Wikipedia’s Anti-Psi Mafia & the Revenge of the Damned

 

Most of the online population window-shops Wikipedia for their information, but if you happen to be interested in psi (or any anomalous phenomena), its accounting of facts and history can be outrageously selective revisionism. The entries would be laughable if their writers weren’t so blatantly dishonest.

Anyone who’s spent time researching psi on Wikipedia can discern in seconds the editors’ bias in favor of any debunking explanation. Look up pretty much any paranormal subject and you’ll find the same pattern: an insultingly cursory outline of the anomaly, followed by sometimes ludicrous “explanations” that demonstrate the editor(s) did virtually no work in investigating the original reports and probably nutshelled what little information is presented only from books written by pseudoskeptics—who themselves have cherry-picked aspects of the cases to bolster their perspective.

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The trashing of a particular phenomenon or character assassination of a psi-talented individual very often revolves around a core of “celebrity” debunkers associated with the Committee for Skeptical Investigation (CSI)[1] such as Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner, Susan Blackmore, Elizabeth Loftus, James Alcock, and Paul Kurtz. When an appeal to authority is needed, there will often be offered a quote from superstars Carl Sagan (despite Sagan’s professed openness to investigating telepathy and reincarnation), Michael Shermer, Alcock, or the “Amazing” Randi to snark upon the poor, “deluded,” and long-dead psi researchers of yestercentury and today.

Of these debunking sources, only a few are genuine scientists—and even a fewer number than that are still active in CSI. Bill Nye isn’t a scientist. The Amusing Randi isn’t a scientist. In fact, in the early years a group of “hard” scientist members bailed on the organization because of its dogmatic, anti-scientific attitude.[2]

Meanwhile, the number of academically credentialed paranormal investigators increases by the day.

In addressing the thousands of psi studies and the meta-analyses of these studies, references to “methodological faults” come up quite often—conveniently footnoted to articles by Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner, James Alcock, or even the non-scientist Randi. How wide-ranging in sources! As Craig Weiler points out:

“Since alternative sciences are mostly shut out from mainstream consideration, the evidence isn’t examined closely in many mainstream scientific discussions.  In other words, there are very, very few solid scientific sources for skeptics to work with. There are no sources that sufficiently support statements about parapsychology or many other frontier science such as “this is pseudoscience” “rejected by the scientific community” or “negatively impacts the public understanding of science.”  No one has ever gone to the trouble to try to prove these things scientifically.  And it’s very doubtful that it’s even possible.

So skeptics have to resort a lot of the time to sources that are created “in house” so to speak.  These come in the form of skeptics being interviewed, skeptical articles, newsletters, blogs by notable skeptics, etc.  This is especially true on Wikipedia when it comes to psychics.  It is very tough to make the case that any of them are frauds or deluded without resorting to opinion or (the failure of James Randi Foundation’s) Million Dollar Challenge. (To award a psychic for genuine psi abilities). Mainstream sources generally stay away from landing on one side or the other of this debate because of either liability issues or fear of losing audience by being too skeptical.

This is undoubtedly why the Guerrilla Skeptics work so closely with CSI and JREF.  Without the sourcing from these two reactionary organizations or their fellows and other skeptical organizations, many of their assertions would be just about impossible to make.”

Further, the rebuttals by the original psi investigators to these CSI-Skeptics criticisms—who often clearly enumerate the mistakes, mischaracterizations, or outright falsehoods made by these pseudoskeptics—are never mentioned in the Wikipedia entries.

The use of this small core debunking crowd as final authorities is akin to having the Wikipedia entries for Impressionist movement and artists referencing a core of ten or so Impressionist-hating critics, when there in fact have been thousands of art critics.

Again, the references and “further reading” sections at the articles’ ends rarely contain the primary references/reports on the phenomena or the work of paranormal researchers. It’s inevitably debunking books or articles you’ll find…Almost as if they want to short-circuit your interest; as if they don’t want you to do independent research and make up your own mind.

Thus, Rule 1: Try to avoid reference primary sources, that is, the lengthy investigations by the persons who initially researched and often witnessed the anomalous activity. Always reference only the debunking material, or the opinion of some member of CSI. You’ll know this is so if the book referenced is published by Prometheus Books, the house organ of CSI.[3] 

I don’t have any problem with giving skeptical, non-paranormal explanations the primary place in an article—if the explanations offered were honest and credible in the mechanical-physical specifics of their explanations—but Wikipedia entries don’t exhibit this equality, because the debunkers’ explanations usually don’t.

That’s because there is a “mafia” of pseudoskeptics controlling the editing process of Wikipedia entries on anything paranormal. CSI and Guerrilla Skeptics have pages devoted to how one should debunk anything they deem “non-science,” both in real life and in online contexts.[4]

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First, the “RationalWiki” (the pseudoskeptic’s safe space) entry covering the Society for Psychical Research is a shambles. The Guerilla Skeptics unfairly downplays the first generation of SPR. Richard Hodgson, Edmund Gurney, Henry and Nora Sidgwick, Frank Podmore, and (on the American side) William James all busted dozens upon dozens of fraudulent mediums. Hodgson exposed Theosophy founder Madame Blavatsky of several types of imposture in 1885. Podmore worked on collating the accounts contained in Hodgson and Myers’s massive Phantasms of the Living (1886) yet himself remained unconvinced of mediumship and postmortem survival (he concluded telepathy was probably responsible for mediums’ “hits”). But Podmore didn’t stop trying to find the evidence. William James revealed many spiritualist seances as conjuring feats (which alienated the original Spiritualist contingent within the ASPR into rejecting that organization, ironically, as a bunch of debunkers). The wiki entry doesn’t mention the SPR’s in-depth and failed attempts to disprove the mediumship of Leonora Piper.

Yet the Guerillas reveal little to none of these facts in their trite account—because these Victorian searchers professed and applied what the mafia don’t practice: a skeptical yet open-minded commitment to discovering the truth. Truth cannot be “absolutely settled” in science—that is what makes it unique in human intellectual history. As William James said, “Science means, first of all, a certain dispassionate method. To suppose that it means a certain set of results that one should pin one’s faith upon and hug forever is sadly to mistake its genius and degrade the scientific body to the status of a cult.”

This is the deeper truth about the role of science the Guerilla Skeptics cannot bear to face, but was foundational to the SPR pioneers, because the latter were philosophers and philologists and lawyers unburdened with a worship of a materialism that can be as corrosively dogmatic as Baptist literalism.

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Next, take the subject of poltergeists. The Wiki mafia editors are very selective as to which cases to debunk by granting them a dedicated page. The Amityville, Enfield, and Borley Rectory cases get the longest Wiki pages by far—and they were deemed fraudulent by investigators from the Society for Psychical Research as well as the committed debunkers.[5]On the SPR’s investigation of poltergeists, the wiki prominently mentions Lambert’s discredited hypothesis that the phenomenon was caused wholesale by underground seismic or liquid vibrations and weather factors. This conjecture was soundly disproven by the SPR’s Alan Gauld and Tony Cornell.[6] Is Gauld and Cornell’s scientific experimentation to prove or disprove Lambert’s hypothesis even mentioned? No.

The Wiki entry for the well-documented 1967 Rosenheim poltergeist is a particularly decrepit specimen of attempted ledgermain. There are no mentions of the 1967 Tropication Arts poltergeist in Miami (exhaustively investigated as it occurred by Roll and Pratt), the Stratford, Connecticut poltergeist of 1850 (witnessed by thousands of persons over seven months, detailed in diary form by Rev. Eliakim Phelps, owner of the house, and investigated by skeptical scientists, journalists, and clergy who came away convinced the phenomenon was paranormal), or the Sauchie, Scotland poltergeist of 1960 (investigated by A.R. Owen and witnessed by a clergyman, three medical doctors, and a teacher). These three cases are conspicuous absences in the Wiki data, due either to their impeccable documentation or, relatedly, the fact that no close to credible debunking explanations exist by the “experts.”

Rule 2: Always highly emphasize the crudely-produced frauds, then tar the entire phenomenon with these selected instances—and try not to use the debunking work of genuine skeptics who busted the frauds, such as SPR investigators Frank Podmore, Henry Sidgwick, William James, Nora Sidgwick, Alan Gauld, Richard Hodgson, or E. J. Dingwall. Mentioning their work only gives them respectability, and no dispassionate psi investigator should ever be tolerated in a Wikipedia article on the subject.

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The 1967 Zeitoun, Egypt Marian apparition entry is apparently a fluke in that the descriptive entry about it is surprisingly longer and more detailed than the “mass hysteria” explanation made by the skeptics further down the page (meaning: we have no idea how so many people could see and even photographed repeatedly an identical apparition, therefore here’s an unproved accounting for it)…Which brings us to the core of their mindset: they often suggest “natural” explanations that beggar belief in their convoluted, pseudoscientific chutzpah.

According to these “rational” authorities, multiple witnesses to apparitions like Zeitoun can be primed to suffer simultaneous and identical hallucinations of Mother Mary, levitating bedsheets, candlesticks, and even phantom people, the lack of scientific/psychological evidence for “group hallucinations” be damned…The mafia would prefer us to believe women mediums merely fake trances during which they surreptitiously manipulate unseen but necessarily present “concealed ropes” that can pull 50-pound bureaus a foot and a half across the floor and back again in seconds…And did you know that 10-year-olds can easily fool professional magicians and a dozen trained observers during a poltergeist outbreak? And that these kids obviously place dozens of stones into their houses’ walls to disgorge themselves by means of invisible networks of threads (that are never found)—and then float across rooms and land with no contact sound?

These are remarkable feats for untrained, pre-adolescent conjurers—many of whom had never actually seen a stage magic act in their life.

Rule 3: Use anything within the realms of standard, cause-and-effect Newtonian physics, psychology, cognitive science, or sociology, even if unproven, obsolete, or just plain pseudoscience (like “mass hysteria”), to explain away the phenomenon in an ad hoc manner.

We’ll take a look at mediums. The Wiki editors’ bias is most easily demonstrated by the amount of page space given over to the rationalizations which always outweigh the compressed anecdotes on the mediums’ feats (the latter which, a curious individual’s further scrutiny will find, are told through often highly detailed accounts that what was experienced clearly violates physics as we know it).

Again, the entries for individual mediums such as Leonora Piper all consist of very short summaries (or outright omission) of the prodigious examples of their talents and the laborious screening-out processes for fraud undertaken by investigators. The debunking “explanations” amount to a hand-wave mention of “conjuring tricks” and one of two instances of witnessed fraud meant to negate the psi they exhibited.

A jury would inevitably find the grounds of these debunkings as weak hearsay compared to the oft-mountains of evidence in favor of the abilities’ existence. Thus

Rule 4: Always refer to case studies as sets of anecdotes or anecdotal. This is supposed to insulate them entirely from consideration as evidence, and it applies doubly to case studies of the careers of individual psychics or trance mediums; in this case, one can then proceed to Wikifraud! them further and attack the person as a charlatan. As in Rule 2, if one instance of anything ambiguously fraudulent is found in a medium’s career—in other words, an anecdote of fraud—raise this one anecdote to the status of unimpeachable truth and tar the person’s entire career with fraud, despite any contrary evidence from investigators and reliable witnesses. This is an example of the double-standard fallacy many pseudoskeptics use. Fraud discovered=true fact; Psi demonstration that is far beyond what chance would predict= “non-evidential.”

SHORT CUTS:

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Lourdes: In 1858, 14 year-old Bernadette Soubirous spoke with a “white lady” at an ancient grotto in southern France. The apparition told her to dig in the ground near the cave and Bernadette did, causing a spring to appear whose waters have become a potable shrine to millions. Both the Vatican and independent medical authorities have verified 69 medically inexplicable healings.

The Wiki response: the placebo effect, natch…But have the debunkers any clue how an idea or a suggestion in the mind can induce the near-instantaneous healing of fractured bones, cancer-eaten tissue, or blindness (all medically documented)? Nope. No one does. Move along. It seems the editor stopped short. The less said about this one the better.

Fátima & Medjugorje: Well, there are no Guerilla Skeptic interpolations in the Fatima entry at all—no section on possible alternate explanations, nothing but a sentence offering possible “retinal effects” due to looking at the sky near the sun, natural meteorological optical effects, or the “suggestibility” of the huge (30-50,000) crowd during the “Miracle of the Sun” on October 13, 1917. Apparently, even a Guerilla Skeptic doesn’t (or rather, isn’t allowed to) mess with canonical Catholic beliefs.

The papal blessing on Fatiman Lucia Santos as a saint and the authentication of the mass visions probably explains the different treatment the mafia offers in the Medjugorje entry (and the fact that it occurred 51 years closer to the present, 1971, when we should know better about these things, right?). The Medjugorje visions were never given Roman official seal of authenticity, nor were the young women involved ever canonized. Open season, then! In the skeptic section, there are two references by Joe Nickell, one to a CSI’s Skeptical Inquirer magazine article, and a skeptical weighing-in by Pope Francis.

The difference in treatment between the Fatima and Medjugorje events is striking. One wonders if the mafia would have been given a hands-off if the Bosnian events had been recognized as genuine and the primary “seers” beatified or even canonized.

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Padre Pio: Like Saint Lucia Santos, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina has been canonized, so there’s minimal interference by the mafia. As far as the accounts of his stigmata go: The skeptic attempt to use an ad hoc that Pio bought carbolic acid to fake the wounds is immediately countered by the admission that Pio and his monastery brother Paolinopurchased the chemical to sterilize needles for Spanish Flu immunizations. No evidence at all is offered that the stigmata could have been caused by the acid.

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Geraldine Cummins: The entry on automatic writing medium Geraldine Cummins actually quotes psychical researcher Harry Price, of all people, as debunking her voluminous writings as “products of her subconscious.” Now go over to Wikipedia’s Harry Price page to see how his character and career fare as a whole in the mafia’s eyes; they do not note the many times he credulously boosted his “star” psychics. The man was very protective of his test subjects. Using Price’s opinion of Cummins in the entry is blatant cherry-picking, in other words. Cummins herself is on record as being skeptical of her own channeling’s sources, which is in fact mentioned in passing in the “reception” entry. Then go to other sources on Harry Price’s career as a psi researcher and you’ll find a firm believer in the anomalous abilities, but only when it suited him. He was, if nothing else, a promoter for the abilities of Harry Price.

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Gladys Osborne Leonard: The Gladys Osborne Leonard entry goes into no detail whatsoever about the many spontaneous “hits” the trance medium Leonard/her control “Feda” made that neither Leonard nor her sitters could possibly have known—because they were proxy sitters two (or sometimes three) times removed from the actual questioner.[7] How could Leonard have known who the real sitters’ identities were asking the questions? It would seem impossible, yet “Feda” was accurate in names, times, descriptions, and life-events of these thrice-removed sitters more than half the time. If fraud is ruled out (and on testimony of the SPR investigators, who had Leonard trailed by detectives, she was of impeccable character vouched for by all her friends) the only alternative for the mafia is telepathy or even super-psi—but they can never use those explanations, of course…So the mafia cites only attempts at explanation from skeptics wielding the usual techniques (fishing, cold reading, fraud). Explaining away “Feda” as a “second personality” of Leonard’s, as some of the referenced skeptics do, explains nothing, for this second personality apparently was either telepathically gifted or in fact a disincarnate intelligence.

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Eileen Garrett: Trance medium Eileen Garrett was more curious about and flummoxed by the source of her abilities than perhaps any other medium, and tried for decades to understand it, enlisting psychologists, psychiatrists, and scientists. Of all people, the wiki entry on her clairvoyance uses the opinion of parapsychology’s worst fraud-perpetrator Samuel Soal to dismiss her ability to replicate J.B. Rhine’s experimental successes with him, Soal. Thus—

Rule 2b: anyone’s opinion is apparently permitted, as long as it debunks with extreme prejudice, and

Rule 2c: researchers who believe(d) in the existence one type of paranormal phenomena are occasionally 100% okay to use as sources of authority as long as they are debunking another paranormal phenomenon.

In the Garrett wiki writer’s case this is ironic, in that Soal was known to be deeply envious of Rhine’s experimental work and, when could not replicate his famous telepathy studies, Soal produced them fraudulently by altering score cards.

In 1930, Garrett was “spontaneously contacted” by the consciousness of Herbert Irwin, captain of the R101 airship that had crashed two days before, killing Irwin and 47 others.

CSI house organ Prometheus Books’ two authors John Booth and Melvin Harris both get ample quotes from their books explaining the results of her R101 sittings by not explaining them at all as fraudulent, trivial, non-evidential. No rebuttals by direct witnesses or other parapsychologists are permitted; the “final word” by Booth and Harris is she was a fraud.

DEEP DIVES:

I’m going to take four examples of Wikipedia’s blindered approach and look at them in-depth.

Stefan Ossowiecki

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Polish industrialist and remote-viewer/psychometrist Stefan Ossowiecki was nationally famous in Europe for his ability to not only read multiply-sealed letters but often tell the investigator what occurred while the letter was written (the writer’s gender, age, appearance, health condition, describe the room or house where it was composed, etc.) His “hits” at reading the contents of envelopes far outweighed his misses, and there is no way short of “hot reading” (extensive detective work done on the target material beforehand) that he could have known about the writers’ lives—but in many cases neither Ossowiecki nor even the investigator knew they would be performing an experiment on the spur-of-the-moment. Many times, someone Ossowiecki did not know (a Parisian, say) who had written a letter that was given to someone else and then given at the last moment to the investigator to test him. How could he possibly have known what was written (or drawn) in the letter? He would then not only describe what was written or drawn inside, but spontaneously describe the writer. Furthermore, he several times told the investigator personal details about the writer and the people through whom the letter passed to his hand, who he also didn’t personally know, or even had an idea existed.

This led researchers Charles Richet, Gustav Geley, and Eugene Osty to conclude Ossowiecki was a not only a “superpsi”-level clairvoyant (remote viewer) but an astounding psychometrist: by touching the envelopes, he could see into the past and somehow watch the person write the note/drawing, and sense the scene.

For this one, the Wiki editors roll out psychologist C.E.M. Hansel for the inevitable “conjuring trick” claim with no further elaboration, then hit us with this: “Psychologist E. F. O’Doherty wrote that the clairvoyance experiments with Ossowiecki were not scientific.”[8] This is a strictly true criticism; but still, triple-blinded tests of the man’s ability while he is being closely watched by the experimenters for fraud (dozens upon dozens of times) makes for compelling anecdotes that he possessed an extraordinary talent.

The editors’ omission of the preparations the investigators made to test Ossowiecki is a refusal to wrestle with the details, as is usually the case in their entries. It serves to demonstrate their bedrock faiththat there is literally no possible test debunkers would call scientific with regard to psi abilities. Which is exactly their intended program: it doesn’t exist, simply because it can’t, therefore there is no way to test it.

Leonora Piper

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In the first stub, we have Mrs. Piper characterized as a cold reader, a fisher for information, and muscle reader. None of the authors cited for these statements sat with Leonora for a reading, nor did they interview any of the persons who did; it appears they simply came to the subject with these explanations based upon the SPR reports. With complete disingenuousness, it ignores the fact that A/SPR members William James, Richard Hodgson, Frederic Myers, James Hyslop, and Oliver Lodge conducted strenuous measures against cold reading, hot reading, and muscle reading. These trained philosophers and scientists weren’t stupid and gullible as the pseudoskeptics would like you to think. Richard Hodgson was so flummoxed by her abilities that he hired private detectives to secretly trail Mrs. Piper and her family for several months, watching them for meetings with “cut-outs” between their friends and the SPR who might be feeding her any information (the “hot reading”). They turned up absolutely no evidence of fraud, which impressed Hodgson and the other investigators. Over the years Hodgson continued to periodically monitor as closely as he could Piper’s social activities but again came up with no evidence at all for hot reading. They even paid for she and her daughters to travel to England for strenuous examination by the British SPR and use dozens of random strangers as sitters, where there was no possibility of her gaining a hot reading.

These facts go conveniently unmentioned anywhere in the article.

While it is true that Mrs. Piper often had the sitters hold her hands or place their hands against her forehead, which could open her to charges of muscle reading in gauging how close her answers were, the quality of double or triple-blinded information she on occasion gave—ostensibly evidential of either spirit communication or omniclairvoyance (superpsi)—would lead one to think that even if she did use muscle reading, it was irrelevant to her results, because the information would have to have been conveyed via unconscious telepathy by the sitters themselves to Mrs. Piper; even the sitters were often unaware of the information she provided, which was found later by them to be true.

This is a possibility the Wiki editors never consider. And she did fish, but the sitters were for the most part told to remain silent and poker-faced as her controls sought for names, dates, or concepts.

The biography section says she “made a fortune” from her readings. It doesn’t make clear that this money was paid to her by the SPR to keep her exclusively their subject, with an investigator and stenographer/note-taker present at every sitting. She was essentially a salaried test subject for some 15 years.

Two examples of Piper’s sittings amongst many serve to demonstrate what sort of inexplicable talent they found themselves compelled to explain:

For a period of several years, Mrs. Piper’s main “spirit control” was the coarse-speaking French physician “Phinuit.” A man named John Hart had a sitting with Leonora which was suddenly interrupted by the “spirit” of George Pellew, (GP), who was a recently deceased friend of Hodgson and Hart both whom Piper did not know about. GP successfully spelled out his name for the two surprised men (Hodgson sat in on the sessions most of the time). Pellew, speaking through Phinuit, described a specific pair of shoes he was wearing that had been originally given to Hart by Pellew’s parents (a true past event). This of course would count towards nothing but possible telepathy. GP then asked Hart to get in touch with Pellew’s friends Jim and Mary Howard to have a sitting with Mrs. Piper, and described a specific conversation on metaphysics he once had with the Howards’ 15 year-old daughter Katharine—another event that turned out to have occurred (but neither Hodgson nor Hart knew about at the time). GP mentioned a specific book he had failed to finish reading when he died which Hodgson knew to be true.

The Howards then came in for a sitting (pseudonymously, at Hodgson’s ever-skeptical insistence). This time GP communicated directly, bypassing Phinuit. GP corrected Jim Howard’s wayward assertion that a mutual friend (Rogers) was writing a novel by telling him that Rogers was actually working on a memorial to him, GP. This was correct. GP described Rogers’s deceased daughter as being nearby (that is, “on the other side”) as she still fretted over her condition during her final days, in which she had to be fed with a tube. GP then mentioned “Berwick” and “Orenberg,” more friends of the Howards. Mrs. Piper knew of none of these persons, and all the information and connections given were true.

At their next sitting the Howards brought their daughter Katharine. GP joked about her terrible violin playing, to which Mrs. Howard took offense but Katharine later clarified was a running joke between she and GP—his spirit was apparently attempting to establish “bona fides” with the teenager. Mrs. Piper passed out of trance then back in as Phinuit returned and carried on a conversation in French with Katharine, which the girl knew fluently from living in France. Mrs. Piper consciously knew no French.

The GP control apparently exhibited either remote viewing (clairvoyance) or “retroactive” telepathy on one occasion. With the Howards at home, Hodgson asked GP to visit their house and give a report on what he perceived. Mrs. Howard was writing letters to GP’s mother and someone named Tyson. GP also perceived her holding one of his own books as she wondered if his spirit were around her at that moment. When Hodgson checked with Mrs. Howard he discovered that the events as seen were true but had occurred on the previous day. Hodgson conjectured that Mrs. Piper was either retroactively remote viewed the past or telepathically accessed Mrs. Howard’s mind in real time as she thought of the previous day’s activities. Either way, this is a possible astounding feat of superpsi.[9]

Next, Sir Oliver Lodge wanted to eliminate the possibility of telepathy in Piper’s sittings. So he in effect double-blinded himself by means of an object gotten from an elderly uncle he with whom he was not close. It was a gold watch owned originally by the uncle’s twin brother, who had died decades ago. Lodge handed it to Mrs. Piper, whose control immediately declared it was once owned by the physicist’s uncle. The control, Phinuit, said that this uncle was very fond of another uncle whose name was Robert—another hit; it was true, the living uncle’s name was Robert. Her voice then changed from Phinuit’s to the dead twin, who called himself Jerry (third hit).

Lodge then asked for something only Jerry and Robert would know between them. Phinuit spoke of the two nearly drowning in a dangerous creek while young, killing a cat in “Smith’s field” with a rifle, and that Jerry treasured a “skin” that he’d found.
Robert, it turned out, still possessed his brother’s beloved snakeskin, and they did swim in a perilous creek.

This wasn’t enough for Lodge, so he wrote to his younger uncle asking for any memories involving a creek and a cat in the twins’ youth. The third uncle recalled it all: the dangerous creek and the poor cat they shot in the field. They were so mortified of their behavior they’d all kept it secret, but it got out, to their shame.

