Thursday, December 30, 2021


Deliver Us, Oh Lord, from a Bad Sci-Fi Film

As I have said before, once one takes a first step into the preposterous reality of the UFO/UAP phenomena -- a step that our own government has taken already -- then the question is where to stop on the path to the land of the crazies, on the path to madness.  I think we should all be able to agree, for example, that the pyramids at Giza were built without ET engineering assistance.  When you have half a million slaves at your disposal, it's amazing how much you can get done.

David M. Jacobs is a Ph.D retired professor from Temple, whose field of study was 20th century U.S. and intellectual history.  By all accounts he is sober-minded and well grounded generally.  In the last book he has published, "Walking Among Us," from 2015, he attempts to summarize for us hundreds of interviews that he conducted with people who claim to have been abducted by aliens over a long period, most of the interviews under hypnosis conducted by Jacobs himself.  Like the first of the well-publicized "abductees" in American history, Barney and Betty Hill of New Hampshire, many of Jacobs' subjects report that they were taken aboard craft, where sperm or ova were extracted from them against their will.  Later, the abductees are visited repeatedly by beings that seem to be set in a fixed hierarchy, with so-called "insectalins" -- utterly cold-hearted creatures who look something like mantises -- apparently on top and in charge of the program.  Below them are the familiar "greys," but also and critically a series of more and more humanoid beings, culminating in creatures that Jacobs calls "hubrids," who are physically indistinguishable from those of us on Earth of more conventional origin.

The hypothesis is that, via genetic/DNA experimentation, the insectalins are creating a race of alien/human hybrids, with the ultimate goal of "appropriating" our planet for themselves, without a laser/taser having been fired.

This agenda is not made express.  It is inferred from the fact that Jacobs' human subjects are charged with teaching the humanoids how to "pass" in Western society.  One might think that this would not be necessary, because the aliens are all-powerful and all-knowing.  But they are not all-knowing.  What they don't know, and need great help in navigating, are the rules of our culture.  These rules are alien to them in part because their own culture is characterized by strict collectivism/authoritarianism and a complete void in the place where, in our own culture, the values that are dearest to us -- love, friendship, family ties, high culture and popular culture -- reside.

The humanoids expect their abductee assistants to lay out for them all of our cultural rules as if they follow simple algorithms, and the abductees get intensely frustrated with their "cascading questions" for the same reason that a father gets tired of trying to explain to his little son or daughter why the sky is blue:

He likes the carpet too -- that's got a lot of color.  We go upstairs and he stops me on the bottom step and he wants to know why the carpet changes color there and I told him they brought the upstairs carpet down the stairs, but the downstairs carpet is different.  It was like this when we moved in.  He tells me he doesn't like that, he thinks it should all be the same.  We go up the stairs and go into the kitchen.  He's asking me about different things in there.  The color changed on the floor again and he really doesn't like that -- that's like a whitish color and he doesn't like that at all.  He wants to know if I can put the blue carpet in there and I said "No, no, you don't put that kind of carpet in the kitchen."  I'm telling him you can have things spill on it and everything, and you wouldn't be able to keep it clean.

Thus these little lessons are mundane in the extreme, and the jarring juxtaposition is that this army of infiltrators who will take away our world, in the same way that our Manifest Destiny was destined to steamroll the native Americans, is made up of creatures who are plain stupid when it comes to human culture and values.

Professor Jacobs is now 79.  He says that the picture he has painted in all of his alien books has now more or less defeated him morally, and so, from now until his demise, he wants only to sit home and watch television.  Accordingly it is left for us to decide whether he is a great fabulist in the manner of Swift and "Gulliver's Travels," showing us our foibles from the point of view of a naïve witness to an imagined race or imagined races, or rather that he is somehow plugged into an awful secret, the most awful secret.  In this I return again to the chilling 2021 statement of Lue Elizondo, to the effect that it will be hard for us to accept when it is made clear to us, perhaps as early as 2022, that we are not zookeepers but inhabitants of the zoo.


When Nietzsche's Mind Began to Shatter

He could see it himself.  Or rather, he could hear it himself, as every sound took on a sinister cast, as if a demon's indecipherable whisper were embedded in it.

The buzzing of the bees in the sycamore trees, for example.

Sunday, December 19, 2021


Sic Semper Tyrannis

Well, maybe not exactly thus.

It was in the summer of 2047 that the New Leader truly ran off the rails psychologically, which set in motion a chain of events leading to the long-predicted dissolution of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or DPRK, and the proclamation soon thereafter of the new, benign Peoples Democratic Republic of Koryo, or PDRK.

The New Leader, known to his mother as Kim Il-Du, was not so new in 2047, having ascended the throne upon the death by natural causes of his father Kim Jong-Un in 2039.  By then, though, he was going over a rough patch, and already  being called, behind his back, the "Caligula of Koryo" for his ever more vivid methods of striking fear into the hearts of his people, and especially the hearts of the military and political cadres who might be in a position to threaten him.  So in that summer he instructed the elite construction brigade known as 2-12, which was attached to the Second Army Corps, to build a gigantic fondue pot, to a scale such that it had an aperture of 10 metres, in honor of his late father's favorite food, which was cheese.

The pot when completed looked very much, except for its size, like the crockpot in which one might bake beans, with a pale yellow patina on the bottom and a chocolate brown glaze above.  Kim had it installed in the center of the lesser of the two large gathering places in the Great Hall of the People in Pyongyang -- the one in which international and national championship basketball games were played.  Above the pot was built a complex crane and lift system so that miscreants standing on the floor of the arena could be put in harness, like Peter Pan on 42nd and Broadway, then lifted over and slowly dropped into 5000 gallons of bubbling cheese, with their arms and legs free to move for further theatrical effect.

The cheese, per the classic recipe, was a mixture of equal parts Gruyere and Vacherin Fribourgeois, imported discreetly into the port of Nampo from Shanghai.  Because it represented the entire importation into China from Europe of those two cheeses in the preceding year, securing it was a life-and-death priority for two senior DPRK diplomats residing in Beijing.  Also, once in country, the latter cheese was always to be styled per Kim's own order simply "Vacherin," to avoid any insinuation that the regime fancied anyone or anything that was either "free" or "bourgeois."

Senior party officials in the hundreds as well as family members to the third degree witnessed the executions that took place in the fall in the Peoples Hall.  Kim himself was not present, but he watched them live from his palace in the capital.  Usually two victims were boiled in the cheese at the same time, but they did not descend at precisely the same height.  Kim's logic was that the more reprehensible of the two miscreants should be slightly behind in the descent, so that his agony would include watching and hearing a bit of the denouement of his co-conspirator.

Of the ten people who perished in the pot that year, only one -- the New Leader's aunt, Kim Yo-Jong -- took her punishment silently and with apparent equanimity, until the moment, that is, when her black pump-clad feet fell into the cheese, at which point her screams were automatic and animalistic, incapable of suppression.

It is known that the New Leader, like the Great Leader and the Dear Leader and his father the Respected Marshall before him, held soirees for senior cadres almost every week that went deep into the night, in part to test out loyalties by putting people a bit off their guard via inebriation, which was required of all hands.  At these parties at this time, he would often make reference to the cheese torture, but only obliquely.  It was an unwritten law that everyone respond to such references "in a spirit of fun," as if supremely confident that they themselves were immunized from punishment by their ironclad, impregnable loyalty.

