Thursday, October 29, 2015

Childhood's End and the Theater of Apocalypse

SyFy is finally getting around to adapting Arthur C. Clarke's classic, Childhood's End. It's one of those books that feels as if you've seen it adapted, probably because it's been hijacked so completely by other writers. It's a foundational text not only in Modern science fiction but also in Modern UFOlogy. And I write this from the perspective of the Post-Postmodern age, where "Modern" necessarily implies "archaic."

I wouldn't have signed off on this project if I were the head of SyFy. It's a great fiction but it's of its time in a way many, perhaps most, of Clarke's books are. They speak to a confident, muscular liberalism, a certainty of linear progress, the unalloyed benefits of world government. 

Some would argue that Childhood's End has a downbeat, indeed apocalyptic ending, but it's actually Darwinism writ large, the inevitable macroevolution of the human race unfolding as a cosmic certainty. 

It's a kind of Globalist fairy tale, a myth for the heady days of the early postwar era, when rational discourse in the Hall of Nations would solve all problems. Only religious bumpkins, with their kneejerk paranoid delusions, stood in the path of our new utopia. (Could Clarke had conceived of a day when his country would orchestrate the installation of the world's most aggressive theocracy as chair of the UNs Human Rights Council?)

But Childhood's End is also an artifact of the early days of the UFO era, when apocalyptic fervor was grafted onto the burgeoning phenomenon. Ironically, evidence for UFOs was miniscule compared to what has been amassed today, but that's part of the process; the imagination takes over and fills in the blanks when facts on the ground are missing. It's the power of human expectation to project onto the Great Unknown.

Most of this was was processed through fiction and not taken seriously or literally. But it persisted as a question in the public's mind, reaching its apotheosis with Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, one of the most explicitly mystical and revelatory works of art of the past century.

But then as now the UFO phenomenon is/was primarily one of constructions of light, lights that predominantly hover instead of fly. Observers as diametrically opposed as Philip Klass and Jacques Vallee made note of this, as do careful study of witness statements. And usually hover in place in such a way that seems to defy the laws of physics, I should add.

Some researchers began to wonder if the resulting contact scenarios weren't in fact hallucinations caused by some kind of stimulation of the temporal lobe by these mysterious lights. It's a fascinating theory that only deepens the weirdness of the phenomena, even if diminishes the messianic fever that once surrounded it.

Yet given the avalanche of garbage that surrounds the topic, it's tempting to dismiss the UFO issue all out of hand. Certainly the endless territorial pissing matches among UFOlogists (and I include debunkers here, who are the biggest UFO obsessives of all) are a major disincentive towards looking into any further the issue. 

Until, of course, it reaches into your own life. 

Despite a lifetime of skywatching, I had only one borderline encounter until this year, when first my son then my wife and daughter and myself encountered these mysterious constructions of light.

My son had the presence of mind to record his, we were driving so we weren't as vigilant. But all I can say is that we saw two classic orange orbs and they seemed to be moving under intelligent control (and seemed to be bothering conventional aircraft, another hallmark of the phenomenon).  

I can tell you that the reason that these thing look so blurry and indistinct on film is because that's how they look in the flesh.**  The word that keeps going through my mind is "unwholesome." 

I don't make any claims as to their nature or origin. All I can say is that people everywhere have seen these things forever. Take it as you will. 

Unfortunately for Childhood's End, there's no real UFO culture to market the film to, at least not like what you saw 20 years ago, when you had a large and active UFO convention circuit.† I think that's because the subculture it exists in has changed, with a lot of conspiracy people falling for the whole Project Blue Beam psyop and many others no longer having the kind of quasi-religious expectation of our Space Brothers that emerged out of the mid-period New Age movement (a relief). 

A lot of this is the function of the post-NAFTA, post-GATT uncertainty economy, one in which the real unemployment rate hovers in the teens (as one honest Presidential candidate has pointed out), not the 5% fiction floated in our increasingly Soviet news media.

In a strange way this all reminds of the early Christian movement, which we know from texts like Contra Celsum went through a long wilderness period of its own (and also emerged during a time of great social unrest). Strange as it sounds, it makes me wonder what the future holds for the UFO issue, given that we are living through a bad Roman Empire LARP at the moment as well.* 

A scholar studied the period and determined that the Christian movement was not only marginal within the Roman Empire, it was vanishingly small, right up to the end of the Third Century CE. His estimate had the Christian population at less than one half of one percent (0.36%) circa 200 CE. Religious scholar Bart Ehrman estimated that it was no larger than 5% of the Empire at the time of Constantine, a figure other historians have confirmed.

The 0.36% number fascinates me since having been raised in a serious Christian environment, it contradicts everything I was taught about the early Church. We were told Christianity was an oppressed majority kept down by a tiny, decadent elite who knew every word of it was all true but suppressed the Faith so they could carry on with their immoral lifestyles. 

0.36% sounds about right if you were tallying up the amount of people who follow some kind of UFO belief system or another in our own population today.  Better still, it's probably the exact percentage of the population that watches Ancient Aliens religiously, as it were. 

Ancient Aliens, curiously enough, seems to have to moved away from couching all of their arguments in Saturday morning cartoon sci-fi and are moving towards a distinctly more super-natural worldview, more like the superior 70s material that originally inspired it. Curious indeed.

All this came to mind when a UFO debunker recently (and negatively) compared St. Paul to the UFO movement (and attacked both), a comparison that sounds specious to everyone but Valleean-type Magonians. The mysterious light, the disembodied voice, the radical change? UFO reports are filled with those kinds of things.

I still have tremendous respect for Paul as a religious visionary and polemicist, while seeing him as a product of his time. But it has to be acknowledged that Paul, like many of the early Church, believed the Second Coming was imminent, despite what modern apologists may say to the contrary (this fact also tends to contradict theories that Paul was invented centuries later by Roman propagandists). This can't help but remind me of Childhood's End and the messianic UFOlogy it was inspired by. 