Despite the true statements around the pocket watch—handed to Piper with no contextual information at all about it—Lodge still insisted on sending detectives to the town where his three uncles grew up to find out if recent enquiries had been made about the family. The detectives reported back: no, and not even any evidence that the shameful activities of the brothers long ago had been documented in public records in any way.[10]

These are two examples of Piper’s mediumship, and there several more of equal power, which we need not go into—and the Guerilla Skeptics would really prefer you didn’t. You might catch curiosity that there’s something to these strange things.

The Wiki entry on Piper emphasizes repeatedly the disagreements between members of the A/SPR over the nature of her talent, as if their clashes in toto negate her authenticity, when in fact James, Hyslop, and even skeptic Frank Podmore simply favored a belief that it was due to telepathy—but even this professional consensus on a paranormal explanation is a no-no that the Wikivigilantes cannot dare mention.

Out of thousands of quotes that could’ve be chosen to characterize the ever-cautious Hodgson’s strenuous work with Piper, we are offered Morton Prince’s observation that her mediumship “wrecked his mind” after Hodgson began to favor the spirit hypothesis over telepathy. In the editors’ selective reading, Frank Podmore is said to have concluded that “Hyslop’s séance sittings with Piper ‘do not obviously call for any supernormal explanation’ and ‘I cannot point to a single instance in which a precise and unambiguous piece of information has been furnished of a kind which could not have proceeded from the medium’s own mind, working upon the materials provided and the hints let drop by the sitter.’”[11]

Podmore’s is an incredibly poor assessment of the evidence, as the Howards and Lodge episodes above reveal; both sittings exhibited precise and unambiguous pieces of information that could not have proceeded only from Mrs. Piper’s mind. According to Ghost Hunters author Deborah Blum, Podmore concluded that “…Leonora Piper was a woman with some telepathic skills and an excellent memory for facts shared casually by her sitters. He had no proof of the latter…but her overall record, although impressive, failed to convince…Perhaps this was too cynical, Podmore allowed: ‘The accurate appreciation of evidence of this kind is almost an impossible task,’ (Podmore) wrote in his book Modern Spiritualism. ‘Mrs. Piper would be a much more convincing apparition if she could have come to us out of the blue, instead of trailing behind her a nebulous ancestry of magnetic somnambules, witchridden children, and ecstatic nuns.’[12] (emphasis added)

To be clear: There was no proof at all for her possessing “an excellent memory for facts shared by her sitters” that in turn fooled investigators. This says it all as far as using Podmore as a credible source on Leonora Piper. Again, the Guerilla squad makes no mention of his ambivalent conclusion on telepathy. And his lumping her together with the hundreds of fraudulent “show” mediums is insulting.

After a cherry-picked tally of her failures and sprinklings of dismissive evaluations in her bio and career, were given a lengthy “skeptical reception” section. As if it were needed.

Few of her many hundreds of “hits” are mentioned. When Piper accurately described the recently deceased daughter of a Reverend Sutton to he and his wife during an 1893 sitting, then gave her cause of death, her nickname and the nicknames of the girl’s brother and sister, “ John G. Taylor suggested that the information Piper gave could naturally be explained if she had read an obituary notice in the local newspaper. Taylor also suggested Piper may have picked up clues from the sitters about the girl’s nickname.” (emphasis added)

Read that closely again. There is no proof here, just “what ifs,” nor any evidence of how Piper could have gleaned clues from the grieving Suttons to declare specific information.

Her “miss” rate was openly acknowledged by James, Hodgson, Hyslop, and others as a problem. The nuanced (yet unfalsifiable) explanation for this is that a person in trance would have difficulty gaining any instantly coherent information from a “widened” or “higher” source while in an unconscious state. As Piper’s own controls explained the problem, the deceased individual to whom the sitter wishes to speak sometimes has to have their own control “on the other side,” and it becomes extremely difficult to convey information across three barriers to the living.

This gross equivocation, even if it were entirely false, still doesn’t explain her consistent hit rate. Podmore and James tended to believe Mrs. Piper had very strong secondary personalities, but as James and Myers would point out, these personalities, emanations of the Subliminal Self as Myers called it, can do impossible things.

DANIEL DUNGLAS HOME

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Home gets much Wiki debunkery upside his head simply because his feats were witnessed by many hundreds of people, including scientists, skeptics, and heads of state and, it’s been claimed, that “every attempt to bust him as a fraud failed.” No soup for you.

Quote from the page:

Gordon Stein has noted that “While the statement that Home was never caught in fraud has been made many times, it simply is not true… It is simply that Home was never publicly exposed in fraud. Privately, he was caught in fraud several times. In addition, there are natural explanations both possible and likely for each of his phenomena.”

Does the page give specific examples of Home being busted by any individuals? Nope. Here, Michael Prescott goes into James Randi’s attempted dismissal of Home with regard to Sir William Crookes’s thorough investigations of him, and Randi’s devious (yes, devious) “revisions”:

https://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2015/10/blast-from-the-past-under-the-table.html

The Wikibunkers explain away the most spectacular Home levitation, wherein he allegedly floated out a three-story window and back in another, as their wide brush to tar his other levitations.

And their story goes like this: the feat was done in near-darkness, and Home could have been standing on those four-inch ledges outside the window…Therefore he did stand on those ledges. Nothing more to it! Here’s another gem:

“Science historian Sherrie Lynne Lyons has stated that a possible explanation for Home’s alleged levitation phenomena was revealed in the twentieth century by Clarence E. Willard (1882–1962). Willard revealed his technique in 1958 to members of the Society of American Magicians. He demonstrated how he could add two inches to his height by stretching. According to Lyons “it is quite likely that [Home] used a similar technique to the one that Willard used decades later.”

Two inches? One problem with that: Home was witnessed levitating three to five feet off the ground during his trips, by at least a dozen people.

And again: “Historian Simon During has suggested the levitation of Home was a magic trick, influenced by Robert-Houdin.”

Do they take the time going into During’s specific details (if he even had them) of exactly how this was accomplished by Home or Robert-Houdin?

Nope. Didn’t think he would. It’s a trade secret. And Houdini never replicated any of Home’s feats.

INDRIDI INDRIDASON

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So weak. Perhaps the lamest debunking attempt of all Wikiskeptic antics.

Prior to Indridason, a “simple farm boy,” there were no spiritualists let alone physical mediums in Iceland.[13] The 22-year-old happened to be asked to sit in on a séance in early 1905 and immediately produced tremors and rattling in the table before which they sat. It is noted that Indridi had never before seen a conjuring act, which were extremely rare in the country.[14]

The first psychical research society in Iceland was set up in 1905 to study Indridason and kept him on retainer, much like the SPR paid Leonora Piper as a subject for 17 years. Most of his manifestations occurred while he was in a trance. They included multiple direct voices, wind gusts, instrument playing, the levitation of objects and the medium himself, light phenomena of various types, materialization, rappings, and, most bizarrely, the dematerialization of his arm. These events were witnessed at times by upwards of 80 persons in the “experimental house” space, specially constructed by the psychical society, in which he lived from 1906 to 1909.[15] In this space, Indridason was usually held by investigators or strapped down in a chair that sat behind a wire mesh-barrier that could be examined for signs of tampering during his sessions. Some of these manifestations took place in plain light.

Indridason’s primary control, at first, was his paternal grand-uncle Konrad Gislason. While in trance he was repeatedly tested with needle pokes to no reaction, as if in a depicted hypnotic state. In November 1905, four persons testified that tables levitated as high as 7 feet several times during Indridi’s trance. All attempts to pull them down failed. It also occurred spontaneously while he was in a full waking state. A seance on November 24, 1905 was interrupted at roughly 9pm by a personality named “Emil Jensen,” a “manufacturer,” who spoke of a fire burning at that moment in a Copenhagen factory. It was brought under control within an hour. Three accounts of this particular séance were written down, one of them immediate, but many more people were present.[16]

The next issues of the leading Danish newspaper Politiken were delivered to the island four weeks later, at Christmas, 1905, and “Jensen’s” declarations had been true: a large fire at a lamp and chandelier factory in Copenhagen had occurred on the late night of November 24. Of the four fires that had occurred in Copenhagen within a month’s period, this was the only to befall a factory. There were no telephones or even telegraph service between Iceland and Denmark. In 2009, researcher Erlendur Haraldsson searched Copenhagen’s city records and found a manufacturer and coffee merchant Thomas Emil Jensen who had lived two doors down from the burnt lamp factory and had died at 50 in 1898; on further research it was discovered that the man had lived his entire life within two blocks of the site of the fire.[17]

In December 1907 to early 1908, an interloping spirit named Jon Einarsson caused very destructive poltergeist activity while Indridi was both in and out of trance, but was pacified somehow by a group of “ministering” spirits who insulated Indridi from Jon’s anger by anointing the medium’s forehead. Afterward Jon became a primary control. Two other “spirits” controlled Indridason: a Spanish-French opera diva (possibly Maria Felicia Malibran) who often sang from within the room, and a Norwegian doctor who later was tentatively identified as leprosy expert Daniel Cornelius Danielssen.

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In late 1908, Dr. Gudmundur Hannesson became involved. Hannesson was a professor of medicine at the University of Iceland, an anthropologist, a Reykjavik city councilman, an honorary member of the Icelandic and Danish Association of Physicians, and served as President of the University of Iceland for two terms. This was no woo-woo guy and he was determined to debunk Indridi’s exhibitions, which were causing uproars in the press (Indridason had become the most famous person in Iceland).

Hannesson witnessed the near full array of Indridason’s talents—apart from levitation, which occurred a few times but in darkness. To confound the possibility of Indridi or an accomplice moving objects outside the mesh barrier, he placed newfangled glow-in-the-dark tape on the musical instruments and objects about the room. He saw a zither fly about high as the ceiling and dart at incredible speeds as it played snatches of tunes whose acoustics followed the location of the instrument at every second. He heard two disembodied voices, an accomplished female singer and a low male voice sing a duet in harmony, separated in space by eight to ten feet from one another in the hall with only five people (and no women) present at the seance. Many separate voices had been already witnessed in the surrounding space of the hall by hundreds of seance-goers over the years. With this personal witness Hannesson completely ruled out ventriloquism, which was a consistent charge leveled against the medium by skeptics (nearly all of whom had never attended one of Indridi’s seances).

While the Wiki summary of his career is unusually detailed and even-handed, all of the further “rational criticism” is just opinions at second and third hand and beyond, mostly from the contemporary Icelandic press (who were incredibly hostile towards him for religious reasons) with not a single eyewitness account in the lot. The remainder are tired pseudoskeptical takes on what possibly could have accounted for the events: the usual ventriloquism, conjuring tricks, confidence schemes amongst his assistants. This is utterly disingenuous, for the firsthand witnesses and Indridi’s assistants were of high standing. A quote by an Antonio da Silva Mello claims the sittings weren’t “scientific.” For this, as mentioned above, Indridason was the first trance medium in Iceland’s history; the country had no formal “parapsychology labs,” nor were they aware of the SPR’s protocols for testing mediums. In any case, Dr. Hannesson’s strict settings for testing Indridason were very close to those used by the SPR: Indridi was physically restrained and isolated by thick mesh netting from the areas where the majority of the PK activity took place. The experimental house was thoroughly examined three times before each seance and one successful seance took place at Dr. Hannesson’s own house in a room he chose at the last moment.

EPISTEMOLOGY

The psi of the laboratory and psi of the medium are obviously of different character. Lab telepathy has been shown to exist but is weak-to-moderate in effect…But quantifying the likelihood of someone like Mrs Piper correctly guessingthousands of items about the sitters present before her, or about the proxy sitters substituting for them, and evidential facts about the deceased surely beats the lab numbers by several orders of magnitude beyond chance.

In short, telepathy, superpsi, and survival communication are three entirely different things, although the mechanism by which they utilize the brain may be similar or even the same, as elusive as it presently is.

By the 1930s, the medium of information delivery for the existence of psi largely changed from individual case studies to laboratory reports—and that wasn’t enough for the mainstream scientists to pick up the ball. Even design protocols for psi experiments that would garner little to no criticism if new pharma drugs were their subject are claimed by pseudoskeptics to be compromised by “file drawer problems,” “selective reporting,” and “confirmation biases.”

These are bullshit wavings-away of evidence. Facts are adduced indirectly in science all the time, and their existence is assumed to hold until more firm evidence backs up the experimental assays. And this is certainly the case with forms of psi. It has been indirectly proven; that is, what is displayed in thousands of lab experiments, after all confounding factors are eliminated, calls for the most parsimonious explanation: that a form of anomalous cognition that entirely bypasses the physical senses exists. This may be called evidence type 2.

Debunkers ask for direct evidence (evidence type 1, as is displayed by a physics or chemistry experiment) and think poorly of non-supportive of indirect evidence (evidence 2). I suppose the only acceptable direct evidence is…well, as I’ve pointed out above, the pseudoskeptics have consistently moved the goalpost for at least a century and a half, so I suppose we can’t expect there can’t be any in the near future.

The Wikipedia entry on telepathy leads off with this:

“There is no convincing evidence that telepathy exists, and the topic is generally considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience.” (emphasis added).

The first clause is patently false, and the second is true—yet are any of those outlier members of the “scientific community” who don’t consider it pseudoscience mentioned in the ensuing article, much less given an airing of why or how they consider it possible? No.

Then there’s this curious statement: “Psychical researcher Eric Dingwall criticized SPR founding members Frederic W. H. Myers and William F. Barrett for trying to ‘prove’ telepathy rather than objectively analyze whether or not it existed.”

Now, doesn’t the phrase “trying to ‘prove’ telepathy” semantically equate with demonstrating it exists? That’s some bad equivocation there. How can “objective analysis” occur without instances showing strong correlation or uncorrelation between the states and contents of two minds?

And the insistence on “objective” analysis is disingenuous. The onus is on the stub writer to outline what would constitute such analysis; no doubt some form of instrumentation would be involved, and not the exacting experimental conditions used by J.B. Rhine, Helmut Schmidt, Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne, and Daryl Bem.

The “Scientific Reception” subheading kicks off with there is “no scientific evidence that it exists,” without elaboration. Does this mean there have never been results in any methodologically solid telepathy experiment that are statistically beyond chance? This raises the nagging question: roughly (or exactly) how many demonstrations of beyond-chance anomalous cognition would it take for the scientific community to recognize telepathy as real?Just as the soundness of a theory depends on the non-falsification of projected effects of that theory, to my knowledge no scientist has come forward to explain what exactly the conditions for accepting telepathy as real would be.

Anyway, here’s part of the first footnote supporting this blanket statement:

“One reason for this difference between the scientist and the non-scientist is that the former relies on his own experiences and anecdotal reports of psi phenomena, whereas the scientist at least officially requires replicable results from well controlled experiments to believe in such phenomena—results which according to the prevailing view among scientists, do not exist.”

Apart from there being some error in the quote’s construction (former should read latter), it nicely smooths over all the complexities and problems that real telepathy investigators have encountered in the lab.

For one, it’s rare that telepathy can be induced on demand in lab settings. But apparently on demand is a part of the debunkers’ definition, and this shows ignorance of what has been observed of the phenomenon. Their conception, apparently, is a garbled fantasy version of telepathy that has been internalized and projected from fictional depictions.

Two, it’s been found that a researcher’s lack of attention while setting up a comfortable lab situation, and even the experiment design, can actually inhibit demonstrations of telepathy.

Three, in many instances, telepathy has strongly occurred during life-threatening situations in which the purported “sender” is in physical or extreme emotional trouble and the “receiver” in a relaxed or abstracted state of mind. Experiments that have simulated threats to the “sending” party have shown results.[18]

Four, results beyond chance have been demonstrated in the lab in experiments whose design and assays are beyond reproach.

The “thought reading” section in the telepathy wiki is completely irrelevant. It’s composed of two examples, and both are claimed to be the result of readings of ideomotor bodily cues by stage magicians. “Cold” and “hot” readings have nothing to do with real, spontaneous telepathy, as anyone who has steeped themselves in the 150-years of psychic literature can tell you…Again, like depictions in paranormal fiction, the wiki writer-editors’ conception of telepathy is entirely modeled on images that merely ape the real thing, in this case what stage magicians can do, and it is apparent the wiki writers either have no familiarity with the real-world conditions under which it occurs. Either that, or they are being disingenuous or dishonest.

Debunkers and skeptics alike are ever ready to point out the “file drawer effect” when evaluating the results of psi experiments—but a better example of it contra telepathy can’t be found than the contents of the “case studies” section; this stub is itself victim of file drawer effect. It’s risible: Four instances of admitted frauds, two instances of discovered fraud, three examples of tests with “negative results,” and explanations such as hyperaesthesia (acute hearing on the part of the “receiver”) and coincidence to explain the rest. Louisa and J.B. Rhine’s many thousands of trial runs with Zener cards showing above-chance levels are waved away as the result of “sensory leakage,” meaning conscious or unconscious fraud.[19] The academically published experiments of the SRI remote viewers 1974-1996, Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne at Princeton, Helmut Schmidt, Dean Radin, and Daryl Bem—all which showed positive results—are not mentioned in the wiki. Nor is psi researchers’ rebuttals to the above “explanations.”

The Ganzfeld section actually contains a detailed description of only one side of the debate between Charles Honorton and Ray Hyman to determine whether telepathy was shown during a series of tests; of course, it is Hyman’s attempts to debunk the meta-analyses conducted by the both of them that is highlighted. Honorton’s rebuttals are nowhere to be found. Conveniently unmentioned is the fact that Hyman and Honorton jointly wrote a statementafter years of sparring that concedes that, even were their file drawer effects and some of the studies were ruled out, the results in favor of telepathic demonstration were still above chance and there was no credible alterative explanation. Here’s an excerpt from that statement on the Psi Encyclopedia website:

 ‘There is an overall significant effect that cannot be reasonably explained by selective reporting or multiple analysis. We continue to differ over the degree to which the effect constitutes evidence for psi, but we agree the final version awaits the outcome of future experiments conducted by a broader range of investigators and according to more stringent standards.’

We may conduct further psi trials and gather more experimental material supporting the previous conclusions that telepathy, remote viewing, precognition, and retrocognition exist. The pseudoskeptic asserts these phenomena are impossible; the other side maintains not only that they are possible but do happen. Both views depend upon axioms what is possible and probable about the world—but one advocate’s position is open-descriptive (the “believers,” neutrals, and true skeptics), and the others’ is closed-prescriptive (the debunkers’). This means the former’s views are open to be refuted by evidence, the latter’s impossible to be refuted due to a priori assumptions about the world.

The axioms of cause and effect are at the heart of the dispute. Here is Mary Barrington’s precis of how a believer might characterize a reality in which the anomalous occurs:

The one overriding law that unifies is normal and paranormal under one system is the law of probability.

Probability is the default mode of the observable cosmos.

What is the relationship between information (something anomalous, say) and its

probability?

Mechanistic sequentiality, the default mode, is the usual way in which successive events unfold, indeed, so usual as to seem universal and inevitable. But it is not either. It is just very, very probable, almost certain—almost.

So while sequential causality is nearly universal, it is not inevitable because while a law of nature (probability) is absolute, a directive (sequential causality) can be overridden. If the basic law is probability, then while most events will be highly probable—normal—a few will be highly improbable, and the more improbable the event, the less rigorous will be its relationship with causality. A manifestly paranormal event is one that occurs at this extreme end of the probability curve, a curve that drops from a very high point close to certainty and plunges down to trail off in a very long tail.[20] (emphasis added)

When one considers that the quantum world as we currently understand it operates entirely by probability, why is so difficult to conceive that the macroscopic world may operate using the same default mode and its occasional outlier, as she suggests? For debunkers, this may is a never.

The information collected through public surveys or questionnaires/solicitations, such as that of the SPR, Alister Hardy’s studies on spiritual experiences, Kenneth Ring’s studies of Near-Death Experiences, is usually quite voluminous. The original SPR’s investigations resulted in two massive books of anecdotes and analysis. Its members were able to contact the persons they solicited in public queries and verify the details of their paranormal accounts as well as gather character references on the witnesses. The sheer number of these accounts cannot be dismissed. There is always the temptation to ascribe to them the neuropathological turn or some other variants of explaining-away by means of physicalism: hallucinations, seizures, temporal lobe transients, etc. But contemporary narratives of NDEs or encounters with deceased relatives and “spirits” and “aliens” tally with James McClenon’s studies of the concrete and universal yet extraordinary experiences of people that he ties to the origins of religions.[21] Thus does physicalism belittle and seek to erase some of the most meaningful human experiences.

Tens of millions of firsthand accounts of extraordinary spiritual phenomena cannot simply be brushed aside. It’s no secret that editor-fact wars have been going on for years in hundreds of Wikipedia entries since its inception. Some involve famous persons (George W. Bush) and some less so famous (Rupert Sheldrake).[22] There are only a handful of Internet articles criticizing the Guerrilla Skeptics’ takeover of the “paranormal” subject entries, and one book by Craig Weiler, so I’ve joined a small chorus.

But the fact that, like clockwork, founder Jimmy Wales begs for dollars on every Wikipedia page to keep it going despite solvency can only be a good thing. Personally, I would contribute to keep Wikipedia going—but only if there were a way of sending a direct email to a complaints department about its one-sided treatment of psi topics and addressing their toleration of a small groups’ takeover of an entire subject. But of course there is no complaints department, because it’s a deliberate anarchive. Consider this blog posting my rebuttal, and some words towards addressing Wikipedia’s absence of integrity.

—————————

[1] Until 2006, it was called CSICOP, Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

[2] CSI doesn’t do scientific experiments debunking paranormal phenomena—because in their early years they tried and failed. Back in 1975, a group of CSI debunkers attempted to provide an “objective way for unambiguous corroboration or disconfirmation” of a study showing an unusually high number of exceptional European athletes had been born during the planet Mars’s rising or transiting (the “Mars effect”). The effect itself had been noted by a pair of French skeptics trying to disprove astrological influence. The French study had shown that 22% of these athletes had been born during these periods when a 17% chance rate should be expected. The sample size was 2,088, so the odds against this being chance were millions to one. CSI challenged the French duo to do a control experiment: find an additional data pool of random people and determine if they had been born during the same short periods, expecting the random non-athlete group to be distributed at the same 22%. Two years later (!) CSI released their analysis of the report. The results weren’t as predicted; the non-athletes were born 17% of the time during those intervals, as chance predicts. Instead of accepting a possible Mars effect, the debunkers instead chose to criticize the original French study by breaking down the raw data into categories and eliminating sets of athletes (female athletes, by geographical locales, etc.) to dilute the numbers and lower the 22% figure.

CSI astronomer Dennis Rawlins resigned the organization in protest of the disingenuous methodology. He revealed in 1981 that when the analysis of the new data went south, CSI founder Kurtz, statistician Paul Zelin, and astronomer George Abell stonewalled (hence the publication delay from receiving the data from the new challenge) and decided to try to dilute the original French statistics instead. Rawlins’s appeals and alerts to his fellow debunkers such as Randi, Gardner, and Philip Klass fell on deaf ears; they had no interest in supporting the truth. An independent investigation found that Rawlins’s belief in the French team’s sound method and analysis of the original data, the new data, and their conclusion, were all justified. A group of genuinely skeptical scientists within CSI resigned as a result of the attempted fudging—and coverup. In short, CSI demonstrated it was no good at disinterested science, and consequently swore off formally investigating any paranormal claims to this day. See Carter, Chris. Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics, Inner Traditions, 2012, pgs. 28-37.

[3] Here’s an article demonstrating a variation of this practice of circular source attribution (the Wikipedia problem of ‘citogenesis’) but in the context of pharma claims that utilize corporate-sponsored studies that in turn cite Wikipedia for supporting evidence.

[4] Hint: If one needs instruction in how to debunk something (since you’ve become a cub atheist or newly minted woo-killer) maybe you’ve already got a problem with understanding logic and critical thinking/rhetorical skills and need to take a step back from your new obsession…Why do both debunkers and open-minded persons like myself get so angry at each other? I admit that my blood pressure jumps whenever I encounter an evidence-free yet arrogant dismissal of any “paranormal” event by some message board junior master of the universe who’s just discovered atheism and SCIENCEã. Some of us “psi defenders” are just as emotionally volatile as religious fundamentalists when it comes these matters. An impassive, intelligent observer might think that both camps are defending unfalsifiable theses—and this may be true, not just because we weren’t present to witness these things firsthand, but because metaphysical positions are involved in how we characterize these events, whether we want to admit it or not. Most debunkers, however, think metaphysics is bunk to begin with, and will deny that they operate from any fundamental “axioms” other than those the hard sciences such as “normal physics” provide.

[5] The tiresome CSICOP stage magician Joe Nickell, who inevitably gets more citations in the Enfield Wiki entry than anyone else, “examined the reports” and concluded the girls in the case must have been using ventriloquism. He offers no evidence for this assertion.