When the end came in the late spring of the following year, Kim himself was frog marched to the hall and up a set of wooden stairs constructed for the purpose, so that he could be tossed over the lip of the crockpot to his destruction.  (It took five men to do it.)  The cheese on that day was on a low simmer as always when the contraption was dormant, and at the temperature accordingly of a light sauna.  As a consequence, Kim died not from burns but from what had come to be known as the new phenomenon of "cheesephyxiation."  His yellow body was displayed to the people in Kim Il Sung Square, propped up in the same regal chair from which he liked to watch military parades, until the dogs did what dogs will do.

Dogmeat, of course, has always been a delicacy in North Korea, and especially favored for its apocryphal assistance in staving off the ill effects of heat in the summer.  But remarkably in that summer of 2048, no one partook of it, not even in the countryside, out of respect for the dogs of Pyongyang.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


The Evolution of Our Cosmology

Every class in the history of physics makes the point.  The history of our cosmology is the story of man growing further and further from the center.

The earth stood literally at the center.  Then we realized that the earth revolves around the sun.  Then that each star represents a separate sun.  Then that there are more stars in our galaxy than grains of sand on the beach.  Then that this galaxy -- the Milky Way -- is but one dot among billions.  Then that the greater universe comprising the billions of dots is expanding, so that its scale gets larger with every day.  And then that the "cosmic inflation" right after the Big Bang represented a bubble, and that the math implies that such bubbles must arise repeatedly, an infinite number of times in fact, so that there must be a world identical to this one except that this blogpost was not written.

Is this the final frontier? Does this complete the picture? Not if other entire dimensions, heretofore unknown to us, are intruding on our own, and dimensions that are populated by higher intelligences.

This last step, though, would be different from the others from a philosophical point of view.  All of the others fed nicely into the strict materialism of a Daniel Dennett or a Sean Carroll or a Neil de Grasse Tyson insofar as they underscore for us our own insignificance.

With the last step, though, finally the two fingers at the pinnacle of the Sistine Chapel -- the Finger of God and the Finger of Man -- may at long last touch (or not).  The possibilities are endless you might say.

Sunday, December 12, 2021


After the Tyger

In my new lexicon, "ET" does not stand for "extraterrestrial;" it stands for "extreme terror."  

Before we turn to the terror that may be induced by coming encounters with the perceived inhabitants of Unexplained Aerial Phenomena, or UAP, perhaps we should think about the variables that contribute to a feeling of extreme terror in less exotic circumstances, so that we can measure the visceral fear that is to come, as a consequence of the Big Disclosure, against ET whose sources are, in a literal sense, mundane.


Intelligence, perhaps in part as a proxy for power to do us harm, if harm is intended.  

Sheer Size.  

And Strangeness (the experts speak of "high strangeness" when referring to certain reptilian and insect-like creatures, for example).

And so, playing at being scientific, we might adopt a formula:


What does it mean?  The level of extreme terror is proportional to perceived malevolence times perceived intelligence times size times strangeness.

The Tyger himself.  The terror can be quite extreme because the only thing missing from the equation is strangeness.  The creature is quite beautiful.

Compare coming into a clearing to see an elephant in the wild.  She is more intelligent than the tyger, she is huge, she is quite strange in her composition.  But the jury is out on malevolence.  She will probably live and let live if you don't come too close or threaten her offspring.

Compare the pretend creature seen in a viral video that some wit with time on his hands was able to construct.  He built a very realistic spider costume to be worn by his friendly and lovable dog.  When the dog runs, the legs of the spider bounce up and down in such a way that they appear to be propelling the spider.  Two young girls push the button to call for an elevator.  When the doors open up, what appears to be a two-foot-wide tarantula runs after them!  The terror is extreme.  It's only wildly funny because the malevolence is a mirage.

When people experiment with the powerful hallucinogenic drug DMT (which is said to be released routinely by the brain as death approaches), it is common for them to see "elves" or court jesters.  These creatures seem "more real than reality."  They also seem to know everything about the experiencer.  They often mock him or her, as if giving life instruction in the form of "calling out one's bullshit."  Having high strangeness and high intelligence, if only modest relative size, they will induce ET, or not, based largely on their perceived level of malevolence.

What about God Himself?  Well, one might want to ask "Which One?"  The Gnostics believed that the god who built all of creation, including us -- "Yaldabaoth" -- who is the same as the god of the Old Testament, was a petty tyrant -- jealous and downright evil.  It might well induce ET to find oneself face to face with him, in a way not much different than when Dorothy and her friends first encountered the Wizard of Oz.  (His malevolence, size and strangeness, and yes even his intelligence, are fabricated of course, and it takes less than a minute for the terror to evaporate once he is revealed to be the celebrated "man behind the curtain.")

On the conventional earthly plane, I might Eye Dee the giant squid as the creature who best proves out my theorem.  In a little storefront on the street in Manhattan outside the Museum of Modern Art this past summer, a fascinating video played out in a continuous loop.  In the video, a normal-sized squid investigated, then devoured, a chambered nautilus in his chamber, which was somehow shown in cutaway view.  (The film was not animated.)  The squid inserted one tentacle into the nautilus's shell all the way in a conventional spiral into its deepest interior.  There it found its prey.  The squid then compressed itself in such a way that its body could make its way halfway along the spiral path.  Then it tore apart at its leisure the poor animal hiding in the center, using its suckers to move little pieces to its mouth.

If we place ourselves in the posture of the nautilus, it is hard to imagine anything that could be more terrifying.  And if we place ourselves in scuba gear in an underwater cavern, with a hungry 30-foot giant squid coming upon us, well, there we are in solidarity with the nautilus.  Our terror is only rendered more extreme if we look upon the eyes of the Creature and remember, from our science books, that it is more intelligent than your average chocolate Lab.

By all accounts, the perceived inhabitants of UAP come in various sub-species, or perhaps in various put-upon guises.  Some, such as the crash victims of Roswell, are too helpless to pose a threat, so they can't be said to be malevolent in the moment.  They may induce wonder and bewilderment in us, but not terror, at least not directly.

But then on the other end of the scale there are the reported reptilians with anal probes, who may or may not telepathically communicate to us that "this won't hurt a bit."  There are also the perpetrators of cattle mutilations proximate to UAP sightings, fantastically strange and merciless operations that are too ubiquitous to be dismissed as nonsense.

How do these various species or guises relate to each other, and who is in charge?  Is anyone in charge?

Humankind in a collective state of ET for the first time in the history of the world, that's what I am thinking about.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021


Is My Question the Same as Blake's?

The question embedded in the poem that is --

Tyger, tyger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

We are asked to stand in awe of God's magnificent yet terrifying handiwork.  But beyond that we are asked what kind of God could leave us defenseless on this landscape with the tiger, who is wont to lie in wait when our wives and daughters take the trail down to the river, out of necessity, "in the forests of the night."

And how much more terrible, now, to look into the eye of the shape-shifting tiger and to see, in addition to cold malevolence, an intelligence that has evolved for millions of years beyond our own.  "This is not a beast but a demi-god!"  Do we really think that there is a benevolent Higher God who stands behind him?  What is the narrative that might explain this in a way that gives comfort?

