Phobophilia

Phobophila (abstract noun) Def. 1. A fatal attraction into dangerous situations; unhealthy tendency to take unnecessary risk; a deathwish.  2. A predilection for personal courage, confronting one’s personal fears and removing barriers to growth.  The healthy phobophilic seeks out his personal hell, situations which are not objectively dangerous but which nevertheless invoke an idiosyncratic response of terror.  Growth comes from confronting fear.

The Century of the Common Man…

There was a time not so long ago when you could talk about freedom from want and freedom from fear as part of everyone’s birthright, and of a government’s obligation to guarantee those freedoms by strong action and active management.

Henry Wallace was FDR’s rightful successor, but for the fact that a mob of party bosses denied the people’s will and Roosevelt’s choice to manipulate the Democratic Convention of 1944.

Listen to Wallace eliding gracefully between defeat of the Nazis and independence for American farmers, between freedom of speech and the right of minorities to a share of America’s prosperity.

Great things can happen if only we allow democracy to prevail.  That’s why America’s ruling class has pulled out all the stops to assure that the will of the people is strangled in the cradle.

Wouldn’t it be loverly?

Our culture is engineered to avoid and defer pain into the future, but also to avoid and defer pleasure.  Our capacity to feel pleasure has atrophied.  I’m talking about really, really deep joy, an experience of the richness of life; the experience of relationship that’s almost too much to take, it feels so good.  “I can’t believe that life can be this beautiful!” It challenges normalcy, and it Invites us into a release of control, the control that has enabled us to maintain life as it has been.  It’s safer to avoid these intense feelings of pain or pleasure, because they challenge the whole setup of modern society.

We have been living attenuated lives,  half-lives really.  On some level, everyone knows that life is supposed to be more than what has been handed to us as “normal”. Experiences of really deep pleasure and joy remind us of that.  They awaken a knowing and make normal life seem a little less normal and a little less tolerable, because you’ve experienced something else, and it calls you forever toward that possibility. The experience lives inside you and will never let you be fully satisfied again with the old normal.

—Charles Eisenstein

Panpsychism Proved

Met with stony silence.

“There’s a new way for me to find out what you’re thinking,” said Shirley, sitting down opposite her co-worker Rick in the lab’s sunny cafeteria. She looked very excited, very pleased with herself.

“You’ve hired a private eye?” said Rick. “I promise, Shirley, we’ll get together for something one of these days. I’ve been busy, is all.” He seemed uncomfortable at being cornered by her.

“I’ve invented a new technology,” said Shirley. “The mindlink. We can directly experience each other’s thoughts. Let’s do it now.”

“Ah, but then you’d know way too much about me,” said Rick, not wanting the conversation to turn serious. “A guy like me, I’m better off as a mystery man.”

“The real mystery is why you aren’t laid off,” said Shirley tartly. “You need friends like me, Rick. And I’m dead serious about the mindlink. I do it with a special quantum jiggly-doo. There will be so many applications.”

“Like a way to find out what my boss thinks he asked me to do?”

Panpsychism proved

“Communication, yes. The mindlink will be too expensive to replace the cell phone — at least for now — but it opens up the possibility of reaching the inarticulate, the mentally ill and, yeah, your boss. Emotions in a quandary? Let the mindlink techs debug you!”

“So now I’m curious,” said Rick. “Let’s see the quantum jiggly-doo.”

Shirley held up two glassine envelopes, each holding a tiny pinch of black powder. “I have some friends over in the heavy hardware division, and they’ve been giving me microgram quantities of entangled pairs of carbon atoms. Each atom in this envelope of mindlink dust is entangled with an atom in this other one. The atom pairs’ information is coherent but locally inaccessible — until the atoms get entangled with observer systems.”

“And if you and I are the observers, that puts our minds in synch, huh?” said Rick. “Do you plan to snort your black dust off the cafeteria table or what?”

“Putting it on your tongue is fine,” said Shirley, sliding one of the envelopes across the tabletop.

“You’ve tested it before?”

“First I gave it to a couple of monkeys. Bonzo watched me hiding a banana behind a door while Queenie was gone, and then I gave the dust to Bonzo and Queenie, and Queenie knew right away where the banana was.

“I tried it with a catatonic person too. She and I swallowed mindlink dust together and I was able to single out the specific thought patterns tormenting her. I walked her through the steps in slow motion. It really helped her.”

“You were able to get medical approval for that?” said Rick, looking dubious.

“No, I just did it. I hate red tape. And now it’s time for a peer-to-peer test. With you, Rick. Each of us swallows our mindlink dust and makes notes on what we see in the other’s mind.”

“You’re sure that the dust isn’t toxic?” asked Rick, flicking the envelope with a fingernail.

“It’s only carbon, Rick. In a peculiar kind of quantum state. Come on, it’ll be fun. Our minds will be like websites for each other — we can click links and see what’s in the depths.”

“Like my drunk-driving arrest, my membership in a doomsday cult and the fact that I fall asleep sucking my thumb every night?”

“You’re hiding something behind all those jokes, aren’t you, Rick? Don’t be scared of me. I can protect you. I can bring you along on my meteoric rise to the top.”

Rick studied Shirley for a minute. “Tell you what,” he said finally. “If we’re gonna do a proper test, we shouldn’t be sitting here face to face. People can read so much from each other’s expressions.” He gestured towards the boulder-studded lawn outside the cafeteria doors. “I’ll go sit down where you can’t see me.”

“Good idea,” said Shirley. “And then pour the carbon into your hand and lick it up. It tastes like burnt toast.”

Shirley smiled, watching Rick walk across the cafeteria. He was so cute and nice. If only he’d ask her out. Well, with any luck, while they were linked, she could reach into his mind and implant an obsessive loop centring around her. That was the real reason she’d chosen Rick as her partner for this mindlink session, which was, if the truth be told, her tenth peer-to-peer test.

She dumped the black dust into her hand and licked. Her theory and her tests showed that the mindlink effect always began in the first second after ingestion — there was no need to wait for the body’s metabolism to transport the carbon to the brain. This in itself was a surprising result, indicating that a person’s mind was somehow distributed throughout the body, rather than sealed up inside the skull.

She closed her eyes and reached out for Rick. She’d enchant him and they’d become lovers. But, dammit, the mind at the other end of the link wasn’t Rick’s. No, the mind she’d linked to was inhuman: dense, taciturn, crystalline, serene, beautiful…

“Having fun yet?” It was Rick, standing across the table, not looking all that friendly.

“What…” began Shirley.

“I dumped your powder on a boulder. You’re too weird for me. I gotta go.”

Shirley walked slowly out of the patio doors to look at the friendly grey lump of granite. How nice to know that a rock had a mind. The world was cosier than she’d ever realized. She’d be OK without Rick. She had friends everywhere.

Rudy Rucker, reprinted from Nature journal (2006)

Solidarity

In solidarity with the people of Gaza, whose electricity has been cut off by the occupying government of Israel, these brave and compassionate Jewish Israelis launched thousands of candles into the sky, symbolically illuminating the plight of the people that their government is oppressing.

To become what you are you must pass through being nothing.

If indeed love is the magical trigger that sets off the explosion of life as the cosmos, it remains the mysterious imperative spurring our human endeavors, evidenced by the scruple of creative minds for perfectionism, and points to our ponderings concerning the meaningfulness of our lives, our strivings, our frustrations, our disappointments, our disenchantment, and perhaps our reenchantment.

Vilayat Inayat Khan, born 101 years ago today
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