[6] See their book Poltergeists, White Crow Books, 2018, pgs. 330-37.

[7] See Heywood, Rosalind. The Sixth Sense, Chatto and Windus Ltd., 1959, pgs. 112-127; Beloff, John. Parapsychology: A Concise History, pgs. 120-24; Haynes, Renee. The Society for Psychical Research 1882-1982: A History, McDonald & Co. Ltd., 1982, pgs. 83-88; Carter, Chris. Science and the Afterlife Experience, Inner Traditions, 2012, pgs. 145-50, 151-53, 166-69, 177-78, 183-85.

[8] What personal psychology leads one to become a stage magician in the first place? There are many within the field of pseudoskeptics, and this has held from the 19th century beginnings of psychical research. But prevarication can work both ways: misdirection can be used upon the skeptic and “believer” alike. The psychological tactic behind debunking is similar to a stage trick, and simple: generally, one should direct the reader’s attention to the frauds or “rationally amenable” fraudulent techniques that have been used in different instances than that which is the subject of the article, and apply them as the only possible explanation. Direct the reader’s attention away from their immediate experience that something anomalous may have happened. This skews the mind’s repertoire of activities from the holistically perceptive right hemisphere to the “part-focused,” linear, and logic-oriented left. See Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press, 2012, pgs.

[9] Tymn, Michael. Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, White Crow Books, 2013. 65-71.

[10] Blum, Deborah. Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, The Penguin Press, 2006. Pgs. 165-67; Tymn (2013), pgs. 41-44.

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonora_Piper

[12] Blum, 2006. pg 311.

[13] Haraldsson, Erlendur and Gissurarson, Loftur R., Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium, White Crow Books, 2015, pgs. 2, 7-9.

[14] Ibid, pg. 8.

[15] Ibid, pgs. 3, 12, 22.

[16] Ibid, pgs. 29-34.

[17] Ibid, pgs. 32-46.

[18] See the works of Guy Lyon Playfair: Twin Telepathy; If this Be Magic; and The Indefinite Boundary.  

[19] The linked wiki entry on “sensory leakage” helpfully informs us, “Due to the methodological problems, parapsychologists no longer utilize card-guessing studies.” It doesn’t follow up with any kind of description of what replaced the Zener cards, such as the autoganzfeld test with randomized images generated by computer, and the fact that the senders and receivers may be in soundproofed rooms or even a thousand miles away from each other and still often show statistically significant results.

[20] Barrington, Mary Rose. JOTT: when things disappear…and come back or relocate–and why it really happens, Anomalist Books, 2018.

[21] McClenon, James. Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Belief, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994; Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion, Northern Illinois University Press, 2001; The Entity Letters: A Sociologist on the Trail of a Supernatural Mystery, Anomalist Books, 2018.

[22] See this also on the Guerilla Skeptics’ attack on Sheldrake.

The Metachorea, Chapter 1: Don’t Confuse me with the Facts!

PREFACE:

    DON’T CONFUSE ME WITH THE FACTS…

By the second decade of the 21st century it is clear that the “great conversation” of philosophy has exhausted all possible pretenses to explaining an “ultimate reality” and, via its general turn to critiquing institutional powers, has almost entirely penned itself off from policing the empirical sciences.[1]

One reason for this situation is due to a centuries-old belief: Science is not supposed to deal with morality and ethics. Morality was the one province left to philosophy,[2] but by now this defense has been virtually swept away by the secular humanism that informs the Enlightenment’s political program. Technocracy’s utilitarian foundations have for the most part trumped moral concerns; ethics, whether pragmatic or deontological, only impede the march of science in its goal to relieve the plights of humanity.

The ancient forms of holistic philosophy such as the Stoics’s, in which epistemology, ontology, and ethics were inseparable, are forever gone. With the exception of German “meta-narrativists” such as Kant, Hegel, and Spengler, the classical Stoic trio of disciplines lived on until the late 19th century, when epistemology and ontology were farmed out to the hard sciences of physics, biology, chemistry, and neurology. Ethics was in effect left to individual conscience and the rationalizations of religious mores.

While “hard” science appealed to certainty for its cosmic visions, its methods were eventually applied to government policy and public mental health regimes via the soft humanistic sciences of psychology, economics, sociology, and anthropology. The freedom of a sovereign conscience came to apply not only to belief as defined by the Abrahamic religions, but eventually to beliefs in general on the nature of reality; this was the creeping nihilism inherent in supposedly “value-free” sciences which Nietzsche, amongst others, railed against as both dangers and as opportunities for a type of conscious evolution.

Today this free-for-all has resulted in multiplying the cosmologies and beliefs to which a person could potentially subscribe. Despite the sciences’ pretentions to a singular reality of which scientists are the sole arbiter, we have been in an ontological bacchanalia for some time now.

If we are awake and open, we must attempt to process a confusing mélange of conflicting explanations for where we have come from and even what we are. Those who are absolutely certain of any truth—and hold a universality to their beliefs—are looked upon as suspect, unhinged, even fascist.

So what has this situation to do with “anomalous” experiences and the human imagination?

It turns out, everything. From the standpoint we will explore, anomalous experiences like ghost sightings, psychokinesis (PK), or seeing an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) are akin to the creative acts of the human mind; both human ingenuity and anomalous experiences are equally mysterious in their origin.[3] Both have been plagues on humankind, for very different reasons.

 

I’LL SEE IT WHEN I BELIEVE IT

With a fair amount of certainty one can predict a given person’s explanation for an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) encounter based only upon their opinion of what reality consists—whether they profess a belief in absolute idealism or materialist monism, for instance.

For example, if one believes the real world is ideal (whether it be thoughts in the mind of God, the veil of maya, a realm of Platonic Forms beyond our imperfect copies, or a holographic projection from a higher dimension) then there is a good possibility that they will come to believe the UAP and their “pilot entities” are made of the same insubstantial “mind stuff” as we and everything else in the universe—incorporeal thought-forms—but perhaps more powerful with regard to their controlling these illusions in the UAP percipient’s mind. If the universe is not physical, the UAP entities furthermore can be contacted directly on this mental-ideal plane. Distance and time are no obstacles if space-time is illusory and malleable continuum of Idea. This particular belief underlies many forms of occult practice, and historically is the bridge between modern UAP and the realm of ceremonial magic.[4]

A monist physicalist (materialist) on the other hand erects insurmountable barriers for UAP being either extraterrestrial or interdimensional or ideal, as we’ll explore shortly. A Darwinian physicalist would counter the explanation that UAP are manned by “hidden Terran race/cryptoterrestrial” by explaining that an unknown species of beings cannot have survived on this planet without human knowledge of them, if not depositing some kind of paleobiological proof of their existence. Their physicalist framework would render claims of evolved abilities to possess invisibility camouflage (as some cryptoterrestrialist theorists have suggested) and psychic powers in advanced, unknown homo sapiens occultum as unprovable nonsense.

A fundamentalist steeped in the Abrahamic religions will see the world as the product of a single act of creation whose physical laws are secondary to a moral informing of the cosmos. Angelic and demonic forces may exist in this worldview, but are necessary to their core beliefs only by which sect we are discussing. For instance, a Southern Baptist or Muslim Salafist may shrug off UAP as demons, or the activity of Ifritic djinn, respectively—which, as we’ll see in Book Two, basically amount to the same type of being.

Within the materialist/religionist dichotomy we have binary oppositions of belief amongst social groups. They have completely different methods of knowing of what truth consists, and how it is constructed. Sub-species of both belief-systems could be extended indefinitely. A Hindu may view UAP as the return of ancient vimana craft used by Krishna and Rama; an Azande will cognize them as evil witch lanterns; a Mormon might believe they are the signs of spiritually advanced angelic beings like the Angel Moroni who appeared to founder Joseph Smith…

The upshot is that these all are conditioned responses via a priori beliefs inherent in their religions’ cosmologies. The scientistic stance is no different in this regard: in their case, an a priori dismissal of Others’ existence as impossible.

The rational study of UAP remains an outlying pursuit in our society and is largely immune to policing of its method. Its pretense to scientific tractability is illusory. “Ufology” has nothing with which to grasp its target but anecdotes, patterns within the anecdotes, and deductive reasoning.

Today’s dismal state of UAP/encounter study is due to the psychological and philosophical factors noted above. The specific belief-system of the investigator determines categorization and the phenomenon’s essence. The groundbreaking work in UAP study, if it can even be called such, has already been done, and done long ago.[5] We now accrete myth upon myth; the parameters for the debate have supposedly been set. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but in UAP study, every opinion is practically unfalsifiable.

It would seem at this point to be a hopeless pursuit, but it is not. Just like mainstream science’s explanations for UAP, this tract will not be so much an explanation as a detailed description of a process that occurs to individuals and groups who encounter—or rather enfold within—such anomalies, its parallels with psychophysical paranormal events, and how Imagination irrupts all norms.

THE END(S) OF PHYSICS

The particle/wave complementarity of energy shown by quantum physics has given us an uneasy contentment with many phenomena that seem logically divergent. The untestable ideas of string theory yield the same unease in both its proponents and dissenters. The limits of the directly observable, long ago transgressed in quantum experiments, have driven physicists yet further to conjectures with no falsifiability criterion to test them.

The anomalies we will examine present disparate interpretations that structurally mirror our seemingly dead-ending physics. The divergence of interpretation stems from the highly strange circumstances of the paranormal events themselves. Ambiguity is their very nature, into which Imagination cannot but be projected.

With this essay I hope to steer a course using neurological and psychological findings about the brain, some axioms regarding that elusive activity known as human creativity, and deductions about anomalous perceptions, and tie them together.

 

UPENDING THE DEBUNKERS’ TOOLKIT

In science, there are several types of evidence that may support a hypothesis but, theoretically, “truth” is a label to be avoided. As per philosopher Karl Popper’s criteria, there should be no positive statements asserting a general truth, but tentative ideas that have observable and predictable consequences that can then be falsified by an experiment—therefore, if a theory’s entailed test(s) is falsified, then the theory should be reexamined, if not scrapped.

When we’re considering evidence for concepts such as other dimensions or “otherworldly” beings, most scientists demand evidence that amounts to a type of irrefutable proof of their existence.

But as is historically demonstrated, apparitions almost always appear spontaneously, and therefore the conditions to study them are unrepeatable in the sense that an experiment can be replicated.[6] The Spiritualists’ experiments of the 19th and 20thcenturies, witnessed by some of the greatest scientists of the period, by and large failed scientific tests; only a small fraction of the paranormal phenomena were left unexplainable. The same percentage (10-15%) holds for “unknowns” in UAP reports and their reported pilot entities.

The burden then becomes foisted upon an anomaly experiencer to prove a positive—the physical existence of what they witnessed or are asserting they witnessed.

To assert grounds for their non-existence is easy enough for the debunker; they only have to state that the laws of physics as we understand them do not allow the existence of beings from distant worlds to appear here because space-time travel-lengths from distant stars are too great, or that the physical energies for “transdimensional beings” to fold/warp into our space involved are too intense—and their intrusions would easily be noticed by scientific/military instrumentation deployed throughout society at large.[7]

But these scientists are replying to specific (perhaps grossly misguided) hypotheses as to what was witnessed in the first place by the percipient and/or made it into the investigator’s report. That the Others are physical extraterrestrial or transdimensional entities are 1) human conclusions made after the fact of experience, or 2) admissions by the (usually) more anthropomorphic-looking beings. Skeptics suspend judgment about such ideas. Debunkers are another story.

The entities may very well be from another star system, but the chances of that are very slim, as we shall see. For the debunker, whose mind is already made up, a snap judgment is inevitable: the percipient has given us lies, hallucinations, mistaken memory.[8]

The “normal” and the “paranormal” are useless terms when one considers that the norm is a matter of a frame of reference relative to a body of knowledge in historical time. In other words, the paranormal is a part of the natural world from a larger standpoint we simply may not yet understand. To take just one example of a debunker’s irony, here’s a real corker from Michael Shermer, editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine: “It is at the horizon where the known meets the unknown that we are tempted to inject paranormal and supernatural forces to explain hitherto unsolved mysteries, but we must resist the temptation because such efforts can never succeed, not even in principle.”[9]

To what principle is he referring? It must be the axiom that the paranormal doesn’t exist because it simply can’t. This statement itself does not pass scientific muster. It’s a sterling example of rhetorically assuming total knowledge of what it intends to prove non-existent—that the paranormal does not exist, therefore cannot be investigated, simply because…it does not exist. It is circular. It rests on metaphysical assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality, that reality has no non-measurable aspects that may be responsible for the paranormal. Yet debunkers like Shermer are supposedly committed to eliminating metaphysics from any scientific discussion. The irony of his statement is completely lost on him.

It can’t be denied that debunkers neither prove or disprove any claim they make against the strange experiences anomaly witnesses report. Although many ufologists are masters at deploying logical fallacies in trying to prove extraterrestrials’ presence here on earth, there is no shortage of sloppy thinking in the debunker community either, in particular the use of the straw man, complex question, bandwagon, begging the question, ad hominem, “no true Scotsman,” subjectivist, and appeal-to-authority fallacies.

 

ET NULL HYPOTHESIS + 1

Astronomers Woodruff Sullivan and Adam Frank have tabulated figures using the first three parts of Drake’s equation and new information from the Kepler telescope, which has discovered 300 exoplanets. It turns out that nearly every star probably has at least one planet. In all likelihood billions of stars have planets in the “Goldilocks” zone where water and an atmosphere can form. According to their calculations there is a 1 in 10 billion chance that a civilization did not evolve in this habitable zone of some star. With the age of the universe, the chance that one that is at least as technologically advanced as ours developed at one time is 100%. Now multiply that by the estivated number of stars with planets in the habitable zone: 25%.

               The likelihood that advanced extraterrestrials exist, or existed in the past, is near 100%. If they exist at the level now, or have a say 100,000 year head start, it is very possible they could develop means of traversing vast interstellar distances. To say they have to pass through our exact technological phases to reach such a level is anthropocentric. Accident has played a huge part in scientific progress. Cognitive differences in their early evolutionary development could have led some of these extraterrestrials to possessing imaginative capacities far beyond ours; perhaps they could view designs for machines in 3-D solely in their minds, like Leonardo da Vinci was reputed to do. Perhaps they could see the finite and detrimental courses certain technologies would take (such as the use of fossils fuels). Perhaps after discovering mathematics, or a cognitive analogue to it, they could create in their minds many thousands of models for the composition and deign of spacecraft before even raising a finger to actually build them.

But these conjectures tell us nothing about them appearing here. Here is a syllogistic breakdown of the way things stand with regard to Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) being extraterrestrial:

1. Standard ET hypothesis (ETH):
-Statistically, extraterrestrial life, perhaps technologically evolved many ten of thousands of years before us, must exist somewhere in our galaxy.
-Human-possible means of interstellar flight that approach/exceed light speed or that warp space have already been discovered by these extraterrestrials. Therefore,
-The ET civilizations that discovered it long ago could come here with ease, given the time-frame.
————
2. Conservative adjunct to ETH:
-Currently-known means of interstellar space flight make travel from elsewhere to earth nearly impossible for even one, let alone hundreds, of different alien races.
-There are hundreds of differing UAP forms and entities (“races”) reported; therefore
-Conventional means of interstellar flight are not used, or they are not here.
***Rejoinder: Unknown but human-possible means may be used for their interstellar transport, as in the first set of syllogisms; or multiple generations pass on the vehicle as it traverses space; or the beings are in suspended animation during flight; or grown artificially during flight; or they are very long-lived; or they are a form of artificial intelligences (drones).
Or…
These UAP and their pilot beings are not extraterrestrial but manifestations of something endogenous to earth.
———
3. Consensus ETH Qualification:
-5-10% of reported UAP and their entities are extraterrestrials.
-Different people have very rarely reported the exact same UAP and/or entity (prior to the “greys” seeming to dominate UAP lore 1980-present); there have been hundreds of types of “ships” and creatures reported, almost unique to each percipient, up to the present day.
-Statistically, to the best of our knowledge, it is probable that only one race would be able to perfect the technology capable as we currently envision it of making the journey, as in 2.1; therefore
Only one, or even none, of the UAP craft/entities are extraterrestrial.

***Rejoinder: We could conjecture that the single race that has made the journey here possess means to camouflage itself in a myriad of different forms, thus accounting for the hundreds of types and confusing humanity as to their purposes.

So the existence of UAP as extraterrestrial craft is suspect due to the numbers of different ships/beings that have been reported, and the vanishingly low odds of so many different “races” achieving the physical means to get here. And this even ignores the question of why they would be interested in our planet.

Still, the chance that an unknown intelligent force has interacted with the human race is very great, due simply to the astronomical numbers of reported events of “high strangeness,” revelations, contacts, epiphanies with otherworldly beings noted throughout history—all the way to the present age of UAP and aliens.

ANOMALIES AS NORMS

Another of science’s defining features is the strict classification of phenomena, a practice that stretches as far back (at least) to Aristotle. This Greek thinker also gave us the concept of the excluded middle, the axiom that any proposition must either be true or false. All existent beings either fall into one conceptual set or another. Their traits may overlap, but this results in the creation of a third set of predications. Thus could classification be extended indefinitely.

Together, classification and the excluded middle in practice allow no room for the existence for penumbral entities or experiences—that is, possibilities—where one must admit, almost everything in reality actually belongs. Plato’s “unveiling what is beyond nature,” wedded with Socrates’s technique of elenchus(suspension of any fixed beliefs in order to interrogate a phenomena) and Aristotle’s logic of classification bequeathed us the system that lives at the heart of science. This primal technology, this thinking method (or even a thinking ritual) has now changed the world, and especially how humanity regards its relation to religious experiences.

Regardless of the trappings, the structure of the anomalous phenomena still stands: an ethereal encounter begets the begats. The experiencers of Otherworldly beings and states have changed the world in ways that are socially primordial and more long-lasting than that of the modern science, its technology, and the epistemological stances associated with it.

When one examines human history, we should note that encounters with intelligent-seeming beings that seem evolved higher (or lower) than humanity, or are “from elsewhere” is a rule and not an exception. We may even venture to say that such encounters with Others are statistically ordinary occurrences over epochs, but extraordinary events in a sub-epochal sense—the span of a single week, for instance.

Another way of saying this is that spectacular anomalous events may occur unpredictably within the relatively short timespan of a decade or two, with clusters of events (or even none at all), but occur with a statistical consistency over long periods, such as two centuries—and by spectacular, I mean those events that have been recorded due to the presence of many credible witnesses, or devastating effects upon a small group of witnesses.[10] The Jansenist convulsionnaires movement (which we shall examine), the “Miracle of the Sun” at Fatima, Portugal in 1917 and the appearance of triangular UAP over the Hudson Valley in 1981-83 would be examples of mass anomalous experiences. In the 20th century, for instance, there were major worldwide waves of UAP encounters: 1947 (majority in USA), 1952, 1954 (majority in France/Italy), 1958, 1965-69, 1973-74, 1976-78 (majority in South America, UK, USA, and USSR), 1981, 1986-91.[11]

Every person who has lived has probably either 1) experienced an anomalous being directly; 2) known someone who has encountered one directly; or 3) has heard of someone by a maximum of two degrees of separation that has had an extraordinary encounter.[12]

The most important aspect of extraordinary encounters is that they almost always change that percipient’s outlook on life. The intense quality of their conviction affects people close to them; their family or friends may be converted by the sheer charisma of the transformed’s personality into not only belief in the experience, but belief in that force which ostensibly caused it as well. Obviously, such primary encounters are how religions begin: Pharaoh Amenhotep IV’s revelation of the Aten; Moses’s burning bush; the apostles encounter with the resurrected Jesus; Paul’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus; Gabriel’s appearance to Muhammad; Joseph Smith and the Angel Moroni, etc. Numinous encounters are also how the revelation of prophecy is forged: think of Ezekiel and Enoch and Elijah and John of Patmos. The communion of Saints Hildegard and Bernadette and Lucia with the “white lady” (AKA the Blessed Virgin Mary) has given way to alien contactees Betty Andreasson and Truman Betherum and Howard Menger encountering angelic-appearing beings. Each of these people had a meeting with some force that changed them—and through a subculture-to-cultural stealth, affected a not insignificant portion of our civilization.

Inside any socially stable group, individuals may be subject to an array of anomalous events but there are always limited vocabularies to describe and tame them. These anomalies transform the society, for good or ill—causing a spiritual solace in the experiencer(s), or causing a reactive force that comes to some powerful individuals or groups in vanquishing the irruption when it threatens the communal order (if we chose the late 17th century, for instance, by means of official exorcism or trials and murder of the “witch”).

It’s a simple fact that any arbitrarily chosen time-period/geographical area will possess its corresponding set of Otherworldly beings and associated phenomena. Their influences upon those populations’ thinking and, consequently, their histories are immense and unavoidable.

The bunk that arch-skeptics consistently retail is that a steady-state norm always exists from which there can be no deviation. If such a state of nature existed, all questions as to the universe’s structure and origin would be in principle knowable and probably satisfactorily answered by now. Scientific history is full of surprises that overturned everything known; it is how knowledge changes.

Arch-debunkers seem not to possess the reflective capacity to see the mechanisms by which the norms of accepted and acceptable scientific knowledge, for instance, have changed radically over the past century.[13] They are many times altered by noting and collecting anomalies in normal scientific practice, as Thomas Kuhn pointed out.[14] The norm is changing today at an almost alarming accelerating rate, and the scientific groundwork for postulating a falsifiable theory for anomalous experiences is being laid further each day. With this work, I hope to establish the skeleton and arrow pointing to such a theory.

 

THE EXPLANATORY IMPULSE

So how are such unusual experiences classified today? We know the judgments of the psychological turn (that psychoses or “hysteria” are responsible), and the “mistaken cognitive impression/hallucination” that neuroscience would offer us. These explanations are default frames of reference, and require no thought at all—and are especially poverty-stricken with regard to the content of the percipient’s “hallucination.”

The phenomenology of hallucinations is a crucial aspect pertinent to all mental experience and is amenable to analytic interpretation (Jung was one such pioneer) but on the whole neuroscientists minimize or ignore the significance of the imagery and messages that are present in “deviant” brain activity. Thus every day, inadequate explanations are wheeled out to explain strange experiences, as well as their extrapolation backwards in history to account for the otherworldly encounters of the past.

This is not to say that there aren’t valid psychological, sociological, and historical reasons explaining why people without a directexperience of an Other would come to believe these supernatural occurrences happened. A series of fortuitous strokes led an obscure Palestinian Jewish cult to ascend into the world’s most populous religion. A staunch Christian would likely disagree with that statement, or say that it was foreordained because it is the one true religion, with Paul of Tarsus being the historical lynchpin.

But there is a structure here that bears emphasizing: The important dynamic regarding a born-again Christian’s personal conversion-revelation is that Jesus’s resurrection aligns the “reborn’s” experience with that of Saint Paul’s. It places the percipient directly in the center of an/the originating divine experience. What to the born-again person is a divine tautology—“the grace by which Paul was saved is the same grace by which I was saved”—is echoed in the debunker’s tautology “temporal lobe malfunctions cause ‘religious-experience hallucinations’ that can only be caused by a temporal lobe malfunction.” The phenomenology of this supernatural grace or affect-soaked hallucination fail to account for the structural change to the percipient’s mental state and physical disposition afterward. For the rest of us, who try to dispassionately view the transformation of an individual’s life after an Otherworldly encounter—especially seeing that these persons have come into possession of personal qualities or talents hitherto minimal or non-existent—we are full of questions meant to break the circular logic.


THE DOUBLY-DAMNED

Mature “epistemological autocracies” such as our materialist worldview are ideologies that marginalize or attempt to erase human experiences that do not fit their framework. Charles Fort called anomalous experiences “the damned”—the events that are ignored, suppressed, or explained away by both secular and religious orthodoxies.

But it’s only fitting that they be damned to irrelevance, we say from our peculiar Darwinist way of thinking—for were there any reality to their existence, they would have gained scientific purchase and be recognized realities by now.[15]

There appear to be at least two reasons why this is so:

One: We simply do not adequately understand consciousness or the relation of consciousness to its substrate, the brain, to offer an explanation for them. But, science assures us, in the future we will. This is called promissory materialism—the idea that all the physicalist answers will one day be found for all mental phenomena. The greatest problem with this form of scientism is that its conclusions about an objective world presuppose a presence—an experiencing thing—that it cannot bring itself to acknowledge. At best, the dominant form of neuroscience can try to persuade us that this subjective realm of experience is only another kind of object, a chemical machine called the brain whose secrets and tricks we are slowly uncovering. All we lack is more powerful technologies to make the discovery complete. Some of the best thinkers have concluded that consciousness is only an illusion constructed by the brain in order to assist the propagation of genetic material.