I wonder; did the Church have a strong kickoff but lose steam as it became apparent that Christ was not coming back in the believer's lifetime, just as it's become obvious that Disclosure isn't imminent or that the Space Brothers aren't about to land? Like UFOlogy, early Christianity thrived on a culture of Apocalyptic literature- what happened when it all failed to materialize?

Again, the comparisons might seem spurious, if not downright insulting until you study the distinctly Magonian texts of some of the Christian groups whose arguments didn't win out in the big Roman councils. It also fascinates me that every time Gnostic groups like the Yazidi seem poised on annihilation, someone comes at the last minute to pull their feet out of the fire (literally, in this case). 

Now, it's the mighty Russians, mercilessly blowing the Yazidis' persecutors into bloody chunks of gristle. Makes you wonder, indeed.   

I don't know what the future holds for humanity or for the UFO issue. As I've argued repeatedly the best way to look at UFOs are as a surveillance program, in the Fortean tradition. Its mysteries and enigmas all seem to fall into place in that context. Try it at home and see.

But until something somewhere changes dramatically, I don't see the kind of mythology expressed in stories like Childhood's End gaining much traction in the public imagination. The apocalypses we believe in today are the dystopian variety, the miserable hell-on-earths of the zombie shows and the rest of it. 

A critical look at our popular culture tells us that we are a tired, broken, beaten-down people. Even our apocalypses have been downsized.

** It's entirely possible that what we are seeing are some kind of cloaking devices that diffuse light and hide whatever kind of technology is being used, which is why there are tens of thousands of reports of UFOs popping into view and then popping out. Our own scientists are working on these kinds of cloaking devices now. Or it could be that plasmas are being created and then used to transmit information. I'm sure someone is working on that technology down here as well. 

*America's elites are still pretending Globalism is a thing at a time when the rest of the world is rediscovering aggressive nationalism. It's already creating major problems, especially as said elites are busy waging war on their own citizens as well as bombing huge swathes of the world in the name of Universal Togetherness.

† The convention scene does seem to be showing signs of life again, with shows like Contact in the Desert finding some degree of success.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Posthuman Delusion Marches On

We're being lied to, by everyone with any degree of power or influence. That's not news. That's human nature. But what is new is a growing mythology that humanity is on some inevitable march to a glorious posthuman (or transhuman) future, one in which all of our longstanding problems will magically disappear beneath an avalanche of technological magic.

It's essentially the same line we heard during the (previous) Depression, that if we just tighten our belts and muddle through, that everything will work out splendidly. Only now our intrepid scientists are laboring as we speak to ready our robot bodies and nanobrains.

The kind of scientific evangelism we are smothered in these days has troubling precedents; both the Nazis and the Communists proffered "Science" as a salvational force meant to displace traditional religion. It has the inbuilt advantage of turning all attention back to the State, which completely controls and dictates the course of science, both through its own infrastructure and that of its crony capitalist allies such as National Geographic (all too appropriately owned by Rupert Murdoch now).

It seems a little late, now. I don't know how much of this the rubes are buying. We all see how unfair and unequal society has become, all the more so over the past five years or so. No less a firebrand than Chris Rock said that if normal working people saw how rich celebrities lived there'd be a revolution.

So no one really believes that ordinary folk will ever benefit from all of this technology and a lot of us don't really believe that this technology is ever coming to market. Certainly not in the form it's being evangelized.

Even so, the New Dispensationalists are out there, hawking their linear progress model of human history, telling us all we're inevitably evolving into technological superbeings. The latest pile of nonsense comes (inevitably) from the Royal Society.

British astrophysicist and cosmologist, Sir Martin Rees, believes if we manage to detect aliens, it will not be by stumbling across organic life, but from picking up a signal made by machines. 
Writing for Nautilus, Sir Martin said that while the way we think has led to all culture and science on Earth, it will be a brief precursor to more powerful machine ‘brains’. 
He thinks that life away from Earth has probably already gone through this transition from organic to machine. On a planet orbiting a star far older than the sun, life ‘may have evolved much of the way toward a dominant machine intelligence,’ he writes. 
Sir Martin believes it could be one or two more centuries before humans are overtaken by machine intelligence, which will then evolve over billions of years, either with us, or replacing us.
Make no mistake, this is religion. This is based on nothing at all, no science, no data, no observation. It's opinion. It's based on a linear progressive model of human history that is really not much different than the Protestant Christian model of history unfolding towards revelation. They're still stymied by what's floating around beyond Pluto, so it's best to take anything they have to say about other solar systems with a grain of salt.

But let's for a moment humor this credentialed fantasy. What happens to this glorious race of cyborgs when the Sun has a momentary case of indigestion and shoots a random solar flare at our shiny new Borgworld? 

We almost found out:

The solar storm of 2012 that almost sent us back to a post-apocalyptic Stone Age 
While you didn’t see it, feel it, or even read about it in the newspapers, Earth was almost knocked back to the Stone Age on July 23, 2012. It wasn’t some crazed dictator with his finger on the thermonuclear button or a giant asteroid that came close to wiping out civilization as we know it, though — no, what nearly ended us was a massive solar storm. Almost two years ago to the day, our most bounteous and fantastical celestial body — the Sun — kicked out one of the largest solar flares and coronal mass ejections ever recorded. And it missed Earth by a whisker. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker, who led the research into the massive solar storm.
Imagine all of the electronics in your body suddenly seizing up and shitting the bed? Goodbye, Borgs.

This is apparently such a concern that bogus articles are pumped on search engines reassuring tech consumers that all is well, resulting in headlines like this: Strong solar storm won't fry electronics.

But in a stunning example of how duplicitous the propaganda tech consumers are constantly bombarded with, the soothing headline was definitively contradicted halfway down the body text of the article itself:
Solar flares can damage the power grid and electronic technologies. The U.S. government regards the possibility of major solar storm as a "black swan," event that could be calamitous. In 1989, a geomagnetic storm knocked out the power grid in Quebec.

