Cinderella, for example, revolves around the perniciousness of what researchers call “female intrasexual competition”—the often-underhanded ways women compete with each other. While men evolved to be openly competitive, jockeying for position verbally or physically, female competition tends to be covert—indirect and sneaky—and often involves sabotaging another woman into being less appealing to men. Accordingly, in Cinderella, when the king throws a ball to find the prince a wife, the nasty stepsisters aren’t at all “let the best woman win!” They assign Cinderella extra chores so she won’t have time to pull together something to wear. (Mean Girls, the cartoon version, anyone?)
Psychologist Joyce Benenson, who researches sex differences, traces women’s evolved tendency to opt for indirectness—in both competition and communication—to a need to avoid physical altercation, either with men or other women. This strategy would have allowed ancestral women to protect their more fragile female reproductive machinery and to fulfill their roles as the primary caretaker for any children they might have.
Sure, today, a woman can protect herself against even the biggest, scariest intruder with a gun or a taser—but that’s not what our genes are telling us. We’re living in modern times with an antique psychological operating system—adapted for the mating and survival problems of ancestral humans. It’s often at a mismatch with our current environment.
The word animism is derived from anima in Latin, which literally means ‘breath’, with an extended meaning of ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’. Animism recognises the potential of all objects – animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather-related phenomena, deceased human beings, even words – to be animated and alive, possessing distinctive spirits. As such, animism is considered to contain the oldest spiritual and supernatural perspectives in the world, dating back to the Palaeolithic Age when humans were still hunter-gatherers.
Viewed from the standpoint of today’s organised religions, animistic religions can seem ‘primitive’ and are often dismissed as containing nothing more than superstitious beliefs and practices. This belittling if not antagonistic attitude toward animism has been particularly strong among the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For example, in the United States it was not until the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed in 1978 that indigenous peoples gained the legal right to practise their traditional animistic faiths.
Given this, as one of the world’s last still-flourishing animistic faiths, Shinto can provide a gateway to better understanding the origins of certain universal paradigms found in today’s organised religions.
…It is a dreamland painted in the imagination’s most delicate tints; it is colour etherealised. One shade melts into the other, so that you cannot tell where one shade ends and the other begins, and yet they are all there. No forms – it is all faint, dreamy colour music, a faraway, long-drawn-out melody on muted strings.
Throughout the nineteenth century, ghosts and shadowy interlocutors featured in the narratives of British explorers in the Arctic and their audiences back home. Taking the history of Sir John Franklin’s last Arctic expedition from the 1840s as my central focus, in this book I examine how spectral experiences such as dreaming, clairvoyante travel, reverie, spiritualism and ghost-seeing informed ideas of the Arctic and the searches for a Northwest Passage through the Arctic. The role of spectral experiences in this geographical quest has not been adequately addressed before and I argue that integrating them into the cultural history of exploration revises traditional accounts of polar discovery that focus mainly on ‘men and maps’. This book, then, is about the cultural production of the spectral in Arctic narratives and what this can tell us about Victorian exploration and its legacies.
For those who assert there is such a thing as genuine poltergeist activity (as opposed to the skeptics who attribute it all to natural phenomena, over-imagination or hoaxes) the question becomes: “What is a poltergeist, anyway?” Believers fall into, roughly speaking, two different camps: some posit that polts are independent spirit beings–ghosts with a taste for nasty practical jokes. Others are of the opinion that what we are dealing with are manifestations unwittingly created by the troubled emotions of some member of the affected household–usually a child or teenager.
That debate will likely never be solved on this side of the grave. However, famed ghost researcher Harry Price recorded one English “poltergeist” case which strongly suggests that these “spirits” or “demons” are evidence of the awesome and little-understood power of our subconscious minds.
The story centers around the family of a Sutherland doctor named Wilkins. In 1940, Wilkins’ 19-year-old daughter Olive became engaged to a young flight lieutenant in the RAF. Her parents were not in favor of the match. Although they had nothing against her beau, Dr. and Mrs. Wilkins felt Olive was too young for marriage. Even more seriously, the current war meant that odds were good their daughter might soon go from bride to widow. In the end, however, the course of true love ran smoothly and the young couple married in the fall of 1941.
A more detailed explanation surrounding this ancient description of a square-shaped Earth is provided in “ The Map that Talked ”; which looks at the creation of an intriguing Stone Age map, which uses the stars to create a relatively accurate map of Earth.