This conflict between the non-objectivity of behavioral observations and the inability of science to bridge the mind-brain gap seems bereft of a solution. Neuroscientists can propose yet further physiological investigations. Philosophers can offer up an endless stream of thought experiments, but there is no final resolution to the problem of subjectivity trying to objectify itself. This notion of neural correlates of conscious mental states is at the heart of a number of neuroscientific misconceptions ranging from assessments of consciousness, to the claims that morality can be ascertained scientifically. The feeling of security given by the reductionist approach is in fact illusory—a feeling of security analogous to the fundamentalist religionist’s.

Two: Even if the mind/brain system were completely explained, a scientific model for anomalies would still be problematic under our epistemic autocracy because such phenomena are, by definition (mostly) single witness-dependent, subjective, and often singularly-occurring phenomena. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, these reports are incommensurable with our scientific method of hard data, replicable experimentation, and peer-reviewed study, so they would still be eliminated from consideration.

From the point of view of the religious fundamentalist, the anomalies’ ambiguous nature contradicts the idea that God has a specific order to existence. People today still claim to encounter angels and demons, for instance, and while these episodes may pose problems for the ecclesiastical authorities, they do not for the common believer. The belief is solid because it has historical provenance thousands of years old. Still, most mainstream Christian and Muslim sects chose to minimize people’s accounts of encountering them.

Anomalous experiences cannot be transmitted to others—except by a sympathetic recognition by persons to whom a similar event has occurred, or the faith and belief-induction of those close to them.[16] As a culture we in the “West” have tended to throw Charles Fort’s “damned” experiences all together in an inchoate mass. Fringe incidents begets fringe community: a near-death experiencer gravitates into a support group with other survivors, learns of the afterlife’s “ascended masters,” then the UAP-entity connection to these ascended masters, then crystal power, and is embraced by the New Age set and may end up converted to belief in a nefarious, Reptilian-led New World Order—all because their original NDE experience has found no home in our materialist-dominant culture.

Inevitably an experiencer is compelled to retreat from defending the pragmatic value of their anomalous experience—the positive changes that occurred to them as a result—to arguing whether it even happened in objective reality. The positive changes in the experiencer’s personality are irrelevant to the debunker, as we noted; they fall back on the “God-sensing center” of the brain’s neurological edifices, or the “spiritual-neuron bundles” responsible for conversion experiences (usually a temporal lobe malfunction) and consequent beliefs that arise from the malfunction.

The tenuous research on the brain’s “God center” point to merely correlative relations between neural stimulation and a reported experience; there cannot be a causative God-sensing center in the human brain in the way that, say, the pituitary gland causes the secretion of hormones.

This use of language is known as a category error and is, ironically, often deployed by the debunkers against religious believers. How can God be sensed by a part of the brain, when God/a larger spiritual world does not exist for the scientist? To be clearer: the debunker looks upon the anomaly percipient’s experience as an avowal of belief, not a statement of fact. “The pituitary gland secretes hormones” can be empirically demonstrated through measuring instruments, but that proposition depends upon the consensus meaning of “pituitary,” “gland,” “secretes,” and “hormones.”

There are observable referents to each of the words. The statement “I sense the presence of a loving God” also depends upon the meaning/reference of each part of the proposition—but that which is signified by the object “God” has sense, but no referent that can be measured. Most people experience the “oceanic feeling” of Oneness or interconnectedness at least once, and in innumerable ways. It is often used as a substitute for God. That it should have a neural correlate does not negate the meaning of the experience to the subject, to say nothing of the time factor: that the subjective experience may be the cause of the neural change. We will explore the arrow of causation in this essay.

The crux of the matter is this: what happens when percipients are compelled to use the epistemological methods used by the dominant scientistic regime to explain their unique experiences? They must turn to physical evidence, of course, to sate the physicalist demands.

Perhaps 5-10% of the time the UAP (and even fairy, djinn, or cryptid animal encounters) produce inexplicable physical traces such as landing marks, burns, sickness in the percipient, stigmata, scars, spontaneous healings, etc. From the most generous frame of reference, these traces are exactly the result of what is described—physical evidence that some kind of high-intensity energy interacted with the percipient. But they always turn out ambiguous from a scientific analysis.[17]

Just as the effects of quantifiable objects (such as electromagnetic fields in a coil) may produce theories as to how they work, we can trace the effects of paranormal events back to their probable causes. This is what I intend to do in this essay.

We will eventually see that the suspension of a single explanatory reference frames regarding “Otherly” beings lets us entertain the idea that there is a family resemblance between what experiencers of UAP entities, fairies, djinn, and Other beings claim, and take all such accounts on multiple levels. This is a fruitful approach used by journalist John Keel and ufologist Dr. Jacques Vallee—in particular, Vallee’s idea that, regardless of their physically real/unreal status, these Others’s methods and effects mirror that of spy operations (psy-ops). Working from psychologically observable effects to possible causes seems both the most conservative and the richest stance to pursue.

Although varied in form, the spectrum of entities embody similar content/meaning/ends in their human interactions. No amount of conditioning will produce such phantasmal spectacles with predictable success. UAP and related phenomena appear to appear randomly (which, as I said, is what makes them impossible to study), and as long as most scientific organizations refuse to admit their existence there will be a poverty of potentially relevant information surrounding any unusual experience: an analysis of local geomagnetic disturbances, a change in the percipient’s brain chemistry, and, perhaps most implausibly, persons elsewhere in the world who are undergoing another kind of anomalous manifestation at the same time, or even groups of people actively trying to access another realm through occult ritual or meditation.

Such correlations are impossible to achieve; if we could somehow cross-section the world or take a snapshot of everything occurring everywhere in the globe, would we find some correlative supernatural events are transpiring elsewhere during a UAP or apparitional entity encounter?[18] And can we find functional relations between them?

The question is this: Statistically, on any given day or hour, how often do high strange anomalous events occur? And how are we to classify them?

These are impossible statistics to accumulate, but they would seem to be imperative to an understanding of UAPs and their attendant phenomena. Should such a database be established, it could find correlations that yield analyzable material. If scientists don’t even try to establish regularity to the phenomena, we can never get anywhere. Regularity establishes the basis of classification and testing. Researchers like Aime Michel, Vallee, and Keel have attempted analysis of UAP sightings by frequency and location, yielding at least some patterns related to electromagnetic earth disturbances; Keel and Vallee both strongly suggest a relationship between the percipients’ life history, psychological state, and the conditions under which the sightings occurred are the most important aspect of the phenomena. Albert Budden has further discovered deep parallels between electro-hypersensitive persons and UAP activity and personalities prone to “abductions.” I agree with this psychological/health angle, and will follow this lead as basic.

 

A CONCESSION TO THE EPISTEMIC AUTOCRACY: ANECDOTES, DAMNED ANECDOTES!

Cognitive scientists and psychologists claim to have rid themselves from Cartesian dualism and Skinnerian behaviorism, but these ideas have lived a skulking shadow-life in the psychology lab regardless. The structure of neuroscientific practice involves the experimenter’s believing the verbal accounts of a test subject’s experiences that the experimenter correlates with their objective/physical measuring devices. This yields publicly available data for inspection by expert and amateur alike.

What is needed is the third way, the mediation.

To be clear: To prove anomalous beings and phenomena don’t exist is impossible. To prove an anomalous experience changed a person’s outlook on life—including their habits, diet, and even their lifelong maladies, etc.—is proven beyond doubt, in hundreds of cases going back centuries.

Many people take this statement to mean some kind of positive assertion that “ETs” therefore must exist, but we shouldn’t assert this; we should deal with the facts, the possible, and the probable. We first need to bracket the experiences phenomenologically without regard to their physical cause, accept them in the form they are presented, and work backwards.

So all we have left is anecdotes. And from anecdotes we shall have to proceed, using logic and categorization to make sense of them. Anecdotes constituted the greater portion of human knowledge for the past 10,000 years—stories of battles, peoples’ folkways, spirit encounters, fairytales, and gossip. It was only by means of the data-organization techniques generated over the past 5 centuries that patterns could be gleaned from the raw data these stories presented. In our age of corporatized, physicalist science, these folktales of encounters are considered curiosities at best, an irritating form of non-scientific knowledge at worst. Almost always the word “anecdotal” is derogatorily cast upon UAP, NDE and psi studies. They are viewed as collections of mistaken impressions loosely gathered together. Mostly this criticism comes from our popular science boosters and professional debunkers, and not necessarily credentialed scientists themselves. Many of the actual scientists know better; they know that anecdotes are where science can begin, for all collections of anomalies that end in paradigm shifts start off as anecdotes encountered during experimentation or observation. Moreover, radical critics of scientific methodologies hold that the line between experimental conditions and anecdote is artificial; all the preparation (choosing the experiment’s participants, designing the experiment’s conditions, weeding out confounding factors) are just made in order to produce a series of anecdotes (the experimental runs) arranged and stereotyped in a strict way to reveal a certain result. The only difference between a collection of anecdotes and a scientific experiment is that a hypothesis motivates the experiment, a guess at the empirical effects of the hypothesis is made ahead of time, and a result is obtained. Studies function as little more than anecdotes that are used to back the claims of newer studies. The special status of these anecdotes—and why we are prohibited from calling them such—is that their transparency of methods and design supposedly render them replicable by other scientists.

So ahead we’ll go. In Part Two we will examine the rise of the “grey alien” and its “purpose” through witnesses’ experiences and the popular culture. Part Three will approach current theories of neuroscience with regard to quantum phenomena and especially their non-local aspects, leading to the conjectured existence of a field I call the metachoria, in which humanity has co-created from an “imaginal realm” very real experiences and energies that we are just on the edge of understanding. It’s necessary for to delve a bit deeply into some interpretations of quantum experiments and theory and their relation to the brain’s structure in producing—or rather filtering—conscious experience. After that, we will examine the many phenomena associated with dissociative identity disorder, hypnotism, seemingly impossible feats of psychophysical magic, and the holographic universe/implicate order hypotheses. The four of these combined will provide a foundation for the examination of Albert Budden’s theory of electro-hypersensitivity in certain individuals, and the anomalous experiences that can result.

 


[1] Possible exceptions are stringent evaluation of the models used in the cognitive sciences, neurology, and psychology by thinkers such as John Searle, Thomas Nagel, Hubert Dreyfus, David Chalmers, Colin McGinn, Roger Penrose, and Emily and Edward Kelly. On the more radical side, we have the philosophers of science Paul Feyerabend and Thomas Kuhn—which still are institutional critiques.

[2] Evidenced by such thinkers as G.E. Moore, Karl Popper, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Martha Nussbaum, and Alasdair MacIntyre.

[3] This study will dispense with the terms UFO, flying saucer, and extraterrestrials. In their place I will substitute the “Others” because I don’t think it is useful to draw a hard distinction between the “craft,” the “entities,” their “origin realms,” “technology,” and their effects on percipients. The aberrant experiences should be considered as wholes, both on individual and collective bases. The supposition that these anomalous “presentations” may likely involve a form of “holography” or especially altered states of consciousness in the observer, noted by many investigators, has led me from this group of terms in favor of a singular one. The Others is a term meant to encompass the fact that something unknown and intelligent is interacting with human (and animal) minds. The specific form taken by the “entities” or their “craft” is less important than the fact that an interaction is taking place. As many researchers have noted, a study of folklore and history shows that the Others seem to alter their appearance based upon cultural constraints. This would mean they have an intimate knowledge of our minds, either by “study” or a form of “mind-hacking”—or that they are generated in part by us. But they have interacted with purpose nonetheless. I believe the previous generations of terms used to describe them are something we must condition ourselves to go beyond if any further progress is to be made. One may think this is an even worse nomenclature to use, but it elides the bewildering varieties of beings in favor of, hopefully, a philosophical engagement with something that could turn out to be the most significant in human history.

[4] One variation of this confluence began with Dr. Meade Layne’s “Etherian” hypothesis that was developed through trance medium Mark Probert’s communications with “space intelligences” between 1946-53. See The Coming of the Guardians: An Interpretation of the Flying Saucers as Given from the Other Side of Life, Inner Circle Press, 2009 (originally published 1958). In 1904 & 1918, poet and occultist Aleister Crowley supposedly accomplished “interdimensional” communications and evocations of extraterrestrial beings, one which became his “Holy Guardian Angel.” Crowley’s devotees John W. Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard performed Crowley’s “Babalon Working” ritual in 1946 to “rend the veil” between our realm of Malkuth (in Kabbalistic terms) and that of the Abyss, or Qlippoth (the shattered remains of material unused in Yahweh’s creation); some claim that, through their incompetency, the duo was unable to close this portal, resulting in the entire UAP “demonic invasion.” If nothing else, the coincidence of the dates 1946-1947, when UAP first appeared in vast numbers, and Crowley’s visual descriptions of the beings he contacted are interesting anecdotes.

[5] I am thinking here of the work of Aime Michel, who in the mid-1950s first (and unsuccessfully) submitted UAP sightings in France to statistical and “orthotenic” analysis; of Dr. Jacques Vallee, who did the same but came to embrace past folklore as continuous with UAP mythology and involved psychic factors; Trevor James’s and Brinsley le Poer Trench’s biological “sky people” hypothesis; John Keel, who introduced the world of occult manifestations into the mix by 1970; Dr. Michael Persinger, who attempted to explain experiences by means of electromagnetic interference with the brain’s temporal lobes; and, closer to today, the thorough work of Albert Budden in the 1990s, whose hypothesis we will explore in depth. Apart from Vallee, Keel, Persinger, and Budden there have been no theoreticians of UAP activity whose musings have come close to answering the full spectrum of the mystery.

[6] Many overly-curious investigators have tried to short-cut this problem by utilizing psychic mediums to contact the entities behind the UAP, as we shall see.

[7] In connection with UAP and “cryptids,” no physical evidence, such as an artificially created artifact, has ever passed analytical muster as something possibly from “elsewhere.” We are told about landing marks, drained car batteries, car paint damage, electrical surges that overload a grid, etc. Witnesses suffer burns, nausea, and even death from their encounters. These are obviously signs that something occurred. But no physical object has ever survived scrutiny as proof of an exotic “craft”. Further, I will purposely ignore the claims of dozens of witnesses to “crashed saucers” seen on-site or in secret government hangars, because these claims always lead into the wilderness of mirrors; they are always suspect to hoaxing, a witness’ misidentification of advanced black-budget military tech, or disinformation, simply because the government may want to project a certain narrative. Thus I am foregoing the use of any confirming/disconfirming statements by any government officials, studies, “inside sources,” etc., for the existence of UAP phenomena. These twisted tales have been covered ad nauseam elsewhere. The methods of science are all that is needed to make progress in understanding it. It’s unfortunate but the dis/misinformation techniques used by the government intelligence agencies have so thoroughly muddied the evidence trail regarding the existence of these things as to merit a complete disregard for a serious researcher. Studying the phenomenon and drawing conclusions from available public evidence is not only possible but can yield scientific breakthroughs, though warned against by certain experts.

[8] The latest coming-to-a-debunkers’-message-forum-near-you tool is to classify anomaly-experiencing person as a “schizotypal personality,” which holds, according to the JAMA Psychiatry July 2015 issue, that 1 in 20 people experience random veridical hallucinations at least once in their life; veridical in that they are not recognized as hallucinations as such. The APA has now devised this new classification as a spectrum disorder—a resting-state for humanity, in other words, with each individual falling somewhere within the spectrum. Some persons can even have many hallucinatory experiences while otherwise being completely sane and importantly, productive citizens. And thus, the pathologizing of everyday life, context-free of the hallucinations’ content and precipitating conditions, and in manageable quantificational form, marches on. On the other hand, their tired fallback reasoning for the impossibility of ETs and transdimensionals is deteriorating in the light of contemporary discoveries in quantum physics, nanotechnology, and “reservoir computing.” Recent findings such as the capacity to slow down photons’ velocity in superfrozen mediums, the ongoing research into space-warp or electromagnetic/radiation pulse drives, and the behavior of particles in zero-point energy conditions (absolute zero temperatures, 0 Kelvin, which obtain in open interstellar space) are challenging basic assumptions about the nature of matter and light.

[9] Scientific American article entitled, “Is It Possible to Measure Supernatural or Paranormal Phenomena?”

[10] Computer scientist and ufologist Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck have compiled a historical catalog of aerial anomalies, Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times. The criteria in the ancient world was quite strict to officially record a “prodigy” or “portent” in the sky; most times they were related to earthly events such as the outcome of battles, plagues, coups, etc. before being written down. This criterion held from Rome to China, and was used all the way up to the late Renaissance, but their many reports come from monasteries and lone chroniclers of towns. Vallee and Aubeck were equally strict in their choices; the recorded event had to have properties that defy descriptions of meteorological or astronomical phenomena such as meteors, bolides, temperature inversions, fata morgana, etc.

[11] Reported sightings increase and decrease in number from year to year. There is always a resting state of stigma attached to “close encounters.” In all probability this is a disconnect from what is actually going on; the sightings and close encounters may still be occurring between waves, but the stigma for the witness over going public remains, threatening one’s standing in the community. That reports suddenly begin to appear in great numbers may be a function of social snowball effects: when waves occur, they become undeniable events, whatever their real cause. And many times witnesses come forward during waves with reports of events that happened several years to even decades earlier because a modicum of “social safety” has been established by the welter of percipients revealing their experiences. The stigma is (if only temporarily) loosened.

[12] Like the children’s game “telephone,” noise can overtake and distort an informational signal (the percipient’s tale) when passed through a network, but noise has been found to be quantifiable by the number of participating nodes involved in the signal’s transference. A story told through two degrees’ separation from an eyewitness would not distort the data to a limit that would render useless its information. It depends on the veracity of the nodes. Those who are biologically-related or close friends are within the scope of the first node, with less well-known acquaintances or friends of the close friends in the second, and people within the second degree friends’ connected social groups in the third node. Beyond that, the quality of the signal—the story’s strict adherence to facts—breaks down. As per Claude Shannon’s investigations into what constitutes a signal versus a non-signal (or noise), it was found that a signal degrades into noise over time due to the second law of thermodynamics; entropy can increase over time or over distance (as measured by the number of connection points through which it travels). There is a parallel to this in neuroscience: Valid psychological studies have shown how memory slightly overwrites a recalled experience almost each time it is called up. The anomalous events with which this essay is concerned would obviously have a special place in the memories of the percipients; although they are many times in some kind of altered state of consciousness, their core recollections have been found by investigators to remain stable—which either makes them suspect as real experiences (for how can a real experience not be altered in the repeated recollection) or demonstrates that they actually occurred, having been burned into the person’s mind in a special way.

[13] This is known as the Basic Limiting Principle, as outlined by philosopher C.D. Broad.

[14] Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, 3rd Edition, 1996.

 

[15] Many scientists perceive that if there were something to it, teams of experts would already be on the case. They then cite Project Blue Book and the Air Force/CIA investigations as reasons to dismiss the phenomena as solved. But these projects have amply been shown to be whitewashes. An average of 20% of the thousands of sightings were still classified as unexplained in the final reports. Furthermore, the original Air Force investigation, Project Sign (1948) supposedly concluded extraterrestrial craft were the most likely explanation. This “estimate of the situation” was deep-sixed by Air Force General Hoyt Vandenburg and the report destroyed. It is facts like these that scientists need to become aware of. There are literally hundreds of examples like this—a history of prevarication and disinformation in the scientific examination of the UAP phenomenon (which is why I’ve tried to avoid mention of the government in this essay). The reasons why would fill a book. See Richard Dolan’s UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Coverup, 1941-1973, Hampton Roads Publishers, 2002.

[16] The mass media cannot encompass the subtleties of experiencers’ tales either, being fueled on immediate spectacle and the utilitarian, extraverted mindset of our society. In short, anomalous experiences (and especially their aftermath) do not fit the compressive laws of mass media representation. For instance, America heard about the Heaven’s Gate tragedy in 1997 but had no inkling of the cult’s existence or beliefs. One cannot make money off anomaly witness experiences, unless you’re talking about the train of quickly-cancelled Bigfoot/UAP-chasing reality shows featuring “crack” researchers on the trail of physical evidence that never shows up—or fictions such as Twin Peaks or The X-Files, crafted from them because they always already touch a deep mythic impulse.

[17] See the works of Jacques Vallee, J. Allen Hynek, and John Keel. Perhaps in the most famous UAP evidence case, farmer Joe Simonton witnessed a silver disc landing on his property in 1961. The three black-garbed men inside the “craft”, one of them holding a bucket, gestured to him to get some water. Simonton did so and was given three wafers the men were cooking on what appeared to be a grill! They proved to be made of ordinary terrestrial grains. Simonton said they tasted of cardboard. Such a strange story would no doubt garner dismissal from 99% of the population. Yet the sight of a silver disc a few miles away by an independent witness at the same time, and Simonton’s prior and post-experience standing in the local community (“He’d never make up a tall tale, let alone a story like that”) has to this day kept the story in the realm of a “real” UAP entity encounter.

[18] If you perhaps consider conservatively that one in ten experiences makes it to an investigator and one in ten of those reaches print, the Others must be encountered at least once every day somewhere on the planet. And from reading the lot of the collected stories it would seem one might as well watch your own backyard closely instead of the skies, for many of the accounts occur on the ground close to one’s house, while camping, or on a walk and involve “vehicles” tangentially or not at all.

…in which physicalists’ protests against accepting the reality of anomalous experiences demonstrates not a world succumbing to anti-science (as they’d have you believe), but rather their own desperation at the Newtonian worldview’s obsolescence–which is steadily proceeding from within physics itself. In other words, the grounds for explaining people’s anomalous experiences expands by the day, contains elements that are “magical” yet scientifically tractable–and the arch-skeptics don’t like it. Perhaps the most common example of this reality-rupture is the UFO, which we’ll examine in depth.

The Risen Goddess vs. the Burn

AncientpilgrimsMetanira

THE RISEN GODDESS vs. THE BURN

Techne is a Greek word meaning skill or craft. Plato and Aristotle both used it as the definition of something done well. An athlete or carpenter both must possess techne for performing their activities. Their means and methods would be their technology, which can be taught.

In the broader sense, there is a technology to anything that is effective in creating an aimed-for change in the world.

The skilled use of language to entrance people, whether by poetry or storytelling, is a primordial techne. So are the performances involved in ritual psychodrama.

———

Imagine a 2000 year-old nightclub that holds an annual rave. At this rave, the people must abide by rules set by the MCs and bouncers. After, the ravers swear that they’ve lost their fear of death when they witnessed something inside a place called the ‘White Cave.’ It is only something a person can experience for oneself; it can’t be explained in words. And anyway, once you’ve experienced it you’re not supposed to talk about what happens in this White Cave. Discussing what occurs in the White Cave could even bring exile or prison.

Eleusis

A festival like this occurred, between 1600 BCE and about 400 ACE, in a small town called Eleusis fourteen miles outside Athens, Greece. That’s roughly 2 millennia of yearly events. Some scholars date it even earlier, and its first performances as far back as 2500 BCE, giving it another millennia of life. Some trace its roots to the Minoan culture.

Historically, the event was presided over and managed by two families, the Eumolpides and Keryces, who passed down overseeing the event for dozens of generations. The families were secretive, and did not share the magic they had perfected that could inspire identical experiences in the pilgrim-participants. Imagine the skill they must have honed over centuries by observing the effects of their event on the Athenians and others who made the trek, fine-tuning every aspect from the food and libations and music and dance to the setting and stagings, the timing of dramatic events that merged audience with performance….

The Eleusinian Mysteries was a mass ritual, willingly undergone by the people, highly anticipated, and technologically designed to transform the audience’s souls. Everyone across the ancient Mediterranean were permitted to attend, slave and free citizen alike, except “barbarians” (those who couldn’t speak Greek) and murderers. One could not attend the Greater mysteries without first attending the Lesser, which were preparatory. All hostilities including war maneuvers were suspended for the period of the festival.

The event at Eleusis had a painstaking structure to it, all based upon the tale of Persephone’s abduction by Hades, her mother Demeter’s grief and subsequent wanderings clothed as a mortal, and her tenure as a governess for the son of Triptolemos, a prince of Eleusis.

Participants fasted beforehand, and had to ritually sacrifice a pig in Demeter’s name and ritually cleanse themselves in the Illisos River. The pilgrims called upon Iakchos (Bacchus) as they walked the Sacred Road to Eleusis that originated in the Athenian cemetery.

At the pilgrims’ arrival at Eleusis, the Eumolpides family abided by a three-part program: the dromena, which were ritual actions that started with the Lesser Mysteries.

Second, on the grounds near the Telesterion temple, was the legomena: ritual vocalizations by the hierophants and the priestesses who mixed the sacred kykeon brew and distributed it to the crowd in a procession and elaborate dance.

