, and that he’s walking with a “severe stutter”, they called it, of his legs shaking every time he began to touch the ground, but yet there’s nothing physically left that should stop him or inhibit him from doing this.
So I asked, “Who is this person that I’m going to be hypnotizing?” and one of the men said, “It’s the eldest son of our leader, Saddam Hussein.”
This is serious stuff, I’m seeing the president of this country’s son. By the way, Uday Hussein was to be the next person in leadership. They didn’t run by elections, they ran, “My son’s now in charge.”
And what did you know about Saddam Hussein?
Nothing, nothing. I knew nothing about Saddam Hussein, I just had heard the name over the years. I didn’t know, I just didn’t know… And I didn’t know anything about his son.
We have a philosophy here that says, “We treat everybody special, we just don’t kiss their butt.” So I was not about to do anything different with this guy just because he was Saddam’s son, than I would have done with one of the janitors there. To me he was going to be a person who has asked me to be here, a person who has asked me to come there, and that’s what I was going to do.
We get in two cars and off we go. We travel for about a mile or so, and we go down this long road and we go to this hospital called the VIP Hospital; this is where the important people go. And here comes four men dressed in white coats, like medical people would look, and about four or five big men in suits, with guns, out. And here comes Uday in the center, with a nice silk shirt, nice slacks, walking with crutches.
Uday Hussein was a very good-looking man. He always had a beard on his face that looked like he had just painted it black. You couldn’t see the hair, but it’s called stubble – it was pitch black. His hair was dark black. He was probably about 6’1-6’2. He was 39 years old at the time… Just a good-looking guy. Everybody kind of bows to him and they call him “Your Excellency.”
I shake hands with him and he says, “I’m honored that you’re here. Thank you so much.”
You know, how do you start talking to this guy? You know, “Hi, my name is Larry. What’s yours?” [laughs] What do you do? So I just pretend like I was visiting with a client that’s coming to visit me in my office, and I said, “Would you like to tell me a little bit about what you want?” “Yeah.” He’s telling me what’s been going on, he’s telling me how sometimes he can walk okay, sometimes he can’t. His biggest concern and issue of not being able to walk was the fact that he needed to stand in front of his people without a crutch.
I said, “Well, I have to ask you something.” He says, “What?” I say, “Hypnosis to me is a very intimate, personal experience. This is not a theatrical performance. We have a lot of people here, this is not going to help the hypnosis experience.” He said, “Oh, okay.” He said something in Arabic and immediately everybody except two people left. Immediately.
I said, “Wow, that’s good. That’s good for me, I’ve got some control here. I’ve got some respect here.” I didn’t want anybody to hear what he was saying, so I’d whisper to him. I’d lean real close to his ear and I’d whisper very quietly, like this was a big secret. It’s sort of like speaking to the soul; it’s a very personal, intimate experience. Nobody speaks you like a hypnotist other than your mother or a lover, because hypnosis has this quiet, reassuring, almost a love kind of a talk.
Now lay back, take a deep breath; hold that breath a second or so and just let your body begin to relax. Focus on your legs relaxing; just feel those legs relaxing. Now I want you to focus on that left leg, and feel that left leg from the tips of your toes on up to your knees feeling strong.
What happened at the end of the hypnosis is his eyes kind of fluttered and he opened his eyes gradually, and he smiled. Then he looked and me and then he looked at his confidant men, and he said something in Arabic. Sumani, this confidant man, came up, he crossed his arms, he stood there with that kind of posture, like clicking his heels kind of look, and he says, “That was good, but next time it must be better.”
Whew, I could feel a little nervousness here. What’s this about? So I said, “Well, this is our first time. Next time it will be better.”
The day was over. I stayed in the hotel. I walked the halls, checked out the gift shops… I watched TV and checked stuff out on the television… I remember a black and white TV, three channels… I think there were some colored programs.
I’d turn off the TV, maybe get a book and read, doze a little bit, and then the phone rings. “Mr. Larry?” “Yes.” “The patient is ready.” “Okay, I’ll be right down.”[old phone rings; TV channel browsing sound]
I know you don’t like to think about negative things, but something that I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been working on the piece is just I’ve been learning more and more about Uday and what the news have reported about him. There’s been a lot of allegations of really brutal things; this is before you met him.
