Thursday, April 26, 2012

We Interupt this Singularity...



The best science fiction is cautionary. It's about projecting what is happening in the present, exaggerating it, blowing it out of proportion so it can be better understood. In theory, at least.

Science and science fiction seem to blur in the Transhumanism movement (H+), an apocalyptic (in the classical sense) religion that promises a rapidly onrushing future where man and machine will merge. Ray Kurzweil's Singularity-- another technological eschaton in which machines which reach their apotheosis and become just like us-- is deeply embedded into the H+ movement.

I wrote to a Transhumanist blogger in hopes of getting an interview and he refused, claiming that The Secret Sun was "too fringe" for him. Because Transhumanism is so mainstream. Right.

What he really meant is that he didn't want to risk a seat on the Kurzweil gravy train by being associated with anyone outside the faith who isn't part of the officially sanctioned media. A lot of scientists think Kurzweil and his Singularity are a joke- as do Jaron Lanier and William Gibson-- a brilliant but demented flake so terrified of death that he's built a movement to try to stave it off but powerful enough to bring a lot of people along for his ride to the "Nerd Rapture," as Gibson puts it.

Science and technology have had a remarkable run, but many people think we're nearing the era of diminishing returns. And their pimps and pushers never seem to acknowledge their enormous dark sides. Certainly a lot of people in North America and Europe and Japan are justified in recognizing the stark diminishment of their livelihoods thanks to Internet-enabled outsourcing. Technology has given a whole kitbag of tools to Wall St. and the national security state to rip us all off and hem us in as well.

And as someone who has worked with computers since the 80s I can safely say that the changes in the way I've worked with them have been largely cosmetic- I'm essentially doing the same things I was doing back with them in the Reagan Era. Just faster, fancier, and prettier.

But the bloom is off the bush-- I used to think computers and Internet would lead to a Golden Age, now I know better. To be honest I'm nostalgic as hell for the old days. Those old 2400 bps days were like heroin injected into my cerebral cortex and I'm not even remotely exaggerating.

Of course I love technology and like all chronic pain sufferers every day of my life is an all day science project. I'm no Luddite-- quite the contrary, I still cling to those old cyberpunk dreams. It's just that I'm a Jungian about science and technology, where the Transhumanists and their fellow travelers are hopeless Prosperity Gospel suckers who can't bring themselves to acknowledge the huge Shadow side of science and technology because that would mean acknowledging the black, oily, indelible stain in their own hearts.

Transhumanism is nothing even remotely new- remember The Six Million Dollar Man? And then of course there's the Borg. Which raises the questions; how far will we go with this stuff? How much of our souls will we surrender to Silicon Valley? How much time and money will we waste on some rich fool's pipe dream?



Gibson was probably thinking of Kurzweil when he wrote the X-Files episode 'Kill Switch', but not the creator of the Skynet-like AI, rather the mad genius who uploaded his consciousness to join it offscreen. But how will Kurzweil upload his consciousness to the Net when we still haven't a clue what the hell consciousness is or how it works?

Will he ever accept that we may never know in this incarnation? That maybe we're not allowed to know?

And of course one thing you never hear about in Kurzweil's fever dreams is a catastrophic virus. Or glitches, meltdowns, sunspots knocking the entire grid out, electromagnetic pulses, and whatever disaster is lurking there on the Shadow side of his Brave New World. As we saw with the Wired wave of digital hype in the early 90s, with Dow 30,000 and endless peace and prosperity for all, nothing ever seems to work out the way the Silicon Valley salesmen promise.

People like myself, who cut our teeth on sci-fi and comic books since we taught ourselves to read, have seen it all. We've seen it all play out, know all the angles and the scenarios and the outcomes. Nothing surprises us except that everyone else always seems to be surprised when the worst-case scenario comes to pass.

For Mr. Kurzweil, I don't what to say. No one can deny his genius. But I've heard it said that genius is always next door to madness and that that level of achievement always comes at the expense of something vital in their lives. Maybe Transhumanism and the Singularity are all playing out in secret in some lab somewhere but I doubt it. Too many people who know better seem to only feel pity and embarassment when the topic is raised.

And so it is with the Materialist mindset- Kurzweil's desperation is only unusual is that he doesn't want to surrender to the inevitable. Most of his peers these days pride themselves on their stoicism and cynicism and atheism, blithely forgetting how the original Stoics and Cynics and Atheists didn't lead the way to a glorious future for their native Greece, they were the harbingers of demographic collapse, cultural decay and ultimate defeat at the hands of more vigorous, theistic enemies.

I guess we're all supposed to forget that part of the story. Not very bloody scientific, actually.

There are atheists like Sam Harris who don't go the full PZ Myers monty of moronic materialism and utter moral collapse. Harris is fascinated by entheogen research and meditation-- exploring the frontiers of the World Within. You don't have to sign onto a theistic cosmology to think there's more to this life than machines.

And of course you can also dive right into centuries of vision and inspiration from great mystics and seers as well. My personal recommendation.



In fact, I'll leave you with some inspiration from a modern mystic who faced the Big Sleep with considerably more courage and grace than Mr. Kurzweil and his ilk....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

AstroGnostic: Who Do You Think You Are?




This episode of The New Outer Limits came a bit late in the series' run and a bit too late for the abduction/hybrid mania that was gripping the UFO Underground, but is a nicely written bit of AstroGnosticism nonetheless.

Nora Dunn is surprisingly effective in a dramatic role (especially given her scenery-chewing turn in The X-Files' Area 51 farce "Dreamland") and the proceedings are very dark and intimate. Lots of familiar faces from various Ten Thirteen and Alliance Atlantis productions show up, as well as a fresh-faced Katherine Isabelle.

Still, I feel as if I'd like to see a different ending here. I'll refrain from spoilers, but there's a kind of pessimistic normality bias-- a kind of anti-Gnosis, really-- that crept into this kind of storytelling in the 90s that you didn't see in the 80s. I wonder if that's why people have much fonder attachments to those cheesy old 80s films than anything that came after. There's a huge lesson to be learned there, aspiring screenwriters...

Whoever wrote this certainly did their homework; anyone who's read up on abduction literature/lore will recognize all kinds of bases being tagged. The second series certainly lacks the original's iconic power, and there's all kinds of dross in its seven seasons but there's also some pretty fine science fiction to be found as well.

This should be everywhere so if the video doesn't show up for non-US readers, just do a search for Outer Limits Dark Child.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

NASA Gets Sirius on the 17th (UPDATE)



Well, I'm sure most of you noticed this little ritual this past week-- the Shuttle Discovery making a series of passes around the landmarks of Washington, DC astride a NASA 747. It aroused a bit of discussion on the Secret Sun Facebook group, but since I had a podcast and an interview to plug I didn't mention here on The Sun proper. Most regular readers picked up on it right away, especially given the date of the ritual, which was-- of course-- the 17th.