By this point, the thousands of celebrants had been seated or stood within the Telesterion. The kykeon worked fast, apparently, causing vertigo and cold sweating.

At this point, objects were supposedly displayed by the hierophant in a wooden shrine inside the Telesterion. A pilgrim was a mystes (one with closed eyes) before this revelation, an epoptes (witness) afterwards. This was the culmination and transformative event.

In some accounts, the simple display of alphi, an ear of barley, was the final revelation.

But such a mundane depiction surely could not be a psyche-shattering event, even under the kykeon’s spell?

It is still a mystery to us today.

—————-

Who were the Eumolpides and the Keryces families?

In order to know that, we have to know the myth.[1] Persephone was upon a hillside in Nysa, picking flowers with the daughters of Oceanus.[2] Mother Earth and her brother Zeus and Hades conspired to create the most beautiful narcissus flower to seduce Persephone’s senses so Hades could abduct her. With Persephone beguiled by it, Hades roared forth from the earth on his chariot and swept her away into his chthonic land of the dead.

Realizing her predicament, and that her father Zeus had conspired, Persephone ate nothing and paid no mind to the splendor of the dark kingdom.

HadesPerseph

Demeter searched the fields for her daughter, then the earth. After discovering the truth from Helios, She despaired and wandered the earth as a crone and ended up at the Virgin’s Well at Eleusis. There She met the four daughters of Triptolemus, who convinced Her to meet their mother Metaneira. Impressed with the “old crone,” Demeter became governess to the king’s son Demophon. When offered wine, She refused it, as she considered it the transmuted body of Dionysus, who was suckled by the maenads on the same Nysa field where Persephone had been abducted (for this reason wine was strictly forbidden during the Mysteries).[3] Instead She asked for a drink compounded of barley, water, glechon (mint or pennyroyal) and other herbs (unfortunately, the only copies of the Homeric hymn are missing 22 lines here with the rest of the formula which would become the basis of the sacred kykeon drank at the Eleusis festival). Still morose, an old woman named Iambe-Baubo cracked blue jokes until Demeter laughed and broke from Her melancholy.

Every day in secret She fed the baby Demophon ambrosia and did rituals over him, intending to make a god of him. One day Metaneira caught Demeter baptizing the child in the hearth. Enraged, she discharged the disguised goddess. Demeter threw off Her human vestments and shone forth and condemned Metaneira and humanity for their ignorance of the spirit of the holy, condemning Demophon to not only a mortal life but a short one. She demanded Triptolemus build a temple to Her near the Rharian plains. He did this and there Demeter sat, still grieving the loss of Her daughter—and refused Her duties to fertilize the crops with Her thought and substance, causing a terrible famine for all of humanity.

Now, Her husband Zeus got word of this and, angry over the mortals’ inability to praise Him properly due to the ecological disaster, like any egotistical tyrant, sent goddess after god after messenger to convince Demeter of Hades’s worthiness as husband to Persephone. Demeter sent them all packing. Finally Zeus sent Hermes to King Hades to communicate His concern for humanity’s future—and that Hades should let go of Persephone at once. Persephone was overjoyed. Hades cautioned her that she would have to return to his kingdom sometime. She agreed—“sure, whatever!” Her appetite back, Hades offered her a few pomegranate seeds, four of which she ate.

Pomegranate

Hermes swiftly returned to Zeus with the news.

Demeter was jubilant on seeing Her daughter emerge. Immediately She asked if Persephone had eaten any food while in captivity.[4] She told her mother the whole story. Demeter wept: Persephone would have to spend four months of each year with Hades beneath the earth. So Demeter spent four months in mourning, Her spirit withdrawing from the living landscape to give us winter (or, more exactly, the 4-month drought season of ancient Greece).

But always the joy of the mother-daughter reunion brought back the fertility of the earth.

Demeterreunion

King Triptolemus was the patriarch of the Eumolpides family and builder of Demeter’s temple, whose structure She revealed to him in detail. From the Eumolpides clan came the hierophant of the Mysteries; their name means “of good voice.” Thus they were the cantors of the ceremony, those who taught the crowd the chant and summoned by incantation the presences of the gods and goddesses. The hierophantides to this singer were females chosen from the Eumolpides to attend the women aspirants. The hiera (the sacred objects to be displayed in the innermost place of the Telestrion) were solely under protection of the Eumolpides family.

The Eleusinian Mysteries_13.jpg

The Keryces, another royal Eleusinian family, were subordinate to the Eumolpides. The Keryces clan supplied the hereditarily-titled dadouchos, the processional torch-bearers. From them also came the hierocceryx, the bearer of tidings who enacted Hermes’s role as messenger, making the proper initiatory decrees and often enjoining the participants’ silence during certain intervals of the journey, in honor of Demeter’s grieving silence.

The phaidantes could come from either family. They were charged with maintaining and transporting the holy statues and vessels, including the huge numbers of kraters used to distribute the kykeion substance.

There were other ranks, involving those who carried the mystic fans, spread incenses and holy waters, the spondophoroi who proclaimed the sacred 10-day war-truce, the fire watchers, the flautists and singers, and the melissae (“bees”) who most likely watched for infractions of the rules and generally mingled with the initiates, who were under the control of the nine governors (archons) the leader of whom was called the Basileus.

All the family members wore purple robes, myrtle wreaths, and diadems (as we’ll see this color may have significance with regard to special properties gleaned from the grain).

——————

But what was that revealed to the mystes at the climax of the ritual?

One aspect was the revelation of the true identity of Triptolemus, who spread the word throughout the world of how to properly cultivate the grain. It had to have been something awe-inspiring that involved fire, grain, and a holy, supernatural violation of the sensory world that, combined with the participants’ heavily altered states of consciousness by means of the kykeion drink, overwhelmed the witnesses (who became epoptae). Scholars Carl Ruck, Albert Hofmann, and Gordon Wasson believe the secret ingredient may have been a special local variant of ergot, a mold that grows on wheat and barley and presents as tiny purple bulbs. The Eumolpides may have found a way of diluting the rust’s toxic properties, leaving only the psychoactive lysergic acid to be mixed into the kykeion—a powerful hallucinogen.[5]

Still this leaves the hierophants’ display in the Telestrion as a cypher. Was it a vision of burning wheat that wasn’t consumed by the flames? A Demeter and Persephone bearing wheat stalks who moved, untouched, in the huge bonfire? An image of the risen goddess made of flaming wheat that didn’t burn? Were the masters of ceremony able to control forms of electromagnetism or even plasma discharges endogenous to the Eleusinian geology in some manner? We don’t know.

In any case, the Rites of the Mysteries had the deepest possible meaning for the participants. It fulfilled a deep spiritual need of the populace, to have their fear of death purged, to feel the reverence of Gaia-Demeter and Her cycles, and to revere Her back, to cohere socially and spiritually with a random group of persons of all types stripped of societal rank, to achieve greater social cohesion via a long tradition,[6] to implant the seed of faith in the Goddess of nature both literally and metaphorically.

There was no limit for an individual’s number of attendances, and some persons went many times.[7]

The Mysteries were the original “mass programming” of a society. The Eumolpides took this responsibility seriously and acted accordingly; they were caretakers of the souls and potentially the fates of the participants. No duty could be greater in Greek society, not even war.[8]

And look at us now.

As religion scholars Mircea Eliade and Rene Guenon emphasized, there has always existed the profane space of public life, with its governments and taxes and bloody conflict, then a boundary, and beyond this boundary the sacred space where ecstasies and revelations and renewals of life and spirit occurred. They emphasize that these are sacred spaces where nothing is accidental and everything contains meaning, in distinction with secular places where accident and chaos reign. The Greeks were geniuses in contextualizing both of these realms and creating psychodramas that continuously re-created both of these “worlds” and their boundaries. In the sacred space, microcosm and macrocosm mixed in a both inner and outer hieros gamos, or sacred marriage. Hierophants are always needed to preserve the continuity of the sacred, whether the shamanic initiation, the ordination of a Christian priest or Jewish rabbi, the induction of the Sufi or imam, a Buddhist monk, etc.

Over the past four centuries, the sacred has been profaned and the profane blurred into the “sacred” of the new public temple, mass media. The meaning that enlivened sacred symbols in general has vanished along with the traditions supporting them. The forms of ritual survive, severed from their metaphysical context and transpersonal meaning. The need for catharsis lives as always in the human psyche, but is now “satisfied” through movies and television, music and concerts and raves. Adolescents and teenagers often end up having to spiritually initiate themselves into adulthood through self-inflicted hardships, whether they are conscious of their motivations or not, with dangerous drugs, anti-social and anti-authoritarian power-acts, and gang hazings/actions.

This is partially because the ritual forms that once structured life-transitions have died.[9] Traditional societies still separate the young who are on the cusp of full societal membership and amplify their liminal status through harrowing rituals in the wilderness. The elders do their best to induce a near-death experience in the adolescents through psychodrama involving drugs, masks, fire, and burials. Those who not only survive these hazings but do so fearlessly are marked for leadership in the tribe. Potential shamans are also sometimes discovered in this process.

As adults, we’ve got the weekend. Thanks to the labor movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, the inhumane “free market” capitalist wage slavery was reduced from six/seven days a week to five, with two consecutive days off. Twelve-to-sixteen hour workdays were reduced to eight…By emotional need, our society has preserved the bacchanal on a weekly basis; it is a two-day celebration of not having to work for one’s right to exist and subsist. Drunkenness (which we can call, as Victor Turner put it, “anti-structural consciousness”) and the events it unleashes are celebrated. Freedom from our nasty archons and their system is celebrated.

—————-

How are we programmed today, and what is the nature of the programming?

Television, film, radio, internet permeate the “developed” world and attempt to imprint a monoculture that merely reflects the values of capitalism, namely, a token individualism (liberty), a bogus nod to egalitarianism, “material progress” in housing, medicine, farming, entertainment delivery systems, and weaponry to protect it all.[10] Collectivism (in the Mysterious form induced in the epoptae) and capitalism cannot coexist large-scale in the population of a country like the USA. What at one time were living myths and their symbols have been converted into commodities that the Hollywood machine uses to produce thrills and chills. Very rarely are socially unconscious “collective complexes” and ideas presented;[11] the number of industry filmmakers consciously trying to resurrect/induce a feeling of uncanny wonder inside us, as a form of initiation to a greater reality, can probably be counted on one hand.

We have all been reduced to Sisyphus. Prometheus is reserved for the elite scientific class. The wonder and mystery of life has been tamed or “othered.” We are compelled to seek it out. It’s out of reach, existing only in so-called “undeveloped” traditional cultures (hence the flourishing ayahuasca and iboga tourist industries). For the majority of us, anomalous experiences for which neither psychiatrist nor priest nor scientist is equipped to counsel us may irrupt our workaday lives and cause a transformation; it is only then that the realm of the accidental/secular realm we largely inhabit is expanded and violated by the numinous/sacred.

Second, the mass media attempts to program us into a more or less permanent state of fear and vigilance. Some may think this is at least partially a government attempt to control the nation’s emotions and thinking, and there may be some truth to that. It is more certain that the economic laws of news dissemination (advertiser dollars) favors the networks leading their broadcasts with sensational and trauma/fear-inducing stories. It’s no mistake that pharmaceutical companies buy most up the advertising time on network and cable news; what they are purveying is a nice little setup for inducing mass neurosis. Foremost on their menu is catastrophe, from local fatal car accidents up to natural disasters and mass shootings. “If it bleeds, it leads the broadcast.” Terror attacks are a boon to ratings and thus advertiser revenue. The latest alarming health study is the daily bread. The goal, whether it’s inadvertent or purposeful, is to induce either mild trauma or a disorientation in the populace, making them psychologically malleable to other messages—such as the notion that the government will sincerely give you the truth, facts, assistance, protection.

To sum it all up, the populace is emotionally primed to feel helpless at this onslaught of natural disaster, terrorists, disease, etc.

Obviously, a daily diet of mass media does not create a psychologically healthy individual. With thousands of hours from birth to age 30 it creates a mildly traumatized psyche—easy material to mold. This may or may not be the “conscious program” of the networks; it certainly is for the network and print’s true masters, the government who feeds the “experts” the facts for your consumption.

We could easily trace the roots of profanation back to the Enlightenment critiques of Comte and Locke and Paine and Jefferson. Our society is Janus-faced with regard to religious or spiritual transformation. It takes a special kind of person to face the expanses of “personal freedom” after a transformation occurs and create from it a new persona. It takes an even more special person to face the void of “total freedom” and hold their consciousness/ego together enough to create a self anew from the shards of a fluxing world. Humanity is in a non-optimal cognitive passage of its evolution to live in such nihilism—or only a very few strong individuals, as Nietzsche pointed out. And Nietzsche didn’t have the producers/boosters of this scientific/media imaginary and its “only atoms and void” hucksters in mind as his Ubermensch. In a capitalist society with free-for-all religious values, prefab culture will step into the spiritual void and the entertainment-industrial-complex will fill it.[12]

wickerman

The closest thing we’ve got is Burning Man, a constellation of pathologies that is the opposite (or even an unconscious parody) of the Eleusinian Mystery, born of frivolous libertarianism, techno-utopianism/dystopianism, and “artistic freedom.” As Hunter Thompson quipped in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, “The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing on a Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This is the Sixth Reich.” Thompson was speaking of kitschy Vegas decadence, but it applies perfectly to the Nevada salt flats 514 miles north of Sin City, 45 years later. He lived in the real Burn world every day of his life, without the make-believe trappings. The “express yourself” Burning Man ethic performs an inverted totalitarianism, seemingly “free” but fascistic nonetheless: appear different or die—you’re not welcome on the playa otherwise…Envisuate as an individual and simulate your atomistic bubble, no matter what extreme of bad/no taste, or go fuck yourself…At the end of the week, the big Man effigy is incinerated in some pseudo-mystical echo of the “cremation of Care” ritual done by the “elites” at the Bohemian Grove saturnalia, where the pasty white guys who think they rule the world torch their worries away in front of a big talking owl.[13] How technopagan!

In the past decade, the true Burners who’ve been to the Nevada playa from its 1993 beginning have complained of the Silicon Valley billionaire types showing up by the dozen, and millionaires by the hundred, co-opting the anarchist TAZ vibe, each bringing their own private entourage and cities-within-Black Rock City. Really a damn shame, innit; if you want free expression in this new society, this new TAZ, you are going to now live by their rules, and be prepared for it to be bought and sold in the marketplace. Single BM tickets now run in the thousands of dollars, and are block-bought ahead of time in private by the big-money boys (and it is 99% boys) with connections before the public tickets hit the market.

Where are the sacred rites of passage to be found? Today’s seekers make trips to South America to drink ayahuasca in both ritual and non-ritual situations by people advertising themselves as shamans (or simply guides). Many innocent people have been burned by this “industry” in many ways: financially, mentally, spiritually by charlatans. See this, this, this and especially this.

Jung, James Hillman, and many others have explored the inner worlds that seem to slumber within us and find expression in dreams, visions, and the work of artists. But something like the Eleusinian Mysteries supposedly occurs only once, historically speaking. It is described as the product of an early human “diaphany,” as philosopher Jean Gebser put it, that is, a “making clear” of the relational structure of Greek and perhaps Paleolithic consciousness to itself and embodied into a sprit-affirming ritual.

Can such a diaphany occur more than once and be encoded once again in a mass form? Gebser thought not. Is calling the Eleusinian Mysteries historically unique just a form of “chronocentrism” based upon our conception of history as a unidirectional story? The Mysteries were a religious narrative for all of humanity (despite the prohibition of non-Greek speakers and murderers, anyone else was welcome). Was the Telestrion revelation an eternal form of revelation, or was it bound to place and time and the Hellenic consciousness structure, as Gebser, Hegel, and many other historians would have it? A ritual doesn’t last for two millennia without its being a singularly profound phenomenon in human history, whose structure and content had enormous influence to this very day. Gebser stated that our “aperspectival” age, in which a diaphanous understanding of the very conditions for historical forms has freed us from those conditions, a present in which space-time has become irrelevant, has freed us. Free to invent a new kind of collective experience.

 

 


[1] The myth is far, far older than the high Greek culture: “Dionysus was not the only Greek deity whose tragic story and ritual appear to reflect the decay and revival of vegetation. In another form and with a different application the old tale reappears in the myth of Demeter and Persephone. Substantially their myth is identical with the Syrian one of Aphrodite (Astarte) and Adonis, the Phrygian one of Cybele and Attis, and the Egyptian one of Isis and Osiris. In the Greek fable, as in its Asiatic and Egyptian counterparts, a goddess mourns the loss of a loved one, who personifies the vegetation, more especially the corn, which dies in winter to revive in spring; only whereas the Oriental imagination figured the loved and lost one as a dead lover or a dead husband lamented by his leman or his wife, Greek fancy embodied the same idea in the tenderer and purer form of dead daughter bewailed by his sorrowing mother.”

(The Golden Bough, James George Frazer, pg. 405)

[2] The etymology of this place involves the inebriates associated with Dionysus and his female acolytes the maenads, pgs. 97-99.

[3] Demeter was associated with the fields of barley and wheat that were cultivated through an ancient transmutation (the cross-breeding of wild grasses); Dionysus was associated with the cultivation of the vine and its fermented transmutation into wine. Scholars have surmised that ancient Greek wine contained about 14-20% alcohol content, although they had no words for alcohol or distillation. Their great veneration for wine was due not to the intoxication alcohol alone provided, but the spices, unguents, and other herbs mixed into the fermented “syrup.” Stimulants, entheogens, or even opioids could end up in a wine mixture. Depending on the local customs, pure wine could be extremely dangerous to drink. The hosts of house or public symposia assigned a person the task of determining the amounts of water added to dilute the wine and even the length of time a toast-sip would take. Any more than four “doses/cups” of even diluted wine could bring on psychosis or sickness—hence the notorious reputations of the maenads, Dionysus’s female acolytes who would become frenzied on their retreats into the wilderness when they drank the essence of their god. See Ruck, Carl P., in The Road to Eleusis, pgs. 50-57.

[4] Eating the food of an “Otherworld” and a resulting enchantment or captivity by its denizens is a universal mytheme, one that has survived especially in European and Anglo fairy lore.

[5] See their study The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries.

[6] Of course we’ll have our killjoys here saying “its true purpose then was to perpetuate the patriarchal war-machine that was Athenian society by defusing its citizens’ attitude (fear) towards death in a huge mind-control operation.” Fair enough. But I would retort that this was not its central purpose but a side effect; this ritual was so old it

[7] The 1st Century mystic philosopher Apollonius of Tyana was infamously turned away from attending because everyone thought him a sorcerer; this wandering “priest of no religion” was already so learned in various spiritual techniques that he shrugged off his expulsion, claiming he already knew everything about the Eleusinian Mysteries anyway (which could very well have been true, given his immense knowledge and well-attested ESP abilities). This blow-off, of course, did not enamor him any further to the proud Athenians!

[8] One might cynically say that the social and legal precedence of the Mysteries over concurrent Athenian military actions was due precisely to its removal of the fear of death—it could make the polis’ potential young soldiers immune to mortal terror on the battlefield.

[9] When did traditional rites of passage at puberty or in early teen years conceived as simulated “near-death experiences” or spirit journeys die off in the “West”? Mithraic cults survived into the 5th century. We could consider military induction techniques the closest our society comes to how the ancients practiced it.

[10] As originally envisioned, this freedom from want was supposed to allow people to have more time free to think, to develop themselves spiritually or culturally or artistically. As John Adams wrote to Abigail, “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematicks and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, musick, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelaine.”

[11] I might here note Jordan Peele’s film Get Out and its inspirations Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, and on another level Frankenstein and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

[12] This is the central thesis of Daniel Bell’s classic The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism: If a capitalist society’s culture is driven by the same unfettered business ethic as its economic sphere, that culture (defined as anything unnecessary and produced “to no purpose” other than entertainment or edification) will ultimately undermine the “Puritan work character” that built America.

[13] Incidentally, Burning Man has been slagged by many as a racist event, whether by socio-economic “accident” that its type is a college-educated tech industry/liberal arts trust fund baby (minorities are simply “underrepresented” in this category) or just plain “I wouldn’t feel welcome” by non-whites.

 

 

1973-74: The Weirdos Connect…A Sirius Problem

“Sri Krishna Prem, the wisest man in India, sat on the floor of his little mountain-top ashram showing me pictures from medieval alchemical books. He pointed to the design of a man standing naked with devil on one shoulder, angel on the other. He said, ‘When you understand that, you can go on to the next lesson.’”

–Timothy Leary, the Starseed Transmission, 1973

Lilly

LILLY MEETS THE ARCHONTECTS AT THE Y

1973-74 was a weird time for many in the counterculture—no, really: an extraordinarily daft period of high strangeness.

Neuroscientist Dr. John C. Lilly (1914-2001) was responsible for one of the greatest iterations of an old myth during our time. While floating in an isolation tank and under the influence of the hallucinogen-anesthetic ketamine, Lilly had visions of two, we might say, “strange attractors” that exist in our futures, inevitably pulling us towards one or the other: our destruction by a “Solid State Intelligence” (SSI), or assistance in our evolution by the ECCO, or “Earth Coincidence Control Office.”

The computer mainframe in The Matrix? That’s basically the SSI, a mindlessly reproductive artificial intelligence that will (in one of our futures, several hundred years hence) reduce the conditions on the earth’s surface to that of a super-cooled air conditioner by keeping humans corralled under domes and blasting the atmosphere into space. It will move our orbit to a more congenially low-temperature distance for it to function. The SSI will eventually destroy humanity as a burden to its self-preservation, figure out a way to blast the earth entirely out of the sun’s orbit, and search the galaxy for other SSIs.

Through the ECCO’s communications, Lilly believed there are already multiple SSIs wandering the galaxy searching for “brothers” (aka the Borg), the sole remnants of once great civilizations that apparently took the wrong pill.

The most nefarious meme here is that at this moment our own earthbound SSI, via its extraterrestrial “mentors,” is influencing human behavior and thinking into constructing it, and the alien SSIs are helping it along—and that their project is on schedule.[1]

Many transhumanists have conjectured the possibility that high technology is “using” humanity to advance itself into an super-advanced state or even sentience (talking to you, Kevin Kelly) and we’ll meet it halfway (hello, Ray?). Thanks to the Internet, the SSI is already well along on the path to integration, both physically and by psychologically priming us for its rise.[2] Letting AI engineering programs design “shortcuts” for their own software that work but computer scientists have difficulty reverse-engineering to understand how they work isn’t helping matters. (Welcome, Skynet!)

As our societal course seems to be moving (if we don’t blow up in World War 5), we will cede more and more of our everyday operations to computers and their brute machine extensions and one day wake up wondering how did I end up in this prison camp with no kill switch? (Hail Colossus!) After all, we’ve already turned over knowledge acquisition and collation, many medical diagnostics/procedures, stock trading, manufacturing, quality control, electrical and nuclear grids, transportation, surveillance, and combat operations to AI systems. This encroachment will only increase, of course, as it increases profits both for the Silicon Valley overlords and mechanization-amenable businesses. As Kevin Kelly said, the more areas we turn over to these machines, the more incentive there is to automate the remaining aspects of our social, economic, and scientific activities. So we can have extra time.

Extra time to what…? Entertain the devil?

We put AI to many tests to see if it can surpass human skills. It has succeeded in those rule-based games such as chess and Go, which are already designed with an algorithmic basis. But to make an AI that can learn a human language, understand context, and construct sentences appropriate to those contexts in order to have a meaningful conversation is decades away—if ever. According to AI scientist Nick Bostrom, we have about 50 years before computing power will approach the processes of the human brain.[3] And that is no guarantee it will be able to do the ten million things of which a mind is capable.

——–

On the other hand, before encountering the SSI, John Lilly had earlier contacted the ECCO—a transdimensional “cadre” of beings that has been (and is still) attempting to communicate with humanity through coincidence—or more properly, synchronicities—since the dawn of history. His own life had been saved by coincidence, convincing him of the ECCO’s reality: on an isolation tank-ketamine trip, the floatation water had been way too hot. Lilly attempted to climb from the tank, but just after the K fully kicked in. He lost all sense of his body. A colleague who had a sudden need to talk to him at that moment called, and Lilly’s wife found him near death in the tank. She had learned mouth-to-mouth resuscitation only days before. His life had seemingly been saved by two fortuitous events.

Only persons with more evolved attention/sensitivity have noticed the ECCO’s clues: psychics, those who encounter “strange beings,” UAP and their occupants. The ECCO are trying to advance us spiritually, apparently so we don’t have a need for the SSI. Lilly’s scenario amounts to a contemporary version of the devils/angels whispering on our shoulders–but talking to us backwards in time, from our own future.

