Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Nothing more outrageous of human feeling could have been concocted than the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Father Heinrichs, at Denver, on Sunday. The man of God was in the very act of administering the sacrament, of holding out the hope of eternal life to his murderer, when he was stricken down at the altar by one who boasts that he believes neither in God nor man! The murder was as infamous as that of President McKinley, whose last act was to extend a friendly hand to the murderer. In each case the assassin was an anarchist, one of those monstrous and miscreated beings who, whether sane or insane, are equally deadly.
EXECUTION OF ANARCHISTS.
[From The Washington Post, February 25, 1908, Staff Editorial]
Nothing more outrageous of human feeling could have been concocted than the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Father Heinrichs, at Denver, on Sunday. The man of God was in the very act of administering the sacrament, of holding out the hope of eternal life to his murderer, when he was stricken down at the altar by one who boasts that he believes neither in God nor man! The murder was as infamous as that of President McKinley, whose last act was to extend a friendly hand to the murderer. In each case the assassin was an anarchist, one of those monstrous and miscreated beings who, whether sane or insane, are equally deadly.
These hideous creatures are not native to American soil. They do not spring from American parents. They are the degenerate offscouring of centuries of repression, ignorance, and vice in other lands. Why should the United States be cursed with them? There is nothing here for them. Their hand is against law and order, and here they find that law and order are the cornerstones of the State. Do they imagine that the liberty of this country is the license, the anarchy, that their warped imaginations picture as ideal? They will find no anarchy here, except such as lies like a serpent coiled in their own hearts.
It has been shown once more, in shocking fashion, that anarchists, though few, are terrible enemies of the government and the race. They must be suppressed at any cost. No law excluding them can be too rigidly enforced; no law punishing them can be too swiftly called into action. Their weapon is death. That is the weapon that should be used against them. They can understand it. The law should be so framed that an anarchist need not commit such a murder as that at Denver in order to call down upon himself the rebuke of society. Anarchists should be kept out of the United States on penalty of death. The presence of an avowed anarchist is intolerable. The law should provide that any anarchist smuggling himself into this country--a proved, murderous anarchist--should suffer death. In no other way, apparently, can they be prevented from entering this country and playing their deadly trade. Since an avowal of anarchy has been found to be equivalent to an intention to commit murder, needing only opportunity to ripen in into action, an anarchist is, in fact, a murderer, even before he has done the deed, and he should be executed accordingly.
by Sarah Olson
The Army refiled five charges against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada late last week, paving the way for a possible second court-martial for the highest-ranking member of the military to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. When his first court-martial ended in a mistrial on Feb. 7, serious debate had not yet begun to surface on the emerging opposition to the war within the military, the legality of the war, and the right of military personnel to publicly disobey illegal orders. Though it's unclear that a second court-martial may legally proceed, the possibility brings these issues back into focus.
I was one of two journalists subpoenaed to testify in Lt. Watada's court-martial. I objected on the grounds that members of the military must be free to speak with journalists without fear of retribution or censure. That so few critical voices in the military are given an ongoing platform in the media contributes to an inaccurate view of the Iraq War and erroneous ideas about how to ameliorate the problems. Supporting the troops requires that we listen to what they have to say.
Opposition Is Growing
Army Specialist Mark Wilkerson was just sentenced to seven months in prison for refusing to return to Iraq. Last year, he wrote:
"In the year I was in Iraq, I saw kids waving American flags in the first months. Then they threw rocks. Then they planted IEDs. Then they blew themselves up in city squares full of people. …Hundreds of billions of American dollars, thousands of American lives, and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives have all been wasted in this war. I feel as though many more soldiers want to say things like this, but are afraid of retribution, and who's really listening anyway?"
Ivan Brobeck, a Marine who went to Canada rather than return to Iraq, was released from prison Feb. 6, just in time for the birth of his first child. Army Medic Agustín Aguayo awaits a March 6 court-martial in Germany and is facing up to seven years in prison. He's a conscientious objector who refused to load his gun during the year he spent as a combat medic in Iraq. Despite nearly three years of attempting to have his conscientious objector status approved, Aguayo was ordered back to Iraq. When his commanding officers threatened to send him to Iraq in shackles, he climbed out his bedroom window and went AWOL into Germany. According to the Pentagon, there are at least 8,000 soldiers who have quietly gone AWOL. Hundreds more have gone to Canada.
The Appeal for Redress has received over 1,600 active-duty signatures. The online petition says, "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price." What began as a simple online petition has exploded into public dissent: soldiers are attending antiwar demonstrations and holding press conferences. Liam Madden, one of the appeal's founders, embarked on a cross-country speaking tour just two weeks after being released from the Marines.
Last February, a Zogby poll showed that 72 percent of soldiers wanted the U.S. to leave Iraq by the end of 2006. Opinion has not grown more sanguine. Though soldiers have stinging criticisms of the Iraq War, we rarely get to hear them. Instead, Lt. Watada is relentlessly juxtaposed with soldiers who have no apparent qualms about their orders.
Speaking Against the War
When Lt. Watada announced his opposition to the Iraq War on June 7, 2006, many called him a coward. He took an oath, they argued, and must obey orders regardless of the war's legality. Even those sympathetic to Lt. Watada's beliefs sometimes appear uneasy with his public opposition to the Iraq War, especially when speaking to members of the press.
Whether members of the military should abandon individual responsibility when they go to war is a debate worth having. While members of the military agree to certain speech restrictions, the extent of those limitations is by no means immutable. In fact, it is one of several questions in Lt. Watada's prosecution.
Members of the military agree not to speak contemptuously about the commander in chief. Lt. Watada expressed himself respectfully, out of uniform, off base, and after work hours. It seems that the specter of military law is so dark and mysterious a force that ordinary civilians have ceded their ability to question the authority of those that wield it.
Why is our civilian society so comfortable allowing the military to determine the parameters of acceptable speech during a time of war? Lt. Watada – along with the thousands of men and women who are returning from Iraq today – is uniquely positioned to speak about the military mission in Iraq. What do we lose when we allow the systematic exclusion of their voices?
The Iraq War is messy. It's inconvenient. The absence of soldiers denouncing the war in mainstream consciousness likely has something to do with the public's unwillingness to face the war itself. What does it mean if this war is actually illegal? Is each of us complicit in the perpetration of a war not thoroughly vetted by the media, debated by Congress, nor considered by the public? The starkness of the answers is reflected in the faces of the men and women returning from battle. But if we don't hear from Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Agustín Aguayo, and the hundreds of other Iraq veterans returning to the United States isolated and disillusioned, it's easier to believe that everything is going just fine.
IWD Events to Highlight Struggles of Women and Girls Around the World Thursday, March 8th is International Women's Day - a day on which women on all continents to come together to celebrate their various struggles for equality, justice, and peace. Many events are planned for March 8th in the Bay Area and the Central Valley.
At 5:00pm, the Foreign Affairs Council will host child rights activist Betty Makoni at 827 Valencia Street, Suite 101. Makoni founded Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe, a community based organization that is working to empower over 20,000 girls.
The Women of Color Resource Center will host Speaking Fierce, an evening of art, poetry, music and dance, beginning at 6:30pm at the First Congregational Church's Reidenbach Hall, 2501 Harrison Street in Oakland.
The C.A.F.E. Infoshop at 935 F Street in Fresno will host the Women’s Studies student organization P.O.W.E.R. (People Organized for Women's Empowerment and Representation) and the Femicide Action Committee for "Help Stop Femicide in Juarez," a night of education, networking, refreshments, and fundraising, beginning at 7:00pm.
The Progressive Jewish Alliance will kick off its first annual Sweatshop Awareness Month with a screening of "China Blue", Micha Peled’s documentary that illustrates the lives of young women working in a blue jeans factory in China. The film will be shown at 7pm at the Cerrito Theater, 10070 San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito. A Q&A with the director will follow the screening, as well as a brief update on PJA’s Kosher Clothes Campaign.
Acción Zapatista Davis will be holding an event with "fotos & music & video & dialogue about transnational rebellion & collective visions of (an)other world" at 7:00pm at 105 Olson Hall on the UC Davis campus
In San Francisco, ANSWER will screen the film "Maquilopolis" at 7:30pm at ATA, 992 Valencia Street.
MUST be listened to in order for the full effect...
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
February 28, 2007
"Seeing all things as naked, clear, and free from obscurations, we
understand that there is nothing to attain or realize. Everything is
naturally perfect just as it is. All phenomena appear in their uniqueness as
part of the continually changing patterns of life. These patterns are
vibrant with meaning and significance at every moment . . . .
"The continual stream of new discovery, revelation, and inspiration that
arises at every moment is the manifestation of our clarity. We should
learn to see everyday life as a mandala -- the luminous fringes of
experience that radiate spontaneously from the empty nature of our
being. The aspects of our mandala are the day-to-day objects of our life
experience moving in the dance or play of the universe.
"By this symbolism the inner teacher reveals the profound and ultimate
significance of being. Therefore we should be natural and spontaneous,
accepting and learning from everything. This enables us to see the ironic
and amusing side of events that usually irritate us."
- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, *The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones:
The Practice of View, Meditation, and Action*
by Stewart A. Alexander
Peace and Freedom Party State Chair Debra Reiger has sent a letter to left activists and groups around the country suggesting that they work together with the party to develop a 2008 presidential ticket. Anyone with proposals for possible Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidates is urged to write to her as the chair of the party’s National Campaign Committee.
She reports that the Peace and Freedom Party “would like to connect with other parties and groups that agree substantially with our platform and are considering mounting or supporting an independent Presidential campaign.”
Reiger writes, prospective candidates “must meet constitutional requirements, be willing to run on the Peace and Freedom Party platform, and be willing and able to campaign in California and other states during much of 2008.” She sets a response deadline of June 30, 2007, but states that “an earlier response would be helpful.”
While noting that the Peace and Freedom Party is considering obtaining ballot status in states other than California, she writes the party “would like to work together with left groups that presently maintain ballot status elsewhere.”
According to her letter, “We offer voters a broad left perspective that is non-sectarian, but specifically socialist. Our party’s platform puts forward proposals for both long-term change and immediate reforms, all intended to benefit working people. In addition to participating in elections, our activists are working for peace, against racism, in defense of civil rights and liberties, for union representation and strong democratic unions, for the needs of working-class families, and for defense of the environment from the ravages of capitalism.”
Reiger also asks for responses from those around the country who would be interested in becoming active in the 2008 campaign. Her address is Debra Reiger, Peace and Freedom Party, 5960 South Land Park Drive #385, Sacramento, California 95822.
The 12th Annual Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair
SATURDAY, March 17, 10am-6pm
SUNDAY, March 18, 11am-5pm
*19 Speakers *Over 50 publishers and book vendors *Panel Discussions *Cafe *Free Bike Valet Parking *Artwork *Kid and Family Space *
Where: San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden
Gate Park, near Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
This event is FREE.
The Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair is one of the world's
largest gatherings of anarchist and radical
literature, and a San Francisco tradition since 1995.
The Bookfair has expanded to two days for 2007!
There will be even more anarchist books, speakers,
panelists and political groups from the Bay Area and
around the country.
SPEAKERS: Jen Angel, Melody Berger, Chris Carlsson, Ward Churchill, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Stephen Dunifer, Fly, Aaron Gach, Tiny Garcia, James Kelman, Saul Landau, Josh Macphee, Wendy-o Matik, Keith McHenry, Cindy Milstein, David Solnit, Michelle Tea, James Tracy, Marina Sitrin
* Strategies to Uproot War and Empire
* IWW Standing Up to the Boss!
* The Future of Radical Print Publications
* Indigenous Perspectives on Anarchism: Resistance,
Solidarity & Paths of Self-Determination
* The F-Word Salon
* Connecting the Big Picture to the Little Picture
* The Future of Independent and Radical Bookselling
Everyone is invited!
For more information and directions:
[Thanks to Star Vox for this link]
Getting citizens more involved in the civic life and health of their communities must begin with citizens themselves, according to Citizens at the Center: A New Approach to Civic Engagement, written by Dr. Cynthia Gibson and commissioned by the Case Foundation. Based on interviews with researchers and experts in service/civic engagement, politics, and marketing, the paper offers specific recommendations for giving citizens the tools they need to identify problems and develop solutions -- and warns against top-down solutions that require people to "plug into" existing programs or campaigns.
Download the report (pdf)
Monday, February 26, 2007
“History has no culmination!” proclaims the intellectual Alexander Herzen to Karl Marx in a dream at the close of Tom Stoppard’s “Coast of Utopia.” It has no goal. “There is no libretto.”
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Adam Dannheisser, left, as Marx, and Ethan Hawke as Michael Bakunin in "The Coast of Utopia: Shipwreck."
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
In “The Coast of Utopia: Salvage,” Brian F. O’Byrne plays Alexander Herzen.
Given the sold-out houses and multiple-marathon performances of this 3-play, 70-some-role, 41-actor, 8-hour epic now at Lincoln Center, it is difficult to tell whether many other viewers felt, as I often did, that Herzen’s words applied not only to history but to Mr. Stoppard’s version of it.
No well-structured libretto. No driving, cumulative impulse. No culmination. Henry James described Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” as a loose, baggy monster, and this trilogy often seems like one too, as if its creator were intent on cramming it all in, telling the story of a generation of revolutionary Russian intellectuals from the 1830s through the 1860s, their loves and hates, their affairs and ideals, the turmoil and tragedy of their times — all with Tolstoyan sweep if not Tolstoyan realism.
Of course the titles of these plays promise something else, a focused, dialectical drama: “Voyage,” “Shipwreck,” “Salvage.” Or as the Hegelian intellectuals in these plays might have put it, Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis. But it’s a tease: There are plenty of theses tossed about but no real syntheses. Forget classical structure, focused problems, neat or even unsettling resolutions.
Mr. Stoppard is so playful and intelligent of course that this might well have been part of the point. And that at least is worth thinking about. Mr. Stoppard was not just writing about an obscure group of spoiled Russian aristocrats like Michael Bakunin and Alexander Herzen, who often lived in exile while paving the way for the revolution that was to traumatically disrupt the next century. These dreamers and agitators actually raised issues about utopia and revolution, individual freedom and social welfare, anarchy and order, that have a contemporary resonance, which is one reason why Mr. Stoppard may have found them so compelling.
Their bohemian lives and anti-bourgeois sentiments were echoed in late-20th-century counterculture. Their arguments about political reform and revolutionary fervor are paraphrased in contemporary debates. And perhaps Herzen — the sovereign intellect of the trilogy, who clearly sees the dangers of tyranny latent in utopian dreams, and who, at the peak of his career in the 1850s and 1860s, lives in London — might even bear a familial resemblance to Mr. Stoppard himself: an émigré in Britain, renowned, as Herzen was, for quicksilver dialogue, wide-ranging learning, skeptical wit and mind-shifting writings.
If Mr. Stoppard had written a more focused play, Herzen would have been at its center. A Russian friend described Herzen’s “extraordinary mind which darted from one topic to another with unbelievable swiftness, with inexhaustible wit and brilliance,” capable of “instantaneous, unexpected juxtaposition of quite dissimilar things.”
Mr. Stoppard points out that when the philosopher Isaiah Berlin stumbled across Herzen’s memoirs while researching Karl Marx’s life, it changed Berlin’s life. In his writings Berlin later called Herzen — the illegitimate son of a wealthy Russian gentleman — “a political (and consequently a moral) thinker of the first importance.”
Berlin wrote that “as an acute and prophetic observer of his times” Herzen was the equal of Marx and Tocqueville, but “as a moralist he is more interesting and original than either.”
What does Herzen represent for Berlin and Mr. Stoppard? Berlin explained that for the generations before Herzen, the French Revolution inspired both ecstatic hopes and in the Terror that followed, disastrous disillusion. One reason for the popularity of German idealists like Hegel for Herzen’s generation was that they prevented disillusion and encouraged new hopes.
Earlier revolutionaries, the arguments went, had not been sufficiently aware of history’s processes. But now the powers of reason would reveal history’s laws and disclose its evolutionary and progressive transformations. Marx went further, arguing that history was a science: revolution was a necessary development; the revolutionary was history’s servant.
At the beginning of Mr. Stoppard’s trilogy, the young Bakunin spouts Hegel’s formulas like a fountain; his faith in imminent salvation is almost religious. Marx ultimately becomes Bakunin’s dour rival. In Mr. Stoppard’s portrayal Bakunin treats revolution as a game; Bakunin, the anarchist, prefers to see himself, not history, as the prime mover.
For Mr. Stoppard as for Berlin, Herzen is the dissenter who gradually sees through the ecstasies and hopes of his friends. He refuses to accept that reason can discern history’s laws, or that history is intrinsically progressive, leading to a grand revolution that would set things right. History has no libretto (as Herzen said in his writings as well as in the play). If it did, he writes, “it would lose all interest,” becoming “boring” and “ludicrous.”
What history offers instead is an arena through which humans stumble about, seeking grand revolutions when they should be satisfied with what he calls “progress by peaceful steps.” Herzen rejects what he calls, in the play, the “utopia of the ant heap,” the notion that for the collective good of future generations, current generations can be trod upon.
Herzen was tireless in his crusade for freeing Russia’s serfs and reforming Russian society. But he enshrined the idea of individual liberty above sweeping visions of social utopia; he is also the prophet who anticipates tyrannical storms in the promises of a world far better than the one we are given.
I think Mr. Stoppard wanted Herzen’s culminating vision of human frailty and compromise to grow out of the tragedies of his personal life: the death of a beloved son, the betrayal in his wife’s love affair with a good friend, the impossibility of ever returning to his native land. All of Mr. Stoppard’s utopian intellectuals are tossed about by passions, betrayals, imperfections and confusions. But they dream of their brave new worlds, while for Herzen life’s problems are not awaiting resolution: they are intrinsically beyond solution.
Yet watching “The Coast of Utopia” I never felt Herzen’s personal experience turn into political insight. Perhaps that would have meant violating Herzen’s principles and providing a dramatic world less loose and baggy, in which there is unity, purpose, culmination. But at least you can feel even in the tumult of these plays, how great the temptation is to give in to the impulse that some culmination is possible to history’s meanderings.
It is tempting to move from notions of imperfect reform to dreams of religious apocalypse, from notions of charitable enterprise to ideas of expendable human material: individuals or classes readily sacrificed for the sake of a brave new world.
Herzen, in the play and in his writings, refers to the strident revolutionaries of the 1860s as the sickened descendants of his generation, “the syphilis of our revolutionary passions.” Could he really have had any idea of what was to come in Russia, let alone how powerful those temptations remain?
"The sweeter the apple, the blacker the core.
Scratch a lover and find a foe!"
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
In secret we met--
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?--
With silence and tears.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Spells, charms, incantations
Be careful what you say...
The magic of words enfolds intention
Centuries of knowledge
Layers of experience, an entire history
In a few syllables.
Our lifetime is packaged inside us
As imprints triggered by words.
Wrapped in words the way a
Spider wraps flies in gossamer
We are both the spider and the fly
Imprisoning ourselves in our own web
Thursday, February 22, 2007
MUSING #1: IT'S ALL YOU BABY!
I lay on the floor, half out of my body. I was at a spiritual dance ceremony, dancing around the tree of life for renewal and my prayers. I'd danced this dance before. In the past I the dances I attended were outside in Oregon. Here I was near NYC in a gymnasium. It wasn't an easy dance. Everything was different. I found myself bitching internally about this or that. As I danced I felt myself going a little out of my body. But I'd get close to totally falling into Spirit and then something would bring me back. I was wondering if the dance was really going to work. Would it get me out of the low self esteem funk and depression I'd been suffering... feeling lost in the world? You see it's hard to totally let go of all your roots and identity... to travel itinerantly in the world to learn unattachment and trust in abundance.
In the circle of the Dance, I stepped round and round, feeling like maybe it wasn't going to work this time. Usually, when I danced this Dance in the past, I would be way out in the realms of Spirit as soon as I got to the site. I tried to let go of my fear of failure, and I prayed that somehow it would all work for me... that my prayers to be centered, ground, in alignment with my highest Spirit in Unconditional Love, Joy, Abundance, and Fun would be answered.
Suddenly, a Shaman's face was in mine. A rattle shaked. An Eagle feather pulled me into a heap on the floor. And there I was in an all to familiar way. Laying half out of my body, but not feeling quite like I was really going out far enough to get the message, the healing. I waited for the Shaman to work on me. He didn't. I remembered he'd just had back surgery. "Uggh!", I thought as he was a really powerful for me in the past. I thought maybe nothing would really move for me. Then another Shaman came up to work on me. This one worked more with words. He was good, but I doubted whether he could really move things for me. I had a thought one of the two young men I'd met in my travels the past two years. Two particular guys, magicians, shamans, who could shake me out to my highest realms. As the second Shaman murmured words to me, asking the spirit that was in me to help me, give me a message, I realized that just as a healing or a drug experiences open us up sometimes, and yet we don't need to rely on them, because once we've experienced a way of being, we could will ourselves back to that way of being.... so could I will myself to that space that my two young men had taken me to. I remember that the Shaman, the healer doesn't do anything to us or for, otherwise we would all be happy and healthy right now, as countless monks, lay people, samaritans, and well wishers have certainly wished for us. I know I pray for people as I pass them on the street. I pray for my clients and friends, and yet sometimes they still do not seem to heal. I remembered that healers merely hold space for us to heal ourselves and offer us a ritual by which to do so.
And so I remembered that power for myself. I came up on my hands and knees and gave a whoop and a deep cough to shake off the old unwanted pattern of being... and to feel reborn like I had in the past. Once, twice, three times, I whooped and coughed and came into a laughing ecstatic state!
And I remembered. Just as I hold space for people to remember and heal themselves while I hold space... I remembered my own power to heal myself. In a new way of course. And in the coming days, as I found myself emotionally "down", I would remember to realize I had a choice, and I'd whoop and cough and jump myself into a joyful ecstatic state! That vibration we call Reiki, or Unconditional Love, or God, or Goddess is always there. It is we who choose to be separate.
May you remember your power, and empowerment to vibrate at One with your highest Spirit and feel the vibration of Love and Joy that is in the very air we breath, the rocks we trod on, the blades of grass poking through the side walk!
MUSING #2: BREAKTHROUGH THINKING
In January, I fasted in Key West and read Deepak Chopra's Perfect Health. Definitely a good read. In it, Chopra talks of "Breakthrough Thinking", oddly enough a corporate term. The idea is to let go of limited thinking and hold space for amazing productivity. I realized that has always been my policy with Reiki. My first month of doing Reiki, I worked on a housemate for twenty minutes to help his headache. I laid my hands on him, maybe rubbed his head a little. His headache went away. "Wow, I thought. If I can do 'this little', and someone's headache can go away. What's cancer? AIDS? just a few hours more of doing nothing but laying my hands on someone?" I realized that the simple experience of witnessing laying of hands catalyze someone's healing themselves, relaxing, feeling better, etc, through everything I thought I knew about reality out the window. And so when I would see client's, i would alway hold the intention for miraculous healing. I knew that Reiki always went to highest good, and why wouldn't it be somebody's highest good to be healthy in the human form? Yes, I know there are stories and thereby realities of secondary gains to illnesses sometimes, and people talk of karma. But what if all that were just forgiven in the flash of an instant? in the flash of intention?
It's all just stories we have about how we choose to view what we call reality. Optimists see glasses half full. Pessimists see them half empty. There are endless overlaps of what we see because of the endless thoughts that go through our head.
People told me I had "strong Reiki hands". Once a Reiki Master happened into my treatment room at a free clinic. I asked her intention for her session. She wanted to work on chronic neck pain. I said, "So your intention is to release the pattern creating the neck pain, and take on the pattern of complete alignment, flexibility, strength, mobility, and comfort in your back and neck?" She said, "Oh, I've had this condition for years, and I've done Reiki for years, and I know we couldn't do that much in just one session." I said, "Humour me; we can always ask." She did. We did. I did my five minutes of hand waving in her aura, and laying of hands while she sat in the chair in the tiny tiny room that was my treatment room at the clinic. After I thought we were done, I asked her how she felt and if there was any pain or tension anywhere. She exclaimed, "The pain is gone!" I replied that I had hoped as much. I ran into her two weeks later at an event and she said the pain still hadn't returned.
And so I always tell my students to hold space for the best imagined or better. Then at least we aren't limiting our consciousness and thereby limiting reality.
And as I read Chopra's book, I realized that this was "breakthrough thinking". And I wondered how often we limit ourselves in our lives because of limited thoughts. How often do we think either/or instead of both? How often do we think we can't when we could try and perhaps we could? How often do we project a task to be hard instead of affirming ease? I read an interesting breakthrough thought the other day on Steve Pavlina's website http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/07/10-reasons-you-should-never-get-a-job/ where Steve suggests that many people think they can earn money only per hour of work, instead of having money flow in 24/7!
MUSING #3: A CASTANADA EXPERIENCE
Tired in Palm Springs, I nodded off on a couch in front of a guy I just met. Our mutual friend sat beside me. I went into a dream state. Deeply in. So deep it felt real. Then I awoke, and was a bit shocked to realize where I was. I murmured "Wow, I was way out in some dreams." The Guy said, "where'd you go?" I couldn't remember. He said it was ok. I would. I left with my friend who'd been sitting beside me. I was high on Spirit. The world looked different. I felt very aligned and in touch with the Earth energies as we drove off to the magical Joshua Tree. I said as much to my friend. He said he'd tranced out on the couch too, and was feeling similar feelings. I asked him if The Guy had training in shamanism. My friend said he thought he might. Whatever catalyzed the magic that jump started us into a state of awareness, we enjoyed a magical powerful night on the desert at Joshua Tree.
MUSING #4: WHITE TANTRA(tm)
At the Dance, I had prayed for guidance about what to do for the Winter. I met a beautiful, glowing woman who mentioned something about going to a solstice yoga retreat in Florida. Her comment glowed to me. I knew I had to go, or at least investigate it. I looked at the Happy, Holy, Healthy Organization website (www.3ho.org). I'd been warned by my friend that it would look strange, but that there was a strong crowd of hippie nomads and kewl folks there. the ritual had been offered to the hippies as a way to get the "high" without drugs. Once I worked out of my familial Christmas obligations, I got myself to Florida for this amazing event started by Yogi Bhajan in the late 1960's.
The White Tantra(tm) helps clear out our blocks and align us fully with our authentic souls or self or highest spirit. It our our kundalini. I found the retreat amazing in helping be get back into my center, and reconnect with my spirit. I wouldn't say it took me to a new space, but it provided a different vehicle for getting there. In the past, willpower, sex, Reiki, energywork, excercise, nature, deep connections, etc. have all had their way of arising my kundalini.
I really like the intent of the Retreat, the White Tantra, and the Kundalini... to align us fully with our souls, dissolve our blocks, and get us healthy and into prosperity.
I definitely recommend the 3ho.org events.
MUSING #5: JUST ASK
I was on the train, on my way to San Francisco. Tired. Sleepy. Five days in Death Valley. In the last 4 months, I had not been in one place more than 3 weeks, and most of the time less than that. Hard to keep centered, moving around so much. And hard to keep centered when you are always visiting with people. When I get tired, I start wondering whether it is time to settle down for a bit. It's the old trap of taking the present moment and projecting it onto the entire future. I remember escorting, and when I was tired, I would think "poor me selling my body". Then I'd remember I'd chosen the profession joyfully. And I could stop. And I'd realize, I was just tired and needed to go home to sleep.
So there I was on the train to San Francisco. My pendulum attuned to my Spirit and Intuition had led me there. Though I'd thought about trying to stay in Palm Springs a while. I'd thoroughly enjoyed the wilderness of Joshua Tree and Death Valley. And so I thought, "Why am I going to San Francisco?" And yet, I knew that when I talked of going to Asia, my body would lighten, my heart would tingle. And when I felt that last month in Key West, as I pondered what to do with myself... the plan to head west to San Francisco, and make some money, and head to Asia had hatched. Now I was having second thoughts. Tired, my head was spinning. "Do I want to head off to Asia and be moving around there? I don't know why I am going there other than I feel called to. I like the Nature here in the US. I like being in my own culture. I remember the challenges of travelling in the Second and Third World, in foreign cultures." I began to feel myself sink into a depression. Then I thought to pray. "If my highest good is to go to San Francisco and Asia, let me be at peace with it! May that holey part of me that the clairvoyant said was causing my second guessing, over thinking decision making habit be sealed up! May I move forward in empowered Trust!"
