War is the oldest trick in the book. Why are we still falling for it?

When our grandchildren ask us, “didn’t you know your government was lying to you?” how will we answer them?  These deceptions are well-described more than a century ago.  It has been several centuries that great numbers of working people have known their worth, have demanded their just desserts.  They have had able leaders. They have stood firm in their resolve. Those with wealth know well they cannot prevail with force alone, and have deployed the printing presses under their control, as well as the gendarmes they command to retain their power.

Un peuple sous la menace de la guerre et de l’invasion est tres facilement gouvernable. Il ne reclame pas de reformes sociales, il ne repousse pas l armement ou l equipement militaire. Il paye sans broncher, il se ruine lui meme, et ceci est favorable pour les syndicats, les financiers et les fers de lance de l industrie pour que la terreur patriotique entraine l abondance du gain.  — Anatole France, né cette journée en 1844

A people under the menace of war and of invasion is very easy to govern. It does not claim social reforms, it does not cavil over armaments or military equipment. It pays without haggling, it ruins itself at it, and that is excellent for the syndicates, the financiers, and the heads of industry to whom patriotic terrors open an abundant source of gain.  — Anatole France, born this day in 1844

On croit mourir pour la patrie; on meurt pour les industriels.

You think you are dying for your country; you die for the industrialists.

The basis of Western music

As a child, I wondered about the 12-tone scale.  As an adult, I realize how much it is worth wondering about.  It is a minor miracle of mathematical coincidence and perceptual psychology.

All of Western music since the Renaissance, classical and jazz and pop and whatever, is constructed from 12 notes.  Of course, physics tells us there are infinite gradations between every pair of adjacent notes.  But our ears hear them as one of the 12 notes played out of key, or as a sliding between two of the notes, or as vibrato modulating one of the 12 notes.

How much of this is perception is built into our genes, and how much of it is cultural habituation, from having heard 12-tone music all our lives?  Here is some scientific speculation on the question.

I remember as a child thinking that an octave sounds like “the same note” in different guises.  I felt this long before I learned that an octave was a factor of two.  (And even longer before I learned that the 12 tones divide that octave into 12 logarithmically even increments.)  Yes, logarithms.  It’s all about ratios.

Why we have 12 notes in the musical scale (video)

Following the math of the 12-tone scale, we come to the finding that the next (past 12) natural division of the octave is into 53 microtones.  History of the 53-tone scale

Here’s a sample of 53-tone music .  Do you think that a musical culture could ever be built around the 53-tone scale comparable in expressive range and creative potential to the 12-tone legacy?


Universal mind and individual mind

Today I pulled together three thoughts that before I had recognized separately 

  1. All mystrical traditions and many moderns who report on psychedelic experiences tell us that we are one.  But individuality is such a powerful illusion, if illusion it be. How to make sense of this unanimity on the subject of oneness in light of the fundamental fact of our senses: that we each experience free will with regard to skeletal muscles of one individual human only?
  2. Thoughts from moment to moment are mostly out of our volitional control.  Anyone who tries to meditate learns this. Maybe I shouldn’t say “tries” to meditate, because this is meditation’s central message.  One becomes aware that whoever “I” is, this entity is not in control of the thoughts with which “I” is so identified.
  3. Experiments in telepathy show a consistently positive statistical effect, but famously unreliable, inconsistent, out of control.  Telepathy is not a modality we can count on to deliver a message, but in a well-designed experiment with just a few hundred trials, we can be confident in seeing the statistical fingerprints of telepathy.  There is certainly an influence of one mind on another, but it is mostly undirected and beneath conscious awareness.

Tentative synthesis: My thoughts have control over my body, but “I” have only partial control over my thoughts.  This is what it feels like to be a part of the universal consciousness. These thoughts that come unbidden to my mind are the universal mind of which my conscious awareness is just a part.  One function of my brain is an antenna which receives thoughts and images from people I am close to, but also from anyone who directs attention toward me, and in part from a larger sphere of humanity or all life and all nature.

universal mind depiction

Old mystics, shamans, acidheads agree
Connection universal binds us all
The I that seems so separate and small
Is but conceit, conditioned vanity.

My mind in meditation doth defy
My will, assimilates unbidden thought.
Thus meditation’s lesson aptly taught
Asks who, if not my neurons, am this “I”?

