January 25, 2015 at 3:31 pm #16947
Bees, their Keepers, and Funerals..January 30, 2015 at 11:19 pm #18470
Scientific experiments involving teleportation and other telekinetic abilities are reviewed in a research paper commissioned by the U.S. Air Force and written by astrophysicist Dr. Eric W. Davis in 2004, titled simply “Teleportation Physics Study.”
“Telekinesis” refers to the ability to affect physical objects with one’s mind. Teleportation is a form of telekinesis in which the objects are moved some distance instantaneously.January 31, 2015 at 1:17 am #18476
Lacking formal scientific or medical training, Myers was a hugely disciplined and gifted autodidact well versed in physiology and science at large. Together with his close friend Edmund Gurney (1847–88), he studied the psychology of sensory and motor automatisms as well as hypnotism. Gurney and Myers were the first to present strong arguments contradicting W.B. Carpenter’s notion of automatisms as ‘unconscious cerebration’, and they upset the dominant medical view of hallucinations and dissociative phenomena as intrinsically pathological. Popular for having coined the term ‘telepathy’, Myers’s coinage of ‘hypnopompic’ is less known. With his brother, the physician Arthur Myers (with whom he undertook a scientific evaluation of alleged miraculous healings at Lourdes), his intimate friend Henry Sidgwick and Sidgwick’s wife Eleanor, Myers actively participated in the making of fledgling academic psychology. They attended and helped to organise the International Congresses for Physiological/Experimental Psychology, with Myers serving as secretary of the second Congress in 1892 at University College, London. The first British author to identify the significance of Freud’s work in 1893, Myers was a friend of Théodore Flournoy and William James, whose psychology cannot be understood without an appreciation of the considerable impact Myers’ concept of the ‘subliminal Self’ had on both. Though Myers was a very visible author when alive, and respected by most contemporary psychologists interested in the psychology of the unconscious, his work was quickly forgotten after his death.January 31, 2015 at 1:20 am #18477
The Spring 2015 issue of Parabola, explores the ancient root meaning of “sin”—“missing the mark.” And, as Jesus says in The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, “Sin as such does not exist. You only bring it into manifestation when you act in ways that are adulterous in nature.”
We’ve come to see that it is our “tendency,” to act in those errant ways, to deviate from our spiritual aims and to succumb to passing thoughts, feelings, and desires, thus missing the mark time and again.January 31, 2015 at 1:23 am #18478
Ever since human beings discovered that we live in an expanding, evolutionary universe with billions of other galaxies, it has become increasingly fashionable
to suggest that human existence is essentially meaningless, that all reality is strictly material, and that human consciousness, like so many other things, is a kind of illusion that should be “explained away.” In this myth of scientific materialism, one prominent physicist went so far as to suggest that life itself is nothing more than “a disease of matter.” Taking an exactly opposite approach, in the ancient Gnostic myths only spirit is real and the material world is a kind of mistake, an illusion in which we are exiled and imprisoned. In this view, we are not really supposed to be here; we must reawaken to our true nature, leave the illusion behind, and re-ascend to the pure realm of spirit that is our real home. In the myth of materialism, belief in consciousness and meaning is an error; in the myth of Gnosticism, belief in the material universe is.February 2, 2015 at 10:54 am #18556
In his book Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, the famous French Iranologue Henry Corbin  precedes his analysis of Zoroastrian Mazdaism with a reflection on a powerful and captivating image: that of the Earth as an angel of the utmost beauty, an eternal presence perceived and meditated through the ages. As we will see, Mazdean angelology indeed recognized and experienced the presence of a feminine Archangel of the Earth, Spendarmat or Spenta Armaiti.