I dozed off. I awoke to beautiful scenery along the river between Martinez and Richmond. I found my heart tingle with excitement. I found myself vibrating in excitement to be back in the amazing San Francisco! My first days were full of that excitement of being kind of in that tourist mindset of seeing the city anew. And yet I was grateful for how I know San Francisco: my friends here, the resources for a queer man, the food, the chance to serve my clients.
And I relearned that old lesson of Asking! When we are not happy, or healthy, we must ask for change. Only then will we have the awareness to see the Universe holding out it loving embrace to help us Be our intentions.
MUSING #6: RETURNING TO REIKI, ONENESS
The last few years I have been learning about shifting reality. And that has taken me down the path of seeing how every thought anchors us to a reality. It can get overwhelming as we have so many thoughts and so many possible realities. In Seth's Eternal Validity of the Soul by Jane Roberts, Seth says that those who believe in good and evil, or demons, will generally have a more unpleasant time than those who believe in a general goodness in the world.
And recently I have been remembering and thereby experiencing what a wonderful story Reiki is. To walk the street and feel energy fluxes that are unconditional love. That I can know that if I feel dis-ease on the emotional, physical, or spiritual level, I can lay my hands on myself and become at ease. I don't have to think about why I have the dis-ease, or what it is. It is just energy. It can move, realign. And I can know that there is no real reason that i ought not feel good. And if I walk the world and see others I can relate to them on this energy flux of Reiki or Unconditional love. That though my mind might create separation with judgements, we are all just patterns of this cosmic energy goo, and I can beam Reiki and receive Reiki at the same time. And that I can just flow my life with it... like one giant intuitive Reiki treatment. I can choose to let my inquisitive mind rest and trust in the flow of Reiki. That it all moves to highest good. That the vibrations I feel are merely flows of energy, neither good nor bad. That it is Divine and knows where to go.
MUSING #7: TRUSTING YOUR DESTINY
This is a Yogi Bhajan story I read about in the Aquarian times. One of the first solstice gatherings was held on private land with some stipulations that got broken by some of the attendees. And so 60 carloads had to move to a new site miles away. Yogi Bhajan played traffic director, waving a cloth as the cars went out the driveway. Sixty carloads passed him. Then he got into a car. And he passed all sixty cars on a narrow two lane road, replete with blind hills and curves, in one fell swoop! He knew his destiny and that it wasn't about dying in a car wreck that day.
This is much like the trust and intention I mentioned before. As some of you know, I've acknowledged Death as the one known in this life. And so I set the intention to die a healthy, mobile, man in my 90's during an orgasm with someone that is kewl with me doing so. When we set intentions and remember them, it allows us to move forward in trust rather than in fear. As we think, so we create.
MUSING 8: STREAMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND STREAMS OF REALITY
The other day as I was walking through San Francisco, remembering the power of a walking meditation.... someplace I read, I think in a Castanada book, that walking was a good way to get us into our power.... I felt the buzz of the Universe, the Reiki, the Kundalini, the Unconditional Love vibration, or whatever you might call it. I remember the feeling as I used to feel it as I walked these streets 8 years ago. No fear, no depression, no nagging mind. Just presence. Maybe a thought drifts through. But more or less presence.
And I remembered how it used to be when I got stoned. And then I'd remember the last time I got stoned. The funny things I did. The great thoughts I had. It's similar to revisiting an old haunt. When you are away, you don't always remember the events of the place, or the names of the people. But when you come back, and block of consciousness comes back.
And I remember Gregg Braden mentioning in the Isiah Effect how we might jump from one state of reality to another. That it can be a large jump. That even as we head to armageddon, if we pray and focus on peace that at the last instant we might jump into that peace, even though it appears not. It's like changing lanes on a highway versus suddenly shapeshifting to a whole other highway.
And I thought of my recent readings of Seth's Eternal Validity of the Soul (by Jane Roberts) where Seth talks of multiple dimensions. There is the one where I send the email. And the one where I don't. The one where I settled down instead of travelling nomadically. It's just we tend to keep our awareness in one, though Seth says that in our dreamstates we visit others.
And I realized so it is as we go from scarcity consciousness to abundance consciousness, or fear to trust based consciousness. Those realities are there all the time. The more we remember to choose the stream we prefer, the more we remember, the more we ARE it, the more it becomes habit to be there. At times I remember the reality of going for a walk when I was short $200 for rent and meeting a Reiki client who happened to prepay for his next Reiki training. And yet I forget and fall in the conditional abundance, or scarcity stream. The more we put our thoughts, intentions, and awareness in the streams that bring us joy, the more we see, and live that reality.
Seth talks about this in Eternal Validity of the Soul and suggests that even our thoughts and projections can spin off into parallel dimensions. So we might as well choose to be aware in the dimension that brings us the most joy. And we might as well transmute our thoughts and projections and judgments about others into the best space possible. Certainly, that's one reason choosing to be in the Reiki awareness as much as possible makes good sense and good fun.
MUSING #9: UNCONDITIONAL JOY
As many of you know I have been challenged in decision making eccessively the last year. What I have been tasting lately is a place of unconditional joy. Not that I've been thoroughly happy or joyful every moment, but on a day to day or week to week basis I have often been tapping into the ecstatic Present state. Usually with every transition from one location to the next I go through a fear and dread of change, an attachment and grief of what I will "lose" when I leave, some shock at the new surroundings, and then an appreciation of the new place. I've been in some quite different places the last months from my parent's suburban home, to my aunt and uncle's country home, from the barren Death Valley to the lush Florida Keys, from the dry desert of Joshua Tree to the crashing waves with surfers at Malibu, from the quiet peace of Joshua Tree to the chaotic throb of San Francisco. And at each place I have reached a place of appreciation and love for the place. Then there are the people, the events, the activities of each place. And I realize what a breakthrough thought or concept it is to be in a place of unconditional love and joy. If we are in a state of bliss in each moment, how do we move through space and time? We are so entrained with the ideas of scarcity, constant improvement, judgment of bad and good, that we often base our decisions and movement through life in those terms. Whereas if we were to be in a place of constant meditation and unconditional love, we would constant be leaving moments we love for the next moment. A solution which I've proposed in the past is to follow "what glows". Forget the drama of having to have some negative reason for leaving... it feels right to continue in the same place or relationship or job or home, or it doesn't. Yes, we can ask for improvements or change in attitude or embellishments, AND we can also listen to our hearts and intuition.
I remember hiking with some friends in Hawaii once. One of them decided to turn back and leave our group. There was conversation, pleading, dramatic judgment, and then gossipy theories about why and what after he left. And I kept thinking and even suggesting, that he, for whatever reason, felt called to turn back and leave us. If we trust Spirit, we can just know that for some reason it is for the best. The rest is story, drama, rationalization. And I realized that people so often unconsciously like drama, and dramatic justification. Sometimes we just don't know or allow ourselves to move on because Spirit is calling us on. Instead we have to find fault or blame or justification.
MUSING #10: NEVER COME BACK
I was at a wonderful demonstration of healing work by Helena Messenger (www.helenamessenger.com) and Gary Robertson last month. And got a new insight on how to look at being totally present in all chakras...something I have called being totally aligned and integrated in all chakras and connected from your Highest Spirit to the Core of the Earth. Helena told of how when she was a little girl her brother beat her with a hammer and she was dead for 45 minutes. In this time she "saw God" and was told she had more to do back here on Earth. At one point she was telling this story to a group of people and a woman said, "Aren't you sad you had to come back [here to Earth]?" And Helena replied, "I never left [God/Heaven]." Helena says we want to be there and here simultaneously. That to be totally present is to be in all dimensions that we visit at once.
It's hard to explain, but I have tasted that feeling. And it makes sense... It is not about denying the lower numbered chakras and the body. But being present to that and God/Spirit/Goddess at the same time as well to the other dimensions..
posted by Rob Yellow-Wheels
By Seth Mullins
Many people involved in the newly-emerging spiritual movement (sometimes referred to as the Human Potential Movement) of the '70's found a new avatar in the form of "Seth", an entity not bound by the physical laws of time and space, who spoke through the medium Jane Roberts. Seth referred to himself as an "energy personality essence no longer focused in physical form". Roberts recounted in the introduction to the first book dictated by Seth, Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul, how she underwent her own psychic initiation that gradually allowed this spirit entity to speak through her. This began with an out-of-body experience in 1963 when she was writing poetry, resulting in a script produced by automatic writing that was entitled The Physical Universe as Idea Construction. This text was very similar in content to much of the Seth material; it seemed to outline, in advance, the ideas that would be elaborated upon when he began speaking through her more freely.
Jane Roberts discussed how neither she nor her husband, Robert Butts, had had any kind of psychic background prior to this. The author spent a long period of time soul-searching and questioning her own beliefs in regards to this phenomenon she could not explain. At the worst of times, she feared that she might be schizophrenic. But the persistence of Seth's friendly overtures, and other uncanny synchronicities that occured in her life to echo the psychic material, eventually won out over her fears.
Thus began an unprecedented creative partnership in the late '60's. The sessions took a typical course: Jane would become aware of Seth's presence and soon pass into a trance state; Seth would dictate hia material and Robert would write it down and later edit it. Robert Butts later described how the sessions were actually very spontaneous and Seth's delivery was anything but stale. He could be, by turns, humorous, sympathetic, challenging, and emphatic.
So what emerged from literally thousands of sessions involving Jane, Robert, and the entity known as Seth? The first book offered a vision of the spiritual nature of human beings that went far beyond any religious and even many mystical definitions that had existed prior to that time. Seth talked about long-vanished civilizations, the reality of reincarnation, the experience of consciousness after physical death, and the true immortality of the soul.
In his second book, The Nature of Personal Reality, he delivered what was to be the central statement of all of the Seth material: that we all create our own reality, in every respect, from our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Seth insisted that no being is subject to accidents, happenstance, or any other kind of circumstance that is thrust upon them, but rather asserted that all events are in fact initiated from within. He discussed, in detail, how this occurs and offered a lot of advice for people seeking to take advantage of this creative power to transform aspects of their lives with which they are unhappy.
Though the very ideas of channeling and spirit guides can feel threatening to many people, the positive and ultimately empowering message of the Seth material might win over their fears. It emphasises, again and again, our safety in the universe, our divine nature, and our limitless creative potential. Jane Roberts performed a great service for the human race in serving as a bridge between Seth and a world of people who were - and are - hungry for his message.
"Will trade sex for secrets of Nature."
Alone in your bed on a hot summer night, you're awaked by a deep, humming sound and a ravenous sexual appetite. Then suddenly space itself seems to split open and out of a shimmering green cave in the air oozes the most beautiful creature of the opposite sex you've ever seen in your life. Some of the details may not seem quite right--the number of fingers, the shape of the mouth but she/he's the stuff dreams are made of and you want him/her bad--their visuals are a bit off the mark but their mammalian pheremone package is right on the mark, and with each gasp for breath, molecular sexual messengers are shifting every cell in your body into throbbing erotic overdrive.
"Will trade sex for secrets of Nature" resonates telepathically in whatever's left of your higher cognitive centers. But before you surrender your body and soul to this sex-scented seducer from the lush green hole in space, there are a few things you should know about Pleiadian Physics Prostitutes.
In the first place, the're not from the Pleiades.
Nobody knows where they come from. They could be emanations from other galaxies, or from other dimensions. Or they may even be ancient forms of sentience native to Earth. One thing is certain: they will tell you anything you want to hear in order to get themselves laid.
Secondly, the're dead serious about what they offer. If you choose to have sex with them they will share with you real knowledge of alien physics. In fact much of the time the sex and the sharing of knowledge are indistinguishable. They do not lie. Sexual intercourse with a Pleiadean Physics Prostitute cannot fail to teach you a lot about how our Universe actually operates.
Third, they possess so much knowledge of the mental/physical realm that for them the process we call "science" has come to an end. Altho they are not omniscient, they do know everything that they consider worth knowing. Their physics is complete--they possess the One Unified Theory of Matter, of Spirit and of Consciousness. Whereever they come from, they have gorged themselves on knowledge, and hunger no more for mere facts.
Fourth, their science drives satisfied, it is not New Knowledge they seek but New Experience--the experiences they especially prize are experiences of union--of deep and intimate communication with other mind/body beings (of whom there are many trillions in our galaxy alone.)
They are bored with mere symbolic communication (they laugh at our pathetic radio telescopes) and crave wide-bandwidth empathetic union with other awarenesses. They want what any truly intelligent life form anywhere wants: they want to see and be seen by interesting beings. And they "see" across spectrums that humans know nothing about.
They want to join body, mind and spirit with new and exotic sentiences like ourselves and they are willing to give up some of their vast knowledge to negotiate these deep erotic unions. What Pleiadean Physics Prostitutes are looking for is strange new sex among the backwater fleshpots of Earth.
"Will trade sex for secrets of Nature."
But if they crave wide-band communion with humans so intensely, what has held them back from seducing every man and every woman on Earth with their irresistable offers of physics for sex? They certainly do not fear our weapons which seem simple playthings compared to the least of the powers wielded by these omnisexual Masters and Mistresses of Time and Space.
What has held them back is not fear of us nor lack of desire--we are sexually beautiful, utterly strange and immensely desirable in their "eyes". What has held them back so far has been their innate abhorrence of the molestation of children.
DOCTOR JABIR (who will always say "yes" to a Pleiadean Prostitute)
I have heard that Nature's a harlot
Legs open and flat on Her back
That She's naked, unbridled and shameless
And prone to unnatural acts.
And prone to unnatural acts.
Can I smother Your prairies with asphalt?
Can I murder the fish in Your seas?
Can I milk all the oils from Your Body?
Can I make You make money for me?
Can I make You make money for me?
The hungriest whore has her limits
Every prostitute minds her taboos
Is Nature a slut without scruples?
Is there nothing that She wouldn't do?
Is there nothing that She wouldn't do?
Can I shit in the veins of Your Body?
Can I suck all Your aquifers dry?
Can I strip off Your beautiful jungles
Order more of Your species to die?
Order more of Your species to die?
The hungriest whore has her limits
Every prostitute minds her taboos
Is Nature a slut without scruples?
Is there nothing that She wouldn't do?
Is there nothing that She wouldn't do?
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
We caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the harlot's house.
Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musicians play
The "Treues Liebes Herz" of Strauss.
Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.
We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.
Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille.
They took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.
Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.
Sometimes a horrible marionette
Came out, and smaoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.
Then, turning to my love, I said,
"The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust."
But she--she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust.
Then suddenly the tune went false,
The shadows wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.
And down the long and silent street,
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.
Pantheism (Greek: πάν ( 'pan' ) = all and θεός ( 'theos' ) = God) literally means "God is All" and "All is God". It is the view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the idea that natural law, existence, and the universe (the sum total of all that is, was, and shall be) is represented or personified in the theological principle of 'God'.
Henotheism (Greek εἷς θεός heis theos "one god") is a term coined by Max Müller, to mean devotion to a single "God" while accepting the existence of other gods. Müller stated that henotheism means "monotheism in principle and a polytheism in fact." He made the term a center of his criticism of Western theological and religious exceptionalism (relative to Eastern religions), focusing on a cultural dogma which held "monotheism" to be both fundamentally well-defined and inherently superior to differing conceptions of God.
Variations on the term have been inclusive monotheism and monarchial polytheism, designed to differentiate differing forms of the phenomenon. Related terms are monolatrism and kathenotheism, which are typically understood as sub-types of henotheism. The latter term is an extension of "henotheism", from καθ’ ἕνα θεόν (kath' hena theon)—"one god at a time". Henotheism is similar but less exclusive than monolatry because a monolator worships only one god, while the henotheist may worship any within the pantheon, depending on circumstances. In some belief systems, the choice of the supreme deity within a henotheistic framework may be determined by cultural, geographical, or political reasons.
Wed, 21 Feb 2007 16:02:28 +0200
Lafayette, Ind. - Former Secretary of State and arch-fascist General Colin Powell is scheduled to speak at 8 pm on Thursday, 22 February at Purdue University. Powell's talk, which is only open to advanced ticket-holders, will take place in the Loeb Playhouse in the Stewart Center. The Purdue Alliance of Libertarian Socialists is calling upon anarchists and radicals from Indiana and surrounding states to come to West Lafayette this Thursday to protest Powell's speech. We realize (and apologize for the fact) that notice is very short, but we hope that anyone who can join us will do so. We will make every effort to accommodate activists who make the trip. For more information, please contact us at pals [at] riseup.net. We will respond immediately concerning convergence point, accommodations, etc.
The Purdue Alliance of Libertarian Socialistsly open to advanced ticket-holders, will take place in the Loeb Playhouse in the Stewart Center.
The Purdue Alliance of Libertarian Socialists is calling upon anarchists and radicals from Indiana and surrounding states to come to West Lafayette this Thursday to protest Powell's speech. We realize (and apologize for the fact) that notice is very short, but we hope that anyone who can join us will do so. We will make every effort to accommodate activists who make the trip.
For more information, please contact us at pals [at] riseup.net. We will respond immediately concerning convergence point, accommodations, etc.
The Purdue Alliance of Libertarian Socialists
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
This was to be my 2nd chapter in Disinfo
's upcoming Generation HEX (due September) but the book got long so some cuts had to be made. ("Living The Myth" is still running.)
So here 'tis.
"Erotism, it may be said, is assenting to life up to the point of death... If a precise definition were called for, the starting-point would certainly have to be sexual reproductive activity, of which erotism is a special form. Sexual reproductive activity is but only humans appear to have turned their sexual activity into erotic activity. Eroticism, unlike simple sexual activity, is a psychological quest independent of the natural goal.
I’m going to start this with what might seem like an odd question. What’s the difference between good and bad sex?
This question drives the glut of crap lit and zine that lines our shopping centers. Of course, in typical materialistic style, they presuppose that there is some “move” or even “device” which will pave the passage between boredom, alienation, even humiliation, and ecstacy.
Aside from the fact that it’s easier to sell a “device” or teach a list of 5 secret moves that will drive her wild, these people aren’t asking this seemingly inane question—what’s the difference between good and bad sex? Moreover, what function does sex serve?
Perhaps it is a hackneyed idea that sex is at the root of our beings. Any idea which can be traced to Freud is out of vogue these days. However, if you enforce celebacy for a couple months, you might rethink your stance on this. My experience has been that sexuality does not control our psyche from the top down, but it seems to prefigure it from the bottom up. It’s a raw source of energy which drives us out of bed each morning. Aside from being the means by which we reproduce, it is the subversion of this urge which drives us to civilization - and its discontents. If you can control and cultivate your sexual energy, then you are capable of nearly anything.
Chinese and ayurvedic medicine both recognize this; harnessing and directing sexual energy is considered paramount to general wellbeing.
There is a well-known link between sex and death in the mythologies of the world; the libidinal drive which drives us to participate in the world is also driving us towards our deaths. Life and death are two sides of the same coin, much as man and woman are. And here, plain as day, is the first key to sex magick. The archetypical male and female energies which power and inform the universe can be brought together through a union of a particular male and female energy. (F. N. This in no way precludes homosexuality, however at any given moment you will notice that some participants embody the active “yang” principle while others are participating as passive “yin.”)
The Buddhist idea of Maya is relevant here. By definition, Maya is “the transitory, manifold appearance of the sensible world, which obscures the undifferentiated spiritual reality from which it originates; the illusory appearance of the sensible world.” It is the breaking of the one into the many, in the world of opposites. It is also said that woman is the passage into Maya, not because of a sublimated hatred of the feminine, but rather through the simple recognition that it is through woman which we enter the world. This is seen as a symbol of the underlying sexual dynamism which allows the world, as we know it, to continue. In other words, sex is the prefiguring source of duality and dynamism.
One of the Buddha’s teachings was that through desire and fear, our personal energy is tied or yoked to the world energy in such a way that we cannot extricate ourselves. That is, without becoming aware of its nature as illusion. Again we have a pair of opposites, desire being the motivation towards, and fear being the motivation away from.
It is as if we are all spiders, trapped within the webs we ourselves have woven. Our very personalities and inclinations themselves are a part of this binding web. In one of Joseph Campbell’s lectures on Buddhism, he relates one of their central teachings by saying "…the lust of all the senses is a fire. Quench that fire."
Merely quenching the fire of the senses would be thanatos, the impulse for destruction, decay, and death. (F.N. Thus Nietzsche’s assesment of Buddhism and Christianity as agents of “pessimism.”) According to common knowledge, this was postulated by Sigmund Freud as coexisting with and opposing the life instinct. However the idea far precedes him, through the dour German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and into the common-sense of Pagan and Aboriginal traditions across the globe. The practice of sex magick, as I think of it, reverses this—the trick is not to quench the fire, but instead to master it. Use the sexual impulse, don’t let it use you.
Stealing fire from the gods is one of the basic principles of practice. You work on fanning those flames it, all the time if possible, without being particularly attached to them. Eventually, through this approach, one strives to replace desire and fear with blissful knowledge of the immediate, eternal present.
This “fire” is the underlying fabric of reality. Electromagnetic poles drive our X-boxes, our micowaves. The mechanism which allows for consciousness is electrochemical. Through extension, is there an electromagnetic aspect to the sexual act, as well? (F.N. c.f. Carl Jung, On The Nature of the Psyche: “E=mv2/2 contains the factor m (mass) and v (velocity), and these would appear to be incommensurable with the nature of the empirical psyche. If psychology nevertheless insists on employing its own concept of energy for the purpose of expressing the activity of the psyche, it is not of course being used a mathematical formula, but only as its analogy. But note: the analogy is itself an older intuitive idea from which the concept of physical energy originally developed. The latter rests on earlier application of an activity not mathematically defined, which can be traced back to the primitve or archaic idea of the “extraordinarily potent.” This mana concept is not confined to Melanesia, but can also be found in Indonesia and on the east coast of Africa; and it still echoes in the Latin numen, and more faintly, in genius. The use of the term libido in the newer medical psychology has surprising affinities with the primitive mana. This archetypal idea is therefore far from being only primitive, but differs from the physicist’s conception of energy by the fact that it is essentially qualitative rather than quantitative.”)
Let’s return to our initial question. Imagine two sexual encounters, on the surface identical in every way. You went through every possible posture permutation in the karma sutra. All the paint on the walls is now clumped under your fingernails. Your neighbors hate you passionately.
However in the first encouner, both people’s energies are depleted as a result. They feel a little guilty, like a dog that keeps getting scratched in that one spot and can’t keep it’s leg from twitching no matter how it might try. Now the alcohol has worn off and you need to slink into a hole somewhere and listen to The Smiths until your mascara has run so badly you look like you just did 9 rounds with Muhammed Ali.
In the other case, you feel energized, more in synch with yourself and those around you. You have a feeling like there are aspects of your personality just outside your reach that were, if not unlocked, at least hinted at or unearthed. What is the distinction?
The answer is of course, to a certain extent, specific to the context of the interaction. But there is a general trend as well, to which there are two sides. Objectively, the difference is electromagnetic. A dissatisfying experience results when there is no transition of energy on both sides; when these flood gates do open, there is an active interplay in both directions like the Taoist yin-yang symbol which leaves each participant forever changed, touched in part by the divine presence of the Other, whether the event was the beginning
of a long relationship or a so-called one-night-stand.
Subjectively, the difference is intent. They say the way to Hell is paved with good intent. Who knows, maybe it is. But the first difference between these two situations comes simply from your intentions and expectations going into it. (The same thing can be said for drugs when used for visionary purposes.) Why do you do what you do and is it what you want, really? It may seem fantastical, but repeated experiments of the utmost scientific precision have shown that the simple intent to be there with the Other, and recognize them for what they are, begins opening up these channels of energetic communication.
Yet you can intend something and not have it come through to action, much less the results we want. We see examples of this every day. Intent is fundamental to action, and colors it in a subtle but pervasive way that most of us can feel, even if we can’t put our finger on it. The intents that matter are embodied in action.
The difference between success and failure, once a Will has been determined, an intent set, are the things that “block it” from manifesting. If the “climate” is ripe for such an intent to manifest, it will do so without any conscious activity or effort whatsoever.
If something isn’t working, forcing it isn’t going to help. Instead focus on making the “climate,” the situation, right for that Will to come to be. And for that we can start inside ourselves, with the things we have direct control over. Shift emphasis from doing to being.
It may seem peculiar to you that the blocks within your spine, or the flexibility of your tendons has anything to do with your intention of manifesting enough money to get from California to New York, but it is all linked, at least metaphorically. And the practices we use to “let go” of our muscular blocks are just as effective when applied to emotional blocks. In fact, the energetic and muscular blocks within our body need to be dissolved; they are manifestations of corresponding psychological blocks. It works both ways, who can say which came first. If nothing is holding you up, you’re light as a feather.
There’s an easy litmus test for this, which I find I have to return to quite frequently. If you think you have something to hold on to, remember that everything you own, and everyone you know, will be pulled away, torn apart into their base parts by the tidal wave of time. Like the Pink Floyd song, everything you say, do, create, or destroy, will be pulled out into the deep, dark sea. Does this thought make you depressed? If so, you’re holding on.
This, by the way, may be why we call it “magick.” The science and art of causing change in conformity with Will. Like the Olympic gymnast performing incredibly complicated actions seemingly effortlessly, to us the results may appear supernatural. However there is a method to it. The principles being involved are consistent, and thus can be observed, tested, and improved upon. The involved principles, in the case of sex magick, are primarily psychological and energetic.
Violence and The Sacred
As I said earlier, the sex and death link is transcultural. We also find a related link between eroticism and violence. (F.N. This is dealt with pretty extensively in Kundalini, in the transition between the 2nd and 3rd chakra, and then the 2nd chakra’s re-appearance as the 4th chakra, and the 3rd charkas higher resonance being in the 5th. But this is clearly too esoteric a topic for a rambling psuedo-essay on the preliminary considerations of sex magick, so we’ll save it for another time when the drugs are stronger and the night is not quite so old.)
Ritual, eroticism, and violence have been linked through all of human history. Most Gods or Goddesses of sex are also deities of death or war. Consider the initiation rites of certain tribes in New Guinea, where the young males have their first coming-of-age sexual encounter with a sacrificial virgin. When the last male is there with her, in full embrace, the two are crushed to death by tons of logs, immediately pulled from the rubble and eaten.
Aggression often finds its outlet in sex or the representation of violence. Esoteric connections between sex and death aside, you can easily trace this directly back to power structures within the social games we invent.
This ‘game’ is also a product of our new conception of sex as commodity. “…This powerful new type of myth has assumed an unexpected form: advertising and consumerism, forms of proselytizing far more pervasive in our society than Christian doctrine was during the Middle Ages. And, like all the mythologies of past ages, it provides a framework which determines many of the rules and fashions governing human sexual behavior… This commercialization of desire both tries to satisfy an insatiable demand and is extremely profitable. The process is circular. The romantic tradition is already established in these forms serve to satisfy an existing appetite. At the same time the perpetual depicting of romance stimulates the appetite for more.” (Myth and Sexuality, Jamake Highwater.) And this a key point. We will be dealing with the topic of mythology and sexuality in consumer culture in many different guises as we progress.
It should be obvious to any student of psychology that the worst way to remove a block is to overcharge it, to “attack it.” Like in any other yogic practice, stretching is a process of relaxing. One should never experience pain from 'forcing.' These shields are up for a reason, so just turning them off and opening up to whatever comes your way without conscious awareness and respect for your own 'edges' or boundaries and those of your partner(s) is dangerous and unhealthy.
The key to removing blocks is dissolving them… focusing attention on them, actually asking them to present their concerns to you, and letting them simply drain away. In practice this sometimes means actually re-creating the cause of the block in a controlled way. There is no hard and fast rule for what key will fit your lock.
