Saturday, April 25, 2009

On Mother Nature's Cure: Behold The Swine & Its Mutated Descendants...

"Seven Billion World Population in Six Years From Now. The world population is predicted to reach the seven billion mark on Oct 18, 2012. World population hit the six billion mark in June 1999, over 3.5 times the population at the beginning of the 20th century and roughly double its size in 1960. The time for the global population to grow from 5 billion to 6 billion, a dozen years, was shorter than the interval between any of the previous billions. The population today is nearly four times the number in 1900. Behind that increase is a vast gulf in birth and death rates around the world." - World Health Organization, (2006)


"The 1918 influenza virus that killed more than 20 million people worldwide originated from American pigs and is unlike any other known flu bug, say researchers. They warn that it could strike again. Using lung tissue taken at autopsy 79 years ago from an Army private killed by the flu, scientists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology made a genetic analysis of the virus and concluded it is unique, though closely related to the SWINE FLU.

“This is the first time that anyone has gotten a look at this virus which killed millions of people in one year, making it the worst infectious disease episode ever,” said Dr. Jeffery K. Taubenberger, leader of the Armed Forces Institute team. “It does not match any virus that has been found since.”

Although the disease that caused the worldwide epidemic was called. Spanish Flu, “the virus apparently is a mutation that evolved in American pigs and was spread around the globe by U.S. troops mobilized for World War I,” said Taubenberger.

The Army private whose tissue was analyzed contracted the flu at Fort Jackson, S. C. For that reason, Taubenberger and his colleagues suggest in the journal Science that the virus be known as Influenza A/South Carolina. Army doctors in 1918 conducted autopsies on some of the 43,000 servicemen killed by the flu and preserved some specimens in formaldehyde and wax. Taubenberger said his team sorted through 30 specimens before finding enough virus in the private's lung tissue to partially sequence the genes for hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, two key proteins in flu virus.

“The hemagglutinin gene matches closest to swine influenza viruses, showing that this virus came into humans from pigs, “said Taubenberger. The finding supports a widespread theory that flu viruses from swine are the most virulent for humans. Most experts believe that flu viruses reside harmlessly in birds, where they are genetically stable. Occasionally, a virus from birds will infect pigs. "The swine immune system attacks the virus, forcing it to change genetically to survive. The result is a new virus. When this new bug is spread to humans, it can be devastating."


Two other flu viruses spread all over the world since 1918 - Asian flu in 1957 and the Hong Kong flu in 1968 - and both mutated in pigs.

Robert Webster, a virologist and flu specialist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, said the study is important because “eventually we will have another influenza pandemic.'' Knowing what the 1918 virus was like may help researchers learn why it was so deadly and virulent, he said. “Now we are in a better position to combat it,'' he said. ``If it comes back, we can design a vaccine based on that genetic sequence.''

Webster said the study supports the idea that health authorities should monitor viruses in pigs worldwide to develop an early-warning system of mutating flu bugs that could plague humans. Currently, flu infections are monitored in humans only, he said, and flu vaccines are redesigned annually to be effective against the most common strain of the virus found in humans.

Taubenberger said few people appreciate just how devastating the 1918 flu pandemic was. "It killed 21 million people worldwide in less than a year, Some analysts suggest it could have been 40 to 50 million.'' In the United States, about a quarter of the population had the flu and 2 percent to 3 percent died - some 700,000 people. The Asian flu and Hong Kong flu pandemics were much milder and had a death rate of less than 0.1 percent.

Taubenberger said many of the thousands of young men crammed onto World War I troop ships were just developing the flu as they left the United States. "After a week's crossing, the ships would arrive in France with hundreds of sick servicemen. Many would die. There were horrible casualties on those troop ships.''

It's kind of counter-intuitive sometimes, that an agent that -- an infectious agent that is very good at killing its host is actually not a very well adapted infectious agent. That is, that bacteria that live on your skin or inside your colon are extremely adapted to living in humans. They don't cause disease. And so they have a nice relationship. They have set up shop and they live happily on your skin and you don't do anything about it, and occasionally there's even a mutually beneficial relationship that occurs. For example, some of the vitamin in your colon make a vitamin, vitamin K that we need.

In the case of bacteria or viruses that are not so well adapted, if they kill their host very quickly, they actually may limit their own ability to spread to other people. That is, if they kill people so quickly that they don't have time to replicate, they're kind of hurting their own chances of replication.