I hadn't given it a second thought until Richard C. Hoagland strongly hinted to my wife that he'd like me to take a look at the ritual here. And since longtime readers realize that Richard's symbology work is such a huge influence on the work I do here-- as well as on the work of people like Goro Adachi and other Synchromystics-- it was a suggestion I couldn't refuse.


But I'd be remiss if I didn't cite the excellent work that Alan Green did on the event on his blog, which you can and should read here. Alan put the ritual in the context of Sirius, and noted the bizarre alignment above on The Drudge Report (we've seen countless examples of the same on HuffPost).

Alan also pointed out the alignment of the Washington Monument, the Capital Dome, and the shuttle and 747 acting as stand-ins for Sirius A&B. There was also a jetfight acting as an escort, playing the role of the controversial (and to some, apocryphal) Sirius C. Be sure to check out Alan's deciphering of Ron Paul's "Serious Plan" as well.

 Do you see the encoded 3/17- the day of Osiris'
death and rebirth - in this mission patch?

But as a "warbird," the jetfighter also acted as Horus to the Isis/Osiris magical coupling, with the dead and resurrected Discovery playing the role of Osiris in this very expensive mystery play. With NASA effectively shut down by the Grissom Cult, maybe these kinds of rituals will be its primary function.


The 17th Trump of the Tarot
signifies the new Age of Aquarius

For those neophytes wondering what all the fuss is about 17 and the rest, you can start at the beginning here. Or you can read up on just a few of the various Obama 17 hits here. 17 is everywhere these days, and this display simply reinforces the importance of this magic number to men of considerable more power and influence than the ridiculous denier types who would claim it's all coincidence.

The date 4/17 is interesting as well, in that the old city of Jerusalem is bordered on the east by Route 417. The ancient necropolis of the Mount of Olives is bordered on the west by 417. The Tomb of Zechariah-- a pastiche of Greco-Egyptian architectural motifs-- lies within the Mount (it's this writer's belief that Zechariah is the Hebrew rendering of Saqqara). Technically, the Tomb of Zechariah is a Monolith, in that it's a solid stone carving.

 The prophet Zechariah was also given the Vision of a "Flying Scroll" that was "twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide" (roughly 33 feet long by 17 feet wide, like a classic UFO sighting). The same chapter (Zechariah 5) had a vision of the two flying women. 4/17 was also the date of the Aurora, TX UFO incident in 1897.

April 17 was also the day Apollo 13 returned safely to Earth, which if you believe theorists like lifelong Naval Intelligence asset Bill Cooper was nothing but an elaborate death-resurrection ritual itself.


Note that Discovery made use of death and resurrection symbolism the mission patch for its final flight- the classic Phoenix symbolism we've looked at so much of here, especially in relation to space.

And now with NAZCA NASA reduced to a orbital version of the Blue Angels, the real (read: for-profit) space race heats up. The latest? James Cameron is involved in a clandestine enterprise to mine asteroids for minerals? Plenty more where that came from. Keep your eyes peeled- Total Recall might be a reality sooner than you know.

UPDATE: Don't think for a minute NASA has a lock on space ritualism. The 4/17 cipher shows up in this story, when Horus (aka the Falcon 9) will reunite with ISiS on Beltane:

Less than four years ago, SpaceX had yet to launch a rocket successfully, and founder Elon Musk doubted the company could survive a fourth consecutive failure
Today, SpaceX is on the verge of an historic attempt to send the first private spacecraft to the International Space Station, after a planned April 30 launch from Cape Canaveral, and has become the face of commercial spaceflight.

Musk’s goals to dramatically lower launch costs and eventually send people to Mars remain extraordinarily ambitious for a company that has reached orbit only four times — the last nearly 17 months ago.
 Thanks to Secret Sun stalwart Adam I for the the reminder.


NEWFLASH! PROJECT BLUE BEAM IS STILL BULLSHIT!

I got a ton of hits on my Project Blue Beam debunking this week after the Tupac hologram performance at Coachella. Surely I must eat my words now- I mean, there it is- bonafide hologram technology, raising the dead in front of our eyes. Man the turrets! Break out the bullets, beans and Bibles! Eat your words, Knowles!

Sadly, no.

The media lied to you. (Shock! Horror!) The Tupac "hologram" was no such thing, but a very old technique (from the 19th Century) combined with a blend of a taped performance and CGI which was- get ready for it- projected on a translucent screen. Not onto the sodium layer, not onto a random field of ionized vapor-- a good, old fashioned screen. Read more here:

That Tupac hologram that wowed Coachella crowds Sunday evening and will maybe go on tour wasn't actually a hologram. It was a technology that dates all the way back to 1862 called Pepper's Ghost, said The Wall Street Journal's Ethan Smith on The News Hub. "It’s not a hologram. It’s very, very simple technology, from the Victorians actually," Jim Steinmeyer, illusion designer and author of the book Hiding the Elephant, confirmed to The Atlantic Wire. Considering the (creepy!) life-likeness of the hologram, which one Coachella attendee told us she looked more like an impersonator than an optical illusion, it's pretty impressive that it boils down to a 19th-century theatrical effect.
Anyone who has actually read Serge Monast's Project Blue Beam screed should know it's total bullshit right off the bat, since he argued that it was all to instill that mythical boogeyman of pantpissing Fundmentalidiots, the "One World New Age Religion." Because elitists just love to herd cats.

Monast died before I could remind him that Rupert Murdoch and Communist China are the top publishers of Bibles in the world or that the real Elitists spend billions of US tax dollars funding churches in the developing world and replacing socialist governments with Sharia theocracies in the Arab world. A great, bloody shame.

So many lies, so little bandwidth. If anyone wonders why Monast would have been chosen to disseminate this nonsense to begin with, I would suggest that there seems to have been a definite interest in steering the conspiracy underground away from the UFO topic (which it was quite involved in back in the 80s and 90s) and back into the ultra-Fundamentalist flock. Blue Beam and lifelong Naval Intelligence asset Cooper's disavowals of the topic seemed to do the trick quite well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Secret Sun Rises on the Big Easy




Franc Zero, New Orleans Paranormal Examiner, contacted me for an extensive and in-depth interview on a whole host of topics, some of which are familiar to readers, some less so.

We discuss the music industry and the pop-occultism fad, the Mysteries, MK facts and MK fictions, superhumans and the transhuman movement, the ongoing UFOlogy psychodrama, The X-Files, Jack Kirby and the challenges facing the creative individual today, Jacques Vallee and the UT hypothesis, hypnotic regression, and the Apollo moon hoax controversy and much more.

