Saturday, December 31

On Telepathy

I'm a firm believer in telepathy. The sooner we get over our collective denial that telepathy in some form is possible and actual, the sooner we can incorporate it into life, culture and communication. The amount of published evidence that communication is possible through an as yet unknown medium is too staggering to be ignored. Furthermore, the calibre of scientists, philosophers, and psychologists, including dozens of Nobel prize winners, who have carried out successful parapsychological experiments and who have devoted years of their life to these phenomena is incredible. Yet despite this, parapsychology is still listed as a pseudoscience on Wikipedia. Arthur Koestler's "The Roots of Coincidence" is an excellent introduction to the topic.

I had an experience here at the store yesterday that I could describe as telepathic, one of many I've had over the past years. We have several regular customers here at the store of course, and one of them said he would find me a bike that I could use during the winter months. Being a biker himself, he knows where to look and what to look for. He came in yesterday, told a few jokes and stories, but didn't mention the bike. Just as he was about to leave, I think of the bike, or the bike comes into my mind. A second later, he mentions it. Of course, this could be called simple coincidence or synchronicity, but the number of times that I've thought about something a fraction of a second before someone else mentions that same thing are too many, in my mind, to remain coincidental. I'm certain that other people have had similar experiences, but haven't considered they might be "telepathic", or they have considered that possibility but are unwilling to believe it.

Yesterday's experience got me thinking. From the accounts of telepathic experiments that I am familiar with, mostly through Koestler's book that I mentioned above, there seems to be this idea that there is a "sender" and a "receiver", which is to say that one person projects a thought, in the form of an image, memory, emotion, whatever, and another person receives it in their own mind. If this is the case, then in my own telepathic experiences I should be able to determine who is the sender and who is the receiver, or in other words, who thought the thought first. But I cannot. The thought is just there in my mind, after arriving there in a way that as far as I can tell is the same as the way every other thought I've had entered my mind, and then someone else mentions it immediately afterward. In yesterday's experience, I'm sure that if I were quicker to speak and mentioned the bike before he did, then it would have been him that had the "telepathic" experience. (I'm also sure that telepathy would become a much more accepted phenomena if only people would shut up a little more).

I had the idea that the sender/receiver model might be insufficient and that there might be another model that might describe certain phenomena more simply. As I was speaking with my friend yesterday, neither of us were consciously thinking about the bike, but in a sense the bike was on both our minds: in the back of our minds, not so far as old memories, not so close as what we were speaking about in the immediate present, but somewhere in the middle. I want to suggest that perhaps the shared thought brought itself to the forefront of our minds, and which was then voiced. Two minds, same thought. The idea that our thoughts and other mental processes create a mental field that affects our environment in as yet unquantified ways is not a new one. It is not a great leap to imagine two mental fields interacting with each other during a conversation and bringing commonalities to the surface. And after all, it happens all the time.

If you think I'm totally out to lunch, please let me know. And if you think I'm not totally out to lunch, even by just a tiny bit, let me know as well.

"It's not we who think, but life that thinks us."
- Christopher Morley

Thursday, December 29

3 Words:

Conan the Vegetarian

Wednesday, December 28

How do I put a title on a post?

Friday, December 23

...Must keep posting...

Physics tells us that there is no such thing as wasted energy. According to various laws, energy will always being converted from one form such as light, sound, into other forms such as heat or motion. In any given system, be it a swingset, a plant, a waterwheel, whatever, when energy is put into it at any point, that energy will be converted into another form. Understanding and harnessing this energy conversion has been the aim of scientists and inventors since forever. Edison had a winner with the lightbulb when he converted energy in the form of electricity to energy in the form of light. Moreover, the only difference between a lightbulb and a stove, as far as I know, is that the materials used in the element of a stove convert electricity to heat more readily than to light.

I want to suggest that if we change the word "energy" to "effort", the same thing applies. Effort is what humans and other animals use to change their surroundings or their selves, and we believe that when we put effort toward bringing about some change and that change does not occur, then the effort is wasted.

more later...

Friday, December 16


Tortoise, tobacco, tinnitus, transience,
trajectory, tertiary, turkish, transcendence,
troubadour, top-down, tropical, trauma,

trapdoor, tumescent, tabarnak!
Tintinnabulum, turpentine,
topsy-turvy, torpor, turgid,
transference, turpitude, Trafalgar,
trapezoid, triptych,
tally-ho!, Tutankhamun,
Trinidad + Tobago, teriyaki, tarp.