Lilly had experimented with LSD and various entheogens in the tank throughout the 1960s, but ketamine was his darling. He used heroic amounts of it then began shooting it several times every day. He contacted the ECCO more and more on these trips, and established a permanent telepathic channel. He attempted to warn President Gerald Ford of the SSI threat. It was only when an assistant attempted twice to have him committed, then his K sources dried up, that he gave it up to devote his life to his wife. And dolphins.

GellerAndrija

In 1971, parapsychologist Andrija Puharich hypnotized psychic Uri Geller and through him supposedly made contact with a space intelligence called “Spectra” that Geller claimed had granted him his PK/psychic powers. This was an echo of events Puharich witnessed some 18 years earlier, in Maine on New Year’s Eve 1953, when he and eight other shadowy intelligence/military community-connected individuals contacted an extraterrestrial intelligence named “M” through an Indian medium named Dr. Vinod. This M spoke for “the Nine Principles,” a group of what Theosophists call “Ascended Masters” or spiritually advanced beings.

Contact with the Nine was reestablished in June 1953. There was talk of ascension to “Brahminship” for those persons present at the séance—and also to be bestowed on other, unnamed persons. Puharich would from then on believe these extraterrestrials were causing synchronicities and generally influencing certain humans—much like Dr. Lilly would find of ECCO 19 years later. In 1956, Puharich supposedly met a couple in Arizona who had been channeling the Nine as well—and as proof of this sent him transcripts of the original channeling session in Maine on New Year’s Eve.

In 1973, Puharich created Lab Nine in upstate New York, where associate James J. Hurtak begins to channel the Nine. Hurtak will go on to become a New Agey guru concerning Elizabethan mage Dr. John Dee’s Callings or “Keys of Enoch”, the angelic/demonic language that Dee’s scryer Edward Kelley channeled in 1589. Puharich also established a “secret school” for children at Lab Nine, calling them the “Space Kids” or the “Geller Kids“, in order to develop their psychic powers for contacting the Nine. Who these kids were or where they came from has never been satisfactorily explained, and is extremely disturbing given the MKULTRA protocols of the 1950s to test LSD on orphans and “troubled kids” at places like Boys Town. Puharich was definitely involved on the fringes of the CIA’s mind-control studies from their beginning, in 1952.

The Nine, it turns out on Hurtak’s channelings, are the Ennead of Egyptian deities. Puharich publishes a biography of Uri Geller in 1974 telling the whole story. In the book he claims that when Geller asked physicist Saul Paul Sirag to look into his eyes to “see” Spectra, Sirag said that he saw Geller’s head appear as a hawk (Horus); Horus is connected to Sothis/Sirius in Egyptian mythology. Mostly the book concerns boosting the existence of the ET “Spectra” satellite claim and the Nine‘s existence. [4] Lab Nine lasts only five years, with a series of arsons and “CIA harassment,” which drives Puharich to Mexico and ends his unethical experimentation.

RAWIlluminatiRAW smoking

23 SKIDOO AND HORUS, TOO; OR, SIRIUSLY MAYBE: WILSON ZAPPED MERCILESSLY BY THE ECCO

John Lilly “contacted” the ECCO beings in 1973. 64 miles north of Lilly’s lab on the California coast, Robert Anton Wilson would take LSD on June 6, 1973, utilizing Lilly’s “subliminal” affirmation tapes that encouraged limitless mind. He followed these sessions with recordings of magician Aleister Crowley’s invocation of his Holy Guardian Angel. Wilson had been practicing yoga for years, and found that this acid experience, in which he lived “past lives” and experienced disembodiment, immeasurably increased his yogic powers of concentration. On July 22, Wilson repeated the same program, this time without LSD but doing Tantric sex rituals with his wife Arlen. The next morning of July 23, 1973 he awoke from a dream obsessed with the star Sirius. Throughout the day he consulted all his occult tomes for references, and even went to the library. He discovered that in ancient Egyptian tradition, July 23 is the day when Sirius exerts its strongest connection with earth and our consciousnesses. He came to briefly believe he had been contacted by ETs from Sirius, causing a dance with insanity and paranoia he called the “Chapel Perilous.”[5] In Aleister Crowley’s AA system of correspondences, Sirius’s number is nine.

A MAN NAMED LEARY GETS SPUNKED WITH INTERSTELLAR DNA

In 1973, psychonaut and social irritant Timothy Leary would encounter alien intelligences while meditating and cooling off in Folsom jail, leading him to write the Starseed Transmission. Here is a heady chunk of that text:

Life is an interstellar communication network. Life is disseminated through the galaxies in the form of nucleotide templates. These “seeds” land on planets, are activated by solar radiation and evolve nervous systems. The bodies which house and transport nervous systems and the reproductive seeds are constructed in response to the atmospheric and gravitational characteristics of the host planet, the crumbling rock upon which we momentarily rest.

Evolution is concerned with nervous systems and the sexual attractive efficiency of bodies, the expansion of consciousness.

The human being is the robot carrier of a large brain, conscious of being conscious. A robot designed to discover the circuitry which programs its behavior. The nervous system is the instrument of consciousness. When mankind discovered the function and infinite capacities of the nervous system, a mutation took place. The metamorphosis from larval earth-life to a higher destiny. The person who has made this discovery becomes a time-traveler. A Psi-Phy entity. When Astronaut Mitchell saw the green jewel of earth against the black velvet expanse of interstellar distance, he became Psi-Phy. Ecology is a low-level distraction. Psi-Phy boy scouts picking up trash. The genetic goal is communication. Telepathy. Electronic sexuality. Reception and transmission of electromagnetic waves. The erotics of resonance. The entire universe is gently, rhythmically, joyously vibrating. Cosmic intercourse.[6]

Leary goes on to discuss the newly discovered comet Kohoutek and how it will be its brightest in the month of October, then complains about why there is no media coverage of this new object that was projected to come very close to both earth and sun. Paranoia sets in the text as he talks about it being a harbinger of some kind, involving Nixon’s fall or the murder of Watergate spook E. Howard Hunt, drawing parallels between Giordano Bruno’s execution for heresy in 1600 and the square-world-Air Force’s denial of the UAP/extradimensional intelligence’s reality.

Through some thoughtful exchanges with his fellow inmates, who’d read his tract, Leary comes to almost deifying the comet as a literal vessel of redemption or transformation, seeding our planet with new DNA that will allow communication with our cosmic siblings.

24 years later, another sudden cometary appearance will inspire the mass suicide of ET-worshipping cultists called Heaven’s Gate.

1973 is considered the “year of the humanoid” by mainstream UAP investigators, when two canonical encounter/abductions occurred in October: the Pat Roach family’s and the Pascagoula, Mississippi abduction of two fishermen, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker. In addition, the Susan Ramsted, Leigh Proctor, and Dionisio Llanca abductions also occurred in October, 1973. Throughout this year, there were dozens of accounts of close encounters with UAP occupants. These space people were really plying their trade hard.

 

Ariel Teittleman: You ever heard of the Masada? For three years, nine hundred Jews held their own against fifteen thousand Roman soldiers. They chose death before enslavement. And the Romans? Where are they now?

Tony Soprano: You’re looking at ’em, asshole.

Dickwithcat

 

PINK BEAM SHOOTS CREAMY, CREAMY INFORMATION

In February of 1974, writer Philip K. Dick would experience a revelation very similar to Wilson’s, Geller’s, Leary’s, and Lilly’s. He would spend the rest of his life coming to terms with and trying to clarify it. After having a tooth extracted under sodium pentathol, he ordered out for painkillers and was met at his door by a young woman delivering his medication. He found himself staring at her “Jesus fish” necklace and began…remembering things. He came to believe he was experiencing flashbacks/sideways of a previous/ongoing life as the persecuted Gnostic Thomas, the brother of Jesus. Further, he came to believe the Roman Empire has existed ever since the crucifixion either in a simultaneous reality, or as we experience “today” with our “modern” surroundings as a camouflage for it. At one time he was “struck by a pink beam” that filled his head with a cascade of information. During one eight-hour stretch he experienced the entire human history of art—and claimed to witness Soviet psychotronic scientists communicating with space intelligences from Sirius. He came to believe an alien satellite he called alternately “Zebra” or the Vast Active Living Intelligence System (VALIS) had done this to him. He teetered on the brink of insanity, but having a rational mind wrote his way out of the Chapel Perilous in what many consider his best books: VALIS (1981), The Divine Invasion (1981), and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982).

At the same time, scholar and Sinologist Robert Temple is working on final drafts of a book on the beliefs of Mali’s Dogon peoples. It was discovered that their dances, rituals, artwork and “mythology” all concern beings who they claim visited them long ago from a star that turned out to be Sirius. Encoded in their beliefs are facts about Sirius unknown until the mid-20th century, such as its possession of a dwarf companion sun, Sirius B, and the double star’s heavenly cycles. Temple connects their knowledge to sources in ancient Egypt–where the Ennead (Nine) are worshiped. Temple writes that the Nommo (the name the Dogon give the extraterrestrial tribe) are now in hibernation in a spaceship around Saturn, waiting to return to earth and the right time. Time is one of the things Saturn ruled over (“Chronos” in Greek). In 1976 Temple publishes “The Sirius Mystery” and is harassed by the CIA over it.

Temple’s original inspiration came in 1967, from one Arthur Young, inventor of the Bell helicopter, who 15 years earlier in 1953 had collaborated with Andrija Puharich on the original Vinod/Nine sessions in Maine.  

Something was in the aether.

So…As Temple labors on his book, Leary while meditating receives information on DNA being a cosmic communications system that is largely dormant for most humans; Lilly contacts the ECCO and is warned of the nefarious SSI while in an ongoing massively altered state of consciousness; Dick is contacted by VALIS/Zebra and told that we exist (or have existed, or will in the future exist) in a Black Iron Prison and that the Roman Empire Never Ended, and that VALIS is a part of a network of Sirian satellites meant to remove our blocked “screen memories” and open our consciousnesses; Wilson is contacted by Space Intelligences/Egyptian deities/his unconscious on the day Sirius is at its most powerful; and Geller/Puharich/Hurtak are contacted by the Nine/Spectra/Egyptian deities—all within one year, 1973, in which the world political order seems to teeter on the brink of institutional and social breakdown[7] and a spectacular series of UFO events occur, culminating in October when comet Kohoutek is its brightest.  Dick’s VALIS has been described as one node of an artificial satellite network originating from the star Sirius in the Canis Major constellation. According to Dick, the Earth satellite used “pink laser beams” to transfer information and project holograms on Earth and to facilitate communication between an extraterrestrial species and humanity. Dick claimed that VALIS used “disinhibiting stimuli” to communicate, using symbols to trigger recollection of intrinsic knowledge through the anamnesia, achieving gnosis. Drawing directly from Platonism and Gnosticism, Dick wrote in his Exegesis: “We appear to be memory coils (DNA carriers capable of experience) in a computer-like thinking system which, although we have correctly recorded and stored thousands of years of experiential information, and each of us possesses somewhat different deposits from all the other life forms, there is a malfunction—a failure—of memory retrieval.”

Back to Leary we go…

But wait, there’s more!

Sirius figures in a number of esoteric systems. Rodney Collin, author of the neglected masterwork “The Theory of Celestial Influence,” posits Sirius as our “Oversun,” that is, the star around which our sun revolves once roughly every 24,000 years—very close to the length of a full cycle of equinoctial precession. Collin’s system could be a measure of quasi-animism, in that energy currents exist everywher on many subtle scales, and that the generative powers of our sun in turn have been granted by that of Sirius. We are directly connected to the brightly twinkling distant furnace.

Collin was a disciple of Piotr Ouspensky, and thus G.I. Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff hinted at Sirius’s importance when he claimed a need to “bury the bone deeper” when writing his densely allusive “Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson” (1950). Several authors who knew Gurdjieff or were well-versed in his Work system claimed this was a pun on Sirius being known as the Dog Star and signifying the beginning of the dog days of summer (which originally signaled the beginning of the Nile’s flood season). This Sirius connection is considered by some as one of the secret keys to understanding the book. The ancient astronaut idea is central in “Beelzebub,” as the fallen angel is actually a space traveler on his way to be judged as he regales his grandson tales of the backwards-living and doomed beings of earth. He tells grandson Hassan of the sevenfold Ray of Creation and the 96 cosmic laws to which unfortunate earthlings are subject because of its moon’s influence.

Independent (apparently) of Gurdjieff and Collin, 70 years earlier the Russian Helena Blavatsky wrote of the cosmic influence of Sirius as a “third eye” in the heavens. This information was channeled by a Great Hidden Mahatma she telepathically contacted named Koot Hoomi.

In 1895, a strange man walked into 15-year old Alice Bailey’s house and told her she had a special place in the world’s salvation, and abruptly left. After a stint in India working in YWCA Soldier’s Homes and a failed marriage, she would read Blavatsky’s works in the 1910s, and becomes convinced her visitor was Koot Hoomi, Blavatsky’s astral contact and knowledge-transmitter. Bailey becomes a Theosophist in 1915, and marries Freemason Foster Bailey. In 1919 she contacts Djwhal Khul, “The Tibetan” and channels additional messages. The Theosophical Society regards her as an upstart and they are dismissed. She is told of the “Hierarchy of the Brothers of Light” or the “Great Council,” a variation on Blavatsky’s Great Hidden Mahatmas. Bailey’s are led by the “Lord of the World,” which is an ancient Hindu conception connected with the king of the subterranean realm of Agarttha who guides humanity through a council, telepathically contacting people and arranging coincidences for their meeting.

In her book Initiation, Human and Solar Bailey writes that the Tibetan Masters R and M are overlords of human evolution. Andrija Puharich (see above) apparently admitted to reading Bailey before meeting “Dr. Vinod” in 1952 and channeling the Nine; thus Vinod’s R and M are nearly identical. In Bailey’s system there are Seven Planes of the Solar System and the “Seven Rays.” (Gurdjieff would be teaching similar ideas at this time as well in Paris, about the Octave and the Ray of Creation). Puharich associate James Hurtak’s neo-Enochian system is nearly identical to Bailey’s as well.

Bailey also speaks of Sirius as a power center that transmits its mental and spiritual influence via Saturn—an idea also propounded by channel/medium Carla Rueckert who contacted the Egyptian deity Ra (one of the Nine gods/principles) in the Law of One series (1981-84). Ra says it is communicating to Rueckert from Saturn. Many an “extraterrestrial” being in UAP contacts say they are “from Saturn”. Absurd on their face as these contactees’ claims are, there is another interpretation that says they actually mean the “astral forms” of the planets and their moons, and are thus “way stations” for the ETs channelings…And don’t forget the Dogon people’s Nommo-gods asleep in spaceships around Saturn! Anyway, Bailey’s Tibetan claims that Scottish Rite Freemasonry is a version of the Sirian mystery school and performing its rites to the 33rd and highest degree allows one access to the Lodge of Sirius. The ninth level of Scottish Rite is called the “Elect of Nine.” The “Blazing Star” in all Masonic lodges is supposedly meant to represent Sirius. The “Nine Elect apprentice masons” to Hiram Abiff, mythical architect and builder of Solomon’s temple, are said in Masonic lore to have tracked Abiff’s murderers to a cave. The nine stars of Orion represent these Elect. Orion’s horizontal rise precedes the rising of Sirius in the sky.

 


VALIS

 


[1] Here we have a version of Roko’s basilisk, minus its absolute determinism that the basilisk AI will “reach back in time” in its simulated universes to punish those who refuse to help it come into existence.

[2] Think you have free will? Try not logging onto the internet for a week, voluntarily, for any purpose.

[4] Levenda, Peter. Sinister Forces: A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft Volume 1: The Nine, Trine Day Publishers, pgs. 242-248.

[5] Wilson, Robert A. Cosmic Trigger Volume 1: The Final Secret of the Illuminati, New Falcon Publications, 1977, pgs. 80-96.

[7] Roe vs. Wade sets off fundamentalist Christian crusades against it; domestic terrorists like the Weather Underground set off bombs on a regular basis; Wounded Knee is occupied; Pinochet takes power in Chile’ and, all in October, the Yom Kippur War, VP Spiro Agnew resigns in disgrace, the catastrophic OPEC oil embargo nearly wrecks the economy, and of course, the “Saturday Night Massacre” of the Watergate scandal.

A Perverse Horology…

Sundialgnomon

Rocks are computationally equivalent to humans.–Stephen Wolfram

The basis of the universe-as-machine metaphor stretches back into antiquity. Natural regularities observed from the beginning of human history form the background for this belief:

-The round of day into night.

-Moon phases.

-The seasons

-The solstices and equinoxes relative to the sun’s rising/setting over local “markers:” trees, mountains, building edges, etc.

-The wandering planets’ regular courses.

-Birth-growth-flourishing-senescence-death.

The “clockwork universe” idea became a dominant analogy for scientists after Laplace’s determinism gained widespread currency early in the 18th century, but you might say it originally began with the ancient astronomers who timed the days, months, seasons, years, ages, and precessions. They modeled these relationships with orreries and planetaria. The gnomon/sundial gave rise to the daily hours and their division. From the Babylonians to the Romans, each hour had its own deity, overseen by greater deities that managed them: a celestial bureaucracy.

orrery

       To the ancient mind, the stars and planets were connected to events on earth; Sirius’s heliacal rising caused the Nile’s inundation of its plains for the Egyptians, either by direct spiritual force or by a resonance. The universe was not “dead matter” blindly obeying laws—it was a living being full of lesser daimons communicating etheric signals about and through the eternal laws that regulated this superorganism’s body. Some persons were gifted enough to see these beings and the relationships.

We were parts of this continuum, and reflected its regularities. As above, so below; as below, so above.

clepsydra

       Water clocks like the Greek clepsydra existed in ancient India, China, Babylon, and Egypt; these were probably tied to measuring the precise durations for human activities like cooking, smelting, and religious services. The Antikythera mechanism of 100-105 BCE is probably an orrery. The clepsammia (hourglass) was invented in Hellenistic Alexandria; it most likely took only a few months or even weeks for its inventor to match with a sundial the size of the two glass bells and the amount and quality of sand to get an accurate measure of the 60-minute hour, and notate the completed object’s sand quantities/dimensions.

hourglass

       In 1090 CE, Chinese inventor Su Song built an elaborate water clock for the purpose of determining the heavenly bodies’ positions during the royal concubines’ births if cloudy weather occurred during those times.[i] In the 14th century, John Dondi built a very complex clockwork orrery; a spring mechanism was wound and clicked at regular intervals to show the movements of the planets and sun about the earth. The need to time monastic worship activities led to water clocks and eventually bell-tolls connected to complex gear mechanisms, such as the clock in the Prague town square, built in 1410.

prague

       All of these involve representing natural phenomena into a single mechanism that link the two levels/worlds, local and celestial, mesocosmic and macrocosmic, as a time “keeper.”

Two centuries ago, a metaphor linking living organisms and machines—especially clocks—began to be used loosely in the scientists’ discourse. To what degree this mistaken equivalence has impacted the “Western noosphere” of lived experience is still unknown. But the signs point.

——————

In ancient myths, there were near-countless “frames” or metaphors with which to characterize living beings (and the cosmos as a whole).

Magicians in antiquity had to observe and tune themselves with the rhythms of nature in order to manipulate it. Some of the pre-Socratic philosophers cast aside elemental “animism” (as well as the Greek city-states’ deities and cosmogonies) in favor of abstract principles or forces as the “first causes” that could then be viewed disinterestedly.[ii]

Personification and projection into natural phenomena had to be eliminated from the subject/object relationships for the supposed clarity of the “primary principle” to come into view.

And this is what these philosophers did; it was the beginning of the long march towards materialistic scientism.[iii]

WorldtreeVesicatree

       Before the pre-Socratics, countless analogies in world cultures were imagined for the universe’s origin and its regularities: the cosmic egg, the triune cosmic egg (underworld/middleworld/upperworld), the cosmic tree, the wheel of the Zodiac, the Heavenly Millstone which described both the constellations spinning about the Pole star and the equinoctial precession. Yet they were more than analogies; they were the actual primordial forms of the familiar earthbound objects that reflected them. The canopy of the Milky Way was the milk-vortex of Vishnu, the Milk of Hera, the Silver River, Tiamat’s Tail, Heavenly Ganges

Tiamattail

       Each of these “tropes” fit their source: The Millstone and Wheel of Heaven mirrored the iris/pupil of the human eye, the sun disc, the moon disc. The mythemes originated through isomorphism.

But isomorphism is only one aspect of these images. They functioned to explain the cosmos. The Millstone’s grains—that is, the Polar stars and planets—created human fates instead of flour. In solar myths, the sun was the heart of the deity, the symbol of eternity. In Polar myths, the North Star was the destination of the soul in the afterlife, set in the cave-like darkness that mirrored the underworld, around which the Great Bear and all the other constellations revolved.

Community priest-leaders insisted on preserving their explanatory mythemes, especially when the tribe migrated. Contacting other peoples inevitably altered their beliefs. Upon the discovery of parallel functions and visual motifs in another culture—their speaking each others’ symbolic language, as it were—the mythemes could be syncretized. And for a tribe for whom some aspects of their mythology was “impoverished” in explanatory power or soteriological depth, the new belief systems could fill in the gaps or deepen the understanding of their own deities. They absorbed aspects the “alien” culture’s symbols and rituals that their own lacked.[iv]

The equivalency between motifs and stories was due to the natural phenomenon that underlay the mytheme and gave rise to specific names and tales.

At the Council of Nicaea, the son and father were legislated to be of the same substance, for once and all. The ideas of cyclical return, daimonic intermediaries, and reincarnation were forbidden. Thus was a kinetic element to universe denied, and the idea of a world-soul was stripped from the Catholic Christianity. Universe and consciousness set once and for all as an unchangeable entity; any evolutionary principle to the universe was forbidden.[v]

Chainbeing

       During Middle Ages Europe, the Great Chain of Being and the ancient idea of celestial spheres were the dominant Western metaphors for the heavens and earth, humanity and animal and landscape–the direct result of the Council’s decisions. This was by all measures a universe that operated like a machine, but was suffused with the will of God.

The triad heaven-earth-underworld, which is as old as shamanism, was preserved in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante’s Hades mirrored, in a descending, spiraling action, the three-dimensional nested-domes that surrounded the earth in Aristotle’s philosophy. But by the 15th century, the Neoplatonist interpretations of Plato and Aristotle’s cosmos solidified into dogmatic teachings in the monastic schools. For Aristotle, psyche/psuche—soul—simply meant an entity’s innate ability for self-movement. This was just a bare-bones definition that the Scholastics expanded to include the innate, ghost-like personality via Neoplatonic ideas of astral influence. Contradictions in theology set in, leading to the famous Scholastic quibbling over minute deviations in doctrine. They perceived the contradiction of a universe of eternal laws, the existence of sin and evil, and our possession of free will. Humans were still the fallen images of Adam Kadmon, the prototypical human, but far above the “animal” world in the chain. We were bound in sin by the second Adam, in Eden, but redeemed by the “third Adam,” Jesus. In a sense, Jesus’s sacrifice to show humanity the way destroyed the absolute determinism (mechanism) of original sin: the merciless wheel of causal sin was “broken upon the cross.”

As astronomy progressed with Galileo, Brahe, and Kepler, the signatures of a “universal clock” came more clearly into view. John Harrison’s 1761 timepiece allowed the near-exact determination of longitude as well as precise timing of celestial events. By the late 18th century local time-keeping was nearly perfected, just as an ensoulled cosmos was being officially “invalidated” by our increasing comprehension of physical laws. Gravitational “fields” and electricity came to replace the anima mundi, the universal soul.

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So is the universe a form of machine, tied to clockwork regularities, as many scientists like David Deutsch and Stephen Wolfram insist? Does any hard evidence exist equating the mechanism with biological activity?

Mechanism can be abstracted into the concept of the algorithm: a predictable stepwise transformation/change in a system from one time interval to the next. Although quantum theory can challenge our ideas of time and chaos theory demonstrates the non-linearity of certain systems, (that is, challenging singular, isolated cause-and-effect relations), many science boosters nevertheless retail narratives from the premise that biology=machine. Merely because a resemblance exists.

This equality rests upon the deeply ingrained world of Newtonian causality which holds only at one level of consciousness: our observations of the objects that exist above a certain scale of size and complexity.

We’ve measured the age of this universe: 13.8 billion years. Our best telescopes can peer backwards in time to the purported beginning. Yet space is seemingly endless.