It's an action-packed interview that you will not want to miss. Read Franc's introduction:
On the blog, Christopher has explored so many strange and fascinating ideas,that it’s rather impossible to tie them down in a short bio. However his work on ancient symbols in the modern world, the mind altering power of Jack Kirby’s page waking creativity, as well as the synchro-mystical maneuvers of man’s secret history have been just some of the theories that have accelerated the thinking patterns of his fans and those in his close circles enough to impact their daily research and their personal lives time and time again.

So many people from different walks of life and educational backgrounds have found a gold mine of inspiration in his work, which in turn led them to produce great work of their own in countless different fields.
Continue reading on Examiner.com Interview with Christopher Knowles - New Orleans Paranormal | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/paranormal-in-new-orleans/interview-with-christopher-knowles#ixzz1sRWAvrML


UPDATE: The Secret Sun makes Twilight Language's Top Twenty list of researchers! Check out the list here.


Bonus Information sync: If you convert my birthdate to a zip code, you'll find yourself smack dab in the heart of the Big Easy. I found out exactly where in the aftermath of the Katrina horror show. I was following a weird hunch while researching this odd bit of predictive programming...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wizards, Workings and Walk-Ins: Eldritch

Maurice Masse's passport to Magonia, July 1, 1965

This series -- which started as a look at comic book sorcerers and their real-world parallels and grew far beyond my expectations -- began with "The Possessed," a Doctor Strange story in which interdimensional alien walk-ins possess the citizens of a Bavarian hamlet. The story had elements of one of Stan Lee's favorite plots; the secret army massing for an invasion of Earth.

One of the early examples of this was "Whatever Happened to Doctor Dormm?," featuring a merman inexplicably given the title of Doctor. But as we saw, Doctor Strange's immediate predecessor had a similar name ('Doctor Droom') and fought a similar invasion during his brief career.

But what caught my eye in "The Possessed" were all the plot points more typical of Jack Kirby stories than Stan's; the aliens, the dimensional gateway, the walk-ins-- elements of High Weirdness that Kirby had been obsessing over since the early 50s at least. "The Possessed" was remarkably similar to Jack's 1957 story for DC, "The Hole in the Sky," in which a Mr. Briggs is abducted into another dimension and encounters a race of Watchers planning their own invasion.

Twin Peaks fans take note: Briggs is abducted into the other dimension while camping in the woods. This type of scenario would be rife in UFO literature post-Hill abduction, but serious UFO researchers tended to avoid it in the late 50s. But as we'll see, this scenario has a much older and deeper antecedent.

The Lee-Kirby synergy worked so well because even if their temperaments were so different, their fixations overlapped. Though a lot of people underestimated Kirby's intellect since he wasn't as glib as Stan, he shared his partner's love for reading, especially the classics. But Jack's interests went deeper and fed his increasingly esoteric storytelling. From his son Neal's recollections in The Los Angeles Times:
There were shelves of mystery and mythology and plenty of science books and they ranged from rocks to rockets, from the inner ear to outer space. Science was always a big part of dad’s work.

Dad was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club, so robots and aliens and tales of the future abounded. How did he actually have time to read? I have no idea, but the Dungeon collection was no ornamental library; he had read every book and probably more than twice.
Given the loose protocols of their collaboration (what came to be known as the "Marvel Style"), it's difficult to determine where exactly their early stories were coming from (as the Sixties progressed, most of the plots were all Kirby, with Lee judiciously steering the ship), but given that Jack was known for writing stories based on Stan's vaguest plots, this next story in what has become a Cycle of sorts is interesting.

"Prisoner of the 5th Dimension," a Human Torch solo yarn from Strange Tales 103 has a lot of Stan-- the secret invasion, the righteous rebellion, the romantic subplot-- but also has a lot of Jack, the 5th Dimension bit for starters. The setup is also straight out of Jack's late 50s canon for DC, and as such opens up a whole new can of worms...

The story begins in Glenville (probably New York, but there's also a Glenville, WV sitting on a Route 33) where a housing development is being sabotaged. The archetypal old coot shows up to tell the city slickers that the Swamp Demons are responsible, since they don't appreciate their home being bulldozed.

Johnny Storm gets wind of the sabotage and decides to do a little reconnaissance. Tapping straight into the deepest recesses of the collective unconscious-- and anticipating Keel and Vallee by several years-- Kirby and Lee reveal the "Swamp Demons" to be interdimensional aliens who look like nothing less than classical elves, wispy figures and pointy ears and all the rest.

Here is the power of the Lee-Kirby synergy. Both men had long apprenticeships of a sort before the dawn of the Marvel Age, and both men had keen, restless minds and a lust for reading. It was in this rich medium that the X-factor of Kirby's paranormal imagination -- which was able to transcend the limits of time and space-- was able to thrive and change pop culture forever.

Here Johnny witnesses a scene rife in UFO literature- the two elfin aliens seemingly vanishing into thin air in the middle of the forest. But of course, this scene's also rife in elf and fairy lore, going back hundreds of years. Some motifs just seem to resonate, don't they?

It was the study of this lore-- as well as the endless accounts of UFOs and abductions throughout history-- that drove Jacques Vallee from the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis and to the misty and murky shores of Magonia, that fabled cloudland where French villagers witnessed strange machines and beings emerge in the Middle Ages. From Vallee's absolutely indispensible ultraterrestrial bible Passport to Magonia, published in 1969:
The physical nature of Magonia, as it appears in such tales, is quite noteworthy. Sometimes, it is a remote country, an invisible island, some faraway place one can reach only by a long journey... This parallels the belief in the extraterrestrial origin of UFO's so popular today. A second—and equally wide-spread theory, is that Elfland constitutes a sort of parallel universe, which coexists with our own.
With this story (and several others before and after) we see Kirby and Lee were mining this theory long before Vallee.

Here again is another sci-fi spin on an ancient theme. The Old Coot revels himself to be an alien elf in disguise and takes his anti-matter gun-- a Space Age spin on the magic wand so beloved to Elfdom-- and "paralyzes" Johnny by taking away his flame power.

With Johnny powerless, the elf/alien then opens an interdimensional doorway to Magonia the 5th Dimension, and abducts Johnny. Vallee again, on Elfland:
It is made visible and tangible only to selected people, and the "doors" that lead through it are tangential points, known only to the elves. This is somewhat analogous to the theory, sometimes found in the UFO literature, concerning what some authors like to call the "fourth dimension."
Or 5th, give or take.

Remember now that the terms "elf" and "fairy" are essentially two different words for the same type of beings in the original folklore, with elf derived from the Old English and fairy derived from the Middle English. Remember also that abduction scenarios are all over the place in the old folktales of these beings. Vallee:
This sort of belief in fairies being able to take people was very common and exists yet in a good many parts of West Ireland (where my branch of the Knowles family originally hailed from- CK). And one often sees among them the young men and children who have been taken. Not only are people taken, but—as in flying saucer stories—they are sometimes carried to faraway spots by aerial means.
As we saw before, Kirby's endless obsession with this motif of interdimensional contact played out in the origin of the Archie Comics superhero The Fly, which he and erstwhile partner Joe Simon created. Kirby rewrote Simon's script to include contact with this spindly, goggle-eyed alien and a kid who's the spitting image of a young Johnny Storm.