In this case, it was something in between. It was a virus that certainly killed a lot of people, but realistically only killed a small percentage, 2 to 5 percent of the people that were infected. So it was clearly a really good virus to infect humans. It spread amazingly well from person to person and spread all over the world. But probably in about a year's time, from 1918-19, practically every person on earth was at least exposed to this virus. So everyone formed an immune response against the virus in one degree or another. So that would put enormous pressure on the virus to mutate, to change its coat so that it could continue to infect humans.

Possibly what happened was that whatever caused this virus to be so unbelievably virulent changed when the virus mutated and the viruses that continued to circulate both in humans and in pigs after 1918 are probably actually mutated descendants of the virus but not the 1918 virus itself.

- Associated Press (Researchers Solve Genetic Puzzle of 1918 Influenza Pandemic,” 3.21.1997. Image: "Excess Mortality in US Cities During Influenza Epidemic": Dying Population Chart, 1919).

VIOLETPLANET SAYS: Breeding without limitation = Swine.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Conscience Of Humanity: And Justice For All....

"Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice." -Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1970).

Image: -Mr. Fish ("Doing Nothing,", 4.19.2009).

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Torture Party: A Loaded Weapon Ready For Resurrection...

There were no professional interrogators involved in the creation of the CIA’s torture program.

It's bad enough that we have war criminals running amok. Having one of them (Jay Bybee )sitting on one of the highest courts in the land (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ) is simply psychotic.

"The evidence is now undeniable. President Barack Obama is flouting his unflagging constitutional obligation enshrined in Article II, Section 3 to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” He is also reneging on his signature campaign promise to restore the rule of law, transparency, and accountability to the White House. He is displaying the psychology of an arrogant Empire as opposed to a modest Republic in continuing and escalating the Bush-Cheney duumvirate’s global and perpetual war against international terrorism heedless of foreign sovereignties or the lives of civilians.

Even more disappointing, Obama has proven a political coward dangerous to the Republic. Before April 16, he had decided against any criminal investigation of the Bush-Cheney duumvirate or their inner circles for their boasted complicity in torture, i.e., waterboarding, which Attorney General Eric Holder has declared is torture. He has similarly declined investigations of extraordinary renditions that have occasioned, among other things, the indictments and in absentia trials of 26 CIA operatives in Milan, Italy, for the kidnapping and torture of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar.

Obama asserted: “Enlisting our values [like the rule of law or transparency] in the protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals [like the rule of law or government in the sunshine]… I believe strongly in transparency and accountability… The United States is a nation of laws.”

Obama has set a precedent whitewashing White House lawlessness in the name of national security that will lie around like a loaded weapon ready for resurrection by any Commander-in-Chief eager to appear “tough on terrorism” and to exploit popular fear."

- Bruce Fein, (Excerpt: "How Obama Excused Torture," The Daily Beast, 4-17-09. Image: -James Akin, Implements Of Torture, Used in Pennsylvania, Library of Congress, 1835).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Women: Vicious Emissaries Of Hell...Sold, Pawned & Prostituted...

"A twitch of a woman's lip causes the fall of a nation. On the one hand she is sickeningly, destructively powerful. One the other hand she is a chattel, a beast, a commodity, she and her sisters are "human incubators."

In the Assyrian empire, which flourished from 1300 BCE, she could be impaled for aborting the child she is carrying. For lesser offenses she could be beaten or disfigured behind closed doors, but if her master wanted to mutilate her permanently—cut off her ears or nose, or tear out her breasts—he had to do it in public; though whether for the sake of example or for the general enjoyment. She could be punished at various times and places for going veiled, or not going veiled. She could be sold, pawned, or prostituted.

In Aristotle's thought, women were "deformed" men. In feudal Japan they were barred from climbing Mount Fuji because they would pollute it, and "unhappily married women were expected to commit suicide." A Buddhist text describes woman as the "emissary of hell." Her oppression is universal, her story cyclical; construed less as a human being than as an animal or force of nature, her place is outside history.

Even when historical records begin, most women have no names. At best they are just "wife of" or "daughter of" some illustrious man. A few stand out—they are famous for being almost erased, like Sappho, or startlingly wicked, like Messalina, or they perpetrate shocking violence on a man, like Jael killing Sisera by putting a nail through his head; or like Ruth the Moabite, they offer a pattern of exemplary gentleness, approved by men. If somehow a woman does manage to impose herself on the culture, her achievements will be appropriated by men or dismissed as freakish, a problem expressed pithily in the seventeenth century by Anne Bradstreet, the New England Puritan poet:

If what I do prove well,
it won't advance,

They'l say its stoln,
or else it was by chance.