In this article, I will try to present a coherent albeit succinct gathering of the Mazdean angelology and some related issues based almost entirely on Corbin’s work. The next article in the series will try to shed light on the restoration, in the 12th century, of some of the Zoroastrian motifs by Sohrawardi, the great Islamic philosopher of light.February 3, 2015 at 5:51 am #18569
Astrology has a huge PR problem, and this stems from a grave misunderstanding of what it is. When astrology is mentioned, the horoscope columns that permeate modern media come to mind, followed by critiques of accuracy and quick verdicts about astrology’s veracity.
What most people do not know is that this form of astrology is less than a hundred years old, whereas astrology has been present in some form in nearly every human culture that has ever left a trace of its existence. Furthermore, this vast cultural diversity also means that there are multiple forms of astrological practice, so it is more accurate to conceive of astrology as a collection of practices—practices that do not need to be condensed into a single system.
The next critiques center on astrology’s claims to truth and accuracy. Astrology is frequently tested as a science. It is sized up for its inability to pass muster, but this begs a deeper question: why does astrology need to pass the requirements of “science” to be considered real? Nearly every culture has practiced some form of astrology. How much more real does it get? Countering the obsessions of the comparison to science, Patrick Curry, a leading historian of astrology, has asserted, “Astrology … is not a flawed or failed version of something else, but fully itself.” Even the horoscope column, which many professional astrologers love to claim, isn’t “real” astrology, are real. Horoscope columns exist, that cannot be denied, so to exclude them from astrology is also a mistake.
So how can we understand astrology better?February 3, 2015 at 3:56 pm #18579
Why the subconscious? What have you found or think that sound causes over there that makes you so interested to navigate in those dark territories of the mind? Why do you think is important to use sound specifically to trigger those states?
Because we’ve lost contact with that part of our psyche. As a society we’ve developed a highly abstracted language which packages the unconscious as dark and dangerous and better left alone…best to close it off and stay focused on our literal, material lives. But the unconscious is where art flows from – the unconscious encompasses much more than we think we know about it today.February 3, 2015 at 3:56 pm #18580
A classic text, the Mahabharata, reports, “Yogis who are without restraints [and] endowed with the power of yoga are [so many] masters, who enter into [the bodies of] the Prajapatis, the sages, the gods, and the great beings.” Finding this passage was one of the inspirational moments that motivated David Gordon White, J. F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to pursue an investigation into the development of yogic practices. Wondering, “If these be yogis, then what is yoga?,” White tackled the history of yoga by focusing on those individuals who were called yogis in his latest book, Sinister Yogis (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
This approach challenges many of the preconceived Western notions of yoga. There is little meditation, breathing, exercise, impossible contortionism, etc. that is often associated with the practice. Further, it offers an alterative reading of histories of the philosophical development of yogic teachings, which are based primarily on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. What we are presented with is possession, shape-shifting, and creation of multiple selves, among other things. Overall, yogis, were defined as such, when they entered into or took over the bodies of others. White examines this history in a variety of contexts and across a vast expanse of history. Sinister Yogis continues White’s earlier work, Kiss of the Yogini: ‘Tantric Sex’ in its South Asian Contexts and The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India, and foreshadows his upcoming projects, Yoga in Practice and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: A Biography. Altogether, White’s research is rich and detailed but thoroughly readable, as he is a skilled storyteller. One will discover this with delight already on the first pages, which recount White’s encounters with yogis (or maybe the same yogi) from the mountains of Kathmandu to the parking lot of Los Angeles’ Trader Joe’s.February 3, 2015 at 3:59 pm #18581
Paul Cronin’s book of conversations with filmmaker Werner Herzog is called Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed. On the back cover of the book, Herzog offers a list of advice for filmmakers that doubles as general purpose life advice.
1. Always take the initiative.
2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
12. Take your fate into your own hands.
13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
18. Develop your own voice.
19. Day one is the point of no return.
20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
23. Take revenge if need be.
24. Get used to the bear behind you.February 3, 2015 at 4:04 pm #18582
The last taboo is the myth of civilization.