Tuesday, November 30, 2021


C. G. Jung in His own Words

We have now discovered that it was intellectually unjustified presumption on our forefathers' part to assume that man has a soul; that that soul has substance, is of divine nature and therefore immortal; that there is a power inherent in it which builds up the body, supports its life, heals its ills and enables the soul to live independently of the body; that there are incorporeal spirits with which the soul associates; and that beyond our empirical present there is a spiritual world from which the soul receives knowledge of spiritual things whose origins cannot be discovered in this visible world.  But people who are not above the general level of consciousness have not yet discovered that it is just as presumptuous and fantastic for us to assume that matter produces spirit; that apes give rise to human beings; that from the harmonious interplay of the drives of hunger, love, and power Kant's Critique of Pure Reason should have arisen; that the brain-cells manufacture thoughts, and that all this could not possibly be other than it is.


It is Right to Give Him Thanks and Praise

It is fitting indeed and just, right and proper for salvation, for us always and everywhere to give thanks to You oh Lord!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021


In What Imagined World?...

... Will I achieve a final triumph of the spirit, and not sustain a final annihilation? (Metaphorical victories -- "You will live on through your children" -- don't count.)

Carl Jung treated his "primitives" with reverence and respect.  And yet, he said, they could not even process the question that he put to them -- "What will happen to you when you die?"  They told him that the bodies are always dragged into the bush, for the hyenas to eat.  (The Tibetans use birds instead, and the ritual is more elaborate.)

At dawn, the men of the tribe spit into their hands and turn their palms towards the Risen Sun.  The spittle is equivalent to their breath, the Breath of Life.  How is this different, Jung asked, from our own acknowledgement of powerlessness, taken from the Passion of Christ -- "Lord into Thy hands I commend my spirit"?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021


Letting Go

Certain physical things help to anchor us in the world, to bring us special comfort.  For my dear friend Sam, they included his books about (or written by) the Founding Fathers, as well as his Hebrew bible.  

As we prepare to check out, these things can become to us like the binkie and the blankee of a babbling baby.  The hospice worker will whisper in our ears, encouraging us to let them go as earnestly as she says that we must let go our very loved ones.

Thus such things become a principal artifice, and take on an outsized role, in literature, in the theatre and even in the visual arts.  The writer/artist may seem to choose them casually from a long list of fungibles, but if chosen well they will resonate.  (Peter Falk fussing about which hat his character should wear in "Wings of Desire.")

Say good-bye, Professor Nabokov, to your desiccated butterflies, good-bye, Monsieur Proust, to every madeleine, good-bye Mr. Williams to your menagerie that is made of glass.

Monday, November 8, 2021

 Zuckerberg:  At the End of His Tether

In the olden days in America, especially before the railroads, there were private highways, often called "turnpikes," under private control, and tolls were collected for the privilege of using them.  It was good to be Johnson when the Johnson Pike was the only practical route between, say, Culpepper and Paytonsville.  Thus there were natural monopolies on the movement of things from Point A to Point B.

There were no natural monopolies on the movement of information from place to place.  A city such as Boston, at its journalistic peak, might have been home to five or six daily newspapers, all vying for what we now call the "eyeballs" of the people.

When radio and television came into vogue in the 20th century, the government in the form of the Federal Communications Commission parsed out the bandwidth with the goal of protecting a marketplace of ideas.  The rules were more or less neutral as between Edward R. Murrow and "Mr. Ed," but with a nudging of the industry toward the coverage of "public affairs."   (Why was Eddie Fisher's affair with Elizabeth Taylor not considered "public" for such purposes?)

Then, decades later, came the young visionaries, who might be working out of a garage in Silicon Valley or, more formally, at a place like DARPA or the MIT Media Lab.  They could see beyond horizons both technical and cultural, and with respect to the latter they found their inspiration in Marshall McLuhan and the most imaginative of the Mad Men of the '50s and '60s.

Bill Gates foresaw that well-soldered "pizza boxes" would displace the US Mail as means of interpersonal communication, and challenge radio and TV as means for the distribution of Mass Content.  He knew that algorithms -- logic trees -- would have to be invented not just to perform specific tasks, like the typing of these words, but also to enable the general enabling of the machine.  He and his minions would invent a near-universal language that allowed the machines to wake up from their slumber, challenged only by a small bite at the apple in the form of the language of the Mac.  

Would the government bust up this natural monopoly?  Hell no.  It was in no one's interest that there be a Tower of Babel among the machines, and if someone was going to control their autonomous nervous systems, it might as well be an American company led by an American pioneer.  The money in untold amounts would follow.

More visionary even than Mr. Gates was Steve Jobs.  He could see that everyone in the world is feeling lonely and isolated most of the time.  But if they had the right little machine in their pockets, offering instant communication and instant access to all information, they could be distracted from their loneliness and isolation.  They would quickly become totally dependent on their little machines to fend off anxiety, to fend off death.  To satisfy this craving that he himself created, Jobs' enterprise would have to build a factory town in China (a single giant factory really, with many bunk beds attached), capable of assembling 500,000 such little machines per day.

What of the collateral consequences?  Mr. Jobs perhaps was wise to waste away before they were tallied up.  He must have single-handedly erased billions of hours of contemplation per year, among other things.  Is contemplation a good or a bad thing?

And now the new oligarchs.  Mark Zuckerberg will build out and control, we are told, an infrastructure that will allow us to live in an artificial universe, a ubiquitous 3D Zoom call from which there is no escape.  To others, we will be represented in this space by an idealized form of our own choosing.  The Elephant Man will be treated just like Fabio in this new world, because his "avatar" will be Fabio.  Accordingly he will be able to have virtual sex with Stacey Abrams whose avatar is Whitney Houston.  They will be able to share in the vapidness, the high heat and the flame-out, the ultimate pointlessness, of every Hollywood romance that has ever graced the cover of People magazine.

There will no longer be a need for football stadiums or ballparks; we will share our enthusiasms in the virtual space.

There will be a small underclass of people who are charged with upkeep of the infrastructure and, indeed, upkeep of the real world at large.  We will be able in the main, for example, to administer drugs to ourselves, but the surgeon's assistant will still have to cohabit our actual space if he or she is to timely remove an inflamed appendix.

Our cats and our dogs will miss us.

Zuckerberg will do all of this to enhance our lives, ca va sans dire, but as the creator and keeper of the new virtual world, he will be entitled to charge a small toll of his own.  Part of his challenge will be to measure in tiny increments -- not to say "bytes" -- the extent to which we are availing ourselves of his new world.  Then he can automatically, algorithmically, collect a hundredth of a cent per whatever.  The money will not change his life of course, except insofar as it gives him a mountain of cash to throw at the next cultural revolution, one that not even our nascent young visionaries can see from here.

The most significant thing perhaps -- just as at Fenway Park, just as at Disneyworld, there will be behavioral rules that all of us will have to follow in the virtual landscape.  We can call these rules social or cultural, but as we know there is only a faint smudge that separates the social and the cultural from the political, which is to say the rules by which we govern ourselves.  All of this will happen in baby steps, but Zuckerberg in due course will get to decide how much agency is left to the individual.

Thursday, October 28, 2021


We Shall All of Us Be Equal in Our Discombobulation

Many have remarked that The Big Disclosure, when it comes, will be very upsetting for those of us who believe in God, more or less conventionally.  Surely an alien form of Jesus was not sent down to Zeta Reticuli to absolve the greys of their sins.  Something will not compute here on a fundamental basis for the devout Catholic or Evangelical.

But I believe that the discombobulation will be general.  Let's take a committed, lifelong atheist like the late Christopher Hitchens, a man I admire deeply for his intellect and his courage.  It may be too much to say that materialism/scientism was a religion for him, but he was secure in its pieties, even as he faced an early death from cancer.  There was a narrative that explained his life, his place in the universe, even though it offered him no hope of life after life.  There was a place for humanism and for ethics in that narrative as well, and a place for caring about the fate of his friends and loved ones whom he left behind.