What's more, there's a growing body of evidence that technology in fact is having a devolutionary effect on the human organism. 

The data is being published and it's damning. But it's not being discussed in the major media, itself increasingly the property of the major technology concerns.

 Here's a headline for you: How The Internet is Making Us Stupid:

In a recent experiment at Stanford University, researchers gave various cognitive tests to 49 people who do a lot of media multitasking and 52 people who multitask much less frequently. The heavy multitaskers performed poorly on all the tests. They were more easily distracted, had less control over their attention, and were much less able to distinguish important information from trivia. 
The researchers were surprised by the results. They expected the intensive multitaskers to have gained some mental advantages. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, the multitaskers weren’t even good at multitasking. “Everything distracts them,” said Clifford Nass, one of the researchers. 
It would be one thing if the ill effects went away as soon as we turned off our computers and mobiles. But they don’t. The cellular structure of the human brain, scientists have discovered, adapts readily to the tools we use to find, store and share information. By changing our habits of mind, each new technology strengthens certain neural pathways and weakens others. The alterations shape the way we think even when we’re not using the technology. 
The pioneering neuroscientist Michael Merzenich believes our brains are being “massively remodelled” by our ever-intensifying use of the web and related media. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr Merzenich, now a professor emeritus at the University of California in San Francisco, conducted a famous series of experiments that revealed how extensively and quickly neural circuits change in response to experience. 
In a conversation late last year, he said that he was profoundly worried about the cognitive consequences of the constant distractions and interruptions the internet bombards us with. The long-term effect on the quality of our intellectual lives, he said, could be “deadly.” 
I think the science is already in on that- our intellectual lives have already been decimated. Being kind. And now we have more data to mull over- all across the board, all across the world, IQ levels are dropping.

But technology is also having physiological evolutionary effects. Far from the Nephilim-like giants that Scientism advocates are predicting for our future, we may be instead looking at a race of hunchbacks.
Children as young as seven are developing hunchbacks and curved spines because of the hours spent bending over smart phones and tablets, a chiropractor has claimed.

He said patients often came in complaining of a headache but that a simple heel-to-toe test revealed that they had developed a backwards curve in the neck having spent hours hunched over electronic devices.

"The condition is called 'text neck' because it is often caused when people sit with their heads dropped forward looking at their devices for several hours at a time.
"Instead of a normal forward curve, patients can be seen to have a backwards curve. It can be degenerative, often causing head, neck, shoulder and back pain. 
"Many patients come in complaining they have a headache, but we actually find text neck is the cause of it. They often fail a simple heel-to-toe test and tend to fall over."
Sammy Margo, from the UK's Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, agreed that "text neck" was on the rise.
Now some clinicians are also wondering if smartphones are also making young people mentally ill, leading to an increase in suicides.

But there is also an alarming rise in autoimmune disorders, including those effecting the nervous system. Aside from the usual culprits such as our horrible food, could electromagnetic pollution be a silent cause of this troubling epidemic?
According to a new study the prevalence and incidence of autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes, is on the rise and researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are unsure why.  
Between 2001 and 2009, the incidence of type 1 diabetes increased by 23%, according to The American Diabetes Association. Finland also showed a similar increase. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, while Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin adequately. 
Earlier studies have shown that genetics and environmental factors cause autoimmune diseases. The researchers discovered that children and teenagers suffering from type 1 diabetes have complications, such as nerve damage, that could lead to amputations. 
In the sales department-driven world of technohype and Science evangelism, everything is always looking brighter and everyone's lives are always getting better. In the real world, nearly every negative trend you can wave a stick at is on the rise. Blind allegiance to Scientism will not save us and the promises coming out of the hype machine are looking increasingly hollow. 

Maybe they mean well. But they have misread human psychology and history. And I don't see a lot of enthusiasm out there for what sounds increasingly like a pie-in-the-sky bill of goods.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Beyond Synchronicity: Memories, Dreams, Remote Viewings

"Mixed blessing" is a term I have some trouble with. In my experience all blessings are mixed, in that they come with a price tag attached. It's the ebb and flow of the Universe.

You may not see it right off, but eventually you will. Call it Karma, call it Kismet, call it a kick in the eye, but nothing really comes for free in this world.

A few years back I was disturbed that I didn't seem to be dreaming anymore. What little dreaming I did remember seemed like a tape loop, an endless road trip on the highway to Boston, stopping in those strange little cities that pop up in the bleary-eyed New England nowhere. Hotels, motels, Holiday Inns; my dreaming life had become the Theatre of Disquiet.

Little did I realize that change would come in the form of my allegedly non-progressive chronic pain condition progressing several notches, quite probably in reaction to the science fiction levels of mold and tree pollen we've been seeing (4000+ pollen counts were not unusual this past spring, for instance). My doctor explained that whenever my immune system was challenged that would in turn aggravate the pain/fatigue process,  the fatigue itself being aggravated by the medications.

So I began sleeping a lot more and more... I don't know, deeply? More dreamily? I've no idea how the process works.* But I did get my very rich and immersive dream world back.

At one hell of a price.

I used to keep a dream log but I don't bother anymore. It got to be too much and the dreams were pretty easy to figure, me being an old hand at it. I just live there, the same as I do in my waking life.

The difference is that my waking life is essentially static and routine and my dreaming life is panoramic, widescreen, Technicolor and psychedelic. I was once very possessive of it, and rely on it as a tool in my waking life. Don't ask me to explain.

I'm sure the several years of hypogogic meditation helped all of this, in that I broke down that brick wall that had grown up between my sleeping and waking minds. One particular example is that I seem to have dramatically expanded my library of exterior landscapes and interior settings for these dreams, something I am sure is a direct result of the meditation.

As I've written before, I've come to experience what can only be described as bursts of nonlocality in these meditations, moments of extraordinary clarity in which I am no longer lying in my bed but walking in strange rooms, or treading water in an ocean off the coast of a tropical island or sitting atop the ledge of a Manhattan skyscraper, what they used to call "astral projection," I suppose.