Before I met him, yeah. He was a horrible man. Horrible man. But never once did I hear a bad thing about Saddam or Uday while I was there in Iraq. Never once. Nobody spoke bad about him while I was there. I think they were afraid to speak bad about him.
Every night I would go to his house there would be a different exotic car in front of his house. I don’t think I ever saw the same car twice.
It was always kind of a ritual. He’d sit on the edge of the bed and his physician would come and take his shoes off. He lays down and he gets himself real comfortable, clasps his hands together or puts them at his side, and he’d say, “Okay, I’m ready.”
I’m here in his bedroom, with a kingsize bed, and it’s got this gaudy red bedspread on it. It was a satin material; it would look like it belonged to an older woman. At the head of the bed there’s this painting hanging up. It showed a warrior standing on a mountain top, and he has a young woman in his arm protecting her, and he has a sword in the other hand and he’s fighting off this gigantic bird. I began to use that in my suggestions, that he was like a warrior and he was strong, and he could protect people, and he was a good protector. Because in his perception, remember, he is a leader, he is gonna protect his people. And he couldn’t protect his people if he’s walking with a crutch, he told me.
So I would lean real close and I would whisper to him:
“Create an image like the warrior in the painting behind your bed and feel the strength that he has in his left leg as he has one leg raised up on that rock, and he has a sword in his hand to protect the woman that he’s holding. Feel that left leg becoming so strong.
Feel your chest as strong and powerful, like the warrior behind your bed.”
Then I’d get up to his head, I’d take my time and I’d say, “Now, the most important part of your body. Feel inside of your mind, the power in your mind to be able to walk well. I want you to imagine yourself walking well with the confidence and strength like you did four years ago, five years ago. Feel that memory.”
Most of the time we would talk a half hour or forty-five minutes before the hypnosis. Then after the hypnosis we would talk for a while, sometimes for a couple hours. He often asked me about where I lived, what are the neighborhoods like in Chicago. He told a story about when him and his cousin were in Washington DC and they wanted to go to the Lincoln Memorial. He was about 17 and didn’t speak English well. They were sitting on a bench, confused and lost, and he said to me he always remembered that this woman came up and said to them, “Do you need assistance?” He always remembered how generous she was, and she drove them to the Lincoln Memorial and made sure they got in safely before she left. He remembered how he didn’t expect that friendliness from the Americans.
And he said to me something interesting. He said, “I’ve always wanted to live in the United States.” He said to me one night, “Would you like to see the workings of God, Allah, and the workings of the mind combined, and what you could do with both?” I said, “Sure, I’d love to see that. Tell me about it.”
We go to this mosque. Huge wooden door. Somebody opens it for us and we go on in there. We all sit down on these tough chairs, and there are a thousand people there, if not more. All the women and children are in the back, all the men are in the front. There’s these men dressed in these white garbs that are traditional to them, and they’re telling us a story. It’s a story about how thousands of years these men have been able to pray and fast for 40 days, and after they pray and they fast for 40 days drinking only water for 40 days (I bet they lost a lot of weight), their consciousness becomes very powerful.
They learn to have powers in their body that they could inflict discomforts and not feel pain, and even control their bleeding.” Now this chanting aaarrhhh aaarrrhhh aaarrrhhh and it’s going on and on and on and on, and they’re turning their heads like in a circular motion; they’re all in a trance, and they’re turning their heads and you can see this glassy look in their eyes, and their long hair, it’s going around in a circle, and drumming, drumming… Boom-boom-boom-boom, and the sounds aaarrhhh aaarrrhhh aaarrrhhh, boom-boom-boom-boom! And that chanting kept getting louder and stronger and louder and stronger, and then like this: Boom! Silence.
Husky man, bearded man, long hair, maybe balding in the center. He comes up and he’s got these large daggers that you might throw at a target. He takes these daggers and he takes a hammer, a mallet in his other hand and he holds the dagger on the left of his head, on top of his head to the left, hammers it in. He goes to the right side of his head and he hammers a dagger in, it stands up and now he’s got two daggers standing up on his head, and he’d stand there looking at us.
I’m freaked. I have seen everything, I have been everywhere, I have seen all kinds of control of the mind, I have seen the mind do things I never believed, but I never saw anybody hammer a dagger in his head, and I’m feeling what this guy did. This guy freaked us all out. He kneels down in front of me, he motions for me to pull the dagger out of his head.