Back to the main narrative, Johnny taken to the 5th Dimension and is accused by what is essentially the Elven High Council. Here we see Kirby grafting his sensibility (and stunning sense of design) on Lee's Cold War paranoia.

We see that Johnny is faced with the same accusations that the Reverend Kirk, author of The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies faced in gossip and folklore following his death- revealing the secrets of the Elven folk:
At the time of his disappearance people said (Kirk) was taken because the fairies were displeased with him for disclosing their secrets in so public a manner as he did. At all events, it seems likely that Kirk was taken ill very suddenly with something like apoplexy while on the Fairy Knoll, and died there. I have searched the presbyter books and find no record of how Kirk's death really took place, but of course there is not the least doubt of his body being in the grave.
Here the story becomes more obviously Stan's; Johnny is kept prisoner in a giant water cooler but a fairy princess comes to his rescue, using her fairy magic to enchant the guard. The princess' name is Valeria, which shows either remarkable coincidence or someone did their homework. Valerian root is an ancient herbal remedy, meant not only to induce restful sleep and pleasant dreams (of which there is scientific data to support) but also to ward off jealous elves (tests on that claim have been thus far inconclusive).

Note that her dress is strongly reminscent of Tinkerbell's in the Pinocchio movie.*

As in any good fairy tale, the young hero inspires the downtrodden people of the Elf Realm to rise up against their tyrannical ruler.

In the end, justice is served, but the hero must leave the Elf Realm and return to the mundane world. The beautiful elf princess begs him to stay but he must return. He returns to the forest primeval and finally to the dreary world of regimentation and consumerism and his adventure seems like little more than an daydream. But still he dreams of returning one day for some hot, freaky elf-sex with Valeria.

Here again, the classic myth-cycle was being replayed, only in Spandex drag. Vallee:
We can therefore examine in detail four aspects of fairy lore that directly relate to our study: (1) the conditions and purpose of the abductions; (2) the cases of release from Elfland and the forms taken by the elves' gratitude when the abducted human being had performed some valuable service during his stay in Elfland; (3) the belief in the kidnapping activities of the fairy people; and (4) what I shall call the relativistic aspects of the trip to Elfland.
The end.

Now if this were your usual, conventional-wisdom kind of blog, the story would end there.
Everyone would nod vaguely and mutter weak homilies about the "power of myth" and cultural anthropology and trickster archetypes and bla-bla-bla-no-one-gives-a-shit, then we'd all toss in some self-aggrandizing snark about "UFO nuts" and "tinfoil hats" and generally reinforce the tired, dreary normality bias that allows the System to keep its boot planted on our minds as well as our throats.

Luckily, you're on The Secret Sun. For me, Passport to Magonia wasn't an excuse to jump on the debunker bandwagon- it was the cement that helped put the blocks in place for what I call the Elusive Companion Hypothesis.

The ECH is similar to Keel's Ultraterrestrial theory and Tonnies' Cryptoterrestrial theory, only it presents what I believe is a more compelling explanation for all of the madness surrounding the UFO issue over the past several thousand years and ties up all the loose ends between the ancient astronaut thesis, the UFO and fairy lore throughout the Christian Era and the modern UFO phenomenon.

Put simply, I believe that if you look at the totality of the phenomenon, you have what essentially amounts to a surveillance -slash- espionage operation. The ancient texts tell of Igigi or Grigori- a "Watcher" race left behind by the gods of old to essentially keep an eye on the project. A race of spies, essentially.

Several years ago ( as I mentioned in my discussion with Jeff Kripal, I lost interest in UFOs and the rest for the better part of a decade before he invited me out to the Superpowers conference at Esalen), it occurred to me that not only are the stellar distances too daunting to account for the more cogent UFO accounts, the craft usually reported struck me as a kind of glorified hovercraft than any kind of spacecraft at all. There was something else going on.

Kirby takes us to the Secret Commonwealth

I covered the bullet points of Kirk's Secret Commonwealth in this post, and prefaced it all with this, explaining just how little we have experienced of this world, despite our abstract "knowledge" of it:

We see the world through an extremely limited band of the electromagnetic spectrum. The same goes for our hearing. We consciously process a remarkably tiny proportion of the limited sensory input we receive. We are only able to measure that which can perceive. And we still don't understand exactly how or why we process anything, other than to facilitate our survival on a purely reptilian level.

There are millions of square miles of land we've never stepped foot in. There are many millions more we have only the faintest experience in. The same goes for our oceans- we're still struggling to explore the endless depths- 71% of the surface of the world is water- and are physically limited in our ability to do so. And we've barely touched the unimaginably vast network of caverns beneath the Earth.

Since the dawn of time, humans have recorded encounters with strange beings with weird powers and even stranger means of transportation. They've been identified in various cultural trappings. Our tech-minded age chooses to see them as extraterrestrial technocrats, coming to Earth to conduct their experiments.

Indeed. And so we turn to this piece by Terry Melanson discussing the 1965 Masse case, one of the many European-based contact narratives that I discussed with Mike Clelland. As I explained to Mike these stories seem engineered to trigger some atavistic recognition in the mind when retold. And as Terry explains, the Elven magic wand goes back much farther back than the Middle Ages.

First the Masse account, from Valensole in the French Alps...
Around dawn on July 1, as Masse was standing near a hillock at the end of a field, he heard a whistling noise...Masse glanced around and expected to see a military helicopter. Not so. He saw a machine, shaped like a football and about the size of a Dauphine car, standing on six legs in the middle of his lavender field.


As he watched, Masse saw what he took to be 'two boys of about eight years' emerge from the object and begin to steal more of his plants. Furious and determined to catch them, Masse, a former Maquis fighter,tried to sneak up on the thieves. When he was only a short distance away he realized they were not little boys, but funny creatures with pointed chins, almond shaped eyes that curved around the sides of their heads, and slits or holes ('un trou') for mouths.

Masse broke cover and rushed at them. When he was not more than five meters away, one of the creatures pointed a pencil like instrument at him and he found himself immobilized. He was conscious but frozen in his tracks.The other creature carried a larger stick or rod which, Masse later speculated, could have stopped an army.
Of course, here we are back in UFOlogy (more on the Masse case here), which for many is no more credible than a comic book. But we have pierced the veil between fiction and reality, and find ourselves in the Netherworld, if nowhere else.

I find it pretty amusing that the debunkers-- who are just as addicted to UFOlogy as any believer-- would cast doubt on the veracity and perceptions of a man who risked life and limb in the French Resistance, where one lived or died on their wits alone. But that's the nature of the game.