I'm not saying this is always a pleasant experience.

Now, one might reasonably argue that these are themselves fragments of dream reality breaking through to the conscious mind. If you haven't experienced it for yourself that is certainly a rational counterpoint and one I have no need to quibble with. You can't argue sex with a virgin.

Although this is based on entirely subjective data, I believe this is related to what the remote viewers (and certainly more serious meditation practitioners) experience and work with more reliably. Being a novice, I'm not controlling the experience but am getting glimpses of nonlocality as if channel-surfing- I just happen to tune into the remote channel now and again during this meditational practice.

So what does this has to do with Synchronicity as misdiagnosed psi? Well, pretty much everything. In moments that we dismissively ascribe to some abstract concept like Synchronicity, we are apparently  tuning into the nonlocal, nonlinear channel during our absent-minded surfing, meaning the channel that stands outside both time and space.

Now, we have no idea what causes or drives all this. It would be helpful to find out what exactly is behind them but I have a very strong feeling we will never really understand what exactly triggers these moments. Stress, trauma, and other extreme states seem more likely to unleash these events but not reliably so. A happy, well-adjusted individual might well experience these events more often than your stereotypical doom-laden occultist. The fact is that we simply don't know.

So as it stands "Synchronicity" seems to be so random and patternless that it's essentially untestable and as such is dismissed by most of the scientific community, with the notable exception of your more intrepid quantum physicists. It seems forever perched at the edge of respectability but can never quite close the deal.

But everyone experiences it. And does so in a way that the skept-o-bilge that is designed to throw you off its scent comes across not only as weak and desperate but insulting and demeaning. The entire mechanism behind Synchronicity is meaning, not mere coincidence. Coincidences happen all the time. They are the latticework that underlies the whole of Creation.

It's why I have argued that people should concentrate only on those coincidences that are supercharged with meaning, so much so that they are nearly supernatural in their content. Those usually are the ones that lead to life changes, from the small and curious to the huge and profound.

Throw the rest back.

POSTSCRIPT: This is the part of the program now where I remind you that the most brilliant "Synchromystic" I ever knew ascribed all of this not to the impersonal forces of quanta, but to unimaginably evolved extraterrestrial entities who existed outside of all natural limits and used these symbolic-sync tricks for reasons altogether inscrutable. 

* I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and was found to be lacking in slow wave sleep. But this usually means you are stuck in REM sleep instead, so you think I'd be dreaming like a champ. Now that the apnea issue has been addressed I am dreaming more vividly again so the exact science behind all this is a bit above my pay grade. I suppose I was experiencing fairly serious alpha sleep intrusion, which might account for the discrepancy.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Beyond Synchronicity: Mind ≠ Brain

ITEM: I had a dream Thursday night of attending a holiday meal at my childhood bestie Tom's house. It was at a huge table that seemed to snake throughout the house. I was at the far end, talking to his two nephews who (in the dream) were playing for the New York Giants. They were attending the dinner party in full game gear (I'd just watched Silver Linings Playbook).  
That next day Tom, who I hadn't spoken with for several weeks (or months, time has been getting away from me lately), called me.  
Tom and I were supposed be born on the same day (twins, of a kind, our mothers were friends) but I was 11 days late. He has a memory that would give most computers a run for their money and has a mind for pop culture minutiae that constantly amazes me. 
The last thing we talked about was one of favorite movies, the Aleister Crowley-connected British horrror classic Legend of Hell House (based on the Richard Matheson story), which used to run on our favorite local station, Channel 56.
ITEM: I was sick as hell this past week, my MPS symptoms hitting me like a tractor trailer in reaction to the toxic mold in the atmosphere. As happens in these episodes, I had long stretches where I couldn't do anything but writhe. I couldn't even watch television, I couldn't rest. It's unbearable but I guess I'm used to it by now. 
 So I tried some visualization exercises. For some reason I began visualizing the famous frieze of Inanna/Ishtar, which I decided was a suitable target. This morning Gordon sends me a picture of he took of that very same image. Apparently, it was taken out of storage and put back on display just recently. 
In room 56 of the British Museum.
These of course are classic synchronicities, inner conceptualizations manifesting as outer realities, ripe with symbol and hidden meaning (there are 56 cards in the minor arcana of the Tarot, for instance).

And they can drive you crazy after a while. 

The only way to prove these coincidences is to write down everything you're thinking at every moment in some kind of computer log which records day and date, which of course tends to evaporate pretty much every creative thought circulating in your brain and turn you into a robot.

Because of this unwieldiness, I actually downgraded classic Synchronicity as a working method-- the thought manifestation variety-- several years ago. I can tell you those two stories up there but you have to essentially take my word for them. And that drives me nuts.


You see, I disagree with the "False" Memory sickos (and debunkers in general) on nearly everything, but mostly because I believe that human memory in fact hews to a normality bias. 

I believe that human memory is constantly denying any kind of unusual, profound or traumatic experience, not only to protect the psyche but also to keep the individual conformable to the collective. Extreme experience tends to isolate the subject from the group, which is why memory goes to work in rewriting experience to the acceptable mean. 

So even if you write everything down as it happens, you begin to doubt your own experiences, most especially as the weirdness piles up.†

Because of this essential inability to prove your classic-model Synchronicity- at least without recording your every thought with a verified timestamp- I began focusing on a different brand of sync several years ago, one I can't quite pin a name on but one I later explored in detail on say, the NASA posts.

That work led to the work on this blog, particularly a lot of the symbol and ritual studies I did for the first several years; the Synchronizing of provable events and the coinciding of curriculum vitae. 

This offered a window that people could look into, without having to take my word on a dream or a passing thought or some other will o' the wisp that traditional Synchronicity is built around.º


Now, "Synchronicity" is a useful term in some settings-- a kind of accepted shorthand for discussing unusual experience-- but in others too often becomes the dinnerware we take out for guests but rarely use for ourselves. It's a kind of quasi-scientific window dressing on a reality that our forebears understood as magic or religious phenomena.  