It is built upon the stories we have constructed about our genius, our indestructibility, our manifest destiny as a chosen species. It is where our vision and our self-belief intertwine with our reckless refusal to face the reality of our position on this Earth. It has led the human race to achieve what it has achieved, and has led the planet into the age of ecocide. The two are intimately linked. We believe they must be decoupled if anything is to remain.
We believe that artists — which is to us the most welcoming of words, taking under its wing writers of all kinds, painters, musicians, sculptors, poets, designers, creators, makers of things, dreamers of dreams — have a responsibility to begin the process of decoupling. We believe that, in the age of ecocide, the last taboo must be broken — and that only artists can do it.
— From Uncivilization by Paul Kingsnorth and Douglas HineFebruary 3, 2015 at 4:15 pm #18583
Physicists, alchemists, and ayahuasca shamans: A study of grammar and the body
Through a brief exploration of techniques employed by advanced physicists, Renaissance alchemists, and Amazonian ayahuasca shamans, a logic of identification may be observed in which practitioners embody different means of transcending themselves and becoming the objects or spirits of their respective practices. While the physicists tend to embody secular principles and relate to this logic of identification in a purely figurative or metaphorical sense, Renaissance alchemists and Amazonian shamans embody epistemological stances that afford much more weight to the existential qualities and ‘persons’ or ‘spirits’ of their respective practices. A cognitive value in employing forms of language and sensory experience that momentarily take the practitioner beyond him or herself is evidenced by these three different practices. However, there is arguably more at stake here than values confined to cogito. The boundaries of bodies, subjectivities and humanness in each of these practices become porous and blurred and are transcended while the contours of various forms of possibility are exposed, defined, and acted upon — possibilities that inform the outcomes of the practices and the definitions of the human they imply.February 3, 2015 at 4:23 pm #18584
The distinction between knowledge and information is a thing of the past, and there is no greater disgrace than to be a thing of the past. Beyond its impact upon culture, the new technology penetrates even deeper levels of identity and experience, to cognition and to consciousness. Such transformations embolden certain high priests in the church of tech to espouse the doctrine of “transhumanism” and to suggest, without any recollection of the bankruptcy of utopia, without any consideration of the cost to human dignity, that our computational ability will carry us magnificently beyond our humanity and “allow us to transcend these limitations of our biological bodies and brains. . . . There will be no distinction, post-Singularity, between human and machine.” (The author of that updated mechanistic nonsense is a director of engineering at Google.)
And even as technologism, which is not the same as technology, asserts itself over more and more precincts of human life, so too does scientism, which is not the same as science. The notion that the nonmaterial dimensions of life must be explained in terms of the material dimensions, and that nonscientific understandings must be translated into scientific understandings if they are to qualify as knowledge, is increasingly popular inside and outside the university, where the humanities are disparaged as soft and impractical and insufficiently new. The contrary insistence that the glories of art and thought are not evolutionary adaptations, or that the mind is not the brain, or that love is not just biology’s bait for sex, now amounts to a kind of heresy. So, too, does the view that the strongest defense of the humanities lies not in the appeal to their utility — that literature majors may find good jobs, that theaters may economically revitalize neighborhoods — but rather in the appeal to their defiantly nonutilitarian character, so that individuals can know more than how things work, and develop their powers of discernment and judgment, their competence in matters of truth and goodness and beauty, to equip themselves adequately for the choices and the crucibles of private and public life.
This gloomy inventory of certain tendencies in contemporary American culture — it is not the whole story, but it is an alarmingly large part of the story — is offered for the purpose of proposing an accurate name for our moment. We are not becoming transhumanists, obviously. We are too singular for the Singularity. But are we becoming posthumanists?