In the nineteenth century, women's skulls were measured and their brains were weighed, and found wanting. For the criminologists Lombroso and Ferrero, women were big, vicious children. Through much of recorded history they have been slaves, though in some eras "rhetoric granted them the status of angels." Arguing for women's moral superiority can be a way of keeping them in their place—a way of removing them from the civil space, where power corrupts, to the supposed purity of the private sphere.

The home, French observes, is seen as women's natural territory, but is also "the primary site of female prosecution," the place where she is most unsafe. Sometimes the only power a woman has is to kill herself. In east African traditional societies women committed "cooking pot suicide," poisoning themselves and taking their children with them. Sometimes a woman is more powerful dead than alive. In the China of the Han dynasty, if an unhappy wife killed herself wearing her red bridal dress, she would haunt the husband's family and they would have to move house.

Men who read it might be put off by the depiction of the collective male as brutal psychopath, or puzzled by French's idea that men should "take responsibility for what their sex has done." (How responsible can you be for Sumerian monarchs, Egyptian pharaohs, or Napoleon Bonaparte?)

"Control over a woman is the only form of dominance most men possess, for most men are merely subjects of more powerful men,"
but she also takes gender oppression to be the fundamental oppression, and "primary, whatever the agenda of a culture."

...Mothering was taken to be innate, an instinctive activity. In cases where mothers violate this instinct, they can be punished and their children taken away. Once the link between coitus and childbirth was understood, men began to regard children as their property. All patri-lineal societies stand condemned: "Naming children for fathers is intrinsically an act of force: it reverses natural mother-right." Sometime before the development of writing, the shift took place from matrilineal to patri-lineal societies, then to patriarchy. The war against women began, the long battle to control their sexuality, which necessitates control of their bodies and minds.

...The European appropriation of North America, highlighting Jesuit testimony to the gentle and egalitarian societies of Native Americans: "Indians never imagined rape until they saw Europeans perform it." If true, this challenges the assumptions to which the rest of her project leads us—assumptions not just about men and women, but about how the strong exert power over the weak. Was Abigail Adams wrong when she said: "Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.... That your sex is naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute"? It was the chosen task of the Church to suppress egalitarianism in Native American society and to teach men to be brutal to their women. The Catholic Church is one of the most effective misogyny machines ever devised.

The 19th Century was "the lowest point in women's history" but also "the most cheering period in female history, the moment the tide began to turn." In the rapidly industrializing West, women's capacities are proclaimed to be exactly what economic need requires them to be at any particular time. Oppression puts on a mask of concern. "The rhetoric of achieved revolution" conceals vast sexual and racial inequalities. Woman is no longer cast as diabolically sexy; now she is asexual, and responsible for regulating men's desire. In her, desire is abnormal; uterine function dominates mental function; too much thinking is bad for reproductive health; and "all exclusively female physical functions were considered inherently pathological."

Feminism is often misunderstood; people think it is about putting women where men are now, but "the ultimate goal of feminism is to change society." The design is to create a cooperative world, a task that will not be achieved in a few generations; to do it we will have to free ourselves from the grip of history, from the assumptions of the societies in which we have grown up. The task is to convince the world that "sexism brings men...emotional and biological loss. Quoting a Buddhist text: Her face resembles that of a saint; her heart is like that of a demon...A woman has no home in the three worlds." She does not exist in the past, present, or future. Her battle is just to become visible; to be accorded full humanity, not to be regarded as some transient natural phenomenon, or an animal created for male use.

-Hilary Mantel (Excerpt: "The War Against Women," The New York Review of Books, 4.30.2009. Image: "The Killers", Starring Ronald Reagan & Angie Dickinson, directed by Donald Siegel, 1964).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rich White Men & The Bohemian Grove: "The Most Faggy Goddamned Thing..."

“Is this really what I want to be doing? Sneaking into the exclusive Bohemian Grove, on the Saturday night when roughly 2,500 of America’s richest, mostly right-wing Republicans are kicking off their annual July “encampment”? The members of the San Francisco–based Bohemian Club are mostly all here, partying boisterously in this primeval stand of gargantuan redwoods 75 miles north of the city, or will be during the next 16 days.