I often wonder what Jung himself actually believed about synchronicity. He was in a tricky position. He was trained as a scientist and existed in that milieu. But psychology and psychiatry themselves were barely recognized as sciences during much of his career (many still don't take them seriously as sciences, even today) and he was always careful to put the proper clothing on his ideas in order to make them presentable to a skeptical and often hostile world. 

Hence you get the whole idea of acausality, a split-the-difference notion which tends to alienate both believers and skeptics. I don't think meaningful coincidence is acausal, do you?

This only got dicier when he underwent what can only be described as a mystical transformation-- his own road to Damascus experience-- and began retracing the steps of the Mithraists and other visionary sects of the pre-Christian West.

Luckily for Jung, he wasn't the only one poking around in the fecund marshes of meaningful coincidence. The radical quantum physicists were also interested in the concept, Wolfgang Pauli for example. But I'm not sure that they meant the same thing privately when they discussed Synchronicity publicly. Pauli was thinking about non-locality and spooky action at a distance and Jung was probably thinking about angels and spirit guides. 

And this is my brief against Synchronicity. It has become yet another of those words that morphs into a leash. A buzzword for panel discussions and TED talks and all other tedious endurance tests that bleed all meaning from life.

And what if, finally, "Synchronicity" is in fact all bullshit? A blanket- and a wet one- thrown over all sorts of experiences that are inherently more interesting?

I remember talking with the brilliant scholar David Hufford at Esalen in 2008 about Synchromysticism, which he hadn't heard of. We then talked about Synchronicity and he asked me to offer some examples of it that I'd experienced. I did so and without any hesitation he said, "That all sounds like psi, not Synchronicity." He explained that what I was talking about was in fact precognition, not some hoity-toity-- and rather nebulous-- Jungian buzzword. 

Now be aware that Esalen is very down on Jung in general and was founded by therapists much more in line with Freud and Reich. But I had to admit that Hufford was correct. 


So if Synchronicity is misdiagnosed psi ( I should mention that Eric Wargo has been on this trail for a while), what then? The US Government spent a lot of money for a long time with some damn talented psychics (and don't let anyone tell you otherwise) trying to find applications for psi but found ultimately that it was less reliable than good electronic surveillance. 

You, on the other hand, aren't trying to undermine governments seeking to nationalize their copper mines or gas reserves, you are trying to make your way through an increasingly Social Darwinist world. Does Synchronicity- in whatever form you choose to work with it-- have applications for your daily life?

Well, I think the first thing you need to do is de-science the shit out of it. Take it entirely out of the realm of science (or pseudoscience) and back into the realm of the paranormal, where it belongs. Whether you choose to view it through the lens of psi or mysticism is your call. 

Now, you may ask, why opt out of the running when we have all this evidence to take to the court of scientific opinion? They'll have to consider all this data, right?

I'm not even going to dignify that with a response. 

Scientists throw out evidence on far more mundane phenomena than something that would be classified as psi. 

Scientists love to throw out evidence. It makes them feel powerful and important. They especially love to throw out evidence from mushy fencesitters who come to them, cap in hand, tail between legs, begging for validation for someone's pet obsession, whether it's ancient lost civilizations or psi or NDEs. 

If they haven't smacked you down yet it's only because they want you to delude yourself into thinking the pat on the back is coming any day now. It makes the sear of the laser across your throat sound even sweeter. Especially after you betrayed all your old friends and abandoned the rest of your beliefs in hopes that your one cherished belief will (pleasepleaseplease) get a nod of approval one day.

If you don't realize this is a metaphysical certainty then you don't know many scientists. Sure, you might get the odd maverick here and there (less frequently now) but Western science will never sign off on Synchronicity. I've done the reading; you can't believe the pretzels they twist themselves into to dismiss the data. It would be funny if the motive behind it all weren't so sinister.*


However, it's the mechanism or agency that always seems to be missing from discussions of Synchronicity. Synchronicity always seems to be its own explanation, and I think that's one talking point the debunkers are right about. 

The quantum stuff feels dry and empty. Psi feels a lot meatier but there needs to be someone else on the other end of the line, if you get my meaning.

I think it all leads us to the basic formula that mind ≠ brain, perhaps the greatest scientific heresy of this naturalistic age. Examples escape me presently (and I'm not getting paid enough to wade through a bunch of tired fencesitter drivel) but I'm sure I've seen some Synchronicity advocates argue against that formula as well, which leads you who the fuck knows where. 

If you take any of the remote viewing data seriously-- and I do-- you have accept that mind ≠ brain reality. Same applies if you accept any of the NDE data. 

And that scares some people because they believe opening that door leads immediately to the Inquisitions and witch burnings. It's insane and contradictory (the real inheritors of the Inquisition and witch hunters are the scientific and academic establishments and their fellow travelers, and the historical victims of the witch hunts were the people who believed in/practiced psi) but here we are.

The question becomes where do we go next?

º There are also the Sync Logs, usually events that correspond in interesting or remarkable ways to topics or issues that I cover on the blog. 

† Debunkers understand this process and are trained by experts (usually CIA) to exploit it.

* Scientists will lapse into gauzy ruminations on coincidence theory when it comes time to explain away the high mortality rate of say, microbiologists and UFOlogists, however.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Skies Aren't Right

It seems like yesterday. 

Nine years and change ago I was relatively symptom-free. I was that way for several months and thought I was out of the woods with a problem (CMPwFM) that was on-and-off since I was in high school (it was diagnosed then as "growing pains," if you can believe that). 

I was doing daily power walks of several miles a shot and feeling generally pretty good. Then around late June something went wrong. We had a stretch of hot, wet weather and all of sudden I wasn't doing too good at all.

Looking back I came to realize that the weather brought up a new strain of mold. Or maybe it wasn't just the weather. Just like everywhere else I've seen the planes and seen the wide, discolored bands of crap spread across the sky here. I'm not an idiot and I know what contrails look like. I also know what they don't look like. 