A lot of modern sex magick and Tantra lit focuses on the importance of de-sexualizing sex, so as to unravel the cultural obsession. There’s great value in this, but the practices provided don’t generally strike at the personal, psychological nature of sexual obsession. They also tend to be boring, which is the last thing sex should ever be. It is true that a certain kind of patience is required that you might not normally exercize in the bedroom, living room floor, or elevator, however you don’t have to do deep breathing exercizes for twelve hours on a bed of roses to practice sex magick. Do it on a pile of cactus with a herd of cattle if it’s called for. The distinction is in your energy, in your intent, and in your attitude. If you aren’t intending the growth and enjoyment of those you’re participating with, then you’re pissing in your drinking water, since you’re going to be alchemically mixing your energies with theirs. Even if altruism isn’t your game, that’s just bad business.
The key factors here are two-fold: dissolving blocks, as we just mentioned, and developing heightened focus.
The latter is actually fairly straight forward. The activity of visualizing symbols, associating an intent with it, and “firing” during sexual activity clearly develops your focus, just as bicycling and juggling at the same time would. In a nutshell, the practice of sigilization allows us to focus an intent and link it physiologically to the “anchor” of the zero-state of orgasm. (F. N. I’m not going to go into practical detail of sigilization because it’s already been explored at length in The Book of Lies.)
This idea of “dissolving” is the real trick. Sex can be one of the most effective ways to start dissolving your psychological and physical blocks. Looking at what we hold on to, what turns us on, what turns us off, and turning these into psychological benefits or boons rather than crutches or vices is the name of the game. (F. N. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we should all start fucking like rabbits and call ourselves Magickians. Though “they” can be a fun lot nevertheless!)
At the same time, taboos, and psychological blocks, don’t exist without a reason. They are counterbalances for hidden or repressed energies, which Carl Jung referred to as the Shadow. These must be integrated for an individual to become whole, and this integration, clearly, is one of the principle functions of magick, mythology, and religion, (as previously defined.) This makes sex magick, and role-playing within that context, both very powerful and potentially very dangerous. When these fantasies are persued as knee-jerk responses, without any recognition of the underlying cause, you can easily drive yourself from neurosis to full-blown psychosis.
Nymphomania is as much a psychic “counterbalance” as prudishness or frigidity. Something in the subconscious is “weighted” so heavily in one direction that one’s actions on the conscious side are extreme, in an effort to bring stability. Similarly nymphomaniacs, by definition, don’t get much pleasure from the actual act of sex. This is because they’re blocked off from the energetic interaction which they so desperately crave. (F.N. When it comes down to the question of “how much is too much?” really only we can determine that. The best gauge for that is simply: am I happy?)
Because sex is naturally such an intense experience, we oftentimes develop methods of “shielding” ourselves from the potential brilliance of that moment by rushing. Suddenly sex becomes a horrifying relay race. If you do find yourself hitting one of these 'edges,' it can be easy to recognize it for what it is. I’m not talking about an occasional quickie here. What I’m talking about is the sadly high percentage of women age 21 and below that have yet to have an orgasm despite the fact that they have a drunken encounter at least three times a week. Take your time!
Any fetish or fantasy can be easily psychoanalyzed, and explored with great benefit once it has been understood for what it is. For instance, a fantasy involving being bound, or dead, is on the surface focused around giving absolute power to the Other. More crucially, it revolves around making ones self an Other; the arousal is often voyeristic regarding what is being done to themselves as an Other. This is commonly a psychological counterbalance for a time in the past when the individual actually had no control. We then often attempt to play act the scenario in a way which gives us control through transference, even if we must put ourselves in a situation externally resembling the event which created the imprint. (F. N. of course a physical rape is hardly necessary for the formation of such a fantasy. But as such things are very specific and contextual, it serves as a clear general example.)
It All Began In Middle School
Any exploration of your sexuality will likely lead you to question, and conflict, with the taboos of the society you live within. It is undeniable that these taboos effect our beliefs, and behavior. Our ideas of identity, and of how we fit into the culture around us, are written out of these beliefs.
Some guidelines on this subject can save you a lot of trouble.
It is patently untrue that there is some underlying “human morality,” wherein for instance murder has never been sanctioned by the predominant mythology. Even a cursory study of anthropology will demonstrate this. Pharoah’s were expected to have sex with their sisters. Rape, murder, even in rare instances patricide, are all acceptable in certain cultures, under certain contexts. As a matter of fact murder is sanctioned by our own cultural mythology - so long as it is done under the banner of War.
Every culture also has taboos, and many individuals inside that culture, when they first come to awareness outside the confines of their culture, do so through intentional transgressions which are done with this exterior, so-called “Left handed,” quest in mind. However there is no inherent virtue in this path either, bounded as it is by the same laws of acceptance and transgression. Taboos are requisite for cultures to maintain their integrity. The content of the taboo, however, is completely arbitrary in any universal sense.
Christian society has developed quite a complicated and subversive gauntlet of taboos regarding sexuality. Not that sexual taboo is distinctly Christian, however the particular set of taboos we generally deal with in American society are distinctly Christian. (F.N. This follows from the revolt against nature which we discussed in Living The Myth.)
Ideas of morality and sex are so tangled together that it may be difficult for us to even tell which inclinations are natural and which come about as a reaction of one kind or another to absurd tribal superstitions surrounding reproduction. I assume, if you’re reading this book, that you probably don’t consider yourself a modern Christian. But how many of us make some of our decisions as a reaction to the Christian moral yardstick?
It is no secret that possession, jealousy, control and dominance all seem to spring from the same source. These social games develop as we move from childhood and psychic dependance, to individuality.
This period probably began for you in Middle School. Ideas about how we fit in with others begin here; for many of us, they end here as well. I have always considered myself a maverick. I’ve always done things “my way,” even to the detriment of my social well being. In Middle school, kids vying for the “top dog” position would beat the living hell out of others who didn’t wear the “right” brand of sneakers, who didn’t parrot the “right” phrases. My reaction was to fade into the woodwork, read, write, and draw. I played the game by actively not playing the game. Here I am almost two decades later, yet in a sense how much has really changed?
The “game” is decidedly different between the genders, but within the male governed system the outcome is generally political and hierarchical. “Who’s on top?”
In our cases, being the product of a culture that is obviously highly sexually repressed and aggravated, (pick up a copy of any popular magazine some time), aggression is subverted alongside the sexual urge. When the sexual block is released, so too may be the aggressive block.
Jamake Highwater discusses this connection in the final chapter of his book Myth and Sexuality, “The mythology of masculinity… is built upon a mentality which is an implicit aspect of the disillusionment of America’s consumer society at the close of the twentieth century. In the competitive decades since the Industrial Revolution, when the human body became a machine, many men have been transformed into lethal weapons by unrealized expectation. For them sex is no longer erotic. It has become a pornography, a sexual commodity, a mechanism that, failing the obtainment of quick pleasure, takes out its frustration and rage by producing humiliation.”
Finding what really works for you takes quite some trial and error, as well as flexibility. (Possibly literally.) It will most definitely require complete honesty on your part with yourself and those you love, as you should expect no less from them. The only rule is that there are no rules, the norms you have been handed by your culture whatever it is may not in any way apply to your own temperament. This is true across the board, not just in terms of sexuality. (F.N. Though sexuality is the root of ones psychological, physical, and ultimately spiritual being. A taint there will show all the way through.)
Many consider this so-called witches-brew another part of human nature and accept the tribal beliefs handed to them without question or investigation. Questioning everything - at least everything that doesn’t sit right with me - has always been a part of my nature. All I can really do is espouse the “if you’re falling, jump” attitude. While this opinion may or may not have resonance with your experience, it stands to reason that if we are determined to figure out just what we are made of, sex and sexuality are the place to begin.
Coming to know who we are is really the only knowledge we can ever hope to have. At least early in this experimentation, it is difficult if not impossible to step away from your situational programming without temporarily breaking taboos. Gradual change is more likely to give you healthy, organic and lasting results, as forcing anything psychologically or physically is subject to the law of compensation. You can’t really know where you stand until you step out of yourself and let go of everything you believe in.
Let me emphasize however the distinction between acting out and letting go of preconceptions. This takes maturity and courage. Social boundaries must be removed to reveal what the natural boundaries really are. All beliefs must be questioned through tumultuous action. Who we were when we chose a belief may not be who we are now. When we are satisfied in our knowledge, complacent with our status, we cannot learn. To live and learn we must always - first and foremost - remember to change with the changes. What worked yesterday may not serve quite so well for you tomorrow.
Freedom may be attained through the destruction and replacement of those taboos or societally created psychosexual programs: freedom to have an active choice in who you are, how you process information, and what you want from the experience of being alive. There are no rules, only guiding priciples.
Knowing that you have the freedom and the right to experience pleasure, in whatsoever way you choose -- so long as you are not hindering anyone else’s right to the same through doing it -- is certainly one of the first steps in recognizing “there is no God but man,” as well as “Love is the law; love under Will.” Both of these are Thelemic buzz-phrases which I think actually have the greatest impact when taken out of context.
Short of proposing some kind of enforced free-love utopia, which seems to me almost as nightmarish as our present condition of cultural sexual psychosis, we can at least expect to become more complete individuals from learning what sex is and means to us entirely apart from the “benefit” of cultural-religious ideology or categories be they hetero-, homo-, bi-, or even poly-. These categories, like genres of music, may begin as the new herald of some revolution, but before too long it’s $19.95 on the shelf at Hot Topic. Once something has been pinned down to such a degree, it can be sold. Some tout piercing and tattooing as a rebirth of tribal initiation ceremonies, yet at the same time insecure teenie-boppers are biting their lips over their first belly-button piercing. As un-PC as this may be, “gay pride” parades and the like do more harm than good in a way by creating an even broader gap of definition. They though they may unite those who already feel and believe the same by having a flag or cultural identity to rally under, they actually create a great partisan atmosphere, and may alienate those who are sitting on the fence.
The key point is not that we are gay, or black, or straight, or homosexual, but that we’re all human. Granted there are times when people are discriminated against for 'being what they are', but then, when turning the other cheek doesn’t work and it is all out warfare, a nice dose of fox lure in someone’s car ventilation system will do fine. It’s hopeless trying to change the mind of someone who hates you for who you are, since their hatred is generally pointed at an estranged part of their own psyche. If you can’t beat ‘em, taunt ‘em mercilessly. There’s no point arguing. (F. N. The root of any belief is emotional, not intellectual. Logic, if it is applied to a belief at all, is just applied after the fact to rationalize what someone already believes. If you don’t believe me, try to use logic to convince a Baptist to accept Osiris as a “mythic symbol” with as much validity as Jesus.)
Personally I see no point in defining myself with a trend, or going the other way and holding back on what I want to do because it might put me in the same “category” as the vast majority who are missing the boat by my estimation. Maybe I’m missing the boat too, or maybe I’m trying to sell you something. Think for yourself.
I AM AMERIKKKA'S FAVORITE SOFT DRINK.
The power of sexual energy isn’t overlooked within our modern Adcult. This basic principle or "lever" rules the cover of Maxim. For most, the very concept of sex, a thing which can be shaped and molded through societal reinforcement and taboo, causes a physiological reflex which can be used to excite us about things that we wouldn't otherwise be excited. This "lever" may even operate on a level that we are not at all conscious of. This "sexual power" can be "magickally" transferred through association.
For instance, if you see a beautiful woman covered in sweat, moaning orgasmically and drinking a Coke, then for many the psychological transference is immediate. No advertiser in their right mind thinks that you will consciously believe you will get hot women if you drink coke, but all of them bank on your immediate, visceral response. This branded identity that they are trying to build for you is a Myth every bit as much as the Ramayana or Bhagavad-Gita.
The sociological and anthropological premises which apply to Myth, which we explored in Living The Myth, all apply. Throughout our lives many of us have had an ego-serving program of desire and fear ingrained in us through our sexuality. This occurs throughout childhood and adolescence. For some it ends here, with the first imprint, remaining the same throughout the rest of adulthood. Others choose to consciously expand their ingrained inclinations, or imprint others.
The rules of the 'in group' and 'out group' are one of the many principles by which we all collectively brainwash each other into whatever cultural taboos and trends we want to associate with the mythic crisis points of sexual maturation, sexual relations, and pregnancy. We are valued or shamed based on how we fit into the cultic sexual environment we grow up in, and develop various complexes as a result. The way that we answer these questions for ourselves ultimately creates the myth for our own children.
One predominant myth that still remains an undertone within American culture is that sex is both sacrosanct and dirty, profane and yet representative of the highest saccharine ideals, sold as a commodity and beyond value. This oxymoronic sexual code results in an incredibly polarized moral and social standard that in many ways ultimately supports deceit, snickers bars, and animal husbandry. A man's very dignity rests on his ability to ensnare young damsels and yet simultaneously remain virtuous to an ideal, and the women mercilessly peck at each other and preen themselves vying to be the most valuable prize.
In this dramatization, monogamy is a contract not of trust but of control, and the power games of deceit become the top priority in a relationship. (No animals were harmed in the writing of this sentence.)
It may seem that this practice is easier than the ascetic, monastic approach, however this is not so. It is hard to plunge into the uncharted wilderness without any categories.
The monastic life is designed to aid you in this quest by stilling or quelling most of the aspects of life that can be so disquieting. To do this successfully, and live within the world, you must find stillness in motion. This energy -- formerly directed towards fruitless ego-related clutching -- turns outwards and bears witness rather than seeking to possess. This is what helps bring your energy into harmony with your environment: not "holding in," that is not allowing yourself to breathe out, or "holding out" and not allowing yourself to breathe in.
Living without identity crutches like what kind of clothes you wear, what kind of music you like to listen to, or how you like to get off is hard. Being able to relax is an acquired skill. It’s not something that you "get," and then it's over with. I have found this place many times in my life, and have been lured back into the whirlwind by one attachment or another.
We must extricate ourselves from the societally learned concepts of what is 'sexy' by taking a look at what immediately pleases us, of where we could have gotten this idea, and if we like or don't like the effects this desire has had on our lives. If it is something that you don't entirely like, what I would recommend is not to change it, but merely to explore what ways you could explore this in a way that you enjoy more, which ultimately is more healthy for you and your partner(s). This is a very personal process, and one which is prone to make us take harsh looks at other people long before we can suffer those same glances inward. What I am talking about here is honestly assessing what it is that you desire, what that says about you as a whole, and, should you desire, where you got these ideas. No matter the decisions you come to, this exploration always bears fruit.
Following this are some general guidelines for beginning your exploration. Your mileage will likely vary.
The first method is creative. It is practiced through partner coupling, traditionally male and female, though again in this practice gender refers to role, rather than biology. The male serves as an emissary from the eternal as that archetypical principle, the woman is the same. In some practices this is changed somewhat, where the woman appears as the goddess, and the male serves as he is. Singular and mortal. This practice aims at bringing about the experience of 'eternal love': the man being One as all men, the female One as all women, and through the union of these eternal principles results One: the unfolding of that universal will unto itself, self-fulfilling and fulfilled. (F.N. Almost all of the unveiling of Nuit in Crowley's The Book of the Law can be seen as a poetic expression of this.)
In a more practical sense, singular orgasm is not the goal. The experience is somewhat like riding waves, one picks you up and carries you along, but before it comes crashing down you back off, and paddle on over to another. Many schools of Taoist alchemy are insistent that male ejaculation seriously depletes a man's chi and threatens to ruin the integrity of this process, however many successful tantrika choose to have orgasms in the 'normal' way without seeming to hinder their practice. Let personal trial and error be your guide.
The second method is that of the orgy, which brings about the experience of Nothingness, expressed by Crowley as the Night of Pan: individuality is blotted out, the ego is blotted out, there is only the self aware night or naught.
When the walls come tumbling down, distinctions are broken and the energy body of all participants becomes one. Many who have so much as experimented with this relate the perception of being one organism with many limbs. The love of the group, unrestricted by fetters is agape, not eros.
All the same, this has nothing at all in common with a frat-party fuck-a-thon. The first sign of success in either practice is that rather quickly a surprisingly small amount of physical stimulation is required. If you need a simple guide, think opium den.
All this required is that you consciously 'amplify' each experience that you are having, and continue to patiently expand this threshold with every breath, and every second. Those of you who have experimented with MDMA may recognize the feeling as virtually indistinguisheable from “rolling.” This langourousness can really be amplified almost limitlessly. We have more ability to consciously heighten or deaden our tactile sense than many of us realize. (F.N. As chemicals such as MDMA release neurotransmitters already present in the brain, it comes as no surprise that you can in fact feel a little “burnt out” immediately the next day. However this effect is generally a great deal more mild, and easier to do away with, than the after-effects of hallucinogens.)
As you are amplifying this experience, pretty soon you will realize that what you are playing with is a sensation of energy. These energy fields can expand, contract, or change in almost any other manner we can conceive of.
Both of these practices are distinct and bring about very specific results. The potential for group sexual practice is astronomical: every person brings with them not just a body but an entire world. A mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions.
However there is also an exponential increase in the chance that ego-serving desire or fear take over and the moment is lost in coveting, and delusional fantasies-- which can become quite tangible and dangerous in conjunction with sex magick. Few people are capable of love without the 'thief' known as fear. In this setting, supposing everyone is there fully willingly, there is nothing but the moment. Anything else is poison.
Regardless of the practice(s) you choose, cultivating agape within your group or tribe should be a primary concern to all interested in evolving culturally.
Complete honesty and persistence are the only means of attaining the balance required to take on these practices. Nothing revolutionary is every gained without serious risk. If you chose a life of evolution, you will likely never find rest but you may find freedom.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Monday, 19 February 2007, 11:19 am
Press Release: International Solidarity Movement
Anarchist activist sentenced to three-month suspended sentence
Jonathan Pollak, an activist with Anarchists Against the Wall was sentenced to 3 months in prison, that will be activated if he is convicted at a similar charge again. Pollak was sentenced today after he was convicted together with 10 other activist for blocking a road in Tel Aviv in protest of the construction of the wall. He asked the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court to sentence him to jail time, rather than community service or a suspended sentence, saying he has no intention to stop resisting the occupation. The ten other convicted activists were sentenced to 80 hours of community service.
In his sentencing statement Pollak said " This trial, had it not taken place in a court of the occupation, in the democracy imposed on 3.5 million Palestinian subjects devoid of basic democratic liberties - was supposed to be a trial of the wall. The same wall defined as a illegal by the highest legal authority in the world; the same wall that serves as a political tool in the campaign of ethnic cleansing Israel is running in the occupied territories."
"It was not us who were supposed to stand here in the dock, but those who plan and carry into action the Israeli apartheid," Pollak continued. He also stated that while he is not surprised by his conviction, he does not recognize it as legitimate, explaining that is the reason he refused community service or cooperation with the probation authorities.
To end his statement Pollak asked that the court punish him with a prison sentence and not a suspended one. "In a state of things where any gathering in the territories is considered illegal because of a widespread anti-democratic policy of closed military zones, any suspended sentence given to me will quickly become a prison term" pollak said, then turning to the judge personally, saying "if your honor believes one should be sent to prison for such acts, please take the liberty and personally send me to prison here and now".
The state prosecutor quickly responded by asking not to send Pollak to prison, but rather to pose a conditional sentence and a fine.
Jonathan Pollak's full sentencing statement
From the first moment of this trial we took responsibility for our acts. We've never denied, even for an instant, that we sat on the road. Quite the opposite - we fully admitted this, and we explained why we did so. The defense was revolved around two central axes - exposing the police's lies and their invention of fictional accusations, which the court has already addressed, and on the principals of civil resistance. In its decision, the court stated that we were attempting to drag this court into the political arena, which it should avoid like fire, lest it get burned. In fact, the state prosecution was the one doing the dragging. In every crime and in every trial, the question of motive is a central one. Our so called crime is clearly a political one, and so are its motives.
This trial, had it not taken place in a court of the occupation, in the democracy imposed on 3.5 million Palestinian subjects devoid of basic democratic liberties, would have been the trial of the Wall; that same wall that was defined as illegal by the highest legal authority in the world; that same wall that is used as a political tool in the campaign of ethnic cleansing being undertaken by Israel in the Occupied Territories; that same wall that in its previous route, that route of the relevant days, was thrown out even by Israeli courts! It was not us who should have been standing accused here, but rather the architects and enforcers of Israeli Apartheid.
To our assertion that there is a duty to violate the law at times, the court answered that in such times, one must accept the punishment as well. This response contains an obvious moral failure. The correct response would be that those who violate the law must expect punishment. Expect it, but under no circumstances accept its legitimacy.
I am not surprised that we were found guilty. But in spite of that, I cannot accept the legitimacy of the punishment. That is the reason I refused to cooperate with the parole agency, and I will refuse community service as well.
I believe that at this stage of the trial the defense tends to state that this is the defendant's first conviction, that he is a normal human being, who is well within the bounds of civil society, that he works a steady job and so on and so forth. I will argue otherwise. I will state that while this is indeed my first conviction, it is unlikely to be my last. I still believe that what I did was necessary and morally correct, and that resistance to oppression is the duty of every human being, even at a personal price.
It is customary to ask for leniency - not to impose an active sentence, and to be satisfied with a conditional sentence. I will ask not to have a conditional sentence imposed on me, but an active one, since as things are, any demonstration taking place in the Occupied Territories is declared illegal assembly, according to the extensive and anti-democratic system of closed military zone warrants. In this state of affairs, any conditional sentence imposed upon me will quickly become an active one. If your honor believes one should be sent to prison for such acts, please take the liberty and personally send me to prison here and now.
by Umberto Eco
Writing in New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15. Excerpted in Utne Reader, November-December 1995, pp. 57-59.
The following version follows the text and formatting of the Utne Reader article, and in addition, makes the first sentence of each numbered point a statement in bold type. Italics are in the original.
For the full article, consult the New York Review of Books, purchase the full article online; or purchase Eco's new collection of essays: Five Moral Pieces.
In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.
* * *
1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but is was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages -- in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia.
This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, "the combination of different forms of belief or practice;" such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.
As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.
If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine, who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge -- that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.
2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.
Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.
3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action's sake.
Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and "universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.
4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.
In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.
5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.
Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.
6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old "proletarians" are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.
7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson's The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.
8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.
9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such "final solutions" implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.
10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.
Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.
11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.
In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte ("Long Live Death!"). In nonfascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.
12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.
13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view -- one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.
Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against "rotten" parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.
14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.
Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.
* * *
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt's words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: "If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land." Freedom and liberation are an unending task.
Umberto Eco (c) 1995
"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth." - Umberto Eco
The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove (Chinese: 竹林七賢) were a group of Chinese Taoist Qingtan scholars, writers, and musicians who came together in the bloody 3rd century CE. Later it has been determined that the group is mostly fictitious; although the individual members all probably have existed, their interconnection is highly suspect, as is their alleged previous court official career. Careers notwithstanding, key members were linked with the "Taoist" Cao Wei; they found their lives to be in danger when the avowedly "Confucian" Jin Dynasty came to power. They wrote taoist poems, poems criticizing the court and the administration and manuals on taoist mysticism and alchemy. It would be a mistake to assume that all members had similar views regarding immortality or politics, however, and while some members tried to negotiate their difficult political positions by self-consciously adopting the roles of ale-fueled jokesters and eccentrics, others eventually capitulated and joined the Jin dynasty (most notably Wang Rong). Although it is unknown how much they personally engaged in Qingtan, they became the subjects of it themselves in the Shishuo Xinyu (Chinese: 世說新語 "New Tales of the World").
As is traditionally depicted, the group wished to escape the intrigues, corruption and stifling atmosphere of court life during the politically fraught Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. They gathered in a bamboo grove near the house of Xi Kang (aka Ji Kang) in Shanyang (now in Henan province) where they enjoyed, and praised in their works, the simple, rustic life. This was contrasted with the politics of court. The Seven Sages stressed the enjoyment of ale, personal freedom, spontaneity and a celebration of nature.
Liu Ling, Ruan Ji, Ruan Xian, Xiang Xiu, Wang Rong and Shan Tao were the other six sages who made up the group. Xi Kang was especially close to Ruan Ji; their relationship was described as "stronger than metal and fragrant as orchids". The wife of a fellow sage was said to be impressed by Ruan Ji and Xi Kang's prowess when she spied on them during sex.
It would be Xi Kang's disdain for courtly life which would eventually lead to his execution. The group's rural life became a common theme for art, and they inspired other artists who wished to retreat during times of political upheavals. The myth spread rapidly, and within a few generations the pa ta were so inspired by the supposedly anarchist revelry of the Seven Sages that they sought to copy them fully, while naked.
Another person associated with the Seven Sages is Rong Qiqi (榮啟期), who in fact lived quite earlier. This association is depicted in some apocryphal art from the fourth century CE, in a tomb near Nanjing.
The Seven Sages, or the symbol that they became, have been remarked to be influential in Chinese poetry, music, art, and overall culture.
No one's serious at seventeen.
--On beautiful nights when beer and lemonade
And loud, blinding cafés are the last thing you need
--You stroll beneath green lindens on the promenade.
Lindens smell fine on fine June nights!
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes;
The wind brings sounds--the town is near--
And carries scents of vineyards and beer. . .
--Over there, framed by a branch
You can see a little patch of dark blue
Stung by a sinister star that fades
With faint quiverings, so small and white. . .
June nights! Seventeen!--Drink it in.
Sap is champagne, it goes to your head. . .
The mind wanders, you feel a kiss
On your lips, quivering like a living thing. . .
The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels
--And when a young girl walks alluringly
Through a streetlamp's pale light, beneath the ominous shadow
Of her father's starched collar. . .
Because as she passes by, boot heels tapping,
She turns on a dime, eyes wide,
Finding you too sweet to resist. . .
--And cavatinas die on your lips.
You're in love. Off the market till August.
You're in love.--Your sonnets make Her laugh.
Your friends are gone, you're bad news.
--Then, one night, your beloved, writes. . .!
That night. . .you return to the blinding cafés;
You order beer or lemonade. . .
--No one's serious at seventeen
When lindens line the promenade.
He frequently ran away from home and may have briefly joined the Paris Commune of 1871, which he portrayed in his poem L'orgie parisienne ou Paris se repeuple (The Parisian Orgy or, Paris Repopulates). He may have been raped by drunken Communard soldiers (his poem "Le cœur supplicié" ["The Tortured Heart"] suggests so).
By this time he had become an anarchist, started drinking and amused himself by shocking the local bourgeoisie with his shabby dress and long hair. At the same time he wrote to Izambard and Paul Démeny about his method for attaining poetical transcendence or visionary power through a "long, intimidating, immense and rational derangement of all the senses" ("Les lettres du Voyant" ["The Letters of the Seer"]).
He returned to Paris in late September 1871 at the invitation of the eminent Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (after Rimbaud had sent him a letter containing several samples of his work) and resided briefly in Verlaine's home.
Verlaine, who was married, promptly fell in love with the sullen, blue-eyed, overgrown (5 ft 10 in), light-brown-haired adolescent. They became lovers and led a wild, vagabond-like life spiced by absinthe and hashish. They scandalized the Parisian literary coterie on account of the outrageous behaviour of Rimbaud, the archetypical enfant terrible, who throughout this period continued to write strikingly visionary verse.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
My mind is illuminated
With music and poetry
As I stand beside you
In your yellow dress.
You’re always talking
About rose petals
On perfumed pillows
And walking nude
In the soothing summer rain
I’m taken aback
By your elegant loneliness
That pours off of you
In saturating waves
And threatens to drown me
In your loveliness
And river of tears.
To look at you again
In the sunlight.
I’ll marry you
In a secret shrine
By pagan priests
In the valley
Of flower worship
And erotic dreams.