Over the years all the usual suspects have made appearances: Rumsfeld, Kissinger, two former C.I.A. directors (including Papa Bush), the masters of war and the oligarchs, the Bechtels and the Basses, the board members of top military contractors—such as Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and the Carlyle Group—Rockefellers, Morgans, captains of industry and C.E.O.’s across the spectrum of American capitalism. The interlocking corporate web—cemented by prep-school, college, and golf-club affiliations, blood, marriage, and mutual self-interest—that makes up the American ruling class. Many of the guys, in other words, who have been running the country into the ground and ripping us off for decades.

The summer high jinks begin, as they have for more than 100 years, with a macabre, hokey ceremony—with Druidic, Masonic, Ku Klux Klan, and Aryan forest-worship overtones—called the Cremation of Care, which is starting in 40 minutes down by the lake. I squeeze through a hole in a chain-link fence onto the 2,700-acre property and follow an old overgrown railroad bed. To my left, below a dense tangle of California bay laurel, big-leaf maple, and understory shrubs, the muddy-green Russian River is sliding by. I didn’t see any posting on that side of the property, but I know I am trespassing.

While many in the world see this gathering of the military-industrial high command as the bad guys—a sort of rogue state operating outside the constraints of democratic institutions, a favorite watering hole for what Peter Phillips, a Sonoma State University sociologist who has published extensively on the Bohemian Club, calls “the global dominance group”—this is not how the members imagine themselves. They see themselves as the moral underpinnings of America’s greatness, whose central tenets are the Protestant work ethic: work hard and prosper and you’ll get into that great club in the sky. The Bohemian Club is like the Opus Dei of the Protestant American establishment. Very few Jews have made it in, and even fewer blacks.

The encampment is more of a drunken blowout and an opportunity for bonding than a serious roundtable like Davos, although there is a series of lakeside talks that are enlightening about what the government has up its sleeve for the upcoming year. Kissinger is a perennial favorite. His speech nine years ago, “Do We Need a Foreign Policy?,” was music to the ears of the Bush administration. In 1942, Edward Teller is said to have planned the Manhattan Project here. There’s a lot of dark history in this forest retreat. It’s rumored that during the presidency of Gerald Ford one Grove employee was a charming, impeccably mannered ex-Nazi, who used to drive around in a jeep that had the decal—a palm tree with a swastika on it—of Rommel’s Africa campaign, which he had served in. Ford made him take it off.

The majority of activities take place in the 109-acre main grove, in about 120 separate rustic camps nestled under the biggest, most ancient redwoods on the property. Each member is assigned to a camp. The fanciest one is Mandalay. Then Hill Billies. Other camps have names like Derelicts, Five Easy Pieces, Poison Oak, Rattlers. Herbert Hoover, an enthusiastic Grover, called it “the greatest men’s party on earth.” Aside from the prostitutes who are rumored to be visited by randy Grovers at local bars and motels, it’s a guys-only affair, and, historically, there’s always been talk of buggery in the dappled shadows under the redwoods, particularly at Highlanders, perhaps simply because members wear kilts and nothing underneath. Richard Nixon (a member of Cave Man camp), whose 1967 lakeside talk kicked off his successful run for the presidency, was caught on one of his Oval Office tapes describing the Grove as “the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine.”

Another hallmark of the encampment is the promiscuous micturition—guys standing up to the redwoods and relieving themselves everywhere you look. Maybe they’re trying to symbolically assert their primacy over nature. But the amount of drinking that goes on, plus the fact that many members are elderly and likely have prostate problems and can’t make it back to their camp fast enough, also plays a role in what has become, if not a formal ritual, a group-reinforcing collective activity. It must be said, to be fair to the old Wasp establishment, that the club has a rich history full of decent members with refined social graces. Mark Twain and the acerbic misanthrope Ambrose Bierce were early members. So was the socialist Jack London, who wrote a clairvoyant novel called "Before Adam", about a time when humanity was ruled by a small group of idiots who were destroying the world.”

- Alex Shoumatoff, (Excerpt: "Bohemian Tragedy," Vanity Fair Magazine, 5. 2009. Image: Bohemian Grove Dancer, 1927).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe: All Created Thoughts Are Thoughts Of God...


Mesmerism |ˈmezməˌrizəm|
Function: noun
Etymology: the therapeutic system of Franz Anton Mesmer (1784)
1: hypnotic induction held to involve animal magnetism; broadly: hypnotism
2: hypnotic appeal
-Merriam-Webster Dictionary


"... I had been long in the habit of mesmerizing the person in question, (Mr. Vankirk,) and the usual acute susceptibility and exaltation of the mesmeric perception had supervened. For many months he had been laboring under confirmed phthisis, the more distressing effects of which had been relieved by my manipulations; and on the night of Wednesday, the fifteenth instant, I was summoned to his bedside.