As with everything else we've seen a lot of nonsense about chemtrails, a lot of what looks like phony planted hype meant to steer people away from the real issue. 

I decided a long time ago that they were spraying reflective metals into the air to bounce ultraviolet and infrared radiation back into space. It was the only explanation that made any sense to me. (You can check out Dane Wigington's site for more information on this- I sould also credit Richard C. Hoagland for ID'ing chemtrails as weather modification several years ago)

It seems to have worked because starting around 2001-2002 winters started getting real cold again after a long stretch of warm, mild weather. We started seeing huge snowfalls on a regular basis, in late fall and early spring. The 2003-2004 winter was especially long and unrelenting- I remember seeing frost on my windshield in May. The weather got back on a relatively predictable, though definitely wet pattern.

But people are getting sick. A lot of people are getting autoimmune disorders or having their existing autoimmune disorders aggravated. A lot of people are experiencing chronic pain, too many. 

Is there a connection? It seems like a hell of a coincidence. But I did read one scientist observe that the largest science experiment in history is being conducted, exposing human beings to all manner of chemicals whether they want them or not. This is one example no one can escape. You can stop drinking water out of plastic bottles- you can't stop breathing. (The drinking water out of my tap smells like a swimming pool- it's noxious)

Some people think the droughts out in California are because of the spraying.  Is that true? I don't know. It's above my paygrade. But I stepped outside yesterday and nearly went into anaphylactic shock because of the mold pollen (the pollen reports are a joke and have nothing to do with the paved-over wetlands that this town is). I used to smell it in the wooded preserve at the end of the street. Now I smell it everywhere. It's killing me. Something isn't right. I know I'm not alone.

Maybe there's an upside in that we're seeing a lot less hurricane activity, but again, above my paygrade. Maybe El Nino will bring a wet winter to California and the Southwest. But we have more problems than that. I think the best thing you can do is ignore the (planted) hysteria and read up on the actual science being done on this important issue.

UPDATE: Check out Gordon's yeoman's work on the topic.

Friday, October 09, 2015

FADE OUT: On Hollywood's Visionaries

There are certain things you try to find comfort in on this hideous world, one of which is that once in a while a unique vision shines through the sludge of sameness and finds a niche in the entertainment world. It gives you a ray of hope, that maybe the Orwellian nightmare we are living in might one day relent.

The modest yet remarkable success of a unique voice like Charlie Kaufman was one of those anomalies for me. Kaufman to me is like a synthesis of vintage Woody Allen and Philip K. Dick, a blending that seems so completely unlikely until you see it and realize it makes perfect sense. 

Longtime readers know of my admiration for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the tour de force Kaufman created with French hotfoot Michel Gondry. Sunshine was that rare opportunity of harmonization of opposites, when a fizzy extrovert like Gondry syncs up with a dour pessimist like Kaufman. 

But there's also the achingly beautiful soundtrack of Jon Brion and the natural charisma of the film's all-star cast. Moments like that are rare in any medium and seem to be receding beyond the horizon in movies.

The PKD influence is startlingly obvious in Sunshine, since you clearly see that the film is an inverse pastiche of Total Recall, which boasted to create memories instead of erase them. It probably was birthed the day Kaufman saw that film and wished there were a company that would do the very opposite of the one in the movie, probably around the time of a painful breakup.

But Kaufman's most remarkable PKD tribute has to be Adaptation, which wears its VALIS colors on its sleeve.

As in VALIS, Kaufman creates a rather unflattering caricature of himself in Adaptation and splits himself off into a cheery alter ego --in this case a twin brother who is burdened by none of the self-loathing and nagging doubts that plague the Charlie character (Kaufman went so far to credit the fictional brother with co-writing the script). As in VALIS  there is a metanarrative, another film existing within the film. 

As in VALIS  Kaufman wildly fictionalizes- if not scandalizes- real people (VALIS creates insane alter egos of David Bowie and Brian Eno, whose work Dick was entranced by, particularly the former's Man Who Fell to Earth). As in VALIS  the only escape from an ugly, meaningless world is visionary experience.

The first Kaufman fim I saw was Being John Malkovich, starring onetime Secret Sun resonator John Cusack. At the time it just seemed like another 90s indie novelty, but one that stuck in my own head for some time. It seems slight in comparison to Kaufman's later work but still head and shoulders above most of its class.

None of Kaufman's films are blockbusters. They're too cerebral and downbeat. But they are the kind of prestige projects that major stars fight to work on, in between the parade of generic bilge that pays the poolboy. Or rather were

Out of curiosity- and in the middle of a furious search for the Synedoche, New York DVD that seems to have vanished from my wife's studio- I checked out Kaufman's wiki page to see what he was up to. I felt a wave of depression hit me.

Kaufman was slated to write and direct a film with the working title Frank or Francis. Few details have been confirmed about the plot except that it is a musical comedy about internet anger culture.[18] In July 2012, Jack Black, who was to star in the film, revealed in an interview that funding for the project had fallen through, as the studio was unsure about its chances for success after the financial failure of Kaufman's last directorial effort. The future of the project is uncertain. 
Dino Stamatopoulos, a former colleague of Kaufman's from The Dana Carvey Show, became interested in adapting Kaufman's Anomalisa play script into a stop motion animated film. With Kaufman's permission, Stamatopoulos turned to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter in order to fund the film. The Kickstarter page for the film was set up in August 2012 and by the time funding had ended $406,237 was pledged.[19] It is premiering at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in September of 2015. 
Trying to make a return to television, Kaufman directed and wrote a pilot for FX titled How and Why in 2014. The plot was described as being about a "man who can explain how and why a nuclear reactor works but is clueless about life". FX decided to not pick up the pilot, but it has been shopped to other outlets.[20]

Now, I haven't seen any of these projects. Maybe he's hit a dry spell and isn't producing the kind of work he once did. But the reviews for Anomalisa have been pretty stellar, so I doubt that. What's changed is the business around him.