Hitchens and his fellow travelers have been secure in their conviction that "God does not exist."  Insofar as the God who does not exist is pictured as the God of the great monotheistic faiths -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam-- the Big Disclosure will not undermine this specific conviction.  The Disclosure nonetheless is likely to completely upend the materialist narrative.  God will not exist, but "the gods" will exist, almost as they did for the Greeks and the Romans, with all of their whimsicality and potential for mayhem.  The materialists/scientists will say "this cannot be!"   But no one will be able to will it away.

Lue Elizondo, the former head of the government's AATIP program, which was charged with figuring out the Phenomenon, podcasted for nearly three hours this week with Curt Jaimungal, the young host of "The Theory of Everything."   He intends to write a book that will have shocking and compelling "small d" disclosures in it, a book that will be vetted by the US government which, one hopes, will choose not to suppress it.

Lue said in the interview that his own psychological posture these days is "sober" and "somber."   "Why?," he was asked.  He replied that we have, all of us, come to think of ourselves as the zookeepers of the universe, and that it will not be pretty when we are hit with revelations to the effect that we are just animals in the zoo.  The zookeepers are among us, and they have not, unlike God the Father, Jesus His Only-Begotten Son, or Allah, set out for us rules to which we need only adhere if we want to stay on the right side of the law.  If the gods choose to make us their playthings, there won't be a damned thing we can do about it.  And for the materialist/scientist, the fact that these beings and their handiwork will be absorbable into an expanded and revised "Book of Nature" will offer no solace.

Friday, October 15, 2021



I once saw a tiny reptile and a tiny vole locked in existential combat, on a pavement in a state park north of San Diego.  The vole was, for the time, the aggressor.  (The reptile was lethargic even in such circumstances in the cool of the morning.)  The rodent held the lizard's neck in his jaws.

Two naturalists attached to the park watched the struggle alongside us.  They were dumbfounded and fascinated by the behavior of the vole, who was, in their view, decidedly "off script."  Perhaps he was rabid.

Carl Jung has an essay in his "Modern Man in Search of a Soul."  It is clear from the essay that Jung spent much time in the company of peoples that he calls "archaic" or primitive.  The principal theme of the essay is that the world-views of such people are not inferior to, nor less accurate than, our own.  They are shaped by the circumstances in which the people have lived for thousands of years.  Among other things, these people face natural perils that would defeat us in no time were we to be dropped into their environs.

When something happens that does not ordinarily happen, the people interpret it as reflecting the agency of important beings that reside in the spirit world.  The normally timid crocodiles might pull an adult male of the village into the river and eat him; the famously nocturnal anteater might stroll through the village when the sun is at its zenith.  These are not natural and predictable aberrations; they are signs and portents.

It is that classic New Yorker cartoon in its many variations, the one with the volcano spewing rocks in the background and the natives remarking that the gods must be off their feed.

Ross Coulthart reports, as others have reported, that Jimmy Carter, early in his presidency, was given a top-secret briefing on the subject of alien intrusions, alien visitations, and what the government knew about them.  After the briefing the president of the United States was seen with his head in his hands, crying.

Why do I feel that the veil is about to be torn, irrevocably, that we are about to be flooded with "high strangeness" that has no explanation?

A phalanx of demons.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021


Oct 12/13

As the clock ticked down to zero -- midnight -- on Indigenous Peoples Day, I dreamt that my brother and I shared a multi-story house somewhere out on the Great Plain.  It was night in the dream as well, and suddenly a band of indigenous braves attacked the house in force, attempting to breech the doors and windows.  Kevin and I succeeded in fighting them off, but not without violence.  We pored scalding hot water on their hands and their heads when they broke the plane of a window, for example.

It did not feel like a victory, just a respite before they attacked again, more successfully.


Deja Entendu

As I settled my bill, alone, at Boston's best Irish pub last evening, the pub's playlist, which focuses on soft rock and Irish folk songs through the ages, hit me with Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." ("Count the headlights on the highway.")

In my junior year of college, in my mind, the Tiny Dancer was an Asian girl from Tarrytown who had a single across the hall from my double at Cornell.  She wore mens' shirts with the buttons undone.  I became clinically smitten with her, which became especially awkward when her boyfriend took the bus over from Ithaca College for an overnight.  A really foolish affair that cemented a long-lasting connection in my mind between romance and futility, at least as it related to me.

One day, after all my classes were done, I had a cup of coffee in the Ivy Room of the Straight, the building made rather famous a few years before when black student activists stood on its front steps with long guns and bandoliers.

The coffee was weak.  It came in flimsy little white plastic cones that were pressed into less flimsy plastic holders, in red or brown.  At the far end of this very large room, by the windows that looked down the hill at the Baker Halls, which housed (male only) freshmen in classic collegiate gothic, was a primo juke box that, in those peak days of (especially psychedelic) rock and roll, seemed to be playing all day every day, and at volume.

Was it Eric Clapton's "Bell Bottom Blues" or "Tiny Dancer" that set me off?  In any event, I put my head in my hands.  Another student, a stranger, asked me if I was alright.  I was not alright.  I couldn't see that I would ever have any agency that would make it possible for me to cross the barrier between me and any particular her who caught my fancy.

Fifty years ago.  Half a century.

Monday, October 11, 2021


God's "harvesting" of the boomer generation has begun in earnest.  

It has not spared my friends and relations.  It even has a name -- "Boomerdammerung."  Some openly welcome it.  There is a new day dawning, cleansed of all of our baggage and of course the better for it.

To whom can I turn as a role model, as old as or older than I, yet still focused with purpose if not enthusiasm on our shrinking future?

Jacques Vallee, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood and certain Supreme Court justices.  Tony Bennett before his mind began to disintegrate.  Lionel Shriver.

There's more.  Wait (if you have time) and they will come to me ...

Friday, October 8, 2021


The Early and the Later Wittgenstein, Contrasted

Wittgenstein's early philosophy crystalized in his "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus," more commonly just "the Tractatus."  The book was largely conceived and executed by Wittgenstein when he was a POW held by the Italians in World War I.  At Cambridge University, the two most eminent philosophers in the English-speaking world at the time, Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore, were so impressed by the work that they awarded the Ph.D to Wittgenstein as if it were written as a doctoral dissertation, waiving virtually all of the other conventional requirements for the degree.  Wittgenstein told them that they did not understand his work, and they agreed.

In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein laid out a "picture theory" of logic and language.  In relation to the actual world, words stand as pictures of the concepts that they represent.  This by itself seems fairly trivial, but let me use a picture of my own to try to explain what made his approach seem both radical and entirely new.

Picture a globe, a globe of the earth that is, approximately 20 feet in diameter.  It is made of the thinnest titanium, such that the inside of the globe shows with perfect definition the contours of the outside of the globe.  Those contours include all of the elevations on the surface, from the Marianas Trench to the summit of Mt. Everest.

Inside the globe, at its center, stands a little man, Harry Homunculus, with a long stick.  The length of the stick is such that Harry can trace, can define, every bit of the surface of the world from within as it were.  He proceeds to do this.

But what Harry is actually delineating are the limits of our logic and the reach of our language as a vehicle for drawing all of those pictures of what is happening in the world.  