The drums are rolling, the chanting is going, and this guy is kneeling in front of me and he wants me to pull it. So I take both hands, one around the handle of the dagger, one around the other hand and I pull as hard as I can. His head lifts up, pulls away from his shoulders, you could see his neck become elongated as I’m pulling on this thing. The dagger is not budging. Not budging. In the meantime, I’m getting this emotional feeling, like “Oh, wow! Wow! What’s this about? How come it’s not coming out of his head? What’s holding this dagger in his head?” Allah, God.
So they tell us… This guy is translating stuff and he’s telling us this. And he does some loud yelling, like ruuuuuuuhhhhh and he pulls out the dagger! A little blood runs down his forehead. And he does it again, ruuuuuuuhhhhh and he pulls out the second dagger. Wow…
So I went to see Uday that night and he says, “So, Mr. Larry, tell me, what did you think about tonight’s events?” I just said, “Wow. I’m impressed.” Uday was like a little boy, he always reminded me of my older son. He was just like a kid, and I could see the excitement in him when he knew he was pleasing me. He wanted to please me. Money was no object to him, so he could pay me – no big deal, pay me. He wanted to please me.
Why do you think he wanted that?
To answer your question, why was Uday trying to do so much to impress me? Anything, anything I wanted. You have to do a lot of editing. [laughs] Sorry about that. I get very emotional. I’m kind of an emotional guy. I cry at weddings and funerals… At funerals I don’t cry as much; weddings I cry at more. They don’t know what they’re getting into. [laughs] So when I was with Uday, he felt my compassion for him. And he knew I wasn’t judging him; Uday had nobody who was impressed with him. Nobody liked Uday. Nobody.
Uday had found a guy who he could impress.
How many sessions did you do with Uday?
About eight, maybe nine. I was there ten days.
What was the goodbye like?
Well, I remember he embraced me. First he shook hands, and then he put his arms around me and hugged me. He said, “Maybe we’ll meet again.” He was walking much better now. He wasn’t using a cane any longer, he wasn’t using crutches.
I kind of had an intuitive feeling they were gonna call me again though, because when your work’s not done you have to go back… Like you come in here many times; until your work’s done, you have to come back.
So when you got back from Iraq the first time you really didn’t know who Uday was, and then I assume friends started telling you “He did this, he did that, he killed people, he raped them, he killed his dad’s servant at the dinner table…” Did people start to tell you these things?
Oh, yeah. In fact, I remember one friend gave me a magazine with a great story in there of how horrible he was and how he had hurt people, raped women and killed people. I don’t even think I got past the first paragraph and I thought, “I don’t wanna read this. It’s not a good feeling to read this stuff.”
Sometimes I have a little philosophy, Sarah, that says “Leave well enough alone.” I had a father who was from Tennessee, so when I was a young boy I would go to Tennessee, starting around seven or eight years old on, and they had farm labor for children. I used to pick cotton, or dig potatoes, or whatever. At 12 years old I remember I had to slaughter an animal. Ugh! I couldn’t do it today, but that was part of the ritual of growing up in the South. I had to shoot a pig, and hang it up by it’s hind legs and cut its throat and drain it.
But you do eat meat…
I do eat meat, but I don’t look at it like that. It’s funny you say that. I was talking to my son yesterday, and I don’t remember how it came up, but I said, “I wouldn’t wanna eat a fish with eyes.” He said, “Well, you used to eat smoked chubs.” I said, “Yeah, but I didn’t think about it. You just break off the head and not look at it.” I can eat a hamburger, but I don’t wanna know it came from that cow, I just don’t wanna think about that.
So again, I think you’ve learned from me that I have this ability in my mind not to think of something that I don’t see, and that’s my naive personality. But it protects me.
I mean, it doesn’t sound very naive to me, it sounds very intentional. It sounds like you’re able to develop some kind of intentional avoidance.
Intentional avoidance. I like that word, because I am intentionally avoiding it. Intentionally. But let’s pretend like I am a person who many people are, and I think about too many things. And all those things I’m thinking about are wasting my ability to be focused. So I could be focused on your right now and intentionally not pay attention to that car outside, and intentionally not worry about who’s on the other side of that door, because I am focused on you. When we don’t have that intentional observance, then we’re all over the place, and especially if we have anxiety.