The debunkers' real problem is that they can't shake their own doubts- no matter how hard they debunk they're still terrified at the thought that those goddamn saucers might be real. Otherwise, why would they pay any attention to the topic at all? Or maybe that's what they're secretly hoping for but can't bring themselves to admit it because they've been let down so many times in the past. A cynic is just a shattered idealist, after all.

It's much worse with AAT debunkers, because the stakes are that much higher. As the challenges to the status quo stack up ever higher, the debunkers' argument basically boils down to "no, it ain't neither."Case in point- Hill abduction debunkers (like the egregious Susan Clancy) claimed that Barney Hill simply described the alien from 'The Bellero Shield', the classic episode of The Outer Limits that aired sometime around his hypnosis sessions. But as Stanton Friedman pointed out, the alien in 'Bellero' was a strapping six-footer and not a three-foot Gray, and actually didn't look that much like Barney's description at all.

But let's say for the sake of argument Barney was influenced by The Outer Limits. How does that account for any of the countless of identical depictions of Greys we see all over the ancient world in cultures that have no record of contact with one another? Terry Melanson also notes, referring to the figure above (whose Sumerian provenance I'm trying to confirm):
I would like to draw your attention to the rod in its hand. This instrument was described by various abductees and Paiute Indians as a device to subdue, and paralyze potential captives.
It was Betty Hill's description of such a device that led Jacques Vallee to believe that their accounts might have been more than simply the work of overactive imaginations.

POSTSCRIPT: BACK INTO THE NETHERWORLD


The term "eldritch" is associated with things like magic wands, the word coming from the Old English term for "elf realm." The word always caught my ear since my early school days were spent in Eldridge Elementary School in Braintree. It turns out the name Eldridge is itself an adaption, the name meaning "sage rule," and the sages were seers and magicians in contact with the Elf Realms, or perhaps even the Elven folk themselves.

Eldridge has another connotation in the conspiracy underground: the legendary-slash- apocryphal Philadelphia Experiment, which if you believe the accounts were nothing less than a working of technological sorcery (and if you don't, were a particularly confusing and garbled body of theories, accounts and anecdotes):
On August 12, 1943 (or October 28, 1943 - accounts differ) the US Navy conducted a test of some sort on the USS Eldridge (DE [Destroyer Escort] 173) at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The exact nature of this test is open to speculation. Possible tests include experiments in magnetic invisibility, radar invisibility, optical invisibility or degaussing (rendering the ship immune to magnetic mines).

This was to be accomplished by wrapping an electromagnetic 'bottle' around the ship in question, absorbing or deflecting radar waves. The bottle was created by two (or four - accounts differ) massive Tesla coils which acted as electromagnetic generators...(w)hen activated, the electromagnetic field would extend out from the ship and divert radar waves around the ship, making the Eldridge invisible to radar receivers.

It was at this point (the vanishing of the Eldridge) that the true power of the electromagnetic field that had been created was revealed. The Eldridge had not only vanished from the view of observers in Philadelphia, it had vanished from Philadelphia all together! The ship had been instantly transported several hundred miles - from Philadelphia to Norfolk, Virginia. After a few minutes, the ship once again vanished, to return to Philadelphia.

The test had managed to render the entire ship 'out of phase' with the surrounding universe, which is why it was able to travel from Philadelphia to Norfolk instantly. This phasing effect had drastic effects on the crew members. During the experiment, crew members found they could walk through solid objects, and when the field was shut off, men were found embedded in the bulkheads, decks and railings of the ship. The results were gruesome enough that some men went mad.
Now, note that the alleged technology that made the Eldridge allegedly "disappear" was essentially identical to the eldritch technology of the alien elves from the 5th Dimension. This story was published in September of 1962 (cover dated Dec. 1962) which means it was probably drawn in May/June of that year. The earliest publication of Philadelphia Experiment lore I can find was in Invisible Horizons: True Mysteries of the Sea, published in 1965, a full three years later.

Why am I not surprised?



* Kirby's draftsmanship was on fire here- he was as brilliant as he was mind-numbingly prolific. I wonder how much time he had to think these stories through or if his unconscious was driving him entirely. Kirby claimed that the stories projected themselves onto the page and he simply traced what he saw. This is no idle boast- Jim Woodring worked with Kirby at Ruby-Spears in the 80s and compared him to a mapping machine. Which is to say that Kirby's artwork manifested itself the same way a laser print does- he'd start at the upper left hand corner and finish at the lower right. Woodring said the effect was mindblowing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Wheel Has Been Invented

SF Aquarium, 1988

It's been an interesting past few weeks.


Although my life has been the usual obstacle course of pain and discomfort, I've been feeling a strange kind of power rising, a power of a distinct spiritual nature. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it feels very much like the kind of thing I became aware of in the mid to late 80s. Whether it proves to be fleeting I can't say yet, but I'm doing my best to keep the antennae up despite all the usual challenges and obligations. It's actually been rather potent at times- what exactly it is I can't say yet.

We'll get back to that (sort of), but let's get this unpleasantness out of the way first.

Ironically, I've also spent a lot of this past month researching the New Atheist ascendancy, which I detailed here and here. The more I looked at it the more dismal and bankrupt it seemed to be, and how it seemed less like some brave march to a (sterile) new future, but the lancing of a boil.

The more the public sees of these people the less they will like them and maybe one day the New Atheists will realize people don't care for them because they spend most of their time attacking and insulting other people's beliefs (Dawkins on how to talk to religious people: "Mock them, ridicule them in public.").

The more you see a Richard Dawkins or a PZ Myers the more loathsome they become; shrill, bitter harpies who seem haunted by personal demons they will never come to terms with. Dawkins in particular is a Freudian basketcase, but how much time I want to spend wading through those fetid bilgewaters is an open question right now. The little research I've done on his warped psyche is making me physically ill.

The next theatre of battle in the atheist war on theistic religion took place in Australia, and Dawkins debated the Archbishop of Sydney there. I wonder if Dawkins quoted the 19th Century Australian Atheist leader Joseph Symes, who had revealed what the ultimate goal of the atheist movement was:
‘The strong, the cunning, the swift … must survive, while the weak, the slow, the dull and those with no artificial advantage must of necessity go to the wall — yes, the brutal truth bids me say, they must be stamped out.’
Ah, the Atheists and the skeletons in their closets. And the skeletons in the mass graves and under the rice paddies and...

I have no doubt that if Dawkins were given the reigns of power he'd be a secular Torquemada --if not an outright Hitler-- and re-education camps would become deathcamps in short order. For the good of the genepool, you understand. Because that's what all religious dictators do.