The invalid was suffering with acute pain in the region of the heart, and breathed with great difficulty, having all the ordinary symptoms of asthma... As I entered his room he greeted me with a cheerful smile, and although evidently in much bodily pain, appeared to be, mentally, quite at ease. I consented of course to make this experiment. A few passes threw Mr. Vankirk into the mesmeric sleep. His breathing became immediately more easy, and he seemed to suffer no physical uneasiness. The following conversation then ensued:

Poe: Are you asleep ?

Vankirk: Yes -- no I would rather sleep more soundly.

P. [After a few more passes.] Do you sleep now ?

V. Yes.

P. How do you think your present illness will result ?

V. [After a long hesitation and speaking as if with effort.] I must die.

P. Does the idea of death afflict you

V. [Very quickly.] No - no !

P. Are you pleased with the prospect ?

V. If I were awake I should like to die, but now it is no matter. The mesmeric condition is so near death as to content me.

P. I wish you would explain yourself, Mr. Vankirk.

V. I am willing to do so, but it requires more effort than I feel able to make. You do not question me properly.

P. What then shall I ask ?

V. You must begin at the beginning.

P. The beginning ! but where is the beginning ?

V. You know that the beginning is GOD. [This was said in a low, fluctuating tone, and with every sign of the most profound veneration.]

P. What then is God ?

V. [Hesitating for many minutes.] I cannot tell.

P. Is not God spirit ?

V. While I was awake I knew what you meant by "spirit," but now it seems only a word -- such for instance as truth, beauty -- a quality, I mean.

P. Is not God immaterial ?

V. There is no immateriality -- it is a mere word. That which is not matter, is not at all -- unless qualities are things.

P. Is God, then, material ?

V. No. [This reply startled me very much.]

P. What then is he?

V. [After a long pause, and mutteringly.] I see -- but it is a thing difficult to tell. [Another long pause.] He is not spirit, for he exists. Nor is he matter, as you understand it. But there are gradations of matter of which man knows nothing; the grosser impelling the finer, the finer pervading the grosser. The atmosphere, for example, impels the electric principle, while the electric principle permeates the atmosphere. These gradations of matter increase in rarity or fineness, until we arrive at a matter unparticled -- without particles -- indivisible -- one and here the law of impulsion and permeation is modified. The ultimate, or unparticled matter, not only permeates all things but impels all things -- and thus is all things within itself. This matter is God. What men attempt to embody in the word "thought," is this matter in motion.

P. The metaphysicians maintain that all action is reducible to motion and thinking, and that the latter is the origin of the former.

V. Yes; and I now see the confusion of idea. Motion is the action of mind -- not of thinking. The unparticled matter, or God, in quiescence, is (as nearly as we can conceive it) what men call mind. And the power of self-movement (equivalent in effect to human volition) is, in the unparticled matter, the result of its unity and omniprevalence; how I know not, and now clearly see that I shall never know. But the unparticled matter, set in motion by a law, or quality, existing within itself, is thinking.

P. Can you give me no more precise idea of what you term the unparticled matter ?

V. The matters of which man is cognizant, escape the senses in gradation. We have, for example, a metal, a piece of wood, a drop of water, the atmosphere, a gas, caloric, electricity, the luminiferous ether. Now we call all these things matter, and embrace all matter in one general definition; but in spite of this, there can be no two ideas more essentially distinct than that which we attach to a metal, and that which we attach to the luminiferous ether. When we reach the latter, we feel an almost irresistible inclination to class it with spirit, or with nihility. The only consideration which restrains us is our conception of its atomic constitution; and here, even, we have to seek aid from our notion of an atom, as something possessing in infinite minuteness, solidity, palpability, weight. Destroy the idea of the atomic constitution and we should no longer be able to regard the ether as an entity, or at least as matter. For want of a better word we might term it spirit.