What we are seeing is the end of an age when studios would finance a Charlie Kaufman project, not for the wild profits but for the prestige. But knowing the kind of mercenary attitudes that rule corporate America these days it seems there's no margin in prestige anymore.

But when I see the dreck that fills the local Redbox I wonder how did this get financed? Who thought this direct-to-video disaster would ever turn a profit? Was it produced simply for the writeoff?

I'm glad Twin Peaks is being revived and I'm glad David Lynch is involved. But the last we heard from him he was out of the picture business. In a better world, making The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr would earn him some kind of emeritus status, and the same would go to Charlie Kaufman. 

I'm very happy Anomalisa got financing through Kickstarter but it should never have had to, in my estimation. A civilized society would recognize its gifts- in this case, its geniuses- and nurture them, not send them off begging for donations (for a crummy half million dollars, no less). 

What have we become?

Despite all of the lurid and deliberately misleading headlines you see these days I'm not worried about actual robots running around. What I am worried about is the robotization of human thinking, the radical reduction of human creativity. 

That worries me very much.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Mars: The Final Frontier

By now a lot of you may have heard that the director of the new space recruitment film The Martian* was told of the "discovery" of liquid ice on the Red Planet while he was in preproduction for the film. 

This is par for the course; NASA has a prevailing interest in Mars and has been using Hollywood over the years as a propaganda wing to drum up support for a major colonization push (see Mission to Mars, Red Planet, Total Recall, etc). 
Seminal sci-fi director Ridley Scott - the man behind Matt Damon's The Martian - wasn't surprised by NASA's recent findings of water on Mars.
Speaking to Yahoo Movies, the Alien and Blade Runner veteran said that he knew about the discovery "months ago". 
"When I first talked to NASA, we got into all kinds of stuff," he continued. "And I said, 'So I know you've got down there [these] massive glaciers'. 
"And [the NASA representative] said, 'Yeah, that the massive white thing [on the surface of Mars] that gets covered with dust, we think that's ice'. 
"And I said, 'Wow! Does that mean there was an ocean?' Are we right now what Mars was 750 million years ago?' And they went, 'Uh, good question'. So they want to go up there and find out."
Those of us who followed the Enterprise Mission from back in the day weren't surprised by the announcement. I'm sure a lot of us- myself included- already believed the existence of liquid water there was common knowledge. It's hard to sort through all of the nonsense NASA foists on the public, but here again is yet another topic on which Hoagland and crew get bragging rights for being way ahead of the curve. From Newsweek:
Richard Hoagland, co-author of the 2007 New York Times best-seller Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA and a former NASA consultant, reported in 2000 that his research team had found present-day water on Mars in satellite imagery. 
“It's pretty unambiguous,” he said at the time. “We can see the crack in the crater wall where the liquid started to flow from, and follow a clear flow path down the slope of the crater mound. The flow patch is dark and wet, indicating it may have been only hours old when [Mars Global Surveyor] photographed it.” 
Hoagland and his colleagues have been reviewing NASA’s newly announced findings. “They’re dripping the information out to us very slowly,” says Robin Falkov, Hoagland’s longtime professional and romantic partner. “I truly wonder how fast things will go or can go.”
The water announcement got an enormous amount of preshow hype, leading me to wonder if they were going to announce something that was in fact news. But as it stands, all we get are these agonizingly slow releases of already established information, leading me to wonder if NASA is trying to bore the general public away from the topic.
Whatever else is going on down here- chaos, war, economic upheaval--there are those with the money and clout to make a Mars mission happen. One of these is PayPal-billionaire-turned-21st-Century-Howard-Hughes Elon Musk. He's been talking up Mars to anyone who'll listen. Only problem is that Mars is no place to raise your kids, in fact it's cold as hell. Musk has a plan to change all that:
Musk, a proponent of traveling to Mars, noted that the Red Planet is currently a "fixer-upper" but could be made habitable for humans. 
"First, you're going to have to live in transparent domes, but eventually, you can transform Mars into an Earth-like planet. You can warm it up," he said. 
The warming could happen quickly or slowly, he added. The quick way?"Drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles," Musk said.
Been there, done that. 
But it may finally be the economic chaos and social disorder on this planet that determines the fate of the Mars mission. Despite what some might lead you to believe, the superrich are not invulnerable. In fact they're getting increasingly nervous in the face of the economic chaos they unleashed in their quest for fiscal godhood. Many are buying large scale versions of panic rooms in corners of New Zealand and other remote areas, some are even mulling escaping into orbit when or if the shit truly hits the fan. 
One of the biggest problems they have is that the often very well-armed American middle class is feeling the ground melt away beneath its feet. This isn't a new phenomenon, it's just that all of the illusions thrown up to divert attention from this reality are losing their potency:
The mainstream is finally waking up to the future of the American Dream: downward mobility for all but the top 10% of households. A recent Atlantic article fleshed out the zeitgeist with survey data that suggests the Great Middle Class/Nouveau Proletariat is also waking up to a future of downward mobility: The Downsizing of the American Dream
People used to believe they would someday move on up in the world. Now they’re more concerned with just holding on to what they have. 
The reality is that the middle class has been reduced to the sliver just below the top 5%--if we use the standards of the prosperous 1960s as baseline. 
The downward mobility isn't just financial--it's a decline in political power, control of one's work and income-producing assets.  
The think tanks and NGOs have unleashed all of the divide-and-rule tactics used to keep people constantly fighting one another among ideological/religious/racial/ ethnic/gender/etc lines-- identity politics, political correctness, etc-- but the .01%  know all too well that one of these days some charismatic Spartacus figure will rise up from the mob and unite all of the bickering identity groups against them. It's the prerogative of History. Hence the escape hatches. But some elitists are looking for another solution…

People who bought into the utopian variety of Futurism are all wondering what the hell happened and spend a lot of time looking for scapegoats. But many sociologists will place the blame on the shoulders of "The Great Stagnation," the inevitable return to the mean after a period of technology-driven hyper-growth. 

