March - April, 2006

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March 2-3. Great manifesto, In a fast society slow emotions become extinct. A thinking mind cannot feel.

When society switches over from physical work to mental work, the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing. There comes a time when there are almost no gaps. People become incapable of experiencing / tolerating gaps. Emotion ends. Man becomes machine.

March 6. Here's a piece by Devin about healing the mind/body split, where he explains the disease of civilization as a slip from a cyclical paradigm with both negative and positive feedback loops ("nature"), into a linear paradigm of positive feedback loops ("progress"). And this different way of thinking is rooted in a mind-body split that was caused by traumatic experience. Basically, we plunge ahead into greed and "progress" and "growth" because we're running from unpleasant feelings about unresolved past traumas.

This morning I was listening to a radio debate about how to replace the 99 Viaduct here in Seattle. It's a double-stacked elevated highway along the waterfront that is old, ugly, and very likely to fall over in the next earthquake. There are three factions, all of which are contriving rational arguments to justify visions chosen for emotional reasons. The WWII-era practical Americans just want to build a new elevated highway. Their emotional position is, "stop whining about the trauma and live with it." The greenies and hippies want to get rid of the highway completely. Their position is, "we need to heal from the trauma and move back toward the balanced world we came from." And the power elite want to build a very expensive tunnel. Their position is, "bury the trauma, and keep reaching for bigger and better things."

March 6. Red rain may prove life came from outer space. Nothing hew here. From Charles Fort's 1919 book The Book of the Damned, chapter 19:

Tremendous red rain in France, Oct. 16 and 17, 1846; great storm at the time, and red rain supposed to have been colored by matter swept up from this earth's surface, and then precipitated. But in Comptes Rendus, 24-625, the description of this red rain differs from one's impression of red, sandy or muddy water. It is said that this rain was so vividly red and so blood-like that many persons in France were terrified. Two analyses are given. One chemist notes a great quantity of corpuscles -- whether blood-like corpuscles or not -- in the matter. The other chemist sets down organic matter at 35 per cent. It may be that an inter-planetary dragon had been slain somewhere...

March 8. In an email to Matt, about the idea that we're all in the "Matrix," I said:

I think "waking up" from this whole plane of reality is not an absolute good, but a safety mechanism. As long as this world is a good place, there's no reason not to keep hanging out here indefinitely. But when it gets really crappy here, it becomes (relatively) good to escape, and people start talking about "enlightenment" or "higher" realities.

Matt replied:

I think there are probably far more beings, of both positive and negative orientation, trying to get into this plane of reality than trying to get out. Even with shit the way it is. I like the point-of-view of Earth as the ultimate amusement park ride... of physicality as a new, fun expression of spirit rather than as a fallen or lower stage of evolution.

My going theory is that it's an anything goes universe and there is no agenda coming from the essence of the universe. Wanna be at one with everything? Okay. Wanna be disembodied? Okay. Wanna experience life as a group consciousness? Okay. Wanna be individual? No problem.

March 9-11. Report from a reader who has owned a store in Phoenix for almost seven years:

Ever since 9/11/01 I have observed that people have become incrementally more fearful. What I'm seeing now is that the fear has increased drastically since November 2005. How do I measure the increase in fear? Mostly, I measure this by what percentage of women who enter my store are armed with cans of pepper spray, uncapped pens or keys ridiculously wielded in a defensive position -- along with a cell phone out and "on the ready." What the hell is going on?

Two days later, Phoenix gets its first rain since October 18, 2005...

My observation on this drenched day, with average foot traffic in my store, is this: not a single person came in today with pepper spray, uncapped pens, keys wielded as a weapon or the cell phone out "on the ready." I can't even tell you when was the last time I observed this. I'm beginning to wonder, is it all about the water?

I think it's about negative ions. Basically, negatively charged ions in the air make people feel good, and positively charged ions make people feel bad. One thing that produces negative ions is falling water, which explains why we like waterfalls and showers so much. You also find them on beaches and especially after thunderstorms. I suspect that atmospheric ions are connected to "sick building syndrome" and the fact that the political "blue states" are next to water. In your own home you can make negative ions with a fountain or with a special machine, like this one.

April 2. Amazing blog post on the Pirahã, a tribe of very smart, very pleasant people who have no concept of numbers, no words for colors, no art, and no creation myth. Apparently their culture focuses only on immediate experience. It sounds to me like heaven, and it reminds me of a great Camper Van Beethoven line: "There are explanations, that seem to matter less and less each passing day."

April 11. Found out about this book in the permaculture class: Keeping It Living adds to the growing evidence that many "primitive" people are not passive forager-hunters, but advanced gardeners, consciously tending the land to increase fertility and food production.

April 22. Patricia observes the Empire falling. (See also this Harper's article about the war inside the CIA.)

Myself and the other govdoc library types have been watching through our "inside" window while this happened at agency after agency, in a steady march that began right after 9/11. Documents disappear, normal government employees get replaced by incompetent creeps at every level, inconvenient information simply ceases to be collected, and is certainly NOT allowed to be public anymore, inconvenient programs and policies get DE-funded. This is across the board, in every fricking arm of the giant government octopus, from the most glamorous to the most mundane.

April 28. Lessons on the Centennial of the Great San Francisco Earthquake (alternate link) Apparently, 100 years ago, authorities in San Francisco did exactly the same thing they did last year in New Orleans: stood by and let the disaster happen, covered up the number of deaths, tolerated police looting while stoking hysteria about regular people looting, and used the whole thing to drive poor non-white people out of the city and gentrify their neighborhoods. The author writes:

We failed to learn the lessons of the San Francisco earthquake before Katrina. We must learn the lessons of both now.

Come on. If we didn't learn it all the other times, why would we learn it this time? I fear the worst: One million years from now, if humans are not extinct, some disaster will be used by the domination system of the moment to repress people and concentrate power, and everyone will be surprised, as if it was an incomprehensible exception to a million year history of the authorities being helpful.

And then everyone will be surprised when those systems collapse. I remember a Newsweek cover story 25 years ago about America's crumbling infrastructure. The reason nobody does anything about it is not laziness or incompetence -- it's the diminishing returns of Empire. Building railroads and bridges was much cheaper 100 years ago than it is now, because the whole system gets more inefficient as it gets more technologically complex and tightly controlled. The greatest physical artifacts of Western Civilization, the cathedrals of Europe, are almost 1000 years old. Now we've degenerated to matchstick suburbs that will soon be weedy concrete quarries. Then low-tech autonomous people, at maximum efficiency, will build much better systems for nothing -- maybe they'll build pyramids! And then the elite will want to lock in their advantages and feel "secure," so they'll start new domination systems and the whole cycle will go around again.

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