Thursday, December 15

So I'm here at the store, poking around with some books, and a nice young mother is holding her infant, dancing around while Al Green sings "For The Good Times" and "Look What You Done For Me". Ahhh...

Wednesday, December 14


From George Steiner's "Errata: An Examined Life", page 5:

I have conducted my emotional, intellectual and professional affairs in distrust of theory. So far as I am able, I can attach meaning to the concept of theory in the exact and, to some degere, applied sciences. These theoretical constructs demand crucial experiments for their verification or falsification. If refuted, they will be superseded. They can be mathematically or logically formalised. The invocation of 'theory' in the humanities, in historical and social studies, in the evaluation of literature and the arts, seems to me mendacious. The humanities are susceptible neither to crucial experiments nor to verification (except on a material, documentary level). Our responses to them are narratives of intuition. In the unbounded dynamics of the semantic, in the flux of the meaningful, in the uncircumscribed interplay of interpretations, the only propositions are those of personal choice, of taste, of echoing affinity or deafness. There can be no refutations or disproofs in any theoretical sense. Coleridge does not refute Samuel Johnson; Picasso does not advance on Raphael. In humane letters, 'theory' is nothing but intuition grown impatient.

Yes, but...
A scientific theory is an attempt to generalize and then to predict; a "humane" theory is an attempt to generalize and identify...

Although I have not read anything by him, I've been told that the German philosopher Hegel supposed that for every thesis there exists an antithesis, and that these come together to form a synthesis, which in turn would have it's own antithesis which again would be combined with it's opposite to form a new synthesis, and the process would repeat ad infinitum. I think that this is an important process, fundamental to artistic creation, and I think it is linked to the idea of theory as applied to the humanities.

I believe a theory is intended not to prescribe but
to describe. A theory evaluates a body of knowledge, discerns and identifies common characteristics, and separates anything that is a part of another theory. A theory unites commonalities into a single concept or identity, equivalent to Hegel's "thesis". A theory of literature will be synthesized with its "anti-theory" and thus will lead to the development of new literature. I think theorization is necessary for creative development. Do you believe me?

Picture a number line, from zero to any positive number, that represents some kind of spectrum or gradation. It could be the amount of sexuality in science fiction, the amount of blue in Renoir's paintings, or something as simple as the steepness of a hill, whatever. So you have this line and you order your items along it accordingly, from least to greatest. But at one end of your line you have the number zero, which means there is NO sexuality in scifi, NO blue in the painting, NO steepness etc. What you have is something else, something different from what you started with: a non-sexual scifi book, a painting without any blue, a flat plain. It other systems you might read NOT(x), where x is your area of interest. But as soon as you say x, you can say NOT(x). In other words, as soon as you say thesis, you can say antithesis.

Suppose further that the spectrum you have chosen to plot on your number line is something that is cutting edge, something that is not yet entirely understood, say, the amount of violence in a videogame (hey that's as cutting edge as I get, alright?). At the bottom of the number line at zero, what you have is something new, a non-violent video game, something that, barring racing games, is difficult to come by. Creation through negation, starting from a theory: an identification of a common characteristic in a body of work.

Perhaps the word "theory" is inadequate. It seems clear that a theory in the realm of the humanities is a very different animal than a theory of the sciences, perhaps different enough to warrant a more accurate term. An artistic theory is in a sense meant to be destroyed or negated, while a scientific theory is meant to predict and solidify. They both rely on the identification of patterns, but they are used for different ends. What do you think? What would Jesus do?

Tuesday, December 13

The relationship between the conscious and the unconscious seems to be an important one in fields of psychology, creativity, religion, magic, even simple happiness and contentment, and yet it is not well understood. I know through my own observations that there is a distinction between the two. For example events in my past or concerns about my future will affect my feelings in the present, although I will not be thinking of them specifically at the time, that is, they will not be at the forefront of my consciousness. This suggests to me that they are in my mind, or on my mind, but are in the background: they are in my unconscious. Only when I think of them directly am I consciously aware of these factors.