Take, now, a step beyond the luminiferous ether -- conceive a matter as much more rare than the ether, as this ether is more rare than the metal, and we arrive at once (in spite of all the school dogmas) at a unique mass -- an unparticled matter. For although we may admit infinite littleness in the atoms themselves, the infinitude of littleness in the spaces between them is an absurdity. There will be a point -- there will be a degree of rarity, at which, if the atoms are sufficiently numerous, the interspaces must vanish, and the mass absolutely coalesce. But the consideration of the atomic constitution being now taken away, the nature of the mass inevitably glides into what we conceive of spirit. It is clear, however, that it is as fully matter as before. The truth is, it is impossible to conceive spirit, since it is impossible to imagine what is not. When we flatter ourselves that we have formed its conception, we have merely deceived our understanding by the consideration of infinitely rarified matter.

P. You assert, then, that the unparticled matter, in motion, is thought ?

V. In general, this motion is the universal thought of the universal mind. This thought creates. All created things are but the thoughts of God.

P. You say, "in general."

V. Yes. The universal mind is God. For new individualities, matter is necessary.

P. But you now speak of "mind" and "matter" as do the metaphysicians.

V. Yes -- to avoid confusion. When I say "mind," I mean the unparticled or ultimate matter; by "matter," I intend all else.

P. You were saying that "for new individualities matter is necessary."

V. Yes; for mind, existing unincorporate, is merely God. To create individual, thinking beings, it was necessary to incarnate portions of the divine mind. Thus man is individualized. Divested of corporate investiture, he were God. Now, the particular motion of the incarnated portions of the unparticled matter is the thought of man ; as the motion of the whole is that of God.

P. You say that divested of the body man will be God ?

V. And this is true. Man thus divested would be God -- would be unindividualized. But he can never be thus divested -- at least never will be -- else we must imagine an action of God returning upon itself -- a purposeless and futile action. Man is a creature. Creatures are thoughts of God. It is the nature of thought to be irrevocable.

P. I do not comprehend. You say that man will never put off the body ?

V. I say that he will never be bodiless.

P. Explain.

V. There are two bodies -- the rudimental and the complete; corresponding with the two conditions of the worm and the butterfly. What we call "death," is but the painful metamorphosis. Our present incarnation is progressive, preparatory, temporary. Our future is perfected, ultimate, immortal. The ultimate life is the full design.

P. You have often said that the mesmeric state very nearly resembles death. How is this ?

V. When I say that it resembles death, I mean that it resembles the ultimate life; for when I am entranced the senses of my rudimental life are in abeyance, and I perceive external things directly, without organs, through a medium which I shall employ in the ultimate, unorganized life.

P. Unorganized?

V. Yes; organs are contrivances by which the individual is brought into sensible relation with particular classes and forms of matter, to the exclusion of other classes and forms. The organs of man are adapted to his rudimental condition, and to that only; his ultimate condition, being unorganized, is of unlimited comprehension in all points but one - the nature of the volition of God -- that is to say, the motion of the unparticled matter. You will have a distinct idea of the ultimate body by conceiving it to be entire brain. This it is not; but a conception of this nature will bring you near a comprehension of what it is. A luminous body imparts vibration to the luminiferous ether. The vibrations generate similar ones within the retina; these again communicate similar ones to the optic nerve. The nerve conveys similar ones to the brain; the brain, also, similar ones to the unparticled matter which permeates it. The motion of this latter is thought, of which perception is the first undulation. This is the mode by which the mind of the rudimental life communicates with the external world; and this external world is, to the rudimental life, limited, through the idiosyncrasy of its organs.

But in the ultimate, unorganized life, the external world reaches the whole body, (which is of a substance having affinity to brain, as I have said,) with no other intervention than that of an infinitely rarer ether than even the luminiferous; and to this ether -- in unison with it -- the whole body vibrates, setting in motion the unparticled matter which permeates it. It is to the absence of idiosyncratic organs, therefore, that we must attribute the nearly unlimited perception of the ultimate life. To rudimental beings, organs are the cages necessary to confine them until fledged.

P. You speak of rudimental "beings." Are there other rudimental thinking beings than man ?

V. The multitudinous conglomeration of rare matter into nebulæ, planets, suns, and other bodies which are neither nebulæ, suns, nor planets, is for the sole purpose of supplying pabulum for the idiosyncrasy of the organs of an infinity of rudimental beings. But for the necessity of the rudimental, prior to the ultimate life, there would have been no bodies such as these. Each of these is tenanted by a distinct variety of organic, rudimental, thinking creatures. In all, the organs vary with the features of the place tenanted. At death, or metamorphosis, these creatures, enjoying the ultimate life -- immortality -- and cognizant of all secrets but the one, act all things and pass everywhere by mere volition: -- indwelling, not the stars, which to us seem the sole palpabilities, and for the accommodation of which we blindly deem space created -- but that SPACE itself -- that infinity of which the truly substantive vastness swallows up the star-shadows -- blotting them out as non-entities from the perception of the angels.