This picture of Harry is a picture of what Wittgenstein purports to be doing in his book -- laying out the limits of logic and language as they engage with, and describe, the world.  Critically, however, the most important aspects of human life -- everything spiritual, the joy we find in works of art and in our most important relationships, the mystery of our mortality -- all lie outside the boundaries of the globe.  That is not to say that we do not attempt to talk about them.  In fact, the problems in philosophy that we have wrestled with for thousands of years can be seen as arising out of our futile attempts to try to address these things as if they were as susceptible to description and explanation as, for example, the disposition of two automobiles that we find on the road after a collision.  When we try to talk about them in this way, what comes out is "nonsense."  In a sense we can point at them, but we should not utter "propositions" about them, because the realm of propositions should be left for things that exist in the world.  "Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent."

It is a remarkable fact that the Tractatus was viewed as the most provocative and original philosophical achievement of the early 20th century, that its views were not systematically challenged in any way, but that Wittgenstein himself concluded, by the early 1930s, that they were fundamentally wrong!  His later philosophy, which dismantled the first, albeit in an oblique way, found its way into print only after his death in 1951, and largely in the form of books on particular themes, like "Remarks on Colour," that were pieced together literally from scraps of paper by his "disciples" and literary executors.   (He despised the fact that he had disciples, in the sense of lesser minds who spread his gospel, but without thinking rigorously for themselves in the process.)  The exception to composition from scraps by others was "Philosophical Investigations," which he himself compiled but which was not published in his lifetime.  "The Investigations" or "PI" should probably be viewed as the most important work of philosophy of the entire 20th century.

In what way did Wittgenstein depart from his earlier views in PI and related texts?

A fundamental new insight, derived from examining how language is actually used in the world by real people as opposed to philosophers, was that concepts are fluid; their edges are soft and shifting.  This does not mean that we must be sloppy in our thinking.  The concepts function just fine notwithstanding the fact that they are not "atomic."  We distinguish between the river and the river bed, and the difference is important, but we cannot describe a fixed boundary between the two.  So Harry the Homunculus cannot do what he set out to do.  It was impossible in principle for him to lay out a fixed boundary for a world within which we utter propositions consisting of concepts that themselves have fixed boundaries.

One radical consequence of this view is that it obviates the need to search for an "inner" mechanism, in the brain presumably, that accounts for, and mirrors, our outer facility with language and logic.  It is anti-Chomskian, and indeed rather scary in its insinuation that there is nothing beneath the surface, that, as Wittgenstein said in so many words, "nothing is hidden."  To the extent that there is an explanation for how we are able to use language, it is an "anthropological" one.  Language resides in "forms of life;" it is embedded in our culture.  No explanation beyond this is required.  Indeed, philosophers' attempts to come up with such explanations simply have led us into confusion and error.

The view has important consequences as well for artificial intelligence.  Wittgenstein would never say, I think, that even the most sophisticated computer could evolve into consciousness, or that Elon Musk could cheat death by uploading his mind into a machine. (It is perhaps noteworthy that Wittgenstein's time at Cambridge overlapped to some extent with that of Alan Turing; I believe that they knew each other, how well it's hard to say.)  The fact that the most powerful AI natural-language translation engines now extant have no real "semantic component" as it was conceived by Chomsky suggests, if it does not prove, that Wittgenstein was right about the soft and the fluid edges.  And likewise our ability to use words and expressions in novel ways and yet be understood.  The first person to say, before Stevie Wonder, "you are the apple of my eye," was understood, mirabile dictu.

One early view that Wittgenstein did not abandon was that the most important and profound things in life reside outside philosophy.   He admired Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy in particular, as well as the gospels.  In this sense he very much embraced the "inner" life notwithstanding its ineffability; he just did not want to philosophize about it.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

 Farrah Made a Mental Note of the Gravity of Her Expression

What did the gypsy woman see, and how much did she say, having read the lifeline of Farrah Fawcett at Balboa Park in 1976, the year of the red poster and of the debut of Charlie's Angels, and noted the awful turn in her fortunes that was to come?

Saturday, September 25, 2021


The Lost Provenance of My Father's Fishcakes

Codfish, potatoes, onions, salt and pepper.   Ground in the mill that was otherwise used only once a year or so to make corned-beef hash.  Fried no doubt in lard, and served most often with beans.  A torn-off piece of bread might have sopped up the soggy remains.

I am sure that my dad picked up the formula from his own dad, but beyond that nothing is known in specific.

It was a staple of the fishermen even at sea.  It's easy to understand why.  By the time the fishermen made it back to Gloucester or Lunenburg, their schooners were laden with roughly 800,000 pounds of fish, gutted and salted and/or on ice.  If a couple of hundred pounds were consumed by the crew within hours of having been caught, the success of the voyage would not have suffered by it, rather rendered more economical.

Once on dry land, did the able-bodied men swear off fishcakes and beans for a time in favor of pancakes and bacon?  If so, they would have been lured back just as they were lured back to the sea, as surely as a child to his mother's prized strawberry chiffon pie, and before very long.

This culinary extravagance part of the elaborate cultural web that tied us and ties us still to the good people of Nova Scotia.


If only I could return my spirit to "The Waters of March," which are, after all, in the Northern Hemisphere, "the waters of September" --

Friday, September 24, 2021


Carl Jung, if Not in His Own Words, At Least in Words that Have Been Mediated Only Once, and Only by Me

He wrote a very contemplative essay, collected in his "Modern Man in Search of a Soul," on the stages of life.   He says in it that men, who mirabile dictu are mostly masculine, expend most of their masculinity in the first three of life's four stages, and hence in the final stage their femininity comes to dominate; they become soft in body and soft-hearted, in relative terms.  Not a bad thing.

Women likewise expend much of their femininity in the process of fecundity.  Late in life a latent practicality and hard-heartedness often presage a late blooming in the theatre of business and industry.

And, he goes on to say, many marriages founder upon the collision that takes place when the spouses meet in the middle, and in what lies after the collision.

More profound than this, Jung believed that to be truly integrated and psychologically healthy, one must be goal oriented, and that the only authentic and positive goal in this final stage of life must be Death itself.  But Death as an abyss will not do.  The goal must be to survive it and carry on.  He seems to say, in other words, that we must embrace an afterlife not because it actually exists, but because we need it so as not to live in a kind of (often camouflaged) madness and nihilism in the last decades.

This belief-out-of-utilitarian-necessity seems wrong to me in principle.  And yet I find it more easy and natural now than when I was young to pray, albeit in an idiosyncratic way, and indeed even if my prayer consists only in saying, repeatedly, "Why have You forsaken me?"

Friday, September 17, 2021


Cobalt and Sawdust

Anthony Hopkins was approached to play the lead role in the film adaptation.  This even though the real life protagonist was a woman, a Dr. Nadine Millar.  When he refused the part, the producers turned to Charlize Theron, who had prior experience playing a monster and who indeed did it exceedingly well.

Most of us know the story now, from the tabloids.  Dr. Millar (of chiropractic) spoke with her patients on their visits to her office as a hair-dresser might, and over time she got to know them well.  They confided in her in such a way that she felt that she understood their inner lives probably better than their spouses and siblings did.  And, in some cases, their inner lives were wretched.  These few in fact truly, in her view, would be better off dead.   What lay before them were years of misery, made more miserable still by an onset and progression somewhere along the way of terrible disease.  The light comfort that she was able to give them in her work was insufficient to the task of turning them toward contentment.