I think the moments between sleep and wakefulness point to one aspect of the way the mind works, one that ties in with a lot of things. Picture the mind as a complex network of neurons, pathways between one concept and another, be they memories, ideas, plans, identities of people and places, anything. I see my consciousness as a point or spark of light that travels along these pathways at the speed of thought, often travelling over and strengthening oft-used pathways, but sometimes forging new ones, linking concepts that have not been linked before. The path that this point takes is a linear one, i.e. it goes from point A to B to C in a way that is to some extent directed by the nature of the thought I am thinking. Now when I snuggle into to bed and begin to drift off, I notice that this directed quality of my thinking is not so strong. It is more as if it is random, as if the spark of light is jumping from concept to concept, from node to node, without making any logical connections, and so I find myself thinking thoughts that are totally outside any regular pattern. For example, just before I fall asleep, I'll hear "Row Row Row Yer Boat" sung in a bizarre voice, or something equally as strange. Is is as if my point of consciousness is drifting around my mind and bringing oddly juxtaposed images, sounds and thoughts to the fore.

I think something similar happens when we are dreaming as well. Similar but not exact. When I dream I have many faculties available to me, my sense of sight, sound, etc., as well as my ability to reason and rationalize. Recently I dreamt that I was listening to some really good music and I wanted to write it down because I knew that when I woke up I would forget it, so, I proceeded to write it down as best I could, but I hadn't woken up yet, so I was writing it down only in my dream. I had my wits about me, in the dream, but the dream itself, the scenario and events, were alien and unfamiliar, even though it came from my own head. It seems as though dreams are a combination of the directed and undirected paths of consciousness: the settings and events are created from a collection of images and concepts picked up by a random walker meandering through my mind, but I still exist in the dream in a mostly normal way, that is, my linear rationing and reasoning ability still work as they do when I am awake.

I've been thinking a lot about how consciousness and unconsciousness work together and I will return to it. Do others have experiences of waking and sleeping and dreaming similar to the ones I have written here?

Thursday, December 8

I am in a state of nervous excitement. If I interpret your poem in a certain way it means great things. But that leads me to something that could be toogoodtobetrue. If I interpret it another way, nothing has changed, which is fine but pales considerably when beside the first option. I am swinging wildly from one to the other, bouncing around like a fool. It's just a poem! Meanwhile, The Beatles "I've Just Seen a Face" sounds better than ever, and I haven't stopped smiling all day.

Wednesday, December 7

What do you think of magic? Does it exist? Did it exist before? Have you ever witnessed an act of magic? Is there such a person as a magician? or wizard? or witch? or shaman? or mage? or magus? or witch doctor? or enchanter? or necromancer? or chronomancer? What was the last magic trick you pulled? Have you ever felt that you lost some magic? Why do synchronicities seem so important? Do you notice things that other people don't? Do you have a strong sense of aesthetics? How often do you get what you want? Do good things happen to you unexpectedly? Is everything the way you want it? Why not?

Tuesday, December 6


I challenge anyone to show me that they spend their time in a more satisfying way than I do. Yesterday evening, I scratched tiny contact microphones against musty brick and mortar basement walls, fed an orange segment to an alluring young woman with dark eyes holding an iron, rolled around in the hay with two lithe dancers, participated in a Falun Dafa type tea drinking ceremony, accompanied singers and drummers improvising in a near pitch dark room on a typewriter, ah the list goes on... I was led blindfolded around a cramped and obstacle laden room with only a rope and soft strange hands to guide me. Barefoot, I walked on green onions, mint leaves, and toast, then had my feet washed by two obliging young women. I was given a heart-shaped orange peel on a string as an amulet or medallion. I'm wearing it now, though it is dried out and hard.
Throughout all of this, I was barefoot, yes, I was also wearing a soft blue mask that covered my brow, nose and cheeks, though I could see through two eyeholes. I felt like I was disguised from anyone who might know me, almost protected. In the future I will be unrecognizable to anyone who was with me yesterday evening. For one night, for a few hours, I inhabited not only a different world, a world of costume and sound, I inhabited a different body, a different personality I've never been before. Perhaps I once thought I could be this person, and perhaps I might think I could be again, but never wholly, only partially. I existed in that form and space for only one time, one moment. Maybe this is true for every moment; maybe it takes an extraordinary evening for me, or for you, to recognize it.

R. Murray Schafer's Theatre of the Senses