As I said, a vestige of the “world soul” mytheme lingers in the ideas of electromagnetic and gravitational fields—but these latter are responsive to measurement and manipulation. At one time, this manipulation required human ritual that put the shaman or magician in touch with independently existing forces/forms that responded to command. Now we’ve mediated them via physical electronic devices. Today, atoms function with no purpose but to exchange electrons. Humans exist only to propagate offspring and thus their genetic heritage; any higher purpose is an illusion created by our finely tuned brains, the “most complex object in the universe.”[vi] Through a bait-and-switch promoted by scientists like Lawrence Krauss, these gurus have replaced the “whys” of nature with “hows” in order to sidestep questions of teleology. The best they can do for the cosmic birth is that an accident occurred due to a statistical hiccup in the “quantum flux” of nothingness.

In other words, a free miracle.

The same with humanity’s origin: despite today’s mytheme of incremental natural selection, it is only honest to say that the origin of the process is ultimately unknowable. Natural selection is just one part of the evolutionary story; the origins of metabolism and reproduction (both of which are suitable to algorithmic modeling) are still mysterious. No one knows how the hell it happened. But a Krauss will tell you the two processes were simply another set of accidents in the causal chain that birthed the universe/nature. We’re supposed to take this on faith, because Krauss for certain cannot explain it; all he can say is “it must have happened that way!” We are purposeless, but exist (as a radical transhumanist might add with a flourish) to “take control of our evolutionary course from blind chance and achieve a form of immortality.” That’s quite a telos for beings that inherently possess no telos, and prompts the question: is a purpose wrestled over billions of years from the existential void of a meaningless universe actually a purpose, or just more deluded error? Why is the wrestling away of our mortal fate from “blind nature” purposeful, when our own thrown existence is not?

Which leads us back to the origin of the question: the machine as measuring device.

A clock or robot’s origin: human. They are purposive in relation to us, created for a function, whether that function is to crunch numbers or create another machine.

The contradiction that nihilistic science creates is that machines have a purpose for us, yet the “wonderful machines” of nature have no purpose for some Other, whether God or angels or an alien race. Atheist scientists like Krauss think it is illogical or invalid to extrapolate from the human-machine relation to the Creator-nature-humanity relation. He gives no compelling reasons why this should be so. Philosophers like Nick Bostrom argue that we probably live in a simulation by posthumans or extraterrestrials and that if that’s so, all bets are off against God or the supernatural not being “real” in some sense, because even our observable rules of physics could be programmings that only simulated beings such as ourselves would be able to perceive. The creator(s)’ universe may operate on entire different sets of rules.

———————–

What this all comes down to, for me, is the concept of ownership. We appear phenomenologically to ourselves and others as embodied beings subject to misadventure and random occurrences and the entropy of aging. The important words here are “appear” and “embodied.” Thinking about one’s sense of disembodiment such as in a dream state, reverie, or hypnagogia takes place in a time interval; in other words, in order for the loop of self-consciousness (introspection, recognition that one is not in a state of direct embodiment) to occur requires time. Thus a split or doubling occurs. We then can attempt to make of consciousness an object that can be studied—and the body as well. We find ourselves possessors of these experiences, whether we consciously loop into doubling-back and introspection or not.

This process is mirrored in the relationship between the macroscopic world of planets and stars and the clock that sits on the mantle. The clock is our reified doubled-consciousness—the symbol of self-consciousness. But it is only that, and has no relation to the markerless unfolding, outward and upward, expanding and contracting, of an organic being.

 


[i] Richards, E.G. Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History, Oxford University Press, 1998, pgs. 56-57.

[ii] Plato desperately tried to hew to an ultimate goal for philosophy—transcendence of the imperfect, material world—in his dialectics but was many times sidetracked by Athenian cultural affairs (politics and morality, mostly). With Aristotle, forget it: all talk of ascension by means of rationality found in Plato, which had been modeled on Egyptian funerary/resurrection systems, was banished.

[iii] Strictly, Democritus, Leucippus, Epicurus, and Lucretius were materialist-atheists during the beginning of the Hellenistic Period with their dictum “all is just atoms and the void.” Democritus of Abdera was first to postulate that tiny, indivisible (a-tom in Greek) particles made up everything known in the universe. Democritus used the example/analogy/metaphor of an object being composed of tiny particles that each contained the “proper” nature of the whole object that creates its form (a bit like a fractal hologram, when you think about it!) A wooden table is made at an atomic level of indivisible bits of the element “wood,” which is in turn comprised of water and earth and fire in a defined mixture. One could prove this idea by smashing the table to bits, then pulverizing the bits, then crushing further the pulverized dust, never reaching anything that is not a tiny bit of wood. It can become fire, or earth (think of decayed wood, if it were left alone to rot) and is water-soluble in this form. Democritus extrapolated that if you could continue this splitting you would reach the atom “wood.”

For its time this was quite an astounding conceptual leap—invisible constituents that construct physical objects. Today we can say that sets of organic molecules arranged in certain ways give wood the properties it has, but ultimately we would arrive at a “characterless, property-less” atom whose number of electrons and aggregated determines the properties/qualities the macroscopic object will have.

[iv] In just one example, see Raphael Patai’s The Hebrew Goddess on the assimilation of Akkadian-Ugaritic goddess Athirat/Ashtart as the “wife of Yahweh,” Asherah, in the earliest Jewish faiths. Asherah was a “foreign” deity whose banishment and reinstitution occurred dozens of times over centuries in the many Hebrew tribal communities. Just as a cult of Mary was practiced alongside the Nicaean Christianity of Catholicism for 1,500 years until she was ratified as near-equal to Jesus in the 19th and 20th centuries, the rabbis exploring the Kabbalah retained the feminine divine presence in the Shekinah via the Sephirot from Hellenistic times to the present.

[v] Scott, Ernest. The People of the Secret, Octagon Press, 1985, pgs. 42-43.

The Art of Making Connections: The Evolving Remix and the Eternal Mash-up

It is impossible for one to step in the same river twice, for upon one different and still different waters flow—Heraclitus of Ephesus

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We are familiar with mutated cultural items in postmodern capitalism, through the musical and visual mash-up and the song remix. But we seem unwilling to recognize that our core beliefs, when considered in their histories, have a hybrid nature just like these seemingly trite diversions.

The history of any language could serve as an example of such “deep-time” hybridization, but here are just a handful of instances from the history of Christianity:

– In the 8th Century BCE the Persian prophet Zoroaster preached worship of a “God of Light,” Ahura Mazda, creator of all good in the universe. Ahura Mazda continuously battled Ahriman, the lord of materiality, illusion, and lies, until a Day of Judgment when the light-god would banish Ahriman to hell for eternity.

Although they were brutally suppressed as heretics, the Gnostic Christian cults of the Alexandrian era (2nd-4th centuries CE) held views that in time had significant influence on Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity. The Gnostics combined a Zoroastrian dualism between matter and spirit with Neo-Platonic views of a “Heaven” that exists beyond the physical world. For them, the material world was utterly corrupt and an illusion created by an Ahrimanic-like being. These evil qualities became synonymous for the Gnostics with that of Yahweh, the demiurgic god of the Old Testament. Yahweh—whom the Gnostics eventually called Satan, the Adversary of mankind—created the material universe to trick the imprisoned sparks of divine light that the Gnostics believed humans were in their essence.

A person could amplify and release this “imprisoned spark” through knowledge (gnosis) of the truth of the situation. After initiation, one could ascend seven levels of divine knowledge (the path of Sophia, imagined as a goddess and guide) to the timeless, non-spatial Pleroma (“Fullness”)—a conception of heaven that was directly adapted from the Neo-Platonists’ “One.” For the Gnostics, Jesus the Savior never incarnated physically, but was a hologram-like emanation of the true God of the Pleroma, who taught secret doctrines of gnosis that only the initiated could use towards salvation.

Along with Platonic doctrines of reincarnation, these ideas were banished from orthodox Christianity at the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. Yet the idea of the world—especially the flesh—being completely corrupt survived and found expression in the monasteries’ ascetic practices. The Neo-Platonic Heaven was revived during the evangelical surge of the 19th & 20th Centuries as a “City of God” where true believers would spend eternity. The vanquishing of Satan after an End Times is orthodox amongst contemporary evangelical Christians. They do not seem to realize that in believing these ideas, they are more Neo-Platonic Zoroastrians than Christians, for nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus mention such things—they occur only in the Revelation of John of Patmos.

-The Persian-Roman religion of Mithraism, with which the Christian sects competed for adherents in the first three centuries CE, taught astrological knowledge of the equinoctial precession to its initiates. Its calendar was comprised of “holy-days” marking the solstice/equinox. The early Christian church appropriated them in the Julian calendar in order normalize its own rituals, placing Christ’s birth on or near the solstice and death and resurrection near the spring equinox. Also changed from the Greek was Christ’s reign “until the end of the Age” (referring to the sun’s eventual heliacal rising in Aquarius after Pisces in the precession) to the “end of time.”

– Pseudo-Dionysius’s Celestial Hierarchy (5th century CE) classified the pantheon of Greek, Roman, and Hebraic daimons as divine agents. He retained only the Hebraic angelic orders (which were in part based upon the older Egyptian orders) as being in God’s service. Six centuries later, St. Thomas Aquinas used the Celestial Hierarchy to normalize the angelic orders in the service of Christ. All “messengers” other than the Hebraic were thus recast as demonic agents of the Adversary, remnants of the old pagan order which Christ’s life, death and resurrection now effaced. Christianity was rationalized as a religion to replace and amplify all the previous, Apollonian-hero belief systems. It erased the previous pantheons of gods and replaced them with a single archetype that successfully re-encoded, in moral terms, the psychological landscape of the hero. Psychologist C.G. Jung, after studying the common structures of mythologies and religions, called this unifying signature of Christianity the “individuation process.” According to Jung, Christianity psychologically succeeded in effacing Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions by (some say because) placing a mysterious contradiction at its center: that a unique being could both be God and a single unique human at the same time—further, that the whole of the Kosmos had a triadic nature: God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit was an echo of the Neo-Platonic “world-soul”, a living presence considered universally as a feminine deity.

The Roman Catholic laity reconciled the “psychological loss of the feminine” by raising the Virgin Mary as mother of God, and nearly equal to Jesus and God, ratified by papal decree in the 19th century.

Et cetera. This list could go on in widening scope and finer detail—and that’s my point. What we consider “orthodox” is actually syncretic when we examine beliefs more closely. Hybridity informs most long-lasting cultural products, like a material corollary to genetic variation: you won’t anywhere find a genetically “pure” group of people, because the closer they are to “purity” the greater the chance that recessive genes will surface to end their own reproductive viability.

Similarly, you cannot find a cultural signal that has not been uncorrupted by the noise of heterogeneous influences as it has descended through time and geography to the present.

Our minds function against the influx of our surroundings by instantly filtering out the familiar, finding signals in the background noise. We transform the noise of an unfamiliar experience by creating from it a signal, however “mistaken” it might be.

It is from this assimilation process, from a storehouse of sometimes imperfect, unorthodox collective memory, that cultural mutations multiply and are in turn carried down.

————

Our minds create abstractions that mediate between our mental background and the alien “other” that we confront. They are, for the most part, unconsciously willed—a product of Imagination. The “first draft” of impressions is populated with chimerical phantoms that become objects for thought, then objects of shared culture, if they can successfully encode their own mediating function, making a bridge between the two societies. Every moment is an origination point for what will be inherited in time—and results in the creation of new cultural objects. So in other words, the remixed is our constant matrix, the mashed-up our constant genesis, on timescales from the shortest media cycle to the zodiacal age.

———-

This view is contrary to the Western idea of “self-identical essence” that objects, self, and experiences are said to possess, as explicated in Plato’s Timaeus onward.

Recollection of the originating event or “pure expression” of any religious, social, or artistic movement would seem to be instrumental to its continuing survival—but to make this possible, “mutations” must be suppressed in the process of shepherding ritual and remembrance into collective consciousness; this suppression supports the phenomena’s stable transmission through time in replicating the informational content—its self-identity.

————–

It’s easy to conclude that the metaphysical christenings “same” and “different” interdependently define one another on the playing field of language against a primordial background of Imagination where flux reigns. Rigid adherence to the categories results in a paradox and conflict, in ignorance of the multiplicity of origins.

Take two religious movements, for example—Roman Catholicism and the Islamic Salafiyyah. Both religions originated in the midst of “pagan” cultures, yet both possess a similar ontology: the idea of one unchanging God who underwrites the identity of all individual creations.

From this ontology naturally evolved the mutation-deleting practice of “self-identicity.” Both of them have squelched heresies in ritual and belief within their own ranks, and they easily find resistance against one another, as the past nine hundred years attest.

Conversely, take two religious sects for example that practice a denial of “self-identicity” in their ontologies—Theravadin Buddhists and Advaita Vedantists—or, to be consistent, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Sufis.

None of these sects have ever gone to war against each other, nor against the practitioners of any other religion. Nor will they ever. A war between them would be a war between dead labels only, their adherents’ beliefs having already mutated away from that which their names signified.

————

On the other hand we have the pan-psychic or “animist” conception, in which everything in creation is inherently ensoulled along a kind of spiritual or psychic spectrum.

Of all the beliefs that have been suppressed and damned in the Abrahamic West, pan-psychism has received the most censure. The Platonist-Abrahamic tradition has evolved an inherent resistance to the miscegenation of the “given”. Under evangelical/Roman Catholic Christianity, Salafi Islam, or Orthodox Judaism, Imagination is viewed as the work of the Adversary.

These religions have evolved no way of absorbing the vast, impersonal irruptions of Imagination other than censure; in this, their ability to flexibly adapt against the radical multiplicities of “animism” are severely restricted.

Belief systems that inhere with self-identicity inevitably suppress those with ontological multiplicity, like pan-psychism, through erasing the latter’s adherents by extermination or conversion in order to render their own identity fixed. This is a sort of deadly, psychopathic narcissism in which the “Other” represented within is never given voice by the Imagination. And thus the fixing of its own identity never ends, the stabilization process of its own signifiers never completes. Their struggles to be “eternal” constitute the very history of these religions.

“Animist” ontologies, on the other hand, dissolve the identities of sacred beings by stealth, so to speak—a death by a thousand chimerical images, spreading outward into an amorphous mist of deity.

The “big-ticket” religions of self-identicity will have to either eventually mutate or die.

——————–

For its violence, it’s become difficult for many people within our culture to continue buying into the “frame-propositions” of self-identity on which Western culture lies. We continually struggle against the tide of ceaseless change both within and without; we battle the trickster who threatens to melt from beneath us the fixed identities of the world’s entities—our companions, in a sense, to default the fluxing phenomena onto the side of what’s already been preserved in tradition.

But the pan-psychist paradigm cannot be escaped. It mirrors that of Imagination itself, a fertile ground of flow more akin to the quantum world physicists tell us exist in flux, than the macro world of seemingly solid objects around us—the realm of the self-identicist, big-ticket religion.

The pan-psychist world-view is a more apt way of describing the tangled paths that underlie our current cultural mash-ups. Fundamentalists of any stripe who attack ideas or practices as syncretistic—as “impure”—ignore the endless fertility of the human Imagination in the creation of the very things they hold as “pure”. They ignore or minimize the history of their own beliefs or practice, perhaps because to do so would be to recognize the fluid and restlessly Imaginative nature of the human mind—that ideas often want to mate and produce mutated children and objects want to mix each other’s cultural baggage.

————

This analysis is only possible from the vantage point of our “aperspectival” age, where a version of linear, progressive history is itself laid bare and each of its “moments” made transparent. The convergences and traces of these mutations are made possible by parallel examinations of specific religious forms, along a continuum both transcultural and transtemporal.

Our future culture will be a continuum of discontinuities, a working out of the chimerical first drafts. It is very possible that “pure” religions will expire as the machinery of their architecture is laid bare; their coherence was only possible due to the fact that the moments of their history remained and continue to remain unconscious.

 

 

The Epistemological Autocracy

With us the disguise must be complete. The familiar identity of things has to be pulverized in order to destroy the finite associations with which our society increasingly enshrouds every aspect of our environment.

                                                                                                      —Mark Rothko

The Primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and is a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary imagination I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still, at all events, it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.”

–Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

Pareidolia: a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the duck rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek para- (“beside”, “with”, or “alongside”, in this context meaning something faulty or wrong, as in paraphasia, disordered speech) and eidōlon (“image”; the diminutive of eidos – “image”, “form”, “shape”). Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.

 

Apophenia: the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data, the “unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness”, but it has come to represent the human tendency to seek patterns in random nature in general, as with gambling, paranormal phenomena, religion, and even attempts at scientific observation.

Consider the enormous variety of stories that have been told throughout history about the world’s creation, a lost “Paradise”, the purpose of the stars, or the division between sky, earth, and sea.

Judging from the surviving written accounts of the most ancient of these tales, the manner in which early humanity experienced the world, from the dawn of symbolic thinking until the Bronze Age, was quite different than we do today. According to some paleoanthropologists and linguists, ancient creation/explanation myths not only recorded a peoples’ history but transmitted religious and astronomical information to initiates through codes embedded in the narratives syntactically, metaphorically, or through imagery. They were polysemic, that is, the rhythmic patterning of phonemes with which the stories were composed also functioned as mnemonic devices to facilitate memorization of the oft-complicated narratives. These codes also functioned as symbol-systems that could transmit information in a different manner than the linear, propositional capacities of speech—a “twilight language” was embedded inside the text connected with religious ritual that opened the initiated to altered states of consciousness.

The best studies of this are Orality and Literacy by Walter J. Ong; Hamlet’s Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha Von Dechend, and two works by William Irwin Thompson: The Time Falling Bodies take to Light and Coming into Being. The authors of the latter three books admit that, while historically sound, their own writings are works of projective imagination. In this, they freely admit that a scholar cannot but involve an imaginative aspect to their supposedly “objective” work when they are dealing with the study of human prehistory.

In the case of Hamlet’s Mill, the authors’ method was rigorous, yet they admitted the speculative nature of their conclusion that the wide range of myths they studied showed signs of encoded astronomical knowledge of the equinoctial precession. The caste of “expert” critics mostly damned the book by pointing out that, in a few of the authors’ examples, “recent findings” in scholarly archaeo-linguistic interpretation must surely render their thesis invalid.

I would say the dust-up only demonstrates that “firm knowledge” is an ever-contingent state of affairs in the discipline of archeology. Santayana and von Dechend did their best, and their thesis still stands, simply because the book contains such an expansive cross-cultural range of myths, spanning the world. They were not wrong in all of their interpretations, just some of them—and their evidence is enough to establish that a deep background existed for ancient myths related to astronomy. Further, the authors admit that they cannot absolutely surmount the possibility that their own work is a case of apophenia—a condition the experts are prone to also but loathe to admit.

These methods probably originated from the experimentations of the earliest shamans. While the shamans drummed, spoke in tongues, and invoked the invisible worlds and deities they encountered there, their successor poet-bards wove together the visible world with invisible phenomena to create fields of infinite imaginary richness in their stories that was meant to activate the same faculty in their audience.

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Now consider a vehicle for truth in our age: the fact(s), taken singularly or as a web of interconnected propositions.

Imagine watching a Siamese cat on the mat in the sunlight before you.

The cat sat on the mat, you think: that’s a fact. And what could be a more succinct transmission of the scene’s meaning?

At bottom, it is only a spare, descriptive statement—to which you could, however, bring a galaxy of subjective associations.

These subjective associations, and the “well” from which they spontaneously emerge, many times unwilled by the conscious mind, is part of what this essay will be about. It will also address the assault under which subjectivity itself—and privacy—have come in our current epistemological autocracy.

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In using the propositional-descriptive mode described just above, we perform a specific act between our minds and phenomena. Beginning with the ancient Greek philosophers, the idea of truth—for which they used the term a-letheia (un-forgetting, un-covering)—evolved into the more concrete conception that truth exists as a correspondence between the world and the primordial elements of a spoken or written proposition, or that a locus of propositions could act as mediation in which truth solely resided.

This idea has, of course, continued to this day, and appears to be the only mode of discourse the sciences recognize as real: the empirical facts undergirding theory can only be encompassed by using the propositional mode, whether in spoken language or the abstract propositions of mathematics.

Our society gives a comfortably settled place to the powers of art and poetry to reveal the so-called human condition—but very few people seem to take these forms seriously as vehicles to convey truth anymore. I do, and I hope this essay can enlighten about what may be at stake.

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The human mind uses Coleridge’s Primary Imagination by way of his secondary imagination to produce culture from what one might call the “apophenic canvas” of sensory experience. When Imagination “paints upon” this apophenic canvas, humans are first and foremost storytellers, that is, context or meaning-creators, and since we in the Greco-Abrahamic West conceive history as a linear succession of discrete events, this implies an origination point for the narratives. Each story or artifact must have originated in the mind of a particular person or a group of people at a certain time, and occurred spontaneously that first time.

When these stories integrate a stable social order, they also require advocates of them to either disarm or interdict further “mutations” or competitors from threatening their primacy and replication. The elders, or expert caste, guarded against violations or prevented the “subjective fancies” of individual initiates from altering them and threatening the social order. Interpretation is tightly circumscribed; it is the social role of the priest class to be the guardians of interpretation.

The role/function of priest and our contemporary scientist are socially identical in this respect (and even, unfortunately, our public officials and the official media with their narratives of “what really happened”).

Social cohesion comes at the expense of free exercise of Imagination. Upon entering the rites of initiation into an order, one relinquishes the right to alter scripture and its interpretation. In a sense, one pledges to renounce one’s Imagination, or at least renounce public displays of its products, as one’s identity is subsumed into that of the group. If I can anthropomorphize a bit, Imagination sacrifices itself for the good of the group (and, paradoxically, in certain myths, it tells its own story of this sacrifice for the larger good).

These authorities police their society’s ontology (what “really exists”) by way of its epistemology (the method by which something is known).

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Whether we are speaking of an oral/written creation story, a piece of jewelry depicting a deity, a work of sacred architecture, or a sculpture of a hero, etc., the stories from which these artifacts are depictions underwent a process of social inculcation to have been embodied in the material form that survived down the ages.

The number of ancient artifacts destroyed, lost, or forgotten dwarfs those that we still possess.

We might conjecture that the “mutations” of what did survive did not reproduce within their host cultures; major alterations of the stories or artifacts were proscribed, and subsequently these mutations could not reproduce (unless we are talking about a “vessel” meant to preserve both mutations and new material, such as the frame-story of 1001 Nights, which allows for infinite length).

Obviously any society needs stability in order to successfully function and reproduce its forms over time. I am not criticizing the necessity for expertise or the need for a caste of elders to pass along knowledge, but we have to always realize that Imagination was at work in the original creation of an artifact, and continues its work almost ceaselessly over time; small changes made repeatedly over time will alter the form and content of a cultural artifact in a major way.

When people from distinct geographical areas and linguistic forms came together for the first time, they probably attempted to translate each other’s beliefs and culture into their own terms. This gave rise to heterogeneity of expressions. Thus, where we perceive unity and pure expression in some ancient artifact was once two separate forms. Mutations themselves may often have occurred between separate cultures.

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So the human mind is restlessly creative. It will naturally alter, it will remix, it will mash-up, it will fabricate. Its “rational faculty” will exploit the visions that its apophenic filter compulsively presents, made of the things granted by one’s culture.

Very often, these new visions clash with the dominant, “official” view of reality. A social order that vigorously seeks (and very often accomplishes) the erasure of ideas or practices that do not fit within its ontology we might call an epistemological autocracy.

An epistemological autocracy seeks to channel all apophenic interpretations and eliminate all competing interpretations. It attempts to literalize into its own terms—freezing in time—the significance of all phenomena, holds fast to its singular explanations, and brooks no interpretive disagreements with its pictures.

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Despite its avowals of “free inquiry” and “freedom of belief,” our technological-capitalist society is, of course, in no way an exception to this autocratic tendency. In fact, our society’s present drift into autocracy extends several orders of magnitude beyond any other that has ever existed, because of the massive scale of our submission to mediations. From the apophenic/quantum flux presented to the mind come structured impressions that are ordered during the process of learning language. These impressions are represented and stored as memories; language can produce intentionality and the means of recording and transmitting both knowledge and personal experiences. These we have to learn, and are the first level of material mediation between people.

I’m going to avoid the usual terms of perennial debate about the split between mind and “reality,” between representation and experience, between phenomenon and the noumenon. Philosophers have wrestled for millennia with the “thing in itself” which may exist beyond the mind’s abilities to accurately represent it. I will only say that the biological process of a mind producing “sense-data” from its surroundings qua physical brain-states cannot be separated from the contents produced subjectively during those brain-states, a phenomenon equivalent to what the Taoist yin-yang symbol visually represents: an irreducible interdependency between any physical measurements taken of the brain and the concurrent thoughts within the person. We cannot know anything certain about that which is “given” as raw sensory input for the mind’s apophenic processes to mill into either given “literal” or “metaphoric” or “hallucinated” or “real” categories.