I’ll dwell in you
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Feb. 3, 2007
On a recent Friday night, with a full moon glowering waxy from above, a feline and freaky crowd gathered on a toxic finger of San Francisco's bayside no-man's-land to bid symbolic adieu to one of the most powerful works of art that the Burning Man arts festival has ever seen: the great dame La Contessa. A massive Spanish galleon encased around a bus, with crow's nests and rigging and a scuttlebutt for all I know, La Contessa was, on the playa anyway, a manifest dream, a fully realized mobile archetype that featured such fetishistic and finely-grained detail that it became a vessel in more than a literal sense. Standing on the bow at night, the Dutchman sails flying above, a bardo-shaking brass band drowning out sense, and some unseen meth-head driving too fast or erratically for your own cowardly comfort, one did not need drugs to achieve the escape velocity of full imaginative transport. And on Dec 6 of last year, this great vessel of the wayward spirit, its forty feet parked on a ranch in Washoe County, Nevada, was torched to ruin by a local landowner who never hid his hatred of Burning Man, and whose legally dubious and almost certainly vengeful act is parsed, along with much else, in Steven T. Jones' solid SF Guardian cover story.
The creation of Simon Cheffins, Greg Jones, and the bulk of the Extra Action Marching Band, La Contessa made her first appearance at the festival in 2002. It was the year of the "Floating World," which is hands down my favorite Burning Man theme. Unlike so many themes, which are frustratingly abstract, and almost preachy, the obvious nautical reading of the "Floating World" transformed the playa itself into an easy-access creative space, where some bonehead's blow-up octopus toy helped contribute to the collective hallucination as much as a marvel like La Contessa or those striking jellyfish. Moreover, the playa at night already is a sort of sea: the ocean of the unconscious, of drifting, fragmentary dreams within which one alternately sinks or swims. Or sails, in the case of this gorgeous, slutty galleon, which cut across the open lakebed like the Pequod in pursuit of a white leviathan—a scenario that, blessed be, actually manifested itself that ageless weekend in 2002, when La Contessa played nautical chicken with a monstrous glowing whale whose innards—another bus—were driven by the notorious Flash. The insane and patently unsafe jousting of these two behemoths, glimpsed by me and my pals from a few hundred yards away, was a vision of such fantastic hilarity that it seems incredible to report that the scenario was raised to an even higher pitch of glorious absurdity by the spectacle, an hour or so later, of the white whale being ticketed by distinctly unamused BLM rangers.
All gratuitous acts of strong art are magickal invocations, but there is something particularly spellbinding about truly obsessive and basically useless degrees of detail. This is one of the strengths of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films: the visionary reality of his Middle-Earth was partly a creation of the artisans who designed the props and costumes, and more often than not, added far more detail than the camera would ever pick up. Such excess marked La Contessa's making as well, a work of manic devotion. Discussing the immense logistical challenges and passionate volunteer work that created the ship, Cheffins told the Guardian that "The idea of the ship is it was a lady that you end up serving, and she took on a life of her own. We all came to feel like servants at some point." Appropriately, the lady's most gorgeous feature was her female figurehead (which had already been stolen from the galleon before the ship burned and is presumably still at large). This gorgeous corseted wench, the work of the sculptor Monica Maduro, hung from the prow clutching a lamp, both eyes shut, as if she was leading the ship by feel, or into some nameless alien landscape that unrolled across the screens of her inner eyelids.
Many theme camps and art cars at Burning Man are all façade, like store fronts on a Western set, concealing the usual mess of rebar and wires. And many more are themed in only the loosest sense, settling instead for the goofy juxtapositions and slapdash irony that form the basic—and often lazy and incoherent—foundation of playa art. But once you boarded La Contessa—after suffering the glowering gaze of some haughty Barbary bouncer—you passed through an appealingly soiled interior bordello before reaching the deck, all without glimpsing anything that resembled a modern vehicle. On deck you marveled at the rigging and sails and the weathered balustrade. Then some grizzled and likely sodomite demanded that you please turn off your fucking blinky lights, a demand considered fussy and elitist by some but that merely affirmed the crew's commitment to the visionary craft.
Indeed, by hewing so closely to historical detail, La Contessa was much more straight than your average playa work. I was surely not the only passenger for whom La Contessa instantly resurrected a childhood love of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean—a ride, by the way, that only fools mock. Like Burning Man, Pirates is a bardo run-through, a sometimes cavernous and claustrophobic cruise through the spectral realms of desire and anarchy and destructive imaginal machines. Think about it, Burners: in its original form, the ride ends with a burning city overrun with madmen high on intoxicants, explosives, and lust. Even more inspiring is the character known in fan lore as the "red-headed woman." We see her first as a portrait in the drunken skeleton's lair, a spicy pirate queen equipped with a cutlass, and then later as a woman abducted from the burning town, at which point we realize that the whole ride is a tale told in reverse, like a black mass, and that, once captured, the crimson-topped lass exuberantly embraced her sordid new life of high-seas crime, all before winding up as an image to delight the drunken dead. All very La Contessa, would not you say?
For Friday's wake, a crew of countess lovers built a small-scale replica of the galleon, a simulacrum of a simulacrum, and all the better for it. The crowd warmed itself with a few hours of whisky and reminiscences and banjo renditions of sea shanties and La Contessa's two theme songs. A few speeches were made—Moms were thanked, Rimbaud's "Drunken Boat" was read—and then the Extra Action Marching Band, led by flag girls bearing silvery standards, struck up a dirge punctuated by bullhorn lamentations en francais, and led the crowd and the drunken boat to the damp sands by waterline. Dr. Hal Robbins intoned Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar," and the boat was committed to the sea, where it soon ballooned into flame like the Viking burials of yore. The ladies took up another round of "The Countess," which bounced and echoed off the metal walls of distant industrial buildings like a spectral dub track:
They toiled for a thousand white nights to build the ship that they sail'd,
Bound together with salt & spunk, buckets of bloody nails.
They thought that their task would be easy; they learned their lesson well.
So No! Let it never be foolishly be said
That the countess is easily wooed into bed.
We came together
In a frenzied embrace
Mouths locked, Nostrils flared
Snorting like fighting bulls
Kissing, stroking, groping
Fumbling with buttons and belts
Hooks and eyes
Until we lay in a heap
Disordered in our semi nakedness
I caressed her breasts
Teasing her nipples
First with fingers
Before attending to them orally
I moved my hand across her soft belly
And pulled up her skirt
My mouth alternated between
Her swollen nipples and her eager mouth
My slipped under her skirt
And I reached up
Until I felt the silk of her underwear
I pulled them down to her ankles urgently
Then I moved my hand steadily
Up her long stockined leg
From ankle to calf to her inner thigh
The soft naked flesh above her stocking
Before combing my fingers through
Her luxuriant growth
She turned her attentions once again
To my ear frantically exploring it with her tongue
I cupped her pubic bone in my hand
And rocked it gently
Then I slipped my fingers between her lips
Into the creamy wetness
She moaned gently in my ear
And slid her finger around my swollen shaft
Tugging roughly at me
As I worked her wet flesh
Until her rhythmic moaning Reach crescendo
And she came
Her thighs closed on me
Then she rolled onto her back
For me to mount her
She wanted me so badly
And my balls ached for the want of her
I lay on her and we kissed
And I probed at her wetness
Teasing her lips with my tip
Then in her urgency
with her slender legs wrapped around me
She pulled me in until she enveloped me
Then she gripped me
Vice like with her slim yet powerfull thighs
Preventing my withdrawal
Her mouth was again on my ear
Licking and chewing
Her razor like nails dug into my skin
I arched my back
And entered her deeper
Then her grip on my hips lessoned
I withdrew and thrust into her again
She writhed beneath me moaning
As she tongued my ear
I thrust again
She bit my lobe
Her nails were now in my buttocks
I thrust again and again
Then again faster and faster
We moan loudly in unison
Until I exploded inside her
And she clung to me like a limpet
There we lay in the afterglow of passion
Locked in fond embrace
For a timeless period
Until our passions were again aroused
Friday, February 16, 2007
Part I A Great Book, Thoughts on Anarchy...
[I wish i could figure out how to corral my thoughts on a subject the way some people are able to do & be concise & to the point, with out all the gobbly gook, I do hate long posts, myself. On the other hand I keep reminding myself, this blogging is for my own education, more then anything.Writting things down helps me to remember names, dates, etc... It's not always easy to achieve a balance, between the need for pedantry & engaging other peoples minds.]
While on vacation, I picked up this excellent reference book at my friends house, called The Great Thoughts, Compiled by George Seldes. I loved this book so much & my lovely friend Lynn gave it to me. The book is a compilation of quotes from the great thinkers through out human history, unlike Bartons Book of Familiar Quotations(which I also love & keep handy)this book focuses on quotes of an intellectual & philosophical nature. A great book of quotes if you like to do a little critical thinking.
Breakerslion had mentioned Anarchy on a recent post of his. It got me to wondering about what the philosophy of Anarchism really is. So, I purused all the quotes on anarchy in my new book of quotes. And...here are some:
According to Emma Goldman(1869-1940)Russian born American feminist, writer; Anarchism is the philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law. She said, All forms of government rest on violence, & are therefore wrong & harmful, as well as unnecessary.
Mikhail Bakunin(1814-1876)Russian writer & anarchist said; The state is the younger brother of the church. All law has for it's object to confirm & exalt into a system the exploitation of the workers by a ruling class.
He adds; powerful states can maintain themselves only by crime, little states are virtous only by weakness.
Henry brooke Adams(1838-1918) American historian & awesome guy said; Absolute liberty is absence of restraint; responsibiliy is restraint; therefore the ideally free individual is responsible only to himself. This principle is the philosophical foundation of anarchism, and, for anythat science has yet proved may be the philosophical fondation of the universe, it so fatal to all society & is esp. hostile to the state.
Pierre Joseph Proudhon(1809-1865); Socialist , spiritual founder of the French Labor Movement; The ideal government is a positive anarchy. It is liberty free from all shackles, superstitions, prejudices, sophistries, usury, authority; it is reciprocal liberty & not limited liberty; liberty not the daughter but the mother of order.
Based on these quotes & other research, I would say Anarchism is a political philosophy built on idealism. With all political philosophys, there seems to be the idealism, the realism & the truth in practice.
Anarchism as a philosophy has some valid points.
Anarchy as a movement? in this point in time, I think it needs more direction. I think anarchy IS necessary some times. It would be nice if us human beings were mature anough to handle it when it happens.
But,we will never "grow up" as long as we let people convince us what inherent sinners we are. posted by L>T
The perfume of your body dulls my sense.
I want nor wine nor weed; your breath alone
Suffices. In this moment rare and tense
I worship at your breast. The flower is blown,
The saffron petals tempt my amorous mouth,
The yellow heart is radiant now with dew
Soft-scented, redolent of my loved South;
O flower of love! I give myself to you.
Uncovered on your couch of figured green,
Here let us linger indivisible.
The portals of your sanctuary unseen
Receive my offering, yielding unto me.
Oh, with our love the night is warm and deep!
The air is sweet, my flower, and sweet the flute
Whose music lulls our burning brain to sleep,
While we lie loving, passionate and mute.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
by Dan Bacher and John Reiger
Local activists held a "Power of the Purse" rally and purse on Tuesday in front of Rep. Doris Matsui's office in Sacramento to urge her and Congress to vote against any additional funding for the Iraq war and occupation
Peace Advocates Urge Rep. Matsui to use the "Power of the Purse"
by John Reiger and Dan Bacher
The Sacramento Coalition to End the War held the first-ever "Power of the Purse" demonstration on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 13 in front of the federal building at 5th & I streets where Representative Doris Matsui has her district office. The purpose of the event - which marked the 26th day of a "peace-in" at her office - was to tell Representative Matsui and the rest of Congress to use their constitutional power of the purse to vote against any additional war funding.
More than two dozen people carried purses, held "Power of the Purse" signs, and chanted anti-war slogans. The protesters came from many local anti-war groups and from other progressive political and community organizations.
Maggie Coulter of Sacramento Peace Action made an impassioned speech about the need to end the occupation and bring our troops home. She noted that Rep. Matsui has signed on only to non-binding resolutions, which are symbolic, and measures – such as HR 787 – which authorizes a troop withdrawal, but also allow the President to stop the redeployment at any point, and would leave an unspecified number of troops in Iraq in the end.
"Congress has the power of the purse strings. It is the one real way it can stop the war. Yet Doris refuses to agree to our lone request – vote against future funding for the war. There are billions already allocated to protect our troops. New funding only extends the war," Coulter said.
Jeff Kravitz , a constitutional lawyer and law school instructor, spoke about Congress’ constitutional power and responsibility concerning war spending. He noted that this Congress, elected by anti-war voters, has not done anything to end the war and bring the troops home. Perhaps they didn’t fully understand that they have the power of the purse, so he proceeded to explain the concept.
After the speeches most of the crowd surged into the building to deliver their purses to Rep. Matsui’s staff person.
(All photos are by John Reiger, Peace and Freedom Party).
Published by Greg Palast February 14th, 2007
If you missed Greg Palast’s BBC Newsnight report on vultures, catch a replay on Thursday, February 15 on Democracy Now!
— Greg will be in the studio talking to Amy Goodman about the story.
By Meirion Jones
February 14, 2007 — On Thursday 15 February a high court judge in London will rule whether a vulture fund can extract more than $40m from Zambia for a debt which it bought for less than $4m.
There are concerns that such funds are wiping out the benefits which international debt relief was supposed to bring to poor countries.
Martin Kalunga-Banda, Zambian presidential adviser and a consultant to Oxfam told Newsnight, “That $40m is equal to the value of all the debt relief we received last year.”
Vulture funds - as defined by the International Monetary Fund and Gordon Brown amongst others - are companies which buy up the debt of poor nations cheaply when it is about to be written off and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest - which might be ten times what they paid for it.
Caroline Pearce from the Jubilee Debt campaign told Newsnight it makes a mockery of all the work done by governments to write off the debts of the poorest.
“Profiteering doesn’t get any more cynical than this. Zambia has been planning to spend the money released from debt cancellation on much-needed nurses, teachers and infrastructure: this is what debt cancellation is intended for not to line the pockets of businessmen based in rich countries.” Continue reading ‘Vulture Fund Threat to Third World’
Published by Greg Palast February 14th, 2007
By Kavita Puri
Programme producer, BBC Newsnight
Remember Make Poverty History that campaigned to cancel third world debt. And the lofty proclamations by politicians at the G8 in Gleneagles to reduce debt.
Tonight, we have a shocking investigation into vulture funds that make a mockery of these pledges. These companies buy up the debt of poor nations cheaply - when it is just about to be written off - and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest. Continue reading ‘Greg Palast Hunts the Real Goldfinger’
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
* Valentine’s Day: Labor Conditions at US-Owned Plantations Show Hidden Realities of Flower Industry *
Today is Valentine's Day. Chocolate, flowers, diamonds. How can gifts that bring so much happiness have come from so much pain? We begin our coverage with a look at the flower industry. Nora Ferm of the International Labor Rights Fund talks about a new report on labor conditions at US-owned flower plantations in Colombia and Ecuador. We’re also joined by Beatriz Fuentes, President of the Sintrasplendor Union at Dole’s largest flower plantation in Colombia which has become the site of a growing worker’s struggle.
* “Diamond Life”: Documentary Examines How Diamonds Funded the Civil War in Sierra Leone *
We turn now to the issue of conflict diamonds -- also known as blood diamonds. The documentary “Diamond Life” looks at how diamonds funded the civil war in Sierra Leone.
* Child Labor: The Hidden Ingredient to the Billion-Dollar Chocolate Industry? *
On Valentine's Day, chocolate is the currency in which people are supposed to trade their love. Little do they know that chocolate might have been made with slave labor. We speak with Brian Campbell, an attorney with the International Labor Rights Fund.
* Global Witness Founder Charmian Gooch: “The Diamond Industry is Failing to Live Up to Its Promises” *
For more on the diamond industry, we’re joined by Global Witness founder and director Charmian Gooch. Gooch says diamond companies have failed to deliver on promises to reduce the prevalence of blood diamonds.
I feel closer to you when I imagine that all of us are collaborating to fight monumental dangers. The telepathic links among us heat up when our emotions register the possibility that a global cataclysm could wipe us out.
That's why I think of the nuclear bomb as a gift. It's a terrible and sacred taboo that mobilizes our love for each other better than any other symbol. It's the superhuman profanity on which all life depends and against which all values must be tested. Shadowing every one of our personal actions, the bomb is the fascinating blasphemy that won't stop ranting unless we're all very, very good.
In the quiet abyss of our imaginations, we unconsciously worship it, believing in its extravagant potency as if it were a god. It is the most spiritual, most supernatural material object in the world, a fetish that has the power to literally change all life on earth instantly and forever. We agree to be possessed by it, to be haunted by its apparition above all other apparitions. No other spectacle inspires more perverse attraction.
And yet it's secret. How few of us have ever stood next to the magic body of a hydrogen bomb in a missile silo or laboratory—breathed in its smell, touched it, communed with its actual life. Its presence among us is rumor and mystery, like flying saucers and the afterlife. We hear stories.
At night our dreams turn the bomb into the philosopher's stone, the pearl of great price, the doppelganger of the messiah, the violent ecstasy of religious conversion. Our blood is alive to its alchemy, alert to its offer of the blinding flash of irreversible illumination. We recognize the bomb as our impossible teacher because it harbors a dangerous light that seems to mimic the sun.
It's ours. We made it. We imagined it into existence so we could remember that we are all one body. When I fantasize the bomb vaporizing me into its pure primeval heat and radiation, I remember that you and I are made of the same stuff. The bomb frees us to imagine that we all live and die together, that we are all born out of Adam, the indivisible hermaphrodite god of our species. And we can return now because we
We need the bomb. We need the bomb because only the tease of the biggest, most original sin can heal us. The bomb is a blind, a fake, a trick memory we're sending ourselves from the future that shocks us better than all the abstract devils.
Let's call the bomb a love that's too big for us to understand yet. Let's say it's the raging creative life of a cleansing disease that wants to cure us so it doesn't have to kill us. Let's say it's the last judgment that promises not to come true if we can figure out what it means.
We have genetic potentials and divine powers so undreamed of that they will feel like magic when they finally bloom. But they may remain partially dormant in us until we're terrified not just of our individual deaths but also of the extinction of the human archetype.
Bless the fear. Praise the danger. O God of Good and Evil Light, let the ugly power fascinate us all now. Let it fix our dread so precisely that we become one ferocious, potently concentrated magician, a single guerrilla mediator casting a spell to bind the great Satan bomb. There will be no nuclear war.
Excerpt from the book:
"PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA:
How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings"
Open letter to Congress says Non-Binding Resolutions won't stop war
On February 17, thousands of protesters will assemble in Times Square NYC at 1:00 pm and then march to the NYC offices of New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer. The two senators have offices across the street from each other on 48th Street and 3rd Avenue.
The message of the march called by the antiwar coalition, the Troops Out Now Coalition, is that Senators Clinton and Schumer and their fellow members of Congress must vote no to President Bush's request for more funds for the war in Iraq.
An open letter to all 535 members of the House and Senate, signed by more than 2000 activists, states, "Symbolic, non-binding resolutions that only oppose the escalation of the war, such as the one that the House will be voting on next week, and the resolution before the Senate last week, are not going to end the war."
The letter goes on to say, "if you vote no to more war funding the troops will come home, lives will be saved and this nightmare will come to an end."
In addition to NYC, February 17th protests demanding a cut-off of war funding or planned for other cities across the country including Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, Raleigh, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
(Following is a copy of the Open Letter to Congress with a partial list of Signers)
An Open Letter to all 535 members of Congress
Dear House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, and all Members Of Congress,
Non -Binding Resolutions Won't Stop the War Stop the War: Vote No to More War Funding
On Saturday, February 17, thousands will rally at Times Square in New York City at 1:00 pm and march to the offices of Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Chuck Schumer to demand that they vote NO to more war funding.
Symbolic, non-binding resolutions that only oppose the escalation of the war, such as the one that the House will be voting on next week, and the resolution before the Senate last week, are not going to end the war.
Last November the people voted to change the leadership of Congress so that it could do what the President is unwilling to do -- to end the war now. As Sen. Russ Feingold said recently at a Senate Hearing on Congress's war powers, "Congress has the power to stop the war if it wants to." Now the people have given you the mandate to do that.
Soon you will be asked to vote your approval of President Bush's request for $245 billion more to pay for the war. A few of you have already indicated that you will not approve another dollar for war. All of you must to do the same. The next war funding vote will be every bit as important as the vote by the 109th Congress to authorize the war in October 2002.
If you vote no to more war funding the troops will come home, lives will be saved and this nightmare will come to an end. If you approve more funds for war, then more U.S. soldiers will die, more soldiers will be maimed for life, and the war will go on and on. If you approve more war funds, then no one can claim that this is solely the President's war, or only one political party's war; it will be Congress's war.
It will not suffice to say that you oppose the war, but that you're voting for more war funding to support the troops. The real support that the troops and their families need is for you to act decisively, cut off the war funding and bring everyone home alive.
Activists from across the country have designated Sat., Feb. 17, "VOTE NO WAR FUNDS DAY". On that day, thousands of peace-loving people will rally and march in their communities to tell Congress that when it comes time to vote on more funds for war, the people will be watching and waiting.