If we have anxiety, we now have so many thoughts we can’t even sleep at night.
The second phone call I received was in August of 2001, asking if I would go back to Baghdad. I was asked how much did I want to go back, and I said, “Well, what you paid me last time is fine, as long as you’re covering all the other expenses.” On 9th September 2001 I boarded a plane to Baghdad.[- Alright, I’ll do an interview. Tell us your name.
– My name is Ali.
– [woman to Ali] He’s not handsome.
– Why I am not handsome? I am so gentle.
– What are you talking about? We’re gonna take a picture, Ali. Wait. Do you look okay?
– Yes, okay. See?
– So I was sitting in the lobby, waiting for some guest. I told you, I work as a BBC translator in Baghdad. Actually, at that time, before the missile came down, something—The building fell down. A third explosion goes to the second building in New York. You see, it goes down!
– [to the woman] You can tell me the story. What is your girlfriend’s name?
– Amira. Tell me about Amira. She was here in the hotel and she was talking to her mother.
– Yes, she works as a receptionist.] Ali and Samira owned a jewelry store, and the TV was on. The TV was always on. I was standing there, and I’ve got my camera on aiming at Ali. So the news is on, but I don’t know what the news is, because it’s in Arabic. My first thought is “This is a science-fiction movie showing high rises falling to the ground. It was a plane that crashed into the high rise of New York. Oh, wow. They think that it was some terrorist type of thing. Oh, wow.
As we walked in, Uday was sitting at his computer, and I could tell that he was pretty upset about things. He had a look on his face like something was wrong. Of course something was wrong, the United States had just been bombed. He stood up and came over and shook hands, and said, “Daddy was upset about this. Many more lives will suffer and die because of this. Your country will blame us for this.” I didn’t understand that. I couldn’t even fathom how this would be.
He was kind of curious why I wasn’t really upset and devastated about 9/11. This is difficult for most people to understand, not just Uday Hussein. I think it upsets us sometimes when you’re freaking out and somebody doesn’t freak out with you, and this is Uday. Uday is freaking out about 9/11, and I’m attempting to stay calm, and I’m saying this because I’m staying in the moment. If I don’t stay in the moment then I’m in trouble, because here I could start freaking out, and I’m stuck in Iraq and I can’t do anything about it. And he said, “You know, Mr. Larry, I would like to learn how to stay in the moment. Do you feel like hypnotizing me tonight?” I asked him if he wanted to work with his walking still, and he said to me, “No, my walking is fine, Mr. Larry. Now I wanna work on my knees, because when I run, my knees lock up sometimes.” I was very excited he was running. Before he couldn’t walk, now he’s running.
Visualize your running becoming smooth and even, without even thinking. We don’t think when we run, we just run. I want you to just run without thinking. Remove that fear from your mind that your knees are going to lock up. Just imagine your body being able to have that agility and movement, almost like you were gliding over the earth. Your legs are moving well, the flexibility in your ankles, the flexibility in your knees and your hips, and you can run so well, like an athlete.
The absence of tightness allows you to feel proud and confident. Feel the posture of being able to lead your country with such confidence and assuredness, such an ability that you know with sureness of how confident you are, how strong you are. Imagine, if you will, that people of your country are going to be proud to have you as a leader.
They’re going to be so proud that you can walk well and walk straight. They’re gonna feel so proud that you can lead them well, and when you run, you’re only making your body stronger, you’re making your posture more erect, you’re making your confidence more sureness. People are going to observe that, and as you walk, you’re going to walk with proudness and sureness in your country and your leadership.
Did you hope for Uday that he’d become the leader of his country?
I was hoping that I could teach him to be a good man, and that he would be a good leader. If Uday and I would have continued this relationship beyond 9/11, I would have had him in a different direction. I was thinking how instrumental I could be in that quest of his life to be the leader, and how influential I could be in teaching him to live the moment, be more loving, more conscious. Of course, people listening to this are laughing. They’re sitting there, listening to this podcast and they’re laughing. They’re saying, “Larry is a fool.” No, I believe I can do that. I’ve met many people who have come in here and done miraculous things with their lives just because they started liking themselves more.
Uday did not like himself. He didn’t like himself. So when you ask, was I hoping that Uday would become the leader? I was hoping that if he became the leader, that I would be significant in teaching him how to be a better leader.