But as we've seen, the Atheist ascendancy has a major problem in keeping those selfish genes propagating. For all of Dawkins' bluster of humans being nothing but carriers for DNA, he has sired only one child in his seven decades (!). You would think he'd want to repopulate the Earth with little Dicks and Dawks, but unless he's been making donations at the sperm bank it looks as if the Dawkins line might die out.

Go figure.

As much as I loathe these people, I hate loathing them since it's not only a waste of my energy but it puts me in company I don't necessarily care for (see Santorum, Rick and Buchanan, Pat).
This is dumbed-down binary America circa 2012, where semi-literate assistant producers on news programs dictate the national discourse through default. You're either an atheist or a snakehandling Fundamentalist. Why?

Because the idiots who book the guest slots on Fox News or MSNBC don't understand anything else. Their bosses want arguments because arguments mean ratings and nuance is for those sissies over at PBS.

The center of gravity in this new America is brutal, and if you don't have nerves of steel you will be eaten alive. Which brings me to my next bizarre detour. I'm in a weird mood tonight.


The New Atheist movement is essentially the project of the cultural Left; it's their religious project.
Don't fall for the old trope that religion has to be theistic. A religion is simply a system of belief that is used to bind a community together. Communism and Nazism were religions- in fact they were consciously designed to be as much.

You had your icons, your saints, your holy texts, your angels, your demons, it's just that the supernatural was taken out of the equation. And so it is with the New Atheist movement. Spend enough time reading atheist message boards and you'll see the same figureheads (Dawkins, Sagan) and holy texts (God Delusion, Demon Haunted World) mentioned again and again

The cultural Left tried for years to co-opt the old mainline Protestant denominations, in fact they did more than try. They were actually rather successful in seizing power in the various hierarchies of the Episcopal, Lutheran and Presbyterian denominations. The only problem was that as they instituted more and more explicit leftist reforms in the canon bylaws, the parishoners abandoned the churches in droves.
So we had a classic Pyhrric victory-- the cultural Left seized power but found themselves ruling over an empty kingdom. And so what we saw was the radical polarization of American religion, with Fundamentalists, Evangelicals and Pentecostals on one side and secularists, agnostics and atheists (committed atheists are a tiny minority, no matter what they say otherwise) on the other.

In between are a handful of freaks and weirdos like us.

Now here we are in the Maelstrom, with these violent forces tearing the social fabric apart at these opposing poles. If you are to survive and keep your identity- and sanity- in this clash of the titans, what is the best course of action? Well, let me get back to the detours.

In the early 90s I was working in New York, the Empire State Building to be precise. I was also going through a big Christian Mystic/Gnostic phase and reading all kinds of what my wife called my "Jesus books."

I have to admit that I really didn't feel that potent spiritual power at this time that I felt in the 80s when I was more eclectic in my leanings, but I think submitting myself to that kind of discipline was an important step in my development. It was also the last days of my innocence, since I'd get online and have the misfortune of seeing just how incredibly ugly American Fundamentalism had become. That particular misfortune would end my church-going days forever.

My friends and I would have our lunch (we were partial to a kebab stand on the corner of 30th Street) on the shady grounds of The Church of the Transfiguration, a lovely little Anglo-Catholic Church off of Fifth Avenue and from time to time I'd pop in for Mass.

The ritual was as old-school as it gets; smells, bells, the priest facing the altar and the whole bit. I probably started reading books like Fingerprints of the Gods at this point and I was probably getting ASCII flashes like "THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB WILL SLAUGHTER THE BACKSLIDERS!" in my head from my online experiences, but there was something touching about a ritual that was nearly identical to that practiced a thousand years before in Europe.



Of course at the same time a different kind of ritual was filling my head since Killing Joke released their Pandemonium album, with the ever-mercurial Jaz in his New Age mode, trading in all the Nietzsche and Crowley and Lovecraft for who the hell knows what gurus he was meeting in Sedona and Findhorn.

But this being Killing Joke, the joke was that the New Age remodel of the band was a lot heavier and more metallic than ever before. The album was also their biggest seller in their career, peaking at #16 in the UK Charts. They'd follow Pandemonium with Democracy, less successful commercially, but richer and longer-lasting in my view. Jaz also refused to tour for the record because he was so disgusted by Britpop, which was all the rage in 1996.

Britpop is long gone, but Killing Joke is still around, still eating Britpop fops alive. And I'm pretty sure they just released their best-ever album, called MMXII (2012). It's in the David Icke Killing Joke mold of their 2003 self-titled comeback (which features Dave Grohl on drums), but is a lot richer and lusher. More Episcopal, let's say.

Sticking to your guns can pay off. The reviews have been stellar, and it's been their highest-charting album in the UK since Pandemonium. They probably won't tour here since America only likes recycled Killing Joke (Ministry, NIN, Marilyn Manson, Faith No More, etc etc etc), but it doesn't matter. I needed this album to trap this rising spirit I'm sensing in a more tangible form and they provided one for me.



Killing Joke are still around and are still making great records because aside from a couple lame tracks back in the 80s, they stuck to their guns. Most of their contemporaries did not and most of their contemporaries are either long gone or exist only as nostalgia bands. The bands that tried to reinvent the wheel to get on the radio fell apart. Out of embarassment, mostly.

Killing Joke haven't tried to reinvent their wheel- it works just fine. They have a simple but versatile formula that they've followed for 30 years. The innovation in my view comes between the notes, as it were.

Their 2006 album Hosannas from the Basements of Hell (a reference to the dingy Prague studio in which it was recorded)is a perfect example of this-- I used to take that album out on my hikes and it seemed to open up doorways that I could sense but couldn't see. Either way, I'd come home radically invigorated and inspired- inspired in a literal sense, mind you.

ON THE OTHER HAND

The decline in church membership overall is a big story these days, though the media is missing the fact that a lot of Evangelicals who left their churches (many out of disgust with the fact that their ministers are essentially GOP shills in clerical drag) are forming home churches and private prayer groups.

The same can't be said for the mainline churches. I was not raised as an Episcopalian (it seemed like a somewhat alien thing to me as a kid, trapped in a netherworld between Catholicism and Protestantism) but I'm fascinated by its travails since its collapse has been the most dramatic.

Its clergy have embraced every innovation you can imagine; gay priests are practically the conservatives in the Episcopal Church. You've had Wiccan priests, Muslim priests, atheist priests, a druid archbishop- it's been a free-for-all.

Not that there's anything wrong with Wiccans, Muslims or atheists who aren't Dawkinites, but all of this "diversity" has ravaged the denomination (decimation is too mild), and it now stands on the brink of total collapse.

For all its talk of "inclusion", Epicopalians are almost exclusively white and old (sounds like CSICOP) and its membership is at its lowest level since the 1930s (especially stunning, since every church exaggerates its membership numbers).