Partial list of signatures
Brenda Stokely, co-convener, New York City Labor Against the War* Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General Larry Holmes, Troops Out Now Coalition Teresa Guttierez, May 1 Immigrant Rights Coalition* Sharon Black, Million Worker March LeiLani Dowell, FIST - Fight Imperialism Stand Together Joseph Parko, founding member, Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition*, Atlanta, GA Elliot Markson, Veterans For Peace*, Brooklyn, NY Mona Parsons, Military Families Speak Out*, Mount Vernon, OH Julie Levine, Steering Committee, Topanga Peace Alliance*, CA Manik Mukherjee, AIAIF, All India Anti-imperialist Forum, Calcutta, India The Most Rev. Filipe Teixeira, Ofsjc, Diocesan Bishop, Catholic Church Of The Americas*, Brockton, MA Louis Lafortune, Member: County Council, Green Party Santa Cruz California*, Santa Cruz, CA Ardeshir Ommani, Chair, American-Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), Armonk, NY Paul "Zool" Zulkowitz, Green Party Peace Action Comm (GPAX)*, Woodmere, NY Ivy Nightscales, Shop Steward, SEIU*, Seattle, WA Amelia Core Jenkins, Code Pink*, Dallas, TX Ruth Valdez, Chair Social Action Comm., Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Of Santa Cruz*, Freedom, CA Leslie Feinberg, Co-Chair LGBT Caucus National Writers Union* Steve Gillis, Vice President USWA Local 8751 Boston School Bus Drivers and Monitors Minister Malik Shabazz-el Bey, President-General, New Marcus Garvey Movement-Black Panther Nation, Detroit, MI Paul Kangas, co-chair, Thc Troops Home By Christmas, San Francisco, CA Ronald Kuykendall, Veterans For Peace*, Asheville, NC Hasan Tarique Chowdhury, Bangladesh Peace Council*, Dhaka, Bangladesh Anthony Ehrlich, West Volusians For Peace And Justice*, Barberville, FL Mark Bradshaw-Miller, Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church*, Saint Louis, MO Paul Gattone, Executive Vice-President, National Lawyers Guild*, Tucson, AZ Mattie Thomas, Admin Asst., Move On*, Brooklyn, NY Jerry Messick, AFSCME*, Norman, OK Sylvia Zisman, Bklyn Parents For Peace*, Bklyn, NY Action Center For Justice, Charlotte, NC Ad Hoc Washington Heights Counter Recruitment, New York, NY All India Anti-Imperialist Forum, Calcutta, India Alliance For Democracy, Mendocoast Chapter, Albion, CA American-Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), Armonk, NY Catholic Peace Fellowship, Philadelphia, PA Center For Nonviolent Alternatives, Fort Ashby, WV Chamorro Nation, Merizo Citizens For Justice In The Middle East, Fairway, KS Codepink Willits, Willits, CA Doctors Of The World Greek Delegation, Athens, Greece Florida Keys Peace Alliance, Key West, FL Fraternidade Luterana Independente - Ecumênica : Frateli, São Paulo - Sp, Brazil Free Iraq Now, Anaheim, CA Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition Nyc, Ozone Park, NY International Federation Of Hawkers And Urban Poor & National Hawker Federation, Kolkata, India Jackson Action, Jackson, MS Jersey City Peace Movement, Jersey City, NJ Justice For Palestinians, San Jose, CA Labor Council For Latin American Advancement San Francisco Chapter, San Francisco, CA Liberty Underground Of Virginia (luv), Hampton, VA Military Families Seapk Out - Mn, Minneapolis, MN Military Families Speak Out, Mount Vernon, OH Montrose Peace Activitists, La Canada, CA New Marcus Garvey Movement-Black Panther Nation, Detroit, MI No Du Hiroshima Project, Hiroshima, Japan Pand-Artists For Peace, Espoo, Finland Pax Christi Naples, Naples, FL Philadelphia Committee To Free The Five, Philadelphia, PA Progressive Democrats Of America, Petaluma, CA Saratoga Peace Alliance, Saratoga Springs, NY Students And Youth Against Racism, State College, PA Thc Troops Home By Christmas, San Francisco, CA The People's Coup, Missoula, MT Topanga Peace Alliance, Topanga, CA Troops Out Now Coalition, Boston, MA UAH College Democrats/UAH Charger Dems, Huntsville, AL Veterans Against Nuclear Arms, Vancouver, BC, Canada Wage Peace, Jacksonville, FL Western Mass IAC/Troops Out Now!, Northampton, MA Western Massachusetts Women's International League For Peace & Freedom, Greenfield, MA WILPF, Aptos, CA Women's Int. League For Peace & Freedom Vancovuer Branch,Canadian Section, Burnaby, BC, Canada Alex Abasi, Los Angeles, CA Shahriar Abbassi, Lynchburg, VA Marrisha Abbot, Boulder Creek, CA Catherine Abbott, Orange, CA Babatunde Abdullah, Memeber- Minister, Nation Of Islam*, Atlanta, GA Becky Adams, Sylva, NC Carrie Adams, Berkeley, CA Elizabeth Adams, Convenor, Western Massachusetts Women's International League For Peace & Freedom*, Greenfield, MA Stan Adams, Richmond, VA Julia Adkins, Charlotte, NC Linda Aguirre, board member, Peace Action Of San Mateo*, San Mateo, CA Mohammed Ahmed, Qus, Egypt Fatima Al-hayani, Toledo, OH Mandana Alaudini, San Francisco, CA Kamran Alavi, Tracy, CA Ahmed Ali, Cairo, Egypt Edward Avery-Natale, Temple University*, Philadelphia, PA Joanne Axtell, Duluth, MN Lynn Azar, Honaunau, HI Patricia Baeten, Green Bay, WI Jack Balkwill, Chairman, Liberty Underground Of Virginia (LUV), Hampton, VA Susan K. Baritell, Secretary, Progressive Democrats Sonoma County*, Petaluma, CA Marguerite Battaglia-Evans, Board of Trustee Member/ Founder, Elmwood Village Charter School*, Buffalo, NY Catherine Bauer, Seattle., WA Wendy Baum, Buffalo, NY Linda Hunt Beckman, Neighborhood Networks*, Philadelphia, PA Lynn Beckman, Colorado Springs, CO Bardia Behabadi, Pasadena, CA Hawraa Berjawi, No for War, Bierut, LA, Lebanon June Berk, Ny, NY Adam Boettcher, San Francisco, CA Katherine Bommarito, Legislative Committee, Afge 3354*, St Louis, MO Lee Booth, Ypsilanti, MI William Boteler, Program Assistant, Natural Resources Council Of America*, Washington, DC Marla Bottesch, Norridgewock, ME Ed Boudreau, Mesa, AZ Dina Boyer, San Francisco, CA Jonathan Boyne, Honolulu, HI Howard Bozorgmehri, Saugus, CA Susan Bradford, Delaware Water Gap, PA Joseph Bradley, Coordinator, Catholic Peace Fellowship*, Philadelphia, PA Sandra Brady, Timberlake, NC Paul Brailsford, Veterans For Peace*, Ipswich, MA Marie Louise Bratt, Endicott, NY Benjamin Brotman, End the War Now, Bala Cynwyd, PA Brenda Brown, Placitas, NM Marilyn Burkhardt, Hebo, OR Claire Cafaro, Saratoga Peace Alliance*, Saratoga Springs, NY Harry Carey, student, California State University Los Angeles*, Los Angeles, CA Jason Carter, Burlington College*, Plainwell, MI Robert J. Carton, Phd, Averill Park, NY Louis Cazeau, Wrexham, United Kingdom Keely Chow, Member, UAH College Democrats/UAH Charger Dems, Huntsville, AL Sharon Clark, Troops Out Now Coalition, Boston, MA Judy Corwin, Livermore, CO Demelza Costa, Dr, Sweet Home, OR Nelson Magalhães Costa Filho, Paróquia Luterana de São Francisco de Assis, Fraternidade Luterana Independente - Ecumênica : Frateli, São Paulo - Sp, Brazil Portia Cox, Student*, Davis, CA Arthur Daniels, United Federation Of Teachers*, Wellington, FL Elsie Dean, Corresponding Secretary, Women's Int. League For Peace & Freedom Vancovuer Branch,canadian Section, Burnaby, BC, Canada Gwendolyn Debrow, Co-Chair, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition Nyc, Ozone Park, NY David Dixon, Coordinator, Action Center For Justice, Charlotte, NC Catherine Donaghy, volunteer/organizer, Western Mass IAC/Troops Out Now!, Northampton, MA Joyce Donche, Mother & Concerned Citizen*, Bosque Farms, NM Viela Du Pont Al-kayyali, San Bruno, CA Francine Ducoat, Boca Raton, FL Anne Dunlap, United Church Of Christ Seminarian*, Denver, CO John Dwyer, Pax Christi Naples, Naples, FL Joseph Edwards, Shipman, VA Paul Edwards, Unit Executive Officer, Canadian Union Of Public Employees*, Toronto, ON, Canada Tatiana Efthyvoulou, Ann Arbor, MI Elizabeth Egan, Haddon Heights, NJ Peter Ehrhorn, Kailua, HI Mike Eilenfeldt, member, Union @Cooper Union*, New York, NY Mennat Allah Elnaggar, Alexandria, AK, Egypt Craig Etchison, Center For Nonviolent Alternatives, Fort Ashby, WV Erica Etelson, Berkeley, CA Val Farmer, Students For A Democratic Society*, Everett, WA Sam Feldman, Political Director, Democracy For America Miami Dade*, Miami Beach, FL Mary Lou Finley, Peace And Freedom Party*, San Diego, CA CJ Fitts, Coalition For Peace Action*, Newportville, PA Sandra Fitzelle, London, ON, Canada Walter Five, Priest, Ecclesia Catholicae Gnostica*, Houston, TX Sara Flounders, International Action Center, Jersey City, NJ Phyllis Flowers, member, Code Pink, Willits, CA Sylvia Forsyth, Unitarian Universalist, Aptos, CA Dan Fraizer, Springfield, MA Beth Friedlan, Political Activist, Brandywine Peace Community*, Philadelphia, PA Mary Fran Gebhard, Justice and Peace Coordinator, St Bede Monastery*, Eau Claire, WI Shalini Gera, Friends Of South Asia*, Hayward, CA Larry Gerber, Lake Worth, FL Ayesha Gill, Oakland, CA Susan Gill, San Anselmo, CA Molly Green, Santa Cruz, CA Rhea Green, Ukiah, CA A.Jim Grimm, Veterans for Peace*, Clawson, MI Kristin Grossman, Lawrencee, KS Chet Guinn, Peace & Justice Advocate, Methodist Federation For Social Action*, Des Moines, IA Jean Hagedorn, Social Justice Coordinator, Sisters Of Humility*, Des Moines, IA Rick Hanson, Military Families Seapk Out - Mn, Minneapolis, MN Mary Hassler, ILWU*, San Francisco, CA Jean Herrmann, Elgin, IL Caroline Herzenberg, Chicago, IL Elaine Herzog, Thousand Oaks, CA Laurie Hesed, Pawnee Rock, KS Claire Hess Goldstien, Norwalk, CA David Hoskins, organizer, FIST, Washington, DC Ismael Hossein-zadeh, Professor of Economics, Drake University*, Des Moines, IA Jan Howell, Florida Keys Peace Alliance*, Key West, FL Kimberly Huff, MFSO*, Fullerton, CA Tara Hui, San Francisco, CA Mary Hunt, Hamden, CT Daisy Hurley, Randallstown, MD William Iannaccone, Private Investigator/Author/Litigant, National Lawyers Guild*, Buffalo, NY Ali Ibreighith, Anaheim, CA Brenda Iijima, Brooklyn, NY Janet Johnson, Arnold, MO Virginia Johnson, Morning View, KY Lindsay Johnston, Kuopio, Finland Beatrice Kay Jones, Democaratic Committeewoman Monroe 2, Military Families Speak Out*, Mechanicsburg, PA Fred Kahn, Buddhists For Peace*, Winter Park, FL Seth Kahn, West Chester, PA Mohammad Kashmiri, Field Representative, SEIU Local 790*, Oakland, CA Kamel Kilani, Blakehurst, Australia Andrew Kimes, Cotati, CA Regina Laird, Long Beach, CA Dustin Langley, Navy Veteran, Jersey City, NJ Gerard Langlois, Jacksonville, FL Adrienne Leasa, Spring City, PA Mary T. Legge, Member, Congregations Of St. Joseph*, Flourtown, PA Marisha Leiblum, Student Trustee, UMASS Amherst*, Pelham, MA Bruce Leier, Minneapolis, MN Leah Levine, Sacramento, CA Builder Levy, UFT*, New York, NY Teresa Lewis, Gilbert, AZ Jerimarie Liesegang, Queers Without Borders*, Hartford, CT Mary Lilly, Tiffin, OH Dominica Lo Bianco, Member, Sisters Of St. Francis, Philadelphia*, Aston, PA Baldassarre Locatelli, Cottesloe, Australia Maria L. Lofchie, Brunswick, ME Freddie Long, member, Code Pink, Willits, CA Thomas Long, Professor Emeritus, East Carolina University*, Greenville, NC Eli Loomis, Graduate Student, University Of Montana*, Missoula, MT Doug Love, Treasurer, Prince George's Peace And Justice Coalition*, Greenbelt, MD Nancy S. Lovejoy, Wilbraham, MA Stephanie Low, New York, NY Luke Lundemo, Organizer, Jackson Action, Jackson, MS Stephany Lyman, Instructor, Univ Of New Orleans*, New Orleans, LA Kathleen Lyons, Director of Religious Education, Sisters Of Notre Dame*, Zephyrhills, FL Laura Mabry, South Bend, IN Kim Marlen, San Pablo, CA Susan Maroko, New Buffalo, MI Claudette Marrom, South Ohio, NS, Canada Yarrow Marron, Sandy Cove, NS, Canada Jeffrey Martin, President, Students And Youth Against Racism*, State College, PA Ron Matason, Veterans For Peace, Ch 17*, State College, PA Patricia Mcclellan, Pastor, St. Columba Of Iona Church*, San Pablo, CA Richard Mcconney, Ocean Grove, NJ Robin Mccubbin, Professor, San Diego, CA Bonnie Mcfadden, Maui Peace Action*, Makawao, HI Emily Mcfarlane, Chapel Hill, NC Richard Mercouris, Veterans For Peace*, San Leandro, CA Kathleen Merletti, Pittsburgh, PA Robert J Missirlian, Veterans For Peace*, Royal Oak, MI John Monteverde, Veterans for Peace*, Albuquerque, NM Webb Nichols, Owner, Watertown, MA John O. Niles,jr., Veterans For Peace*, Chelsea, MA Erik-Anders Nilsson, Director, Jersey City Peace Movement, Jersey City, NJ Waleed Nooh, no for more war, Cairo, Egypt Dorothy Norosavage, Toms River, NJ Donna Norton, Progressive Democrats Of America, Petaluma, CA Stephen Paulmier, Chair, Philadelphia Committee To Free The Five, Philadelphia, PA Beth Paxson, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, Portland, OR Corinna Proffitt, Chino Hills, CA Joseph Ramsey, Somerville, MA Jill Ransom, Reno, NV Margaret Rapp, Ad Hoc Washington Heights Counter Recruitment, New York, NY Michael Riordan, isabled American Veterans*, Bolton, CT Richard R. Rivard, Member, Pax Christi Usa*, Revere, MA Joanne Robson, Omro, WI Silvia Romero, Student, Stanford University*, Palo Alto, CA Avner Eliyahu Romm, Cape Town, South Africa Richard & Carolyn Rosenstein, Codepink, Progressive Democrats*, Los Angeles, CA Jean Rupertus, Health Care Director, Sisters Of St. Francis Of Philadelpia*, Glen Riddle, PA, United Kingdom Steve Saelzler, Veterans For Peace; Uaw, Brownstown, MI Jukka Sammalvuo, Kuopio, Finland Joyce Samuels, Louisville, KY Glen Sandberg, Treasurer, S. Miss United For Peace*, Gulfport, MS Matthew Sandofsky, Los Angeles, CA Randi Scheurer, MFSO*, Lindenhurst, IL Isabel De Sena, Professor, Sarah Lawrence College*, Jackson Heights, NY Edward Shaffer, Board Member, Veterans Against Nuclear Arms, Vancouver, BC, Canada Alli Shaloum, New York, NY Mary Shanley, New York City, NY Janine Sotomayor, RN, Veterans For Peace*, Blanchard, OK David Southern, Long Beach, CA Kathy Spain, Ashland, OR Karin Spak, Yatesville, PA Jane Spann, San Francisco, CA Walter Spencer, Rio Rancho, NM Rachel Tellis, Member, Pda*, Dumfries, VA Sanders Terkell, Veterans For Peace, New York, NY Wendy Theriault, Nashua, NH Sally Thompson, San Francisco, CA Kenneth Trauger, retired clergy, United Church Of Christ*, Lancaster, PA Dejan Trbojevic, PhD, Flanders, NY Donna Treloar, Kalamazoo, MI Nguyen Trung, Seaside, OR Barbara Vickers, Los Angeles, CA Patricio Villagomez, Chatsworth, CA Timothy Villard, Pittsford, NY Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild*, San Francisco, CA Norma Villegas, San Diego, CA Donna Wallach, Justice For Palestinians, San Jose, CA Cindy Waltershausen, De Soto, WI Anne Wangh, Nyc, NY Suzanne Ward, Camas, WA Victoria Ward, Santa Barbara, CA Nancy Weber, Saratoga Peace Alliance, Saratoga Springs, NY Susan Zlabis, Homewood, IL Lucille Zorich, Northridge, CA William Zorumski, Taos, NM Martine Zundmanis, Silver Spring, MD Dave Zunkel, Los Angeles, CA Bennet Zurofsky, Attorney, Reitman Parsonnet, PC*, Maplewood, NJ
Troops Out Now Coalition
55 W. 17th St. #5C
NY NY 10011
Media Contact: Dustin Langley 646-354-8056
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International Action Center
5C - Solidarity Center
55 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011
En Espanol: firstname.lastname@example.org
Support Mumia Abu-Jamal: http://www.millions4mumia.org/
phone: 212 633-6646
fax: 212 633-2889
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Alice is a 2007 film adaptation of the computer game American McGee's Alice, which itself was loosely based on the characters and back-story of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland stories, though with an independent plot and explicitly darker and gruesome thematic elements.
The film is currently in production by Universal Studios with director Marcus Nispel. The story is based on American McGee's game and the screenplay is being written by Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber. Sarah Michelle Gellar will star as Alice.
[Thanks to Bob on mrr for finding this link..I have this book and his other book called Since Yesterday]
[Thanks to dada for this one...]
Little is published regarding Crowley's advocacy of the Ouija Board. Yet, he had great admiration for the use of one and the Ouija board played a significant role in his magical workings.
Jane Wolfe, who lived with Crowley at his infamous Abbey of Cefalu, also used the Ouija board. She credits some of her greatest spiritual communications to use of this implement. Crowley also discussed the Ouija board with another of his students, and the most ardent of them, Frater Achad (Charles Stansfeld Jones): it is frequently mentioned in their unpublished letters.
Throughout 1917 Achad experimented with the board as a means of summoning Angels, as opposed to Elementals. In one letter Crowley told Jones: "Your Ouija board experiment is rather fun. You see how very satisfactory it is, but I believe things improve greatly with practice. I think you should keep to one angel, and make the magical preparations more elaborate."
Crowley has stated, of the Ouija Board, that, "There is, however, a good way of using this instrument to get what you want, and that is to perform the whole operation in a consecrated circle, so that undesirable aliens cannot interfere with it. You should then employ the proper magical invocation in order to get into your circle just the one spirit you want. It is comparatively easy to do this. A few simple instructions are all that is necessary, and I shall be pleased to give these, free of charge, to any one who cares to apply."
Watch out for that black magic!
Monday, February 12, 2007
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, appearing at the Los Angeles City Hall’s lawn for a Black History month awards ceremony on Friday, February 9th --was shouted down for the second time in recent weeks by Skid Row protestors with the Los Angeles Community Action Network, LACAN. The shouting of “No justice no peace; stop racist police,” rang out; and entirely prevented Villaraigosa from being heard by onlookers –even as local television stations stood by, and attempted to film Villaraigosa without including the crowd of about 40 very fired-up demonstrators.
LA CAN is a grassroots Skid Row community group --and it’s own members are largely African American: although local community supporters of all races were part of this latest protest.
The demonstrators showed no fear of arrests, as the shouts continued throughout Villaraigosa's appearance, and guards attempted to push them back –and out of earshot.
Stated one member of LA CAN, before the protest, and when the program began with a request that all rise for a salute to the flag: “We all ought to be rising up soon, for some liberty and justice, all right.”
No arrests were made today, however.
The latest LA CAN protest follows weeks of Skid Row homeless, and their supporters, attending Police Commission hearings, City Council hearings, and official city functions --to denounce L.A.’s “Safer Cities Initiative” as racist, and as nothing more than a massive police riot under color of authority against downtown L.A.’s mostly poor African Americans. Since August, the "Safer Cities" police riot has resulted in over 4,000 police attacks against homeless people; and especially black people, spotted anywhere in downtown by LAPD; and also making it the largest attack against homeless people in L.A.’s history.
This is also, on top of the other, long-continuing, daily attacks for years now, by the downtown business’ private army: of homeless harassing security guards.
Villaraigosa, at his lately more rare appearances, on this Friday, was seen by hundreds, pretending to ignore the shouts which completely drowned him out; he was forced to deliver his speech without being heard by any of those assembled for the city’s opening of Black History Month.
Some in the crowd nodded their heads, as the shouting protest, heard only while Villaraigosa was attempting to speak, continued for about 20 minutes. Others, in the almost all African-American crowd, sat respectfully quiet: including nationally-famous pop star, Stevie Wonder, who was seated prominently in front, on a stage which was also holding Villaraigosa.
Wonder sat silently as the protests continued --and until they ended.
As soon as Villaraigosa ended speaking, the demonstrators respectfully stopped their shouting; to show their own respect for other aspects of the city’s public acknowlgement of February’s black history observances.
Weeks ago, both LAPD Chief William Bratton and the Mayor were also shouted down by LACAN’s protesters for the homeless at the ground-breaking ceremony for a new LAPD headquarters. And, recently, the Los Angeles Police Commission publicly acknowledged that because of the huge number of resident’s complaints now against police harassment of the homeless downtown --that public hearings at the police commission would occur before the month is out; including into public photos of one woman who, for no apparent provocation, was badly beaten; with police wielding batons in her own apartment; and that the Police Commission would also inquire into the fact that LAPD is increasingly attacking innocent homeless people on Skid Row in early morning hours, starting at 6:00 a.m.; and forcing them to walk around with no public place to legally lie down, or sit, each day now until 8:30 a.m..
Says activist David Busch, who is homeless: “It’s like the LAPD under Bratton is trying to make it Guantanamo downtown, for the homeless here now.”
Says Busch, “…and they, LAPD, are really getting away with it. Almost none of the media is covering the beatings, and the police attacks. They ignore the fact that hundreds of homeless people here are being beaten, arrested, framed, and complaining every day; and they only are reporting that ‘officials’ in other nearby cities are complaining about us coming there now.”
States Busch, “It’s all really being done by L.A.’s City Councilwoman Jan Perry --for Villaraigosa; and for the loft developers; and especially the Billionaire developer, Eli Broad, now; who wants to build this ‘Grand Avenue Project’ downtown. Perry wants all the people on Skid Row basically erased on their orders; and Villaraigosa will claim to have “cleaned up” downtown. On top of all this, they are even demanding 200 million in taxpayer subsidies for Broad now; to build his massive luxury compound for the rich downtown on top of that. These politics are just beyond disgusting.”
This week, also, an investigative report by the Los Angeles journal revealed that massive numbers of mostly African American drug users on Skid Row were being offered large sums of money, by undercover LAPD cops, to entrap them into giving these undercover cops small pieces of their own cocaine “rocks” –and that LAPD was doing this to demand State prison sentences for people on Skid Row who would normally have a right receive drug treatment instead of prison.
The activist group WorkingDemocracy!, organized by Busch, is into it’s fourth week of their weekly, Saturday, 1 p.m. protests against all this in front of Skid Row’s police headquarters at 6th and Wall. The group believes that if L.A. officials get away with these new attacks, that other cities will renew their criminalizing of the homeless nationwide; WorkingDemocracy! is calling for a citizen’s occupation of solidarity --on Skid Row sidewalks --to stop the city’s racist move to push blacks off of Skid Row.
LA CAN, open six days a week for community support, and with a free internet café, also holds weekly Thursday night organizing meetings for activists and others at its community center, located at 456 5th St.
(213) 228 -0028.
As it’s own current action, the WorkingDemocracy! group is also calling for a daily telephone barraging of Mayor Villaraigosa's office: and is asking as many people as possible, from all over the nation, to call every day (213) 978-0600 on behalf of all of homeless and demand:
1. Demand that Villaraigosa issue a public statement, and end the criminalization and attacks on downtown homeless people in L.A. now --demand he issue a statement putting an end to L.A.’s "Safer Cities Initiative" immediately.
2. Demand that the millions for “the Grand Avenue Project” go instead to NEW opportunities downtown for Skid Row's grassroots homeless to own it --and develop it --and not outside developers.
3. Demand an end to the police entrapment of mere drug users on Skid Row as "dealers;" people in need of effective treatment, services, and opportunities; and not State Prison!
Others can do a daily email to: email@example.com
SEE ALSO: http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/11/188692.php
Sunday, February 11, 2007
The Law of Attraction is slowly working its way up to becoming the buzz cry for the new millennium. Most people have heard something about it, and some people have heard most about it. Commercialised by -excellent- films like "The Secret", humanity suddenly seems to be waking up to the concept of "like attracts like". Not everybody knows how it works, but the concept sounds great: put your thoughts and feelings on something, and that something is bound to come to you! Simple as that. Pretty cool!
Let me start by saying that this concept is not new at all. It has been utilised for as long as life has been existent on earth (which is quite some time now). As the Law of Attraction is a universal law, it has been around since creation started, whenever that was.
Liken it to the Law of Gravity. We did not "discover" gravity somewhere in human development and went "a ha!". No, gravity has always been part of our environment. By recognising and acknowledging its existence have we been able to make use of it to our benefit, and have we turned it into a tool instead of merely a fact of life. For instance, only after recognising the existence of gravity have we been able to create electrical energy by propelling water through turbine engines in hydro-electric power stations. This is a simple example, but you catch my drift: you can't use a force purposely unless you recognise that force.
Even the Bible talks about the law of attraction on numerous occasions, at least that is how I choose to see it. Read this:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. Matthew 7:1-12
To me, it is quite clear that a reference is being made to the Law of Attraction, although the term hadn't been coined yet, then.
James Allen was talking about the Law of Attraction in the late 1800's in "As a Man Thinketh". Wallace Wattles spoke about it in 1910 in "The Science of Getting Rich". Napoleon Hill wrote about it in 1938 in "Think and Grow Rich". Jane Roberts did so in the 1970's with the "Seth"-books, and Esther and Jerry Hicks in the 1980's with the "Abraham"-material.
There is nothing new under the sun. There couldn't be, because the Law of Attraction is as old as our universe is.
What IS new, is the increase of "vibration" among humanity. There are more people latching on to the concept of "conscious creation". I sense that it has to do with ongoing evolution in general, but more specifically with an increasingly deep desire among humanity to find answers, to know thyself a bit more. Because we are slowly getting to a point where the old paradigms don't always work well anymore, we are looking for new ones, ones that give us more effective and honouring results. And by the Law of Attraction those new paradigms show up....in the form of the Law of Attraction!
In coming articles, I will expand on the Law of Attraction, and will give my opinion on the question "if we apply this Law, do we always get what we want?".
Saturday, February 10 2007 @ 04:16 PM PST
Contributed by: Anonymous
After prayer yesterday at approximately 11:30, residents of Beit Ommar held a non-violent demonstration against the Israeli construction work that is threatening the structure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. There were similar demonstrations across the West Bank today in what has become a growing movement protesting Israeli excavation of the holy site. At least three Humvees and four jeeps of the Israeli Occupation Forces invaded the village and attacked the demonstrators without provocation. For six hours, the IOF shot large amounts of teargas, Rubber-coated steel bullets, and live ammunition at youth.They stopped Palestinians in their cars in the street and used the cars, with Palestinians trapped inside, as shields while shooting. Six children between the ages of 9 and 16 were shot with live ammunition, including one straight through the thigh and another in the head. Both of them are in critical condition. A Palestinian member of PSP was shot in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet from close range while helping Eyad Sabarneh, age 12, who had been shot through the thigh.The most serious injuries were to the following youth: Moayed Sabarneh, age 9, shot in the lower leg with live ammunition. Eyad Sabarneh, age 12, shot through the thigh with live ammunition. Nassim Khaleyl, age 14, shot in the head with live ammunition. Wa’el Khaleyl, age 16, shot in the lower leg with live ammunition.
The names of the two other children shot with live ammunition are unknown at this time. Dozens of people were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets.
Though the IOF often uses young people throwing stones at fully armored vehicles as an excuse to attack them, today’s force was especially violent. PSP will send updates on the conditions of the injured as the information becomes available.
The Palestine Solidarity Project is a Palestinian-led project dedicated to opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land through non-violent direct action.
|Title: || Pelosi Watch Group |
| START DATE: || Monday February 12 |
| TIME: || 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM |
| Location Details: |
| New College Cultural Center
766 Valencia Street
San Francisco |
| Event Type: || Panel Discussion |
Dear Pelosi Watch Supporters
You're invited to join us in the 1st Pelosi Watch discussion on Monday
February the 12th at 7:30pm at New College Cultural Center 766 Valencia Street in San Francisco.
Pelosi Watch is a new watchdog group developed to provide research and analysis on decisions made by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, on a plurality of issues such as the war in Iraq, the Israel/Palestine conflict, health care, education, civil liberties and much more. While things in Washington DC are on the move under the new Speakers watch, we want to be there to witness as current events and issues unfold.
The groups multi-issue focus will guide Watch supporters in monthly
educational forums lead by an advisory board member. Pelosi Watch intends to build bridges between the community, policymakers, academics, and activists at all levels.
We look forward to your participation. |
Saturday, February 10, 2007
A howling pile of sunset powder rests
In a warm maze with warm shadows wandering
Their deranged footsteps-
With a twinkle in your eye
Salamander air (the clicking of the claws in the warm wind)
a ruby rush from the mouth of intent
the equinox radiating downard
blanketing all of this.
by @, Saturday Feb 10th, 2007 11:44 AM
The DC Anarchist Anti-War Network is a non-hierarchial non-organization in which everyone who wants to be a member can simply vote with their feet and with their voice.
CALL TO ACTION: March on DC 3/10 - 3/20
Calling all autonomous individuals who would like to see real change in the current fascist regime that has taken control of the United States government...
This is a call for sustained creative action in Washington DC for 10 days leading up to the 4th anniversary of the Iraq Invasion.
STAY TUNED... MORE TO COME!
Earlier this year, admirers of Vladimir Nabokov and scholars of modern literature were startled by the revelation that the Lolita of Nabokov’s great novel was not the first fictional nymphet of that name to have enchanted an older lover: her namesake had appeared in an eighteen-page tale, also called “Lolita”, by the obscure German author Heinz von Lichberg, published in 1916.
We now publish, for the first time in English, von Lichber’s story, translated by Carolyn Kunin.
PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 6
Over almost three decades, a small laboratory at Princeton University managed to embarrass university administrators, outrage Nobel laureates, entice the support of philanthropists and make headlines around the world with its efforts to prove that thoughts can alter the course of events.
But at the end of the month, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory, or PEAR, will close, not because of controversy but because, its founder says, it is time.
The laboratory has conducted studies on extrasensory perception and telekinesis from its cramped quarters in the basement of the university’s engineering building since 1979. Its equipment is aging, its finances dwindling.
“For 28 years, we’ve done what we wanted to do, and there’s no reason to stay and generate more of the same data,” said the laboratory’s founder, Robert G. Jahn, 76, former dean of Princeton’s engineering school and an emeritus professor. “If people don’t believe us after all the results we’ve produced, then they never will.”
Princeton made no official comment.
The closing will end one of the strangest tales in modern science, or science fiction, depending on one’s point of view. The laboratory has long had a strained relationship with the university. Many scientists have been openly dismissive of it.
“It’s been an embarrassment to science, and I think an embarrassment for Princeton,” said Robert L. Park, a University of Maryland physicist who is the author of “Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness to Fraud.” “Science has a substantial amount of credibility, but this is the kind of thing that squanders it.”
PEAR has been an anomaly from the start, a ghost in the machine room of physical science that was never acknowledged as substantial and yet never entirely banished. Its longevity illustrates the strength and limitations of scientific peer review, the process by which researchers appraise one another’s work.
“We know people have ideas beyond the mainstream,” said the sociologist Harriet Zuckerman, author of “Scientific Elite: Nobel Laureates in the United States” and senior vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ”but if they want funds for research they have to go through peer review, and the system is going to be very skeptical of ideas that are inconsistent with what is already known.”
Dr. Jahn, one of the world’s foremost experts on jet propulsion, defied the system. He relied not on university or government money but on private donations — more than $10 million over the years, he estimated. The first and most generous donor was his friend James S. McDonnell, a founder of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation.
Those gifts paid for a small staff and a gallery of random-motion machines, including a pendulum with a lighted crystal at the end; a giant, wall-mounted pachinko-like machine with a cascade of bouncing balls; and a variety of electronic boxes with digital number displays.
In one of PEAR’s standard experiments, the study participant would sit in front of an electronic box the size of a toaster oven, which flashed a random series of numbers just above and just below 100. Staff members instructed the person to simply “think high” or “think low” and watch the display. After thousands of repetitions — the equivalent of coin flips — the researchers looked for differences between the machine’s output and random chance.
Analyzing data from such trials, the PEAR team concluded that people could alter the behavior of these machines very slightly, changing about 2 or 3 flips out of 10,000. If the human mind could alter the behavior of such a machine, Dr. Jahn argued, then thought could bring about changes in many other areas of life — helping to heal disease, for instance, in oneself and others.
This kind of talk fascinated the public and attracted the curiosity of dozens of students, at Princeton and elsewhere. But it left most scientists cold. A physics Ph.D. and an electrical engineer joined Dr. Jahn’s project, but none of the university’s 700 or so professors did. Prominent research journals declined to accept papers from PEAR. One editor famously told Dr. Jahn that he would consider a paper “if you can telepathically communicate it to me.”
Brenda Dunne, a developmental psychologist, has managed the laboratory since it opened and has been a co-author of many of its study papers. “We submitted our data for review to very good journals,” Ms. Dunne said, “but no one would review it. We have been very open with our data. But how do you get peer review when you don’t have peers?”
Several expert panels examined PEAR’s methods over the years, looking for irregularities, but did not find sufficient reasons to interrupt the work. In the 1980s and 1990s, PEAR published more than 60 research reports, most appearing in the journal of the Society for Scientific Exploration, a group devoted to the study of topics outside the scientific mainstream. Dr. Jahn and Ms. Dunne are officers in the society.