The last that I’m in Baghdad, I had either gone a little dehydrated, or I ate too many fresh dates. I was so obsessed with eating fresh dates. Fresh dates are like figs, they’re juicy and full of nice flavors, nice texture, and they’re so rich and so sweet. I was so sick I could barely move. So we went to Uday’s house.
He was waiting, and his concern, again, was there. “Oh my god, you’re sick. I’m so sorry you’re sick. Do you feel good enough to hypnotize me?” “Yeah, let’s do it.” I didn’t feel good enough, but I didn’t wanna tell him no. I didn’t wanna tell him no because this was gonna be our last meeting. This was it.
When Uday and I were finished, he extended his arm to shake hands, and then he sort of embraced me on both arms, then put his arms around to my back, as some people hug; it was more like he took both of his hands and embraced me by touching the upper parts of my arms. That was his embrace. To me, that was a gesture of embracement, and I don’t think Uday ever embraced anybody. I don’t think he knew about love and embracing. I don’t think he knew things that we had learned together. I don’t think that he knew things existed like we spoke of. And that was our goodbye.
After I got back, I was invited to go back in October, but the FBI told me I couldn’t go back. They visited with me, they wanted to see if I had anything with DNA of Uday’s, and they said “We recommend you don’t go back. If you go back, we can’t be responsible. Realize that there might be a whole different feeling when you go back now, and you’re lucky that you’re home now. If you go back there again, they just might take you out in the desert and put a pop in your head and you’ll never come back and nobody will ever know.” The FBI told me this. I had all these thoughts, and I said, “I don’t think I’ll go back.” So I never went back.
They wanted to speak to me because I could look at a map of Baghdad and tell you what streets we went down, I could show you where Uday’s house was, I could show you where the radio station was, I could show you where Al Mariya bomb shelter was, and so they liked that.
I remember Uday telling me, “Don’t keep anything back from your government, you’ll get in trouble. Tell them everything.” Why would he tell me that? Why would he say to me to tell him everything? Didn’t he know that they were gonna ask me how to get to his house? I often wondered when the war started, did they know how to get there because I told them?
So when you got back to Chicago and people started telling you more, I just wonder, was there ever a moment when you heard one specific thing that Uday did that made you go, “Oh…!”
The only thing that I heard about Uday was how he had been terrible about molesting women or raping women, how he would take wives away from men and he would later kill them, how he killed prisoners easily, how he killed people who didn’t agree with him…
When you heard it, how did it make you feel?
It didn’t affect me, with the horrific energies that it was told to me. “Oh my god, this man is terrible! Look at this article! Read this book! Watch this movie!” Everybody wanted to prove to me how stupid I was for being there. Everybody wanted to prove to me how bad this person was. All of these people though knew nothing of what I knew. I had met this man, I had sat with this man, I knew this man, and I knew this man did all these horrific things that they told me, but that wasn’t the man I met.
I don’t know your history, and somebody’s like “Oh, well you ought to know what I know about her, then you wouldn’t like her so much!”, but you see, I don’t know that, so that part of me doesn’t influence me about a person. I have spent many, many years… Many years, Sarah, not judging people. So when I come back and people tell me how horrible Uday was, I could only measure what I had met and what I had seen.
For me to judge people who they were deteriorates my communication skills with them of who they are. I’ve met murderers before, I’ve met people who’ve raped before, I’ve met people who have stolen before… I’ve met many bad people, many bad people, but all I meet is I meet a person who wants to feel better.
If you had gotten Uday up, and he was running and he was walking, and he was a bad leader, he continued to do the bad things that his entire family has done…
Oh, after he was well…?
And he continued to torture people and rape people and all this stuff he’s known for, would you have felt responsibility?
No, no. I don’t feel responsibility of people being who they are, if that’s who they wanna be. I always say, “You can’t hypnotize somebody to do something they don’t want to do.” If he’s a terrorist and a murderer and he wants to keep doing that, I would not feel responsible that I helped him heal, no. Because I think if I were a surgeon and this murderer was needing surgery to survive and I did surgery and he survived and he went back out and killed people, I wouldn’t say to myself, “Oh, I shouldn’t have operated on him, and then he may have died and he wouldn’t be killing people.” No, I wouldn’t think that, no.
But if he became a good leader, you would have felt some responsibility for that.