The character of our society cannot be determined by engineers.February 3, 2015 at 4:43 pm #18586
There is no Greek god as strange and bizarre as Pan, part man, part goat.February 3, 2015 at 4:55 pm #18588
For centuries, a little Belgian town has treated the mentally ill. Why are its medieval methods so successful?February 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm #18590
Anne Marie Luijendijk, a professor of religion at Princeton University, discovered that this newfound gospel is like no other. “When I began deciphering the manuscript and encountered the word ‘gospel’ in the opening line, I expected to read a narrative about the life and death of Jesus as the canonical gospels present, or a collection of sayings similar to the Gospel of Thomas (a non-canonical text),” she wrote in her book “Forbidden Oracles? The Gospel of the Lots of Mary” (Mohr Siebeck, 2014).
What she found instead was a series of 37 oracles, written vaguely, and with only a few that mention Jesus.
The text would have been used for divination, Luijendijk said. A person seeking an answer to a question could have sought out the owner of this book, asked a question, and gone through a process that would randomly select one of the 37 oracles to help find a solution to the person’s problem. The owner of the book could have acted as a diviner, helping to interpret the written oracles, she said.February 3, 2015 at 5:33 pm #18591
Rather than seek his cures in dusty texts, Paracelsus looked to nature, and he was determined to see as much of it as possible. In an age of numerous “intellectual vagabonds”, such as the illustrious Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus outdid them all, tracing an incredible circuit that had him meeting shamans in Russia, visiting tin mines in Cornwall, studying alchemy in Cairo and the Kabbalah in Spain. He was also a military surgeon in Italy, where he saw the worst cases possible. Along the way he learned as much as he could from local sources, synthesising the folk cures of dozens of lands with his own alchemical medicine. This he set out in a mostly indecipherable prose. But he was also capable of pithy precision. Admiring the beneficial characteristics of putrefaction, he once alienated a school of medical dons by lecturing them on the virtues of shit: presenting them with a sample of his own, he declared that “Decay is the midwife of great things.” Caught up in the Protestant crossfire, he called Luther and the Pope “Two whores debating chastity”. No wonder he put the wind up just about everybody.February 4, 2015 at 9:29 am #18633
Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results.February 4, 2015 at 9:53 am #18635
A journey through the body from head to toe, created by piecing together 1878 cross-sectional photographs.February 4, 2015 at 5:06 pm #18644February 5, 2015 at 6:11 pm #18669
The late Ian Stevenson (1918-2007), who was Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Personality Studies at the Health Sciences Center, University of Virginia, investigated thousands of children who, about the age of two, begin making comments suggesting a previous life.[v] In many of these cases, birthmarks and physical deformities in the child correlated with events in the alleged former life. For instance, malformed fingers corresponded to the amputation of fingers from a sword in a remembered lifetime; a birthmark corresponded to the entry and exit wounds of bullets in the remembered personality; congenital constriction rings in the legs of an individual mirrored being bound by ropes in a previous existence; the congenital absence of the lower leg corresponded to an accidental amputation of the leg in the previous personality; various birthmarks corresponded to burns, knife wounds, and various other traumas occurring in the life of the remembered individual.
In addition to memories, birth defects, and birthmarks, Stevenson believed specific behaviors might be carried over from life to life. For example, he found that children often experience phobias consistent with the mode of death of the remembered personality. A child remembering a life that ended in drowning might be afraid of being immersed in water. One who recalls a life terminated by a shooting might demonstrate a phobia for guns and loud noises. If death involved an auto accident, the child might be phobic of cars, buses, and trucks. These phobias often begin before the child can speak, and there may be no obvious factor in the family that might explain them.
Philias also occur. These may take the form of a desire for particular foods not eaten in the subject’s family or for clothes that are entirely different from whose worn by family members. For example, there might be craving for tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs the previous personality was known to use, although they are tabooed in the current family.
Some subjects show skills they have not been taught or have not witnessed, which the remembered personality was known to possess.February 6, 2015 at 11:32 pm #18722
EVEN AFTER SEVERAL DECADES of research on African diviners and divination systems, the subject continues to fascinate me because of divination’s importance in daily human lives, its centrality in cultural systems, its articulation of values and laws, and its breadth of artistry. Divination is an incredibly rich area for anthropological research—in fact, I would argue that there is no richer ethnography of a culture than the study of its divination system. In a very real sense, as the Yoruba of Nigeria explicitly state about their system of Ifa, a divination system constitutes a people’s “book of knowledge” wherein their history and cultural guidelines are maintained.