P. You say that "but for the necessity of the rudimental life" there would have been no stars. But why this necessity ?

V. In the inorganic life, as well as in the inorganic matter generally, there is nothing to impede the action of one simple unique law -- the Divine Volition. With the view of producing impediment, the organic life and matter, (complex, substantial, and law-encumbered,) were contrived.

P. But again -- why need this impediment have been produced ?

V. The result of law inviolate is perfection -- right -- negative happiness. The result of law violate is imperfection, wrong, positive pain. Through the impediments afforded by the number, complexity, and substantiality of the laws of organic life and matter, the violation of law is rendered, to a certain extent, practicable. Thus pain, which in the inorganic life is impossible, is possible in the organic.

P. But to what good end is pain thus rendered possible ?

V. All things are either good or bad by comparison. A sufficient analysis will show that pleasure, in all cases, is but the contrast of pain. Positive pleasure is a mere idea. To be happy at any one point we must have suffered at the same. Never to suffer would have been never to have been blessed. But it has been shown that, in the inorganic life, pain cannot be thus the necessity for the organic. The pain of the primitive life of Earth, is the sole basis of the bliss of the ultimate life in Heaven.

P. Still, there is one of your expressions which I find it impossible to comprehend -- "the truly substantive vastness of infinity."

V. This, probably, is because you have no sufficiently generic conception of the term "substance" itself. We must not regard it as a quality, but as a sentiment: -- it is the perception, in thinking beings, of the adaptation of matter to their organization. There are many things on the Earth, which would be nihility to the inhabitants of Venus -- many things visible and tangible in Venus, which we could not be brought to appreciate as existing at all. But to the inorganic beings -- to the angels -- the whole of the unparticled matter is substance, that is to say, the whole of what we term "space" is to them the truest substantiality; -- the stars, meantime, through what we consider their materiality, escaping the angelic sense, just in proportion as the unparticled matter, through what we consider its immateriality, eludes the organic.

As the sleep-waker pronounced these latter words, in a feeble tone, I observed on his countenance a singular expression, which somewhat alarmed me, and induced me to awake him at once. No sooner had I done this, than, with a bright smile irradiating all his features, he fell back upon his pillow and expired. I noticed that in less than a minute afterward his corpse had all the stern rigidity of stone. His brow was of the coldness of ice. Thus, ordinarily, should it have appeared, only after long pressure from Azrael's hand. Had the sleep-waker, indeed, during the latter portion of his discourse, been addressing me from out the region of the shadows?

-Edgar Allan Poe, (Excerpt: "Mesmeric Revelation", 1850. Image:- Jonathon Rosen, Dose Magazine, Canada, "Can the Mind heal the Body? Mesmerism in Action," 2005).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Philip K. Dick: Fake Realities & Authentic Humans...

"It was always my hope, in writing novels and stories which asked the question "What is reality?", to someday get an answer. A college student in Canada once asked me to define reality for her. She wanted a one-sentence answer. I thought about it and finally said, "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

But the problem is a real one, not a mere intellectual game. Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups—and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into the heads of the reader, the viewer, the listener. So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind...

Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly. What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new. Of course, I would say this, because I live near Disneyland, and they are always adding new rides and destroying old ones. Disneyland is an evolving organism. For years they had the Lincoln Simulacrum, like Lincoln himself, was only a temporary form which matter and energy take and then lose. The same is true of each of us, like it or not.

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides taught that the only things that are real are things which never change... and the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus taught that everything changes. If you superimpose their two views, you get this result: NOTHING IS REAL. As soon as you begin to ask what is ultimately real, you right away begin talk nonsense.

But I consider that the matter of defining what is real—that is a serious topic, even a vital topic. And in there somewhere is the other topic, the definition of the authentic human. Because the bombardment of pseudo-realities begins to produce inauthentic humans very quickly, spurious humans—as fake as the data pressing at them from all sides. My two topics are really one topic; they unite at this point. Fake realities will create fake humans. Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves. So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans. It is just a very large version of Disneyland. You can have the Pirate Ride or the Lincoln Simulacrum or Mr. Toad's Wild Ride—you can have all of them, but none is true.