This archaic map can also explain the various aquatic descriptions that the Greeks gave to the constellations; where it is found that, when an expanded map of the stars is wrapped three times around Earth the Greek water constellations intriguingly mark the oceans and the constellations that describe heroes that did not drown mark the continents. The same book also describes the initial discovery of the original Babel Text.
Gol-e-Zard Cave lies in the shadow of Mount Damavand, which at more than 5,000 metres dominates the landscape of northern Iran. In this cave, stalagmites and stalactites are growing slowly over millennia and preserve in them clues about past climate events. Changes in stalagmite chemistry from this cave have now linked the collapse of the Akkadian Empire to climate changes more than 4,000 years ago.
Akkadia was the world’s first empire. It was established in Mesopotamia around 4,300 years ago after its ruler, Sargon of Akkad, united a series of independent city states. Akkadian influence spanned along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers from what is now southern Iraq, through to Syria and Turkey. The north-south extent of the empire meant that it covered regions with different climates, ranging from fertile lands in the north which were highly dependent on rainfall (one of Asia’s “bread baskets”), to the irrigation-fed alluvial plains to the south.
It appears that the empire became increasingly dependent on the productivity of the northern lands and used the grains sourced from this region to feed the army and redistribute the food supplies to key supporters. Then, about a century after its formation, the Akkadian Empire suddenly collapsed, followed by mass migration and conflicts. The anguish of the era is perfectly captured in the ancient Curse of Akkad text, which describes a period of turmoil with water and food shortages:
… the large arable tracts yielded no grain, the inundated fields yielded no fish, the irrigated orchards yielded no syrup or wine, the thick clouds did not rain.
The problem of time is one of the greatest puzzles of modern physics. The first bit of the conundrum is cosmological. To understand time, scientists talk about finding a ‘First Cause’ or ‘initial condition’ – a description of the Universe at the very beginning (or at ‘time equals zero’). But to determine a system’s initial condition, we need to know the total system. We need to make measurements of the positions and velocities of its constituent parts, such as particles, atoms, fields and so forth. This problem hits a hard wall when we deal with the origin of the Universe itself, because we have no view from the outside. We can’t step outside the box in order to look within, because the box is all there is. A First Cause is not only unknowable, but also scientifically unintelligible.
The second part of the challenge is philosophical. Scientists have taken physical time to be the only real time – whereas experiential time, the subjective sense of time’s passing, is considered a cognitive fabrication of secondary importance. The young Albert Einstein made this position clear in his debate with philosopher Henri Bergson in the 1920s, when he claimed that the physicist’s time is the only time. With age, Einstein became more circumspect. Up to the time of his death, he remained deeply troubled about how to find a place for the human experience of time in the scientific worldview.
These quandaries rest on the presumption that physical time, with an absolute starting point, is the only real kind of time. But what if the question of the beginning of time is ill-posed? Many of us like to think that science can give us a complete, objective description of cosmic history, distinct from us and our perception of it. But this image of science is deeply flawed. In our urge for knowledge and control, we’ve created a vision of science as a series of discoveries about how reality is in itself, a God’s-eye view of nature.
Such an approach not only distorts the truth, but creates a false sense of distance between ourselves and the world. That divide arises from what we call the Blind Spot, which science itself cannot see. In the Blind Spot sits experience: the sheer presence and immediacy of lived perception.
But if you take Bentham’s formula to its logical conclusion—perfect pleasure, no pain—you end up with the rats in the cage. This rapturous state of existence is known as ‘wireheading’, and it’s a recurring theme in dystopian fiction: should anything unpleasant happen to the inhabitants of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, there’s always soma, delicious soma! “half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a weekend, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon…”
Huxley gave us the weak version of wireheading; his soma-addicts still have some semblance of a life. In the strong version, the pleasure floods the brain to the exclusion of any other activity—the equivalent of a never-ending heroin rush, or an endless orgasm. What if you were offered a pill that removed all pain, and made you experience the purest joy for the rest of your life? Unlike the starving rats, all your mundane physical needs would be taken care of. There’s no catch.
A couple of very kind people have set up a GoFundMe to try and assist my efforts to get
a Terrain Hopper to help me get around, seeing as I now have one semi-useless right leg.
Unfortunately I’m not able to place the ******* link here… ********* !
But I am working on it….