My working definition of divination is:
A divination system is a standardized process deriving from a learned discipline based on an extensive body of knowledge. This knowledge may or may not be literally expressed during the interpretation of the oracular message. The diviner may utilize a fixed corpus, such as the Yoruba Ifa Odu verses, or a more diffuse body of esoteric knowledge. Divining processes are diverse, but all follow set routines by which otherwise inaccessible information is obtained. Some type of device usually is employed, from a simple sliding object to the myriad symbolic items shaken in diviners’ baskets. Sometimes the diviner’s body becomes the vehicle of communication through spirit possession. Some diviners operate self-explanatory mechanisms that reveal answers; other systems require the diviner to interpret cryptic metaphoric messages. The final diagnosis and plan for action are rendered collectively by the diviner and the client(s).February 7, 2015 at 12:43 pm #18730
‘Psychic cells’: Scientists discover cells can communicate through physical barriersFebruary 17, 2015 at 11:30 pm #19027
Thanks, Wren.March 15, 2015 at 1:10 am #19643April 17, 2015 at 10:12 pm #20545
Mental Discipline Theory and Mathematics Education
GEORGE A. STANIC
Those who are by nature good at calculation are, as
one might say, naturally sharp in every other study,
and … those who are slow at it, if they are educated
and exercised in this study, nevertheless improve and
become sharper than they were. [Republic, Book VII,
Grube translation, 1974, p 178] PlatoApril 22, 2015 at 6:17 pm #20684
We recently carried out a brainimaging study of the key ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin. It showed that psilocybin plays a role in the Default Mode Network (DMN), which is an area of the brain that has been implicated in cases of depression, OCD, Alzheimer’s, and autism. In particular, this research has raised interest in the investigation of psilocybin as a possible treatment for depression. We suspect that LSD works in a similar way to psilocybin, but we will not know for certain until we have analysed the results of the brain imaging study.May 10, 2015 at 11:39 pm #21139
Throughout history, intellectual life has been marked by the fact that only a small number of people have done the serious thinking for everybody else. What we are witnessing is a passing of the torch from one group of thinkers, the traditional literary intellectuals, to a new group, the intellectuals of the emerging third culture.May 11, 2015 at 3:18 am #21140
Some waffle from 20 years ago ?May 11, 2015 at 10:00 pm #21151
Whatever you think of Foucault and Rorty, there is no doubt that they were intelligent writers and genuine scholars with a distinctive vision of reality. They opened the way to fakes but were not fakes themselves. Matters are quite otherwise with many of their contemporaries. Consider the following sentence:
This is not just its situation ‘in principle’ (the one it occupies in the hierarchy of instances in relation to the determinant instance: in society, the economy) nor just its situation ‘in fact’ (whether, in the phase under consideration, it is dominant or subordinate) but the relation of this situation in fact to this situation in principle, that is, the very relation which makes of this situation in fact a ‘variation’ of the — ‘invariant’ — structure, in dominance, of the totality.
… it is the connexion between signifier and signifier that permits the elision in which the signifier installs the lack-of-being in the object relation using the value of ‘reference back’ possessed by signification in order to invest it with the desire aimed at the very lack it supports.
Those sentences are from the French philosopher Louis Althusser and the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan respectively. These authors emerged from the revolutionary ferment of Paris in 1968 to achieve an astonishing reputation, not least in America, where between them they run up more references in the academic literature than Kant and Goethe combined. Yet it is surely clear that these sentences are nonsense. Their claims to scholarship and erudite knowledge intimidate the critic and maintain fortified defences against critical assault. They illustrate a peculiar kind of academic Newspeak: each sentence is curled round like an in-growing toe-nail, hard, ugly, and pointing only to itself.
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