News of the Princeton group’s experiments spread quickly worldwide, among people interested in paranormal phenomena, including telekinesis and what people call extrasensory perception. Notable figures from Europe and Asia stopped by. . Keith Jarrett, the jazz pianist, paid a visit. For a time, the philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller visited regularly and donated money for research.
And many people, in and out of science, joined what Ms. Dunne called the PEAR Tree, a kind of secret society of people interested in the paranormal, she said. Many PEAR Tree members who are science faculty members will not reveal themselves publicly, Ms. Dunne said.
The culture of science, at its purest, is one of freedom in which any idea can be tested regardless of how far-fetched it might seem.
“I don’t believe in anything Bob is doing, but I support his right to do it,” said Will Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton.
Other top-flight scientists have taken chances. At the end of his career, Linus Pauling, the Nobel laureate, came to believe that vitamin C supplements could prevent and treat cancer, heart disease and other ailments. Dr. Pauling had some outside financing, too, and conducted research and had plenty of media coverage. But in the end he did not sway many of his colleagues, Dr. Zuckerman said.
At the PEAR offices this week, the staff worked amid boxes, piles of paper and a roll of bubble wrap as big as an oil drum. The random-event machines are headed for storage.
The study of telekinesis and related phenomena, Dr. Jahn said, will carry on.
“It’s time for a new era,” he said, “for someone to figure out what the implications of our results are for human culture, for future study, and — if the findings are correct — what they say about our basic scientific attitude.”
Friday, February 09, 2007
Depressed Cub-less Tiger Mom Raises Piglets
Call for ethical debate over possible use of new technology in interrogation
Ian Sample, science correspondent
Friday February 9, 2007
Using the technology is 'like shining a torch, looking for writing on a wall'. CT image: Charles O'Rear/Corbis
A team of world-leading neuroscientists has developed a powerful technique that allows them to look deep inside a person's brain and read their intentions before they act.
The research breaks controversial new ground in scientists' ability to probe people's minds and eavesdrop on their thoughts, and raises serious ethical issues over how brain-reading technology may be used in the future.
The team used high-resolution brain scans to identify patterns of activity before translating them into meaningful thoughts, revealing what a person planned to do in the near future. It is the first time scientists have succeeded in reading intentions in this way.
"Using the scanner, we could look around the brain for this information and read out something that from the outside there's no way you could possibly tell is in there. It's like shining a torch around, looking for writing on a wall," said John-Dylan Haynes at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany, who led the study with colleagues at University College London and Oxford University.
The research builds on a series of recent studies in which brain imaging has been used to identify tell-tale activity linked to lying, violent behaviour and racial prejudice.
The latest work reveals the dramatic pace at which neuroscience is progressing, prompting the researchers to call for an urgent debate into the ethical issues surrounding future uses for the technology. If brain-reading can be refined, it could quickly be adopted to assist interrogations of criminals and terrorists, and even usher in a "Minority Report" era (as portrayed in the Steven Spielberg science fiction film of that name), where judgments are handed down before the law is broken on the strength of an incriminating brain scan.
"These techniques are emerging and we need an ethical debate about the implications, so that one day we're not surprised and overwhelmed and caught on the wrong foot by what they can do. These things are going to come to us in the next few years and we should really be prepared," Professor Haynes told the Guardian.
The use of brain scanners to judge whether people are likely to commit crimes is a contentious issue that society should tackle now, according to Prof Haynes. "We see the danger that this might become compulsory one day, but we have to be aware that if we prohibit it, we are also denying people who aren't going to commit any crime the possibility of proving their innocence."
During the study, the researchers asked volunteers to decide whether to add or subtract two numbers they were later shown on a screen.
Before the numbers flashed up, they were given a brain scan using a technique called functional magnetic imaging resonance. The researchers then used a software that had been designed to spot subtle differences in brain activity to predict the person's intentions with 70% accuracy.
The study revealed signatures of activity in a marble-sized part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex that changed when a person intended to add the numbers or subtract them.
Because brains differ so much, the scientists need a good idea of what a person's brain activity looks like when they are thinking something to be able to spot it in a scan, but researchers are already devising ways of deducing what patterns are associated with different thoughts.
Barbara Sahakian, a professor of neuro-psychology at Cambridge University, said the rapid advances in neuroscience had forced scientists in the field to set up their own neuroethics society late last year to consider the ramifications of their research.
"Do we want to become a 'Minority Report' society where we're preventing crimes that might not happen?," she asked. "For some of these techniques, it's just a matter of time. It is just another new technology that society has to come to terms with and use for the good, but we should discuss and debate it now because what we don't want is for it to leak into use in court willy nilly without people having thought about the consequences.
"A lot of neuroscientists in the field are very cautious and say we can't talk about reading individuals' minds, and right now that is very true, but we're moving ahead so rapidly, it's not going to be that long before we will be able to tell whether someone's making up a story, or whether someone intended to do a crime with a certain degree of certainty."
Professor Colin Blakemore, a neuroscientist and director of the Medical Research Council, said: "We shouldn't go overboard about the power of these techniques at the moment, but what you can be absolutely sure of is that these will continue to roll out and we will have more and more ability to probe people's intentions, minds, background thoughts, hopes and emotions.
"Some of that is extremely desirable, because it will help with diagnosis, education and so on, but we need to be thinking the ethical issues through. It adds a whole new gloss to personal medical data and how it might be used."
The technology could also drive advances in brain-controlled computers and machinery to boost the quality of life for disabled people. Being able to read thoughts as they arise in a person's mind could lead to computers that allow people to operate email and the internet using thought alone, and write with word processors that can predict which word or sentence you want to type . The technology is also expected to lead to improvements in thought-controlled wheelchairs and artificial limbs that respond when a person imagines moving.
"You can imagine how tedious it is if you want to write a letter by using a cursor to pick out letters on a screen," said Prof Haynes. "It would be much better if you thought, 'I want to reply to this email', or, 'I'm thinking this word', and the computer can read that and understand what you want to do."
· FAQ: Mind reading
What have the scientists developed?
They have devised a system that analyses brain activity to work out a person's intentions before they have acted on them. More advanced versions may be able to read complex thoughts and even pick them up before the person is conscious of them.
How does it work?
The computer learns unique patterns of brain activity or signatures that correspond to different thoughts. It then scans the brain to look for these signatures and predicts what the person is thinking.
How could it be used?
It is expected to drive advances in brain-controlled computers, leading to artificial limbs and machinery that respond to thoughts. More advanced versions could be used to help interrogate criminals and assess prisoners before they are released. Controversially, they may be able to spot people who plan to commit crimes before they break the law.
What is next?
The researchers are honing the technique to distinguish between passing thoughts and genuine intentions.
The Archaic Roots of Ecstasy
Go back ten thousand years and you will find humans toiling away at the many mundane activities required for survival: hunting, food gathering, making weapons and garments, beginning to experiment with agriculture. But if you land on the right moonlit night or seasonal turning point, you might also find them engaged in what seems, by comparison, to be a gratuitous waste of energy: dancing in lines or circles, sometimes wearing masks or what appear to be costumes, often waving branches or sticks. Most likely, both sexes would be dancing, each in its separate line or circle. Their faces and bodies might be painted with red ochre, or so archaeologists guess from the widespread presence of that colored ore in the sites of human settlements. The scene, in other words, might not be too different from the “savage” rituals encountered by nineteenth-century Westerners among native peoples of the world.
We can infer these scenes from prehistoric rock art depicting dancing figures, which has been discovered at sites in Africa, India, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Iran, and Egypt, among other places. Whatever else they did, our distant ancestors seemed to find plenty of time for the kinds of activities the anthropologist Victor Turner described as liminal, or peripheral to the main business of life.
Festive dancing was not a rare or incidental subject for prehistoric artists. The Israeli archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel asserts that dancing scenes “were a most popular, indeed almost the only, subject used to describe interaction between people in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods.”1 When such danced rituals originated is not known, but there is evidence that they may go back well into the Paleolithic era, or Stone Age. At one recently discovered site in England, drawings on the ceiling of a cave show “conga lines” of female dancers, along with drawings of animals like bison and ibex, which are known to have become extinct in England ten thousand years ago.2 So well before people had a written language, and possibly before they took up a settled lifestyle, they danced and understood dancing as an activity important enough to record on stone.
It is not easy to read the excitement of a danced ritual into prehistoric drawings. The figures are highly stylized; many of those cataloged by Garfinkel are little more than stick figures or silhouettes; few possess facial features or anything like a facial expression. Even the identification of them as dancers takes some interpretive work; the figures have to be using their limbs in ways not associated with normal activities: holding their arms up, holding hands in a circle, raising their legs, or leaping, for example. Yet even in these crude, two-dimensional depictions, some of the recognizable ingredients of more recent festive traditions shine through -- masking and costuming, for example. Some of the male figures wear masks in the form of animal heads or abstract designs; other dancers wear what archaeologists interpret as “costumes,” such as leopard skins. In the clearest sign of motion, and possibly excitement, some of the figures have long, flowing hair standing out from their heads, as if they are moving rapidly and tossing their heads to some long-silenced drumbeat.
Clearly, danced rituals did not seem like a waste of energy to prehistoric peoples. They took the time to fashion masks and costumes; they wantonly expended calories in the execution of the dance; they preferred to record these scenes over any other group activity. Thus anthropologist Victor Turner’s consignment of danced ritual to an occasional, marginal, or liminal status seems especially unwarranted in the prehistoric case -- and more representative of the production-oriented mentality of our own industrial age than of prehistoric priorities. Surely these people knew hardship and were often threatened by food shortages, disease, and wild animals. But ritual, of a danced and possibly ecstatic nature, was central to their lives. Perhaps only because our own lives, so much easier in many ways, are also so constrained by the imperative to work, we have to wonder why.
Anthropologists tend to agree that the evolutionary function of dance was to enable -- or encourage -- humans to live in groups larger than small bands of closely related individuals. The advantage of larger group size is presumed to be the same as it is for those primates who still live in the wild: Larger groups are better able to defend themselves against predators. Unlike most animals -- antelopes, for example -- primates are capable of mounting a group defense: mobbing the intruding predator, threatening it with branches, or at least attempting to scare it off by making an infernal racket. In the case of early humans, the danger may have come not only from predatory animals like the big cats but from other now-extinct hominids or even from fellow Homo sapiens bent on raiding. And of course, in the human case, the forms of defense would have included fire, rocks, and sharpened sticks. But the first line of defense was to come together as a group.
In his justly popular book Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language, the British anthropologist Robin Dunbar argues for an optimal Paleolithic group size of about 150. He speculates that speech -- the gossip in his title -- may have helped bind humans into groups of that size, much as mutual grooming -- picking insects and bits of dirt out of each other’s hair -- appears to do in the case of other primates. But although it does not appear in his title, it is in fact dance that he invokes to hold these early human groups together. The problem with speech, according to Dunbar, is “its complete inadequacy at the emotional level”:
Just as we were acquiring the ability to argue and rationalize, we needed a more primitive emotional mechanism to bond our large groups . . . Something deeper and more emotional was needed to overpower the cold logic of verbal arguments. It seems that we needed music and physical touch to do that.3 In fact, he sees language as subservient to danced rituals -- “a way to formalize their spontaneity” and provide them with a “metaphysical or religious significance.” And it should be noted that while hundreds of prehistoric images of dancing figures have been found, there are no rock drawings of stick figures apparently engaged in conversation.
Dunbar is not the only one to see group dancing -- especially in lines and circles -- as the great leveler and binder of human communities, uniting all who participate in the kind of communitas that Turner found in twentieth-century native rituals. Interestingly, the Greek word nomos, meaning “law,” also has the musical meaning of “melody.” To submit, bodily, to the music through dance is to be incorporated into the community in a way far deeper than shared myth or common custom can achieve. In synchronous movement to music or chanting voices, the petty rivalries and factional differences that might divide a group could be transmuted into harmless competition over one’s prowess as a dancer, or forgotten. “Dance,” as a neuroscientist put it, is “the biotechnology of group formation.”*
Thus groups -- and the individuals within them -- capable of holding themselves together through dance would have had an evolutionary advantage over more weakly bonded groups and individuals: the advantage of being better able to mount a collective defense against any animals or hostile humans who encroached on their territory or otherwise threatened them. No other species ever figured out how to do this. Birds have their signature songs; fireflies can synchronize their light displays; chimpanzees sometimes stamp around together and wave their arms in what ethologists describe as a “carnival.” But if any other animals create music and move in synchrony to it, they have kept this talent well hidden from humans. We alone are gifted with the kind of love that Freud was unable to imagine: a love, or at least affinity, holding people together in groups much larger than two.
Of course dance cannot work to bind people unless (1) it is intrinsically pleasurable, and (2) it provides a kind of pleasure not achievable by smaller groups.4 Whatever the ritual dancers of prehistoric times thought they were doing -- healing divisions in the group or preparing for the next encounter with their foes -- they were also doing something that they liked to do and liked enough to invest considerable energy in. Practitioners of ecstatic danced rituals in “native” societies attested to the pleasures of their rituals; so can any modern Westerners who have participated in the dances and other rhythmic activities associated with rock concerts, raves, or the current club scene. As the historian William H. McNeill pointed out in his book Keeping Together in Time, there is a deep satisfaction -- even a thrill -- to the simplest synchronous group activities, like marching or chanting together. He writes of his experience as a young soldier drilling during basic training for World War II.
Words are inadequate to describe the emotion aroused by the prolonged movement in unison that drilling involved. A sense of pervasive well-being is what I recall; more specifically, a strange sense of personal enlargement; a sort of swelling out, becoming bigger than life, thanks to participation in collective ritual.5
In fact, we tend to enjoy rhythmic music and may be so aroused by watching others dance that we have a hard time keeping ourselves from jumping in. As some Western observers of native or enslaved people’s rituals observed, dancing is contagious; humans experience strong desires to synchronize their own bodies’ motions with those of others. The stimuli, which can be auditory or visual or derived from an internal sense of one’s own muscular response to the rhythm, can, in one psychiatrist’s summary of the research, “drive cortical rhythms and eventually produce an intensely pleasurable, ineffable experience in humans.”6
Why should humans be rewarded so generously for moving their bodies together in time? We are also pleasurably rewarded for sexual activity, and it is easy to figure out why: Individuals who fail to engage in sex, or heterosexual intercourse anyway, leave no genetic trace. When nature requires us to do something -- like eating or having sex -- it kindly wires our brains to make that activity enjoyable. If synchronous rhythmic activity was, in fact, important to human collective defense, natural selection might have favored those individuals who found such activity pleasurable. In other words, evolution would have led to stronger neural connections between the motor centers that control motion, the visual centers that report on the motions of others, and the sites of pleasure in the limbic system of the brain. The joy of the rhythmic activity would have helped overcome the fear of confronting predators and other threats, just as marching music has pumped up soldiers in historical times.
We do not yet understand the neuronal basis of this pleasure, but an interesting line of speculation has opened up only recently. Humans are highly imitative creatures, more so even than monkeys and others of our primate cousins. As all parents learn, to their amazement, an infant can respond to a smile with a smile, or stick out its tongue when a parent does. How does an infant transform the visual image of a protruding tongue into the muscular actions required to make its own tongue stick out? The answer may lie in the discovery of mirror neurons, nerve cells that fire both when an action is perceived -- when the parent sticks out his tongue, for example -- and when it is performed by the perceiver.7 In other words, the perception of an action is closely tied to the execution of the same action by the beholder. We cannot see a dancer, for example, without unconsciously starting up the neural processes that are the basis of our own participation in the dance. As the neuroscientist Marcel Kinsbourne writes:
Perceived behavior gives a leg up to more of the same in the observer, who becomes a participant . . . The rhythm of the drum drowns out independent judgment and induces a reversion to the primordial state. To cite [Walter J.] Freeman . . . “to dance is to engage in rhythmic movements that invite corresponding movements from others.” Dancers synchronize, reciprocate, or alternate -- all of which are forms of entrainment open to the infant. Entraining with others into a shared rhythm -- marching, chanting, dancing -- may trigger a primitive sense of irrational and beguiling belonging, and a shared mindset.8
It is important to point out, though, that dance does not simply merge the individual into the group in the regressive way that Kinsbourne seems to imply. This is a common Western prejudice, but as I pointed out in the introduction, dancers in existing “traditional” societies often devote great effort to composing music for the dance, perfecting their dance steps or other moves, and preparing their costumes or other body decorations. They may experience self-loss in the dance, or a kind of merger with the group, but they also seek a chance to shine, as individuals, for their skills and talents. There may even have been what evolutionary biologists call sexual selection for the ability to dance well, or at least make a good appearance at the dance -- just as there appears to have been sexual selection for males with deep voices and females with hourglass figures. The ability to dance or make music is not confined to a single sex, but we are often attracted to individuals who excel at these activities, and this could have given them a definite reproductive advantage.
In fact, the seasonal rituals and festivities of larger groups -- several hundred people from different bands or subgroups gathering at an astronomically determined time -- probably also served a reproductive function, providing an opportunity to find a mate outside of one’s close circle of kin. In this endeavor, talent at music and dance might well have been an asset. At least such a possibility is suggested by a study of young, unmarried Samburu men in Kenya in recent times.
These “odd men out,” suspended between boyhood and adulthood in an uncomfortably prolonged adolescence, regularly go into trance, shaking with extreme bodily agitation, in frustrating situations. Typical precipitating circumstances are those where one group of [such young men] is outdanced by a rival group in front of girls.9
To be “outdanced” is to risk reproductive failure, probably for the deeper evolutionary reason that the “girls” will, at some unconscious level, judge you less capable of participating in group defense.
I cannot leave the subject of evolution, though, without throwing in my own speculation about the adaptive value of music and dance. Dunbar and others emphasize their role in keeping people together in sizable groups, but they may once have served the function of group defense in a far more direct way. Like primates in the wild today, early humans probably faced off predatory animals collectively -- banding together in a tight group, stamping their feet, shouting, and waving sticks or branches. In our own time, for example, hikers are often advised to try to repel bears they encounter in the wild with the same sorts of behavior, with the arm and stick waving being recommended as a way of exaggerating the humans’ height. At some point, early humans or hominids may have learned to synchronize their stampings and stick-wavings in the face of a predator, and the core of my speculation is that the predator might be tricked by this synchronous behavior into thinking that it faced -- not a group of individually weak and defenseless humans -- but a single, very large animal. When sticks are being brandished and feet stamped in unison, probably accompanied by synchronized chanting or shouting, it would be easy for an animal observer to conclude that only a single mind, or at least a single nervous system, is at work. Better, from the predator’s point of view, to wait to catch a human alone than to tangle with what appears to be a twenty-foot-long, noisy, multilegged beast.*
This form of confrontation might well have carried over into communal forms of hunting, in which game animals are driven by the human group into nets or cul de sacs or over cliffs. Many of the game animals hunted by prehistoric humans -- like bison and aurochs -- were themselves dangerous, and to confront them required courage. In communal hunting, the entire group -- men, women, and children -- advances against a herd of game animals, shouting, stamping, and waving sticks or torches. The archaeological evidence suggests that this form of hunting goes back to the Paleolithic era and possibly predates the practice of stalking individual animals by small groups of men.10 As in collective defense against predatory animals, synchronous movement could have augmented the human group’s effectiveness -- making it appear to be a single, oversized antagonist.
Various features of the prehistoric dancing revealed in rock art are consistent with this hypothesis. The prehistoric dancing figures often sport high headgear or head-expanding masks, often in the form of animal faces; they wave branches above their heads. One can imagine danced rituals originating as reenactments of successful animal encounters, serving both to build group cohesion for the next encounter and to instruct the young in how the human group had learned to prevail and survive.
Over time, as communal hunting waned and the threat of animal predators declined, the thrill of the human triumph over animals could still be reinvoked as ritual. Through rhythm, people had learned to weld themselves into a single unit of motion meant to project their collective strength and terrify the animals they hunted or that hunted them. Taken individually, humans are fragile, vulnerable, clawless creatures. But banded together through rhythm and enlarged through the artifice of masks and sticks, the group can feel -- and perhaps appear -- to be as formidable as any nonhuman beast. When we speak of transcendent experience in terms of “feeling part of something larger than ourselves,” it may be this ancient many-headed pseudocreature that we unconsciously invoke.
The God of Ecstasy
Once we leave the realm of speculation that is prehistory and enter the historical period, beginning roughly five thousand years ago, written records and abundant works of art provide a firmer basis for understanding human cultures. We know from these writings and artifacts that danced rituals persisted into the early phases of civilization -- a condition marked by the rise of agriculture, cities, social hierarchies, and, eventually, writing. Vase and wall paintings depicting lines and circles of dancers have been found in ancient Mesopotamian, Greek, Indian, and Palestinian archaeological sites. Rural people in ancient China danced in separate lines of men and women, and observed ecstatic rituals well into historical times. As the French scholar of Chinese history Marcel Granet reported:
The festivals of the winter season had a dramatic character. Extreme excitement was general. Even in the day of Confucius, those who took part were all “like madmen” (meaning that they felt themselves filled with a divine spirit) . . . Dances, to the sound of clay timbrels, induced a state of ecstasy. Drunkenness brought it to perfection. The exorcists [a kind of shaman] wore the skins of animals. Animal dances were performed.11
In the ancient Near East, the Old Testament makes it clear that the ancient Hebrews enjoyed a robust tradition of festive dancing, usually associated with feasting and wine-drinking. In Exodus, for example, Miriam the prophetess takes “a timbrel [tambourine] in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.” When the Israelite forces returned from their victory over the Philistines, “the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick” (1 Samuel 18:6). It is not clear whether the officially approved rites and dances achieved an intensity that could be called ecstatic. One historian has concluded that “orgiastic, vigorous ecstasy is alien to the Israelite prophets,” who instead experience “a calm, sometimes paralytically calm, seeing and hearing of the word of YHWH.”12 But as Garfinkel observes, the Hebrew word hag means both “festival” and to “go in a circle” -- suggesting that the primordial form of many traditional Jewish festivals was the circle dance.13
There was, without question, a tradition of collective ecstasy among the Hebrews, but it was hardly officially approved. In fact, we know of it only through its opponents, the worshippers of Yahweh who wrote the Old Testament. This was the old polytheistic religion associated with Israel’s indigenous Canaanites, centered on Mesopotamian deities like Baal and the goddesses Anat and Asherah, and featuring what seem to have been mass ecstatic rites, the nature of which we can only guess at. Idolatry, drunkenness, and sexual orgies are described or hinted at, and possibly human sacrifice; at least that seems to have been the crime committed by King Asa’s goddess-worshipping grandmother, who lost “the honor of being a great lady because she had committed a horror for Asherah.”14 How much of these charges was slanderous there is no way of knowing, but something was going on, generation after generation, that horrified Yahweh’s faithful. Centuries after Moses delivered the commandment to worship only the one God, Yahweh, the prophets were still railing against the old religious ways. The Hebrews couldn’t keep themselves from backsliding and were apparently performing the forbidden goddess-centered rites as late as the fifth century BCE.15
But it was the Greeks, the supposedly most rational and “Western” of ancient peoples, who left us the clearest evidence of ecstatic ritual behavior, verging on the dangerously disruptive. Dance, whether of the ecstatic or more stately variety, was a central and defining activity of the ancient Greek community: line and circle dances, dances of young men or young women or both together, dances at regularly scheduled festivities or what appear to have been spontaneous outbreaks, dances for victory, for the gods, or for the sheer fun of it.16 In myth, Theseus leads the young men and women he has freed from the Minotaur in a circle dance performed with “crane steps,” imitating the high-stepping wading bird.17 In Homer’s account of the heroic age, we learn that young Greeks danced “at marriages, at vintage, or simply to give vent to their youthful exuberance -- choreia [dance], the Greeks think, must come from chara, ‘joy.’”18 Achilles’ shield bore the image, not of some terrifying predator, but of a scene that must have seemed, to his homesick comrades in arms, quintessentially Greek.
There were youths dancing, and maidens of costly wooing, their hands upon one another’s wrists . . . And now would they run round with deft feet exceeding lightly . . . and now anon they would run in lines to meet each other. And a great company stood round the lovely dance in joy; and among them a divine minstrel was making music on his lyre, and through the midst of them, leading the measure, two tumblers whirled.19
Dance was a ubiquitous theme of ancient Greek art. Dancing figures commonly graced their vases, and the great dramas of classical times were musical performances in which the chorus danced as well as sang. In fact the word tragedy is derived from words meaning goat and song, and the chorus was originally composed of men dressed in goatskins to resemble the satyrs -- half men and half goat -- who danced attendance on their master, the god Dionysus.
To an extent we can only guess at today, the religion of the ancient Greeks was a “danced religion,” much like those of the “savages” European travelers were later to discover around the world. As Aldous Huxley once observed, “Ritual dances provide a religious experience that seems more satisfying and convincing than any other . . . It is with their muscles that humans most easily obtain knowledge of the divine.”20
Lillian Lawler, writing in the 1960s, leaves no doubt that ecstatic dancing was indigenous to the mainstream Greek tradition, in, for example, the worship of Artemis, goddess of childbirth and the hunt. Tympana, or kettle drums, have been found at the shrine of Artemis Limnatis in southern Greece, and this instrument, Lawler claims, was “helpful in inducing frenzy.” Dances to Artemis were known to be especially wild in Sparta -- though whether in a religious or sexual sense we do not know, only that women and girls danced wearing “only one chiton,” or the equivalent of a slip.21
Within the ancient Western world, many deities served as the objects of ecstatic worship: in Greece, Artemis and Demeter; in Rome, the imported deities Isis (from Egypt), Cybele, the Great Mother, or Magna Mater (from Asia Minor), and Mithras (from Persia). But there was one Greek god for whom ecstatic worship was not simply an option; it was a requirement. To ignore his call was to risk a fate far worse than death or even physical torture; those who resisted him would be driven mad and forced to destroy their own children. This god, source of both ecstasy and terror, was Dionysus, or, as he was known to the Romans, Bacchus. His mundane jurisdiction covered vineyards and wine, but his more spiritual responsibility was to preside over the orgeia (literally, rites performed in the forest at night, from which we derive the word orgy), where his devotees danced themselves into a state of trance. The fact that the Greeks felt the need for such a deity tells us something about the importance of ecstatic experience in their world; just as their pantheon included gods for love, for war, for agriculture, metalworking, and hunting, they needed a god to give the experience of ecstasy a human form and face.