The “creative” mind, which can by definition temporarily evade the strictures of the autocracy by engaging Imagination, makes use of a cognitive matrix in which the categories of the “literal” and “metaphoric” are blurred.

Beyond this level things get tricky, for at the next level we have cultural representations of these natural representations of experience. The ancient artifacts listed above could be examples; the entire world-view of a culture can be embodied in a single work of art (think of the immediate recognition we may have of a Yoruban mask or a high Renaissance painting or an Abstract Expressionist piece). These artifacts reified the values of the cultures in which they were produced and had significance in a lived, everyday context of ritual or remembrance. They are mediations to any viewer, rich with (sometimes multiple) meaning(s). The plastic arts embody systems of signification between themselves, and with the culture surrounding them.

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Along with the Marc Rothko quote above, the two definitions of pareidolia and apophenia point towards what I perceive as a deep problem: that, through the web of mediations, the “finite associations” our technocratic-capitalist society has inculcated in us towards reality has become a dubious one, at best, for the personally transformative experiences with which Imagination is meant to give meaning to our lives and heal us.

It has achieved this state of dominance through three “cartels” which I will outline below. For differing motives, these cartels attempt to invalidate the significance of a person’s private, numinous experiences—negating the validity of the revelation Imaginative truth can give and that has been fundamental to the human psyche since the archaic age.

The following three ontologies are three possible ways of viewing the world. I am speaking of:

  1. A. The scientific worldview in its strict physicalist mode; that is, the contention that all that exists is only measurable matter on finer and finer scales, and in no need of higher principles or “first cause” or “holistic” or vitalist conception to explain them, and that only what can be directly observed or quantifiable through material instrumentation and replicable conditions is real;
  2. B. Religious thought that constricts the meaning of scripture/language to a single interpretation, invalidates the spontaneous content that may constitute a person’s spiritual experiences, and maintains the metaphysical assumption that all human beings’ beliefs and actions possess the capacity to “save” or “damn” them relative to their adherence to that particular interpretation; and
  3. C. The mass media’s direct and indirect reduction of the spectrum of human activities to a limited function of materialist signifiers (people as “economic agents”, “political actors,” “cultural producers”, “content providers,” celebrity, natural catastrophes). The mass media’s delivery of information curtails the function of language to communicating a parade of political and economic and scientific “facts,” along with rumor, hearsay, hoax, government disinformation.

So I’m speaking merely of dogmatism?

Yes. But not quite.

Each stance, the religious and scientific-materialist, has ascended in human history and continues to shape our experiences. But on the whole we now customarily separate the two as if they could not have originated from the same field within the human psyche.

This division is illusory, and its continuing enforcement a hallmark of what I called the epistemological autocracy: that they are not equally valid products of the same faculty of Imagination.

In America we have reaped severe social consequences from a peculiar schism between the scientific worldview and that of religion. Under the Enlightenment and our “republican experiment” in democracy, scientific-materialist autocracy arose in direct conflict with the Lutheran Christian ontology of individual, inalienable conscience that originally spawned it. In reaction, Americans have show prodigious examples of communal religious autocracies, of varying sizes, that have sprang up in reaction to science’s encroachment upon “the work of God.”

Many religious or spiritual people feel estranged under modernity and its consequent; with all its creature comforts, the fruits of science compete with the succor offered by “salvation” whose source lies entirely beyond this material life.

Many materialist-atheists are equally uncomfortable with what they see as archaic superstitions of religion lingering on well past their expiration date in our society.

This psychic schism is not endemic solely to America; it is now felt all across the world, in all peoples who confront their “inevitable,” electronically enmeshed future in the form of mass-media and communication technologies that cannot but entirely transform their conceptions of Nature, space, and time. These technologies have a profound effect on cultures everywhere they are introduced.

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In our society, things are few and far between that foster a living relationship with transforming the Primary Imagination into its secondary manifestations—because its activity has been pathologized as deviance. Physicalist science, mass media, and fundamentalist religion are integrated together like a machine whose purpose is to interdict or channel our use of the primary Imagination and its products, and that their autocracies are in fact the driving force of human civilizations.

By Primary Imagination we are not speaking of the personal faculty of recalling memories, or remixing the elements of one’s life and projecting them in new combinations upon some inner screen—that is part of the secondary imagination of which Coleridge speaks in the epigraph above.

C.G. Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious is similar to Primary Imagination: a flux from which the mind produces and filters experiences that can be taken neither literally nor metaphorically, but as basic to sense-mediation itself. The seemingly opposed categories “literal” and “metaphorical/figurative” clash over a numinous mystery that our cause-and-effect-bound minds are condemned to play catch-up using logic, and thus rationalize in the autocracies’ terms of engagement.

Jung’s collective unconscious was populated with archetypes akin to living myths that structured the arcs of our lives. In contrast, Jung’s personal unconscious contained repressed emotional images from one’s life, with a cast of family members and friends and even celebrities or the famous we would encounter in dreams, for instance.

According to Jung, the collective unconscious could use these familiar people as symbols, but most of the time, in a numinous dream or Imaginative leap, one would encounter unknown figures like kings, wise old men, horrific killers or monsters, etc. The extremely vivid “aura” of these dream-figures often causes the experiencer to question their existence as mere figments of the mind; they seem to be as real as the people they know in their waking life—but their presences are invested with great emotional power that is in some way transformative on the person’s views of life.

Coleridge’s Primary Imagination is timeless, spaceless, infinite, just as Jung often characterized the collective unconscious. It is for both of them the “field” in which reality itself appears—and which, secondarily, through our individual minds, produces our stories, artifacts, religions, and technologies.

This may sound like an odd, alternative definition of God—but indeed the Primary Imagination is where, I believe, the conditions for creativity and the sensing Higher Power and nature exists. One can deify Imagination, or make it the supreme force worthy of veneration, as some Romantics did, but this veneration is always a means and never an end in itself. To use it is to “worship” it—to create. To worship it is to worship an empty vessel, for Imagination is a formal property of human existence. It would be like worshipping the fingernail, or the thumb; it has no content in itself. It can never be grasped to be turned into an object of worship, and cannot be essentialized. Nor is it a technology. Its vehicles are technologies—language, music, painting, etc. It creates the technologies in the first place.

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Very little in our techno-utopia fosters a living relationship with Secondary Imagination. I believe many of us are in danger of losing contact with it, with the noise of our ever plugged-in, information-overloaded daily existence.

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/the-american-diet-34-gigabytes-a-day/

Physicalist science, mass media, and fundamentalist religion are integrated together akin to a machine that interdicts a relationship with the Primary Imagination.

The ontology of our technological society is supported by the narrative of scientific and social progress that supposedly brought into being this world of human-made marvels around us. I therefore believe our problem resides at the ontological level, and our ontology is a manifestation of the epistemology by which we’ve arrived at our catastrophist presentiments. And backwards: our ontology narrowly limits what we perceive as “legitimate” ways of knowing that something is real.

This diagnosis is admittedly harsh, reactionary and Romanticist—all three, jack—but didn’t we somehow already cover this territory, loudly and violently, in “The Matrix”? Perhaps so; but maybe “The Matrix” (and contemporary attempts at myth like it) is a representation of the situation the Imagination has found itself in when confronted with a specific, digitally-mediated autocracy.

There is an impulse within us to be freed of all strictures—but what our “autocrats” have learned is that this impulse towards inner freedom can be canalized in particular ways.

The autocracy has evolved to a point where it describes all phenomena, channels all experience: One cannot turn away from any one of them without describing what has been turned away from, without using the other autocracy’s terms.

Perhaps the primary problem is that our minds over the past century have been relentlessly mediated into viewing reality through cloudier facets of the jewel of human Imagination…Yet another way to say it: that scientific-materialist vocabularies have attained supremacy over the natural multiplicity of noetic human tongues—and are further in the process of proscribing those “traditional” languages to heresy, to pathology, to irrelevance, to extinction.

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If you find this preliminary thesis dull, already endlessly rehearsed by others, or muddled, then opt out now—the latest cat videos on Youtube are waiting, after all.

2:

I cannot say that truth is stranger than fiction, because I have never had acquaintance with either.

-Charles Fort

Epistemic autocracies in religion and politics have existed as long as there has been a world-order for the “Elites” to police. The obvious religious form is any Inquisition against the heretics. There is no difference in the political. Politically, millions perished in the paranoid struggles over orthodoxy and efficiency in Soviet and Chinese Communism. Millions were killed as well in the struggles of capitalists, bankers, and their governmental puppets to dominate, for personal profit, countries and regions.

Scientific inquisitions have existed too, of course. Ever since the Enlightenment, the Newtonian/Cartesian idea of “soulless mechanism” in matter has come to underwrite methods of social control. The new humanism of the Renaissance and Enlightenment arose over the past five centuries with its conceptions of “sovereign conscience” and supposed freedom of inquiry. The mechanistic model deployed in physics, medicine and engineering have had spectacular success in any conceivable number of ways. Gradually the mechanist scheme also informed the modeling used in the “soft sciences” like psychology, economics, and sociology, despite the relation between cause and effect being nebulous in these disciplines. The social sciences’ modeling of transpersonal forces led directly to our contemporary political science that uses psychological technique and sociological analysis in its arsenal of management techniques to control both what, and more importantly, how people are supposed to think.

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Burgeoning epistemological autocracies always become closed ideologies that marginalize or erase human experiences that do not fit their framework. Philosopher-journalist Charles Fort called these anomalous experiences “the damned”—the events that are ignored, suppressed, or explained away by both secular and religious orthodoxies. Thus, in our present scientific milieu, are classified encounters with ghosts, fairies, UFOs, Jesus, Mary, jinn, angels, events of ESP, telekinesis, near-death experiences, etc.

It would be charitable to say these nagging phenomena have only been marginalized as anomalies—that is, awaiting some theoretician to incorporate them into a neat explanatory framework—but they have only been roundly ignored or explained away without definitive closure. They will not go away, as Fort once said: they march on, as they always have, from the deep past and into the future.

But it’s only fitting that they be damned, we say from our peculiar Darwinist way of thinking—for were there any truth to them, they would have gained scientific purchase and flourished unimpeded as recognized realities by now—surely.

There must be a reason they are damned, and it appears to be this: A scientific model of the mind in which they might be definitively explained hasn’t come close to emerging under our epistemic autocracy—and won’t, because such phenomena are by definition single witness-dependent, subjective phenomena. They are incommensurable with our scientific method of hard data, replicable experimentation, and peer-reviewed study, so they are to be eliminated from consideration.

A single witness-dependent, subjective phenomenon cannot be successfully translated into mass-media representation without minimizing the personal, individual significance of the experience in which they were born. In all their strangeness, they cannot be reproduced or transmitted successfully—except by a sympathetic recognition by other people to whom something similar has occurred. The mass media cannot compass idiosyncratic experience, a mass popularity fueled by and on spectacle, by action, by outer-directed, extraverted mindsets. In short, anomalous experiences do not fit the compressive laws of mass media representation. One cannot make money off them (unless you’re talking about the current train of quickly-cancelled-for-revelations-of-selective-editing Bigfoot/UFO reality shows featuring “crack” researchers on the trail of physical evidence).

From the point of view of the religious fundamentalist, their ambiguous nature contradicts the idea that God has a specific order.

Cognitive scientists and psychologists claim to have divested themselves from Cartesian dualism but there it is: the inner, subjective experience that defies logic and causality versus an objective measuring system, publicly available data for inspection by expert and amateur alike.

What is needed is the third way, the mediation.

Epistemic autocracy’s legitimacy rests on there being no other possible conception than the scientific as an explanation for them, however.

As a culture we have tended to throw Fort’s “damned” experiences all together in an inchoate mass. Fringe incidents begets fringe community: a near-death experiencer gravitates into a support group with others, learns of the afterlife’s “ascended masters,” then the UFO connection to the masters, then crystal power, and is embraced by the New Age set and ends up converted to belief in a nefarious New World Order—simply because their original experience found no home in our materialist culture.

What happens we are compelled to retreat from defending the pragmatic value of one’s anomalous experience to arguing over whether it even existed? What happens when we are forced to depend upon the same epistemological methods used by the dominant regime to explain our unique experiences?

Militant atheism and materialism has become very popular over the past decade, headed by biologists Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson, critic Christopher Hitchens, philosopher Daniel Dennett, Stephen Hawking, who have all publicly criticized organized religion as pernicious superstition to be rid of. Some of them have gone so far as to cast as delusional the beliefs in a soul, Near-Death Experiences (NDEs), Out-of-body Experiences (OBEs), UFOs, etc.

Always ready to trot out the neurophysiological explanation, these avatars of dogmatic skepticism always seem to conveniently ignore the particular content of any experience these people have had, which, more often than not, have astoundingly inexplicable aspects about them if they would care to examine closer. ( example) and put down to outright lies.

These individuals are the latest spokespeople for scientific skepticism and avatars of the “accepted wisdom” that New Age syncretism and spirituality is simply the end-result of the 1960s vision-questers and to be laughed off as unserious offshoots of the postmodern consumer culture.

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The war on the private and the subjective began long ago—perhaps, ironically, with the musings of that perennial whipping boy for the holists, Rene Descartes, who posited an infallible witness within the brain that held exclusive access to one’s thoughts, feelings, sensations—and that ethereal observer was separate from the physical body that was its vehicle. This move demarcated the physical as something without psyche (soul), in the ancient Greek sense of something with the potential for “spontaneous inner-generated movement.”

Thus, Descartes’s human agency was narrowly located in the unseen “I”—the being that thought itself as separate.

His peculiar conception played a huge part in the “sovereign conscience” the Enlightenment thinkers bequeathed us—an amplification of the Apollonian, rational ego of literal meanings—that located our agency solely within the logical, cause-and-effect-structure.

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Ironically, the Cartesian ego has been invalidated by some influential schools of neuroscience. The inner “I” a person ascribes to oneself is considered by them simply the emergent property of a billion separate neuronal processes, and no more. The I is not real, but an extra, expendable property of neurophysiology. It cannot be measured, therefore it should have to place in scientific discourse. Other neuroscientists believe the conscious ego is the slowest part of the human mind—it lags behind the. They believe both methodologically and substantively that a person’s “sense of self” should be eliminated entirely from any model of the brain.

The inner experience of humanity, qua individual human ego, is now suspect.

You might even say a “hit” has been contracted upon the concept of an individual sense, and with it, the active force of Imagination in Coleridge’s sense, which is to be considered just another random product of those wet, algorithmic processes, meaningless and trivial…In short, the techno-fascist agenda seems poised to destroy the human Imagination, and all the possible multiplicities it signifies—for it poses the main threat to its program.

There are many people out there critiquing the burgeoning “monoculture” of transnational capitalism and its culturally-deadening influence around the globe. But a techno-autarchic civilization like the one slouching into being around us requires our individual minds to ratify in practice its ontology and grant it this continuous legitimacy. It has taken a slowly-built consensus of faith in its methods; it has taken a singular consciousness fashioned over centuries by mass media, starting with Gutenberg’s printing press. It has specialized knowledge into the compartmentalization of societal functions; it has and continues to divide society into seemingly separate “spheres,” economic, cultural, and political; it has taken cults of expertise whose division created a situation in which the “right hand” appears ignorant of what the “left hand” is doing—except from the top, where “elite managers” supposedly reign over the scientific-political machine we’ve all legitimized.

The upshot is that the mass-media engines of our society (cable network news channels, academia, think-tanks, laboratories, lobbying and advocacy groups, “intelligence-gathering” centers) all play a part in the vast, integrated “fact-making machine” whose products surrounds us like a web—a comfortable matrix underwritten by the assumption that that things, in the human world at least, are more or less under control.

Nothing could be further from the truth, friend.

The hard & soft sciences, the media, and those walking haircuts we call politicians all create for us a comfortable galaxy of steady-state, banal realities from their neat atoms of separate “facts”—but many people instinctively don’t even buy them, because they sense its infringement against the natural, spontaneous workings of Primary Imagination that has given them their religion and folkways. The ascendancy of the technocratic mentality, to me, is the primary reason why fundamentalisms of all types have exploded in number across the globe—including scientific fundamentalism, or “scientism” as it’s called. We know that we have created a system that is outside anyone’s control.

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When the expert or politician or scientist passes judgment and creates a fact for our “consumption” they make an orphan of truth, because the deeper verities—those that enrapture us and enchant our lives—are not facts in the sense that statistics are facts. The most profound truths cannot be sound-bit, for they are not frozen pictures in time—they are as alive “out there” as we are. Private epiphanies we have give meaning to our lives, when we begin to perceive and live myths greater than any “fact.” This truth that we are each living, and how this truth manifests and resides in us, is the central thing our techno-fascist society will seek to delegitimize: the faculty of Imagination, whether in its nighttime dreaming or day-lit forms.

It does not serve our society’s techno-fascist ends for us to elaborate upon our private myths and somatic epiphanies, when we are being trained to live only by visions sanctioned by Mammon 2.0 and licensable by Disney.

Our “elite managers” in the political class purport that creativity and entrepreneurship are the greatest goods. If these qualities are allowed to flourish, we will all in turn thrive. The truth is that under epistemic and capitalist techno-fascism, all products of entrepreneurship and the visual arts alike are now simply farmed for novelty en masse by the transnational cartel—just like our mass-produced food, automobiles, computers, etc. The billionaires have full reign to shop for–and possible even take by court or force–the millionaire’s hard-earned wealth and product.

The creative types who gravitate to Hollywood, the music industry, and television are farmed for visions that conform to the acid-baths of scientific despotism. We even have our dreams designed for us nowadays in our mass-media entertainments—yes, in this illusion of “factual consumption,” we’ve become that damn lazy. Only that which can be translated into a commercial imperative survives—over and over. Witness all the sequels and comic book adaptations and “pre-branded” franchises being made. Hollywood as we’ve known it is dying, loudly, because at the crucial time when it’s in competition with Youtube, cable, and so many other media outlets it has banked upon the familiar instead of showing vision and Imagination and throwing those production billions into dozens of smaller, imaginative works that might not strictly conform to focus-group preferences (witness the stellar rise—and subsequent absorption into the maw of the machine—of Pixar). Just like a bully who gets louder and more violent as his star is eclipsed by the new and bigger bully. Instead of believing in the intimate products our minds naturally give us, our society makes of Vision a CGI bone-rattling nightmare in the cathedral of a movie theater, transformed to pummel us in violence from without. We enter the cinema now to be ritually punished with visions of a magick world whose flatness on the screen is somehow part of the meaning, reminding us of what has passed us and now out of reach: Narcissus’s mirror-lake as a flat pool glowing upon the wall, beaten in our unconscious that our human inheritance is being leached away by our ‘entertainments’.

The epistemological cartel grants no means of ratifying or receiving anything transformative that might originate from inside our own psyches, and hence the reception of any impulse of sacred Imagination from without. At best, our subjective visions are diagnosed as pathological; the sacred inside is rendered phantasmal, neurological, with its reception stripped of personal significance…Our autocrats’ goal is that there be an answer to our mysterious, private, epiphanic encounters—an “explanation” already worked out for us, whether by megachurch or laboratory. Mystery cannot be allowed. The answers should come easy…The Hollywood and video game dream-factories grant us ritual catharsis for our mythic instincts, and we are all left to our atomized glorified simian or sanctified Glorified Body to work out some relation to the sacred outside the glowing rectangle

This, of course, is all in line with the continued destruction of privacy on the internet and all our forms of electronic communication. The processing of our personal agency into a hive-mind is nearing its terminus—an omniscience by the “Masters” unknown in the history of mankind.

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We like our madness safely contained in the past, or in our artists—the Blakes and Artauds and Pounds and Van Goghs. In a society under the epistemic cartel, we have safely cordoned off the imagination into the visions and activities of the artists, who are the only one permitted to see with different eyes the mundane and banal surroundings inflicted upon us by a technological, socially over-determined and thoroughly managed society.

Everyone at times experiences hallucination or a momentary misapprehension of objects, when we spontaneously see things anew. This peculiar ability is considered a mundane property of the human mind. Psychologists after Wittgenstein call it “aspect-seeing,” a phrase coined to describe the reversals or oscillations in significance that occur when perceiving Gestalt images in a clinical context (the duck-rabbit, old/young woman, etc.).

Apophenia and pareidolia are natural human abilities, but any psychologically “healthy” answer to a pareidoliac test is necessarily shaped by the forces of socialization. Reward accrues to those who interpret “correctly” according to the consensus as laid out in the mental health manual; conversely, punishment goes to those who stubbornly insist on retaining their private associations.

When these subjective oscillations happen frequently in the everyday world, it is not so good—and even worse when a person spins narratives around them. An example of this would be, say, a conspiracy in which no one else in the world could possibly believe—if someone were to associate the sunlight’s reflections on the surfaces around them with what they happened to be thinking, and conclude that the reflections of light were speaking to them. If such a phenomena occurred in an engineer or a bus driver or a pilot, it would be considered mental sickness and lead to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, at the least.

If a person experiencing it happened to be a poet or visual artist, it would perhaps slightly take the psychopathic sting out of the clinical label—but only slightly.

But these are just definitions courtesy the priest-cult we call clinical psychiatry.

An example of this epistemologically autocratic trend is the decisive turn from psychotherapy to pharmaceuticals in the treatment of mental illness over the past thirty years. Philosophers of science and psychology maintain that behaviorism as practiced by B.F. Skinner is dead, but of course this isn’t true at all; Skinnerian behaviorism, on the contrary, has been so spectacularly successful that it has become ubiquitous and invisible to us, its ontology lurking in the neuroscience behind the pharmaceutical paradigm: If you chemically change the molecules in the person’s brain, you change the person’s behavior; if you change the behavior, you thus change the person.

This therapy of neurochemicals now dominates, while the “talking cure” has been relegated to second place—but the various schools of psychoanalysis, for all their faults, are philosophies of meaning. They value the long view of a fully-lived life in comparison to the immediate material change in the pharmaceutical paradigm with which epistemic fascism laden us

Many people undergo tremendous reversals in their outlook on life, in which the “whole of reality” is turned “inside out”—call them epiphanies, religious conversions, spiritual experiences. The world is then seen as numinous and filled with a significant connections that infuses its entire fabric and involves a revivification of the whole. The motive force ascribed as the cause varies—Jesus, Allah, universal mind, nirvana, etc. Isolated from any religious context, a person may well fear for their sanity. These experiences are entirely subjective and beyond the quantifying reach of neuroscience (as of yet), yet friends can perceive the fruits of such experiences in the changed behavior of the individual.

For almost all of recorded history these experiences have occurred and been accepted as proofs of a higher power. We don’t normally call these conversions pathological, but the experience is becoming dangerously close to being termed such under techno-fascist regime. The subsequent monomania often associated with religious conversion is usually considered the pathological aspect, yet the contents of the beliefs as well are now under assault as deviant. Even as fundamentalists of any stripe seek to eliminate the anthropology and psychology of the spiritual conversion as the work of the Adversary.

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What do I mean by “epistemic autocracy”? Perhaps I should define it by contrasting it with what could be called “epistemic multiplicity” or “neurological diversity,” drawing lines between 1) active pareidolia, apophenia, and Imaginative vision on the one hand, restless, always active, and 2) the Autocracy’s atomistic, reductionist approach that threatens with the loss of meaningful narrative on an influx of random data on the other. Perhaps one could also draw the distinction between realms of knowledge, one called facts and the other wisdom. The former, “factual” realm’s entities are quantifiable, verifiable, and the latter’s vague—and EA is definitely an emergent property of the former, an expanding regime whose constituent parts support and undergird one another in a consensus that spans a society’s entire spectrum of activities—currently, a network operating through mass media to induce orthodox uniformity of opinion between the industrial complexes of medicine/psychology to academic to entertainment, all constellated around the certainties of the disciplines of chemistry and physics.

The Imagination itself “sees through” the single-minded, literal interpretation of reality.

The world sleeps together in the night. We retreat to these private worlds out of biological necessity but there is more genuine healing in these golden hours than any of the faux panaceas our society could ever propagandize us into believing. We dream and in the dream the Other speaks to us. In the daylit world, we are taught not to listen. We are all children before this mystery and of this mystery and the morning light’s clamor dissolves the awe. We awake to a world that orders itself back to another Other’s idea, a mad dream. There is more real knowledge in a simple fever dream than in a library of their consensus fictions. But everyone, all of us, in that somatic museum called sleep, is an artist. The disorder of hallucination is the recapture of Imagination working through.

These differing world views, coherent as each had been, are “snapshot” examples of pareidolia. We have a succession of world-views now coming under the unification of science in which each “moment” has a clear relation to the next and projects its telos into it. The former daimonic power becomes literalized through our technologies: the clock has usurped God’s domain of time, maps have conquered physical space. And thus we unconsciously become gods.