Parishes are closing all across the country and directors are dipping into their endowments to keep the lights on. A lot of the blame for this is placed on the 2003 ordination of gay priest Gene Robinson as bishop (who since retired), but I think what it really going on is A., the continuing polarization of the religious environment in this country, and B., the mind-numbing boredom and dreariness of your average Episcopal Mass.

I don't know who's running the seminaries and my sample rate is admittedly small, but it seems that only the dullest speakers are allowed to be ordained in the Church.

There has been a breakaway movement-- a high-church schism that has split primarily over the gay issue but also over doctrinal and liturgical issues that seem meaningless to people outside the church, but of vital importance to people within it.

The result is the "Anglican Church in North America" which seems to be growing at the same rate the Episcopal Church is imploding. This is a smells-and-bells liturgy church, and is "right wing" only in relation to the ultra-ultra-left Episcopals (the Baptists probably think it's San Francisco with incense).

Of little interest or use to me personally, outside of the simple fact that they're growing when the Mother Church is dying. I study these things, which is why I'm poor.

Though the issue has gotten all the press, I do have to say if anyone believes that there aren't gay clergy in these new conservative churches - or any religious body you can name- then I have a Bridge to Nowhere I think you might be interested in investing in (I've always believed that the gay controversy is really about keeping it on the downlow with conservatives- an avalanche of news reports thereto have not dissuaded me).

The media may not want to hear it but I don't think the gay issue by itself would not have caused the schism in these churches-- the real issue was 50 years of arbitrary and often quite ridiculous changes to doctrine, liturgy and the rest. It was the constant reinvention of a wheel that most of the people thought worked just fine the way it was.

As with the zero-growth atheist birthrates, you can hurl all the invective you like. But if at the end of the day you can't pay to keep the lights on, all of the radical theological innovations in the world won't matter much outside the seminary dorm-room.

THE WAY OF THE WEIRD

I could have stayed in the Church and tried to inflict my weird ideas on it but I have too much respect for the institution to do so. I'd rather make my own way then try to force others to accept my bizarre and idiosyncratic notions. I don't understand why the Episcopal radicals didn't do the same when they had the money and power at their disposal to do. As it is they dragged the entire organization down with them.

I left the Church physically because I left it spiritually- it no longer spoke to me. I'm not sure how much it ever did-- I loved church as a kid but I loved the families and the fellowship and the beautiful old building and the places to explore and the history of it all. But one of my most profound spiritual experiences in church was having this visionary experience where I was a Norse god, trudging through a blizzard (I was listening to "No Quarter" a lot at the time). The second was on a particularly beautiful Christmas Eve when Nina Hagen's "UFO" kept going through my head and the votive candles hypnotized me to the point of tears.

Don't look now, but the Episcopal Church is calling; they want me to be their Bishop.

UPDATE: It turns out the New Atheist junta is being bankrolled by a shadowy millionaire (as these things always are), who sold his family business to Glaxo. Given that the Reason Rally and now the Rock Beyond Belief Rally were both rained-out flops, I'd suggest Daddy Glaxobucks take some of those millions and offer up some donations to the sun god of his choosing.

UPDATE: It took me a while, but I finally realized that this big push is all part of the Obama re-election strategy, hence all of the big rallies (even if they turn out to be flops). They can't get liberals fired up over his record, so one of the last cards to play is whipping up anti-religious sentiment (all protestations aside, every atheist site I've seen is essentially a hate site, no different than their fundamentalist opposites) and hope that is channeled against the Republicans. It was Daddy Glaxobucks that put the pieces into place for me.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Demand the Unreasonable

The Reason Rally® -- billed as the biggest-ever gathering of atheists, skeptics and so on and so forth--came and went without my reporting on it. I was busy with work and was also in the middle of the Millennium series that I'd been meaning to put up here for several years.

Rally boosters claimed 20,000 people attended (some particularly over-enthusiastic atheists claimed 40,000 godless minions descended on Washington for the event) but the generally sober atheist Ed Brayton at Free Thought Blogs put the crowd somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000.

Pretty goddamn pitiful, if this is meant to be the harbinger of an atheist revolution in America.

To put it all into context, the media claimed Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally was a dismal failure because he only managed to put somewhere between 78,000 and 96,000 people on the Mall, almost ten times the amount of atheists and skeptics could manage in what was supposed to their "coming out party," their grand appearance on the national stage.

And it's a damn good thing the atheists don't believe in signs and portents because after weeks of unseasonably gorgeous, almost summer-like weather (March 2012 was one of the warmest and dryest on record in DC), the Rally took place on a cold, rainy and generally miserable Saturday. The attendees put on a brave face, but surely you're familiar with the expression "rain on your parade?"

Yeah, good luck with that

I also couldn't help but be reminded what Camille Paglia said of the Columbia disaster and the Iraq War, since the Reason Rally was clearly designed to be a war-rally for the atheist's "war on religion" and all forms of thoughtcrime that the atheists, skeptics and proponents of Scientism want to abolish:
As we speak, I have a terrible sense of foreboding, because last weekend a stunning omen occurred in this country. Anyone who thinks symbolically had to be shocked by the explosion of the Columbia shuttle, disintegrating in the air and strewing its parts and human remains over Texas — the president’s home state!
So many times in antiquity, the emperors of Persia or other proud empires went to the oracles to ask for advice about going to war. Roman generals summoned soothsayers to read the entrails before a battle. If there was ever a sign for a president and his administration to rethink what they’re doing, this was it. I mean, no sooner had Bush announced that the war was “weeks, not months” away and gone off for a peaceful weekend at Camp David than this catastrophe occurred in the skies over Texas.
From the point of view of the Muslim streets, surely it looks like the hand of Allah has intervened, as with the attack on the World Trade Center.
Of course, I have my own theories on the Columbia disaster, that have less to do with Allah and more to do with personages a bit more elusive, shall we say. But the metaphor stands, nonetheless- especially since the following Sunday was as beautiful as Reason Rally Saturday was miserable.


The emphasis of the Rally was heavy on tedious, paint-by-number politics (aside from outliers like Shermer and Penn Jillette, who both shill tirelessly for Koch Brother-type "invisible hand" market mythology, the general thrust of the movement is ultra-extreme Left, with extremist PC orthodoxy viciously enforced by an army of neo-Stalinist apparatchiks).

The tendency to emphasize entertainers over intellectuals that we see in skepticism (Randi, Jillette, Savage, etc) has carried over into the movement as well, all the more so with the death of Christopher Hitchens (Sam Harris, the Thinking Man's Atheist, did not attend, as far as I know). Dawkins may be a great scientist but as a public intellectual he's nothing more than a shrill polemicist, who's well-noted for alienating serious thinkers outside the atheist cult (there's another, more sulfrous stink about the man that I've been researching, but we'll save that for another post).

After reading a number of reports and watching a number of videos from the Rally, the general impression I got was less a CSiCOP meeting circa 1976 and more a LARP version of the same- a kind of RenFaire take on an actual atheist rally. A fanboy/fangrrl reenactment.