Our science if more honest, would concede
Statistics show telepathy is real,
Though not a force we hear or see or feel.
From what source do its messages proceed?

From psi research and from my meditation,
The mystics’ message earns consideration.

— Josh Mitteldorf

Once in a Lifetime (or maybe twice)

History says don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.

— Seamus Heaney would have been 80 years old today

Image result for distant hope
Digital art by Jeshield

Who was Shakespeare?

Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford is now widely accepted as the legitimate author of the plays and sonnets attributed to the illiterate Stratford businessman, Will Shaksper.  I won’t go into the voluminous evidence for this claim as it has been investigated and produced in countless publications. De Vere wrote because he had to – to silence the voices in his head; to exorcise the demons, to relieve his profound unhappiness with the title and constrictions forced upon him by noble birth and the times he lived in. to rouse the mob to action. He was Hamlet, an observation not lost on his peers at the time. He watched from a darkened box as his words took effect on the populace. Nearing death he wrote of dying finally, obscure and quickly forgotten. and for centuries he was right about that. Jane Austen suffered a similar fate. Still by several strokes of luck their work survived. All of it speaks to us of our own lives and times. In a television interview the director, Mike Nichols, said that he always thought his plays and films were about this or that social or political ill that needed to be aired. But late in life he understood they were all about himself. Isn’t that always the way. It’s not just that we prefer to watch from the back row of the darkened theater. We require anonymity to protect our psyches, our innermost thoughts, from public exposure. Dorothy Parker wrote a story about her love for Robert Benchley. She titled it, “Big Blonde” of course. She was a small brunette. As I watched Mike Nichols on the screen, I nodded. I  create all of my protagonists as men. As much as we may know that it is “all about ourselves” what we wish for is not notoriety or acclaim, but that the work – our progeny – will outlast us, speak for us, reach people and move them. to action, to tears. to love.

Edward de Vere was born this day in 1550.  The article above was guest-blogged by Lila York.

We have the power

David Hume found

“nothing more surprising than to see the easiness with which the many are governed by the few and to observe the implicit submission with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers.  When we enquire by what means this wonder is brought about we shall find that as force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion.  It is therefore on opinion only that government is founded and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments as well as to the most free and the most popular.”

His words are particularly appropriate to socieities in which popular struggle over many years has won a considerable degree of freedom.  In such societies, force really is on the side of the governed, and the governors have nothing to support them but opinion.  That is one reason why the huge public relations industry and the most immense propaganda agency in human history reached its most developed and sophisticated forms in the most free societies, the US and Britain.  The propaganda industry arose about a century ago, when people came to understand that too much freedom had been won for the public to be controlled by force, so it would be necessary to control them via their opinions.  The liberal intellectual elites understood this as well, and thus they concluded that “we must discared democratic dogmatism about people being the best judges of their own interest.  They are not.  They are ignorant and meddlesome outsiders who must be put in their place, for their own good, of course.”  [Chomsky does not source this quote, but it is from Walter Lippmann]
                                                                — Noam Chomsky

Universal consciousness

To a small child, awareness is a ubiquitous quality of the world. We are mistaken when we assume that consciousness is an interior human trait that first unfurls inside the young child, who then learns to attribute the same quality to other persons, and perhaps “projects” that quality onto the surrounding world of things and beings. Rather, the newborn emerges into consciousness as into a new medium. What we later objectify as “awareness” is at first like an anonymous element that defines the very substance of existence, glimmering with strange pleasures and yearnings and pains. Only gradually does a kind of locus begin to appear within this floating field of feeling, an inchoate sanese of “here-ness” emerging from the anonymous and omnidimensional plenitude. This crystallizing sense of one’s body as a general locus of awareness does not arise on its own, but is accompanied by a dawning sense of rudimentary otherness of the rest of the field of feelings. The earliest experience of selfhood, in other words, co-arises with the earliest experience of otherness. One’s own awareness is born of a rift within a more primordial anonymity, as one begins to locate one’s sensations in relation to sensations and feelings that are somehow elsewhere, and hence in relation to an awareness that is not one’s own, but is rather the rest of the world’s.

….The self begins as an extension of the breathing flesh of the world, and the things around us, in turn, originate as reverberations echoing the pains and pleasures of our body.

— David Abram

Language’s primary gift is not to re-present the world around us, but to call ourselves into the vital presence of that world–and into deep and attentive presence with one another. </small>