Far more so than most of his fellow deities, Dionysus was an accessible and democratic god, whose thiasos, or sacred band, stood open to the humble as well as the mighty.22 As Nietzsche envisioned his rites: “Now the slave emerges as a freeman; all the rigid, hostile walls which either necessity or despotism has erected between men are shattered.”23 It was Nietzsche, of all the European classical scholars, who emphasized the Dionysian roots of ancient Greek drama, who saw the mad, ecstatic inspiration behind the Greeks’ stately art -- who, metaphorically speaking, dared consider not just the deathless symmetry of the vase but the wild dancing figures painted on its surface. What the god demanded, according to Nietzsche, was nothing less than the human soul, released by ecstatic ritual from the “horror of individual existence” into the “mystical Oneness” of rhythmic unity in the dance.24
Women, above all, responded to Dionysus’s call. In fact, the association between the god and his band of female devotees is so strong that it’s worth underscoring the fact that men also worshipped him, whether at village festivals to celebrate the new wine or by piously getting drunk together in honor of the god. But Dionysus had a special appeal to the women of the Greek city-state, who were ordinarily excluded from much of public life. While men plotted wars or devised philosophies, women’s activities were largely confined to the domestic sphere, and boys still young enough to be kept in the women’s quarters were said to live “in darkness,” barred from the pleasures and challenges of public life. In many Greek cities, women were not even allowed to drink wine.25
The most notorious feminine form of Dionysian worship, the oreibaia, or winter dance, looks to modern eyes like a crude pantomime of feminist revolt. In mythical accounts, women “called” by the god to participate drop their spinning and abandon their children to run outdoors and into the mountains, where they dress in fawn skins and engage in a “frenzied dance.” These maenads, as Dionysus’s female cult members were called, run through the woods calling out the name of the god, or uttering the characteristic bacchic cry “euoi,” they toss their hair and brandish their thyrsos -- sticks to which pinecones have been attached. Finally, they achieve a state of mind the Greeks called enthousiasmos -- literally, having the god within oneself -- or what many cultures in our own time would call a “possession trance.” These were not solely mythical events; in some times and places, the oreibasia was officially condoned and scheduled for every other year, in the dead of winter. Pausanias, who wrote in the second century CE, tells of a party of maenads who reached the eight-thousand-foot summit of Mt. Parnassus -- an impressive athletic achievement, especially if performed in the winter -- and Plutarch wrote of an occasion when a group of female worshippers were cut off by a snowstorm and had to be rescued.26
Dionysus was no respecter of ethnic boundaries. According to the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, the worship of gods resembling Dionysus ranged over five thousand miles, from Portugal through North Africa to India, with the god appearing under various names, including “Bakkhos, Pan, Eleuthereus, Minotaur, Sabazios, Inuus, Faunus, Priapus, Liber, Ammon, Osiris, Shiva, Cerenunnus,” and, we might add, the delightfully named Etruscan analog of Dionysus: Fufluns.27 In his brilliant rendition of the Indian epics, for example, Roberto Calasso describes the Hindu god Shiva as “this stranger, this woman-stealer, this enemy of our rules and ties, this wanderer who loves the ashes of the dead, who speaks of things divine to the lowest of the low, this man who sometimes seems crazy, who has something obscene about him, who grows his hair long as a girl’s.”28 Like Dionysus, Shiva bore an association with wine, his cult being “particularly widespread in the mountains where the vine is cultivated,” according to a Greek who lived in India in the fourth century BCE.29
In India, Krishna, too, exerted a Dionysian effect on women -- especially those who worked as gopis, or cowherders, “charm[ing] them beyond caring by the sound of his flute in the forest, so that they left their homes, husbands, and families and fled to him in the night.”30 Inspired by Krishna’s example, the sixteenth-century religious teacher Caitanya built up a following of “women of . . . casteless groups, washerwomen or women of low castes.”31 “They danced ecstatically and sang; they were as if mad,” Victor Turner reported, going on to comment that “it is hard to think that there is nothing in common between the ecstatic communitas of Dionysus and that of Krishna. Indeed, Ovid’s puer aeternus [eternal boy, referring to Dionysus] came from . . . ‘Dark India girdled by the farthest Ganges.’”32 Other scholars, though, locate Dionysus’s origins in the prehistoric cultures -- Cretan and Mycenaean -- of Greece itself. The fact that he was often depicted as a horned god, or part animal, suggests that he may have been one of the older Greek gods, rather than a relatively recent import from India.
Maenadism, as the Greek women’s frenzied worship of Dionysus is called, seems not to have been inspired by the common feminine concern with fertility. This can be ruled out as an aim, the classicist E. R. Dodds argued, by the fact that the rite was observed biennially, rather than once a year, and that it was conducted in winter, on “barren mountain-tops,” rather than in the burgeoning fields of the spring that were the usual site for fertility rituals.33 Nor was there apparently anything sexual about the rites. In ancient vase paintings, the female worshippers are often depicted in the company of lascivious male satyrs, but the women fight them off with such weapons as a staff, a thyrsos, or even a “writhing snake.”34 The most famous literary account of maenadism, Euripides’ play The Bacchae, clearly refutes the notion that sex or even drunkenness was involved. Instead, an eyewitness reports to King Pentheus, who is obsessed with prurient curiosity about the maenads’ secret rites, that he came across the women sleeping: “They lay just as they had thrown themselves down on the ground -- but with modesty in their posture; they were not drunk with wine, as you told us, or with music of flutes; nor was there any love-making in the loveliness of the woods.”35
No, the single most shocking feature of maenadism -- to Euripides no less than to his readers today -- was its reputed violence. At the height of their frenzy, the women worshippers were said to catch wild animals in the woods, tear them apart while still alive, and eat them raw. There are even words in Greek to describe these actions: sparagmos, for the rending of a living creature, and omophagia, for the eating of the raw meat, torn from the bones by hand. The victims included small creatures like snakes, but also deer and bear and wolves, and, in myth or fiction anyway, sometimes even humans; the plot of The Bacchae hinges on the revelers’ mistaking their own king for a lion and tearing him limb from limb.
Such treatment of animals may have been less repulsive to the Greeks, who practiced routine animal sacrifice, than it seems to us. The potentially shocking feature of the maenads’ behavior is that they, of course, are female. Usually they are said to kill their prey by hand, but in at least one depiction (on a pyxis, a container for salves), according to Lillian Joyce, two maenads, their hair flying out behind them, “suspend a deer belly up with its head hanging limply. This is the moment before the victim will be torn into pieces. The violence of the scene is revved up to a degree by the presence of the sword, a traditionally male implement.”36
Clearly, the maenads’ animal victims did not offer themselves up willingly for capture; the women who ran off into the mountains to worship Dionysus were also hunting. Lillian Portefaix has suggested that maenadism may have been a reenactment of archaic communal hunting -- before metal weapons and the male monopolization of hunting skills -- when a group of people or women alone would chase and surround their prey, killing it with whatever implements lay at hand and perhaps eating it on the spot.37 If I am right about the origins of danced rituals in communal hunting and other confrontations with animals -- and the violence of the maenads is certainly consistent with this hypothesis -- then maenadism would seem to be a very primordial form of festival: one in which dancing, revelry, feasting, and costuming still bore traces of the collective human encounter with animals.
It may be relevant here that, in myth, Dionysus occasionally takes the form of Zagreus, the great hunter. In their reenactment of prehistoric communal hunting, his worshippers were boldly subverting the division of labor between the sexes that prevailed in historic times. The maenad was beautiful and feminine, portrayed in vase paintings with long flowing hair and sometimes an exposed breast, which a fawn might suckle at. But she was also a hunter, who had acquired male strength and usurped the male monopoly over violence. In this way, the Dionysian rites offered the kind of “ritual of inversion” that could be found in the Roman festival of Saturnalia, European carnival, and the festivities of so many other cultures, in which members of subordinate groups -- in this case, women -- temporarily take the roles of their social superiors. During Saturnalia, masters had to wait on their slaves; carnival allowed peasants to impersonate kings; and Dionysian worship gave women license to hunt.
Who was this god who could intoxicate the mighty as well as the poor, who dared to challenge the power of men over women? Modern scholars have often looked at Dionysus with the same bafflement and dismay that European travelers brought to the “savage” rites they witnessed in distant lands. In his introduction to The Bacchae, written in 1954, Philip Vellacott opined that this is not a god whom “decent people will be prepared to worship.”38 Walter Otto, in his book on Dionysus, exclaimed: “A god who is mad! A god, part of whose nature it is to be insane! What did they experience or see -- these men on whom the horror of this concept must have forced itself?”39
The facts, such as they are, about the god are first that he was beautiful, in an androgynous way, to both men and women. Euripides describes him with “long curls . . . cascading close over [his] cheeks, most seductively.”40 Cross-dressing was a part of Dionysian worship in some locales.41 Although he had occasional liaisons with women, like the Cretan princess Ariadne, he is usually portrayed as “detached and unconcerned with sex.”42 In vase paintings he is never shown “involved in the satyrs’ sexual shenanigans. He may dance, he may drink, but he is never shown paired with . . . any of the female companions.”43
As one of the few Greek gods with a specific following, he had a special relationship to humans. They could evoke him by their dancing, and it was he who “possessed” them in their frenzy. He is, in other words, difficult to separate from the form that his worship took, and this may explain his rage at those who refused to join in his revels, for Dionysus cannot fully exist without his rites. Other gods demanded animal sacrifice, but the sacrifice was an act of obeisance or propitiation, not the hallmark of the god himself. Dionysus, in contrast, was not worshipped for ulterior reasons (to increase the crops or win the war) but for the sheer joy of his rite itself. Not only does he demand and instigate; he is the ecstatic experience that, according to Durkheim, defines the sacred and sets it apart from daily life.44
So it may make more sense to explain the anthropomorphized persona of the god in terms of his rituals, rather than the other way around. The fact that he is asexual may embody the Greeks’ understanding that collective ecstasy is not fundamentally sexual in nature, in contrast to the imaginings of later Europeans. Besides, men would hardly have stood by while their wives ran off to orgies of a sexual nature; the god’s well-known indifference guarantees their chastity on the mountaintops. The fact that he is sometimes violent may reflect Greek ambivalence toward his rites: On the one hand, from an elite male perspective, the communal ecstasy of underlings (women in this case) is threatening to the entire social order. On the other hand, the god’s potential cruelty serves to help justify each woman’s participation, since the most terrible madness and violence are always inflicted on those who abstain from his worship. The god may have been invented, then, to explain and justify preexisting rites.
If so, the Dionysian rites may have originated in some “nonreligious” practice, assuming that it is even possible to distinguish the “religious” from other aspects of a distant culture. E. R. Dodds conjectured that the rites originally arose as “spontaneous attacks of mass hysteria,”45 and indeed, there are mythic accounts of manic dancing in ancient Greece unrelated to Dionysus or any other god. Lawler suggests that waves of “dance mania” may have swept through the Myceneaen culture of prehistoric Greece and relates the myth of the three princesses of Tiryns, who, when the time came for them to marry, conveniently went mad: “They rushed out of doors, and in a frenzied dance ranged over the countryside, singing weird songs, and tearing their garments, unable to stop dancing.”46 Now possibly there were such spontaneous outbreaks of “madness” predating Dionysian ritual, but something must have set them off and given them their form. One person can go “mad” spontaneously, but what was the signal that called scores or hundreds of women from their homes at the same time? Who provided the music, for example, or remembered to bring the wine?*
There is a possible historical basis for the Dionysian rite and indeed for the god himself. The classicist Walter Burkert mentions the existence, in ancient and -- earlier than that -- archaic Greece, of itinerant charismatics, men who traveled from place to place, serving as healers, priests, and seers.47 As early as the fifth century BCE, men called orpheotelestae traveled through Greece offering to cure illnesses, including mental ones, by dancing around the sick person, “not infrequently in the form of a ring-dance.”48 Dionysus arrives in the city of Thebes in the form of such a traveler, and when Dionysian worship comes to Rome about two centuries after Euripides’ time, it is brought by a wandering magician-priest. As a healer, the itinerant charismatic cured by drawing the afflicted into ecstatic dances49 -- which may well have been effective in the case of psychosomatic and mental illnesses -- suggesting that he was a musician and dancer as well as a priest. It was probably his arrival, announced by the beating of the tympana, that drew the women out from their houses and into the “madness” that was also a cure for madness.
These itinerant musicians and masters of ecstatic ritual may well have been the prototype for the god Dionysus. As one scholar writes, the god in many ways resembles a certain kind of wandering musician in our own time, one who is also capable of inspiring “hysteria” in his devotees: the “male leader of the pop group, who for all the violence of music, gestures, and words is neither traditionally masculine nor yet effeminate. To the established order he may be a threat but not to the adoring young, especially the young women.”50 With his long hair, his hints of violence, and his promise of ecstasy, Dionysus was the first rock star.
Excerpted from DANCING IN THE STREETS: A History of Collective Joy © Copyright 2007 by Barbara Ehrenreich. Reprinted with permission by Metropolitan Books. All rights reserved.
PoCA: Micropolitics Research Strand
LAUNCH EVENT WITH FRANCO BERARDI
Friday, February 9th, 2007
15.00 - 18.00
Deptford Town Hall, Room 110
Goldsmiths, University of London
To launch the Micropolitics research strand of the Department of Visual Arts' PoCA group
[Political Currency of Art], Susan Kelly, Valeria Graziano and Janna Graham will interview Franco Berardi about his work with Radio Alice (1976-1978), A/Traverso (1975-1981) and his research with Felix Guattari in the field of schizoanalysis.
Franco Bifo Berardi is a philosopher, cultural theorist and political and media activist. Berardi
was a key figure in Italy's first free radio station (Radio Alice) and the magazine A/traverso
which he founded in 1975. Like many others involved with the Autonomia movement in Italy in the 1970s, Berardi fled to Paris, where he worked with Felix Guattari in the field of schizoanalysis.During the 1980s he contributed to Semiotexte (NY), Chimeree (Paris), Metropoli (Rome) and Musica 80 (Milan). In the 1990s he published Mtuazione e Ciberpunk (Genoa, 1993), Cobernauti (Rome, 1994) and Felix (Rome, 2001). See below for links.
The Micropolitics Strand of PoCA (The Political Currency of Art group) investigates the forces and procedures that entangle artistic production and the flexible subjectivities of its producers into the fabric of late capitalism. The prefix micro does not indicate 'small' or 'mere'. Nor does it
assume a belief in the revolutionary potential of everyday life, or indicate a retreat into the
inner life of the subject. Rather, it is invoked to access the registers of desire, vulnerability,
affect and subjective implication that generate both artistic practices and the collective engines
of cognitive capitalism. If current regimes of cultural and cognitive capitalism are predicated on
subjective forces, on the collective production of knowledge and surplus creativity, how can
artists begin to distinguish, let alone imagine a practice that does not merely feed and replicate
the machine itself?
How can art practices that in Suely Rolnik's words bring 'mutations of the sensible' into the realm of the visible or speakable, refuse or exit the limited field of possibility inscribed by late capitalism? Finally, if it is the very regimes of cognitive capitalism that not only capture but also produce flexible, creative subjectivities, how could we imagine a micropolitics of subjectivation? The research of the group will evolve from these core questions and will aim to investigate them through (a) theoretical analysis (b) the analysis of concrete situations of existing practice (c) the production of events and exhibitions.
[Thanks to Bob from MRR for the link]
|by Adam Brookes BBC News ||
A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US military's plans for "information operations" - from psychological operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks
As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer.
From influencing public opinion through new media to designing "computer network attack" weapons, the US military is learning to fight an electronic war.
The declassified document is called "Information Operations Roadmap". It was obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University using the Freedom of Information Act.
Officials in the Pentagon wrote it in 2003. The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, signed it.
The "roadmap" calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military's ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And, in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces should think about this new, virtual warfare.
The document says that information is "critical to military success". Computer and telecommunications networks are of vital operational importance.
The operations described in the document include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.
All these are engaged in information operations.
The wide-reaching document was signed off by Donald Rumsfeld
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.
"Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience," it reads.
"Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," it goes on.
The document's authors acknowledge that American news media should not unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. "Specific boundaries should be established," they write. But they don't seem to explain how.
"In this day and age it is impossible to prevent stories that are fed abroad as part of psychological operations propaganda from blowing back into the United States - even though they were directed abroad," says Kristin Adair of the National Security Archive.
"When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document takes on an extraordinary tone. It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system. "
Public awareness of the US military's information operations is low, but it's growing - thanks to some operational clumsiness.
When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document takes on an extraordinary tone. It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system
Late last year, it emerged that the Pentagon had paid a private company, the Lincoln Group, to plant hundreds of stories in Iraqi newspapers. The stories - all supportive of US policy - were written by military personnel and then placed in Iraqi publications.
And websites that appeared to be information sites on the politics of Africa and the Balkans were found to be run by the Pentagon.
But the true extent of the Pentagon's information operations, how they work, who they're aimed at, and at what point they turn from informing the public to influencing populations, is far from clear.
The roadmap, however, gives a flavour of what the US military is up to - and the grand scale on which it's thinking.
It reveals that Psyops personnel "support" the American government's international broadcasting. It singles out TV Marti - a station which broadcasts to Cuba - as receiving such support.
It recommends that a global website be established that supports America's strategic objectives. But no American diplomats here, thank you. The website would use content from "third parties with greater credibility to foreign audiences than US officials".
It also recommends that Psyops personnel should consider a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems", wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.
'Fight the net'
"Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system," it reads.
The slogan "fight the net" appears several times throughout the roadmap.
The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for intelligence.
"Networks are growing faster than we can defend them... Attack sophistication is increasing... Number of events is increasing."
US digital ambition
And, in a grand finale, the document recommends that the United States should seek the ability to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum".
US forces should be able to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum".
Consider that for a moment.
The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every networked computer, every radar system on the planet.
Are these plans the pipe dreams of self-aggrandising bureaucrats? Or are they real?
The fact that the "Information Operations Roadmap" is approved by the Secretary of Defense suggests that these plans are taken very seriously indeed in the Pentagon.
And that the scale and grandeur of the digital revolution is matched only by the US military's ambitions for it.
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Thursday, February 08, 2007
Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.
Up to then there'd only been
A sort of bargaining,
A wrangle for the ring,
A shame that started at sixteen
And spread to everything.
Then all at once the quarrel sank:
Everyone felt the same,
And every life became
A brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game.
So life was never better than
In nineteen sixty-three
(Though just too late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
1. “The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates (470-399 BCE)
2. “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily” – William of Ockham (1285 - 1349?)
3. “The life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” – Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679)
4. “I think therefore I am” – René Descartes (1596 – 1650)
5. “To be is to be perceived (Esse est percipi).” Or, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” – Bishop George Berkeley (1685 – 1753)
6. “We live in the best of all possible worlds.” – Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 – 1716)
7. “The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.” G.W.F. Hegel (1770 – 1831)
8. “Who is also aware of the tremendous risk involved in faith – when he nevertheless makes the leap of faith – this [is] subjectivity … at its height.” – Søren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855)
9. “God is dead.” – Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)
10. “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” – Albert Camus (1913 – 1960)
11. “One cannot step twice in the same river.” – Heraclitus (ca. 540 – ca. 480 BCE)
Bonus: Fake Your Way Through a Conversation (with Correct Pronunciation!)
If you fumble with a philosopher’s name, nothing you say afterward will sound credible. So, learn to pronounce these names correctly, then start worrying about their ideas.
(George) Berkeley is properly pronounced like Charles Barkley (bark-lee). This name is commonly mispronounced “burk-lee” like Berkeley, California, which, ironically, is named after George Berkeley.
(Friedrich) Nietzsche is commonly mispronounced as “nee-chee.” The correct pronunciation is “nee-ch-ya” and rhymes with “pleased ta meetchya.” “Pleased ta meetchya, Neechya.” Say it!
Lao-tzu (born ca. 604 BCE) is spelled several different ways in English transliteration from the Chinese. But no matter how you spell it, the proper way to pronounce it is “lau” (sounds like “ouch”)-“dsuh”. The stress goes on the first syllable.
(Charles Sanders) Pierce (1839 – 1914) is commonly mispronounced as “peer-s.” The correct pronunciation is “purse,” which is somewhat funny because Pierce rarely had a penny in his purse. Oddly, Pierce took his middle name, Sanders, as an anglicized form of Santiago, or “St. James,” in honor of a fellow pragmatist, William James (1842 – 1910), who helped him out financially.
(Ludwig) Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) is a name that demands authentic German pronunciation, and there are plenty of ways to slaughter it. Here’s one that embodies all of them, “wit-jen-steen.” The correct pronunciation is “vit” (rhymes with bit)-“ghen” (rhymes with ken)-“shtine.” The first name is pronounced “lude-vig.” If you think it’s hard to pronounce his name, try reading his Tractatus.
From mental_floss’ book Condensed Knowledge: A deliciously Irreverent Guide to Feeling Smart Again, published in Neatorama with permission.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says a widening U.S. income gap threatens economic progress. But he urges policymakers to avoid actions that could limit international trade or the flexibility of labor markets.
Haves and Have-Nots: Income Inequality in America
Stories in This Series
- Part 1: The View from the Top — At the top of our income distribution, life is sweet… sweet enough to send private jet sales up sharply. John Ydstie reports on why inequality is growing again and discusses some of the ideas for restraining it.
- Part 2: Ivy Tower, Blue Collar — What's it like to be a not-so-rich kid at a private, elite school like Amherst? Jim Zarroli finds out.
- Part 3: Big Hoop Dreams, Tiny Paychecks — The average NBA player makes more than $5 million a year. One notch below, athletes in the NBA's development league earn as little as $15,000 a year. Tom Goldman reports.
- Part 4: Fears Overblown? — Some economists aren't all that concerned about a growing income gap. They believe a society that allows the market to reward education and skills is moving in the right direction, and worry about the unintended consequences of government intervention. Adam Davidson reports.
- Part 5: Married with Money — Part of what's driving income inequality: Men and women in high-paying fields tend to pair off and form high-income families. Chris Arnold reports.
- Part 6: Lucky Strikes — During the golden stock-option years, some employees struck it rich… but others came too late or just didn't time it right to share the wealth. Wendy Kaufman reports.
- Part 7: When the Good Jobs Vanish — What happens to factory workers when their well-paid manufacturing jobs move overseas? Jim Zarroli reports.
Over the past generation, the financial gulf between the rich and everyone else has widened.
Scott Stroud, NPR
The wealth gap in America has long been in the making. In the 30 years between 1975 and 2005, U.S. households in the bottom 80 percent income bracket saw their share of national income actually fall. Those in the bottom 40 percent saw a drop in their incomes when adjusted for inflation. Only the top 20 percent of households experienced an increase their share of the total national income; much of that went to households in the highest 5 percent of the income bracket.
Scott Stroud, NPR
U.S. households in the top 20 percent of the income distribution earn own well more than 80 percent of the nation's wealth.
Scott Stroud, NPR
Households in the top fifth of the income bracket earn almost half of the nation's income.
NPR.org, February 5, 2007 · An America where some have more money than others is nothing new. But in the past generation, the financial gap between the rich and everyone else has grown ever wider.
This week, NPR features a seven-part series that explores the human side of income inequality in the United States. We'll have stories about workers who are severed from the middle class when their manufacturing jobs disappear. We'll be speaking with people like Larry Podeswik, a wiry 52-year-old ex-Marine who lost the best-paying job of his life when the Carrier Air Conditioning company shut down its factory in Syracuse, N.Y.
We'll meet people who have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations, because their particular skills meshed perfectly with the Internet age. We'll explore the role of luck and timing — and marriage. And we'll look at what happens when middle- and working-class students attend an elite college with much-more-affluent peers.
The Very Rich… and Everyone Else
To get a sense of how the very wealthy have prospered over the past generation, consider this: The share of total income going to the top-earning 1 percent of Americans went from 8 percent in 1980 to 16 percent in 2004.
That doesn't mean that the average family is worse off than a generation ago; more people own homes, go to college, drive reliable cars and have access to sophisticated health care than ever before. But while the average family has done well, the very rich have done much, much better.
One reason: gains in the stock market. Affluent people own more stocks, and executives are often paid in stock or stock options. So when the market does well, their wealth accelerates quickly. Over the past 10 years, for example, the S&P 500, a broad proxy for the market, has increased 86 percent. At the same time, the people at the very top saw their incomes surge: In the 1970s, corporate chief executives earned 30 times as much as the average worker. Ten years ago, CEO compensation was 116 times the average. CEOs now earn close to 300 times as much as the average worker.
During the same 10-year period, American workers became among the most productive in the rich, industrialized, world. But the growth in their wages, when adjusted for inflation, was spotty at best.
What's Behind the Gap?
This widening gulf between the haves and have-nots has been a consistent trend for a generation or more. Economists largely agree about the primary underlying reasons. New technology has made many jobs obsolete, while creating dramatic opportunities for wealth in computers, finance, and media and entertainment. Global competition has done the same. As middle-class assembly-line jobs vanish, and routine white-collar work gets outsourced overseas, the value of education and special skills rises. The power of unions continues to decline.
For people in the broad middle class, the economic picture over the past decade has been mixed. Unemployment has been low and inflation largely contained. But behind those reassuring trends, you'll find a lot of volatility in labor markets — what economists call "churn." In short, there's more hiring and firing going on.
That churn had led to new opportunities for many workers, but caused hardship and anxiety for many others. Add to this the fast-rising cost of health care and the decline of employer-paid pensions, and you understand why many middle-class families describe themselves as financially squeezed. Low-income Americans, of course, are financially squeezed as well, only more so.
Is the System Broken?
Even the staunchest free-market advocates agree that a widening income gap can be harmful to a society if it cuts people off from economic opportunity. But they aren't convinced that is happening now.
Economists and others who dismiss fears about the income gap point to the low unemployment rate, rising home ownership and a fertile environment for entrepreneurship as evidence that economic opportunity is alive and well. And they argue that it's fine and well if the rich are getting a lot richer, as long as most other people make some economic progress and have the opportunity to make a lot more.
But others – including many politicians — are convinced that something has gone awry in our economic system, threatening the underpinning of the American Dream. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina based his 2004 bid for the Democratic nomination for president on a "two Americas" theme. Democrat James Webb made economic insecurity a centerpiece of his Senate victory in traditionally Republican Virginia. President Bush hasn't emphasized income inequality much during his administration. But he pointedly mentioned it twice last week in a speech on Wall Street. Better schools, he said, can help close the wealth divide.
Action on Capitol Hill
Democrats in Congress have begun to introduce legislation designed to assist lower- and middle-income Americans, from raising the minimum wage to cutting interest rates on student loans. They will try to change labor laws to make it easier for unions to organize. And many will oppose an extension of the Bush administration tax cuts that have benefited wealthier Americans.
Conservatives tend to be mistrustful of any attempt to fix income inequality by making new laws. And they argue that the big increase in single-parent families has contributed significantly to the wealth gap — more so than liberals often acknowledge.
Economists of all political persuasions believe income inequality transcends partisan politics: Neither party caused it, and neither party has the means to reverse it. There are just too many forces at work for the wealth gap to be halted by a flurry of bills passed in Washington.
- That reincarnation is the rule, although many misconceptions abound. For example, human beings never reincarnate as animals; cause-and-effect does not operate from one life to the next; and reincarnation does not end in a state of nirvana. Each individual must experience fatherhood, motherhoood and childhood, and thus must incarnate at least twice; the maximum number varies greatly, depending on the temperament and needs of the individual. There is a period of rest between incarnations. When an individual's reincarnational cycle is over, the individual moves on to other systems of reality. There is no heaven or hell, only continued existence.
- That each self has many layers, most notably an "outer ego", which interacts with physical reality, and an "inner ego" or "inner self", which is concerned with the mechanics of constructing and maintaining the outer ego's physical world, and which existed prior to any incarnations. The entire self is actually a gestalt consisting of the reincarnational personalities and the inner self. According to Seth, human beings are generally unaware of the inner self, although it comes through as intuition and the "inner voice" that many people believe they hear. The inner self is aware of all reincarnational selves.
- That each individual exists in four universes simultaneously: the physical universe, which is the result of coordinated mass mental projections on the part of its inhabitants; a dream universe, which is created in the same way but has less rigid natural laws; an adjacent electrical universe, where the inner self resides and all mental activity occurs; and an anti-matter universe of which Seth said very little. According to Seth, it is the inner ego which dreams, and the dreams continue when the outer ego is awake.
- That time and space are illusions and that both the past and future coexist with the present; therefore a person's incarnations in different time periods are actually lived simultaneously, as opposed to consecutively. To human beings, time appears to exist in a linear form because of limitations inherent in the physical brain.
- That all individuals create their own circumstances and experiences within the shared earthly environment, similar to the doctrine of responsibility assumption. The inner self is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the individual's physical body and immediate physical environment; events, however, unfold according to the outer ego's beliefs and attitudes. Both productive and unproductive attitudes are translated into reality, and thus one of the tasks of the individual is to learn how to direct his or her thoughts in positive directions. In a private session given to a friend of Jane Roberts, the Seth personality said:
You must watch the pictures that you paint with your imagination, for you allow your imagination too full a reign. If you read our early material, you will see that your environment and the conditions of your life at any given time are the direct result of your own inner expectations. You form physical materializations of these realities within your own mind.
If you imagine dire circumstances, ill health, or desperate loneliness, these will be automatically materialized, for these thoughts themselves bring about the conditions that will give them reality in physical terms. If you would have good health, then you must imagine this as vividly as in fear you imagine the opposite.
