June 11. Something I've noticed: Our science is timid, refusing to say anything, especially anything unusual, without overwhelming proof. At the same time, our technology is bold, refusing to hold back on anything. Our science is our thinking and our technology is our doing, and our thinking is tightly regulated while our doing is propelled and amplified. It should be the other way around.
Or here's another angle: We are terrified of internal change, and we are addicted to external change. We would rather devote many hours and dollars to killing dandelions, than make the internal change of thinking dandelions are good. We would rather spend our lives seeking wealth and status, than make the internal change of no longer valuing wealth and status.
June 13. Thanks Patricia for researching the answer to a question that has bothered me for years. Most of you know the word widdershins, which pagans use for "counter-clockwise." Where is the corresponding word for "clockwise"? Does it even exist? It does. The word is deasil, pronounced "DEE-sil" or "DEE-shil."
June 20. Roswell has been solved! And to some extent, if this guy is right, UFO's have been solved. Here's a link to the Wayback Machine archive of a 54 page PDF file of an article in the UFO Review about a new book, Body Snatchers in the Desert. I just spent all afternoon reading most of it, and I'll summarize: The US military was doing secret experiments with captured Japanese, many of which were continuations of secret Japanese programs, including some very creepy ones. One of the more benign involved balloons that would drop gliders with very small Japanese pilots. One of these crashed, coincidentally right after the Kenneth Arnold sighting touched off the "flying saucer" craze, so one branch of the military thought they had found a real crashed saucer, while another branch was trying to cover up the secret experiments.
Then they figured out that the popular idea of spaceships from other planets and a government cover-up was a great way to throw people off the scent of real secret programs, so over many years they fed fake stories to UFO researchers, including the whole MJ-12 thing. So now it appears that the most popular ongoing story about the UFO phenomenon -- that they're craft from other planets and the government knows about it -- has been fabricated and stage-managed by the government!
So what are UFO's? The planet Venus? Well, some of them are secret military craft, but most of them remain unexplained. The author of this book comes around to what John Keel and Jacques Vallee have been saying for decades, that they're probably native to this planet, and something we can't understand from our present view of reality, so we call it "occult" or "paranormal" or "extradimensional." He even goes off on a fascinating speculation that they are tulpas, projected thought forms that take on independent awareness and existence. Jeremy has conveniently excerpted that part over on fantastic planet.
June 28. A reader writes:
I'm currently a systems analyst in a large, shitty public company. Yesterday, a company-contracted florist started placing plants on top of the aisles that run along our rat hole cubicles. We were told by this florist that the plants were "corporate plants" and that we were to take our plants down from these same places. What's worse: this contracted florist is responsible for "maintaining" these plants. Instead of allowing its employees to personalize (albeit, weakly) their work space, the company prefers to hire a "plant contractor."
This is exactly like the invention of agriculture: instead of letting the earth grow and tend its own plants and animals, we removed them and installed monocultures of our plants and animals, which we then had to maintain at great expense.
Update: Five months later, the same reader tells me, "I just noticed today that these corporate plants are dead."
July 13. Mind-blowing post by Tim on Representation and Reality. Basically, he suggests that by "reality" we mean consensus, and the way we build consensus is through a standardized system of symbols that replace experience... so our very concept of "real" is grounded in lies. For a more thorough critique of language, check out John Zerzan's Language: Origin and Meaning.
July 16. Rant-master Mark Morford covers the crash of civilization, and gets it wrong:
The red states will finally rule the world. They will survive. They know how. They can eat squirrel brains. They can pickle things, including various animal parts. They have been known to marry each other. They can subsist on bad beer and cow pies and stuff they find growing in the rusty tailpipes of old farm equipment. They know how to perform home surgery using only a rusty butter knife and bathroom caulk. They eat mice.
Richard Louv explains, in his book Last Child in the Woods, that American rural people are even more alienated from nature than urban people:
I did interviews in more rural areas and suburban areas, like the one I grew up in outside Kansas City, which still has a lot of nature. I went in there thinking, Well, certainly if you have woods next to you, kids will be out in them. But that simply wasn't true. The parents and the kids there were saying the same things as kids in more urban areas. In fact, the amount of nature you have in New York City is actually better than some of the newer suburbs.
A major study came out a few months ago that said that the rate of obesity in children is growing faster in rural areas than it is in cities and suburbs. Again, it seems counterintuitive. But it's not so counterintuitive when you think about the fact that the family farm is fairly nonexistent now. Kids in rural areas are playing the same video games, watching the same television, and they're on longer car rides.
August 3. Excerpt from a 1998 book about the Rwanda genocide, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families by Philip Gourevitch.
In 1994, Rwanda was regarded in much of the rest of the world as the exemplary instance of the chaos and anarchy associated with collapsed states. In fact, the genocide was the product of order, authoritarianism, decades of modern political theorizing and indoctrination, and one of the most meticulously administered states in history. And strange as it may sound, the ideology -- or what Rwandans call "the logic" -- of genocide was promoted as a way not to create suffering but to alleviate it. The specter of an absolute menace that requires absolute eradication binds leader and people in a hermetic utopian embrace.
August 8. I've spent the last week reading The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz, a Polish cavalry officer who was captured by the Soviets in 1939, tortured, sentenced to 25 years labor in Siberia, and sent on a deadly forced march to the camp. Then he escaped with six other prisoners and traveled on foot all the way to India, through Siberia, Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and the Himalayas. There is some controversy about whether he made the whole thing up, but nobody has been able to disprove it (or prove it), and his descriptions of remote Mongolia were accurate.
Anyway, what I got out of the book, in 2005, the authors would not have guessed in 1956: The Siberian labor camp was surprisingly pleasant, much better than what I've read about Nazi work camps, and better in many ways than life outside prison in contemporary America. The prisoners were permitted to build their own shelter and supervise themselves while working. Their work week was less than 60 hours, with no commute. They breathed clean forest air and were fed fresh organic whole grain sourdough bread.
Later, after they escaped, they could walk across land without fences or police, and the people they met were all friendly and gave them food. Life as a Mongolian peasant in 1940 seems preferable, in many ways, to life as a modern American.
August 10. Mind-blowing post on fantastic planet about Jinn, entities in the Muslim tradition that correspond to what Americans call "space aliens" and "spirits" and "demons" and so forth. This is a grand conspiracy theory that's at least 1000 years old, and explains stuff much better than other grand conspiracy theories. If the Jinn are behind the UFO phenomenon, and ritual abuse, and if they have human allies with great power in the human world, couldn't the Jinn be behind 9/11? Even if there are real terrorists who are not backed by a powerful nation, I think they would still have to be backed by the Jinn to pull off a big terror spectacle -- so the Jinn are playing both sides, which could explain how terrorists and government agents seem to be serendipitously cooperating, without anyone being able to find an overarching command structure. The command structure is in another dimension!
Could the Jinn be behind industrial civilization? Something that comes up over and over in paranormal research is that the entities have very little physical power. Most of their power is in the ability to influence the human mind. Terence McKenna has said that Rene Descartes, the inventor of modern consciousness, was visited by an "angel" who told him that the way to conquer nature is through number and measure.
August 29. Two cloned cats reproduce! I think this stuff is really cool. If there's one thing humans can do to make up for cutting life on earth back to the roots, it's to repopulate the planet with life that's even more diverse and interesting.
How could it happen? Maybe someone will invent a technique for home gene-splicing, and we'll have thousands of mad scientists cranking out new life. I think we underestimate the ability of nature to work with chaos. Here's an article, Man-made rainforest baffles scientists, about a complex rainforest that "sprung up chaotically from a mixed bag of botanical scrap" in only 150 years.