If you hadn't told me this was an atheist/skeptic rally, I would have just as easily thought it was an open-air Star Wars convention, or a Magic the Gathering, um, gathering.

I'm sure a goodly number of the attendees were tossing the old twenty-sided dice well into the wee hours, or donning their furry costumes for some skritchery or who knows what else we're better off not knowing about in their downmarket hotel rooms.

Surprisingly, The Blaze caught a fairly representative cross-section of the people drawn to Rally in its video report, even though it failed to call Randi out for...oh Christ, you name it. But what you see in the video captures exactly why I'm so alienated from fandom as Geek® and Nerd™ culture becomes so codified and reductionist- and boring and inert, I might add.

For all the talk about science and reason, this is all about politics, nothing more and nothing less. "Science" is little more than a blunt organizing principle to most of these people, just as "The Bible" is to Fundamentalists. It's a cudgel to be used against one's opponents, not something to be learned, understood and utilized.

Science itself is far more complex and problematic than any of these people could possibly understand; Oklahoma City terrorist Timothy McVeigh was also quoted as saying "Science is my religion" and Harry Truman declared that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were “the greatest achievement of organized science in history.

Despite what some of the rainsoaked minions at the Reason Rally might think, I'm not hostile to science at all. I simply understand it for what it is. I understand that when Chicken Dawkins or the Amazing Rambli talk about science and medicine, they're talking about corporate science and corporate medicine, both of which are mixed blessings to say the very least.

I deal every day with a condition that both mainstream and alternative medicine are stymied by, and though both offer relief to a certain extent, neither offer much of a break from the considerable suffering I deal with. I had two very serious and chronic medical issues that mainstream medicine could do nothing about but my own very rigorous scientific immersion in alternative medicine actually cured. I also had some nightmarish, hell-on-earth experiences with certain pharmaceuticals that well-meaning doctors prescribed to me for my condition.

On the other hand, a brilliant surgeon saved my wife's life (just to let you guys know, the day a nurse comes out to the waiting room in tears is going to be a bad day) a couple year's back and I've been seeing a dentist who I'm beginning to suspect might actually be a magician. Which all goes to show you that life is too complex for fundamentalisms, whether religious or scientific.

Not that I could explain any of this to the Geeks® and Nerds™- they're too busy honing their snark skills and looking for Star Wars dioramas made of macaroni on Flickr to pretend to be excited about to pay attention to anything but themselves (and if they absolutely have to, each other).

It's a closed loop no less dogmatic and isolating than any other cult, and is creating a human island economy that will do what all human island economies eventually do-- contract into a manageable state of inevitable decline.

I wrote about this in my recent Pop Culture screed, about how Atheism is hardly the bellwether of a brave new future of progress, but a surefire symptom of decline and decay.
But the comfortable cosmopolitans of the Roman Empire were not stupid; I'd say most were smarter than the average American. You even had slaves with high degrees of education. And they too embraced reason and atheism as the hallmarks of a modern cilivized Roman.

They became obsessed with fitness and business and pleasure. And birthrates plummeted far below replacement rate among these fine, educated souls. Not so among the superstitious masses. Their religious leaders used demographics as a weapon and realized that they would one day overwhelm their refined rivals by force of sheer numbers. And, of course, they did.

Atheists and freethinkers ended up being burned at the stake for the next thousand years or so after Rome became a totalitarian theocracy and science, art, technology and medicine utterly collapsed until the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when the old gods of Europe awoke from their slumber once again.

For all of the brave talk about the inevitable march to an atheist, rationalist future the numbers again fail to bear all of that out.
As if in answer to all of this, PZ Myers, a petulant, obscure biology plonker that rode the Atheist movement to international prominence, wrote this on his blog:
Is that border magical?

What strange transformation occurs within humanity as we trace the population northward, from the United States to Canada? A recent survey of Canadians (especially the Quebecois variety) revealed something:

Buried away in the survey was a single question that caught my eye immediately: Personally, do you consider yourself to be a religious person? A minuscule 22% answered yes. Presumeably, a whopping 78% of Quebecers do not consider themselves religious.
Well, that's great for you, PZ, but unfortunately you missed the flipside of the story, published a couple days earlier:
Quebec Census Population Numbers Show Continuing Demographic Decline

MONTREAL - Old anxieties about the survival of Quebec's culture are being revived — with front-page headlines, talk-show airwaves and the provincial legislature filled with warnings of impending doom.

The latest Canadian census offers a chunk of new data for those sounding the alarm bells of assimilation, by showing that Quebec's demographic influence is waning within Canada.

The results of the 2011 survey, released in February, revealed that Quebec's weight within Canada has shrunk by nearly one-fifth over recent decades, with no sign of that trend diminishing.
All around the world, the trends are clear: secular and atheist populations are imploding. It's facts like that led me to AAT, ironically- the utterly anti-natural reality of higher brain function in human beings. Rationality and Reason are lovely ideals for the Ivory Tower, but they don't seem to inspire many people outside of it. Human beings need more than test tubes and telescopes to wake them up in the morning. Even the majority of those miserable folks standing in the rain at the Reason Rally, I'd wager.

There's another way out, another door that doesn't lead to the dull, dreary miserable materialism of Dawkinsism or the stultifying, conflict-breeding path of fundamentalism, I can feel it. I just can't articulate it yet. But I guarantee you that as soon as I can I will. The stakes are quite high at this point in the game.

AFTERWORD: THE COMMODIFICATION OF GEEK®

Fandom has always been so porous- and desperate for any meaningful creative input-- that it has allowed interesting people to sneak through once in a while.

But I'm getting the feeling that with the rise of this new inquisitional, totalitarian new religion of Atheism, that your Jack Kirby's and your Neil Gaiman's and your Philip K Dick's and your Alan Moore's and your Chris Carter's will be filtered out before they can even begin.

Because the obvious next step is that "Reason" and "Rationality" be forcibly applied to sci-fi, comics and the rest of it. If you poke around comments sections and message boards you'll see this process is already taking root.

Wizards and werewolves and vampires and all of the rest of it will be fair game (as usual), but anything that remotely smacks of traditional religion-- or even un-traditional religion-- will be attacked and excoriated by the new militant Geeks® and Nerds™, their heads full of vague swatches of Dawkins quotes they read on t-shirts while in line for nachos at an anime con or at an apparel vendor at San Diego.

I had high hopes that fandom would be the last refuge of the unprogrammable-- a true counterculture-- but as usual my nostalgia got the best of me. The daycare generation that fills the ranks of fandom these days is so efficiently socialized that the weirdness and freedom of 70s fandom exists as nothing but as just another museum piece to be cataloged and double-bagged and put away in a box, never to be seen again.

SECRET SUN TOP TEN