Moderns take technological growth for granted, but the plain fact is that most of human history was essentially stagnant. 1776 AD wasn't all that fired different technology-wise than 1776 BC. In fact a lot of people would argue it was considerably less advanced in certain quarters. Philosophers throughout the Enlightenment pined for the comfort and splendor of Rome, forgetting that it was unknowable for all but the rich. But still.

Tyler Cowen is the guy who's been out front on this whole Great Stagnation business, and in his view it's responsible for the stagnation in real wages for the American middle class since the 1970s:
The main thesis is that economic growth has slowed in the United States, and in advanced economies more generally, as a result of falling rates of innovation  In Chapter one, Cowen describes the three major forms of "low-hanging fruit": the ease of cultivating free and unused land, rapid invention from 1880 to 1940 which capitalized on the scientific breakthroughs of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the large returns from sending intelligent but uneducated children to school and university. There are potentially two further minor forms: cheap fossil fuels and the strength of the American constitution. 
Cowen concludes, "You could say, 'The modern United States was built at five forms of low-hanging fruit, and at most only two of those are still with us.' Fair enough." While these produced extremely large returns, future advances will be much more incremental. He offers anecdotal and statistical illustrations for this slowdown. In the first, he compares the changes witnessed by his Grandmother with those of his own generation. In the second he cites median income statistics: the rate of growth drastically slowed from 1973 onwards.  
There are those who take the Great Stagnation even further, declaring that we are in fact at the end of the age of scientific breakthroughs. That we are seeing so much fraud and so much phony science hype exactly because Science has hit the wall and no longer has any showstoppers up its sleeve, any rabbits left in the hat:
This is the secret fear that Horgan pursues throughout this remarkable book: Have the big questions all been answered? Has all the knowledge worth pursuing become known? Will there be a final "theory of everything" that signals the end? Is the age of great discoveries behind us? Is science today reduced to mere puzzle solving and adding details to existing theories? Scientists have always set themselves apart from other scholars in the belief that they do not construct the truth, they discover it. 
Their work is not interpretation but simple revelation of what exists in the empirical universe. But science itself keeps imposing limits on its own power... As Horgan makes clear, perhaps the greatest threat to science may come from losing its special place in the hierarchy of disciplines, being reduced to something more akin to literary criticism as more and more theoreticians engage in the theory twiddling he calls "ironic science." 
It could well be that all of that wild quantum stuff that the hippies out of Stanford brought into the mainstream was in fact a false dawn. We've seen little in the way of practical application with it, so much so in fact that so more hard-headed science types dismiss it all as "woo." We saw the whole Higgs Boson thing out of CERN, but I'm not alone in nursing some serious doubts over that alleged discovery. 
I may not understand the science, but I know bullshit when I see it. And those cats have been acting like everything but a bunch of scientists who discovered the secret to all of existence. They seem to want us to forget the whole thing ever happened.
Scientific fraud isn't just for sophomores anymore either- it's gone mainstream. The past few years have seen an epidemic of retractions and peer review scandals, which is probably why you're also seeing the various propaganda efforts (I Fucking Love Science and the rest) as attempts to counter all of the bad press.
But as it happens scientists are beginning to wonder if anyone ever reads their papers, never mind tests their results. The rot has become so pronounced that Richard Horton wrote in the esteemed medical journal The Lancet:
The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get poor results."
But the problem could simply be that Science is spinning its wheels, marking time without great shores to sail to. What may be needed now is a massive public works program in which science would be applied in the field and not just trapped in the lab. Mars would provide generations of scientists all the challenges they could ever ask for, literally forever. Not only scientists but engineers and architects and adventurers as well.

Now, to be clear there is considerable skepticism in some quarters that manned missions to Mars are even possible. That the human body would simply fall apart in the void of space in the long, long weeks it took to get to the Red Planet. And if they did get there, astronauts might well wonder if they died and went to Hell. Well, those are all problems and problems that are going to need fixing.

I think all you need do is look at how the social fabric is faring around you to see how human beings fare in captivity. Because more and more every day the world seems like a nightmare we can't wake up from. And the more urbanized we become the more depressed we become. 

And like small animals in a glass box many of us also seem to cease reproducing. The wonderful sci-fi metropolises in Asia all seem to have devastatingly low birth rates. We need room to roam, frontiers. We're dying in these concrete Habitrails.

And as Stephen Hawking has said, it might be a good idea to start thinking of a backup drive for the human program. 

New Agers may see Earth as a Greek mother goddess but if that prospect doesn't scare the living shit out of them then they don't know their Greek mythology very well. 

Gaia does indeed behave according to form, periodically killing off most of her children in periodic rages. Outside Earth may be currently inhospitable but seeing as how we're overdue for a sixth mass extinction, it might not be a bad idea to try to use some of that science stuff to figure out how we're going to survive that eventuality.

I don't know which faction of the ruling class(es) is going to win out, those who profess enlightened self-interest or those who are just plain selfish. The Cold War is starting up again, only with NATO playing the Andropov-era Soviets. I doubt the USA will continue to exist within its present contours in 20 years from now so who exactly will lead the Martian charge is an open question at the moment.

Some people even believe this new cold war is simply a prelude to a hot war, the kind predicted by Roddenberry and Gibson right around this time. The question becomes if the back end of those predictions will come to pass.

POSTSCRIPT: I had my own battle with Gaia and my continuing lesson in the impotence of science in the face of the "rabid dog" of chronic pain conditions as the passing hurricane and the torrential rains and crushing barometric pressure that trailed in its wake kicked my ass in a major way for several days. I was planning to post this last week but I was almost completely out of commission until, well, today. The thing that gets me though is the mold that seems to bloom everywhere these days. I can't help but laugh at the pollen reports- a walk to the woods at end of my street will show how useless they are. The meek may inherit the Earth but it looks like the mold is challenging the terms of the will.

* That all puts this piece in a new light.