Suicide -- one response -- comes ordinarily with intense anxiety in the run-up, she thought.  Murder, quick and unforeseen, does not.

In school, Nadine had been taught both how to crack a neck and how not to crack a neck.  The latter instruction shared a lot with a small part of a lesson given to US Navy Seals in early training, except that they are told to do it when the moment so calls, without hesitation.

The first time, with Wallace  the postman from Framingham lying face down on the table, was messy.  There was a gigantic "Ow!!!!," and she had to put her right hand over his mouth as she snapped at it again, more vigorously.  After that (four more times in all), death was almost instantaneous, as she intended.

Then there was the problem of how to dispose of the bodies.  In this she took instruction from Walter White in "Breaking Bad" but, notwithstanding her physical strength and fitness, it was difficult to get her victims into the tubs, and then to get the tubs into the basement.  It helped that her therapy table could be raised and lowered and that it was on casters. 

The principal chemical that she used in this disposal exercise was a brilliant, cobalt blue.

Her last victim was a wiry little guy who called himself Chicky Belmondo.  In his 50s, he lived alone.  He was in truth an erudite man, largely self educated.  He seemed to have collected thousands of factoids, and not dull ones, and beyond that almost never to have forgotten one.

That's how it came to pass that Nadine had this epiphany while still holding Chicky's head between her strong hands, that every one of those factoids must have been coded somehow, physically, in his brain.  (She was, after all, a strict materialist, not a dualist or other philosophical romantic.)  Now that he was instantly dead, they would still be so coded for a little while, but it would be impossible to access them.  Maybe someday, she thought, scientists would figure out not how to transport them to another brain, resting in formaldehyde on a laboratory shelf, but how to upload them into silicon at virtually the moment of death.  With this passing thought, Nadine absolved herself.  Clearly she wanted the best for mankind, even if some would say that her methods in critical respects were unsound.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021


The Peasants Sounded a Hard Vengeance

Their pitchforks once rusted shined now clear and clean.  They pointed at every compass quadrant and at all of the interstices between.

The children formed a busy hub around a maypole that they themselves had erected.  They handed cider out in tin cups, from a central horses' trough, cleaned especially for the purpose.

Everyone waited in stillness for the battle to begin.


The TV Indians used to snap an arrow in half, as a sign of peace.

Thursday, September 2, 2021


A Nearly Biblical Rain Last Night

The remains of Hurricane Ida.  They came into our neighborhood, strangely, on an east wind, not south or southwesterly.  Does that imply some residual strong rotation?

My poor little emerald green skiff will be full to the gunwales with water that was scooped up last week in the Gulf of Mexico, east of the Yucatan, only to be deposited in a river that runs into the Gulf of Maine.  Lately the currents in the river have run, I'm told, to seven knots, which seems possible only if the astronomical high tides got a boost from the overflowing river runoff.

Who said "The Fire Next Time?"

Wednesday, September 1, 2021


In a Prior Life

For an act both noble and reckless, on a promontory in the far southwest, in the time of Cromwell, my wrists were bound tightly together behind a wooden post with thin straplets of raw leather.  (Rubber did not yet exist, except as a white sap that bled from the trees in the Amazon and in the land that we know now as Indonesia.)

My executioners -- there were three of them -- bore heavy crossbows and wore metal helmets hung with mail to better disguise their faces.  

Someone -- I know not who -- shouted out that I must "Take [My] Punishment Like a Manne!"  The core personality on display being the same as the one that I carry today, this could never be possible.  I squirmed against the post like a maggot, and my bowels turned to mush.  The crowd -- including children in the crowd -- accordingly lost all respect for me in my last hour.

And then the heavy-headed arrows flew.  And then, as the book foretells, my soul was finally "unclenched."


It is a law of nature that the remorse will be felt that is not felt by the remorseless.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021


At Fatima

The people heard a thunderclap out of a blue sky.

I say "the people" and not "the faithful."  The faithful were there in abundance, of course, especially as the crowds grew larger with each monthly apparition.  The three children were simple shepherds with no formal education at all, but medical doctors and indeed doctors of philosophy were drawn to the phenomenon after word of it spread.  (Portugal then was absorbed not only in World War I but also in a local power struggle between religious and secular political forces.)

Some even among the secular witnesses saw the "pretty lady in white;" some saw just a moving, oval light (characterized by others as the "vessel" that transported the Virgin to the spot above an oak tree from where she conversed with little Lucia); others saw nothing at all but were shaken nevertheless by the profound effect that the apparitions had on the kneeling throngs.

Monday, August 30, 2021


Crackpot or Visionary?

Sometimes, no doubt, they are one and the same.

The errors in judgment of Charles Lindbergh are well known, and they are to be taken into account in evaluating every position he may have endorsed.  But likewise his ability to see beyond what others could see in his time.  He suggested, in an introduction to the autobiography of astronaut Michael Collins, that mankind's next leap forward in exploration of the cosmos might entail freeing ourselves from the bonds of the body entirely, and graduating into pure consciousness.  This is what he said:

Is it remotely possible that we are approaching a stage in evolution when we can discover how to abandon our physical frameworks in order to extend both inwardly and outwardly through limitless dimensions of awareness?  In future universal explorations, may we have no need for vehicles or matter?  Is this the adventure opening to man beyond travel through solar-system space?

Sunday, August 29, 2021


In the wee hours my wife often talks in her sleep.   She is incomprehensible, but in tone, she sounds like a samurai who wants to cut my head off.

In the absence of human embraces -- male or female -- at this late stage, it's natural to seek comfort in the prospect of God's Embrace.  But now, after the disclosure, I see myself as having to run a fearsome gauntlet of the demi-gods in order to get there, and I see that some of the demi-gods, even though they are far more advanced than we in many respects (and therefore hold power over us), are malign in the extreme in their intentions.

I am stuck.   I can't go back to a pre-disclosure conception of our path toward God.  And I can't go forward to that "feeling of complete safety" that Wittgenstein identified with religious conviction, because the demi-gods stand in the way.

Sunday, August 15, 2021


When You Feel Like a Whittled Stick

... Stripped of all protective cover,

Reduced to a shiny white core,

Soon to be discarded by your creator,

His interest having been in the stripping, not the stripped.

Saturday, August 14, 2021


For Purposes of Illustration Only

Now, after the Nimitz encounter in particular, it is beyond reasonable dispute that Unidentified Flying Objects, as objects, are real.  To appreciate the ubiquity of their presence through time, one need only watch James Fox's The Phenomenon and read Jacques Vallee's "Passage to Magonia" or Richard Dolan's "UFOs and the National Security State."   Their forms, their manifestations, evidence both great variety in the details and pronounced patterns of consistency, across cultures and countries.  They may be classic discs or balls, or triangles or "tic tacs."  They may be silent or they may emit a humming noise.  They are often accompanied by bright and multi-colored lights.  They can hover, move slowly, and move faster than any craft that could carry a human pilot, because the pilot would be torn apart by G forces.  Most interesting is the variety they exhibit in size.  Some are only two or three feet in diameter, but reports exist to the effect that they can be a mile wide, or "as big as ten aircraft carriers."  The Phoenix Lights triangular craft was reported by hundreds of people to be of such a scale, and flying very low so that estimation of its size was not difficult.