In Plato's Timaeus, God does not create the universe, as does the Christian God; He simply finds it one day. It is in a state of total chaos. God sets to work to transform the chaos into order. That idea appeals to me, and I have adapted it to fit my own intellectual needs: What if our universe started out as not quite real, a sort of illusion, as the Hindu religion teaches, and God, out of love and kindness for us, is slowly transmuting it, slowly and secretly, into something real? We would not be aware of this transformation, since we were not aware that our world was an illusion in the first place. This technically is a Gnostic idea.

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. George Orwell made this clear in his novel 1984. But another way to control the minds of people is to control their perceptions. If you can get them to see the world as you do, they will think as you do. Comprehension follows perception. How do you get them to see the reality you see? After all, it is only one reality out of many. Images are a basic constituent: pictures. This is why the power of TV to influence young minds is so staggeringly vast. Words and pictures are synchronized. The possibility of total control of the viewer exists, especially the young viewer. TV viewing is a kind of sleep-learning. An EEG of a person watching TV shows that after about half an hour the brain decides that nothing is happening, and it goes into a hypnoidal twilight state, emitting alpha waves...

Recent experiments indicate that much of what we see on the TV screen is received on a subliminal basis. We only imagine that we consciously see what is there. The bulk of the messages elude our attention; literally, after a few hours of TV watching, we do not know what we have seen. Our memories are spurious, like our memories of dreams; the blank are filled in retrospectively. And falsified. We have participated unknowingly in the creation of a spurious reality, and then we have obligingly fed it to ourselves.

We have colluded in our own doom.

The arguments of Parmenides seemed to show that "all reality must indeed be a mind," Hussey writes," or an object of thought in a mind." Regarding Heraclitus specifically, he says, "In Heraclitus it is difficult to tell how far the designs in God's mind are distinguished from the execution in the world, or indeed how far God's mind is distinguished from the world." The further leap by Anaxagoras has always fascinated me. Anaxagoras had been driven to a theory of the micro-structure of matter which made it, to some extent, mysterious to human reason. Anaxagoras believed that everything was determined by Mind. These were not childish thinkers, nor primitives. They debated serious issues and studied one another's views with deft insight. It was not until the time of Aristotle that their views got reduced to what we can neatly—but wrongly—classify as crude.

The summation of much pre-Socratic theology and philosophy can be stated as follows: The kosmos is not as it appears to be, and what it probably is, at its deepest level, is exactly that which the human being is at his deepest level—call it mind or soul, it is something unitary which lives and thinks, and only appears to be plural and material. Much of this view reaches us through the Logos doctrine regarding Christ. The Logos was both that which thought, and the thing which it thought: thinker and thought together. The universe, then, is thinker and thought, and since we are part of it, we as humans are, in the final analysis, thoughts of and thinkers of those thoughts.

The authentic human being is one of us who instinctively knows what he should not do, and, in addition, he will balk at doing it. He will refuse to do it, even if this brings down dread consequences to him and to those whom he loves. This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance. Their deeds may be small, and almost always unnoticed, unmarked by history. Their names are not remembered, nor did these authentic humans expect their names to be remembered. I see their authenticity in an odd way: not in their willingness to perform great heroic deeds but in their quiet refusals. In essence, they cannot be compelled to be what they are not.

The power of spurious realities battering at us today—these deliberately manufactured fakes never penetrate to the heart of true human beings. I watch the children watching TV and at first I am afraid of what they are being taught, and then I realize, They can't be corrupted or destroyed. They watch, they listen, they understand, and, then, where and when it is necessary, they reject. There is something enormously powerful in a child's ability to withstand the fraudulent. A child has the clearest eye, the steadiest hand. The hucksters, the promoters, are appealing for the allegiance of these small people in vain. True, the cereal companies may be able to market huge quantities of junk breakfasts; the hamburger and hot dog chains may sell endless numbers of unreal fast-food items to the children, but the deep heart beats firmly, unreached and unreasoned with. A child of today can detect a lie quicker than the wisest adult of two decades ago.

Time is speeding up. And to what end? Maybe we were told that two thousand years ago. Or maybe it wasn't really that long ago; maybe it is a delusion that so much time has passed. Maybe it was a week ago, or even earlier today. Perhaps time is not only speeding up; perhaps, in addition, it is going to end. And if it does, the rides at Disneyland are never going to be the same again. Because when time ends, the birds and hippos and lions and deer at Disneyland will no longer be simulations, and, for the first time, a real bird will sing."

-Philip K. Dick (Excerpt: "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later,"1978. Image: Robert Pepper, Cover Illustration, 1983).