Yes. Because the shift is to have him become a more conscientious person, a more loving person. So I didn’t go there to hypnotize him so he could walk to go out and kill more people. I hypnotized a person who needed to learn how to be okay with his mind and walk again, so he could have a better life.
No, I had this good fantasy that he was gonna be better, that he was gonna be a better man. Most of the people that I see here – and one day we’re gonna hypnotize you and you’ll see – they leave here feeling better. Sarah, you ask anybody who knows me very little bothers me. I remember this person I was close to and she’d say to me, “Life’s not as good as you think it is, you know…?” Yeah, life’s only as good as you think it is. So again, I’m going to say the words that I said a few moments ago – no, I’m happy that I met Uday Hussein. What a great gift, to spend 60 hours with this terrorist, this mentally disturbed person, this person who kills and maims and rapes people, and get into their head if you’re a hypnotist. Or if you’re a journalist.[TV news anchor] “In the early morning hours, Tuesday, U.S. forces surrounded this villa in the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul. An Iraqi source, a walk-in, according to the military, told U.S. troops last night that Saddam Hussein’s two sons, Uday and Qusay were hiding inside.”
“They got into a fierce battle. They resisted the detention and the efforts of the Coalition forces to go in there and apprehend them, and they were killed.”
“The photos of Uday and Qusay Hussein were the talk of Baghdad today.”
“The photos showed the blood-speckled and damaged faces and upper torsos of the sons. One appears to be spread out on a body bag, the other on what looks like bloodied sheets. Also released were X-rays of one of Uday’s legs, which was badly damaged in an assassination attempt…”
Some well-meaning friend says, “Oh, look, your friend Uday’s been killed.” It was on the frontpage of a newspaper, I remember, and I don’t really look at newspapers. My friends know I don’t look at newspapers and they know I don’t watch the news, and somebody brought me a photo that showed Uday’s face after he had been killed.
At first it was like a little sensitivity, that somebody I knew was dead. But then as I looked at the photo and then I started reading the article, there was something not congruent about this whole thing. They said the face was distorted because of the injuries that the body sustained when it was killed, and shot, or whatever… But it didn’t’ look like that person. There was nothing that resembled Uday.
His brother and him didn’t even talk to each other, why would they be stuck in a house in Mosul with no bodyguards, with a 12-year-old kid? And I would tell people that… But people wanna hear what they wanna hear, and they didn’t wanna hear me. But I hear me.
In your wildest imaginings, where is Uday right now and what is he doing?
Well, that’s an interesting question… In my wildest imagination, if Uday is still alive – and he might be – he had so much money… All he had to do was maybe grow a beard or maybe shave the one that he had. It wouldn’t take much to make him look different. If I were Uday, I had more money than I could spend the rest of my life, I’d be sharing it to say, “Get me a passport. Get me some new clothes. Get me out of here.” But you know…? He’s always wanted to live in the United States. I thought, “What if he moved to United States?” Could be… In our world today, anything is possible.
I know your listeners are saying, “Oh no, Larry, he’s dead. We read it in the newspaper.” I say, you know, when you know somebody and then you read about them in the paper or see them on the news, it’s not even the same person sometimes. So I think maybe, if he’s still alive, he’s probably low-key, doesn’t try and get a lot of attention. He has to be John Smith, and he has to live on Bryn Mawr avenue, near Sheridan Road. [laughs] And that’s where he’s at right now.
What do I think he’s doing right now, at this very minute? He’s probably watching the news. [laughs]
Drift off, so slow… Drift off and quiet your mind… Feel the calmness you’re beginning to experience in learning… The more you relax yourself every night as you’re falling asleep, the more powerful your mind become staying in the moment. And the power is to stay in the moment. Allow your mind to quiet in the nice calmness now… So slow, so calm, so comfortable now… Drift off, so slow… Feel your whole body is free from any stress… Your mind is feeling so at peace, and feeling good, as though time has stood still for you. It seems like only a few moments had passed… It seems like your mind has relaxed well… Nice feelings now…
Let’s go through a nice experience now and drift off… Drift off, drift off Sarah and let your mind doze into a nice, gentle direction…
Nick van der Kolk, Host & Editer
Sarah Geis, Producer
Steven Jackson, Editer
Jessi Carrier, Editer
Third Coast International Festival