Jacques Vallee, after a lifetime of research into the phenomenon, posits that these are not extraterrestrial at all, but rather visitors from another dimension that can overlap physically with Earth, or visitors spilling over from some form of Jungian "mind-at-large."  He believes that, in effect, "the Other" that they manifest can take virtually any form it wants, and tailors its appearance to cultural conditions that prevail in time.  In 1897 in the US, it was lighter than air craft, which were in their infancy then; in 1917 it was "the miracle at Fatima."

Once having embarked on this train, it must be said, it is difficult to know where to get off when credulity is strained -- face-to-face encounters with other life forms, abductions, crash and creature retrievals, medical, including in-breeding, experiments, implantations of devices and, to my mind among the most ubiquitous and disturbing, so-called cattle mutilations that leave animals cored out at the anus, genitalia and eyes, and yet leave no signs of blood whatsoever, nor any signs that the animal has been approached on the ground.  These are disturbing in large part because they suggest that our little friend ET, after phoning home, became bloodthirsty in a most non-metaphorical sense.  Could we be next?

And why are they hiding "in plain sight," as Ross Coulthart would have it?

If their goal is not to rescue us from ourselves, nor to stop us in our nuclear tracks for the sake of other species including their own, nor to cultivate us as we cultivate farm animals, but rather just to leave us gobsmacked and terrified for reasons that are beyond our ken, why not take a different form altogether?

For purposes of illustration only, that might be a Canada goose, with a wingspan of five Boeing 747s, honking its way over downtown Indianapolis on a clear September evening for long enough for the good and sober citizenry to pull out their devices and photograph/film it.  Immense not human-scaled so as to be impossible, but a goose not an eagle or a vulture or a dove, over Indianapolis and not Washington, D.C., just to eliminate all interpretation, all symbolizing, to the extent possible, because symbols lend meaning to a phenomenon, and the true object may be to convince us that in fact there is no meaning within our frame of reference.  Within their frame of reference, the meaning is inscrutable to us.  That is part of what is meant when we characterize something or someone as "alien."

Saturday, August 7, 2021


What Is in Store for Us

"Physical death," says Bernardo Kastrup, is but a "de-clenching of consciousness."

This harkens back to the powerful, central image used by the counterculture guru from Long Island known as "Da Free John" (among myriad other names) in the 1970s.  He said that our posture towards the world, before enlightenment, is like that of an anemone that has sensed danger and pulled in all of its tentacles, rolled into a protective ball.

Da Free John was later accused, reliably, of false imprisonment and sexual slavery.  His close disciples included a Playboy bunny whom he enticed away from her boyfriend.  He claimed that worship of his divinity was the sole path to spiritual perfection.  He was, in other words, the Way, the Truth and the Light.  He died in 2008 and his followers now are said to number about 1000.

Friday, August 6, 2021


The New Monism, Cont'd

Is the mind-at-large "real and benevolent?"

As to whether it's real, the arguments proffered by Bernardo K focus largely on the supposed circularity of the arguments in favor of materialism and on an "Occam's Razor" argument in favor of his monism -- if we accept that everything is part of a transcendent and transpersonal consciousness, there is no need to posit a whole second, material world.  "Parsimony" therefore argues in favor.

My own view, having scrubbed Bernardo's passionately-stated case, is that he may be right, but his own arguments for monism are as circular as the arguments for materialism!  They assume the result and then defend monism on the grounds that it explains everything.

As to whether it is benevolent, yes it is benevolent in the same way that the Near Death Experience is benevolent.  But the "happy ending" entails a dissolution into the Godhead, so everything that makes you "you" goes poof when you die.  Beats the alternatives I guess.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021


"Saved," in the Holy Roller Sense, By the New Metaphysical Monism?

In olden days, people found meaning and solace in religion.   In the West, it was, in the main, Judeo-Christian.  But that particular myth was always a difficult one to swallow.  Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky tried to make the case that it is precisely its implausibility that gives rise to faith; if it were plausible then people could embrace it without any real spiritual investment.

And then came the Enlightenment and "scientism."  Dostoevsky could see that they put man at war with himself.  The war between scientism and faith was the war between the values of Western Europe and the values of Mother Russia.

Nietzsche and Sartre put a cherry on top, telling us that God was dead, but that that was OK because His absence, and the absence in particular of His rules, gave us the freedom to Be, authentically.  This never worked for me.  It may have worked for Nietzsche because he was gradually losing his mind as this philosophy took hold of him.  Personally I doubt that it worked personally for Sartre either; it just allowed him to further preen and to take center stage in European intellectual circles, like Michel Foucault did thereafter.

So we were left with nothing but the Abyss, but at least we had the satisfaction of sophistication.  We were grown up enough to accept what science was telling us, that we were way less than specks of sand on the beach.

What major religion comes closest to this world-view?  Probably Buddhism, I would say.  It admits that our circumstances cause us endless earthly suffering; suffering is, in fact, what defines our circumstances.  There is one escape route, however -- the renunciation of desire.  If we truly renounce it, we can reach a state of some sort of fundamental bliss that corresponds with being taken up into the embrace of ...  Nothing.  Nothing is our God.  (Is our God nothing?)

This also does not work for me.  Lipstick on the pig of personal annihilation.

There are cracks now appearing in this entire façade, but they are cracks that scare me as much as the Abyss itself.  First among them is the UFO/UAP phenomenon, which now cannot be denied by reasonable people looking at all of the available evidence with openness and candor.  It most decidedly does not prove the existence of extraterrestrial life forms, but rather of some Intelligence outside our own that is impinging on us for some reason.  Is it, asks the AI scientist and philosopher Jacques Vallee, the same Intelligence as that which caused the sun to spin before 70,000 people at Fatima in 1917, or the virgin to appear in a ball of light before even larger crowds, of Coptic Christians, Muslims and Jews, in 1968 in Cairo?  Do drugs like ayahuasca and LSD open the "doors of perception" of that Intelligence?

People who claim to have come face to face with that Intelligence, including veterans of Peruvian ayahuasca initiations and claimed alien abductees, report a whole spectrum of attitudes expressed towards us by the Other, from benevolence to indifference to reptilian and insectoid hostility.  A Buddhist would call all of these mere illusion -- projections of our subjective consciousness.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead counsels the dying one to simply ignore them, to not engage with them with either positive or negative emotion, because they are mere distractions on the path to Enlightenment.  The terror that arises for me in contemplating the Other Intelligence is that its malevolent manifestations are, presumably, as real as the Tic Tacs that we now know have the capacity to disappear into the sea at 500 knots.  Are we just guinea pigs in some sort of cosmic free-for-all?  And Who, if anyone, is in charge?

Now comes the "new monism."  Monism simply means that the mind-body duality of Descartes is resolved, not as science would have it, by reducing everything to mindless matter, by rejecting soul and spirit, indeed by rejecting consciousness itself except as a programming language, older than COBOL, used by our "computers made of meat."  Rather, it is resolved by giving primacy to the mind, by largely reducing the material to a manifestation of the "mind-at-large."  We, and other animate creatures, it is said, are like whirlpools in the mind-at-large; inanimate objects, on the other hand, are like ripples on the surface of the mind-at-large.  (This metaphor, in candor, confuses me more than it enlightens me.)

The mind-at-large is real and it is benevolent.  One can think of it as what awaits at the end of that Near-Death Experience tunnel.

The view seems very close to the teachings of Jung; the mind-at-large looks a lot like his "collective unconscious."  But Jung himself seemed reluctant to articulate anything about his own relationship with the Creator, the Supreme Being, no doubt because he began his career in the time of Freud, when psychology was sold as hard science.  Jung's spiritual beliefs, whatever they were, could not be reduced rigorously to science.