You create your own difficulties. This is true for each individual. The inner psychological state is projected outward, gaining physical reality -- and this regardless of the nature of the psychological state. ... The rules apply to everyone. You can use them for your own benefit and change your own conditions once you realize what they are.
You cannot escape your own attitudes, for they will form the nature of what you see. Quite literally you see what you want to see; and you see your own thoughts and emotional attitudes materialized in physical form. If changes are to occur, they must be mental and psychic changes. These will be reflected in your environment. Negative, distrustful, fearful, or degrading attitudes toward anyone work against the self.
- That, in an argument reminiscent of the "many worlds hypothesis", there are multiple realities, each as valid as any of the others. Some realities (or "planes of existence") are physical and some are mental or spiritual, and each has its own natural laws. All realities are, to some extent, camouflages since all beings have an existence which is independent of any system of reality. The number of realities is essentially infinite since new realities come into existence constantly.
- That there is a God (whom Seth referred to as "All That Is"); that God is composed of self-replicating and inexhaustible mental energy; and that God contains all of Creation within it. God, therefore, is a gestalt of all life, as in Pantheism and Panentheism. The mental energy of God is the composite substance of all things, including all beings, all universes, and all events and phenomena. Therefore, all things in existence, including physical matter, have life and consciousness. If there is reality outside of God, the Seth personality was not aware of it.
- That Creation is constant and ongoing. Most Creation occurs, not as a direct command from God, but as a result of the activities of the individuals that exist within God. Since the mental energy of God is the building material for all things, God's consciousness extends into all new creations.
- That Christ, who still exists, is a highly evolved entity who has existence in many planes. However, Christ is part of God, and thus has the same relationship to God that all other individuals do.
- That at the time of Christ, the Christ entity incarnated as three individuals -- John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and Paul or Saul of Tarsus -- and each was to some degree aware of his role in founding a new religion (although Paul/Saul was not aware of his role until after his conversion to Christianity). The Seth personality said that Jesus was not crucified; rather, a deluded surrogate was substituted in his place, and it was this surrogate that Judas betrayed. Seth said that the crucifixion of Jesus did not occur as a physical event, but did occur as a shared psychic event.
- That Paul/Saul will reincarnate in the 21st century to correct mistakes that he made that set Christianity on the wrong course, and that a period of spiritual awareness will ensue. Paul/Saul will not identify himself as Christ, and some will view him as the anti-Christ since his appearance will hasten the decline of traditional Christianity, along with other organized religions. Paul/Saul will be known as a psychic, that he will strive "to straighten out Christianity, which will be in shambles at the time of His arrival", and that he will form "a new system of thought when the world is sorely in need of one". The events surrounding the return of Paul/Saul will substantially be complete by the year 2075, but the ensuing changes to society will take a century to unfold.
Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) is an approach that needs to be tested at the local level and, if successful, applied to state and national elections as well. The US electoral system is in crisis; less than half the potential voters vote - the lowest in the western, industrialized world. The winner-take-all election system often pushes voters to vote their fears and not their beliefs. We have not had a President win an election with majority support of voters since the first President Bush. It undermines the perceived voter mandate of the government to have a president with less than majority support of actual votes. IRV may help fix both of these problems and allow more voters to vote for the candidates they support. Nobody knows how IRV will actually work in the United States - no matter what its fervent supporters may hope for. It has to be tested and also clarified within the context of local, state and national campaign funding laws.
On June 14, 2004, the Ferndale, MI City Council unanimously voted for a proposal to place IRV on the November 2004 ballot. The proposal would amend the city's charter to use IRV in future mayoral elections. A citizen's group, Ferndale for Instant Run-off Voting, asserts that with IRV the winner always has a majority vote and minor-party and independent candidates are no longer viewed as "spoilers," unfair as that sneeringly selective noun is in our rigged two party system.
Instant Run-off Voting allows voters to rank their vote -- voters indicate a one for a first choice, two for a second choice, and three for a third choice. This simple but ground-breaking advance in elections ensures that in an election with more than two candidates, your vote can count for your second choice if your first choice can't win. Here's how it works: if a candidate receives a majority of first choices, that candidate wins. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and a second round of counting occurs wherein the eliminated candidate's votes go to each voter's next choice. Rounds of counting continue until there is a majority winner.
Advances for IRV are being made around the world and around the United States. In 2002 San Franciscans voted 55%-45% to adopt instant runoff voting. A Vermont League of Women Voters proposal to use instant runoff voting for statewide elections was debated in over 50 town meetings in 2002; of the 51 towns reporting results, 49 supported adoption of instant runoff voting, most by overwhelming margins. And Oakland, California voted 75.9 to 24.0 in favor if IRV on March 5, 2002 but it has not yet been implemented. IRV is used in major elections in Australia, Ireland and Great Britain. A few examples:
- This spring, the Utah Republican Party made effective use of IRV at its state convention in battles for the gubernatorial and congressional nomination.
- San Francisco is in the process of educating voters on the use of IRV for use in this November's seven Board of Supervisors district elections. The use of IRV, backers say, will have a big impact on voter turnout which has been declining.
As former Independent candidate John Anderson said in an article about the Ralph Nader 2004 Independent campaign: "Having an election between two candidates is obviously better than a one-party dictatorship, but having an election among more than two candidates is better than a two-party duopoly." He went on to highlight how Ross Perot's candidacy increased voter interest in the presidential election and how that was healthy for our democracy. Anderson concluded: "With Instant Run-off Voting, we would determine a true majority winner in one election and banish the spoiler concept. Voters would not have to calculate possible perverse consequences of voting for their favorite candidate. They could vote their hopes, not their fears."
Let us see. Let some demonstrations begin so we can find out what we don't know.
For more information visit:
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
posted by Karen:
The other day I decided to spend time in my office clearing clutter and reorganizing. It is amazing how one can find hidden treasures that have been buried under dust and an accumulation of "I will read this later" documents. One such document is the one I have pasted below called Guidelines for Being Human. I pondered life after reading it the first time and I laughed at how the unknown author knew I would forget such words. I have been carrying this with me from home office to home office for many years and thought it was time to pass it on.
Guidelines for Being Human
YOU WILL RECEIVE A BODY. You may like it, you may hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.
LESSONS WILL BE PRESENTED. You will be enrolled in a full time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have an opportunity to learn lessons. You may learn lessons or you may think them irrelevant and stupid.
THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, ONLY LESSONS. Growth is a process of trial and error and experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works”.
A LESSON IS REPEATED UNTIL LEARNED. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms and with more and more energy until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.
LEARNING LESSONS DOES NOT END. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
“THERE” IS NOT BETTER THAN “HERE”. When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will, again, look better than “here”.
OTHERS ARE MERELY MIRRORS OF YOU. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
WHAT YOU MAKE OF YOUR LIFE IS UP TO YOU. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. All the choices are yours.
YOUR ANSWERS LIE INSIDE OF YOU. The answers to life’s questions lie inside of you. All you need do is look inside, listen and trust.
YOU WILL FORGET ALL THIS.
All lovely things will have an ending,
All lovely things will fade and die,
And youth, that's now so bravely spending,
Will beg a penny by and by.
Fine ladies soon are all forgotten,
And goldenrod is dust when dead,
The sweetest flesh and flowers are rotten
And cobwebs tent the brightest head.
Come back, true love! Sweet youth, return!--
But time goes on, and will, unheeding,
Though hands will reach, and eyes will yearn,
And the wild days set true hearts bleeding.
Come back, true love! Sweet youth, remain!--
But goldenrod and daisies wither,
And over them blows autumn rain,
They pass, they pass, and know not whither."
Monday, February 05, 2007
Ralph Nader is back in the spotlight again.
He's the subject of a new documentary film, "An Unreasonable Man." And he's making the rounds of the talk shows, promoting his latest book -- and continuing to insist that he didn't cost Al Gore the 2000 election. In fact, he claims, Gore would have received fewer votes than he did if Nader hadn't been on the ticket as the Green Party candidate, pushing him to the left.
If this kind of rationalization gives Nader comfort as he contemplates the ruinous handiwork of the Bush administration, he's welcome to it.
The fact is, however, that Nader had every right as a citizen to run for president. The 2.8 million people who voted for him had every right to do so, including the 97,000 in Florida, where George W. Bush's lead of 500-some votes when the recounting stopped handed him that state's crucial 25 electoral ballots.
The real culprit in 2000 -- and the reason that a third-party or independent candidate anywhere can change the outcome of an election while running far behind the two leaders -- is the illogical way we count the ballots in most of the country, including New Jersey.
We use a straight plurality system, in which the candidate with the most votes wins.
When there are more than two candidates in a race, however, there's a chance the winner will receive fewer than a majority of the votes cast.
It happened in 1992, too, when Bill Clinton won with 43 percent of the popular vote, thanks to H. Ross Perot's third-party campaign. It happens all the time in state and local primaries and general elections that involve multiple candidates.
Nader has been denounced as a "spoiler," a candidate with no chance to win who caused the election of a man the majority of Americans didn't want.
But candidates ought to be able to run without suffering that kind of stigma.
It can be done with a system called instant runoff voting (IRV). With IRV, third-party candidates can campaign -- and their supporters can vote for them -- in good conscience, knowing that by exercising their free choice, they won't help bring about the election of the candidate they least admire.
Equally important are IRV's other advantages. The system is clean, quick, cost-effective and democratic. It's superior in every way to holding a conventional runoff-type election between the top two candidates, which some places, including the city of Trenton, use when no candidate ends up with a majority.
An actual runoff does end up with a majority rather than a plurality victor. But it requires the two finalists to resume the stress of campaigning and fundraising for an additional few weeks. And it hits the taxpayer with a large additional expense in return for a diminished result; voter turnout is almost always smaller the second time.
In an IRV election, the runoff is part of the counting of the ballots.
Voters are given the option of ranking the candidates in order of choice: 1, 2, 3.
If one candidate receives a majority of first choices, that person is elected. However, if no one is the first choice of at least half the voters plus one, the re-tabulation begins.
The candidate with the fewest first preferences is eliminated, and the second choices on his or her ballots are redistributed to the remaining candidates.
This process of eliminating candidates and re-tabulating the votes continues until two finalists remain. Whichever one has the most votes is the winner.
Still another advantage of IRV is that it tends to discourage negative campaigning. Candidates are less likely to sling mud because such tactics would risk offending the voters who support the candidate under attack.
IRV is used abroad to elect the mayor of London, the president of Ireland, members of the Australian parliament and other officials.
Last year, Burlington, Vt., became the first U.S. city to elect a mayor in this manner. San Francisco uses IRV to choose members of its board of supervisors. Last fall, voters in Minneapolis, Oakland, Davis (California) and Pierce County (Washington) approved IRV for local elections.
In New Jersey, however, only a few political scientists and policy wonks even know about IRV.
One of its fervent advocates in Assemblyman Bill Baroni, R-Hamilton, sponsor of a bill to create a 10-member study commission to examine the system and make recommendations. The bill remains buried in committee.
Another fan is Ingrid Reed of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, an expert on all aspects of voting. Reed thinks IRV could be sold on the basis of its cost-efficiency alone.
"Why are we willing to have two elections in Trenton in May and then again in June with so little participation? We would be really incensed at any other waste of money such as that," she said.
Right now, Reed pointed out, the Attorney General's Office, which supervises elections in the state, is working to develop specifications for electronic voting machines that would provide the "voter-verifiable paper audit trail" that New Jersey has mandated.
"States should be quite assertive in making their case for what they want in voting machines, because it's now a buyer's market, not a seller's market," Reed said. "The vendors are looking very carefully at what states want and are competing with each other to provide it.
"This is a good time to add the capacity for accommodating instant runoff voting to our machine specifications," she said.
by Barry Grey (source: World Socialist )
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser in the Carter administration, delivered a scathing critique of the war in Iraq and warned that the Bush administration’s policy was leading inevitably to a war with Iran, with incalculable consequences for US imperialism in the Middle East and internationally.
Brzezinski, who opposed the March 2003 invasion and has publicly denounced the war as a colossal foreign policy blunder, began his remarks on what he called the “war of choice” in Iraq by characterizing it as “a historic, strategic and moral calamity.”
“Undertaken under false assumptions,” he continued, “it is undermining America’s global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America’s moral credentials. Driven by Manichean principles and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability.”
Brzezinski derided Bush’s talk of a “decisive ideological struggle” against radical Islam as “simplistic and demagogic,” and called it a “mythical historical narrative” employed to justify a “protracted and potentially expanding war.”
“To argue that America is already at war in the region with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said.
Most stunning and disturbing was his description of a “plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran.” It would, he suggested, involve “Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks, followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure, then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran, culminating in a ‘defensive’ US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” [Emphasis added].
This was an unmistakable warning to the US Congress, replete with quotation marks to discount the “defensive” nature of such military action, that the Bush administration is seeking a pretext for an attack on Iran. Although he did not explicitly say so, Brzezinski came close to suggesting that the White House was capable of manufacturing a provocation—including a possible terrorist attack within the US—to provide the casus belli for war.
That a man such as Brzezinski, with decades of experience in the top echelons of the US foreign policy establishment, a man who has the closest links to the military and to intelligence agencies, should issue such a warning at an open hearing of the US Senate has immense and grave significance.
Brzezinski knows whereof he speaks, having authored provocations of his own while serving as Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser. In that capacity, as he has since acknowledged in published writings, he drew up the covert plan at the end of the 1970s to mobilize Islamic fundamentalist mujaheddin to topple the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan and draw the Soviet Union into a ruinous war in that country.
Following his opening remarks, in response to questions from the senators, Brzezinski reiterated his warning of a provocation.
He called the senators’ attention to a March 27, 2006 report in the New York Times on “a private meeting between the president and Prime Minister Blair, two months before the war, based on a memorandum prepared by the British official present at this meeting.” In the article, Brzezinski said, “the president is cited as saying he is concerned that there may not be weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, and that there must be some consideration given to finding a different basis for undertaking the action.”
He continued: “I’ll just read you what this memo allegedly says, according to the New York Times: ‘The memo states that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation.’
“He described the several ways in which this could be done. I won’t go into that... the ways were quite sensational, at least one of them.
“If one is of the view that one is dealing with an implacable enemy that has to be removed, that course of action may under certain circumstances be appealing. I’m afraid that if this situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, and if Iran is perceived as in some fashion involved or responsible, or a potential beneficiary, that temptation could arise.”
At another point Brzezinski remarked on the conspiratorial methods of the Bush administration and all but described it as a cabal. “I am perplexed,” he said, “by the fact that major strategic decisions seem to be made within a very narrow circle of individuals—just a few, probably a handful, perhaps not more than the fingers on my hand. And these are the individuals, all of whom but one, who made the original decision to go to war, and used the original justifications to go to war.”
None of the senators in attendance addressed themselves to the stark warning from Brzezinski. The Democrats in particular, flaccid, complacent and complicit in the war conspiracies of the Bush administration, said nothing about the danger of a provocation spelled out by the witness.
Following the hearing, this reporter asked Brzezinski directly if he was suggesting that the source of a possible provocation might be the US government itself. The former national security adviser was evasive.
The following exchange took place:
Q: Dr. Brzezinski, who do you think would be carrying out this possible provocation?
A: I have no idea. As I said, these things can never be predicted. It can be spontaneous.
Q: Are you suggesting there is a possibility it could originate within the US government itself?
A: I’m saying the whole situation can get out of hand and all sorts of calculations can produce a circumstance that would be very difficult to trace.
The Cosmic Christ
(the union of the all, which is love) <>Expanding consciousness, elevating the flesh, unifying all>
“Imagine, if you can, what it would be like if your heart began to beat with cosmic rhythm. Most people’s hearts don’t even beat with human rhythm. [But] there will come a time when man will no longer distinguish between man and god. When the human being is raised to his full powers he will be divine, his human consciousness will have fallen away. …Man will be free, that’s what I mean. Once he becomes the god which he is, he will have realised his destiny- which is freedom. Freedom includes everything. …Don’t think I am talking religion or philosophy. I disclaim them both, utterly. They are not even stepping stones, as people like to think. They must be hurdled at one jump. …There is only one thing, spirit. It’s all, everything, and when you realise it you’re it. You’re all there is and there is nothing more. …Understanding is nothing. The eyes must be kept open, constantly. To open your eyes you must relax, not strain. …You are to liberate yourself. There is no exercise, physical or spiritual, to practice. All such things are like incense- they awaken a feeling of holiness. We must be holy without holiness. …Any other kind of holiness is false, a snare and a delusion. …There is no need for redemption, because what men call sin and guilt have no ultimate meaning. …When you reach to the quick of things you will find neither acceleration nor retardation, neither birth nor death. There is, and you are- that is it in a nutshell. Don’t break your skull over it, because to the mind it makes no sense. Accept it, and forget it, or it will drive you mad.”>
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader on Sunday left the door open for another possible White House bid in 2008 and criticized Democratic front-runner
Hillary Rodham Clinton as "a panderer and a flatterer."
Asked on CNN's Late Edition news program if he would run in 2008, the lawyer and consumer activist said, "It's really too early to say. ... I'll consider it later in the year."
Nader, 72, said he did not plan to vote for Clinton, a Democratic senator from New York and former first lady.
"I don't think she has the fortitude. Actually she's really a panderer and a flatterer. As she goes around the country, you'll see more of that," Nader said.
On whether he would be encouraged to run if Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, Nader said, "It would make it more important that that be the case."
He added that Clinton may face a challenge in her own state from wealthy Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"I think her main problem may well be right in New York City, Michael Bloomberg. They're talking in the Bloomberg camp of a possible run. I'm saying he'll give more diversity, for sure, and he'll focus on urban problems. But I might say, he's got the money to do it," Nader said.
Democratic candidates Nader likes include former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, he said.
"These people have records, not just rhetoric," he said.
He also criticized focusing on campaign fund-raising to judge candidates' prospects. "The press and the polls are gravitating on cash-register politics ... who's going to raise the $100 (million) or $200 million, McCain or Obama or Hillary. That's very unhealthy. That's rancid politics," he said.
Nader ran for president as an independent in 2004 and as the Green Party candidate in 2000, when some Democrats said he siphoned away votes from former Democratic Vice President Al Gore, helping Republican George W. Bush to win.
O sublime Goddess! O naked oneness!
What is the meaning of your nakedness?
Are you shameless, Divine Lady? …
Who is this mystic woman of sheer loveliness?...
with the youth of timelessness,
no garment can cover or even touch her. …
Unimaginable and inconceivable is her beauty!
Do you dare to gaze upon her,
O self-serving mind and senses?
She manifests as eternal Goddess,
etheric beings, and as earthly women. …
Ever young, naked, precise, alert,
thrilling and compelling to behold…
She stands unveiled,
her long hair falling free like monsoon rain.
Be lost in awe of her, O mind,
for you will never comprehend her. …
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Mass of writhing bodies,
Hands and mouths connecting,
Moans of pleasure,
Beneath my heaving bosom,
A sexy nymph cries out,
Her hair spread like flame,
As my mouth descends,
To her sweet place,
And as i drink her down,
Length plunges into me.
Stretched I bite down,
And hear her blissful scream.
As I am filled,
Friday, February 02, 2007
What the Bleep Do We Know!? (also written What the #$*! Do We Know!?) is a controversial 2004 film that combines documentary interviews and a fictional narrative to posit a connection between science and spirituality based upon the teachings of JZ Knight/Ramtha, of whom the three directors are devotees. There is also an extended 2006 version, What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole.
The topics discussed in What the Bleep Do We Know!? include neurology, quantum physics, psychology, epistemology, ontology, metaphysics, magical thinking and spirituality. The film features interviews with individuals presented as experts in science and spirituality, interspersed with the story of a deaf photographer as she struggles with her situation. Computer-animated graphics feature heavily in the film. The film has received widespread criticism from the scientific community. Physicists, in particular, claim that the film grossly misrepresents the meaning of various principles of quantum mechanics, and is in fact pseudoscience.Filmed on location in Portland, Oregon, What the Bleep Do We Know (according to the makers "Bleep" is a bowdlerization of "fuck" — William Arntz has referred to the film as "WTFDWK" in a message to Bleeps' "Street Team") blends a fictional story line, documentary-style discussion, and computer animation to present a view of the physical universe and human life within it, with purported connections to neuroscience and quantum physics. Some ideas discussed in the film are:
The universe is best seen as constructed from thought (or ideas) rather than from substance (see idealism);
What has long been considered "empty space" is anything but empty (see vacuum energy);
Our beliefs about who we are and what is real are not simply observations, but rather form ourselves and our realities (see solipsism).
Peptides manufactured in the brain can cause a bodily reaction to an emotion, resulting in a new perspective to old adages such as "think positively" and "be careful what you wish for."
In the fictional part, Amanda, a deaf photographer (played by Marlee Matlin) acts as the viewer's avatar as she experiences her life from startlingly new and different perspectives.
In the documentary part of the film, a number of purported scientific experts in quantum physics, biology, medicine, psychiatry, and theology discuss the roots and meaning of Amanda's experiences. However, viewers are not told the credentials of the experts until the credits at the end of the film. The comments of the scientific experts converge on a single theme: "We all create our own reality." Although not widely held by the scientific community, this point of view correlates with the subjective experience. Authors arguing related viewpoints include Jane Roberts (the Seth books), Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions), the writings of Abraham-Hicks, and of Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Dr. David R. Hawkins.
Featured Individuals Amit Goswami "One of the rare scientists that do not leave out consciousness in explaining quantum physics." He appears in What is Enlightenment magazine, authored the book The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World (ISBN 0-87477-798-4), and has worked with Deepak Chopra.
John Hagelin was the head of the 1993 Transcendental Meditation project in Washington, D.C. (The Washington TM study was mentioned in the film, but Hagelin was never identified as one of its authors.) He was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize, which honors achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think," for this project. He is chairman of the Physics Department at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa. The University was founded by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru who vaulted to fame after becoming the spiritual advisor to the Beatles.
Stuart Hameroff, an anesthesiologist, author, and associate director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona. He has worked with Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose, on a speculative quantum theory of consciousness.
JZ Knight/Ramtha appears frequently in the film as a scientist or spiritual teacher. By the end of the film, during the credits, she is identified as the spirit "Ramtha" who is being "channeled" by "JZ Knight". Knight was born Judith Darlene Hampton in Roswell, New Mexico. She claims to channel a spirit she calls Ramtha, "a 35,000 year-old warrior spirit from the lost continent of Lemuria and one of the Ascended Masters." (Knight says she speaks with an accent because English is not Ramtha's first language.)
Andrew Newberg, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, and physician in nuclear medicine. He is coauthor of the book, Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science & the Biology of Belief (ISBN 0-345-44034-X).
Candace Pert wrote the book Molecules of Emotion in 1997 (foreword written by Deepak Chopra) where she espoused views very similar to those of the film. Some aspects of the film appeared to be based on her book. For example, the first ten minutes of the movie can be summarized by a quote from pages 146–148 of Molecules of Emotion where she writes:
There is no objective reality! ... Emotions are constantly regulating what we experience as "reality." The decision about what sensory information travels to your brain and what gets filtered depends on what signals the receptors are receiving from the peptides ... For example, when the tall European ships first approached the early Native Americans, it was such an "impossible" vision in their reality that their highly filtered perceptions couldn't register what was happening, and they literally failed to "see" the ships.
Another point in the movie can be well summarized by page 285, where she writes:
The tendency to ignore emotions is oldthink, a remnant of the still-reigning paradigm that keeps us focused on the material level of health, the physicality of it. But the emotions are a key element in the self-care because they allow us to enter into the bodymind's conversation. By getting in touch with our emotions, both by listening to them and by directing them through the psychosomatic network, we gain access to the healing wisdom that is everyone's natural biological right.
Fred Alan Wolf, who recently wrote The Yoga of Time Travel: How the Mind Can Defeat Time. (Note: he says he is also known by the name "Captain Quantum" — an animated character that was created for the movie but not used in the released version.) He is also author of The Eagle's Quest, The Dreaming Universe and The Spiritual Universe.
David Albert, a philosopher of physics and professor at Columbia University, speaks frequently throughout the movie. While it may appear as though he supports the ideas that are presented in the movie, according to a Popular Science article, he is "outraged at the final product." The article states that Albert granted the filmmakers a near-four hour interview about quantum mechanics being unrelated to consciousness or spirituality. His interview was then edited and incorporated into the film in a way that he claims misrepresented his views. In the article, Albert also expresses his feelings of gullibility after having been "taken" by the filmmakers. Although Albert is listed as a scientist taking part in the sequel to What the Bleep, called "Down the Rabbit Hole", this sequel is a "director's cut", composed of extra footage from the filming of the first movie.
Other interviewees in the film include Joe Dispenza, a chiropractor, author, and a devotee of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment; Miceal Ledwith, author and former professor of theology at Maynooth College in Ireland; Daniel Monti, physician and director of the Mind-Body Medicine Program at Thomas Jefferson University; Jeffery Satinover, psychiatrist and author; and William Tiller, Professor Emeritus of Material Science and Engineering at Stanford University, and author of over 250 scientific publications.
Amit Goswami and William Tiller are both employed by the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
[Many thanks to Reefer Jello on MRR for turning me on to Lord Buckley, (who happens to have been born near where I live)]
"King Of Hip," Lord Buckley on the Groucho Marx TV Show.
And, for those of you that might
remember the great Lord Buckley!
And, for those of you who may not be familiar with
Lord Buckley but like jazz....
click on Speak the Jive...then click on Studs Terkel/Lord Buckley icon.
Lord Buckley's version of Marc Antony's big speech
Hipsters, Flipsters and Finger-poppin' daddies,
Knock me your lobes.
I came here to lay Caesar out
Not to hip you to him.
The bad jazz that a cat blows,
Wails long after he's cut out.
The groovy is often stashed with their frames.
So don't put Caesar down.
The swingin' Brutus hath laid a story on you
That Caesar was hooked for power.
If it were so, it was a sad drag
And sadly hath this Caesar cat answered it.
Here, with a pass from Brutus and the other brass
For Brutus is a worthy stud
Yea, so are they all worthy studs.
I came to wail at Caesar's wake
He was my buddy cat and he leveled with me.
Yet Brutus digs that he had eyes for power
And Brutus is a solid cat.
It is true that he hath returned with many freaks in chains.
And brought them home to Rome.
Yea, the loony was booty and hipped the treasury well.
Doth thou dig that this was Caesar's groove for the push?
When the cats with the empty kicks hath copped out,
Yea, Caesar hath copped out too
And cried up a storm.
To be a world grabber a stiffer riff must be blown.
Without bread a stud can't even rule an anthill.
Yet Brutus was swinging for the moon,
And, yea, Brutus is a worthy stud.
And all you cats were gassed on the Lupercal,
When he came on like a king freak.
Three times I laid the kingly wig on him
And thrice did he put it down.
Was this the move of a greedy hipster?
Yet, Brutus said he dig the lick
And, yea, a hipper cat hath never blown.
"Lord Buckley" NPR 06:30
"His Royal Hipness - The Nazz" Lord Buckley 09:53
Thursday, February 01, 2007
The French already enjoy a 35-hour work week and generous vacation. Now the health minister wants to look into whether workers should be allowed to sleep on the job.
France launched plans this week to spend $9 million this year to improve public awareness about sleeping troubles. About one in three French people suffer from them, the ministry says.
Fifty-six percent of French complain that a poor night's sleep has affected their job performance, according to the ministry.
"Why not a nap at work? It can't be a taboo subject," Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said Monday. He called for further studies and said he would promote on-the-job naps if they prove useful.
France's state-run health insurance provider will send letters explaining the importance of good sleep. The Health Ministry's Web site offers tips on how best to get a good night's rest.
The ministry's online "Passport to Sleep" recommends cutting down on coffee, tea, colas, and athletic activity after 8 p.m., shunning TV time or working late in the evening, and listening better to the body's own sleep signals, such as yawning.
Bertrand said sleepiness causes 20 percent to 30 percent of highway accidents across France each year.
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