A leading proponent of the new monism is a Brazilian philosopher/scientist by the name of Bernardo Kastrup.  His "Brief Peeks Beyond," for example, offer brief peeks, in the form of essays, that lay it all out.

The new monism offers, or has the potential to offer, an optimistic account of things, a "happy ending."  That most assuredly is not a reason to believe in it!  But if there are other compelling reasons to embrace it, I will gladly take the happy ending.

Sunday, August 1, 2021


The Beauty of English

That one can have a breakdown over a break-up; that one can feel thoroughly beaten up and thoroughly beaten down, at the same time and for the same reason.

Saturday, July 31, 2021


Rating the Protagonists for General Truth-Telling

By, let us say, 2035, I believe that we will know the truth about the UFO/UAP phenomenon.  We are, now, on a trajectory towards inevitable disclosure.

But I don't expect to be here in 2035.  In the interest of post-mortem "I told you so," then, I offer here my view of the personal credibility of some of the principal protagonists in this story, believers and skeptics alike, and also of some mere tellers of the story, which is to say journalists who have taken it more or less seriously.  

But time will tell! --

  • Ralph Blumental -- A
  • Gordon "Gordo" Cooper -- A
  • Philip Corso -- C
  • Ross Coulthart -- A
  • Dr. Eric Davis -- B
  • Tom DeLonge -- C
  • Luis Elizondo -- B+
  • David Fravor -- A
  • Stanton Friedman -- A-
  • Steven Greer -- D
  • Richard Dolan -- A
  • Betty and Barney Hill -- A
  • Leslie Kean -- A
  • Philip Klass -- D
  • Bob Lazar -- A or F (TBD)
  • John Mack -- A
  • Jesse Marcel -- B+
  • Christopher Mellon -- A-
  • Edgar Mitchell -- B+
  • Barack Obama (then) -- D
  • Barack Obama (now) -- B
  • Nick Pope -- A
  • Jacques Vallee -- A
  • Travis Walton -- A
  • Admiral Tom Wilson -- C
  • Lonnie Zamora -- A
  • Linda Moulton Howe -- A-
  • The children of Ariel School -- A
  • The children of Westall School -- A

Friday, July 30, 2021


Ross Coulthart Reports

Reliably, that there are levels of confidentiality within the United States Government that are beyond the purview even of the President of the United States, and even when he asks to be informed directly about a particular matter.  He has not demonstrated the requisite "need to know," it seems.  

Who has demonstrated the requisite need to know?  Certain discrete (and discreet) people within Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon Corporation, for example.

Not for nothing did General Eisenhower warn us against the quiet evolution of a military-industrial complex.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


Deserving Neither of Heaven nor Hell

A former colleague of mine died this week.  He used to enjoy belittling me, as well as others.  He did it for sport.  He was sycophantic towards his superiors.  He tried to manipulate his clients.   He thought he was good at it, but he made many secret enemies in the process.  He went through the motions of being a devout Catholic.

I mention him because it's so hard to see how the vetting process of Catholicism could be applied to him today.   I picture him standing at the Pearly Gates waiting his turn, perhaps behind Zsa Zsa Gabor and maybe (if he conveniently dies to complete the picture) Richard Simmons.

It will be very hard to judge him finally and to impose the right punishment on him because his flaws were so organic and also so petty.  And yet he was not Hitler; he was not Stalin; he was not even Don Rickles.  Maybe his baptism will be judged after 73 years to have been procedurally defective, and he will be consigned therefore, for eternity, to Limbo.

Sunday, July 25, 2021


Lawrence Krauss

The celebrated astrophysicist (and UFO skeptic!) explained something remarkable a couple of weeks ago during a long-form conversation with Jordan Peterson.

If we wind the clock back to 1920, and look through the then-most-powerful telescopes with the then-most prominent cosmologists, we will conclude as they did that our galaxy -- the Milky Way -- is the universe.  Everything that we see is within it and, presumptively, there is only empty space beyond it.

It was Edwin Hubble who disabused the world of that notion.   Those smudges way out there?   They are separate galaxies, each containing billions of stars, and there are billions of such galaxies!  This discovery, made during my father's lifetime, was a putting of man in his place on the same sort of plane as the work of Galileo and Copernicus.

But now we know that the universe is expanding, and that because of the forces associated with the lately-discovered "dark energy," that expansion is accelerating.  As a consequence, more and more of the outer universe (from the perspective of Earth) is receding from our view, because the light that it emits, while it is coming towards us at the speed of light, is drawing away from us as well at speeds greater than light, as part of that accelerating expansion.

So, Krauss explains, there will come a time -- a time whose distance in time from 2021 we can measure -- 5000 years? -- when, looking through the most sophisticated telescopes and other sensing devices of that time, we will see only what is in the Milky Way, just as in 1920.

Of course we assume that there will be some history at that point in the future that allows people to remember what is out there; Krauss's point is not that it will truly be forgotten.  Rather, his point is that this phenomenon proves that just because we now have a horizon beyond which we see nothing tells us nothing about what is beyond our vision.  We simply do not know and cannot know.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


There Was An Explosion in the Night

It came after the dueling Ducatis of Rte. 9, but before our latest in a string of strong electrical storms.

I took comfort in it just because it was so clean and unambiguous.  I waited for the sound of sirens, of emergency vehicles.  There was none.

And later, when the storm arrived, the sound of the wind could not be disentangled from the sound of the rain.


Recedit Perterritum Omnis

Sunday, July 18, 2021


A Reciprocal Simile

On the third day, the decisive day, at Gettysburg, the opening artillery barrage of the Confederates sounded to everyone in the town like thunder -- a low and continuous rumble, but one to wake the dead.  And not just in the town; it was heard 20 miles away.  When would it end, and who would survive the onslaught?

But in the wee hours this morning, the thunder sounded like artillery.  In the beginning it seemed that there was no break in the sound, although I knew that it was made up of hundreds of thunderclaps merging in the dense air.  Only when the storm was nearly overhead did the reports become discrete and staccato, and the flashes visible, as if the cannons were Federal now and we were marching up the long incline against flanking fire of canister and grape, soon now to be awarded the Red Badge of Courage.

Thursday, July 15, 2021


Names of Sports Figures That Are Easy on the Ear, One Way or the Other

  • Boog Powell
  • Gump Worsley
  • Rocket Richard
  • Yvan Cournoyer
  • Sugar Ray Robinson
  • Arthur Ashe
  • Johnny Bucyk
  • Fred Biletnikoff
  • Y. A. Tittle
  • Bubba Smith
  • Johnny Pesky
  • Johnny Bench
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Dom DiMaggio
  • Pee Wee Reese
  • Tiny Archibald
  • Orlando Cepeda
  • Mookie Betts
  • Diego Maradona
  • Donovan Peoples-Jones
  • Cal Ripken
  • Yvonne Goolagong
  • Satchel Paige
  • Jim Kaat
  • Catfish Hunter
  • Lefty Grove
  • Harmon Killebrew
  • Rico Petrocelli
  • Felix Mantilla
  • Arnold Early
  • Cedric Maxwell
  • Pumpsie Green
  • Lance Alworth
  • Whitey Ford
  • Emerson Fittipaldi
  • Pancho Gonzalez
  • Carmen Basilio
  • Julius Erving
  • Babe Parilli
  • Johnny Unitas
  • Rolly Fingers
  • Elston Howard
  • Ingemar Johanssen